Archive for February, 2008

A Day To Remember

In July of 2000, after years of crying every month when the faint stain of blood on my underclothing told me my hopes were dashed once more, after years of spending so much money on pregnancy tests that I should have invested in the companies, after years of hoping against hope every month when my cycle ran long, I finally did an IVF procedure. I just about choked when I wrote out the check to the doctor’s office–I’ve never held that much money in my hand before. But I did it with perfect faith. I KNEW it was going to work. I never had the slightest, least, tiniest doubt that it would work.

And even when I cried upon coming out of anesthesia after the egg retrieval, learning they’d only gotten 3 viable eggs, I still had perfect faith that it would work. I knew, you see, that I was going to have twins. And all we needed was two embryos.

They did the ICSI fertilization. One egg died. But there were still two. My twins were still alive. And then came the day of the embryo transfer. I drank gallons of water, and my doctor finally concluded that my bladder was the size of a peanut, and performed the transfer. I watched, entranced, on the screen as the two tiny bundles of cells that were my children were shot up into my womb. And I rejoiced.

For the half an hour I remained in that small procedure room, it was a holy room. A temple. A sacred place where I felt the presence of my forebears and my progeny, all together in a circle of love.

Tad and Ellie lived in my womb for a week. I never got to see them grow, never got to hold them in my arms, never got to wipe up their tears, never got to be called Mama or Mother or Mommy or whatever they would have come up with. I never got to change their diapers or see their faces on Christmas morning or watch my husband hold them and exult in the joy of fatherhood.

In a few months now, they would have be 7 years old. They would have been in school, they’d have had sleepovers with their friends.

I will always miss them. I never ever will stop thinking about them.

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Last night at dinner I was telling L-squared a story from my childhood, and both of us were red-faced, laughing so hard there were tears in our eyes.  I’ll put the story below a separator, because it’s kind of gross.

But before I get to that, I want to talk about something that’s been weighing on my mind ever since last night.  I don’t have a whole lot of memories of my childhood. There are a few, but not a lot. And there are other memories that have been flooding back into my mind all week, some good, some not so great.

One of the assignments I am to do before I go back to see Jamie on Monday is, 2 or 3 times, spend some time alone with my Miranda doll that we made, and find out what she wants to say and what I need to do. I’m learning that one thing she is telling me is that it is all right to remember and, even more importantly, acknowledge. I don’t have to let pain overwhelm me, but I do need to acknowledge what I felt when those things happened. My stuffing things down and stuffing my body for comfort, I think, stems back to those childhood days when for whatever reason I couldn’t fully express or acknowledge what I was feeling.

Here’s an example. My mother had tons of books at home, old books, new books, books about everything you can imagine. I was a voracious reader, and dived into old children’s books. We had a set of Childcraft from, I don’t know, the 50s maybe, and I was fascinated with it. I read the old-time Bobbsey Twins books as well as the more modern updated ones. I read Elsie Dinsmore and sobbed along with her. I read Anne of Green Gables and Chronicles of Avonlea from old battered hardbound books that were starting to fall apart–this was before they regained popularity in the 80s. I read The Unwilling Vestal and thrilled as Brinnaria sternly chose to retain her virtue even though it meant being separated from her beloved for the 30 years she was forced to serve as a Vestal Virgin. None of my friends had read any of those books, and I was patterning my thoughts and life after a manner that no longer existed.

When I was in 6th grade, I had illicit chats via notes passed furtively to the girl who sat in front of me. I idolized her. Wanted to be her friend. I did not understand that I was a figure of fun to her and her friends. She was nice to me, and played along, and didn’t tell me how weird I was. I got the idea out of one of those old Childcraft volumes to have a tea party with planned little games. I told her my idea, and she went along with it, and we planned the whole thing. My mother, instead of being angry with me for planning a party without consulting her first, was delighted that I was going to have friends come over. We set the date, got decorations, had refreshments ready, and no. one. came. Finally another kid, M, who used to mow our lawn, took pity on me and came over and hung out for a while.

I was so stung at my friend’s rejection of me, and convinced that she and all her friends were laughing about me, that I don’t recall talking about it anymore. I know I never addressed it with her. When I saw her in school next time she ignored me, and I ignored her, and that was the end of that.  We pretended like it had never happened.

I think every time I handled a situation that way a little part of myself died. Or maybe it just went into hibernation. I stuffed it down, as if my body were just a hollow shell, and I could tamp any unwanted emotions all the way down, pack it tightly in, never to be seen again. 

