May 23, 2011

this past easter, my dad dug out an old scrapbook that my grandmother (his mother) had made during her first year of marriage. it was a tiny little thing with black pages wherein she gingerly outlined the origins of my grandparent’s story together in white ink. creative as my grandmother was, she didn’t include too many pictures but instead relied on actual bits and pieces of memories together – matchbooks from restaurants they ate at, carefully cut out calendar squares, dried flowers and cards my grandfather had sent her in the lapses of time they were in love from afar. written to my grandfather, she began with a postcard from the lodge that they met at (complete with an “x” marking the chair she was sitting in when she first saw him) and narrated onward from the long drives when they first met, on through to their first year of marriage and the birth of their first son. it was just as sweet as you could imagine – you could sense her warmth and their joy radiating right out of the pages and i was stock full of delight that this little thing had somehow strongarm-ed it’s way to the present.

the book concludes with her thanking my grandfather for the happiness he has given her and her anticipation at the good days ahead. her last line says that “every day holds the happy memories of yesterday”. i tear up just thinking about it – about a young woman in love, propelled forward in hope by the joy of the days behind. the story and sentiment, of course, falls in synchronized step with my own in so many ways down to the pasted up scrapbook which looks in form and word very much like something i gave mark after our first year of dating.

of course, the real mushy part of this is all is that i never got to meet my grandmother alice. she died of cancer when my dad was 20 years old leaving behind seven children aged 24 to 11 and one very heartbroken husband. my dad says that she was the moral compass of the family, that it is because of her that he ever got his life straight, ever decided to marry my own mother. he also tells me that she loved to laugh and was always crafting.

there is a perennial strangeness to not knowing someone you love. throughout my life, i’ve always been told how much i’m like my grandmother, how much i’d enjoy her. undirected, i’ve stumbled into nearly all the same hobbies as she had and fortified for myself a similar joy and gratitude for the path of life i’ve taken and the one ahead. my dad generously divulges details about her when i need them – when experiencing a loss, picking up a new craft she loved, and on the day i got married. i wear her jewelry on the days that i most wish she was still here and cook with her utensils when i most need her help. it can be a forced way of inviting her memory into the days she missed but then, really what else are we supposed to do when someone gets left behind in time?

i’ve of course been thinking about mothers lately – what with mothers’ day a few weeks ago and this new profession in mine in which the word “mother” is taking on a somehow more abstracted meaning when assigned to such young girls as the participants in my program. my grandma alice is only one mother in a long lineage of mothers whose existence made way for my own. i wonder what sort of complex permutation of beauty, wisdom, and grace preceded me, what they each were like at the various stages of life, what of them has survived in us. it’s such a beautiful thing to think about. i really do hope heaven is as social of a place as i’ve always imagined so that i actually get to meet this fine ancestry of mine.

so happy, very belated mothers day to all the women of years past, all the mothers of today with little ones, great little ones, great-great little ones, little ones that have yet to be, and little ones that have passed through this world prematurely. i suppose it sounds bold and hyperbolic to say but i love you all and look forward to joining your ranks someday.



May 19, 2011

why is it that changes knock me on my ass?

really, i’m curious. i’ve been consistently and inexplicably spent since the last week of my old job. my new, flexible work hours and the close proximity of the job to my apartment means that i’m making great strides in my goal of living like charlie bucket’s grandparents (read: living in bed) and yet i’m still feeling quite wasted. after 9 hours at work today (no lunch break) i’m now skipping knitting class to sit on my couch with a…vodka soda drink. i don’t even know if that is a thing – is that a thing? i’ve developed a particular love for mineral water lately and then discovered vodka in our freezer and well, things devolved from there. i’m afraid i’m no mixologist.

at any rate, i’ll let you know that the situation is indeed improving at work. i’m slowly shedding my insecurity and stepping out in faith. of course, i realize that this is probably the calm before the storm as most of my days have been spent reading birth textbooks in my small, windowless office, not interacting with too many people, let alone teens. but i’m thankful for the time to read and learn about the things i’m constantly curious about. the lack of social contact and the fact that most of the texts are written in the 2nd person means that i keep getting confused about whether i myself am pregnant. i don’t think i am, but i still find myself mindlessly rejecting caffeinated beverages and searching for high-protein foods. i guess those aren’t bad things to be doing even with an empty uterus.

this morning mark i went to what turned out to be a latin mass in what i think was a former theater converted into a church. thick carpets and awkward lamps did their best to spruce up the assembled altars and icons and make them look as grand and religious as possible in the open, drafty room. there were about 5 of us at the mass and i was decidedly out of place without a head covering.

i guess i’m diminishing the whole situation.

it really was quite beautiful and even though i couldn’t understand most of what was happening it was still a very meditative and beautiful experience. when we were first considering becoming catholic, mark took me to st. John Cantius church for the Easter midnight mass. which was in latin. which started at 10 pm on a saturday night. at 1:30 in the morning when they were just beginning the baptisms of the 50 or so catecumen, i started cursing mark in whispers rather than under my breath and got up to leave. it was…not his best idea for wooing me into the arms of the church.

of course, time changes a lot of things – namely my attitude towards the catholic church. while i haven’t actually been able to articulate to myself exactly how i feel about the latin mass, i’m not nearly as adverse to it as i used to be. in fact, i think we’ll try to go more consistently. as with most other aspects of life, i’m learning to not be so quick to dismiss what i do not understand. in fact, my lack of understanding begs me to pause and sit in the expanse of the moment, to take in all the foreign pieces without trying to figure it all out at once. there is something sweet and good and necessary in enigmatic moments of faith even though i quickly sweep myself into frustration. though i’m planning on trying to learn more about what is happening in the latin rite, i’m also finding myself romanced by the mystery of it. my thoughts are basically making circles around the mystic nature of it. i’m mystified. and i’m enjoying it.

maybe this is all very childish of me. but, of course, Jesus loves the little children, am i right? ok, ok.

well, i’ve nearly drained my vodka soda (whose reality i’m increasingly convinced of by the sip) so i should probably stop writing about the church. or anything else for that matter. my next impulse is to start writing about the rampant use of episiotomies in south side hospitals so i’ll spare us all and

sign off.



