Monday, June 30, 2014

A Grateful Haiku For You, and You and You and...

27 Weeks

There are sublime friends
They smile and slap our tense backs
We give up worry

We don't need it now
Take it home to your new boy
A neighborhood nests

His head lifts to me
If I move, he follows close
Small dog, my BIG guard

Hey little, small one
Take your time and absorb breath
You'll soon do it here

Hello from me now
Is it OK I need you?
"Evermore your root"

Hey there with your thumb
I'll pick you up any time
On we go with love

"Are you needing us?"
"Yes!" we say. "Yes!" Yes!" "Yes! "Yes!"
Their wings close around

I wrote you a note
Like old times, you send all heart
Not a minute passed

There's not enough thanks
In just words that try their best
Please just know and know

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"Noooo-bo-dy knows the trouble I seen..."

26 Weeks

I like roller coasters. Not everyone's cup-of-tea, but time and industry has proven their popularity. It's a physical experience which is designed to make you feel something. Something that reminds you that you are alive. Up and down, happy and sad, black and white. Not a lot of grey going on when you take that ride. It's like a condensed mini-life you can track on a line graph. Potentially powerful stuff packed into a cheap thrill.

Imagine, being in a situation—maybe a contest or a dare or a Guinness World Record goal—fueling your passion to strap yourself into a roller coaster for as long as you can stand it. How long would you last? Hours? Days? Weeks? Months? Living your life on that ride—food, phones, eating, and sleeping. (Bathroom breaks included. Let's be practical.) "But Jennifer, that IS life!" you exclaim. To which I say, "Perhaps, but after you've been through the ride once, you basically know what's coming, right? Life isn't always like that." And you say, "Ohhh, yeah. That's true. True." And I say, "Yeah. See?" And you say, "So where are you going with this?" And I say, "I'm getting there. Stick with me." And you say, "I have no choice. I'm not real. You are typing these statements for me. I'm a microscopic, intangible, protagonistic part of this conversation happening in your own brain that is working as a vehicle to choreograph counter actions in an imaginary, metaphorical dance disguised as a philosophical conversation with your ego." And I say, "Now I've forgotten my point." And you say, "roller coaster." Yes. Right.

It's simple. Imagine actually riding a roller coaster for about a day. No matter the circumstances that got you there.  As someone who likes roller coasters, I'm projecting the novelty would wear off for you after a few hours. You'd become numb to the black and white. And then you'd sit and wonder what in the world you are doing, how did you get there in the first place, and what is the point of life anyhow? Welcome to Six Flags Over Existential Crisis.

I have a dear friend I haven't connected with in far too long but I still consider her close to my heart. One of the theatre family members show folk tend to collect along the way. Eva. She is an incredibly talented director and theatre-maker and will always and forever have my love and respect for having been born. She's just one of those people that people love to work with and be around. She's a real, deal human artist living an American life. From my point of view, she's giving all she can to living fully. I can remember years ago when I was performing with a group she led, she found herself in almost exactly the situation I'm in now. Surprise baby on the way... a little later in life than some peers... faced with a whole new set of circumstances on the horizon... a horizon she hadn't realized existed for her until it was at her feet. I clearly remember listening to her while she shared her fears and concerns. Will she have time for her art? Will she compromise her art? Will her art still be relevant once she's divided in two? I remember thinking she was worrying about nothing. How on earth could this amazing and all-too-common action do anything other than ADD to her art? What is she so worried about? I marvel now when I look back and remember her standing in front of us, guiding and collaborating whole-heartedly with our cast while feeding a newborn from her chest. She appeared to easily incorporate her new situation into her work—even be inspired by it. But her worries were still there. 

I get it now.

For me, Week 26 of my pregnancy was all about the 'baby blues'. Week 25 I was happily strapped in and climbing the biggest hill, high on anticipation for what lay ahead. Tink. Tink. Tink. Tink. Tink. Tinktinktinktinktinktinktinktinktink... I hit the top and sped on down with a giant:


I forgot to throw my hands up. I cried a little. I even feel asleep. So, I looked up my new felt phenomenon. It seems normal enough. Hormones and real life worries and all. But my brain wants to figure out the puzzle of feelings. Find the reason. Why do I feel so lonely in the middle of, literally, the least loneliest thing that can happen to a woman? I'm two people right now. Two. Whoa.

My guess? It's as elementary as change.

Cry, sleep, go numb through it enough until it becomes novel again. Because it will. In reality we have no real control or knowledge of what comes at us in the next minute but we've all been on the roller coaster a few times. We can find the peace in knowing that much at least. And we can remember we thought it sounded like a good time in the first place. I'm gonna go buy another ticket and stand on line.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

25 Weeks

"How about number [blabedyblah]? I have that but it's not mint."

"Is it torn or just bent? Any grease stains or food? Creases are normal. Do you have number [bladedyblah] the first appearance of [bloopedybloo]?"

"No, but I've got [blabedyblah] and [blabedybloo]."

"Oh, the first appearance of [blabedybleena]—nice, man."

