December 31, 2010

Goodbye, 2010

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go...

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "In Memoriam (Ring Out, Wild Bells!)"
via First Milk

December 28, 2010

continuous

My thoughts move seamlessly from past to present to future and back again like a pendulum's swing. Will I ever be able to just be here? If I'm honest... do I really want to be?

The past is ugly; I shy away. The present is unstable, the future unknowable. Wishing, always wishing. Wishing what has been had never been, wishing now was better (wishing I was better), wishing I could know what is to come. Back and forth. Constant as pulse or breath. Changing as kaleidescope colors.

Shifting, shifting... *Sigh.*

December 27, 2010

sensations

I'm sitting at a computer on the opposite side of the world from where I usually sit, in a chair that, ironically enough, just like mine, doesn't fit the desk in front of it. Outside my guest room window are tall trees that swish about like an echo of the sighing of the nearby sea, and there are many different birds, with their sweet chirps and shrill calls, and an army of cicadas with their deafening whir, and even a sleepy koala or two.

My hair is a touseled mess of saltwater curls -- and I like it that way. Now and then I try to run my fingers through but they only get stuck, and I shrug, and leave it be.

It is early yet, and cool outside, the sky shrouded in a veil of low clouds.

----------

I cannot, will not get over the singular sensation of walking straight into the ocean; the push and pull of the tides, altering gravity's power, the sliding sand beneath my feet, bits of seaweed slithering slimy past my skin. The prickling fear of jellyfish and sharks. A quick prayer to whoever is listening, that I might emerge with all limbs intact.

I like to wear my two-piece bathing suit to the beach, so that I will feel sun and water against as much of my skin as possible, without baring all; but the ocean sees no sense in my silly modesty, and the waves attempt to take it off again and again. At times I am tempted to let it; if only there weren't so many people.

The waves slap and tug and push and pull, and resistance only earns you a more deliberate buffeting. For so long as you try to oppose the sea, you can never hope to win. But if you give in, if you let it do with you what it will, then you become a part of it, and all its strength becomes your own.

----------

Bike riding in the afternoon. The warm sweet smell of summer air, hibiscus and frangipani and a dozen other flowers I haven't got names for. The sound of silence and of falling leaves, crack of snapping twigs, husshhh of grit and sand beneath rolling rubber tires. The everpresent sighing of the trees and of the sea. Muscles moving and straining beneath obligingly supple skin. Push, push, push! Nearly there...

Achievement. Ache.

Lovely view, lovely company, lovely air rushing in and out of lungs.

December 25, 2010

no doubt about it

I will definitely be bringing my future family to Australia for Christmas at least once; if only so that I can (in good conscience) have the unique pleasure of throwing my children into the Pacific ocean on Christmas Day.

December 24, 2010

very faint, and far away

Late at night on Christmas Eve, she carried us to our high bedroom, and darkened the room, and opened the window, and held us awed in the freezing stillness, saying--and we could hear the edge of tears in her voice--"Do you hear them? Do you hear the bells, the little bells, on Santa's sleigh?" We marveled and drowsed, smelling the piercingly cold night and the sweetness of Mother's warm neck, hearing in her voice so much pent emotion, feeling the familiar strength in the crook of her arms, and looking out over the silent streetlights and the chilled stars over the rooftops of the town. "Very faint, and far away--can you hear them coming?" And we could hear them coming, very faint and far away, the bells on the flying sleigh.

--Annie Dillard, An American Childhood


These are the kind of memories I want to give my own children, someday.
Merry Christmas, everyone.

December 22, 2010

jetset

Well, I'm off to Australia for the holidays...
I hope that moments and hours and days of joy will find you this season, wherever you are.

December 18, 2010

another brother

Dear Benjamin,
How are you, small brother? I've never thought of you so much in my life as I have these last few days, and I'm not sure why.

I was very young -- probably too young -- when I learned about you. I hardly understood what "abortion" even meant, except from the context of the conversation. I remember our mom talked about it like a memory of a dream. A baby who was never born. A baby boy, another brother. He would be younger than Kyle, but older than [Gretchen]. Baby Ben.

Of course, she made it her thing, presented it as her thing, like she always does. As if it was nothing to do with me. As if her choices and her struggles had no effect on my life whatsoever. As if it were
her trauma alone, and her tears to cry, and there was no reason for me to be getting so upset about it. And maybe that's why I shut it down, put my feelings about you away; because she acted as if I were stealing something that wasn't mine. But you are mine, too, aren't you? You are. You're my family.

I could say all kinds of angry, bitter things here about our parents, and I could speculate about what it might have been like, if you'd had a chance to be born; what might have been better, what would have undoubtably been worse. But really all I wanted to say was: Hi, baby brother. I'm your older sister, and I remember you. Maybe you've met my children, your neice and nephew? Maybe the three of you are great friends by now.

You would be about 22 years old, I think, if you were here. But you're not here; and it's sad to say, but I can't help thinking maybe you are the luckiest sibling after all.

Peace be with you, my dear. Happy Christmas.
Love from you sister -- Vera

December 17, 2010

indelible

+

If my girlie had made it to her due date, she would be turning 3 years old today.
I miss you, sweetheart. I miss you so much.
XO -- mama

December 16, 2010

love in a white square envelope

I've received a Christmas card in the mail, all the way from Ireland. Before opening it, I sat and held the envelope in my hands for a few moments, savoring the knowledge of all the miles it had traveled, the many hands it had passed through, the enormous cooperative effort required just to bring it to my door.

Inside was a sweet card, and an ornament for Ailis; a red felt heart with her name on it in tiny, perfect stitches.

----------

Have you ever been crying in a crowded public place, but you're all alone and you have a lot of things to do, so you're trying to hide that you're upset, and you think that possibly you're succeeding, since no one even seems to notice that you're standing there at all? But then, just when you start to feel like you've almost got it under control, somebody in the rushing crowd suddenly stops, and looks right at you, and maybe even wraps you up in a hug; somebody you don't even know, but who is kind, and who sees you, and sees your pain, and decides that it matters, for some reason, to them. And when you realize this -- that your pain matters -- you know you can't hide anymore, and you don't want to anyway, and you find that you're crying harder now than ever...

----------

Opening my envelope from Ireland was like that.

Thank you, Ines. For your kindness, and for remembering my girl.
I kind of love you for it. I would hug you if I could.

every little thing I do, I do for you

December 13, 2010

remembrance

I am planning on doing a babyloss tribute while I'm away. If you are one of my followers and your baby's name isn't on this list, please leave me a comment and let me know. I don't want to miss anyone.

December 11, 2010

confused

Yesterday was great, last night was less than great, and today I just want to curl up in a ball and cry. WTF?

December 10, 2010

so sew

I am busy busy busy being creative. I'd love to show you what I've been up to, but all of my projects are gifts, so until they are in the proper hands I guess the photos will just have to wait.

I put three lovely packages in the mail this morning, made a final trip to the fabric store, purchased some travel essentials for my trip, and found a few of the Christmas gifts that I still needed while I was out. It's been a productive, no-pressure day, and I feel pretty great.

Now, to put on an episode of Glee, and get back to my sewing machine!

December 7, 2010

slipping

I awoke all full of good intentions this morning but suddenly I find that it is 1pm already and I have not done any of the things I was going to do before work... except decorate my blog for Christmas.

Oh well.

December 6, 2010

december so far

I am borrowing a laptop for a few minutes, so that I can write an update. My computer monitor is broken, so screen time this past week has been non-existent. I can do a little bit on my phone, but it's not the same. Writing takes a lot longer on a tiny keypad and my battery drains faster when I use too much 3G. So it's been weird, and I've missed this place. Should have a new monitor by tomorrow though. Fingers crossed!

