Sunday, April 29, 2012

Publix psychology

Aron and I both had dreams last night that I was pregnant. Actually, my dream was of us getting pregnant, a possibility that in real life is alternately almost nonexistent and immense. We practically practice abstinence, a fact that Aron attributes to our busy schedules—and I just have to trust that attribution. When we aren't a busy, abstinent couple, we use an infamously unreliable birth control method. So if anything sexy had happened during the fourteen days since my last period, I'd worry that my dream was actually a premonition.

Or maybe instead of worry I'd hope. Pregnancy is a wonderful period in a woman's life when people actually care if she's exhausted. Once you're a mother, exhaustion is a given, and, what's worse, it's totally incurable. I have a lot of negative emotions regarding my exhaustion. I feel frustrated, and I feel frustrated about feeling frustrated, and then I feel guilty for feeling frustrated, and then I feel depressed, and then I cry, and Aron gets mad when I cry, and then I get mad back. We don't fight:  we're sulkers. 

We're also members of the exclusive Publix Baby Club, exclusive insofar as it excludes from membership those who don't have babies, which sometimes seems like no one. Procreation is so fucking typical, and it requires no special talents or traits. Everyone's doing it, and everyone's doing it at roughly the same time. I didn't join Facebook until after having Graham (and I joined to show him off), but the somewhat depressing truth that I have discovered from Facebook is that many of my old high school classmates have kids, most within a year of Graham's age. How can something so common feel so uniquely special? Maybe evolutionary instincts are duping me, or maybe, as I'm more inclined to believe, Graham is uniquely wonderful and these other kids are only averagely wonderful, the way every puppy is cute but no puppy is as cute as a Welsh corgi puppy. Anyway, Publix:  the primary perk of belonging to the Baby Club is coupons. The secondary perk is free psychological advice. Maybe it says something about my recent emotional state that I found this coupon-booklet counseling occasionally profound:

"Moms of young children are consumed with being caretakers. We sacrifice sleep and our own desires and needs to care for a baby. It's not surprising that we sometimes look in the mirror and wonder who we are. Moms need identity. Here are some fill-in-the-blank statements to jump-start your thinking and help you come up with some answers to the 'Who am I?' question:

  • Three adjectives that describe me are...
  • My greatest strengths are...
  • My most obvious weaknesses are...
  • What I want most in the world is...
  • If given the gift of a day with no responsibilities, I would...
  • If I received an 'outstanding award' in 10 years, it would be for...
  • The one thing I can do this week that will help me to get that award is..."

So clearly there is little of value here, and particularly unhelpful is the "outstanding award" part:  I just don't understand what it means. I think what I originally regarded as profound was the part about how moms sacrifice their needs and desires. But that's not really profound. It's just true. 

People lie to me. It has happened twice. Twice a person has looked at Graham or a picture of him and has remarked that he/she wants kids, "just not yet." And then later, during conversations with others that I was near enough to overhear, these two people have expressed an intense aversion to parenthood:  not the nonplussed "not yet" perspective—the vehement "no, never!" one. These people probably had kind reasons for misleading me:  they likely didn't want me to know that they find me freakish for choosing parenthood. It is insane to raise a human. That's my assessment after a whole five+ months of human-raising. It's insane. So to have the "no, never!" attitude toward parenthood is sensible, and it doesn't upset me to hear it expressed. But Graham does about one hundred things each day that I think could melt a no-never heart. Like I said, he's the specialest! The best thing to happen to this lady, who kinda-sorta wanted to be a mother but felt terrified of motherhood actually happening to her, was to get pregnant semi-accidentally. It's like I was given a gift that some senseless reluctance risked me missing out on. Thank you, drunken sex.

Three adjectives that describe me:  busy, grumpy, contradictory. You're right if you don't want a baby, but you're also wrong. The thing is that, no matter how frustrating and exhausting it is, motherhood is never not worth it, because the effort it exacts is all for the wellness of a beautiful, innocent, happy, perfect creature whom you grew inside of you, whom you labored out of your body, whose life happens with and depends on your life, and that will just always be true.  

Graham turns six months tomorrow. It feels, though, like he's been here for years. Here's a Graham poem:  

He's a nice kid at night, quiet
Quite the bunny in the hole
the snow on the streets
the secret smooch that stays on your mind
and stays untold.

He's quite a sight at night
Gray against the black
meager light against its lack
He's the life to me
He's living.

He breathes in
and when he's done with that
he breathes out.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A picnic poem

I keep imagining the sun above some clouds
under which have grown some trees
with limbs that reach expansive, shady lengths
And under those lengths is a table
upon which is, among other things, mac n' cheese
and beside which is a vat of vodka-lemonade
or plain lemonade, either way
People populate the picnic bench
Aron's there Sara's there David's there Lauren's there
Graham is on my lap, pulling a paper plate
this way and that
We eat and laugh and drain the vat
The only thing dirty about the scene is that it's fantasy
That and the actual dirt under our feet
Below the picnic table, the clouds, and the shade trees.