I can feel our son kicking inside of me as I eye the colorful walls of the store and wait for Greg and the owner of [blabedyblechyblow] to finish swapping Spidey talk. I'm impressed. I have never heard this side of my husband. It's like something triggered the part of his brain that was once a highly trained secret agent for Comic Con and I just watched him accidentally assassinate someone with a Vulcan death grip. Who else is in there? I'm seeing a whole new Greg and he's really sexy, in that Peter Parker kind of way.

If being pregnant has taught me anything so far, it's that REALLY, NO, REALLY you can try to plan your life but perhaps life has plans for you, or even further—there are no such things as "plans". You better be open to that idea or you're going to spend a lot of time trying to keep yourself from punching things.

"Keep the channel open." - M. Graham

I think being open isn't just about being flexible or listening to new ideas without laughing. I think being open has a lot to do with discovery. Letting go of preconceived notions. When I lived on the subway in New York City—I mean when I commuted daily to and from work—I came up with a theory to categorize the people I watched. There were 33 types. "Ah. By the doors, there's  #29, Hipster-Trust-Fund-Boy sitting next to #14, Native-New-Yorker-Down-On-His-Luck-Security-Guard and #18, Overworked-Single-Mom-Lawyer-With-Nanny." 33 labels. 33 identities. After a while, I could peg their stops or win bets with myself over who would give change to the busking break dancing team. Of course this was a harmless game I played with myself, but in reality, stereo types are judgments and judgments lead to assumptions and assumptions can lead to the inability to listen or learn from each other.

When Greg used to tell me, "I know a lot about my comic books." I thought, "Um, hm... when you were twelve." My husband, the grown up who studies the Bhagavad Gita as a hobby, he really does know his comics. I observed him in action.

We humans are so much more than the small combination of influences we allow certain sections of our world to see. Maybe #29-by-the-doors is actually a Hipster-Trust-Fund-Boy on the subway, but perhaps when he sits next to a hospital bed holding up his dying grandmother, he's just as powerful a witness to her life as any spiritual leader. We are all capable of the same stuff—when we listen to each other.

Discovery. That is what being a kid is all about, right? And being human too, at any age, I suppose. I hope that as I add the parent label to my identities, I am able to share what I've learned in ways that our son can discover. And I hope I can do that by holding back judgement and assumptions. These days I call him #1, Spoiled-Little-Kicker. I should work on that.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Details Schmetails

24 Weeks

Greg has been saving airline miles for years now. He travels frequently for work and he's Rainman about keeping track of the point programs. I'm so grateful one of us cares about things like taking advantage of extra curricular perks. I barely retain street signs in the neighborhood where I live. Greg can tell you his Amtrak member number by heart. Don't get me wrong, you can count on me to whip a project together to completion—I'm a capital-D-Doer—but I may have some extra screws left over when the thing is built. This is what hot glue is for. 

Within minutes, I will head to bed and wake up to get on an early train to Montreal. Like our honeymoon—our last excursion which consisted of five locations in two weeks and two European countries—Greg has planned everything as well as cleverly used his point programs for our travel and hotel. He is truly a person that is filled with a life of skills that have 'led him to this moment'. He is a natural student, pouring over research and information on all things he finds interesting and I, lucky wife, get to benefit from his hard work on home work.

I'm fundamentally different in this way. I was once a part of a potluck Thanksgiving dinner where my foodie friends knew better than to leave me to my own devices so they charged me with making simple cheese corn muffins. There are recipes for this. Lots of them. But instead, I bought a box of popular muffin mix the day-of and threw shredded cheese on top before I stuck it in the oven. The amazing thing is that I actually brought this horror to the dinner. I can still see the scene through the sepia filtered, fish-eye lens in my mind's eye. I pull back the aluminum foil and look up to see my closest friends howling and pointing at me in slow motion. These are the moments for which less emotionally stable Americans need more strict gun laws. What was I thinking? I wasn't. I knew it and I laughed right along with them. I guess I was just doing the doing. That doesn't always work when it comes to sex or good food. Or buying shoes. "What? Yellow galoshes for a job interview? Bad?" 

When we found out our lives were taking a path we didn't even know existed, Greg and I woke from our comas enough to realize things like using the airline miles we were saving for a trip to rival our honeymoon was no longer an option. We decided to attempt another version. And I'm grateful my husband has given me the gift of taking a vacation from planning our vacation. At this point in my pregnancy, I'm so exhausted from toggling between the planning and studying for our near future that it will be nice to be my old, viscerally focused self again.

I still haven't packed. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

You're the Top

23 Weeks

Top Ten Weird Things I Do Now

1. Get out of bed before the alarm goes off.

2. Look down to operate the copy machine at work—stare at my stomach for far too long.

3. Think about Friday's dinner during Monday's morning snack.

4. Sob over the beauty of things like nouns. 

5. Dress to accentuate my weight gain.

6. Put a piece of chocolate in my mouth every few weeks. Marvel at my revulsion. Who am I?

7. Drop something on the floor and strategize how to pick it up.

8. Read children's books. Take them seriously.

9. Forget what I was saying mid-s

10. Make lists.