My sister came to visit over the weekend. We went to see the latest Harry Potter (completely fantastic, by the way), which is one of our personal traditions, and had a comfortable visit. Also I started seeing a nice boy who is very cute and who I like very much. I am still cranking out Christmas gifts, and counting down the days till I leave for Oz.

That's all for now -- V

November 29, 2010

baby-daddy

It's not that I miss him tonight, exactly... But I miss having a lover, a partner, a champion; a friend. And I wonder when I will ever have that again, and with whom.

It seems the cruelest kind of irony that the very event that severed our connection permanently is the same one that ensured we would be bound to one another forever.

----------

You would have loved your daddy, No-No. I am sure of that much, at least. And I think he would have loved you more than he ever even knew he could. Certainly more than he loved me; but I'm okay with that. Perhaps he does love you, still; perhaps he remembers you, thinks about you, even now. I wish I knew.

I wish I didn't feel so alone in missing you.

blindsided

I saw the cutest onesies while I was out shopping today. One was black with a red and white electric guitar and said "Daddy's Little Rockstar," and the other was white, and said "I Love My Daddy." Those words pierced me, unexpectedly, and an entire life unlived flashed before my eyes in the space between one heartbeat and the next, leaving me breathless and dizzy and confused. I wandered the store for an additional hour, distracted, aimless.

I am distressed, still, by what has opened up inside of me. Wary of my emotions. Through all my grieving, here is a piece I've tried so hard to hold at arm's length. I don't want to think about Noah's daddy, don't want to think about what he lost. My son, yes -- but his son, too. Our son.

Ours.

November 26, 2010

a few things

My thoughts are a bit disconnected this morning, tired and rebellious and refusing to be put down in prose; so I present them to you instead in list form. That'll show 'em.

1. Only four days left to enter my giveaway. You could win a free book.
2. Consider submitting an entry to Creme de la Creme; it's for everyone in the ALI (Adoption/Loss/Infertility) community. Even if you don't think your writing is very good, do it anyway. It could really help someone else out there to not feel so alone.
3. Your comments mean the world to me, no matter how brief. Don't be shy.
4. Tell me, if you would, about a holiday tradition that you started yourself. I am curious. Also, I might want to copy you.
5. I have a calendar page on my desk and I am marking down the days until I leave for my trip to Australia. Can't wait!! I am doing a Jillian Michaels workout 4-5 days a week until then, so that I won't be too self-conscious at the beach. Kicking. My. Butt.

So. I guess those are the main things I wanted to tell you. Oh and also, for the record: I hate Black Friday. I have to go to work soon, and I am dreading it. I will be there for at least 9-10 hours, ringing up cranky customers and then trying to put the store back together again after they are all gone. It's going to be awful. I plan to get through it 2 hours at a time. Wish me luck.

November 25, 2010

now and then

This day is so different from last year.

Last year I was invited to Seattle. Last year I sat at my best friend's house and waited for her other guests to arrive; people I'd never met before. People who didn't know that I should have had a firm, round belly that day, showing under my sweater; didn't know that my breasts used to be smaller, that my bras used to fit. Didn't know the me from before, the me who hardly ever cried, who didn't need to wear waterproof mascara every day.

"Did you warn them that I'm a little, um... unstable?" I asked, anxiously.

Last year, in true northwest style, we prepared salmon and arugula and root vegetables and apple-cherry pie for dinner. We drank wine in shades of red and white and rose until the candlelight and the conversation both sparkled with added brilliance, and everything was funnier than usual; and then suddenly, instead of funny, everything was just quiet and comfortable and warm.

Last year, to amuse myself, I threw together ingredients without any measuring involved to make a loaf of pumpkin bread for my hosts -- which turned out to be a thing of such glory that it truly stunned us all; and I can say with confidence that the taste and texture of it shall never be equaled nor accurately reproduced. But that's as it should be.

Last year, when I missed my baby, I pulled out his quilt and worked my pain into it, rather than cry in front of strangers. Though I suppose it was really just my own way of crying in front of strangers.

Last year, I sat and stared out the window at rain dripping slowly off of blood red leaves, and tried to think of something to be thankful for, which felt, at the time, like an exercise in futility. But then I slowly realized that I was sitting in the living room of a person who, for some reason beyond my understanding, really, really cared about me. Who actually wanted me around, despite my sporadic withdrawls and bouts of tears and my inability to see past this moment, then this one, then this.

And I was grateful then, for her and for the handful of other people who felt the same, who would do the same for me. It did not seem like quite enough; it seemed a pitifully small number, in fact, standing between me and a huge, violent, scary world... but I knew it was a start. And while I felt completely ambivalent about whether I lived or died on any given day, I knew that they did not. A year later, those same people continue to be the most important ones in my life.

However. I'm afraid I cannot say with any kind of conviction that I am really happy to still be alive. There are days when I think it hardly matters, one way or the other, and I wonder at times if perhaps my wounds will turn out to be fatal, after all. I must confess, if I died tomorrow, my final thought would be: At last, at last.

But do not worry, dear ones. And do not let your feelings be hurt by my despair; my pain runs deeper than you can ever know, and it is not your responsibility or your fault. I will speak of other things, now, for your sake. Because I love you, too.

----------

Today I am alive, and since I am alive, it is good to be alive in California. It is good that the sun is shining today, despite the cold. It is good that I do not have to see or speak to anyone that I don't want to see or speak to. It is good that I have a place where I can express what I think and feel without fear of retaliation. It is good that later on I will be welcomed to a table, heavy-laden in the best sense of the word.

It is good.

I am thankful for the people who got me here, to this place and to this day. I am thankful for the people who still think it makes sense for me to wake up every morning, the people who believe my life really is worthwhile, despite all. You are brave, to believe such things. I am thankful for the people who read these words of mine, who open up their hearts and who leave a few words of their own in return. You are generous. You are kind.

----------

It is quiet in my room. There is sunlight, stillness, peace. For now, in this moment, and this one, and this: I am thankful.

November 23, 2010

more

I am looking for pieces of them, for compelling evidence of their short lives, and I can't find what I'm looking for. There are times when I feel almost frantic; I want to do more, make more, give more, be more, ask more, love more. I look at what I've done and it just doesn't seem like enough. Because it isn't. It never will be.

Quilts and scrapbooks and little animal figures and drawings and carved initials and clothing and tattoos... I would have these things anyway, if my kids were here with me. Except that they're not.

Sometimes I wake up and I have to give myself a mental shake, deliver the cold reminder that I don't need to worry about rolling over and squashing Noah. He's not there to squash. So don't worry, don't worry.

He's not there.

November 22, 2010

a little pick-me-up



This might just be my favorite Glee number of all time. I've never actually wished I was someone else before, but this episode seriously made me want to be Gwyneth Paltrow. For reals.

"Let's go get some tacos!!"

November 21, 2010

failure and forced optimism

Well. I've decided to bow out of NaNoWriMo. You have no idea how difficult it is to say that, or what a failure I feel like. However, it is kicking my ass, and I am quickly running out of ass to be kicked. I have so many other things going on; I'm afraid I overcomitted. Again. Surprise!

My overcommittment is causing me to fail at other, more urgent things, so I've decided to cut my losses. I have written over 20,000 words, which is none too shabby; but it is less than half of the goal and I am not going to make the deadline at this point, so I am giving up. Much as it hurt to come to the decision to admit defeat, it actually feels really freeing now, to say that. I give up. I very much wanted the bragging rights that come with finishing this challenge, but it just didn't work out that way. Maybe next year, or the year after that. Or maybe never. It might never be the right fit for me, and I will have to forgive myself for that. *sigh*

Speaking of forgiving myself. I have so much sewing to do, which I can't start on because I got really overwhelmed at the fabric store last time I went, and then left in a rush, so I don't have all my materials yet. That means I have to find the time to go back and get the rest of the stuff I need, and it frustrates me to no end that I couldn't just get it done before. Also yesterday I probably should have gone in and picked up a few extra hours at work but I didn't, and this morning I handled a situation with my cousin badly. Or not badly, but not as well as I wish I could have. I feel like I'm failing left and right.

