December 31, 2011

Tiny, tiny people

Our cat is being neutered next week. 

This evening I attempted to gently explain to five year old Darius what "neuter" means using words he already knows.  I said, "Just like you, Freddy has a penis and balls.  We'll take him to the doctor and he will perform a surgery that removes Freddy's balls.  That way, he won't be able to make baby kitties if he meets a girl cat."

I was trying to tread carefully here, as he is not my child and it is not my place to have his first birds and bees talk with him.

"Why doesn't he want to make baby kitties?" he asked.

"Well, I don't know if he wants to or not, but we don't want him to.  That's why we are taking him to the doctor," I answered.

He looked thoughtfully at Freddy's rear end.  "His balls let him make baby kitties?"

"Yes," I explained.  "Just like humans can make baby people, cats can make baby kitties."

His eyes widened.  He reached down to his Batman costume pants, lifted up his own testicles, and said, "You mean there's tiny people in here?"

December 13, 2011

Two brown eyes

I had one of those moments. One of those moments where it's a certain kind of day and you're in a certain kind of mood and a certain kind of song comes on. Suddenly, you're 15 years old again and in the middle of the frantic 5 minutes between 5th and 6th period and you seek out those two brown eyes. Those brown eyes that--on the rare occasions when they catch yours--have the power to warm you to your toes. For a moment you are lost.  And then the stoplight changes to green and it's time to go but your eyes have misted over and you've been punched in the gut. All because of the memory of two brown eyes.

December 10, 2011

Where I went and why I stayed

I imagine most people think they know how they would react in a given situation.  I know I did.  I always had a bit of feistiness in me that led me to believe I would fight an attacker tooth and nail.  Plus, I was smart.  I was educated in sexuality and gender issues.  I taught classes on those subjects fer chrissakes.

In the back of my mind lately--in spite of all the other things I have going on--I have been processing some of the issues that kept me from fighting back, from speaking up.  The list is incomplete.

1.  Though I struggled, I didn't scream while it was happening because I didn't want to make a scene.  I get made fun of for being overly dramatic; I always have.  And when I reported a molestation to a trusted adult as a child, I was told that I had misunderstood what had happened, and that it had not happened the way I said it did.  Because I misunderstood.

I thought maybe I was misunderstanding this time, too.

2.  Admitting to myself what was happening put me in danger of panic.  And if panic set in I felt like I would lose all control. 

Better to keep quiet and calm and alert.

3.  He didn't beat me up.  Didn't pull a weapon on me.  Didn't even say a word, in fact.  He just held me down with his own weight.  Despite the pain and the powerlessness, I kept telling myself, "It's just sex.  That's all it boils down to.  I've had sex plenty of times.  I can survive this."  Though I couldn't even allow myself to think about the word "rape" at the time, looking back I know I felt I wasn't "raped enough" (i.e., raped violently enough) as others I knew had been in order to be seen as having been "legitimately" raped by others. 

They wouldn't believe me--wouldn't take me seriously.

4.  I know you're not supposed to shower.  I've seen enough Law & Order episodes to know.  But the idea of going to a doctor or a police officer dirty and unwashed was unthinkable to me.  I just wanted to wash his presence off and forget. 

The shame and humilation were unbearable.

December 8, 2011

Sine curve

"Go put on your brave face and do all that stuff that you do. This day will fade into the next and then again into the next. Just pretend you're a machine."

Note:  This was not written by me and is not my current state.  But I loved it because it accurately describes so many of mine for the past 3 years.

October 2, 2011

Oomp diggy diggy oomp bow bow

I posted this months ago on Facebook, but I found myself drawn back to it today.  It's footage taken from a subway ride in NYC and the video is lovely, but it is the song that really makes me incredibly, inexplicably, indescribably happy.

SubWaltz from Andrea Allen on Vimeo.


Music:  "A Bastard Waltz" by People Like Us and Ergo Phizmiz 

October 1, 2011

I can smell October on the east coast

October is my favorite month.

I suddenly had weird deja vu of reading T.S. Eliot. I digress. I have no particularly strong feelings about April.

Anyway, there is just nothing like fall from, say, the mid-Atlantic states up through New England. ("They are so a state! They have a football team!") October days--no matter where I am--make me think of leaves and wood smoke and homecoming parades and Monument Ave. and driving through the mountains. They make me think of still new school years and crisp sheets of notebook paper and fresh starts and good intentions.

While San Francisco has some pretty spectacular days in October, it will always belong to the east coast in my heart.

I can remember one October, in particular. 2003? 2004? I was so filled with joy and hope that I pledged to my friend Kelli that I would do something new and strange every day. Paint my nails blue! Shout sweeping proclamations off my balcony! Howl at the moon! Now that I think about it, my pledges involved mostly me being loud. But I wanted to share my ecstasy!

Actually, I am feeling that way now. But it is far too soon to spill any beans. I'm workin' on some changes. Comin' up with a plan. And I get more excited with each passing hour.

P.S. My friend Mary is far away and going through a rough time right now, and I want her to know I love her. 

September 29, 2011

Unbirthday

Today was my baby's due date, and I have been sad all day.

September 21, 2011

September 16, 2011

Still in effect

I have been having lots of random memories lately, and this morning is this one:

When we were still teenagers, Chris and I made a pact about haunting. I had always believed in ghosts and was terrified of them, and he did not believe but really wanted to. There were several stories in my own family (and a couple in his) about deceased relatives coming back to visit the living.

I suggested that if I died before he did, I would do everything in my spiritual power to come back and appear before him, rattle some chains, give him a ghostly message, etc. On the other hand if he died before I did, he was under firm instruction not to haunt me in any way. (I didn't buy all the bullshit my family said about not feeling afraid but rather comforted. Screw that. I would drop dead on the spot. And then where would we be?) I did make one concession that he could, like, let me know in a dream or something that he was okay if he could manage that. He agreed to this proposal.

One night years later--in 2005, to be exact--we were living in San Francisco and had gone to see "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" at the Metreon earlier in the evening. It wasn't that great, but parts of it had stayed with me enough to make me a little nervous in the dark for a couple of days. We lay in bed later that night listening to the foghorns and talking about the movie, evil, and demonic possession. When he had to get up in the dark to go down the hall to the bathroom, I didn't like it one bit. "Hurry up!" I called, nervously eyeing the darkness around me and making sure none of my limbs were hanging over the bed for demons to grab. When he returned, I mentioned "the pact."

"What are you talking about?" he asked.

Aghast that he could forget such an important and long-term agreement, I reminded him about who should haunt who upon one of our deaths. I'm sure he rolled his eyes in the darkness when he scoffed, "But we said that like a decade ago!"

"It's still binding!" I cried, "Until death!"

I wonder if he knows I consider this verbal contract still valid.

September 7, 2011

What it's like

In September of 2008, I was raped on a date. I never told anyone. I mean I never told ANYONE. Not a doctor, or a therapist, or a best friend. No one. I was so embarrassed and ashamed this had happened to me, and I felt so stupid that I had not kept myself safe. I felt like all that money for all those fucking degrees ought to have been good for something, and here I couldn't even take care of myself. Normally so forthcoming and expansive, I kept my mouth shut. I didn't want to be told what to do or who to talk to. I didn't want to be asked any questions. I didn't want to explain. I just wanted to forget. Up until that point I felt like I'd been a fairly healthy woman with a fairly healthy sex life, and I was convinced I could maintain that through sheer will.

By the end of the same month, I had started to completely fall apart.

Anxiety seemed to ooze from my pores. I couldn't relax. I had recently started my first job and bought a car and suddenly I felt like I was losing control of everything. I couldn't sleep. I would be awake for three days straight. Not just awake, really, but AWAKE! I needed to talk, I needed to write, I needed to make things. Things to say were erupting out of me and I was unable to control them. I made greeting cards and little boxes. I started writing. I wrote all over my walls, in fact, and pounded out long missives on my computer in ALL CAPS because I WAS RUNNING OUT OF SPACE INSIDE TO PUT ALL OF THIS SHIT.

The lack of sleep made me wild-eyed and crazed, and the long commute to work (not to mention actual work) because impossible. The panic attacks started in earnest around this time, and they made me feel desperate and doomed and frantic. I had them everywhere--in my office, in my car, alone in my bed, in the shower. No place was safe.

I can remember driving home from work, my fingers clutching the steering wheel for dear life. I rocked back and forth furiously chanting:

"I'm sorry," she said, "I have nothing left to give."
"I'm sorry," she said, "I have nothing left to give."
"I'm sorry," she said, "I have nothing left to give."


One day on the drive home I felt so terrified to go home and be alone that I phoned ahead to Nannette and pleaded for her to let me come over as soon as I was back in the city. She told me I was welcome to come, and I fiercely held onto that as I drove. But by the time I got back to San Francisco, I was frantic again and couldn't bear to be around anyone. To her confusion, I told her I couldn't come.

Some nights she let me sleep on her couch because I didn't want to be alone.

I became obsessed with the Golden Gate Bridge. I needed to look at that bridge! I needed to see it, to drive on it, to read about it, and watch videos of people jumping off of it. I needed to know just how deep it was in the bay underneath. It felt important to know just how far down there was to go. I read, "San Francisco Bay is relatively shallow but reaches depths of 100 feet in some places." I had dreams about it. I dreamed of what it felt like when my feet left the side, and I dreamed of what I saw on the way down. I dreamed of the sound my back made when it broke upon hitting the water, and I dreamed of the light disappearing above me. I decided that the exact point at which I would jump off would be 98 feet deep, and I needed to keep that number in my head constantly. I wrote the number 98. I cut the corners out of books that showed page 98. I made a box I called "98 feet deep."

