Water, Water Everywhere, But Not A Drop To Drink

Standard

I’ve uttered these words so many times in the past few weeks. About what? Babies. Yep, you heard me. I’m pretty sure that I’ve got baby fever. And I’ve had it for a while now.

In March, at my annual Ob/GYN visit, I had my IUD removed. I had been disliking it for some time and was ready to discuss the possibility of turning our family of three into four. And so I had it removed as well as any thoughts of other contraceptives. I had talked to Zach about it, and while I’m sure he didn’t think I was serious, he agreed the time was now or never.

I’ve never given much thought to my biological clock. I never felt that I needed to, especially since Zach is 8 years older than me. I think I worry more about his clock! But now, on the cusp of thirty (yes, the dirty thirty is fast approaching), I felt compelled to go ahead and give it a try. Making a baby, that is. I remember well when Zach & I first began trying for Sailor. We made a pact of sorts that cut off our childbearing years at my ripe age of thirty. And so here we stand. Sailor just turned two on June 5, and in October I will have reached the pinnacle of my baby making years (although I think we are willing to try through the end of the year).

And so, with our first set of friends to have a baby, and several other little beauties emerging over the past month, I feel this secret pull to get on it. I feel like every fiber within me is screaming for those cells to merge & expand exponentially until a heart beats & fingers and toes splay awaiting the tactile world. I’m ready for one more little wonder to share this ride called life with. And therein lies the confession I’ve been struggling to make for months. So here’s hoping we’ve still got one in us ready to burst forth into this crazy, marvelous world. And hopefully I’ll be sharing it with all of you soon.

With fingers crossed,

T

Alligators Among Us

Standard

Ok, so it’s a lie.  There aren’t any alligators.  But there is plenty of entertainment.  Monday afternoon, our family of three packed up enough of our belongings to entertain us and clothe us for one month.  You see, we are embarking on yet another adventure.  We headed to Panama City to visit with my sister and her glorious family, and then Tuesday morning headed to Deland.

We are currently in Deland with Zach’s parents.  It is a vacation of sorts.  Not the vacation of dreams, mind you, but a vacation nonetheless.   We left all of our belongings in my beloved New Orleans to head towards South Carolina for at least a month.  It seems so silly to me to go back to where we came from, but alas, desperate times call for equally desperate measures.

Don’t get it twisted.  I miss our family and friends.  However, I finally feel alive and free in New Orleans.  I am actually getting to be myself.  The self I’ve been hiding for so long at the risk of being “just another eccentric” in Columbia.  It is so refreshing to stop wearing black.  To be bright and colorful.  To wear tights and tunics.  To just be.  And NOLA is definately the place that allows me to feel that I can be all I can be!

I am excited to be in Deland with Zach’s parents.  Since arriving, we’ve had the Seibert staple of chicken and noodles, watched silly television, and laughed a lot.  Upon arriving to Columbia, there will inevitably be more of the same.  Good times with good friends is a non-negotiable.  Time with my family is going to be incredible for myself and my daughter, I am sure.  But, there is a tugging of my heartstrings from the city of my dreams.

The city that never sleeps.  The city where the Superdome always looks glorious in it’s golden splendor.  The city where street musicians gather on every street corner.  Crust punks galore.  Feathers and tamborines.  You see, it’s calling me back already.

One Plus One Makes Three

Standard

In a few short weeks, my daughter will be two years old. I cannot believe that two years has come and gone. Although it is cliché, it feels like only yesterday we were bringing our little bundle home. And little she was. She was only 6 pounds when we brought her home. My how things have changed! Now, she’s a big girl. No more calling her baby.

The path to motherhood was one I never gave a lot of thought to until after I got married. Then again, I never imagined I would get married. It wasn’t so much trying to find the right guy (although there were several bad ones along the way), as trying to find a man who could put up with my craziness; someone who would be willing to have a good time with life. And boy, did I find him! Zach has taught me to suck the marrow out of the bones of life. To really relish moments, even the terrible ones. To laugh loudly and with passion about everything, no matter how inappropriate. And because I was successful in finding and marrying him, we did what most other couples do-start thinking about having a family. Two years after we were married, we had Sailor. She was, and still is, the best thing that has ever happened to us as a couple.

