Tuesday, June 25, 2013

And all should cry, Beware! Beware! Her flashing eyes, her floating hair! *

Dear India,

While this is less than flattering, I feel like your 14th month is most characterized by your SHRILL SCREAMING.

You are lovely and joyful and hilarious, yes, and you have such a strong and charming personality, but this month I dedicate to your screaminess. Oh, and your hair. Your hair!

Your hair refuses to be tamed, and I love it. It stands straight up and waves in the breeze and it's just delightful.

But the screaming. The endless screaming.

I don't even know quite how to describe the sound. It's a combination of nails on chalk and sheets of metal being wrenched and a fork scraping on glass with some shrieking eels thrown in for giggles.
It is a noise that you pull out at the slightest indication that we are not hopping to meet your needs fast enough. I know you are frustrated because you know what you want and can't communicate it and this comes out in this song of Satan.

It is a noise that causes my blood pressure to rise, my shoulders to tense up, my temper to shorten, my ovaries to clench, my hand to reach for the wine glass.

It is the very noise that I am afraid will make every single person on the plane to Denver tomorrow loathe us for the entire four-hour flight.

Because yes! We are going to Denver! Daddy is going to a conference and we are going to see so many friends and family and yay it is going to be awesome!

Jordan is so excited. Every night we tell a story in bed, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears has slowly evolved and expanded to Goldilocks and Her Brother Jordan, Who Go to the Airport and Fly on an Airplane to Denver, Colorado.

Last night the story included Goldilocks, her brother Jordan, baby India, their mommy and daddy, their nana, their Lucy, and Molly and her daddy. All going to Denver.

If we add many more people we're going to have to charter a flight.

But this is about you. You have no idea what we're about to do, and while I think you're going to have a blast hanging out with friends, I am pretty terrified about flying with you. And shifting your time zone. And getting you to sleep in a hotel room.

Basically, the whole trip. I'm afraid you will scream and not sleep and we will not sleep and then we will all be crabby and there you have it.

You and your brother are just so different.  I was told by so many people that girls are easier, less busy. You are far more busy, and you always have an agenda. You are always headed somewhere, walking with a purpose.
Your preference during meals is to have one foot on the table, and it is enough of a struggle that at this point I just let you. So after meals I wipe your face, your hands, and your right foot.

You and Jordan are my joy, and we run around like lunatics and snuggle and giggle and have so many delightful moments. I love that you are strong, and I want to foster your strength, particularly because you are a girl.

But dear Lord, the screaming.



*Apologies to Coleridge

Monday, June 24, 2013

Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard.

Whenever people say things like "oh, everything happens for a reason" or "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" or whatever those adages are, I want to punch them in the teeth.

So I don't think that we got and then let go of Lincoln Jones for a reason, and I do still feel very bad about how things went with him. I will, however, say that he was a catalyst, and that without him, Nick and I would probably still have gone on living with a dynamic that was causing both of us more and more resentment.

I think it was ultimately the right choice not to keep him, but the way the decision was made - by Nick, firmly, without trying to persuade me to agree - sent me into a tremendous crisis.

Had I married my dad? And was I my mom? Was I just a cooperative party in a marriage like that of my parents, where my dad had all the power?

Am I just playing the role of cooperative wife - quirky and artsy and funny and attractive - but not an equal? A wife expected to go along?

Nick is more opinionated in many ways, and a lot of the time, the things he wants either accord with what I want, or it doesn't matter that much to me one way or the other. I'm strong, but he's stronger; I can be mean, but he can be meaner. He bulldozes when the need arises.

So last week I hit this crisis point, where I wondered about...everything. These big decisions and commitments I'd made. This life we'd built. Everything.

Finally, after days of anger - which I didn't initially realize was, in fact, anger - I said to Nick that we so clearly have this huge power disparity in our relationship. It's not equal. It's not anywhere near equal.

And Nick, to his credit, replied that no, it's not 50-50, but life is so much more nuanced than that. Look - we live in DC because I wanted to. He wanted to stay in Virginia. This was a huge decision, dictating so many things in our lives, and he deferred to me.

(At which point I was all, oh, well, yah, that was a big one.)

