Thursday, February 24, 2011

Happy Blogoversary to Me.

Almost one year ago, to the day, I was 32 weeks pregnant, helping my husband home from surgery. His cut 6"4' frame balanced on my squatty, imbalanced body full of Thor and anxiety as we worked our way up the front steps of our home. We knew it would be a challenging time for our family, but he needed the surgery. We walked into our front porch, and the smell of freshly created vomit wafted into our nose. My mother was frantically cleaning up puke and sheepishly confused as to why Beatrice was throwing up. The stomach flu visited our home at the same time that Sam had surgery. And so, the next day, I was sick too, as is the way of the puking virus. I was cleaning my puke, Beatrice's puke, and Sam's pee pee. I was supposed to be on modifed bedrest, honestly, and all of this, I feared would kill Thor. It was a whirlwind of suck the like of which I feel I am still recovering. Honestly, the last year, I can say that I have had a bit of post-traumatic stress disorder. Any hint of norovirus amongst friends and family has met with a fierce and unwavering shiver and then distance. "Good luck with that. See you next month."

It did not keep the stomach bug from visiting the ranch almost exactly a year later. Thomas Harry started middle of the night from Sunday to Monday with explosive diarrhea that was (hell, still is) bright green. (It is such an interesting color, I had to note it). Then about twenty four hours later, his Exorcist-like puking began. Projectile. All-encompassing. We actually had to change our bed sheets until we had no more bed sheets. Tuesday night, I literally sat on the couch all night watching Thelma and Louise, Giant, Fiddler on the Roof, as he slept on my lap. I started puking sometime on Tuesday. It ended quickly for me, except for this math.

Check it out:
lack of sleep + puking + caring for a puking child + one high-energy/cabin fevered not sick child + a dog + a cranky, sleep-deprived husband = me fucking losing my mind.

Actually, Sam has been amazing. He took off work to care for me and Thomas Harry, because I simply haven't been able to rise very much. Or rather, maybe he took off work to care for Beatrice while T.H. and I writhe in crawling-out-of-our-skin-itis. Last night, lying in bed, inhaling the sour smell of psychic and physical defeat, I remembered and concluded in pure monkey style: the pukes might be the harbinger for my blogoversary.

This week is my two year blogoversary.

TWO YEARS! Whoop! Yee haw! Yippee! WONKA WONKA WONKA!

Two hundred and ninety five published posts. Forty unpublished posts. Amazing. I don't know what I thought this space would be two years after starting it. I don't know what I thought it would be the day I started it. But all I can say is that I would not be the person I am today without this blog and without you. You have loved me, supported me, made me feel like part of a community and helped me more than I could rightly express. So, thank you. Thank you for reading here and writing here.

For my two year blogoversary, I will give away something. It is actually your choice. One: a mizuko jizo painting of your choice painted by me with your baby in mind. This is the listing from my etsy shop. I will work with you to create something you will love. (If you are not interested in a mizuko jizo painting, you can also request a meditating mama painting, or a small painting of your children/child.) Two: a jizo statue for your altar. The jizo is shown in the Remembering section of my sidebar, right in front of the Buddha. I actually ordered it from this Etsy shop for this giveaway. or Three: They Were Still Born, which is a book in which my essay Mothering Grief appears.

And so to win one of these three things, please comment below. Tell me which of these items you would like to win. And, to steal borrow this idea from the lovely and very talented Lori Lavendar Luz from Write Mind Open Heart, I would really appreciate you leaving ME a present in return. That gift would be to tell me which of my posts made an impression on you and why. You don't have to link to it, but just mention the idea of it. (Or you can link to it, if you want.)

Happy blogoversary to me! And thank you, again, for your love and support.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monkey mind

Breathe in through the nose. Out through the mouth.
Stop thinking about breathing and just breathe.
Monkey mind, Angie, monkey mind.
I just want to cuss now. Fuck, my skin is uncomfortable around my soul. And my belly binds up in lotus position. Frankly, it always did. Why does meditation sitting have to be so fucking uncomfortable? I mean, shouldn't it be in a comfty chair? The comfty chair?!?! Nobody expects the Spanish...Thinking, Angie. Thinking.
Oooooooooooooooooooom. Can you chant in your mind? I am chanting in my mind. Maybe I should use Fuck as my mantra. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.
Thinking. Fuck, Angie. Focus, dude. You are not supposed to do anything and you can't even not do anything. Oooooooooooom. Om. Nom. Yum.
Ignore the girl. You are meditating, for goodness sake. Keep. Your. Eyes. Closed. Keep them closed. Ignore her. She knows what she is doing. She is working with the monkey mind.
"Mommy? Mommymommmymommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmy."
Go away, little girl. Ask your father.
"What, child? I am meditating."
"Do you want me to hit the gong now?"
"No. I will tell you when to hit the gong. Now go."
"Okay, but Mommy?"
"Yes, baby."
"Can I meditate with you?"
"Of course, but this is a non-talking meditation."
"So, you won't tell me to breath in love?"
"No. You will have to tell yourself that."
"Oh, sure. Sure, I can."
"Can I ring the gong now?"
"Yes, you may ring the gong now."

Breathe in love. Breathe out impatience. Maybe I should be listening for God. Or for my intuition. Wait, my intuition tells me to drink sixteen bourbons and eat a gallon of ice cream. My intuition is an asshole. Monkey mind, Ang. Monkey mind. 