As I said before, I hadn’t thought much about motherhood, including what type of mother I wanted to be. As a pregnant lady, I was miserable. Pregnancy does not suit me. It made me feel too full to bursting, nauseous, and terribly ugly. I don’t think I have ever despised myself more than when I was pregnant. Add to that being in my final semester of college, as well as my mother being diagnosed with breast cancer and you can probably deduce just how fantastic I thought pregnancy was. I was nervous, constantly consumed with what was going wrong within my body or what would go wrong once the baby was born. And then the day arrived. I was induced, and three hours later, I was holding the most beautiful baby girl there ever was (funny how all parents feel that way). And that is where the real adventure began.

I have never been a baby person. I didn’t babysit as an adolescent. Although I had changed many adult diapers, I had successfully maneuvered through 27 years of my life without having to change a baby’s diaper. I had never fed a baby. All I could think was, “what have I gotten myself into?”. Turns out, I wasn’t so terrible after all.

Reflecting on the past two years I realize just how far I have come. I breastfed Sailor for the first year. I became adept at pureeing baby food from scratch. I changed quite a number of cloth diapers, and did more laundry in the first six months of her life than I think I have done in MY entire life. I became a homemaker. A stay at home mom. A housewife. I learned how to treat thrush with Gentian violet. How to give her baths in ever increasing amounts of water. At the urging of my husband, I learned how to let my baby cry in order to teach her how to self-soothe. I made her first birthday cake from scratch, icing and all. Our electricity went out and I had to make simple syrup on a propane crawfish boiler. I packed her up and moved her 700 miles away with a broken ankle. I watched her take her first steps while I was on crutches. I’ve also picked up some other skills not relative to the baby at all, but definitely in line with how I hope she remembers me as a mother later in life.

 

I am thankful every day for her. She has brought to fruition something within me that was always lingering, yet never fulfilled. She has made me value life more. Value relationships more. Watch my tongue. Check my attitude. Smile a lot. Sing silly songs loudly. Blow lots of bubbles. Become an artist. Look at the world differently, and challenge her to keep looking at the world that way. A way that is beautiful in its ugliness. A way that keeps us all guessing what in the world will happen next.

Change Can Do You Good

Standard

 I’m yearning for change. A change in lifestyle, clothing, attitude, something, anything! And yet, I feel like I have already embarked on some journey of self-discovery, that not only did I not anticipate, but cannot turn back. That is scary. I find myself trying to figure out who I am and who I want to be. And of course asking, are they all that different from one another? I’m not sure that the two are not synonymous with one another at this point.

 I find myself remaining static. Standing still because I do not know in which direction I want to go. There are days, well let’s be honest, most days, when I feel that there is nothing more I would like to do than be a bohemian princess in flashy tights and feathered headdresses. As a matter of fact, my neighbor told me last weekend that he may be able to get me a chance to be a Mardi Gras Indian. That is a dream of mine, and I have long held out the hope knowing that because of my skin color, that dream may never come to be. Now, I think I may be devastated if it indeed does not happen. He should have never given me the hope.

 I also fantasize about being a Baby Doll. Dressing as a china doll one day a year and hiding out here in my neighborhood waiting on spectators to “find us”. I figure, that at least, is an attainable goal. Or maybe I could just take photographs and “be an artist”. Ha-ha. Pipe dreams, friends. Pipe dreams. Then, I start thinking of making true art. In fact, I started a piece a month ago. It is not yet completed. I lack inspiration. How is that even possible? In a city that inspires me daily, I cannot bring myself to finish my own project. I think I am afraid that upon completion, it will remain empty, no one reaping any emotion from the finished project. That would be devastating to me.

 I want to utilize my nursing degree. The problem is that I cannot stomach the idea of being a part of the system here that leaves the poor and uninsured out to dry. And I do not want to become disgruntled and completely disengage by taking a part in the free care system. The memories of how I was treated by the nurses within this system are still all too clear, and I cannot ride the unrealistic fantasy of thinking that I, alone, can change that system.

 Many times a month, I find myself looking at medical mission trips to Romania, working with gypsy camps and offering them medical care. I think I would like that. I think it would be fulfilling and helpful, not only to the people receiving said care, but in my journey to find my sense of self. Or, more precisely, my sense of purpose. Today, I spoke with my housemate about my misgivings. How I feel that everything is unobtainable, and so I stand still. I want to twirl, and stomp, and rise on tiptoes. Not stand still, watching as the world passes me by. I’m over this paralysis.

