Friday, December 30, 2011


So we did the work of having big talks yesterday, and things are better.  We actually mentioned in the midst of it, "I guess this is the work of marriage."  The heavy lifting, the excavation, the surgery, the tune-up. 

In the midst of being furious yesterday, I stumbled onto a beautifully written blog by a 34-year old widow about her husband and grief and moving on.  A good reminder of how much I have, and how much I have to lose.  As you go post by post, you see how, in the daily web of a marriage, so many facets of your life get intertwined with another person. 

Side-topic: I continue coming to terms with the fact that I decided to change my last name to his (our) last name a few months after the wedding.  I did it with some bitterness and lots of discomfort, based on the faith that later on I would be glad I did.  Tons of people are glad they didn't, and that's fine, but I read a comment on a different blog the other day.  A woman said that no one in her highly educated urban group of friends changed their names, including her, and now that it's many years and two kids later - kids who took the dad's last name - she says she regrets not changing her name because she didn't realize how "profoundly" her whole life would be connected to her husband and children.  It is profound, name change or not.

(The reasons marriage is profound are the same reasons it is such a travesty that it is not legal for all same sex couples. no fair, no fair, no fair.)

Thursday, December 29, 2011


So Christmas was lovely, it really was.  And as that glitter fades, husband and I are in reality-land of having to have some Major Communication about some tense subjects. 

I worry over whether I have shared too much with my close friends - vented in too much detail.  Are married people supposed to keep personal things private?  But what do you do when there's communication breakdown and your head is about to explode - just keep it to yourself?  I'm no good at that.  I'm having trouble sleeping as it is.

There's a difference, however, between airing dirty laundry about some temporary boyfriend versus a permanent husband.  I want others to think we are perfect for each other and are doing well.  We are doing very well overall, but sometimes a wife needs some girl talk advice.

Yesterday's strategy of calming down through drinking has, predictably, resulted in a day-long headache and melancholy which does not leave me well-prepared to talk it all out later tonight and reach sensitive shared solutions.  sigh.  No one said marriage would be easy.  It's just that the ways it is hard are ways I did not expect. 

Scrubbed clean

For a year now, my favored bathroom stall in the busy university bathroom down the hall has featured graffiti that said, "You are beautiful."  Today it was all scrubbed clean.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Counting to 28

Just got out my calendar and counted to 28, my pen moving number to number from November into December.  The relief of having an explanation!  This crushing sadness does not mean that I actually hate my life and all of my loved ones - it's just PMS again, with the big 28 on the horizon.  And it will pass.

But knowing it will pass doesn't make it much easier to endure, since I know this is only the beginning - soon the pain will come, the sleeplessness, the painkiller haze, the fatigue, all layered on top of this sadness, anger and irrational resentment.  I could find a reason to resent kittens right now, gumdrops, rainbows, what-have-you.  I received a particular kind of hug yesterday that infuriated me for hours.

Good news that I should be able to summon some elusive holiday cheer by Christmas.  Until then, duck, and hug carefully.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The asking

As part of my volunteer work, I am expected to circulate a "Friends & Families" letter to my loved ones, encouraging them to contribute to the organization.  It's a reasonable idea, but holy awkward!  These are people who just gave wedding gifts to me a year ago, and now I'm asking them, in the holiday season, to send checks to an organization just because I'm asking?

Considering who to send these letters to is a poignant way to realize that most of the people I know and love are broke, in debt, barely hanging on.  Man, my generation is kind of f***ed right now.  Life as the 99%.  I really can't bring myself to send letters to people who I know are in credit card debt, or a friend whose wife just got laid off, or my traveling musician friend who lives out of her car, or my friend who can't afford a much-needed rehab treatment, or the mom whose rent is being paid by her mother due to poverty.  These friends, I realize, are the ones who have supported me through having endometriosis, and who would understand why I would be requesting funds for an organization working on the disease.

I'm sending the letter to my parents, brother, aunts and uncles, and grandparents, with many prayers that I don't offend anyone.  I'm not sure if this sort of "asking" is more common in upper-class families, but I've never heard of it in my family.  Class boundaries are fascinating and seemingly never-ending.  I rewrote the letter a hundred times, eliminating a layer of ego in the writing each time.  (But take out too much ego and there's not much letter - or me - left.)  Since it's a topic I'm passionate about, and I love writing, it's tempting to pen a dramatic saga of my journey with endo.  But my goal is a sort of pure transparency - here is the situation, give if you feel called to.  No sales pitch, no theater curtains opening and closing, no recreation of my endo pain on the page.  If checkbooks are opened in the midst of this endless recession, so be it.

Why do I need to feel awkward about every damn thing I do?  It's exhausting.  Clearly, I fear judgement and criticism.  I hope with time, my voice gets louder and the other voices get quieter.  I'm working on it.

You can contribute to the annual campaign of the Endometriosis Association if you choose to at this link.  Email me if you'd like to know more about the organization.  Do any of you have endometriosis, or a loved one with endo?  Have you ever written a letter like this?

The Kardashians inflame my sinuses

Turns out, it is not good to watch Kim Kardashian's disintegrating marriage on TV right before going to sleep.  When I wasn't tossing and turning from the inability to breathe through my clogged sinuses, I was having the weirdest dreams of being in that crazy condo with those crazy false eyelash people.  I'm not a regular viewer, but it's oddly compelling to observe her misery and disappointment in her husband being filmed just a month into her marriage.  You can see her thoughts of "this is tooooooootally not working. Shit." as she continues to go along with the reality TV semi-scripted shenanigans.  She deserves some of her bad press of course, but it's kind of a sad situation for all involved.  And so annoying that she keeps referring to herself as old at age 30.  OK, enough commenting on other people's absurd marriages...

