Week 25

I’ve been telling people I’m “about” five months pregnant, but yesterday I got my weekly update and looked at this number, 25, and realized I’ve been doing wishful counting and holy shit I am six months pregnant which means I only have about three months left and I know how fast three months can go.

I did not panic.

My first thought: I need to make some lists. I designed the list in my head. It’s divided into four quadrants, and one corner is things I need, another things I really want, and then a third things I think would be fun to have and I couldn’t think of a category for the fourth. Diapers go on there for sure, and a thing to use to carry the baby around, but also, a rug. I keep on thinking that we need a rug. I’ve never bought a rug in my whole life. The only time I spotted one that I really liked, the guy nodded and said, “Ah yes, that is our best one. The wool was hand spun by women in the mountains of Afghanistan.” And then quoted me a price so far into the thousands that I just laughed.

I haven’t made the list yet.

And also, I thought we had the names all figured out, but now I’m doubting the boy’s name we picked out, and I can’t think of a single boy’s name I like. We chose the names in the midst of my last bout of unpreparedness.

And here is where I pause to remind myself of my own birth on a wooded commune in Tennessee. My mother labored from 9 to 5, and in the afternoon, moments before she pushed me out, she saw a large woodpecker with red, white and black feathers in the trees outside the window. The midwife caught me, and my father danced in celebration. We stayed for a month or so in that room in The Long House, as it was called, and then moved into a yellow van with a bed in the back. We first drove north, to visit my mother’s mother, and then south, to my father’s country. We spent a few months in that van before settling into our own place in Mexico.  And in Mexico too, there was no one house, no changing table, no one special rug.

I don’t really want to do anything. I don’t want to research or scan or peek or prod or shop. I feel like I am a complete ecosystem right now, and I don’t want to mess with it.

Maybe if I at least get the carrier, or sling, or whatever; the thing to carry the babe in, then we’ll be mobile and ready and able to go anywhere we want.

And also a rug. I can’t shake it. I really want a rug.

Week 24

There’s a thing I’ve been avoiding.

Last week a student raised his arm to his chest, as if to begin a backhand, and asked, “Do you want me to slap you or something?”. He had been angry at me for two days, through two rounds of group meetings, because of a rule I was holding and the way I was holding it. This student is already in a man’s body; he is broad and strong, though not taller than me. In the moment I was relieved. I could even describe the feeling as happy. Odd, no? It was the second day, and his anger had been building, his tone when he spoke to me becoming more dismissive, his accusations both increasingly vague and vitriolic, and here finally was something that was indisputably wrong. He had crossed a clear line, and I could stop trying to handle it alone.

We began the necessary follow-up, he surprising me at first by not resisting our trip to the office, or the conversations that followed. I was calm, mostly, that whole afternoon, and into the evening. As the night progressed and I told B. the story, the certainty that I had handled the situation the right way, and adrenalin too, kept me alert, hyper even. This lasted until I wrote up the incident report. I sat down to type, recording the meetings and the conversations and then I got to the sentence, “Do you want me to slap you or something?” and I remembered suddenly that he had raised his hand to his chest when he said it, as if to begin a backhand. And instantly that I was sure and strong about, and the fuel of my adrenalin, drained away. And it’s still doing it, the angry glare, the sentence, and the hand, and I can see it and then I am not his teacher, nor he my student. I can’t see his actions in any kind of perspective, can’t weigh them against the challenges I know he faces, his unique needs and hardships in the world; all I can be is exposed.

The next day, when we began a new round of meetings I came to understand why he had not resisted our trip to the office, or any of the follow-up: He still thought he was right. He informed me that he had said that sentence, he would not use the world “threaten”, because I had “crossed a line.”

The drama of the incident is passing. The staff has had to shift to considering the over-arching questions of the relationship between this student and the school.

I haven’t gotten to the thing I’ve been avoiding; that thing is about skin, meaning skin color, and that will come, but this comes first, because of course this is not the first time a man, a boy, whatever, has reacted with rage to what they determine to be my crossing of a line. It’s not the first time a man has hated me. It happens on the street and on subways; it happened when I stood posing and hustling behind a bar; and it’s happened in my family.

