Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Space

I am shaken. I admit it. There was a day, not so long ago, where I would never have admitted that to my closest confidante. Today. It is probably far above what the anxiety a normal person feels when someone isn’t very nice, but then again, my daughter just died. Right now, I think I have realized just how open, vulnerable, and trusting I am here and in this community, and that means when I feel threatened, everything feels so much more scary. I don’t really want to talk about the specifics of what sparked all of this. I feel misunderstood, and I believe in my attempt to soothe that, I probably created fuel for a fire that was raging long before I came along. But at the end of the day, this whole situation is because of trust, of honesty, of openness, of community, and of healing.

Those are all good things.

So, I meant to run away. Honestly, I did. I meant to crawl under a rock and hide for a while, until my shell hardened a little. Sometimes I feel like I am still molting, and my scales haven’t grown in. My twin sister KellyAnn always talks about being one of those desert tortoises that gets so scared, it pees, and then dies of dehydration. So, whenever we talk about a situation in which I am going to confront one of our fears, she makes a high-pitched scream, a squirt sound, and then sticks her tongue out to indicate that whatever I just said is just too much for her fragile disposition. Maybe I am one of those reptiles. Only molting. I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings. It is the hardest thing for me to overcome—not caring what other people think. Not wanting to be misunderstood by a stranger. What is that—ego, self-esteem, immaturity? What?

But here I am again, writing about myself and my process. All day yesterday, I had been on the verge of crying, trembling and cold, even as I lay sweating in the sunlight after a rousing tetherball match with the husband and a perfect afternoon with my family. Sometimes I cannot help but feel the universal truth in Foucault’s Panopticon. Am I governed by my truth or someone’s else? Do I suddenly find myself guarded because I think someone who doesn’t approve of me is watching?

I am honest, though. I am just not brutally honest. I think those things should be mutually exclusive—brutality and honesty. I have an extreme aversion to brutality. But this is my space now. Today, I am peeing in my corners without dying. I am decorating its insides, picking gaudy paint colors that have a specific meaning only to me. There will be gnomes everywhere. Shelves lined with Bibles and books about Nixon. Aesthetics, be damned. I am declaring my safety zone here. But to do that, I have to face my fears. And my fear right now is being exposed and open.

So, let me tell you a little about me.

I am a woman whose daughter died, like millions of mothers in the world, who grieve openly, bellow a loud resounding wail for a short time, and then somehow manage to scream inside for the rest of their days. I am somewhere in between those two phases. That is why I write this blog. I write because I don’t know what else to do with my grief. I write because I cannot talk about it constantly, even though I think about constantly. I write because I am compelled. I used to write and not put it out into the public sphere, but I find the feedback comforting. I have found this community supportive and loving. I am comforted by knowing that others understand what lying in bed, in the dark, thinking the endless thoughts, asking the countless questions, wondering, even when you tell yourself it is a pointless exercise, but wondering what life would be like if…five days earlier, you insisted on being induced.

I am a woman who insists on thinking of herself as nothing special, and no one in particular. Citizen X. One of the most profound scenes in any book I have read is in Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger. After Franny leaves show business and drops out of the public sphere, someone asks her what happened, and she says, “It takes the most courage in the world to be absolutely nobody.” Yes. Striving to just be you is brave. That is why I never ask why this happened to me? Because why not? I am not someone special. I read What to Expect When You are Expecting, and promptly tossed it after thinking it was too alarmist. Ha, ha, ha, ha ,ha………..ha. ha, yeah.

I am a women who mostly sees both sides of every argument. So much so, I am annoyingly noncommittal. (Annoying to myself, to answer Kitt’s question.) I contradict myself often. But somehow, I manage to arrive at points of view, but everyone is after reading and thinking about every side of them. I just don’t share them with too many people.

I am not a white woman. I am a brown woman with a white father. Some of you might understand that; maybe others not so much. But I have babies with blue eyes and blond hair, and people ask me if I am the babysitter all the time. My daughter call my mother Abuelita, and my father Grandpa, and points to Selma Hayek and says, “Mami.” My mother immigrated to this country in 1969, and became a success. I am incredibly proud of all she has accomplished. I come from hard working people, people that never took what they had for granted…well, maybe having babies. Maybe that is one thing they took for granted a little. Because, well, they did it so well. I took it for granted too. A little. And well, now, I hate that about me.

I am a woman who has come to my religious beliefs, or lack there of, hard fought. I want to share all those stories with you. I want to tell you why I decided to study religion, and why I believe what I believe, and I want to tell you all the spiritual experiences I have had, the deep down moving, humbling experiences. But mostly, I know they are important only to me. Here, on this blog, I share what I go through spiritually now. Right at this moment. And that seems enough. Someday, perhaps, I will talk about Catholicism as well as Buddhism. But I will say this: Catholicism is so deeply ingrained in who I am as a mother, a partner and a human being that trying to separate it would be impossible. The rituals, the beauty, the art—it is who I am, and yet, so far from what I believe. At times, our differences still surprise me.

