Friday, August 28, 2015

The List

Quick. Make a list of everything you've ever wanted. Everything you would do if money were no object. Would you be sitting here, staring at this computer?

I would.

Maybe that's my problem.

Three people have asked me this very question this week: what do you want to do? Not as in, shall we get tacos or sushi, but on a grander scale, like a vacation to Bali or a pony or a piercing. Certainly some of those sound more appealing than others, but nothing seems to bubble up from within.

Well, except the one thing.

The One Thing has been there for longer than I can recall, and I'm now kind of over it. Because now It is scarier than it was before. It's on the other side of the surgery, which, if you're unfamiliar, is where they cut out parts of you. On purpose. And then you pay them for it.

This has happened to me twice before. My parents made the decision to have my tonsils removed when I was seven, a procedure I remember vaguely, mostly in the context of suppositories because I couldn't stop throwing up, and Crocodile Dundee, because it was 1980 something. In my later years I've wondered if my body isn't sailing by in ship-shape because of whatever the tonsils were supposed to be doing. Like what if my special purpose, or the compass for my special purpose, was in my tonsils? And this is why I'm so despaired at finding what I want, because I haven't a clue?

Later I had my wisdom teeth removed, which also seemed the informed choice based on various cultural norms and the American inability to clean one's teeth properly. It was painful, but worse than the pain was the inebriation from the medication they used to put me under. The Fog has lasted into my thirties, perhaps because there are still icky bits of medication in my blood, or more likely, because my wisdom was removed.

And now I face Polly, my affable polyp who has been not-so-innocently standing by whilst my marriage and mental health rode off hand in hand, into the sunset.

Back to the want.

So long as I can recall, or at least the parts of me that remain recall, I have wanted to be a mother. To bear children and then raise them up like my personal little science experiments. I would like the opportunity to mess up some offspring, see if the computer models are correct, see what the blossoms of this tree look like. I'm not sure what kind of tree I am, and some part of me (maybe even Polly) believes that I can't know until there are little fruits rolling around my roots.

Maybe then I'll know what I'm made of.

The want was so loud that I've drowned it out with sorrows and busy-ness, which isn't news to anyone. And all the while, Polly. Dear Polly, was saying I DON'T THINK SO. Your shit is yours to figure out girlfriend, no friend, nor potion, nor cosmic force, nor boyfriend can help you. And neither can your fruits.

They say that the entirety of the tree is in the seed. The memory of the mother is in the daughter.

What's in a polyp?

Thursday, August 20, 2015


This is a heady word, this "yet."

You can throw it around like, "Yet, the chair was red." And it means essentially nothing, or you can say that you haven't done something... yet.

There's a lot I haven't done yet.

For instance, instead of writing my memoir right now I'm vacillating between eating hippy chips, Facebook, and this blankish page (and the other blankish page that has bits on it). I'm having a hard time settling into the writing groove. I haven't really gotten my "book" off the ground.


I have this thing on my calendar. This surgery. This trap door that might open the Way of my Cervix and drop me into the illusive land of motherhood, or cancer, or I could probably just straight-up die.

And I'm not sure I'm ready for any of these things.


I told my mother yesterday, which is how I know for real and for certain that she does not in fact read my blog, as she was surprised to hear that I might consider an elective-ish surgery to possibly reinstate my fertility without first landing a husband. This was her first concern, my marital status, not my health or the state of my health insurance and finances, nor even the state of my advanced directives.

No, mama.

Don't you get it? Polly the Polyp is not about my marriage, although she sure seemed to have a lot to say about it. She's some sort of manifestation of something - like my fear of motherhood and the requisite failures and rebirths that happen around that, or possibly what happened to the chewing gum I repeatedly swallowed as a child despite my extreme effort to chew and chew and chew. Maybe Polly is here to inspire me to Write My Damned Book before I possibly die on the equinox - what if Polly is really an entire universe and she's just waiting for the big BANG?

I'm not ready to die, yet.

I have a lot of things to do, like birth a book, and a baby, and make a few thousand more epic mistakes worth writing about. I'm here to write about the important things like losing and letting go, like expectations and disappointments. Like how to avoid being a dill-hole and how to manage adult diagnoses of HFM disease. These things are important.

Oprah did not get married, and look at her. Sure, she endured a hellish childhood but now she owns Maui and Africa and puts her picture all over everything, like, "OH, YEAH, LIFE? YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHIN' YET."

