i was crippled and bed-ridden and my grandmother died and my children and i had to be cared for by a hired friend and my husband had to re-take his comps and i had to start occupational therapy and go to the pain specialist and the hand surgeon and my sister had her wisdom teeth cut out of her head and my uncles came for the funeral and everybody drank beer and played risk while i rested my swollen hand atop piles of pillows in irritating splints of one kind or another, my scab peeling and itching, my skin crawling and aching, my brain a fog, my stomach churning. then jon passed his comps and we returned home and i began therapeutic exercises and my mother-in-law visited, and i bought and tried to wrap christmas presents with my teeth, my elbow, my feet, and my weakly left hand. then we returned to my mother's house for christmas and my youngest son got sick and for a moment we suspected whooping cough, but then it got better and his tooth popped out. that is where i have been. i am using two hands to type: one knowledgeable and weakly though strong enough for typing and the other clumsy dead weight, numb and not at all nimble; a giant hand trying to thread a needle. i am tired and intermittently pained, sniffling and fumbling about with a head cold. i get the urge to perform tasks i cannot do or which are decidedly difficult with one hand. i am sickly skinny. i am bored yet exhausted by the slightest exertion of energy. blogging has me spent.


annakiss vs. casserole dish: a photo tour

saturday dinner
note green bean casserole dish, smiling family, feasting on poultry carcass (not i - i had eggplant parmesean and turkey seitan (praise seitan!))

in a flurry of dish washing, right wrist becomes slashed, lands me in an ambulance wrapped in gauze with an iv drip in my left arm, preventing almost all forelimb movement. morphine ensues en route (scary needles in moving vehicle!)

sterile field prepared for cleansing, further inspection and loose, superficial suturing to await surgery two days later

frankensteinian stitches, still detached tendons tucked carefully within

sunday nap, on the phone with ana, pondering the philosophical implications of near death

monday migraine appears sensuous on the table at the hand surgeon's

ana calls it "creepy sexy"


monday night before surgery, left-handed myspacing, talking to everyone on the phone

jon on way to surgery center

annakiss and clyo the hand-bandage ready for action

awaiting sedation

examining iv: discomfort

i wanna be sedated

post surgery disorientation

my stoned, confused method of telling jon "no more pics"

recovering at home in the electronic chair for geriatrics

sebastian and i discussing important matters

sebastian sucking down the narcotics via boobyjuice


nothing went according to plan. i didn't finish my fifty thousand word novel in thirty days. i got to forty thousand when my journey was abruptly halted by the usual bizarre personal tragedy. i am currently typing left-handed and poorly, i might add, as i sit in a bed at my mother's house recuperating from surgery on my dominant right hand which was made necessary by a freak casserole dish accident. the saturday after thanksgiving, an evil zombie casserole dish tried to kill me while i was kindly scrubbin' it clean. i was washing the dish after a belated birthday celebration for my husband at my mother's house when it slipped from my yellow rubber-gloved hands. i tried to catch it, but instead it broke and slashed through my wrist in a more serious manner than a suicide attempt. five inches long and mighty wide and deep, the cut included four cut tendons and a cut nerve. there was a stem off the cut nerve that controls sensation in the palm side meaty part below the thumb that was too damaged to repair and will likely never work again. i am facing physical therapy and weeks and weeks of healing. it will take years for my nerve to function properly if it ever does. i am sad. gruesome photos.


it gets worse. more and more i battle with trying to figure if all these tragedies, all this struggle, isn't particularly unique to us or if it is simply par for the course. all i can figure is that some of it is and some of it isn't and it could always be worse. this does not really help. i suppose the question is simply am i justified in praying for a break? i try to figure if it isn't just my karma or a wrathful god or whatever, if i am not simply deserving of all my heartache. yet i do not believe in any of that shit. still i ask the questions, trying to determine if i am a fool for complaining. in my logical brain, i believe that your life is your life, your struggle is your struggle, and your emotional reactions to your experiences are valid. i have trouble granting myself that same validation. i am always minimizing the emotional realities resulting from my experiences. for instance, i probably, in all actuality, have some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. a truck fell out of the sky and almost stole the breath right out of me, stopped my heart, ceased the unfolding of sebastian. i am permanently anxious because of this. i am heartbroken for my eldest son and the struggle and laboratory examination he endures as a result of what i feel but logically deny to be my body's total incompetence. i deal. i move on. the holes in my heart remain. then this past summer, my husband suffered his own heartbreak that has left our entire future more uncertain than it was to begin with. i don't even know how to summarize how we've been struggling with everything that spiraled out from that. every day we have less and less money, or rather, more and more no money, which, as standard as that is for most of the planet including us, is nonetheless more and more terrifying and anxiety-inducing. i go over lists in my head of all the ways in which i do not budget appropriately and spend too much and try to move things about and get a feel for what all this might be like if we did The Right Thing and embraced our poverty. it is painful to imagine a life of staying at home literally twenty-four/seven with my children for lack of funds to leave, subsisting on rice and beans (which in large part, thanks to veganism, we already do). there is, of course, no question that this is entirely possible, but with all the major trauma in our lives, how would our marriage and our sanity survive it? i suppose in some ways it seems too much to demand of the universe that we strive for happiness and aspire to ideals. i could put my children in daycare and head off to some cushy, dreadfully boring, and completely-antithetical-to-my-being corporate job answering phones and creating spreadsheets. i could potentially climb a very short little corporate ladder if need be. but then my children would be in daycare, i would be more miserable than i am, and this life would be ten times more complicated than it already is. jon could give all this up and go into the corporate sector himself. we have already reduced our grocery bill. we already do not buy toilet paper, cleaning products, diapers, formula, ridiculous toys. jon does not buy books. our craft projects are from things we already have. i can imagine a life with less and it is bleak. i feel guilt at even thinking it though, because most of the known universe does live with much less. we are clothed and fed and privilegedly up to our eyeballs in debt, all for the promise of a better life than the lower-middle class intellectual's "simple" existence we already enjoy. yet my skin shivers, feels tight around my spine at the fear crept into my heart by so much stacked up in the red. i mentally negotiate the differences and all my inadequacies. i perform this self-examining trapeze act, turning over and over all the possibilities for how i might have avoided all this and seek to realize how i failed, What Went Wrong. i am consumed by guilt and terror and in the end simply accept the truth of this existence and ignore it all, know that something will come through and there is, at present, nothing to be done about it.


i am fluctuating day-to-day, at times hour-by-hour between being fine and being empty. i am tired, it's true. i have small children who sleep less than i'd like them to, i nurse half the night, i go out too much, and i am always trying to do too much. maybe it has caught up with me. maybe i really am just sad. i am broken out, perhaps hormonal. i am not currently on speaking terms with the moon to know the whys or hows of that, however. maybe it's just too much. maybe i rush around my whole life flinging things into the great hole in my heart, the inferno that eats everything, uses everything, burns it up into smoke and ashes. perhaps that is a little dramatic. i am yelling at aleks. i am punishing, threatening. i don't want to, but at this moment it's all i have. it is not so entirely bad, but it is terribly far from ideal. that's everyday though. i long ago finished with guilt over it. all i can do is recognize what is happening, think on what i'd prefer to do, wonder why it happened to begin with, and move forward, hoping to perhaps short-circuit a causal relationship here and there, reminding myself in the moment what is happening. i can only move forward. with my children at least for now, i seem to have learned that lesson. one down. eight hundred fifty-eight million more to go. eh, maybe i'm low-balling that figure.

it got cold overnight. jon is away. i turned the heat on again. now we're all bespeckled in slippers and long-sleeved jammies, moving about in our laid-back morning routine. i am sneezing a bit and blowing my nose. i don't feel sick, but i don't feel good. i feel lonely. empty. it's the only word for it. trying to root out the causes is like searching for a needle in a stack of needles. i wish my feelings came with wikipedia entries so they might be catalogued and numbered and cross-referenced. perhaps then it could all be sorted. maybe i could make sense to myself. i have felt intermittently empty for so long now that it hardly seems unusual or unique. it seems almost normal. but just now i am tired and do not wish to do all the things i need to do. i just haven't the inertia. if i just keep going all the time, i don't notice the hole. i can ignore it, even as it nags at me from out the corner of my eye. go away, hole. leave me alone.

i am trying to have a life here. i am trying always always always to realize and to know, to walk around with the knowledge that this is my life, that my life is occurring right now. always. i am filling my life up with halloween decorations, trips to and volunteering at the food co-op, the planning of vegan meals, baking, re-learning how to knit, attempting the study of midwifery, particularly fertility, drinking wine, figuring the proper manufacture of bath bombs, coming up with an idea for nanowrimo, cleaning and re-cleaning and re-cleaning my house, trips to the library, strange dreams that look not like the texture of dreams that belong to me, picking up, picking up, picking up, coming up with new ideas for new projects to fill up my time and make this look and feel like a life. i want to read nothing but things written by women for a year. i want to undo my scarf and start over, make it skinnier. i want to notice the moon. i want to paint something new for the bathroom. i want to finish the quilt. i want to crochet amy a plant sweater and sew bonnie her bag. i want to get the stupid bath bombs right - especially since i ordered a pound of citric acid that will be here tuesday. i want to mend the quilts. mostly i want to want all those things. or maybe i just want to gain the sense that this is anything other than needing something to do to fill the time.

