You have these long days of want, and then in a crack you didn’t even notice in your Day of Want #3027 a green thing is growing, lush and green and green and full of seedling sap. These are always the metaphors I pull out on days like these, when it felt like the day would never end and yet—after it did, I got to go out and get some wine and a hot dog ALL by myself. It sucks that this place has fruit flies, but I’m trying to ignore them.

I’ve stopped writing. Initially it was because I was depressed and sleep-deprived and perpetually anxious and often angry and ALWAYS with a baby crying for me. That child did not sleep. My first year as a mother has been the hardest—and worst—year of my life. I’m tempted to do that thing that people do, say something was “hard”…but that it was also “good,” like it was a deep tissue massage, or whatever. But nah. There are moments of my first year postpartum that I can’t forgive anyone for—myself, Marshall, God. And it only started being “good” for enough days in a row to call it “good” after that first year ended. Which was six months ago, and I still don’t know what to write, or how to write.

The wise among the council in my head will say, “There is no way to write, except by writing.” So, I will. Now that we finally moved into the new house, and are finally getting it clean and in order, and are able to buy a desk to sit at and a chair to sit in at the desk, —things will begin. I finally understand what people mean when they say that they have to write what they’re afraid to write.

The jerks among the council in my head constantly tell me that only pansies are bruised so easily, that my experience is common enough to be simply & completely boring, and many more helpful fucking things. But last night, I had to get out of bed and go to the living room to sit in the orange pallor of the streetlight outside and cry like an orphan, and I prayed a substantial prayer for the first time in many many months. And I didn’t feel the depths of empty space rebounding in my head, as I have so often, recently. I felt like a child who has a home to go to, though lost.

I started to go into the dark side of the present time, but then I went back and re-read the beginning of this post and remembered that I framed it in a hopeful light. Somewhat. And I can return to that. It’s become easy to return to that. The clearer, better-lit side of the present time has joys in it, and I experience them often. I usually spend the (****SOLITARY****) drive to work, after dropping the baby off, in a small time of gratitude.

My friend Megan and I were talking the other day, and she said something about the “confidence” that motherhood confers, and I realized I had it. This is another thing for which I’m grateful. Whatever else motherhood confers, and it confers so much, almost too much, it confers a certain kind of confidence. I don’t envy 19-year old girls their youthful bodies (although I do get irked when I think about how ugly I felt at 19, when I was perfectly gorgeous, as all 19-year old girls are); I don’t curl myself up self-consciously in public, wondering who is looking at me and how I can look better to them; I don’t spend much time wondering how to fix myself, or sand down my weird edges, anymore; I don’t anxiously tie myself to every tree, one after the other, in the Forest of Parenting Philosophies (or Marriage, Christian, or Friendship Philosophies, for that matter);—mostly, I just finally believe that I deserve to take up space on this planet, and that my body and spirit can take enormous storms and come away in one piece.

Which is a significant development for me, who spent a lot of time wondering, a couple years ago, if I would ever grow up. I’m not saying I have grown up. Has anyone? Truly? Every thinking person I know returns to holy mantras with the zeal of the dying, no matter how old they are, every few years.

“Make me the instrument of Your peace” has been an old favorite; current is “Enlighten my darkness.” And I know it will be.

 

 

So farm work today consisted of four hours of hand-weeding the strawberries (I think there’s 800 feet of them, to give you an idea) in dry, brick-hard dirt. It was blissful though, because I’m gaining myself back after a long time of (it feels like) having been (by necessity!) a different person. I didn’t have to talk to anyone or get interrupted the entire time. And I got to have pop tarts on the drive back to the Parent’s Day Out to pick up the baby. And then she had had a great day, better than Monday, which had at that time been her best day ever at the PDO. Apparently she didn’t cry ONCE today, and didn’t want to be held the whole time, and ran around and played hard all morning. So when I got her home, she nursed for a minute and then crashed. Which means—yes—I get to take a shower. Plenty of days this doesn’t happen. I’m buoyant with gratitude for basically everything that has happened today. Hence the cheery blog post title.

