Calla’s Birth Story


Calla’s First Smile.


Calla Lily Augusta McGillagreen was born March 22nd, 2015: 7lbs 4oz, 19inches long, and pure heaven. She is now almost three months old (holy s***) and I figure it is high time I write down her birth story before my sieve of a brain loses all those small details I want to remember. I will warn you now that I am going to hold nothing back. If you are uncomfortable with bodily fluids or swear words, or if you are my brother and do not want to know some very intimate things about your sister, then maybe skip this post. Shame nor modesty do not exist in my vocabulary anymore. For the rest of you: read on!

My due date was March 21st, which was a Sunday. That previous Tuesday we had what would be our last prenatal appointment, little did we know. Husband and I were both recovering from colds and my midwife, true to her Granola self, suggested that we take a drive to the coast as the negative ions in the air from the crashing waves would do us good. She also mentioned that one last hurrah before the baby comes would be nice for us. So I booked a hotel in Forest Grove for the weekend, and Saturday morning we headed for the coast.

As I was very (VERY) pregnant we did more driving than anything else. First we went to Canon Beach, stopping at my favorite bagel shop before wandering around on the beach–wandering for Husband, waddling for me. Husband had brought his camera to get a couple of belly pics, as we still had yet to document how absolutely huge I had gotten.


Look at that huge belly!


Holy Belly! Then the weather turned a little on us, so we went and had some hot chocolate then decided to head down to Tillamook. We visited the cheese factory, then hit the beach again walking and talking mostly about baby. Husband took a some more pictures, some beautiful and some just rotund in nature. I had a couple of what I took for Braxten Hicks–or Boson Higgs contractions as Husband liked to call them. They were kind of cool to feel as I had not had any my whole pregnancy–for the first time I could feel my whole uterus (this detail is important for later) contract from top to bottom. I think I had three total all day.

In the evening we drove halfway back home to Forest Grove to the McMenamins Grand Lodge. It was insanity there and nothing seemed to go exactly as planned, but I was strangely okay with everything. The first hiccup was they had misplaced out reservation, but were still able to figure out a room for us. We took a short nap and then had a lovely steak dinner. For the first time EVER, I sent my food back as my steak was more on the charcoal side, while I like it more on the red side. But the waitress was very sweet and not only replaced my steak, but gave us a double serving of dessert on the house.

After dinner we meandered over to the soaking pool, which felt amazing despite the couple of nosy and rude glances from a couple of women who would rather see a pregnant women’s life sucked of all joy. They probably were not that bad, but it is amazing how judgey people get when you are pregnant. After the pool we went to the theater that was just down the hall from our room and saw the second Divergent film. It was horrible and fun all at the same time, and I was safely tucked into bed at 12:30 pm. I was asleep in seconds.

Husband was not.

Little did I know he had a bought of insomnia so he took his phone to the lobby and that is where he was when I called him at 2:30 in the morning in labor.

I woke up with an intense pain in my lower abdomen, something along the lines of a period cramp on steroids–the hulk of period cramps. The first one passed as I laid in the dark. I thought about calling Husband, as I had woken up alone, but then I tempered myself thinking that if I had another one I would call him and see where the hell he was. Four minutes later another “cramp” hit and after it passed I picked up my phone and called Husband.

I felt a little silly and passive aggressive for calling him.  I didn’t think I was in labor as these cramps were so different from what I had felt earlier in the day. I didn’t feel any “contracting”, rather just some intense pain in my nether regions. In my mind I wasn’t in labor. My greatest fear before labor, was I would exaggerate what was happening in my mind and jump the gun. I didn’t want to get everyone all geared up to go–the midwife, the birth center, the in-laws to drive from Seattle, my parents to only find out I was in early labor and we had days to go. I did NOT want that to happen.

So I was not in labor. As husband had just been down the hall, it took him seconds to reach out room. I started timing these things that WERE NOT CONTRACTIONS on my phone. Husband felt that I should call Marilyn our midwife right away. I dithered as I was not having contractions, promising to call if I had a couple more. I had a couple more, all the while timing these things that were not contractions, so I called Marilyn at three in the morning. I didn’t tell her that we were in a hotel. I told her that I was having some “rhythmic cramping” that was pretty painful, and she said I should try and rest and keep her posted as things progress.

