Friday, December 18, 2009

I Second That

An excerpt from a San Francisco Chronicle article pretty much sums it up for us over here. The article is headlined A look back at one of the worst years ever and starts like this:

"If there is good news for East Bay residents in 2009, it's that the year is almost over. And if you are one of those poor souls who lost a home, a job - or both and then some - take comfort, friend, for you are a survivor of one of the worst years on record."

Full article here if you're interested.

I don't need to read the whole thing. I am painfully aware of how difficult a year it's been. More on the further twists and turns of 2009 for us over here in survivor-land later. For now, I'm going to make myself some hot chocolate spiked with brandy and think about how 2010 is just around the corner, and man, what a better year that will be.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Beautiful Post

I swear that this blog is not becoming all-miscarriage-all-the-time. That would be way too depressing for me and for you. But I really wanted to share a post I found on one of the blogs I read regularly. She has an essay out in The Sun about her experience. I've only read the teaser they give you on The Sun's website, but I will be buying the magazine to read the rest.

And no, referencing this blog post doesn't mean that Mikhail and I are deciding that Elan is our one and only. I just think the writing is beautiful and the sentiments are so understandable, at least from where I stand.

Read it here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

After Yet Another Rejection Letter

Sometimes I ask myself why I write. Writing is the work I do during my precious hours not being 100% Mama, sandwiched between getting some exercise and doing tasks that cannot possibly be done with an energetic 3-year-old in tow, like visiting the dentist. Paying for twelve hours of childcare a week so that I can write (and do other sanity-preserving activities) is a huge investment for a family with very little extra money in the budget. Sometimes it feels like such an extravagance. I should use this time for something that pays real money right now, I think. Or at least something that provides a little validation, rather than just another fresh rejection letter curing on my desk.

How do we know when chasing a dream goes from inspiring to irresponsible?

Does it ever?

I sought out grantwriting gigs, and after many hours of trying, I got one. I made a little money. It felt good. I'd do another, if there were another to do. But I am impatient. I don't want to spend the precious hours chasing after work; I want to spend it writing. I have so many projects in the cue and on my desk. What I lack is not ideas or the drive to put them to paper - it's the time to delve deeply.

But whenever I question my choices, I end up back here: I know deep down that writing is my soul-work. No matter what else I do with my days, writing is not a choice; it is a necessity for my soul to be filled and fulfilled.

And then there is this quote from Joyce Maynard, via one of my favorite blogs Chookooloonks:

"It's not only children who grow. Parents do, too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it myself."

Having faith in myself and my writing, even during a run of rejection letters, is how I show Elan what it looks like to reach for the sun.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In December

It is December now, and I notice that for the past several months I have maintained silence here on my blog about how I have continued to deal with the miscarriage that rocked my world this year. Why is that? Shortly after the miscarriage, I wrote a series of emotionally raw and revealing posts. I did that consciously, because for me, writing is a form of therapy. Writing helps me to process my emotions, to understand my reactions, and to move through difficult or stuck places.

I could have written these things in my journal rather than in a public forum like a blog. However, I also wanted to communicate about this experience. Despite all the supportive and loving people in my life, miscarriage has felt like such a lonely loss. Perhaps all loss is. I know the experience of miscarriage and the emotions it raises are different for every woman. For me it has felt like a death that only I really grieve. And while society might be more open about miscarriage now than in the past, it is still an experience shrouded in things unspoken, people not knowing what to say, women not knowing how to share their experience without making others uncomfortable. In writing about my miscarriage, I wanted to reach out to say how it is for me, to make this kind of experience less of an off-limits topic, to acknowledge the hard stuff rather than gloss over it. For better or worse, I'm just not the type to skip to the happy ending.

I wrote some posts where I started to really delve into these feelings, and then I got scared off. I got scared off by the reaction of a few people, which I feared meant there were more who just wouldn't speak their thoughts out loud. I retreated. Which was okay. I needed to mull over how to use this blog, what purpose I hope it to serve both for me and those who read it. And the truth is that, while I enjoy posting pictures of Elan and the strange and funny happenings in our world, I know I won't keep writing on this blog unless it really serves me. And I think the way for it to do that best is as a forum for me to send snippets of my writing out into the world. This is something I need to practice. It is difficult for me to decide that a piece of writing is finished and to submit it to journals and magazines, when I know statistics say it will most likely be rejected. This blog is a way for me to tell the overly-perfectionistic part of myself to bug off. It is a place for me to experiment, to put my writing out there with less fuss and hassle and patience than is required in the publishing world.

That doesn't mean that I don't carefully consider the words I post here. I know that once published to the Internet, they live outside my control. But I have decided that ultimately, I'm more interested in truth than self-protection. I'm more inspired by sharing myself than by retreating. At least for today.

And so, I write to you from December. Today after I put Elan down for his nap, I suddenly felt overcome with sadness. I flipped the calender to December, and there was a visual representation of why. At the end of this week, a small number inked in my handwriting: 38. At the end of this week, I would have been 38 weeks pregnant. Elan was born at 38 weeks. My official due date is not for several weeks, and yet, I could have had a baby any day now.

Could, should, would. I know these words are not helpful. They are a story of the past, not my current reality. And yet. Grief is like that, I have realized. You go along, feeling fine, focusing on the here and now, until suddenly, a wave sneaks up and takes you down. Or at least gets the hem of your pants wet.

What I want to say is that I am doing well. I feel strong and hopeful, especially in comparison to where I was several months ago. I am healing. A work in progress. This month marks the time our baby would have been born, but it also signifies the official end of the six-month waiting period after the molar pregnancy. And so now, in December, I find myself balancing hope and fear, thankfulness for the health I've got and how far I've come with sadness over what I hoped would be, this time of the year.