i have this problem where i think of all the things in the world, the horrible happenings everywhere, the great big things that people do, the simple things that gain any sort of recognition at all, and i feel so small, so invalid in all my crises. i feel as though my emotions are minor irritations, unimportant, dwarfed by the enormity of infinity. it's a battle, ultimately, as i give so much voice and thought and time to the miniscule tragedies that unfold in my heart and mind. i am an emotional bulimic, gorging on self-absorption and total obsession with each tiny nuance of my existence before denying it all as unimportant and insignificant. yet i know and will be the first to advise others that realities do not negate one another, that varying perspectives are equally valid (if not equally valuable - i'm not into moral relativism, here). i know that my perspective is what gives me these challenges, that makes my experiences difficult or easy. my perspective and my history, my collection of experiences, inform this life and shape this heart and mind, rendering these varying reactions and struggles unique and valid. i am what i am. if only i could figure it and pinpoint what it is that is making me feel so empty. why do i necessitate constant motion to distract me from myself and from my emotions? there is nothing here to figure, i suppose. i have children. it is difficult. i alternate moment-to-moment with doing an okay job of it and fucking it up. it is how it is and how it will, in all likelihood, continue to be.


i feel empty of words, things to obsess about. yesterday i got the sense that my life is empty. i have nothing for me that i do. it comes and goes. in truth, i do not know what i am doing exactly. i am coming up with things to occupy me, trying to focus on being a mom. sort of. i've been running errands, cooking, cleaning, hosting, going to events, avoiding balancing the checkbook, crafting, learning to knit all over again, and in some ways, on some days, trying to learn about unschooling and midwifery. i pick up the books occasionally and thumb through them, or get momentarily absorbed and then distracted. that's actually a much better description of my entire life right now: mild absorption followed by distraction, usually the result of mild absorption in something else. this skipping about makes it difficult to sense the general texture of my life, leaves me feeling as if i do not in fact have the slightest idea about what i am doing. i am doing so much so half-heartedly or with spurts of enthusiasm that nothing appears to be the thing i am doing. i keep inventing new projects for myself. haven't i always done this? is this perhaps just who i am? it doesn't look like anything specific. i saw a children's book recently about career options - one of those "when i grow up" things - each of the options was this one thing, this singular, defined, limited, specific-yet-general occupation like baker, teacher, firefighter, etc. i realized that i internalized that sort of thinking growing up. we probably all do, but it is not a reflection of how the world operates. most professional careers are inter-disciplinary to some degree or at least have specialties that make a job so much more than "scientist" - try instead "explosives expert" or "biochemist researching drugs to halt the spread of lymphoma in females." no three-year-old ever wants to grow up and become a systems analyst. frequently i examine objects and wonder about how someone was paid to think them up - like the new method of dispensing gatorade in convenience stores: the bottles hang from their lids. someone had to think that there was a better (or, er, different) way to dispense them in glass coolers and they somehow set in motion this whole process of inventing and designing and patenting and selling and distributing and installing these big hunks of plastic. one might also consider the whole process of drilling the petroleum out of the earth and shipping and refining and shipping and using and shipping it to create that big hunk of plastic. how fucking useless is all that? just to reinvent the goddamned shelf. all those little people doing all those tasks (and all the people pushing paper to make those tasks happen: managers, receptionists, ceos, administrative assistants, janitors, computer technicians) for what? couldn't their time be spent doing something much simpler and interesting? growing food, building a tool shed, cooking, cleaning their home, painting a picture, playing an instrument? all that sounds much more valuable to me, frankly. and that's what i do for a living. and yet i am compelled to devalue those essential tasks, probably due to the lack of value for them in this culture. here i am, hiding out in the bathroom to write without distraction or interruption, feeling like my life has nothing in it that gives it meaning. how fucking asinine. the whole purpose of me wanting my children to unschool is so they can sense the value in just living and being who they are, without the compulsion to become a wage slave, supporting the weight of empires with their blood and sweat. i want them to feel like who they are and what they do is valuable, whether that is to struggle to support themselves with a less-than-desirable livelihood because that it is what is available while they enjoy doing whatever else they please, or if it be to struggle to make a life for themselves working in some more noble profession like a non-profit organization or as a researcher of history or culture or biology. whatever it is they choose or come to do, or all the multitude of things they choose or come to do, i want them to appreciate that as the thing they are doing, that as the life they are already living instead of waiting around for society to tell them it has begun because they have earned a degree, gotten married, bought a house, chosen a profession. we are many things at different times. we are changing all the time. we need - i need to be able to recognize that and embrace it as what is real and what is true. i am who i sought to become. the real trick of this truth is realizing that i always was.


i was all nicely absorbed in my tedious, melancholic self-reflection there, but suddenly i find myself drawn into being pissed off about real-life drama. i'm not too keen on my husband right now - people i love, so when people i moderately tolerate come into view, i am acutely irritated by their very existence. i am not particularly kind, i don't suppose, but neither am i overtly mean or judgmental. maybe i am overtly judgmental actually, but not mean. i don't condescend to people. i just state my facts as i know them with my typical passion thrown in of course. aleks is obsessed with this ramones song right now. he runs around the table in the dining room while singing it. he calls it the "oh yeah" song and we fight over the cd player over and over. two songs later is an elliot smith song he refuses to let me listen to. sebastian flicked smoothie all over the dining room with his straw and i said, "this is why i hate children," under my breath. of course, like any good mother, i don't really mean it. of course. they are pretty cute after all. i have nothing interesting to write. my self-obsession seems to have subsided for the moment, so i cannot sit and reflect endlessly on why everything sucks for me or for the world. elliot smith finally made it on without aleks noticing, so i can sink into a nice warm puddle of despair. what can i despair about? the state of my relationship with jon's ever-present but fluctuating depression and the moodiness that accompanies it and how i struggle to support him through this, taking the children on excursion after excursion, abandoning my own aspirations (though admittedly i was markedly ambivalent about them), and all the while getting almost no thanks and therefore drinking and smoking too much, the latter the greatest of crunchy sins? the empty place in my stomach that churns when i think of mothering and all i left and all the terrible stinky drama the internet inspires, how part of me misses it, but part of me is disgusted i stayed as long as i did in that addiction and that i still participate and get worked up over our own local board and the discussions there? my struggle to be a good mom, to not scream at my children, to teach them, to facilitate their learning and not want to throttle them half the time even as they fight over blocks and make ungodly loud noises at me and each other? my feeling of lacking something that belongs to me or in some way proves my worth as a person in this society, intimately related to my lack of affirmation that anything i do is good at all, though there are certainly moments when fellow housewives admire my home, the things that i own, my baking or my entertaining skills and then i feel like i should be dressed in heels and curled hair like some goddamned donna reed clone though i'm sure i look exactly like the modern version of that with my choicest outfits donned for occasions of visitors, my properly mussed hair, my jewelry, my makeuped face (good lord i am donna reed!)? i think perhaps i've hit on something here - what does it say about me that i go to bars after the children are sleeping with my girlfriend to chainsmoke and as usual overestimate my ninety-two pounds' ability to metabolize three beers in two hours and meet random hipster-potentially-gay guys who gasp at the fact that these ninety-two pounds have created two children and high-five at the fact of their intactness and get wide-eyed at the truck-that-fell-out-of-the-sky story which i always bring up when i'm drunk? what kind of fucking mother am i then? when i stumble home at two-thirty in the morning and shower the smoke off as best i can and climb into bed and nurse the baby with my drunken breasts? what does it say about me that i do this while taking such care to not vaccinate my children, to not shoot mercury and other neuro-toxins into their veins; such care to feed them organic, now nearly-vegan, always whole highly nutritious foods; such care to not send them to school to have their love of life and love of learning drilled out of them by the rote memorization required for standardized testing; such care to give birth to them at home to keep them safe from cold hands, harsh lights, super-microbes invented on linoleum, eager nurses and doctors who order spinal taps for infection or inject drugs in my (and thereby their) bloodstream; such care to take them all over town exposing them to art, culture, diversity, civic, environmental, and personal responsibility; such care to honor their abilities to know their own bodies and when they are hungry, tired, hurt, sad, angry, joyful??? does it simply imply that i am burnt out? or does it say that i have failed, that i am a hypocrite, that i should know better? does it say that i am human and imperfect, that i know my own limits and honor the space that i need? or does it just say that i am muddling through all of this as best as i can? surely i am not totally void of conviction here. surely i am not just a miserable excuse for a human being. surely i am just in deep need of some comfort, some nurturing and i get it however i can take it and my friends who are also miserable love company and can at least commiserate and respect that we all get through it however we have to and it'll get better and it'll get worse again and fuck it, maybe-gay guys are fun and it feels good to make someone's eyes light up, to be shown deep respect for my intelligence, even in a hipster bar on a nice autumn night.


