How To Be Christina Fishburne On Monday

Find yourself planted for three years in a place people typically stay for only one.
Congratulate yourself on all that personal growth you did in Hawaii.
Think about all the people you know who might have cancer.
Plan a productive day.
Damn the constantly dirty floor to Hell.
Think about writing.
Go to the gym.
Preemptively grieve all the friends who are leaving this summer.
Start crying because people you love might have cancer.
Want another baby.
Vacuum.
Forget to buy more bagels.
Think about writing.
Think about painting.
Think about cancer.
Think about being pregnant.
Damn elliptical machines to Hell.
Vacuum.
Decide not to have another baby.
Wish you cared more about politics.
Wish you cared more about history.
Wish you cared more about Power Rangers.
Damn cancer to Hell.
Vacuum.
Think about writing.
Think about babies.
Think about wine.
Think about the people you know who have survived cancer.
Wish you were Diana Gabaldon.
Wish you were Claire Fraser.
Wish you were taller.
Wish you were better at conversation.
Wish you had a plan for dinner.
Pick up crumbs with a wet napkin.
Hold Malcolm’s hand when he offers it.
Thank Sam for doing the dishes.
Listen to Bella’s detailed plan for her birthday party half a year away.
Laugh at how Auggie says new words wrong.
Think about not wishing for more.

We Put The “ER” In Character

This past week I had occasion to call an ambulance. Twice. The first time was especially great because I was also obliged to leave my screaming husband and screaming baby in the exam room so as to run across the hospital to the parking lot where I had to move my car in order for the emergency helicopter to land. Now, the last time my body hit a dead run was about the year of our Lord 2006. My body doesn’t like running. Nor does it do it well. But I was motivated. Highly motivated. And I was fast. It felt amazing! As I flew down the halls and burst out of the sliding doors, I rocketed toward my about-to-be towed vehicle and thought: I am a beast!
Who knew? And had the hospital been bigger than the frozen food section in Target, that Olympic record would have been in big trouble. I’ll tell ya what.
no-runI hate running. But apparently I can do it when I have to. For short distances.

***

I am trying to cook something for dinner while ping-ponging between the kids for homework assistance. Bella is trying to remember “the flag song” for her program at school, so she has me singing every flag song I can think of while she unceremoniously cuts me off after each beginning line.
“Oooooh say can you see…”
“Not the national anthem, Mama.” (Said in the tone reserved for simpletons, fools, and the miserable slobs who don’t know what color ranger is always the leader of the Power Rangers.)
I have just unloaded the dishwasher and turn around to see Auggie has emptied the cabinets. Sigh.
“This is MYYYYYY country…”
“NO.”
This is the day after the first ambulance ride and Sam has been able to come home, so I have a flurry of texts from concerned family members coming in. I answer a few at a time as I sing,
“My country ’tis of thee…”
“NOPE.”
Getting a little punchy, I throw in some swinging elbows:”You’re a grand ole’ flag, You’re a high-flying flag…”
“TOO FAST! TOO FAST! I can’t remember the hand motions!”
I pause over the laundry basket on the couch. Half of it is distributed around the room now. Thanks, Auggie. Why are there only 2 pairs of underpants? One, two, three…eight shirts and pants…
“KEEP GOING.”
“And forever in peace may you wave.” I start to get into it. I sing louder. I fold clothes in a rhythm. I’m on key. I sound great. “You’re the emblem of the land I love, the home of the free and the brave!”

I don’t know it yet, but my brand new friends, who’ve never even met Sam, are plotting. I don’t know it yet, but I’m about to get dinners and spontaneous visits to make me laugh and my lawn mowed and random snacks. I don’t know yet that the next day I will go to the store and totally lose my crap and cry and snot all over the woman who bags my groceries as she prays the most beautiful and powerful prayer over my family. I don’t know that a couple of hours after that bolstering I will be calling another ambulance and texting “I need help” to my friend who will show up and take care of my kids all day while I deal with the hospital situation. Or that my mother-in-law will put her life on pause earlier than planned to get on a plane. Or that moments after that I will be crying in front of Sam’s boss, who has returned to tell me to let him know if I need anything.

