Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lessons for Someday Silas

Right now you don’t require lessons. You require gentle persuasion and thoughtful protection. Gated stairs and softened edges. Fresh foods, frequent naps and a lot of freedom. You are learning without a teacher because every new smell and sound is a mystery to decipher. But someday I’ll be teaching you lessons, both purposely and incidental. You already know how to smile that ridiculous squinty way to get what you want, which is usually just love and words and touch. I feel afraid for when the real lessons start. When I have to fight against the world so that you will never believe that hate is ok and women are weak and asking questions is useless because “it’s always been this way.” I’m afraid that I am not strong enough to teach you that strength has more to do with your mind than your muscles and that weakness is just a trait and you should never be ashamed, whichever the case. I’ll have to teach you that racism is more than a distaste for someone with different skin, it’s a system that’s been in place since humans first came out of their caves and were overcome with fear of the strange. What if I can’t? What if I fail? Can I really fight a culture of ignorance and rage with nothing but love and the stubborn insistence that we can change? I’m going to start making notes on what is beautiful about living so that when the painful lessons become too much for the both of us I can open a book and read to you about doctors that actually save and religious that don’t preach hate, about generosity without limitations and the special smells after rain and how you have a magic capacity to forget past pain. I tend to focus on the parts of life that seem too terrible and if there is lesson that you will learn it’s that it will hurt but you will rise all the same.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Silas


This took me months to write. It is the first thing I have done since before I got pregnant. It hurt a lot. But the more times I read it through, the stronger I feel to have let it go.

I should have known from the minute that the window flashed the word and my world felt like it was melting.  Because the books said that I would be tired and hungry but nothing about wanting to veer sharply into the nearest tree.  No one told me I would fantasize about a possible miscarry.  And as the others glow next to me I am a black spot on the family tree.  My mother said she would be happy enough for the both of us, as if her joy could infect me.  She didn’t see that I was already infected with this slithering little thing.  I called It Nugget to keep from saying creature or beast.  I couldn’t say baby.

No one told me. They said I would get swelling in my feet but it would not come close to the swell of my heart when I heard Its first tiny heart beats.  Instead of excitement when we found out It was a He, I cried for weeks.  How could I turn a baby boy into a man of integrity when the world around us told him to look down on me and anyone else with my anatomy?  I waved away the looks of disdainful concern and explained; it was the vomiting.  As soon as the fetus stopped poisoning me I would be happy. I promise.

No one told me that in the weeks leading up to the day my mind would begin to fissure in places integral to its safety.  That by the time He arrived, screaming, there would be weak spots in my skull you could see, if you looked close enough. Thank god there was a tiny thing next to me that took all the eyes from my crumbling shell and let me break peacefully.  Two weeks before, they said He was killing me. That the incubator inside had started to release new venom and soon my veins would tighten and my brain would seize.  I was put on bed rest. As if lying on my side with nothing to do but think would somehow save me.

No one told me that when they cut him out, my brain would lose the ability to connect him with me and I would stare at his face wondering when he would be retrieved. The beautiful little alien.  It wasn’t just my mind that was broken.  He screamed. Because my body would not create the sustenance he needed.  And to drown out the feelings of guilt and disgust with the fact that I couldn’t find the mother in me, I became obsessed.  I spent every day with this tiny little human being clinging to my breast. I wanted so badly for us to succeed. Because the only time I felt connected was when he would feed.

No one told me that when your chest refuses to fulfill the only god damned purpose it has, your insides begin to bleed.  Not with the blood running through your veins but with every oozing ounce of self-hatred and pain.  That your abdominal cavity will be filled with a slushing mixture of sickness and anger so strong that you can’t even look him in the face.  And when, after hours of pumping and praying, despite the fact that you lost your religion long before you gained this burden, you can do nothing but cry quietly while a bottle is made. I failed. In a long line of failures this one was too great.

