Showing posts from 2013

Ten Voices Project

My friend Kathy created an awesome Kickstarter project, and asked me to be a part of it. It ends tonight, so there's not much time to contribute. But I'd really love it if you'd do so. Here's a guest post from Kathy, explaining why she created the project. She's says some honest, beautiful things here. Enjoy.

On the fear of being unheard and hurt

by: Kathy West

My greatest fear is that no one will hear me.

I face this fear in small doses: with my three-year-old who ignores my instructions, or at night when I want to stay up and talk but my husband wants to sleep, or in large groups where my stories are too long and my voice doesn’t carry. My quiet, quiet voice.

But I’ve never been unheard in a dangerous way, a violent way.

I know someone who has.

A friend shared with me vague stories that seemed full of anxiety. Average conversations felt loaded with fear. Until I realized that over months, I’d been hearing about my friend’s abusive relationship.

I didn’t witness th…

Small World

The advantage of living much closer to family is that I could make a semi-spontaneous decision to go see my sister in California. Sam was desperate to finish his novel and Henrietta and I wanted to see her aunt and cousins, so off we went, the two of us making the eight hour drive together. She was remarkably well-behaved during that eight hour (okay, nine hour) drive, and once we were there we  went to the beach and ate fish tacos and went to a glorious California farmer's market and cooked good meals and stayed up late talking to my sister. And we went to Disneyland.

I'm a bit of a Disneyland skeptic, as it turns out. I loved Disney when I was a kid, but I confess I don't much understand people who still love it as adults. So I was going mostly on my sister's word that we'd have a good time.

Henrietta and I had terrible trouble actually getting to the park (long story), and it took a complicated hour getting from the parking structure to the gates, so by the time…

The Darling Has a Birthday

The other day I was running on a trail that goes along a dry wash here in Tucson. It was gorgeous out, seventy-something degrees, and I was listening to RadioLab, a podcast I'm crazy about. The most recent episode is called 23 Weeks 6 Days, and the whole hour is about a couple who has a baby at that point in gestation, and the difficult decisions they face, and how science lends insight to those decisions (or doesn't).

When I turned around to head back to my car, the woman was just about to go into labor and they couldn't hold it off anymore, and she and her husband were talking to doctors about their options and the various risks. And suddenly I was bent over on the trail, sobbing. Everything about my difficult pregnancy flooded me, and my gratitude that we were spared those difficult decisions was so humbling that I wasn't sure I could finish the run. It seemed like I should sit right where I was, far from my car, and not move for a very long time.

Henrietta turned o…


The other day I went out for my morning walk as usual, and at the end of the driveway I passed a giant swarm of black flying insects. It must have been ten feet high. "Whoa," I said out loud.

The swarm frightened me, is the truth. I was grateful Henrietta had made it clear she needed additional sleep more than she needed to join me on my walk and was back at home with her comfort-lamb, doing her baby snore.

I walked a little further and passed another swarm, and another, and another. They were as tall as houses, as tall as the giant Saguaro Cactuses that lined the road. There were half a dozen of them before I'd even left the cul-de-sac. There had been a big storm the night before, a monsoon, and I wondered if that had somehow signaled all of these colonies to hatch. It was if they had alarms that rang promptly at six a.m., and now they were getting on with it, with the next stage of their life cycles.

But what were they? I pretty much assume everything that flies is a k…

Strange Elation

Henrietta has been sick. She's happy, for the most part. It's not the miserable sort of listless sick. She's just had stomach trouble. Explosions in her diaper. Horrifying puddles on the floor. You see what I'm saying here?

It's lasted a couple of weeks, as her pediatrician told us it would, and though at first I was surprised by how cool I was with it, it has begun to get old. I'm ready for that sort of event to not punctuate our days, and I'd really like to take her places without worrying she'll pass illness to every kid in a mile radius of the park.