The awful part about it was that I didn't WANT to jump off. I didn't want to! It terrified and horrified me to think about it. But I was obsessed with it. My brain wouldn't leave it alone.

The days without sleep were punctuated by complete crashes. Depression and sobbing and apathy, days I called off work because I just could not function. After Nannette pleaded with me to see someone, I sent my doctor an email. All I could think to say was, "I'm going down fast." On my 32nd birthday, she had me come in for an appointment.

My doctor is wonderful, and she urged me to apply for disability and to see a psychiatrist as well as a therapist. I was getting in deeper and deeper shit at work, but I insisted to her that I could still work--didn't need the time off. I regret deeply that I didn't take her advice, but I was determined to hold on to the balls I was trying to juggle by the skin of my teeth.

Eventually, I got fired. I lost a lot of friends when they didn't understand what was going on or the decisions I made. I made a mess of relationships. I lost my baby.

These days I struggle with leaving the house, with seeing people. It feels like the only place I can be remotely safe is in my apartment, because the outside world is much too scary and unpredictable. The last time I tried to have brunch with a friend, I had to force myself to go. I threatened and begged and cajoled myself to go, and when I got home, my beloved bird was dead. A voice inside of me whispered, "I knew this would happen." It is a lonely existence.

I am taking medication now--slowly--and I have told exactly four people what happened to me. It honestly didn't occur to me until a couple months ago how all these things might be tied together. I'm sure I've told portions of my story in this venue before as I recounted my struggles with mental illness, but it has never been told in this complete fashion. I feel somewhat horrified as I type these words that now it will be OUT THERE and PEOPLE WILL KNOW and I CAN'T TAKE IT BACK.

But I needed to tell my story.

September 3, 2011

Anywhere you want to go

Yesterday I got out of the house for a few hours. I mainly had to run boring errands, but it was nice because I FELT like running those boring errands. My final stop of the day was an appointment with my therapist, Yuan-Lin, who I have really grown to love. I was a little early, so I walked the last few blocks and took my time. I meandered and swung my bag back and forth, lost in thought.

At the corner of 34th and Balboa, a guy about my age interrupted my reverie. "Do taxis run out here?" he asked, leaning against a building.

I frowned and shook my head. "No, sorry," I replied. "You won't really see them out here. If you were to see one it would be down around 36th where all the business are, but we're a little too far out."

He nooded and said, "Right on. Thanks." And then he proceeded to quickly walk ahead of me in the direction of 36th Ave. I continued my slow trek.

When I got to the corner of 36th and Balboa, I noticed the same guy again. "Hey, good luck," I told him as I walked past.

He laughed and suggested, "Maybe you could just take me with you?"

I laughed too, and called over my shoulder, "I'm not going anywhere you want to go!"

"I doubt that!" he called back.


August 26, 2011

Wordy

You may only have two or three feelings, but I have millions, and I am going to talk about them forever.

August 24, 2011

On self-soothing, or lack thereof

When I was growing up, occasionally I would overhear my mom giving other mothers or mothers-to-be advice. One topic that seemed to come up often was that of getting your infant to sleep independently through the night. My mom swore by the let-them-cry-it-out method. She liked to point to her experience with me as a success story.

Apparently, when I was a newborn in the hospital the ladies in the nursery would put me to sleep by rocking me. My mother felt that this was not a routine she was willing or able to continue when I came home so, from her account, our first few nights at home were difficult ones because I couldn't go to sleep.

At this point in recounting the story to her advisee, she put on her most determined face and said with a considerable amount of pride: "I had to just let her cry and cry and not go to her. I never rocked her to sleep once. Pretty soon, she learned not to expect it."

Hearing that story always made me sad, but I never said much about it over the years. Finally around age 14 or 15 I spoke up.

"But what was the big deal?" I asked. "Why wouldn't you have rocked me? I was your baby."

Her jaw tightened, and she said, "Because I wanted you to learn early how to take care of yourself. I needed to show you that someone wasn't always going to be there for you."

August 4, 2011

You see, I've already waited too long.

Shut your mouth
How can you say I go about things the wrong way?
I am human and I need to be loved
Just like everybody else does.


(Oh, Morrissey.)

August 2, 2011

Relish

My dear friend Judith--on her spur of the moment trip to San Francisco--is asleep in my living room. We spent the day talking and laughing and eating and drinking, and I needed this in the worst way.

Our new little kitty Freddy is curled up fast asleep next to me. He's the sweetest little guy, and when he purrs loudly in my arms or bats at my lips when I'm trying to talk or nestles between Ivan and I in bed, my heart just melts.

More soon. For now I am soaking it all up like a sponge.

July 7, 2011

On disclosure

Twice in the last few days it has been necessary for me to disclose that I'd recently had a miscarriage during medical/health appointments. Both times I said it I started to cry right under the interviewer's gaze.

I feel I've perfected the art of revealing painful personal information with a level of detachment but this...this, I have not.

July 2, 2011

Weird confidence-building exercises

Anxiety and finances greatly limit my ability to socialize at present, and today is unfortunately a perfect example of the latter. I don't feel too great at many things lately, but there is one tiny area of my life in which I am improving leaps and bounds.

Not so long ago, I mentioned my recent forays into an online game called Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC). It all started when I would watch Ivan play. I was curious, so I always asked him tons of questions. He patiently answered them all, even when he was in the middle of RvR ("realm versus realm" or player versus player action in which you seek out other players' characters and try to kill them). Admittedly I made fun of him. A lot.

Little cartoon people! Fighting each other! How silly.

At first he let me try my hand with some of his characters. Then I developed a couple of my own. My playing has been irregular over several months, with some during which I never played at all because it felt too stressful. In the last month this has been changing.

I've tried my hand at several characters (or "toons"). I have a bonedancer (Boniemaronie), a shadowblade (Laesette), a warlock (Baettina), a spiritmaster (Lyddiaa), two valkyries (Sarahfinn and Serrafina), a healer (Egiesel), four shaman (Laecuna, Madelyn, Rozzie, and Ivancito), and--my current favorite--a runemaster (Runehillda).

Ridiculous, right?

There is a particular battlegound that I really enjoy for level 20-24 toons (out of 50 possible levels) called Thidranki. And I have started making "friends."

Oh, god. Am I a [*gulp*] gamer?

One evening I was running Runehillda around Thidranki with a group of folks. She is specced (or specializes in) runecarving, so she has some kick-ass purple fiery bolts that she shoots at others from great distances. I have come to really love those things. I bolt sorcerers, friars, vampires, and theurgists with a surprising amount of satisfaction.

Anyway, on this particular evening another player asked me to join his guild, the Knights of Thidranki. I gratefully accepted. Soon I was getting regular invitations to join their RvR groups. Other characters both in my guild and out would wave at me and cheer for me and hug me. We'd make plans to meet up online to play; we'd share tips and resources and character-leveling; we'd ask each other about our progress with various trade skills like spell-crafting and alchemy (I make potions!). We'd talk about where we were from, ask how each others' days had gone, and get advice about our characters and abilities. Quickly I discovered how good it felt.

Other people like me! They seek me out! They ask for my opinion! So what if it's not real!

Plus, I have something to do when I can't sleep. Which is often.

Even if you don't play games yourself, it can be very interesting to learn about the dynamics involved in them. There is a whole new language to learn. There are customs and social norms by which you need to abide (and those that don't are quickly called out). There are stereotypes about other classes and realms. I had to laugh the first time I, as a player for the realm of Midguard, found myself agreeing with statements about "dirty Albs" (players for Albion) and "tree-hugging Hibs" (players for Hibernia).

I play with teenagers, moms, and thirty-something dudes. I play with French people and German people. One lady that I play with was inspired to create her own runemaster after watching Runehillda bolt some fools down mercilessly. Early this morning we were running around together in Thidranki, and she asked me to "drive" (decide where to roam to look for enemy players and to pick and choose our battles). I normally rely on others to do this, so I felt a little apprehensive. I warned her that I hoped she wouldn't regret asking me, and she typed back, "nah...i've seen you play."

I've seen you play.

I got ridiculously emotional at the compliment and by the notion that I can still be good at something. Even if it only involves little cartoons fighting one another.

Maybe I need to get out more. Maybe I'm turning into a complete dork. But I'll take my confidence where I can get it.

June 9, 2011

Missing

Let me begin by saying that if I owe you an email, phone call, visit, book, or anything else, please forgive me. I have been rather under the weather and everything has suffered.

On a related note: I have a lot of shit to do. The list is long and many of the tasks are daunting. But I am working on them.

First and foremost on the list is my mental health. I don't really know what or how much to say at this point. I will say that I have been considering and making phone calls to investigate a variety of options along the continuum, everything from a different psychiatrist to partial hospitalization to *gulp* possible full hospitalization for a period.

It is scary.

It is often overwhelming.

There is so much red tape and bureaucracy to get through, and it is so easy to feel frustrated and discouraged and hopeless.

Since I--for better or worse--am fairly open through this venue, in particular, many issues you may already be aware of: struggles with bipolar disorder (although there is some recent disagreement on this particular label), depression, anxiety, a job loss, a miscarriage, and some significant relationship challenges. There have been other events of which I've never spoken until the last couple of days. Not even to best friends or therapists or physicians.

I know now how fucking stupid my silence has been. And it has cost me a great deal.

I don't know at what point I crossed over from being the girl who took on things that scared her just to prove that she could do it to being this little, fearful person who is terrified of everything and everyone.

