Sunday, January 31, 2010

The History of Dieting

When I was a kid, I saw myself as a fat outsider. Looking back, I wasn't that fat. Now--I was never the skinniest kid on the playground, but I have pictures of myself running relay races, taking ballet classes, doing synchronized swimming competitively, and winning, and it certainly is a far cry from anything you see on one of those America's Childhood Obesity Epidemic documentaries that make me want to puke. Normally, i was a kid with a tummy. In junior high I was the same height I am now and 168 pounds. Overweight yes, but what I pictured was so awful. It was so humiliating that it was the last time in my life, before my husband, that I voluntarily told anyone my weight. I mean--sure, I had to tell the lady who weighed me in at weight watchers, and then at a different weight watchers, and then at the other one, but I was reluctant.

It was important to me to identify that a "fat" person is one wh ois always on the outside. I didn't have fat friends, and I ate by myself. I didn't really like fat people. I wasn't going to be in a group of people, pigging out and takling up how much we hated the skinnies. I wasn't going to have baking parties. I longed to be thin. I lived a longing with a zeal that I should have saved for something, anything more worthy. I despised myself for this one thing, and focused on how I was a "genius" otherwise...a trapped light, waiting to shine. I've seen my adolescent poetry. It's actually hard for me to imagine a fat person as lazy, as I have always been slightly obsessive about things like personal hygeine, and ambitious, intense and a little bit "type A". And of course, chubby.

I have lost and gained, but never lost enough to be verifiably thin. I have never been an ideal wieght, I guess. But I'll tell you what...the one thing that ever gave me any hope was overeaters Anonymous. I walked in--my life a big, pent up mess of self-hatred and ended up believing in the possibility not just of losing weight, but healing. I never got skinny in OA (at least I should say I haven't yet) but I felt beautiful for the first time.

Now, if you ask me, everyone should do a 12 step program. Everyine. It's all about believing there is something bigger than you, admitting you can't really control your life or the lives of others, figuring out the wrong stuff you do, making amends and letting it go, and then serving other people. I have no idea why this is limited to "addicts" I have yet to meet a person who wouldn't be a better person after this.

For years I have been a part of those rooms. Want to know why?

Because I don't believe in the phrase: "nothing tastes as good as thin feels."

Firstly, they're wrong because thin feels amazing at the beginning, and then it just feels normal. And there's something new to work on. The same resentments are there. It just feels normal. Can you honestly say that at the end of the worst day of your life it feels better to be thin than to drown yourself in ice cream? No way. Also, how can you make that point to someon who has never felt thin. Who may never feel thin. Who doesn't know what number would get you there.

But here's the answer. Are you listening?

Nothing tastes as good as peace feels.

I have known peace. I have my doubts if I will ever be thin. I have doubts if I will ever love my body, if I will ever be able to run fast or get in a bikini, or wear a size medium (or, God help me, small) but I do know that not running to food, not using it, exercising to make myself strong, and writing it all down, the resentments, the addiction, even the food itself, and then handing it off to a higher power that i believe can save me from it, has bruoght me peace.

A day when everything goes wrong actually feels pretty freaking good when you make peace with it, and admit that you're not in control. That day that you don't escape into "I feel fat" because it's a comfortable phrase to beat yourelf up's better than ice cream. I know you don't believe me, but it's true.

Just for today, I will live through this day only

and not set far-reaching goals and try to overcome all my problems at once.

I know I can do something for 24 hours that would overwhelm me if I thought I had to

keep it up for a lifetime.

Just for today, I will be happy.

Abraham Lincoln said, "most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be."

He was right. I will not dwell on thoughts that depress me.

I will chase them out of my mind and replace them with happy thoughts.

Just for today, I will adjust myself to what is.

I will face reality. I will correct those things that I can correct, and accept those I cannot.

Just for today I will do something positive to improve my health.

If I'm a smoker, I'll make an honest effort to quit.

If I'm overweight, i'll eat nothing I know to be fattening

I will walk around the block or use the stairs.

I'll force myelf to exercise in some way.

Just for today, i'll try not to improve anybody except myself.

We know so much more about nurition and how much exercise and sensible living

can extend life and make it more enjoyable.

So just for today, I'll take good care of my body so I can celebrate more happy new years.

Just for today, I will gather the courage to do what is right

and take the responsibility for my own actions.

Just for today, I will have a program.

I may not follow it exactly, but i will have it.

Thereby saving myself from two pests: hurry and indecision.

Just for today, I will not fight it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Is January Over Yet?

So, I'm depressed.

I don't think it's overwhelming, or debilitating, but it certainly bites. I believe I also have a urinary tract infection that I'm pretending I don't have to see a doctor for. So far I have taken 2 days of the antibiotic that hubby was prescribed earlier this year. He never took any, so I figure...maybe if I do the whole round it will work? So that makes me sluggish. And it burns when I pee.

I have barely been out this week. This morning, I went out to shovel ice off of the driveway. Partially I went out because it was sunny. Ten degrees, but sunny. So I went out, shovelled until it hurt, and then started to wonder if the baby was ok. She was napping inside. I tried the door. Oh, crap. Then I tried the front door. Then I realized I was locked out. Great. So I visited the neighbors, who were out, and finally ran across the street to the Baptist church. I suppose it's a good thing that i finally met our Baptist Church neighbors. They were nice, although wearing a suit on a Friday morning made the pastor look a little conservative to me. Still, he spent 10 minutes talking to me, and had observed that we were the family with the two little dogs and the baby.

