From Apocalypse, one of nine stories in Resistance by Barry Lopez
“And here is nearly the bitterest of blunt issues for us: What can love offer that cannot be rejected? What gesture cannot be maligned as witless by those who strive for every form of isolation? When we were young, each of us believed that to love was to die. Then we believed that to love was essential. Now we believe that without love our homeland – perhaps all countries – will perish. Over the years, as we have learned what it might mean to love, we have generally agreed that we’ve better understood the risks. In our nation, it is acceptable to resent love as an interference with personal liberty, as a ruse the emotions employ before the battlements of reason. It is the abused in our country who most weirdly profess love. For the ordinary person, love is increasingly elusive, imagined as a strategy.”
I’m still here.
I’m writing this [starting this] on my new and dearly beloved google phone at 3:30am while feeding my 2-month old. I just woke from a dream in which I gave an impassioned speech about social justice to an enormous audience and afterwards reconnected with many old friends and heroes. The dream leaves me bittersweet. Right now I’m more hopeful and full of ideas and inspiration than ever, but I’m also completely preoccupied most of each day with my beautiful baby. Thus this reminder to myself and anyone who’s still reading that I’m here. Eventually I will return and fix up this site and get back to writing.
I want to write about:
- how you can’t really be an introvert with a baby – and yet are forced into a particular sort of isolation
- how amazing Sage is – and all babies are
- recent career revelations
- writings that have inspired me
- the unbelievable joy and relief I feel when I think of Election Night and the Obama presidency
Of course, I can’t prioritize blogging or even writing right now. I limit non-baby tasks to a handful each day and I can’t put much above laundry and doctor appointments and maintaining a tenuous hold on my self and my closest friends and family. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Sage is doing great and I love him madly. But life is so radically different that I’m barely keeping up. I think this is the inevitable circumstance of new motherhood. It really hasn’t been long after all!
Just a quick post to let you know that I haven’t completely forgotten about good old ballsyblog.
Categories and some other details are massively screwed since I finally got around to upgrading to the latest version of WordPress. I’ve found various tutorials for fixing these problems, but I haven’t had time to work them out. I’m hoping to set aside a day or so before the baby comes to give this whole blog a design overhaul (new color scheme, a few organizational tweaks) with the intention of adjusting my focus a little (less ambitious, more personal) going forward.
I really do want to post here more, but my energy has been split in many different directions and pretty soon baby will be consuming most of it, so I can’t make any promises right now. Hugs to my gentle readers. I’ll be in touch. xox
Today’s Skull-a-Day image is Thumper’s first ultrasound pic! Check it out.
I’ve been out of blogging mode for a while now. The last few weeks have been consumed by reorganizing our apartment (the house didn’t work out), baby preparations, work, and welcoming Ben’s brother Jason to Seattle. All is well. I’m just pretty boring right now.
I’m so far past overwhelmed right now that I can hardly remember what overwhelmed feels like. But it’s almost all good stuff. I’ve tried a couple times to blog, but clearly without success. So this is a round-up post wherein I’ll try to hit the highlights before disappearing again for a while.
Ben’s birthday party was a tremendous success, and I learned that organizing a kiddie party for grown-ups is super fun – except maybe the cooking part. Many of you have probably already seen pictures here and here. Make sure you don’t miss the incredibly bizarre and funny video here.
Ben and I escaped to Bainbridge Island at the end of April and stayed in this amazing log house at Sacred Groves for two nights. It’s a total bargain and so peaceful and beautiful. The sleeping loft is a magical place to cuddle up at night and awaken in the sunshine. They’re looking for long-term renters to join their community, but in the meantime it’s available for nightly rental.
On the very last day of April, I saw Cirque du Soleil for the first time – the Corteo show. It was amazing. This post is already too long, or I would try to describe it but it would be inadequate anyway. Everybody should see something like that at least once in their lives. Humans can do such amazing things.
Big Blue House
In addition to a crazy work schedule, the month of May is being completely devoured by this house [photo removed]. We’re moving from our little Capitol Hill apartment to an amazing Victorian in the Central District. It ended up happening really fast. We fell in love with the place and had to snap it up before anyone else did. Fortunately a 30-something couple with a baby on the way looks pretty damn appealing to a homeowner who’s had a lot of trouble with crappy renters wrecking the place.
So just like that we’re moving! Lease starts Thursday, and we’re hoping to move the last of our stuff Memorial Day Weekend. If you want to see more pictures, they’re here [no, they're not!]. We’ll be taking interior shots on Thursday when we get the keys.