But I hate her.

I miss the little girl who was a scrapper. I miss the little girl who had holes in the knees of her jeans that she patched with scotch tape and wore them to school anyway. I miss the little girl who preferred to pee in the snow rather than going inside to use the bathroom so as not to miss a minute of sled-riding. I miss the little girl who chewed on the plastic handle fringes of her Big Wheel as she skidded around corners, dangerously close to traffic, and would race anyone who cared to challenger her.

I am trying to find her again.

By popular request: An update on bow-tie bank boy

A few folks have commented or written to ask for the follow-up story on the sweet man from the bank I mentioned in my last post. It had been nearly a month since my strange interaction with him, and I was pessimistic that he would still be a Wells Fargo employee.

As I took my place in line, I was surprised and pleased to see that he WAS, in fact, working that day. I noticed immediately that he was not sporting a bow-tie, but instead a regular tie. I was lucky enough to have him as a teller.

He never smiled once. He didn't ask me how I was doing. He was lethargic, and quietly took care of my transaction--none of the spunk or charm that had made me notice him before.

I wanted to tell him I understood. I wanted to whisper words of encouragement: "Don't let the man get you down!" But a person who appeared to be his supervisor was only a couple feet away, and I worried that I would cause him further trouble.

Admittedly, I was also afraid he would think I was hitting on him.

I walked away feeling a little sad. They've broken him!

June 6, 2011

Getting worse all the time

Recently, I was at the Wells Fargo at 19th Ave. and Geary Blvd. I stood in line trying to be patient and also to avoid looking at the little television that shows you what you look like standing in line at the goddamned bank. I hate those things.

When it was my turn, the teller who was helping me was a young guy who's been working there for awhile. He has always been friendly and has a penchant for smart little bow ties. On this day, he looked tired and his smile wasn't as big as usual. "How's your day going today?" he asked as he took care of my deposit.

"It's going okay," I responded, "how about yours?"

"Yeah, that's about it. Okay. But getting worse all the time." He smiled ruefully.

This caught me off guard and I wasn't quite sure how to respond. I kind of liked it, though. I have a special fondness for people who don't always give the run-of-the-mill "fine, thank you" answer. I commented on it to Ivan when I returned home.

A couple days later, a voicemail was left on my phone. It was a representative from Wells Fargo wanting to talk to me about my interaction with that particular teller on my visit to the bank.

Poor guy. When I go to the bank today, I have a feeling he won't be there.

June 2, 2011

Made out of loss

...Memory is what people are made out of. After skin and bone, I mean. And if memory is what people are made out of, then people are made out of loss. No wonder we value our possessions so much. And no wonder we crave firm answers, formulae, facts, and figures. All are attempts (feeble in the end) to preserve what's gone.

Bill Roorbach

June 1, 2011

I prefer the kind with traction.



I am so out of sorts, in fact, that the only worthwhile thing I have managed to accomplish today is the creation of this toilet paper tower behind my bathroom door. 20 rolls!

(I hate running out.)

The Big One may come tomorrow. The sewage system may be destroyed. But if I can somehow crawl out of the rubble to my bathroom, so help me god I WILL BE ABLE TO WIPE MY BUM IN COMFORT.

Out of sorts

**Warning: If you are one of those people who finds others' dreams boring, you might want to skip this entry.**

I feel incredibly bizarre today. I didn't sleep much last night and--while that is nothing terribly unique--today I felt like I just couldn't recover. My head is in a fog and I am moving in slow motion. I had all these things to accomplish today but by noon I was so exhausted that I knew nothing would ever get done if I didn't lay down and take a nap.

I dreamed I had invited Nannette, Amber, and Suzie over for dinner. I was making a beef stew, even though 2/3 of that crowd is vegetarian. Bob G. texted me and asked why he wasn't invited, and I texted back, "Come on over!"

As I started to chop vegetables, I was suddenly transported to my mother's kitchen. I looked around in confusion. The clock said they were supposed to arrive in an hour and I was already way behind schedule. I figured I'd just better get going and not worry about why I'd suddenly arrived at my mother's.

I quickly realized I didn't have half the ingredients I needed. Plus, I had no wine and nothing for dessert. What kind of hostess was I? I begged my mother to let me borrow her car to run to the store. She was doubtful. "I'm 34 years old!" I cried. "I can be trusted with the car to go to the grocery store!" She reluctantly handed over my keys and said that I could go if I took my brother Keith with me.

We ran to the car. I gave Keith--in childhood form--my grocery list. We hauled ass to the store, but the car would not park. "You have to leave it somewhere flat," my brother informed me, "or else it will roll away."

"Oh, for fuck's sake!" I snapped. "Why does she have this damn car?" But it was urgent. My friends were coming and I had nothing done. We dashed into the store and raced back home. When I arrived, I realized I'd only bought a potato and nothing else. I moaned in desperation. Everything felt so urgent. And nothing was going right.

Meanwhile my mom, who is not the most tech-oriented person in the world, was marveling at my smart phone and playing around with it. As I looked in the refrigerator for more ingredients, an Atlanta number called my phone. My mother handed it to me. A woman's voice said, "Amie? This is Jack-in-the-Box from Atlanta, Georgia. YOU HAVE JUST WON A $5,000 TRIP FOR TWO TO BAJA, MEXICO!"

I started laughing with glee! Holy hell, I could USE a fucking vacation! Then I realized that I don't even go to Jack-in-the-Box. And I hadn't been to Atlanta for years. I don't even think they have the damn things in Atlanta. Christ on a crutch! I thought. This is a dream! I haven't won anything.

With annoyance I slammed the phone shut and then realized: Everyone is coming to my house for dinner in SAN FRANCISCO. I am in WEST VIRGINIA. This will never work!

I tried to text them all that dinner was cancelled as the pot in which I was cooking my stew broke and everything started running down the stove. But my phone would not work right. My mom had messed it up. Every button I pushed led to the wrong function. I looked at that clock, and it was past time for them to arrive. I knew that Suzie and Amber were always late, but Nannette was probably there, waiting outside my door, wondering where I was. I had forgotten about Bob. (Sorry, Bob.)

I stood forlornly watching the sauce drip to the floor in long streaks down the oven, feeling like a failure and an unreliable friend. A text message from my mom woke me up: "What r u doing?" she asked.

Hell's bells.

May 25, 2011

The meditative cherry crisp: A photo essay

Baking helps me think more clearly. Something about the way the chemistry has to be precise--everything patiently measured, leveled off, rolled, kneaded--calms my brain and forces it to slow down.

Lately I have been seeing beautiful, sweet red cherries popping up at produce markets so I bought an assload* of them (*actual unit of measurement). I settled in to bake a cherry crisp with approximately half the assload I had purchased.

The cherries were ripe and lovely and stained my fingers with crimson juice. But I needed a glass of wine after pitting all the goddamned things.



I hadn't had the occasion to use my pastry blender for awhile. I happily pulled it out of the difficult silverware drawer and started to use it to cut the butter into the flour, oats, and brown sugar--all the while admiring that I *owned* a pastry blender--when the damn thing bit the dust and snapped in half.

Notice a significant portion of the wine had been drunk at this point.



Apparently, I have to add 'pastry blender' to the existing list of ladle and whisk as kitchen utensils to be purchased.

Due to the setback/technical failure, I found it easiest to get my hands in there and mix it together the old fashioned way. I didn't take a picture of that because I had poured another glass of wine and was temporarily over the picture-taking thing at that point.

But it did come out very nicely.



And it made me feel cozy.



In hindsight, I shouldn't have used the chipped bowl in the picture. But I love these delicately-shaded purple bowls and, well, fuck it.

May 23, 2011

Maybe only appreciated by gamers (thus, 0.0001% of my readers)

Ivan plays an online, fantasy, player-versus-player game (a MMORPG, to be more precise) called Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC). Admittedly and embarrasingly (because of my stereotypes about gamers) I've gotten into playing it in recent months, too.

Last night in the shower I was so furious with him for what he has done as I washed my still sore places that I was screaming at him in my mind. When I got out and dried off, I needed to do something.

I logged into his main character in DAoC, a known, templated, high realm-rank healer, Atreri, and went to the frontiers where other characters (or "toons") were getting ready to go off into the battlegrounds. I started going up to other people's toons and using the game's emoticons to make rude gestures at them, wave away their stench, and roll on the floor laghing at them. People started making rude gestures back and lots of them asked, "Dude, who the hell are you?" and "What the fuck is your problem?"

I finally announced in region chat that I was pissed off at my boyfriend and this was his toon so I was doing weird things with him. People found that amusing and one dude asked, "Hey, can I have his gear?" After that, all the toons around me started hugging me.

It was a weirdly touching moment.

On bruises that go away

I knew why he was a little less than crying. I knew very well, and I wanted to go to him and tell him that I had a little less than cried too, just like him....And look at me, Little Igor, the bruises go away, and so does how you hate, and so does the feeling that everything your receive in life is something you have earned.

Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer

May 21, 2011

It's amazing...

...the things that go through your mind when someone has their hands around your neck and is squeezing. For me, it was, "I do not want this television to be the last thing I see."

May 8, 2011

How socks have to be like

This morning when he emerged from getting dressed, I giggled at how Darius was wearing his socks rolled up in this fine fashion:




He glanced down and explained: "I saw this movie once. When I was little. Um, and a kid, um, had his socks like that. Rolled up. And, um, and that's how socks have to be like."

On Mothers' Day

And so it is Mothers' Day.

