Thursday, April 29, 2010
You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese,
harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
"Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver
from Dream Work
published by Atlantic Monthly Press
© Mary Oliver
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I was alone with whatever was happening inside of me, just like we are at the beginning of life, as if I were swallowing the tail of my child and lying connected in a great circle, we come and we go, alone. I could not think of one person to reach out to who would understand why a grown woman, married with a family of her own, would need to be calling at 11pm on a work night to explain that the world was overtaking me, that I could not keep up with what is expected of me, what I expect of myself, that I feel like a failure. My job, although loving and needed, is not providing for my family, I never finished my AA, my marriage is hard, hard, my close friends are not close enough, physically or emotionally or both, I am bankrupt, I am at a loss, I am on stage with my mouth open and the audience is silent and I am silent and I am alone. I don't know how to give myself what I need to be strong enough to do the things that need to be done. Everyone I know is overwhelmed. Losing their jobs, strained and frayed, with infants or problems, just like me. No one can fix me. What needs fixing? Where is the tock that meant to tick, what is the hole in the sky filling with? Why am I so lost?
The ultrasound wand wiggled inside me today and Mr. Curry and I watched as the baby wiggled, heartbeat at 185. The baby is very active, said the doctor, and you aren't bleeding anymore. For now, the baby is all right. Tonight I don't feel all right. Mr. Curry is too sick to do anything and my son is too upset about school to be kind about helping and my Mom might lose her job- again- because of this economy and could barely contain the frustration in her voice tonight when I asked if she might go by the store. She said yes, but you know that sinking feeling? When you've asked for help, which is embarrassing and awkward to a degree, and the person loves you but you know they really just would rather...not? Later she came back with a smile and the groceries. She loves me, of course, and no one is kind all the time, or friendly every time. It's not that. It's the all-ness. It feels like it's all hard. Too hard.
I have let one small stone become a landslide. Mr. Curry was sick and didn't respond the way I wanted or needed him to, and it has uncovered every pothole, every place to fall into and break a leg, every sore spot I was covering temporarily. I am angry and I am tired and I am angry that I am tired, because I am the adult, the Mom, and there is no room for running away here, no room for hiding, no room for welching on my promises to myself, to my children. I cannot need what I do need from Mr. Curry right now because he cannot give it. I cannot need what I need? I have to figure out how to give myself what I need. How do I do that. Where do I begin. I have worked so hard at the daily living of life the last 2 years that what I used to excel at- emotional workings, the inner life, stratigizing for survival for thriving- has become strange and confusing.
What I know from a long line of women in my family is that unmet needs that fold inward, still, unfold, wave, fold, repeat...become resentment, become physical ailments, become insanity, become a rigidity like Parkinson's, where the woman is frozen and yet still in a constant, shrill tremble.
I have changed so many things that came before me and settled on me like a predestined wave, and this too, must go. I am saying it out loud. Until I can hear the answers.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
2. When I vomit, sometimes I pee, too. So sometimes, I'm crouched on the floor with one hand on the toilet, and one hand trying to cram toilet paper in my undies before I pee on myself. Awesome.
3. I sneeze frequently lately, and always twice, and always at about 10,000 decibels, so that when I sneeze at work, babies cry.
4. I am worried daily that my family is stepping on and killing the snails that keep crawling on our front walkway. I remind them daily not to step on and kill said snails, which they don't, but I still worry. Then today I looked at my large lovely green leaved plant, which I love, and said horrified, What is eating my plant? And Mr. Curry just looked at me and sighed and said Snails.
5. Lola stayed home from school with head lice today. I read up on how to treat it, and bought the right materials- tea tree oil and a lice comb. I spent two hours combing out her hair, and when I was done, I treated her head to the tea tree oil, rubbing it in. Only I had missed the part where it said concentrated tea tree oil, which meant that Lola's head turned the color of boiled lobster and she began shrieking It burns! Owww!! and Mr. Curry and I ran around like fools washing her hair- didn't work- putting an ice pack on her head- didn't work- mixing up baking soda and water- slightly worked- and finally leaving her head under running water for a length of time. Mother of the year. No lice or eggs could have survived that. It was like the Lice Holocaust.