I am trying to convince myself that it's okay, that it just means I need to let some stuff go. That I can't do everything well at the same time, and no one expects me to (anymore) except for me. I am the only boss! And I need to lighten up.


A little reminder to be nice to myself today:



PS: ENTER MY GIVEAWAY! Winner will be announced November 30th.

November 19, 2010

trepidation

I didn't think Christmas was going to bother me much. I know some people have been dreading it for months already, while I was still feeling pretty okay. Christmas? Piece of cake. I have a lot to be excited about. But I am starting to feel a few new twinges of grief as well, and it kind of sucks.

I miss my babies, in the dull, aching way which I have learned precedes the hole-in-my-chest, can't-remember-how-to-breathe kind of way. When it happens, it is like stepping distractedly into the street, experiencing a sudden sense of unease, and then glancing up to find myself face to face with a city bus. I am not looking forward to this feeling, and am trying to figure out a way to prevent it, if I can. But I'm not really sure that I can.

I really want some kind of gift this year that acknowledges that I'm a mom, though I don't know if anyone will think to give me one. And I want to buy presents for my kiddos. I know it's crazy, but it is a kind of crazy that I'm okay with. I will buy them stuff if I want to. Even though they will never use it, I hope that someday, a child of mine will. I like to think of these items as hand-me-downs. It makes me happy to think that a little brother or little sister will have a few things that were passed down to them; that's how it should be, in a family. Things that were gathered with hope, and infused with love. Things with a little bit of history, even if not as much as I would have liked.

I wish I could wrap up the gifts though, and that they would be torn open on Christmas morning by eager little hands. Lissie would have been old enough to really get it this year, and I can just imagine her noisy excitement and her generous spirit and contagious joy. After it was all over, I would have put sticky red and green bows on Noah's fuzzy little head, and taken pictures of them together, still in their jammies, amongst the piles of shredded wrapping paper.

Oh. Oh, my heart.

November 16, 2010

bad dream

I had a dream the other morning, which set an unpleasant precedent for my day. I have been trying to avoid remembering the details, honestly, but I think now perhaps I will try to get them out... Even though doing so will likely steal most of my words away.


It started with me walking up to my grandparents' house on Glenning St. It was still painted red. I knew my mother and sister were inside, and I was coming to meet them and my grandma for some stupid girls only get-together; but I did not expect to see, outside in the driveway, the crocodile, covered in grease, working on an old car. My stomach dropped. He did not even look up, and I hurried past, into the house. Once inside, I was furious. I went up to the room where my sister and mother and grandmother were hanging out, and they acted like they were glad to see me for about 5 seconds, and then completely ignored me.

As I was sitting there, bored and resentful, I could hear the crocodile clanking around outside and I got so angry, finally I couldn't contain myself any longer. I went up to my grandma and said, "Why is he here? How can you still let him come around? Do I have to remind you that he is a child molester? A CHILD MOLESTER!! You know what he did. You know. So WHY is he HERE?"

As I was speaking, my voice rose and rose, in hopes that he would be able to hear me outside the window, and my grandmother's body became very tense. She was smiling so hard that it looked like a death-grimace, frozen on her face, and her eyes got very big and then crossed and then slid into eachother in a really disturbing way, and her hands were clasped so tightly in her lap that they began to melt and fuse into one another. When I finished my short tirade she said, in a reproachful voice, "What do you want me to do?"

"Don't let him come around!" I answered, exasperated.

"I can't do that," she said, frowning now, her hands still melted together.

"Then you won't see me anymore," I said. And I walked out of the room, and out of that house, forever.

----------

I walked for a long time, until I was in some part of a city I didn't recognize. It was kind of post-apocolyptic. There were tumbled down buildings, great slabs of concrete sticking up at odd angles, patches of scraggly grass... and no people. I was very relieved to have found this place. It was as if I had been looking for it all along, and only knew it once I had arrived. I walked around a particular slab of jutting concrete and made my way up broken stairs and twisted paths to a sheltered place, high up. There I lay down what I had been carrying.

It was a body, a woman's body, in a long and flowy white dress. She was clean, and pretty -- and dead; or as good as dead. She was not overweight, but she was heavy, and my arms and back were very tired from carrying her. I was relieved when I was able to lay her there. I did not feel afraid, or even sad; I was just doing what I needed to do. I stood looking at her for a few minutes, as if to be sure she would be okay; then I turned around and climbed back down the way I had come, and walked all the way around the structure, and came to the steep incline of a huge dirt mound. I walked slowly and painstakingly up the mound, and arrived back where I had started, at the base of the concrete slab. I sighed.

I went up the broken stairs again, checked on the body, climbed back down, walked around the building, and arrived at the dirt mound once more. This time, the dirt had some grass growing on it, here and there.

I did this loop over and over again. Each time I arrived at the hill, it had a little more vegetation on it. Eventually there were even tall flowers growing, and the only dirt left was the path I had worn as I walked up over and over. I had the sense of a lot of time passing, as if every time I came around that corner, I was pushing time forward ahead of me, and somehow causing the grass and flowers to grow through sheer force of will. It gave me energy, to think that, and each time I made the loop now, I got a little faster. But just when I was feeling comfortable in this pattern, feeling that I had figured it out, I got to the sheltered place and found that the body I had been keeping vigil with was gone. Gone. I stared at the empty place for awhile, and then staggered back down to finish the loop. Even though I knew deep in my heart that she was gone forever, I didn't know what else to do. When I arrived at the hill this time, other people had appeared, walking on the path and sitting among the flowers, talking and laughing even as sudden clouds roiled virulently overhead. When I got to the top of the hill, my mother was standing there, waiting. She had found me.

"You'll have to come with us, now," she said.

----------

Then I was in a car with my mother and my sister. My sister was driving (but on the right-hand side of the car, which was odd), and my mom and I were in the back. And my mom would not shut up. Every word she said was causing me physical pain, like handfuls of rocks being flung at me. She kept talking and talking, and I kept interrupting her to say, "Could you please stop? Just stop. Just stop talking." But she would not take a hint. And after a while I finally screamed, almost crying, "SHUT UP! SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP. STOP TALKING. PLEASE, PLEASE, STOP TALKING!"

And she looked all sad and pathetic, like I'd hurt her feelings; but it shut her up all right. Except my sister was staring at us now, instead of driving, and when I asked her to turn around and please watch the road, she just got defiant and did this slow-blink thing at me that she used to do when she was little and I had to take care of her all the time. It meant: I hear you, and you know it, but I'm still not going to do what you said. So I got pissed then and climbed into the front of the car, where there was a second steering wheel and pedals and everything. I thought, Fine, I'll drive. It's probably the only way I'm ever actually going to get home anyway.

We were coming up on an intersection, and I almost couldn't stop the car in time, but thankfully it was a deserted country road and there was no one else around anyway. "You have got to get these brakes checked," I said to my mom, even though I knew she wasn't listening, because she was too busy being offended. (Ironically, I remembered even in my dream that my parents' cars always had 'brake problems'.)