A couple of sweet and thoughtful friends have written in the last couple of days to check on me and to pre-emptively say they knew this day would be really hard for me. Strangely, it is no worse than any other. Maybe it's because I have never really gotten too excited about this "holiday." Maybe it's because I was still so new to the idea of thinking of myself as a mother. I don't know.

Today I will wake up with Ivan and Darius.

We will wipe away the crust from our eyes and brush our teeth.

We will drink coffee and milk, respectively, and I will make sure Darius ingests some sort of fruit along with his breakfast cereal.

Today we will admire yesterday's sidewalk chalk drawings (A volcano! That is erupting! Onto the playground! Next to the rainbow!) and re-visit the lopsided hopscotch board I created for surprisingly endless hours of entertainment on the part of Darius.

We will toast bread and eat the egg salad I prepared last night, and I will attempt to convince Darius that eggs are neither yucky nor smelly (even though I kind of think they are myself).

We will paint pictures and pick flowers, and we will send him home with gifts for his own mother for Mothers' Day.

Today I will open my bedroom drawer and check on my child's ashes in the terrible little white plastic box the funeral home returned her in.

And I will go on.

My house. Where difficult silverware goes to die.

When I was growing up, one of my main household duties was the nightly task of washing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. God, I hated it.

My mother's silverware drawer was a constant annoyance to me. On one side, our spoons, forks, and knives sat neatly in their little trays. The rest of the drawer was a chaotic mess of other, less frequently used cooking- and eating-related utensils: vegetable peelers, spatulas, corn on the cob holders, and so on. I quickly termed this the "difficult silverware" because these items were hard to organize, often oversized, and seemed to require endless rooting through the drawer to find.

In my adulthood, I have tried to alleviate this problem by having a large ceramic container sitting on the counter that holds and provides easy access to all the larger items. I, too, have a mass of garlic presses, measuring spoons, fondue forks, and shish kebab sticks messily taking up space in the other half of my silverware drawer. But at least I have made some progress on the organization front. My mama didn't raise no dummy.

I have noticed that Ivan has very little interest in my personal system of silverware organization. (The same could be said for his position regarding my systems for washing dishes, arranging the medicine cabinet, cleaning the bathroom sink, and putting away groceries, but I suppose at the moment that is neither here nor there.) We share the task of washing dishes, but in recent weeks and months when I have not felt well he has cheerfully born the brunt of it (unless we played cards and placed bets on who had to wash the dishes and I lost--also neither here nor there).

Ivan's kryptonite is putting the clean dishes away. He hates it. He is brought to his knees. He will beg and plead and cajole me that he will wash the dishes if only I will put the clean dishes away. Some days this sounds like a reasonable request. Other days it does not. If left to his own devices, he will put away simple items like plates and bowls and cups. The rest he stacks randomly around the kitchen or else takes a wild guess as to where it might belong and stashes it there. On some level I find this amusing, but when I am in the middle of cooking and politely looking for an item ("Where in the hell is the mixing bowl?") it makes me crazy.

This is how the ladle and the whisk have disappeared.

Really, it could be so easy! They could be proudly sitting in the container on the counter, ready to be called to duty again. Instead, I root through drawers and cabinets complaining, "How far could the goddamned whisk have gotten?"

To which he replies, "Which one is the whisk again?"

They have both been missing for weeks, and to his annoyance I never miss an educational opportunity to remind him of their usefulness and to bemoan their unknown whereabouts whenever I can.

I think about them sometimes even when I am not cooking. I like to imagine they are now free from servitude and pursuing other, non-functional interests and talents they might have. I suppose they will turn up eventually. Maybe when I move out of this apartment. Or, sure as shit, as soon as I decide to replace them and buy new ones.




I call this one "Sans Ladle and Whisk."


May 3, 2011

Future tense

A: "Voy a preparar su ensalada en diez minutos."

(P.S. My Spanish RAWKS!)

(P.P.S. Is that right, Cindy?)

May 1, 2011

Spread

**A warning to my father--and everyone else, for that matter--that I discuss my hoo-hoo (and more) below**

Money is pretty tight these days, so it is a rare and wonderful treat to go in for waxing. Gone are the days when I went to the little Vietnamese salon down the street to see the lovely and always surprising Penny (read about examples of that here and here).

No, no. Once I got serious about the waxing of the vagina I started investing in a nice salon--one with bright lights and numbing spray and fancy purple wax. Stephanie is now my go-to girl for my hair removal needs.

I love Stephanie. She is also a lawyer who volunteers her time in the public defender's office. She is interesting to talk to, has an amazing memory for the random things I've told her, and makes the scary and potentially humiliating experience of a Brazilian bikini wax almost...enjoyable. This time, as with last time, I decided to really go for it--have her take it all off. No landing strips; there are no airplanes here. Get this shit OFF.

So yesterday Stephanie finished up the entire front area and was ready to work on the "back door" as she calls it. I took a sip from my glass of wine for strength and sustenance.

"Can you lay on your stomach and reach both hands back and spread your butt cheeks for me?"

I laughed nervously while getting into the requested position and said, "I am pretty sure no one has ever asked me to do this before."

"Well, at least now you know you can," she answered as she worked. "This way, if we're ever taken over by aliens and this is your only way to eat, you know you can do it."

What?

April 26, 2011

Without beginning or end

Sometimes it hits me unexpectedly. Like the other night when we were watching "The Office." We were laughing and I glanced over at Ivan's profile and thought, "We made a baby. We were going to have a baby." And then I crumple.

I really have to psych myself up to be around groups of people; sometimes I fail. I live in mortal fear of someone asking me about the miscarriage when I am not expecting it--when I am talking or smiling. It happened this weekend and, though I felt like I handled it okay, my anxiety returned full-force and I was on guard the rest of the afternoon.

I also have a great deal of trouble when friends write to ask how I am. I appreciate their concern. I have every intention of responding. I sit for long periods of time and try to think of how to answer. All I can come up with is, "Well, my baby's still dead and somewhere in my head I am constantly screaming. How are you?" I just don't know what else to say. I really don't.

A couple of folks have used this opportunity to deliver a little speech about what should be happening in my life when and if we decide to try to conceive again. Please spare me your lectures. I will try again when I am good and ready regardless of whether you think it is the right time for me.

April 19, 2011

An open letter to Glad, maker of 13 gallon tall draw-string kitchen trash bags

Dear Glad,

I am writing to express my enjoyment of this product.

Lately my partner has been into making his own falafel, and thus we have been going through an increased amount of cooking oil. I confess that am I rather ignorant of what to do with this oil once we are finished, and I feel certain there is probably something more ecologically responsible I should be doing other than dumping it into the trash once it has cooled. I was just trying to avoid pouring it down the sink and clogging up the works.

After this week's falafel endeavors, I sighed with dread when I imagined the mess that would quite possibly be awaiting me when I pulled the oil-filled trash bag out of the plastic can. I was thrilled to be wrong. I was even more pleased after the trash bag was drug across the living room floor and thoroughly stepped on by my step-son and there was still not a leak in sight.

Not too many things are going right at present, but it is nice to know I can count on my trash bags during these trying times. I have been purchasing this brand for years; I will continue to do so in the future with pleasure.

Sincerely,

Amie
A satisfied customer in San Francisco

I'm wide awake; it's morning

This morning while having my coffee and flipping through the TV channels, I became intrigued by the speaking style of female television minister Joyce Meyer. She has sort of a gruff, dykey, folksy, no-nosense kind of style--it's fascinating. Having just done my taxes last night, I was willing to listen. I was sort of rooting for her to convince me until she said this:

"You can't dwell every day on the sins you committed in the past. Jesus took them. You say, 'Oh, Lord, but when I was young I had that abortion.' Well, one day you'll meet that little baby in heaven and have good times together."

April 18, 2011

The peas for a second

I: Can we talk about the peas for a second? The ones we're having for dinner? With the chicken and mashies? The frozen peas? Let's actually cook that shit. Not microwave shit. Like, I'm talking BOILING. I'll be in charge of that.

For Beth R-C

I had just read your message on my phone while sitting outside. I sat back to think about how I would respond to you when I heard a flute being practiced from a nearby open window. This was an extreme beginner--his or her embouchure has a long way to go. I could hear the breathy shrills forced out of the instrument as the player strove for those upper register notes. I wondered wistfully what happened to my flute and thought vaguely about looking for a second-hand one to play around with. Then I had a random memory that I thought you would appreciate.

It was summer 1991--my freshman year of band camp. I was excited to be there, eager to please, and immensely terrified around everyone older than me. (And so titillated by the drumline! Mark A., Eli, Jeff P., Jeff B....) Mr. Christian assigned everyone to have "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" memorized by a specific date, and asked the section leaders to make sure this happened.

The afternoon before the memorization was supposed to occur, Jodie R. (with you as her assistant, I believe!) let us slide by having us flutes and piccolos play it together as a group rather than to go through the mortifying experience of playing it solo, one-by-one. I was so relieved, but somehow not moved to go home and practice.

The next afternoon while practicing our half-time show, Mr. Christian decided to test out the new, allegedly memorized "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." We stood in formation at the end of "El Tigre" and Christelle start counted us off. Andy W.'s trumpet solo was excellent and the drummers played well; most everyone else in the band faked the song and snuck covert looks at one another. I felt so guilty for not learning it, and prayed no one would notice ME above everyone else. Above the noise of the drumline directly behind me at the 50 yard line, the captain Stephen H. screamed at the other drummers, "CAN ANYBODY HEAR THE GODDAMNED BAND!?"

