In Defense of The Saturn

In a short period of time, it became necessary to replace both cars in our family.

First to go was The Saturn.

I was deeply sad to see it go, but, apparently, none of my friends were.

This one is for the haters.

After graduating from college, I did a few, responsible, adult-y things. I consolidated my school loans, I got a full time job and I bought a car.

It was 2002. I’d just bid ‘adieu’ to The Rustang–which had carried me through all university adventures and holds a dear space on my heart–and I wanted a car that I could drive without fear. A car that didn’t have me constantly asking: “What smells like it’s burning this time?” With my Dad as my Wingman, I visited RL Smith Auto Sales in Rensselaer, NY.

Mr Smith purchased cars at auction and ran a small lot. He had a son and some grandkids and he was honest. By the end of the afternoon, I’d acquired both a 3 year old Saturn compact–midnight blue–and my very first car loan.

It had power nothing and a manual transmission. It was the nicest car I’d owned, following a string of FSBO hoopties. Low miles, a shine still to its paint, and a jaunty zip.

AND EVERYONE LAUGHED AT IT.

My closest friends snickered because even their rusty, 4th generation Hondas had power windows. “It’s made of plastic!!” shrieked a friend who paid a mortgage-sized bill on her brand new Montero every month. “It’s so tiny!” said the backseat full of people who had no other way to get around. “You still HAVE that thing???” gawped EVERYONE IN MY LIFE at least once over the course of our relationships.

No one gave that car any respect, and it ticks me off.

It died at the side of the road in 2016, nearly 15 years after I’d purchased it. In that time, I replaced only 1 clutch, 2 sets of brakes, a rear door lock mechanism and a side mirror. IN TOTAL.

The Saturn explored the entirety of NY and pretty much the rest of New England. It got sandy in Hampton Bays and it bumped down dirt trails in the Adirondacks. It made a few visits to Niagara Falls and it crossed the entire country in 3.5 days stopping only for gas and Mount Rushmore. It got me to and from work and was my constant companion as I explored Seattle one parking lot at a time. Not content to know only a single coast, The Saturn moved on to explore the PNW…rugby games, hiking trips, long weekends at the beach, another move to another city and wine country.

All this, to say, I loved that car, and it served me well. It is undeserving the condescension and snooty snubbing it’s received these long years. So here’s a big middle finger to all the naysayers; The Saturn was awesome, and you all were lucky to have ridden in it.

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Rescue me

You guys. I am stressed out and sad. Stressed out and sad in that way that runs like a reel in the back of your head and keeps you from sleeping. In the way that sits in the bottom of your stomach and leaves a metallic, hungover taste in the back of your mouth. The way that ‘helpless’ feels when a situation is out of your hands and entirely depends on the whims of a stranger.

There is a dog that we’ve applied to adopt; the perfect dog, I might dare say. He’s a dog that “checks our boxes” such as that goes, but more than that, FEELS to me like the perfect guy. But the rescue, as is its right, does not look like it’s going to give our application any consideration.

For about 8 months now, I’ve scoured the internet, looking for the dog to fill our lives in the space that Matilda left behind. Adoption is the only avenue I am considering. I’m willing to pay a foster fee to a rescue, but absolutely not to a breeder. But the process, here in the PNW, borders very nearly on absurd.

To be fair, there are a number of considerations that narrow our field. I don’t want another dog-aggressive dog; 10+ years of that was difficult with Miss M and I’m not up for that challenge again. We have a cat now, and children, and though both are respectful of dogs (the children and the cat), we need a dog who has patience with them as well. We live in an apartment, so exercise will be of the family play, leashed walk and dog park variety…we need a dog with energy, but maybe not that agility dog energy.

We want a snuggler, a couch-companion, a road-trip buddy. This dog will share our space, all of it, even the bed. We want a family member more than just a pet.

Up until now, I have responded to all dog posts that look promising. I’ve asked myriad questions and I’ve accepted being turned away for one small reason or another over and over again in the belief that THE dog is out there. I’ve labored at maintaining a zen mindset about it to offset the disappointment at one near-miss after another, choosing to live in a space that says “The Perfect Dog Will Find Me”.

I’ve been truthful on all applications. There are many ways to lie to get around the process. I know lots of good people who have done so and have ended up with beautiful dogs for their families…but I’ve refused to do the same. Because the perfect dog will find me.

