I am sorry that we missed a week. The board was still down on the day I left for Thanksgiving vacation and I can only start new threads from my home computer. So, here we are again!
The most important thing that I need to express is that the feedback on each other's pieces is not unfolding as I imagined and I need to change the guidelines. I want you all to feel the freedom of simply surrendering into the work again, without comment or praise.
THERE WILL BE NO MORE FEEDBACK ON THE SITE !!!
With that said, I do encourage you to privately e-mail each other if you feel inspired to ask for feedback from another group member.This would be particularly appropriate if you are developing or expanding a piece of writing. Also, I will be choosing one piece a week to give commentary on. If, for any reason you do not want me to ever choose one of your pieces to work with on the site, please e-mail me.
I think you all have so many gifts and such powerful voices that I want you to continue to let them flow. It is normal to have to make adjustments like this as we go along.
Thank you all for your participation and all the intimacy that you are offering in your writings.
Also, a word about the assignments; they are for you. Use them in whatever way feels best to you. If that means, doing one ten minute assignment a week-great! If it means challenging yourself to do all of them-equally great! They are suggestions for guidence and inspirtion. Please do not use them as another way to put pressure on yourself or to beat yourself up.
be gentle, relax, and remember to breathe.
WEEK 8/ Assignments
* Write for twenty minutes on the question "Who am I?" Keep your pen moving. Go back to the basics. Don't stop to pause, think or edit. Just surrender to the topic
* We are going to begin an assignment that will move throughout a few weeks. I want you to begin writing your birth monologue.
Write ten minutes on whatever of the following topics inspire you. Any of them could be part of your birth monologue.
*labor........... *at four-thirty.........
*his (her) face......... * giving up..............
*my first thought........... *help..........
* blood.......... * I know for sure.........
* contractions.......... * I don't remember.......
* the begining........... * the smell........
* conception.......... *the sun outside......
*pushing............ *freezing air........
* the midwife........... *true north.........
* the doctor........... *singing her out.........
* what I didn't know........... * under water....
*the next moring............ *the sweetest thing.......
* Light a candle for inspiration while you are writing. Write for fifteen minutes on "The journey this far.........", "saving grace........." or "the last to know"
* Bonus/ Make up a bedtime story and tell it to your children this week. Let it flow and see where it goes! If your imagination feels stuck, begin with "when I was a girl" and recount to them a memorable or magical experience that you had.
Write true. Write what you love.
A woman, bold in her stance, carved over 1,000 years ago. She looks out into our modern age without seeing, and anyway, not much has changed except, perhaps, the attire of the people who survey her. Sometimes. There are no other people here--another good reason for our journey. When we stop, and still our breath, we hear nothing but an occasional bird. Perhaps the wind. Our hearts beating when the air is still. I look at this woman in the rock and smile.
Between her legs is carved a double arc. It resembles a rainbow. I think it is a womb. I climb up on the narrow ledge of rock to run my fingers over the woman's face. The arc/womb is carved deeply, more deeply than her face. It catches light, reflects shadow. I snap a picture of her, from two separate angles, and then I climb back down.
Below me, my husband watches. He doesn't climb up because on his back, our baby sleeps. After my visit with the woman in the rock, I touch my baby's cheek. He is flushed from the cold, although I know he is warm. He sleeps with his nose in his father's neck, softly snoring.
He is my last, my fourth. Taken from my womb, rather than birthed, Graysen's arrival into this world was punctuated by harsh lights, the drape of blue fabric. A machine that went ping...and monitored my vital functions. And after his first cry I shed one tear, then nodded at my doctor who peered over the swath of blue in front of my face. Yes, I consented. And I closed my eyes to absorb, for a moment, the knowledge that my concept of myself as mother, creator with my body, was about to change permanently. Graysen's cries arced over the sundry noise from the operating room, and I found utter peace in knowing I was done.
It's who I am, mother to four. Four. The word should be bolded, italicized. And across my abdomen, a few inches off from a small, white appendicitis scar, is a long red line. Not an arc...not now. But I, too, am marked as in stone. My heartplace...from whence my heart was born, four times over, is now closed forever. Creation is purely external from here--I will grow them with my arms around them, kind words in their ears. And all the while, they nurture my growth too.
As we left the valley, that afternoon, I picked my steps carefully--aiming for slickrock rather than earth. Though many a cow and deer had tread over the bare soil, I tried not to because I have the gift of intention. In the desert, erosion threatens to steal the very earth from itself. I can choose my path carefully, so as not to contribute unnecessarily to that decline. And so I keep my eyes to the ground, dance along the path, as the sky arcs above me...within me.... In monochrome, and redrock.