I froze in terror, my fingers still arched in position to play a random b-flat. They knew I didn't know the song! The entire drumline, 75% of whom I had a crush on, KNEW I WAS FAKING "BOOGIE WOOGIE BUGLE BOY"! FROM COMPANY C!

That night, I took home my sheet music and piccolo and learned the entire song. By bedtime I was playing it with gusto and relishing the trills. Mr. Christian cast the song aside in frustration, but I knew the song! Sometimes when I am anxious, I still flex through the fingerings in my mind.

I swear I could still play it if I picked up a flute.

Advice

This morning when being teased, 5 year old Darius told his father, "If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all!"

April 11, 2011

Me, I'm the cranky one.

Warning: Complaining and ranting below

I read a tweet awhile back that was something along the lines of "Facebook has made me hate all the people I know, and Twitter has made me like a lot of people I don't know." I can really relate to this. Some days I can't stand Facebook.

It's hard enough right now to log in and read other people's pregnancy news and see their pictures, but I suppose that comes with the territory as I want to keep up with my friends' lives. However, I am so fed up with the touchy-feely, pre-fabricated messages that people post and want me to post. I have two deceased grandmothers that I love dearly and think about all the time. If there is indeed a heaven, these two ladies are in it. But this status update that has been recently appearing was so annoying to me:

Repost this if you have a Grandma in Heaven...If roses grow in heaven, Lord, then pick a bunch for me. Place them in my Grandma's arms and tell her they're from me. Tell her that I love and miss her, and when she turns to smile, place a kiss on her cheek and hold her for awhile! ♥

Barf, barf, barf.

Recently, and for reasons I will not go into, I came into possession of a pair of white leggings. They're hideous. At first I vowed to throw them in the trash. Then I decided that they are comfortable and that I will only wear them in the house and make Ivan look at them. I posted something about it on a status update:

If white leggings with lace-trimmed ankle cuffs aren't white trash, I don't know what is. I'm only an airbrushed kitten sweatshirt and a side ponytail away from my 12 year old self.

A few people commented on the white trash outfit theme, but a relative of mine took this opportunity to say some pretty hideous things about fat people and how they "burn [her] eyes." I was annoyed. I ignored it the first time she posted it, but a few hours later she followed up with an even worse comment that made me angry and I deleted them both. I appreciate snark and bitchiness as much as the next girl, but those comments to me were just hateful. I don't want to read it, and I certainly don't want it on my page.

And then there is the God stuff.

I consider myself to be somewhere in the realm of Agnostic. People can believe whatever they choose and that is fine with me. Some days I think maybe there's something to all this, and some days I don't. But every single day folks on Facebook command me to pray for something or someone. I wish they would not assume that I deal with the uncertain, unknown, and unpredictable in the same ways that they do. What irritates me even worse is those (including members of my own family) who put God in every. single. status. update. One relative wrote, "Going to take a walk. I hope He is with me to keep me safe!" I want to reassure them that He is indeed with them while taking that walk. I'm sure he is also with them while they wipe their ass, jerk off, and pick their nose, and I hope they take comfort in that companionship as well.

I really love the folks who use their status updates passive aggressively. To teach others a lesson. To show others how stoic they are in the face of all the indignities that other people put upon them. One girl I know from high school specializes in this status update art form, in particular. Here are some examples:

Why do I even bother?!? Some people are just gonna be "jerk offs" b/c they can!! :) I hope I'm still around to see them get theirs - just sayin'....

brought out her spoon and gave it a quick polish before starting the stirring process! Let the games begin!! :)

My Heart is broken (surprise)! I'm having trouble sleeping for the conversation that My Daughter and I had before she went to bed this evening! NO child at ANY age should have to feel the way she does, but especially NOT at 5!! My Heart bleeds for her!! :(

Ding - Ding, round 2! Gettin' in the shower to get ready to hit up the town again!! Who says what's Good for the Goose isn't Good for the Gander?!? Hmmm..... :)


I read these out loud to Ivan and we laugh and laugh.

-end of rant-

April 10, 2011

Let them eat cake.

I (while pouring me yet another glass of wine): I'm such a...what's the word? Co-facilitator?

A: Enabler.

I: Yeah.

April 9, 2011

"There is no sign of land..."

A couple of decent days followed by a couple of shitty days. I guess this is how things are going to go.

April 7, 2011

The day has come.

I have long feared the day when my female parent arrived on Facebook, and the day is here--she has been threatening to do it for years. She doesn't quite know how it works yet. Like me, my mother is a big fan of melodrama. She is also of the opinion that public proclamations are more meaningful than private ones.

These things make for a bad combination.

I logged in this morning to find that she'd attempted to send a friend request to my partner, except it was another Ivan with the same last name that she'd settled on. On her wall, she wrote this Ivan a dramatic and heartfelt message:

I so hope you love my daughter. I love her more than breath. She may never now the depth of my love for her, but she lives so far away. since both my parents r gone, i only have my children n idont think they know how much they mean to me. Maybe you can make her understand that

So embarrassing!

Yesterday was a better day.

The sun was shining and the sky was blue.
We listened to a lot of Wham! at my urging.
I received a beautiful card and picture from my dear friend Becky and her daughter Amiya.
I shaved my legs for the first time in, oh...maybe it's better I don't tell you how long.
I worked on wading through the emails I've gotten from friends and loved ones in order to respond to them.
I even felt like talking some shit on Facebook.
I made a nice dinner.
I got some sleep.
Today is TBD, but I am out of bed drinking coffee and feeding parrots their treats.

March 27, 2011

You

I haven't been feeling too gracious about anything lately, so I thought I would grab this fleeting moment while it lasted. My bottle of Nyquil and my box of tissues are here to support me.

I have heard from so many people in the last 8 days. People from all the different parts of my life have written me the kindest and most loving words. You've sent phone numbers and addresses and cards and invitations to do everything from sit and cry to stay in your homes. I have been humbled repeatedly by the private pain and brutal, gut-wrenching experiences that so many have confided in me to let me know I am not alone. Some people have said some stupid things, too, but in my more charitable moments I try really hard to remember that they are just clumsy attempts to comfort me.

Thank you.

I haven't actually managed to call anyone on the phone--not even my own parents--and have thus far responded to very few emails. Please forgive me for this and know that it's not because I didn't appreciate them. I am really feeling my way around in the dark here.

I'd also like to ask in advance for your patience as I continue to grieve through my blog. I realize that if you're looking for light and lovely reading my blog has rarely been the place, but it's even less so at present. It's just that I need somewhere to put these words, and somehow in the last 5 years of using this little corner of the internet as a repository for them I have come to rely on it heavily.

Now back to our regularly scheduled angst and intensity to express my deep and complex nature.

March 25, 2011

Absence

I (rubbing my belly): I know it's empty. I just need to touch it.

In three parts

We took the baby to be cremated yesterday. After a great deal of thought and discussion, we decided that we just could not bear handing her off for lab tests.

It was a miserable day--cold, wind, and heavy rain. We had to take two buses to get to the mortuary in Daly City. While waiting for the 28 along 19th Ave., car after car plowed through the standing water and splashed and soaked us. Some people took up defensive postures with their umbrellas; I just didn't care. Our task at hand overwhelmed me, and I didn't care who saw the tears creeping down my face on the bus.

We completed the paperwork. We reported the date and time of death. We signed off as her mother and father. We named her Marie. Marie Pesic. This was never intended to be her name, but I so often light-heartedly called her "Fetus Marie" after my own middle name that it felt right. We held hands as the kind staff member asked us the necessary questions, and when my voice broke with sadness Ivan took over answering them. We said goodbye before handing her over.

* * * * *

In the nights, I feel panic. I feel lost and alone and the pain and fear are still fresh in my mind. I curl up to Ivan--pressing my body against the length of him, but the darkness engulfs me and the cold creeps into my bones. If I manage to nod off for a bit, my mind places me on a tiny, unstable balcony hundreds of stories above a city at night. I am carelessly leaning far over the edge, looking down. I jerk awake. Over and over again.

* * * * *

People keep referring to the next time I get pregnant, and I have to wrap my sweater tighter around me to keep the cold out. The next time.

March 21, 2011

Comfort

I: I might not be the smartest motherfucker. I might not be the prettiest motherfucker. I might be a hairy motherfucker. But I'm your motherfucker. And you're mine.

Scream

I wrote this message to a friend, and now I have adapted it for here, too. I orignally composed it as a private message because I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings by posting it here. Fuck it. I am so fucking mad.

* * * * *

I hate today. I was indescribably pissed off when I woke up and the sun was shining. I made the mistake of getting on Facebook and now I feel loathing for everyone. They're all going on with their lives and commenting on each other's cute fucking kids and saying inane shit like, "Is it Friday yet!?" You fuckers. My baby is dead. Fuck you and your fucking Fridays for the rest of your lives.

I realized this morning that I don't think I can go back to the clinic I was going to. They took good care of me, but I don't think I can sit in the waiting room with all the pregnant bellies. I don't think I can face all the women who were so kind to me and who congratulated me. I'll find another place to go for the remainder of the medical care I need.

Someone said to me, "This is a blessing in disguise," and I wanted to fire-bomb the world.

Someone else suggested that maybe next time I shouldn't tell people about my pregnancy so early, because now I have to clean up the mess of telling everyone. Fuck all the people who walk around keeping everything in hushed tones. I need to talk about shit and I would do it the same way again.

I don't know where to put all this. Where the fuck do I put this?

Someone wrote to me in kindness to share suggestions of how I should memorialize my baby, and part of it included taking pictures of all the things I bought for the baby and putting them in a book. Well, I didn't have anything for the baby. I had only bought myself things: prenatal vitamins and fresh fruits and vegetables and milk and maternity clothes and a nursing bra and passes to a community pool so I could exercise and a new bathing suit to go with it. Should I take a picture of these things?