At 4, after having more “cramps” husband talked me into driving home as neither of us wanted to be at a hotel if things started getting interesting. I still would not let myself believe that I was in labor, even though as I counted on my phone the “cramps” were four minutes apart, lasting for 40 seconds, and I couldn’t talk through them. We packed up the car and drove. I felt pretty hungry at this point and knew that if I was going to go into labor I would need fuel.

Though I wasn’t going into labor, so I was just being sensible. The only thing we found open was the McDonald’s on the way out of Forest Grove, so I got an oatmeal and a milk–trying to find something that sounded appetizing. Between “cramps” I remember how still everything was–how dark and empty the streets were as I gripped Husband’s hand and he drove for home. It only took us 30 minutes to make it to our front door and we headed straight for bed. We both wanted more sleep if labor was going to kick in. But I was having cramps every three to four minutes and it was hard to get any rest in between, so I took a bath and Husband tried to sleep as it was now 4:30 and he hadn’t slept at all.

At 5 I decided to call my mom. IF I was actually going into labor it would be important for Husband to have some sleep, but I wanted someone awake with me and I knew my mom would be up getting ready for work. She made it to our house by six. She found my leaning over a medicine ball, trying to watch Mulan. I apologized for having her take off of work, as I was “just having some cramping.” At this point Husband took my phone and looked at the contraction data, forcing me this time to call Marilyn again. We were all on speaker phone as Husband described what he called my contractions. At this point I broke in and told her that I didn’t think I was in labor, I was just having some cramps. But right then a “cramp” came along and I couldn’t talk. Marilyn listened for the minute it took for the cramp to pass and then told us, “I will see you in 30 minutes at the birth center.”

I didn’t want to let myself believe that I was going into labor. Like I said I was afraid of jumping the gun. On top of that I was also afraid of my labor stalling. I had heard enough horror stories, and my way of keeping that reality at bay was to hold of on believing I was actually in labor.

But having Marilyn tell me to get to the birth center, snapped me into my reality. We called Husbands parents who packed their bags and headed for Portland. Husband, Mom, and I walked into the birth center at 7. By that point the contractions were 3 minutes apart and lasting for a minute. They were strong and I was quickly entering into my own world, where the only thing that existed were the contractions and myself.

During our birthing class, a recent new mom described labor as weight training: your trainer stacks more weight than you have ever lifted onto the bar and asks you to lift it over your head. You do it, but barely and it takes everything you have to do it. You put the bar down with pride and relief, happy that you are done and that you DID it. Then the trainer asks you to do it again, and again, and again. That’s contractions. It felt like it took everything I had to get through one. In the middle of one I wouldn’t be sure I would make it through it, but then you would come out the other side and the relief would be so beautiful.

But then there would be another.

And another.

From the time we arrived at the birth center, to the time Calla was born is all a blur. I remember they checked my dilation when I first arrived and I was at five centimeters, but after that they didn’t check again unless I asked. Besides Marilyn or Kim (her assistant) checking the baby’s heart beat every 30 minutes, they left me to labor as I saw fit. We were the only ones at the birth center, as it was a Sunday. I was told I could go wherever I wanted: I could walk up and down the stairs or take a walk outside, but I was happy to stay in our room. It felt like a cocoon. It felt save, peaceful and as the contractions got more intense the more I turned inward and forgot about everything outside out room.

The room was perfect for me. It was appointed with a king size bed, that had fresh white sheets and towels. The bath tub was bigger than I had ever seen with pads for my hands and knees and candles around the edge. I flitted between the bed, the bath, the floor, the toilet, and a medicine ball. As soon as a towel got even the slightest bit wet it was whisked away and replaced with a fresh, warm one. I remember puking a lot and half the time I puked I would pee at the same time, but Kim and Marilyn worked to keep everything clean and pleasant.

I spent my whole labor naked. I couldn’t stand the idea of anything constricting like clothing. When I got cold from sweating I would put on my bathrobe, but as soon as a contraction hit I would rip it off. I know time passed but I don’t remember it. I would sometimes ask what time it was and I would always be shocked that half an hour or an hour had passed, as I felt locked in this timeless existence working through each contraction.