i was thinking last night about writing about the commodification of experience, but i just don't have the energy for it now. too much thinking and i'm not sure what to say other than i hate it, i think its bullshit, i wish our culture were different, yadda yadda yadda. i probably need to talk more about it out loud with friends or find other examples of it in society in the media, etc. before composing an article or proper rant. of course, this morning i can suddenly think of several examples. the whole of the tlc channel, for instance, or extreme makeover: home edition, or the original variety. the whole game show thing, competition, the need to win. it's all built into the american dream, but we've exploited this concept to a really sick point. the phrase, "kodak moment." it's all part of advertising, part of a capitalistic society. cooperative culture must not have this. but it's come so far now that even the left view everything as a commodity. we talk in terms of buying and selling everything. al gore is on a mission at the moment to sell global warming and his whole solution is all about buying or selling things, about maintaining a growth economy while reducing the toxic output of such an economy. i have such little faith that that will do more than curb the planetary meltdown, but then global warming is but one of my many concerns regarding the environment. sustainable cultures do not intend to grow, and by very nature, our growth economy will one day outgrow our resources. eventually the demand will outpace the supply either due to population explosion or that whole made-up idea that we need all this shit to begin with. i believe in the need for something better. i believe the need is here and the need is now if we intend for our genes to carry on. i never wanted to be alive during planetary crisis, but neither do i want my grandchildren to experience it either. sadly, i sense the two basic motives of the species everyday in all that i do - 1) to sustain myself (survival) and 2) to reproduce myself. that's it. that's the whole point. i wanna live. i want my children to live. i know that in order to do that i have to cooperate with a lot of people, a lot of different concepts and perspectives all the time. so i aim to be inclusive as possible. that's the great idea about the left, really. that's why even useless fucks like the kkk have the right to say whatever they like.


spending the morning recovering from hangover - the result of not quite enough sleeping-it-off - drinking coffee, listening to fiona apple. it's bringing back memories and feelings of crazy that never went away. crazy that keeps coming back. i don't know. i don't know how the brain works or why i feel my heart swelling and emptiness closing in on me. the first thing i wanted to do was call someone and tell them, but there is no one to call. i forget all the time that there's been no actual witness to my history as i know it, that i don't really share this perspective with anyone and that what i do share is but bits and pieces. it seems so weird to me though because these memories, these feelings, this crazy is all the undercurrent of my existence. this is what there is when there is nothing else at all - this frame of reference of the seventeen to nineteen-year-old self, forever frozen in time. it makes me wonder if everyone is like this. is every story really a coming-of-age story? is the great american novel always a dedication to the author's youth? is that what it all always comes down to? or am i confusing myself? maybe i don't know what i'm talking about.

heather and i had this conversation last night when we went out for her birthday - she said how happy she was to be getting older, to be inching her way to thirty. i was rather confused about this, but she explained that she always imagined her thirties and forties to be when her life would really happen - the meat of things, the outcome of everything she's been building up to. i completely related to that, though i'd never really connected it to getting older and each birthday passing. as much as i try all the time to accept and embrace that this is my life happening right now, i've barely ever achieved it and have truly always imagined that i will have this all worked out or perfected somehow by the time i'm in my thirties and that then i will know that my life is happening and i will no longer be waiting for it. i don't know if this is true. more than likely, we spend our whole lives waiting for something and wishing for it still as we lay dying. maybe that's a spiritual puzzle that exists everywhere on earth - the feeling of disconnect between us and god or us and the universe or whatever it is. maybe it's our culture that disconnects us. maybe if we lived in the woods and were theoretically closer to the earth we would sense our place in the universe and never question that or feel that longing. maybe our hunger would be more real, more mundane - the urge to merely sustain ourselves instead of conquering everything. maybe our comfort is what disenfranchises us from the universe. maybe we could be part of it. maybe that's what i sensed that day in the woods when we laid on the ground looking at the sky - the great emptiness of matter and how the energy within it makes us all the same. maybe i was enlightened for a minute. the only thing i remember is that it was so beautiful i wanted to weep. the truth is i have the life i wanted and still i do not feel accomplished. and of course i still have the struggle of everyday, which i knew and wanted with it. i just feel crazy and confused as ever and still so much a child, so in need of mothering. i need a being greater than me to tell me the answers and to point in the direction of what is good and what is right. i am still searching everyday, always for answers to all the questions and i have not yet been convinced that i myself hold the power of that, that i myself am capable of shaping my reality, of making choices despite my circumstance and despite my experience. i am not yet convinced nor do i know how to escape the confines of my history - that which determines that i will do the same things that i have always done, that i will be here years later feeling so unchanged, still so uncertain and driven mad by my quest for knowing. i was shaped when i was seventeen. i became who i will always be. i do not know how to change that. trucks falling from the sky have not taught me to love god or to understand who i am and what it is i am to do. though i think, if anything, the divine is here in our daily lives, not simply reserved for the extraordinary moments. and of course, i am an atheist, so what difference does it make? except being atheist does not mean i am entirely divorced from the divine or from the wonderment of existence. i want, though, to be in awe instead of in despair. i would rather witness the infinite array of possibilities and feel hope rather than always noticing all the asinine shit we do with that infinite array of possibility and choice. i wish for that very much. but by nature, i seem to be a skeptic and a pessimist. i know that even with all that i know and as much as i strive to do good in my choices and benefit not only myself and be mindful in all that i do, i fail and i make greedy, arrogant choices that i don't have to make, but that i have come to live with and perform repeatedly as the result of my circumstance, as a result of the conditioning of my culture, of this era in which i live. i make terrible choices and i am limited despite that endless array of opportunity. i limit myself. i chose day in and day out to be the same as i have always been, to be shaped as i was when i was seventeen, to be now who i was then. i decide that in all that i do, over and over and over again. so how could not everyone make terrible choices over and over? only through great change, through sudden mutations of cultural consciousness do we effect change in individual perceptions and perhaps self-conceptions that might in fact change those choices and decisions and open people's eyes to the possibility of something else. but surely then we will argue about how that something else might be conducted before advertently or inadvertently deciding upon a choice that we will make again and again and again ad infinitum. when viewed in this way, the world becomes so sad and pathetic in its inevitability. even though anything is possible, only some things will actually come to pass, and that, though perhaps not exactly predetermined, is entirely probably and likely to be repeated. the grooves we dig in our brain, those neural pathways we clear by repeated use, are so depressing and so difficult to supersede and paradigm shifts seem completely improbable. what if i just shift my paradigm? what will that look like? and how the fuck do i do it?


illness is creeping up on me. my children spread it in their kisses and snotty noses and nastified fingers where the nails have grown too long and dirt and goo and sludge collects. my nose and my throat and my forehead all have a slight pinch in them despite copious amounts of vitamin c, echinacea, and tea. i should have gotten garlic and zinc while i was out today. despite all this, i have been incredibly productive and feel good about what a good mommy and housewife i am being and how not stressed about it i am. things are good-ish for the moment. i bought a resin ganesha statue today just in case, though. jon left an offering of a quarter. this is pretty amusing for a couple of atheists.


little boy makes darth vader sounds,
the deep in and out of an iron lung
he jumps and punches the air,
tries to cram himself beneath the couch
for an unknown cause.
he shoves the plastic mask on baby brother
who stumbles and removes it
over and over without complaint.

my mornings are pierced with
whining, weeping,
wooden blocks flung across rooms,
running noses, sticky fingers,
made-up songs in made-up languages,
and these shoddy china-made
facsimiles of fallen galactic warriors.

writing poetry at the dining table
with lukewarm coffee in an earthenware mug
baby boy climbing up the table to meet me
with wooden tool kit pieces,
threatening to dunk them in my drink,
i find this is a life.
this is worth all of it
this is the texture i sought,
the extraordinary disguised as the mundane.
this is what i wanted,
what i want still.

at times, this desire rises quickly into rage,
when things don't go my way
or hormones shift slightly.
i sink into failing
i let go and my frustrations pour out
in awful, hurtful ways
my words shouted and spitted
are pitiful and pathetic
my mood changes in ways i cannot predict or understand fully
i lose control.
i have not yet learned in my life how to embrace uncertainty
or if it is a good thing to do so even.
mostly i shrink in terror.

