When I had my second son, I had a nervous breakdown. I’m not sure exactly what the cause was. But things were bad. I had a three-year-old with autism, a baby with a facial deformity that required a team of ten different types of doctors, and no family helping me, and I didn’t take maternity leave.

This is what happened: I put a knife in my head. It’s a weird thing about the knife. A knife can’t get very far in one’s head. The head is protected. But there was enough blood that my husband and I decided I needed to go to the emergency room.

I took the baby with me. That’s what I called him: The baby. He was very new, and I was having trouble bonding. So I never let him out of my sight in the hope that physical proximity would promote emotional closeness.

The hospital in Brooklyn was well versed in post-partum depression. There was no wait to get into the emergency room. There was a social worker waiting for me next to a bed in a little room formed by large curtains on three sides. Read more

We have a huge vegetable garden. While the Farmer was planting huge crops of corn and hay, I was planting twenty types of vegetables. I have not bought vegetables from the store since May, when the first lettuce was ripe.

This is a picture of me digging through our forty tomato plants.

When I was putting them in the ground, I never dreamed that forty would really grow. In the northern suburbs of Chicago, where I grew up, the vegetables we planted never came up. So I sort of planned for that. But instead, I have an incredible supply of tomatoes.

When I can find them. Because I didn’t stake the tomatoes. So every couple of days, I go out and hunt for them, in what has become a thick brush of tomato stems. Read more

I’m frustrated that I have so much traffic coming to this blog (about 750,000 page views this month) and I have this post about domestic violence at the top spot in my blog. It’s the first thing everyone sees about me. I want the post to go away. I want to post about how to write a resume in five easy steps. People love lists.

If it weren’t that I’ve already blogged about sex abuse, my miscarriage and my divorce, I’d worry that my blog will never get past the topic of domestic violence, and I’ll face blogger doom. But I know from past experience that being genuine with other people helps one’s career get stronger.

Someone wrote in the comments section that there is no domestic violence, there is only violence. But that’s not true. Because domestic violence is the violence that’s hard to walk away from.

I’m not walking away from the Farmer right now. I want to say that I’ll leave if he does it again. I want to say that if he pushes me or shoves me or hits me, that all that stuff counts as abuse. It’s hard for me to believe that it counts; I didn’t believe my dad was abusing me even when the police were taking me away.

But I have hundreds of you telling me in the comments section and in your emails that this is not right.

And I know that even if I’m messed up, I don’t want my sons messed up. If it happens again I think I could hide it from everyone, you, my sons, my brothers–they called me to tell me to leave. I could refuse to tell anyone, and do this whole messed up relationship in private. I know people do that. But I know it would show, on me.

When I was practicing cello with my son a few nights ago, I said, “Don’t look at me. Look at your bow.”

And he said, “I’m looking to see if you’re smiling. You never smile.”

I know I am not hiding anything.

My plan for going forward

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This is the big test. Right here. This is the test to see if you will stick with me even when you know everything. There is lameness about me. Not the lameness commenters point out. Not like, I don’t know anything about graduate school. Or I’m not fair to David Dellifield. No. It’s more fundamental than that.

I want you to recall that when I was growing up, the police came to our house pretty frequently. (And, in fact, to our hotel rooms. And you might be interested to know that when rich people trash a hotel room they do not get thrown out of the hotel. But rather, the kids get their own hotel room.) Every time, my dad would tell them that I was fine, that it was only a spanking, that I was exaggerating. He would tell them I have a behavioral problem. Read more

Next phase of your career: design

The future of the Internet is design: from fine art galleries to the size of the box you type in name. So start figuring out how to rejigger things to make your career relevant.

Here’s how I know what’s coming:

First, a flurry of emails arrive in my in-box each day touting “free infographics.” After sniffing around, I discovered that infographics garner so many clicks that SEO mavens publish quick, cheesy infographics to hand out for free in exchange for links back to publisher sites. The infographics suck so much that I’m not even going to show you one, but there’s a lesson here: people love pictures. Read more

When people tell me they want to stay home with their kids and they can’t afford it, I want to yell at them about how when I was trying to write freelance and take care of the kids I had a babysitter refuse to come to the house because we had no food in the house. We had no food in the house because we had no money. I bought food on a day-to-day basis. That was me, affording to stay home with my kids and not work.

