In the end, all of our windows are mirrors

and we see only ourselves.

magazines & messages
Owen's school sent home another issue of Parent & Child, which I'm reading solely for the rage it induces. Makes me realize how much I've got right as a parent. I think about things. I have a brain and I'm not afraid to use it! It horrifies me how many parents just accept the messages they're given by the advertising industry without examining their own values first. Every other ad in this magazine is for foods, but not any foods I would buy or eat. They're crap-in-a-box. They're McFood for your McSoul. 

The two most outrageous inventions I've come across recently are these: a robotic teddy bear that reads to your children so you don't have to (for the busy parent who can't make the time to actually interact with her child) and Nestle's instant formula machine, which works in the manner of a Keurig coffeemaker, I think--you press a button and presto! A bottle is ready for your baby. The ultimate in convenience! This machine will save you the hours of effort it takes to mix powder with water and shake it! ...Except of course, you still have to buy the bottles and formula, wash them, hold them for your baby (or are they going to invent a machine to do that, too?), and clean the machine. Formula companies don't want you to think about how much better off you might be if you breastfed, if maybe you didn't have to spend all your time working to make money to buy the formula, the bottles, and the fancy-pants machine. If maybe your kids would be happier with a mom who takes the time to actually raise them instead of chucking them off to the babysitter with a bottle of artificial milk.

Okay, what I just said was pretty inflammatory! Before you read any further I just have to say that staying home with the kids isn't the right choice for every mom, nor is breastfeeding. I don't mean to say that anyone is wrong for making those choices, just that they should be conscious, informed choices, not automatic assumptions.

It makes me sad that women don't have the support they need to make breastfeeding successful, and that it's so unusual to see a nursing baby (let alone toddler) in our country that a lot of moms don't even consider breastfeeding. And it scares me how many parents don't even take the time to question why they devote so much energy to making and spending money. They're like robots receiving instructions from advertisements: you need this new car. You're a bad parent if you don't buy your kid this educational DVD. Our frozen, processed, unsustainably-harvested McFood is now healthier because we've added FIBER! Our flash card set is the only thing that will make your kid smart enough to grow up and become a big, strong employee for Corporate America. New moms are happier when their family eats off discs of plastic instead of bothering with washable plates! Buy this special medicine bottle that allows you to see exactly how much your baby has taken, so you don't even have to waste your time doing math! Pregnant women are dirty unless they use pantiliners. You're a good American if you buy ice cream. All moms should be worried about losing the baby weight. Now we put vitamins in our fruit-flavored sugar water so you don't have to feed your kids real food! Formula has nutrients that milk lacks! You have to take your kids on expensive vacations or they'll be sad forever!

Argh. What the actual fuck?

I don't know how to protect my children from all of the badness America spews at us. It's taken me 27 years to kill the buying-things reflex and figure out what's really important. I didn't learn what real food tasted like until I started my own family and taught myself how to cook. I didn't think about where my products came from or what sort of environmental impact their production has, or why I "needed" new clothes every season when my old ones were perfectly good. It didn't occur to me that money doesn't have anything at all to do with overall happiness, or that I was capable of disconnecting myself from our broken economic system. It's sad that I seem to be one of the only parents around who's thinking about any of these things. 

I also seem to be one of the only women around who's aware of the skewed messages the media gives us about our bodies, but that's a whole other post.

Ellis pics
First, the cuteness: 

And these are the longies I made for Ellis today out of an old wool sweater!

Duncan's tragic saga
Duncan is my cat. Originally the offspring of my aunt's semi-feral, perpetually pregnant cat DC, Duncan has lived with me since I was 15. He's a terribly affectionate and well-behaved cat. It's just...Duncan...well, how can I say it? He's special. 

At first, he seemed an ordinary cat.

Soon, however, it became apparent that Duncan was psychologically...handicapped. 

His handicaps are severe. Quite severe. For example, Duncan is utterly unable to cope with changes of any kind in his routine, and something as simple as moving his food bowl to the other side of the room leaves him baffled for weeks. He'll huddle forlornly in the center of the kitchen shooting betrayed, woeful gazes in my direction.