Before I was pregnant I looked at Ivan's body with desire. When I was pregnant, I looked at it with wonder because of this life we were creating together. Last night when he stretched out across the bed I looked at it with fear. We can do terrible damage together.

I want to wrap all women that this has happened to in my arms and take away their hurt and keep them safe.

I want to scream when people say cutesy things about their miscarriages, like, "Today is my baby's two year angelversary." Maybe coating it in god and sugar and angels helps them, but it only makes me furious. My baby is dead. And I was revulsed when I had to pull her out of a blood-filled toilet still warm from my body and drop her in a jar. I will hear the sickening thud she made for the rest of my life.

I just don't know what to do with this.

Monday

This morning crashed down really fucking hard. How can the sun be shining? I wanted rain.

March 20, 2011

We used to be three and not two.

I lost my baby at 3am yesterday morning, Saturday, March 19.

I had her in my bathroom. The pain was horrific and the scene was grisly. Most of the time I made Ivan wait on the other side of the door. I didn't want him standing in my blood or seeing and hearing the things that I was seeing and hearing. When I called his name he was through the door in a flash, folding me in his arms. The rest of the time he stayed outside, taking my instructions for what I needed and whom to call.

I want and need to tell my story of what happened in this apartment between 1 and 4am yesterday, but I don't know the right person or venue. I can't bear the thought of my friends who are mamas or mamas-to-be to read these awful things.

I can tell that she is gone. There is a terrible void where she used to be.

I feel such strange things toward my body. On one hand, it has been through so much in the last couple of days and I want to be gentle with it. But on the other, I feel betrayed by and angry with it. How could it fail to keep my baby safe?

I want to scream to the world that she existed. That she grew and fluttered in my body. That she was so important to us and already loved very much. That I thought of her nearly every moment, waking and asleep, and wanted to be a better person for her.

I have some irrational thoughts. Heroin addicts can shoot up while pregnant and still manage to have healthy babies. People can be unknowingly pregnant for as long as I was and longer and still manage to have healthy babies. Dogs can go off by themselves and burrow under porches and have healthy babies. But I--while taking the best care of myself that I could--managed to fuck it up.

I have some hateful thoughts, too. I wonder if the people who weren't happy for me before will be happy now that there is no baby.

I can sit and stare for hours at a time. I feel guilty if I smile at anything; my child is in a jar of alcohol in the bedroom. The grief and the anger come in tidal waves, and I am drowning. There just aren't enough tears in the world right now.

March 18, 2011

Downpour, downpour

Some of this is a little gruesome. Please don't read if you will be offended.

After several days of bleeding and a couple days of cramps, last night at about 1am the pain became extremely intense. We went to the emergency room at San Francisco General Hospital in a cab. It had started to rain. Ivan held my hand. I frequently had to lean over and grit my teeth from the severity of the pain. We tried not to focus on what was likely happening.

They took me in very quickly, and my kind nurse Gallo walked me to the bathroom so that I could give her a urine sample and put on a hospital gown. Once she shut the door and I began to undress, blood and tissue began to gush from me and onto every available surface--the floor, the toilet, my gown. I tried to clean up after myself, but it continued to run down my legs in hot, red streams. I opened the bathroom door to ask for help, but all I managed to do was begin to sob loudly into the hallway as blood pooled at my feet.

They put me in bed and hooked me up to an IV. I began to shiver violently, and they wrapped me in blankets. They called for Ivan. The doctor did a painful pelvic exam and vaginal ultrasound. He didn't say anything for the longest time, and I asked if he could see the baby. He turned the screen toward me so that I could see my tiny baby, very still. He couldn't see a heartbeat, and said he wasn't sure if it was because she was so small or if it was "something more worrisome." Ivan and sat and hugged and cried while we waited for my lab test results.

In the end, the verdict was that I am still pregnant according to my urine and blood tests. But the doctor warned me that I may very well be in the process of having a miscarriage; it's just too soon to tell.

I cried at the thought of my baby falling into a clump in the toilet. I was advised by multiple people to save the tissue so that it could be sent for lab tests. And then I cried at the thought of fishing her out and holding her in my hands.

I have been given instructions under what conditions I should return to the hospital. Otherwise, I return to my prenatal clinic Monday to give more blood and urine samples to find out if I am still pregnant. Now all I can do is wait.

I am so unhappy. And numb. I feel like I have failed.

The rain is coming down hard now.

March 17, 2011

My porn skills are apparently being under-utilized.

More and more frequently, I am noticing folks coming across my blog via google searches for topics of a graphic sexual nature. Recently it was "how to lick my husband's penis" from an interested party in India. Quite regularly, it is "grandmother swallows" from all over the world.

What the hell?

I mean, sex is good. I have spent years teaching and conducting research on sex-related topics. I have even been known on one or two occasions to have sex (but only in the dark in the missionary position with someone I love). People can look up whatever they want, of course, but how are these things bringing them to my little narcissistic, self-indulgent corner of the web?

I feel certain I've never written about any of these topics. Perhaps I should start--maybe this is the shift in career directions for which I have been searching.

I feel certain Ivan will have other ideas about the merits of such an endeavor.

March 15, 2011

Resting

We are okay, but that was a kind of primal fear I've never known and am not eager to experience again. After everything was over, we could not hear the baby's heartbeat. My midwife kept soothing me that this was perfectly normal for 11 1/2 weeks, and that I would see her with my own eyes during the ultrasound on Friday and would feel so much better.

Oh, I hope.

I want to sincerely thank the folks who wrote to check on me. Your concern means more to me than I can express.

More of my usual blather soon.

March 13, 2011

Weekend of worry

Things happening that shouldn't be happening. A call to the doctor assuaged my concerns yesterday, but today things have escalated. I am anxious. I am noticing every twinge. I am trying to be calm.

Doctor tomorrow.

March 8, 2011

Wherein I begin what will surely be more regular mentions of my lady-parts

Knowing that boys read this blog, including my father (Hi Pop!), I'll try to go easy on the vagina talk. I'm not trying to give anybody nightmares or anything.

Today I had 1 of 3 doctor appointments this week. This one was with a midwife at my prenatal clinic. Well, actually I saw TWO midwives--one of them was in training. I really, really loved them both. We began by talking forever. Nothing was left out! Every aspect of my body and mind were covered. I had a list of questions and concerns, and we went through each and every one in great detail. We even pondered the nasty head cold I am currently sporting from every angle. Then they proceeded to poke, prod, and examine every square millimeter of my body. Again, nothing was left out. I just finished some antibiotics for a UTI, and now the antibiotics have caused some yucky side effects. Ick. This issue was dicussed and dealt with. Prescriptions were filled. I also had a flu shot and blood work.

What I am REALLY excited about, however, is what is coming up March 18: my first ultrasound. I elected to undergo some optional genetic testing that is no risk to the baby just so I could have an extra ultrasound a few weeks sooner than the first one they are already planning. I can't wait! It will quite possibly be too early to tell the baby's sex, but I don't care. I'm dying to see her swimming around and to glimpse her little heart beating.

I came home exhausted and congested, and was grateful for the hugs and offers to make dinner that I encountered. Ivan also kindly trekked out into the drizzle to Walgreen's to get me tissues and the cold medicine I was given permission to take. What was supposed to be taco night turned into yogurt, bananas, and kiwi for dinner, but the best part came last: armed with cold medicine I slept for *3 1/2* hours! I am hoping for more of this delicious elixir known as sleep in the very near future. Like, in the next 10 minutes.

March 7, 2011

Idiots and granola-crunchers

Recently I complained about some of the ladies that annoy me on www.i-am-pregnant.com. I still visit the site regularly, though. I think that talking shit to the computer is theraputic for me when I can't sleep in the middle of the night.

A popular feature of the site is the ability to ask questions of other expectant and new mothers in an open forum. I do learn things on here--some I didn't even know I wanted to know and some that make it impossible to imagine eating for the next several hours given the degree of detail they go into. But one popular line of questioning involves variations on the question, "Do you think I could be pregnant?" Here is an actual message someone posted:

I have a friend that hasn`t gotten her periods just yet. She is never late and have her period marked every month. Her boobies are sore as well as her nipples. she has been off the pill for the past 8 months. Do you think she could be pregnant? Its hard for me to say as I never got any symptoms at all and found out late in my pregnancy that I was. Please help

What is your major malfunction? Take a pregnancy test! Some women say they don't want to "waste a test." What are they? Made of fucking gold? Take a pregnancy test!

In other news, I recently watched a documentary called, "The Business of Being Born." It "explores the history of obstetrics, the history and function of Midwives, and how many common medical practices may be doing new mothers more harm than good." In general, I have always imagined giving birth in a hospital and having an epidural, but wanted to educate myself about other ways that giving birth might look. I have already gotten comments like, "You want a home birth, right?" and snotty advice from women who haughtily state that "a natural birth experience" (i.e., without my much-coveted epidural) is the only conceivable option.

Well, I feel like I know more after seeing this documentary and that I am getting increasingly sensitized to important issues to consider, but I still feel like I want the hospital and the epidural even after viewing and considering.

I had a friend who had her first child about three years ago, and decided she wanted a doula. When she went into labor a few weeks early, she and her partner called the doula who was out of town and unwilling to return. She assured them that she "probably wasn't in labor" and advised her to "light a candle and take cleansing breaths." So they went to the hospital. This is exactly the kind of hippy bullshit I want to avoid.