At no point did I think of the baby. I couldn’t think of anything but the pain and making it through another contraction. My whole existence contracted to this one thing. I know Husband and mom where there and that they took turns feeding me and having me sip smoothie and coconut water, then holding the bowl while I threw it all up again.

And when I didn’t think it was possible the pain got worse. I don’t know how long it had been since they had first checked my dilation, but I with each contraction my faith that I could handle this was chipped away. I remember saying over and over again that I can’t do this.

I guess I only really said it out loud once, as Husband told me later, but I remember repeating it like a mantra. I decided that they should check me again and if I was only a centimeter or two past five I wanted to transfer to a hospital and I wanted an epidural. This was all an internal thought process. No one knew I was thinking of transfer, when they had my lie on the bed to check, but being on the bed was the worst, and I wouldn’t lie still long enough for Kim to touch me, let alone check my dilation. With the next contraction all thoughts of transfer went out the window.

I think it was about this time that I lost my mucus plug. To me this was the first tangible, touchable, sign that things were progressing. Marilyn kept telling me how well I was doing. Then my water broke and she said, “your are getting close,” and I hung onto those words like a lifeline.

Then I was in the tub again, on my hands and knees. Husband was in the tub for a little bit for me, but unlike the photos of couples I had seen laboring in the tub together where the woman is resting back against her partner, I could not stand to be still in a contraction. I kept flipping around in the water like an otter. It helped to move and the only position I could stand to be in for very long was on my hands and knees.

I remember them keeping the water clean with a little fishnet or sometimes a towel to wipe the bottom of the tub, which was a nice touch. I remember the candles flickering, and in between contractions hanging over the edge of the tub practically passing out until another one came. Then I remember screaming instead of moaning, and Marilyn asking me to tell her when I felt like pushing.

I remember wandering how I will know what that feels like, and what felt like a second later I remember screaming that I am pushing. I was just a bystander at this point as my body was in complete control. I am told I pushed for an hour, for the most part on my hands and knees. I remember Kim telling me to go deeper with each contraction. I remember thinking that she can fucking come over here and go deeper, because I couldn’t give any more.

But then Marilyn told me to change the pitch of my scream. And as I lowered my pitch I felt my body push more effectively. That hour didn’t feel like an hour. It felt timeless–like forever to use a cliche. The first time I had reached down to feel my progress I hadn’t felt anything, but then the next time I could feel her head. I remember crying out saying, “she had hair.” Feeling my progress for myself was the most helpful thing in the world. Feeling her head and feeling her hair made it real for the first time. For the first time, I was able to think about the fact that I was going to have a baby. At this point it was inevitable.

Then her head was out. No one touched me, no one reached down except to listen to her heart beat. It was all me. I didn’t feel the “ring of fire,” when she crowned. There was too much pain to differentiate anything. But having her head out was the first sense of relief I had felt since the contractions had started almost 12 hours earlier. I couldn’t imagine having to push out her shoulders after her head, but then before I knew it I felt her sliding out and I caught her.

Then everything happened at once. Husband was in the water with me, holding me while I was holding her. I was laughing and crying as I pulled her to my chest. I turned to Husband and asked it we could name her Calla Lily. I remember the thick, white vernex covering her butt, but not much else. Marilyn and Kim (and my mom) were there the whole time, but they let us just be as a family for the first time. Calla didn’t really cry and she latched right away. We just stayed in the water for a little while, holding her and dipping blankets in the warm water to keep the parts of her that were out of the water warm.

Husband had been reticent about getting in the tub when we had talked about it before, but as soon as she was born I am pretty sure a stampede of wild boars wouldn’t have kept him out of the water, no matter what bloody color it was.


Husband with Calla while I showered.

I was surprised to fine that the contractions after she was born still hurt. Kim kept telling me that if I wanted it to end then I should work with the contractions to get the placenta out, but I was way to tired right after Calla was born. So we just sat there for a little bit and I tried to ignore my body for a while. When the umbilical cord became flaccid, Husband got out of the water and took a shower. My mom cut the umbilical cord and got to hold Calla for the first time, while I finally mustered myself to get that damn placenta out. I got back on my hands and knees and with Marilyn’s prompting felt the umbilical cord and held onto the end of it with each contraction. Slowly I could feel it descending, till I could finally feel where the cord attached to the placenta.