Hubby was producing the noon show on tv, so instead he sent a cameraman to let me in. And that was it. Baby S was just crying a bit, certainly not inconsolable, and all the drama over.

I am dying to have a career in music again. ZBut right now I feel so bogged down with depression and fear and a sense that I am just wasted here, that I can't pursue it heavily. I keep saying to myself--all of those big gigs, all of those young artist programs, great auditions, conductors' compliments, and that led to nothing that sustains itself? No nice annual concert at some small symphony? No opera company that calls me for a comprimario role every few years? How did that never happen? What I thought was networking just seemed to be nothing close....and so I don't know if I can ever have a piece of this again, and it makes me want to choke back a huge puddle of tears.

I am almost 40 pounds down since a pregnancy where I only gained 30, just 5 months ago. But I feel like a big, fat, mushy failure because I am still 20 pounds heavier than I was in New York. Is there a point to looking at yourself like this? I worked out again, a full hour, after shovelling snow and ice for 45 minutes. I do it 5 times a week. But I still lie to myself, and when I'm worried, or inadequate, or scared, eat a big handful of something that shouldn't be eaten at all.

Ok, I'm depressing myself here. My beautiful blessing of a daughter is staring up at me, chewing on her fingers right now. I have just nursed her and am sitting topless in the living room, the room I spent an enormous amount of time dusting, vaccuuming, sweeping, organizing and cleaning and then returned to to find our dog had peed in the middle of the carpet. Again, does anyone want a pomeranian? She's a real peach.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sunny Days that are Colder than Hell

I felt like I should win stay-at-home-mom of the year award today, after doing 3 loads of laundry, changing the sheets and bringing hubby some Subway sandwiches to work--returning cans and using that cash to buy dog food, AND spending a whole hour digging through layers of ice on our driveway. I have managed to reveal the cement on more than half of the driveway at this point.

Let's talk about winter.

The midwest takes the prize for winter. I really mean this. For all of you who have asked me, "New York is cold, isn't it?" The answer is no. I mean--maybe Buffalo is terribly cold, I have no idea. But NYC, no. NO NO NO. Here are some things I have experienced for the first time in the midwest:
1. Shovelling snow, only to find ice underneath, and trying to crack through the ice with various tools, before returning to the house to take ibuprofen and try to regain the feeling in my face.

2. Insulating. Changing the temperature of the furnace several times a day to save money and yet keep from freezing to death.

3. Spending 30 minutes bundling a baby, only to then put a blanket over her and run her carseat out to the car. Wishing I could put her in a dress!

4. Forgetting what green looks like.

5. Feeling the snot freeze into icicles inside my nose.

6. Being afraid to drive after watching people slide through intersections, over lanes, and into ditches.

7. Feeling grateful when the sun comes out--even though, like today, it's 5 degrees outside.

8. Finally being willing to put on all the accoutrement of winter....the hat, the gloves, the socks, the big puffy coat, the scarf. I am not yet at long johns...which my husband has worn almost every day in January.

9. Thinking of 32 as "warm".

10. Learning that days when it snows actually feel warmer than the painful, dry, cold days. Of course, I'm not sure what's worse. I think "freezing rain" might be among them.

11. Still trying to figure out the difference between "slush", "freezing rain", and "sleet".

12. Leaving something outside for five minutes (including electronics) to discover they've frozen.

I also wanted to add that although I am not thinking of many right this moment, there are TONS of terms I've had to learn from my "furnace" vs. "heater" and ....darnit, what's that thing our neighbor Betty uses to break the ice on her driveway? An ice hub? I don't know...something like that.

I do want to mention that my first winter in NYC was my first "winter" anywhere. I was so cold. I wore little jackets, I had no boots. I didn't know how to look where I was walking. The first time (and I mean first of many) I fell was walking down a sidewalk in my area. I was walking along, in my work clothes, and my feet completely swept out from under me on a piece of ice that looked sidewalk. Cartoon-like, my feet went up into the air and I came down on my ample butt. I sat on the ground, wanting to cry, the pain coming up from my tush slowly. And as I started to get up, two women walked past me. An older and a younger woman. The older looked at me and said to the younger, " better be careful here, there's a lot of ice." and neither of them tried to help me up.

It was the beginning of my dislike of winter.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's a New Dawn, It's a New Day

Baby S at the Dr's, a fever of 102.5....

I woke up at 8:30 this morning with the husband's alarm (today, Wednesday, is his "Monday"). I think it went off 3 times with him pushing snooze but I honestly don't remember. I do know I spent the night amazed that Baby S only got up 2 times (after 1 am--I don't really count waking up before then, since hubby isn't in bed yet). She ate voraciously, and it was the first night in three that I didn't leak breastmilk all over the bed (thank goodness). At 8:30 I stumbled into the kitchen, packed lunch for hubby (we're at slim pickings until he gets paid on Friday, so lunch was not as satisfying to pack as normal), and I fell back into bed. I think I peed somewhere in that process. I also was holding the baby the whole time, as she was up.

The next time I saw daylight it was 11:30. Max was barking at something--probably something as benign as the neighbor shovelling snow or our shovel hitting against the side of the house. Then he started running into the room and barking at me, so I assumed the sleep was over.

