still sick

I’m still really sick, but I didn’t want to miss a day of posting this early in my resolve.

I missed out on my Sunday because I was stuck in bed. I usually do lots of writing and catch-up on emails and so forth. Okay and I facebook a lot too. And daydream. (Note to self: write a post about the importance of daydreaming.)

I suppose my body needed the extra sleep though as I’m been sorely lacking.

My thought of the day was basically this: stop trying to make a master piece every day. Instead just write every day for writing’s sake, even if it never sees the light of day. Writing is my cake,  and the money I make off of articles and copy is just the icing. When the wee ones are older I can put more devotion into writing more for pay and assignments. Right now I just don’t have that flexibility to be constantly on demand from other people. Instead of beating myself over the head about that, I need to just make sure I am writing period. And be extra happy when I get an occasional check in the mail.

My second thought was that I should work hard to make myself believe the first thought!

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Where we belong

All weekend I have had a head cold that’s kept me predominately in bed. It’s rare to be totally out of commission like this. I’m sure the lack of sleep I’ve been getting  is leaving me quite susceptible. My head feels like there is a balloon inside of it and my best friends are Motrin and a warn rice sock over the eyes.

Between sneezing and napping this weekend I did a lot of thinking and a little reading.

I’m not understanding this new trend lately–when did it become popular to write your memoirs so young in life? Is this a new trend, or have I not noticed it before?

I’m reading Nancy Peacock’s  A Broom of One’s Own. She’s an every day person who just happens to also be a writer. So cliche, as everyone is just an every day person when you look deeply enough. Still, I’m enjoying it. Nancy cleans houses for her full-time job, or at least she did during the first part of her writing career. She isn’t terrible accomplished, so far as degrees and fancy life experience goes. She simply observes the world around her and puts it own on paper in her own way. I like that. Granted, I haven’t read her novels yet. And on second thought I really should, because while Bird by Bird is one of my favourite books, I do not find much interest in any of the novels that Anne Lamott has written.

I can relate to Nancy when she says how awkward she felt when she was at a speaking engagement and realized everyone around her was a professional writer while she was a professional house cleaner who wrote. She wasn’t sure whether to walk away with her head down or to stand up and proclaim “I’m just a house cleaner!” I feel that way even in my Judaism. We moved to a bustling suburb right outside the city to be a part of an Orthodox community, and though I love the people here very much, I am not always on the inside. I will always be a slow-paced, homeschooling, stop and smell the roses, mow your own grass, clean your own house, eat left overs for lunch, day-dreaming girl in the midst of a yeshivish town.  Furthermore, I will always have the childhood I had–which I can guarantee that in every possible way it looks nothing like anyone else’s around here. In many ways I don’t fit in at all! When people start discussing this schooling and that schooling I just clam up. When the topic gets to which yeshivas or seminaries they attended, I back slowly away. I’m so different from them. I’m an orange dangling from an apple tree. And in fact I have no real desire to be anything but who I am. I’m happy being who I am. I’m happy living an orthodox life in my very own way–but it took some getting used to. It took a few years to feel secure in that way; to find the me-ness within the greater us-ness.

Lastly, I wondered over and over this weekend: Does the world even need another author?  And worse, I came to the conclusion that it probably does not.

But I need to write. So that’s where I am left.

new goal

I have decided to wean myself on to blogging again by making a goal to post something, no matter how small or insignificant, every day, besides Shabbos. My life is very busy with four kids home with me all day, so I will likely miss some days.

It’s been almost a full year since I really blogged and I’ve decided that taking a year off was the right thing to do for myself. I need that time for inner reflection–the sort of reflection which can’t be strung into coherent writing, but are more just strings of random words. Words such as, but not limited to: hope, discovery, fear, dreaming, inner peace, journey, foundation. None of which were yet ready to be written into sentences or stories.

I feel like I have grown as a person a lot this year. That said, a side effect of it is that in a lot of ways I was running away by not blogging. Because I didn’t no how to tackle difficulties with words (something that has never happened to me before)I just clammed up. The side effect has been that I now find it hard to be open again. Not as in sharing every detail of myself with the general public, open, but as in letting people in. I think by cutting myself off on writing I somehow cut myself off from personal relationships too. I think it’s time to move forward. I want to be real with myself and other again, without fear. Or at the very least, with fear but with pride also.

So here is my insignificant blog post of the day. Coming from a person who used to post several times a day, you wouldn’t think this would be so challenging, but it was. My posts may not be terribly interesting at the beginning, but they are for my own benefit and I have hope that it will evolve into something I can be proud of once again.

A Block

I am blocked and the worst past is that I know exactly why.

People want to read truth, at least a glamorized version of it, and I want to tell truth, but I have this space in me, something like a big black box surrounded by chains and barbed wire, which doesn’t want to be shared. At least not right now, no matter how I try to convince it.

