Monday, October 31, 2005
So how's this going to work? Mom asks, I mean, with your son, who's going to watch him(when you deliver)?

We're driving down a scenic New England route, winding beneath arches of burnt red and yellow leaves. We haven't even dated the pregnancy yet, I say. We're not even sure we should be telling people... my voice trails off.

Do you think I should stay home with the baby, and he'll will go with you? She asks, Or do you think I'll go with you and he'll stay with the baby? As if those are the only two options. As though either would be fine.

Saltbox homes, white with weathered black shutters. Pumpkins on wooden porches, their stems tied with thick linen ribbons. Wreaths of deep red cranberries adorn doors. The grass is still green, but flecked with patches of tans and browns - spots already surrendered and awaiting the first snow.

A little red farmstead hugs the curve of the road. Cars line the fields edge and children are milling by the entrance - witch hats and capes and Spiderman masks- brown paper bags clutched in their hands. Candy corn and homemade caramel apples, I imagine.

Mella? What do you think?

The car seems small as I turn to her. Hands carefully resting on ten and two. Pillow pressed behind the small of her back. A sweet, soft smile resting on her lips.

She isn't waiting for the results of bloodwork or for the doctor to press a doppler on my belly to be happy. She isn't cautiously optimistic. She isn't even hopeful. She is simply planning for what she knows is to come.

I shake my head and reach across the console to pat her leg. I don't know.

And then I slip into silence.

Hoping to be able to answer her question later.

And hoping for a heartbeat tomorrow.

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Confessions from a Wasted Weekend
This past weekend, my husband was away on a retreat and the boss was away on business (monkey business, of course.) This left me to a Saturday by myself. And I accomplished nothing. No writing. No schoolwork. No working out. No cleaning. No laundry. Nothing.

I slept until eleven. I picked at some toast to help settle my stomach when I took my horse-pill vitamin; but I didn't even bother to eat a full meal until dinner.

In fact, if I hadn't had a wedding to go to that evening, I probably wouldn’t have even dragged myself into the shower.

After the wedding I came home to an empty (messy) bedroom.

And I slept with a nightlight on (wishing I wasn’t alone)

But, I have no regrets.

It's been a long time since I've had the luxury of wasting a weekend.

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Saturday, October 29, 2005
No baby waking at five in the morning hungry for a bottle. A bed to myself. No snoring. No tugging of blankets. Just me, warm blankets and a dark room. After weeks of working long hours, this should be heavenly. I should be sleeping soundly, happily.

But I'm not.

I never sleep well when you're not around.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005
I first met Sil at one AM in a dark house. Her stick figure silhouette stood beneath the arch of the dining room door, she was licking peanut butter from her fingertips. You're not supposed to be here. She told us sharply. Everything about her was sharp - her fingernails, her bony limbs, her angry gaze.

It was a cold October night, and my now husband and I had left campus and crept into his parent's house to watch a movie, alone. We hadn't expected Sil to be sitting cross-legged in front of the livingroom TV watching infomercials and sucking peanut butter from her fingertips.

And I hadn't expected such an abrupt and uncomfortable introduction to her. Our first impressions of one another were shadowy at best. I appeared as a shy girl, nuzzling my face in my husbands shoulder, avoiding her eyes and wishing she would disappear. She appeared hard and bitter. For the next year I remained shy around her and she was either sharp-tongued around me or ignored me all together.

But recently, something has changed in Sil.

She's happy.

She's sitting on the counter swinging her legs. Her black heels rhythmically click on the cabinets beneath her. Her fingernails tap the counter delicately. Her eyes are smiling. She is softer than I’ve ever seen her.

He told me he loves me. She says, smiling at me from across the room. She looks sweet and almost shy. Innocent. New. This is not the same woman who scolded a young couple in her parent's family room.

I'm sitting at table, elbows propped, picking at a piece of toast. It's hard and the edges crumble between my fingertips. Really? I push it aside. That’s wonderful!

She is different - either that, or this love is different. I've seen her live with a man for three years, waiting for a diamond, planning on an eternity - and never once be soft like this.