Three days of a sick baby and the house looks like we had a frat party here. No laundry has been done, the bathroom is atrocious, I can't find the kitchen, and Ginger (our pomeranian) has ripped up a thousand tissues in every room she could find them. Baby S is kind of cheerful this "morning"...with a temp of about 100, so it's on it's way down, it seems. She's sitting on my lap, laughing at a stuffed purple gorilla and eating her bib. Unfortunately, housework will probably have to be done with her in the frontpack....she is still ultra-cuddly from being sick.

I dreamed last night that I was back in AZ, or CA or was hard to tell, but it was one of the places I'd lived. I introduced my baby as "half-Korean" which confused both me and everyone in the dream. Then I went to a party at my old friend Heather's house. At her house, her son had a special play room with an enormous trick mirror. When their dog ran past it it appeared to be a huge monster, 30 feet tall, and I forgot about this, so when I was alone in the room the dog ran in, scaring me half to death. When I ran out into the living room I realized I'd forgotten Baby S at Target....and was so mortified that I'd lost her forever. It was so strange, and maybe a culmination of looking at pictures of Heather's son on facebook, hearing the dogs bark and the anxiety of a sick baby? I'm not sure but I woke up really grateful to see her lying next to me, sleeping in on the big bed, in dad's spot.

I am actually looking forward to cleaning today.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Is It Monday in Detroit?

I guess Monday has come and gone. It certainly was a bit easier having the hubby here for baby duty today, but she's still a full-time job, and we accomplished little else besides eating meals and exercising today. I even had to cancel my "mystery shop" for a little extra cash.

I never wrote about visiting the assisted living center on Friday. We had lunch with an older woman who was enthralled by Baby S, as well as the other ladies around us. It was awkward in that anything is the first time you do it. I suppose the strangest part was realizing that she would ask how old the baby was every few minutes and react as if she'd just heard that the first time.
"How old is the baby?"
(some hesitation from me) "Five months"
"Ohh!!" (with a big smile) "What a great age!"
then a few bites of shrimp followed by
"How old is she?"
"Who?" I ask, the first time or two, because I haven't picked up on the frequency yet.
The baby?"
"Oh, she's five months"
"Ohhh, that's just perfect."

I certainly don't mind answering the question often. Just took a second to realize she was really asking it again. There was also some confusion in terms of whether we were in the past or present. Sometimes she seemed to indicate we were in Detroit at moments, which we were not. Or I wasn't.

Baby S was not really ready to entertain. She was a little fussy, and eventually got very tired and fell asleep in my hands. This did not matter, though, she was a big hit.

The highlight for me was talking to a man who had been to the Amato Opera (a tiny company in NYC that still exists) 50 years ago. His memory of it was perfect, and delightful. It was fun to "talk opera" and I reallly look forward to seeing him again. (He didn't seem to care too much about the baby).

She was feeling a little worse today, but I'm hoping for a nice recovery tomorrow. At least, that's the prayer. I'm calling her Demi Moore because she's got the same raspy voice. It seems so strange to hear a baby lose her voice. When she squeals with delight it sounds like air escaping. She cries after coughing, but she adores her baby Tylenol regimen. She aggressively pulls the dropper from my hand, and her little tongue goes crazy. I think she loves the grape flavor. It's only her 2nd flavor since breastmilk, so I would guess it's probably exciting.

My husband has just turned on a show with guys shooting stuff just to see what will happen. I think I may go lay down.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cough Cough

So the last two days got a little swept away by a sick baby who needed to be held a lot. As my mother says, staying at home with a baby who is healthy is really a part-time job...allowing you to be also a part-time housekeeper, and part-time secretary, part-time bill payer, errand runner, dog feeder, and maybe also giving yourself time to get dressed and exercise. But a sick baby is a full time job. The moments in between trying to maker her happy and rocking her back to sleep, and nursing her mostly find me staring up at the sky in a daze...wondering where the time went.

It has also given me WAYYYY too much time for introspection, inbetween doing dishes and eating carrot sticks and sugar free fudgsicles. (Every time I eat one of these I am reminded of this man who unleashed a lecture on me in line at a store once in California. He was a good 40 years older than I am, at least that's how I remember it, and skinny. I had just lost 30 pounds and he was lecturing me on how "unhealthy" my one treat was. Did he know it was my one treat? no. Did it matter? Oh yeah, for weeks I dreamed of beating him to a pulp as I explained blow by blow how hard it was to be a girl with a lifelong weight problem and eating disorder. Bastard.) What was I saying? Oh yeah, so introspection...

Actually, I found a lot of the days spent thinking of the ways in which motherhood has changed me. I am surprised at how sad I feel for the baby, when she doesn't know why being sick is awful, but it is. I watched Extreme Makeover home edition while rocking her and bawled my eyes out. I also found myself realizing how much I just want to have a judge and jury listen to the stories of my sister. I guess I need some "justification" or for someone to tell me how right I was until I believe it. I was trying to compare in my head the friends of mine who were atheists and who were faith-driven, and come up with simple answers, though there really aren't any.

I really want to be a bit busier. After two days in my sick igloo, my arms and back ACHING from scraping ice after two days of working out my arms (jeez, I wish I'd done that in the opposite order), I feel like I would give my right arm to be dressed up in an 18th century costume trying to make the buried middle harmony come out on stage in an italian quartet. That really does make all the silly voices stop.

She is sleeping now, at 1 am, but who knows how long this will last. I'm afraid to sleep, that I may enjoy it too much. Who knows.

There is a plan for me...there is a road...there is a plan....are christians allowed to have mantras?