It keeps warning to me to back off. It could get messy. But I know that already–writing is always messy. If you aren’t the type to dig deep, then writing isn’t for you. If you can’t dig deep, then you can’t write deep.

This fear started when I read back over my last blog (I’ve been blogging for 12 years now; before that it was collections of college ruled composition books) and I found myself feeling a sense of shame over some of the stupid things I said. Or thought. Or did. Or believed about the world. And all of the sudden I wanted to take it all back. Burn in up and pretend I never said it. Like I was so uncomfortable with the idea that I had changed so much I couldn’t deal with it and then I was scared nobody else would be able to deal with it either, so I privatized nearly every entry. Stupid girl.

This fear was further amplified when I looked back over old pictures of our family. I saw the many versions of myself over the years–that time I was so sure that Costa Rican living was all I wanted out of life, and the those six years I wore my bangs way too short making me look more like Mamie Eisenhower than anyone else. I saw the me that was lonely, and anxious and who never, ever slept, and how it showed on my face. I saw me with two terrible cases of postpartum anxiety and depression, and me withdrawing from my friends when I found out my girl has SPD. I saw me coming off of my anti-anxiety medication and facing the reality that I didn’t have it as together as I thought I did. I saw a lot of me pretending to be happy when I truly was not. I saw a lot of me saying I was okay when I really was not.

I resisted the urge to run a pencil through every picture Xing it out and replacing it with how I wished those memories had gone. But I know that would be fraudulent. Everything in me knows this makes little sense. I was unhappy, but what’s so bad about that? There are time of unhappiness in our lives and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just part of the up and down of life. “Happiness doesn’t define you”, I remind myself. “Rise above the unhappiness. Be bigger than happiness.”

But then I think if the friendships, and how over the last two years I’ve managed to loose not one but two separate friendships that meant something special to me and how used and unwanted I felt inside and out. How I wished I’d never shared my heart with and wasted my energy on them to begin with. How I felt so betrayed by their sudden disappearance and how I had to work not to feel something was wrong with me. My eyes red with hours of crying, promising myself I would not let this send me into the depression I had just worked so hard to walk away from. Then congratulating myself when I was victorious in that battle.

It’s been over a year since I really blogged and I miss being open and honest, but I don’t know if I’m ready to pay the price of it right now. I have to find that place again where I push myself out of my comfort zone enough to express who I truly am without being left with that sick, regretful feeling n the pit of my stomach. I just don’t know if I’m ready to trust people, or myself with my feelings yet.

Basically, I’m testing the waters here. If I can manage to post this, maybe I can build on that.

Facebook: Stop Telling Me How to Feel About the Boston Bomber

I knew this would happen. It’s not been but a week since the bombing and we are all trying to wrap our heads around it. The sting of vulnerability is fresh in our hearts, and the woulds of the victims have far from healed. Many of them are still in the hospital dealing with the loss of their body parts and wondering if they were ever truly feel safe again. And here, from the safety of the internet, we’re arguing with each other about the proper way to feel about the bombing.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had it. Please stop telling me how to feel about the bombing!

Stop trying to convince me he was just a kid. Stop telling me he was just an innocent bystander. Stop making him out to seem like the devil himself.  Stop trying to convince me how I should or should not feel. Stop trying to make me feel guilty for my feelings. Just stop.

I don’t have a clue why this person who seemed reasonably normal to all of his friends did this. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people. I don’t know why people hurt and kill other people. I don’t know. I don’t want to know. And I sure as hell don’t want to be told that after a week I am supposed to have figured it all out.

I know you’re well-meaning. We are all well-meaning. We want to move forward and to do so we feel we need to figure out why this happen–to compartmentalize it. But frankly I think we should let the immediate victims have a little time to figure out how they feel about the attack that they so closely felt before we, the by standers, start shoving our  opinions down each other’s throats and battling with one another over how we should or should not feel.

If someone is angry, let them be angry. If someone is sad, let them cry. If someone is scared, don’t tell them not to be. If someone is too worn out and doesn’t want to discuss it anymore, let them change the subject.

Let everyone mourn and process this whole ugly thing in the way they seem fit. There is no one right way to grieve.

This is, in essence, my response to a post written by Aliza at The Worthington Post. Please take the time to read it before reading this as to better understand the context of my post.

Disclaimer: this is a story about my own personal experience and not to be taken as a political stance in either direction.

Speaking as someone who just went through this last year. See here for my story in short: Pregnant Again, and Not Completely Happy. I have a thought of two on the subject.

First, I’m not going to touch on the halacha of this issue, as frankly I’m late coming to this table  myself and am in no position to be giving out halachic advice. What I am reading is the words of several very passionate women and the arguments  seem to land in three camps: It’s a woman’s choice. It’s not a women’s choice. Or it is a woman’s choice but only in dire circumstance. What I am not hearing is anything from women who have been there and decided either way, so I thought I could be one of those voices.

