Like most writers, I like words. I say most because I can’t speak for all writers. There are probably writers out there who hate words in the same way that there are probably architects out there who hate brick. Though… you could always construct a building with another material, and it’s very difficult to write a book without words. Though not impossible.
I was reading Liane Moriarty’s The Hypnotist’s Love Story (which I said I wasn’t going to read because I don’t like the topic of stalking, and yet here I am, reading it) and on page 366 she writes,
She actually didn’t want him to speak about it. Words would just tangle things up further and make them feel worse. How strange. She had always thought words were the answer to everything; after all, she treated people with nothing but words.
I paused after reading that, and then wrote it down to remember it, trying to think of a time when things were made worse by putting it into words. And I couldn’t come up with a single time. Sure, there were words I would have rather never have heard, but the reality is that the feeling or the action would have still existed even if I didn’t know about them. Even if it wasn’t told to me.
I couldn’t think of a single time when putting something into words made the problem worse rather than make it more manageable. Words contain the big, messy ideas; contain as in the sense of container. Words box them in so they don’t ooze all over life. Few things really make sense to me or feel the proper size until I’ve put them into words.
I don’t know… can you think of a time when words weren’t the solution; when talking or writing things out made things worse instead of help?
Look at this… a tiny post… just a hair too long to be a proper #MicroblogMonday post. Though you can be certain that I’m working on tomorrow’s #MicroblogMonday post before I go to sleep tonight. Are you?
November 16, 2014 14 Comments
The kids had a square dance at their school. It’s a yearly occurrence, and I have been waiting for it since Kindergarten when I discovered it was only open to the upper grades. The kids all wore white t-shirts and jeans and bandanas or hats. We chose perfect seats in the front row. The kids were so cute. It was such a proud-to-be-an-American-bale-of-hay-milk-the-cows sort of event. It was really a perfect night.
But the best was that when the record started I COULD STILL RECITE IT! It was the same record they used back when I was in grade school. There were a few kids missing from the performance, and I wanted to jump up and take one of their slots, but Josh warned me that would be “weird.” So I sat. But I totally could have danced.
Promenade the outside ring get all the way around to where the roosters sing go all the way around until you get back home… do an allemande left, do an allemande right…
I had to go to a Catholic funeral this week, and I’m not sure if this is par for the course for all churches, a practice at this church, or only done during funerals, but they had a lovely exit that I quickly picked up. Everyone stood. Then the family of the deceased, who were sitting in the front row, followed the casket. But then the church emptied row by row rather than a random mishmash of people in the aisle. The second row from the front filed out, and when that row was empty, the third row joined the line. Which meant that the people in the back of the church — the people who were likely there in a supporting role vs. the people who sat in the front and were more likely an active mourner — could be comforting each person as they exited. It made me think of Ring Theory (an article that I actually really dislike for a number of reasons), and how it was the ultimate comfort in as people dumped out. It was really really lovely.
We are one month away from the Creme de la Creme list CLOSING.
The 2014 Creme de la Creme list is open for entries until December 15th. No one will be added after December 15th. Read the post to see how to be a part of the Creme de la Creme, which is open to every member of the ALI (adoption/loss/infertility) community.
Consider that your weekly reminder.
Stop procrastinating. Go make your backups. Don’t have regrets.
Seriously. Stop what you’re doing for a moment. It will take you fifteen minutes, tops. But you will have peace of mind for days and days. It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.
As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.
And now the blogs…
But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week. In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:
- “Mommy, Sit” (A New Version of Me)
- “Four Days Late” (Waiting for Baby Bird)
- “Amanda Bynes, Robin Williams, and the Spectacle of Mental Illness” (Let’s Queer Things Up)
- “I Haven’t Posted in a Long Time” (Born Still but Still Born)
- “Unapologetically Broken” (By the Brooke)
Okay, now my choices this week.