Friday, January 22, 2010


This will probably be the first of two posts today. I am not really myself today, but I am minutes from packing myself and a (sleeping, clueless) baby S into the car to go visit a nursing home and spend time with some people who are suffering with alzheimers/dementia. I am a bit nervous about the whole thing, as I have no idea how to be entertaining, and I'm not sure who I'm going to meet or what they'll be like.

I do know that if I were lonely, and struggling to remember the simplest thing, I would want a visit from a chatty woman and her very cute baby! I know that while I am able to give a maximum of about five bucks to Haiti because we are barely squeaking by our own bills, I can give time to people who are needing something. And I am really looking forward to that.

It comes at a good time, as my sister has just told the rest of my family that she doesn't ever want to meet my baby. After 35 years of this, maybe I should be used to this? But it's worse than it's been, if I'm honest with myself, and I had a very rough night dealing with the pain of it. I suppose even worse is dealing with the pain that she hasn't realized yet that she needs help, and so this is just the same abusive behavior I've always dealt with from her. And so the dance continues, with her at the center and the rest of us having real relationships around it, while she refuses to forgive, continues to resent, and thinks of those things as power.

I am drinking coffee, powering up, as it were, and the baby is sleeping on my leg. Unfortunately last night she fell asleep at 8:30, and then was up at 1:00am. I was able to get her back down, but I really, ideally, like her to go to bed around 10pm. I'm still working on that.

I am arranging a hymn to sing in church in a few weeks. I'm trying to go "old school". Interestingly, I'm singing on my 36th birthday, which I like. And so I went to sleep reviewing again my feelings about my sister with the strains of "I surrender all" behind it. It was strange, like a montage from a sad movie. It left me with an oddly empty feeling this morning. So I think what I need more than anything is to give out some of myself and hopefully get a little filled up again.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

White is Not My Favorite Color

Baby S, having just flipped, gives me a smile from the edge of the pack 'n play.

When I was a kid, I thought snow was exotic. As a child in Phoenix, I watched movies with people standing in a field of snowflakes, and sledding, and drinking hot cocoa, and thought that was utterly romantic.

This week we have had freezing fog (what is that??), freezing rain (this is where rain comes down in water form, but turns to ice somewhere on the way down, and by the time it hits the ground it sounds like the familiar "tap tap tap" of hail, as it builds up sheets of ice on the ground. We are living on a skating rink. No one is going out. Schools are closed, and if you're lucky--you've got a project to do at home or you're eager to spend time with a loved one. If you're me, the little things which break up a long monotonous day with the baby and the two dogs are now risking your life on the road. So I'm just cleaning and cleaning, and practicing the piano, and in between dealing with a baby who is very eager to be entertained these days.

We have reached a new milestone. Baby S has spent two nights in her nursery! This is amazing, as for the first four months she slept in the bassinet next to our bed, and then occasionally in our bed. She has yet to sleep longer than a five hour block, but these 5 hour blocks are pretty regular, getting to feel better and better. Last night she slept from 9:30 to 2:30 (about the time my husband came to bed) and then again until 7am, and then from 7 to 9:00 am. It's really not bad at all! That 9:30-10:00 bedtime is getting more and more "usual".

The problem with this whole situation is that her room, which is next to ours, is a place that our 2 year old dog likes to sneak into and pee. ESPECIALLY in winter. So we had solved the problem by closing the door. When we close the nursery door, it gets too hot in there. So...we open the door, and I work hard to barricade it with a big box of my husband's tools. THen in the middle of the night, with no contacts on, I practically kill myself trying to get over that freaking barricade. After a night of those gymnastics, I walked in the room in the morning and discovered myself standing in a puddle of pee. Does anyone want a dog?

So I guess we will be caging the dog at night. I was realllly hoping by now we would have her adequately trained. I feel like we have failed the dog somehow, and it's killing me.

Also, having the baby sleep in another room unfortunately means me taking 2 "panic trips" where I think I've heard something on the monitor and go running in to check on her, only to find her peacefully sleeping. She flips herself over with some expertise now, so who knows what position she'll be in.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sending Back the Salad


Hubby and I went to a restaurant today for lunch. I wanted something fattening, and heard myself order a chopped salad. It looked good! Then the salad came and it wasn't chopped. They said it had cucumbers and there were none. There was about a teaspoon of tomatoes on it. And I felt like crying. Does this seem like an appropriate reaction to you? Hubby said, "since when are you chicken to send back food that's wrong?" So I worked up the strength to call the waitress back over and ask that they chop the salad and add some vegetable to replace the cucumber. Perhaps mushrooms? I'm not picky, just try harder to make the salad like what you described...I don't really have 7 bucks to burn on something that isn't kind of decent.

In the end the salad was good. I lived. I am wearing my emotions awfully close to the surface lately. I miss big city food. I want fresh chinese gai lan steamed with plum sauce and a whole steamed fish with black bean sauce. I want homemade kimchee soup and barbecue. I want wheatless pizza with fresh spinach. I would like to go to the place that serves amazingly fresh quiche and house wine and souffle that makes your toes curl. I wouldn't mind just getting a plate of dominican food right now. I think it would be fun to wait for an hour in the stairwell of what looks like a hole in the ground to sit at a table with 4 people I don't know and get noodles that taste like crack they're so good.

This had a lot of iceberg lettuce in it. *sigh* Iowa.