New Orleans, I’m Yours

Standard

It was brought to my attention yesterday that not only am I in desperate need of posting a new blog, but that I haven’t written about New Orleans yet. I started thinking about this and realized that maybe that is precisely my problem. You know, they always say to write what you know. And although I don’t know New Orleans backwards and forwards, up and down, I think I at least know it left and right. We have a ways to go, this city and I, but I am making headway. My love affair is only just beginning.

I live in the Treme, about 4 blocks from the French Quarter. And I love it! This may be the best neighborhood in the city. It is so rich in culture and personality, I think asking for more may in fact produce few results. Our housemates are encouraging, and spunky. Our neighbors are amazing. Last weekend, we celebrated our neighbor Joseph’s sixty-third birthday. I felt like we were with family. It was just what the doctor ordered. There is nothing better than grilling out, kids sidewalk chalking and dancing, adults laughing and eating jambalaya. But more than that, I feel like we are finally finding our place here. That has been the most difficult part.

Last week, I borrowed my housemate’s camera. I had forgotten how much I missed photography. I had been secretly yearning to take photos, but had been too lazy to actually do it. I would find myself mentally snapping photos that would never be processed or be seen. And this city is full of moments waiting to be captured on film. Riding with Zach in the car two weeks ago I saw a horse walking under the overpass and a rooster in a busy street. Both moments screamed for attention from a lens, and yet I had no camera with which to record it. I am tired of wishing I had taken the photo. And so, I went out last week and took some. I feel full and satisfied. Now I find myself waiting to get prints and start a portfolio, or just frame them and have them ready for their big debut. They deserve to be examined, and pined over, and ridiculed. They deserve to come out. I do not know when or how I will get a chance to showcase my photos, but I must find a way. And in the meantime, keep taking more!

I have spoken about reinventing myself in past blogs. What I have come to realize is that there has been no pressing need for that. I am who I am, and that is all I am capable of being. I cannot be the everywoman to everyone. I’m thankful that I am letting that go. I still don’t know who or what I am becoming, but I know that it is colorful and vibrant and full of noise. That is enough for me.

To close, I will leave you, dear readers, with a few snapshots from New Orleans. Hopefully they draw you in and make you want to visit. And once you’re here, you may not want to leave.

An Eye For An Eye

Standard

“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” -Ganhdi

The course of history has been changed. For better or worse, well, everyone will have an opinion on that. Who is right or wrong probably won’t matter. That is the shame of it all.

Last night, while awaiting the showdown on Celebrity Apprentice between Nene Leakes and Star Jones, (which, I still don’t know the outcome of) the President interrupted programming to announce to the nation that Osama bin Laden had been killed by Americans. I know that many waved their arms in triumph or whooped with pride, but I sat dazed and in disbelief. “Is this what we’ve come to?” I asked myself. Followed with “How did we get here?”. The answer is not so simple, but speaks of years of intolerance in the name of retribution and protection. “Terrorists must not win!”. But have we, as Americans, become the terrorists? As Christians, how can we rejoice in this so called American victory when the death of any person causes our Lord so much grief? After all, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, even our enemies, for the Lord rejoices when a heart is changed, but grieves at the loss of life, both physically and spiritually. And let’s be honest, if we are taking that life, we have definitely experienced spiritual death.

My soul is troubled. Ganhdi once said “A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of it’s peoples”. I fear our soul is terribly blemished. I hope I’m not the only one who is troubled. It is disappointing that people rejoice in our nation airing a broadcast that justifies killing. The realization that Joseph Heller was right in Catch-22 when he realizes “man is matter” is heartbreaking. Aren’t we all supposed to want to be more?

I’m disappointed that we are so base that we rejoice in death. I
disappointed that as Americans, we think we have won some glorious victory, but we have actually lost our humanity. We have become cannibals and it is ugly. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love”. He would be dismayed to see how much further we have degenerated as a nation instead of rising above and living a life with love in our hearts. Mother Teresa said “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other”. I fear we forgot a long time ago, and it’s sad that our leaders are not urging us to remember.

Perhaps the most troubling to me, is that this is not over. It has only just begun. We, as a nation, have said through our actions, that killing is justified, as long as we are doing the killing. Our soldiers are still fighting-for what or how long I don’t know. Our children are becoming callouses and jaded-intolerant of others, even amongst themselves. We are falling apart at the seams. And yet, there is celebrating. What in the world are we celebrating?

