Friday, December 31, 2010

I walked home smiling; I finally had a story to tell.

I'm very sorry to see 2010 go. I know I'm going to miss this time in my life. It was 12 deep sweet joyful quickly-spiraling months with my dearest friend. Despite being so obsessed with each other that we were practically inebriated with love, we still managed to accomplish quite a lot! Jonathan graduated from the BSW program and I finished my first year of grad school (and my thesis!!). We both interned with DCFS, although not at the same time. Jonathan started working at the jail and I started working at Wasatch Mental Health. We played HARD--we went on cabin trips with the Urban Tribe to Milburn and Wyoming, camping with the Lowes, Arizona for my companion's wedding/visiting my cousins, Florida with the Stranges, Mexico and Bear Lake with the Browns. I moved to the Commune in January which resulted in exponential amounts of fun. I donated gallons of plasma and Jonathan built and fixed computers and engaged in both merchantry and piracy :). I read about birthing and the DSM-IV and Jonathan read Bruce Perry and Ayn Rand. I taught Relief Society and Jonathan brilliantly slew numberless concourses of aliens, zombies, locusts, prairie animals, and Collectors...and was generally a hero in every absolutely every regard. He is a survivor and he is ripped like Jean Valjean. He planned our trip to the D.R and made it the most incredible honeymoon I could have was so perfect for us. We still marvel to this day at how lucky we were to be able to go there. We listened to incredible music together and with our friends, carried out deeds of goodness, plotted birthday surprises and cheering-up activities, watched some great movies...mostly at the Commune...and loved each other and enjoyed our dear friends and family. It was a fantastic year.

I should also mention that 2010 was the year we got engaged, married, and pregnant...hopefully we have some momentous occasions still saved up for the years ahead. Happy, happy new year!

I know I'm a better version of myself than I was at the beginning of 2010--not in every aspect, but I am a better social worker, so I am using more of myself and my talents, and I am more aware of my choices and the power I have over my preferences and emotions. For the next year, I want to focus on improving my relationships with God, family, my fellowman, and myself. I want to let mindfulness and authenticity have a fuller place in my being and eliminate guile (which I believe translates into being too concerned with how others see me). I want a more pure heart for when I meet my baby. :) "My boy, my boy--you have my whole heart!...You always have." (from The Road).

Songs from 2010
Upward Over the Mountain, Iron and Wine (Live at Messiah College version)

Fever Dream, Iron and Wine
Diamonds on the Souls of her Shoes, Paul Simon
Use Somebody, Kings of Leon
How to Disappear Completely, Radiohead
Wonderwall, Ryan Adams (this was the song we danced to at our wedding!)
Ara Batur, Sigur Ros
Alejandro, Lady Gaga (even though Jonathan HATES this song he can't deny that it will always remind him of last summer. Haha).
Your Love is My Drug, Ke$ha (same!)

Here we are adoring our Little Stranger. 18 weeks, almost halfway through!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One of us will die inside these arms; eyes wide open

Yesterday was my father's 60th birthday. I wanted very much to do something special to honor him, but he's not the sort of person who would appreciate a party or presents very much. I decided it would mean a lot to him to be given a chance to express himself, as very often he feels he is ignored and his ideas undervalued. I wanted him to have the gift of being listened to and feeling important. I planned a question-and-answer family home evening with him and it was a really lovely, wrenching, poignant experience. We began by singing his favorite hymn "Lord I would Follow Thee" and then I had him sit in a chair in the middle of the room and asked him the questions. He was excited about it and it was terribly cute. I stayed away from questions that had potential to nudge at wounds of regret and sorrow...or thought I had. :) My father has a very powerful way with words and he weaves what he feels into everything he relates. He actually has a very beautiful way of speaking; although he would never believe that. There was a heaviness and a raw humility that made the experience so poignant and sharp.

It would seem exploitive to post his answers, because they have so much to do with our family and the way things are and have been with us (not that I could even remember them in the detail needed to make them alive,) but these are the questions I asked him (they are not many but they took over an hour and a half to answer:):
Describe a happy childhood memory. One memory that's not too personal is my Dad being "uninvited" from Primary...which back in the 50's was on Wednesday nights. He also shared a story about bursting out singing "Davy Crockett" at the top of his lungs during sacrament meeting. His parents tried to silence him but he was undeterred.
Talk about the changes you have seen in the world during your lifetime. One thing he said that I liked was "You can say there was a revolution, or you can say that what was there all along became known and accepted."
What is something difficult you've overcome in your life?
Share a Christmas memory, whichever one you recall.

Where would you go, if you could live anywhere for a year?

Share a positive memory of one of your children.

What makes you feel hope?