As you might imagine given his psychological handicap, the introduction of a new cat to the household shattered his world for well over a year. He hated Zoe, hated her with a deranged passion borne of shock and fear. Duncan had not heretofore imagined the existence of other cats, and perceived Zoe, perhaps understandably, as a threat. Zoe, though, was blessed with a near-normal cognitive capacity and an all-consuming drive for affection, and approached Duncan with confidence.

It took the better part of two years, but eventually Duncan came to accept Zoe's presence and they tolerated each other fairly well. Things seemed good. Unfortunately, though, Zoe had her own set of neuroses, the most intolerable of which...well...

Yes, Zoe's issues were deep-seated and disgusting, but I hoped I could teach her basic hygiene, which after all is not a particularly difficult concept.  However, after years of cleaning up poo, it became apparent that she had no interest in litter boxes whatsoever, and I eventually reached the breaking point.

After Zoe's departure, Duncan experienced a profound crisis. For days he wandered the house incessantly, unable to come to terms with the fact that he was now an only cat.
Once Duncan had grasped the situation, his behaviour began to change. Always a lap cat, he became obnoxiously so. My mornings usually started like this:

Duncan reveled in his only-catness, following me around the house oozing gratitude and love.


Eventually, of course, Duncan's happy world of sunshine and love collapsed. We brought home two new cats, and Duncan's mind, having endured multiple moves and shifts of paradigm, snapped totally and irreversibly. He evinced a betrayed expression at all times, developed a terror of the floor, and became convinced that the only safe place in the entire house was the top of the refrigerator.


His confusion began to extend to the function of everyday objects.

Soon Duncan descended into a surreal universe of confusion and pain, where he copes as best he can to this day.


(no subject)
In the fine tradition of Hyperbole and a Half, I bring you...TODAY.

It started off happily. The sun was shining, the cat did not poop on top of the refrigerator, and I managed to get both kids out the door on time. I was feeling pretty confident about my coping skills. I was managing to simultaneously beat my heart, breathe, AND complete the various small tasks that make up my life, and I was doing it with a sense of optimism:

Unfortunately, things began to go downhill in the afternoon.

And that's the story of today.

a new human
Brace yourself for the cuteness, LJ:

Isn't he gorgeous? Sidney Ellis Gregory D., born 3:52 AM Nov 4th. 6 lbs 8 oz. So far, he's the best baby ever. He just looks around, makes little baby noises, and sleeps. I had to wake him up halfway through the night because he hadn't nursed in hours, but I think he might have slept through if I'd let him. He's beautiful, perfectly healthy, and arrived as easily as any baby ever did. I <3 my baby! Owen's been amazing; no problems there at all. Aside from a little soreness, I feel great, which is kind of a problem actually, because I keep jumping up to clean and I'm supposed to be taking it easy for at least two weeks. 

I'm going to put up a few more pictures, then get ready for the baby shower, which is still on as scheduled! Or rather, I'm going to sit on the couch and let my mother, mother-in-law, and Matt get my house ready for the shower.

mural--final pictures

poem for a girl in my art class who won't post anything too "personal"
The Kind of Art They Didn't Tell Us About 

This is my poem
and it is raw
and it comes out of me like a child,
like a sob, like a hot rush of blood.
This is my poem that screams
and rocks backward, forward, holding
its knees with its teeth.
It's about grief. It's about loss. It's about living
a kind of life that didn't turn out
like the one I was promised, and this is the only kind of poem
I can write today. This is about the way
my mother used to make me take one more bite, and one more,
until my plate was clear. It's about the way my father
would scold and punish at report-card time, because the only
letter of the alphabet that counted was A. That's why they put so many in my name.  

Amanda. This poem is about Amanda.

