Monday, April 30, 2007


Now that I've answered the phone about five times and just started saying "no, not yet" instead of "hello!" Here is the update:

No, I am not yet a mom.
Her official due date is May 3.
If I'm not in labor by May 3 they will schedule a date to induce her, coz she's clearly more than fully cooked at an estimated nine plus pounds.
And I will tell you when she arrives, honest.

You know how people always complain that new parents only talk about their kids? I would Really love it if people emailed, posted, called, came over, and talked about something other than my kid right now. Tell me about Your life. Tell me about your projects. Tell me about good movies to rent. I need distraction from my crankypants state of discomfort. :)

Oh and hows about this, here's a way to be supportive without having to deal with super cranky me! I just had glenn drop off my work for Somerville Open Studios (SOS). Go see some art in the hip city of Somerville this weekend, and you can buy some of my jewelry, which will be on display at Jade Moran Jewelry (number 55 on the map, I believe). It's a little different than some of my past stuff, as it's what I could manage while pregnant (fewer hammers and torches involved), but a greater range of you may enjoy it, too!

I won't be there myself as I'll either be a new mom or Jabba the Hut by Saturday. SOS is a particularly good Open Studios weekend as the city is really understanding how to support artists and there is a lot of studio space and gallery space compared to neighboring towns. Enjoy!

If you miss out on this weekend, much of my work will be at Gallery Penumbra, on Rocky Neck in Gloucester this summer.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

On Napping

Okay, everyone I know is good at napping. People love to nap. The idea of taking a snooze in the middle of the day appeals pretty much to everyone except little kids who are forced to, and ME.

I just can't seem to do it. I'm ridiculously tired, told by doctors to nap, not able to do much else, and still, I can't do it. I'm too interested in what I might miss I guess, or too self abusing to not worry about other things I wish I was doing, or I'd rather just lie still and watch this movie or read this book, or I'm just an idiot or something.

And it's very complicated to me. I want to set an alarm, but I can't figure out how long to set it for since I can't figure out how long it will take me to fall asleep. And then when I wake up I'm dopey and groggy for the rest of the day. Why is this seemingly simplest of activities so hard for me? I am nine months pregnant... no one should be better at this! If there is such a thing as tips for napping, I want to hear them.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Final Stretch

I'm in the last couple weeks of my pregnancy, thank god. I'm so happy it got nicer out this week because it is a great aid in just laughing at how ridiculously hard everything is. I mean really, the dorky clothes, the weird body changes, the unwillingness to look in a mirror, the mourning of friends and family, the exhaustion and resting with feet up after walking an incredibly slow mile, how different will being 80 really be???!!

The baby is still crazy. She seems to be attempting to kick and punch her way out my side, cartoon-style. Not only that, but she's in a bunch of extra amniotic fluid, so she has room to wind up and let it fly with great force. Yeah...did I mention they think she might already be over nine pounds? Whew. Hey, I guess I'm an excellent host at least. (Yeah, but I'm over it. Out, damn parasite! Out!) I think it's time the baby takes an evolutionary tip from the cats -- this is the part where she can save her butt by totally winning us over with her cuteness, not body slamming me.

I've been reading some fascinating but challenging books on the neurobiology of experience. That's how what we do and how we bond with each other during our infancy actually changes how particular, significant pathways form in our neural networks. It's complicated, but very interesting, and the passages I've read on attachment theory and memory and how we learn to modulate our own states of being seems very valuable information for parenting.

I also read a really interesting novel called Ordinary Wolves. It's from the point of view (which mimics the author's real life experience) of a white kid who grew up in a sod igloo in more of what we think of as traditional circumstances for the area than the native Inuit who lived in the closest town and are getting trapped in the drips and trash of the super consumerism of the US as a whole. The cultural mish mash that happens in his brain as he tries to fit in with the wolves and with the humans that prey on him and in a brief stint in the big city (Anchorage) is just fascinating. Of course, I have a bit of a natural connection with that part of the world, and have traveled to AK twice, to the Yukon, and to the Northwest Territories, so I'm bound to appreciate the descriptions in this book anyway. I sure hope my kid likes to travel.