We walked away from a gorgeous pointer mix not long ago because she just didn’t feel quite perfect. And I didn’t look back. Because the perfect dog will find me.

And about 3 weeks ago, I was grateful to all the other rescues for being as annoyingly strict as they were. I was glad to have said “no way” to ridiculous dog visitation clauses. In debt to the rescue rep who questioned how I could afford a dog if “[you] can’t even afford [your] own home?” Happy to be turned away for having children, for not having a fenced yard, for not living in state, for not living in state even though that state was a 40 minute drive away, for not being willing to adopt certain breeds even though the dog we were interested in was not that breed. I was happy because a dog popped up at a local rescue that immediately felt like HOME.

With every update the rescue posted, this guy got more perfect. Every new picture melted my heart. I waited for the other shoe, the. “Oh man, I guess I’ll keep looking” deal-breaker. It didn’t come. The opposite happened. It was like our lifestyle and needs wrote a want-ad and this guy was created to reply to it.

I counted the days until he was ready for adoption. I put in my application within hours. I supplied references. We went to meet him at an adoption event. Being able to pet him and look into his eyes and cuddle him did nothing for opposition research. He is perfect and walking away was torturous.

But our application went in on Tuesday and we’ve heard nothing. All subsequent phone calls have gone unreturned. Follow up emails have been ignored. FB messages unanswered.

The writing is on the wall. This is the dog rescue equivalent of He’s Just Not That Into You.

And thus, the system that I, for a split second, lauded (Because The Perfect Dog Will Find Me), I am now cursing because it is breaking my heart.

Every new post about this dog that says Ready For Adoption!! makes me want to scream “MEEEEEE!!!! Meeee!!!!! Look at my application!!!!! PLEASE PICK MY HOME!!!!!”

I spent last night dreaming of hugging this dog. Loving this dog. Welcoming this dog.

And even though I am holding on to a glimmer of hope (she was busy, it was a big weekend, all the other applicants are self-avowed puppy-murderers), in my mind, I know we aren’t going to hear from the rescue.

It’s an awful feeling. An awful, awful feeling.

January

This morning I spent two hours in my own home, alone, no kids. For the first time in 3+ years. I had to. I have a time-sensitive task that needs completing. A deadline. I’d needed to start over at a critical point and my cushion disappeared.

So I sat here, in the girls’ room, with a window open and a playlist that came up when I queried ‘Cello’, and I actively concentrated for an hour and a half.

I was astounded at how difficult it has become for me to maintain focus…to just sit quietly with a task that requires a manner of timekeeping and counting. I barely held it together. I joke about the Swiss cheese brain with other mom-types, but I’ll be honest with you: That shit is REAL and it is not even remotely funny, and we all know it. I’m a space cadet and you’re a space cadet, and so is she, and we’re all secretly terrified that our children are ACTUALLY sending us to the loony bin.

My attention span is non-existent. I’ve gotten sidetracked writing these 100 or so words like 5 times. I can’t zero in. Outside activity throws me off. I can’t have a conversation if the radio is on and a child is speaking in the background. I’m harried. Scattered. Fuzzy. Brain dead. Unchallenged. Untested. Gathering dust.

So this year, I think, is going to be a year of rebuilding focus and regaining the ability to drown out the unnecessary and not just turn off when presented with multiple stimuli. In 2018, I want to be sharper and more focused. I want to clean up around the edges and in the corners. I want to get back to fighting weight. Mentally as well as physically. I want to find something to occupy me, to push me, to require effort and skill of me.

If given two hours, I want to get to the point where I can make use of all of it without distraction. With fewer nerves and less sense of a clock ticking down.

Coming Out Of The Dark

So it’s been a minute, Dear Reader, and honestly, it might be another minute before I return.  Or maybe it won’t.  I don’t know.  I can’t make any promises.  We’ll see, et al.

Pertinent information:

-I’ve had another baby.  (That’s it though, no more surprise babies; I head now toward menopause, my womb crumbling and ashy from neglect….) At some point, for posterity I guess, I will tell my birth story, but for now all you need to know is that that baby came out of my vagina UNMEDICATED save for a dose of fentanyl administered 10 minutes before the head of said baby emerged into the open air.  I fucking did it the way I wanted.

-Hereinafter, the Littlest Yawps as you know her, will be referred to as Littler Yawps.  Unless I come up with something better.  Because if I kept referring to her as the LittlEST, it would no longer be true, and I don’t subscribe to #alternativefacts.  The Littlest Yawps moniker passes now to the actual littlest.