So now, in the ~15-30 minutes before she wakes up, I’m all achy and sore and clean and happy, and all I want to do is talk about this house we just bought. (((applause)))

Thanks. Thank you. Yes, we did it. Marshall made all the money, and I took care of all the baby, and no one died, and life goes on, and we suddenly get to mark a YUGE item off our Long-Term Goals list. Ok *my* Long-Term Goals list, because Marshall doesn’t do that kind of thing. But—I do. I do so much. Omg. This house, with its red brickness, cute shapeness, fireplaceness (such fireplaceness, wow), and whole acre of level, beautiful land ready for garden and chickens and three people from Chicago Avenue to come stand in it and take deep breaths—this house, be purchased.

The yard is going to be the focus of our spring and early summer. We’re hoping we can do a medium-sized kitchen renovation late summer or early fall, and get the chimneys swept, and maybe do something about our furniture, but yard (and refinishing the floors real quick) is current focus. Too large a thing to write about in this post, because it already has a long introduction and my main goal was really to write about paint colors, but more later.

So paint colors. The  T R E N D , besides using all caps and setting spaces between letters, is white. White white white white. It looks very cool in magazines, and even plenty of O N – T R E N D houses I’ve been in, but Marshall and I are kind of proud and kind of embarrassed (ok I’m talking about myself w/that last descriptor) that we need color. This house we’ve been renting, which has not been that bad but has at times been ridiculous and bad, is 100% beige walls and white trim. I love white trim, but beige does nothing for me. I guess the point of excessively neutral walls is to let objects be dominant, but we barely have any objects. I have chairs I’m going to recover, but obviously not for a while, and even our art is pretty understated. So once we realized that, the question became, well what colors then.

sage walls and cabinets
pale green walls with sage curtains
pale grass green living room
yellow room white trim
seafoam bedroom
teal bedroom

Photos not same size or organized in pleasing way but baby may wake up any minute, and just wanted to get everything I’m currently thinking about on the page. Greens are big for me, and I cannot for the life of me decide which green should be where. Marshall greatly desires yellow third bedroom/office. I mediumly desire teal bedroom to remind me of many happy days in my tiny teal bedroom at Grainger Avenue. And seafoam is Mary’s color.

 

Second week back at work. Working at the farm, arriving in the sweet dewy spring morning after dropping the baby off at the Parent’s Day Out. Even though she screamed when I left, I was bounding, fairly bounding back to the car so I could finish my coffee in a quiet place in my own head, driving 20 miles to the farm, NPR news, dry granola out of a box, stillness, I can think. What this has to do with postpartum, I don’t know, but I can think, now—I feel the hibernating brain awakening after not thinking real, what you would call “thoughts” for months and months. Significant amount of time spent in car thinking about how clear my head feels, little spent thinking about anything productive.

Arriving, my black canvas shoes immediately wet, sweeping through lush rye and Austrian pea cover crops on my way across the field, pulling up sections of electric fencing and sticking them back into the ground 50 yards away. I feel ungainly, a little unsure of myself, but what can I say. I’ve been waiting to come back for a year. I don’t really give too many shits about my lack of core strength, lack of hat and resulting sunburn, and my work shoes being $14 Target canvas slip ons instead of real farm shoes. I give so few shits you can’t even count them. I walk with buoyancy, take unusual pleasure in each various awkward difficult task. Even thinning the carrot seedlings, which is—to date—my least favorite farm job. But what is “least favorite” in March? Is any farm task difficult, in March? No, not one.

In other news, we close on our new house April 4th, and I’m deep in the jungles of paint. The whole house and all the baseboards have to be painted. Sage green or pale grass green? Dark teal or medium teal? There’s this trend to have white walls. I can’t. But what color should the kitchen be, and this is a real question? I gave Marshall the choice between a green-leaning teal and a very pale lilac for our bedroom walls, and he went with the lesser of two evils (teal). And the office/third bedroom is gonna be yellow. But that’s two rooms down, four to go. It’s a glorious problem to have, and I relish it.

