Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Project

Last October, Hallie and I were talking via gchat late one night after Birdie was asleep.  It had been a rough day, one of many of the last year.  I was exhausted, I was frustrated, and I was feeling like I was running in circles with the eating disorder.  One step forward, ten steps back.  More than anything, I was feeling so achingly alone that it made me wonder how many other people were out there, struggling like I was and feeling equally alone.  So we came up with an idea.  What if, we thought, we could try to show people what this is like.  Could we possibly create something meaningful out of something so hellish?  The seed had been planted and over the next few days, the ideas started to flesh out.  The momentum grew and before we knew it, the project had taken off.  I started recording audio of whatever I was thinking, as often as I could force myself to do it.  When I couldn't sleep, when I had nightmares, when I was so hungry I thought I'd pass out, when I simply didn't know what else to do, I'd take out my phone and hit record.  Hallie started taking pictures.  Of the easy stuff first - me playing with kids, hanging out with friends, cooking.  Then, gradually, of the harder stuff - me trying to eat, crying over Alix, getting on the scale.  Meanwhile, life kept happening and things just kept getting harder and harder.  The project quickly became more difficult than I could have ever anticipated.  The camera was always there.  I'd scream at Hallie to put it away, to leave me the fuck alone, to get out of my face but she'd say she was sorry, but she knew how important this was to both of us, and she'd take the pictures anyway.  I stopped censoring myself in the audio even the slightest.  I said things out loud that made me shake with shame, but instead of shutting up, I kept talking.  Sometimes the roles would mysteriously flip: "Where's the camera?" I would snarl through the tears and snot running down my face, and Hallie, stricken, would slowly reach for the lens while I would stare defiantly at her, daring her to look away.  Or she'd silently hand me my phone and send me off to the closet or the bathroom or the sidewalk to find enough quiet to record what my mind was churning out.

It wasn't easy.  In fact, it was the opposite of easy.  But here we are, seven months later, and last night...we finished.  Almost.  There are some finishing touches and some tweaks here and there, but I honestly never thought this day would come.  I never thought we'd be able to sift through literally thousands of pictures and hours of recorded audio and cut and edit them down into a coherent project, but somehow, we did.  And when we showed it to her professor today, my hands twisted together with nerves while he silently watched and we waited to hear what he thought.  "That," he said slowly when it ended, "was fucking incredible."

I don't know where it's going to go from here, but I sure hope it goes somewhere.  More than anything, I hope that someone will see it and realize that they're not alone.  If it helps even one person, then it will have been worth it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Nose Knows

I've had my nose pierced since I was sixteen.  I thought I was being all bad-ass and rebellious when I went with my best friend to get it pierced without telling my mom.  My mom took one look at it when I walked in the door and said something along the lines of, "Oh, how pretty!  Can you set the table for me?  Dinner's almost ready."

Whompity shwomp.

I quite like my nose and I've always liked the piercing.  It's so unobtrusive that people will often notice it after we've known each other for months or years and remark on it as if it's new and then are shocked when I insist I've had it pierced for eight years now.  Kids also get a kick out of it.  Between that, and this very prominent mole I have on my chest that you can see in most shirts, there is always something for the babies to grab.


I've always worn a stud in my nose, except for one hilarious night in college when the seniors in my house took the first-years bowling and we all dressed up like exaggerated versions of teenage cliches and I dressed up as - what else? - a pregnant teenager, complete with black nail polish, fishnet stockings, and a gold hoop earring stuck through my nose.  If you're unlucky enough to be my facebook friend, you can go have a ball digging up those photos.  I've never worn a ring because my nose is pretty small and hoops always look huge and trashy.  Enter: a tiny nose ring.

Small enough that the babies can't fit their fingers through it.  And hey, who doesn't need a change in their look sometimes, right?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Life Effect

When I was very small, my dad would play me lullabies on his guitar every night as I fell asleep.  Even my most vivid fears of the monsters under my bed would be tamed by his voice and the words to my favorite songs.