I also tested to be a part-time census taker today. Hmmm. The test was not simple (although the hardest test I've ever taken was to work as a secretary in a police station in Missouri--that made the SATs look ridiculously easy). I am pretty sure I got 100 per cent, although I was zooming off of coffee and the fact that the baby slept for nine hours (with interruptions, but hey! 9 hours!!!) . I woke up saying, "I am so proud of you baby!!!!" This was after I had prayed and searched the internet for "ways to make your baby sleep longer"....

Hubby took great care of her today. His confidence is growing and she gives back to him--smiles and swats in the face and crazy coos. It's nice to watch. He told me two days ago that he was the "oldest son of an oldest son of an oldest son". This was out of the blue. So I guess we'll be having another baby? He can be surprising.

And now I should be going to case the 9 hours was a fluke.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Wee One and the Wii One

So tomorrow I go in to take a test to be a part-time census taker, since I have no idea how we will continue without a little extra income. My at-home part time job has lost so many clients that it's only about $90 a month, instead of the previous $400, a fairly unexpected loss, and a big bummer.

I look forward to the test, as it makes me feel like a grown-up. I also look forward to doing some volunteer time with some (much) older people who have some dimentia, just hangin' out with them. It makes me nervous (just nervous because it's new people) but I am really looking forward to doing it. I think this is how service in general should feel--like it stretches you but it's something you're eager to do, not some painful obligation. I also think as soon as you're willing, the right stuff falls into your lap, at least it seems to in my life.

Yesterday I was in a bad place. I fought with hubby, I was grumpy, tired, and I basically binged on sugar. Today was better. I ate well, I exercised with the wii for almost an hour--it is actually pretty enjoyable in the dead of winter. I would prefer with all of my might to be outside, but since the high was 35, and I've got a lil' baby, it wasn't happening. I also enjoy that my hubby will use the wii because it's a "video game" opposed to my workout videos. He's already dropped a few pounds (while still eating pizza. I hate men.)

In my mind is the fact that at some point I have to talk to the creditor who is collecting that ridiculous charge for "damage" to our former apartment. Since I can't say, "ok here's what I have, let's settle..." I have no idea what to say. I am assuming the $5.42 in my account is not what they're looking for. Oddly, in the past two days I feel inundated with the subject of "creditors". I saw a movie about debt, heard a sermon about debt, and have this thing looming. Big, bad and ugly.

I also had a fun moment today--I put Baby S in her new pack 'n pay sleeper at 10pm. She was mostly asleep. Then a few minutes later I saw her chubby little arm reach up and play with the mobile. I heard her fuss so I walked over and gave her a pacifier, and then noticed 10 minutes later that she had turned over onto her side/belly to sleep. It made her seem so big, that she could choose her own sleep position! Also, much appreciated to not have had to guide her to sleepland.

And now I should plan my own trip.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Abundant Life

I have asked myself this question since I was about 14. What does it mean to live life abundantly? Fully?

I suppose I am still "trophy minded"....racking up successes in my head like I am desperately trying to fill some sort of shopping list. Do I have a career that I am proud of? A good family life? Bills paid? Have I done whatever work I need to do?

So those things are fine. THere is nothing wrong with those things. But you can have all of those without having a full life. Sometimes I am amazed at how true I have seen this play out in other people.

I remember hearing a guy talk, years ago, about "knowing your destiny". I wrote it down, I listened intently. I was CONVINCED that somehow fulfilling a destiny would make things perfect, would feel full....and he said that part of knowing your destiny was not being jealous of someone else's road. After all, your road is yours! For most of us, this road is unpredictable. It's more than bumpy. It's got potholes that take 10 years to climb out of. Or 20. But I notice in my own life, that when I stop trusting that I am on the road uniquely made for me, I am jealous.

I read yesterday that someone I used to know has taught their baby (a few days older than mine) how to do a sign! And suddenly I find myself desperately trying to teach baby S some sign language. Are you kidding me? Let's just follow our own road, shall we Baby S?

And on the other heart over the last few years has felt so jealous of others' singing careers--but my life has been rich. What I have realized is that this type of distraction is the very thing that keeps you from living abundantly!

So here's what I think today (although I count on these to change). How I am living this moment, baby in my lap trying to type, old pajamas on, sitting on the sheets we need to change, I can live abundantly. I can serve, I can pray, I can see others the way God sees them, I can find ways to live that I'm proud of. I can love not just those who are "mine" but those who aren't. And that is a rare abundance.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sweet, Precious Sleep

You have no idea how much you need sleep until you can't get enough. Is that too obvious of a statement? I consider myself VERY fortunate that I'm a good sleeper. I often fall asleep moments after my head hits the pillow. I don't spend nights tossing, turning. I love my sleep.

During pregnancy, sleep was horrible. The first half was filled with hormone-fueled nightmares. I had the crrrraziest dreams while pregnant. They involved monsters, accidents, dog attacks, my husband turning into various animals and worse. Some were just strange, not scary, but still left me wondering what hit me. At the end of pregnancy, my body was so swollen nothing worked. I had to sleep on my side to avoid the PIH (pregnancy-induced hypertension) which made the other side go numb. My back hurt. My hands had carpal tunnel syndrome, which meant sitting on the side of the bed in the middle of the night crying, while my fingers burned and I hung them down at my sides, because increasing the blood flow to them was the only thing that reduced pain. Ugh. Remembering it makes me want to cry all over again.