I do wonder what memories my brain has locked away from me. I’ve wondered that for a long time. But regardless of what I may never remember, I do know the feeling of my body as symbol, as key that unlocks male fury, and I can never be quite sure what will do it. It comes at random, punctures days that begin peaceful and sure. Sometimes it beads right off me. Sometimes it seeps in and quickly, collects and stays and sloshes in me while I go about my day.

And sometimes there are days when my sense of who I am splits entirely from my body. I am me and apart from that me is my body: a thing that was done to me; a thing that traps me; a thing that draws attention even when I don’t want it to. Sometimes the very fact of being seen, of walking down the street, is exhausting.

I’m grateful that nothing more happened than a threat. That my life is not violent. But, and I can’t explain it, a few sentences and the sweep of an arm have been enough to shake me.

My body is the safest space this babe of mine knows. I thought that this was my grace period; the nine months I get to keep it absolutely safe before I expose it to the world that is. But that’s not true. And maybe that’s why I’m uneasy these days. Because I can’t give what I can’t get.

Week 23

In the last twelve hours, I have become significantly more pregnant. It began while we were watching TV last night–we have a whole new world of options because a friend gave us her Hulu log in–and it’s funny because I’ve barely watched any of the shows that I hear talked about and now they’re all at my fingertips. I haven’t meant not to watch. Often it’s been a matter of limited resources. Of money for one, not wanting to pay, but mostly of time. These last two years, I’ve been so tired when I get home from work I’ve had about three hours of wakefulness and of the potential evening activities–eating dinner, talking to B., having sex with B., watching TV, showering–something had to go.

But also true is that nothing holds my attention. Again, I don’t want this to be true, but these shows, especially all these critically acclaimed giants, seem like the same plot with different costumes. And that plot always manages to center on a flawed, but charismatic, white man engaging with his inner uber-traditional masculine (and capitalist) self against a back drop of sacrificing, or naked, or murdered female bodies. The only series I’ve watched to completion in the last five years was Battlestar Galactica. Do you know that David Byrne and St. Vincent song? The first verse goes like this:

I used to think that I should watch TV
I used to think that it was good for me
Wanted to know what folks were thinking
To understand the land I live in
And I would lose myself, and it would set me free

That’s me, only present tense. I still think I should be watching TV. I do think it will set me free. I do want to know what folks are thinking. So I keep trying.

Anyway, last night, by the end of the first episode of the first season of Scandal (is anyone else annoyed that the kryptonite for this badass woman’s spidey sense is a man who is sleeping with at least two other women?) my belly had become half a planet. All day I’d been like a kangaroo, hopping around with my babe tucked neatly inside of me, and then suddenly, they’re kissing on the edge of the oval office and I’m an overturned turtle.

This morning it was worse. My leggings were too tight, and my long underwear had a tag designed to annoy the shit out of me, and my tunic shirt made me look the hippie mom character in a sitcom whose quirky politics are represented by her brightly, patterned leggings. Which mine are.

I handled all this by changing into a different pair of leggings; the ones I would wear every day if I thought no one would notice. As it is, I do wear them for days in a row if I know the only who’s going to see me on each of those days is B.. And even to him, I said, “You know I’m wearing tights under these so they don’t get totally dirty.” Not that that’s even all the way true. He, of course, just shrugged. “Whatever baby.”

The problem being that I look so very pregnant in everything I put on.

Last night it stopped making sense that I was pregnant. In my brain, I was just me, the same familiar me, same types of thoughts, same personality, but I couldn’t connect to the body below. My back was tingling and the skin of my belly taut, and when I tried to sit up from my sunken couch, I needed to push first and then roll, and it was awkward and weird and foreign. My body very much not my own

Movies I will not be watching: Rosemary’s Baby, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Alien.

