December 30, 2010

home shweet home

boxes unpacked, internet set up, first piece of mail received, cell number changed, addresses mostly updated (if you don't have my new contact info and want it, message me), cat acclimatizing, record player set up.

we did an insanely large grocery run. i have never filled a cart so full. we'll be eating for months, we have tp til the kid graduates... i have tended to live thus far in tiny houses, with many hippies and no storage space or money, so this whole pantry-to-ourselves, buy-in-bulk-to-save-money concept is new to me. we'll see how it goes.

both the queen and i have come down with colds, which sucks ass. i am nursing a cup of horrid, make-you-feel-better tea, and wearing a tuque and scarf on top of my bathrobe. i can hear the queen coughing and clearing his throat. my nose is red. ah yes.

i had so much to say ... of course it's all stuffed into a tiny, unused corner of my brain, competing with mucous. i survived christmas, and moving, mostly because i didn't do much except thank other people for either of those occasions.

moving into the new place has been wonderful; the queen and i each have our own spaces as well as shared space, and we really like it. it's lovely to share a house with my love, after four weeks of sharing a room followed by twelve weeks of sharing a bus followed by ten days of being homeless together. nothing like insane lifestyle choices to give one perspective on how wonderful life can be. also, sharing can get very interesting when you don't have as much.

i wish i was sleepy as well as tired so i could go to our comfy bed and fall asleep. maybe i will try anyway, and wax on poetic some other day. self-care at its most glamorous.

oh yeah, first: read zora neale hurston, and listen to alberta hunter. i plan to do more of both. also, if you have one, pet your cat.

December 22, 2010

counting sleeps is a joke when you can't sleep

hurgle burgle. survival of the merriest. lord please protect me from your holiday season.

hey, wanna add stress to the celebrations? get pregnant and homeless. well, as the queen points out, we have a home. we just don't get into it until the 27th. and there is a plethora (are a plethora?) of lovely people offering us places to stay. but we both agree it was actually easier to drive hank around than to haul our stuff in and out of people's lovely homes. hank, however, is not equipped for minus twenty celsius. and hey, the people are lovely. they really are. stop weeping at night, sista.

one thing that's been nice: for some reason, the rules of waiting til christmas are completely out the window. i'm sure the queen blames me, but i say he started it, since he bought my presents along the way; the gorgeous coat in newfoundland, sweet (and comfy!) cowboy boots in louisiana... since we've been back i've engaged him in opening his presents from me: a motivational zombie t-shirt and the complete recordings of robert johnson on vinyl. then he surprised me the other day with a one-piece long john (the pants-only long johns have tight elastic bands that bother my internal houseguest) and now i am merry and warm.

my folks gave us a slow-cooker (which is awesome, since one of the gnome home guests torched the queen's. he was sad. now he can make more irish stew that smells really bad but tastes good. i don't know how that works and i don't want to. i will just eat it and try not to smell it) and mom knit me a shrug that fits over the belly with that acrylic wool that's really soft. this is a benefit especially now, since my skin has become ridiculously sensitive and last night i was up for three hours before i realised it was the bed sheet that was making me itchy. it's a perfectly reasonable bed sheet, and i have never had this problem before. i am one of those people who likes itchy wool. but anyway. once i solved that problem, i could sleep and it was a very big relief because i was going crazy.

the wife's mom, sweetie that she is, gave us some coffee and chocolate. oh sweet heaven. that is exactly perfect. we visited with the queen's brother and got sweets (and a great supper. they always feed us too much). they have one of those quintessential homes and families that seems like the kind of families they make christmas movies about. they make it look easy but i know it's not, so i watch them for tips on having a peaceful family life. we never 'catch them at a bad time' even when we drop by unannounced. their three children play together and never need more than an occasional remonstration. they have an old, evil cat that skulks around, which is the one thing that isn't holiday special (that would be a long-haired persian or a fluffy orange tabby or something). but they are also really friendly and non-judgmental, and i just like them, you know? clearly, somewhere inside of me, this presents a paradox. somewhere inside of me i think they're too nice to like, if that makes sense. i guess this is a good time to let go of the judgments i formed when i was counter-culture for reasons of insecurity and poverty, as opposed to choice. the counter-culture that i am now is not based on external cues, but rather, behavioural cues. there are a lot of people who look like "them" but act like us. it's still black and white, it's just not easy to see. there are actually really nice people out there who aren't poor and dressed in black. yes, it's true. and i knew this, but... anyway.