Breathe in love. Breathe out criticism.
Breathe in love. Breathe out anger.
Breathe in love. Breathe out fatness.
Breathe in like. Breathe out loathing.
Just like. Just breathe in like if you can't breathe in love yet.  My fucking knees hurt.
Breathe in tolerance. Breathe out starvation.
Breathe in tolerance. Breathe out monkey mind.

Breathe. Out. Monkeys.

"I rang the gong, Mommy, because I was done."
"Thank you, love."

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Art of Surrender

My only goal this year is to make peace with my body. Not write a novel, or even a blog post. Not to paint a picture every day. Not to run a mile, or lose fifty pounds. I didn't vow to read a book a week for a year. I didn't promise to quit drinking. I didn't make resolutions about eating no meat, or dairy. Just to make peace. Just to come to accept.

This path has been more complicated and intense than I ever imagined. I realize that the body I inhabit is built of shame and anger and self-loathing. My daughter died in me. My. Daughter. Died. IN. Me. In my fat belly. The first thing I did when I got home from the hospital is google stillbirth. And there in the first list of things that are correlated to stillbirth is weight. Obesity causes stillbirth, it said. I killed my daughter with fat? I finally built up the courage to ask my midwife about it a few weeks later, because it became this festering nugget in the back of my brain. I would say, "We don't know what killed her." And I would think, "But I know, it was my fat." Deep down, I started integrating the blame into my being without really realizing it. When I did finally ask my midwife, she laid her hands on my shoulders and said, "Fatness did not kill your daughter. You did not kill your daughter." She explained that it was just a correlation, like being Latino or African-American. I cried and told her I gained so much in my pregnancy and maybe that killed her, maybe. She could tell me, I begged, the truth. I can handle it, I promised. She promised me she wasn't just being nice. But I didn't believe her.

Making peace with my body means I need to start believing her, or even if I don't believe her, to forgive myself for killing her. Forgiveness has always seemed like a powerful process  to me. I have gotten to places where I have forgiven people for breaking my heart, stealing all my things, for hitting me, for cheating on me, for stealing my identity and for betraying me. To be honest, I don't really know how to forgive myself. Somehow, there is a sense that this forgiveness is wrapped up in changing my body image and relationship and so I am starting there.

Part of this process is quitting drinking, mindful and moral eating and learning to integrate my body, mind and soul again. I know it sounds weird, but I feel like each part has been a separate entity. I have made a commitment to try to pray and meditate every day. To bend on my knees and give it up to the universe. To ask for help. I have a problem asking for help from people and even more so from God, or the universe. Mainly because I don't know how I feel about those things. God? Creator? I don't know. I think I have always been the quintessential definition of a deist. But maybe the kind of God I am praying to isn't the point, even if it is just asking for help in the dark, in the abyss. Maybe it is the art of surrender. I cannot rationalize my way out of this cycle of suffering. I cannot write it out. I cannot starve it out. I cannot drink it out. I cannot. And so, that is part of this year.

Praying and meditating every day is not something overdone or elaborate. I read a prayer, I ask for help and inspiration and specifically name something I want to do better today. When I meditate, I listen, instead of the Buddhist emptiness that has always accompanied my meditation. I am listening for my own voice. It is a strange thing to have to relearn how to trust yourself. To refind intuition. This process has given me focus and the quality of not having to reinvent the wheel. I just do it, and then it is over. I always imagine these things impossible to integrate into my life. But when I do it, it is simple.

So far, 2011 has been really amazing. Hard and scary, but also amazing and insightful. I miss having meditation and prayer as part of my ritual. I have drifted a long way from my spiritual center. Anxiety and grief like an winding, dark path off the road. Meditation and prayer and peace of mind felt too much like making peace with Lucy's death, when really that are simply making peace with myself.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

about the boy.

Thomas Harry is ten months old. Well, two days ago. He enjoys being naked, pulling his sister's hair and playing the maracas. Both literally and figuratively. He is a fast crawler, and chases both the dog and his big sister. He also likes appropriating abandoned juice cups. His one grey eye and one brown eye have morphed into this amazing greyish brown color. He's got really cute boobies, as Beatrice points out. And he has eight teeth. He is 26.5 pounds, 30 inches and has the head circumference of a two year old. In our house, we say that the boy leads with his head. It is his form of affection to head butt your nose like some kind of football hooligan. He is very good at throwing a ball directly to you.

He is the Thornado, bringing a flurry of joy and overturned trucks and play kitchens, where ever he crawls. I didn't imagine that when we were pregnant. I was caught in this swirl of negativity, fear and inactive panic. How hard it will be. How jealous Beezus might get. How sick/hurt/damaged he might end up. How we don't have enough bedrooms on the same floor. How my love seemed not to be boundless. And then he was here, and he slipped into our lives like he's always been there. And he makes us laugh until we cannot breathe. And my love for him bottomless and encompassing and absolutely terrifying.

Ten months later, Beatrice doesn't remember a time before Thomas was here or a time when Lucy wasn't dead. And I think that is it. Lucy has also found her place in our family too. She is in every list we make about the most beautiful babies. She is in the invisible sister brigade that marches through the kitchen with pots and pans. She is in the rainbow we draw. She is the other baby in our family. She is the little sister. Perpetually, the little sister.