Archive for January, 2008

Johnny Goes Marching Home

Just to prove that I am not completely self-involved and oblivious to the rest of the world, I thought I would take a minute to comment on some recent happenings in the news. This post does contain some political opinions, so if that icks you out or makes you want to debate loudly and heatedly, maybe you should just check back later.

Nicole Kidman pregnancy – Awesome. Good for her. Please gain some weight already and spend some time in the sun. Not too much, but remember Days of Thunder? You are becoming vampiric.

Gwen Stefani pregnancy – Ugh. Must I go through this with tabloid photos of you looking so chic and attractive and put together the whole time? Could you not have waited just another couple of months? Or send me some of your maternity clothes and the fabulous life style that goes with them?

Special Congressional Election on March 11 – This hasn’t really happened often, but I happen to know one of the candidates personally. And honestly, he’s a great guy and he has my vote and I think he’s going to do a bang up job and I believe this so deeply that I am even going to contribute to his campaign. He’s a Republican, but if you honestly think that the incumbent dynasty is a model of how government should work, and that it should continue at any cost just to keep the district blue, then perhaps we disagree on more than we realize.

And on to the primary subject of this post: John Edwards is withdrawing from the presidential race today. Hopefully Giuliani will do the same, but that’s an entirely different matter. Truthfully, I like John Edwards. I like that he’s worked hard to put himself in touch with the poor. I like that he’s finishing his campaign the way he started it – working in New Orleans to un-fuck the government’s largest cluster-fuck in years. Most especially, I like his wife. She is a tough cookie, and she has been through some shit. Not everyone has, you know. Not everyone understands terminal illness or the death of a child or the relentless attention of the media. The part where they’ve been through this together and still seem to like and support each other is pretty impressive. Wealth does not insulate you from tragedy. It just makes the bills less painful.

Of course, I can’t just let this sit there without pondering it into something much more complex. Clearly, his opponents have a lot going for them. Barack has all that glittery magic sparkle dust, Hillary is a Clinton, for gosh’s sake. What intrigues me is that on the surface, John looks a lot like both of them. More experience in politics than Barack, a lot more money than Barack in the beginning. He’s very pretty, one might even say prettier than Hillary (which is not an insult – her attractiveness isn’t more important since she’s a woman in my book. Remember Dubya? Not a looker). He is relatively scandal free and doesn’t carry the taint of right-wing conspiracies, disastrous health care plans or, heaven forbid, impeachment. His policies were pretty progressive and he was the first one out of the gate with them. So what gives? Is he just too safe? Not controversial enough?

Or are we that uncomfortable and nervous about tragedy that we can not elect a leader who’s experienced it personally? Does that hit too close to home? Is John Edwards too involved in the needs of his family to run the country? Is that the real reason why we find it so difficult to elect a woman? If Chelsea Clinton was still living at home, how far would her mother’s campaign really go? Honestly, I think we are looking for a president the way so many of us worship celebrities. Show us something shiny. Something better. Let us pretend that we are like you – privileged, intelligent, hard working, like the version of us we would be if we had the right chemistry and attractiveness and brilliance and scholarships to Harvard or Princeton or Oxford. People who have vast networks of supporters and helpers and people who believe in our dreams.

I just don’t think anyone wants to see themselves in a man who lost a teenage son and is about to lose his wife. No one wants to answer the question – would I have what it takes to run the country when my decades long marriage is snatched away from me? If my teenage son died, would I make the decision to have more children even though it would require expensive infertility treatments and run the incomprehensible risk of shattering my heart even more completely? If building a 28,000 square foot house was the thing that would bring my wife back to the land of the living, even though it might actually be extravagant and wasteful, would we go ahead?

I wonder what our country might look like if there was someone in office who actually understood these things. Who might be able to actually sympathize with their electorate, to experience just how broken our health care system is even when you are insured. As much as I have serious issues with the Southern Baptist church, Mike Huckabee seems like the next closest thing. He won’t get my vote, but I wonder if the degree of separation he has from experiencing tragedy himself is part of what’s driving his campaign forward. He can empathize without running into the sticky identification problem. John McCain seems like a front-runner, but who can really identify with being tortured and held prisoner? Doesn’t it make you wonder if he’s really as strong and healed as he seems to be? Wouldn’t he have some lingering PTSD? I don’t know. Maybe those types of heroes really do exist. But I’ll put my money on them being very, very rare.