i have lost sight of what was poetry and what was narrative.
i seek to flay confusion,
split it wide into knowing,
but i flail and flounder
and do not know
and no insightful words come of it.
what does my life look like if it doesn't look like this? what does it look like if i don't do the same things everyday? why do i choose the same reality day after day? why am i paralyzed by fear to alter simple routines? why does cutting out certain things feel like the loss of a limb? is that a good thing or a bad thing? is it bad because i've chosen to abandon something that is dear to me, something that i am comfortable in, or is it good because that thing so dear to me brought so much stress to my life? is it quitting something that i am passionate about or is it kicking an addiction? can the addiction be both a benefit and detrimental? i suppose by very definition this is true.

back to the real question - if i don't do this, what do i do? have i opened a door to limitless possibilities or closed a door on a valuable outlet and resource? do i harm myself or others in this or do i harm myself or others without it? the internet and mothering have become in many ways just something to do, something i work at as a default when there's nothing left to do or in order not to think. is it possible that i could spend that time much more creatively and be something better than i am or will i merely fill the space with the mundane? which is better? which is more purely virtuous? which benefits my children? my family? myself? what do i do if i don't do that? a list:

  • take walks
  • drink tea
  • write
  • paint
  • knit (learn to knit)
  • sew
  • think of new things to try
  • grow things
  • craft
  • purge
  • get more sleep
  • read
  • finish the plant hanger
  • finish the quilt
  • write letters to grandma
  • hang out with friends
  • have sex
  • bake
  • get things done in a timely manner
  • make collages
  • keep track of unschooling stuff
  • think
  • go to the library
  • visit museums
  • go to the nature center
  • take the kids to the park
  • put together the photo albums
  • go vegan
  • write down funny things aleks says
  • finish bastian's baby book
  • listen to music
  • fix the quilts
  • do yoga
  • write poetry
  • work on my book
  • take a class
  • study midwifery
  • create who i am
  • ask important questions
  • volunteer at the food co-op
  • make sure aleks brushes his teeth everyday
  • blog
  • return emails
  • go somewhere
  • solve the energy crisis
  • take more photos
  • try to understand quantum physics
  • explore the universe
  • compose a letter to opt out of christmas

if i get too busy, i can't do the things that really nourish me and add something to the world for those in my immediate vicinity. on the other hand, i think my service at mothering was and is a good thing that benefits others all over the world. but i need a break and all those others deserve someone with fresh dedication and enthusiasm.


i do not take my children for granted. i know i am their protector and, at least for now, their sacred soft spot to come home to. i take joy in their laughter, their discoveries, and their triumphs. i am also human. i fail everyday to do it right. i fail everyday at not trying to do it right, but trying to do it well enough. i end up doing it well enough, mostly. my perfectionism eats at me sometimes, overwhelms and drowns me in mountains of the unaccomplished, even the unseen or unknowingly wanted. my perfectionism keeps me going in fits and spurts as i make vain attempts at absolutely everything. and in my head, as i acknowledge this flaw that seeks to destroy me by building the impossible expectations, there, alongside it is the great list of all that i am not doing in and in many cases not even attempting. my perfectionism is a snake eating its tail - it is a failing among failings. and still i cannot ignore all that i want to do or should be doing. and alongside all my failings are all my worries. sometimes they overlap and sometimes they breed. my obsession with social concerns grows because i do know i am my children's protector and i have not yet found a way to protect them from the world. i stand in agony watching the nation polarize into opposite extremes, waiting for the expansion to result in collapse. i stand paralyzed by fear, waiting, waiting, waiting. i seek distraction in the endeavor for the middle class fantasy, in the guise of the modern, enlightened housewife, in the cloak of the eco-mom, as if style had anything to do with the philosophy. underneath it all i am merely terrified of what will happen when the infrastructure fails and the water runs out. it has been at least a year of this. this underlying anxiety that threatens to swallow my entire universe when the stress level creeps a bit higher. we are ever involved in the work for the future. we are constantly committed to moving ourselves forward, but in this year and in the history we've created and the experiences we've witnessed, it becomes increasingly difficult to know what the end is and to hold it in our sights. there was once an image. there was once a dream. i had a vision of what i wanted to be. and now, and now, and now... now i am not certain that i will achieve much of anything if the history of this nation continues on this path, if the history of this world persists as it is. when the stress of my life becomes so much, when my husband has failed at his greatest test and all the future is uncertain, amidst all these family deaths, and all this family strife, amidst sickness and mad attempts at eco-feminist versions of donna reed, amidst personal insult, amidst so much uncertainty and suspicions cast in my direction, amidst inner calls for change and cries for personal enlightenment, to change my future and create my day, when all this turmoil is tumultuous and threatening, i find myself oddly focused in every direction simultaneously and obsessed with what i can do to become anti-racist, with what more i can do to combat global warming and completely terrified not of avian influenza, not of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, not of terrorism, but of the real dangers my government and my fellow americans pose to the world and to ourselves in our thirst for fuel, in our quest for ikea-jizz, in our ever demanding levels of walmart ultimates. i find myself waiting for babylon to tumble. this becomes quite uncomfortable for some of my acquaintances. i apologize now for this. i doubt it will end. i believe now the accident resulted in my sustaining a certain level of anxiety that is now persistent and constant and which rises like a tide when outside stress stimulates it. for that i now fear for my children every day. i do not know how to circumnavigate it, nor do i know how to stop being just myself responding to normal levels of stress and the constant flux of moods that cause me to fail as a parent and not love my children perfectly every moment of every day. i do take joy though. sometimes i smile and sometimes i even laugh out loud. still, under my skin, there is a vibration, a constant unease that will not go away. i am doing what i can. i do not know any better.


all the big questions are spinning in my head. day in, day out, they persist. cigarettes glint fiery ashes off the interstate asphalt before me and i am singing very loudly along with the stereo to stave off despair, searching in the moment for the joy of the world, my chest thumping in tune, my eyes wide, trying to imagine the world full of possibilities and hope. if all possibilities occur in endless dimensions, can we bridge the gap? which reality is most real? can i exert control over the possibilities of my life? if it takes stepping outside of my frame-of-reference, this perspective, my trained understanding of the methods of the world's working order to achieve choice in a real instead of imagined way, to make alternate choices than the ones i believe possible, how do it do that? how do i step outside myself? how do i release myself from the confines of my understanding? how do i explore the world outside my narrow scope? is there any possibility of cooperative governing in my lifetime? if we do not manage to turn global warming around within the next decade will the infrastructure of this society collapse under the weight of demand for shrinking resources? will my genes move forward? will my children be okay? will my heart break from the mammoth truth of so much poverty, rape, torture, and genocide in this world? how can i sit in my house in my neighborhood on this summer night drinking cool clean water and eating organic pretzels whilst so much of the world's population struggles to maintain itself? my breasts are filled and emptied each day over and over by a smiling, tooth-filled mouth and clean good nutrients get in, heal him. i enjoy such privilege and cannot fathom the terror of so much of the world. surely there are campfires going somewhere and people are singing somewhere. surely someone is laughing and someone is kissing and someone is making love. i need to know that there is possibility and i can sense only so much despair. i do not know how to do this. i do not know how to make other choices. i cannot see the possibilities before me and shape my day. i cannot sense the atoms in the air and the smallest bits in between all the in-between-ness. i cannot feel the light burst into flame burst into my skin, the air is singeing all the hope from out my brain, the collapse of this known universe cannot come into my heart, i cannot let it, the thoughts cannot make enough sense it is so very late i must be going.


i am melting. the heat is taking away my patience. it has evaporated, yet clings to my skin as so much stickiness. we return from weeks at my mother's house, from all the many family deaths, visiting cousins and useless uncles, swimming everyday and aleks "rolling into a ball underwater," husband away, sisters screaming the usual obsenities at one another, cicadas humming in the back field, the crow of too many roosters (godfather now incredibly elderly though not infirm), the dog, the cat, the ample room for running and playing and pooping in the yard, the difficulties of being in someone else's non-child-proofed house... we return and we are melting and the work i neglected by being away stacks high. the ants are swarming a bit of cashew on the floor. we remain inside, the playground abandoned. i craft darth vader birthday party invites and argue with the girl at cake, wondering why they only sell cake yet do not bake it and realize they will not make me a yoda-shaped cake and secretly marvel at the uselessness of such an establishment. it is all the getting back into a routine and the sadness that accompanies that, the difficulty of emotion, the stress and inevitable shouting. i check out parenting books at the library, wanting to restart and be better at this. i also borrow a book on racism as it is everywhere in my life just now, the arguments grow, as do the inconsistencies and i am troubled trying to understand it all, make sense of whether experiencing white privilege automatically makes one racist or not. i feel as though i know some things to be true, but cannot craft a satisfactory argument and certainly cannot do it in writing, only in the incessant babbling of my flapping mouth. my husband tires of it. there are so many things swimming in my head all the time now, i cannot stop and i feel so overwhelmed by it and by the things i need to do. i chip away at it. i move one foot before the other. i accomplish what i can.