I just posted the following comment on my friend’s blog, following her post about a nasty health food store clerk:
I feel your pain. Most of the clerks at our market are completely gracious, but a few are unbelievably surly. The deli counter is the worst. Last night I asked for three of something, got two, repeated my order, but absolutely couldn’t get the girl’s attention.
I know I should have insisted on getting what I asked for, but she had already weighed it, sealed it and labeled it so I didn’t repeat my request a third time. I think that kind of passivity is what rude people like her count on.
I never complain about things like that. When someone gets really pissy about a rude person in any service industry, I always make excuses for them. Anyone who has waitressed or worked retail (and I’ve done both) knows how hard and obnoxious it can be. Some respond to that direct experience with the firm expectation that others in those positions sure as hell better adhere to their own basic standards. Others like me, simply demand less and tip more.
I think I’m getting old because I’m suddenly fed up with it. I want to be treated with some respect. Do you hear that mean waiters and prissy sales clerks of the world? You better start treating me with respect! But I promise you that I’m not going to let your bad attitude infect mine. Oh no no no — I’m going to kill you with kindness.
If I could do it over, that surly girl at the deli counter would hear me say loud and clear, “I’m sure you meant to give me what I asked for, but I guess you didn’t hear me correctly. Could I please have THREE risotto cakes? Oh thank you so much!” And as she begrudgingly remade the package, I’d beam her right over her whiney little face with my beatific smile.
On Saturday, I’ll be at the halfway point of my pregnancy. At 20 weeks, “your baby can hear sounds now, and it will cover its ears with its hands if a loud sound is made near you or move if it is startled.” Is that not the most adorable thing? Especially when you’re looking at a picture like this, it’s so cute to imagine little bitty hands clapping themselves over tiny ears. 6 inches long!!
We’ll find out Friday afternoon whether our baby is a girl or a boy, so the baby craziness is kind of taking over this week. I can’t help gushing a bit. I know some of you want to hear, and I haven’t got a new forum for it yet. I bought foltzenhaley.com to be our family blog. Ben’s not convinced we need yet another URL, but my reasoning is:
- Not everyone wants to hear a lot of baby stuff
- We could both blog there
- We could make it password-protected
- Grandparents and others who just want to hear about the baby would have one place to go, without being exposed to all our individual musings, politics, and rants
His response is that having child is “invasive” — which I believe is a creepy way of saying that we won’t really be able to separate baby stuff from everything else in our lives, so why have a separate URL? Still, I feel like I’m going to be reluctant to write in much detail about the birth and parenting and first steps and all that here, except maybe when it comes to some of the more philosophical and socio-cultural aspects. I wouldn’t hesitate to gush about all the potentially boring stuff if I had a dedicated space. Not that I’ll have a lot of spare time for blogging, but I could at least manage the occasional update.
My friend Amani offered me a ticket to the see the Dalai Lama speak this past Saturday, and there was no way I was going to miss that. Even though I couldn’t understand half of what he was saying because of the echo/accent combo, what I did catch went straight to my heart. And I checked out the rest of it later on the webcast. (If you want to see just his address, you can scroll down to April 12 – Compassion in Action, hit the big play button, and then jump ahead to about 54 minutes.)
At one point in his speech when he was talking about how to teach compassion to our children, he said that part of the path is to give them “maximum affection.” And he smiled in the most beautiful way as he said it. It was simple but it hit a nerve. It made me feel better about something that’s often difficult for me. In short, being a big softie. I often feel embarrassed by my effusions of emotion, and I “play it cool” in a lot of situations.
Part of it is being an introvert and needing to maintain some emotional boundaries and personal space, but I think there’s some kind of shame in there too. I’ve got enough perspective to fear being a starry-eyed Polyanna, sincere but laughable or overreaching. I waffle back and forth between cynicism and a desire to keep my heart open. I fear that what’s most true in my heart is airy fairy goofiness that would cause some people to dismiss me. The more tenderhearted and open I feel about something, the more hesitant I often am to share it with others.
Here’s a small example. The other day a friend leaned against the chair I was sitting in, and I felt compelled to braid her beautiful hair. I felt so loving towards her. But we don’t know each other all that well, and after a while I felt uncomfortable. What if it was too much? What if she thought I was weird or judged my motives?
It happens all the time, with strangers, friends and family. I fear that others may not accept everything I have to give — that if I let it all hang out I’ll make it all too clear that I’m weird, intense, obsessively inward looking, easily distracted, and whatever else I think is going to turn people off in some way.
It’s difficult also because we have to respect one another’s boundaries. Maybe you don’t want my maximum affection? Maybe it will frighten you? I hold the weight of my empathy at bay. I fear that my good intentions could be misguided, that I could be like a smothering mother laying on the love so thick that it holds someone down. It seems almost inevitable once the floodgates of unlimited love slide open.