That's a very good question these days. Of course, I am a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter.... but those are just physical relationships. I am a writer (even if for very brief moments), and a musician, and a craftswoman....but those are simply things that I do. At the moment, I am lost in my 3 am swirling thoughts. I love this hour because it is so open to possibility. At 3 am, the biting dog sleeps, the children nestle in their beds, and the husband lies just feet away from me- poised for sleep or sex at my bidding. At 3 am I could get into my car and drive to the ocean without stopping, or to the Vegas strip. I coudl register for classes online and become a student before anyoen even awoke. Of course I don't. Because I am slo responsible. All decisions/trips/changes have to be discussed as a family. But at 3 am there are possibilities. I like to have subjects to immerse myself in- wether it be a great book, a knitting project, or a TV series. I love to scour the library shelves and find treasures to open up new gates of understanding. I love cuddling in bed with the kids first thign in the morning, hearing my son read, and seeing my daughter print her name. I love my mom for the painstaking way that she makes marzipan fruit for me every holiday, and the way that my older sister looks up to my househols skills. I love that mybackyard has a fishpond- even though it's empty now. I love the feel of my favorite corduroy pants on a chilly morning, the warmth of my fuzzy purple robe, and my comfortable sneakers. I hate housework, but I hate even more when it's not done. I feel a sense of acomplishment in grocery shopping, and I dread holidays. I wish I had more time with my husband, and more help with the kids. I want a pet cat to curl up with me at night, but I want my son to find a dog that can be his alone. I loved when we got 6 inches of snow last weekend. Thatw as the firt time that I had eve5r seen snow falling. I am a California girl at heart. I have a desire to travel- one that I have not yet told my family about. I worry that I am not a good enough mother. I doubt that my own mother ever had these fears. I wonder what the future will hold- for me, for my family, for our world. I miss all the places that I have lived, for one reason or another. But I woudl not move back to any of them. Sometimes I wake up in the morning thinking I am in a different time of my life. The realization of where I am is shocking. I am still the angry punk of my youth under this mommy shell. In my mind I have black hair, tatoos and piercings. IN my mind I am thin and invinciblae, and young. IN my mind I dance to techno music in smoky clubs until the wee hours. IN reality I watch DVD's on the couch. I hope that I do ot turn into the sad, empty housewife that my mother has. I fear that I will. I secretly laugh at my mother's obsession with the family tree research. I tell myself it is better to move forward. I cradle my family, and try to protect them from those thigns that I think they shoudl not have to bear, while sometimes uffering alone in silence. I make strange typos and don't knwo how to touch type. I love to chat, but only with people that I already know. I hate the telephone, and yet I call my mother almost every day.
Who am I, really?
I sometimes get shit on, or pissed on. Also, I get spit up on a lot. Usually while I am lying down in bed, and it rolls down into my neck fold, hair and clothes.
Who am I?
On a bad day, I get stabbing pangs of jealousy when I see a woman alone at a coffee shop reading or writing…when I used to do the same, I would wonder if people felt sorry for me because I was alone. Now, I would love to be a lone...
Who am I?
I have the profound ability to mold life: teach a walking baby how to go down stairs, teach a three year old man-child how to do downward facing dog while I wipe his butt.
Who am I?
I can squirt breast milk great distances.
Who am I?
I am held accountable for most every cent I spend by the man of the household.
Who am I?
I cook, I clean, I yearn, I sing, I dream, I dance, I cry, I rest, I write, I try…
Who am I?
I am the Power of Attorney for my sick grandmother, Warden of her household.
Who am I?
I grieve for our mother nature, brutalized by mankind. I grieve for humankind: addicts, junkies, shaken babies, cancer patients, starving, and broken people.
Who am I?
I rejoice at the beauty of nature, people, and the purity of a newborn, the diversity of culture, the spirituality of nations and tribes...
Who am I?
I have mundane ugly thoughts sometimes. As soon as I think it, I cancel it. Cancel cancel.
I still have BIG dreams.
Who am I?
I try to be conscious of talking about myself. I would rather die than bore someone with the minor details of my grocery shopping experience or watch their eyes scan the ceiling for cobwebs as I explain the symptoms of my chronic indigestion. I don't know anyone like that either. Well, I don't know him very well anymore since I moved away.
So what is so interesting about myself that I don't feel I am wasting paper as I sit surrounded by a messy desk, empty coffee cups and pencils? I have befriended my mother-in-law, once again, drawing her close into my heart and finding the joy that she is, even though she doesn't always see it herself. I have reached a kind hand to my sister-in-law who I thought I might never share mutual forgiveness with. I traveled over rippled mountains and brown expanse into the sage, to open my heart and be ready for listening, healing. That is the me I love. That is what I've become capable of.
It all started with a book on characterization, combined with current reading on Buddhism and a study of aikido. I have opened myself to a world that I never before knew existed. Not the world I grew up in, which was a world of feeling approved of, report cards, of mistrust, of shame and of trying so hard to grow up so I would count for something. No, what I found was a world full of love for everybody, for trust and for being open. This is not the world as my husband sees it, which is full of unlocked cars and items unstolen. It is a world of forgiveness and embracing, a world of helping without being asked. That's where I live.
How do I fill this space that I've carved out? There are the day-to-day things, the choices I make. I stay around my kids. I enjoy their presence and choose to be their teacher and guide as well as their mother. I grab them and hug them. At six and nine they will still fling boy arms around me as they finish their last bit of breakfast, just before they bolt for the lego box.
I breathe deeply, I put my energy into water, earth and air. I feel air between my fingers as I stretch every morning. I dig in the garden, I swim. I am building my body into a sturdy frame in which to house my spirit, which is me. Boring me? Only when I try to explain it, when I think. It is when I feel that I am myself, when I am my best. It is when I am reflected back at myself from someone else's eyes, from their hands, hips, arms.
I am the beginner. When I step out onto the mat, or the dance floor, or wherever I may be on a particular night, that is who I am. When I am asking for help in the store, when I am apologizing for making a mistake, when I have broken something, I am simply learning. When it all falls into place, I have executed a perfect turn, when I have taken a fall and landed back up on my feel again, I am a beginner. The world is mine to experience, mine to learn.
My sister is 2 years younger than I. She has had a very hard life, and once again found herself and her children with no place to call home. Her children are babies, one is barely walking and the other an overly mature four years. These children are constantly uprooted and moved around due to her instability in life. I offered my home as a place for her to find sanctuary, somewhere to regroup and plan a better life for her family.