No one told me that the months would get darker and deeper and the very thought of leaving my home would begin to terrify me. They said I would get the blues like it would be something that made me sing. Something soulful and sad.  As if I would have a voice to use for anything but weeping.  So I kept clinging to this idea that it was normal and I wasn’t broken. That no one talked about this part as a reality because if they did the human race would cease.  And then one day I looked in the mirror and saw a sickness in me.  I remembered telling anyone who would listen that mental illness is just as much a disease and would you just suck it up and get some sunshine for a fractured knee?   Why would you see a doctor for a heart attack but not a broken heart. The day I told my husband I needed help he looked relieved.  He said he knew it was serious if I admitted it was too big for me. 

No one told me that making the phone call to my OB and telling her that I needed something would be so heart wrenching.  Or that she would seem so familiar with the grayness of my face as if she had seen a thousand of me. Because she had. Maybe.  I got two bottles, one for my mind and one to help my milk ducts refill. But after two weeks the sticky haze was coming away from my brain and I could see how much stronger He was in spite of me.  I had missed the moment that the screaming stopped and when His little limbs turned from spindles to trees.  It hurt me to let Him wean. Not the same thick sickening but a bitter pain I knew I would feel a thousand times again when He stopped needing me.

They said the moment I looked into His eyes I would know a kind of love that had until now escaped me. But it took me 19 weeks.  It took until I found a sort of healing, a strength that had so much to do with knowing it was not just for me. No one told me that I would care enough about helping myself, only once someone else lived because of me.  And when I find him in the morning jumping on his bed gleefully, I realize I am smiling to myself and I am so relieved.  Thankful that I didn’t let the capacity for joy die in me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Read My Lips

You should read my body like you might read a book of poetry: slowly and occasionally out loud. My skin is no novel and does not have a beginning or an end. Feel free to start where ever you like and if a particular passage intrigues you, by all means reread it again and again.

Trace the words across my skin with your fingertips and tongue and lips. You may need to pause on the paragraph between my thighs. Those few lines are complicated and full of words you've never used before and some you've never even heard. You will learn something from my body, if you take the time to study it thoroughly.

I will make sure to properly punctuate my parts so you do not stumble over the sentences. I've tattooed a comma behind my ear to let you know this is where you pause. I have dotted my eyes with exclamation points so when my lids fall in ecstasy you will see what you have done to me. On either side of my lips are parenthesis to denote that what you find between is going to be sometimes unrelated and often obscene.

Read my body to yourself as you fall asleep. Learn the braille of my fingers and hips so that when you finally fade the last words on your lips are bits of me. I will wake you in the morning with a line that is perfect in its simplicity. Like a book you just can't put down, you will pick me up again and start to read.

Learn my body until you remember it completely. You should be able to open me up to the exact page you need. When my binding is worn to hold a muscle memory, choose a new poem and restart the mastery. My body, like language can not be overused. It will mature and change, but never really be complete. There will always be an underlying theme, something you assign to the words spread over me.

Remember I was not written for you specifically. So what you get from me, is dependent on how well you read.

Friday, July 8, 2011

I'll be waiting for your apology.

I am not going to cover my skin so that you feel more comfortable. I am going to hug it. I am going to wrap it in satin and spandex. I will wear something that molds to me like it has been painted on. I am sexy naked and I am sexy clothed. I am not going to justify taking my own photo with a weak "I felt pretty today." I feel pretty most days. I feel fucking hot as hell most days. And on the days when I wake up and can't seem to get comfortable inside my traitorous wardrobe, I rebel against it. I decide that today is naked Wednesday and no clothes will touch my strong, protective skin. So no, I am not going to buy your swim skirt. So that if you accidentally glance at me, you don't have to see my thick thighs slide together suggestively. I will not wear sleeves in the dead heat so you don't have to see my stretch marked flesh. It's beautiful. Like lace and love and pink newness all wrapped around the strength of my muscles. I am not going to talk about what a self respecting fat girl would wear. Because when I used those words I did not respect my self, my body. I was apologizing for my size, for my sex, for everything about me. I was sorry that I was not your ideal of beauty and needed you to forgive me. Then I realized that most of you did not blame me for my own shape. I loved my flesh and bone and skin and that made you love me. So fuck those of you who are disgusted by me. I am not sorry. I am not sorry that I can look at my reflection and smile at what I see. I am not sorry that when I put on my new red-hot hot-pants, not a single moment of insecurity hits me. I am not sorry when I am dripping with sweat from a night spent moving to a rhythm that pulls me. I am sorry that you are not happy. It hurts to see you, half my size and hating every solid piece of you. It angers me to hear you say that you are too fat for your skin to be showing because, when you say it about you, you are saying it about me. I am sorry that I have to lose you as a friend because your insecurities keep hurting. I decided once upon a time that I loved me. It was an easy choice to only feel good about the body that keeps my soul alive, and I am not fucking sorry.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Journal of Sorts.