I took a minute to adjust the mirrors before I started driving again. The rearview mirror had been pointed squarely at my mother; it was grey and very dirty, but I still moved it so I could see out the back window as best I could. My side-mirror was fairly easy to fix. Then I tried to move the one on my sister's side (which was partly shattered), but it wouldn't go where I wanted it, and I thought she was touching it and getting in my way, so I yelled at her and she yelled back and then she put her hands in the air to prove she wasn't touching it. I tried again to adjust it but every time I got it in a place where I could see pretty well, it snapped right back to its original position. So I decided it was just broken, and not her fault after all, and I apologized and left it at that. Then I started driving again.

After putting on an air of injured innocence for quite awhile (which my sister and I simply ignored), my mom suddenly opened her door and jumped out of the car, in an attempt to get us to freak out and feel sorry for her. I could see her out the rearview mirror, sitting in the middle of the road, waiting expectantly for us to stop the car and and turn around and come back for her. We didn't, though.

My sister got kind of upset, but I just muttered "Good riddance," and kept on driving.



So. It wasn't graphic or anything (for me, anyway) but I woke up very unhappy and angry, for a lot of reasons, and my whole body hurt for the rest of the day. Since I don't often remember my dreams in such detail, I figured I better record it. So I did.

PS: Goodness, Karolyn... Have you ever heard anything like it?!

November 13, 2010

blarg

I have been feeling not-so-great today, and yesterday I had a killer headache, and thus I am two days behind on my NaNoWriMo word count. :( I will have to try to catch up on Monday, I guess.

In happier news, I got to the fabric store before my headache set in yesterday, and now have lots of material on hand to work with, so I will be able to get some Christmas projects done once I am feeling a bit better. Also -- I finished my 100th book this morning! Click on over to Vera's Bookshelf to find out what I'm doing to celebrate.

November 10, 2010

pardon me...

Haha! I enjoy this picture so much.

But seriously, can you help me out? I am trying to decide what to submit to this year's Creme de la Creme. And it's not that I am overcome by my own awesomeness or anything, but that I am not sure which post best captures the essence of my blog. So, if you feel so inclined, you might let me know of a favorite post you read here in 2010. Thanks! XO -- Vera

November 8, 2010

NaNoWriMo

I have now offically signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), in which I will attempt to pound out an entire novel before the end of November. Go me! I waited all year for this, and then I almost missed actually signing up. Oops. Click the link above or the neat-o button on my sidebar, and check it out... You know you want to.

That being said, I'm not sure how much energy I'll have leftover for my blog, but we'll see. I also have a muchness of sewing to get done before Christmas, so all in all I will be a very busy bee these next couple of months. Wish me luck!

November 7, 2010

winners

All right, my dears, it's time! Thank you all for your entries, I enjoyed reading them so very much.

Short story goes to:
Comment #4 -- Alana of Life After Benjamin. (Your sentence was glorious, by the way.)

Lap quilt goes to:
Comment #13 -- Rhiannon of For the Love of Harper.

I still wish I could make gifts for each and every one of you. Your support and comments really mean a lot to me. Thanks for reading! <3 Vera

*Winners, please see comments for further instructions on claiming your prize.

last chance!

I will be selecting and announcing the winners of the giveaway tonight, around 11:00pm.

November 5, 2010

permission

When I have children who live, I am going to get irritated with them sometimes. I am going to need a break every so often. I am going to look at them from time to time and think: What exactly did I get myself into, here?! And that's okay. I will not be perfect -- and my kids won't be perfect either.

I think that's a trap we often find ourselves in, us babyloss mamas. We think of our babies and all we can imagine at first is their cute little faces and their happy gurgles and the bonding and the breastfeeding and the milestones and the motherly pride. We think we would trade anything; that we would wear spit-up and saggy breasts with a smile, that we wouldn't mind the stretch marks or the sleepless nights or the short-term memory loss, if only our baby was here. And to an extent, that's true. I really would rather have all of those things, than the sorrow that lives now in my heart, and always will.

It's easy to dwell solely on all the lost potential for good -- all the warm fuzzy feelings, every sweet thing we're missing out on -- and thus to feel desperately, endlessly sad. But I think it's important to remember that these babies were people; tiny little people who would have grown up to be as flawed as anyone. Babies who would have pooped on your hand, and broken your sunglasses, and lost the remote. Children who would have talked back, and gotten grass stains on every pair of their jeans, and left a trail of breadcrumbs and jam from the kitchen to the living room. And we would not have hesitated to complain about it, in the comiserating way of our culture.

If they had not died, if none of our babies died, we might still be those moms; the ones we can't stand now, the ones who say the dumbest things. The ones who gripe about being pregnant, or about how tired they are from being up all night with a newborn. We wouldn't think anything of it. We would take it all in stride, not even knowing what it would sound like to someone who longed to experience what was being described. And while perhaps it might make us uncomfortable, to imagine ourselves once again so ignorant and blase, there really is nothing unforgivable in it. It may not be the best attitude, but it is not the worst either; and oh, I wish we were still those moms.

----------

In the early days of grief, I would miss Ailis most when I saw a mother and her baby girl, smiling into eachother's faces, enjoying a moment of bliss. I did not think of Ailis when I saw a little girl having a screaming fit in the grocery store. But you know what? Ailis might have had an occassional screaming fit in a grocery store!

If Ailis had lived, she might have refused to take baths, and we might have had to fight about it every. single. time. She might have hated having bows in her hair, and pulled them out no matter how earnestly I pleaded or bribed. She might have crept out of her bed and sat at the top of the stairs to watch TV over my shoulder late at night. As a teenager -- oh goodness! She might have done any number of naughty, rebellious things as a teenager.

And Noah. If Noah had lived, I feel quite certain that his temper tantrums would have been a sight to behold. He might have stolen cookies from the cupboard after I forbid him to have any more. He might have hidden seventeen frogs in the living room in one afternoon. He might have set fire (accidentally) to the storage shed. He might have clogged the toilets all the time.

They would have been real. They would have been flawed. And I would not have loved them any less for it. I will not love my future children any less when I get irritated with them, either. I do not expect that just because I wanted it so bad for so long, I am never going to get tired or frustrated or disillusioned by motherhood. I am extending this grace to myself. I am giving myself permission (and you too, if you need it) to one day look that beloved rainbow baby straight in the eye, and to take them in, in all their wonderful, gorgeous, unique, living glory, and think:

You, my dear, are driving me absolutely crazy.

----------

Tell me, what are some things your child might have done, had they lived, that would have made you sooo mad?

November 4, 2010

a quick note

There are only a few days left to enter my giveaway, if you haven't already. (Remember, there are three ways to do so!)

Cheers -- V

PS: If you like books, check out my new blog...

November 3, 2010

take it back

Undo it, take it back, make every day the previous one until I am returned to the day before the one that made you gone. Or set me on an airplane travelling west, crossing the dateline again and again, losing this day, then that, until the day of loss is still ahead, and you are here, instead of sorrow.

Nessa Rapaport, A Woman's Book of Grieving

November 2, 2010

co-sleeping

Lying in bed, I imagined I could feel Ailis lying with me, the warm weight of her body stretched down the length of my back, one little arm flung carelessly over my shoulder, her sticky-sweet hand hanging in my face; and I curled myself around the place where No-No should have been sprawled, with a faint frown on his face, sleeping the sleep of the just...

And I thought about the miracle of breath, moving in and out of lungs, of blood running swift and sure through veins. I thought about the rise and fall of a seven-month-old's round little belly, and of glossy curls brushed back from a two-and-a-half year old's smiling face. I thought about the work that was begun in me, but never finished, like a length of knitting that came undone. All of the vast potential that was present and waiting inside of them, needlessly and wastefully lost, like an acorn planted, rooted, and then too quickly dug back up. The potential for greatness, for annoying habits, for creativity. The potential for courage, and rebelliousness, and love.

