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.


when i wake up every morning, i think about all the five million tiny little things i want to accomplish that day or that week. i plan them out and see my time stretching before me and i know i'll only finish a fraction of it. i consider how tired i am and how much of it i might actually have energy for. most of the five million tiny little tasks are mundane: clean the bathroom, dust, do the dishes - but some are creative: bake bread, finish crocheting the plant hanger - and still others will likely fall right off the priority list for lack of time (both to actually fit in and the quality of time it takes - uninterrupted, thoughtful): return all the emails and private messages sitting in all the varying inboxes of the world, waiting. this last one is of particular issue because often the messages i have received but not responded to are of actual importance to me - they bother me somehow, making me think of them both in waking and in dreaming, but sadly my brain and my hands cannot seem to find the space to set aside and create the interesting, thought-out responses i believe these messages deserve. also, most often the time that i might have spent doing that gets carved out instead for myself so that i can sit with my own issues and roll them around on my tongue, desperately trying to figure it all out. and there seems to be a never-ending supply of my own issues to be mulled over and dealt with. there is never enough time to put into having all the right relationships with everyone each day - my children, my husband, my immediate family, my close friends, my local friends and all those distant, far-off people (both in time and in space) whose emails i do not seem to return, but of whom thoughts invade my dreams. to those people whose messages i have yet to reply to, i offer an apology - i am sorry. there is so much i want to say, but never the time, it seems, to say it, and i am grateful that you thought of me and took the time to write. i did not forget you.

once i fully wake up and begin movement about the house to complete said five million tiny tasks (first change sebastian's diaper), my thoughts move elsewhere, in unexpected directions. i remember my dreams and think of things semi-related to other thoughts: ranting about cesarean sections to old college dorm mates in my dream reminds me of the midwifery meeting i have on wednesday and the mothering meeting on thursday and also of mothering and then of Mothering dot com and if the girl who messages me will circumcise her son and the argument yesterday with my father about why it's a human rights abuse and then how angry i get about so many things and remembering telling the other women jon's new year's resolution to eat organic and how i want to buy him new clothes but now he's insisting on fair trade and then class struggle and the need to support what we believe in with our dollars spent and how that supports actual people somewhere who pick grapes or harvest cotton or dye textiles or sew garments and how they have children to feed also and probably not the money to do a whole lot of family planning the way we can or maybe i'm making gross assumptions about what the lives of immigrant women and men are really like, but clearly being paid a fair wage is terribly important and jon wondered the other day what precisely a fair wage was and i think of our honeymoon since i was switching the wedding photos last night from one album to another and i remember standing on the pool deck of the holiday inn superdome watching the fourth of july fireworks and then wonder what standing on that pool deck would be like now with the ruins of new orleans below still rotting and stinking and there is the greatest modern american example of class struggle and institutionalized racism - that cesspool of the dead and dying stranded by the american government on television while their wealthier neighbors lounge in faraway hotel rooms or cities with family members or friends and i wonder how that could happen and if it could happen to me - what would it take and what could i possibly do to stop it, but i remember also that i am white and i am middle class and thus protected by my privilege, protected by my knowledge and my family, by my education and ownership of things, but still i do not feel immune, i do not feel precisely safe, which makes me think of all those voting mothers in the last presidential election who were terrified of terror and thought that this president would somehow protect them by cutting spending to his own programs and giving away no-bid rebuilding contracts in iraq to his friends and i think how not like them i am though i appear to be the same by demographic classification - instead i am young and well-beyond liberal, i think karl marx has taken up residence in my brain and he just keeps repeating how it all comes down to class struggle over and over and over again. i have not ever read more than an excerpt of marx. i don't have a university degree. i really am not a checklisted demographic, the sum of all i buy. am i in a struggle? i feel so outside of it, outside of the masses and their thoughts and purchasing tendencies and their voting tendencies and asinine human rights abuses and all the other crazed bullshit i imagine the whole of middle america participating in. as much as i am outside of it, however, i am apart of it with my own big box store purchases littering my house despite my efforts to curb such spending. i cannot eradicate these indiscretions from my history with this buying power and all these imagined needs filling me up. i am so much still a part of this culture in this era and i very much enjoy the comforts afforded me by this history and the industrialization of this land despite how it's left all the midwest a wasteland of empty warehouses and factories, the dirt and pollution still here, dotted with occasional still-belching smokestacks reflecting cumulus clouds of toxin in the dark water of the river, pigeons mumbling through and around... how do i stop these visions? these thoughts and images of all lain waste by the excesses of capitalism, by the omnipresent bottom line are juxtaposed in grotesque mad-house fashion with the clean white faces of my children playing with curious george blocks in their new christmas clothes and i sipping organic, fair-trade coffee, eating free-range eggs from brown shells, surfing the internet or writing in my new journal whose cover celebrates art history which i studied in college and my husband reading obsessively thousands upon thousands of pages trying frantically to retain everything to pass his comprehensive exams in april so he can finish his phd and we can continue this middle class wet dream... how do i reconcile my ideals and my reality, my fears and my anxiety with the truth of my daily life? how do i come to understand what i do and who and what i am in the context of a world gone mad on the one hand and a world nestled comfortably in this old house in this old neighborhood on the other? how can i be what i am and know that it all rests on the backs of the poor? how can i want to give my children every opportunity and yet know that it may very well be at the expense of the children of others who are less white, less rich, less privileged? how can this not drive me mad? what is my role in the world? which world do i exist in? what i am actually witness to is so opposed to what i know to actually exist. the worlds of the rich and the white are so insulated from so many others - how can i let this be? i feel so small and so vulnerable. i feel - so helpless and scared and angry. and yet i go about my life and complete the five million tiny tasks in mundane repetition and revolving absurdity.