* In reading this list said reader agrees not to use any of the revealed facts against the author in the future.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
These days are salt at the table. I am blessed and stressed both beyond expectation. My financial situation is literally hard for my mind to accept, meaning that when I try to hold the thought in my mind of how much money we owe and don't have and how much money we need and don't have, my mind moves in long circular, slippery loops so that I cannot view the image, process the picture. When I had the total 3 surgeries for Endometriosis ( Stage 4, 6cm. endometrioma on left ovary ) I had Blue Cross Insurance. Before my diagnosis, I had only pain, only an array of confusing symptoms that took me from doctor to doctor, test to test. As it began to dawn on me that something was actually wrong, it dawned on Blue Cross that they actually had to pay for whatever was wrong, and the 'rejection of payment' notices began filling the mailbox. An MRI rejection- thousands of dollars. I filed the paperwork, contacted my doctor, got his signature, etc, and that one- that one- was finally OK'd.
As I got sicker, more overwhelmed and run down by pain and worry, the tests increased and finally something was found- a large cyst mass on my left ovary- could be cancer, could not, the doctor didn't know: before surgery, another MRI, to decide. My anxiety disorder flew into the birds and eyes and beaks and I was destroyed in the bloody feathered mess. I also had hyothyroidism and a serious case of IBS ( which I 'cured' on my own with food and supplement ) From then on the surgeries and treatments were a blur, and the Blue Cross rejection of payment notices and the cost of consumer payments all added up to somewhere around 70,000$. Yes.
I had insurance and went into major medical debt. Between my husband's income and my own, we are not even lower middle class here in San Diego. We can't move, due to my stepson living here. We wouldn't move away from him, not an option. We are poor. I can't afford the $1,000 to file for medical bankrupcy.
I am moving forward. Mr. Curry can make more money, just not in this economy right now, but he will at some point. I am working furiously ( or was, before morning sickness, and when it abides, will be again ) on my novel and I think I've finally figured out a way to finish my math classes and have the AA and move toward the BA- I'm interested in speech pathology. But nothing we do is going to pay off that debt. I don't regret a single dollar, because in the end I found a specialist in San Jose who did 2 surgeries with me, and have not had any pain from the Endometriosis since then, until now with the scar tissue stretching in pregnancy. I also have not had the immense health threat of those unresolved endometriomal lesions in my abdomen constantly leaking hormones and dead blood, which has affects on women's health we still don't totally understand.
Part Two: Mr. Curry's Story
Mr. Curry grew up in a blue collar working class family where many of the men worked or used to work in the moving business, as movers, contractors, business owners, so it was a natural progression for him after we got married to pursue owning his own contracting business. He worked very hard just to get licensed, buying a semi, hiring workers, and passing a difficult test.Like any small business owner, he worked doubly hard once the business began, long, physically grueling hours coupled with the demands and responsibilities of a business owner: taxes, workers, customers, and the enormous and never ending paperwork that keeps you working after work. He was praised consistently by customers for his work ethic and professional demeanor. He always went out of his way to help a customer or cut them a deal- as well as with the guys who worked for him, to our detriment, at times.
About a year into his business ( Curry Trucking ) the tax laws were changed in a way that dramatically and fatally changed small moving business: the workers compensation taxes went up. They went way up. They went up so high that no one in the United States except for circus performers payed more Workers Comp. taxes than movers. They went up so high that suddenly, we had to choose between paying our bills or paying our taxes. We paid our heat and our light and our rent and none of those were extravagant at all- we lived fairly low to the ground and our cars payment was humble. We had one credit card.
Our mistake began here. We should have closed the business down immediately. We should have hired someone who would have told us Close your business down immediately. We should have done something else, besides what we did, which was hang in there not paying taxes- not hiding from the IRS but not paying them- and by the time 2 years later Mr. Curry hung his head and sold the semi and the business, we owed about 70,000$ to the IRS. Yes.