“Every heart beats true, under Red, White, and Blue, where there’s never a boast or brag.”
Asking for help is really hard. Accepting help is actually really hard too. I don’t know if it’s a woman thing, a mom thing, a military thing, or what–but I tend to think, I can do this. I just need a few more minutes OR I just need to put that in the backpack so I can use my hands OR I just need everyone to be quiet so I can think… Spoiler: none of these things actually enable me to do what I need to do. I can actually do a majority of what needs to be done on my own. I have the twitching eye and stripe of gray hair to prove it. But I can only do it on my own for a short distance. I need my brave friends and my family and to be reminded that God is here and in control. And I don’t have to be.

“But should auld acquaintance be forgot, keep your eye on the grand old flag.” The chorus of George M. Cohan’s song is in all of our heads now as we stomp, run, wander, and shuffle around the house. James Cagney played him in the movie, so I see him singing it too. There’s a line that the Cohans would say at the end of their shows, and I’d like to say it to all my new friends here and to those praying and supporting us all over the place,
My mother thanks you, my father thanks you…my husband thanks you, my daughter thanks you, my sons thank you, and I thank you.

Surf’s Up. Time’s Up.

So I had a dream the other night.
I was out in the ocean, catchin’ some waves…on a boogie board. Sam was with me. The waves were really REALLY huge. Like, Hollywood-cataclysmic-natural-disaster-movie huge. Sam was trying to teach me how to “do it right”—where to catch the wave to ride the greatest distance. I wasn’t doing well. Then this huge scary tidal wave rose up underneath me and I knew it was going to be bad. I was going up too high. I could see the cities in the distance. The beach was way way below me. But I was not afraid. Just mildly apprehensive.

This summer has been great. Nobody broke their back. Nobody was dry heaving into the toilet every morning. There were planned activities and whatnot. There was moderately good parenting. It’s been an absolute delight not rocketing out the front door at 7am in a flurry of backpacks, lunch boxes, mewling infants, and armfuls of stuffed animals that MUST NOT BE LEFT BEHIND. I’ve had no extra curricular responsibilities. I’ve had assistance. But all that is about to change. School is starting.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think we’ve all had our fill of quality time together. But it means Real Life is happening again.
Yes, Yes, I’ve had real life for the past 3 1/2 months. But in my mind, (which is apparently still 12 years old) Summer kind of doesn’t count. If I feel stress, it somehow doesn’t register at full strength. It doesn’t make sense. Much like my believing every time that growing my eyebrows out WILL INDEED make me look younger–just like the magazines say. In my mind I see this:
daenerys-targaryen-images-11
In the mirror I see this:
o-FRIDA-900
But somehow the months June, July, and August still trigger a big fat forcefield around my brain, rejecting all logical argument that I am accountable to long term consequences.

As I felt the wave cresting and I started to come down I thought, “huh, this one will surely take me all the way in! Good job, me!” but then immediately in front of me another tidal wave began to rise up—over me—and started cresting toward me. I had a Han Solo very bad feeling about this. Yet wasn’t terrified. Just disappointed that my epic ride to the shore was about to be ruined. The second wave was tipping on top of me. I knew I was going to be pounded. Was going to have to go underwater. Which I can’t do comfortably without holding my nose. There would be no time to hold my nose. And I’d need both arms to get back to the surface. There was nervousness, but no real fear.

