Sunday, June 22, 2014

Husband: Hey, have you ever seen lightning strike the ground?
Wyf: No... but it just happened in my book. In fact a horse was killed.
H: What?! So many things happen in these books!
W: Oh yeah...  also people keep having sex and breast milk goes everywhere...
H: Either one of those events is enough for a whole book!!
W: A Horse Gets Struck By Lightning.
H: In a John Updike novel you would just have a hundred pages of wandering around, then the protagonist would have sex and breast milk would get on him, and then he'd question his existence and it would be over.
W: Don't worry, there's some of that too. Plus she has sex with the king of France.
Mothers will plan on having their way and only their way, when in ghostly form and when killed by their sons.

-Stunning finale to a student's essay on the Oresteia, which I just dug up

Friday, June 20, 2014

Love songs

Here are some songs that have been stuck in my head as I search for lullabies. They're songs that I've always liked, but now they mean more to me than they did before.

I've seen you laugh at nothing at all
I've seen you sadly weeping
The sweetest thing I ever saw
Was you asleep and dreaming

Well you may not be beautiful
But it's not for me to judge
I don't know if you're beautiful
Because I love you too much

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the end of the skies

And the first time ever I kissed your mouth
I felt the earth move in my hand
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command, my love

And the first time ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy would fill the earth
And last, till the end of time, my love

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

choses varieuses

I bought a journal a few days before Scott was born, for the purpose of turning inward and being quiet and thoughtful and stuff in the several weeks I had left before the child arrived and my life changed forever. I think I've written in it three times. One entry just says "It's kind of hard to find time to write with a baby around," and then it stops because the baby woke up.

Tomorrow is the fourth week since his birth, and things still aren't quite back to "normal." My body is basically functional for non-gestational purposes again, barring some weird little quirks like sore knees? Itchy chin? I expected a flabby stomach, bags under my eyes and huge boobs but not an itchy chin (it is a common post-partum complaint, I discovered.) Our sleep patterns will never be the same, but we're settling into some kind of pattern, anyway. Breastfeeding is starting to go well, although Bubby-ji and I still have some very frustrating moments. Walk away from the baby, take a shower or at least a deep breath, try again. He doesn't seem to like it when I try to multitask while nursing, so today, when I nurse, I am shoving away all distractions such as the internet, books, and my cup of coffee. I wonder if it's that my body shifts subtly when I'm looking at something else, or if he can sense in some other way that I'm not thinking about him. In any case, it seems good to return to him.

In addition to the Outlander series, I am reading Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia by Rebecca West. That may sound random but it is totally awesome. The author documents her trip through the Slav states in 1937, but it's more than just a travel journal. I think the fundamental task of any artist and thinker is to relate the universal to the particular in a way appropriate to the scope, topic, and audience of the work. Dame West glides between these spheres in such a way that each movement is welcome as refreshment, comfort and delight. Of course she relates amusing and poignant anecdotes about people and places, but one never knows when a little vignette will open up into something wide and cosmic. She often reads little details as symbols (for example, she and her husband find a Slavic fairy tale a telling statement of Slavic attitudes toward government) but never too neatly. The history of Western European imperialism in Eastern Europe is woven deeply into even her minute observations because she is not only a very perceptive novelist, but a well educated woman with a long view of things.

Virginia Woolf notes, with Coleridge, in A Room of One's Own that a great mind is androgynous, that the sexes are unselfconsciously united in someone like Shakespeare, Shelley, or Keats. 

...when one takes a sentence of Coleridge into the mind, it explodes and gives birth to all kinds of other ideas, and that is the only sort of writing of which one can say that it has the secret of perpetual life. 

Ever since I read that I've been on the lookout for androgynous minds. I feel a little shy about actually bestowing such a compliment on anyone, but instead I take it as an ideal by which I measure all artists. And I think that Rebecca West measures up very well.

Now my baby is pooping and crying. So much for a room of my own!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

this must be the place

On the Sunday before Scott was born, we witnessed the wedding of two sweet kids (jk!) at our church, and attended their lovely reception, both of which of course gave us opportunity to reflect on our own marriage (see how selfish people are? I'm not sure it's a bad thing, though.)