Then with one last contraction I pulled the placenta out and with it came a blood clot the size of Husband’s two fists put together. At that point I told Marilyn that I could feel that had a tear . Husband and Mom went off with the baby (only to the other side of the room, but I was still pretty wrapped up in myself) and I got out to take a shower. I remember just standing in the hot water feeling so thankful that I could stand, thankful that Calla was born, and so thankful that the contractions were over.


Our First Family Photo.


Then I was bundled into bed with my baby and Husband. My dad and his parents, who had all been waiting at our house were called. I held Calla as a distraction while Marilyn and Kim worked on suturing up my tear. Husband started out holding my hand but then he passed out before Marilyn was even done administering the numbing stuff. He did wake up enough to take Calla

We spent the next two nights at the birth center, which was amazing. They had a postpartum nurse who stayed with us, bringing me some Tylenol whenever I wanted. They made us breakfast in the mornings–whatever we wanted, and then had our lunches and dinners brought from any restaurant we could think of in the area. All of which was included in the price–a whooping $2500, which also included all of my prenatal care and six weeks postpartum care. The morning after, with the family gathered to wonder at the baby I was led off to another room for a massage, which was the first time in 7+ months I got to lie on my stomach = pure bliss.


Our Breakfast – everything was so good I had the same thing each morning.

Then before we knew it we were on our way home, and now it has been three months. Time is moving so fast, and Calla is a new and different baby almost everyday. I have never witnessed so much continuous change before. She mastered smiling a couple of weeks ago, and she has just started laughing. She has only really laughed once or twice at this point and each time she does it is magical. I know before long she will be giggling up a storm, just as before long she will be sitting on her own, and then crawling, but right now each laugh is a surprise. It is a wonderful feeling waiting for her to laugh–the sweetest anticipation. Here is one last photo for you–I think it was taken about a month or so ago. It is hard to remember:


Calla sporting her handmade Grape hat and the outfit she came home in–by far my favorite outfit.

Life Lately

Life Lately

37 weeks pregnant and counting, which leaves me feeling a little like I am in limbo. The next big thing to happen in my life will be having this baby. That’s it. Between now and then there will be no new career, no new ANYTHING, so I am just waiting to have my baby. This leaves me feeling like everything else I am doing is superfluous. I am just biding my time, but I do not know how much time there is life to bide. So I could wash some dishes, OR I could just sit here and wait to have this baby. Guess which one I am doing…

Anyway, I haven’t just been sitting around–waiting, even if that is the only thing it feels like. Husband and I have had a couple very full months and since I have not really blogged in a while about anything other than the books I have been reading, let me take you back through what we have been up to since Christmas.


Husband and I celebrated our first Christmas in our new house this year. We went with a couple of friends up to Christmas Mountain outside of Portland to find out tree. The tree farm had a section of natural–as in unpruned–Noble firs, which they were selling at half price. So we got this 11 foot beauty for half of the cost of a regular Noble fir. It turned out to be the most glorious Charlie Brown tree ever. I had to talk husband into it, as with everything else we do not see eye-to-eye when it comes to aesthetics. Why would a Christmas tree be any different? He wanted something rounder, bushier, but I love the look of a glowing tree when you can wrap some lights up the middle of the trunk. I think, in the end, I won him over with our tall and skinny Charlie Brown tree. He didn’t even complain too much about the tinsel. I love tinsel and he likes to remind me of how horrible it is for the environment.

We make a good couple.

Anyway, we got the tree up and then everything got a little crazy. My brother came into town, which means I got to torment him. This is what that looks like:

10392416_10101417889355358_8021633476405384779_nI would like to say he was a good sport and took it well, but he gives as good as he gets. After Corey got into town, we had our first Christmas with my immediate family, which flew by all to fast. It was weird to think that next Christmas Husband and I will have a kid of our own. Before I knew it our first Christmas was over, and on the 26th our second Christmas was beginning. Husbands family all (almost all anyway) descended on us in a flurry. His parents came down from Seattle, while his younger sister, her husband and their little daughter Tulsi came up from California. Unfortunately his older sister Molly and her family couldn’t join us–we missed them. I believe this was our Christmas morning:


Things didn’t slow down while his family was here either. We had our Christmas complete with a dutch smorgasbord of cheese, chocolate sprinkles, dutch cakes and then onto the homemade fondue dinner, which is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite family traditions. Husband’s mom Padma makes the best cheese fondue, which I love dipping fresh mushrooms into. I don’t even LIKE fresh mushrooms.