-I’ve gotten older.  I’m like, peak white suburban mom right now.  In fact, just telling you that made me crave Starbucks and come to a definitive decision on the color I’m painting my next repurposed piece of furniture….#notironic

What i really came here for, though is to tell you about this cool thing that happened to me this morning.

Lately, as the spring is on its way and I spend more and more time outside with my babies (because 12 hours a day INside with a toddler is like, Guantanamo level shit), I’m realizing that I had a bit of the baby blues.  The cherry blossom tree outside my front door blooms by the end of March every year, and while, after its flowers drop to the sidewalk, there will be a couple more weeks of rain and cold, its always this jolt for me out of SAD.  Here Comes The Sun and all that.

Anyway, this thing happened, and it was such a human moment, and so perfect, that I’m still a little stunned.

I turned 38 a few days ago, and some annoying, mundane, life shit happened (can I just live in a world where cars work fine for as long as you need them?) that led to some positive and definitive Game Plans.  A combination of looking forward (2 years until 40!) and looking back (What happened to 30?!) after a winter spent cocooning and figuring out how to keep two small humans alive on Red Hots and no sleep has somehow equalled a feeling of purpose and hope for the year ahead.  I mean, it might just be a manic phase, but let’s be honest, I’m not complaining.

So for a little bit, my mood’s been okay and I’ve generally been looking forward to things (depression checklist item eliminated) and I’ve been trying to parent positively.  I grade myself everyday (with humor, but also truthfully) with an A being a day with no raised voices, significant time spent outside and away from screens, good naps and lots of hugs. I’m currently a B- student but we’ve just begun the semester and I’ve hired tutors.  I’m in the trenches right now, for sure, but I’m actively working on it.

Tuesday is gymnastics day.  Barring torrential rain, I strap the Littlest Yawps to my chest (she doesn’t like it as much as her sister did) and tie the Littler into the stroller and we make the short trek to the strip mall behind my complex.  There we enter a martial arts studio where for the next 45 minutes, someone else is in charge of tiring out my nigh-on three year old.  Today, I had to stop at the post office to send out some care packages.  Now remember when I told you that I have become the person equivalent of a Frappucino in yoga pants?  Well, I have the stroller that matches.  It’s a 3-wheel model made for running behind and offroad conditions.  Now, I 100% don’t run with it, and if it ever sees a hiking trail, I’ll be doing something wrong when it comes to teaching my kids about nature, but you get the general picture.  It’s like, one step behind having a matching minivan with Trolls playing on the video monitors installed in the headrests.

It handles pretty well, but today, I was having decided trouble getting it in and out of the doorways to the PO.  The Littler Yawps is chatting happily away, The Littlest is screeching greetings and protests (sometimes I can’t tell the difference) and I’m trying to pack and address a box, when I look down and discover that the goddamned front tire on the stroller is flat.  Which renders it inoperable.  I’m going to have to drop my kid off at gymnastics, walk all the way home, get the bicycle pump and return to the stroller to inflate.  Not the end of the world, but a pain in the ass.

Now, any other time, this could have torpedoed my day.  It doesn’t take much, the majority of the time, but, as I’ve mentioned above, PMA is my jam for the moment, so I laugh, and shake my head and say “Dang It.”  My toddler then looks up at me and, amid her customary machine-gun barrage of questions, asks: “Momma, what happened?  What happened, Momma?”, instead of rolling my eyes in frustration at the situation, I tell her “A minor setback, kid” and fill her in on the plan and then continue answering her other insane questions with humor and enthusiasm (Who is that?  What is she wearing?  Where does Kelsey live?  Is she Juliet’s mom?  Did Branch save Poppy?  Momma, did the Bergen get me? Dad went to Target.  Why do you have to fill the tire?  You’re going to walk?  Why?  It’s like a bicycle?  Is it broken?  Can I have a cake pop?) (I’m telling you, GUANTANAMO)

Struggling my flat-tired BMX stroller out the door, I take a breath to answer more questions, and, I hear: “Um, hello?  I think I can help you with that?”  I look up to see a gentleman walking toward me from a heating and cooling truck with a battery-powered air pump in his hands.  The implausibility of the whole scene begins making itself known at this point.  “I was in the post office” he says “and I heard what happened and I thought you handled it like a pro” and he gets down on the ground and, while complimenting my oldest on her pink galoshes (HER FAVORITE), he fills the damned tire.