i think this is one of those rambling posts; i am piecing together my sanity by recounting my days. i am going off on a tangent to bring back my peace of mind. i am barfing it all up. i would apologize, but hey - you didn't buy the book, right? right. sorry i am not mimi smartypants. i am sista seatofthepants and my fly is undone. actually, i haven't worn pants with a fly in months.

so yeah. in between visiting people for christmas and visiting people because i am moving out of the city, we are changing addresses with institutions and hooking up utilities. and i still need to pee every hour and eat every two. the midwife visit was alright - my iron is a little low, and you have to meet a certain minimum of iron to have a home birth, because you lose so much in birthing that they need you to have bigger stores to prevent becoming symptomatic; fainting, not being able to get up, etc. so i have been chugging nettle tea, eating kale and steak, and being threatened cheerfully with liver by the queen. we start seeing the midwife every two weeks now instead of every month, and we got our "home-birthing" list of weird and creepy stuff to get. a rubber syringe to suction the baby if necessary. uh, okay.

i am tired. and usually at this time of year, a cup of eggnog and rum make me feel better. cue sullen pouting. ah well. all things considered, it's going alright. my baby is healthy, i am keeping up the immune system, and we have a home to move into. blessings, right? stressful little blessings. may your stress be blessful. amen.

December 17, 2010

staring at my cat

we're home!

by home, i mean alberta. we spent two days with the queen's parents on their farm. i had a great bath there, and the queen's mom fussed over my not eating enough. we hunted for a place to rent in rural alberta, and found one. a small town, a cute house, decent rent, and enough rooms for us not to kill each other in. also, the era of cute built-in shelving. i love it. the only thing it doesn't have is a gas stove. ah well. it is only a rental. i have an address now! we move in on the 27th.

now i'm sitting on the floor of the living room at the gnome home. wifey is putting batdog to bed, the queen is out having a pint with a friend of his down from the northwest territories, and i am eating ice cream and gluten-free shortbread and watching my cat sleep on the chair nearby and blogging. life is good. hank is out to pasture on the farm.

the next ten days are a medley of visits; my folks are heading to germany for the holidays (this makes them sound richer and more exciting than they are; my stepbrother is spending his first year university there, so they decided to go spend time with him) so i am seeing them in the next two days; visiting with the (step)sis; the queen's family for christmas and new years; the midwives; the bookstore crowd; and all the folks here who want to see my belly. then, uhauling it up (or down, as the vernacular states) with all of our stuff. some of my stuff has been packed for over a year now. i'm curious if it still means anything to me.

and then i will be a small-town girl. must renew walrus subscription and get library card and then go to the grocery store and panic.

one thing i forgot about winter in alberta - it's all grey, white, blue. the cool colours of lifelessness. the snow queen. and i in my new, still-fitting-for-now winter coat (gift from the queen in newfoundland; i have always wanted one and it's SO warm). i feel lucky.

December 13, 2010

but it looks like a bear

i just posted, but am feeling like there is more to say. i got out all the external stuff, but truthfully, there is a roiling batch of emotions going through me, and i am having trouble finding equanimity.

you know when you bust yourself fighting with someone in your head? i've been internally fighting with an internal queen recently. in the outside world, the queen and i are doing pretty well - i'm not going to say we haven't spatted on a few occasions recently, but we've been sharing a vehicle for 10,000 miles and 10 weeks - the fact that we still respect and like each other is a testament. but internally, lately, i've been creating him as a cruel character. and it makes it harder to see his behaviour clearly.