I hope that I can remain faithful to my convictions to learn to love like Jesus. I hope that I can serve as an example. Ganhdi said, “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world-that is the myth of the atomic age-as in being able to remake ourselves”. I find comfort in this. It helps me remain steadfast in my moments of weakness and sadness. It is encouraging. Mostly, it is empowering. After all, when we are weak, He is strong.

So, I invite you to love more; smile at others, seek to beat your swords into plowshares, and care for one another. And weep at injustice and intolerance, while seeking to be a beacon in these troubled times. I find solace in this prayer of Francis of Assisi-perhaps it will offer you comfort as well. “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love”.

There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Cat

Standard

My cat is dead. I found her lying in the grass on the side of the road this morning. In front of our house. I’m devastated. I wish Zach would have found her on his way to work this morning. I’m thankful Sailor wasn’t out here when I found her.

I cannot begin to express my sorrow. I never thought she would look so bedraggled. She was meticulous in her fur upkeep. My little one-eyed warrior Weetzie. Her fur was wet. Tongue hanging out if her mouth. And the worst part was seeing all the ants working on eating her good eye. It’s my own Greek tragedy here this morning. Needless to say, there’s a splash of rum in my hot tea this morning.

Now that I’ve told about her death, I’d like to talk about her life. I adopted her from a shelter 8 years ago in hopes of her keeping my anxiety ridden dog company. She was already a year or so old. It worked. And they became inseparable. So did her & I. She was notorious for cuddling and sitting gargoyle-like on my lap. She loved her name. She loved rubbing & biting in Zach & my hair-as well as some unsuspecting guests. Sailor’s first word was “Meow”. Sailor would chat to that cat all day. And recently, she had taken to trying to pick her up & carry her around the house or the yard. Our do Preach would lick and bite on her face every night lovingly. They were best friends.

And, although it led to her demise, I’m glad she had the freedom of the great outdoors these last four months. She loved roaming and exploring. She was my jungle cat-catching lizards and proudly displaying them to us on the doorstep. I’m going to miss her. She was a beautiful orange tabby with giraffe blocks & one tortoise shell leg (her pegleg). And of course, only the one eye. I don’t know if she can be replaced. It will be a while. The house already feels empty without her.

Zach is on his way home from work to help me bury her. I could not bring myself to put her in the dumpster. She’s better than that. So sweet Weetzie, from dust you came & to dust you shall return. Thank you for almost a decade of companionship. Rest well, and we will meet on the other side.

A Hair’s Breadth

Standard

Friday I shaved my legs. Possibly for the last time. I know what you’re thinking. Why would you do that? Gross. Or maybe you’re trying not to gag. And there’s probably a few who are silently rejoicing that another woman has finally been converted.

Well, just so you know, I’ve already asked myself these questions. And I’ve asked my husband. Lying in bed Thursday night I pondered the reality of not shaving, weighing the pros & cons during our nightly pillow talk session. He remembers well how my leg looked after the cast came off-very, very hairy. But I’m not to be deterred.

You see, I’m on the path to self-sustainability. (You say hippie, I say happy). The journey of urban homesteading to this point has included many changes, but nothing too personal. And I think now it’s high time I changed that. I’ve been considering how many razors I go through and it is far too many. It is added waste that’s not recycled and just clogs landfills, like my hair going down the drain. And that’s not who I want to be. I’m trying to keep the world green and alive and beautiful for myself, and especially for my daughter. What future will she have if everything is grey and desolate? Not the future I hoped for that’s for sure.

And so, this new experiment. I know several ladies who have already chosen this life for themselves. And although I’m ashamed to admit it, I silently balked at your outrageously long hair. I thought laziness had taken over. I’m sorry. As a punk rock song puts it “Beauty is only skin deep, and everybody’s beautiful underneath”. I’m finally old enough to understand why you did it and humble enough to walk with you. I cannot imagine the feelings you went through as people stared, and gasped, and scowled. Perhaps now I’ll get a taste of my own medicine.

Ive given myself a two month trial. I think hopefully I will find that it can last forever, but for now I’m only committing to two months. I figure that gives mr plenty of time to look at my legs and the lack of a mountain of dispoable razors to make the best decision. I know summer isn’t the best time for me to conduct this experiment, but as I told my husband, I live in New Orleans. This city is so European that another lady with hairy gams is not eccentric, it’s normal. For those outside the Quarters, well, you’ll just have to forgive my natural decision when you see me in a skirt. Because it’s hot & I plan on wearing a lot of skirts! While you silently judge my downy plume, you can thank mr for still shaving my armpits.