As I’m continuing to work on the closet cleaning and sifting through the accumulated crap of 2007, I think I am looking back and seeing that having a heart for those who are suffering is a gift that is usually acquired through suffering of one’s own. I’m not entirely settled with this yet, but I think I see it coloring my views of things in ways I am just starting to understand. Conversely, it’s dramatically changed my tolerance for some things as well. I have no patience for people who live on the surface. Denial is public enemy number one. As a nation, I think we have serious problems with both of these habits. What I am hoping and praying for, as much as I can pray any more, is that the leadership of our country is as authentic and connected to humanity as they can be after we put them through the plastic machine. That if they make mistakes they are mistakes made from the heart, out of compassion. That they are able to love fiercely, and protect that which they love while remembering that the enemy is loved too. I know that’s a long shot, but here’s hoping.

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Cleaning House

So. If I had written this post yesterday, it would have explained quite desperately and probably melodramatically that my life was falling apart and I just couldn’t take it anymore. What precipitated this event is difficult to pinpoint, but if you have read this blog before you probably could make up a theory of your own and come out just about correct. The realization that the last time I remember being really happy and at peace was early in 2006 was not a welcome one. Having barely slept in the past week due to that stupid cold/busted shoulder/pregnancy effect may have had an equal impact. Sliding my car into a coworkers as I arrived late for a meeting and then getting the call that some trellises, which I had made myself and were installed on either side of our front porch, had been stolen were ostensibly the reasons I was crying my eyes out at my desk. In our open office. Priceless.

But I am blessed with some truly excellent friends who sat with me and sorted it out and asked me all the suicide-risk questions (which I passed, btw) so that plus getting to snuggle with Mr. K and finally sleeping through the night for once have changed my perspective on things. This is what I know today:

– Okay, so I don’t enjoy life. This seems like a ‘well, duh’ sort of statement. Many people don’t enjoy life. It is not a unique or special situation. It just sort of sucks. I do not know a miracle cure for this condition. There are moments I enjoy, of course, and BabyK seems to promise more of these better times to come, despite the dire warnings and threatening advice that being pregnant must absolutely require from those around me. I do not consider myself depressed or suicidal. I can not seem to stop myself from continuing to muddle through. As one of my friends said yesterday, timing is everything, and sometimes everything sucks. In the past two years there is not an aspect of my life that has not been damaged, traumatized or otherwise shit upon. I probably just need some more time to recover from that, as lame and disappointing as that might sound.

– I can’t deal with stress. Again, duh. But this was presented to me in a different way yesterday – “You don’t really deal with stress. You just accept it. And that makes things very heavy for you. It also makes you tough, but it doesn’t seem like tough is working out so well anymore.” I am still chewing this over but it does make a lot of sense to me. How do you let go of the stress so things are light again? I think if anything were to be light and easy it would float just beyond my grasp, never to be recaptured. The alternative (which is lately quite attractive) is to just drop all that heavy crap and listen to the big crashing booms that result. Which is fun, but no one wants to clean up that mess. I am not at the point where I can flip the bird to everything and everyone and to hell with the consequences.

– I have a totally excellent marriage. Many marriages could not handle what ours has been through. Maybe this is my good karma.

– As expected, BabyK is complicating life tremendously. And the hormones are probably pushing me over the edge here, but I have a new theory about why this is so. I think it’s like cleaning out a closet – when you first start to clean the closet, you are pulling all of the crap out and spreading it all over the floor. What was once contained in the closet, where you could shut the door and ignore it, is now strewn across the room, cluttering up everything, being overwhelming and uncontrolled. If the phone rings at this point you may be so overwhelmed by the crap that you have a sudden urge to vacate the vicinity and see a movie instead. But if you stick with it, and you sort through the crap, then slowly but surely things start to make sense again. There’s an order and a purpose to those piles. And you start to put things where they belong and all of a sudden you can see the floor again. There’s your neat, organized, closet, all ready to store things in an orderly and pleasing way.

So maybe all this falling apart is really the beginning of cleaning up. Maybe I have to sort through all this shit to make room for BabyK and the new life that is bearing down upon us so urgently. And maybe I will be a little indulgent and say that this process is made even more unpleasant by the part where the universe shoved a rabid, incontinent feral cat into my closet and most of my crap bears the hallmarks of that experience. I don’t know that breaking down all the way is the answer, but maybe staying committed to cleaning out the closet might help. I might try giving myself some time and space to deal with that giant pile of crap (while keeping all those balls in the air and not letting anyone down of course… wait, what was I going to do?) I might try to convince Mr. K that certain financial ruin is not the inevitable outcome of taking a vacation, all by ourselves, with nothing to do but lay on the beach.

So if you encounter me and it seems like I have been possessed by a rabid, incontinent, feral cat… I kind of have been.

Sorry.