my brain is filled with chatter and anxiety. i am feeling mad, wholly "other", outside the realm of my otherwise comfortable little existence. the book i am reading is revealing truths i knew or somehow sensed, but did not confront or connect in this new, insane manner. i am not sure how to live in the world, how to not go off on mini-tirades. so accustomed am i to speaking my mind, to broadcasting my thought on things, that it is difficult for me to stop myself, to attempt to pause before elucidating the things bouncing around my brain, thus the discomfort i am causing everyone is a bit alarming. but how do i reconcile it? how do i live my life without the constant narrative filtering and illuminating all that i see, hear, read, experience in this culture as white normative behavior and white supremacist racism? how do i integrate that? i knew before this book the shocking truths of this global society: the rape and destruction, the history of torture and genocide all mounting to our sparkling toaster ovens, birthday pinata stuffing plastic crapola, prada handbags, dollar bin merchandise, blood diamonds, plantation roses, et cetera et cetera. but this is too much. this is in every thought. before i could tune it out, cope with the present issue, the current child-raising debacle or near-irrational quest for culinary supremacy (soak my grains?!?!? are you fucking kidding me??!?). but now. but now but now but now... now each time the television is turned on here in my mother's house i launch into some tirade about how every commercial and every reality show is all justification for the normalization of whiteness. now when asked what i am thinking while examining my little sister's european vacation photos, i mention that truly i am noticing how every monument is a dedication to genocide or religious indoctrination and how it was all likely constructed through slavery to exalt rich white men bent on world domination. now sitting through my grandfather's funeral mass i hear for the first time the blatant justification of white male supremacy a la social darwinism via "thankfulness" for "blessings received," in addition to an acceptance of war and murder as part of nature and god's gift (ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 11-12), yadda yadda yadda, wank wank wank. what do i do? how do i live like this with such sadness, such heartbreak and still invest emotionally in all the bullshit problems of my universe? i know not how to change the world. i am doing all i can on this small island to bring choice to women, to buck the system of consumption, to lessen my impact and to feel not so alone in seeing everything so starkly and heartbreakingly. please, if there is hope, send word as i am flailing in my attempts at understanding...


i feel as though i am perched precariously, as though i might slip and lose all of this. any semblance of balance feels like an illusion. i feel so much weight resting on my shoulders and i add to it daily with new inventions of self. i am trying to be so many things. i make new roles for myself, set new goals: a photograph sold, a birth attended, a protest organized, a book to be written, the potential for work beyond motherhood. i must be completely insane to consider the possibilities when all is still so fragile, when my relationships are still so malleable, so soft and uncertain. everyday there is tension. it rises and falls and is hidden then obvious, but it is there, whether invisible or not, all is frail. i am terrified that a strong gust might come along and blow it all to bits. and there is also the need rising in my belly, a gurgling to really let it out - to let the air out of this life and let me hang languidly in the sun, waiting to fill up with warmth and a sacred appreciation again, a belief that we are capable and strong. but i feel so incapable. i cannot keep it all up. my mood waxes and wanes and surely all of this must collapse sooner or later. we cannot keep in silences, in half-spoken moments of truth and expect there to be an intimate trust maintained. it is exhausting to feel at one moment able, active, in progress, and in the next exhausted and flailing. i am confused by my life. i don't know which way is up. i am so completely narcissistic that i cannot even begin to know how to interpret silences, or which questions to ask. there is no road map for being supportive. i feel it out and do my best (and truth be told, perhaps much better than my partner were the situation reversed), but if there is no indication? are we moving forward? are we going somewhere? am i just stuck here waiting for the wind to change? i don't know how to do this. i don't even know what we are doing. i cannot know - no words are spoken, nothing is said. i ask daily questions. i get the children up and feed their bellies and try not to be such a failure at feeding their hearts. i try to make plans, to keep the home stocked and ready. i put things on the calendar and get books from the library. i try to engage in lively conversation. i try to think of things. and i think for moments that this is right and this is happening and that i am okay and everything will work out and yet i find myself let down and languishing. i am holding up both halves of colossal impossible structures and i cannot sense their shape. it is all made of balsa wood and will break if breathed on wrong. a great chasm will open in the ground and swallow me up whole if i stack too much more onto myself. and is this all fiction? am i making it up? is it all really so melodramatic? am i not just lazy as always, sitting in front of the computer under the guise of doing some form of work, something that interests me (or more usually just pisses me off)? am i not just reading trash novels and having sex dreams? aren't the kids really just playing on the floor, destroying room after room and my excuses piling beside me, the rain, the wet grass, the inability of me to move my ass from out this chair and into clothes in a timely manner? is it so bad? i am scared. i am afraid of becoming heartbroken. any moment might unleash me in anguish, me so self-obsessed i could scarce recognize normalcy, let alone attain something resembling it. i feel so stupid. i am bad at this. all of this. i don't even make any sense.


i have been thinking of late, due to the shocking number of intelligent, feminist, progressive women i meet who make the most typical, acquiescent "choices" regarding their health care during pregnancy and birth, that birthing at home is indeed radical, that midwifery is grassroots political protest, and that women need to get out of the hospital if for no other reason than to buck the system created and sustained by men for no other apparent reason but to oppress women.

i get so accustomed to my little bubble of fellow homebirthers and advocates of attachment parenting/natural family living that i forget that the rest of the world is pretty much not at all like us. i have had lengthy discussions with close friends who insist that they would never birth at home despite the overwhelming evidence that it is a safer, friendlier option and have in the past dismissed my own frustration by acknowledging that it is their choice. i no longer believe this. it is no more the choice of women in america today to birth in hospitals than it is their choice to spend 80 dollars every time they walk into target or to buy gasoline for their car. there are certainly other options, but they are not remotely easily accessible.

making alternative choices requires first stepping outside of the box, divorcing oneself from the norm, from one's peers, from the status quo. this may additionally require being ostracized and ridiculed. secondly, one must be solidly educated on how to even make an alternate choice, finding out what those choices even are, how it works, where to find it. thirdly, one must pay for that choice either by sacrifice or by additional expenditure in time and money. to make an alternate choice, one must think for oneself, do research, dedicate hours and days to understanding and accepting the ins and outs of that choice.

that first step is a doozy though, and once you take it, you will be taking it for the rest of your life. announcing that you birth at home will forever invite stares, slack jaws, and questions. you may always be radical to friends, family, acquaintances, strangers, and how sad it is that normal birth may appear to the outside world as so abnormal. homebirth may get the token mention in a book about pregnancy and birth here and there, but it is mostly misunderstood and misrepresented. even dr. sears, whose own children were born at home, does not give it a solid endorsement for most women.

birthing at home is about taking back one of the most sacred and innate events in a woman's life. it is about reclaiming our bodies as our own and our physiologic wisdom as inherent. it can be about doing what is safest, but i am beginning to see it as a first step in putting the medical model in its place of "only in emergencies" and moving women away from the supine position of inexpert in our bodies and for our children.birthing at home is a quiet frontline of resistance to the continued subjugation of women. march on, sisters.


making dinner, i wanted to be thinking about how being a mother has radicalized me, how all the things i believe in have evolved thanks to having children. instead, as i was flipping through joy of cooking looking for the definition and precise measurements for how one might julienne something, my eldest child started throwing the wooden toppings for the wooden pizza up in the air, barely missing the sauce i'd prepared, and i found myself shouting, forcing his hand to pick the toppings up, not successfully explaining why exactly wooden toppings turned misguided missiles and subsequent giant mess was a bad idea, or at least unacceptable and then i thought, "well how radical is that?" it astounds me how often as i am sitting in my own thoughts on attachment parenting and how best to do it, i find myself stressed to the point of ignoring its primary tenets. but i absolve myself of feeling guilty. the thoughts on parenting increasing my radical tendencies inhabited only a very small portion of my day as my husband is sick and not getting out of bed and my children are insisting on messes and we were out of diaper covers and it is raining and chilly again. so clearly the stressors were unusually increased. barring extraordinary circumstances, sometimes, admittedly, i yell. i am not proud of the fact and i do not accept it as inherent to my method of childrearing, but i do realize that i am human and it is necessary for my children to understand that i have flaws so they can accept their own imperfection when they are older and overanalyze crap like this, surely in therapy, complaining about their mother.