School– with all the taxiing, homework, and afterschool schedules. School, where my son will be expected to have made significant progress in reading and math because I was supposed to have him tutored and work extra hard at home to get him ready for the next level.
Photo on 8-18-15 at 12.50 PM

Bible Study will be starting again as well, with all the phone calling angst and pleasant yet time-consuming preparation and emotional energy expenditure.
So, clearly, now is the time to start an online business venture! Yes! One that requires much monitoring and tallying and keeping track of different groups and people and orders. And math. Definitely. Let’s do THAT.
And let’s join a book club! Cuz, ya know, IDLE TIME.
What’s that noise? Oh it’s the BABY crying. Good thing he doesn’t require much attention…
I am not even remotely as busy as my friends. But this small list is debilitating to me when I stop and think about it. And because I feel incapacitated at the thought of any additional responsibility, I assume that it’s probably necessary to do it–all of it– in order to be a Grown Up.
I want to be a grown up. But I also really REALLY want to sit on the couch for hours and hours at a time looking out the window, listening to the chimes, daydreaming, and eating cake. With no expectations of me to do anything else. Do grown ups do that?

other than her…?

other than her…?

My parents visited for a gloriously long yet not long enough time this summer. I got a taste of the good life again. That life where my mama does my laundry, gives kids a bath, puts them to bed, brings me snacks, etc. And tv. Oh, the TV! I got to watch my Korean Dramas again. And they are just as brilliant as I remember. I blame Misaeng (Incomplete Life) for my sudden interest in being employed. It’s a show about an office full of business people. That’s really all it’s about. Except it’s also about LIFE and the SOUL. Anyway– my parents are not here now. I have to be the parent again.

My dreams

My dreams

Just as I felt myself simultaneously rising up and being covered under the shadow of this enormous second wave, I closed my eyes. Then for some reason I was moved smoothly from the first rising wave right onto the top of the second one. I had a Leonardo DiCaprio Top of the World moment. I could see everything. I was rapidly approaching the shore. And then I was on the beach. With my boogie board.

The reality of the situation is: I love my life. I love it so much and am so grateful for every syrup covered, crumb coated, vaguely diaper smelling aspect of it. Forcing myself to do grown up things is hard. And by “grown up things” I mean, interacting with adults who have mature expectations of me and upon whom I cannot unload a laundry basket filled with excuses as to why I’m late, in a bad mood, and un-showered. But it’s like exercise. It gets easier the more you do it and the more you do it, the stronger you are.
I have not exercised since May 21st.

I looked back at the surging water and could see Sam still out there. I knew he was fine but was worried about me. With telescopic vision I could see him or feel him asking with his shoulders or arms if I was ok. I tucked my boogieboard under my arm and gave him a thumbs up.

I’m not dead. Let’s have dinner.

With bread. And cake. All the cake. Quickly.

Augustine Louis arrived with little incident! I got to wear an oxygen mask, which I’d rather not do again, and eventually got drugs, which was great. Still, it would have been nice to get help for the pain before the agony, which I hear-tell IS possible, just not for me, apparently. But: Nobody got kidney stones! Nobody dragged half the garage from the wall and bent the drivers’ side door of the car on the way to the hospital! You may think these are odd celebrations, but they’ve been known to happen when I have babies. And I did the glucose test again today, so hopefully I am free of the Gestational Diabetes Albatross. I certainly hope so. I may or may not have eaten nine sugar cookies one after the other while standing at the kitchen counter the other night.

As of now, I have successfully completed 72 hours of parenting three children– without help and with no help on the horizon. The fact that about 75% of that time they’ve been at school or asleep is irrelevant. It’s got to be a similar feeling to combat–long periods of waiting/peace punctuated by a few moments of frenzied chaos during which you meet the very face of your mortality and are shown with brutal clarity what in fact you are made of. I have a friend who has eight children and is one of the most serene women I’ve ever met. Sam calls her “The Boss.” I’ve had three for less than six weeks now and I can tell you with the utmost confidence that if I was ever serene, I will likely never be so again. It’s the standard list of anti-accomplishment: Is the laundry done? Nope. Are there clean spoons? Negative. Do your feet stick to the floor just a little bit? Indeed. But Augustine is getting fat, has a clean diaper on, and Malcolm and Bella have not been taken by child protective services yet. Poor Sam may still feel a little invisible and in my head I keep meaning to tell him what a good job he’s doing, so on my list of things to do, like, shower, I need to add: Talk to Husband. Many failings happening here, but–ALIVE to fight another day, so what we need to take away from this is:

Rockstar.

Rockstar.