Another glorious problem: planning the garden. If this blog has any regular readers, then they will read more about the garden. Likely in a lengthy sequence of posts dedicated to it and it only, and glowing with satisfaction. See how smug this paragraph is—ugh!

Mary still has red hair. In the sun, she burns like a little torch. She’s been trying to jump, yesterday and today. Has she been watching kids jump, somewhere? Where did she see that and think, “I bet I could do that”? Also she inexplicably knows the word “jump” and that that’s the word for what she’s trying to do!

I’m making a quilt. I’m going to get Dominique chicks in July.

My gynecological oncologist, white-haired old man who took me under his wing with my whole ovarian episode in 2008, just retired and referred his patients to this young guy whom I saw for the first time last week. Just disurbingly young, and—even more disturbing—really good looking. I was trying to describe how lame it was to have to wait in a hospital gown that opens in the back with no pants on for the Dr to come in, and then when he comes in you basically have to accept that God gives us humans no control over the least detail of our lives, and I realize my veiled language is making everything sound weirder than it was. It was just a pap smear and a pelvic exam. But does it have to be a stranger, who is a man, who is really young, and good looking? But anyway, I was trying to describe to Marshall how lame the whole experience was, in every way, and I realized that there was no male analogue. I was like, “Maybe imagine having a pretty young female Dr give you a colonoscopy?” But no. It’s still not the same.

I’m trying to write, even though I haven’t written in such a long time that when I DO write, stuff like this blog post comes out. But however jumbled and etc., it felt good to write. Getting back into it. New chapter.

 

Have decided to start writing again.

I thought the first sentence of the first thing I’ve written in months would be complete trash and I’d have to fight the urge to erase and agonize about the right opening sentence. But behold. I’ve decided to not quit, to completely not quit, and begin again. I’m getting a frisson of something, reading that line. I’ll leave it then.

This past year has been so monumental that whatever I was doing before it, I now see I must start over, and figure out how to do it in a different way. I have a fraction of the time I used to have, a fraction of the energy, a fraction of the confidence, and ten to the thirty-first power of the subject matter—most of which scares the shit out of me. Which for an artist is a completely great thing, I don’t mind telling you. But it’s one thing, doing excavation into one’s own past / psyche and keeping the results to oneself; it’s a different thing entirely, knowing that what you bring out has to go onto the public record.

And that’s what this year is going to be about: beginning to frame the memoir I’m going to write when I’m forty-five. I don’t know whether you can write a memoir before forty-five. I guess what I’m hoping to do is write essays about my first year of motherhood, really, and maybe some of them will make it into my memoirs. Or, maybe I’ll put together a dreadful, other-side-of-the-looking-glass companion to [insert dreamy nostalgic motherhood memoir title here]. I’m looking at you, Beth Ann Fennelly!

I had given up blogging, I think, because I’ve been shockingly lonely, and at the same time horribly afraid I would be found out. I could say that about several periods of my life, but this one has been the most difficult yet. Honestly I’ve been unhinged. I could write a long time about it. And I’m going to. But how do you start writing about the most confusing and difficult year of your life? Several of you could tell me. Or, rather, you could tell me how you did it, since no one can shape anyone else’s story for her/him. I feel like that Dutch kid with his finger in the dike. How do you ease that finger out.

I’m frequently paralyzed by fear that the world can’t sustain one more writer, especially a weepy young mother with shit for brains. But since I cry my eyes out and tear my soul (and my husband’s nerves) to shreds whenever I talk about quitting writing, I guess I have to keep writing, even if it’s tiny notes that I cubbyhole in manner of Emily Dickinson. And since I think I’m leaving facebook for a while, and am a complete hermit with shit for manners, I feel like I need at least the hint of social interaction that blogging confers. So, basically nevermind about cubbyholed notes in manner of Dickinson. But on the other hand, I have so few readers that I can make myself believe it’s a similar sort of thing. Which is good, see “at the same time horribly afraid” sentence above.