I would like to say that my body and brain have been reunited with my outfit change into my favorite leggings, but so far, I’m still itchy and fidgety and discontent. And irritable. Also, restless. Probably one of those days where it’s a good thing that I work with a gaggle of energetic teens because in a very short while I won’t have the time or mental space to pay attention to myself.

I would like there to a right shirt to fix it, a right breakfast, maybe if I go get a muffin, maybe if I wear hoops. I don’t know.

And as a final complaint, the fruit and vegetable sizing system has completely broken down. This week the babe is said to be a mango, but last week it was supposed to be a spaghetti squash, and spaghetti squash are bigger than mangoes. And also, two weeks ago, it was a banana. Because of the length. Not the girth. No comment.

For now, it’s time for me to get this body of mine in motion; to bundle it up, take it work, and see if over the course of the day we can make up.

Week 22

On the pleasures of being alone…

The first time I travelled alone I was nineteen years old and I went to Spain. Or, this is the first big trip I took alone, by then I had ridden countless Greyhound buses between New York and my grandmother’s in New Hampshire, between New York and college in Providence, and I already knew the exquisite pleasure of a solo bus ride on an off day; the bus mostly empty, two seats to myself, headphones, a book, the window, sometimes a bag of M&M’s, always plenty of water. On a bus, on a train, the land unspools beside you, for you, and you can pee whenever you want and your brain is soothed. My brain is soothed. My restlessness stilled by the fact of being in motion. Once, tucked into the back of the bus, I secretly masturbated while hidden under a giant shearling coat that had belonged to a man who had almost married my mother when I was ten but decided instead to move to Austin, Texas. (I had loved him, and cried when he told me he was leaving, and after him I vowed never to get close to a boyfriend of my mother’s. Something I pulled off until she began dating the man who became my step-father. But that would be later, when I was out of college, 23 and 24.) It was not even dark on the bus, only a grey afternoon, and the climax was a teeth clenched, muscle bracing, moment of complete stillness, which sent the sensations pulsing through the muscles of legs and back and neck. It’s been a long time since I’ve ridden a Greyhound.

But this trip to Spain…I took a semester off of college because currents of anxiety were pulling me under with frightening frequency and also I was smoking too much weed, drinking too much, all of it too much, and I had not seen nor heard from my father since I turned my back on him when I was fourteen years old and I thought it was time to explore that. I arranged to live at home, work, do therapy, but also to travel alone for a month. I extended my loan money to pay for it, and they sent me a glorious check. Spain is the land of my father’s parents and it was my first step towards him. I bought a round trip ticket. I had not been out of the country since I was six years old and visited my cousins in Norway. (That’s my mother’s side.) As the weeks brought me closer to departure, a pattern emerged: The very rich parents of the very rich kids at the after school where I worked looked at me with envy, with longing, wistful to the extreme, and said to me, “Do it now while you can.” Said, “This is the right time to go, soon you won’t be able to get away.” Said, “This could be your last chance.”

My last chance! To me, it was my first chance, the first of what I hoped would be many trips, a future dotted with movement and places and packed bags. But this too; these parents were so very rich, and yet felt so very locked in. They saw their own lives as limited, finite, without options for such adventures, and this most of all: They felt that they had no say in the matter. They were sure that outside forces were locking them out of things they might want to do. Not one of them saw, or could say honestly, that it was they themselves preventing them from those adventures. How much better it would have been to hear, “I used to want to travel, but now I’m content to be at home with my kids.” I wouldn’t have understood it for one second, and probably would have made fun of them to B., but I hope some part of me could have heard the honesty in it, the embracing of one’s own life and choices.

Everyone has warnings for me these days. According to the world at large it’s going to hurt a lot; i should definitely get an epidural; I will never sleep again; B. and I will never be alone again; moving is not a good idea; everything’s going to get harder; my breasts are going to be destroyed; and I better start wearing smarter shoes.