i know part of why i am doing this can be explained in those reasons you all would kindly suggest to me - this is a stressful period; we haven't had much time apart; he's the only person in my life right now i could possibly turn into a demon because he's the only person in my life right now (i'm sure when we get back to alberta, i'll be fighting in my head with my mom again. good times).

i know part of me is envious that he's not pregnant. i wish i could get a night off, and there is eight more weeks of this: this not getting a solid night's sleep, not being able to sleep when tired, being tired more than usual, not being able to put socks on while standing up, having to be extra careful because my sense of balance is totally off, being constantly hungry and too easily full, etc, etc, etc. even i'm getting tired of listing off all the complaints, and i'm one for wallowing. i have lost sight of how often the queen is kind to me. and no, it's not his job to help me. i don't view it that way. when he is kind, it is a gift, because regardless of what we have done together, he is a free man. that is how life works. he may assume the mantle of responsibility, because that is the kind of man he chooses to be. but there is choice there. he has choice. i have pregnancy.

this breaking down of my current situation leaves me, while understanding myself, in the same boat - emotionally unhinged and miserable, trapped in my own nightmare. i feel like i'm losing the tools in my emotional tool box, but maybe i'm just reaching the end of my tether more easily. because i know what can be done about this. occasionally, i remember.

i can bust myself gently and cheerfully, realise that i'm making the trauma up, it's not happening, it's just me playing my fears out inside my head. i can acknowledge my fears - i fear that the queen will be mean to me, will not keep his word, will behave poorly, will not feel bad about any of it; i fear our relationship will end in a fiery blaze of acrimony and pain. i fear i will be hurt by this man, and end up alone. this is my fear.

another tool i could use would be to bring my attention back to where i am currently - in real space, not in my head. focus on my body, focus on my breathing, focus on my immediate surroundings; remind myself to the now. this is an infinitely more empowering state than being lost in a fairytale nightmare.

it is tempting to invest all kinds of power to my fears; to say they are going to come true and i can see what's coming and i should rehearse until i know what i will do when this terrible catastrophe occurs - but that is not true. they are just fears. they say more about me than they do about either the queen or the future. and i need to own up to that.

my fears. mine. not the world, not the truth, just my fears.

turn on the light, sistasage. see how it's just a coat and maybe don't read about bears before bedtime. or, as grownups might translate - there will be struggle, there will be strife, but none so bad as what i put myself through. i won't see whatever it is coming anyway. life is far more creative than our boring, predictable fears.

i used to take strength in that saying "this too shall pass". what i find interesting is that the things that don't pass are the things that don't happen, and that's why they're worse. it's hard to get over one's fears because we can't pin them down in time and space. we carry them with us.

white sands, green chilis, red rocks, white mountains

where to start...

in new mexico, we visited the white sands monument, where the dunes are composed entirely of gypsum crystals. pretty. i realised our trip is themed with bridges and sand. of course, what stands out in my mind about the visit was not only the white dunes, but the green chili popcorn we got in the gift shop. the queen said it tasted like dirt, i loved it, coughing dryly as i inhaled the chili.

crossing over into arizona, we visited sedona, which i have wanted to do since i was nineteen. once we got there, i realised i wasn't able to hike around like i wanted to (what is with this freaking belly?) and i was sad. but it was really, really gorgeous. pictures don't do it justice. we both want to return and go hiking someday when my gut-hog has left the building.

arizona has an amazing array of landscapes. i thought it would be one huge rv park, given the number of people that seem to retire there, but instead i found the wealth of deserts, from disney-style cacti to the red rocks of sedona to hills and then the grand fucking canyon. "epic" is not an understatement, folks. jesus. wonder of the world indeed. again, we plan to return. i have a yen for mule rides into the canyon.

the grand canyon was also good for a break from truck stops and parking lots - sleeping in a campground was blessedly quiet and dark. not to mention all the washing we did. i can shower in under eight minutes - i know that now. coin-operated showers have taught me.