I heard Terry Gross interview a writer on Fresh Air a few weeks ago who said that, at a critical juncture of his writing life, he’d had to write like everyone he knew was dead. I pointed like a spaniel. That is what I have to do. That, I felt, was the secret to easing my finger out of the dike. And, that’s as far as I’ve gotten. But my anxiety about how the world reads me and my work, personal more than professional, is just deadening to my creative impulse … imma work on that.

N.B.: I’m going back to work at the farm next week, after fourteen months of stay-at-home-momming it. Also we close on our new house April 5th. The house is on an acre. We will have a fireplace, and an office with desks. I have a 20’x30′ garden sketched out. Also I’ve begun a new quilt, a “starflower” one, with the new sewing machine. I’ve only messed up the tension once. I’m so eager to go back to work that I had a complete meltdown today when Mary had a complete meltdown. I tried to make her nap for an hour, and when she still wouldn’t, we both were in tears. When I think of it now, I’m filled with sadness, and know no mercy. This is what I hope for 2016: that I will come to know a mercy large enough to cover me and my failures. I have hopes.

I’m not even going to go back and re-read previous blog posts, like I usually do, hoping to position the current entry in line with their trajectory—in some way. Today I’m feeling the emergence of a new time, in me. I’m starting to enjoy motherhood, and my constant anxiety is falling apart like clouds after storms, allowing me to really see my daughter. Really, really see her. There’s more to see now, too, and it’s a delight. The husband and I have gotten through the “too tired to argue” phase, I think, and are having productive and illuminating discussions, re-visiting our inner selves. I’m realizing I’ve been co-dependent again, bluggh. I could write a lot about my co-dependent tendencies. It’s a thing.

So, instead of revisiting (OR DELETING, LIKE I WANT TO, JOSH) old miserable, ragey posts, I’m just going to start fresh.

What better day to do that than today, the first day in a long time that I have 1) worn pants that fit well, which is much more important than most of you think, and 2) taken a break from baby-care to come to Java and work on poems. And I mean REALLY work. Last time I “worked on poems” I mostly just sat and vacillated between fear that my writing arm had atrophied & fallen off, never to grow back, and harsh self-castigation for letting my brain/spirit go COMPLETELY to ruin. So you can imagine that was 0% productive.

But this morning, during my first-thing-in-the-morning bathroom escape, I was checking the ol’ facebook, and an NPR article popped up about a Nobel laureate, Harold Kroto, discoverer of famous fullerenes, with the following quote: “If doing something with second-rate effort satisfies you, find something else to do—where only your best effort will satisfy you personally. That’s basically it.” Percolated for a while, and as I sit at the coffeeshop, immersing myself in work that I love, work that withers unless it sees my full attention, my best effort, I’m putting my life back together. Nah I’m not hoping to win the Nobel (j/k I hope to win the Nobel); but I can only thrive if I’m healthy enough to put my best effort & full self into good work.

Just now I put together a series of poems about “trying to conceive” that I wrote last year, and I think it’s ready to be read. The three postpartum poems are next in line to be sorted, and somehow organizing my thoughts about last year will give me permission to then start writing about this year, about raising a baby. I’m so curious to see what I’ll start dredging up. I know I’ll be surprised.

Postpartum, at least for me, has been so isolating: long days with marginal opportunity to speak out, to listen to myself. As I write, I become still and am able to hear myself, and discover my experience as if I were my own friend. Don’t know why this is so necessary for me, but it is, and having a baby has made that pretty clear.