I was so proud of my space. My home defines me. I have worked hard to create a place of peace and now that peace has been shattered. My sister arrived in a whirlwind of chaos and indecision. She leaves everything she touches unfinished. Between her bouts of anger and tears, I find myself gasping for breath, desperately seeking my peace. The harder I look, the more desperate I become, for I see that my world is no longer my own.
This place looks like the aftermath of a storm. Clothing draped from furniture, shoes and toys strewn in every direction. Soggy towels in the sink, coffee stains on the counters, baby poo in the carpet, puzzle pieces everywhere you look. The cat is usually somewhere in the house because the back door has been left open (even though it is near 0 degrees outside). Chaos.
I gave the ultimatum. Get with the program or leave. She moved into a homeless shelter, and I am drowning in guilt. I choke on it, but I cannot live with her. The shelter is only a night shelter. She spends her days here, in my house. Her children wreak havoc while she argues on the phone with the father of her oldest.
But here is the part that breaks me. My oldest daughter has lost her focus. Her toys are strewn about and she plays from the moment she wakes until she collapses at night. Her connection with her father is fading and it is an effort to get her attention at all. She cries when her aunt gets emotional, and screams for her when she leaves. She has had a bloated belly, gas and diarrhea for the past three days, and also has developed a yeast infection. I have no idea what she has been eating because my sister has been feeding the children herself whenever it suits her. I have lost control of my own child's eating habits.
Who am I? Well, I'll tell you who I am not. I am not a mother who is so stressed out that they go to the grocery store and leave their five-month-old baby in the car while it is snowing outside. Yet that is exactly what I did tonight. I had just dropped my sister off at the shelter and was pondering the whole sorry situation. I stopped at the grocery store to get vinegar and baking soda. It wasn't until I got back outside that my heart dropped to the pavement. "Where is the baby?"
She was still in the car, still in her carseat. Screaming. My legs turned to jelly. I looked around, panic building. The car next to mine pulled away. Someone had witnessed this. Shaking, I drove home in the flying snow. When I got home, I grabbed my angel and held her, sobbing. My husband was waiting for me, and between sobs I told him what happened. Thank God he knows me. He knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is not something I would ever do in a million years. So I cried until I could cry no more, and an hour later cried even more. How can I ever forgive myself?
What I've done was unintentional. I sacrificed my own family to help my sister and her family. Perhaps this is a lesson that I needed to learn, as painful as it is. But I need to get back to my essence of self. Who I am, what I believe in. I am a mother. It is what I love and what I do best. My children mean more to me than anyone else, and I need to protect them. Mothering gives me joy and brings me peace. So the woman within me will rise again and I will reclaim my place. I refuse to go down with this ship.
I must remember who I am.
"The best things in life aren't things."
Ian: Get him out. Pulling pulling pressure. Vacuum extraction didn’t work, and then he tried forceps. I couldn’t see what the doctor was doing. I could only feel and be so thankful when the force and the weight were taken away. I said, "Thank you God, thank you God." And there was Ian: cone headed and bloody. He was in the chamber for a long, long time. He looked like a Saturday night live character. “ooh my God how beautiful." He latched on and what did I think? I don’t remember thinking. I only remember feeling completely grateful and relieved: he’s absolutely beautiful…5 fingers, 5 toes, he’s nursing, and he’s wondrous Divine beauty.
Tanner: I felt the fire and energy of my body telling me it was time for you to come, and then when the water broke (after hours and hours of labor), it was brown. It was brown in the water and I was scared. Your brother wanted to get into the bathtub with me and I was about to let him, and then meconium, water broke, and I threw up. Too much. I’m screaming for an epidural. I can’t deal anymore and I’m scared. 8 cms. Scared, trembling, my support stinks. Literally. My husband is scared and doesn’t want me to feel pain. My darling friend is also pregnant in her first trimester and really doesn’t smell very good, I don’t want to lean on her. Sage sage clary sage, here smell this. You can do it Jessica, you are almost there, when it hurts the most that is when you’re body is doing the most You’re about to have your baby. Why don’t the words sink in? You are in transition. WILD wild pain, I can not handle it. I cannot control it, it won’t let up. I don’t want my baby to be sick. And he is so big. And I am so small. Nurse, nurse let’s slow this down. I want the epidural now. NOW NOW I WANT THE EPIDURAL NOW. Honey I’m not trying to keep it from you. Look at me, look at me. I feel like a wild doe cornered in the headlights, hit by a car, writhing in pain and unable to get away. You have to wait until the anesthesiologist comes…now nothing is consoling me. I just want the pain to stop. I’m scared. Extreme squeezing fire pain longer and longer almost no breaks in between not enough time to breathe here it is coming again. Bend over, breathe, be still, you won’t feel this (but there is a needle going into your spinal column, it is long, and the drugs that are in it will numb every sensation from the waist down.) I start shaking; I’m shivering almost uncontrollably. I feel no more pain. Labor is slower. The doctor comes in, and knowingly smiles at me and says, ‘it doesn’t have to be painful’ like I was the biggest fool. Of course, it doesn’t have to be painful and maybe it wouldn’t have been painful if I had been relaxed and wasn’t freaking out that my baby was going to breathe shit into his lungs and get pneumonia and have to stay in the nicu for weeks (this is what the nurse had told me could happen right after my water broke when I asked her, “what’s the worst that could happen?”) I still manage to get up on my hands and knees and push, and physically lift my numb legs into position so that I can get my big baby out, and I do…he comes, no vacuum, no forceps, he just comes, and his head is not cone-like and he is not battered looking upon entry to this world. He’s here. He’s out. He’s beautiful and pink and fine, with a lovely round head. I see the doctor suctioning. He looks at him. He cries. I am relieved he’s breathing. I ask the doc, "is he okay", "yes, he’s okay." He tells me, "he’s okay, no meconium in the nasal passage." "no sign of inhalation" Troy cuts the chord. I hold him and touch him.
