Christ has risen

April 25, 2011

He has risen, indeed!

each year i seem to completely forget just how awesome Easter is, particularly its manifestation in the Easter Triduum and all the fixings that come along with it. today i’m feeling stuffed full of blessing and gratitude for the Church of which i am a part and for the resurrected Christ.

it was indeed a good way to roll into this final week of work, flooded as it is with loose threads. i’m moving steadily away from anxiety and towards genuine excitement about this new phase. this is quite a big deal considering i was put through the italian wringer this weekend by my mother’s side of the family. they lectured me in high pitched voices about the dangers of working in englewood, how i should not ride a bike in the city, why i should not take babies home with me, and then gave me a small weapon (no joke) to keep on my keychain. needless to say, they made my mother (whose catchphrase for the week has been “why are you doing this to me?”) seem tame and, indeed, by sunday evening she quietly reiterated that she trusts my decision and is hopeful for this new prospect.

the easter season is a good time to be hopeful. and lucky for us, we have 40 days of hopeful easter season ahead of us. i’m looking forward to seeing how these months take form and the form i’ll take in the course of them.

we.will.see.

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April 18, 2011

i’m not sure if “pearls before swine” is quite the proper sentiment, but i do have occasional reservations about declaring life changes on something so seemingly impersonal as a blog. of course, i make you readers suffer through the painstaking accounts of my interior happenings so i suppose i should not be so stingy in saying:

i got me a new job.

yes, yes. it’s true. a full-time doula position no less, friends. working with teen moms. in englewood.

and my insides are a downright mixture of excitement, anxiety, hope, insecurity, joy, fear, blessedness, and thankfulness.

you know, the usual.

so this whole business starts 2 weeks from today. until then, i’ll be wrapping things up here in the vortex of ennui, compiling the minute list of responsibilities that i’ve generated for myself for whatever sucker will be warming this seat after me, and wishing i had the guts to just use up my remaining vacation days instead of coming in to work this week or next.

this weekend was a dramatic pause between the mad activity of last week and the whirl of Holy Week that we are about to enter into. i drank wine, knitted, sewed, mended, diagnosed my struggling seedlings with all sorts of nutrient deficiencies and then set about healing them. i spent a lot of time thinking, a lot of time praying, a lot of time sleeping, a lot of time stationary, letting the bouts of supreme anticipation and neurotic anxiety run their course through me.

that is to say that i’m learning what i need to do to take care of myself – to let myself be and give myself some space to breathe. quite a novel idea for me and something i desperately need to do before i start this wild new doula ride. saturday afternoon i looked up from my sewing machine and started rattling off all the things i thought we could/should do that evening or the next day and mark just shushed me from his book, like a good husband. i realized i need to be shushed a little bit more, in the midst of my internal and external activity.

and so rather than detailing for you all my thoughts, fears, and hopes for this next phase of life, i will instead say:

i was blessed with an opportunity and am humbly hoping i do not screw it up.

maybe that’s not great…but i’m trying.

“things i made”

i’ve been trying to get better about actually photographing the things i make because 99% of the time they are not for me and i don’t see them again (for better or worse). my mother bought me a little photo album to house these sort of pictures in and, though i didn’t have the heart to tell her about digital photography, it did make me think that i should make more conscious efforts to document my…conscious efforts.

so here is a little start. posted without approval from the owner (sorry, taz): a birthday table runner.

 *the pattern is from a patchwork book that i had been lusting over for some time and was, i think, another good stepping stone for me in my quilting aspirations. part of the fun in quilting for me, actually, is figuring out those sneaky shortcuts that old quilting ladies use to make everything “fly by” (ie. take a few seconds off the mammoth amount of time you’ll spend doing it). this book/pattern was useful in that regard and also pretty damn fun to make because the fabric was so great, and as my mom said, “so very taz”.

 i even machine quilted this one, though i purposefully did not attempt to photograph that endeavor…the actual quilting part of quilting is where i really destroy these projects. but this one wasn’t so bad, just…very improvisational. i got so jazzed about it all i even added some embellishments to the back of it so that it can be reversible. also because i grew to love these fabricated ladies like old friends. cute, monochromatic friends.

if that wasn’t too boring for you three readers of mine, i’ll add more in the future. i’ve got pictures of mark posing in a child’s smock that really shouldn’t be collecting dust on our computer – they have all the makings of an internet sensation. maybe next week…

*yes, my photography skills are not good; i’m hoping to find that perfect white expanse that everyone else seems to be using for their etsy products.