March 5, 2011

This battlestation is operational.

I felt the baby move for the first time today. I felt the baby move!

It was the strangest and most wonderful feeling. I was lying on my side trying to take a nap, and I began feeling these tiny, delicate flutters. It felt like butterfly wings, or like a tiny fish swimming around. My little fish.

I felt her again tonight, and it makes me smile uncontrollably.

At least now I have an excuse.

My formerly squishy belly is taking on a new and unfamiliar firmness.

March 3, 2011

Commiseration

"...And I really hope he has someone in his life right now who can make him feel a little less judged by this giant, jeering audience..."

(From www.dooce.com)

No shit!

At 10 weeks of pregnancy, I am reading that Fetus Marie is the size of a small plum. Now we're getting somewhere! She's lost her tail, her fingers and toes have separated, and her tooth and taste buds are now forming. She also intensely desires hot cinnamon candy.

I threw in that last part.

A few weeks ago when I had some time to kill in the Outer Sunset, I browsed in a small candy store. The sight of most of it didn't do anything special to me, but at the very end of the aisle, my eyes fell upon what seemed to be the loveliest sight:



I bought a few ounces of them. Oh, holy Jesus, did they taste divine. I've never been a big gummy candy fan, but I cannot stop thinking about these goddamn cinnamon bears. I've tried to fight it. I certainly don't need to be eating all that sugar--especially now--but oooohhhhh.... During a few moments of weakness, I found a website that sold them and just looked at pictures. Then I very responsibly closed the page and tried to forget. But I could not.

So I just gave up ordered 5 lbs of the damn things. I'll probably need to turn custody of them over to Ivan so that he can allot me a daily ration. At least until I freak out and hold a knife to his throat until he gives up the stash.

It's been a rough fucking day.

This week, the www.i-am-pregnant.com website advises me that I may find myself "feeling moody" and "getting distressed easily."

Uh, you think?

March 2, 2011

A few things in no particular order

1. Brooklyn. Huh. I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

2. Lately I have been worrying that I am going to have twins. This is followed by worries that I will have no baby at all. I'd really like to relax about this stuff. I'll be happy with just one healthy one.

3. My friend and her boyfriend are moving to Portland, and I am sad. I haven't gotten to hang out with them for a couple of months, but they're a lot of fun and they live in my neighborhood and I will really miss knowing they're nearby. I was so eager to see them off, apparently, that I showed up for their going away party tonight a total of 10 days early. (Idiot.) Since I was all made up and at the bar, I pulled up a barstool, ordered a cranberry juice, and chatted with a few folks before turning around and going home.

4. At about 1am, I lay in bed thinking about my grandparents. This actually happens quite a lot. I was the first grandchild, and I was remembering how my grandmother always told me that after I'd spent the night with them as a baby, my grandpa would keep my tiny undershirts under his pillow so he could smell me when I was away. I'm not sure anyone has ever loved me so much before or since. I miss my grandparents so intensely that at least once a week I cry for them. I think I might always.

5. On Thursday, I am most likely going to meet Ivan's mother for the first time. I am nervous about this. She was incredibly kind to me when I wrote to her a couple of weeks ago.

6. My erratic sleep habits are really starting to become a problem. I have a doctor appointment later in the week that I really think may help me with that.

February 28, 2011

From soup to nuts

So I was screwing around on Facebook this evening, putting off cleaning the bathroom, when something very interesting caught my attention. My friend Nicole was looking for help getting her next cookbook ready and put out an informal job advertisement for some assistance. She has about 200 recipes that she needs edited, organized, and uploaded into a print-on-demand website. I was excited by the opportunity and expressed interest, and she responded, "Amie, I was secretly hoping you would be interested in this." I was incredibly flattered.

I met Nicole a couple of years ago via our mutual friend Bree. At the time she was designing a survey for parents regarding the local school lunch program and needed some help. Designing surveys was a component of what I used to do in my research life, so it was very easy for me to offer my services. She liked the work I did for her, we hit it off, and for the next couple of years I followed her chef blog and we traded Facebook comments.

I am terribly excited because I enjoy cooking, but even more than cooking I love cookbooks! I have a pretty decent collection, and I spend a lot of time looking up recipes and ingredients online. Plus, I have plenty of time on my hands and this sounds incredibly fun. We just got off the phone and are currently nailing down the specifics, but expect to begin work together very soon.

I would like to personally thank the universe for throwing me a bone.

Lullabye

He knew how I needed to be loved.

February 27, 2011

Kindnesses

For someone who ostensibly knows a thing or two about human behavior, I feel like I've never understood less. As I've moaned and cried about considerably, it was shocking to me how many people were not happy about my pregnancy.

But there have been some pleasant surprises, too.

My lovely and very much missed friend T.K. surprised me with a gift certificate for a natal massage ("to meet all the needs of the mother-to-be") a couple of nights ago when I was feeling incredibly low. I am so tempted to use it now, but I have a feeling I will appreciate it even more when I am huge and ungainly.

A girl from high school that I really never got to know very well surprised me by asking if she could make something for the baby. She has four children of her own, and assured me that she wouldn't be giving me any unsolicited advice because she knew everyone was probably busy doing that already. I really appreciated that--hell, THAT could be my gift.

Another girl with whom I never really got along heard about my pregnancy and contacted me to ask for my address so she could send me a gift. I was so touched.

I love to go to the doctor. All the ladies in the office are so genuinely kind to me. They smile and answer my questions and pat my arm reassuringly and congratulate me. I beam and beam.

Oh! And as my friend Lael said it would, my hair is getting fuller and thicker. This fucking ROCKS.

God. I hope that only happens to the hair on my head.

The magic beam

I guess I'm pretty naive.

Somehow I assumed that once you got pregnant, you would KNOW. Like there would be this magical beam that would radiate from within you, indicating the life growing inside.

There's no beam.

I am in my third month of pregnancy now, and I still don't really FEEL pregnant. I mean, there are a couple of signs other than the obvious pregnancy tests taken at home and at the doctor. I am moody and irritable and emotional and driving Ivan crazy. I'm tired and my formerly slim feet and long toes look like pudgy sausages. I have to eat every four hours.

But that's about it. I haven't had any morning sickness, and that strangely seems to disappoint people who love to ask, "Are you puking your guts up?." I can't say that I am sorry that I have missed this rite-of-passage thus far.

Tonight, four year-old Darius and I were talking about the baby before he went to bed. A commercial came on where kids were talking about "Where do babies come from?" and I cringed. His father was in the other room, and I didn't want to be the one to make decisions about what he does or does not know about where babies come from. Of course, he immediately turned to me and asked the inevitable question after the commercial went off.

"They come out of their mamas' tummies," I said simply, praying he would leave it at that.

"Are you a mother?" he asked.

"Not yet," I replied. "But I will be soon."

He thought for a second and said, "But you have a baby in your tummy, so you ARE a mother."

I smiled. I guess I just hadn't thought about it that way.

February 23, 2011

She said, "I'm ok. I'm alright though you have gone from my life."

My list of friends continues to stream-line.

Today a former friend deleted me from Facebook and dropped the spare keys of mine she'd had for years through my mail slot.

It seems I have been taken off the member list of one of my book clubs, as I've not been invited to the next meeting.

I felt like I had to drop out of my other book club after a member urged me to "consider all [my] options" regarding the baby. It hurt me so deeply and offended me so much that I don't feel like I can sit and smile through another meeting in this person's presence.

I didn't need all that social support anyway.

February 22, 2011

Things that currently make me cry

At the moment it seems like I am not QUITE as weepy as I was. There are a couple of themes to my tears, though, and they are coming most regularly when I think/hear about or see these things:

- people who feel lonely
- hungry, abused donkeys
- the very existence of the word "miscarriage"
- running out of my favorite orange juice

February 21, 2011

Jan is going to die.

During my summer jobs in college, I worked for numerous camps for kids of varying ages. One of these was Energy Express, a six-week reading and nutritional enrichment program for rural children in West Virginia. Because we spent so much time immersed in children's literature--reading it, writing about it, drawing scenes from books, acting out our favorite stories--I developed a real appreciation for kids' books at this time. I started accumulating a small collection I wanted to save for my own kids around 1996.

These have come in very handy since Darius spends so much time with us, and we generally read at least one book together before bedtime. He tends to pick the same stories over and over, so last night it was a pleasant surprise when he chose a book we hadn't read before: How Smudge Came.

It had been at least a decade since I'd read the book, and I honestly didn't remember much about it other than a girl finds a stray puppy. We snuggled down in bed under the covers and I began reading. Darius likes to ask a lot of questions about the story and the illustrations, so it ends up being a slow process. As we read and discussed each page, Ivan was moving around the room, getting ready for bed. Then I got to a page where another character is introduced and read:

Here's Jan, who isn't very old, but he is ugly with disease and he is going to die.

Ivan froze and said, "What the hell are you reading?" Darius turned to me with wide eyes. Apparently unable to muster any sensitivity and compassion at such an unexpected turn in the story, I burst out laughing.

As it turns out, the story is about a girl with Down's Syndrome who lives in a group home. She rescues a stray puppy in a snow storm and tries to hide him in her room. She cleans for a nearby Hospice facility during the day, and takes the puppy to work with her to meet the residents. The story ultimately has a happy ending, but it understandably brought up a lot of questions for Darius. We ended up having a conversation about death, dying, and Hospice right before turning out the lights for the night. Lovely bedtime topics for a small child.

Oh, yeah. I'm really a natural.