In other news - I have come to terms with sacrificing my breathing to the Allergy Gods in the spring and summer and early fall.  WTF is up with winter congestion?  No fair.  I just downed my first Sudafed since early fall and can't wait for it to kick in, my little red friends.  My sinuses are prickling with inflammation, heavy like two saddle bags that hang outside of my face.  Sorry if that's too gross.

I'm terrified of what will happen if a potential pregnancy/nursing overlaps with allergy times.  Fellow allergy moms, what did you do to breathe?  How do you handle the sleep deprivation of normal parenting plus the inability to nose-breathe? 

Friday, December 9, 2011


Today's discussion on A Practical Wedding is stirring things up for me.  It's about whether we DESERVE to be a bride.  While I've moved past the bridal thing (thank God), I still get stuck on whether I deserve things -- deserve to be the center of attention, deserve an excellent career requiring ambition and drive, deserve to take public risks long before a reward is visible, deserve to speak truth to power and stand up for myself.  One commenter hit the nail on the head and said that the discussion is really about how women manage shame.  Hmm, very interesting.  Shame is such a strong word. 

I'm sick of walking on eggshells.  I'm sick of being so muddled with insecurities that I can't even discern what my dreams are for myself (contemplating a career move but - to what? how? and how do you know that's what you really want?). 

Mystery readers, have you always felt you deserved XYZ, or is it a struggle?  Do you think it's related to shame? 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Baby dream

Last night I dreamed that I gave birth.  It must have been a dream, since there was no pain.  I was all by myself but I wasn't scared.  Then I nursed.  I knew what to do.  It was a boy.

Real life seems disappointingly mundane after a dream like that. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Coming up through the cracks

From a long interview with the nonfiction writer John McPhee in The Paris Review by Peter Hessler, in answer to the question, "Are you concerned about outlets for writers dying out?"
But it’s just unimaginable to me that writing itself would die out. OK, so where is it going to go? It’s a fluid force: it’ll come up through cracks, it’ll go around corners, it’ll pour down from the ceiling. 
I love this view of writing as an unstoppable amoebic force, like The Blob.  Even though the publishing industry is undergoing huge changes and neighborhood bookstores are few and far between, writing will prevail.  I believe blogging is a great example of what he describes.  This is me coming up through the cracks.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rugged terrain

Upon leaving for the day my boss says to me, "It gets kind of rugged, sitting there, doesn't it?"

Me: "Yes, it is a lot of sitting."

Boss: "Well, see you tomorrow."

Me: "Have a good night."

Rugged is an interesting word choice.  He has never referred to the unique agony of this atmosphere before.  I wonder what he thinks of me sitting here, and how he feels about his sitting.  In enormous contrast to the teeming university hallways outside our little block of offices, we might as well be one of those silent nun convents.  (No wonder I'm surprised when students hold the door for me - see post below.)  For almost the whole day, we are silent, in an otherwise silent office, in office-rooms next to each other, each with open doors. 

He is thirty years older than me.  We can hear each other typing.  I worry over whether he can hear me chew when I eat at my desk, and whether that sound might disgust him.  Sometimes he plays music softly, and sometimes I do.

My assignments are solitary, for the most part -- there is little opportunity for collaboration, and little reason to talk.  I am saying this as a pretty chatty person who has little trouble making small talk -- there's not much to talk about between the two of us. 

The quiet is unbelievable.  It's worse than whatever you think.  Mixed with the sedentary immobility, it's a recipe for depression.  Humans are not built for this.  This lifestyle calls me to be a not-yet-invented cyborg creature.  It's "rugged" in a way that, honestly, makes it hard to concentrate and get work done.  I feel my ability to be productive unraveling.  My knee hurts.  I contemplate sugar and caffeine.  I envy my husband's endless meetings and scurrying about like a squirrel, his exasperation at the stress of it all, of being needed.  I cling to life rafts in the Internet.  You're reading one of them.

An arm, extended, waiting

It's easy to join the snarky chorus and complain about the state of the world today, and to include condescending complaints about the ways of whatever generation is younger than your own.  I love a little well-placed snark, but for now, here is a morsel of anti-snark.

I work in a gritty town at a large public university teeming with diverse young'uns.  These little teens, with their little thighs in their little leggings with the little boots, and the boys with their carefully chosen sneakers and caps and swear words, trailing iPod headphones and backpacks.  On a weekly basis, the surprise hits me: it is amazing how much these students hold the door open for each other, and for me, and thank each other for doing so.  It softens my heart.  College is hallways and doorways and motion and rushing from one place to another.  I am constantly opening heavy glass-and-metal doors in crowded spaces, such as the walkway that links the building I work in to the student union.  Young people who seem to be not even paying attention pause their forward motion and hold their arm there on the door, waiting for me to take the weight of the door from them in a chain of open-doorness. 

Sometimes it is easy to hold a door open for someone.  Sometimes it's the obvious choice.  But every week there is some young little student who waits a beat or two or five beyond, to hold the door for me, a stranger.  And I realize that I probably would have moved on by then.

Kids these days...  Turns out, they are a good influence on me.  My arm is holding the door for you.