sunny corners

April 13, 2011

this past saturday was the real saturday that i have been dreaming of for so long. a kind balance of activity and inactivity. in a sliver of time between knitting-in-bed-cleaning-the-apartment-listening-to-the-radio-working-in-the-garden and biking-with-mark-working-on-wedding-invites-making-dinner-going-to-a-movie  i was sitting in my favorite chair in the living room and re-learning what the light is like in that exact spot on beautiful sunny afternoons. we don’t get much direct sunlight at all in our apartment and so indoor sunlight is quite the hot commodity.

i’m longing for that sunny spot now, tired and emotional as i am, having spent the last days in feverish prayer and spontaneous tears for friends far away, today feeling sick and fatigued from another week that has already proven impossibly full. i’m cycling through anxiety and hope. i’m dreaming of unemployment and preparing for a job interview tomorrow. i’m basically wishing for a few hours of sun in the flowered chair, scratched to bits by generations of cats and inexplicably comfortable. some quiet clarity, i guess, would be nice. maybe this saturday.

we received a package at work today – a plastic package – that said “we are an environmentally-friendly company” on the outside. i obviously guffawed at this assertion – prematurely, it would seem. on the corner of the package was a tiny leaf with the even more incredible claim:

“this package was constructed with plastic that is in tune with nature”.

i thought that plastic, by essence of being plastic was specifically NOT in tune with nature. am i wrong? really, what does it mean to be “in tune” with nature to begin with? how can an inanimate object be “in tune” with anything?

please, discuss among yourselves.

schedule conflicts

April 4, 2011

so here we are at the start of a new week, following the end of another weekend, predictably enough.

and, similarly predictably, both week and weekend past were chock full of activity which meant that i woke up today feeling like i had been hit by a car. so predictably “monday”. i think we spent all of 4 hours at home between thursday night and sunday night, other than sleeping. there was 1 hour saturday morning when i got to lay on the couch reading anne of green gables and then 3 hours on sunday afternoon which were spent stitching up random odds-and-ends projects that needed timely completion while mark napped facedown on our living room floor. it was just that sort of weekend.

that’s not to say we were miserably swamped. well, i went to a baby shower which made me a certain shade of miserable but mostly the activity was pleasant, adventurous, and exciting. we went to art gallery openings, record releases, a reunion for my bradley method class where babies were forced awkwardly into mark’s arms, we shared meals with good friends and betrothed couples. i had all sorts of fun. but a part of me also consistently wished i could be back on the couch with anne shirley falling in love with green gables.*

i have this tendency of always wanting to be intimately involved. with… well, fill in the blank. with friends, family, clubs, churches, communities, organizations, projects, etc. it seems like i fall in love with nearly anything and anyone i come in contact with. i’ll meet you once and want to be your best friend. i’ll volunteer one afternoon and want to quit my job so that i can come everyday. i’ll learn a skill and want to hone it to perfection in a week. these are not exaggerations and are certainly not virtues of mine; moreover i worry that they stem from insecurity on my own part. i think i am something of a busy body.

as we’ve been gallivanting about the midwest this year, maintaining a hectic social schedule, and juggling a variety of emotions and plans for the coming year, i’ve also been messily attempting to dive into all sorts of communities, projects, reading schedules, and friendships. it has been too much. and yet i’ve also been supremely disappointed in myself that i have been a lax participant in any of my chosen endeavors.

mark reminds me that it’s ok that i’m not superwoman. i sometimes need to be told directly that it is not, in fact, a sin to spend a weeknight at home reading or watching a movie. he gently encourages me to slow down but is also kind enough to not rule me with an iron fist. he lets me make my own decisions and doesn’t get mad when i finally crash, burn, and spend an evening crying to him about how overwhelmed i am.  i think he finds it endearing that i think i can work a full-time job, be a volunteer doula, take private doula clients, learn spanish, take care of a garden for us as well as a communal one, be a member of various urban gardening boards, an active member of our parish, an avid reader, a skilled quilter, an artist, an activist, a disciplined pen pal, a regular volunteer at the op shop, and everybody’s best friend all at once. the word “no” doesn’t find regular rotation in my vocabulary, you see – it never has. but i tend to believe that this is a very achivable reality and then set myself up for predictable disappointment when i am not excellent at doing it all.

spring has that tendency of revving you up, making you think about possibility and growth. and of course, i admit, my personal ambitions have multiplied tenfold ever since the sun extended it’s stay in the afternoon sky a few weeks ago. but i’m hoping this spring will be more about deliberate, slow growth than the rapid burst and bloom i normally anticipate. i want to learn to appreciate quiet and to practice stillness in my days. i want to stop scattering myself every which way and finally learn what it means to be forgiving. i guess this is exactly what the process of lent is all about but i certainly haven’t been living that way.

time to give it a go by letting go, i suppose. time to make myself chiefly present in this lenten season. i’m not sure i’ll be very good at it but hey, i like to try…well, anything.

