• Family Dynamics,  the Paradox,  This is Me

    Liminal Spaces

    Am I asleep? Or am I awake? The infant in my arms is almost six months old. He is both lithe and solid, a convergence of contradictions for a baby. Usually he writhes with wiry energy, just like his papa, but now it is close to nap time, and he is still. Binky firmly in his mouth–a new habit (the habits they come and go without warning)–he stares off into the distance, saucer-like brown eyes absorbing the cool energy of the blue room. Yes, his eyes are brown, the opposite of mine. Everything about my son is the opposite of me, from his worried brow line to his muscular limbs. Am…

  • Family Dynamics,  This is Me

    Roar

    I haven’t had much to say the past few months. I have had so much to say the past few months. Sometimes it comes pouring out of my mouth like ectoplasm, provoked by the social outrage of the day, or just the day-to-day drama of being a human woman during the 21st century. racism sexism gun-violence police brutality the donald democratic primary friendships self-worth money everything Or I suppose I just imagine it that way, a film of unholy outpourings, because pregnancy has cautioned me to hush. If I were to express thoughts or feelings I would surely spiral into madness. So I say nothing. I have been hyperaware, yet this has not served me.…

  • Family Dynamics,  This is Me

    This New Person

    I don’t feel like a mother yet. Some people feel like they’re born to be mothers; I was never one of those people. My desire for children was more complicated than that. We felt the baby’s first kicks at week eighteen. It was pretty surreal, to feel that faint flutter of life for the first time. After a large meal consisting of burgers and milkshake, what felt like delicate bubbles popping began to tickle my full middle. My husband, his hand serendipitously on my belly for an affectionate pat, felt it first, even before I did. This doesn’t surprise me. “I just felt it kick!” he exclaimed. “No, you didn’t,…

  • This is Me

    Life and What Comes After

    I sit here on the couch, and I don’t know what to do. I had planned to use the pool at the nearby gym, a respite from the unrelenting heat. But I forgot what I needed for swimming. There are my goggles right there, right next to me, where I set them after pulling them out of the cupboard. What else was I going to do? I can’t remember. Then it hits me–I will need to change my shoes. I need to be wearing flip-flops. Flip-flops for the pool, ones that I won’t mind getting all squishy and squeaky with chlorinated water. This dress is okay to wear, but something…

  • This is Me

    A Look at the Numbers

    I am staring at the sheet of paper pinned to the bulletin board, but I can’t make the numbers behave. The curves and lines do not translate to a figure with value, much less stay in my brain, no matter how long I stare and how tightly I focus. The second I look away to write down the time in my day planner, the numbers dissolve. The break room is hot and the air feels thick with the smell of bread baking in the kitchens just beyond. My hair matted under the cap with “Torrance Bakery” printed on the front, I know for a fact I smell like yeast and sugar, what…

  • This is Me

    On Compassion and The Self: #1000Speak

    It is Friday night, and I am stealing a few moments at the computer to write these words. I have spent all day doing the things I can only do on my day off from work; a laundry list of odds and ends that keep life going and keep the house moderately clean. Between cleaning up the remains of dinner and putting fresh sheets on the bed, I have chosen myself, for a few moments at least. Many nights last semester I stayed up, red pen in hand, churning through the bottomless stack of papers to grade. It felt like the second I triumphantly finished the last essay, another stack would…

  • Alcohol and Sobriety,  This is Me

    Compound Interest

    Everyone was laughing except me. At this point, I had pasted a smile to my face, which now felt stiff and wooden. I probably looked like a monkey, tightened lips spread in a parody of human emotion. I’m usually pretty good at faking things, but it was all bubbling so closely under the surface that day. “I went back and told her, ‘Uh uh. That’s not a raise: that’s a cost of living adjustment,’” Sophia proclaimed, straight-faced. “Don’t get me wrong—I appreciate a cost of living adjustment. It’s great. Really. But, you know, let’s just call it was it is.” This followed a discussion of her husband’s signing bonus, which with an…

  • The Sacred Arts,  This is Me,  Writing

    Giving and Taking

    Giving. It’s what most women are trained to do pretty much since birth. Here’s this dolly, nurture it. Here’s this house, it’s your job to make sure it’s welcoming and clean. Don’t you want to learn to cook so you can find a husband someday? Give of yourself, it is your job to make others comfortable. Okay, maybe things have changed a little since I was a youngster (or at least I hope so), but women talk about guilt enough for it to be a pretty pervasive cultural condition. We feel guilty if our houses aren’t clean and well-decorated. We feel guilty sitting down to read, or watch TV, or paint our…

  • Damn the Man,  This is Me

    New Year: Anew

    It made sense to end the year as it had gone on. So much pain last year needed acknowledgment. As much as I enjoy star shine and buttercups, it would have been wrong to paint opalescence over the chaos. But now that the wind has died down, the shelling has quelled, I survey the rubble and see what’s left. Good things happen in the midst of turmoil. I see a glint of red amidst the gray–it is the capability of action. Fear, so much fear, held me back from taking risks for many years. The freedom of having little left to lose dissolved that fear like acid. Strangely, I am fundamentally changed. I take…

  • Depression is a Bitch,  This is Me

    Take Me Away

    “Natalie,” Mrs. Stenninger bent down to my desk. Tall and angular, she always squatted to talk to us at our tiny desks. I quickly shoved my book into the cubby. “Yes?” I asked, feigning innocence, like the pro liar I was fast becoming. “What are you reading?” she asked. Mrs. Stenninger suffered no fools. I sighed. No point in trying to salvage the fib. “A mystery book. It’s called Mandie and the Forbidden Attic.” “Is it good?” I searched her face to see if she was genuinely interested. Her brow raised, her face open–all signs pointed to “yes.” “Yes. It’s exciting.” I grasped through my ten-year old mind to express what that meant to…

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