catastrophe strikes. confusion abounds. the things i think are detrimental to the level of activity necessitated by my life, by the things i need to do. there is no time to sit and figure it out, yet that is all i need to do. i need to sit and work my ass off to accomplish something. and yet again, as usual, the boulder that hits me/us is in despite of all the hard work, despite the brutal level of commitment we have demonstrated. i am fucking sick and tired of the intermittent wrench thrown in our workings, the loss of control we seem to suffer so regularly. there has been nothing handed us, save the color on our skin, the tendency of our desires, the status of our socio-economic upbringing. there has been no money on platters, no invitations to jobs or to schools extended based solely on our lineage. there has been no hint of nepotism. no shadow of favorites played. i know the privilege inherent here, but it is not in play when trucks fall out of the goddamned sky. no amount of whiteness seems to be able to prevent that. i want nothing but to reach a point where we can enjoy the fruit of our labor, where i can plan to live in one place and all that entails: saving for a house, working out the legalities of home-schooling in our state, attempting to acquire an apprenticeship. i just want a workable budget, an income instead of a hole dug in our savings, the ability to say that i will or can do something in the next three years. i am exhausted by waiting. i am exhausted by the constant dedication necessitated by graduate school: the long hours, the wandering mind, the never-ending work load, the meandering schedule, the pressure constricting thoughts and feelings and availability. i just want a real life. one in which there are possibilities and choice. i am in the constant attempt at grown-up-hood and there are boundaries i cannot breech whilst this is all still in process. there is some portion of my life that no amount of new furniture or fad diets or new babies will help me to reach. i can stack it all up and still hit this glass ceiling again and again: jon is not finished with this lengthy project and at this rate, it is indeterminable when he might be. i want to want. i want to afford the opportunity to create opportunity for myself. i want something for me. i am tired of being this foundation of support. i am worn out by all of this. there is a lump in my throat aching and begging for something new and something profoundly mine. i try to create it in the gaps. i become the pseudo-student midwife or the volunteer moderator. i join yahoo groups and myspace, build a website like i were advertising anything other than the product of this mind which is neither for sale nor for any sort of cause or resource of information. i just lay myself out for the voyeur to ponder. there is hardly fun or profit involved. i suppose my business is attention-getting and it is only there for itself. the existence of all of this is but to exist. i am good at talking excessively and typing sporadically on all the notions that strike me, but it serves no purpose and does very little good, i am convinced. i am so tired. i am finished with it. i am done. and yet, i have to find a way to plow through. i must find a method for staying afloat and buoying all those around me as well. to that end, i plan to draw a suitable budget, eat to live, and volunteer simplicity. and for all that, i must be completely fucking insane.


my pockets and purses used to flood with scraps of paper, receipts, napkins, build-your-own-sandwich sheets, note-sized library paper, all littered with bits and pieces of thought, of poetry, and intent. i used to write. i used to be a writer, always thinking of the experience-as-editorial. i used to frame my life in the cup of my hand and listen to it and the words it was speaking, the images unfolding in my mind. today for the first time in ages i wrote something down on the back of the grocery list (which was, incidentally, written beneath the recipe for dinner). i was thinking of the way that mike doughty was singing about a girl and i was wondering to myself as the baby was sleeping in the back seat and the groceries were bobbing around in the trunk about what love was supposed to be. i was considering myself and my expectations from a decade before this, what my dreams outlined true love to be, often on the back of receipts and build-your-own-sandwich sheets, no less. it was all moonstruck and falling, swoon dead, quivering loins, et cetera. it was all perky breasts and limitlessly erect nipplage. tongues tied amongst each other, furious, undying love. and the expectation was that love would discover me and see me for the first time as i am, that true love would uncover me, help me to realize the bits of me that i'd neglected and reach for all my dreams with me. i, of course, would do the same in return and together we would unearth new truths about the universe. depending on which way i hold it to the light, that's basically what actually happened. ever since, i've been too busy with the life i set in motion to have too many thoughts to scrawl on bits of paper. ever since, i have been chugging along so faithfully at building the life i'd dreamt, that there hasn't been much in the way of envisioning it. unfortunately, i cannot yet determine if the reality is of remarkable likeness. i think only memory will be able to match fantasy in terms of glow and vibrancy. retrospect will cast all this in new, perhaps more favorable light.


crises of identity. there has been, of late, an underlying urge to do or be something other than what i am. i have felt the deep need to escape this family and the crushing disappointment of having reached twenty-seven and done nothing worthy of consideration or account. there are no forms of recognition hanging on my wall, no university degree or certificate that says that i am anything. the fact of my high school diploma is even questionable in its value. i don't necessarily want the praises of this society and my ideal would be to change my culture's ideas about what is valuable, but still i have that feeling of lacking because nothing i've done is of any matter enough to be designated as worthy of a paycheck. i write but i do not publish. i paint but i do not exhibit. i craft but i do not sell. in fact, i do not exploit any of my talents for any purpose but gift-giving and practical and impractical home usage. i can't even land the job that i pushed for the existence of and already partially do in a volunteer capacity. it's not that i even want to work outside of the home. this just gets exhausting, the same maintaining of cleanliness and filling up of empty things day in and day out. i have gone a very long time without the acknowledgement that what i do is of any use and the urge to be a part of something larger than myself bubbles up from that. the urge to be someone outside of this life and the boyish extensions of myself clinging to me and crawling on me. i want to believe and to know that i can affect change somehow. i want to feel as though i really matter. i know that my children offer me that in a way that no adult can, but adults can offer me that in ways that no son ever could. i need to feel whole and intentional. i need to feel as though i am moving in some forward direction, pushing onward to some tangible end. this instead turns into drudgery, something to move past, to get through. i just want to enjoy my time here and to know that i am worthwhile as me. i just want to think about something else for a little while.


i don't have silence enough in my mind to concentrate on the philosophical aspect of my life and the weight of everything on my shoulders. i don't have seconds alone enough to type out deep-hidden thoughts, the things buried in my brain, the constant soundtrack of ongoing processing, that screeching of data going by and the creation of it via magic dust into information and knowledge. there's no time to think. there is only the moving through my life just now. no time for figuring or imagining. no time for analyzing or calculating. just the list in my hand of the things to be done. just the rags in my hands, the babies in my hands, the dishes washed and the laundry done. there is but the going to the grocery and the going on walks to enjoy the springtime. the waking from a long sleep and having no thoughts, just a relaxed brain, focused on the tasks before it. i am doing the things i always do - the tending and the washing. i am doing, as always, the things that must be done. will there be time for me one day soon? will i tire of this? of being the support for everyone around me, the thing on which to lean, the tool for their activity, the aid for the accomplishing of everyone else's goals? am i sick of this? do i want more than this? do i want something to do that feels like something? something with a sense of accomplishment rather than constant toil? is that the sneaking suspicion in the back of my mind? is that this urge, this move forward, out of the darkness of winter and into the light of action? am i lacking of something that is me, something else that i can commit myself to? am i truly experiencing the life of those around me, dedicated to it as i am, to making their urges and desires possible and thus not living myself, thus filled with a hole where a purpose should be? and what is there to be done about it? these people need this caring. my family is in great need of my support. don't they? or is that the story i tell myself to make the work feel important? maybe it's just the influence of this culture that doesn't value anything that doesn't earn a dollar (or doesn't give a dollar because it doesn't value it). maybe it's the influence of the women i see and read about who have lives outside of families or at least seem to. it's a dreadful sacrafice to make and it sucks that it must always be either this or that and never can the balance be struck when it all rests on women. i know our brains our generally designed to some degree for caretaking, but they are capable of so much else as well, and my hands that cleanse and scrub and pick up shoes start to feel so empty.


always trying, forever failing. i am in the midst of the constant attempt at anything: perfection, the planning of this life in a responsible and seemly fashion so as to be the best me and to also make the most of my time, care for the people i am designated to care for in an appropriate manner, responsibly, evenly. i am in the midst of trying to be, of trying to do all the dumb crap i gotta do, of trying to become something other than what i am. i am in the midst of sorting it out, being uniquely myself, being balanced and zen. i am in the midst of trying, trying, trying. i am in the midst of forgetting, of failing, of doing it wrong and hardly learning anything from it at all. i will simply have to do it again, fall down over and over and nearly never get it right, occasionally hitting on something that makes some sense, but promptly losing it. it is life. it is what it is. but in the midst of all my attempts at everything, i am in the midst of overlooking the destination, denying the desirability of it in order to calm the thirst and judging others in bitterness of what i lack. i suppose that's the cycle of what it is. it is part and parcel of the trying trying trying and the sorting and sifting. i feel like my thoughts are objects that i turn over and over in my hands, working them, caressing and molding, rounding, shaping, and all the while discovering, seeing what it is and feeling the weight of it, trying to sense each curve and crack, trying to be and understand whatever it is. i am at a loss to know the truth behind any motivation. i can't say for certain where thoughts come from; what dreams may come. what is the purpose? what is the plan? how is this and how ever do i do? i plainly do not know. the weight of this and that - tragedy, turmoil, mundane nothingness - it's all similar, stacked similarly in my brain and in my belly. i devote as much time to deciding what's for dinner as i do to anything else. and yet so often i can't determine these patterns. the stress of my life is so intangible - it comes of nothing and from nowhere. it is just the invisible pressure to do. the nonsensical force moving me in forward directions. i do and i do and i do and always my thoughts find fault, my heart senses absence. i cannot be everything all at once all the time.