February 20, 2011

Excerpt

"A Radically Condensed History of Postindustrial Life"

by David Foster Wallace from Brief Interviews With Hideous Men

When they were introduced, he made a witticism, hoping to be liked. She laughed extremely hard, hoping to be liked. Then each drove home alone, staring straight ahead, with the very same twist to their faces.

The man who'd introduced them didn't much like either of them, though he acted as if he did, anxious as he was to preserve good relations at all times. One never knew, after all, now did one now did one now did one.

February 18, 2011

Despite all the delicious mustards out there, yellow is still my favorite.

At 8 weeks of pregnancy, my books tell me that Fetus Marie is now the size of a pinto bean. Before she was a blueberry. Next week she'll be a ripe green olive. It's starting to seem unsettling to compare her to food so much. Especially food that sounds delicious! (I say this as I lick mustard off my finger. Not sure why you should know that, but there it is.)

Generally, I find the pregnancy books I ordered to be fairly dull and not particularly well-written. One part I do enjoy is the "Dad Tips" in Your Pregnancy Week by Week. The authors advise expectant fathers regularly to:

- bring home flowers for no reason
- buy a present for your partner and the baby
- bring home her favorite dinner, or cook it yourself

Generally, they seem to be saying "Now that you've knocked her up, you better kiss her ass every chance you get." I am a fan of this advice, even if it is rather patronizing.

Fortunately Ivan is cooking dinner as we speak.

February 16, 2011

Miss Crankypants

While bursting with the need for connection, I started looking around yesterday for online pregnancy support groups. I thought it would be nice to find some ladies who were possibly experiencing similar issues and we could, you know, TALK. A few sites were recommended and I checked them out. One that seemed to annoy me less than the others was www.i-am-pregnant.com.

Shit. These ladies are really irritating to me.

To begin with, there are a whole host of abbreviations to learn. Por ejemplo:

BFP = big fat positive
TTC = trying to conceive
BD = baby dance (intercourse)
EWCM = egg white cervical mucus (yuck!)

You get the idea.

Another thing that seemed strange was that a huge contingent of the i-am-pregnant site contributors are trying to conceive (oops! I mean "TTC"). Shouldn't this be a separate forum? I mean, these ladies definitely should have the support they need, but isn't it just torture to be surrounded by pregnant women comparing notes? Plus, I've seen new users announce a pregnancy happily only to be pounced upon with, "I'm so JEALOUS. In what position did you have sex?"

This is another big deal, apparently. There are whole discussion boards of women comparing *in depth* how they had sex and recommending their positions to others. One lady swears that you should be in the sleeper section of a tractor trailer cab with your feet braced against the ceiling.

In response to all this silliness, one woman said, "Uh, how about the PENIS IN VAGINA position?" I think she and I could probably be friends.

This morning I was immediately irritated when one happy user announced she and her husband had just found out they were joining "team pink." Barfy McUpchuck Pants.

Some of it is educational. I mean, I'm learning all sorts of gruesome things about nipples that turn white, mucus plugs (*shudder*), and something ominous called the "bloody show."

Mama. Hold me.

February 15, 2011

The titty bone

A: I can't find chicken breasts with bones in them.

I: Chicken breasts don't have bones.

A: What? Of course they do.

I: Do your titties have bones?

A: (silence)

I: I mean, do they?

A: Haven't you even been to KFC? Yes, they have bones. Usually you have to pay extra to get them without bones!

I: (thinks) No. Those motherfuckers don't have bones.

February 14, 2011

The remains of the day

All in all, today can suck my left nut. There are a few things worth mentioning, however.

As he does most every weekend, Darius spent the night with us. This morning when he found me crying over an email I had received, he studied my face, reached up and touched a tear that trickled down my cheek, and then hugged me. It is really something to be loved by a child.

This evening, a very thoughtful friend asked to knit a hat for the baby after I'd mentioned how much I enjoy looking at the little owl and hedgehog hats on Etsy.com. She said she couldn't promise it would be without flaws, fit a newborn, or even resemble a woodland creature, but that she was up for the challenge. Her kindness meant so much to me, and I (shocker!) cried again. (I have to meet my hormonal quota of at least 27 cries per day, after all.)

During my recent bouts of insomnia, I have been enjoying listening to music on Playlist.com as I catch up on reading friends' blogs; research pregnancy, health, and nutrition; and generally sit in the dark basking in the glow of the computer. At present I sit here listening to Alice Cooper's "Poison." I am taken back to a very specific summer day around 1990 when I sat in the bathtub shaving my legs ankle to hip and singing along with that song on a mix-tape I'd made off the radio.

I want to love you but I better not touch
I want to hold you but my senses tell me to stop
I want to kiss you but I want it too much
I want to taste you but your lips are venomous poison...


I remember thinking how terribly exciting such sensations sounded to my 13 year old ears, and imagining the the best kind of love was like that: desperate, wild, clinging.

I was so wrong.

It is a partner who knows *exactly* how you like your coffee and makes it for you every morning. It is snuggles and sleepy murmurs of 'I love you' under the covers in the middle of the night. It is someone who always washes the dishes for you. It is the person with whom I can spontaneously burst into singing Kool & the Gang's "Joanna."

This. This is the best kind.

Guess what?

Good news!

I have now disabled anonymous comments on this blog. That means the folks who have been sending me nasty little comments and snide remarks for the last 12 hours or so can *not only* go fuck themselves, but they can also put their name to their words or kindly shut up!

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 12, 2011

A little blog of fury

I think I lost a friend today.

I was meeting some friends for lunch this afternoon. I waited at the restaurant, looking forward to spending some time with some of my favorite people. Three of them were running late. The one to arrive on time is someone I've considered for years to be a dear friend, and she was the very first person I met when I moved to San Francisco and desperately needed friends. It had been quite some time since I had seen her, and I was genuinely glad to glimpse her face in the bustle of people on the sidewalk walking toward me. She looked tired. I hugged her and joked, "You're the only one on time!" She didn't say much, and we went in the restaurant. We hadn't gotten to talk in person yet about the baby.

When we went inside, I sat down at a table. She stood next to it, looked down and me, and said, "What is wrong with you?"

I was totally caught off guard, and said, "Excuse me?"

She said, "What were you thinking? With this child?"

My heart dropped in my chest. I met her eyes and said, "You know, I am really happy about this, and if you're not I don't want to hear about it."

She said very simply, "Okay. Bye." She spun on her heel and left, never looking back. I sat at the table alone for the next half hour trying to fight back tears.

I am so fucking angry, and so fucking hurt. A couple of friends for whom I have left messages when I tried to tell them my news have never bothered responding. A few people have asked, "Do you know who the father is?" A couple have inquired, "Can you even afford to being doing this?" One suggested ever so fucking gently that I should have an abortion and that this is just not a good time.

Right now I would kill to be one of those married women who has picked out trendy nursery colors and is already on waiting lists for the very best schools. People shit rainbows upon hearing her news and practically trip over themselves congratulating her. Instead of asking private, invasive questions, questioning her decision, and advising she abort the baby (for her own good, of course) people tell her she is glowing and chuckle that she'd better enjoy her sleep now because she won't get another full night for years.

I thought that having a baby was a joyful time. At home I carefully plan recipes loaded with vitamins and minerals, giggle over adorable hand-made baby hats on Etsy, and wonder if my baby will have a full head of hair. I want so very desperately to share this.

February 10, 2011

On prenatal vitamins

A: Oh, my god. These pills are huge.

I: Do you stick them up your butt?

I am with child.

Ivan and I are expecting a baby in September, and we couldn't be happier about it. Despite the challenges of recent months, we decided that the time was right for us to start trying. We kept this private. I had reason to believe it might take awhile. As it turned out, it took two weeks.

I had always wondered what the moment felt like when a woman found out she was pregnant. I could envision shock, horror, joy--depending on the point she was at in life and whether it was planned. Mine *was* planned, but at the exact moment I looked at the test I felt panic. For a moment I wanted to run away and be five years old again and forget that any of this had ever happened. And then I had to sit down and take deep breaths. And cry. Ivan and I confirmed the names we had chosen and agreed to wait awhile before telling almost everyone about the pregnancy.

But I just couldn't keep it a secret. I was so excited, and I was dying to share my news. I began spilling the beans immediately.

Not everyone has reacted well and I--perhaps naively--was utterly shocked. It honestly just never occurred to me that would happen.

I am feeling so many things.

Today I read that my baby is the size of a blueberry right now and that her face is forming. I cried.

I have been thinking of all the people I love who are no longer on this earth who will not be able to see my child. And I cry.

I am terrified that my friends who have chosen not to have children and I will be increasingly unable to relate to each other and that our life paths will continue to diverge further and further apart. I cry.

Despite our difficult history, I want to talk to my mother all the fucking time. I long for her to hug me and tell me it is going to be okay. I want to talk to other mothers. I want to ask them how their vaginas are doing these days. I want to be surrounded by women. These longings make me cry.

When Ivan is sleeping, I need to touch his bare skin and listen to him breathe. I think about this being that we are creating together, and the enormity of it hits me in the gut and I cry quietly next to him in awe and wonder.

I feel incredible guilt about being able to conceive so easily when I have known some wonderful women for whom this is not the case. The tears begin to fall in big, fat drops.

Everywhere I go and everything I do, I am aware of this tiny life growing in me. I feel so privileged to be able to experience this. It's like a wonderful secret I take with me wherever I go.

I want a rocking chair. I want recipes that make broccoli and brussels sprouts and spinach taste divine to me. I want my aching boobs to knock it off. I want tall glasses of cold milk.

There is so much more to say. For now I am exhausted.