They weigh him then: nine pounds seven ounces. My big beautiful boy. Placenta comes, I want to see it. “There do you see it?” He holds it up, not really in the holy, solemn manner that I think he should. But more in the, “there, I told you it was gross", kind of fashion. I feel like he is holding part of me and I want to take it away from him and take it over into a corner by myself and carefully examine it and look at what miraculously nurtured my darling baby boy for nine months. But, instead I get a brief glimpse of this amazing shelter, and where did it go??? It is dismissed. And all I can think of is Tanner. Where is he, here he is…ahhh skin to skin contact with him. I think it was peaceful for him. Until now ten minutes later when I find out I only get to be with him for a couple minutes more before the nurse takes him away “to be observed without stimulation for six hours because he (some specialist doctor, somewhere) wants to make sure there is no meconium in his lungs” “but why can’t I be with him and watch?” “ He needs ABSOLUTELY no stimulation whatsoever, we want him still” “ok, I wonder why: so that he doesn’t get stirred up, I don’t understand” and then I wait and I wait and I wait until three o’clock in the morning. I call the nursery. I feel cold and lonely. It is dark in the room; my husband is sleeping on the pull out bed across from me in the hospital bed. After-birth pain is strong, stronger than I remembered with Ian. Spasms. No sleep for me until I can hold my joy, the fruits of my labor, feel his warmth and touch his skin and stare into his eyes. Only then will I feel complete. And finally, here comes my baby. He latches on and we never look back.
That last line wasn’t true. I’ve looked back and looked back and looked back. I’ve looked for all the reasons that I had to have pain relief. I’ve beat myself up about it. Perhaps it is because I was sexually abused. I wonder if I'd had a midwife and been allowed to open up and deliver in the privacy of my home if I would have been able to handle it. I feel that to be true. What did I think? I thought: “thank God you are healthy and normal and absolutely beautiful. Your cheeks are so fat they hang down to your chin. I Love You.”
I used to pride myself on being creative. I feel like I've lost my creative edge. I write in cliches and trite idioms that have been used for millions of years. Or so it seems. I used to have a "way with words" I was told. Just like I used to be able to throw anything on and make it look like it went together. I was the queen of mismatched fashion. Nowadays, I have bigger fish to fry than worrying about my appearance. I usually tuck my hair ina ponytail, throw on some sweats and a t-shirt and go. Half the time I don't even brush my hair. It's not that I'm lazy, I just don't care. I don't do much to express my creative self anymore either. It seems I clean... cook... send emails... sleep... work.... It's all so mundane. Well... except for the cooking bit. I do get a bit creative with that from time to time. But I used to be so theatrical and artsy... I used to write all the time. I had multiple outlets. But now that I'm an "adult" (if you can call 23 years old adult) and I have my "responsibilities" (that I don't even keep up with all that well)... I'm too tired to be expressive.
And I haven't even had this kid yet. Oh, I know, kids bring out a whole different element to you... they get you back in touch with your own spirit.
That's what it is... I've lost my spirit. I have no religious tradition. I used to claim paganism/wicca, but for the last year... maybe even longer, I have had no desire for the mysticism that I once craved like I now crave chocolate. I have no faith. Even my optimism for the future of the human race as a whole is fading. Well... I never really was optimistic about the human race as a whole, but more just for the general state of things. I've gotten away from what's important to me - my individuality, my spirit, my connection with nature that kept me bound to the positive side of things...
And this is ok. I mean - we all go through cycles in our lives where we are forced to see things from a different perspective and re-evalute that which is important to us. I know that every year at this time, my perspective takes a bit of tectonic-level shuffling. Last year, it was letting go... learning that I don't have to be angry... that was very important to me. I don't have to complain and get upset over stupid piddly little things. And I think I've taken that lesson and run with it.
What is it now? What is the next step in figuring out who I am? One recurring word is "control." My friends love to call me a control freak. We all know that, most of the time anyway, it's not entirely true. But I do become attached to my idea of how things should be. When I was three, my mother had to break me of a near obsessive-compulsive behavior pattern. I'd been living with my aunt, who'd had me on a very rigorous schedule for 3 years - every day, I'd wake up and we'd have an itinerary. My mother was not the type to have an itinerary - she's always been a very spontaneous person. And so when she'd put me in the car to run errands, and I would ask, where are we going? she would suffer the torment that was my screams when she replied, "We'll see..." So I've always had issues with control. I think it's partly that... and partly the fact that my mom is kind of dominant, and she was my number one female role model growing up. It only makes sense. She wore the pants in the family - no one did anything without her ok'ing it first. and that's not necessarily a bad thing... but it seems like my brain takes something that's normal and blows it out of proportion.