we crossed the hoover dam and dipped briefly into vegas (the queen wanted to check out a gun show. yeah, i stayed in hank) before heading back through arizona and up into utah. the brief period the i-15 was in arizona showcased another incredibly beautiful landscape, pictured here. utah, while pleasant to the eye, is mild compared to arizona.

today we are up in a ski resort town near salt lake city, visiting a friend of the queen's. tomorrow we begin the drive home. we're catching a pre-welcome via the foot or so of snow here, but it's still quite pleasant (i am wearing a fedora, not a tuque, and a fall coat, not a winter one). sigh. i am looking forward to familiar surroundings, visiting the gnomes and being reunited with my sweet olive while the queen goes off and does whatever he likes to do without me - drink, take risks, etc. i am looking forward to not having to hold my belly while on bumpy concrete highways. i am looking forward to not having to bungee shut dresser drawers. but i am not looking forward to freezing my nostril hairs while inhaling a deep breath of winter prairie air.

in the last few days, i have devoured cormac mccarthy's "blood meridian". previously, i had only read "the road", which kept me up all night with its bleakness. "meridian" is far more violent. it's like a video of a car accident captured in beautiful cinematography; so garish, but you have to look and then you can't turn away because the exquisite frame job makes it beautiful somehow. i was struck again by mccarthy's eloquent use of language, his wondrous punctuation style... not for the faint of heart (i could not have read this earlier in the pregnancy; there is a tree of dead babies. seriously, it is violent), but wow. for the strong of heart, definitely. face the devil.

tired of travelling, yes. ready to settle, yes. i have one last series of moguls to face - christmas and finding a home and moving into it. ha ha. yeah, no problem.

December 7, 2010

lounging around in el paso

hello, mexican border!

we were going to leave austin this morning, but decided to leave last night, on a whim. the highway is really desolate in most of texas. the most isolated we've seen since newfoundland. it definitely connotes western films. we parked behind a gas station last night, and woke up early this morning (four-thirty, five), possibly for indoor sports. when we realised that neither one of us were going back to sleep (it is as easy to get up in the morning as it was difficult on our way east. we passed back into mountain time zone today), we figured might as well hit the road, have a nap later. of course, i ended up catching fitful sleep on our journey and the queen is napping now, in el paso, while i can't relax into slumber at all. sigh.

i'm feeling very weird in the belly. babe hangs low, stretches the lower belly. i feel ponderous, and am not today enjoying the sensations. soon to be thirty-one weeks pregnant. nine more weeks of feeling like this would suck, but i've noticed the sensations always change. so hopefully i can regain some equilibrium. speak of the little gymnast, here's some sensations now...

a few random notes on america:

- the queen noticed that in order to access the mississippi river when we were in the ninth ward, we had to go uphill. pixie told us they drained the marsh land into lake pontchartrain to make more city land. parts of new orleans are below sea level.

- we drove over/through the chesapeake bay bridge-tunnel while in virginia. it is so named because it is at times a bridge, at times a tunnel (also artificial islands and a major gift shop that we got the most amazing sustainable smoked ham i have ever had. i miss this ham). i just want you to know we did this; it was a very weird experience. tunneling under water in a school bus... also, who puts a gift shop on a bridge? america, that's who.

- speaking of america, things that are bigger in texas include: billboards, overpasses, miniskirts, fountain pops at fast food joints, portion sizes and flags. also, houston is like a calgary built in saskatchewan. and i am really enjoying my new pair of cowboy boots.

tomorrow; a gypsum desert in new mexico.