One night last week, Sam and I both had trouble sleeping. I was up late working on a freelance project, and after that I couldn't settle my brain down. It was nearly three in the morning when I finally fell asleep, and just after three in the morning when Henrietta woke me up, crying. Or actually, it was Sam who woke me up, saying she'd been crying on and off for fifteen minutes, and maybe we sho…

On Being Too Sensitive: A Water Aerobics Follow-up Post

{Alternate title: Aquabitches}

I was dreading going to water aerobics this morning, likely because of my blogpost from last Saturday. You know how when you told your mom how great your friends were and how much they all liked you, and how the day after that you were a little afraid to see them all, afraid they secretly thought you smelled bad?

It felt like that this morning. I'd joyfully blogged, and now it would never live up to that again.

I got there late, and the water was crowded, and I felt awkward. At one point we had to jog to one end of the pool, then jog back, so I took this opportunity to position myself a little deeper in, since it's hard to do the moves in shallower water. I thought I fit fine, but soon two women near me looked at each other over my head, and I could somehow tell they found me irritating.

I racked my brain for why: was I too eager, too happy to be there, too fat? Should I just settle down and splash less? Was I too splashy? And the other part of m…

"In the water I am beautiful." --Kurt Vonnegut

I joined a gym this week. My morning walks around my mother-in-law's neighborhood were great, but last week, after running into a snake and a neighbor's unleashed doberman who gave me a little nip (among other terrifying wildlife), I was done.

I went in really just to a get a few days of working out for free. I didn't expect to love it. But surprise: I loved it. I dropped Henrietta off at the gym daycare, got on the treadmill, rocked out to my music, watched the news on closed caption, and started a couch-to-5k program using an app. Endorphins flooded me. I forgot how much I love those endorphins.

And this morning I went to my first water aerobics class. I'm not yet brave enough to try the other classes, though I will get brave enough soon, and this was the perfect reintroduction. Water aerobics is ideal for a post-pregnancy body. Really, I think water aerobics is just ideal.

There aren't any mirrors! No one was competing! Someone told me my swimsuit was gorgeous! …


As it turns out, jumping off a cliff together is terrifying, especially when a few of your parachutes don't open. We've had, since we've moved, a string of bad luck. Our house still hasn't sold, and the opportunity to make a good bit of income has dried up. That income was meant to carry us through the next few months and give us a bit of cushion and allow us to move into a place of our own.

Stress? What stress?

Luck is a funny thing. I've been thinking of it that way--as a string of bad luck. A month or so before we left, on a picnic at the park, Sam found a five-leaf clover. He wasn't trying to find it. We were in the middle of a stressy conversation about money, and he looked down, and there it was.

I did a quick Google search to see if five leaf clovers are good luck, or if it must be four, and Google said they were even rarer, and therefore luckier. We're not people particularly prone to symbols of this kind, but it seemed hard to ignore. Our stressful…

Baby in Galleries

Two months ago, I was in New York City to see some dear friends and meet their new baby. It was a whirlwind trip--in Friday, out Sunday. We had a lovely day at the Met on Saturday, and this is what I wrote in my journal once we got back to our hotel room.

Lovely day in New York. Here to see Arin and baby Alli before we leave the coast. We drove into the city from Westchester County and the she had on all of her jewels. I've never been here when the city was so green, the trees heavy with summer.

We found a miraculous parking spot on the Upper East Side and walked to the Met. I pushed Hen in the stroller and she stopped people in their tracks with her cuteness, as she tends to do.

She had a little foam W she was playing with and chewing on and she kept dropping it. I'd have a feeling she dropped it and I'd turn and see it there in the middle of the gallery, a security guard advancing to pick it up and return it to us.