No Kidding in NZ has a post about the word “failure” tied to stopping family building, especially when family building itself (at least the vast majority of routes to parenthood) is more chance than hard work. She writes: “The truth is that achieving anything in life is so often by chance – genetic, parental, circumstantial, geographic, and many other circumstances that aid or hinder us in our goals.” It reminds me of that old saying: “born on third base and thinks he hit a triple” (or the longer Tweet Josh pointed out this week: “Privilege is born on third base, and thinks it hit a triple. Entitlement is born on third base, and thinks someone stole its home run.”) I think it is important to note what aids or hinders us in all facets of life.
My Lady of the Lantern has a post about wanting to post about her pregnancy on Facebook. She explains, “I have wanted to feel what the ensuing two minutes of fanfare feels like.” It’s interesting what gives you pause after IF or loss, that you likely would have never considered beforehand.
Days of Grace has a brilliant plan to get herself through the quiet period that always follows the holidays. I thought it was such a great plan that I started looking at my calendar and wondering if it was worth planning a special treat for myself on the same day of every month, scheduling it in so I know it will happen.
Lastly, Mrs. Spit has a very moving post about her complicated relationship with her mother. I love how she explains that even as she does the things she lists in the post, she does them remembering who she is. She doesn’t forget herself in those moments, or the boundaries she has set. She writes, “My ethics bid me to go to her when she asked, because I could. My faith told me to walk 2 miles when 1 would have been enough.” Sometimes my instinct is to match my behaviour to the other person; this is a good reminder that we should all just be ourselves regardless of the other person’s behaviour.
The roundup to the Roundup: Square dancing! A lovely way to exit a funeral. Your friendly Creme de la Creme reminder. Your weekly backup nudge. And lots of great posts to read. So what did you find this week? Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between November 7th and 14th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week? Read the original open thread post here.
November 14, 2014 10 Comments
Josh asked me if I had ever been to Chad’s Trading Post because he had been listening to a This American Life about the Massachusetts’ restaurant created by the family and friends of Chad who had died before he could open the space. I brought up a different, nearby restaurant, Fire and Water, that was owned by Star Drooker that sounded similar. Josh told me it had been mentioned in the episode as well:
In Northampton, where I used to live there was a couple, and they own a cafe. And at one point, they had a child who lived 19 days. And after they disconnected him from life support, they built a shrine in their restaurant for him. Pictures of him connected to white tubes dotted the walls and beams. And his father, a musician, would perform a song at the cafe– weekly, as I remember it– comparing his son to a [? salmon ?] and to the messiah. And some of us, at first, though we knew it had to be hard, felt a little embarrassed for them. As though this tragedy had driven them a little crazy.
I think it’s hard for us to know exactly what to do or say when we see public mourning like this because we see it so rarely. The intensity of it is shocking. It’s too naked. And usually we think that if you hold onto someone after their death this way, you can’t live your own life. But clearly you can.
Fire and Water was one of my favourite places to eat and study while in graduate school. It made me embarrassed that the radio host expressed feeling embarrassed for them because the processing of their grief felt completely normal. Not naked or shocking. There were pictures of their son, Jesse, up in the cafe, and they spoke openly about their child; just as any parent would. In other words, Star and his wife acted like parents: a behaviour we’d never call shocking under other circumstances. But because their child was dead, the radio host expected them to stop behaving like a mother and father.
Not to single out the radio host: I’m sure there are other people who expect the same thing.
How long does a child have to live before a person is cemented in the role of parent? I mean, obviously this radio host didn’t believe 19 days made you a parent. Would a month? A year? Did the child have to reach kindergarten or high school graduation or middle age for his mother and father to get to keep their titles? I mean, it’s an odd thought — that we give and snatch away a title so easily.
I guess the This American Life episode pissed me off because even if it came to a good place with that last line of the transcript, there was still a layer of judgment over the words. Star and his wife mourned the loss of Jesse, but they also celebrated their child’s life in the same way that people do every single day: posting pictures and telling stories. It was a backdrop to my daily chai which felt no different from my classmates who talked about their kids. Star’s way of processing made more sense to me than locking up those feelings inside.