when you're gone i sense the lack of you. air fills the place you belong, following me around like a ghost. i lay in bed listening to the rise and fall of our sons breathing. i see their noses and brows outlined in the darkness. they look just like you, i think. you planted them in me and they grew from nothing. they are half you, and yet they cannot fill the hole you've left. i know this journey away is only temporary, but it occurs to me as i try to sleep here in my mother's house that this is my plan for the worst-case-scenario - to live here, sleep here with our sons and sense the lack of you surely more succinctly, more cuttingly than now. i imagine you gone forever and my shoulders shudder and quake with my weeping at the horror of it. it would be so impossible to breathe without you, let alone raise our boys, be strong, continue on. these days apart may be made worse by our struggling of late - the stress of your career on the line, the preschoolian's problems, my inability to dig myself out of myself at times, but it is a great reminder of how deep is our need for one another. this family we have created is a lifeline to the world and all my improbable, horrific imaginings simply underscore that fact, remind me of the strength of this blood that connects us, how important our flesh and our mutual struggle. we are molded of the same thing. we are one. i cannot forget. i love you. come back soon.


i am spinning my wheels. i am stuck in the mud. as much as i accomplish anything, move the slightest bit forward, i am being pushed back, seeming to stand ever still, yet flailing. there is so much mess about. so much eight arms swinging about, bringing things and little boys to and fro; constant madness and there is an inner turmoil to accompany the outer chaos. there is a sense of all this being unjustified, unfair, not right. there is a sense that i am under constant pressure and the slightest bit of anything pressing on me any further causes eruptions, spasms of profanity and gritted teeth. one day the car seat wouldn't go in and it was all tourette's and tmj - i was needing so badly for it all to stop. i hated the car seat, the car, the fact of the need to drive, this history that made me require this hunk of plastic that will surely be landfilled, this unnecessary mined ore and all the petroleum of the world - the arab oil dictatorships, this president and his saudi ties... the call for jihad seemed suddenly so reasonable as i was running late and the car seat still moved and bastian fell asleep between my purse and diaper bag in the front seat, waiting. jihad! fuck the car seat! that is the essence of the unreasonable erupting from me. that is the every day, these days. i cannot articulate anything and i cannot pinpoint what is wrong. i have been having a bad life and i am waiting for it to be spurred to improvement. i am trying to accomplish just that by the movement of any project in a forward direction, but my long-term destinations are insurmountable even in my dreams where i announce that the pursuit of midwifery is a decade away; and my short-term goals get buried by my sons spewing snot and making constant messes. even dusting the bookshelves becomes impossible as things are all drenched by the three year old in food bits, soap, and salt. he finds new concoctions for the things he drinks, eats, and eliminates with our floors and furniture. my life is the cup of tea made and forgotten as one child pees in his diaper while the other pees on the floor and i move from place to place, wiping and vinegaring, discovering peanuts in the plants or jam on the computer screen, hours later discovering the tea on the kitchen countertop, cold and unnecessary or unwanted with the lunch i must attempt to make. i am spinning in circles, looking for a pathway to release into and finding myself merely continuing to spiral. i cannot hold a thought and i am going nowhere.


the terrible truth about being so domestic and so nuclear as a stay-at-home mother is that i spend half of my life buying things. i am the stocker and i do the inventory of our home. i make lists and buy gifts and am drawn in by the secret drug in the air at target that tells me to consume. this all despite my urges and philosophy to be both frugal and to live simply. it seems nearly unavoidable. i hate it at the same time that i long for things. i am seduced by slick magazine spreads and by the well-researched product arrangement at the stores. i see things that i probably do not need but most certainly could use and i long, i lust, i do figuring rapidly in my head to determine the cost-benefit analysis on my bank account. i have no credit card debt. i am not gluttonous, yet i consume. i imbibe things. i am drunk on my own buying-power and i hate it. china is growing and manufacturing and polluting and violating the rights of their humans constantly that i might have shiny new canisters for my flour so the plastic that held my whole wheat stone-ground loveliness does not leach its toxins inward and onward to my breads and baked goods, toxifying the gastrointestinal tracts of my children where already surely there are pesticides and jet fuel from the air and water. the whole thing is disturbing, disgusting, depressing. i know that i have been duped into it by the big box marts, by the television and the pop-up ads. i know that the target is me. i am a part of one of the great markets of the modern era and it is delusional of me to think that i could escape it. i hate it. i hate it. i hate it.


perfection through planning. i am ever trying to do this life correctly, to make the appropriate choices at the appropriate times and do all the preparation for the future now. i find that i cannot know enough. there is no way, surely, to do it all right. there will always be struggle. but is it silly to be so planned about it? to try so hard at having such an organized and prepared little life when surely there will always be surprises and curve balls, accidents and mistakes made? it is stupid to presume that one can ever be truly prepared. we cannot predict one moment to the next or the years stretched before us. it is simply one foot in front of the other and one block built at a time and yet i try so hard to do and to be everything. is it a fruitless endeavor? is it wasting the precious time i have or making better use of it? will i fail? will i succeed? am i trying too hard, setting myself up? is it inevitable that i will make some mistakes and successfully avoid others? am i searching here for meaning and purpose, design and intent in a universe that is merely random? or is there some way to control it all? some way to set things in motion the way that i've decided they should be by choosing and acting in accordance with all the possibilities of the universe? can't i simply pick? or are the two issues not at all interrelated as i am making them out to be? am i being ridiculous? am i searching the crevices of my life for evidence of the divine, trying to instill a sense of karma where there is none? is it not just a story we tell ourselves that there is god and there is finite anything? am i here attempting in my own small ways to create a mythology that can deem my psychological processes appropriate or improper? sometimes i long for the had of god to part the clouds and point out all the answers to all my questions, namely that what i do is what i am supposed to do, that all i am is rightly me. it would be nice to expel self-doubt so neatly and finally with a flick of the divine wrist, but it seems ultimately a little stupid and counter to the point of all this, should there be, in fact, a point. the point is to get on with it all and of course to get it on. i can only endeavor to do my best whether by design or by accident. i can only endeavor to be purely me by listening to my own voice coming out in my questions and to create myself moment by moment in the image most desirable to me. it is whatever it is. questioning each tiny motivation is to but leave questions hanging about on the air like rhetoric. there is no design other than what i put forth and not everything is within my control. there are too many others wandering about sporadically and randomly colliding in a great waltz of chaos for any of this to even vaguely resemble preordination.


i have not the time to sit in constant contemplation of the meaning of things, of my life, of the infinite. i move back into the mode of planning and doing and feeling decent and have nothing to say about it. i started to see a therapist and just as i sit on her couch and begin to speak, my words feel so small, so unnecessary, so spent. i have already said it all in conversation and on paper and online. i have already cast out all the concepts and theories of my struggle and come oddly to the conclusion that i am not at all crazy, despite the intensity and frequency and tenor of my words, they are but evidence of such small, normal problems that are but the stuff of life and ebb and flow just like the weather. i am left with nothing more to work through at the moment, hardly anything at all to say. i can revisit all the issues i've expounded upon so clearly already and realize only that there must be ways to live in avoidance of the threshold where rage sets in, at least for the benefit of my children and then of course to funnel that energy elsewhere into more self-serving and restorative exercises. but of course there is no way to avoid yelling at my kids forever. bad days will surely come and i must simply work through it all as best i can. i will but move through my life and read and write and sort and sift as applicable as is my usual nature. it is so odd to sit on the other side of it and to realize that what in one moment feels so extraordinary is actually entirely mundane.