I mean, WHAT??  What are the odds I get a flat tire?  That I get a flat tire on a positive day.  That I get a flat tire on a positive day and happen to be in the same space as a person who happens to carry with him the same tool that I would need to retrieve through considerable effort?  I’m telling you, it was a little bit of magic.

The guy was so nice, and so gracious as I stood there in a dumbfounded struggle with words.  He just filled the tire, exuded an air of “Oh hey, no big deal”, and returned to his truck to go about his day.  It was this amazing, human moment that kind of galvanized the feeling I’ve had over the past week.  And the other kind of beautiful thing about it is that I didn’t get his name.  My effusive thanks and reaction at that moment are what are going to have to suffice, my thanks and this little post commemorating the moment.

 

 

Surprise, Cockbag!

REVERB 14, Day 6: Biting Back. We All occasionally find ourselves having to deal with an incredibly unpleasant individual. Think back to such a situation: if the gloves were off, how would you REALLY have liked to have dealt with them?

 

Getting pregnant was something that I never anticipated doing. I was so vehement, in fact, about NOT having children, that more than one close friend texted with condolences, rather than congratulations when I DID decide to take the plunge. (“Oh, Jen! Oh!. You’ll see, sometimes accidents can be the greatest blessings…..”) But that’s not what I’m here to address. Those cats were just reacting genuinely to being blindsided. I only mention that to give you a clear idea of just how sure I was in my decision to move forward. This was a choice born of a complete about-face; months and months of thought went into it. My options were weighed and measured and then weighed and measured again for YEARS before the needle settled at “Let’s Do It.”

By the time I chucked the birth control for good, I was more than reasonably sure I’d considered every con. I was prepared for the sleepless nights and the labor pains. The Old Man and I had discussed in very clear terms what types of parents we wanted to be. I read the blogs and the books and the websites. I’d mentally picked over my friends with kids, and kept a checklist of both good ideas and shit that I would/will never do EVER. If you know me, you know I’m speaking the truth when I tell you, I WAS PREPARED. Even looking back, I’m hard-pressed to find something to point out that was worse, or, more accurately, more difficult than I’d considered.

What I WASN’T ready for, what no one mentioned, is the degree to which I became public property once round with child. The millisecond that my news was no longer secret, my inbox exploded with advice. “You’re going to want to….” “Say goodbye to sleep….” “You’re not going to taste that wine are you?” “I can’t believe you’re still working out….” “Has anyone talked to you about the dangers of vaccinations yet?” “When I was pregnant with little Timmy, I would have NEVER done xxxx….” No topic was off-limits or too private. People lost all boundaries. The judgement was swift and complete. EVERYONE had an opinion, and the more clearly I stated that I wasn’t interested, the more loudly they all spoke, because, well, I just wasn’t experienced and they, of course, KNEW BETTER.

I handled all of that pretty well. I learned quickly that there was no being tactful. People needed to be told clearly, and firmly that their advice was not wanted, and I managed to navigate that space without losing friends or offending anyone too terribly much (unless you WERE offended and kept quiet about it…in which case, I’m sorry that your feelings were hurt, but, you WERE overstepping).

What I didn’t handle well were the multitudes of strangers who felt that my body as a pregnant woman, was something that they could feel free to touch without permission. Somewhere, someone made up a wive’s tale that it is good luck to rub a pregnant woman’s belly, and, as such, you should do that, even if it’s someone you’ve never met before. In total, I would estimate that I was groped by no fewer than fifteen separate times by people I’d never met before; people who would approach me in a store, or in a parking lot, and, with nary a word, lay their hands upon my ample stomach.

It was horrifying. For about the first six times, I was aghast and responded by almost shouting, “Get your fucking hands off of me.” This was never the response that these strangers were expecting, and many told me that there was no reason for me to be so rude. I would expound on the inanity of that logic, but I’m sure you get it. It took me by surprise every time, and through my disgust and mortification, I couldn’t come up with anything better.

I was discussing this with a friend over messenger one night, when she made a suggestion that I would seize upon and run with for the remaining duration of my pregnancy. And so, this prompt turns into, not What Would You Have Rather Done, but How I Put The Best Idea Into Practice.

