Thursday, January 26, 2012

Go Ahead. Interview Me.

Ask me anything you'd like.  Ask me why I'd like to be a midwife.  Ask me about how much I want to help women, to help babies, to be present and participate in the process of life beginning and you better believe it, Yale, I will answer.  I will answer articulately, and with poise, and with the knowledge that my black heels are a little bit bad-ass because they are pointy-toed (but it's okay because my gray and black dress is very demure [it helps that I have no cleavage. At all.]).  Ask me why I want to do this for the rest of my life.  Ask me how it felt to watch a baby being born.  Go ahead.  Ask me anything you'd like.  Because I'm ready.  And I'm coming at you, tomorrow morning.

Boo yah.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The L Word

"Caitlin has to go home now, punkin.  Want to walk her to the door?"

*frantic look from Cricket*

"Are you coming back tomorrow, Caitlin????"
"Of course, sweetie.  Remember how we talked about what days I come and what days I don't?"
"Right.  You come Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.  But NOT Saturdays and Sundays."
"That's right, sweetness.  So tomorrow is Wednesday so I'll be here in the morning when you're getting up for school."
"I promise."
"G'night Caitlin."
"Good night, Cricket.  Sleep tight tonight.  I love you."
"I love you too."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Writing Home

I have a journal.  The binding is coming apart at the bottom, and the attached silk bookmark is smudged with ink and tears.  The cover was once a soft, suede-like blue, that has now faded in the sun into a stained, grayish casing of a hodge-podge of memories, sketches, writings, and a piecemeal view of my thoughts and feelings from the last eleven years.  Yes, that's right: eleven years.  I obviously don't write in it very often, but when I do, I know there's a reason.  Obviously, it's been pulled out over the years during breakups and big life changes, but there are some entries that I look over that seem to have surfaced from the most mundane of life's circumstances.  Pages are scawled in harsh, black ink; entries full of profanities about an injustice I felt I had endured that in rereading, I actually have no idea what it was I was so upset about.  At the time, I'm sure I couldn't have imagined a day when I wouldn't remember what it was that had set me off.  And yet, here I am, six, seven, ten years later, writing in the same diary, beginning each entry with no preamble or real point.  I just write.  Much like I do on here.  So maybe this is cheating, but I wanted to share a writing sample I found tucked in the folds of my journal from late summer of 2009.  I helped run a pre-orientation program for Smith my junior and senior years, called Inward Bound.  It involved a lot of yoga, interpretative dance, writing workshops, circle time, and other mushy-gushy, feel-good, very, very SMITH kind of things that were all designed in an effort to "center" new students before they got tossed into the hell-hole of their first year.  Anyway.  We had a writing workshop, and a prompt, and we were instructed to write for fifteen minutes, using the following words:

August, passage, wire, winter, shadow, curtain, beginning, departure, against, scrub

Here's what I wrote:

She stands, motionless, at the pasture gate, watching the August sun set over the Montana ranch, the wire fences running for miles in all directions.  Her mother's approaching shadow stretches comically far across the dry, rain-starved grass as she comes to stand by her daughter's side.  "You won't be here to watch the winter storms this year," she says bluntly, trying to convey just how much she'll miss her only daughter.  "Though I suppose this departure is really a new beginning for you, you'll get to start on a whole new passage of your life!  And we'll see each other when you come home," she adds, as much for herself as for her daughter.  The young girl pushes herself roughly back from against the gate, the contented look on her face scrubbed away as quickly as a curtain closing in a room.  "Home?" she says.  "This isn't home."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

May it happen for you

Tonight, I met up with an old friend.  A friend I thought I'd lost forever, because of extremely bad behavior on both of our parts.  I had a myriad of reasons, nay, excuses, for why it was better for me to cut her out of my life than to try to repair things between us.  But something has shifted inside me in the wake of Alix leaving me.  I don't have time for regrets.  I don't have time to hold grudges.  I don't have the time, or the energy, or the need to be anything other than exactly who I am and to do the very best I can, every day, at this thing called life.  So last week, I reached out to this person.  I apologized.  I said she was under no obligation to write back, but that I just wanted to say two things: that I was sorry for the what happened with us and that I was (and forever will be) grateful for the friendship we had.  And you know what?  She wrote back.  Turns out we live in the same city.  She said she was sorry too, and would I like to meet for coffee.  We met up tonight and something clicked again with me.  I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders, a weight that I've been carrying around with me for the better part of three years.  I may have lost a fiancee, but I have regained a wonderful, treasured friend.  Apples to apples?  No, of course not.  But sometimes, we reach out to people, we try our hardest, we do our best - and it works out.  I came home and read this poem tonight and it hit me, hard.  Sometimes, everything really is okay.  Sometimes, what we do and what we are is enough.  Tonight, I'm grateful for friendship, for forgiveness, and for the myriad of second chances that I am blessed with in this precious life of mine.

Sometimes things don't go at all,
from bad to worse. Some years muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives;the crops don't fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.

