Winter Ghosts

I’ve been negligent. As I become more obviously pregnant, folks are so obviously and loquaciously delighted, and yes, this new baby, this unexpected girl, is a much-needed bright star in a dark year. How lovely to talk about impending birth instead of death! But it’s exhausting being so grateful all the time. I find myself staying home, avoiding the phone.

I’m a tempest of hormones and grief, and the person I most want to talk with about it is gone, the source of my pain.

I don’t need bucking up. I don’t need to be told how lucky I am. Dad was 49 when he died; he never saw his children into adulthood, never knew his grandkids. And that sucks. And it sucks that they didn’t get to grow old together. Mum was at our weddings, got to be a grammie to our kids, but she still cried in her room at night, missing her lost-too-soon husband, her life’s companion. And having had Mum for her 68 years doesn’t make her death any less of a loss to me now.

Because wonderful things and terrible things happen right alongside each other. But the wonderful things don’t “make up for” the terrible things. They’re not two sides of the same coin or balances on a scale. Life never balances out, and some days that knowledge is harder to take than others.

Kevin Prufer has a smart piece up over at About a Word on sentimentality (which is a sort of reaction to or expansion on his involvement in the Symposium on Sentiment in the new issue of Pleiades), and he says “sentimentality often involve[s] reducing an emotionally complex situation into an emotionally simple one.” And I think that’s what I’m getting at. This urge to tidy things up. It’s not just that it’s premature now, because it’s always premature.

More than that, it’s a falsification. Life is ever so much more than glass half empty/ glass half full.

It’s good to be thankful, count your blessings. But it can become simplistically reactionary, a sort of emotional shorthand that denies acknowledgment and validity to the full range of individual experience. And when that denial comes from without, from others who insist you must “accent-uate the positive, elim-inate the negative,” it feels worse than a lie. It feels like an erasure.

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In case you were wondering:

Not much happening...
Not much happening...

Update: 5:30am, Saturday, 12.27.08 — heading to the hospital…

Update 2: 10:30am, Saturday, 12.27.08 — home again. Too soon, never mind…

Update 3: 3:30am, Monday, 12.29.08 — back to the hospital, O O O.

Ho Ho Ho!

Still pregnant.

But after 4 days of antibiotics, I feel blissfully better, enough to go to my friend Lea’s house last night for a holiday hoe-down. Great fun!

Jamming in the kitchen.
Jamming in the kitchen.
Lea & I by her Christmas tree.
Lea & I by her Christmas tree.

Lance and Vincent came, too, but left early once Vincent’s fascination with all the lit candles could no longer be distracted by butterfly crackers and cupcakes.

Gratuitous cute Vincent picture in which he dons Lea's rhinestone red reading glasses.  He cried most wretchedly when he had to leave them behind.
Gratuitous cute Vincent picture in which he dons Lea's rhinestone red reading glasses. He cried most wretchedly when he had to leave them behind.

Darn good thing Lea lives just a few blocks away — it’s still snowing! I took advantage of a small break in the storm to walk home from the party last night — there were plenty of rides to be had, but what a lovely night, and I didn’t have far to go, and the crisp winter air was refreshing after all this illness — and let’s not overlook the (remote) possibility that this little exertion could help kickstart labor.

Okay, no luck. But for the first time it truly felt like the holidays yesterday. We actually have our very first Christmas tree this year (previous dwellings were too small to accommodate anything more than a festive plant.) (But it is sparsely decorated with colored lights and a few bamboo ornaments. Perhaps Vincent & I will work on that tomorrow after we go to the prenatal appointment.)

Lance’s older sons, Cassidy & Morgan, both came over in the early afternoon and helped him put up the new baby’s sky basket — a new configuration was called for now that we live in an entirely new place since Vincent’s birth.

I doubted and worried, but Lance had a plan, and it works. (Pictures will be forthcoming once the sky basket’s new resident arrives.)

Oh, and my spoils from the Yankee Swap last night? — a tin of Lindt chocolate truffles! Who would dare take chocolate from the pregnant woman? It’s the little victories, yes?

