Sunday, February 28, 2010

The spirit is willing --

It's Lent again: everyone is clad in purple and the time has come to once again prepare the way. Last year, I wrote, or, rather, tried to write about Lent and our loss. But I wasn't able.

This year, I stumbled upon an article in The Lutheran called "Keeping a Good Lent". Michael Cooper-White writes about Anglican theologian H. A. Williams's sermon "The True Wilderness" and summarizes the priest's conclusion that rather than the "ecclesiastical charade" of giving up sugar or lovely things, we ought seek the true Lent - and that we ought "follow Jesus into a wilderness place, going somewhere one has never gone before. In so doing, like Jesus, we may find renewal and inspiration, being filled by God's Spirit".

Last year's Lent took Tim and I into a wilderness place - the wild hurt of pregnancy loss and this year we stand in a new wilderness place - on the strange precipice of a diagnosis of infertility. It's a strange new world for us, having fallen pregnant on the pill and after only a few cycles of trying with the two children we have now. But as we've learned over the past year, falling pregnant isn't what makes you fertile - having a baby is.

A few weeks ago, in the flurry of "What are you giving up for Lent" conversations, one bitter thought echoed in my head: Last year I gave up a baby. That's enough. To be fair, I didn't give up a baby for Lent, it just so happened that I had a miscarriage during Lent. I'm of the opinion that it wasn't God's fault or divine plan, so I kind of have to let God off the hook for that one. Still, that's what it felt like. It felt as though our Lenten journey coincided with our loss journey. I felt certain that we'd be through both in just a short amount of time. And here we are, two weeks into the next Lent and still on our pregnancy journey.

And I am in a new wilderness place - one that is scary and full of pain and scared people - and yet, still, I have things to learn this year that I wasn't able to bring voice to last year. If I wish to see this as a part of the journey - as I seemed to struggle with last year - then I need to come out on the other side of this time having found renewal and inspiration -- I need to make it a true Lent and allow myself an opportunity for renewed faith and spirit.

I have spent the last year screaming: take this cup. I didn't want to be on this journey. There's too much pain. Too much sadness. If there was a way to give it up, I sure would've liked to. I've offered prayers. Wept. Raged. I do not wish to be here. I do not wish to be here.

And yet I am here. This is where I start each morning - this wilderness place stretched into my heart, stretched between me and God, stretched around my psyche. And it is here that I must walk this year - with the deep hope that renewal and inspiration are on the path and that I might once more lift up prayers with a faith that they will be heard. I wonder how I'll get through and come out on the other side. I don't know what it will take - what actions will soothe the bitterness in my heart, when once again I'll feel like praying, or at what point I'll end my silent treatment with God. In the meantime, I'll show up. And shut up. And wait for that still, small voice.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Finished a hat for me.

But I'm not posting it.

I look like I belong on the deck of a crab fishing boat. But I'm not frogging it either. The yarn's cheap and crummy and won't frog at all. So here I am with a kind of saggy hat that I probably might maybe never wear.

Monday, February 22, 2010

And again,

I let a knitting project go without taking a picture.


It was just a simple little boy's ribbed baby hat, using Dark Horse Yarns Fantasy in some sort of electric blue. Quite quick, quite easy, and fun.

I've been working for a few days on a ribbed hat for myself, but I haven't finished it yet.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Traffic Jam, Aisle 13:

Listen, boys (if there are any boys who know me and read this blog - if you don't know me, keep reading, knock yourself out. If you do know me and would prefer the word tampons never come between us, then move along), you may want to skip today's little entry. That's fine. I'll still be here tomorrow and I'll still love you. I hope you'll forgive me for calling you "boys."

Now that they're gone, I want to share a little scene with my lady friends. Since you're my lady friends, I presume you have lady bits and aunt flo and all that sweet jazz that comes along with being a lady. So great, you'll appreciate this story. For those of you who are mothers, you will appreciate this story even more, since Carter and Lilly are in it and they embarrass me.

So yesterday went to the store. I was running to get just a few things between after-school-pickup (after club, actually, since it was about 4 or so -- the time being an essential piece of this story) and prepping-for-dinner time. It was snowing mad-big snowflakes - coming down in massive quantities too, which only made the trip just a scunch more interesting.