I bought my ticket to Madrid for October. On September 11th, September 11th happened. I lived about a mile away, but was protected by the span of the East River. The ash coated the playground, and we prayed that the parents of all the children would appear to pick them up. They did. And Christa’s husband didn’t go to work and survived, and somehow Danny’s three brothers survived, though he would not know it for hours. At sunset I stood on the Promenade, beside me a man with a bloody bandage wrapped around his head, and watched the ribbon of ash blow over us and further into Brooklyn. We’d breathe it in for days.

On October 1, I flew. I had thought I was scared of flying, but I’d learned that death comes and that miracles and tragedies are lightening bolts that can strike two people standing inches from each other. That we truly have no say. I decided simply that to fly was to risk death but that it was worth risking death to get me to Spain, to live a life I wanted to live. And then when I saw the clouds below me, it was only confirmed: to fly was a foray into the afterlife. And ever since, flying has become the same as embracing the fact that I can die at any moment. Over a decade later,  every time I board a plane I think I am risking death in pursuit of a full life.

I swear, it feels like an optimistic perspective.

Here is one prediction that does seem true: Once this babe is born, I am never again going to be fully alone in the world. I am bound to B., my friends, my family, yes, but I have a hunch this is going to be different. I am housing her. Him. This babe. I am its first home, it is literally forming inside me, and won’t my heart always be lodged a little inside this new person? Won’t this new person take a portion of me wherever it goes? My fears, my love, my hopes: I will want so much for it, and yet it will have to go forth without me and won’t it pull my heart along with it…aching, celebrating, worrying, exulting? I really don’t know what solitude is going to mean to me in a few months. And I am quite sure I can’t know until it comes.

In Madrid, it took me about two hours of chain smoking to leave the airport. I rode the metro, a monumental achievement, and disembarked into the center of the Plaza del Sol, an immense expanse of stone in the middle of the city. It was morning, maybe nine or ten, and throngs of people were criss crossing the pavement around me. The sky was a brilliant blue (every blue sky a reminder of that one Tuesday blue sky; that knowledge never leaves us, does it?) and the sun both warm and sharp. The buildings were white stone and grey stone, and intricately carved. I stood and it felt as if sky and stone were rushing through my legs and arms to meet in a long denied embrace. I was humming with it. I was exultant. I am in Madrid. I am in Madrid. I am in Madrid. The fact of it, that I had lifted my body out of New York and landed it there, in that city, in Madrid, in Spain, it was a miracle to me, and absolute proof that anything was possible. In my life, it was all possible. I am going to be ok. This is going to be ok. Life is going to work. It is still the moment I return to when the currents return to tug at me. Whatever else happens, that day happened.

I am at the close of a two night solo vacation all the way across the river into Manhattan. I’ve spent two days and two nights eating alone and walking alone and reading and writing and sleeping. It was a much shorter trip than that first voyage across the Atlantic, but it was still hard for me to get myself here. I thought of a million reasons I shouldn’t go, shouldn’t spend the money, and on and on. But I did. And when I checked into my room alone and thew my bag on the bed? Total bliss.

A last chance? A first? I’ll let you know in a decade.

Week 21

I’m really pregnant now. Taking this little globe of mine out in public, and people can see it. Today I’m liking it a lot. I also really like the language of, “Are you expecting?” I am. Very much. Expecting and expectant. This morning, a polite request to touch my belly, from a stranger, but I said yes. He asked so nicely. This is a new and strange phenomenon. I would never ask a stranger if I could touch her belly, but I was raised in part by a very polite grandmother.  I am a power source. No. I contain a power source, and people are drawn to it, hands extended, they can’t help it. For those who don’t fear it, avoid it, uncomfortable, there is a desire to be close.

The babe has been moving. A few times over the last few days, it feels like it points its head down, extends its arms like it’s doing a breast stroke, and then dives down towards the bottom of my uterus, bouncing there a few times. It’s pretty cute, despite the fact that it’s treating my bladder like a trampoline.

Last night, while I was sitting in the glow of the christmas lights, my belly shiny and coated with shea butter, the babe began pushing and rolling more than ever, and I called B. over. And yes, lo and behold, he felt it for the first time. That look in his eyes–“Shhh,” he said when I laughed–what I can say? Wow.

