the love/hate, in all its degrees

I know one day I’ll look back and miss the cute puppyhood, but right now floyd is getting on my every last nerve– and I’m kind of looking forward to the middle-aged lap dog he’ll be.

I expect it to be an occasionally similar thing with kids– not-as-young-as-they-might-be parents kind of daydreaming of one day being emptynesters. I expect kids, if I ever have them, to kick my ass. it’s one ass-kicking I welcome, and it pretty much terrifies me.

ah, that thrill ride of caring a lot, about people, things, the work we do in this world, whatever.

I am absolutely hating being kind-of indifferent to the work I do daily. it’s not even the days that make me crazy that make me crazy– ultimately it’s simply not caring enough. I really miss feeling like I was in a position to effect the way forward in substantive ways. wouldn’t it even be nice to find one’s work meaningful? well, there’s reaching for the stars… but, concretely, I miss the high tech world and working in teams of targeted aptitudes. I miss intelligent organization and management. I miss california and north carolina for those things, and some other things.

which leads to nostalgia and the oh-so-long list of the things missed for various reasons– things, of course, from the past, rendered seemingly tame in retrospect.

the present has these intense pockets of authentic feeling and then stretches of … caring less.

I want to care more, I want more. and I stop myself continually in a hundred different ways out of the fear of change and the unknown. I’m not so much afraid of feeling a lot. I am learning that I fear being and appearing stupid (there is ego in it). and I have a concrete fear of being downright dumb. not trusting myself not to render disasters. I feel I have wrought them. the mistakes I’ve made have been rather doozies. I guess it’s the risk you run.

who wouldn’t like to be smarter and more skillful? better liked? charmed and charming? though I’ve seen those with silver spoons choke themselves with them. the risk they run.

we work with the tools we have– or we muffle our own hands with hesitation.

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thoughts on having babies and what signifies in being a woman, not necessarily related topics

occasionally I’ll have a terrible, terrible dream in which I kill a baby– someone will hand a newborn or 1-yr-old to me, and while I struggle to hold it most responsibly and carefully, some combination of factors (the baby arching backward, someone else pushing by me, my own clumsiness or incompetence) will conspire to result in a dead baby in my arms. I woke this morning with a dead arm from sleeping on it and in a panic from just such a dream: tiny dead newborn in my hands.

I know these babies are not representative of babies alone– they stand in for many things, projects, hopes, other people’s hearts, a multitude of delicate, mortal worries– but they are also babies. I have for many years now lived with a good deal of ambivalence regarding the choice to parent– with concerns running the gamut from my own competence, selfish hoarding of my personal space and sleep and general autonomy, financing and clothing, feeding, housing such an important venture, the basic terrible vulnerability of loving and being responsible for something so vulnerable in a busy and difficult and dangerous world. in the midst of my not altogether chosen childlessness, I wrestle with these myriad pieces both in my waking hours and inside my dreams.

recently chris and I have been discussing our future together– all the various steps and pragmatic considerations that weigh against one another– we’ve gently, and so sweetly, begun weaving our visions together, laying timelines, projecting into the months and years ahead the important pieces of a life together. children are part of this for us– an undertaking that we both approach with humor and gravity and much hope– we would like, I’m sure it’s no surprise, to do it as right as we can– which involves, for us, arranging pieces, paving the way in this way and that.

so the other day I had a dr appointment to discuss new birth control options in the interim, finally having conceded to the fact of my lackadaisical pill-taking. in the course of this appointment I told my doctor that we wanted something relatively short term and reversible, as we would be wanting to begin trying to get pregnant at some visible point down the road– and she sat down and fixed me with a serious look, recited to me my age and statistics regarding ageing eggs and genetic disorders and a host of other complications, told me that she was going to proceed with the prescription for the birth control but that she hoped we’d choose never to use it– in short, not to wait.

well. I suppose sometimes we need to hear serious advice from our doctors. so chris and I are now sitting with this perspective. which is to say, nothing has changed substantively– only that this is the landscape, the various large bodies moving on the horizon– this is the frame of mind in which I dream of killing babies.

and in which I receive this video of writer kelly corrigan reading a piece she’s written on women and life to a collected audience of women– intended surely in the most loving way by my sister in law, who likes to forward on such pieces of inspiration to the women in her life. yesterday my computer was acting up, so this morning was when I managed to get it to play and watched it, fresh from this dream of the dead baby, in the midst of a more general frame of mind of missing friends and trying to find some inroads toward building my community here in chicago, fed up with my isolation two years in– and I watched this video and listened to the words from within my own position and perspective– and hated it with all my heart. I hated the constructed map of significance for women’s lives which is so inconsonant with my own experience, all the chanted coordinates of commonality that spell out my own dissonance with this picture of being a woman, being meaningful, having relevance and connection.

I could, perhaps, write this all off to the populist, best-seller perspective which fails to take into account all the different permutations of difference in women’s lives– but this isn’t enough for me right now where I am. I’m angry. on a lot of counts. among the many things I’m angry about is the tyranny of ideas around what constitutes a valid, valuable life in this world. I’ve struggled with my own prejudices and expectations for many years, trying to experience directly and honestly, trying to silence and set aside a host of conditions and judgements. and so when I’m confronted by texts in the world that are so rife with these thinking frames, which presume to speak in the voice of some universal “we” that purports to include me yet fails to reflect me in ways that feel salient, I take offense at the presumption and self-congratulation. I understand that each person can only write from our own experience and that we do our best to offer what we can to the world– but, by golly, this piece of … inspirational writing resulted in my feeling more pronouncedly outside whatever definitive fold of women it is addressing than embraced and included in it. bah and humbug.

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of summer and friends and babies

golly. it’s the first time in what feels like a Very Long Time that I have lain in bed in the morning and tippity-tappety meandered around catching up with people in the virtual realm– especially my mom- and mom-to-be friends jen and laurel and hanh. I expect the evident common denominator here is more than a little attributable to being a woman of a certain age, entering a domesticating stage and considering issues of, well, just what many of the women I know are doing around this time of life: having babies, writing, juggling various identities.

also, likely, due to the fact that I’m on the cusp of my first real roadtrip vacation in a very long time, all based around a dear friend’s wedding– next week we’ll be hopping in the car and meandering out to new york for my gorgeous friend thisbe’s backyard wedding hoo-ha! I’m totally totally excited for the free time and excursion with my darlin’ and the chance to see good old friends who live too far away to visit more frequently. we’ll be going into manhattan for a couple of days of art museums and staying at the home of one of my very oldest and dearest friends masha, with whom I went to boarding school. right now both chris and I are busy trying to tie up loose ends and arrange for backup on work projects while we’re gone– it’s a bit of a scramble. and for some reason or other I bought a gallon of milk the other day right before vacating. silly sarah.

we have a new tent and a new air mattress to put in it, and we will be kamping at the KOA kampground right near the wedding site along with a slew of other revelers. I’m having gleeful visions of firepits and smores and jumping in the swimming hole out back of thisbe & jay’s place. proper summer. I’ve been craving it. for all my proximity to a great lake, it’s a doggone shame that I haven’t thrown on my suit and jumped in it since last year. swimming and sloshing around in great fresh bodies of water is without a doubt my A #1 favorite all-time activity. the unfortunate thing is that the lifeguards on the chicago beaches won’t let you go out above where the water hits your knees– very aggravating, though I do get that they have a job to do and a swarming populace with iffy water skills to manage. but sometimes you just really want to get in over your head, yknow?