We hadn't been to any weddings since our own, three and a half years ago. If you look at the pictures taken right after the ceremony, you'll see us looking extremely stoned and confused, hardly smiling at all. That's because we were floating in a haze of incomprehension and joy (the sober, unsmiling kind.) I told my husband that I was glad to attend another Orthodox wedding so that I could finally listen to the words (and was it just my parturient brain, or are all the prayers about having babies??) When we were getting out of the car at the reception one of our friends said "Hey, we found the program from your wedding in our service booklet." We said "We had a program?" That's how little attention we were paying to the details. It was a slapdash sort of affair, just a church service with gyros and an iPod afterward. I wonder if people thought it was a shotgun wedding. Nope, we was just anxious to get hitched before Lent.

At the reception as we were dancing, we realized that among the many other nuptial conventions that we did not observe, we did not have a "first dance" as a couple, nor did either of us dance with our parents. I guess we would have felt silly, but I don't know why because I like it when other people do it. That started us wondering what song we might have chosen for a first dance. The problem, we decided, is that most of our favorite touching songs range from wistful and bittersweet to downright tragic, and people definitely listen to the words in these situations.

This is the most appropriate song that I can come up with. And we did dance to it at our wedding, but with all of my drunk or eleven year old siblings and father, and Matt's sister, and my best friend from college, at the very end of the wedding when everyone else was cleaning up, and we just played all the Talking Heads songs that we had in iTunes. It was awesome.

I've been putting off this post for two weeks because I thought it should be amazing, but that is how things never get done.

Well, I had a lot of ideas about what I was going to do while I was waiting for my baby to come. I finished work three weeks before the due date and I was convinced, based on family history, that I would go to 42 weeks and deliver a 12 pound freakin' baby. So I planned to swim a lot, do some romantic stuff with my hubz, read this and that, write up the birth plan, buy diapers and stuff, work on my baby shower registry, write in my journal a lot, etc. One thing we did immediately after I quit working was attend a birth class with seven or eight Amish couples, so Matt finally knew about things like cervices and uteri and perineums. Whew. (Foreshadowing)

After two full days of freedom from work, I waddled through Wal*Mart etc and gathered up all the supplies I needed for the birth. I wrote a blog post about it (see below.) Then I furiously tidied the room in which we planned to have the birth pool. It was full of camping stuff and golf clubs and it had been a load on my mind. I sighed in relief, feeling pretty much ready for my midwife's 37 week home visit which was to occur the next day (more foreshadowing,) and went to try on my new swimsuit bottom, for the purpose of all the swimming I was about to do. During this process, I felt that the swimsuit was quite wet, and thought "how embarrassing! well I certainly can't return it now," assuming that I had peed my pants, which happens a lot to pregnant women there at the end, I guess. The funny thing was that I had personally never peed my pants during this pregnancy, and it was rather a lot of liquid, much more than my bladder contained. Well, I continued "peeing my pants" for about a half an hour until I finally poked my head in to the room where Matt was serenely reading Rousseau or something, and querulously announced, "Umm... I think my water has broken?"

Thank God for that birth class. Long bloody messy rather painful story short, 29 hours later, we met this guy:

Scott Maximos; 8 lbs 15 oz; May 22

and what can I say? He's perfect. The last two weeks have felt like life on a new planet.

The labor itself was certainly the hardest thing I've ever done, but also undoubtedly the best. And it wasn't really as bad as I thought it would be. I only had a couple flickering moments of panic ("IS THIS HELL") but otherwise I felt emotionally capable, well prepared, and supported by people I loved and trusted. And just as Christ says, she forgets all about the pain, because of her joy that a new person has come into the world.

So I guess the blog has come full circle. I started it to chronicle my observations during an internship with the midwife who attended my delivery. Then I kept it around for five years and continued doodling in it. And now I have a baby delivered by the same midwife (well, delivered by me, but you know what I mean.) It would be a dramatic time to quit blogging but I don't have any plans to do so. Just wanted to mark the occasion and acknowledge that I do recognize the literary appropriateness of such a gesture.