----------

As I thought these things about my children I held myself very still, so as not to disturb their imagined forms beside me. And for a long time I could not sleep. But it was a sacrifice, of sorts. It was discomfort for their sake. It was an opportunity to parent -- even if it was all in my head. And for this one night, it was enough.

November 1, 2010

all hallows

As I was driving home last night I saw rows of glowing jack-o-lanterns on neighbors' front porches, and lots of extra cars parked outside. It made me wonder, suddenly, what exactly was happening in those houses, what their Halloween parties might be like. (I've never actually been to one.) It also made me think, for the first time, that I might really like to host an annual Halloween party, when I have my own place and, later on, a family.

I could totally see it. It would be like an early New Year's Eve -- which for the most part is what the holiday originally was. I would decorate with pumpkins and plenty of candles, and I would invite everyone to come over with their kids in the evening, after they were done trick-or-treating. We could go through the loot together, and then eat lots of candy and cookies and caramel apples and popcorn. There would be mulled wine for the grownups, and hot cider for the kids. I would have an ofrenda set up for my babies, and each person or family could also honor, if they wished, someone dear to them who had died.

The children would fall asleep eventually, sprawled in front of "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" ...but we would be sure to stay up until midnight at least, playing games and talking, as the last day of October slid gently into November 1st -- Día de los Angelitos, Day of the Innocents, All Souls' Day. A day not for fear, but for remembrance, hope, and prayer.

I find it soothing just to imagine this, this blend of rituals and traditions, made personal and new. The thought of the fact of death being readily and gracefully accepted into the life I am building brings me an unexpected sense of peace.


----------



I don't know that the veil is really thinner at this time of year, my loves;
but if it is, say you'll snuggle up close to me tonight?

October 31, 2010

and thirty-one

Well.

I started October with nothing to say, and ended up with a record number of posts. Thanks for following along with me on my 30 Days adventure. It was good for me, I think. But October has thirty-one days in it, you know... So I thought I better come up with one more idea.

While I would love to make and send Christmas gifts to all of my readers and BLM penpals, even I, Duchess of Taking-On-Too-Much, can see that that is just not realistic. But I still want to do something nice, so I decided for Day 31, I will have a giveaway instead.

There will be two different prizes:
1. A short story, written by me. The main character will be your child's namesake (or, if you are not a parent, the story will contain certain elements per your request.)
2. A lap quilt, handmade by me. Embroidered with one name (or word), per your request. You may also specify a color scheme.

There are three ways to enter:
1. Use one of the following words in a sentence: surreptitious,
valiant, ethereal, luscious, squalor, epitome, chagrin.

2. Tell me what kind of animal is most like you, and why.
3. Tell me one good thing that you will never forget.

Be sure to specify which prize you are interested in, and don't forget to include your email address, so that I can contact you if you win. (Also if you are not one of my followers, please include a link to your blog so I can check it out!) I hope some of you lurkers out there will take this opportunity to introduce yourselves.

NOTE: In order to protect your privacy, I will not be publishing these
comments -- so please don't hesitate to enter! Feel free to spread the word around, and link back to this post. Winners will be chosen and announced a week from today, on Sunday, November 7th.

October 30, 2010

thirty

Day 30 - a dream for the future

I dream of letters of acceptance. I dream of a book with my name on the spine. I dream of people in my life who will say "Ailis" and "Noah" out loud. I dream of family meaning all I ever hoped it could. I dream of a husband, and of countless happy memories shared. I dream of children of our own. I dream of seeing as much of the geography and humanity of the world as I possibly can. I dream of a house that feels like home. I dream of true courage, strength, and hope.

October 29, 2010

backwards to go forward

Took a little time out this morning, to regroup, get my head back together. Sat in the B&N Starbucks with my notebook and a warm drink and let some of my fears out onto the page. I'm glad I got out today. I needed to go and do and be in the context of the outside world. Needed to add an experience to the too-short list of Things That Didn't Hurt Me that I carry in my short-term memory. I knew if I turned on the computer I wouldn't leave it till I had to go to work. It was tempting to hole up in my room again all day. But I didn't! Go me.

I've been feeling a little off track, a little (a lot) overwhelmed. I recognize this feeling all too well. It puts me right back to 2007. Which is probably why I've been freaking out, and no wonder. What a year to go back to. Ugh.

But the Big Dream is from that year, so it makes sense, I guess. It didn't work out, before. So I am terrified of failing again, even though I have a way better shot this time around. It's so hard to believe in anything, and harder still to forgive myself for not believing. I don't like to admit how awful everything was. It hurts too much. I want to trust... but trust what? Nothing springs to mind. How can I trust myself, trust "God," trust in anyone or anything, when the vast majority of what I've known of life so far has been betrayal, heartache, violence, pain? Too much. It's just too much. If this is what I am thinking, no wonder I've been eaten up with anxiety. No wonder I've felt so far away. I want to be far away; far from these feelings, far from my past.

In allowing this dream back into my heart, I am forced to face the fact that it has not come true yet, and the reason for it not coming true. The reason that it is beyond scary. The reason I stopped pursuing it, years ago.




Last time I dreamed this dream, I got raped.

[God. My blood pressure plummeted, and I almost just passed out, typing that. I'm sure I must be white as a sheet. Deep breaths.]





3 1/2 years ago, I was getting ready to take the first steps. I had been gathering information, and mustering up my courage in secret, and I was poised to leave my family of origin behind, find my own way, move to California, be a nanny (or a secretary), go to college. I had been doing research, in fact, at my grandparents' house that night. And then my fragile hopes were shattered by a random act of violence, three blocks from their front door and two blocks from mine.

I retreated immediately to the core of myself, and all of my emotions went into hibernation. The devestating message I gleaned from this experience was: You will never escape. How dare you dream? How dare you even try? You are garbage. You are a dumping ground for other people's shit. You have no other purpose but to move through life as a magnet for violence. You will die at the hands of those who wish you harm. You will never escape.

I had suspected as much, for many years. But here was the proof. And here was I, finally old enough to put coherent summation to my suspicions.





And then there was a baby... and then suddenly, there was no baby anymore.

Oh, Ailis! My heart aches for you. Thank you for coming, sweetheart. Thank you for being a spot of warmth and light in the cruel and colorless world I knew. I'm so sorry I am only able to see and express this in retrospect. You did not come from evil, but despite it. I will always hate what happened to me, but I will never regret your life.





I am trying to give myself grace. I have to forgive myself, for needing a different pace than other people. For being different from them in so many ways. I also need to make room inside myself for the idea that there might be a few people out there who can sit with me in my pain, and get it, even never having experienced anything like it themselves. That for every five people out there who have said the exact wrong thing to me, perhaps there is one who would say the exact right thing, given the chance. Maybe those people are out there too, and maybe I will find them someday.

This is the beginning of finding that space, I suppose. A small opening in my thinking, and in my heart.

twenty-nine

Day 29 - hopes, dreams, and plans for the next 365 days

My dream for this year is actually a Big Dream from years ago that's been revived only recently. I hope to find a job -- either as a secretary in a respectable company or as a nanny in an upper class home -- in a big city near the water. Probably Oakland, for now. Work for one year, maybe two, and then go back to school and finish my English degree, preferably at UCLA. (You can make fun, or try to tell me that an English degree is worthless; but you will be wasting your breath. It is worth something to me.)

During this year I also want to finish my book, get the rest of my dental work done, pay cash for a used car, and travel to India with Laura in the fall. And I would not be averse to having a boyfriend again, as well...

----------

In a little less than two months, I am going to Australia for a holiday. I hope that I can be fully present, and enjoy every moment of my time there. I hope that I can come back feeling refreshed and energized, ready to push forward and make new things happen in my life. Before then, I plan to join a nanny agency, and see if they are able to place me with a family starting in January or February. I will also be checking in with my contacts at KP, in case they are able to offer me a position in the new year. I would be open to either option really. It would be so nice if I didn't have to come back to my current job, but could begin a new adventure instead.