It's so weird knowing I'm about to have one of my biggest life events happen, that it's so big I can't even guess how it will change me, and yet I have no idea when. But very soon. I know that. Meanwhile I'm unable to work or do much, and I'm just waiting.....

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Jen Haan

Kind, wonderful, smart, amazingly generous Jennifer Haan died today at 6:30pm at age 39. I will never forget her.


"These are people who died, Died..."

This is some of the most fatigue I’ve ever encountered. I’ve had insomnia before, but no one was flailing inside me and my back was not contorted in pain and I did not have to pee every couple of hours. There are always dangers with this degree of sleep deprivation but I can stay out of my car and not write any pointed emails or play with tools or any of that stuff. Mostly I have two overwhelming things that haunt me as a result. One is the obvious: My God, how will I survive the lack of sleep after she’s born? The other is death.

A fear of death is somehow inevitable with a birth, I think. There’s the physical thing I have to go through, the constant monitoring of whether the kid is okay and going to make it, and the fear of responsibility for another life. This seems normal. But I have all this extra baggage. Especially being due in early May. Spring has become a time of renewal, but renewal that requires summers of therapy.

There’s the super clear issue: I miss my mother. She’s standing there on Mother’s Day with open arms for the baby when I look at the calendar, counting days until my due date. On really bad days her fingers are blue like when I found her dead. Realistically, the problems she was having toward the end of her life would have prevented her from a lot of helpful mothering, but how she would have loved this. And how I would have loved to share it with her. And she missed the great respect a kid can only have for their mother after going through what she did for me to be alive.

The day before Mother’s Day my friend Sakura stands lovingly waiting on her birthday. She was killed in an arbitrary car accident on her way to buy supplies for her new apartment a couple of years ago. She too, would have been so tickled. I imagine her smoking a cigarette and strumming her guitar in my garden, and in the kitchen, making dumplings the way her mother taught her and the way she taught me, talking about photography and teaching and letting glenn practice his Japanese. She gave us so much advice before our trip to Japan, and she was gone when we sent her our photos.

And May 5th, the date I imagined I’d be reclaiming from death with this birth is the day I watched my friend Jim leave his body last year. This one has perhaps been the hardest. I know when he stopped eating and that this last, incredibly physically difficult month of my pregnancy is corresponding with his physical decline last year. It’s hard not to feel like me or the baby will die at the end. And oh how I wish she got to know him. I’m so glad I told him I thought I was going to do this and that dealing with his death had given me the courage – it was one of his last, mostly unresponsive days and with his eyes still closed he suddenly had the hugest of grins, the last of them I ever saw.

I thought I had this under control, and was looking forward to the renewal of birth on his death date… until the cancer my dear friend Jen started battling in August as a lump on her leg just went crazy and spread everywhere. She just stopped eating the same weekend as Jim did last year (right around when my new friend Greg jumped off a bridge a couple of years ago). Jen’s asleep most of the time now. I wanted to introduce her to the baby, like a sign of hope for her. We were planning to have coffee just over a month ago.

Now I am always awake, waiting for her relief, and for my baby. And each day I know with increasing force the horrible sadness of her husband and four children, and I am again missing my mom. And I will likely miss Jen’s memorial, as it’s predicted to be around when the baby is due. I just missed glenn’s aunt’s memorial, too.

I try so hard to focus on the positive. I imagine playing with my kid and being a kid myself and lolling in total silliness. I write down fun activities to do with her in a festive bright book my mother-in-law made me. I like imagining dressing her, smelling her, sleeping on the couch with her. I wake for the 80th time out of depression or pain or kicking or baby hiccups or needing to pee and I smile at my cats, all snuggled together at my feet. I got a note from a friend who is very much alive and positive and wants to come help sometime after she’s born, and he was born the day before her due date. I want desperately some way to rid myself of the sad parts of my reality so it does not affect my child, and days like today I’m pretty sure I can’t. I can’t even lose it by sleeping. But I’ll keep trying.