the words do not come out, they do not speak, they stay hidden, bottled within me. i have nothing but a need to speak this, to work it out somehow. instead i stack them up inside, reaching to my limits, building pressure. what will happen if the boundary is breached? will my heart stop? will a blood vessel in my brain burst, squirting fountains of red from out my nostrils? or will it all merely dissolve away eventually, the moments ticking a removal of each brick of pressure and anger from beneath the words in their ascent? will i simply write it out and lose the need? is this the funneling of energy elsewhere? or is it simply too tiring to keep up so that all that steam fizzes out through my ears, leaving me spent, exhausted? how do i do? how do i make use of all of this, find ways to not repeat all these mistakes that i make? anything i try to assign to this bad day to identify it, to map it and find the solution just turns to dust, slips through my fingers like so much sand. my brain turns into a muddle. the jigsaw puzzle pieces change shape as i go to fit them together; the colors blur. i cannot even see what i am doing or how i am thinking. what is this? i feel such guilt, such sadness all born from such outrage born from nothing. today we are all sick, except aleks who was sick yesterday, but is better today. somehow his vacation from mischief brought on by the illness must now be made up for, so he is exploring all crevices of things-he-need-not-touch while the rest of us try to just keep breathing as our nostrils close up and our throats swell and our brains fog. this has led to much frustration on my part as i try to care for the baby and jon sleeps on the couch. i tried to do nothing with him - watching a movie while the others slept - and it ended badly as he kept pulling my hair and the baby woke up. i went to lay down with sebastian who needed me beside him to get more sleep and left aleks with the movie. in this time he scaled heights of the closet never before scaled and got things down and cut things up. upon my discovery of this in my tired, lone-parent state, i acted in ways i should not have, accidentally bumping his head in the process and left in no shape to apologize. jon wakes to child screaming and rushes in to take aleks out, cuddling him and trying to make him better. this is fine except that i am left feeling so judged and in no place to heal my self and in no place to actually improve upon my behavior. so i am left with all the words in my head as i pick up and put away: i spend half my life organizing storage and putting things out of aleks' reach, it seems. things that do not belong to me and whose purpose and function is a mystery - boxes computer equipment came in and and millions of random cd-roms, the bicycle tire pump that's supposed to be in the basement, board games, bookbags, all manner of things that do not belong to me. and what happens to all of these things i have so carefully organized is that they get pulled out and put back in wrong places, only for me to organize again and still i have no idea what their use is and even as they are exposed to daylight by those who might in fact know if they are needed at all, they are ignored and jammed and packed away again and again. and i am judged for my frustration and my inability to keep it together just as i was judged for being the one who was sick just after christmas - when jon was the one taking care of both children (as i do every day) when he was well and had a house full of assistance and aleks was not on a well-again rampage. when i had the flu and could hardly move without aching and he was perfectly well, still he was angry and bitter, annoyed that he could not get back to his work and still i tried my best to accommodate him. it all feels so unfair. i don't get a day off from anything, certainly not without paying a heavy emotional toll. and now all i need is help. i need to not be this way, or to not be made to feel such guilt, such judgment cast my way for having a bad day. intervention is indeed needed, but only in the form of emotional support. because i have no one else. everyday i am fighting this battle alone. i am thinking all the thoughts and making the decisions by myself. there is hardly any aid and there is only my hand guiding both of us, trying to figure this out and find ways to be more effective and all that happens is that i become more and more of a failure.


i am, in some small and some not-so-small ways, doing better. i am not screaming. i am not descended into madness. i am interested and participating in the world around me. right now, i am really fine. why should there be times when i am crazy, when all the world seems dark and i am scared of the irreparable harm i may be inflicting on my son? most likely, the only person irrevocably scarred by my rage is me. it is the cycle of fury and guilt that makes the universe bleak. it is that my violent speech is so beyond my control - a monster springs forth from the pit of my belly with such inertia and so surprisingly, that i am stuck, powerless to stop it. there is a me that stands by watching, knowing all the correct ways to handle the situation and instead staring slack-jawed in helpless horror. all the guilt in the world does nothing to dissuade the rambling, ranting me, does nothing to reduce the monster's size. i do all this writing and considering in search of the magic bullet to slay the beast for good. i am forever searching for a way out of the mess, as though this were separate from my life, merely some temporary setback - as though i could distinguish between myself as i am and myself as this other. but where are the lines, the boundaries? how am i not myself? how am i not myself? how am i not myself? how am i not myself? how am i not myself? how am i not myself? how am i not myself? how am i not myself? how am i not myself? how am i not myself? how am i not myself? how am i not myself? how am i not myself? how am i not myself?

how am i not myself? that's sort of the thing about me - i am always very much uniquely me. in all the messy, not-so-nice, aggressive, blunt, funny, sarcastic, down-to-earth-ishness ways that i am me and the me comes out in my speech and in my actions - i am me. i am often intensely me. i wear my heart on my sleeve. i literally broadcast my heart across the internet. i am loud and i am hyper. it is how i am organized and how i am capable of doing all the things i do. it is how i am creative and how i am insightful; how i am inventive, decisive, compassionate, cruel, empathetic. how i am positive is how i am negative. how i am perfect is how i am flawed. i try to separate the two sides out to leave nothing but the parts i like. i try to battle the me that is painful, but really i think the best i can hope for is to not rub the parts i don't like so much in trying to scrub me clean that i am left raw and unable to cope. there is a balance here in me, but it is far from perfect or exact. the sides are not prevalent in equal measure. the more i push and prod myself to do better, or more perfect, the more the stressed, angry, bitter me comes out to release the pent-up tension. i cannot be perfect. i cannot do everything. and it is okay to even not be okay. it is okay to feel sad and flawed or angry and bitter. it's just a part of the whole. i am ever trying to balance it out, however unconsciously. i am always in the act of doing more or less, working towards just being, towards just going towards. towards the future, towards an outcome, towards a resting point, towards an action or experience. i am a body in motion, in time and in circumstance. i must find a way to stop the battle. i cannot cut off the limb that holds the ax. it's all a part of the same thing and the key is to accept what is; to be who i am in all the ways that i am. in trying to escape the wrathful me, i deny the entire person and it only digs the hole deeper and makes my world feel bleak and hopeless. i must find ways to accept myself and not aggravate the aggravated by trying to push it away or cover it up. how i let these emotions out is of course important, but the way i try to escape my life is not the solution for moving through it.


excerpt of email.

it's three-forty-one in the morning and i can't sleep, so if you reply and it takes me awhile to get back to you, forgive me as the reason i'm able to write even this letter is that it's three-forty-one in the morning and i can't sleep. suddenly i recall overlooking dayton in your apartment, drunk on many bottles of red wine, smoking all the cigarettes in the world... what the fuck were we talking about? i just recall that it was monumentally important at the time and i kept asking all the difficult questions i could think of. i'm so sad these days. i keep trying to pin it on something, but can't sort the clues. regular hormones, postpartum hormones, anxiety from having had a truck fall out of the sky, winter, the scope and weight of my life, perfectionism ruining me, the history of everything weighing on me, the stress of every day - which is it? can't there be an answer so that at least there is something to blame or something specific to work against or towards?


i wake up and i am crazy. the bed is wet and i am yelling. i have no control and i just want to be left alone. the job i wanted is gone, but there is no space in my mess of a life for it anyway. i called a psychologist, but there was no person, just an answering machine. i started to say what was wrong after i'd explained why i had called and how to call me back, but all i could get out was "i would like to talk to someone about some...after an accident." what am i saying? i don't know what i even want to do. i know that screaming at my kids is the wrong choice, but in my brain i don't even care. i start to think we spend too much money and goddamn jon for putting the provider index in the basement and the cinnamon bread has molded and there goes all that organic flour down the drain. it's all my fault. i feel so completely numb. my throat hurts from yelling. i am being cruel. it is not their fault. i don't know what i want - if it's just an attempt at control or what. i feel so lost though, no need for things to be in my control. i am not power hungry. i want to shove these responsibilities away. i don't want to have to strip the beds and pour vinegar. i find myself wiping the counter as i think about not needing control, wiping every little smudge down and washing all the dishes, just to make breakfast. and instead of getting the other bread down and the eggs out, i am in the office, on the computer, typing. i don't want someone pulling on my leg or touching my breast. i scream and then feel so small, so incapable of trying harder. and i try to remember what it was about staying in the present and allowing even my negative emotions without judgment, but surely this is not that. this is the verge of places you should not go, ideas that should be left unexplored. i hold the phone in my hand, its buttons aching for pressing. but who do i call? all the names of all the people. i can hear the voices on the other line as i explain what is happening and the best i'll get is an "i'm sorry, honey." i don't want that. i don't want sympathy. i want someone to come take this away. i want to cut it out, dig the bullshit out of my brain. i want to be warm. i want to curl up. i want my legs to stop hurting. i want to be in a very hot bath. i want to fill my stomach just to stop its aching. otherwise i could care less. you should see me. i am so frail looking. i am thin beyond thin, my bones jut out in weird ways, like grotesque caricatures of supramodels all strung-out, sometimes lithe, but mostly awkward, mostly dangerous, sharp and pointy. i see it in the bones of my hip when i lay down. my skin looks translucent and so, so pale. my extremities are cold. there is no warm spot, no soft landing for such a fat baby to rest and be safe. and yet my breasts fill with milk and flow and i am fertile and apparently healthy. but the look of it is disturbing to me. the feel of it is shivery and empty. i feel like a shell i keep trying to fill with anything at all, and yet this hollow skeleton remains. this cackling, screaming banshee, all bones and dripping flesh. i pick up all the little pieces of myself and carry them around, trying to put them in some order. i start to think that i can be or do something and it amounts to so little. i feel like i am not going anywhere, but when i look in the mirror, i am looking so much older. finally my age is written on my face. i feel like the years keep happening so fast and every time i blink i am still no further than when i started yet all this time has passed. i do five hundred things daily and sense no change. the messes of my home are made and unmade, the surfaces and utensils cleaned and uncleaned. i watch it happen. one day i go to the grocery and come home feeling so bountiful and healthy and the next the refrigerator has been emptied and i am searching in its whiteness for something more to throw in the hole. i am lost and i am confused. i want to be away from all this. i want to be left alone, to rot on my own without having to be responsible for everything in the meantime. i am ruining it all anyway.