"everything is the same even if it's different. but our everyday mind forgets this. we think everything is separate. limited. i'm over here. you're over there. which is true, but it's not the whole truth because we're all connected." when i get that, i can relax "because everything you could ever want or be, you already have and are. "


wary of hope. with all the urge in the air to be rebirthed, to become new with the changing of the calendar, i find myself wary of 2006, wary of hope, wary of the tendency to plan out my new self and all the activities or changes i expect to occur in the coming weeks and months. after all that has happened in the last twelve months, i cannot convince myself that striding forward with arms full of designs for the new year is really the best way to approach the matter. better to use caution. after all, it was but a year ago that i decided to join life here, high as i was on newfound second-trimester energy. i decided to get out and commune with the people i'd met here by going to meetings and talking about that which interested me most; that which at the time most consumed and troubled me - birth. so it was in january last that i attended five different local birth meetings and the night after the fifth and final meeting, as i was driving home late at night from the restaurant we'd regrouped at to be the chatty, judgmental bunch we were - as my car rounded a curve, the clouds parted and a great godly hand dropped a semi on me. it is because of that turn of events that my every move through this life, it seems, is filled now with great anxiety and trepidation and why i find myself yet making "to do" lists out for the month of january yet feeling ever hesitant about finding joy and confidence in my steps. i find myself feeling quite nervous about having hopes that they might soon enough be dashed, and i wonder how much heavier a weight might it take to do all that smashing of confidence.

in the meantime, my children march forward without a hint of my anxiety or hesitation. sebastian is spending all of his days absorbed in trying to move about and will, i am sure, in one of these early days of january succeed in crawling, causing me all sorts of unforeseen headaches. aleksander too moves onward, readying himself to actually understand numbers and their values, having already counted a number of objects at least once in recent days. he's also taken to tacking the word "remember" onto anything he wants to tell me about whether grammatically appropriate or not: "heather has to stay here at my house; heather's not going to go bye-bye, remember?" oh yeah, i remember.