I went to Care of the Earth a few days ago for a couple hours, and after about an hour of boxing up some of the enormous sweet potato harvest (1,600 lbs, this year, w.o.w.), Lalo came by to check in with me and we started talking. His English is a bit broken, but he was still able to intuit that I needed to hear good news, and he reminded me of some things, for like an hour. Things like “now is not forever,” that being humbled/grounded is the best opportunity to see God, that God has promised me things & that I have to open myself enough to look for gifts that God has given & will give. His baby is now two, so memories of babyhood, sleep deprivation, long days and long nights, are all still fresh for him. He’s on the other side, and that matters to me. It matters that their farm weathered the storm of a non-sleeping baby and that their good work is now seeing their best efforts, again.

So anyways, looking for gifts of God is happening today. First of which: getting to work on poems. Also, why do people plug earphones into their smartphones, and then take calls, holding the phone in front of their faces like it’s a big fragrant black cookie, looking around the room while they chat it up with their friend? I don’t even know about the subject-verb agreement there. Can you not just hold the phone to your ear like a normal person? What is the reason. I guess listening to music before taking the call, ? Whatever. Point is. I got to write today, because my husband has a lot of unused PTO, and is taking half days on Fridays for a while, so I can get out of the house and away from the baby, and write. Not work on our work-share hours at the farm, not work on leather projects, not go to physical therapy—just write.

I get an hour and a half at the coffeeshop today. I’m thinking in very short sentences because my baby don’t sleep, and I’m hanging out, waiting. Sleep deprivation is trying to be my friend, and some days I’m all like “C’mere big guy, let’s quit this stupid fighting and just have as much coffee as forever is possible.” But most days I’m more like [snnaaarl].

Little things, trying to accept the temporary present and beckon the mutable future. Like coming to the coffeeshop in the middle of a weekday to work on poems. I don’t really have anything to say, nothing anyone should read. I finally picked up Louise Erdrich’s The Blue Jay’s Dance, like I should have months ago, and while the sadness and desperation she felt postpartum resonated, for me, her long passages of abstract thought on previous owners of her house, the flora and fauna around her house, her feelings about cats, etc., were frustrating. She mentions postpartum rage and loneliness, evocatively, with genuine feeling & a light touch, but moves on after a few paragraphs so she can talk more about how she’s friends with her mailman. I don’t really get it. But then, she’s writing afterward. I’m during.

So, I think being kind of depressed and desperate, these past few weeks, and so dissatisfied with Erdrich’s book, is doing something in me. I’m crying a lot more, which I think is good, and generally feeling more. As in, a larger variety of emotions, rather than just rage and happiness.

Anyways, I’ll get back to living soon. In the meantime, I get to edit poems today…

I’m a writer. But I don’t write. So, I’m not a writer. My former self, a writer, just follows me around, these days, like a shadow with really sour breath. I can understand how people warp when they don’t do what they want to do, and become old, and resent others who do things. Peer evilly through their window blinds at the teenagers in the street, fervently desire a good enough reason to call someone and complain.

I realize I have a new baby and new mothers shouldn’t do or decide anything drastic in the midst of the first chaos-riddled months of family life. I also realize that God extends grace to me, for me to receive into myself, and then for me to learn to extend to myself—give-a-poor-person-a-fishing-pole-not-a-fish-type-deal.

I used to be good at that, and then a semi-relentless stream of shit has been hitting the fan, and I have turned out to be a less-than-cool person under the stress.

And—writing has been my fever-reducer of choice for so many years that my inability to write much these past eight months has OF COURSE been problematic. Duh.

Hearing an up-and-coming young novelist on NPR just now is maybe the problem. If she and her work could perish, I would feel much better. KIDDING

NOT KIDDING

Kidding. So, if I were given the opportunity to become a writer again, to really just sit down a couple of times a week and write my brains out, what would come out? Spiders, at first, elbowing around with missing legs, then ants, then harlequin beetles, then perhaps swallowtail caterpillars.

And then, after I got all reamed out, I would write a children’s book about Mary, and a long essay about Megan Allen, our farmer and my friend, and send it to Mary Jane’s Farm Magazine. 