Then the baby came! As soon as the drugs were out of my system after the baby (about 48 hours) my sleep was awesome. I could sleep on my back, and the blood flowed, and the carpal tunnel pain was almost instantly gone. Ahhhhh. So even though the baby had to be fed every 90 minutes, at least those 90 minutes were filled with BLESSED sleep!

So now--each night is a question. Will she sleep? Will she get up 4 times? At 4 months, it's a gamble. And if i haven't prepared--haven't napped, haven't made myself go to bed at 10, when she does, even though hubby is in the living room and I want to hang out with him, I am in big trouble.

I am sure my husband knows it wasn't a good night when he comes out to the living room to get ready for work and the baby and I are lying on the couch--me asleep, her awake, and my breast popping out of my shirt, as I beg her to nurse and stop whining. That was this morning.

Today found me with three days of only about 6 hours a night. (I always get a good 5 hour start from her, but after that is the question). That is not enough for me, and when annoying things happened (problems with my cell phone company, dealing with that stupid apartment debt) I was PISSED. I had no self control. I ate bread, and sugar, and all sorts of bad stuff. And then just stopped. And thought, "ok, you need to sleep". Baby S and I took a 2 hour nap and I woke up refreshed! I had a nice cup of coffee and a good evening with my husband, hardly any crying at all.

Tomorrow is Saturday, when hubby goes to work at 1:30, so we all have some 'family time' in the morning. Perhaps we'll lounge in our pajamas, work out with the wii and eat eggs. Ahhh, sounds nice.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Gratitude and Hope and then some Lecturing

Here's my 32 year old photo. Back when my sister would let me put my arm around her.

Ok, so I decided to title this writing before writing, because I have a few thoughts swirling around in my head, and I'm not sure what to write about.

I did a lot of laundry today, and I'm going to try to get a new social security card tomorrow morning. I prayed for Haiti, and tried to plan how we can give some nominal amount--since we had to do our grocery shopping with a gift card I got for doing a survey tonight. We've got 5 bucks in the bank.

But I guess I called this writing gratitude and hope because with a little perspective, we've got 5 bucks! We're getting paid tomorrow, so we made it! And so many don't have five bucks. I remember the Peruvian boys looking at me like I was crazy for needing hot water. After all, a cold shower in the winter is refreshing (eek!)

So I am remembering all the things I have to be grateful for...and to be hopeful for. It was a hard day--I had to talk to a pushy creditor about the money that apartment is charging us. Ugh. Makes me tense to think about it. And we had technical problems. And Baby S was not in the mood to nap at all. YAWN. Yeah, it hurts a little.

So just some lecturing at the end of this. Why are we so obsessed with things being cool? I'm so annoyed by it. I am so tired of that world of "cool". We decide certain races are "cool", certain religions are "cool".. . foods....exercises. I think I'm watching too much tv because I'm getting REALLY annoyed by it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mother Comfort

I find myself in times of trouble

Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

I think of this as a pseudo-religious statement. After all, I don't really think of the Beatles as classic catholics. But I find this to be a profound part of being a mother. You are instilled with the ability to comfort this person in a way you didn't think you could. It's reciprocal (which I think is why motherhood changes people) in that you comfort the child, with hardly an effort, and they comfort you in return.

When the baby is crying there are various ways to solve it. Feed her. Put her to sleep. Burp her. Etc. But there is an unspeakable way to solve the crying. Mother comfort. Only the mom can do it. When Baby S gets a shot, I comfort her. When she is scared, I hold her and it goes away. And I have no idea why. Except that every ounce of me wants her to be happy. After all, it's my job to bring her comfort. And I like the job.

It makes me think of my relationship with my mother. When I was in college, in my first year, I was still so young. A full day's drive from home at 17 and still getting used to being responsible, I made huge mistakes. One of them happened in my first semester. I was travelling on a choir trip, and I forgot what time we were leaving. So I showed up an hour late. The bus was gone, and I missed the trip. I felt so guilty, like such a failure. My heart was so heavy and I cried myself back to my dorm room. Without hesitating, I called my mom sobbing at what a loser I was. And she said, "you know what? I forgive you. I forgive you for messing up." speaking words of wisdom, let it be And it wasn't her job to forgive me. Mother comfort washed over me like a big warm wave of chicken soup, and made me feel like I could go on. And I suppose Baby S feels this when I pick her up because she's hungry, scared, lonely, tired.

There is also something to and I have argued so many times, with my wishing she could listen, without suggesting, solving, advising. I see it...the desire is still there for her to make her daughters' hurt go away. But what works best is the unspeakable. It's the divine gift of holding your child's hand and saying, 'I can't solve this problem either. But I believe in you, and that God is bigger than both of us.' It still comforts me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mundane Days in Winter

It's a quiet Tuesday afternoon, and my husband and I are watching our cracked front door slowly fall away. We put up a storm door today (the one that was, fortunately, in the garage) which is phase V of "How to better heat the house". Phases I-IV involved buying an expensive space heater, sealing the basement windows, insulating the crawl space under the living room, and finding all of the vents that we had accidentally covered up (and covering those we don't need). So...the good news is we are WARM. The rest of the news will come when that bill hits us....soon....

We accidentally left a Jimmy John's sandwich in the diaper bag last night. Long story, but now the diaper bag smells like wipes and deli meat.

My weight is still going down, though I have eaten small amounts of sugar a few times this week. I don't like that. The reduction of sugar is major, but I know this road, that eventually finds you arse up in a big pile of cookies. I am praying for strength to re-commit before that happens.