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Resident Alien

For the past week or so, I’ve spent my non-sleeping time in bed with my hand pressed to my lower abdomen. Every now and again I would feel something strange, and think, that was it! That was a kick! But I wasn’t really sure. My intestines have been all rearranged, you know.

So last night, I was treated to a Rockette’s style floor show… and there is not a doubt in my mind that BabyK was the star. I think it even bounced my hand. It was so familiar and yet so strange – not in any rhythm I could anticipate, like a language I didn’t speak. All I could do was lay still and listen. Naturally, this morning when I tried to repeat this experience  for Mr. K in the vain hope that the bouncing hand effect was not something I imagined, BabyK decided that they were shy and wanted some sugar before entertaining us.   Which I somehow have still not gotten around to, yet.

So here I am –  possessed of  the knowledge that  1)  I am being inhabited by an alien. There is something inside me that is not me and will eventually leave me, although hopefully through the appropriate channels and not exploding out of my stomach (and you all know what I’m talking about) and 2) it’s real! It’s really real! It’s happening!

These thoughts are mercifully distracting me from my cold and my busted shoulder, both of which have made me a complete troll for the past few days. Hey, this is pregnancy, people. It’s not all pretty.  And if you see me in real life and want to touch the bump… I’d maybe wait a few weeks on that still, unless we’re really good friends. Most likely you’ll be loving on my intestines, and that’s just weird for everyone.

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Take two and call me in the morning

Of course, if you are looking for uppers, having that magically recovered spouse take that thing to your mom’s for you and cook the dinner that you like for once are not bad alternatives either.

Just sayin’.

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A little upper

Just in case you were having a bad day – like, for instance, you are pregnant and have a cold and woke up to a sick spouse who naturally YELLS at everyone that he hates them whenever he is feeling a little under the weather and can not describe any of his symptoms except, “I feel hot” even when his skin is cool to the touch and then begs you to stay home so he can alternately cuddle you and push you away because you make him too hot and you leave this particular circle of hell to drag yourself to the office and then have a meeting with someone downtown where it is now raining and you step in a giant puddle and then spend some time fighting the post-lunch slump with a wet shoe and cold toes, knowing you will not be home until after 7:00 p.m. and then your mother will probably want to stop by and pick up this thing for someone’s wedding who you don’t even know but which they must have RIGHT NOW, as evidenced by her knocking on your door after you have already gone to bed last night…

then maybe you should read a story on a blog about someone passing out from pooping. I did and I think it was very beneficial to my day.

Thank you, Dooce.

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Barriers to Progress

Yesterday at my physical therapy appointment, I was being evaluated for an injury I incurred a week ago by doing something which should not have harmed me in any way. Naturally. Having already completed five or six weeks of physical therapy for general pregnancy complications, it was pretty much old hat. But this time around, as she was diligently recording my measurements, I noticed something on the form that had previously passed me by. It read:

“Barriers to progress: 15.5 weeks gestation”

It struck me as odd because I’ve always thought of my pregnancy as progress, especially after those really awful awesome 17 months of infertility. When we started out on this journey, it was with the mindset that becoming parents would lead us to being better people – kinder, more patient, more compassionate people. A lot of things happened between then and now, things that may or may not have assisted us in reaching those goals, so I’m not really sure where we’re at right now. It got me thinking – in a very non-Carrie Bradshaw way – that I have a lot of barriers to my progress and I don’t really think my gestation is one of them. I’m not really one for New Year’s Resolutions, because they inevitably are broken and hang around for much too long taunting and mocking me. But if I were to make a resolution this year (and let’s be clear, this is NOT a resolution), it might be to tear down those barriers so I can move forward.

This is easier said than done, of course. The barriers are pretty deeply entrenched. My hopes that having a child would make me less codependent and more centered and better able to draw boundaries seem almost out of reach at this point. As I am putting together calendars and planning for the upcoming year and answering question after question about my maternity leave, I’ve been completely wracked with anxiety and negative thoughts and paranoid self-consciousness. The hard part is that there are people who are watching and judging and making that known, so that doesn’t really help. I feel trapped by all the expectations around me. My growing bump seems like a big sign to the world, “I am unreliable. I will let you down. I will not put you first.” I guess healthy, well-adjusted people learn to live with this, as it does seem to be part and parcel of the human condition. I don’t think there’s any question I’m not one of those healthy, well-adjusted people.