Sleep. I get short windows (usually one night out of eight) of only 1-2 night wakings past midnight. (She always wakes 1-3 times between first going down and when she’ll settle in for a longer stretch of sleep.) When I get a good night of sleep, like two 3-4 hour stretches, I feel so positive and energized that it makes the following night of 3-5 night wakings a crushing reality check. I get so angry. I yell and punch things, sometimes while holding the baby in my other arm. Life feels so unfair. Sometimes it’s impossible to reclaim my peace, sanity, self.

I’m going to reach the end of these years—these cooped-up, sleep-deprived years, whether it’s one, two, or three—and have to grieve my inability to “enjoy” taking care of this (really wonderful) baby. Strangers always stop me to admire this (really wonderful) girl and instruct me very soberly to make sure I’m enjoying my current life. And it feels like half my days are spent gasping for breath in an idling car while the baby sleeps in the carseat (finally…sleeps…).

Yes, it changes the game to get breaks. I feel better when I get to be babyfree for a few hours, but with the husband working 9-630, and often nights and partial weekends, and my few free babysitting passes used up by sorta stressful things like going to physical therapy, or working my ass off in 93 degree heat trying (vainly) to catch up on our mountain of remaining CSA work-share hours—–…

Some mornings I want to blog all this pitiful stuff. Some mornings I want to stand in the center of the city and scream, or start running and never stop. But god, everybody hates a bad mother. hate a bad mother. I hate all the mental energy it takes not to hate this bang-up job I’m doing, here. I hate having become a ball of anger and anxiety, and missing my old self who knew how to take care.

I’m not asking for tips or sympathy, I just felt like the dark side of motherhood deserves a little more airtime, and since I’m not reading much about it, I should probably write some about it.

1. I’m getting between 5 & 7 hours of sleep a night. I’m cool with that for short stints, but uncool with it forever. That six hour average actually happened without any waking, two nights ago, and got me all excited, and then last night the baby was a jerk and this horrible FOREVER LONG thunderstorm was also a jerk and I don’t even know how much I slept—and don’t want to. Telling myself that I got more sleep than I really did kinda helps me for some reason.

2. Growing up continues to be a fucking nightmare. This just in!

3. Now that I’ve vented, I’ll be pleasant.

4. For instance, I was so pleased about same-sex marriage being legalized, and then confused and outraged by all the “Christian” anti-gay slander, cruel insults, and vindictive fear-mongering that the SCOTUS plow turned up. So, as a Christian, I figured now is a pretty good time to read up on homosexuality and Christian exegesis. It’s been enlightening thus far. Although I’m sure the social media furor will die down as quickly as it arose, and no one will ever ask me for my opinion on the subject.

5. I would give 2-3 fingers from my left hand to be able to go to a nearby beach with a full-time nanny. Unfortunately, this isn’t the kind of deal that happens in real life.

6. Ugh I said I would pleasant, didn’t I. One pleasant thing: the physical therapist said I was improving and she thought my wonky pelvis would be pretty much better in three weeks……. of twice-weekly expensive therapy. That really is pleasant news, despite that last little zinger, there.

7. I’m in the car relishing these few minutes of semi-solitude as the baby sleeps. When she wakes up, I’ll put her in the stroller and walk through Ijams and down the Will Skelton Greenway a while. Nature therapy is no joke. My dark little crabbed & spidery spirit needs it. I really am unfit to mix with the public, at this time. Channeling Anne Lamott’s bitter and frantic little inner monologues, currently. Leaves and cicadas will definitely help.

1. I went to a tennis clinic at Knoxville Racquet Club with sister-in-law Casey last week, and it was great. Put the baby in the club’s daycare and worked really hard for an hour, then sat down for the last half hour and caught my breath. Had run out of the house that morning without eating or drinking anything, so was starting to feel sick, too. But it was so great to feel free and active again, and to get off a couple of good shots—even if they were accidentally good. Part of my new life as a mother is gonna include planned physical activity, and I’m way more excited about learning tennis than trying to run/jog. I really want/need to start yoga again, too, but I don’t know how to do that with a baby who doesn’t nap reliably. I’ll let that balloon blow around on the ceiling for a while, catch it later…

2. Baby went down for the night earlier than ever, tonight. Which is why I’m blogging. For such a long time she went down so late, like anywhere from 10:30pm-1am. How would life feel if she were to start going down at 8:30 every day? I’m not getting my hopes up.