When I was a little bit older, our roosters would chase me around our yard, intent on attacking my short-legged and thus, not very fast self.  Screaming bloody murder, I would head for the nearest tree, flinging myself over the lowest branch and scrambling my way up to safety.  The rooster would circle the tree, and I would settle in until my dad would come home from wherever he was and I could yell for him to come over and walk me back to the house, keeping me safe from the dejected rooster.

When I was older still, my dad would calmly say things like, "Okay, let's try to let the clutch out a little bit more gently this time," as I would yet again kill the engine trying to get out of the driveway when I was first learning to drive. 

Utterly unflappable, with the patience of a saint, my father is the kindest, best man I have ever known.  No one can match him, and I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't think he was invincible. 

My dad has cancer.

I have sat, staring at this computer screen, for the better part of a week trying to write those words.  Sitting here, at home on my childhood bed, knowing I have to leave for Boston soon in order to be at work tomorrow, I wonder (as everyone does in these situations) how the world can possibly be going on as if everything is normal when clearly, everything is falling apart.

In the darkness of the early morning, when the only sound you can hear is the blood rushing in your ears and your heart pounding in your chest, you grip your pillow, clench your jaw, squeeze your eyes shut to keep back the tears and none of it helps, all you can feel is the fear.

One day at a time, people say.  Think positive, people say.  It's too late.  The world has cracked, the chasm has opened.  Fear has rushed in and it's here to stay.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cricket Gems II

We saved the box from a big diaper delivery for Cricket to play with when she got home from school.  I was changing Dove, and Cricket's parents were both upstairs.  She was by my feet, squeezing herself into the box as best she could, finally asking me for help closing the last flap.  Just then, her dad came down the stairs.  "J.," I said, "I have no idea where Cricket is!  I think I've lost her!"
"Oh no, what should we do?  Cricket....where are you..."
*enter Cricket's mom, game continues, we're all looking for Cricket*
<faint giggling can be heard from the box>
J: "Hmm...I hear giggles...I wonder what's inside this big brown box..."
Cricekt, from inside the box: "NOT CRICKET!!!"

Yesterday, I brought home a board book for the babies that Cricket wanted to read with me before I went home.  We're sitting at the kitchen table, and I hold up the book to read the title, "There's a Cow in the Cabbage Patch...oh look, Cricket, the author's first name is the same as my middle name!" I said, pointing at the author's name.  Cricket glanced at where my finger was pointing (none too closely), then looked up at me with alarm, and asked, "Your middle name is Cabbage???"

Sunday, April 1, 2012


I have a propensity for letting my own housework, um, slide.  So when I get bitten by the productivity bug, I ride that wave like Kate Bosworth on Pipeline (No, you didn't watch Blue Crush? It's a lesbian cult classic!).  Because as everyone knows, once you do one productive thing, it's easier to do the next thing on your list, and the next, and the next.  This weekend was a virtual avalanche of productivity.  Saturday evening, I resigned myself to putting in laundry.  While the three loads were running, I started cleaning my room.  And cleaned, and cleaned, and cleaned.  I found my floor!  I found my chair!  By the time two loads were in the dryer and the third load was hung to dry on my enormous drying rack, I had gotten serious.  I vacuumed.  I emptied my trash.  I put things away that hadn't been put away since I moved into this apartment four months ago.  By midnight, I had clean sheets on the bed, nothing - that's right, nothing - on my floor other than furniture, the humidifier was clean and gurgling away, the candles were lit, and I was settling in to read a magazine that had been buried in my stuff for two months.  Then I promptly fell asleep.  Cleaning is exhausting.  Today, I was surprised to realize that the productivity bug hadn't left me yet.  I made my bed, I went grocery shopping before 10 AM, I made vegan carrot cake pancakes, I showered, I met an old college friend for coffee, and then I put the grand finale on this weekend by making a kick-ass dinner: linguine with a garlicky-lime sauce with broccoli, arugula, and avocado.  Serious yum.  The highlight of cooking dinner came in the form of me actually attempting to peel two heads of garlic in ten seconds.  I saw this video a while ago and was convinced it was a hoax, so I decided to give it a try.  It actually works!  Here's the proof:

Clearly, neither of us is cut out to be a film producer.

Here's to another week!