We took the baby to a movie yesterday. We should not have chosen Avatar, which is 3 hours long and occasionally scary. And also requires dark glasses. I watched about 1/3 of it from the side of the theater, standing up, holding and rocking her as she went in and out of sleep. I also lost any inhibitions and occasionally shoved my breast in her mouth while standing up, just hoping no one would walk around the corner--as there was no way of covering up. Thankfully the 3 others in the theater (it was a 1;30 showing, on purpose) did not have to get up to pee.

And those are my updates. Baby S and I went outside to remove icicles today, and realized we are not tall enough. But we did take a picture of "La Glace Grande" before removing it. It was huge! Five minutes later she was pretty mad at me for making her go outside. So picky!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Vaccinations are a Pain in the Leg

Baby S got her 4 month vaccinations this week.

Before S was born, I did a lot of reading on the concerns over vaccinations. It's a tough thing on the internet, to look at anything which could potentially involve reading intimate, tragic, heart-wrenching stories about parents wailing over their healthy babies and rushing them to the ER or discovering them dead. Somehow, you have to be strong enough to not be struck with paralyzing fear, but instead consider what the right choices are. Whew. Hard to even write.

So--it seemed the smartest advice was to space out the vaccinations. And the first set I spaced out. Then the second set happened in a week where cars were skidding to their deaths on icy roads--and I decided that was the greater danger. So the second set of shots we did all at once.

I don't worry too much about the pain. I hate the look on her face, but I know moments later she can be smiling at me, flirty & happy. It's not that pain I worry about with her.

The day she got her shots she immediately started doing this "moaning cry." I was at home, wishing I'd picked up some baby Tylenol. I couldn't drag her out in the -15 degree weather while she's moaning and crying. She slept almost all day, thank goodness, with me constantly checking her to see if she was still breathing. It's those kinds of things that make you a little embarassed about "obsesive mothering". Like when I go through an extensive plan for "where I'll hide the baby in the case a killer breaks into the house" after watching Law & Order.

I am more prone to panic, if that were possible. So I am really trying to commit to praying more often. After all, nothing gives me better perspective than the admission that some things are not in my hands. God give me the serenity to accept the things I can't change.

And I'll end this with an admission that I still don't know...I think it's logical that vaccines hold some dangers. Why wouldn't injecting babies with something foreign cause a risk to them? Then again, especially after pregnancy, I am not prone to believing doctors, who have a hard time seeing people as individuals and not statistics. I also think I'd feel like an idiot when an outbreak of something with a death rate of 1 in 20 suddenly arrived in Cedar Rapids, and my child hadn't been vaccinated for it.

She is learning to go to sleep for a nap by herself. We lay her down in the pack 'n play in the living room and put a blanket on her, and she's out in minutes. It's a miracle. She seems so old!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My Week in Football

the view from our driveway

Just kidding, I have no intention of writing about football, though we have watched, 3, count 'em, 3 bowl games this week. This, I believe, doubles the amount of bowl games I have watched in my life.

I have a lot of questions tonight. First, I want to know if having a baby makes your reactions to tragic things (movies, news stories, etc) more intense. I feel like I can't seem to get things out of my head. I hear a tragic story and I dwell on it, it's painful, I can barely even watch Law & Order. It's strange.

Another question is, am I a happy person? I think I'm happy, so I figure I must be happy. But I know my husband occasionally says I find things to 'be depressed about'. I guess I see that as just working through the things which make me upset, frustrated, sad....but then the next morning I wake up happy. Is that strange?

Iowa is so awful right now. It hasn't been over 20 degrees in weeks. It's either insanely, painfully cold, or it snows. So on the moment when you go..."oh good, it's finally a little warmer...." you are standing in the snow. Shovelling. Freezing. Shovelling.

This is a place you only move for profound ambition. witness relocation. Two out of three.

I moved to NYC out of ambition, and here out of love.

But my last question is...when is Spring?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


The first time I thought I'd like to be married I was as an apprentice at the Santa Fe Opera. I was 28. Before that, I wanted a puppy and sometimes a boyfriend. I suppose that means I'm a late bloomer, right?

That was 2002, which started a whirlwind of looking for "Mr. Right" and making a bunch of awful mistakes which make me wince when I think about them. I cried a lot. I lost faith in lots of things. It ended well :)

So back to Santa Fe. In case you don't know, getting into the Santa Fe Opera apprentice program is an astounding game of numbers. 800 applications, 36 accepted, and I was the only one with a role. Still spins my head, and I spent the whole time worried that I'd never know that kind of thrill again--7 years later, I still haven't. I have watched so many of these singers move on to astounding careers. We were the best and the brightest. The "it" group that I never felt a part of socially, even though I loved my time there.

A bunch of them were married--and I started to think, "I want a partner". And that thought became bigger with each passing gig.

Lately, I've been looking at their current successes, wondering why I'm not there. And then, the oddest thing happened. I keep finding that none of them are married to the same people. In seven years--most of the marrieds are now--not married? And there seems an odd irony in the whole thing.

Yesterday, I felt bogged down by all that I have yet to do, and I broke down in a mall with hubby. It started with an argument about the house--but ended with my true feelings--that I'm so scared of what's to come, in light of all I want to do. And he found his way to take my hand and tell me that he's my partner in all of it. "Partners for life" he said.