It seems the way I will deal with those first difficult weeks is because I would trade nearly anything right now – any sleep, activities, normal eating – to just have a live, healthy, wonderful baby life to focus on. I will just keep trying to shed some of this emotional weight by focusing on the positive, and the circle of life, and all the gifts all of these people have given me, and all that you are now. This screwed up period of my life will Not take her from me. Thank you my cool real life and virtual friends. One of you is singing “Interjections” from Schoolhouse Rock on Instant Message to me right now and already I am laughing and looking forward. The sun has just come out, as cheesy as that is, and I can see the green sprouts in the back yard of the bulbs I planted to bloom when the baby is due.

Sorry for the overtired spew. Blogging is probably another danger of extreme fatigue....

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Where in the World is the Baby?

I have a different last name than my husband. Our daughter is going to have my last name. If we had a son, he’d be getting glenn’s last name. It seems an equitable decision, and one that saves a generation of hyphenated-named people marrying each other a lot of grief.

Glenn’s last name is Scottish. His family talks about their clan and its history. His dad recently wore a kilt at a family wedding.

Thus he was musing the other day about the possible end of his last name in his family line, and how he once visited the part of Scotland his family name is from and the clan museum. He noted the name in itself meant nothing, and that he’s actually more Sicilian and probably more German, but still had an air of nostalgia.

The funny, totally American story unraveling here that made me laugh is that our daughter will actually be more Scottish than anyone currently alive in his family, especially him.

Mostly my family talks about how bad my dad’s mother’s cooking was in relation to our Scots heritage, however. Because the family watched the landscape that they thought of as home get fairly altered by bombs during WWII after moving here, perhaps the geographic identification is still altered as well as a result, too recent to romanticize. I’m not sure. I lug around carefully packed postcards and picture books and albums and tiny tartan-clad dolls from Aberdeen each time I move.

However, my dad’s mother took his father’s name and that’s what my dad got, so our daughter will have a Swedish last name. Oddly, most of what we have to lug around from the Swedish side are mystical looking intricate Freemasons certificates earned here, most of which are now framed on my brother’s wall as a curiosity. And the Swedish name has had a number of letters removed from it during the transition to the States presumably because they wanted to seem more American.

It’s always so fascinating what we feel connected to or interested in or find easiest to romanticize of our genetics. (At least it’s actually factually true to say the grass is almost always greener in Scotland.)

If anything, given the qualities and locations of her eight nationalities, we could expect our kid to be oddly drawn to the sea. However, since the end result of this is some fairly solid United Statesian-ness, perhaps she’ll be a great capitalist or a super polluter or a warmonger. Or perhaps it’s time for these young generations to identify more with their more regional subgroups. She’ll mainly be of New England stock.

Or perhaps she could have a more global mindset, freed of all this baggage. She’ll need it to help fight some of the global environmental issues her generation will live or die by. We tried to aid in her work options and did research before even getting pregnant where we could give birth to our child and get her EU citizenship, but Europeans were already sick of others who had this idea before us and had already made it impossible.

But we can still look to the stars: she is supposed to have great financial luck, according to our Chinese neighbor, as she’ll be born in the Year of the Golden Pig, an unusual occurrence that apparently made wedding rates shoot up in China and Korea last year for those hoping to have golden piglets.

And thanks to Mike for sending the following Marilyn vos Savant, resident genius columnist at Parade, quote. This week’s question to her was from someone in our situation who needs to explain the name decision to the people who are confused by it (tho’ Marilyn’s explanation still puts a lot of identity emphasis on a last name – because really…someone’s heritage is always missing in a single last name). Here’s her response:

Tell them you’re in the vanguard of a social revolution that someday will better the lives of all women. Men have long had the psychological advantage of unbroken identities. By contrast, women usually change their surnames when they get married. This practice deals a subtle—yet tremendous— blow to their sense of self. And even when women do keep their names, they seldom pass them on to their daughters. So the female heritage disappears.

When enough women keep their surnames throughout life and pass them on to their daughters for life, we will witness an improvement in the stature and independence of women the likes of which has not been seen since women got the vote.