Week 21

For the first time since I was secretly trying to starve and exercise myself into another body, the general public are commenting on my body. The consensus is that I’m “carrying well.” As in, I’m not getting a lot of weight. This is also a sign that I’m having a boy since the girls curse you with weight gain. Although, the girls are also said to curse you with nausea, so my tortuous first trimester means a girl, while the “blessing” of carrying small means a boy.

From two New Yorker articles I’ve read in the last month:

“[Angela] Merkel has lost weight–bedridden last winter after fracturing her pelvis in a cross-country-skiing accident, she gave up sausage sandwiches for chopped carrots and took off twenty pounds.”

“In photographs, Cheryl Strayed looks like a big bodied woman.”

Merkel is the German Chancellor, and the same piece refers to her as “the most powerful woman in the world.” Strayed is an award winning, best-selling author. Amid the countless articles and profiles I read of notable males, there are very few that mention body size and if they do, the subject is usually Bill Clinton, commenting on his post heart surgery veganism, or Chris Christie, whose weight is almost an asset, some kind of shine to it–as if it is a symbol of his individualism, his defiance. Can you imagine a woman of his size being taken seriously as a potential presidential candidate? Can you imagine her being taken seriously at the post office?

Last night I watched The Wolf of Wall Street. The first wife was a super hot brunette with curly hair. Obviously, she was left for the super hot blonde with straight hair.

But this is all painfully obvious and so familiar to me, as I imagine it is to every woman who might read this, that it is totally boring. Boring to think about, boring to write about, barely worth talking about. Feminism, the notion of it, was not something I had given any real energy to in years, but this fall my school began doing work around sexism and gender identity. And also, I was pregnant. Turns out being pregnant and talking about sexism is a surefire way to ignite long dormant anger. The students were really the ones who did me in. Because they are young and female and they are very angry. New to the experience of objectification, they can remember more clearly than I being 8 and 9 and 10 and 11. They are closer to that time before breasts (for some of us) and puberty, years when we were mostly free from the constant gaze, the constant fusing of our identities to our physical appearance. They are just recently coming out of the shift into sexual beings and the new way they are treated pisses them off. They call out the perpetual disrespects leveled at women that I had stopped paying serious attention to years ago. And of course, at the same time, no matter how brilliant and bold and defiant they are, they are tortured by the expectations…comparing their thighs and breasts and hips and arms to the computer polished images of the female form that bombard us.

From a fashion blog, “It’s not that I idealize skinny-ness, it’s just that I am entranced by the aesthetic of the skeleton. I am drawn to the beauty of bones.”

I read that five years ago. Haven’t forgotten it yet. Nor that little whisper of agreement, like Gollum convincing Smeagol, “Yes, yes, that is pretty, the clothes flow, how nice and long and lean.”

Last night during The Wolf of Wall Street naked women swarmed the screen like schools of fish. And they were fucked in more ways than I usually see in one movie; their bodies on desks and beds and floors and airplanes and cars. Their bodies their bodies their bodies. White. Pale. Public hair ripped off, leaving bare little-girl vaginas, hip bones jutting, asses often flat actually, little muscle tone, just thin. A pregnant character nagging her husband, no longer the desired sex object, replaced by others, by hookers, her body unaltered except for the prosthetic bump beneath her tight dress, her body after the baby showing no signs of pregnancy, or nursing, simply back to her stunning self, but still replaced by other women as the desired one. The woman in the house, with the baby, spending the husband’s money, no longer putting out.

And yes, you could ask, what else would I expect from this particular movie? The point of the plot is the depravity and debauchery and so on. But this is not so much a critique of this one movie because what I just described is true of countless movies. You all know it. It is the perpetual narrative of the transformation of the beauty, the one sought, the one desired, into the one taken for granted, the nagging wife; the timeless triad of virgin, wife, whore.