I held her hands and walked her through the galleries, …

Sam, Reading

On our first Sunday here, I completely mistook the time the local LDS ward started, so I joined Sam at mass. We attended at the San Xavier del Bac Mission, located on a reservation about 45 minutes away. The mass was packed, all of the ornate wood pews full. It was a punishingly hot day to attend a packed meeting in a church without air conditioning. They had fans going and all of the doors open to the courtyards, and still we sweated. We passed Henrietta back and forth, trying to keep her entertained, handing her toy after toy after cracker from my purse. When she dropped toys, those around us were eager to hand them back to her, smiling. She did remarkably well for a ten-month-old, leaning into us and shyly grinning when she received attention, and when we were asked to offer each other a sign of peace, a woman made the sign of the cross on Henrietta's forehead, and Henrietta looked at her in awe. It was a lovely meeting, and at the end, when a man stood and announced that they…

Bedtime Routine

This is what we do every night: We take her to her room. We read her a few stories like Goodnight Moon, or The Very Busy Spider, or Little Fur Family, or Moo, Baa, La La La (the current favorites). She plays a little, and I love that part, when that's all we're doing is loving her and focusing on her, and trying to make her feel happy and safe enough to sleep well. All day we've been about distracted business, all of us pursuing different ends with various means. But at night, we meet there, connected and clear about our purpose.

At least Sam and I are there for the same purpose. Henrietta would, in general, prefer we were meeting there for something entirely different. We attempt to distract her while one of us puts on her nighttime diaper and her pajama footie suit. She screams and tries to escape during that part. Sometimes she succeeds and gets halfway across the room, and I dread the night (it's bound to happen, right?) when she lets loose and pees during that win…

On Arriving in Tucson, Bobcat Families, and Hope

We're here in Tucson, and have been for a week. I'm beginning (we're all beginning) to acclimate. That first day, my heavens, was so disorienting. I started the day in the heavy, vibrant, humid green of a New England summer, and it seemed like I blinked and by afternoon I was here, in the middle of the desert, and all of the Summer green was delicate and dry. It felt like my entire previous life had vanished, like I wasn't sure it had ever happened at all.

As we talked about this move, I kept having an inexplicable longing to drive here, instead of fly. We opted not to, because it would have been insane, but I think once we arrived, I knew where that longing came from: maybe if we had traversed the entire country to get here, I'd feel like our arrival made some sense. I'd have seen the physical distance mount. Instead, wham bam, goodbye East Coast and hello completely different world.

To be fair, I hadn't slept much in the days leading up to our departure …

The Posts that Got Away

Golly. You know how everything is going along sort of normally and then you decide to move and chaos reigns? You don't think you'll give up every single excess thing you usually do, but it turns out you severely underestimated the moving beast. Moving is a beast, right?

And it's a bummer because I have all of these things I've meant to tell you, posts that flit into my head and flit back out again when I crash for the night without having written them. So here is a brief report on all of the ones I can remember.

*A few weeks ago we got ourselves bamboozled into an in-home presentation from an earnest and awkward vacuum salesman. Even now I keep thinking of him carrying these little filthy filters--round white circles black with dirt--over to us very carefully, like the dirt was sacred. He did this half a dozen times--on our carpeted stairs, on our couch ottoman. He told us about bugs that live in our bed and feast on our dead skin. He told us if he vacuumed our bed, h…

Summery Pasta Salad

It's not really summer until I make this salad. It's my mom's recipe, and you won't find it very scientific, but as long as you get what's important--a lot of fresh herbs and vegetables--you can't go wrong. Aren't most pasta salads sort of bland? This one, my friends, is not.

I've been working on using up my pantry supplies before we move, so I used the ziti I had on hand, but my favorite way to make this is with bowtie pasta, mostly because the little bowties please me. I've also made it with brown rice and other whole grains to good effect.