May 16, 2011

i’m enjoying some quiet hours on the tail end of a busy weekend. by the time friday hit, i didn’t really want to see or talk to anyone ever again but – weekend activity. it pushes you around and makes you do things you don’t really want to do. luckily, everyone we know and spend time with are absolutely wonderful people. though i was dreading the regurgitation of the week’s grisly details again and again, i was only met with sympathetic ears and words that have cushioned my bruised heart and given me some new courage for the days ahead. i am a fortunate one.

after eating sushi with the glorious goocheys, flattening a dirt pile in the same garden as mayor emanuel’s weekend photo op, watching mark’s aunts feed their grand-baby frosting for the first time, catching up with old friends, quilting, and eating a massive brunch i declared i was no longer available for human interaction between 1:00 this afternoon and monday morning. sticking to that plan, i’ve spent the afternoon knitting, eating, and watching ‘i love lucy’ reruns and it has felt glorious. i realize that restful days like this are a luxury that i only have so long to enjoy before real-world obligations like house cleaning, job-related reading, and bill paying start encroaching so i’m taking it all in. i haven’t yet decided what non-activity i will follow this interweb romp with but you can bet your bottom dollar i’ll be horizontal whatever i’m doing.

the nasty weekend weather has felt like nature’s way of reminding us to get all our “indoor work” done before the sun recruits us outdoors for the season. i’ve been hacking up fabric scraps and attempting to piece my first quilt like a lunatic in my free time the last few weeks. i’ve also been fretting maniacally over my bolting little seedlings (why i ever thought container gardening would be simple, i’ll never know) and reading way too much about pregnancy complications. someday i’ll strike a balance between all my over-doing and all my nothing-doing and become the good civilian i’ve always intended to be.

until then, i’m going to calm my nerves about ectopic pregnancy, race relations, and the impending work week by laying in bed, praying, and knitting myself to placidity. sounds like the best plan to me.

office kegels

May 13, 2011

well, i have made it through (nearly) one full week of work.

despite all of the concern that my family members had about my safety working in a community such as englewood, the gravest danger i have yet experienced is my own driving habits. on each of my first 3 days of work, i had some close calls but i’ve now taught my self such valuable skills as “looking before i pull out” or “looking before i pull in” and i think things are going to get better from here on out.

as for the actual work that i do once i safely transport myself to work, things are going pretty well. my first day was rather rough, to be honest. i was (among other things) dragged from office to office and introduced to everyone who works for the many different programs and affiliated offices that our organization runs. after enduring painfully awkward stares from nearly everyone, things really culminated when 3 nurses accosted me about the fact that none of these girls are going to want to work with me because i’m white. they said they were worried about me and that i was going to fail.

yep, not the most reassuring thing to hear on your first day.

thankfully (MOST thankfully) my doula co-worker is a complete saint as far as i can tell and, after giving me a quick pep talk about the fact that, yes, it is going to take people a lot longer to trust me, has been entirely supportive. i feel most blessed to have her as a doula mentor and co-worker which isĀ  a good thing because we share an office the size of a walk in closet that is stuffed to the gills with papers, birth balls, condoms, and baby toys and i don’t think i could stand to spend the day back to back with anyone else.

things have gotten a bit better since day 1. mostly i have been doing on-line trainings and making a fool of myself at the office water cooler – things that i am quite comfortable doing, things that are quite lauren-esque. i’m a bit anxious about building relationships with my other co-workers and, of course, the girls i am supposed to be serving but for now i’m just taking things one day at a time (really, what else can you do?) and talking to God a lot about why He thought i should be here in the first place. i’m hoping that this is just the awkward first paragraph of a really great New Yorker profile about my multitudinous efforts to save the world. my husband is hoping that i don’t try talking about the New Yorker to pregnant teens.

on the positive side, i am actually learning a lot from these silly computerized trainings and really appreciating the fact that i get to spend my days reading up on something that fascinates me – the beautiful, messy birth process and all the many ways it infiltrates people’s lives.

i also love that there is a sign on my office door that says “did you kegel today?” and that it is not inappropriate for my workplace.


May 4, 2011

well, friends. i have been liberated from office purgatory. yes, indeed.

my skin was crawling throughout the entirety of my last day there, just wishing and wishing i could leave but instead having to drag my way through 8 hours of temp training – a grueling and undignified process in which i was expected to teach a perfectly competent girl like myself how to answer a phone. for 8 hours. then there was the going-away party the office threw which, though a nice intention, really just meant that i had to spend the last 2 awkward hours of my day sipping bad wine from a plastic cup and answering the same 2 questions from all the socially inept engineers.

but it is over.

and now by the grace of God (most literally) i am enjoying a week off before the new job starts. i’m learning how to sit still, relax, SLEEP (i’m…really…just sleeping all this week it seems). just what i need right now after the madness and sadness of last week and the impending excitement of the weeks to come.

the birds are chirping outside and it’s sunny but i know the truth is that it is still cold as hell out there. sigh. nonetheless, i’m going for day 2 of being a goodly wife (day 1 entailed beer purchases and a botched attempt at making curry – curry recipes anyone??) by doing our laundry, taking a walk, and finally cleaning up the house a bit. or maybe i’ll just keep making random stuff, knitting, and reading in bed…hmm. the world is my oyster, really.

i think i could get used to this unemployment thing…