That catastrophic year for our family did us in. We went from being entirely debt free- outside our cars- to in more debt than I ever imagined I would owe in my LIFE. I had my surgeries, Mr. Curry had hernia surgery, I was in a car crash (my fault, stress and not paying enough attention driving) which totaled our mini-van, we lost our business, Mr. Curry's truck was repossessed for non-payment, and suddenly we had no cars, Mr. Curry was out of work, and we had no idea how we would ever survive.
Now every year the IRS takes our entire tax return. We have an agreement with them that we are 'on hold' to pay them back, which essentially means that we are too poor to pay them back, and have no assets they can claim, and so they sit and wait, and we sit, and wonder.
This is an avalanche of financial struggle I never thought would happen to me, despite getting pregnant at 19 and unmarried, I thought I would beat the odds- I was determined, going to school at night and working during the day. I can hardly believe or accept that this is real. Writing this out might help. I have a complete lack of ideas or creativity when it comes to dealing with this. Perhaps passive waiting is the best we can do, while we try to increase our income.
There is no way to end this on a happy note. It's a somber note of the financial reality for my family, which I am sure reflects more American lives than just my own. Although the stories are different, the hard work, confusion, anger and helplessness are not.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
If you are interested in placing an ad, please contact my email for rates and information
illustration by Daren Newman
Sunday, April 18, 2010
What can guide a teenager down a jagged tribune can be the smallest of things- a butterfly flaps it's wings in Paris, and my son is dust faced and meth addicted. The parenting I have done from the childrens births to their lives now is the all mighty foundation, the neat and firm riverbed they are supposed to come back to in their 20's, when they are done moving away, and begin moving inward, towards who they are, who they want to be. To consider the foundation enough to avoid serious pain, years of relentless failings and misery is to forget entirely what it was to be a teenager. If you have lined up for your child a mentally and emotionally and financially stable household that functions well and provides dual parental involvement and support in an economic environment that supports education and offers activities and your child has no mental illness or serious health problems? then your child is as set as one could possibly be for growth that may falter, may move gracelessly but still surely toward a basically happy adulthood- one filled of course with heartbreak and disappointment, because we are alive, but still fundamentally all right.
However...if you are like me, and provided your child the best you possibly could, which did not include a stable and present father, or economic security, or the best resources that one could hope for with mental and learning issues, then your child's heart may be strong like bull and full of love, and their minds may be stable- for now- but they are more precarious, more vulnerable...to say, those gentle wing twitches in Paris.
One book on the teenage years allows that they are the years when you are as close to having the brain of a mentally ill person as you can be without actually being mentally ill. It is a period of great instability and growth within the brain, the emotional and analytical. Thought processes are jumbled and ridiculous, at times paranoid or depressive, swinging back and forth between happiness and confidence and acute restless bordering for horrible hours on despair. The joy of making out with music blaring and the sun on your body is met later that night with the certain horror that your breath stank and you will be ridiculed and alone for the rest of the year, and nothing that good will probably ever happen to you again.
So these delicate bulls, our teenagers who we love so deeply and passionately and who frustrate and scare us beyond belief, must have foundations. They must, or they will be wild and restless beyond control, and cause themselves and others great pain. You have no idea when you are young what it means to make choices whose consequences never go away.
And when my son heads to his friends house to hang out, meet up with girls, box with gloves in the backyard, I want to know that the parents in the house aren't turning up the music and turning their heads when one of the kids lights up a joint and says Hey, want some. It's cool, my parents don't care.
Fuck. That's what your teenager will think, because the one social constraint that enables him or her to say no and keep dignity and coolness intact has renounced their job. The parents are too cool. The butterfly flaps quietly. The joint is smoked.
As long as you keep your grades up, and aren't in trouble, it's fine once in a while.
As long as you don't drink and drive, it's fine.
As long as you promise to go to college and never use hard drugs, fine.
It's my goddamn son, and it's not fine. Did you know that alcoholism and addiction of all sorts runs like red blood cells through his veins? Did you know that mental illness runs in his family? Did you know that while some kids, some few, can hang and smoke and drink and that's it, many kids, like mine, will probably want more and more and harder because that's how good it feels, how easy it is, and how hard life is? Did you know that you have a moral obligation- forget the legalities- to ensure that the kids on your property are not doing anything that is proven to be detrimental to their futures, their bodies? Did you know that when you told your son OK and walked away, you told my son Your parents have just lost their last societal safe-guard against these kinds of traps? You are on your own.