While his family was in town we had our baby shower, thanks to my parents and his family who all collaborated to put it together. I have always hated baby showers. I hate the games and the awkward present opening, and since I have never been one to hide how I feel everyone worked together to throw a co-ed baby shower that I didn’t hate. In fact, I loved it. We all got to find out the sex of our baby when Padma cut the cake to find pink icing inside. We then got to eat cake, open presents, and socialize. The only real activity we had was painting onsies and bibs. Our baby now has a years worth of custom designed onsies and bibs. Our friends went to town decorating over thirty of the things and the results are amazing. I would post pictures, but I didn’t take any and I am certainly too lazy to do it now. But there are bibs covered in lobsters, a tribute to Vincent Van Gogh,  and a rather adorable one that both soon-to-be grandmothers decorated together. The onsies are something else. We have a Star Trek one, a Battlestar Gallactica one, a onsie that says Rescue Me!, and a couple that reference some pop culture things that I am not all to sure are appropriate. Hopefully you guys will get to see some of them as she wears them. I hear new parents are notorious for copious amounts of pictures of their children.

Then Christmas was over, we kicked his family out of the house (lovingly of course) on a Tuesday morning. That evening we were packed and on a plane to Aruba, arriving in time for an international New Year’s Eve. A couple of weeks before Christmas we had decided that we actually wanted a baby moon, and since we had some miles we started looking for places to go. On a whim I thought to talk to my Aunt Nancy who has a house on Aruba. Turns out they were there for New Year’s and invited us to join them. Before we knew it our trip was booked and I am so glad we did it. I got to spend 10 days on a beach with this handsome hunk:


And the beach looked like this:


Aruba is very small–something like 6 miles wide and 20 miles long. There is nothing to there, except be on the beach, which is exactly what I wanted. I am a sea otter by nature, so rolling around in the water for hours on end is bliss for me. I didn’t really do a ton of rolling around as I was 7-8 months pregnant, but I was one really happy beach mamma. Neither of us got sunburned as we were diligent with the sun screen, which only made us feel that more content that we did this vacation thing right. New Year’s Eve was a blast–literally. We stood in our PJ’s in my Aunts front yard and watched as amazing fireworks went off all around us. Then just past midnight all the neighbors started making the rounds to wish everyone a happy New Year’s. They were all dressed in their finest, while we stood their in nightgowns and boxers. I am sure they thought it amusing, but after having traveled for about 10 hours, I didn’t really care.

For having done absolutely nothing for 10 days,  I could write about Aruba forever. But I will spare you the jealousy. To sum it up I will just say that the water was perfect, I ate the best shrimp of my life, and I got to have a virgin Pina Colada everyday. Well everyday until I realized they were giving me the WORST acid reflux. So the vacation wasn’t perfect because I had to give up the Pina Coladas, but the good far out weighed the bad.

Before we knew it our 10 days were up and we were headed back home. I still miss the water, the sun, the Pina Coladas, the shrimp (OMG the shrimp), but then we were thrown into the New Year. Husband hit the ground running for work, as January is often the busiest time of the year for him, and I got to work on getting things ready for the baby.  The nursery is almost complete and my “Before Baby” to-do list is dwindling. We replaced my POS car and bought a Subaru. Husband and I are already a Pacific Northwest stereotype, we figured we would complete the image with a car purchase. I have to say having a car where all the buttons work, the breaks don’t grind, and the defrost actually works in amazing. Who knew functioning defrost would feel like such a luxury.

We also got to spend an evening at the Oregon Symphony:


They played Carmina Burana, which was phenomenal. As we were leaving the concert hall, a woman suggested that I name our baby Carmina, as it is such a pretty name. We did consider it for about ten minutes, as Kashi’s grandmother’s name was Carmen, but I don’t actually like the name Carmen. What are the odds that someone would call our Carmina, Carmen? Probably pretty high. Also there is the fact that Carmina Burana is a set of rather raunchy poems that were originally written by a monk–a sexually deprived monk at that. Probably. Not sure that is something I want my daughter named after.