Really, I’m writing about the movie because last night I forgot to be angry. I forgot to critique. I was too tired. Just wanted to absorb and not think. So mostly what I thought, without realizing it, the words simply seeping into my consciousness, was this:  My body will never look like that. Of course, my body was never going to look like that, but I could always hold the delusion in reserve. No longer. Some of these changes are going to be permanent. These veins and bones and skin are never going to be quite what they were.

I battle future stretch marks with tubs of shea butter. I fear post-nursing breasts as flat and useless as popped water balloons. I anticipate those months after the baby is born when my abdomen sags and flaps. I anticipate hating it. I see myself grabbing that extra skin in my hands. I see myself feeling ugly.

B. says my body is luxurious.

One of the things that kept me from acknowledging that I had an eating disorder was that I assumed I was simply too much of a feminist. Also, that what I was doing seemed normal. Everyone cleanses, reduces, refuses, runs. I didn’t look sick. I just looked smaller. I just looked like a New Yorker.

My grandmother spent years eating only one banana for lunch. In her last months, ill and in pain, she mourned the loss of her waist.

How mundane to be a woman writing about body image. How commonplace and ubiquitous. How repetitive. In the movie the early scene of a man snorting coke out of a woman’s white, naked ass gave me a little shock and thrill–Caught my attention. By the end of the three hours, the vaginas were only background. Scenery. And boring scenery. I want to be wary of the dulling of my senses. I think we should all be. The flash of a woman’s naked form should always excite. And the equating of her worth to that form should always enrage.

I don’t say thank you when the women appraise me body, nod approvingly at my size, give what they believe to be compliments. Because I can’t afford to agree with them. I have to believe there’s no such thing as there being too much of me, just as I’m piecing together that it’s not possible to be too much of a feminist.

Week 20

I’m scared of never being alone again. Even from the beginning that was the one fear that could pierce my optimistic forcefield. Would you like to hear my ideal day?

Wake up at 8.

Morning rituals; meditation, stretching, pages, breakfast.


Lunch. Exercise.

Afternoon out in the city somewhere: meandering, looking at stuff, museums.

Reuniting with B. and/or friends, family, in the late afternoon. Doing stuff.

Yes, some mornings I love more than anything lying around in bed with B. and then the slow rise and maybe we cook and maybe we go out to breakfast. Yes, I absolutely love those mornings. But for the rhythms of most days? See above. Notice that I have very little interaction with another human being until the late afternoon. A dear friend pointed out to me that I might be so fixated on alone time right now, because my job is such the opposite that I might be a little starved for it right now. Which is fair. But I also know that there’s a truth to this for me. I really like being alone. Which makes me feel a little bit like a terrible and crazy person.

Also, I’m completely lying about one part. When I wrote “9ish to 12ish” that’s me trying to be a little less crazy than I am. I’m really bad at that -ish. The schedules I am capable of putting myself on tend to not be flexible. I used to write them out. In those years before the full time job, especially in those years when I was deep in my fixation on body size and food, I wrote out the days to the minute. At some point I became aware that I was leaving no transition time. As in, writing done at 12; running begins at 12. I’d cut out the time it takes to pee, change my clothes, breath, exchange a sentence with another human being.

I’m having trouble sleeping again. I think the insomnia began when I was fourteen, and has never fully left me. I lie down to sleep and my brain whirrs on. I’ve tried every natural remedy there is to help me sleep; I’ve taken every herb, drunk every tea. I refuse to take anything stronger because I tend to form habits, I lean heavily in the direction of addiction, and anything you take to sleep tends to be especially habit forming. I had a break this fall from the sleeplessness. In the midst of all that first trimester physical misery, I slept deeply almost every single night. When I sleep deeply now, as in times when I’m not depleted or sick, I wake up with so much energy the next day I feel like a super hero. I almost can’t imagine what it would be like to feel that way on a daily basis.

I am not in a good mood today.