With him, she never talked about love. She never spoke about how it felt when he held her hand or about how she lost track of hours while tucked beneath his arm, pressed beside his warm body. When he wasn't around, she never spoke of him at all.

But now, she smiles without pretense. This new one touches her and her hard edges crumble away.


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Monday, October 24, 2005
Monkey Business
Another Weekend at Grandma's - Turned to Monkey Business


Friday, October 21, 2005
Another for the List
I stood at her door, wearing saggy pajama bottoms and an oversized men's t-shirt, barefoot on the cold linoleum, in the dark. Waiting. Got chocolate? I asked when the door finally cracked open. She grinned and lifted a pillowcase filled with Halloween loot.

We were college freshmen living on the same floor of an all girls dormitory. At first, I would pass her in the morning bathroom rush - we'd nod and smile with towel turbans on our heads and toothbrushes poking into our cheeks. For all of our passing and nodding and smiling - it took my insatiable need for a peanut butter cup at midnight to bring us together. We sat in her room for hours that night, until her roommate kicked us out in search of sleep. At which point, we slunk out to the hallway and sat on the hard floor with our backs pressed against the cool concrete walls.

We spent most of that year up late, talking. We talked on long walks or while stitching designs on thrift-store pants and eating microwaved potatoes dowsed in salt and vinegar. We talked about anything. Growing up. Families. Home. Why we were there. Where we wanted to wind up. Everything unfolded effortlessly between us over plates of potatoes. Later, in letters from home, she would refer to us as soul sisters.

She is the latest one that I've lost. We haven't spoken or written in over a year, and I'm not even sure how to contact her. She has vanished.

And she's just the latest in a growing list of people who have wandered deeply into my life, only to disappear. There's the boy who sat with me in our cafe, sipping coffee, reading scripts and planning how we'd spend our lives together, playing here and there - never settling down. There's the adolescent flirtation that grew to an intense friendship and then became my last kiss, just two weeks before meeting my husband. There are too many; the list is long.

Sometimes I sense them slipping and I simply let them go. Perhaps that makes me to blame: I don't fight for my friendships. I welcome them, I love them, I listen and share and I wait to be needed. But, I don't poke or prod them like a fire needing to be stoked. I let them evolve, as they inevitably will.

And I cherish the ones that remain.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Sinking In...
Cuddled beneath the blankets, he breaths long slow breaths as his hands slowly smooth over soft fleece. I watch as he dreams. His little lips quiver. His eyelids press tight. His round cheeks pinch and relax.

When I was expecting him, no one told me about times like this. Cozy afternoon naps and the hushed lullaby of baby’s breath. No one told me that this sort of sweetness existed outside of popcorn filled theaters.

I remember what they did tell me. That he'd run me ragged. That I'd be sleep deprived and lifeless. That I'd be sagging breasts and thick thighs and that my skin would be scarred with a roadmap of his journey from womb to the world. Of course, they also told me that I'd love him. But there was no mention of the wonder of times like these. And it's times like these that make it all worth it. Overflowing diaper genies, spit-up stained shirts and purple-faced fussy fits seem like a lifetime away when you're curled up beside a sleeping little one.

My hand smooths over the soft skin of my belly and I close my eyes, listening to his breath. I can do this again. I press my palm gently against my stomach and smile. I
could do this foever.


Monday, October 17, 2005
I did not buy decaf coffee beans over the weekend.

It was homecoming weekend and we visited the cafe. We sat holding warm paper cups between our soft palms and saying sentences that started with remember when? I walked out sipping my (decaf) café mocha and thinking, I don't need decaf at home. It's the caffeine that I miss, why spend twelve dollars on a pound of lifeless beans?

Sitting here, looking out at the first sunny morning in weeks, my hands are empty, my lips are dry – and I'm regretting my decision. I'll just keep telling myself it's not so bad - only 8 more months until I'm brewing the good stuff in a hospital room while cradling my newborn. This is worth it.

At least the boss seems to be acting more like himself again. He's in his car, happily babbling to himself and not screaming for my attention. Maybe he needs a little breathing room after spending a weekend in Grandma's arms.

Now, the trick is to use this time that he's self-entertained to accomplish writing…and unfortunately, I can't put my blog in the packet for my professor in a few, off to work.