Quite frankly, I did find myself in much the place you discribe, Aliza, but with a few variants. I get hyperemesis gravidarum when I am pregnant which lands me in the hospital, often on bed rest for much of my pregnancy. It is costly, feels like I am dying, and also means that my husband is left taking care of nearly every single part of our household alone while I’m knocked out on meds for the duration. It is no exaggeration on my part that when I found out I was pregnant I sobbed. I mean really sobbed. I did *not*, I repeat *NOT* want to be pregnant. I hated the idea. I was pissed at God, and myself and my husband and the universe and every other person out there who should have be pregnant instead of me and I threw an internal royal fit. Even though I was the mother of three other babies who I adore and would do anything to protect, my mind went there. It went to abortion. And I got it–I really got it–I finally understand why people’s mind go there and why it’s an option. I had always understood why a victim or rape or incest would consider this option, but I hadn’t ever understood why a mother with other children herself would be able to consider this.

Though there was a small part of me that toyed with that idea, once the shock of the pregnancy wore off I knew it wasn’t really an option for me. I’m not a quitter in that respect and quite frankly my life has always had a mind of it’s own so I’m used to the roller coaster that it is. Within a week I was less angry and more accepting of my new status as mother of three-going-on-four.  Of course when the puking started it became real pretty quickly and I was left to face this pregnancy and all of it’s many side effect on myself and my family.

After nine months a beautiful baby boy was born into this world at 7:07 am on September 10, weight 10lbs 11oz.  I held him to my chest and promised I would love him forever, despite how unready I had felt for his arrival.  Because I questioned my ability to love him, I ended up loving him in a very special way all his own. He’s the gift I never knew I wanted; the part of me I never knew was missing. He changed my world, and not only in terms of financial difficulty. He taught me what it means to give up a big piece of yourself for someone who isn’t even a person yet, just so that they have a chance to become one. He taught me that I did have love hidden in my heart after all, buried behind worries over money and concern over time. He taught me that sometimes what I would choose for myself isn’t nearly as special as what life chooses for me.

On the other hand, it was a shit-hole year and a half. My husband was out of work, and so was I. We lived on next to nothing. Twice I stayed with my mom for a couple of weeks so she could feed my kids because I had nothing in my house and no money in my bank account. My boy is seven months old and I’m still trying to catch up on the electric bills that went unpaid and my landlord was kind enough to take a promise in exchange for a rent check more than once. I’m slowly trying to make it up to my kids for all the clothes I didn’t buy them and all the time I didn’t spend with them. I’m still apologizing that for weeks my oldest wore shoes far too small for him, and that his pants wouldn’t button. The scale shows that I am still reaping the weighty consequence of eating hot dog and white bread sandwiches instead of the delicious organic meat and veggies I wanted to eat, but couldn’t afford. Though my husband is working again, he still isn’t making enough to cut it and I’m trying to figure out how to homeschool (b/c I can’t afford school), raise four kids (including a baby), write for money (it don’t pay well. Never choose it as a profession if you like being rich), and sleep without becoming a monster of a human being.

But every night as I rock him to sleep again, and again, and again–because apparently he likes the feeling of falling to sleep a lot more than actually sleeping–and I think to myself that this little butter ball in my lap has no idea what a crazy wave of crap he brought our way. He just looks at me and coos like everything is right in the world. Like he knows he was meant to be and never doubted my ability to care for him for even a moment. He adores me and how can I feel anything but blessed to be loved like that–so unconditionally. So purely.

I fear the emptiness I would be feeling in my heart right now if I had made a different decision. For all I know my husband still would have been out of work, and we’d be in the same financial place. Or maybe I’d be sitting here in the lap of luxury. But I would always somehow know that it was without my Eitan, and hard times don’t last and longer than money does. When I’m 80, I’ll be surrounded by my four kids and God-willing my grandbabies too, and it’ll have been worth that really shitty year.

I don’t know anyone else’s story the way I know mine and I wouldn’t begin to tell anyone else what to do because I hate it when people tell me what to do, so instead I just shared this side of the coin: the abortion I didn’t have.

RATS!

We are clean people, as in I’m a recovering clean-aholic, so I am trusting that you will not think badly of me if I admit this, but we have a two rats that live in our back yard. Maybe more. Seriously. In our yard, under our trash cans, and they have chewed threw the cans over the last couple of weeks so badly that there is more hole than can. We’re talking Swiss cheese, here.

But to be fair, that also means they live in our neighbors yard and the house besides us which abandoned. I think it’s a reasonable assumption they came here by way of the abandoned house, and that makes me feel a little better.