He tends to make more decisions, and the bigger decisions, and he decides quickly, and is always confident that he's made the right choice.

Whereas I can spent 15 minutes in the soda aisle, trying to figure out what I'd like to drink.

Because people are complex, and because relationships are so layered, there are so many more pieces to this story. And so many more details that I cannot delve into.

But we can admit that there are some fundamental things that each of us would change about the other if we could. But you cannot change the other person. You can only change how you react. And talk about how you feel. It helps to recognize that there's no malice in our actions.

But you don't begin to change yourself until you have a reason to.

We have a lot of work to do on our relationship. And we now both recognize it and are willing to work. This is a significant hurdle to get past.

And it turns out that I am funny and quirky and stuff, but not necessarily all that cooperative. So, you know, not so much in danger of being the wifey.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Me and Mr. Jones

I've been in a very bad no good pretty terrible place since Sunday night.

We got Lincoln Jones at noon on Saturday.  On Monday Nick took him back to the rescue place.

At 120 pounds, Lincoln's weight is not far off mine, but he's all muscle. Nick weighs closer to 300 pounds than he would like to, and Lincoln was able to pull him on the leash. 

On Sunday evening he had a huge freakout and scared Nick, who said that was it, he had to go.

Lincoln heard the elevator, and started barking and running around. Jordan and I were just about to walk out the door to pick up his poop, as Nick had forgotten to bring a bag on their walk. Apparently right after we left, he bounded across the living room vaulted onto a chest in front of one of our three large windows, and flung himself repeatedly against the window.

Thank God he didn't go through the glass, but Nick was worried he would, and grabbed his harness to pull him back. Lincoln opened his mouth as if to bite, but stopped himself. He's not a biter. He's a very sweet guy. He was just in a panic.

I feel like, fuck. Why didn't Nick take a fucking bag with him when he walked him in the first place? Why did I leave when he was already worked up? Why why why why? It's all moot, but why?

Obviously, I wasn't there. I don't know how bad it was, except for Nick's description. But when we got back, Nick was clearly shaken.

Lincoln is so big - almost too big for Nick, who is one of the biggest humans I know.

He said that was it, he had to go. He had anticipated a number of things, but nothing like running frantically around the living room and leaping repeatedly at the window in utter hysteria. Such a big dog, so out of control. And we have two small children.

Nick called the trainer we'd met with Saturday, and the head of the rescue operation. He said he was bringing Lincoln back first thing in the morning.

I spent Sunday night crying, drinking gin on our front stoop and maligning Nick to the neighbors.

It was Father's Day, which isn't my best holiday. And then he took my dog away.

On Monday morning, Nick took him back to the rescue organization.

I spent the last two days devastated. I couldn't talk to Nick until last night. Not in a punishing way, I just...didn't feel like talking to him.

When we fight, we fight angry and fast, and we get over it. That I'm used to. This wasn't a fight. This was absence of desire, absence of interest, absence of will.

He took my dog back. I felt betrayed. I felt bulldozed into agreeing. Or rather, I said I didn't agree, but I couldn't keep the dog without him. You cannot have a dog, particularly a dog the size of a horse, that one person is not willing to keep.

And he felt confident in moving forward with his decision - more confident than I felt in trying to stop him.

Lincoln is an awesome dog - and I choose that word deliberately. I wanted so badly for him to be ours. He's sweet and lovely and just a really, really nice guy. With some abandonment issues and some anxiety. (But fuck, who doesn't have those?)

I hope someone wonderful, kind, loving, and strong adopts him. I thought that was us.

You can say any of the following:

That we were crazy to want such a big dog when we had such little kids. That we didn't know what we were getting ourselves into. That we made a commitment and we broke it. That we were unfair, that we didn't give him enough of a chance. That I should've refused to let him go, and fought with Nick to keep him. That we did the right thing, that we have to put our kids first. That if he wasn't going to work out, it was better that it happened quickly, rather than in a few months when he had settled in.

I think all of these things are true. I feel terrible about the entire situation on so many levels.

I was so excited about Lincoln, and told the entire world that we were getting him. So people have been asking, in person and in email, how it's going.

So here you have it: it's not. I had a dog for a day and a half and now I don't. And I don't think we will get another one.