I hope that this coming year, frustrating as it is sure to be at times, will be one of exponential growth, and experiences I can be proud of.

October 28, 2010

twenty-eight

Day 28 - what's in your handbag/purse


click to enlarge

This was a fun one, and a welcome reprieve from my heavy thoughts of late. Not sure what the contents of my handbag says about me, but, there it is.

October 27, 2010

walking away from the wreckage

She wanted to cry, but Emma knew that if she started crying now for everyone and everything she had lost, she would never be able to stop crying. So she dusted herself off instead, and started walking away down the beach to explore. I have no place of my own anymore, she thought, but maybe I can make one.

The storm hadn't taken everything she had, after all. It could never take away her brave heart, or her cleverness.


Kage Baker, The Hotel Under the Sand

twenty-seven

Day 27 - your worst habit since your child's death

I really don't think any of my habits could be called bad. But perhaps the one that makes me feel the worst, that I never used to do before, is when I calculate how old my babies would be, and then compare them to the children that I see out and about. I think about what my kids would look like, how they would smell, what milestones they would be achieving. I think about what it would be like, if I had someone to be strong for, to stand up for. Someone to teach how to be human. Someone to pass on my delights to, and to discover what their own delights are in return. I think about how if they were here, even if I had to work, and I missed them desperately while I was there, at least at the end of the day I would get to come home to them again.

I spot one particular child in a crowd, and I remember, methodically, everything I'm missing.

October 26, 2010

lyrical

Just wanted to share something pretty.
Goodnight...

twenty-six

Day 26 - your week, in great detail

This past week was not very indicative of what things are usually like. My friend Laura was here, which was great. We spent a fun few days together. But after that, my week went careening downhill, and I had to go back to work anyway, and I spent five hours on the verge of tears every night for five nights, until yesterday, when I had a day off.

----------

It was hard to say goodbye to Laura, to watch her go and know it will be months before I see her again, before I see anyone who really knows and understands me again. I am so lonely. I miss my friends and my remaining family so much. It makes sense, that I would be sad, but then it turned into this weird guilt complex. I felt bad that I couldn't just be happy that she was here, that she did come, even though she had to go back home again in the end. I felt bad that I couldn't make my good feelings last. I felt broken.

Suddenly, everything seemed like too much. Work was awful, a black hole sucking away my soul and my hope and any future opportunities. For some reason my parents were back in my thoughts, taunting me, their cruelty and neglect coloring everything I noticed about myself and the world around me. I've been feeling so much loss. So much hurt. I feel like if it's not better by now, it never will be.

I've fought so hard for my recovery. And now I'm at a place where I want to give up. Again. I've been here before, and I got through it. But it's hard to want to, this time. The people here love me, but they don't know me very well. They don't know how to encourage me without making me feel pressured. I would very much like to give up. I would like to go back to bed and pull the covers up over my head and just check out for the rest of the day, maybe the rest of the week. But I don't have that kind of luxury anymore, like I did last year. It's make-it-work time.

I just wish I had at least one person here, right here beside me, who I felt like I could count on, who I knew wasn't going to leave. I have never had that. Ever.

----------

Things aren't usually this bad anymore. I was almost feeling strong, for awhile. But I know there are no simple solutions for what ails me, and I am doing the best I can.


bad idea

Note to Self: Do not eat sugar right before bed.
It makes you dream of the crocodile. STOP DOING THAT.

October 25, 2010

twenty-five

Day 25 - your day, in great detail

10:02am
I wake up to sunlight streaming in my windows. A welcome sight, after three days of grey and rain. I stayed up too late, and neglected to remove my makeup, so my eyes are burning. I rub at them, even though it gives me twinges of guilt every time, knowing I am damaging the fragile skin and causing myself who-knows-how-many future wrinkles. Sorry, skin!

10:16am
Still not fully awake. Trying to shake off the night's lingering dreams. It is Monday. No work today, thank goodness.

10:25am
I think I will have a few bites of plain yogurt, and a whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter for breakfast. Maybe some cocoa.

10:40am
There is only chunky peanut butter in the cupboard, which I used to avoid because it would hurt my teeth. But I've had some dental work done, so now I can eat crunchy peanut butter again, and I decide that is reason enough for a moment or two of joy.

10:53am
Turn on the computer. While waiting for it to wake up I notice, for the first time, that my tissue box has something written on it in French: de reves et d'inspirations. Something about inspiration? On a tissue box? Also, there are purple cartoon butterflies on it. (Not really my style, but I got it for $1 at Dollar Tree.)

10:58am
Google translate. De reves et d'inspirations = Of dreams and inspiration. Good to know. Purple butterflies of dreams and inspiration? Sure. Why not, tissue box. Why not.

11:07am
By the way, I added a splash of Toffee Nut creamer to my cocoa, and I think it is offically the best idea ever.

11:14am
Login to Blogger. Type out a play-by-play of the morning so far. Try to decide if I should wait, and not publish until later tonight, or publish now and add to the post throughout the day.

11:35am
Decide to publish now.

11:40am
Facebook. (Meh.) Emails. (Only two new messages.) Election news. (Appalling!)

12:01pm
Try to put my feet up while I read; tip computer chair completely over instead. Ouch. Lie on floor for a moment, marveling at my own clumsiness, before getting up and righting the chair and sitting down again to tell you about what just happened.

12:10pm
Curl up like a cat in a puddle of sunshine on my unmade bed. My right shoulder hurts from my fall.

12:16pm
Shower.

12:36pm
Wrapped in towels, I lie down again in the sunlight, watching its slow slide across the bed. I notice, absentmindedly, the tiny patch of hairs on my knee that I somehow miss every time I shave my legs. It is warm, and there are no urgent demands on my time, and I am content to float through this day and not think too deeply about anything.

12:50pm
Getting ready to go run a few errands.

1:00pm
Fashion emergency.

1:27pm
Finally dressed and made up and ready to go.

1:35pm
Driving through town almost on autopilot, I find myself slipping into sad thoughts. I fear that I am broken, irreparably. On the outside I look "normal." But I do not know how to be like everybody else.

1:49pm
At the library. (Whenever I move, one of the first things I do is find out where the nearest library is, and apply for my library card.) I love the library.

1:52pm
Get a call from AT&T, because my bill is overdue. I don't answer; I will pay it on Friday.

2:20pm
Code Brew for lunch. Settle in to read for awhile on the red leather couch with a turkey sandwich and a Chai latte.

2:29pm
"One day a storm came and swept away everything that Emma had, and everything that Emma knew. When it had done all that, it swept away Emma too. It might have been a storm with black winds, with thunder and lightning and rising waves. It might have been a storm with terrible anger and policemen coming to the door, and strangers, hospitals, courtrooms, and nightmares. It might have been a storm with soldiers, and fire, and hiding in cellars listening to shooting overhead. There are different kinds of storms. But Emma faced the storm that swept over her, and found a way to save herself." --Kage Baker, The Hotel Under the Sand

3:05pm
Ready to head home.

4:13pm
Catching up on blogs. This makes me laugh.

4:44pm
Inspired by the internet to do some self-portraits.

5:01pm
Quickly un-inspired by actual results. I need a new camera. Badly.

5:23pm
Back on the computer, exploring youtube. This makes me cry.

5:56pm
I'm formulating a plan, to be divulged at a later date. (It's a nice plan, not a dastardly one. Don't worry.)

6:37pm
Tear myself away from the computer. Realize I'm hungry, but don't feel like making dinner yet. Go find an apple.

6:45pm
Watch the latest SNL on-demand in the living room.