Take my fear of anything with a stinger, for instance. I cannot be around bees or wasps or hornets... even scorpions freak me out. I used to be ok with sweat bees (mom once told me they don't hurt... I found out otherwise when ONE sweat bee stung me THREE times in the ass at work one day). I got stung by a wasp once when I was 6 years old. Didn't faze me. I ran inside, put some toothpaste on it so it wouldn't swell (ok, my babysitter did that), and got a bandaid. That was that. For some reason though... once I hit puberty, I became DEATHLY afraid of wasps. It began with wasps. Maybe b/c they're so mean looking? I remember one day, I was on the phone with my friend Erin... we were talking about something random, as we often did in those days. I was outside and a wasp landed on my head. Instantly, I froze. I stopped breathing. The only thing I remember was thinking back to grade school, when the teachers would say, "just leave it alone, don't bother it and it won't bother you. If you're that worried about it, just stand still for a minute till it flies away." Of course, they didn't mean that quite the way my brain took it when I was 18, sitting on my parents' porch & chatting with my best friend... no... my brain said, "Oh, shit, there's a wasp on your head. Must shut down for survival.... don't move, don't blink, don't breathe..." the only part of me that *was* moving was my heart, and it was probably moving entirely too much. And so it went for 5 minutes, until my friend Erin got a little pissy with me and said, "If you dont' say something right now, I'm haning up." At which point... I squeaked.
Maybe that's another instance of control... I couldn't control my surroundings, so I instead controlled myself .... in the same, oh-so-healthy way that I controlled my eating disorders and my depression when I was a teenager.
Time's up. If I dont' stop now... I never will.
Mama to Danny 12/18/04 and Shenandoah 12/13/06
I have lost my thought. I'll get back to this at a later date.
Courtney and Cree, baby made 3, added one more then there were 4, sakes alive, then we had 5, another in the mix now we have 6!
A Momma in love with her Little Women-Jewel Face, Jo Jo Bean, June Bug, and Sweet Coraline.
And even as she feels her hands holding the mug grow icy, the disappointment stays liquid, dancing through her body, gaily mocking her years of frustration and unmet expectations. The icy mug now held to her cheek and now forehead still bringing but the briefest flicker of relief.
I am none of that now.
I'm overweight. I struggle to find words. I'm not quite as sharp or on the ball. My skin has been problematic for 3 years. I am dependent on others. I don't get anything done. I have no career. I can barely manage the few responsibilities I have left. I have lost my faith. I have no peace. I never sleep. I don't know who I am, but I don't like who I see. I can't imagine what I'm worth anymore. I waste money when I know better. I have no motivation. What's worse is that I am drowning in my own chaos. It's become a vicious cycle spiraling downward.
I am a servant who cannot manage to serve properly.
I am a talented business person and a capable mother and wife who cannot escape her mental paralysis.
I am someone who doesn't function without a higher level of responsiblity... and someone who is unable to see how large of a responsibility she has before her.
I am someone in need of renewal... and who is constantly scheming "renewals" that never get beyond the first day, if they get beyond the first hour.
I am a leaf blowing helplessly on a windy day.
Heather - Wife , Mommy & Health & Wellness Educator, Speaker & Consultant
Dairy, soy & corn free with limited gluten... yes, really. And journeying towards peace. Blogging about both.
Let me guide you to find the food and lifestyle choices...
Would I be greeted by sunshine in an expanse of desert? Would I be suffocated by oppressive dark, trees hanging, bending to snatch me up and strangle me or pull me to the soft crumbly earth beneath my feet? Would it be nothing—air off the side of a cliff, the bus slowly pulling away on the narrow ledge that is road? Where has this journey brought me? What is now? Have I gotten anywhere?
More importantly, just where am I heading anyway?
Planning has never been my strong point. Those who know me know that I am rarely certain what day it is. I know people who are planners and I admire them. They have their bus tickets, travel brochures. They probably even thought to pack a bag for heaven's sake. Here I am in my slippers with my calendar still turned to three weeks ago, paint and sweat caked onto various parts of my body.
I sit on the bus in my wornout seat looking at the other passengers. A woman with glasses and clean, pressed pants, calmly writing in a notebook, or perhaps it's a planner. A man with an old coat, stained, ripped. He is falling asleep. He has nothing and everything. Two children, unaccompanied by adult, one staring wide-eyed at everyone else around, the other quietly absorbed in her fingertips.
Some of the people are more conscious than others. Many are sleeping, like the old woman in her bathrobe and fuzzy slippers. Is that a TV remote she's holding or a cell phone? Do I know her? As I look around me I realize I know every one of these people in the flickering yellowdim lights of the rattling bus. They are people I've known all my life, my family. Wait, no...not family.
I look closer at the man next to me, the one falling asleep at his crossword puzzle, the pen beginning to slide out of his twitching fingers. Realization prickles my skin. They are me. I am them. I reach out a hand, allowing one trembling finger to drift towards the sleeve of his jacket. Can I touch him? I know that if I try, I will not feel a thing. My finger will keep moving through air, he will be only a figment of my imagination, someone I've made up. He is not real, can't be.
Wrong again, dear. I touch and feel the nylon covering cotton and flesh underneath. They are real, warm and solid. He exists. He starts and mumbles and turns toward me and looks into my eyes.
I know you, I whisper, my voice transcending time and layers. He smiles back into my heart, blue eyes brimming with tears. I feel an intense urge to cry with release, the back of my throat tingling with pins and needles. He nods and grabs my hand between his long firm fingers, holding me, embracing me with his clear blue gaze.
You are real, his quiet deep voice reassures me softly, only his lips are not moving. You really do exist. They are all awake and staring at me now, the people in the bus. I try not to feel embarrassed, but simply bathe in their glowing love.
I am a sinner in need of redemption. I struggle with my bitterness, my nastiness, my unkind nature that appalls my soul. I flog myself for flaws and never find peace. I am reluctant to let my anger go; what will fuel me if my ire dies?
I am a seeker of knowledge, of newness, of wisdom. I am never satisfied. I am a difficult and tempermental woman who loves to argue the other side. I should have been a lawyer, or a theologian.