I still get all teary when I talk about him. I've got a lot to work through.

So I think this is all I have to say.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Conversations with a 3-year old

Walking Through a Busy Gym

"Mama! What are these people doing?"

"They're exercising."


Points to a man on a treadmill: "Oh, Mama. He's trying to run but it's not working."


Preparing for a Dinner Guest

"Come here, nakey-boy. We need to put on clothes." 

"I don't want to put on clothes."

"But we have a new friend coming over."

"I don't want clothes. I like to be naked."

"We need to have clothes on for the first time we meet someone. Remember how we don't answer the door all nakey? We don't meet people naked."

"We need wear clothes when we meet someone?"


N.B.: Jordan kept his clothes on for about the first 10 minutes of the visit, after which he stripped to a T-shirt. After brief negotiation, he agreed to put his undies back on as well. 


Aaaaand the Answer Is Always Yes


"Yes, love?"

"When I put my finger in my bottom."

"When you put your finger in your bottom what?"

"When I put my finger in my bottom? It gets tiny little pieces of poop on it that I can't see?"

"Yes, honey, it does."

"And then I have to wash my hands?"

"You sure do."

"Can I wash my hands?"

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

And now I'm totally on the lookout for some sort of eagle headdress to make me look official

Last Friday, after a morning with my baby, I hurried into a shower, suit, and makeup, grabbed suitable heels and purse, slid on my flip-flops, and rushed out of the house, down the street to the bus stop.

I usually wear a cross-body bag that fits things like commuter shoes, diapers, toy backhoes, and the like. But I chose a more professional purse for the heading to the White House occasion. And this bag, I realized on the bus, would not hold my rather large and sturdy (and bright blue and green) flip flops.

I didn't have time to go up to Nick's office, so I asked the guard in his lobby if there was somewhere I could hide my flops. He very kindly let me stash them in the plants.

(So now I feel like when I was so pregnant and itching to sneak into the koi pond at Nick's office that even though Nick sternly forbade me, maybe the guard would have let me??)

Anyway. Because suicide prevention is not about what you wear, ahem, Lisa., on to the meeting.

President Obama needed the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing, and so, sadly, we got to spend about five minutes loitering in the West Wing lobby, and then were directed to the Old Executive Office Building (OEOB - try saying that three times). Which, still awesome. We loitered in the West Wing!

Plus, it's not like the OEOB isn't spectacularly impressive in itself.

Since we'd gotten there at 2 pm, as instructed, and been the first people processed (big security!) we had plenty of time before the 3 pm meeting. Our leader suggested heading down to the cafeteria. Everyone (else) got a drink or small snack.

Nick hadn't had lunch. And thus walked into former Secretary of State Cordell Hull's office with a giant plate of BBQ. (Which was done by the time the meeting began. Thankfully. I was all twitchy. He was all, "What? I didn't get lunch!")

We, AFSP staff and walk fundraisers, met with Obama's and Biden's senior staff - coincidentally members of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The administration is putting a lot of focus on mental health and suicide, as it's an increasingly dire issue for current military and veterans.

We went around the room introducing ourselves and giving our reasons for involvement, and that was when my tears began. The officials were very engaged and asked what our priorities were, and shared the administration's goals for decreasing the stigma of mental illness and lowering suicide rates.

I wish I'd taken pictures of the room, because it was gorgeous, but I was shy and nervous. By the end of the meeting, I felt comfortable, but by then we were all heading out to take group pictures over by the White House!

Here we are on the OEOB steps, with the White House behind us. Just imagine, because I know the background is too bright. But look how attending-an-official-meetingy we look!
Wait, don't imagine. Here it is. So close! And yet so far!
And then we left and got a drink - because all of those stories of loss - loss of children, loss of more than one relative, loss of people so young and so loved - it filled me up with sad, and opened this sealed place where I suppose I store my grief most of the time.

I believe more than ever that we walk around with splinters and shards within us. We protect ourselves, we heal, but they are never gone.

So then in case you're wondering, I retrieved my flip flops without incident from the plants in the lobby. I'd still get in that fish pond in a hot second if I didn't know I'd be in Big Trouble. With a capital T, which rhymes with P, and that stands for...Pond! Koi pond!