7:40pm
Still don't feel like cooking. Scrounge some leftover meat and peas for dinner. Thank you, Auntie!

8:00pm
Set up sewing table. Oren Lavie & Joshua Radin Radio playing on Pandora, to soothe me into the nighttime.

11:03pm
A final update. I sewed for three hours straight. My back hurts now, but I am oh-so-nearly finished with one of the Christmas gifts I needed to make, so that's good. I am eating a big gob of chocolate birthday cake (plus a little yogurt, instead of ice cream). Then I will brush my teeth and go to bed, read for a little while, go to sleep. I hope the cake doesn't give me bad dreams. I hope instead I do not dream at all.

That was probably more detail than anyone ever wanted; but I had fun with it.
Good night.

October 24, 2010

twenty-four

Day 24 - where you live

I live in California.

The people here are completely ridiculous. (I kind of love them for it, though. They are so unconsciously brash.) And I love the weather; it is everything I always dreamed. For now I live in a suburb, amongst strip malls and housing developments and gated communities, none of which I am very fond of. I hope that soon I can move into the city, and be part of a friendly neighborhood again. But for now this is where I am, so I am trying to find things about it to love.

nobody knows, nobody knows / she fights for her life as she puts on her coat

October 23, 2010

barriers

I wish I knew how to explain how I feel. Wish I believed there was someone who would understand me, if I could.

tremors

I look at the links I've gathered for the post below, and I know that on a good day I think they're sooo funny. I wish I could say they never fail to make me laugh, but it turns out that's not true. In all honesty, I am very overwhelmed today and don't know if I will be able to crack a smile for anyone. Or if I am able, I don't know that the smile won't dissolve swiftly into tears. I fear my behavior might be rather erratic today, that I might scare people, might scare myself. I feel so many dark emotions, rumbling right below the surface, looking for a faultline, creeping ever nearer to a weakened place that will crack me wide open. I have to go to work now. And I am afraid.

twenty-three

Day 23 - a youtube video that makes you laugh

I go on YouTube primarily for laughs, and I have several old faves to share with you today.

The Flying Hamster. "It's up to you now, Woody." *fling*
I always watch this one with my Sophie-girl. So it makes me smile, just like almost everything else about her.

Beached Whale. "That's deceptive."
This one may qualify as an inside joke. I don't know if it will be funny to you if you've never been to New Zealand or Australia... But it's worth a shot.

Charlie the Unicorn. "It's a MAGICAL leopluradon!"
Oh, Charlie. YouTube doesn't get any more quotable than this. It is incredibly annoying, and yet... I can't help loving it. Reminds me of my youth leader days, and the awesome kids in my small group, who first insisted that I watch it.

Powerthirst. "Made with lightning--REAL LIGHTNING!"
Warning: possibly offensive. But freakin hilarious.

The End of Ze World. "WTF, mate?"
Ruling out the icecaps melting, meteors becoming crashed into us, the ozone leaving, and the sun exploding -- we're definitely going to blow ourselves up. (This one reminds me of Laura, because she laughed the longest.)

Glee: Single Ladies. Touchdown.
Definitely one of my favorite Glee moments.

October 22, 2010

don't panic

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well...

twenty-two

Day 22 - a website that has been meaningful since your loss


I stumbled upon Glow in the Woods by accident. After following a bunny trail of links, I landed on Kate's gorgeous blog, Sweet | Salty, and that's where I saw the big button that caught my attention and led me to Glow.

And I'm so glad it did.

If you haven't been there, I encourage you to go and check it out. Raw and beautiful stories of grief and healing after babyloss are shared regularly on the main page, and there are open discussion boards and related articles as well.

It helped me so much, especially in the beginning, to read other parents' stories; to figure out that what I felt was normal and I was not, in fact, losing my mind -- as much as it seemed that way at times. It is good to offer support and kindness to others who are in the same or similar circumstances, and be supported in return. I am so thankful to the administrators for creating and maintaining such a safe and beautiful place to process our pain.

October 21, 2010

exacerbated

Time for some whinging. Feel free to tune out.


----------


I hate my job.

Hate.

Hate, hate, hatehatehate!

Normally, I would quickly add: "But I am thankful that I at least have a job.
I know I'm really lucky."

But do you want to know a secret?

I'm not thankful. I'm not thankful at all.

And I don't really think I'm lucky. (By what stretch of the imagination am I lucky?) I think my life sucks and it's never going to get any easier and why can't someone just take care of this shit for me? That's what I really think. I think I am always going to be poor and I'm never going to be able to pay back my loans or get my own apartment or travel or do anything fun, ever.

I am so tired of working in stupid stores selling stupid shit to stupid people who don't actually need any of it. I am tired of mean bitches talking to me like I'm an idiot, or some kind of lowly servant girl, or a subclass of human. I am tired of busting my ass for a measly $8-minus-taxes an hour, while my lazy coworkers hide in the breakroom or go outside to smoke or leave early without telling anyone. (M says I think I'm better than them -- but I don't think that. I know it.)

I am tired of being so goddam agreeable all the time.

I am tired all. the. time.

They keep telling me I need to smile more.
My first thought is always, unexpectedly, "Fuck you."


----------


I fear that there is no justice in the world.

San Francisco





photos by Laura (unedited)






photos by me (unedited)

twenty-one

Day 21 - a recipe

Dutch Babies are one of my very favorite things to make. One reason is because they are super yummy, but the other reason is because the first person to make them for me (and keep on making them for me many times after that) was my friend Laura, who is both awesome and adorable as well as a pretty great cook.

Now that I think of it, a bonus reason why they're my favorite is because I have only ever eaten them with nice people who I really like. So.

Makes 2 to 4 servings:
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
7 teaspoons butter
Freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Powdered sugar

1. Place a large, heavy ovenproof frying pan or a cast-iron skillet inside the oven on the middle rack, and preheat to 450F. While pan and oven are heating, prepare your batter.
2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until light and frothy; add milk, flour, vanilla, and cinnamon; beat for 5 minutes more. The batter will be thin and very smooth.
3. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven; add the butter, tilting the pan to melt the butter and coat the entire inside of the skillet. Pour the prepared batter into the hot skillet, all at once, and immediately return the skillet to the oven.
4. Bake approximately 20 to 25 minutes, or until the edges are puffed and the pancake is golden brown all over.
5. Remove from oven and serve immediately. For a classic German Pancake/Dutch Baby, sprinkle with freshly squeezed lemon juice, and dust the top with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

October 20, 2010

twenty

Day 20 - a hobby of yours and how it changed since your loss

I used to do a lot of mixed media collage, particularly in my college years and early twenties. These days it has mostly translated to quilting and scrapbooking. (Which both strike me as rather maternal hobbies, now that I think of it. That's kind of awesome.)

Sewing has been very cathartic for me throughout the past year, especially when I was really struggling with PTSD. I've never used a pattern for a quilt. I just jump in and improvise. This has probably caused me a bit of unnecessary frustration, but in the end I am always pleased and proud of my results.



click on a photo to enlarge


I would show you the scrapbook I'm making for Noah, too, but the batteries are dead in my camera, so it will have to wait. Soon, though! I promise.

October 19, 2010

nineteen

Day 19 - a talent of yours

There are a few things that I am very good at. But when I think about them, I just feel sad. Not proud. Rarely proud. They are the things I had to be good at, to survive. And I don't really want to talk about that right now.

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But there are other, more innocuous talents that I could mention, I suppose. Talents that have nothing to do with survival.