Elsewhere in my personal life, there is a huge roadblock. I have mentally ill parents on both sides (mine and Mr. K’s), and while I’ve learned to deal with the issues on my side in a way that I think is pretty sustainable I can’t make any sort of headway with the ones on Mr. K’s side. That person has multiple diagnoses, including but perhaps not limited to: narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and depression. They are also awaiting trial on felony charges for crimes involving an unloaded fire arm. I have never been a huge fan of this person, but we got along well enough until the crime part. In fact, at the time I was working damn hard to make the situation better. To the best of my knowledge, these diagnoses would not excuse their actions on the grounds of mental incompetence. I’ve been told that their inability to admit that they are in any way responsible for the events surrounding the crime (not to mention the crime itself) is symptomatic of their personality disorders. Okay. I can intellectually handle that. It doesn’t excuse the treatment that the rest of the family has endured from them, but it makes a certain sort of sense.

So, given that this person has proven incapable of accepting their actions, let alone the subsequent consequences, and possesses a medically diagnosed mental illness which prevents them from doing so, and every instinct and gut reaction tells me that this person is not safe for me to be around physically, emotionally or otherwise… I am now to pretend that none of this matters and share my defenseless, innocent child with them? Because we’re related? Because they have a right to their grandchild? Hmm. Mama doesn’t think so. In fact, the rage and protective instinct that Mama experiences in this person’s presence makes it a close call on escaping heated emotional outbursts and perhaps even physical violence every time we are forced to interact. I wasn’t happy with the relationship before I got pregnant – I was furious that the people that I care about had been hurt so deeply. But the existence of my baby has completely changed my tolerance level.

Of course, it’s not that simple. The other one of Mr. K’s parents is severely disabled, practically bed ridden. While I have my own issues with that person based on their actions and choices, I could certainly agree to disagree with them and have a somewhat satisfying relationship involving myself and my offspring and this grandparent. But the situation that this person has created means that there is no relationship possible that does not involve their spouse, and I think I was pretty clear on how I feel about that. Naturally, given that these are not my parents and I am and probably always will be the outsider no matter what I do, there is a certain amount of pressure to just give in and play nice and pretend that everything is fine. Very easy to say that I am the person making this difficult and quite possibly the correct explanation. Maybe I am being hormonal and unreasonable and unforgiving. In fact, I will hand you the unforgiving for free. But I wasn’t raised in that household and I don’t have their neat little trick of pretending that it’s all okay. I wish to God I did. Life would be so much easier. Unfortunately, being able to see what is not fine and finding something to do about it is how I have survived this far and I’m not about to change that. So I’m stuck. There isn’t anything else I can do in this situation except take care of myself and take care of my baby and try to be as honest with Mr. K as I can be. Mr. K wants harmony, and I’ll be damned if I know how to find it here.

And finally, the least fun barrier of all. After being infertile (is that the right way to say it? What am I now, since I’m clearly fertile? Treated?) and the events surrounding the situation above, and trying to work and make art and keep our world spinning round, I am tired and exhausted and hurt. I haven’t really healed from those things, although I’ve started to try. I’ve shut down my heart, closed it off to try to protect it. It’s hard to enjoy anything that way. Hard to relax. Hard to connect with people. Hard to get excited about being pregnant when the dangers of that are so very clear. Not that these things don’t happen in flashes, when I’m distracted or particularly well-rested or what have you. But I remember enjoying things. I remember getting excited about stuff. Maybe this is what people are talking about when they reminisce about college or high school or childhood. Feeling unburdened and light and free. I wasn’t really any of those things as a child, really. It took a fair amount of therapy to get me anywhere close. But apparently I was close enough to be able to measure the distance now.

I think what is missing is trust. I don’t trust most people any more. I don’t trust most situations. I don’t really trust that everything is going to be okay in the end. This is somehow almost entirely separate from hope, mysteriously. I still have a tough cord of faith and hope running through me, that pulls and twangs just like my round ligaments as my bump grows bigger. And it hurts because I’ve realized that it will still be okay in the end even if every single thing gets destroyed. Even if pain goes beyond endurance. Even if every foundation is shaken and cracked. I haven’t learned how to be happy about this, yet. I’ve just learned to duck and cover and prepare for the worst.

So really, what is progress?

Being fearless.

I’m courageous enough to keep fighting, to keep crawling along with my face in the dirt. But to stand up and face whatever comes…. not yet.

I’m still hiding behind my barriers.

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Hello world!

Interesting that wordpress has automatically added this first post with its cheery, catchy title. It seems more welcoming than the initial post I wrote, so I’m modifying it and keeping it just so the first post of this new blog isn’t so dark and broody.

So, welcome to my new blog! I’m trying to find a really catchy, witty, somewhat-literary-but-not-snobby type title, and your suggestions are welcome! Please note that the theme of this blog is anonymity, so if you do know me in real life and feel compelled to comment, there’s no need to include any identifying information. You can be anonymous too.

I hope we all find it a freeing, liberating experience.

Happy reading!

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