After the questions I opened up the time for my brothers and sisters to make comments or share memories of our father. I talked about hiking in the Grand Canyon with him when I was 9 years old and how I felt like we were partners; that him taking me along on such a hard hike made me feel tough and courageous. He said, "You were!" I also described how he wrote me a poem in the book my family put together for me when I left for college when I was 18. It had a reference to the stories I used to demand when I was tiny. ( stories had to be about My Little Ponies, the Ponies had to encounter mortal peril at some point, and the story had to have a happy ending.) I have a clear memory of my father telling us that the Ponies were in the woods and saw a lot of garbage heaped up, which made them very afraid. He asked why the garbage made them afraid, and when we didn't know, he explained, "Because it meant there were bears around..the bears always came to eat the garbage." That's amusing to me now when I think of it in the context of my father the wilderness man, but at the time it chilled me to my bones. Anyway, the line in the poem said, "As the ponies well learned, may you too be awares/that where there is garbage, there'll likely be bears." He ended the poem with a song I had made up as a 3 year old about Rainbow Brite. It meant a lot to me that he would even remember that. It's sweet to think, despite everything that has happened, of my father enjoying his 3 year old daughter being silly and making up songs, enjoying it enough to commit it to memory.

After everyone shared about my father, I said that we had a special celebrity guest performance for the closing hymn, and then played Paul Simon's "The Obvious Child" off an ipod. My father was filled with glee and afterwards told us how much that activity had meant to him. He even gave me an awkward side-hug (our specialty) and thanked me profusely later. I was so glad because I felt I succeeded in my goal of making my father feel special, and I wanted that so much for him--it comes so rarely. It was one of those times I felt absolutely that the right thing had been done, and I was so happy. I love my father. I don't have a typical father-daughter relationship with him (yet another thing I get defensive about when people make assumptions--I really need to work on that!) but I appreciate how different my Dad is from other people and the affect that has had on me. I admire how deeply he thinks about things, how he wants to help The People, how he learned Spanish just to work with his Medicaid patients, how much he relates to music, how he prefers hard work to ease and luxury. My father really is a very kind person. He is constantly inquisitive about the world and is always teaching himself things, like woodworking and gardening. He made me and Jonathan a beautiful hope-chest for our wedding and nearly finished it for Christmas. It broke my heart how much time he must have spent on it. I couldn't enthuse enough for what it was worth. I love how my Dad bikes on rollers during the winter while watching the Tour de France and how he reads at the table like I do and how obsessed he is with WWII. I love how he quoted Simon and Garfunkel when he taught Sunday School and how he scratches his head when he laughs really hard.

When my father was answering the question on hope, I was bursting with wanting to tell him that my baby is hope for him, that it is so vitally important to me to have my children love and esteem him. I'm going to do all I can to help them have a good relationship with him. But that's not really the kind of thing you say, it's the kind of thing you do your best with and hope that healing takes place. I have such great hopes for that healing, I really do. A baby should mean joy every time one is born, I hope it can be that way with my father's grandchildren.

I love my little stranger so dearly for being so full of promise. One of my aunts told me this week, "You will never think of yourself first again." Tears sprang to my eyes because I want that so badly. I know so many of the wounds I've acquired in my life were caused by selfishness and not seeing things clearly, and the closest I've felt to glory is when I was giving with a pure heart. Whatever else I may feel, I know that is what is right for me. Little baby, who are you going to be? This is such a sweet time to dream of possibilities. In one of my HBSE classes we talked about how at birth parents must mourn the death of their dream child because now they have a real child who is a distinct personality and may not bring to reality all that they envisioned. I know I'm like everyone else and that my experiences won't be exactly like I imagine, but I have dearly loved so many children in my life, and I know I will love the Stranger despite the challenges I can't foresee today. That's an expectation I feel confident WILL be fulfilled.

I've been filling up my free time this break by reading birth stories and watching home-births on you tube, so that's filled up my dreams with birth as well (more on that later). Jonathan loves to sit by me with his hand on the bump and talk to the baby...he even does it in his sleep, which I love. I want to share this with him always, as much as I can.

In other pregnancy related news, I got maternity jeans for Christmas and I fLOVE them! They're the most comfortable things! I can still button all my normal pants, but they have begun to pinch. I've gained 9 pounds, which I am not carrying gracefully, but neither was I super slender before. (I blame Derek for encouraging me to cheat on the Master Cleanse last summer). Alas, it can't be helped now. :) I have to pee thousands of times a day despite Jonathan's maybe accurate belief that I don't drink enough water. We have Brown family jokes in regular circulation now about how every time I eat I'm "feeding" or "watering" the baby, and I love to say things like, "I don't even LIKE this cake, but the baby insisted," or "Can I have some of your cinnamon bears? Not for myself, but the baby has been asking for them." The baby also has a slightly deified position as a mystic presence; as in, "The baby told me you were going to react this way" or "I knew I shouldn't have done that. The baby warned me." I'm dying to find out if it's a boy or a girl. I wish winter semester were over already because that means I would have my masters AND be weeks away from birthing our adorable progeny. This is the time of times. Here's to 15 more weeks of winter, according to the BYU Academic calender. Yay!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Scary-Sweet Dreams

