Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Creativity, Imagination, and Me

Musicians amaze me. Not pop stars, not those autotune denizens. But real, honest-to-goodness, talented music makers. I believe it was Ad Rock who so wisely rapped, " . . . Only 12 notes that a man can play." We all have the same notes. We have the same constants. Some of us can turn them into such amazing, original, beautiful new things. Some of us plunk out the same old chords.

I am the latter.

In my youth I took piano lessons. My teacher was this hard core, old school pianist who would regularly scold me for my too-long fingernails and biomechanically-impossible turned-out thumbs. "You don't see people walking around with their thumbs turned out!" she would huff. Except mine do. I was a thorn in her side, for sure. She and her husband were concert pianists, their small North Buffalo house filled wall to wall with baby grand pianos. Early on in my lessons--I started later in my youth, say, when I was 10 or so--I was assigned short compositions. I had to write musically-correct melodies and then play them each week at my lessons.

I sucked. Even during the years when I was learning music theory my compositions were pedestrian. Boring. Blah. Unoriginal. I don't think the way creative people think. I'm a rule follower to the core. A musician hears whats missing in the world and then makes it. I don't understand how that works.

I don't know if I've ever had an imagination. Looking back, thinking about being a child, I don't know. My drawings all looked the same. As an adult, trying to paint a picture I have no idea what to put on the paper.

Believe me, I'm not throwing a pity party for myself here. Being a literal thinker has done well for me, mostly. I just wish, sometimes, I had a bit of a creative spark in me. Some way of looking at the world that would help me make something different and new.

My lack of imagination and creativity, though, has not served me well when I think of my little girl. I can't place her in our family, other than what I knew her as. I don't see her as a one and a half year old. I don't know what she'd look like, sound like, smell like. I don't see her in the world around me, I don't know if she sees us.

I just miss her. I just want to be able to conjure her up when I need to. And I can't, and that sucks.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers' Day

I like Fathers' Day so much more than Mothers' Day. I don't know, maybe it's because there's absolutely no chance I'll ever actually BE a father, and get to watch from the sidelines. The dads deserve their day. I don't buy into the hapless, bumbling dad-stereotype, full of farting and golfing and beer-swilling and how-do-I-change-a-diaper. Not to say those dudes don't exist. But come on.

C is such an awesome dad. He makes up, with E, these elaborate games of construction sites, and forts, and chase, and adventure. Trips to Home Depot are full of wonderment for E, what with the forklifts and tractor trailers and all those damn TOOLS he might find a use for. He gets up with the boys most days of the week, affording me extra sleep or time to run.

I don't know where I'd be in my life without him. I do know my life is exponentially better with him in it. We've travelled, we've dined, we've bought and sold houses, we've had three babies. Through every labor he was at my side, amazed at the goings on, encouraging me when I wanted to give up, or even worse, just die. Quite literally.

This space is where I pour out my heart, not wanting to give too much away from anyone else's point of view. But C has had his sadness, too, and shares so very much in my grief. He planted all the crocus bulbs at Calla's marker last Fall. He missed out on his dad and little girl life, too. He carries his sadness differently, but it is always there.

I am a lucky lady to have him as my husband and as the father of our kids. Right now he's outside getting E's birthday sandbox ready--in the dark. That's just how he rolls.

I love you, sir. xo

(OK, enough with the sap-a-lap-a-ding-dong!)

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Tomorrow, Sunday, Fathers' Day, it's E's third birthday. And yes, time has gone from amble to sprint in that short time. Three years ago right now I was getting ready to go to the hospital, ready to be induced, ready for this gender-unknown baby to be born ALREADY, ten days past his due date. I kissed the dog goodbye, sad that he wouldn't be the baby anymore.

And now. Happy birthday to my first born, my first baby love, my companion through happiness and sorrow, my alarm clock, my truck driver, my bookworm, my human megaphone, my tricyclist extraordinaire.

If I could list everything I love about this boy I would, but there's no space big enough to contain it. My heart is full to bursting every time I look at his sweet face, even when he makes me want to rip out my hair. Oh, three.

Happy birthday, Eliot. We love you oh so very much.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When a Butterfly is Just a Butterfly, and When A Butterfly is Not

I think of her all the time, you know. She is the undercurrent of my every thought, each in and out breath. She is woven in the fabric of every brainwave, she colors my speech even when I don't speak her name.

But I look for her too. As though I might know her, or recognize her outside of my one day of memory. Could that be her, that lazy, lumbering bumblebee buzzing and bobbing near my face? Or the butterfly, flitting and darting overhead along the way on our walk? Is that her, the deer in the cemetery, watching me as I run down the street? Maybe that's her, the flower that opens at dusk each night.