I am the keeper of traditions, of stories, of histories. I am the scribe of events. I make sure we light the correct candles and remember which great grandparent owned such and such. I observe with care our use of sauerkraut with turkey and family lore passed quietly from a dying generation. I write it down for my daughter and my daughter’s daughter so they will remember the things they have no memory of.
I am the person who can explain what all that silverware is for and bore you with the history and use of calling cards in the Victorian age. I can balance a book on my head while doing laundry and I can make cucumber sandwiches to go with a perfect pot of tea.
I am at once strong and weak. The strength is the deceiving sort and few ever see my need because it is so artfully hidden behind competence. My need at times consumes me but I am so afraid to show it. I hate to ask for help. I hate my weakness. I am a scaredy-cat, a liar, a cheat. I am so much less than perfect.
I am a blonde bimbo in a little black dress with a single strand of pearls choking my neck while I sip martinis (bombay sapphire very, very, dry: 3 olives straight up) and laugh at his inane jokes because he is somebody and I am so lucky to be next to him. I am ( or my ankles are) "the result of good breeding". This Peter told me on our first/last date. I am the "last madonna of the WASPs" or so Topher always told me, but that was before I became a whore and learned how to use sex like a man. It was the least useful thing college taught me. "It's a good thing you are marrying a Marine" says the Army SGT sitting next to me. "You needed to find someone with more testosterone than you have." I am my husband's "delicate flower." I am too willing to define myself by the men in my life.
I am the only one who cried when they killed the rabbit; the only girl among men, tears streaming unabashedly down my face. We hadn’t eaten for two days. Hunger had became a state of being. I finally took a breath and walked to the carcass. Then I sucked the eyeball out of the skull with a prayer of thanks. I am the eater of eyeballs. I am the one who didn’t break.
I am a Sailor who swears and drinks; or I was. Now I am just a dreamer of the sea and it's rhythms beat in me like a long forgotten best loved poem. I am a flightsuit hung in the back of a closet, a linguist who has forgotten her language; I am a "once upon a time".
I am a bad speller but a good writer. I am a runner who thinks marathons are fun even when I finish closer to last than first. I am bit insane perhaps. I am a white girl who can dance. I am nothing but contradictions.
I am a dancer, a mother, a lover of life in its many crazy forms and foils. I am more than I could ever write. I have refused to live only one life, to be only one person: "I am large, I contain multitudes". By excepting this rather than fighting it I am forgiven; and that has made me whole.
Possessed by something larger than myself. I was being consumed by labor, and I knew that path. But this time, it was different.
The pain came in waves, and I didn't understand the pattern. At the behest of my midwife, I moved from my bed to our small birthing room. Candlelight guided my way to the birthtub and, I hoped, the promise of relief. Just for a moment, so I could breathe again.
I settled into the tub--a hulking black beast of a thing. A trough. The white sheet placed in the bottom to illuminate blood floated up around me, and I pushed it down with my hands. Then, I was working again. Breathing and rocking and wanting to gnaw the edges of the trough. Anything to ease the surging that threatened to take my from myself.
My first had been born in the sterile environment of the hospital, under the careful watch of my male obstetrician. As I labored with her, I couldn't help being horribly fascinated with the sweaty spot on the top of his head where he was balding. His hair was combed over in a pathetic attempt to hide the bareness and his glasses were smudged. He curled his tounge over his lip as he concentrated on cutting me to make room for her elongated head. I had labored in that room for twenty-three hours without any food and was too fatigued to push when the time came. I gave in to the offer for an epidural and was beginning to go numb on my left side when they told me to start pushing. All I recall now was how tired I felt. She was out and in my arms, and oh so beautiful, but I was shaking so badly that I was quite sure I would drop her.
No, this time would be different. I did not want to have anyone around to witness this birth. It should be just the two of us, together in the dark. My husband didn't take it very well when I told him I wished to have an unassisted birth. My midwife was not allowed to assist in home births, so there were my options. Compromised already. I comforted myself in the fact that at least I had a midwife this time.
My contractions came and went for days. I checked myself for dilation, knowing that it didn't really matter how far I was dilated. I was fascinated with the process. I knew the time was drawing near. It was raining outside and I felt an overwhelming compulsion to go outside and lie naked in the wet grass. Still the contractions came and went, ebbing and flowing. Another day, another night. I walked for miles. It only tired me. I wanted to hike into the hills, but knew it was unwise.
When the time came, I knew it. I had put my 2 year old daughter to bed and my husband was already snoring. These were much sharper, more urgent, than the previous contractions had been. I lit candles and rocked back and forth. I was careful to moan quietly, so as not to awake my family and ruin such a private moment. They increased with more urgency and I called my sister, long distance. Excitedly, I whispered to her..."she's coming!" All night, I breathed with the contractions. As the sun arose, they eased up a bit and I napped lightly on the couch.
My husband knew, as soon as he awoke, that something was happening. I didn't say much. I just told him quietly to call into work and tell them that he wouldn't be in today. He was going to have a baby. I smiled a quiet smile. I was so proud. He immediately started panicking. What do I do, what do I do? Take Sophia to playgroup, I replied. So he did. The contractions increased and by the time they got home, they were strong and steady and only three minutes apart.
At his demand, we finally headed to the hospital. It was such a disappointment to me, yet I was determined to remain in control of my birth experience. Through the hustle and bustle of check-in, with paperwork being shoved at me from all directions and people asking me to sign here between contractions, I finally made it through to a quiet place. I found a place inside myself, a place that had been there all along. I rode the waves, breathing and moaning, vaguely annoyed at times with the helping hands that interupted my meditative state, and at other times, relieved that I wasn't alone. This was my birth experience. It was intense and it was mine.