They are teenagers. They aren't on their own yet. We have one chance fast slipping away to parent our children. If you choose to remove yourself from that obligation, please remove yourself from my teenager's life as well.
Or else I'll flap my wings of change in your direction, and it won't be from Paris.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
as cloud, a particle of open in the fistfuls of blue
a mime that opens mouth and turns startled,
to hear the birds calling out so far, so far, so far.
someday is a beautiful word, we rest our hearts.
there is nothing wrong with resting, even
Woody Allen has to sleep in blissful ignorance.
we all sleep. we all sleep. we all sleep.
there is a bright storm. a down and tear filled
gloaming, the sting of cold against the last sun
where we gather our arms around one another
and silence or breath is our acknowledgment
we do not know why, we do not know why, we do not
maggie may ethridge
dedicated to the parents of Chelsea King, Brent and Kelly King
Monday, April 12, 2010
The first thing you need to know right now is that I let Dakota jump off The Bridge to Nowhere. I wasn't there. His dad wasn't there. He JUMPED OFF A BRIDGE WITH MY PERMISSION.
Watch him jump. That's my flesh and blood, there.
Not only that, but he jumped off a bridge that any writer would have recognized as instant trouble due to horribly metaphoric name, which although really just refers to the fact that no traffic visits the bridge, really skeeves me out.
Why? Because he's 15. Because life is meant to be experienced. Because the company who pushed my son off a bridge also pushes stars off bridges, and they're OK. Because they've never had a single accident. Because probably letting him drive a hunk of steel down the streets of this town is more dangerous than flying off a bridge with ten metal hooks attached to a harness around his precious body. Because I am the damn coolest mom you will ever meet. I have serious neurotic tendencies and a special place in my mind reserved for crazy, and I won't put my fear into my kids. Maybe because I say NO a LOT. More than his friends parents, he says, and I'm pretty sure that's true, from what I see. Maybe my priorities are fucked up, if I see bungee jumping less dangerous than 'safe drinking' (don't get me started) or staying out till all hours unsupervised at 15.
His good friend Dillon invited him to go, all expenses paid. I talked to the Dad. I visited the website. I bit my nails. I lost sleep. I said yes. And he went, and he jumped, and he flew.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Healing requires far more of us than just the participation of our intellectual and even our emotional resources. And it certainly demands that we do more than look backwards at the dead-end archives of our past. Healing is, by definition, taking a process of disintegration of life and transforming into a process of return to life. Caroline Myss
Never shall I forget the days I spent with you. Continue to be my friend, as you will always find me yours. Ludwig van Beethoven
When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others. Peace Pilgrim
If there must be trouble let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. Thomas Paine
with what is wrong...
Why not try and see positive things,
to just touch those things
and make them bloom?
Thich Nhat Hanh
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
number two, when an simple remark from myself to a nurse poking my veins for blood prompted a 10 minute recap. of every single time she's ever had her blood drawn and what that was like for her, complete with every sentence ending in ' youknowwhatimean? '
number three, when Lola started calling poop butt guts
number four, how Dakota asks me if he can get me anything practically every time he sees me. how he filled the gas tank and said ' don't pay me back, Mom '. how he kisses me on the cheek.how he is getting so good at a fair fight. how he said today ' i don't know if it's the therapy or what Mom, but things between us are so good now. ' how he made me laugh so hard and loud for so long the other day I had a smile-ache afterward. how much i don't care if this boy gets good grades if this light inside of him will just stay back on, and never leave us again.
number five, when the baby at my work said her first sentence last week and it was.... ' hi, aggie ' ( translation: hi, maggie ) Oh. My. God. And then she smiled and kept saying it, and saying it, and saying it. OMG! the heartmelt was epic.
number six, the bundle of flowers Lola picked for me today, including jasmine, my favorite scent, and the only one i've ever worn.
number seven, Ian blushes when I kiss him and slap his booty, and i know it makes him happy that i love him. and i know he loves me.