I can’t say that I felt honoured that Star shared his child’s life with me, any more than I feel honoured when I run into any parent and they start telling me about their kid. It just was. I say that as someone who experienced that cafe in my early twenties, who had not really experienced loss yet. All I can say is that the way they spoke and celebrated their child felt exactly like the way any other parent celebrates their child.
People with children who are alive don’t have a monopoly on kvelling rights. We all get a chance to talk about the people that touch our heart.
I guess I’m sensitive to this because how are our blogs — especially those like mine that discuss loss — any different from the cafe? I have no pictures to post, but I certainly have stories to tell. And I don’t discuss loss because I’ve been driven a little crazy. I discuss loss because it goes hand-in-hand with life. That it’s impossible to speak about life without acknowledging loss. We will all lose people we love. It would behoove us to be a little more careful in how we view another person’s process of trying to make sense of something that can feel senseless.
November 12, 2014 12 Comments
One of the assignments for my musical theater performance class in college was a duet. I got a really cute boy as my duet partner. I told him that we had to practice. A lot. We had to sing with his arms wrapped around me. We were assigned “It Takes Two” from Into the Woods. We were supposed to research our song as well as the play. He was the Baker. I was the Baker’s Wife.
I should probably add that we didn’t research the song. I had no clue what we were singing about.
Beyond witches and slippers and hoods,
Just the two of us-
Safe at home with our beautiful prize,
Just the few of us.
It takes trust.
It takes just
A bit more
And we’re done.
We want four,
We had none.
We’ve got three.
We need one.
It takes two.
I had a lot of trouble with the numbers in the song.
I had no clue what four, none, three, OR one referred to, though I could guess that my singing partner and I were the two.
It wasn’t until I read a blog post about Into the Woods this week that I got what the song was about. The Baker and his Wife were infertile. They needed four ingredients to lift the curse. They had none. By the time they sang this song, they had three of the ingredients in hand. They only needed one more. It would take two of them working together to lift the curse of infertility.
It could also be generously understood as wanting four kids (big family), having none, having three ingredients, only needing one kid to become a parent, and, again, it taking two. That Sondheim; so tricksie.
Like the author of that article, I was the infertile Baker’s Wife.
Would I have sang the song better if I had known what the hell I was singing about? I don’t know. I don’t think I really got what infertility was until I experienced infertility. I mean, yes, I could have understood it on an intellectual level, but I couldn’t have sung that song with meaning imbued into the words. I couldn’t have conveyed how it feels to be in that situation. Until I experienced being in that situation.
When I was 21 years old, I assumed I was fertile. I assumed that if I had unprotected sex, I would get pregnant. And I assumed that when the time came that I wanted to have a child, I would easily have a child.
That word infertility, I read it differently back then. In, as in inside, deep in, fecund. I was in it. I was fertile. That’s what in-fertility meant to me. It was the state of being in a fertile space, not “in” in the sense of without.
And then suddenly I couldn’t have a child and that Latin prefix “in” shifted into place. I wasn’t “in” anything. I wasn’t in motherhood, in pregnancy, or in a fertile body. I was infertile. I was without fertility.
I didn’t know it at the time when the boy wrapped his arms around me and we swayed together singing, but I couldn’t have carried a pregnancy to term any more at age 21 than I could at 27. I really was an infertile woman singing about being an infertile woman. While being totally clueless, too.
I’m not a huge movie musical person, but I’d like to see the movie of Into the Woods that’s coming out in December. Are you planning to see it?
November 11, 2014 18 Comments
Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.
Last week, the kids and I were talking, and via this very convoluted path which included a discussion of Keith Haring and the Pop Shop, I mentioned address books.
“What’s an address book?” the ChickieNob asked.
WTF? Do you realize that kids today don’t know what an address book is? Their only reference point is the contacts app on their parent’s phone. They have no clue that we used to have paper books — usually with a hard cover — that we bought in museum shops and filled with the address and telephone numbers of our friends and family. And if we wanted to make a phone call, we had to drag that sucker out and flip to the correct page using the gradational tabs on the side to jump to the correct place in the alphabet.
What else from your childhood will kids never know about?
Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored posts.
November 10, 2014 46 Comments