I guess something really good did come out of Santa Fe.

ps..I love this picture above. My husband told me he's happier on days when he gets to see a field of corn (here, beans) and that was my motive. But I also love it for the "eternity" in it. The endless field of possibilities!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Almighty Dollar

What to write about? We're fighting the good energy fight right now at the house.

Our house was built in Iowa in 1928. Back then, people wore more clothes at home and were just cold. Although I think I might have that type of constitution, I don't think my husband or baby are cut out for it. I tend to put Baby S in a snowsuit for her naps to make them last longer. This may mean that she's not quite warm enough? But either way, we have to heat the house to around 67 to be comfortable. Maybe 68.

The house has an add-on where we spend most of our time. It's a big living room, with a fireplace that we found out AFTER purchasing the house is worthless. We are planning on just demolishing it. Depressing. So, the heat doesn't come out here very well. Set the thermostat to 66 and this room doesn't get over 61. Too cold, and yet the rest of the house is wasting energy.

Right now it's -11 degrees outside, so that's quite a deficit. So yesterday, with our "imaginary money" we bought an expensive, safe, energy efficient, large space heater. It does the job, but inside I'm a little panicked. I don't know if it will save us money, or cost too much. And I have so much anxiety! Was it a good investment? Will it fail? Should we be wearing thicker socks? Why do I need to panic like this???? BREATHE, Pipes. BREATHE. It's only the second day.

Ok, so here's the zen part. Money has no real value. It is just the thing we trade around, imagining it will bring us safety, happiness, love? It comes and goes. It is a surprise lottery ticket and a surprise hospital bill. It can be planned, but never completely controlled. And it definitely is not worth my panic.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sisters and Nieces

The first time I saw my sister's daughter was an amazing experience. She was my sister's baby, but also mine. The thought of being a friend to her, as well as an aunt, was so unique and wonderful. That relationship is so incredible, and nothing else is like it. Being a mom, well, there's a gravity to that. I love being a mom, but I am utterly panicked about being a good one, and what will happen to the baby, and what might happen to me--etc, etc...

Usually exercise gives me a sense of elation, of well-being. Tonight after exercising I drove through the city, baby in her snowsuit in the back seat (rear facing, so I assume she was sleeping) as I ran errands, my heart completely heavy. I miss my sister and I miss her daughter.

Part of me fears that she would see this--and somehow find fault in it. Part of me worries about the public forum of the internet, but I have longed to write about it for so long. My husband doesn't know what to do with my sadness. Men are "fixers" I have found, and if they can't fix they are stuck with the options of empathy or guilt or running away. I understood his hopeless response.

We are so defined by our relationships. And one of the relationships that defines me is that with my two sisters. One which is easy and warm, and the other, which is always fearful, always on her terms, and sometimes (like now) non-existent. This relationship is just as unique--the sister, who is part you, and part mom, and part mystery. I have not had a relationship with her that was open, honest and accepting since I was about 8. But now, in our thirties, I am wondering if we will ever find our way there.

I miss both of them. Can my feelings be as simple as that? And now, looking at my little moon-faced lovely delight of a daughter, I long to see her in the hands of my sister, and in the hands of my beautiful niece. I have no idea who either of them are. And right now I'd really like some sugar.

And boy, I was skinny in this picture....I'll get back there again...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Today is day 3 without sugar, and day 1 of the new year. It is -9 degrees outside, so cold that it burns your face when you open the front door. I managed to do more cleaning and organizing today, but the house still looks like we were attacked or robbed, something violent, blinding and whirling dervish-like.

I just read this today:
"Instead of resolutions, promises and vows, I mark this day as I do all others: by surrendering my will and life to God. I give up trying to handle my food and my weight."

Fantastic. It occurred to me over the holidays how bad I am at "controlling". And today, it occurred to me that on some level, I must have feared success as a performer, to long for it the way I do, and yet to not be there yet...there must be more to the journey.

I have observed a certain habit of mine. When something new happens, or I begin down a new road, the first thing I imagine is failure and disappointment. It's funny, because I am, absolutely, a "risk taker". But I can't deny this repeated behavior. For example, when I got pregnant, the first thing I googled was "miscarriages". Why is that? I put it under the guise of "being prepared" (sorry for the liberal use of quotes on this page) but it's not preparation. It's fear.

So what would I do today if I didn't have any fear?

I got into the University of Iowa's doctoral program for this year, but I was pregnant and they gave me no money. They said I could delay my entrance a year, but I assume I can't get that money again. I assume there won't be a way. And my husband says, "so you assume that's all God can do? That's the end of it?" And I have just applied for what seems on the outset like a dream job, but I am starting to plan, "what if I don't get it?"

So what's the dreams only exist to make nighttime more fun, or am I possibly meant to do some more stuff? Can't I be a mom and an innovative music maker? A performer? A composer? Even a thin person?

Day 3 of my non-sugar diet and I ENJOY taking my blood sugars. nice. low. numbers. Big sigh. Working out is always fun for me too, and I look forward to maybe being able to start running this summer, as I have long dreamed of doing. I started to in NYC, but got distracted by a neck issue. Months of physical therapy. Blech.

So what would I do today if I didn't have any fear? My mentor always asks me that. Apparently, I would eat no sugar. I would also make some good calls, see people face-to-face. Find what might be scary and take a good stomp at it.

I'd also trim the poop out of the dog's behind. Because truth be told, I'm avoiding that with all I've got.