(she didn't have babies either, I know).

Mama's got some expectations. And I haven't lived up to them.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Excuse me, while I lose my mind


This morning several of my friends posted this gem of an article about how much it absolutely and completely sucks to have a child. How it is worse than both divorce AND the death of a romantic partner.

Well, people, let's talk about science.

First, the Washington Post is likely a reputable source for news. And someone sort of, kind of, did some research here.


I fundamentally disagree.

And I say this on some authority, as I work with new parents on a daily basis and have for several years now.

The yogis try (and try again) to teach us that nothing outside of us will make us happy. As in, if you are sad, a new baby will not make you happy. A divorce will not make you happy. And only in limited circumstances will the death of your partner make you happy. In those cases you'll have to move to one of the handful of countries that does not extradite to the US, and I'm pretty sure the happiness index of those countries is particularly poor (particularly for women).

A puppy will not make you happy. A new car, new job, the right soap, the right boobs, these things will not make you happy.


The opportunity to give love does increase happiness over time, particularly when that love is reciprocated. I do not need a study or the WP to show me that, and neither do you. How do I know? People have children, and continue to have children. They adopt children. They plow through years of fertility BS to have children. They adopt puppies and iguanas and teacup pigs. People love this shit.

People love overcoming stress. That's why we fell in love with Forrest Gump and why triumphing over insane distance sports makes us feel all warm and squishy (for a time). Having a baby is stressful, because you don't get to decide when it eats and sleeps or what it's personality or temperament are. But unless you are one heck of a dill-hole, you will overcome. Even with little to no education and training. This is biology. This is science! Everyone everywhere has children, and it's not because the conservative a-holes have blinded us to the usefulness and availability of contraceptives. It is our biological imperative and it is infinitely better than divorce and death and possibly moving to Pakistan.

And I get it. Having children is hard. They need lots of things, and the ROI is sometimes nonexistent.  I'm not for one instant saying that it is easy or that you don't need a whole heaping helping of help and various moderately-controlled substances to smooth the ride. I've stepped in on many occasions when someone called and said they needed a break because they were going to throw their baby at a wall.

And I've seen those same parents get help, triumph, have more children, and figure it out.

You can, too. Your children won't be the lawyer/doctor/architects that you hoped they would be. They might get cut from the soccer team, or they might be gay or Republican. They might hop and skip from faith tradition to faith tradition or college to college. They will likely break things and need therapy for any number of things you did or didn't do or tried to do correctly.


They will very likely endure and go on to have children of their own. And even if they don't love you every day or every week or every year, they will love you more and make you happier than homicide and divorce.

To say anything else is bending data to blow wind in your sails.

And smoke up your ass.

So enjoy your children. And bitch about the hard things. Notice when your expectations hit the bottom of the sea and realize that the problem isn't that your kiddo didn't master the flute, but that you thought she should. Your expectation that parenthood would be the "best thing ever" is bound to fail. The problem isn't in the first child, it's a practice in releasing expectations.

The score card goes like this:

1. Do you have a child?
2. Are they alive?
3. Are they healthy?
4. Are you healthy?


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Mountains and Mole-Hills: DO NOT GET EXCITED

Today I went to see my awesome-sauce new doctor about my "fertility issues" and got to meet Polly, my enormous endometrial polyp.

Isn't she pretty?

(In case sonographic interpretations aren't in your repertoire, the large black space is my uterus filled with 10 cc of saline. It should be a pear-shape, but the right half is clearly filled with an enormous polyp, Miss Polly, who is pointing to the 11 o'clock spot).

When my uterus doesn't have water in it, Miss Polly blocks my cervix like a native IUD. Which means I couldn't get pregnant if I tried.


Aren't you excited? ELATED to have an answer? Relieved to know what has been causing your discomfort/sadness/unexplained infertility/cornucopia of uncomfortable symptoms you don't want to post about on the internets?




Surgery. Hope. Despair. What's a girl to do? Leave it and never dance with that asshole puppet Hope again, or spend a lot of money, endure quasi-elective surgery, and let the dance begin again.

Let it be a molehill?

Face the mountain?

I came home with a sonogram picture to put on my fridge or my meditation altar, the way most mamas are sent home with pictures of embryological squid or whatever they get to see on their first confirmation of pregnancy ultrasound. My first instinct was to share it on FB, but I felt like you needed the story behind it - or at least a small slice of it. I've sat with it today, first in the car, then at home, then while furiously googling and learning that endometrial polyps are most common in obese women over 40 with a history of high blood pressure.