The Scene: Checkout line number 7, Safeway

The Players: My Very Pregnant Self and Middle-Aged Male Stranger

My Very Pregnant Self: (minding my own business, quietly waiting in line to pay for a cartload of groceries)

Middle-Aged Male Stranger: (creeping up to the side of MVPS, leaning in VERY CLOSE and exclaiming, while placing both of his dirty, hairy, strangery hands on my stomach): OH! You’re pregnant! Do you mind if I touch you?? (already touching)

MVPS: (without saying a word, I look MAMS in the eyes and lay my right hand gently but firmly on the front of his pants where his genitals are located)

MAMS: (eyes POP! open, hands recoil in shock, jumps back two feet and stares at me in disbelief, confusion)

MVPS: (Innocently) “Oh, I’m sorry, are we not doing that thing where we as strangers touch each other inappropriately without permission?”

MAMS: (gets the point, apologizes and fumbles away)

 

 

With thanks to Leslie and apologies for using her material. It was just too good not too, and served me well for many months.

Before We Continue…

I’ve got to apologize, at this point, I think, as I’m beginning to realize that most of these posts during this season of Reverb are going to revolve around the fact that I’ve had a baby. And I guess, apologize isn’t really even what I mean. More than that, I mean to acknowledge the fact that there has been a decided change in my trajectory and convictions.

It’s no secret that I never wanted children. More than that, I was incredibly vocal about that decision, and vehement in my answers whenever (rudely) asked when I planned to have children or why I didn’t plan to at all or didn’t I think the Old Man and I had been married long enough to start already. In general, the world at large has very specific ideas about how one should live a life and what milestones should be involved in that life. I openly flouted those stereotypes and took no small pleasure in the confused looks I received as a result.

There’s a Cool Kids’ Club, you see, when it comes to being over 30 and childless by choice. The members feel a little superior to their peers with children and the secret handshake is conveyed through Facebook posts which not-so-subtly demonstrate their status with pictures bulleting the use of discretionary income or group shots taken in distinctly adult situations with fancy dresses and booze on a Wednesday evenings. The Childless By Design are a bit smug and (not) secretly think themselves more sophisticated. They are elitests, tripping the light fantastic through life, gleefully sans responsibility.

I know this, because I was one. I was a member of this club whose only requirements were maintenance of a child-free status and the unspoken air of superiority of having no wrought iron anchor to keep me from saying yes to last minute invitations or road trips or drinking binges and no reason not to punctuate my speech with the Eff Word.

But change of heart came knocking and change my heart did, and knocked up I became.

No sooner had I made this announcement, than I was unceremoniously booted out the door of The Cool Kids’ Club of The Childless By Design. The change was immediate. With no regard for the fact that this decision had not come easily or quickly to me, friends and still members of TCKCOTCBD asked pointed and tactless questions and made many the sarcastic and cutting remarks. “Did your birth control stop working?” “Great, another Mommy Blogger.” “What the fuck were you thinking?” “I’m so disappointed.” “Another one bites the dust.” “Break out the Mom jeans!”

Plainly, it sucked, and I internalized it all. I limited the number of blog posts I wrote and stopped participating in online discussions with certain people. I found myself cut off from a community that I’d identified with for so long that it had become a part of my identity. It took a long time to come to terms with the fact that I was no longer welcome by people with whom I’d for so long shared a camaraderie.

But as I sit here and reflect, I see that though I’ve experienced a life-changing event, and though I took a hairpin turn, I am still much the same person I was. So I’m kind of pissed off.

No, my birth control did not stop working. I made this decision consciously and waited until I was certain to move forward. I own this choice just as much as I previously owned my decision to NOT have children.

Yes, I will be a Mommy and a Blogger, a motherfucking Mommy Blogger. I will continue to write about my experiences and apply my lens to them. More of those experiences will have to do with my kid, sure, but what makes you think they’ll be any less moving/funny/sarcastic than when I recounted the Twat Fatwa? And further, FUCK YOU for diminishing my experience and treating me as if I’d somehow lost all brain cells and were no longer as smart or as worth your time or reader space.

As for what I was thinking? I wasn’t so much thinking as dreaming of the huge blue eyes and tiny hands that I now have the absolute joy to look into and hold. I was imagining impromtu tea parties and hooky days spent at the zoo or the Macy’s One-Day Sale. I was indulging in fantasies of inappropriate questions asked at top volumes in quiet waiting rooms and I was considering the voices and accents I’d use while reading Pippi Longstocking and Harry Potter out loud to a rapt audience all my own. I was musing on the possibilities of wonder in little eyes and indulging big imagination.