My co-worker gave me baby clothes as a secret santa present. I cried at first, then brought them home, and hung them over the banister–a row of four adorable onesies of the softest cotton you can imagine. One has yellow ducks on it. Another is striped in grey and white. There are snaps where I’ll need to unsnap them to change a diaper. I passed them, eyeing them for a few days, and now they are folded into a little bundle and tucked out of sight into my closet. They mean a real human being is going to be the end result of all this. This nine months of discovery and self-awareness and new sensations and a new body and thinking and talking about my feelings and how I’m doing and how my health is-all of that is going to end up in a human being who I am going to have to care for. All the time.

Many people have spoken to me about the selflessness of pregnancy; as in, “Oh, it must be easier to go through all of it because you’re creating a person.” It is spoken of as a turning over of myself, my physical self, to this greater cause. But I have to say, it often feels gloriously self-indulgent. I get a lot of attention. It’s like being a bride in white; everyone notices you and pays attention, there is a spotlight following you as you move through the city, your home, your job. You are special. And when this is all said and done, it won’t be me who is special anymore, it will be the babe.

Which does sound nice actually.

I’m okay with the babe being special.

It might be good for me to have this focus outside of my own self.

But this morning while I’m being grumpy and pissy at B., I imagine there being a baby here too, and I’m scared of being grumpy and pissy at them for the simple fact of them existing and demanding my attention.  I don’t think I’m going to stop loving being alone and quiet, and at this moment, those hours of solitude feel like an island I’m sailing further from by the day.

Week 19

I’m growing. I’m ravenous before every meal. Which actually feels kind of amazing. I feel very…vital. Every meal I sit down to is like the meal that comes after being in the ocean. This is post-surfing hunger. I get an email every Tuesday that tells me about the week of pregnancy I’m about to begin. It tells me the size of my baby according to fruits and vegetables (a kumquat, a turnip, way back when it was a sesame seed), it tells me what the baby can do now, what it looks like, and it gives me hints as to what might be happening in my body during this given week. At the bottom, it gives me a task. I try really really hard to not read the task. From the ones I’ve accidentally read, by now I should have found a pediatrician and I believe this week I’m supposed to be mapping out childcare. Yeah.

Two and a half years ago I took a full-time job, and what I said then was that I wanted to have a job because I wanted to know I could still earn money if I broke my leg. But I was lying. What I meant was that I wanted maternity leave. I didn’t want a baby yet. But I wanted to know if I wanted a baby, and nothing about my previous lifestyle or manner of earning seemed suitable to it. My mother, though, always disagreed with me when I said I didn’t have enough money for a child. “That’s bullshit,” she’d say, “when you want one, you’ll want one no matter what.”

I’m discovering she was both right and wrong. When I applied for this job, B. and I had decided that if I didn’t get it, we would move back to Mexico for six months where we could live cheap enough for me to finish my book. I was convinced that if I was going to be a starving artist, I should at least be more of an artist. I always felt hectic then, always rushed, a day never gave up enough hours to me, every day was one I was failing a little bit. And while that likely had as much to do with my brain as my work, I didn’t know that then. All I knew was that something needed to change drastically, and so when they offered me this job I took it.

For the first time I was working the same schedule as everyone else. Monday-Friday. 8-4. I began to live “a stable life.”

Some of it has been glorious. My money comes at consistent intervals. I get paid vacations. I get paid when I stay home sick. My coworkers are wonderful. The job I am doing is worthwhile. It doesn’t take me ten minutes to explain “what I do.” And I get paid maternity leave. By the end of the first year I was ready to get pregnant. But B. wasn’t. So we waited. Life things happened. We traveled to Turkey. Had adventures.

But I also spent most mornings of that second year, last year, convincing myself that it was absolutely normal to feel a weight settling on me every morning while I threw on clothes after my sunrise writing hours. I began to believe that there was no other way for me to earn money; that this was a good job, a good job, a good job, and any dissatisfaction was for me to dissolve, to process away in long talks until I got sick of hearing my own voice saying the same sentences over and over again. Last winter was a darker time than I realized it was then. I was scared more than I admitted. Sadder. Tired. And all of it made somehow worse by the fact that I adore my coworkers, and believe in the purpose and ethics of what we do. I love working with these youth. I believe in our work. But.