The balancing factor is that I am usually willing to let go. In most cases, except when my intuition screams that someone needs me to push them or when anger or pride get the better of me, I can step back easily. The hard part is stepping forward with the love. It’s hard to trust that others will send me a signal if they don’t like my actions. Unless we have a strong relationship, they probably won’t tell me. That’s the tacit agreement we make for politeness. We usually don’t inform each other directly when we feel invaded or controlled or afraid or otherwise unhappy with someone else’s overtures.
It’s not worth playing a guessing game or worrying about rejection. If there’s one thing I want to take from my encounter with the Dalai Lama, it’s this idea that I’m riffing on of maximum affection — giving my love without fear and reservation. Add that to my old favorite “let it go, let it out,” throw in patience to live one moment after the other trusting that it will be enough, and I think my philosophy for living is ready for action.
I had scrambled eggs for breakfast. They were veg-fed, free-range and organic, but they were still obviously not vegan. I’ve also been eating little bits of cheese here and there for weeks.
It all started a couple months ago. After more than five years of being completely vegan and loving it, I started thinking about cheese. It wasn’t quite a craving, but it slowly grew until one day in the grocery store my hand reached out all on its own and grasped a single serving of string cheese. I ate it very slowly in the car with a bizarre mixture of shame and relief, and ever since then I’ve been trying to figure out what to do.
When I first got pregnant, a few friends and family members expressed concern about my vegan diet. I did research and felt confident that I could stay vegan throughout my pregnancy. I still believe it’s completely possible to have a healthy vegan pregnancy. But it’s not easy. It takes a whole lot of beans and nuts and vegetables to add up to the 75g of protein a day recommended for pregnant women. Getting the right balance of amino acids is also a challenge because it requires such a variety of foods. Soy products are the only whole vegan proteins, and I’m not comfortable relying so heavily on them. I’ve been worried for a while about the possible risks of my high intake of soy (hormonal impact of isoflavones, high percentage GMO, etc.).
I’ve been eating some kind of protein with almost every meal and still I’ve been craving sugar, which is a sign that I may not be getting enough protein (or having a girl, if you listen to the old wives’ tales). I’m trying to listen to my body, and right now my body is saying that cheese and eggs in moderation are worth it.
I’m woefully conflicted about this backslide to vegetarianism. As with getting married, I’m making what feels like the right decision even though it goes against core personal beliefs. Veganism for me is more than just a political statement. It’s something that feels right deep in my heart and soul. Fundamentally, it’s about non-violence. It’s healthier, it’s better for the earth, and it means that no creature has to suffer for me to eat.
I can make justifications that the particular cheese and eggs I’m eating are (to the best of my knowledge) not products of factory farming. I can tell myself that at this point in my life — and especially in my baby’s life — it might very well be healthier not to be 100% vegan. But it’s still a major compromise. All I can do is take it one day at a time. Don’t expect to see me eating fettucini alfredo anytime soon.
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My fabulous friend Amani has been having a bit of a tough time lately. We were having tea and chatting when she mentioned wishing she had a little cheerleader to keep in her pocket, something to remind her that she has people backing her up. I was inspired. The crafty part of my brain clicked on — that insane and constantly overcommitted part that loves starting new projects, especially quick ones that I’ve never tried before, no matter how many unfinished projects are hiding around the apartment.
Now I suspect that I’m not alone in harboring some lingering bitterness towards cheerleaders based on a combination of fact, stereotype, and painful junior high experience. Cheerleaders have an unfortunate and often deserved reputation for being conformist, elitist, superficial, and mean to nerdy kids. Fortunately, a friend of mine in Virginia moved to Chicago a some years back, joined a radical cheerleading group, and completely changed my views. Like rollerderby, cheerleading can be reclaimed and reinvented. It really just comes down to enthusiasm, and what’s wrong with that?
We could use a little more enthusiasm in our irony-drenched culture, and we all cheer for our friends. So what could be a nicer gift for a friend in need of encouragement than a pocket-sized cheerleader? Here’s the one I made. Wanna make one too? Then leave a comment. If there’s interest, I have my pattern for the body and outfit. I could easily be persuaded to put together a little tutorial. I just don’t have time to do it if it’s not going to be used.
Of course it’s not that complicated. You don’t really need a tutorial. So if you go off on your own and make one, please let me know. Or better yet, put a picture up on flickr and tag it “pocketcheerleader.” Let’s start a crafty craze. It could be like the totally awesome sympathy dolls, only less emo.