I don't dream often. It is unfortunate. I always want to dream more often. I RELISH scary dreams when they come because I usually remember my dreams only 1-2 times a month. I've always thought that dreaming was awesome. It makes you believe things that you never would believe in real life. It makes you feel very much like you would feel in real life only in hypothetical situations. We theorize about how we would feel if such and such happened, but there is NOTHING that makes you feel similar to when you have a dream about a situation. As much as you think about how you might feel in any given situation, you don't know how you would actually feel. I think that dreams can approximate how you would feel in situations you've not been in before. I've always thought this useful.
I've had dreams about what I would feel like if I married certain people. I was usually terrified of those dreams, as I had some commitment issues. I would wake up with an indescribable relief! I'm sure you've all felt something like this when you've woken up from a bad dream; the knowledge that the situation you were just in did not actually happen. I've done immoral things in dreams and been totally mortified at the inevitable consequences of those actions only to wake up glorying and happy that it was all an illusion. The effects of my actions would not shimmer into existence slowly and surely as they do in reality. I feel such elation in those moments! I've often thought that it is a huge blessing! I don't know that I would ever get that feeling any other way and oh how I love that feeling! The relief of having not chosen poorly...interesting.
A few nights ago I had a frightening dream. It's a little fuzzy still...many times when I remember dreams I remember bits and pieces--scenarios. I remember that Rachel had died. It was somehow related to labor. I remember holding myself together in the dream and feeling like this would be bearable. But then I remember being at home. I was all alone. You who know me know that I prize my alone time. I enjoy it, thoroughly. But this was different. I've never felt loneliness like this. It was overwhelming. I remember in my dream talking to my friend Caleb about it and then suddenly breaking down and sobbing. It was a horrible feeling.
I guess I've always thought myself strong. I always think that whatever comes my way I will handle it without breaking down. I've been depressed before, but I come out of it. The feeling that I felt during that dream was beyond depression. I felt myself feeling like this was something I couldn't have a handle on. I've always thought that you can't prepare yourself for certain feelings/experiences in life. I've never experienced real loss. The people who I've been close to who have died were older and I felt relief at their passing. If loss feels like that, I know there is no preparation. I imagine you just have to learn to deal with it when it comes.
I woke up and immediately felt around in the bed to make sure that Rachel was there. The relief I felt when I found her there soundly asleep was by far the best experience of my life! The feeling was singular! It was one of those times that I recognized the beauty of "they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good."
I hope that people who die after their loved ones feel like that when they get to heaven, like the loss and loneliness that they just passed through was a dream and they are now waking up to reality where their loved ones are all with them, alive and well. People worry about what heaven will be like. I don't. What could possibly matter if you are able to be with the ones you love most? I know I use a lot of superlatives when I talk, but I'm being truthful when I say that even just glimpsing that joy at knowing that I am still with Rachel makes me confident that I would do anything to feel that way. Anything.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A tiny star lights up way up high...

We took these family pictures on August 15, the day after my wedding. I love them because my family are a collective bunch of hotties, and also because I was so giddy that day, high off all the dopamine associated with being married 24 hours to the gran amor de mi vida. It's a good memory. I love being with everyone all together.

Emo Browns. Mary upstaging everyone as is her custom. Alternate title: Sirius Brown.

99 Brown Balloons

We are "sixteen, maybe less, maybe a little more."

I love this picture of Mahwey collapsed on the lawn. You can't even see her face, but it conveys so much emotion.

Kimberly Caldwell strikes again! With Beav!

Can you see the Wondrous Little Stranger? He/she is still very wee, but I am 16 weeks today so I'm expecting to start ballooning out massively any moment now. The Stranger is quickening and I am thickening. :)
I love Christmas and being home with my family! I had the sweetest last day of work at Vantage Point, with a powerful session and kindness from my supervisor and cute Latino clients. I love them. It felt so good to end the semester on a high note and walk away feeling like I've done well, all things considered. It's so good to be here now with my brothers and sisters. For all our various pathologies we really love being together. I love having no homework and being able to concentrate on hanging out, Christmas stealth, and dreaming about my baby. Jonny has been working in Springville so it feels just like last Christmas when we were apart and I pined for him most intensely and artistically. He gets here tonight though and then my joy will be complete. :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sweet and Sour Thoughts on Pregnancy


What, I'm supposed to post pregnancy pictures? Why didn't you say so? Too bad we don't have a camera. And too bad I don't have a solid, adorable baby bump instead of steadily increasing full-body bulk and flab. It's almost like my body thinks I'm carrying the baby in my THIGHS! :) I wanted to write out some thoughts I've been having. My emotional discomfort has been heightened thus far much more than my physical discomfort...and as usual, it is all tangled up with vanity, pride, and self-loathing, so I don't expect anyone to relate to this necessarily.

I always had this idea that I would gain weight very virtuously when I got pregnant and that it wouldn't bother me at all because it was so great a cause; I would just be grateful to be a sacred vessel. :) I was disappointed to realize how much it actually does bother me...Especially when people constantly point it out. One lady in my cohort always pokes my stomach and says, "Oh, I can really tell there's a baby in there now!" Um, but you can't. That's actually just my fat roll that's always been there but now is getting harder and harder to suck in. My waist's favorite Radiohead song is "How to Disappear Completely." My sister in law informed me the other day, "I think you're at that stage where it's hard to tell if someone is pregnant, or just getting fat." Gee, thanks. Over Thanksgiving my mother tenderly invited me to go clothes shopping with her because "It's obvious you've gained quite a bit of weight." When I have pointed out the insensitivity of these comments, I am gently reminded, "Well, you ARE pregnant." Okay. Does pregnancy somehow inoculate me against feeling hurt, embarrassed or insecure? This is a sacrifice I am absolutely willing to make, but being willing doesn't take away the scariness and unfamiliarity of it. I'm also resentful of the Westernized cultural conditioning that contributes to me caring so much. I wish Dave Schuler were still around because I bet he could tell me how to get rid of it.