Thursday, October 13, 2005
I am my mother's daughter. A worrier.

I worry about normal things: Did I remember to pay my bills? Did I turn off the stove?

I worry about friends and family: Did my husband make it to work ok in the storm? Is my friends husband lonely now that she's taken the children and left him in that house?

I worry about silly things: will this fat free, no sugar added muffin impact my waistline?

Lately, I worry about scary things, like
will I see red today?

And last night, as I attempted to seduce slumber - I worried about her. She's an average height, average weight, African American woman. She's not someone who you would notice as you bumped shoulders on a subway or shuffled past her on a sidewalk. But if you are lucky enough to catch her eye, you might see it. And if you listen to her speak, you will know it. She is amazing. And next semester, AJ is going to be my faculty mentor.

She was my first choice. I skimmed the list of other authors and professors, but it was a formality. AJ was the one that I wanted. She is challenging. She isn't a pat-your-back professor. She's going to push me. For the past two semesters' I have slid by, writing when it suited me (and when the husband and baby allowed.) I have worked with wonderfully warm and witty women who are both accomplished authors, but who have also, well, given me some slack; and lots of pats on the back. AJ is a single mother who runs her own company and teaches alongside Toni Morrison at Princeton…I don't think she knows the meaning of the word slack.

And that is why I'm worried.

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Long after they baby has gone down, I've managed to write something

Tuesday, October 11, 2005
The End of Routine
Up until a little over a week ago, the boss and I had a fairly easy working relationship. He'd take his morning bottle while cuddling beside me under a heap of cozy blankets, and we'd both drift back to sleep until the sun was high enough in the sky to be called morning, rather than dawn. We'd meander down the stairs, pausing to giggle for a quick game of peek-a-boo in the hallway mirror, and then I'd click on the news and set him in his walker to follow me as I went about my morning routine. Coffee. Breakfast. Shake up another bottle for him. Tie my hair back in a bumpy ponytail, tucking rebel strands behind my ears while stirring yellow packets of sweetener into my mug. All the while, he'd be rolling behind me; shaking a magazine stolen from the coffee table and occasionally whimpering at the sight of his bottle on the counter.

We'd move back to the living room - swap the magazine in his fist for the bottle - change the news to a classical music station and we'd be off.

It was a lovely routine. I could sit at the laptop, looking out over the lake, sipping coffee while my fingers hovered over the keys, and he'd be quietly drinking his bottle and staring intently at the cat sitting curled on the couch or the knick-knacks just beyond his reach on the credenza.

That phase is over.

The new phase will from now on be referred to as the "if-you-even-so-much-as-take-two-steps-away-from-me-I-will-scream-bloody-murder" phase. He has been literally attached to my hip, or screaming about wanting to be so, for a solid week now. I'll leave him to do dishes or run a washcloth over the table, and he'll turn himself purple from crying. Once I pick him up, he calms down, sniffles for a few moments and curls into me, resting his warm little head under my chin and all is forgiven.

I know that separation anxiety is a perfectly normal stage for babies to go through; but part of me can't help but wonder if this might be something more; if perhaps he senses the change in me and is reacting accordingly. Just prior to my miscarriage he was acting similarly, very cuddly, very attached - and within a week of our loss, he settled back into himself. And now, here we are again. Only this time, it's more intense. It's purple-faced-rage, and it's his desperate little fists clinging to my clothing if I try to hand him over to his grandmother.

Either way...the result is very I have little time for creative endeavors, and a very sore lower back from shifting his twenty-plus pound little body from hip to hip.

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Thursday, October 06, 2005
Holding Pattern
I feel something. It's on the tips of my fingers, hovering over the keys. I'm just waiting (impatiently) for the moment when they'll start tapping; telling me the story that's itching in me, so close to me that I can't see it until the words are on the screen.

This is my process. It's not scientific. It's not practical (especially when there are deadlines to be met...) and it's not easy. It's messy, it's undisciplined and it's annoying as hell when you're sitting in this holding pattern - feeling the vibrations of something starting to rumble their way through you while you sit and wait for the words to just explode.