*[as a side note, has anyone actually read anne of green gables? we have had an antique copy of the book on our coffee table all year as some sort of misguided decoration but i lazily picked it up to read the other day and have been entirely hooked. it’s such a sweet book, i’m looking forward to reading it to my squirrely children in the future.]

opened up

April 1, 2011

so wednesday morning i found myself in scrubs, shuffling anxiously in circles around a surgery prep room as i waited to be admitted to my first cesarean section.

the previous evening had ended at 1am after a frivolous decision to go dancing with friends on a tuesday night. my wednesday started promptly thereafter at 2am with a phone call from my client that her water had broken, earlier than we had expected. a pretty independent single mom, she decided to drive herself to the hospital as contractions hadn’t really started yet and told me just to stay home until she really knew that she needed me. as i typically err on the side of going in too early to a birth, i relented but spent the following hours tossing and turning in bed, a ball of frayed nerves waiting for a call.

at 6am she goes ahead with her planned epidural and tells me to take it slow that morning and come in in a few hours. 8am i am literally en route to the hospital when she calls to tell me to turn around – she’s at 3cm and knows it will be awhile before anything happens so she is just going to sleep and wants me to rest too. i relent once again and manage to force myself into 30 minutes of actual slumber before my phone rings again and i hear my client struggling to communicate from underneath an oxygen mask.

i jump out of bed and into the car and begin speeding to the hospital in lakeview. friends and former passengers of mine will realize what a bad situation this alone is. i’m anxiously swerving from lane to lane, missing my turns, getting confused – you know, the usual for me except that i’ve got a woman trying to delay her emergency c-section in order for me to get there in time.

i finally make it to the parking garage, the hospital, the main desk, the nurse’s desk in the l&d ward where i have to argue with the nurses who are confused as to why i’m visiting a doula in a hospital (“no, I’M a doula, i’m coming to see my client”) and finally make it to her room as they are getting ready to wheel her away. they take her to the pre-op room while i quickly strip down and then awkwardly try to figure out how to package up my head and extremities with the various blue shower-cap looking things they’ve given me. by the time i make it over to the pre-op room, she is already in the operating room and they tell me i have to wait while they check the anesthesia.

the adrenaline slowly leaks out of me as more and more minutes pass. i stare around the pre-op room at the various plastic medical supplies and start to…panic.

some may remember my not-so-valiant stint in First Aid class (i, uh, nearly passed out from verbal descriptions of flesh wounds) so i suddenly realize i shouldn’t have high hopes for my ability to remain conscious in the course of the next hour. a nurse comes by and tells me to take my mask off until i go in, just in case i get sick in it. oh geez, i think, she knows.

 i shuffle, i sit, i contemplate putting my head between my legs but don’t lest a medical personnel notices this international sign of nausea and doesn’t let me go in to surgery. i think about drinking from the faucet of the sink that the doctors scrub in at. my stomach tumbles around and i can’t tell if it’s from the lack of sleep and food i’ve had or because i’m genuinely nervous. i pray, pray, pray.

and then pray, pray, pray some more. i figure God can’t let me pass out when i’m trying to help someone, right? it doesn’t seem like a beneficent God would see fit that i should vomit on a new mom’s face or something equally terrible. i keep praying and breathing and eventually, EVENTUALLY they let me in.

i keep my eyes on the ground until i’m by her face and then…i’m fine. transported outside of my own neuroses, somewhere necessary, somewhere i need to be. she is anxious and extremely weirded out by the turn of events, guilty that her mom isn’t there, grateful that i (only slightly less of a stranger than everyone else in the room) am there. she tries her best to joke around and not ask too many questions and i do my best to reassure – sometimes attempting to distract her from the situation, sometimes helping her to remain in it. nausea invades my body in waves and i focus on her face. she is about to meet her daughter.

after lots of yanking and pulling on the other side of the curtain we hear a little cry and then eventually the baby, swaddled in towels like a burrito is brought face to face with her mom and is still and quiet. the minute the nurse says that they are going to take her away to the nursery, the little girl’s lip quivers and we hear her wailing as they whisk her out of the room.

the rest of the day is interchangeably frustrating and joyful; mama recovers in isolation from her baby for 3 hours (!), i socialize with various neighbors/coworkers/family members in the waiting room during the 1-visitor-at-a-time portion of the day (and have an entirely delightful time speaking broken english with her very polish mother), we wait together for baby, argue with nurses, attempt breastfeeding. everyone is immensely grateful for the entrance of another beautiful soul into our midst and i am humbled by the opportunity to be present for it all.

humbled and entirely wasted. this full-time job/doula work thing wears me out but even so, i love it. i hope this love continues to grow and to define itself. i hope i’ve served these mothers well. i hope i get some sleep this weekend.