“Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but . . . life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.” ~ Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

“Mother Playing with Child” (ca 1897)
Mary Cassatt

                   

“Human lives are not pieces of string that can be separated out from a knot of others and laid out straight.  Families are webs.  Impossible to touch one part of it without setting the rest vibrating.  Impossible to understand one part without having a sense of the whole.”  ~ Diane Setterfield, from The Thirteenth Tale

Friday afternoon. High 90’s, heat index over 100.

Sitting here in the labor and delivery with Alexis, Mike, and Corey. My mother has wandered off to find some food. So far, we’re going on 25 hours. Lex and Mike got her around 2 yesterday afternoon, and Corey and I came around 4:30 after picking up Brett from campus.

I know that I predicted the 8th, but this is good too. Actually, for a while, she had her doctor, who was on call. Now, the next doctor is on call. So this is what’s going on so far: Her water broke around 10 yesterday morning, but she wasn’t sure if that was what was happening, so she called her friend Katie (who has two daughters), and Katie came over, confirmed the broken water, and helped to calm her enough to focus on getting ready for the hospital.

I told Lex that she had time to take a shower and pack her bag. The same thing happened when I was pregnant with her—my water broke at 11 at night, but I didn’t start having real contractions until 7 in the morning.

Anyway, she wasn’t really progressing, so the decision was made to give her pitocin early this morning to try to get things moving.

“It’s a secondhand world we’re born into. What is novel to us is only so because we’re newborn, and what we cannot see, that has come before—what our parents have seen and been and done—are the hand-me-downs we begin to wear as swaddling clothes, even as we ourselves are naked. The flaw runs through us, implicating us in its imperfection even as it separates us, delivers us onto opposite sides of a chasm. It is both terribly beautiful and terribly sad, but it is, finally, the fault in the universe that gives birth to us all.” ~ Katherine Min, from Secondhand World

I had planned to spend the night here so that I wouldn’t have to get up in the middle of the night and drive should the need arise, but I found out (after Corey had left for home) that only one person can spend the night in the room with the patient, and the waiting room chairs were impossible to get into any comfortable position.

I called Corey (my ever-patient, every-accommodating spouse), and asked him to come and get me around 1:30 a.m.. I didn’t realize how tired I was until I fell sound asleep in the car on the short ride home. Got home and crawled into bed without washing my face or anything. Got up at 6 a.m. and hit McD’s on the way back to the hospital.

When I walked into the room, I could tell that Alexis was definitely feeling worse, so I suggested that she ask for her epidural, but when the nurse asked her what her pain level was, Lex replied about a 3 or 4. I knew that she wasn’t sure how to gauge her pain level, so she looked at the smiley-face chart, and realized that she was at a level 6, at least.

Okee dokee. Time for that epidural.

“One great question underlies our experience, whether we think about it or not: what is the purpose of life? From the moment of birth every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering. Neither social conditioning nor education nor ideology affects this. From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment. Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness” ~ The Dalai Lama

I know that she was a bit apprehensive about someone sticking something in her spinal column (who wouldn’t be?), but the nurse anesthetist was really good, and the epidural was inserted without any problems.

She began to feel much better, and her contractions were coming about two minutes apart. Then they stopped the pitocin . . . not so good. Contractions decreased to a snail’s crawl, and progress halted.

On and off there were naps. Mike went home this morning, and Lex and I tried to nap, but my mother called and woke me up just as I was drifting off. So much for sleep for me.

Anyway, the last few hours have crawled by. Lex’s friend Jennifer dropped in to say hello (she had been in the ER for some unexplained pain), and then my mother showed up. I had kept her at bay for as long as I could, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to hold her off forever. Since everything has slowed down again, I’m trying to convince mom to go home and rest while Mike and Lex take naps. So far, it’s not working . . .

“There is divine beauty in learning . . . To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth.  Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps.  The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and disciples.  I am the sum total of their experiences, their quests.  And so are you.” ~ Elie Wiesel

So here we all sit. I’m on Mike’s laptop. I just had a little cleaning spree in the room, getting everything into place, organizing the few things that I can organize.

Actually, after the 4th of July, I should have suspected that Alexis might go into labor. We both spent the day doing lots of things: laundry, making lists, working on the Rodeo (that would be Mike there), and other stuff. Lots of nesting going on.

I really felt bad because I had thought that I had everything all set for the work on the Rodeo. I had ordered all of the parts, had them in a box, and told Mike that he could do as little or as much as he wanted to do on the Rodeo. Turns out, I had bought rear shocks but not front shocks. I bought the wrong kind of brakes for the rear. And I ordered spark plug wires for a vehicle that does not use wires but uses some exorbitantly pricey tube thingies (the precise term escapes me at the moment as my mother is talking to me while eating Fritos as I try to type).

Anyway, Mike ended up working over eight hours on the Rodeo, with breaks in between while Corey switched the parts for the right parts, bought new brake cylinders to replace the ones that blew when Mike put on the new pads . . . of course, would expect nothing less.