I can look back now, and realize that I exuded weirdness. None of my peers knew what to make of me. I was smart. I read a lot, weird stuff that no one ever heard of. I’d rather go to the library than anything else. I dressed funny. I may as well have welded a sign to my back that said, “Kick me!”

So I think I have to remember. I think I have to realize what I was feeling, and how it was all right to feel that way. I’m not interested in casting blame on anyone. I just want to pull out the stuffing, let it get a good airing, and then put back in only as much stuffing as I need, enough to cushion the shocks but not leave me like a Weeble. Do you remember Weebles? “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.” They couldn’t fall down because they were so round that they just wobbled back and forth. But sometimes in life, you fall down. It’s a necessary part of life. You get hurt, or you trip, and you fall down. And maybe you need to cry for a minute, and get someone to soothe your wounds, and then you get back up.

I’ve always prided myself on getting back up. Maybe I didn’t spend enough time letting the sounds be soothed, though.

Okay, enough of that. Now I have to put up a separator and tell you about a particular incident when I was probably in 5th grade. Read on only if you have a strong stomach and a good sense of humour.


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It amazes me sometimes how vast a gulf there is between what the intellect knows and what the heart believes. I feel about myself in ways that if I heard anyone else say that, my heart would break that they could believe such things. Logically I know it. My mind understands that the things I believe about myself are untrue. But my heart remains unconvinced.

I love the colour purple. I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t my favourite colour. I remember one of my friends in junior high school had her bedroom painted purple, and I loved spending time over there in a lovely purple haze. I’ve always pictured my soul’s inner core as a brilliant purple star of light. Sometimes the star is huge and pulsating, but more often it’s tiny and shriveled by the burdens I carry and place on top of it.

I was telling this to my therapist yesterday, and said that when I get some weight off I want to put purple streaks in my hair. She thought it was a great idea, but wanted to know why I was waiting. And Jehara said the same thing this morning. They tell me that I’m beautiful and that I can have purple hair. And yet I feel like “the fat chick” all the time, and being “the fat chick” is difficult enough without being “the fat chick with purple hair.’

I have to face the fact that I’m ashamed of being fat. It’s not who I am. My husband often tells me that he knows what my truest self looks like, and I believe him. I sort of know her by sight as well, and trust me when I tell you that she’s not fat. She’s curvy, and healthy, and has purple streaks in her hair. She’s offbeat and funky. And she doesn’t wallow in shame. She allows herself to just be, and not judge herself for who or what she is.

But she’s buried beneath layers of scar tissue and insulation. I used to think the insulation was to keep her protected from the world. I don’t think that now. It occurs to me now that the insulation is insulation my shame has erected to hide her from me. Maybe if I coax her out despite the shame, she will be able to get rid of the insulation and sear the scar tissue away.  Maybe getting those purple streaks in my hair would help her start forcing her way out.

I don’t think anything good comes from shame. Shame is a powerfully destructive feeling. Shame doesn’t help you make changes; it makes you cover things up and hide them because to lay them bare would be to reveal that shame. And how often does the shame truly have basis in fact? I will tell you after I talked to my therapist last night and saw the love, compassion, horror, and tenderness in her face, I began rethinking my feelings about those events and thoughts and beliefs.

Since I was a child I’ve believed that I was a bad person. Except for an incredibly rebellious stage during my teen years, I swung to the other extreme, trying so hard to be what I and my peers perceived as a good person that I completely sublimated myself in that. For a few years now the pendulum has been swinging back toward the center. I quit trying to fit into the molds that my religious culture followed. I didn’t quit trying because I wanted to; I quit trying because I realized that there was no way I could possibly fit into those molds and be true to myself at the same time. I lost friends over that, and it hurts a little to this day that people didn’t really care about me when they found out I wasn’t good. And logically I know that means they didn’t really know me, and honestly, did I really give them a chance? Some I did, some I didn’t. But again, my heart doesn’t really believe that. My heart believes that when I quit trying to be good according to that pattern, I must really be as bad as I’ve always believed.

And it’s this complex mish-mash of emotions and beliefs. I think that I’m a decent person. I have a good heart. I love people. I always want to help people. A bad person wouldn’t do that. But then I also believe that a good person wouldn’t do the things I’ve done in my life. And then I realize that there were so many factors impacting my actions that I can’t just pick out as a cause the fact that I’m bad.

See what I mean? Scar tissue. Blankets. Walls. That’s what my fat is. Because to try to think about all this and sort it out and make it into any kind of sense is agonizing. But growth is agonizing, and I’m so very tired of all of this. I’m tired of lying down at night desperately afraid that I’m going to die and knowing that I haven’t lived yet. I’m tired of being afraid that as soon as someone knows what I’m really like, I won’t be perceived as lovable anymore.