Sheena Pugh (b.1950)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Double Trouble

Three-and-a-half month-old baby....oof.  Lotsa work, right?  Pretty constant runaround of feedings, diaper changes, naps, fussing, rocking, shushing, carrying, etc.  But oh wait - LET'S DOUBLE IT.

That's right, folks.

Guess who's now the proud nanny of twins.  THIS GIRL.  Oh yeah, and the babies' 4-year-old sister, too.  Holy guacamole, I know.  But seriously?  Couldn't be happier.

I'm a firm believer of things happening exactly the way they're supposed to happen - even in the face of it all maybe seeming like a pile of horse shit at the time.  This philosophy held true for this nanny job search just as well as it's stood up to every other trial and travail of my albeit rather short life.  I went on a lot of interviews, many of them with families whose plans changed just as they were about to hire me (suddenly a family member offered free childcare, for instance).  I met with some good and some not-so-good people, I even turned down a job offer because it just wasn't the right fit.  But then, oh then I found my girls.

Here's the lowdown:

The four-year-old (let's call her Cricket, because that girl doesn't walk, she bops) goes to school every day from about 9ish till 4ish.  I get to work at 7:30 AM and get her all ready for school, feed her breakfast, get her dressed, etc and then drive her to school most days (some days her mom or dad will drive her).  Then, I spend the next eight hours with just the babes.  They're fraternal, and easy to tell apart, not just from looks but already their personalities are so different.

Baby A, first one out the door, let's call her Dove, short for Turtledove, short for "The Tortoise," since you could do a load of laundry in the time it takes her to finish four ounces.  Chug. Breathe. Sigh. Smile. Chug. Breathe. Sigh. Smile. Repeat.  Yawwwnnnn.  But so effing cute, I can't get enough of her.  Thick dark hair, cheeks of chub, and a champion neck snuggler if I've ever seen one.  She flirts with you while you change her diaper.  She can almost, but not quite laugh.  She needs her pink snuggly blanket up by her cheek in order to sleep.  She's perfect.

Baby B, second one out, let's call her Bun.  Bun, short for Bunny, short for "The Hare," as we call her affectionately, because the girl races through her bottles of breast milk like we're going to take them away if she doesn't house six ounces in four minutes or less.  She's got two huge dimples, peach fuzz for hair, and is a bit smaller than her older sister, despite having been born bigger (Dove caught up quick, despite her glacial pace of eating).  She likes to face out in your arms for about ten minutes and then she'd prefer to be snuggled into your neck over your shoulder, rightnowthankyouverymuch.  Changes her mind quickly, that one does.  And not a single qualm about letting you know that SOMETHING IS THE MATTER OVER HERE.  But fix whatever it is, and she is all dimples and smiles again.  She's also perfect.

Sometimes they're on the same schedule, but usually they're just slightly out-of-sync, which can be good or bad, depending on how you think of it.  Feed/snuggle/hold two babies at once and potentially have two napping babies, during which time tasks may or may not get accomplished faster?  Or only have to feed/snuggle/hold one at a time, giving each more attention and listening to less screaming, but having to do every. single. thing. one-handed because you are always holding a baby?  Take your pick, either one works for me.  Yesterday, I only got half the laundry folded before both of them woke up so we improvised: Dove sprawled in my lap while we discussed laundry folding techniques, and Bun watched attentively from her swing, taking mental notes, I'm sure.  Hey, I figure since most of the laundry is theirs, they should start learning how to fold early.  Like now.

Mom and Dad both work from home, at opposite ends of the house, and we all convene in the kitchen occasionally to check in, shuffle bottles of milk around, and sympathize with C. for feeling like a dairy cow (moo) since she is c.o.n.s.t.a.n.t.l.y. pumping in between conference calls and Skype meetings.  As the afternoon dips into evening, the babies get into their witching hour and start to cluster feed and nap in twenty to thirty minute chunks, just as Cricket comes bounding through the door home from school.  It literally takes one adult per child to pull the evening off, and even then we're still sometimes feeling overwhelmed trying to keep track of everything and keep everyone on task.  But oh, you guys, it's amazing.  It's so much fun.  I love them already, I really do.  I found a new family and they found me.  Here's to yet another fresh start that brings me joy, laughter, and a whole lotta love.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Ring that Matters

One year ago today, on a bright, chilly day in New York, Alix asked me to marry her.  With shaking hands, she awkwardly placed the ring I had picked out onto my left ring finger where it felt so foreign, so heavy, that I couldn't resist holding it in place with my thumb, as if it was going to spontaneously fall off of its own accord.  Now, that ring is tucked in a black box, deep in the recesses of my bedside table drawer, behind the lighter I use for my lavender candle and the piles of prescription bottles that I dole my doses out of each evening before going to sleep.  The ring that I do wear every day is this:

This ring belonged to my father's mother, my grandmother Helen, who died before I was born.  She wore it every day, and when my parents asked the coroner if he'd found it on her body when he came to take her away, he said he hadn't seen it.  Devastated, the family believed that this heirloom was lost forever.  Years later, it was discovered that Helen had passed the ring on to her sister Lizzy before she had died.  Then, as Lizzy ailed and knew her own death was imminent, she gave the ring to her other sister, the last of the three girls still kicking.  My great aunt Marian wore this ring of a dancing lady until the day she died.  My father's cousin Mike gave this ring to me last January, when I went to Aunt Marian's memorial service.  I was speechless.  I couldn't believe that I was being given such a precious, meaningful gift that contained and represented the love, strength, and fortitude that my three ancestors shared.  Those three women lived through wars, through depressions, through difficult marriages, poverty, raising children, moving homes, and a myriad of other hardships that I'll never know.  In spite of it all, they persevered, loving each other and their families until each of them died.  I wear this ring with pride, knowing that the love and strength of each of those amazing women is always at my hands, guiding me and giving me hope when all seems lost.  Keep dancing, I think.  Always, always, always - keep dancing.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Years 2012

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before? 

Oh god, pick one: got engaged, got diagnosed with two eating disorders, got referred to residential treatment, didn't go, quit a job, met my best friend, met a therapist who finally got me, said goodbye to the person I loved most, moved to Boston, and then oh yeahhhhh - got dumped!  YEAH 2011!!!!

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I think that I said I "didn't do resolutions" this past year but that I was going to try to be more grateful, to be healthy, and to be more patient.  I think that with the exception of the gratitude one, those all went out the window.  I am ever more grateful, every day, for the blessings that I have.  I am also more aware, every day, of how quickly those blessings can be taken away (which makes me even more grateful).  For this next year - one foot in front of the other is as far as I've gotten.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not that I can think of...

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My great aunt Marian died late, late 2010 and her memorial service was held in early 2011.  It was heartbreaking to see the last of "the girls" (my father's mother and her two sisters) die, but she lived such a fantastic life that I can only imagine her hamming it up in heaven with her two beautiful, spirited sisters.

5. What countries did you visit?

None.  I didn't even go to Canada.  And I practically live IN Canada.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

I would like to have hope.  Endless, eternal, stupidly and ridiculously overblown HOPE.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

January 4th - got engaged
Sometime in March - met my best friend
December 20th - got dumped

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Honestly, getting up and out of bed (almost) every day of this whole freaking year.  And realizing in the last few days of this year that even if I'm not enough for someone else, I'm enough for me.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not knowing what it was that Alix needed and not being able to give that to her.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Yes.  Medications and therapy help.  But they're here to stay.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Not to be incredibly materialistic, but I got a pretty sweet iPod that I love.  I also got a ton of books, a moose-covered nightshirt, and a candle that smells like lavender.  I call that winning.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

I think my best friend, my therapist, and my mother all deserve awards and accolades for putting up with me and supporting me through this epic year

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Alix's, without question.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent in NYC and out-of-network mental health coverage bills

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Moving to Boston, getting engaged, getting an interview at Yale (not necessarily in that order).

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Home, by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder?

Sadder.  But looking forward to a new beginning.

b) thinner or fatter?

Thinner. But....yeah.  Anyway.

c) richer or poorer?

Poorer.  Again, looking forward to a fresh start.  New job, pleasepleaseplease.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

More writing.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Trying to please people who cannot be satisfied.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

At my parents' house with them and many of my siblings, including my one and only niece.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?

Nope.  Working on the whole falling out of love thing at the moment.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Um, I guiltily watch The Biggest Loser, but I also developed a recent addiction to Up All Night.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Hate is an awfully strong word.  Disappointed works better.

24. What was the best book you read?

Absolutely, positively cannot pick.  Best recent book was Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Bon Iver.

26. What did you want and get?

Another year to grow into the person I want to become.

27. What did you want and not get?

A relationship that would survive this year's difficulties.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

I barely watch tv, let alone movies.  I don't even remember the last time I went to the theater.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 23 and I had to work at the bakery, so my boss brought in a bottle of Prosecco and a chocolate cake and everyone sang to me.  Then we ate cake, got drunk, and tried to pretend we were sober enough to still be serving customers..

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

If the "here's what to do with your life" fairy could stop by, that would have been great.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Leggings, loose sweaters, and boots.  Oh, and I decided to embrace my hippie roots and start wearing my hair wavy.  Take that, flat irons.

32. What kept you sane?

H., my therapist, my mother, and Tucker (honestly).

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I am about as aware of the public affairs of the world as I am of the life cycle of the slug (in other words - I don't give a shit.)

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Legalizing gay marriage!  Go New York - everyone else, let's follow!

35. Who did you miss?

I missed Alix every single fucking day that she was gone.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

H.  Without a doubt.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

Just because you are not enough for someone else doesn't mean that you're not enough for yourself and other people who can appreciate and love you for exactly who you are.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Home is wherever I'm with you.

Long post!  Congrats if you got through it all!

Here's to a happy, healthy 2012 for us all!

Tagging Noelle and Allison to do this too!