“We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from the another’s vantage point. As if new, it may still take our breath away. Come . . . dry your eyes. For you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly.” ~ Alan Moore, from Watchmen

So, here we are. Last check, Alexis is ready to go—doctor says she should be ready to push soon. So waiting, but productive waiting. I managed to get mom to go home for a couple of hours, and the atmosphere in the room calmed. It’s probably mostly me and how she sets me off without even trying.

Sorry. I try, really I do, but it just never works.

We’re as ready as we’re going to be, all of us. Corey and I took the cradle over yesterday and put it in the apartment. Mike has the car seat in Alexis’s car. I brought a cotton robe that Lex’s grandmother made for me when I was in the hospital with Brett. I thought that she might want to wear it post partum while she’s in the hospital (which will only be about 24 hours after delivery).

The puppy is having a sleep over at Aunt Ann’s with all of her dogs and cats and various other animals. Mike went out and bought a beautiful baby book today, and Alexis and I made some notes about the last 24 hours to add to the book later, better now while everything was still fresh in our minds.

Like I said, as ready as we’ll ever be.

I know that today’s quotes are quite long, but I thought that they were appropriate, and I liked them, and didn’t really want to shorten them.

I’ll report tomorrow on how this evening goes. Keep a good thought.

More later. Peace.

*Sorry. No poem today and only one image. We’re connected to the hospital Internet, and it doesn’t like visits to image sites, might be cruising for porn or something.

Music by Ben Harper, “Happily Ever After In Your Eyes,” the lullaby that he wrote especially for Heath Ledger’s daughter:

                   

Late addition:

Training

I’m thinking of living forever.
I think that way I might finally
get my gig straight and solve the crosswords.
I’m considering outlasting everyone
although I know I’d have a hard time
explaining not having read Ulysses
past the first chapter.
I don’t care if death smells like nutmeg.
I don’t buy the plotline on eternal rest.
By staying alive someday
I might manage to hail a taxi,
and fulfill my father’s wish
of reaching town without a red light.
I couldn’t expect to avoid anger or brooding
or to make the journey with my beasts appeased.
But I might walk vast expanses
of earth and always be beginning
and I love beginning
or could learn
to love it.

~ Sarah J. Sloat

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“Words are the voice of the heart.” ~ Confucius

This is my attempt to recreate the post that was eaten by my computer last night . . .

 

“The most glorious moments in your life are not the so-called days of success, but rather those days when out of dejection and despair you feel rise in you a challenge to life, and the promise of future accomplishments.” ~ Gustave Flaubert

Things I accomplished yesterday:

  1. Finished addressing Christmas cards, ready to go to the post office today
  2. Finally packaged my friend Mari’s birthday present along with her Christmas card in a mailer, also ready to go to post office
  3. Did not eat an entire one-pound bag of peanut M&M’s whilst doing the above
  4. Cleaned off most of my desk in an attempt to find the Christmas stamps for the cards; did not find stamps on desk as I had put them in a very safe place (always risky)
  5. Also managed to find paperwork that I had put in a very safe place, just not the same very safe place as Christmas stamps
  6. Did not put fist through computer monitor when I lost blog post that was almost finished
  7. Realized that I am not supposed to try to accomplish two major tasks in one day as one of them most certainly will become an epic fail

Felt rather pleased with myself right up to the moment when I went to save my post, was redirected to the WordPress sign in page (for some unknown reason), and then returned to blog post only to find that nothing, absolutely nothing that I had written was there save for the quotes.

“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.” ~ Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale

I’ve been having very vivid dreams lately. One that was particularly disturbing dealt with my mother dying. My Aunt Ronnie, who died earlier this year, was walking me through my mother’s house, pointing out things. I remember feeling very comforted that she was there with me. Woke up crying after that one.

But two dreams in particular have stuck with me, and both of these dreams dealt with words and my relationship to words.

The first dream:

This dream was very long and detailed. I was back in college as an undergraduate. I sat down in the common area of the Arts & Letters building, and the person next to me turned and spoke to me. I hadn’t realized that I had sat down next to one of my creative writing professors (it was him, but he looked different in the dream). He asked me if I was going to show up for his class that night. I replied that I had only missed two classes because of my illness, not dropped out, and reminded him that I had submitted the work that was due.

He said that the work was substandard, which really surprised me. Then he told me that the final exam was that very night. I panicked and began to hyperventilate. I told him that I couldn’t possibly take the exam because I wasn’t prepared. I begged him to let me take the final later, but he refused. I went to the department chair’s office and explained the situation. I reminded him that I had doctors’ letters explaining my health issues, and I asked him to give me some leeway since I was a member of the department.

The chair spoke to my professor who asserted that I wasn’t sick; I was on acid. I argued that I wasn’t on acid, that in fact I had never in my life taken acid. My professor again said that I was a drug addict and that he wasn’t going to do anything for me.

I sat down in the common area and put my head in my hands. Two female professors from the department walked by and said loudly enough for me to hear that they thought that my writing professor was only doing this because he hated women (not true in real life). I didn’t know what to do. Suddenly, I was surrounded by people who were enrolled in the class with me; several of them were holding papers—newspapers, pages torn from magazines, cards. One person said that I had to do something extraordinary to prove to my professor that he was wrong about me.