December 6, 2010

texas: home of the american portion

whew. made it out of new orleans alive. man that city is crazy. the last 24 hours we were there really brought that home to me. on the last night, the queen went to a show, leaving me in the care of pixie. but pixie wasn't home, and while i had a key to their place, i was so exhausted, i just went to sleep on the bus, and didn't wake up til late at night. i stayed up to wait for the queen, who came stumbling home at five in the morning, after walking through the ninth ward. the next day, pixie was shocked he had done so. "walking in the ninth ward at night? after drinking? i'm amazed he didn't get mugged." (i may have paraphrased slightly) she then told me several terrifying stories of muggings; she has been shot at and seen her friend pistol-whipped in front of her. both times she was on a bicycle, on her way somewhere.

i am glad she told me these stories after he came home. the next day he woke up quite hungover with a few good stories. we double-checked he still had all his things; dude didn't even lose his zippo. the only casualty seems to be a horrible crick in his neck that has spread through to his shoulder and grown in density to resemble a rock. pixie mentioned that clearly, someone was looking out for him. he and i talked about how he used to be much more crazy in his twenties, and told me some stories i won't repeat here because they aren't mine. but yeah; that's my man!

truthfully, the incident really opened my eyes to something: i am vulnerable. i have been trying to avoid this, bargain with it or deny it since i got pregnant. my dislike of vulnerability has been the driving force behind not doing a lot of things: not staying in long-term relationships, not going through a long-term university education, not travelling overseas; i don't like investing a lot into something where i might not get much return. i prefer to travel light, so to speak. well those days are over, aren't they? while staying up waiting for the queen in the wee hours of the morning, i came to terms with my vulnerability. it's funny how we can't force acceptance, no matter how many times we try to fake it. when it comes, it comes (and usually doesn't stay, sigh).

after my last blog entry, we had some serious discussion. a few really great things came out of it. one is that i still feared the queen would break up with me and leave me screwed (see: vulnerability). things he has said and done since then have reassured me i can begin to let go of that fear (and replace it with other, more interesting fears! like children!). another interesting thing that came of the talking we did was him calling me on my walls. i was, of course, very defensive about this, and he backed off, which allowed me the breathing space to realise he had a point. i have some great walls. even my close friends know i keep a distance. i am a loner. i need time to myself. but when is this healthy and when is it hiding?

the empathy thing: sometimes it feels like my 'safe distance' is other people's intimacy. i don't think most people really notice that i keep myself so closed, it's like i can fake it way too easily. but i know my close friends probably notice. i hope they do. it's been difficult to figure out how close is too close, because i don't like seeing more about people than they do themselves. with the people i care for the most, this feels like part of how i respect them: give them their privacy, stay a little bit away. let them figure themselves out. be a friend, not a know-it-all who can dissect their emotions for them. but after talking a bit with the queen, i realise that maybe i do this too well. that i block the people i care for. that i justify my hiding with rationalizations of respect and privacy, when really it's a desire not to be vulnerable. block their emotions so i don't have to feel so much. because feeling when i feel all the time can be rough.

for my own emotional sharing, like most people, i think i come clean about stuff when i feel pressured - either by people (this isn't usually a good thing in a friendship. there are very few people i am okay being pressured by.) or by circumstance. when i was dating k, i came to the wife in tears after he got messed up on substances and was violent toward me. the wife, bless her, was amazing (this is what i am talking around in this early entry). but i don't pour my emotions out to her regularly, even though we lived together for over a year and have known each other for six, maybe seven. oh sure, i talk about my emotions. as the queen said, talking hides my passion. another person i once knew well commented that i only release things as a full package: i tell you what i was going through, not what i am going through.

those walls protected me for a long time. but maybe they're hindering me now, maybe they're blocking the sun.

anyway, we're in texas now. austin is actually really, really great. so much live music! we saw an improvisational jazz band last night, and the queen bought a banjo today. also, we glutted ourselves at a half-price book and vinyl store. i found a soundtrack to a neil young film. yeah, that's what i said... oh, and there is an entire gluten-free café! unless you are denied it, you have no idea how good it is to be able to order anything on the menu. the nutritional vixen mentioned this in relation to vegetarianism when we were visiting her, and i share this happiness with her by proxy; oh goddess it was so wonderful. the focaccia!

oh another hilarious postscript to making it out of new orleans alive: after the queen slept some of it off, we packed up and dropped pixie's key off. we almost simultaneously realised two things: i didn't have my laptop, and the bus wouldn't start. it was a heart-dropping moment. but the queen recharged hank's batteries and she's been chugging ever since (go hank!) and he also remembered we went to a bookstore after the coffee shop two days previously, and indeed, beth's books had held onto my ancient little powerbook g4. so please, send them some money or karma or whatever. they are not only a good bookstore, but they are kind and sweet and honest souls. they are website-less, but located next to this decent coffee shop. yeah, i know most of my readers totally live in new orleans. yep. that link will definitely result in more business for beth's.

off on interstate ten through new mexico to arizona! ta for now.