Friday, April 20, 2012


I recently discovered that I can’t get from an Indian style sitting position to a standing position without either getting on my knees or using my hands. I can’t simply rise from the floor, and simply rising seems to be so easy for everyone else. Everyone else is like an automatic pop-up tent, and I’m more like a tarp. It’s probably either a weight or a strength problem, but one friend was nice enough to suggest that the problem is simply balance. Having poor balance isn’t as bad as having too much weight or not enough strength. In a dream I had last night, Graham cried from his crib, which was, as it also is in real life, only three feet from my sleeping spot, and in the dream my abdomen was so weak that I couldn’t lift myself into an upright position. My body was like a banana peel when its banana is gone.

In workout vernacular, the abdomen is known as “the core,” and knowing this, I feel like I don’t want to know anything more about exercise or its vocabulary. The core:  it sounds so needlessly intense. “The core is the soul of the physical form.” That’s a sentence I imagine an inspirational workout book containing.

I was going to write a poem about deodorant rather than a straightforward post. It would’ve started like this:

On the outskirts of a depressive episode,
heading out,
he sent me back in again
with the nonchalant observation:
natural deodorant can’t quite contend
with your stench.

Of course that’s not exactly how it went. He didn’t say, “Natural deodorant can’t contend with your stench.” Leaving Trader Joe’s with two bottles of wine, four avocados, a bag of clementines, two sweet potatoes, and raisin-rosemary crackers, he said, “Do you want to stop at RiteAid for deodorant?” I was the one, actually, who, at least twice earlier in the week, had said, “Natural deodorant can’t contend with my stench.” And probably that isn’t true either. I probably just smelled myself and made a face. Leaving Trader Joe’s, he asked about stopping at RiteAid, and I said, “No, that’s okay.” He and I both recently switched to aluminum-free deodorant—Burt’s Bees for him, unscented Tom’s for me—for Graham’s sake, because Graham is our constant cuddle buddy and we don't want any toxins on us to get onto him.

He greeted Thursday with the following assertion:  “I’m going to drink a bottle of wine tonight.” That was at breakfast, and at dinner he began to actualize his plan. Two glasses into the bottle, we were watching Modern Family, and I smelled myself again. I knew that I smelled, but despite the faces I made about it, I didn’t think that I stunk. I knew that I didn’t smell like Dove’s fresh cucumber scent. I thought I smelled like me; going natural and unscented has been self-discovery at its simplest. I enjoy getting to know myself. Still, each time I lifted my head from my underarm, I’d make an ewgross-face. Why? Well, I mean, there’s a certain expectation that if you sweat and there’s no sweet scent to cover it, it must stink. I was just acquiescing to the expectation, acting. 

So finishing his second glass, he said, “We’ll get you some deodorant tomorrow,” and, having already rejected the offer, I wondered, “Why is he offering again?”

(In this conversation, let X be the stinkiest person we have ever known. X really exists.)
Amy:  I know it stinks, but I don’t really mind.
Aron:  You don’t mind?
Amy:  So I do stink?
Aron:  I can smell you.
Amy:  I smell like X?
Aron:  You don’t smell as bad as X.

Two hours prior to this conversation, I had told him that I sometimes feel trapped in life by love, that I sometimes don’t want to live but always love my family too much to do anything about it. (I'm not trying to be shocking or upsetting. Just honesty here.) So I guess I’m glad that my admission didn’t amount to a bunch of broken eggshells to him. He thinks that if I can’t find a reason underlying the fact that I feel at times in pain emotionally, then my pain can be shaken. And I in fact can’t find a reason, so we’ll see.

This is a story about deodorant and what it feels like when your sadness is regarded as the result of not trying hard enough to be happy, only I can’t describe the emotions involved in the second part or it’ll just prove that I’m not trying hard enough. Well, fuck that.

I’m not that sad, really. I’m like the person at brunch on Sunday complaining about how hungover she is. She’s not really that hungover. A real hangover is debilitating to a degree that makes getting out of bed to go to brunch impossible. A real hangover involves retching at the thought of food, not the seeking of it. If The Hangover were about a real hangover, it’d be a disgusting and disturbing art film. If I were really sad, I wouldn’t be blogging. I'm just telling stories!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Here's a poem I wrote to Sylvia Plath, followed by one I wrote about a cat

Sylvia knows that the trees of the mind are black
but what can she do about it?

I am in the woods,
and she is the life of night
and in the light of night.
The kind that makes stages bright,
the kind that flashing cameras make.
And she is on my mind.

I am in the fecund forest of her indifference,
in the center of which a secret may exist.
I am trying to get at it.


There's a black mass that moves
through the grass
like a kitty cat,
winding through the weeds,
and all of that.
Purring on the earth,
eating the bugs in the breeze,
chasing the wind-sent leaves.
There's a black mass like that,
and it's a kitty cat.