Believe me, friend, the disappointment you’re feeling is nothing compared to my own at your reaction

Not So Shabby

REVERB 14, Day Three; Loving What IS. What Can You Love About Where You Are Now?

 

I’ve had the good fortune, over the past few months, to reconnect with an old friend–like, knew me in junior high, pre-braces, pre-contacts, pre-developing into a person, old—via email. Of course, it was Facebook that facilitated the initial contact, and through a series of messages, which ultimately became letter-like emails, we’ve managed to fill in the spaces of the intervening years for each other and catch up in a leisurely way that I’ve found quite a bit of joy in.

We knew each other and were close during those awkward tween and teen years, so the rhythm that we fell into was quite natural when it came to discussing this place we’ve found ourselves in now, namely, our mid-thirties; a space that in those early years, would have been considered ancient, and purportedly, completely GROWN UP.

As I was replying to one of her responses, I was drawn to admit something that I’d begun mulling over in April, when I turned 35, and that is, I’m kind of okay with where I am.

Weird, right?

I mean, if you’ve been following this blog at all, or know me in any capacity, this year’s Reverb is going to startle you–because this year turned almost everything that I know/knew about myself on its head. Sometime, over the past two-ish years, there was a shift in my thinking. My life, up until this point has been kind of defined by my maniacal search for my own space, every day spent wishing and hoping for something better, for fulfillment, for worth…for a definition of myself and my accomplishments that was worthy of the span of time spent and the potential owned.  I pined incessantly and lamented exhaustively; I was supposed to be SO MUCH MORE. There was supposed to be more money made, more professional accomplishment, more travel, more indulgence in lust for life. Everything was supposed to be BIGGER than it was.

And then, that roar for more and better and grander quieted. I’m not sure when it happened, but I do know, that as I took stock at the marker for my 35th year, I realized, I’m kind of all right…and it stopped me in my tracks. I was unemployed, pregnant, and friendless in a new city. I mean, you look at that picture from the outside, and it’s like Welfare City from an emotional standpoint. It’s literally every life nightmare from my past come to fruition. I was bombarded with messages from friends: “How are you DOING?” “Are you OKAY?” “What are you doing to COPE?”

And yeah, there were for sure moments of despair. The Old Man was traveling every week and I was pretty much alone, sending out resumé after resumé and being rejected interview after interview because, well, no one wants to hire the pregnant chick. There was morning sickness keeping me from the outdoors and then days on end of grey, drizzly rain. Friends were busy working, or, by virtue of time zones, sleeping when I was awake and in most need of a chat. But, in the end, I was doing okay. My life of lament had sort of prepared me for this. Three times before I’d started over in new cities. Three times before I’d changed professional trajectory. Three times before I’d made friends in unlikely places. The prospect of doing it again wasn’t so daunting this time.

And yeah, then there was the little issue of MY issue…the little seed and egg who would become and is now the Littlest Yawps. The biggest and most unbelieveable change of all. And this is where I am writing from now. I am someone’s Mom. Each day I am navigating this space that, years ago, would have been inconceivable. I am turning all past convention on its head. And what’s more? I am enjoying it. I am reveling in this space and taking the time to fold it around me in a way that I’ve never done before. I am working with a calm and assurance that I never believed myself capable of.

Maybe it’s the hormones. I don’t know. But what I do know, is that I have my little job which has the potential to grow for me in the years to come, and I have my little family which HAS grown for me in countless ways, and I have a new store of patience and peace that is as calming as it is surprising. No, I haven’t turned into some Zenmaster Jen floating through life with all the answers. I still have moments of panic and despair. But for the most part, I CAN love where I am right now because for the first time ever, I’m taking it day by day, and living it the way it’s supposed to be lived, up close. I’m squeezing these moments for all that they can give me; it’s really pretty lovely

*sigh

REVERB 14: DAY TWO: When Did You Feel Beautiful This Year? Why?

 

It’s no secret that I’ve made an art form of self-loathing. My thighs have never been thin enough, my arms never defined enough. My hair too thin and an ugly combination of neither wavy nor straight. My nose is too big and my teeth are crooked and when I smile, my face looks fat and my chin doubles. I am too short, and, while I don’t mind being small-chested, the tits I DO have are oddly shaped and displeasing. With age, my left eye has begun to cross inward, and so, I must hide my one good feature, my eyes, behind coke bottle glasses. This list goes on and on, and though I’ve made significant strides against negative self-talk, I’d be lying to you if I said that there wasn’t some sort of narrative similar to this constantly playing in the background, even if the volume is low.