I am a woman who is so completely in love with her husband and her kids that I am sometimes embarrassed to admit that our biggest issue revolves around the fact that my husband never puts a garbage bag back in the can, and the kid thinks it is hilarious when I yell at him about it. He just seems to be physically incapable of doing it, and I am physically incapable of not making some smart ass remark about the fact.

I am a woman who could write from the time I get up at five in the morning until I go to sleep at eight o’clock at night with only breaks to drink coffee, and then wine. But I have a daughter to mother, a husband to partner, a father to daughter, neighbors to gossip with, a dog to walk, a fridge to fill, and a candle to light. And some other stuff I can’t rightly remember right now, because it is on my todo list, which is clear across the room. Even though in person, I probably don’t strike ANY person as type A, I have a to-do list, a shopping list, a thank you card list, and a craft monkey list.

I am a woman whose daughter has died. I used to be someone else. I was someone who cared for her sick father, and thought that the worst thing about my life was not having a weekend free from my middle and late twenties, and at least the first half of my thirties because of it. I have always felt like it was a blessing that I could say to the world that my father annoyed the fuck out of me some days. I was someone who may or may not have been a good friend. I cannot remember, but sometimes it keeps me up late wondering if I will ever recall whether I was a good one or who I was, and wonder if I can ever be a good friend again.

I am a woman who is your next door neighbor, the goofy lady making small talk in the cheese section of your local market, the person walking in front of your house looking a bit sullen while your dog barks, the person who bought your weird felted Etsy product, the one who wrote a letter to the local butcher praising his recent decision to buy local, organic meat, the person who feels such a deep gratitude that you read my words then share your love, comfort and support...I am nobody in particular except the person who painted these walls purple for my dead daughter.


  1. I love you Angie for everything you are. Don't change a thing xo

  2. Oh Angie. I'm so, so sorry that you lost your beautiful Lucia.

    I just wanted to say that I have only just found your blog today. I have gained a lot of comfort from reading it.

    I honestly don't think it is ego or immaturity to hate being misunderstood. I think it is human.

    There are people imprisoned with you in this hateful Pantopticon who are screaming along with you. We are also thinking about it constantly, unable to think of anything else. But we are still wandering around, filling fridges, gossiping, going to work, buying weird felted Etsy stuff.

    And I can't write about the loss of my own daughter. But I am so glad that others can. It is brave.

    And how else would I find out about these desert tortoises? Where would I find someone else who can understand Foucault? I certainly can't do this on my own.

    Pee in the corners, paint the walls. Heck bring all the gnomes you can cram in. And books about Nixon, bring it all on.


  3. Bring it on Angie! I echo Hope's Mama "don't change a thing"... especially about who you are.
    This post is so honest and deep.... keep it up. You have no idea how many people you touch.


  4. I love this post. I'll say more later, but what I want to say right now is that I love this post. And the person who wrote it is someone I would be honored to know.

    Stay strong, Angie. Don't dehydrate. ;-)

  5. I love your honesty and openness. Many people that are un-happy with their own lives will put ugly comments and get all offended. People tend to be a bit more 'mouthy' in text because they don't believe there are consequences. (As opposed to say screaming at their family or neighbors)
    It hurts to feel misunderstood. It really burns when there is no
    I also seem to be able to understand deeply, two sides of a subject, and seem to live in a duality.
    I'm glad you didn't hide out. I'm glad you are trying to be honest regardless of the flack you recieved.
    You are a brave soul. I'm happy to have 'met' you.
    Looking foward to reading more...Lindsay

  6. Beautiful and brave, as always. Love you and all your colors.

  7. "I am a woman," yes, you are: lovely, lovable, and loving.

  8. you are a woman i am just so glad i know. much love angie.

  9. If only for the comment left by Catherine W, I'm glad you're still here.

    Keep writing.

    Keep breathing.


  10. Angie, you are a beautiful writer.

  11. tears in my eyes for you angie. for your beautiful words. your powerful truth. for getting to know you a little bit more tonight. and feeling deep love for you.


  12. This is a beautiful, honest and powerful post, Angie. It makes me wish you live next door, so we can have tea together, every day.

  13. i love you so much, ang....what a beautiful, powerful post....and yes yes yes!

  14. Beautiful post, and well said.

  15. Angie, I have so few words at the moment. I feel as though I have been rendered mute but I'm reading, reading, reading. Your words are powerful and I happen to think that you are brilliant.

  16. I'm so glad you continue to write and allow us to read it.
    When I read that you are a 'brown' woman, I thought of a book I started reading a couple weeks ago (for some reason, I stalled out on it). I'm sure this book has little to nothing to do with you, but I thought of it nonetheless. The book is called One Drop, by Bliss Broyard. I'd like to sum it up with an easy description, but it's not a simple subject - race. And family. And secrets. And a lot of other stuff. You might like it.
    I hope you are finding some peace.

  17. I have no idea what happened to precipitate all of this, but I'm sorry it hit you so hard.


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