It's also frustrating to be treated like an invalid. I guess it falls in the same category as "chivalry," which I also have raging issues with, so it's not too surprising that I struggle with this as well. I know others mean well and are trying to be kind, but I want to be treated like a capable, competent person, not as a walking frailty. Sometimes I regret sharing with people that I'm pregnant, because they immediately start doing things like telling people to hurry up in the bathroom, the pregnant lady needs to use it, or having me sit down, or telling me I must be exhausted, or trying to stop me from lifting things. It makes me feel a little reduced. I'm carrying a baby, but I am not the baby myself! I'm still a whole person, not a sick person. I know I know I know people are probably just projecting their own experiences and the collective conceptualization of pregnancy on me, but I do find it stifling. I wish people would ask me, "What has your experience been like?" instead of making assumptions. I'm going to try to do that, too.

I might be more grateful for the special treatment if I felt it was warranted. Everyone who knows me well knows I LOOOOVE to wail and moan and get attention when I am actually sick, so I'm definitely not above bringing the drama when I'm actually suffering. I am lucky that [so far!] I've had a very easy time of it. I haven't been sick at all and never threw up once. For a few weeks I developed a bizarre sensitivity to smells and certain ones would make me queasy--such as Jonathan's deodorant, which had never before been offensive to me. I could smell it on his shirt from across the room...all deodorant-infected shirts had to be quarantined! Also I would immediately hate the thing I ate most recently immediately after consumption, even if it was a food I usually loved. Other than the super-power sense of smell and some chronic fatigue earlier in the semester that may have been pregnancy or may have been full-time school and therapy, I haven't really felt all that different from normal. Just more corpulent. :)

I just want to add that I REALLY hate the words preggers, prego, preg, preggy, and any variation thereof. Also anyone who calls my baby a "little nudger." Please don't do that. And now I'm done being negative. :)


In other news, today is a glorious day. I had a thousand things to do and they all went well! I staffed a client at multi-agency and it went great, even though I was so nervous. I took my last final and got an A-, O Bendita Sea! I am so relieved and grateful that fall semester is over! Now I can immerse myself in beautiful Christmas and I only have one semester left till graduation and my master's degree!!! I love what I study and I'm so happy I'll be done by the time Baby comes. :)

Not surprisingly, I've been noncommittal when it comes to choosing a provider, and I might write more about that later after I come to a few conclusions. I did visit an OB who takes the student health plan just to make sure the Little Stranger was doing okay in there. I've had two ultrasounds and I loved seeing that little blinking heartbeat that meant my sweet baby was okay! It's exciting to realize there really is a little creature in there, swimming around in the goldfish bowl. I can't feel it moving yet but I am very excited to.

Today is the 14th so we have been married 4 months today! I have such a sweet husband, I really do. He is so good and so dear to me. He is so lovingly excited to be a father. I'm as excited for him to have that experience--and to be able to observe it--as I am to be a mother. When I think about him holding and loving our baby I feel this effervescent joy that lights up my life. This is something I have always known deeply about Jonathan, that he would be an excellent, very kind and wise father. When we were dating I used to have these **secretheart** thoughts about us having kids. And now to finish off the sweetness I have a story about that.

We had Crystal and Allen over to dinner tonight and I made meatballs for the first time ever and also broccoli with spicy hollandaise sauce. Everything turned out okay and Crystal and Allen are such good company! I love their children. Crystal is one of my favorite mothers...she is playful and loving and enjoys her children so much. She is a "joyful mother" like it talks about in Psalms. I have never heard her speak resentfully about her children and that is something I admire very much and aspire to. I was playing with their baby Alex and he was so smiley and lovely that it melted my heart. I've always felt like I'm my best self when I'm playing with little kids. I can't wait to meet my own baby and be sweet with him/her. What a joy it will be to have a little soul that belongs to me and not have to hand them back to someone else! While I was holding Alex I sat on Jonathan's lap and he put his arms around both of us and it was so sweet. We both felt struck by that moment, and it reminded me of a time last year...coincidentally with Crystal's OTHER son...we were babysitting him and he was crying and fussing and I picked him up and held him, and Jonathan and I had a Moment. I wrote about it and sent to to him. Here is what I wrote, last November:

"This is the sappiest thing EVER! don't judge me. bradley is just a really cute baby, maybe with magic powers.