Then it went out of control. My midwife decided that she wanted to hurry things along and broke my bag of waters. Still, I labored endlessly, stopping to nap for periods when I felt I needed the rest. She grew impatient, worried because of her intereference and the risk of infection. She then demanded that I push. The contractions were beyond painful, yet my body was not yet telling me to push. To make matters worse, She interrupted my trancelike state by turning up the lights and pointing a spotlight on me, violating this sacred ritual in the worst way.
Suddenly, I felt exposed, ashamed. I was lying on my back with my legs pushed up to my ears with that bright light shining on me and they were yelling at me to push. What about my fantasy of squatting in the dark, pushing on my own terms and gently giving birth to my baby? My birth experience had spun out of my control and all I could do was push against my own will until I felt her warm soft head slip up and out of me with a gush of hot fluid.
I was critical. That is the only way to describe how I felt. I was frustrated and disappointed. I examined my newborn daughter with a critical eye, looking for flaws, imagining flaws. I barked at the nurses not to touch her, and flew into a rage when I needle full of pitocin was shoved into my thigh with no warning. They left me alone and even released me early. The pediatrician joked to me when he came to my room to examine her. "Don't worry, I won't touch her," he laughed.
She is a beautiful baby, and without flaws. And for all of my bluff and bluster about never doing it again, I would like to have one more. One more pregnancy, where I can feel validated for pampering myself. One more birth...the natural empowering experienced I dream of. And one more little angel to join our family. Don't tell my husband just yet. He probably wouldn't take it so well.
"The best things in life aren't things."
But how will I be born?
I often wonder. I die and am born anew each day...each minute. Death feeds my life, one cannot exist without the other. But how...how will I be born?
I was born once and don't remember. I have heard stories about it, from those who don't remember. My mother, drugged at the last moment and not present when I emerged. My father, resigned to wait elsewhere for the news of my birth, though he, as a medic, had attended deliveries before.
That is the story of my birth.
I was born again when my first child opened his eyes to the world, and I came to truly understand love. And again, when my daughter's voice resounded through the room in my mother's house, in which I had grown, since I was five. Then another daughter, her birth the most dynamic of the three as she wiggled and twisted and birthed herself. I came to realize my strength, in that moment. I came to know another side of me.
What many, especially those close to me, don't realize is that these three births birthed me. To my mother, whose concept of birth was one of drugs and needles and being flat on her back and told how to push and...
Birth was not something to find power in, but rather an event that usurped her very voice.
For me, I was born once, then three times more.
The fourth time, that was different. Words sift through my head without sticking to anything. I recall this last birth in disjointed images and the simple question--was this a birth for me as well? If so, how?
I handed, necessarily, the power of my baby's birth to a doctor. I walked, willingly, into a hospital and signed my name on the line that provided consent to have my body cut, my baby removed.
Was it, then, a birth?
This question lingers in the nether regions of my mind.
But the words drift away as though on the wind. How will I be born? I have been, five times over. And again, in this span of time as I sit, filtering thoughts into words on this screen. I am awaiting another birth, this one different. A crossing over of sorts. Not death, not birth, but both as they must be. Intertwined. Ever connected.
How ideas weave together into words on the page and into the world.
The journey is continuous, every changing with one constant: the passenger, the traveler, the driver, the search for "me," when "I" was always there in the myriad of those selves. The mandala, much like a kalaidescope illustrates the spiritual facets: essential soul within, intricately woven into and between the cells of my self. The journey has made me who I am, increasingly more complex, and now striving for simplicity, enlightenment in being.
The journey that we as human beings travel is in a constantly changing, evolving state. I was (and sometimes still am) the little girl who was often hurt, abused, but often loved. Then I became the promiscuous, beautiful, intelligent youth that I was; so smart, so ambitious, and so sexual. That girl had enough smarts to lead, but often times didn't get taken seriously because of some inherent desire to objectify herself into a sexpot. One time a friend said to me, "You don't always have to dress sexy, sometimes it could just look nice and comfortable." This was an epiphany for me. But I craved the attention: the male attention, the stares, the comments. Fortunately, I also craved the attention of academic achievment: the pride of my grandparents, the good grades. I wanted to think, to be smart, to excel. Perhaps God blessed me with enough intelligence to save my ass, maybe that's my saving grace...
The journey has led me through relationships with many boys and men. One adolescent male that I called my boyfriend for a couple of years hit me and called me a whore. I left him after he took me to the mountains and told me that he would kill me there and leave me and that no one would ever find me. I can still feel the punch to the side of my face that chipped my tooth and left me reeling. The endorphins and panic cursed through my body as we struggled and somehow I was able to leave him and drive away with my life.
The journey, this journey, my journey led me to that moment. A Knock out punch to wake me up and say: your life is worth more than this, so much more...
There’s a fog hovering over Richardson bay and it’s introspective and quiet right now, pacifying the water below it as you would a sleepy child, comforting and reassuring. And I see my own comfort reflected in the muffled whiteness of this fog, some kind of mirror to my soul, reminding me of who I am, as I walk the coastline and breathe the salt-licked eucalyptus. The air could smell like decay tomorrow, but your nose would never know it, today.
There are these Spring Tides that happen about every month I guess; I don’t remember now that time has become condensed with the second child. The moon pulls so hard on Earth and the whole sheet of this bay shrinks back under the moorings of the Golden Gate, under the fabric of the Sausalito houseboats, into the cavities below either shoulder of Angel Island. To see the glistening bay turn to mud reminds me of my vulerability, and I smile when I see small craft that has forgotten the schedule of the tides, and smell the backwater sulfur. She’s an open book, just like me, and it’s taken me a good thirty-odd years to come to terms with my emotional transparency. I’ve been learning that it’s okay to be perfectly...imperfect.