I write pretty fairy tales, and poetry. I have excellent rhythm. I can swing dance -- Lindy Hop, East Coast, Charleston. People tell me I have a nice voice, and there are times when I might agree. I read aloud with feeling. I take good pictures; pictures that speak to people, when I need them to. I can french-braid my own hair. I have an eye for what kind of clothes would look good on you, and what you should stay away from -- but I won't get in your face about it. I'll only tell you if you ask.

I am protective of my talents, wary. I never felt appreciated, growing up. Anything I was good at was only exploited for the family's benefit. It was never about celebrating who I was, as a person. So I don't like to admit that I'm good at things. Which is probably why job interviews make me so miserable.

I'm not humble. I'm just onorously guarded. You ask me what I'm good at; immediately I wonder what you want from me.

October 18, 2010

eighteen

Day 18 - your wedding/future wedding



My thoughts about this change pretty frequently. So much depends on who I marry, and what our budget turns out to be -- since my parents obviously aren't going to be pitching in. Not that I ever believed they were really planning on it in the first place.

By the way. I can't even tell you what a relief it was, when it finally dawned on me that I did not have to invite my parents to my wedding. With that realization, I could look forward to the future, for literally the first time, with only hope and joy. (Also, the knowledge that I did not have to let my mom be there when my children were born, that I did not have to ever take my babies to my parent's awful house...) Oh, my God. It may seem like a simple decision to you, I don't know. But for me it was a revelation. And I glory in it, still.

In fact, when I think of my wedding, the first thing I typically think is: Omg, I only need to invite the people that I actually want to be there! Hooray! I don't have to let anyone else come! And that, combined with the thought of marrying some who I'm totally in love with, who loves me back, is enough for me to know that it will be a perfect day no matter what.

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I've known for several years that I don't really want a traditional ceremony. I still don't know if I'll even have a "wedding" or if I'll just go to the courthouse with my fiance, and then throw a big reception afterward. If I do have a ceremony, there will be no bridesmaids and no groomsmen (at least not in the traditional sense), and definitely no matchy-matchy outfits on fully grown adults. No offense to you, if you had them! I just do not understand it and you won't find them at mine.

It cracks me up when people say their wedding is going to be so original; weddings are not original. Weddings are about as common as you can get. So I won't say I'm going to be original. I just want to have a really great party, the biggest best party I've ever had, with all of the people I like most. As long as I'm married by the end of it, we'll have accomplished what we set out to do -- and I will be happy.

Here are my current thoughts on what I'd like to wear. Any other ideas I have are sitting patiently in the back of my mind, waiting for a certain boy and those four magic words.
Must have:
- a pretty headpiece from ban.do
- a pair of fierce shoes
- a short white dress (to show off my fierce shoes)
- some pretty jewelry and gems to wear
- and, of course, the ring...

BONUS: If money was no object.

October 17, 2010

seventeen

Day 17 - an art piece (drawing, sculpture, painting, etc) that moves you


This is a detail, called Mother and Child, from the much larger painting The Three Ages of Woman, by Gustav Klimt. Klimt has been my favorite painter since college, and this particular painting has always struck a chord with me. Even moreso now, when my dreams of motherhood seem so far out of reach.

What I wouldn't give, for a moment like this one.

two's company

A good friend of mine is coming to visit. We have a lot of catching up and sight-seeing and shopping and coffee drinking and photo taking to do, so I probably won't be blogging much this week. But don't worry! I've scheduled some posts for the next few days, so that you won't miss me too terribly while I'm gone. :)

October 16, 2010

sixteen

Day 16 - a song that makes you cry (or nearly).

fifteen

Day 15 - your dreamhouse



My dream house is wherever I live with my husband and my babies. I don't much care what it looks like on the outside. I don't care what it cost. My dream house is any place that feels, for once in my life, like a home.

I'll know it when I find it. And I'll fill that house with books and light and colors and music and healthy food... and love. And nice people will always be welcome there.

October 15, 2010

wave of light



Remembering with you. Peace -- Vera

inexpressible

I wanted to put a quote here. A poem, a song. Something. I've been searching and searching. But nothing is working. And I find I am trying to describe something that I'm not sure can even be described in someone else's words, or maybe in any words at all:



I am trying to tell you what you mean to me


What it means that you were here


What it means that I'm your mother --
your mother


Not someone else's


Not anyone else's but yours



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What I picture in my mind, as I'm thinking about this, is the ocean, the wild breakers of the South Pacific ocean, at night. And I see so many stars overhead, unfamiliar, and very bright, the moon a shining silver splinter, and the waves foaming right at my feet, washing beguilingly over my toes, and then sliding away again. The air is warm, and the water is cold, and I stand there for a long time, with my head back and my arms outstretched, as if I could embrace the whole world, or gather the essence of you back together between the palms of my two reaching hands, gather you back from where you have disappeared into the heart of the universe. I can feel the whole of the earth missing you with me. Wondering with me, where have you gone, where are you now? Every rock and tree and flower, all the sand beneath my feet, all the whales, and the lions, and the mice, and the bees. We notice, we remember, we pause.

We look up.

And this string of moments is like a string of perfect pearls, or like a string of notes in a perfect melody, our solemn, silent song of acknowledgement, and memory... for you are a part of this story, this poem, this Place. You are part of us, and it -- and me. And we remember you.


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So this is it, baby. This is it.


If I had a picture of what I'm trying to say, this would be it.

remembering

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Take a few minutes and click over to After Iris, where Jess has created a beautiful tribute to lost babies, in honor of her own sweet girl, gone too soon.

So many names. Utterly heartwrenching. I lay my head down on the desk and listened, wholly, purposefully. I cried. And it was painful; but it felt fruitful, too, somehow. It is what I can do, in this moment -- and I am willing.


October 14, 2010

Havana

I dreamed I was packing -- getting ready to move, as I often do -- and I was very depressed. I was depressed because a few months earlier, I'd had another baby that died.

So I'm packing, alone, and I lift up a box and come across these two photos, lying on the floor. One is of my baby, being born, from my own perspective. The other is of the same baby, and me; a self-portrait. And I start to cry, remembering what happened that day.

I remember I was all alone when my baby was born, in the same shabby house where I am in the dream. I delivered him myself. But he was dead, and there was no one else around, and so I took these two photos to remember him by, to prove to myself and everyone else that he was really here, that I wasn't crazy or faking it.

But the picture of us together is bizarre, and makes me feel very strange. I realize, as I'm looking at it, that the baby has a huge smile on his face; he is lying on my chest, wrapped in a blanket, grinning away. His tiny face is so sweet and vibrant, right there next to mine; and yet I look crushed and bedraggled and desperately sad. And I slowly realize how weird this is, how he's so happy and I'm so sad. And I begin to feel a little frightened.

Then a friend of mine walks in and sees me crying, and asks me what's wrong, so I show her the photos. She says, "Oh. Oh, honey; your baby didn't die. We came, and we tried to tell you, but you were so upset. You didn't understand. But she's fine, I promise. She's here, and she's beautiful, and her name is Havana."

And that just floors me, for so many reasons, and I sit and gape at my friend, and all I can think is, "WHAT?!" because I believed my baby was dead, and also that it was a boy, and how could I be so very wrong, and what else was I wrong about, and what might I have forgotten -- and why on earth was my daughter named after a city in Cuba?! And where was she anyway, because I needed to see her immediately, this miracle baby who'd been alive all along.

fourteen

Day 14 - a non-fiction book that is meaningful to you since your loss


About What Was Lost: Twenty Writers on Miscarriage, Healing, and Hope edited by Jessica Berger Gross

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken

There was a dearth of reading material available on the subject when I went looking for it, let alone good material. But I found these two books eventually, and both were of great comfort to me. They made me laugh and cry by turns, especially Elizabeth McCracken. Her bewilderment and grief are so gently and exquisitely expressed. It was exactly the voice I needed to hear, at exactly the right time.