Dear Yesterday

I needed a place to get things off my chest.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hey Dude, Get Off Of My Lawn

I wish I were writing more. I wish I were painting more and creating more and socializing more. I have been nursing this feeling like I want to sell all my things, pack up my husband and my cats and move to the city. Any city, anywhere. I just need a little culture, a little community.

Do you live in the suburbs? Do they stifle your soul like they do mine? Its an entire landscape created under the premise of a community and yet there is not a single sense of it.

My neighbors, despite being 50 feet away, never come knock on my door to say hello. There have been no bar-be-ques or block parties. The other people on my street rarely even wave when I walk by.

In the country, your neighbors are few and far between and yet you all some how end up meeting each other. Perhaps it is because your mutual seclusion means that in an emergency you need to know who you can turn to. In the city people are thrust together by everything. They take the same train to work and end up chatting, they sit on the front stoop on a hot day and introduce themselves, they both go the the same bakery around the corner for Sunday morning donuts.

The suburbs do not encourage that kind of community. No one needs to meet a neighbor because in the case of an emergency the rescue squad is so close. How can you make contact when you never leave the bubble of your front lawn without a car around you.

Lawns in the suburbs are little fortresses of anonymity. You may see a neighbor from your window mowing their lawn or washing their car, but to walk over and start a conversation would be awkward and intrusive.

Moving to the suburbs was like my first year away at school. There were thousands of people all around me and yet I was completely alone. Thankfully in school I was forced into friendships and had myriad choices of activities, groups, and events to explore. There was a never ending supply of people that I had something in common with, something that created a kind of connection. Its true that the majority of those connections broke once we all graduated, but I made enough strong bonds to come out feeling fulfilled.

There is no such light at the end of the tunnel in this little subdivision. No eventual friendships I know I will build. My only hope is I find another person who hates the suburbs as much as I do and we encourage each other to escape.

Friday, March 11, 2011

1.5 Cats

I may think that if I rearrange the same things they might change me
So I try to organize and colorize the stacks and stuff around me
The books are all coded, whites and blacks and blues and greens
To break it and make it ok, the spots of colors go in between
So the cherry, strawberry candlestick sits in just the space
Where it might make the the yolky yellow and creamy green seem
better
And I will be better, and I will be happy, and I will focus and be a success

Instead of sitting here and being less than I am supposed to be.
I know I already said, how I was too far from the edge and I needed to break free

So this is less about me and more about things
Things that can me handled and controled and put in their place.
Things, in their cubbys and caddys and drawers and displays
They show I am good and special and interesting, that I have such taste

Conversation pieces, if there were voices to conversate this place
But there arent, only things and 1.5 cats and a husband I love but
Thats it.

I have the best wine glasses and shot glasses and my homemade bar
but the bottles sit dusty because you arent supposed to drink alone
So I dust and I align and I make up my mind that this time tomorrow I wont be

I think maybe if all my things are where they are supposed to be
Then I will finally settle into whats supposed to be me
That if the closet is in order and the laundry is clean
All the beautiful things in my mind will, by way of my hands, leave me
I will create a magnificant thing, that will amaze and allure and live
A thing that people will see and be drawn to keep and treasure always
To put on the shelves between the blue and the green
So I won't just be going to waste.