I had to get pregnant DESPITE these things. I had to BE pregnant while constantly battling them. The effort that it took for me to grow a child healthfully, while growing bigger everyday, watching my cheeks and face get plumper, and my ass get bigger, to see my skin stretch and my belly button disappear, was a graduate class in how to accept myself As-Is.

I was not a cute pregnant girl. There was no glow. I didn’t get curves in the right places, and I wasn’t able to maintain any shape besides round. Every day, I gave myself a pep talk. I reminded myself that I needed to keep this hatred in check. That I needed to silence it, for I was having a girl, and her needs were and would continue to be primary. I needed to learn to love this body of mine because she would soon be looking at me as an example of how to love oneself.

I kept waiting for it to be easier. Waiting to see the beautiful Almost-Mom in the mirror. Waited to hear truth in the words when passerby told me that pregnancy looked good on me. Waited to feel the goddess within.

I am still waiting, five months after The Girl’s birth. Still hoping that this miraculous change will happen. Hoping that I could be that girl whom motherhood transforms; to be that girl whose beauty shines through .

In all of the moments of the past year, there has been only one in which I’ve felt pretty, and it is so telling. It was the moment when I looked at my girl’s face, and saw a small glimpse of myself along with the rest which is made up almost entirely of her father.

In that small moment, I laughed to myself and then, ultimately, startled. It wasn’t her smile that was mine, or her eyes. It was her knit brow; not crying, but definitely not convinced. In her face was skepticism and consternation, and I fear, that before I’ve even begun to rear her, that the ONE thing she’s inherited is the one I’d like to change in myself.

And so, there I was, par for the course, finding beauty in the wreckage.

 

Bitchy Resting Face

Bitchy Resting Face

Mayhaps

Reverb 14: Day One: What Can You Say Right Now With Certainty?

“…There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again.”

-Pope; An Essay on Criticism

What I know with certainty is that I am certain about nothing at all. This year, I turned 35, changed cities again and did my part to repopulate the earth. The first two were inevitable, the third? Not so much.

I can tell you that my 21-year-old self would neither approve of this state of affairs nor be able to fully believe that she was being fed a line of truth regarding this new baby; this being who has become proof positive over and over that nothing said with certitude can be held to interminably. In fact, the very idea of having children was so foreign to me, that even my 30-year-old self would have balked at this now matter of fact.

Certainty is for the young and new. It is for the intrepid spirits who, without experience of windfall or abasement, plow forward with heads clear of doubt or even a Plan B. It is a way of living; overshadowing and complete. Its town is peopled by conviction and sticky guns and it is deaf to your gentle words of wisdom and advice. Certainty is a loudspeaker with no volume control.

Once, I was certain of many things, but the passage of time has softened my edges and sandblasted my very form into something quite different and almost unrecognizable save my caustic tongue and obsessive search for an authentic experience. Down to my most fiercely held confidence, I have said goodbye, one by one, to the things that at one time or another, I KNEW with verity.

Certainty is not my pathway anymore. It has been replaced by an openness that I’m quite happy to let in. instead of shouting my truth loudly, I have begun to listen to the truths of others, and to let in the idea that just like the Pierian Spring, we would do well to drink largely and long for the most clear view of what is and what can be.