And though it is true that I used to own pet rats as a child, and that I think highly of squirrels and nature in general, I put my foot down at anything that eats out of city trashcans and spreads disease-ridden poo in the area my children play barefoot in. So my husband set out traps because I want it dead, dead, dead. If you care about the little darlings, feel free to come by ASAP and try and catch them in a pillow case and set it free on a farm far from here–otherwise, we’ll be taking these suckers out and sending them to “the farm” ourselves, if you catch my drift.

Husband: Hey, you can kasher tongs after you use them to pick up a dead rat, right?
Me: Yes, in hellfire.

No, he wouldn’t do that. Yes, I’m only partially sure it’s because he knows that even though I might not see it, I would know, and I would divorce him and nobody in their right mine wants to marry a dad with four kids who live with them full-time. See, we have a deal–whoever causes the divorce takes the kids. That’s how we stay happily married folk. We adore our little offspring like nothing in this world, but the thought of taking care of them completely on our own is so indescribably horrific, that’s it’s keep us predominately on the straight and narrow since the beginning of our journey into parenthood almost 13 years ago.

Of course there have been some very close calls, I admit. Like the time I decided to take smoking back up for a night at the 9:30 club. What can I say? It smelled good and I couldn’t resist. I borrowed one and lit up in the girl’s room like a catholic school girl (or you know, like ’80s rock band music videos claim they do), and when I came out smelling even smokier than I went in there smelling, my husband wasn’t too enthused. I believe it was the only time he gave me the silent treatment.

And let’s not forget the time I nearly ended our marriage on the spot during the infamous bee-spraying of  ’07. Firstly to my husband’s credit, we did have an infestation of super-sized Big Mac hornets that had made themselves a little town in the house above our apartment. And in truth we did contact out landlords (who also happen to be my parents, by mere coincidence) various times in an attempt to get the matter resolved before it got to this point. But, like with most slum lords, this issue was left until the last possible moment and the bees had over-taken first our backyard, then our porch and believe it or not, those little hellions actually tried to wage war on our house.  After the heat of the day when they would dive at us as we tried to run from the house to the car, they would then start slamming full-speed in our windows and door, trying to get in. They were about a foot long (okay 3 inches) and the stinger was like *this* huge. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it myself.

In a moment of stupidity I made a run for the car to get something and I left the kitchen door open. Meanwhile my husband walks in to find three hornets buzzing around our kitchen in circles, trying to find someone to kill. He grabs a fly swatter, but they are angry and fast and the swatter suddenly seems deceptively small. So he starts spraying them with water to wet their wings and disable them in order to knock them to the floor so he can beat them with the swatter.
Into this chaos I calmly walk, without a clue what is going on. My husband is mad, and serious and spraying bees and I’m like,

“hey, honey, whatchadoin’?”

and he’s all “I’m killing these effing bees because you left the effing door open!!”

and I’m all like “Wow is it ever wet in here! But, it’s a good idea to spray them with water! I wouldn’t have thought of that!”

and he’s all “it’s not water,. It’s insecticide.”

Dum dum dum.

And I looked around my kitchen, you know, the place where I prepare organic foods for my organic children–one of which is on the spectrum, mind you and who I have worked tirelessly to keep away from any sort chemicals–and there is insecticide covering every inch of it. EVERY INCH. My walls, my cabinets, my bread bags, my casserole dishes that were drying on rack, the dishes in the sink, the counter tops, the floors, the towels, the fridge door, the fruit bowl and fruit, the food I hadn’t put away from dinner, and my beloved frog canisters that I bought at a yard sale. I loved those canisters, people. Well as much as one can love a canister.

I scream. Shriek. “STOOOOOPPPPP!!!” and I burst into tears. And I just started throwing everything that is on my counter tops into the trash can. And realizing that I am suddenly ten times as angry at him as he ever was at me over those damn bees, he just stops.

“You just sprayed nuerotoxins over out entire kitchen!” I am so angry. So angry. Hell hath no furry like a women whose kitchen is sprayed with nuerotoxic bug spray.

My mom comes down and she sees what has happened and she doesn’t say a word to either of us. She just starts cleaning up. And my husband just stands there wondering were he will sleep tonight, because he knows it sure as hell isn’t going to be in our house.

And I’m pretty sure there was an earth quake in Asia and that a volcano erupted on an island somewhere south of here because the earth couldn’t hold of of my anger (sorry, about that guys.)

And the bees hid, shaking in their little patent leather bee shoes.

Somehow, eventually, I forgave him. I mean I went on to have two more kids with him, so we must have called a truce at some point. And my landlord (still my mama) got the hive removed professionally, and the bees left willingly, happily. They actually offered to fly the hive to a new location themselves, if I recall.

I think it’s pretty safe to bet that he will not be using my tongs to pick up a dead rat.