This poem is about the way I turned out, lonely and lost
and hungry after so many years of swallowing whispering backstabby 
stabby. I eventually got tired of swallowing. 
What is art? It is this. It's letting your suffering drip
where other people can see it. It's being unafraid
to be messy. This poem. This life. This is one kind
of art.

first draft of a thing without a title
In the garden, this is the kind of thing that Adam used to do:
                      stick out his tongue and try to touch the end of his nose with it, just to see if he could 
       (and he always could because they had longer tongues in those days)
and he never got tired of that one trick.
           Eve would cock one hip and roll her eyes and polish an apple with her bone-pale fingers
    and wait for him to finish. He was a boy in his man's body. He would have teased the waitress, 
                                          if there had been waitresses back then. He would have mooned Eve
but it's hard to moon when you're naked all the time. He probably would have made lewd jokes,
                              too, if he'd known what lewd jokes were, but this was before the apple.                                                                 Adam invented pull-my-finger. He was                
                   the kind of guy who wasn't afraid to look silly.
                                 Eve was afraid, though. Eve was afraid of looking silly, and of dancing in                                       public and of falling down where the snake could see. That's what happens                                      when your whole existence is an
              afterthought. You have to be very careful no one regrets inviting you
                            to hang out.
             You could be a rib again, just like that. 

new poem, first draft

We're in the backyard again
and the grass is browner than ever so we don't look anymore.
We say to each other: we don't want to be the kind of people
who care what our yard looks like, or what the neighbors think of us
and besides we have better things to do than mow the lawn. We're
intellectual. And our next-door neighbors are in their perfect pool again
while we swim in bitterness; envy swirls around our feet
on the planks of our scorched deck. That sad deck, half-supported, half-railinged
and we have better things to do, too, than fix this.
What is a deck? A bit of Americana? We do not want to be Americans.
We don't want picket fences. We don't want
round hedges and vegetable gardens and two-car garages.
We're better, we nod to each other, satisfied.

Who cares what the neighbors think? we declare
and the leaves go unraked again. The door of the shed fell off last winter
during a hard storm and blew across the yard, where it still lies.
Maybe there is still snow underneath. We don't care.
We are the kind of people who do not watch TV,
who listen to public radio and argue about poetry. We are not the kind
who fix sheds. We can't fathom what a shed is for.

In books it says that sheds are for trowels, and spades,
and maybe for wheelbarrows too. A dark room filled with mystical implements
with unknown purposes, and I wonder if a trowel would fit in my hand
the way a book does, if I had one to hold. The strange scraping sound
that metal must make when it enters the earth. Dirt on my knees.
And watering cans, sheds must have watering cans.

And I twist my feet under my cheap plastic
chair and turn my can of Pepsi so the label faces away and wonder
what it would be like to have flowers. To care enough
for beauty to plant it around me with filthy hands and water
it in the afternoons. And I wonder
if we are really American in spite of ourselves.

And I wonder, does America really care if we call ourselves American?
We don't want to be like our neighbors with their lilac bush and their clothesline.
But what's wrong with that? They have round blue pools in their backyards
and they ride groaning lawnmowers back and forth
in the afternoon across flat green rectangles and maybe sometimes
they sit under their flags and read poetry too.

a random bit of something weird
A Statement About Who I Essentially Am:

What does it mean to be a whole woman in America? And how do we know
who we are? Do we ever really know who we are or do we search
bewildered and forget
that what defines us is the searching?

Where are the poems that I lost when I was seventeen? What sort of poems will I write when I am seventy? Where is the brave kind of woman that I used to be certain I was? and why does it matter that she's missing?

Who have I become? What if I'm not who I wanted to be, who I thought I would be, or someone who is even basically okay?

What's another word for fear?

Is it okay to feel like this? Do I have to be perfect? How else can I get what I need?
Do I need to be loved? Do I need to be beautiful? Do I need to be beautiful to be loved?

What does beauty mean? What is strength, actually? How will I figure this out with the sun in my eyes this way? How will I find me when I am so lost? How will I decide which way to run without knowing what I'm running toward, without seeing what I'm running from? When will I get there? and how will I know I've arrived?

What sort of poem is this, anyway? all these questions loaded
with implied answers, and not one of them
addressing the central statement, which is:



Log in