Everyone Was Wrong, It DOES Matter

I woke up at about 2:40am with the vague sense of pain subsiding. Pain intense enough to pull me out of the REM that had been eluding me for months, but not so awful that it couldn’t have just been a dream. I shook the fog from my head and settled back in, dozing, uncharacteristically, once more, when it came back; a slow roll in my lower abdomen, intensifying and then subsiding. It was like a bad period cramp, I told myself, or, more likely given the meal of cased meat I’d just enjoyed hours earlier, gas. I got up to go to the bathroom, and left again, unrewarded. Surely it was the sausages.
But as I lay back down, it kept happening, and began to take definite shape. This couldn’t possibly be IT. COULD IT?!
I wasn’t ready. The baby wasn’t ready, sitting stubbornly with her head in my ribcage. It was early Wednesday. I’d just talked to my doctor who’d okayed me to push things out as far as possible. We’d just agreed to give The Girl all the time she needed to turn on her own in order to avoid a c-section. I’d been laying, inverted on an ironing board and placing frozen peas on my ribs, hoping she’d move away from the cold and down toward my pelvis. On Tuesday I’d been to the chiropractor after reading about the Webster Technique. I had four more visits scheduled to ensure maximum success…I’d paid a not small amount of money for 12 weeks of Bradley Natural Childbirth classes, I had a PLAN…this COULDN’T BE IT….
But the pain, instead of subsiding into a satisfying shit, got worse and more frequent over the next hour. There was no gradual increase, no chance to acclimate. The pains got very serious VERY quickly. As gently as I could to avoid alarm, I woke The Old Man up and let him know that I was pretty sure something was happening. We called the hospital to be safe, but knew that as The Girl was still breeched, we’d be told to come in right away, and that’s exactly what happened. I took 10 last minutes to myself and showered, doubling over three times in that span with what I knew for certain at that point to be contractions.
And then we got in the car, headed straight for the hospital and an anxiety attack.
What’s sad is that I didn’t have an opportunity to get excited. I wasn’t mentally prepared for the way things were going. Not 5 days before I’d learned that The Girl hadn’t turned. I’d gone through the ECV to no avail. My previously uneventful and healthy pregnancy had jarringly turned into something completely opposite. If there was a record, it would have scratched. Everything I’d planned for had turned upside down, and I’d barely had a chance to process the information let alone get used to it when here I was, faced with everything that I DIDN’T want, everything that terrified me.
I was on a freight train toward a panic attack. Instead of smiling with the anticipation and conjuring images of the little girl I was about to meet, I was imagining IVs and incisions, spinal needles and weeks of recovery time. There were night nurses with too sweet voices and endless questions posed to me in singsong. Things were explained to me as if I was slow and a maddening number of people telling me to relax. And then my body started to shake. Uncontrollably. The adrenaline dump. I couldn’t curb it and I couldn’t get in front of it. It had me and it wasn’t letting go. And all the while, the contractions continued, creeping unrelentingly closer together. I tried to focus on The Old Man’s voice as he remembered to coach me, but then there was the nurse with the needles and she couldn’t find a vein in my hand and oh my God the nightmare, then more nurses and the doctor and an exam which showed that time was shorter than they liked and more nurses and an anesthesiologist with no bedside manner and forms to sign with my shaking hands and contractions and that DAMN FUCKING NURSE WHO WAS STILL DIGGING AROUND IN MY HAND FOR A GODDAMNED VEIN and more forms and soothing voices that weren’t at all soothing and all the while this isn’t my plan this isn’t my plan this isn’t my plan and contractions and find the vein and stop digging around please THIS IS ALL TOO MUCH ALL AT ONCE!!!!!! and there is no room for visions of My Sweet Girl Who I Will Meet Soon, and they are wheeling me to the OR and WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE OLD MAN CAN’T COME IN WHEN THEY PLACE THE SPINAL BLOCK THAT’S THE WORST PART and no room for me to argue because I’m through the doors and on my side and now there are sticky things connected to wires and they’re all over me and contraction and I have to hold my knees to my chest and the needle is going in my back and OH GOD IT HURTS and I’m not still enough and he’s yelling at me that he can’t do his job if I don’t hold still and contraction and please let the contraction pass but he can’t because my labor is progressing too fast and HOLY SHIT THAT HURTS and now I’m going numb and what if I’m numb forever and paralyzed and there’s a sheet in front of me and I can’t see anything and my arms are strapped to boards on either side and it’s like I’m crucified and I’m crying now like really crying and this is not how I wanted it and now the Old Man is there and he’s telling me it’ll be all right but it’s not all right and the doctors are talking about vacations and they’re cutting me and there is pressure and pulling and then the wind is knocked out of me
And then there is screaming, but it’s not me. My baby is screaming and nothing is the way I planned it and beyond that sheet there is a gaping bloody hole in my body and the Old Man is telling them to put her on my chest skin to skin because goddamn it, one thing should go the way we talked about and they put her on me but I can’t enjoy it because my arms are still strapped down and with all the nurses in there they can’t get me undone fast enough and, oh yeah, anxiety attack plus whatever is in those IVs and take her take her TAKE HER I’M GOING TO VOMIT and I do and someone is sewing and telling me I have a healthy baby
BUT THE ANXIETY HAS TAKEN THIS MOMENT FROM ME.