That Boot’s Not Made For Walkin’

Standard

Aaahh! Sweet relief. Freedom! I cannot begin to explain how rewarding today has been. I realized that in these 9 months I’ve been waiting on my ankle bones to heal, I could’ve had another child! Instead, it was 9 months of waiting to walk without casts, boots, crutches, and canes.

So today, to celebrate this new found freedom to be a mover & shaker, I walked with Sailor in the stroller into the French Quarter to my favorite coffee shop, Cafe Envie. In leather boots. With wind whipping through my hair. Oh yeah, and a horrendous limp. But that aside, my celebratory Irish Cream Coffee (yes, liquor drinks at a coffee shop…see why it’s my favorite?). That drink was delicious!

As I sat at the table while Sailor munched her cranberry muffin, I could only see the possibilities stretching endlessly before me. The proverbial monkey is finally off my back, and it is GLORIOUS! I cannot wait to try riding my bicycle this weekend, especially since we have a seat for Sailor attached to it. We are about to be the bike riding family powerhouse of New Orleans. Well, let’s be serious, we will at least be enjoying the city more together and that is priceless. I can’t wait to start running again either. I’ve missed running so much & the catharsis that accompanies it.

But for now, I’ve got a blister about 3 inches long in the arch of my foot thanks to that celebratory walk. And I can’t wait to take many more!

Attempt at Tabula Rasa

Standard

I’m lonely. And exhausted. It’s been almost 9 months since we packed up our belongings and made our way to the Crescent City, but it feels like a lifetime has passed. I think I’m only beginning to process everything. In other words, the ramifications of our decision to uproot our family and our life is washing over me like oh so many tidal waves. Sometimes I think I may be drowning.

Let me drop back a few paces. Ever since I was an adolescent I fantasized about New Orleans. Trumpets in Heaven didn’t sound as sweet as those peals erupting from second line processions in my mind. I could already smell the food (it’s better in real life) and feel the feathers from those lovingly handcrafted Mardi Gras Indian suits. And the colors that came to mind in my daydreams were always brighter than anything Crayola had ever concocted. I’m pretty sure my father thought I had lost my mind when I spoke of my longing to be here. And of course all he could imagine was hearing of my death via stray bullet.

My teens and early twenties were filled with horrible boyfriend decisions, countless roommates, copious mixed drinks, tattoos, nights of live music, and lots of dreaming of New Orleans. I just couldn’t let this city go. Odder still, I’d never crossed the twin span across the mighty Mississippi. Never set foot in the city. And then I met Zach.

In all my hemming & hawing about whether I was ready for (yet another failed?) committed relationship, he gave me the one thing I’d been too afraid to give to myself-a trip to New Orleans, the city of my dreams! Words cannot describe my delight, nor his realization that I was the woman he wanted to marry. It didn’t take long for me to jump aboard and so began my real love affair with NOLA; one that escalated with every trip we made to the city. It was a drug I couldn’t get enough of. And then, after almost four years of waiting, we had finally committed to moving here.

The Monday we were set to move was rapidly approaching. Our house was packed and the UHaul waiting to be picked up & packed. Then Saturday night, as Zach was flipping our steaks on the grill, I laced up my rollerskates and promptly broke my ankle skating in the house. And so we moved almost 700 miles with my ankle broken, but my dreams crushed. I cannot explain the guilt I felt or the realization that washed over me as despair set in.

Let me be clear, I had NO idea what I’d gotten myself into. And hence, the lonely, exhausted lady sitting before you. Twenty-nine years of living in the Soda City hadn’t braced me for losing my friends, family, and ultimately a slice of myself. It’s been a harsh wake-up call to realize that I really do have to start over. I had friends in Columbia that I’d know for years and years and years. And those folks had seen my multiple metamorphoses. But here, I didn’t realize I was truly poised to reinvent myself, yet I was, and am, terribly unprepared. In addition, the first six months here were spent in utter solitude at the house on crutches with a spry 1-1/2 year old just beginning to walk.

I don’t know how to be myself anymore. I feel so uninteresting. It’s difficult for me to connect and it’s utterly exhausting. I keep feeling like I’ve got to give a life story in order to make a friend-and lemme tell you, my story is long and sordid. Can’t we just skip it? Can I?