I know better, though. The bee, the butterfly, the deer and the flower, they are all just what they are. Earlier, the butterfly was a caterpillar wriggling and inching along the ground, and the bee is heavy with pollen from an afternoon of gathering. The deer, he's just a curious, shy creature who's somehow found himself living in the city, albeit in the most peaceful and woods-like spot. That flower's been opening since before I was born.  These creatures are simply creatures, not here for any other reason than to be here.

I wish I could believe otherwise.

But then. I think of her constantly. As though my thinking and wondering and wishing could make her be with me, in our family as a girl instead of the memory of a baby.  And maybe since the bee, and the butterfly, and the deer and the flower give me pause before realizing they just are what they are, maybe she is there.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weekend Remembering

The other morning I was out running with some friends. If you've ever run long distances, you know how important well-fitting clothing and good biomechanics can be. Bodyglide usually works well to remedy the latter for me, but Saturday I made a rookie mistake with the former. Without getting too personal, I had to do a quick deposit of an article of my clothing in a Dumpster mid-run. While my friends were shielding me as I made a quick change, I joked how I was going to get caught, um, with my pants down, and the headline in the newspaper would read: "Mother of two arrested for indecent exposure."


Make that, "Mother of three who's a fucking moron."

You know. It just slipped out. Mother of two. Fuck, man. I was with two friends who know my Calla life intimately, and I'm almost positive they knew what I meant. But I felt like a total asshole as the words were leaving my mouth.  I could insert a million reasons here, but really, it doesn't matter.  I was thinking two and said two. 

Forever my vocabulary will be filled with qualifiers, spoken or not. Forever my life is filled with this missing.

On that run we did a loop of the cemetery and visited Calla's marker. It was sprinkled with grass clippings from a recent mow. There are, what appear to be, several young soldiers on her hill, buried there, protecting her. I noticed for the first time another stone, from September of 2010, Quinn Patrick, "Born to Heaven."

Mothering a dead baby is so strange.

This weekend was the big dance recital. My mother-in-law has a dance studio and my sister-in-law and she teach most of the classes. Along with the other teachers and helpers they really do an amazing job every year putting on the show. It's fascinating to me, who danced exactly one year in my whole life (as an ADULT! I was IN the RECITAL--another story for another time), to watch this production and realize the hours and sheer talent that goes into its execution.

But it's hard, you know? I find myself choking back tears watching all these beautiful girls and young women twirling and tapping and leaping across the stage. There are a few boys up there, sure, looking cute and dapper. And yes, it's an assumption that our little girl would be enamored with the tutus and tap shoes. But I can imagine, right? And the imagining and the missing together are so very painful.

As I was watching and wondering and crying just a little, I was also holding baby O. And just when I thought I was going to have to leave the auditorium, he put his little head on my shoulder and hugged me.

It's okay.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Going and Going

This past weekend I ran a half marathon. Not particularly quickly--in fact, it was my slowest ever--and well, I can't pretend like I really trained all too hard for it. But it's over and done with. It was hot and long and, quite frankly, pretty miserable.

I kept running until I couldn't. Which was just past ten miles. I gave myself a good long walk break. Of course this is when that voice inside gives way to, what I so eloquently call, the "I-sucks:"

I'm fat. I'm slow. I'm the slowest runner I know. Everyone is looking at me and laughing. Look at everyone going by, they're wondering why I even bothered trying to do this. 

Which ever-so-quickly segues into "I-suck-at-everything":

I am a shitty mother. My poor kids got me in the lottery of life. My husband has to put up with me. It's no wonder my baby died, I am a terrible person. I can't do anything well, everyone is better at everything than I am.

I don't know. I think strange things happen to my brain when I'm underfed and overtired. It's hard to not let the negative thoughts creep in at the edges. The wheels just fall right off my wagon.

I am a new person, though. The old me, the one who never really ever lived through misery, or had to do anything especially challenging that wasn't self-inflicted, probably would have given up. Watched the runners pass me by, felt sorry for myself and pouted. But the old me wasn't out there on that sunny, hot morning. The new me scraped my sorry sack of shit self off the pavement at mile 11 and started running again. And finished. Running. The new me knows a thing or two about keepin' on keepin' on.

C and the boys were there just past mile 11, cheering me on. They were there again just past mile 12, too. Hearing E shouting "go Mommy go!" gave my heart a jolt. I'm still not all that jazzed about my lackluster performance, but I finished what I started.  I didn't quit even though it was hard. Go me.