I may sneak in there yet...

Monday, June 03, 2013

Out of the Darkness Overnight

Because of you, I was able to contribute over $7,000 to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

I want to thank you, all of you, thank you with ever itty bitty ounce of my being, for donating money to the Out of the Darkness walk, for supporting me personally, for trusting me with names of loved ones you've lost, and for being all around extraordinary, and extraordinarily kind, people.

I felt so lucky to have been a part of the walk, to have contributed to a cause that is so critically important, and to have met such amazing people. I intend to start volunteering with AFSP.

You know, I did the public health stuff in the Peace Corps because I was raised thinking I liked that kind of thing, although I really did not. And I've always felt like I should want to save the planet, should want to go help Sudanese refugees, and while I applaud others who do so, I've not had a drive myself.

But this? This is where my heart is.

The weekend was so many things all swirled together: exhausting, uplifting, devastating, energizing...

I think it best to write about the walk today, and tomorrow write about Friday and our five minutes at the White House before heading to the Old Executive Office Building (because Obama needed the Roosevelt Room, of all things), and the reception, and the awesomeness of it all. Because it is just so much.

And surprisingly, Friday was much heavier for me than Saturday.  Friday held more tears.

India and Nick went with me to check in Saturday afternoon, and India got a balloon that she loved loved loved until it flew out of her hands and into the street and popped.

This is why she can't have nice things.

I returned at 7 pm and met up (finally! in person! yay!) with Kiran of Masala Chica, who is truly lovely. We knew each other from blogging and yet, as is the case, we didn't actually know each other and we met and we hugged and we walked together and now we do.
One of the interesting things about the night was that even though there were 2,000 people walking, finding your friends wasn't hard. I walked into the meeting with White House officials on Friday knowing nobody but Nick, who thankfully had been able to accompany me, and left with friends. It was the same with the reception that night.

Suicide is a strange, brutal thing to have in common, and it is powerful.

Everyone there had lost someone, or multiple people, or had struggled personally, or was supporting someone who struggled, or all of the above.

Usually when I'm in a room of people, my family history always wins as the worst, even though it's a contest I never enter. I'm the one with the dad who killed himself.

Walking into a room, a courtyard, a street full of people who have all lost someone dear, who have all been through the same kind of horror and pain...I don't know. Oddly, it was a little bit like going to my high school reunion. It felt in a way like going home.

I felt safe.

So Kiran and I walked together for a while, and then my dear friend Amanda, who was with me at the hospital when I called the sex hotline, came and walked with me for six miles.

I'd made a lovely new friend - Joy, a name that suits her - on Friday night, and after Amanda headed home around 12:30 am, I walked with her and her friends through the rest of the night, arriving at GW around 3:30 am. And then collapsed on the grass with so many others to wait for dawn.

Everyone had been given a bag to decorate in memory, and I regret not having had the time to do much but write names on mine.

While we were walking, volunteers were busy setting up the bags, filling them with sand and lights, so we returned to walk through beautiful paths lit by memories of loved ones.
Walking what turned out to be 16.5 miles was harder than I expected (go ahead and say "duh"here), but I would do it again tomorrow.

I will do it again next year without question.

I've never stayed up all night and been so proud of myself for doing so. (Which is not to imply that I ought to be embarrassed about other times I've stayed up all night. I mean, probably some of those times. Oh, whatever. I was proud. of myself. I still am.)

Thank you again for your support, for your love, for cheering me on. I couldn't have gotten to the walk, through the walk, to dawn alone, and I'm so happy I had such amazing company all along the way.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Overnight names

This is my shirt and the paper with the names.

I've taken all the names you've given me and written them on a piece of handmade, hand-dyed paper. I chose yellow, with a tye-died circle, as to me it represents sunshine and a new day.

A number of you emailed me, rather than leaving them on the blog, and so I've blurred them out in case you don't want them public.

I checked in this afternoon. I'm about to head down to the walk.

Everyone I met yesterday was so friendly. We brought India down with us this afternoon, and people we'd met yesterday were excited to meet her. This group feels like a hug.

I can't wait.

Hugs to all of you.