So yesterday I took an enormous step. I told someone. I told someone who’s never met me before, and I told her what I did and what was done to me. I told her how I felt about myself. And I saw it in her eyes. Not the revulsion I’d expected on some deep level (I thought that obviously she’s a therapist, she won’t let her revulsion show, but I knew it would inevitably be there somewhere), but pity and love and compassion. And she gave me an assignment to do then and there: draw my childhood self and what she was feeling. The picture is frightening. And then I had some sentence stems to complete around the picture of that little girl, and what she had to say is heartbreaking. She made me a little wire doll, and I made purple hair for her, and a brilliantly coloured dress. And I have a box I get to decorate that will be that little doll’s home. And over the next little while, I’m going to get to know that doll, and she’s going to help me understand that I’m not a bad person.

And maybe, just maybe, I won’t worry about waiting until I’m slimmer to get those purple streaks. Maybe that’s the wrong approach. Maybe instead of waiting until my truest self emerges, maybe taking that brave, bold step will help her emerge.

Bear with me, friends. This is going to be a painful journey for me. You’ll probably hear a lot about it as I keep going forward.

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I had my first session of art therapy tonight. It was exhausting, draining, cathartic, and a jumble of other emotions I can’t name. I told her things I’ve never said aloud before and scarcely dared even allow myself to think about. I cried. I drew. I scribbled. When I left, I proceeded to cry until I was almost halfway to my house. And I was famished and tired and wired all at the same time. 

I got more out of this session of art therapy than I have in all the other sessions of talk therapy combined. This is a good thing.

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Or, to elaborate, it’s okay to say said. It really is.

I was just at Project Gutenberg taking a look at a girls’ novel published in 1921, Nan Sherwood at Palm Beach, by Annie Roe Carr.  After scanning the first few pages, I decided I’d go completely bonkers if I tried to read the book. Why? Well, in the first few pages, no one says anything at all. Not that talking doesn’t happen. There’s plenty of talking.

  • Nan ejaculated. (Get your mind out of the gutter!)
  • Her chum laughed
  • Nan admitted
  • Laura put in
  • Grace quoted
  • Laura came back
  • Grace remarked
  • Someone held out dubious comfort
  • The Professor interposed
  • Laura remarked
  • Bess put in
  • And I quit writing down names, but people assured
  • Remarked
  • Repeated
  • Explained
  • Admonished

And I said, “Say said already!”

Did your elementary school/junior high/high school teachers tell you not to use the word “said?” I know mine did, but I pretty much ignored them. I would much rather have a character who said something, than a character who remarked, repeated, explained, admonished, laughed, ejaculated etc. ad infinitum. It gets tedious very quickly, and one tends (okay, I tend) to focus on the words the author uses in a desperate attempt to avoid using the word “said.”

Just say said and get on with the story!

One more thing–have you ever laughed anything? I mean besides ha-ha-ha or snorting laughter or whatever. Because anything I try to say while I’m laughing doesn’t sound like anything except laughter.

I’m just sayin’.

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Allmost Asleep

Today was a marvelous day. I was off work with every intention of sleeping in. But my body clock and my dog had other plans in mind. The body clock woke me up at 3:30. It was 4:30 before I managed to go to sleep again. It was about 530 when Molly came to wake me up becase she had to go tinkle. I successfuly ignored her until her need grew so great that she put her paws on my bed and started licking my face. See, I don’t feel bad when I don’ ge up to let her out, becuase we always leave “tinkle pads” for her emergency needs. But sometimes she says, hey! That isn’t good enough, and I want to go outside right now. It’d just be nice if her immedite needs took place during dayligt hours. Not when I’m trying to sleep in.

Once up, however relucantly, I amused myself with emails and  blogs and hings fo a bit. And then I decided I couldn’t live with this soccer mom haircut for one more hour. So I got dressed and eaded out to the salon. i was very pleased wih the newsylist who did my hair today. It’s choppy enough o satisfy me bu tame enough to saisfy Joe. Plus he dude gave me a 10-minute scalp massage. Wha’s not to bliss out about that? Seriously!