"Love to be, in the arms of all I'm keeping here, with me"

Last night I was holding the heavylight weight of Bradley in my arms; Jonathan looked over at me while I ran my finger across Bradley's impossibly soft hand and his tiny baby fingers grasped mine. I whispered, "Oh, sweetheart," I felt so aware suddenly of this sharp sweetness associated with wanting my own baby who will know and recognize me as its mama, it brought tears to my eyes to think it night not be for me, this white-hot center of my being. My arms were made to cradle, what better thing could I do with them? All this was hanging in the air. I could see him knowing what I was thinking, he came over and kissed me. "I want to end up with you." He told me this the other day. Can you say that? Can I hear that without terror? I dont want to end up in the showcase but I feel myself drowning in the missing. I want it to have meaning without having sting. But why should any of that matter if there is a baby? And I thought--I thought--despite the severity I sometimes feel from you, I want to be this way with you. I want that great kindness to be first for me. You'd be so good, I know it. I want your hands on my stomach with our baby in there. I want the honor I would feel being that for you, I want the softening effects that being a mother would have on my selfish nature. I want a little being a light to pull forth all the good from the depths of my heart. Then he came over and put his arms and me and the baby and it was so sweet."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gold teeth and a curse for this town, were all in my mouth, only I don't know how they got out, dear

Journal entries from earlier in my pregnancy (the second entry is mostly not about pregnancy but it mentions the baby at the end, so I thought it merited inclusion. Also I changed details about clients I wrote about so I'm not violating HIPAA):

October 5
I found out 3 days ago that I'm pregnant! According to my feverish special-special time documentation, and the midwife I talked to at Bella Natal, I am 5.3 weeks along and my little salamander is due June 4. That's right when my mother was due with me! I feel a zealous sort of destiny in the parallel. I hope I can be as kind and fierce of a mother to my salamander as my mother is to me. I wish I had had the foresight to keep my lateness from Jonathan. I would have like to surprise him more with the glad tidings, but I couldn't help myself! I kept telling him, Jonny I'm 3 days late! 4! 5! So when I finally delivered the news he was already expecting that I was expecting. I just couldn't shut up. When I found out by myself, Friday night, I was so amazed. I kept looking in the mirror and telling myself I was having a baby, trying to see a mother in my reflection maybe. I felt nothing but excitement and glee. It works! It really does work! Saturday night I crashed a little when my mother showed me this book about the miracle of showed babies in their various stages of development and it made me a little queasy. All those curled up lizards with their enormous opaque eyes. The first few pages were pictures of loving couples and I felt suddenly horrified that all that would be over now, gripped by the horror of my impulsiveness. I know this is what I wanted, but our tender little marriage is so new, what if having a baby "ruined" everything? I'm feeling much, much better now, and confident that the (hopefully safe) arrival of our child will enhance our relationship. It will make both of us better people. It will bind us to each other as co-creators of adorable progeny. It will fill our house with a sweeter love. I know it will also be stressful, anxiety-inducing, exhausting, and complicated, and I know those little bubbles of resentment WILL come up and have to be popped, but I know what kind of people we are and the role children and family have in our lives. Jonathan is the best man I know and it is honorable to be able to give him children. I'm just as excited to see him be a good father as I am to figure out what kind of mother I will be. I am not at all afraid of ruin. It is surreal to be pregnant and not feel any different. If I hadn't been tracking my special-special times I'm sure I wouldn't even have noticed by now, but I'm already a month into it! I worry about miscarriage, I have known so many who have miscarried their first baby. When I'm alone, I talk out loud to the little salamander and ask her to be okay. I think of it as a girl, which is bizarre because until about a month ago I didn't want ANY daughters EVER, I wanted twelve sons. For some reason my mind has really warmed up to the idea although I still don't know how I'll explain things to her, the things that are diabolically unfair and ugly and that I don't feel peace about. Maybe she'll stay a baby forever and I'll never have to worry about it? :)

October 11
I'm home alone and jumping at little noises. Today was so thick with therapy I just wanted to stay home and let my brain melt. I guess it was a good night for Jonathan to ditch me. Today I spoke with a boy who smokes pot to feel relief from his mother's nagging, and listened to her tell me over and over on the phone, "He's just like his father." He cried when he said she might send him away. I told him I was sorry he'd been hurt. Then I knocked on the wrong number 8 and the man who couldn't speak was so excited to get a visitor. He brought me out his driver's license because I couldn't understand him. He was frightening with his stiff staring but more sad. His name was Charles. I waved goodbye to him as he followed me. He was so excited and I was so out of place in that apartment complex, I don't know how to walk, how to hold my face to look like I might belong there. I found the right apartment but it was still all wrong. It was stretched out and empty except for a couch. Beatriz was stretched out and full of another baby set to never know its daddy like her two other sons. I met the man they want to leave in December. He shouted and pulled her away and will never drive her to therapy. Arturo was sweet and friendly and only turned cold when we talked of his mother. If you aren't set up for the shiny white ladder of success you can become a cholo. I tried to say these things. I told them they're in crisis and that therapy doesn't do much good unless they're stable. That they need a plan to survive. The tiny boy drew a poster on the floor with my markers. I told him "que belleza!" She said Arturo has wanted for nothing. She tells him she loves him by reminding him of all she has done. Neither of them could form a positive statement about the other. They could be gone in an instant, nothing connects them to the place they are, to the false frame of a family they're fluttering around in. She can't go to a shelter you see because he put the bills in her name. Arturo sat clicking his knife open and shut. Later I asked numb questions of a sweet couple with a daughter ridden with adolescence. The mother explained how she was raised by older sisters and wanted to fill up the vacio (emptiness) she always felt in her childhood. She thought if she were good enough, if she could just be good enough, she would deserve love, and everything would work out right. I did the best at describing her feelings for her but I feel like I failed to join with the daughter at all. She's in a smirky little no one understands me world. I am probably terrible at this, but I felt a lot today. I think it's good for me to feel this much. I'm thinking of Romania too and what it was like sometimes--the tidepools of jealously and slimy creatures that seems so insignificant, even insulting to the tumultuous ocean opened before my eyes.