If you look closely into the water at the feet of the cattails, you can see little, tiny little organisms just starting to grow. Some are as big as they’ll ever get: limpets and barnacles, for example. But these waters are swollen with life, just under the surface--you really have to look closely. And that’s just the water! There’s a strata below, stuck in the thick sediment, cluttered with mud dwellers. Really, it’s the soul of the bay, the ocean's nursery. And it’s charming to think about it, the way it’s charming to see my real guts slowly starting to illuminate from within my pretentious, calcareously stubborn social shell.
The mud, the matter: the veneer of immaturity is beginning to fade, and my sediment is starting to expose me for who I am. I feel I’m on the cusp of truly knowing myself, understanding hidden aspirations and acknowledging real insecurities.
This bay is one huge mother. It breeds life, it nourishes new beginnings, fosters safety and temperate habitat. Not an inch of surface is wasted: there’s a zygote dividing on just about everything. I am a mother and this is, really, the summit of my life so far; I can’t imagine a finer, more understated achievement than this. I’ve grown to realize myself as an infinitely nurturing person, adaptable and resilient. I like to think of myself when I see who I have become: a nursery for my family, something to count on, confide in, hide in and grow in. Come and go as you wish, and bring me your children when I am older, and you are tired. I’m home. But I'm still learning about myself, in spite of my capacities.
When I’m looking at the ceiling, while the nurse is weighing and measuring, analyzing my baby, I stare at the geometry of its architecture, wondering when the needle will prick--Ah, there it goes. Ahh. There. Okay. Involutary tears run down either cheek, and I squint by reflex.
See, I understand what is going on down there. But without physical evidence, I am not quite experiencing trauma, but a mere pinprick here and THERE. The machine beeps under his short blurts and cries, HERE and there. Linda hovers over my side, monitoring the obstetrician’s handiwork like a tutor, waiting to assist when NECessary, but looking on with curiosity so she doesn’t scare him, or GIVE on that she could. Damon, between brief explanations to Ford, subconscious primping and conjecture, walks to my side, and in his glasses I see tiny red reflections on blue, on white. We share a lovely, proud exchange, and then I resign to study the ceiling, the myriad dots and dimples in the tiles, the little lights, disregarding all pain to enjoy the night’s success, and the tiny intermittent cries.
There is a storm coming. I can feel it in my swollen joints as I labor up the hill from our house. I only make it a mile today, my daughter feels low in my belly today and the cold is making me ache. I waddle home feeling large with expectation and fluid.
Usually I walk with my sister who is just starting to walk again after a car accident that shattered her pelvis and punctured many of her internal organs. If we didn't live so close to the best shock trauma in the world, she would be dead. If miracles didn't happen she'd be dead but they do and so we go walking; weeble and wobble hoping to not fall down.
Today though I go walking alone, it's too cold for her and she had a bad night. I still manage to sleep through most of the night even at eight months pregnant so I have no excuse to miss this morning walk which use to be a morning run until two months ago. I talk to my belly as I go, telling my daughter about all the things I see and how I can't wait to show her the sky and snow and trees and clouds. Sometimes I put headphones on my belly and play Bach organ music, and other times it's Marc Anthony. Today I just talk to her and tell her I can't wait to meet her.
She must have been listening, because at 1 am I actually get up to go to the bathroom and there is blood. I've lost my mucus plug. I lumber down the hall to tell my mother. She asks if I am having contractions and I tell her no. "go back to sleep" she says not unkindly.
I am trying to sleep but my middle is growing more and more uncomfortable. I have a sudden urge to grip the headboard and I keep having to go to the bathroom. These must be contractions I think. I am not in a great deal of pain, but I'm not going back to sleep either. Iam beginning to wonder if this could be it, if these are labor pains or just a preview. I still don't know, but the wind is picking up and the weatherman says a storm is coming............
I would really like feedback on this poem as I have plans for it. suggestions, spelling, grammer, and your intial response to it.
THE SUN OUTSIDE
my daughter PLAYS, MY DAUGHTER PLAYS
she CLIMBS LIKE A MONKEY
like her MONKEY MOMMA
she is from MY FLESH
GROWN in MY WOMB
she is like her FATHER
like her MOTHER
SHE is the CULMINATION of GENERATIONS
of LOVE HATE LAUGHTER SPITE JOY and FUN
SHE is the WORLD THE FUTURE
in her CAR SHE IS
her FATHER'S DAUGHTER
she is her GRANDFATHER, HER GREAT GRANDFATHER
SHE IS CONNECTED
MY DAUGHTER inquisitive child
instead of CRYING when she
CAME INTO THIS WORLD
SHE looked around
she is the new SCIENTIST
she is the ancient
TOUCHING TASTING SEEING
SHE IS EVERYCHILD
THE SMILING FACE
digging in the dirt
she is the ARCHITECT THE LABORER THE FARMER
she is my past
she is her aunts her uncles her grandparents
the artist the paint
on her face
fingers MOLDING FORMING SKETCHING
she is DaVinchi, Matisse, Pollack
MY DAUGHTER the masterpiece
The future,the past
Courtney and Cree, baby made 3, added one more then there were 4, sakes alive, then we had 5, another in the mix now we have 6!
A Momma in love with her Little Women-Jewel Face, Jo Jo Bean, June Bug, and Sweet Coraline.