Then I picked up the rember books for Amehyst, Jehara, Izzybella and L-Squared and met with my Daddy at his hoouse. Liz got there shortly thereafter. We viisited with Dad for a while. I was crurious about a memmory I have of a car that apparently gave him a lot of trouble. I remember it as “the son of a bichin’ Chevrolet,” and the particuarl memory ivolves a day he was drivin me to school and the car just sa dow and decided it would go no further. After trying unsucessfully for some time to resart it, Dad told me to get out my bag and we were walking the rest of the way. “But you can’t leave the car ther!” Apparently he could. I don’t recall ever seeing the sonofabitchin’ chevrolet again. Amusingly, I work for a GMAC company and drive a chevrolet. But it’s not an sob chevrlet. She’s the Grey Lady, and she’s very lovable.

And Izzybella and I went to get the bread and salad and (yum) fatatistic roasted red pepper hummus for dinner tonight. And we went back to my house and watched an episode of Dexter and did a little you-tubig, and had a frozen CPK pizza, and cleaned a tiny titch. And we shopped at a store and got some cute cheap junk jewelry and a lovely blue paisley handbag for Liz that I plan to borrow first chance I get. And we went to the mall to fid a coat for Izzybela. but she ultimately decied to borrow my spare coat for the rest of the winter.

And then we came back to my house long enough to pick up the food and then headed oer to Jeharas. We had just a truly delightful evening.   Anway, now i’m at home listening to Elaine Silver’s clear voice and falling asleep post Ambien.

Joe’s coming hom about noon tomorrow, ad has to leave Monday for a job hat could last a month. So we’ll celebrate his birthday (which was Thursday) and go out to Fogo de Chao for dinner in Addison. And ‘ll do his travel expense report for him, and we’ll get his laundry done and get him packed up for te next trip. It’s hard on him, bu the’ve promised him 7 days of comp time after the California job. He’ll be pretty near his brother’s famly, which will be nice. He’ll spend his weekends with L & J and the kids. He’ll enjoy that a lot.

Izzybella and i ae working on our book, and feeling like we’re truly making some progress. The plan is to have it finished by the end f hte year. We’ve had to revise our writing approach after finding that what worked beautifully for the first novel we wrote toegether works not a all for this one. And it’s got teheh creative juices flowing, and we can pull things together as they need o be puleld together. It’s going to be great bok. The characters are awesoome!

Okay, so I’m through typing now. If you’ve made it this far, I congratulate you. I’ll try to fis errors, but you know ow I am after I take the Ambien. So don’t laugh if I’ve levft 50 rrors ‘caus I probably caught 235. Bisous, mes amies!

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Book Review: Astro Socks

Astro Socks is Leigh LeCreux’s first book, and it’s a delightful children’s story. Ten-year-old Chris finds his daily routine disrupted more than he imagined when his baby sister Rachel was born. But he loves her, and does his best to adjust to the changes. He particularly enjoys watching her play in her bouncy swing. One day he becomes aware of how often her socks slip off her tiny feet. In fact, Mom refers to her as the “one sock wonder.” Chris, who enjoys math and science and researching, decides to solve the sock problem. He begins working hard, and his efforts pay off to a degree that he never would have imagined possible.

LeCreux has written a charming tale that shows children that anything is possible with imagination and hard work. Illustrations are provided courtesy of her son and his 5th grade classmates. There are some copy errors, mainly in respect to punctuation, but otherwise this is a lovely little book. I think children would be delighted with the story, and it will inspire them to begin working on their own inventions. Well done!

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I Care

I just received a many-times-forwarded email full of hateful jingoism and rhetoric. I was surprised, because the person who forwarded it to me is a very intelligent and loving person. I thought about it for a bit, and, as I usually do when I receive this kind of thing in my e-mail, I checked Snopes to see if I could verify the background. It wasn’t written by an angry housewife. It was written by a journalist, Doug Patton, for GOPUSA in June of 2005.  I’m not going to copy the whole email or article here. You can go to the source yourself to read it if you’re interested.

What I am going to say here is that I do care. I care about humanity. I care that people are treated as humanely as possible in their given circumstances. I believe that the Bill of Rights is something that our forefathers perceived as being basic rights for humanity, not for Americans only. I care if my nation is behaving in such a way as would incite outrage in my fellow citizens if other nations were behaving that way.

When I was a kid, I was taught that two wrongs don’t make a right. I was taught that I was supposed to treat other people the way I wanted to be treated. What I see in this article, and in the e-mail I received, is the belief that two wrongs do make a right–as long as the second wrong is perpetrated by the victim of the first. I see the belief that others are to be treated as they have treated us, whether it for good or evil.

And that’s why things are so bad in the world. 

End terrorism? Hey! I’m all for it. End it by abusing prisoners in our care? No. The only way terrorism will ever be stopped is when those who perpetrate it find another method of getting their message across. Sadly, there will always be those who prefer to carry their message via war and bloodshed. Such actions are not to be tolerated, of course, but neither should they be emulated.