I wish I could be one of those writers who sit at a computer and pound out word for word the story that is already clearly written in their minds eye. My stories are never written before I sit at the computer, or at a café table, or on a couch with a mug of cocoa and a notebook. I write them as though I'm reading them for the first time myself. The only trouble is, just as I have no time to sit and finish a good book these days; my opportunities to sit for an hour or two, undisturbed, and write are nonexistent.

As a result, all of my writings lately are fragmented and incredibly frustrating.

And on that note, I'd better get back to sitting and waiting for my fingers to attack the blank page (before my son wakes up from his nap and I lose everything all together.)


Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Pie in the Sky? (further tales of procrastination...)
It's time again. Packet time. Time to assemble a months worth of reading and writing into a neat and organized pile of papers to ship off to my professor. I know that this time comes each month. I have it marked on calendars, scheduled as a reminder in outlook, mentally noted (practically tattooed on my brain.) And yet, it always finds me pants-down, unprepared.

This week, for example, rather than studiously working on my craft annotations (re: book reports to the nth degree), I’ve become fixated on the big bag of apples that’s resting on our kitchen table. We picked them nearly two weeks ago, with visions of pies and crisps and cakes and sauces so thick in my mind, I could practically taste the cinnamon.

But they've been sitting there - one warm apple cake emerged from the oven, but it was baked on the night that we actually picked the apples. And, it only called for two apples (of the hundred or so that are stuffed in that parcel), and, I must confess, I cheated...the cake was baked from a mix. Tasty, but hardly what I had in mind for my fabulous sack of Cortland's and Macs.

And so, for the past two days, I've been scouring the internet for apple recipes. Not a complete waste of time - but hardly something I can stuff into that packet that I need to be mailing later this week.

Then again, I'm sure shipping a glorious apple pie along with my writing wouldn't hurt my grade...

Monday, October 03, 2005
Don't say anything at all...
The internet makes people brave - a world of people sitting in their pajamas, hair disheveled, contacts out/glasses on, typing furiously to a screen, the drama of their lives. It's a world of business men and women, sneaking to skim blogs while their fingers itch over the button to fill their screen to with spreadsheets or presentations or company email. It's all about hiding behind the screen, behind your desk, behind your glasses and pint of Ben & Jerry's.

It makes me brave enough, sitting here in my gym clothes, with my hair still tied back in a sloppy ponytail - the same one that swished over my shoulder blades while I pounded away on the elliptical machine - I'm dirty and lazy, but hiding behind this computer screen, I'm brave enough to be vulnerable. It's a freeing experience - to post bits and pieces of your life, and to smile as others post little hello's or encouragements. And it's a mental adventure to click the next button up top and find yourself in new worlds, page after page of people - all sharing fragments of themselves from their safe little homes, across the country, across the ocean, behind the screen.

Unfortunately, tucked beneath the cloak of this online world, there are also people who are also brave enough to be mean. This is all spurred by a comment I received on one of my stories. It was a flippant little comment from a cyberspace stranger, suggesting that I might as well hang myself. The comment itself made no sense in regards to the writing, and I take no offense to it, as it seemed nonsensical to me. But it does remind me of thin the line is between fascinating and frightening in this online world. I imagine my son one day being online – and how virtually defenseless I am to protect him from the slings and arrows, so to speak.

It makes me wish that everyone could adhere to the simple childhood mantra that our mothers and grandmothers and teachers all recited: If you can't say anything nice...


Sunday, October 02, 2005
We just got home from a whirlwind weekend that has left my poor husband limping and smattered with dark purple welts (paintball), and myself exhausted from spending an entire day with friends and their offspring, then hauling my baby around through the crowds at a late night trip to a town fair in rural NH. My son had a junk food weekend - he used his new teeth to munch on a donut for breakfast and then a french fry a the fair.

Oh....the fair. I think my hair still smells like fried dough and Italian sausage grease...blech.

I brought my laptop with me to the hotel, hoping to accomplish something while we were away - but it was not to be. I was too tired to even take my clothes off before collapsing onto the bed. There was no chance that I was going to start a computer or formulate sentences. Hopefully I'll have more energy tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, there are small updates
and here

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