This has been a rather long, random post. Maybe the next time you hear from me, I will have popped out this baby!


The First Big One

468451_612859428727128_258878024_oIn five days time, Husband and I will have been married for exactly one year. When I was younger, I can tell you that I never thought I would be saying that sentence at the tender age of 25. But here we are, and I know everyone says this but just WHERE exactly did that time go? Now I am not a particularly mushy person. Do not get me wrong, I get mushy about certain things but they usually include chocolate, a very girly movie, and a certain time of the month. Husband is the romantic one. But I have to say that this past year has been, so far, the best year of my life.

Meg Ryan in Serious Moonlight talks about her first years of marriage calling that feeling, “the unbearable sweetness of it.” Now that movie doesn’t really fit this situation, and hopefully never will, as it is about a husband who has fallen in love with someone else and is trying to leave his wife. His wife (Ryan) is having none of it and throughout the course of the movie she hits him over the head with a flower-pot, duck tapes him first to chair and then a toilet meanwhile showing him wedding photos and baking him his favorite cookies so that he will fall back in love with her. I have promised husband that if he ever tries to leave me, I will use that movie as a blue print for getting him back. I swear, he wasn’t even a little creeped out.

But the phrase “unbearable sweetness” has really stuck with me. It doesn’t mean that marriage is easy. It means that despite everything that is challenging and sometimes hurtful about marriage, it is still the best decision I have ever made. Unbearable sweet is the closest I have gotten to describing that feeling. Serendipity and unbearable sweetness.

In the first year of marriage, I believe, is still the honeymoon phase to some extent. Nothing has gotten monotonous and we have yet to add major stressors to our relationship like children or trying to buy a house. That is not to say that everything has been berries and cream. While we have had some wonderful events in our first year if marriage like welcoming our first niece, baby Tulsi, into the family, we have had some hard stuff too. In February my Grandmother fell and hit her head on cement, which put her into a coma and me onto a plane out to Texas for a couple of weeks while Husband had to stay behind to work. Thankfully, t the amazing age of 93, she has made a remarkable recovery.

We continue to figure out how to balance life together. Every week is different for us between Husband’s ever flexible and changing job and my odd freelance lifestyle. Then you add in two dogs with independent minds of their own and I never really know how a week is going to look like until I am about halfway through with it. Take last month for example when I woke up to Husband exploding with colorful expletives as he tripped over puddles of diarrhea on his way to make his morning cup of Joe. Our oldest dog Boaz had gotten sick several times and then tracked it all over the house. We were cleaning for upwards of four hours and then we had to go to the vet. That was a game-changer.

There is one embarrassingly cheesy line, from some stupid Facebook quote somewhere that keeps kicking me in the butt, whenever I find myself pondering marriage: “don’t be afraid to be the one who loves the most.” Having been raised in a culture that has, maybe inadvertently, taught me to always be vigilant to make sure that I am getting what I deserve it can be hard to transition from that mentality into marriage. It can be hard to stop asking if I am getting enough: enough love, attention, support and start asking if my spouse is getting enough. This is just one of the many lessons that marriage has been teaching me.

That and to never let husband get too much caffeine, as then he terns into a prickly, cranky…something. Also that I should always be fed on time, as when I go too long without food I turn into a nagging, crazy…something.

In less than three days Husband and I will be flying off to Hawaii to celebrate our first year of marriage. Thanks to our wonderful Aunt and Uncle who have graciously let us stay at their condo for the very reasonable rate of the cleaning fee, which is making this whole shindig possible. My two goals for the trip are to swim EVERYDAY and to eat some pineapple EVERYDAY. Originally my goal was to eat one pineapple everyday, but Husband put in a veto as he felt that eating one pineapple a day for ten days would result in a hospital stay by day four. I think he is being a little over protective.

On that note I should thank Husband for putting up with me for the past year of marriage and the previous two years of just regular relationship. I am so thankful that we get to build this wonderful, unbearably sweet life together.


Happy Anniversary Baby! Love you.