I think of the baby as a seahorse, splashing around in a tiny ocean. Maybe my sorrow and despair are already making acid waves. I wish I could create the kind of peace my baby needs but I feel that would require disconnecting from everything.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Now we can swim any day in November

iFail at blogging. I couldn't bear the thought of letting all of November pass without writing here is a picture of us being a happy and married people.

We have been now been married 108 days, and we are enjoying a very sweet and adventurous existence. We live in Springville in a sweet “country” house by the train tracks. We often have deer abiding in our yard, undoubtedly drawn by the endless wellspring of eternal LOVE that is our home. We love being married and consider it a “far, far better thing than [we] have ever done before.” I wish I could write all the things I really want to say, but maybe people wouldn't understand. I don't know where I could write it. I'm so grateful. I really couldn't have imagined a better partner for myself than Jonathan. He is a kind, clever, loyal friend to me. I love how he whistles and sings around the house. Jonathan is probably not the first person who comes to mind when you imagine someone who never stops singing, but! He NEVER STOPS SINGING. He sings whatever song he heard last with my name substituted for all of the proper nouns. I love it, it makes me so happy. I also like to listen to him when he sings the hymns at church, especially the base parts, and when he whistles “New Slang” it melts my heart. I miss us being in school together and I'm a little sad we never will be again, but I am SO happy that this semester is finally grinding to a halt. It was torture to be flung directly from the island honeymoon beautiful life into the old rooms-like-cages again at the Y and only seeing Jonathan at night instead of being companeros (I know it's annoying that I even said that, because it's "real life," but real life is actually kind of crap sometimes, so I stand by it). This semester has required much more of me than last fall, when I ran blithely around all the time and practically lived at the Commune...I'm working as a therapist at Vantage Point and I have a nearly all-Spanish caseload. I work with "troubled" teenagers and their troubled and overwhelmed families. I love WMH; the people I work with are kind and fun and welcoming and I've never had such a productive internship in my life, but therapy can be daunting. It's a multi-faceted kaleidescope world. Some of the things I absorb in my heart, some of them make me feel more cynical and hopeless than I ever have before, other times I could wring the joy out of my own flesh. I am feeling more confident all the time, but there were a few weeks at the beginning of October when I was awash with cortisol and terribly anxious every night about going to work the next morning. I would mumble to myself in Spanish and wake myself up saying, "I can't do this." When I think of how sweet Jonathan was with me during that time, it brings tears to my eyes. He would let me curl up on his lap and tell me to listen to his heartbeat and it would calm me down. I love him, he is so good. I'm obsessed with being married to a social worker...not just a social worker but the most adamant advocate for human agency I've ever met...if you've ever had a real conversation with Jonathan you will know he is a philosopher and a seer of people's intentions. It's immensely helpful--sometimes I tell him about a case and he helps me click it right into place. My mind converts everything into feelings and his mind converts everything into ideas. We used to say when we were dating that I was Emotion and he was Reason. HA! I don't know if it's true all the way but I know he has what I need. Sometimes I feel sad thinking that he doesn't need very much from me. I feel that I benefit much more than he does from our relationship. It doesn't help that I'm sort of a freak, which he is everlastingly patient with. I want to serve him dramatically.
This is sort of a partial update, but there's so much more I could say, like how I cried in Modern Display when my Dad told me about his grandfather taking care of the garden in the nursing home, or how I miss weird things like going to PDR meetings on Tuesday mornings, and how I miss seeing people so much that it makes me self-loathe, and how I fantasize about moving to El Paso. I have to goal to blog every day in December, so we'll see how that goes. :) Carry on, carry on, carry on!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

1 year!

Its been a year since Rachel and I "got together." That is crazy! I'm so happy that we are married. Its interesting looking back because every relationship seems like marriage isn't possible, or too hard, or not going to happen until it does! And I'm so happy it did. Its fun to think about decisions you make carrying so much weight...and we're mostly oblivious to the effects they have on our future selves. I wish I could see everything that way, I'd make better decisions. I am so happy I made the decisions to pursue Rachel, as scared as I was. It has brought me happiness I couldn't really suspect or anticipate. When I think of our beginning relationship and what we are like now, it's amazing how thing have changed. And all for the better in my mind. I love Rachel more than I ever have, and I know her better than I ever have. I hope that always continues.

I teach relationship classes for my job. One thing I always discuss is how things can get old and stale. I realize that this is a choice. It is the way our brain works. We ignore the normal or ever-present. It's in our nature. When we allow our mind to do what it will, we slip into equilibrium. Usually it's not the best equilibrium, but it's peaceful. I think in relationships this transfers as a sense of boredom or things getting old. Everybody has felt this feeling in some relationship in their life, if not in the most important relationship in their life. It is something that makes us scared of commitment and scared of marriage.