3. An old friend got married this weekend, one I had a falling-out with many years ago, but with whom I had, at one time, a lovely, rich, formative friendship, one I remember now with equal parts pain and gratitude. It’s very complicated, and I’ve spent most of the past few years not thinking or talking much about it. I think she was the first close friend I ever had. I wasn’t invited to the wedding, but I saw photos, and the feelings were thick and a little choking, and then they were easier, and sweet. I’m not who I was, no-one is who they were, and I’m trying to grow up out of my past. It’s hard. The past is never really past (Faulkner).

4. Marriage, when it’s not a pissing contest, is very sweet. Having a baby, feeling the resultant changes in our bodies from lack of sleep, lack of solitude, from hormone spikes/surges/troughs (me), and inner ear damage (him)—we feel sometimes like we’re crawling across no man’s land, dulls thuds of unexploded shells and bodies falling all around us. And then, like they always do, the clouds will move on over our country of marriage, bathing us in sun. Some nights, like tonight, we lie in bed after our baby has settled in her bed, thinking of her tiny breathing body lying in the dark near us, her body growing and her mind somewhere else in dreams, and feel befuddled—in a mystical way. Now that our days aren’t solely devoted to keeping her alive, we’re starting to be delighted by her personhood, her humanness. And we’re looking at each other again.

5. I haven’t listened to music or read poems in six months. With a few exceptions, that’s true. If you know me, you’ll probably be shocked. Maybe if you’ve had a baby, you won’t be. I’ve been semi-unstable for these past six months, and haven’t felt up to any extra emotional blows, which good music and good poetry nearly always deal. Yeah lots of good art is also essentially healing, but to be healed you have to be open, and I’ve been under construction since my girl was born. I’ll know more about that later, when I’ve come back around the mountain, but at least I can tell, now, that I’m moving forward from week to week, and feeling less and less anxiety and frustration and preoccupation. Space is opening back up in my mind, bit by bit. I read a book last week, what, and I’m listening to Mark Kozelek’s Little Drummer Boy album right now on the bed with Marshall, which I would never do on my own—this music rearranges my soul, and I really haven’t been brave enough for soul-rearranging at home alone with the baby. Yet. Moving forward, moving forward.

6. I was feeling lonely and pathetic yesterday, so while I was nursing the baby down for her “nap,” I tried to take a flattering selfie. I don’t know how people do it. I looked so weird in every single one, and I probably took in excess of a llottt. I felt really bad about that, after deleting all attempts, and came into the bedroom where Marshall was and threw myself down pitifully on the bed. Failing to take a flattering selfie after failing to feel valuable is just a dope slap. Salt in a wound. Lemon juice on a paper cut. Insult to injury. I know all the millenials will get me. Though all the millenials know how to take a good selfie, so maybe they won’t get me. I’m just between a rock and hard place, here.

7. And then I sighed the sigh of the suffering desert wastes, and tried to not need to look good to value myself. I am an adult after all.

8. And now I will take care of my one and only hardworking beautiful body by doing some stretches and breathing some conscious breaths. Holding twists, holding stretches, and lengthening my spine while I fill my body with stillness—I need it. Postpartum has invested seated twists with new meaning, for me: I can wring the anxiety and regret and disappointment from my entire body, twisting myself up like a wet dishtowel. I let the body instruct me, I learn from it how to be. Somehow the holy spirit is working here, I’m not sure exactly how.

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Oxford...Merton College Chapel adorned with Souls in Torment!

Noh Masks at Pitt Rivers Museum

Oxford...Christ Church grounds

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