A Villainous Audience

I have a tendency to vilify all my dear readers in my head. I have a tendency to imagine you as perfect grammarians, who judge the misplaced comma. Who scoff at my writing attempts, an audience filled with drooling, cruel monsters who are amazingly better than me. So sometimes I find it hard to blog, because my friends stop being friends and turn into critics. My family stops being family, and become the susurrus of  shadows in the dark, whispering that I am not good enough.

In real life I know my friends aren’t cruel and my family aren’t sinister beings, but my writerly mind gets away from me sometimes, morphing everything in my world into a self-affirming doubts. So I take breaks from blogging, preferring the safety of writing in notebooks or apps that only I have the password too. I like the tangible qualities of paper–the incendiary quality. I can burn everything If I feel the shadows getting too close. I favor the delete button, instead of the publish button. It is a power of cowardice. A power of yanking the sheets tighter over my head.

And my worst critic–myself–gets reincarnated in every person who reads this blog. At least in my head. So I guess I should apologize to you, dear reader. If for nothing else than imagining you as a fanged, drooling lump of an incredible writer who looks down at little ole me. You probably don’t drool. Maybe.

It would be easier if I didn’t know my audience. I am flattered every time a friend tells me that they enjoy my blog, that they follow it. Invariably they are people who I admire like Shannon and Damien, Ivan and Arianna, Kashi and Mom and Dad.  And I should be even more flattered by this, but then I picture their faces while I am writing and I don’t want to let them down. I don’t want to make errors like comma splices, I don’t want to use too much passive voice, or confuse my tenses like I am so often apt to do.

Maybe if I hand you a napkin I will feel better?


I’m Back!

So I have been hiding underneath a rock. Again. It all started with a two-week hiatus from work: Winter break (I work in a school district) followed by a week-long trip down south to Corpus Christi, Texas to introduce Fusband to my dad’s side of the family. I think I can safely say that if Fusband hasn’t left me yet, after meeting all of my family on both sides–all of whom are more or less as crazy as me, he probably never will.

That’s good news.

The bad news? I haven’t been writing. In fact I think I have written probably four versions of this post and deleted each one, except for this one. No matter how messy this one gets, I have decided that I need to post it just to get back on the horse. Darn horses.

I had decided before I left on vacation that I wasn’t going to write during the break. Every time I go home it feels like a mini-vacation. I end up doing almost nothing productive. This time I knew would be worse. I would be seeing my brother for the first time in six months, and then I would get to see my dad’s side of the family for the first time in two years. I didn’t want to spend any time writing, when I could be spending it with them.

On top of all of that I have this new gig: writing reviews for the Portland Book Review (PBR). I received my first two books the first week of break and the due date was January 4th. I managed to get the books read in enough time to write the reviews (which was no small feat considering I was on vacation and one of the books was a fully annotated folio edition of Macbeth). But I couldn’t bring myself to write the reviews.

Please keep in mind that the PBR is basically a newsletter. Keep in mind that all I had to do to get them to send me books to review (which I get to keep once I review them) was to send an email asking to become a reviewer. Keep in mind that the reviews are no more than 200 words long, I do not get paid, and that I love reading, I love writing, and I am naturally opinionated. Some would even say VERY opinionated. But I don’t like to talk to those people.

This should have been easy. It should have been a cinch. I should have been able to do it with my eyes closed. But it didn’t happen. To be fair the day the reviews were due I was  helping baby sit for my cousins who were in the hospital giving birth to their second son Eli. I was a little busy.

But since then, the reviews still haven’t happened, and I believe it is because I am scared. Like so many other things in life, this writing thing is only going to happen for me if I write. The fact that my success, more or less, depends solely on me is rather intimidating. You would think that it would be a comfort, but the idea that I might not have what it takes is a pervasive doubt. What if I don’t have the talent? What if I don’t really have the ambition? What if I let it slip through my fingers?

I look at other bloggers/writers who are going out there and conquering. I look at them landing agents, starting businesses, freelancing, publishing and it is all rather daunting. If I step back and look at my chronological timeline of life I see events that I made happen and I marvel at them: living abroad for a year, biking cross-country, serving with VISTA. They are all things that I did. I made it happen and sometimes I don’t know who that person is. She is outgoing, fearless, interesting.