number eight, that my dog Wolfgang wakes me up in the morning with his big wide cold wet nose on my cheek, sounding, ' hmmmmmrrrrrrhprough! ' and when i open my eyeballs, he licks em.
number nine, that Lola told me i have beautiful breasts, and she hopes hers look like mine when she grows up. then i told her that would be a good time to ask for the toy section of Target.
number ten, dinner last night my favorite meal ever since i became pregnant: kale pan cooked in olive oil till it's crispy, brown rice, and seasoned baked chicken in big thick slices. can't get enough.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Within two days the world as I experience it shifts. I feel slightly dizzy. Off balance. Tears begin to threaten over slights or perceived slights- not like me at all, very much a brush that dirt of your shoulder kind of girl when it comes to everyone but my husband. The irritation begins to tingle my arms, the long smooth ligaments in my legs, and like impatient sperm tiny nerves begin to twitch in the corners of things: fingers, eyes, mouth. I do all the right things....I take fish oil and B vits daily in addition to my gluten-free prenatals, I eat right, I am avoiding all caffeine for Biggie Pea anyhow, and I know all about diaphram breathing ( which has nothing do do with birth control ). Exercise is the main weapon against anxiety and I can't use it to it's fullest, because during this first trimester I'm not going to do the kind of heart pounding work that lowers anxiety.
And so during a time when everyone expects beaming optimism and the hope and renewal of new life, I'm suppressing internal growls of irritation about the manners of co-workers and stomping my feet to rid these legs of their frizzy bratness. As my co-worker says to the kids Oh you so fresh! So we can connect the dots, of course, but it all ends in the same place, here, happily gratefully pregnant with Biggie Pea, but sad, daily, just feeling browbeaten and sad. My brain chemistry was surely formed in the trauma of my childhood, but also in the snag of my individual DNA, the " writer ", the " sexual being " - two things very deeply embedded in who I am but also two forces that do call on a kind of quiet awareness; even the life force of sensuality and sex acknowledges, tacitly, the quickness of our pleasures and the poignancy contained in their brevity. I don't regret who I am, but Kermit, it's not always easy being green, is it?
Every day I wake up and feed myself and the kids and deal with the small repetitive demands of modern life the best I can, with the most strength, grace and wisdom I can. Some days I sing and dance with Lola in the car ' boogie down down, let's groove tonight, share the spice of life ' and other days Dakota stands outside of the bathroom asking if I'm Ok while I cry. And I AM OK. I'm sad, but I'm finally all grown up. Almost nothing is too hard for me to tackle. I won't mention the few that are, superstitious. You can guess- they are the same things you fear at 3am I'm sure. Everything else will just be a lot easier to handle once I can replace the tail on my monkey.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Saturday, April 3, 2010
The corpus luteum makes all the progesterone your fetus needs the first twelve weeks, until the placenta takes over. If my left ovary was put in charge of blooming this small progesterone factory, it's completely plausible that it failed to do so in the full measure, being that there is scar tissue in the way. Endometriosis is also becoming thought of more often as an autoimmune disease, and this is hooked like a knitting needle to the vast fabrics of your hormone factory. Progesterone is a hormone. Who knows how my disease, although I have conquered at least it's symptoms with a surgical specialist for my last two surgeries and a complete nutritional/supplemental disease beat-down, affects the production of hormones, so necessary to sustain even the healthiest embryo.
The test took a goddamn week to get ordered due to Kaiser back and forth calling and message board confusion. And it's low- 15. I'm about five and half weeks pregnant, and while 15 isn't unheard of, it's not a great sign for a 35 year old woman who had a miscarriage at 13 weeks last June. The baby died at 10 weeks, definitely soon enough for progesterone to be the cause. We had no testing done at the time to look at cause, being in shock, being totally unprepared to have to answer questions ten minutes after I delivered our dead baby. Do you want us to study your dead baby? They asked. Well, no. We didn't. We didn't know what it would mean, to not know.
Tomorrow I'm on the phone with Kaiser in the morning. I am going to demand an ultrasound, retest of my progesterone, immediate progesterone vaginal supplementation (oral is not as effective) and anticoagulant testing. If anyone has any experience or advice, I'm listening.
I'm fighting tooth and nail for this baby.