I asked him what I should do. He said that I needed to take the pages that they had all collected for me and create something. I began to look through the pages, and words started to stand out. I began ripping words from the pages and arranging them on the floor. I was creating a poem from the words. Someone gave me scissors, so I began to cut out more words.

My writing professor walked up and observed what I was doing, but he said that he wasn’t impressed, but by that point, I no longer cared about him or his class. I was creating for myself. I couldn’t collect the words quickly enough. The poem soon grew to be about five feet long and just as wide. It was massive, and I wasn’t finished. I needed more words.

I looked up and realized that below where I was working on the floor was a gap and that trains were moving through the gap, but instead of coal in the cars there were small colored rocks, larger than sand, but much smaller than coal—vivid blues, bright yellows, greens. I realized that I needed to get to the other side of the gap to collect more words, so I jumped down onto the first car, which contained blue rocks, My feet began to sink into the rocks, and the blue began to swirl about my legs. I jumped from one car to the next until I was on the other side. When I reached the other side, I suddenly realized what Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” really meant: It was his poem about life, only with paint. I smiled to myself and went in search of more words.

The dream ended there.

“The smell of ink is intoxicating to me—others may have wine, but I have poetry.” ~ Abbe Yeux-verdi

Second dream:

I was working in the newsroom again, but this time, I was a clerk responsible for typing and filing. I was speaking with a reporter with whom I had a good relationship, telling him how glad I was to be back in the newsroom again, even if it meant that I had to do grunt work.

I remember the hum of the actual newsroom in which I worked while I was an undergraduate. An undercurrent of creative energy was always suffused in the air. I felt that in my dream. I looked about me at all of the reporters and editors, and commented that I wished that I could be out there in that pool of people and not stuck in a clerical position.

The person with whom I was speaking asked me why I didn’t apply for a position. I told him that I didn’t think that I was good enough, but I remember thinking to myself in the dream that that was not a true statement, that it wasn’t a matter of being good enough but rather, a matter of being afraid. He told me that I should apply.

Many people who I had actually worked with walked through this dream. Some stopped to chat, others just walked by and nodded. I inquired about the City Editor who had been in charge when I worked there, and my friend told me that he had died. Soon after, I awakened, feeling very calm and reflective.

There is a saying that people who work for newspapers have ink in their blood. I know this to be true. The slow death of printed newspapers saddens me in a way that cuts to my very heart as I wrote my first pieces for publication for the local paper.

“Unclose your mind. You are not a prisoner. You are a bird in flight, searching the skies for dreams.” ~ Haruki Murakami

I have rerun in my mind both of these dreams several times, and what strikes me is that my psyche is sending me a message: I need to return to my writing full time, or rather, on a daily basis, which is full time for me. Obviously, I have words within me that need to be released, to be massaged into something concrete, and I have not been doing that of late. I must recapture the passion with which I first began writing this blog, and I must return to the discipline with which I so carefully honed my writing method: working at it for at least two hours each day.

The brain is but another part of the body that requires regular exercise lest it atrophy. By not working on my craft, I have regressed to my former state of writing only when the creativity hit me, rather than forcing myself to cull to the surface the creativity which resides within me.

In fact, I have been very lackadaisical when it comes to writing daily, and I know this to be true however painful it is to admit. But something inside of me is quietly rebelling at the passive approach to writing that I have been taking. Something—my inner muse, inner self— is sending me signals that there are words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs all waiting to be created, and that if I ignore these signals, then I am doing myself a disservice.

My birthday is next month. I will be yet another year older and no closer to achieving my dream of having a book published. I have no one to blame for this but myself as no one else controls my mind, my thoughts, my muse.

My love affair with words goes back to my childhood, to the time that I composed my first poem when I was five. Believe it or not, that poem had rhyme and meter: a quatrain with six beats per line. From that moment, I knew that I wanted to do something in my life that involved words, just as some people know innately that they want to work with numbers.

As any of my regular readers know, I have a passion for quotes; I have always had this passion. I have collected quotes for as long as I can remember, mostly because they inspire me. I used to use one quote repeatedly in cards that I sent to new graduates: “Only the dreamer can change the dream,” which is actually the title of a book of poems by John Logan. I don’t know when I picked up this quote, but it has always been very special to me.

My dreams about words were a reminder that only I can make possible what I want to achieve, that I am responsible for my path, that I must do all that I can do to make my dream become a reality.

Thanks to Crashingly Beautiful for the Marakami quote. More later. Peace.

I know that you have probably seen this video, but I love it, that and the fact that any videos of TSO in concert are bootleg, and the quality isn’t great. I did find a concert on Good Morning America in 2005, but it’s not the same in a small venue, and the light show really needs to be seen in person to be appreciated; otherwise, it’s just blobs of light in some parts. I give you the Trans-Siberian Orchestra: “Wizards in Winter”