Sitting in front of a blank page does not make me feel outgoing, fearless, or interesting. It just makes me feel scared. Writing this blog makes me scared. I have had more doubts starting this blog and more self-questioning/loathing than is reasonable. Each post is an emotional roller coaster, slipping through the highs and lows of “This is absolutely amazing” to “everything is s****” so fast I now have emotional whip-lash. With the blog I can at least pretend that no one is reading. But with PBR I know for a fact that at least two people will read my reviews for sure. The Editors.

Kill me now.

Each time I think I have a handle on the whole review thing, I begin to doubt my education. Am I qualified to tell these writers what I really think about their books? Is my opinion even valid? I do not think my self-doubt would be so bad, if I had liked both of the books that I read. One was amazing, but the other was more boring than a moldy, empty pinata in an abandoned garage. But do I really know what a boring book is? Do I know enough about the authors subject to be critical? To say that she has written nothing new, offered no new insight, or at the very least has failed to present old material in a new and interesting way?

I don’t know.

I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.



Ironically Sunny with Hurricane Sandy

As I scour the internet for more information on hurricane Sandy it is sunny outside. Seriously, there is a break in the clouds and it is sunny.

Granted, I am in the northwest (nowhere near the storm) and even though it has been raining on and off for the past two days it seems a little ironic that the storm of the century is bearing down on the east coast and that it is sunny here.

It is sunny and to be honest I kind of want to crawl under my desk. I have heard from all of my family on the east coast (Cape Cod, MA and New London, CT) and all are safe and hunkered down, but I can’t help being a little nervous.

Which brings up the question: how scared do we get to be? I mean for those of us on the other side of the country with family in the thick of it? My brother, who is currently locked in his dorm building at the Coast Guard Academy, tells me I am being silly. He has been communicating with me via text for most of the day now and is really calm. He is playing video games, watching movies, and being generally undisturbed by the storm. I mean if he ignores the fact that he can’t go outside and that the wind is howling at a meager 70mph.

No biggie.

In reading all of the online press, I can’t help noticing that everything is in the past tense. As in, “Hurricane Sandy moved toward the New Jersey coast Monday afternoon…”

I would just like to point out that for some of us Monday afternoon is not over, and for everyone on the east coast Monday itself isn’t over. So why the past tense? I do not know. I am sure they have a good reason for it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. This thing is nowhere near over, so why make it sound like it could be?

Also, I tried watching a news video with Al Roker from MSNBC about the hurricane and I turned it off before he even came on the screen. The opening shot is of a beach being battered by waves as they announce “Hurricane Sandy: Today,” which is splashed across the screen in big flashy letters and narrated by a man’s voice that sounds like it came straight from your typical car commercial: over the top, smarmy.

Let me take a moment to say right now that I know I might be overreacting. But I am going to rant anyway, which was not the original intent of this post. I find it insensitive that MSNBC has a graphics logo for the hurricane, when people are losing their homes and lives. I mean 70-80 percent of Atlantic City is underwater, and the worst is yet to come.

Go ahead, call me a drama queen. Everyone else does.

I would just like to see a news cast that is opened calmly and without pomp and circumstance. I feel it is safe to say that all news stations are going to have great ratings during and even after the storm. I mean who isn’t glued to their TV (except me), and if you are not clued to the TV there is a stong possibility that you have read a lot of blogs/news articles/tweets about the storm.

Sandy is providing enough drama without the news world dressing it up as the main event that it is. I do understand that they are doing their jobs, and I respect any news anchor that is willing to stand outside in the storm to bring us the breaking news.

But please leave the cars salesman at home. Call it respect, call it pity, call it whatever you want. Just leave him and the logo at home.

I also know that they might be trying to cater to a different audience than myself. With friends and family, including my LITTLE brother back east, I am glued to this thing. I am having a hard time thinking about work. It is surprising to me that the tenor in my office building is chipper. But not everyone here has family there. So maybe a flashy news intro is exactly what they need to get engaged.

Maybe not. I hope not. But then I think about where I was when Katrina hit, and how much I noticed or cared. I mean I cared, but this time around it is a completely different feeling. I am obsessed, whereas before maybe I was one of the ones the news was trying to reach?

Food for thought.

Be safe everyone.