Defend our country? Absolutely. But how is insisting that one “doesn’t care” if prisoners are tortured in something equivalent to a “college hazing incident” defending our country? Isn’t college hazing illegal? Isn’t something that takes away a person’s humanity morally reprehensible?

I’m going to close this with a few quotations about human rights, a little food for thought, if you will.

“From the beginning of our history the country has been afflicted with compromise. It is by compromise that human rights have been abandoned. I insist that this shall cease. The country needs repose after all its trials; it deserves repose. And repose can only be found in everlasting principles.” –Charles Sumner

“Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today, at home and around the world!” –John F. Kennedy

“The Framers of the Bill of Rights did not purport to ‘create’ rights. Rather, they designed the Bill of Rights to prohibit our Government from infringing rights and liberties presumed to be preexisting.” –Justice William J. Brennan

“You are a human being. You have rights inherent in that reality. You have dignity and worth that exists prior to law.” –Lyn Beth Neylon

“I am the inferior of any man whose rights I trample underfoot.” –Horace Greeley

“Give to every human being every right that you claim for yourself.” –Robert Ingersoll

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What’s New, pussycat?

warning: the following post was consructed after i took my ambien and bfore i pass out. A legible verswion with this information will be posted tomorrow.

I wanted to write all day. I wanted to write about going shopping with A-Banana on Saturday, and going to see a movie (Jumper) with her. I wanted to write about book club and rune readings and mimosas and good times with my sisters and best friends. I wanted to tell you about this awesome book I’m reading called The Dance of the Dissident Daugher. And I wanted to tell you about my rember book and he valentine cards I made and the great roast i cooked for dinner Friday night and ating zingers and waching Dexter but I kinda got really busy all day and when I came home i wached 4 mre epixodes of Dexter. 4 to go, but I’m very pleased to repport that it’s obvious ht the peson I thought to be the Ice Truck killer is, in facg, the ice truck skiller. He reqlly sqicks me out. Very creepy bad guy. And writing is hapening not no obivously because Im incapab le of writing right now. But I don’t drunk text or drunk cll people, so he best I can do is ambien blogging. aEnjoy.

I’ll try to tun these incoherent houghts into a logical hings of whiat I wanted to say. I can’t watch Dexter nymore tonight bcause it’d be 230 before I finished the lat  4 episodes and tht would be bd bedcause i have to be ta work at 7. So I guess I’ll go o seepl I have this awesome cd of crystal mediations thats good for your chakras and I lisen to it all ight. I think i’s why i’ve een sleeping through my alarm clock tne lat wo work days. SO tonight I’ll set it to play just once and then stop instead of playing it al night.

Oh, and yeah. Joe’s in S. Louis for a school this week. he’ll ebe hom saturday.

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Book Review: KillRod by Bill Ison

I got home today to find review copies of two different books waiting for me in my mailbox.  The first of these is KillRod: The Cross of Lorraine Murders, by Bill Ison.

Hart St. James, Vietnam Special Services vet and sculptor for the film industry in Hollywood, meets lovely star Kelly Moran. A few days later she is murdered as he lies in bed next to her. Initially a suspect but ruled out due to the nature of his injuries, St. James is obsessed and determined to find out who killed Moran. He leaves a trail of corpses in his wake as he is attacked multiple times by different people, and hobnobs with a high-ranking Senator in his quest. He solves the mystery at hand, but there is perhaps another waiting in the wings.

Ison has crafted a respectable mystery, one that would perhaps have fared very well in the hands of a good editor. The characters are, for the most part, believable, and the action is tight and suspenseful. There are a few typos and some rather glaring misspellings. Those issues are minor and easily fixed. The chapters go back and forth in time, with headings such as “Then,” “Yesterday,” “Long Ago,” etc. It can be a little difficult trying to follow the trail of the story when it’s hopping around like this. Again, a fairly minor quibble, one that’s easily fixable.

My biggest beef is with the antagonist, Monk. His back story is a little preposterous. One has the feeling that it’s there more so we can fully establish why the bad guy is a bad guy even before he starts killing. But in addition to being somewhat unrealistic, it’s also sketchy and incomplete, thus furnishing a distraction rather than the background Ison intends it to be.

Where the story really comes to live is where Ison, in the person of St. James, talks about his craft. It is evident that he is extremely well versed in the art of sculpture and has a deep love for it. Those bits flow well and draw the reader in.

I hope that Ison continues to write, and that he finds a good editor who will help him clean up the technical issues so that the beauty of his story and characters can shine through. 

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