That sounds like me.

It looks like a yin/yang.

Or a "sorry, we're closed."

I'm closed.

I wish someone had done this for me two years ago - three years ago. Before I invested $7,000 in fertility research/acupuncture/voodoo/craniosacral/therapy/psychics/herbs/assorted diets. Before I gave up drinking and fun.

Before I gave up on my marriage.

But here we are, me and Polly, deadlocked in a staring contest.

Friday, August 7, 2015


It is unusual for me to be inspired by a quote. Too often I think yoga teachers and writers alike dance on the tails of some other peacock rather than spreading their own feathers and seeing what they've got. Regardless, today is one of those days for me.

It's been a dry week, and my weathered skin is peeling from my hands and feet in the wake of my unfortunate experience with hand, foot, and mouth disease. The itchy bumps were bad, the guilt of having passed the yuck to others was worse, and now the universal metaphor of growth as I shed one skin and step out in something a bit pinker, a bit more raw. It always comes at the right time.

Even when we're not ready for it.

I'm at that fuzzy crossroads, like the place between seasons. It's faint and blurry, and you can tell traffic has come from one way and ended up another, but the feet that made those trails weren't coordinated, just like the feelings that come in this kind of crossroads aren't sorted and linear. They don't take turns, and they don't fall in line. This wave of sadness feels a lot like the flavor of last week, but the sun has shifted slightly and a lot more skin has shed.

The wind has stolen last week's footprints and whatever breadcrumbs lay there before are seven miles south or in the belly of the raven.

And I am, too. At least parts of me. Taking a good, hard look at myself and the choices I've made in the last year - the last five - the last ten, and I don't automatically think wow, I think ugh. As in, ugh, I followed that guy down that rabbit hole, dragged that one kicking and screaming from an early grave (that he fell into anyway), cinched that one into a tight mold.

What will happen to you, my darling, in the wake of my ineffectual love? 

Instead of fixing myself, which is the only thing I can do, I have fixed the crap right out of everyone I meet (sleep with). And by fix I mean control, which is like fixing when there isn't a problem. Even when there is a problem, it isn't my problem until I decide that it is and go all Lorax on whatever The Thing is.

Except I forgot about me. I've forgotten about me all along. I cannot remember a time - not one minute - not one early memory - where I wasn't concerned about how what I did was going to affect someone else.

I've been joking lately about the title of my forthcoming book, which is mostly just sticky notes. Basically the point is that nothing that I've done has been about me. And in some ways that is good, I think. In yoga we speak of selfless service - of the union between the small "s" self and the big "S" Self, and that's great when we're talking of sharing bananas. But when it comes to who is on first, whose goals and aspirations lead the charge, who realizes whose destiny it gets sticky.

Who is on first?

In my past lives, I was a servant, a submissive, a glorified doormat. And I've been told based on the time and station of my birth that in this life I am supposed to realize myself. As in get selfish. And although you might mistake my actions with those poor men I've driven mad as selfish, I think that they were in fact residual effects of a life I hadn't finished yet. I see your potential and I will bend and maneuver any aspect of my life to realize. To realize in an active way, not to recognize, but to transform.

"I hope that one day you will have the experience of doing something you do not understand for someone you love." ~ Jonathan Safran Foer

I tried to force that energy into a baby - to realize another human that I could direct so that I would be free from the disgrace of confronting my own reflection and rumination. Eager I was, as so many are, to pass the buck - to leave my mark as a Legacy rather than an impression of the hard work I have done.

This is the disease of the helicopter parent, the slave-driver who directs a child into a shape that does not suit her. The angry boss who snaps at the intern. This, I'm afraid, is me.

Tonight marks an important moment - a crossroads in the dust. I've made a series of interesting turns getting to this precise point and I feel as hapless and helpless as a dandelion seed on the wind. And perhaps this was the moment I was waiting for - the ability to surrender, to ride the wind and let the big "S" Self steer for awhile.

Faith does not come easily to me. I'm jealous if it does for you, and I'm grateful on your behalf.

For now, I'll stand here in the crossroads and wait for the wind to pull at my hair and sweep at my skirt and set me on my new direction, eyes closed.

And hope that faith sweeps me up.