I must also admit that I ended up in a mental ward. Maybe from postpartum depression, but probably from the stress of being the sole breadwinner and a stay-at-home mom.

I am having flashbacks. Because I’m homeschooling nowboth boys. I never really believed I’d do this. When I launched my homeschooling blog I actually thought I was just exploring a trend. I thought I’d just write a little about how it’s clear to me that there is about to be a homeschooling revolution.

But that’s not what happened. Read more

During the year after 9/11 I went to counseling for post-traumatic stress. I went to a group that met weekly. The counselors explained that if we told our story over and over again, the story would have less power over us.

So I have been telling my story for ten years. I am lucky to have a blog, and an amazing community to tell my story to. And recently, as the 10th anniversary has been approaching, I've been telling my story again, to many news outlets.

I was there when the first tower fell. I was so close to it that I could not even see what had happened. I didn't run. I ducked for cover. I got trampled. By the time I could stand up, everything was completely dark.

I remember the moment I realized I should close my mouth and stop breathing. Time got so slow. I remember thinking that if I had stopped breathing sooner, I would have had a few extra breaths right now. I remember thinking don’t swallow, because there was too much stuff in my mouth.

I thought to myself that I had no idea what to do to save my life. I was in the dark and couldn't breathe. I thought I'll only be alive for maybe a minute longer, so I only have to keep trying to figure out how to save my life for one more minute. I told myself I can't give up until I pass out. I remember that I hoped for a fast death. Read more

It used to be controversial to say that college is a rip off. At this point, I think the arguments have reached the mainstream. The problem is that, while some kids win the intellectual lottery, it’s too risky for most kids to skip out on the credentials.

So the question is: how can you make the most of the fact that you are going to college at a time when most people think college does not prepare you for the next step in your life?

Here are seven things you can do right now:

1. If you’re taking out loans, transfer to a cheap school.
Believe it or not, there is no undergraduate degree that is worth taking out student loans to complete. This is true even for the Ivy League: Alan Krueger, an economist at Princeton, found that the indicator of whether someone will be a super achiever is not whether they attended Harvard or Princeton, but whether they applied. So the act of seeing yourself as a high achiever is more valuable than taking out loans to attend a high achiever school.

Here are many other arguments as to why you should not take out student loans for college. And Zach Bissonnette wrote my favorite book on the topic. But the bottom line is to figure out how to transfer to a very cheap school right now. Because the biggest thing you can do to preserve your ability to land a job in the future is to keep yourself debt-free now, so you can afford a job that does not pay well. Read more

I make a plan where I write enough on Sunday so I don’t lose my mind trying to write posts all week in between dealing with two kids.

And then I decide writing seems too hard. And I decide I should take a bath.

You might think this is my way of relaxing, but it’s not. We don’t have a shower. We are in the hygiene part of the slow food movement. And anyway, at some insane point in the day when I thought I might be able to write, I told the kids to try to train the dog to fetch. I am not sure what they ended up training him to do.

But I have to clean the bath before I can take a bath.

Then I am in the bath, and the September Vogue is calling to me, but it’s too heavy for the bath. So I grab a magazine that looks like it’s been wet before. Newsweek. I stole if from the doctor’s office because the cover article is The Mormon Moment and it looked too interesting to read between kids getting shots. Read more

After yesterday's post, about how stupid grad school is, a lot of people asked, what is an alternative to grad school?

This is a great question.

I see this picture outside my window at least once a month.

I have only a little idea of what’s going on. Should I go to graduate school to figure it out? I could. I could get in. And it’s clear that the next stage in my life will involve some sort of work related to farming. A business. Or writing. Or marketing. But I’m not going to graduate school to learn about agriculture because I have tried going to graduate school to get a jump on my job prospects and it doesn’t work.

When I graduated from college, I was supposedly going to graduate school in history. But I kept writing entrance essays about why I wanted to tell stories about people and history is a good way to do that. And finally, my professor who had stood by me for four years, getting undergraduate research grants for me to study mass movements in colonial America, said, “Forget it. You don't want to be a historian.” Read more