I try to teach that you have to overcome this part of yourself, the part that gets used to the normal. We should be oh so grateful for the things that are so normally good in our lives. In fact, if you look at the way most everyone is living, our lives here are usually anything but normal...and I mean that in the best way. My life is anything but normal. I live with the girl I love, and I love her more and more every day. What luck, I say! Every day should be a celebration of sorts, a celebration of the great blessing that is my only Racher. When it isn't, whose fault would that be? Really, it's only my fault. I choose what sticks out to me, I choose what I remember. Unless we fight our minds urges to make things normal so it can forget about them, I feel we're doomed to unhappiness. The truth is, when you're looking for it, no person becomes old. When you care for them, you keep finding interesting things out about them...or they keep doing more and more interesting things the more you know them! I find this true about Rachel. Every time she tells me a story of her childhood I get a new perspective on who she is. It's insanely interesting.

I may be just young and naive, but one thing I do know is that it is a choice for us to keep our relationships up. To keep them new. It isn't out of our hands or up to destiny. We choose who we love and who we will continue to love. It's all about the small choices, like choosing to be "together." I'm so happy I chose Rachel and that she chose me also. I hope we always choose eachother, however many other choices we make!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rachel's Burgeoning Domesticity

Now that Racher is married, she has turned into a domestic goddess! We want to be the sort of people who are not closed off to the rest of the world, like so many other newly wed couples. So we've been inviting people over to eat here and there. Rachel always cooks something REALLY good! She is so sweet because she tries to find out what they like so she can cook something they will enjoy when they come! I fall in love with her every time it happens! Whenever Rachel does anything domestic, she always makes a funny and cute comment about her "burgeoning domesticity." She's said it a bunch, but it still makes me laugh every time she says it! Nothing could be funnier than burgeoning domesticity! It really is burgeoning though! I need to learn how to cook because it must feel really good to be burgeoning into a domestic goddess!
I love beads, and as a result I went to the bead fairy store here in Orem. Rachel kept calling me the bead fairy and I told here that instead I was the bead sounded more masculine. I love playing with my Racher. Rachel is so sweet to me, and once again, her endless antics make her such fun company. I love her and am so happy with her!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I was a quick wet boy, diving too deep for coins. All of your street light eyes wide on my plastic toys

Note from February 12th 2010:

Dearest, only, Racher,

I love you tons! Sorry I stayed so late, I really was going to let you sleep since you’re sick. Thanks for being so good to me. You’re the most beautiful girl in the world to me, I feel like I know you really well. I can’t wait to discover more hidden wonderful things in you…I promise I’ll find them!

Love Jonathan

I miss those days.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

With your halo slipping down

This is the warmest conference weekend I can ever remember! I'm obsessed with it--and with the glorious September that just finished with brilliantly warm days. It's like Summer came out with an extended version. Jonathan and I went on a walk and I noted with glee that it felt green like July. I bless nature for delaying my winter grief. And for the soft golden glow through the trees in the evenings I can see from the living room in our little house.

We're home with my family and it's wonderful. I wanted to share this: My bendita mother has written a poem for each of her married children and shared it at their wedding luncheon. I love her for doing that...they are so deeply sweet and personal. I remember that Doug's was about a little bird and mine is about the Heaven-fear I share with my mother (some may understand). I love her so much for knowing this part of me, and for giving voice to my hope. When she shared this poem she mentioned that she and I were good friends and we had grown up together, and that this was a burden we shared. She is right. I remember we all talked about poems that day: both my parents, my grandfather and I. It's in the blood of my life. I'm praying that it will come back so I can write again, too. Here is my mother's poem!

Search for Cibola

Legend tells of a city of gold,

shimmering in the desert,

which lay on a level stretch,

at the brow of a roundish hill,

whose people drink

living water

from golden cups

that fall from the trees.

Cibola, beautiful Cibola,

Soul of desire

Supernal joy.

Many sought Cibola. .

Her vision,

launched galleons and

consumed the strength

of mariners and mighty men,

who wagered all,

for a glimpse

of her glory.

But found instead

a dusty pueblo

home to dark eyed natives

who measured treasure

in women and children,

and neat rows of

corn, squash, and beans.


never was.

Yet some say,

for a moment,

from a distance

in early dawn,

they see her,

when morning’s piercing ray

bathes adobe walls

in brilliance.

Cibola, beautiful Cibola,

Soul of desire

Supernal joy.

Many seek Cibola.

and lured by dreams of glory,

lust for glitter

that consumes but never fills

and die empty,


the dream is dust.

Cibola, beautiful Cibola,

Soul of desire

Supernal joy.

Cibola was and is.

Be still.

From a distance

at dawning,

you will sense her,

as piercing love

bathes your adobe

in brilliance.

Search for Cibola!

Let her vision warm you.

Let hunger for wholeness

consume you,

and keep your feet

all the dusty length to her gate.

Cibola, beautiful Cibola.

Soul of desire

Supernal joy.


still lies on a level stretch,

at the brow of a roundish hill.

Measure her treasure

in the eyes of your children,

in your neat rows of

corn, squash and beans

and find her,

at last,

at home.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I don't believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now (Sealing)

I need to write about this before time sweeps it farther away, this jewel of memory, this most precious day. Since the floods came up in our basement this summer and destroyed a few of my journals and other dear things I've been bitter about chronically anything in my life, but I need to get better!