December 1, 2010


i really like this xkcd comic, mostly for the message in the scrollover. i have an amazingly good ability to make myself feel like shit for feeling like shit. i've been practicing said ability for years, so it makes sense that i'd be good at it by now. being smart and able to form decent arguments are skills that can be put to use when flogging oneself. none of this explains why i would do it, but then, science doesn't tell us whether we should make the atom bomb, does it? that would be the messy realm of ethics.

various statements can be made for self-torture: "it feels so good when i stop." i think that's the brief relief from the derisive scowlings of the inner hater (outer pain takes away from inner pain). willing participants in flagellation exist in various religious practices: sometimes for the altered state the suffering brings, sometimes it's seen as pleasing to god to welcome and appreciate the suffering.

(there's also the erotic aspect of pain, which i am not going to talk about here.)

in the environment of privilege and psychology, self-punishment is regarded more as egotistical dwelling on one's personal state. we are encouraged to think positively, and to take personal responsability for our emotional state (notice that's still quite ego-driven). all kinds of messiness can happen through following this advice too strictly; people end up feeling responsable for lousy things that have happened to them. (we cause our own rapes and our own natural disasters, have you noticed?) or people repress pain and trauma to "focus on the positive", but denying your arm is broken won't help it heal faster, it will just make you look delusional.

so it seems to me that we are at a loss for how to deal with suffering. we don't have a healthy relationship with it. dwell or deny; what is healing? how can we be whole through pain and trauma? through practicing patience and compassion toward ourselves. how can we acknowledge our own participation in our suffering (we do have will, after all) without trying to take all the blame? (this one's trickier.)

i was reading through old journal entries; i have almost completed the journal i began when i was falling in love with the queen. he was in thailand, i was dog-sitting. there is a portion of entries from early in the pregnancy; i hadn't told anyone outside of the gnome home, was having morning sickness, struggling with the queen to get on the same page and figure out what we were going to do. reading these old entries was illuminating; our love has evolved, through struggle and patience on both our parts. we have become a stronger unit. sometimes it is easier to focus on the things we still struggle with, and to look toward the future like it looms in front of us, ready to break our wills and destroy our relationship. (i have seen so many breakups occur in the first two years of a child's life. yes, i feel terrified.) so any reminder that we have come a long way is a good reminder.

i'm not going to pretend that everything is perfect for the queen and i. i am not going to buy into a false family image and try and paint it over us (though i admit i have been buying christmas ornaments with the dream of "our tree"; the only part of christmas i like is the tree part). moving toward the positive without shedding all the weight (that weight sucks now, but sometimes the things in that bag will help you later) is a delicate balance. i struggle with anything delicate. the fear of breaking it sometimes inspires me break it just to get it over with. another version of "it feels so good when i stop" translated as "it feels so good when the voices in my head that tell me i am going to fail finally stop".

i know there are aspects of our relationship that suck for one or the other or both of us; i know we have no easy solutions to these, and sometimes don't even agree on what the source or identity of the struggle is. sometimes it's a different struggle for each of us. i don't know what will happen to us; will aspects of our relationship turn septic? will healing together make us stronger? asking myself these questions feels draining, so i try and just do what i can now. and not try so hard to make it better that i miss enjoying it now, for what it is.

at the end of all this ruminating (dwelling?) i have no more answers; the way is not illuminated. but i do know a bit more about why i feel this way, which helps me when conversing with those voices. "i am doing the best i can, voices. what are you doing to help?"