(Sidenote: Today I also made these cornbread muffins and these millet muffins, in an attempt to use up cornmeal and millet from my panty, and they were both awesome, but the second ones--from 101 Cookbooks--are probably my new favorite. Oh my word, were they good. I pretty much want to be Heidi Swanson when I grow up. And I pretty much think all baked goods should have millet in them. Can't beat that perky…

I'll Blink Again

Our bed is finally fixed. After a few failed attempts that made me cry and despair and blame Sam entirely (and unfairly), it's fixed. Even though Henrietta has been sick most of the week and Sam got sick this weekend, and I seem to be coming down with it too, last night we pulled the guts out of our four-poster, and dropped a metal bedframe inside (this one--which I can recommend), and it worked like gangbusters. The baby was crying in her crib most of time we worked, since it was clearly bedtime to everyone involved except for her, and there were screws and shards of wood scattered everywhere. Once we finally had it set up, I went and got her, and she clung to me gratefully, resting her head against my shoulder. She was in a little plain white onesie, since it's full-blown summer here now, and her nose was running. I set her down between us and we lay there on either side of the bed like lumps, while she crawled back and forth between us, ricocheting like a pinball. She was s…

They Seemed to Shine

On Saturday night, Henrietta slept through the night for the first time. No waking at 1:30 to cry it out. She just slept, and in the morning, when she woke up, I felt like she was my best friend and we had been reunited after a long and beautiful journey. If she were a little older, I would have begged to hear every detail of her dreams. I was so in love with her.

I set her in her highchair with a scattering of Cheerios so I could make my breakfast, and took pictures of her. Her sleep-through-the-night photo shoot.

And it was probably just my extra sleep, but at church that day, I somehow knew so much better how to deal with her. She sat on my lap through the first meeting, and I kept a steady stream of toys coming. One at a time: a block, a car, a little ball, another block, a zebra. A container of cereal puffs which I let her reach in to get for herself. She lounged on my lap, her bare feet rising now and then, and the flutter of the flower on her headband was movingly beautiful. It…

The Post On Sleep

There are two things you should know before I tell you this story: the first is that I'm a lousy sleeper. I'm one of the lousiest, and I wear earplugs, these ones, or I would never sleep at all. This allows me to hear the baby when she's actually making significant noise from the other room, and not just fluttering her eyelashes, which I swear I'd hear. And the other thing you should know is that our bed is broken in a sort of complicated way, so I can only sleep with my head where my feet should be or I dream that I'm sleeping on a mountainside all night long--really, that happened.

But lately I haven't been sleeping much anyway. Not with earplugs, not with my head where my feet should be or anywhere else. Henrietta has been breaking records in the wake-up-at-night department. Gosh, it's been awful. She's teething, surely, but it's gotten worse and worse, and a few nights this last week she woke up 10-15 times (I lost count), at least once an hour…

Announcing a Move

On a Friday a month or so ago, Sam and I were driving to the art museum in Worcester. It was sunny and glorious outside, and we were talking, again, about Sam's dread for the coming school year. He's been on paternity leave, as I've mentioned, but he's dreaded the end of that leave every single day, and we've discussed his dread most days. The job is a bad fit for a number of reasons, few of which I'm interested in going into here. We thought that a move closer to the school would help (his commute was horrendous previously), but it hasn't, so as we talked, driving along, I said what I had started to say when this subject came up, "Don't go back then. We'll figure something out. Don't go back."

Prior to that Friday, this would lead to some circling around the possibilities, and end with one of us saying, "No, it'll never work. We can't do it. We'll stay one more year and see how it goes. It's bound to get better.&q…

In Wonderland: Thoughts on Alice

Maybe it was all of your awesome comments on my last post, or maybe it was a late morning talk with my mom and a nap while Henrietta napped, but ultimately today was better. Sam is still struggling to bounce back, spending his days in bed, for the most part. So it was all me again this afternoon. And somehow, I didn't hate it. She was giggly today. I bent and unbent my legs after our naps, and she laughed hysterically. I minced my fingers toward her nose and she laughed hysterically. I sang her little songs, and she laughed hysterically. I could get used to that.

It occurred to me that she might want to watch The Brave Little Toaster, a show I used to enjoy when I was a kid. But they didn't have it on Netflix, so we watched the old Disney version of Alice in Wonderland instead. She sat on the rug and watched it, really watched it, her face turned up to the television as if she were seven and not seven months. It's the first time I've ever put a kid's show on for h…