Okay, so imagine this scene: you've gone through most of the store. Your 3 1/2 year old son is pulling on your new purple dress banshee-screeching I want to wear your dressssss while your 7 year old daughter is stepping in and out of his personal space for the sole purpose of enticing a punch from him so that HE will be punished for using physical violence (something you must admit to considering yourself at this moment). You pull out the mommy voice, park the cart, and say "You. Here. You. There. One finger. Touch the cart. No PUSHING no PULLING no TOUCHING ANYTHING ELSE." in your best Mommy voice.

That's where I was. I needed one more thing: tampons. That's it. Seems easy, right? Find box, grab box, run like hell.

But somewhere around 3:45, I think I must've lost my brain. As did the FIVE OTHER LADIES creating a tampon-related traffic jam in the 13th aisle of the grocery store. Having never been in a tampon-related traffic jam, I thought I should tread carefully and stood back to wait, scanning the boxes. I blew past the pink and white boxes. Not my thing. Then I was stuck. Blue boxes. Name Brand. Not Name Brand. 80 count, 30 count, 15 count, and 8 count (EIGHT? Who in the HELL needs only 8 tampons? Put that shit in the travel aisle, Kroger). Paper or Plastic? Mixed bag or all the same? Suddenly, in my after-4-dimness, I had no idea what I needed and turned into one of six apparent tampon zombies clogging up Aisle 13.

I'm pretty sure I stood there, mouth agape, for approximately 30 seconds before, in the corner of my eye, I saw Lilly wrap her scarf around Carter's neck 4 times and then kick him into a display case of Leggs pantyhose, which snapped me out of my zombie-like state long enough to grab some box based not on its size, color, or contents, but based on the bright yellow Kroger Sale Item tag underneath while hissing "DO NOT CHOKE YOUR BROTHER IN PUBLIC" as if private choking were acceptable.

And THEN running like hell.

So dear Leggs representative, I'm sorry, so very very sorry, that my son's butt broke your display case. I'm even sorrier to know that he did it in a way that nary a single package was moved when he hit the case, but when you move it later, you will be blessed with a waterfall of women's pantyhose. You lucky lucky person.

As for the rest of you, I might finally understand why you use your child-free hours to shop. And why you delight in your Costco membership that requires you to complete this little trip once every 3 years.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


is one of the most beautiful women I know:

She is smart and strong and amazing. When my faith is weak, she has strength for me. When I'm working on something, she helps clarify and hone the ideas that've been knocking around in my head.
And when I unload, she says "I'm sorry" and "Thank you for telling me". And when I have really hard times, she sends me pineapple lumps.
I've never been to New Zealand, but she's my bestest Kiwi friend. Better than the Conchords.
Dear Julia, I don't know if you're reading this or not, but I'm eating my *last* beloved pineapple lump tonight in your honor.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I finished Grandma's lap blanket. FINALLY. And I packed it up for shipping. Without taking a photo!!

Unbelieveable. I'm tempted to rip the box open. I can't mail it, of course, until tomorrow anyway. We'll see.

101 in 1001

101 changes/To Dos in 1001 days.

Any ideas for me? They must be measurable. They must be a mix of easily accomplished tasks (make an Angel Food cake from scratch) and more difficult tasks (finish a poetry manuscript).

I look forward to seeing what you might have to say. :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A very long year.

366: Days since our first BFP
30 weeks 1 day: Amount of time I was considered pregnant by the medical community last year. Had they all been smashed together into a single pregnancy, that child would have a 99% chance of survival.
3%: The number of couples deemed to be dealing with "recurrent pregnancy loss". Or, rather, the number of women considered "habitual aborters".

I wish I could add a 'priceless' to this, make it some screwed up American Express commercial, but I cannot.

I've learned a few things along the way. I've learned that people say and do stupid things when they discover you've had a loss. And when they say and do stupid things, it's often out of love. I've learned that all people should be armed with the sheet of things not to say: It was for the best, Your time will come, Relax and it'll happen, God had other plans, There was probably something wrong with *it* anyway. And the list goes on and on and on.