But this last summer, every day of August was like me pulling on a rope with a tremendous weight on the other end; hand over hand, an inevitable task that I had no power to set down. Every morning I meditated and set a daily intention:  Be present. Don’t count down.

I found out I was pregnant six days before the start of the new school year. It was not unplanned (I think I’ve mentioned this) but it was still shockingly instantaneous.

And suddenly, my mother is right. Now I don’t care about money. I don’t care about stability. I don’t care about planning. Even from within the swirling hours of near constant nausea of the first trimester, I saw only goodness when I looked forward. The optimism is startling. I’ve never lived in so much calm for so many days and weeks in a row. All the things I thought B. and I had to have in our lives in order to be parents are being thrown into question. I don’t know what my employment will look like next year; same for B. . I don’t know where the money or time will come. Even where we live…we’re questioning everything. And I’m not worried. It’s insane really. But I like it. A lot.

According to the Week 19 email, the babe is the size of an heirloom tomato, and can most likely hear. It’s arms and legs are in their right proportions. I think it has thicker skin too, or a special coating on it’s skin, I forget. The email also notes that the next few weeks are going to be a time of rapid growth for both me and the babe. I was informed that though I may think the changes have been dramatic so far (and I do; I have a bump!), I haven’t seen anything yet. And I can feel how that’s true. It’s a little terrifying. I sense how dramatically my body is being worked on. My deep hunger. My muscles aching and my bones shifting. Everything has been set in motion, and the pace is picking up.

Week 18

I’ve gone (relatively) silent these last two weeks because I haven’t know what to write or how to be in the wake of the failure to indict the cops who murdered Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The immensity of the pattern, the history, overwhelmed me last Wednesday when the news came out. That same Wednesday, in the afternoon, before the news that the cop who choked Eric Garner would go free, a panel of boys of color ranging in age from 7 to 18 spoke to the rest of our school about their experiences with police. We are a tiny school and yet those boys were terrified to share their stories. And what they feared most was that their friends, people they had known for years, but people with white skin, would doubt them, challenge them, push back when they told their experiences. These boys were brave. The bone of my chest cracked and ached watching them speak.

“How old were you when your family started talking to you about how to deal with cops?”




“4. I was a big kid.”

One girl of color spoke from the audience. “At first I was upset when I heard about Michael Brown, but I also wasn’t surprised. But then when I saw that Ferguson stayed in the news; that people were still there and that they were still talking about it on TV, that really gave me hope.” And then she started to cry.

When I think of history I think of the big moments. The signature days. The March on Washington. Immense successes. The days we can point to in hindsight and say, “See, that was the change, that was hot it happened.” But that’s a dangerous way to teach and learn history, because it makes change and action seem the equivalent of topping Everest: feats of superhuman achievement, rare, almost impossible. What is essential for me to remember is that many point to the Montgomery Bus Boycott as essential to the momentum of the Civil Rights Movement. And that boycott began and was maintained by regular people gathering in countless churches holding countless conversations. It all begins with small, very doable actions. And before the boycott? Well, before the boycott was the murder of a 14 year old boy, Emmett Till, and his mother’s decision to take her mourning public, to share images of his mangled body with the country, to open the casket.

I am immensely grateful to the activists who have kept this story in the news, to the people putting their bodies in rows facing cops with military gear, to the people who have spent hours organizing and shouting and sitting and walking and marching. I don’t know where all this is going to go, there has been this momentum before, but for now, at least, the silence around this story is being cracked. It is a partnership of bodies and voices; we need the bodies in Ferguson, on bridges, shutting down highways, holding signs in order to open the casket once again, to show the marks of this violence, and to tell the stories.

One white student at my school said simply to me, “I can’t believe how young they were when they had to first think about cops.”

In that moment, I feel hope. And what’s one of the things I’m hopeful for, here now, at Christmas, expecting my first child, full of optimism and loving cheer? That these marches shut whole damn cities down.