Home. Every day. Small nuggets.

Yesterday, Vincent & I went downstairs to check the mail, and he, because he’s fun that way, locked the door behind us.  Hence I discovered how ludicrously easy it is to pick the lock of our apartment.  Good thing we own nothing worth stealing.

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Being home so much is very odd, but now we’re both sick I haven’t had much of an opportunity to use this time well.  I’m measuring my days in balled-up tissues and cold cups of tea.

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It does, however, give me far too much time to dwell on all my overdue submissions, and where the heck are they, and why won’t anyone respond to my emails.  Not altogether helpful, but I don’t currently have the brain capacity to actually write, as evidenced by this feeble post, so I’m giving myself permission to obsess.

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For those of you who care & are keeping track of such things, I’m now 38 weeks, and the baby has dropped.  So there’s progress, at least!

Dream at 35 weeks.

In general I haven’t written much here about my pregnancy, but some stories just demand telling.

I don’t know if this sort of thing will begin occurring more frequently as labor approaches, but I had a birth-dream last night:

As now, I’m at 35 weeks. But, unlike real life, in the dream, I’m in labor prematurely, having twins.

https://i2.wp.com/danielandemily.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/hpim2597.jpgSo they rush me to the OR to perform a c-section. And my new babies are born.

They are bananas.

And naturally, being premature…

they are green bananas.

Eternal object of my desire:

Filters. Verbal filters. As in, I wish customers weren’t taking advantage of this unsettling time to speak their thoughts at the exact moment they think them. Example par excellence:

//wordwacky.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/new-yorker-6-9.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Middle-aged male customer enters store after reading large sign outside, looks around, then says to me with what has become the usual note of suspicion, “Everything is 60% off?”

“Yes.”

He then wanders around for a few minutes, picks up a couple books, returns to the counter.

“So you’re closing, then?”

“Yes.”

He nods, goes on shopping, and then comes back to the counter.

“So you’re losing your job?”

“Yes.”

Nod, shop, shop, shop, then there he is again at the counter. He points at my belly.

“So what, you must be at least 9 months, huh? What’re you, post-date?”

An utterly harmless & well-meaning man, but my inner-Austen was bristling: “Insupportable!”

Wandering Middle-of-the-Night Thoughts.

A week gone, textbook rush is half-way through…

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It was about 3 a.m.. I was sitting up in bed against a mound of pillows, in the dark, unable to sleep due to a bout of heartburn (thank you, pregnancy!), and bad dreams (ditto!). Driving home from the store last night, I heard a Geico commercial on the radio, the first I’d heard in a while featuring the Gecko. I am very fond of the Gecko. I have not done anything so silly as change my insurance provider as a result of this fondness, but hearing that cockney Gecko’s voice on the radio pleases me to no end.

So the Gecko is who kept my thoughts company early this morning — Lance and I call him “Mr. Guppy”, after Burn Gorman’s portrayal of that character in the Masterpiece Theater production of Bleak House:

Burn Gorman as Guppy. BBC picture.
Burn Gorman as Guppy. BBC picture.

I have a fondness for Mr. Guppy, too. And that entire BBC production — it aired on PBS during the last weeks of my pregnancy with Vincent and the first weeks after his birth. The two, Mr. Guppy and the Gecko, are inextricably linked to my memories of that time.

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This poem, though it says nothing of seasons, puts me in mind of the seashore in September. September is a melancholy month for me, a bridge between the summer I’m unwilling to let go of, and the autumn I’m not ready for yet. By Helen Farish, this is from her collection, Intimates (Jonathan Cape, 2005):

The Lighthouse of Nauset


was removed to a field.
Visitors wonder

does it miss the tides, living on the edge
of emptiness then fullness?

Here there is only the tickle of a cricket,
an out-of-the-way dusk.

The lighthouse says, Listen.
I thought I had no limits,

could look indefinitely at the longing
light lays on water.

Now I want boundaries;
a hedge, plums, more than enough.