The day we got married was absolutely glorious, (which thing was foretold, and which I never ever believed) and it felt just like a door opening. Melanie and Pidwerbecki stayed the night with me and got up in the gray dawn to drive to American Fork. On the way I asked if we could talk about good memories, the times we had been most happy. I kept peering out the window and thinking, I'll never see these things again the same way! It was SO silly. I think the trauma the day before the wedding (being dragged into busy lanes of traffic by the kind man who was towing me, not realizing that my steering wheel was locked) made me more innocent, relieved and humble about everything. I had the squirmy, sickish first-day-of-school feeling in my belly until I stepped into the temple, with tall shoes and tall hair, and my hands were in my beloved's.

And, Oh my love! My darling! Once I was with him I just felt confident and joyous. We re-read "The Waning of Belonging" the day before and I kept thinking, "i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)." We couldn't stop beaming at each other. Jonathan saves his sweetest self for me. I was so happy! It sounds cliche but I did feel like I was floating. I floated around all the other preening brides in the dressing room. I floated around the temple workers who wanted to cut the braided thread out of my hair (oh please!). I floated around that which was less than welcome and all of my anxiety stress doubt floated away, out the windows of the crystal palace and all that remained with me was an open heart.

I remember tottering into the room, clutching Jonathan's hand. There were so many faces in there that I love! My sweet family, my mission president and his wife, my lovely companions (Wells--who counts as a companion--Pidwerbecki and Hna. Katie Christine), dear Celeste, Calie (and it was so sweet to see her in the temple since we were children together!) Hollie and Mario who got there first, my grandparents and aunts and uncles, my beautiful cousin Debbie and her parents and brothers, the Urban Tribe, the people who were seconds away from being my in-laws. And with the morn, those angel faces smile, which I have loved long since and lost awhile!

Our sealing made me feel so visible to God. I had so many fears and so much heartache about this part. I prayed my guts out that it wouldn't be for once a compelling to humiliation, but that it would be lovely and empowering. The first delightful thing that happened was that the man who came up to me in the hall and asked, "Is this the right guy?" was Joseph F. McConkie, son of Bruce R. and more significantly, author of this magnificent discurso that altered the course of my mission and made Hermana Morena a true messenger. I was so amazed! I'd had no idea he was even a sealer, let alone at that particular temple, and to be sealed by a man whose words had so deeply impacted my life and made me a more powerful missionary was SUCH AN INCREDIBLE BLESSING!!! I was so grateful I felt dazed. The second amazing thing was that the words he spoke before he married us were ineffably profound, poignant, and personal. It was exactly the candor and "style," if that word doesn't sound vulgar in this context, that fit us and rang deep into our hearts. I can't speak for Jonathan I guess, but I felt called up to be my best self, to follow Christ and to honor my family and my husband in a way that made me feel absolutely free, adored, and powerful. This may not be significant to all, but his mentioning Heavenly Mother and "your heavenly parents" and saying, "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--and of Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel--" meant everything to me. I knew Jonathan was happy and relieved. We kept squeezing each other's hands whenever Brother McConkie said something particularly insightful. It was an incredible sealing. Many people told me later that they had thoughts during it that they considered to be revelation, that they learned a lot from it and one of my aunts referred to it as "meaty." I've written down as much as I can remember from it, and it doesn't seem the best forum to share all of it here. After sharing his counsel, Brother McConkie said, "Okay, let's get you married," and then we knelt at the altar and promised and now Jonathan is my husband! He is mine forever! My constant one, my sweet love. I am so glad to be his wife! I'm so grateful for the God who heard my prayer and kindly honored the wish of my troubled heart.

"here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the roof of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Expanding Horizons

If you've been talking to my sweet wife lately, you'd know that she's been learning about all sorts of interesting things. I've always valued conversation with my Racher. I love talking about almost anything. If I'm honest, I used to be a lot more closed to new ideas. Because of Rachel I've come in contact with some very sobering and challenging thoughts. After reviewing myself, I usually do end up changing the way I think about things. Because of Rachel, I've been introduced to perspectives I hadn't ever considered in depth that are so worth considering! Rachel has a natural ability of explaining the way she feels well or explaining how other people might feel well. I have to admit that at times I have resisted the things she has said either because I felt completely different and so it was hard for me to understand or I was scared of the implications of what she was sharing. But in those times when I am humble and open and Rachel is sharing how she feels I experience a closeness that I would not trade for anything. The truth is that when I share things Rachel is always empathetic. I'm aspiring to be better so I can say the same for myself.

Rachel pushes me intellectually and I love it. There are disagreements in our relationship, and at times (really dramatic times) it feels as if we will never be reconciled. As hard as our hearts might temporarily become as a result of misunderstandings and pride, the softness that INEVITABLY comes with forgiveness, mutual understanding and high regard for each other and whatever feelings or ideas were being expressed makes the struggle worth it's weight in wisdom. I'm blessed with this relationship. I'm blessed with this friendship. I'm thankful that Rachel forgives me, understands me, and has such high regard for me. I lova my Racher!

PS--it is forcing me to publish in pink...unfortunate but not the end of the world.