This brings me to another thing I've learned: People SUCK at grieving. Or, rather, they SUCK at watching you grieve. I mean, in a way I should've known that when David died. People asked me how I was doing for approximately 30-60 days and then, after some unspoken timeline passed, quit asking, began cutting off conversations about it, and became uncomfortable with my continued discussions of David. Miscarriage seems to be worse because people don't generally treat it like the loss that it is. For many, to watch a person actively grieve, then, for a year, is to believe that they are incapable of living the life before them. And yet I think of my mother -- in the wake of losing David, she grieved. She still does. Our family still weeps together sometimes. And through all of this grieving she's lived - from working to church to actively engaging with our family -- to even taking a cruise in Norway. She's living and grieving at once and nobody knows what to do with that. I don't know how long she'll need to grieve - but I do know it's not mine to put an end date on. Similarly, the grief Tim and I carry this year is ours. We continue to live - to work, to play, to love our children fiercely, but we grieve. It doesn't detract from who we are, it is simply a piece of a much larger person.

Finally, I have learned that it is not only possible, but most likely necessary, to engage with deep crises of faith here and there through our journey. I have never heard anything more gut-wrenchingly offensive than God has other plans when David died and when we went through our miscarriages. Why would an all-powerful deity -- to whom we pray and offer ourselves daily -- take an amazing minister or allow me to become pregnant and then miscarry. If God was trying to teach us lessons somehow through riddling my stepfather with cancer or giving and taking back babies, this is a God I want no part of. I do not believe for a moment that God actively engaged with our lives to make these things happen for a plan that is so elusive we will only come to know it in the afterlife.

My buddy gave me a card a few days ago that said "When bad things happen I want to call God and say hey WTF." I've come to believe that if we could find the phone to the big man in the sky, we'd hear a long pause followed by a "No shit. WTF indeed."

Which then leads to the crisis Rabbi Kushner talks about in When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Do we have an all-powerful or an all-loving God? It seems, especially faced with situations like this, that we have to choose. I choose all-loving. If it's the other, then the all-powerful God can unfold his plans to me in the afterlife and I reserve the right to unload on that God for it.

But for now, for now I prefer to see it like this: We're kids, eight or so, full of life and love and happiness. Maybe we even have freckles. And we're on a bike. Maybe it's too big for us. Most likely so. It's the universe - big, mechanical, unsettled, dangerous. Put together lovingly by our father, the Father. Made to bring us joy. And there, at the top of the hill, waving to us, is our Dad. Loving. Delighted. If we crash? Scared right along with us. Tearful right along with us. Sad right along with us.

Is that something? Sure. Maybe it's something the grief-ridden cling to. Who knows. Maybe it's closer to Truth than we know.

And another thing I cannot believe.

My bestie from High School's Dad died.

Here's the deal: As painful as it is to lose a parent and as much as you want people to talk to about it who understand, you want to remain an aberration as well. I don't want ANYONE I love feeling this pain. We are too young.

And he was too young. 61. Full, and I do mean full to the brim, of life. He's the kind of man who, upon seeing him on the street or in a picture, you couldn't help but smile. The whole clan is like that - goofy, funny, active, self-deprecating, but deeply connected and loving. You can't help but want to be with them. You can't help but want to be them. Because THEY are awesome.

My heart breaks for them because I remember these days - the dull fog, the people, pulling you through, all of the planning. I read Gregg's obit yesterday and I wept, remembering writing David's obituary. It sucked. It all sucks. There's nothing else to say about it, really.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A few things that I can't believe:

I'm working on 101 in 1001 right now - a list of 101 things I want to do in 1001 days. I'm excited. I think it'll be cool. Until then, I want to give you a list of things I can't believe:

  1. My son went down for a nap at 1. So did I. I woke up to the phone at 1:30 (thaaaaaanks Tim!). I've been busily working at household stuff since then but I haven't graded a single essay. I'm both stunned at my bad time-management AND my son's lengthy nap.
  2. I've been watching the On Demand commercials for 10 minutes now. Because I cannot bring myself to lean down and pick the remote off the floor after Tough Love ended. That's right, I have a Master's degree kids!!!
  3. I don't believe Gisele Bundchen had a pain-free birth. Either that, or, if I believe she DID have a pain-free birth, I cannot believe her child had a skull anywhere near the size of my kids' heads.
  4. While I'm on the subject of childbirth, I read an article on Discovery today about a girl without a vagina who had a baby. That's right. I've gotten myself around the "Crack whores get pregnant every day" thing and even come, through my four losses, to appreciate the surge of bile in my throat everytime I see Teen Mom on MTV, but a fifteen year old girl had oral sex with a dude, got stabbed by her ex, and the sperm found an egg, the egg implanted in her uterus, and she HAD A BABY. Here I am busting my (well, you know) and some girl gets pregnant from a stabbing? Suffice to say if it took a stabbing for pregnancy #7 to actually result in a baby that is born, I might line up for it.
  5. DC gets 29" of snow and they shut down the Federal government. We get 29" of snow and the city considers potentially maybe plowing our street in a few weeks.
  6. The Time-Traveller's Wife is actually about the wife of a *time traveller*. I thought it was some pretty metaphor. According to On Demand advertisements, though, it is not.
  7. Sarah Palin mocked Obama's love for teleprompters at the little Tea Party this weekend. All the while she had crib.notes.on.her.hand.! AND she got lost in her notes while giving her speech. That girl is a BLAST.
  8. I love many -- nay, MOST of Sarah Palin's dress shoes and would kill for one pair of her boots. This is painful to me, so much do I loathe her.
  9. But seriously? The Time Traveller's Wife is REALLY about the wife of a time traveller? I man. Okay. Fine. I get it. The Time Machine is about a Time Machine but HG Wells didn't muck it up with Oprah fame or a romancey modern movie, yanno?
  10. Last but not least: One of my students wants to write about how Batman is more badass than Superman. And I think I might have a little English teacher crush on his idea because A) He's showing us all that ARGUMENT essays don't have to be big, heavy, and serious. . . AND B) He's like so totally right. As I told the class today: Batman has no superpower and still totally rocks it because his super power is his BRAIN. What smartie doesn't love a superhero who's a superhero because he's wicked smart?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Wow. Overwhelmed much?

No, seriously, I am. I'm totally and utterly overwhelmed. Teaching 4 classes while being a full-time stay at home mom may have been a mistake. I know people are kidding [sic this is supposed to say "think I am kidding" but I left it, because it's a nice little indication of how broken my brain is right now] when I say that Tim's discovered me staring at a wall, but I'm not. By about 10 pm I have approximately 1.5 brain cells to rub together. Occasionally synapses fire and lead me to bed, but often it's Tim leaning in saying "Honey. Bedtime. Let's go." Poor guy.

But that's not why I'm writing today. Oh no. Today I'm writing to let you know that someone at the school has replaced our "make stale air smell not so stale" air freshener thingies with something that smells like fabric softener.

Which seems like a good idea, right?

It's a HORRIBLE idea. Imagine it, if you will: You're exhausted. You're running to class in some head-to-toe black number (with 3 different kinds of black, but I digress), your day's been off kilter since you spent an extra 20 minutes washing strawberry jelly off your backside from sitting in your son's extra special jelly pile he left on his chair. Your back hurts, your bag's heavy, and you think maybe you might have written a lesson plan for today, but who really knows. You are red-lining, for sure. And then you suddenly walk through the sweet breezy smell of Downy.

A deep breath. Your blood pressure goes down. Suddenly you're puppies and rainbows and ready to find a quiet corner to curl up in a big soft fluffy blanket or warm towel fresh from the dryer. You may have seen a sweet butterfly hovering around you. Eyes closed, you are in a familiar-scented, manufactured heaven.

Oh, except that you're NOT. You're at school. And everything that was stressful 10 minutes ago suddenly seems MORE SO now, because the hallway reminded you of heaping mounds of fresh-from-the-dryer-laundry-when-you-were-six.

Thanks, powers-that-be. Thanks.
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