I’m nearing the end of that magical time after childbirth when I can sit back and watch the number on the scale go backwards while eating like an absolute pig. I seem to have, how shall I say this, plateaued. I’ve been given the green light to begin exercising again. And I can’t wait. (Spit-laughs into hand) That’s a lie. We all need exercise. I know this. I see this in the mirror. But it is often an uncomfortable process. Auggie feels me. Babies need to strengthen their little necks and assorted other muscles too, right? They tell us to give our babies “tummy time.” I’m assuming this is normal, but neither Mal nor Bella particularly cared for Tummy Time. Auggie loves Tummy Time.

Loves it.

Loves it.

I wore work-out clothes today, ya know, just to get in the spirit of things. Maternity work-out clothes. I must now figure out when the heck I’ll have time to do any working-out. Since my phenomenal parents and mother-in-law left (let’s all pause for a moment to applaud these fine folks), my priorities have consisted of cleaning and feeding. And once Sam and the kids are home, well it’s still cleaning and feeding, but I’m significantly outnumbered, my strength of will is outclassed by a 4 year old, and my exhaustion is only exceeded by my frustration that it’s already 8:00 and I don’t have the energy to watch my shows now that everyone is in bed. I fantasize about living in the same town, hell, same state as our parents. Not that I’d rely on them to do everything, but that there’d be the option to ask for help if I needed it. Just being able to ask is a comfort, even if I don’t actually do it.

I have a moment of absolute panic when I hear sirens while in traffic on the H1. I know I’m supposed to get out of the way, we all know it, all 4-5 lanes of bumper to bumper cars of us. It makes me proud of humanity to see a way made for the ambulance to pass through and then gracefully zippered back together again once it’s gone. There was one time though when I was on a two lane access road waiting to get on the highway and I heard the sirens. My options were: concrete wall buffered by a few thin shrubberies or car next to me–whose options were: Me or apartment building buffered by sidewalk. Panicpanicpanicpanic I chose the shrubberies. I think I might still have leaves stuck in the van’s sliding door mechanisms. I could see the whites of the ambulance driver’s eyes as they passed, but they managed to get through. There’s always enough room for help to get through, but I have to get out of the way.

A couple of weeks before Auggie was born I got terrible news about a friend. In that moment my two miscarriages seemed merciful. I haven’t seen her in years and am only really connected to her through Facebook, but I felt punched. Heartbroken for her and terrified for me. Then, watching from my computer, I saw and felt what faith is. I’m not there and there is no way I can claim to know anything about how they feel, but from what I read in the few updates she gave I can say what she made me feel. Grace. Hope. Not serene, but hopeful. A way has been made and it won’t close back up. I’m still a little terrified, but I think all new parents are. I’m not sure that makes it ok.

I need help. In a big way. But not just with being a mom or getting in shape(ish); I can figure that out. (…right? right?) I would like very much to be serene or the kind of woman who can reach through the pain and hold tightly to the hope I know I already have. I just have to get out of the way.

“Remember, This Is For Posterity. So Be Honest.”

Behold: The New Face of Gestational Diabetes!
new face of diab
Because why wouldn’t I get it. I fall into exactly zero of the high-risk categories. It’s just how my body has chosen to deal this time around. Isn’t that adorable? Know what else is adorable? Not being able to eat sugar or bread during Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas seasons. So. Cute.
I have friends who are genuinely unable to eat many of the foods I’ve loved and taken for granted, and I’ve always pitied those people. I have friends who have chosen to reject foods I’ve loved for the sake of principle or belief that they are simply not healthy, and I’ve tried to understand them. Now having all the joy sucked out of eating, I pity myself. Sure, there’s a stupid legitimate “reason,” like: not making my baby too fat to deliver (ouch), or making him more prone to obesity, or passing the diabetic buck not only to him but also increasing the likelihood I myself will retain said prize–but the bottom line here is: I CAN’T EAT CAKE.

NO CAKE.

And he thought HE was sucking the life out of people...

And he thought HE was sucking the life out of people…

I’ve had to change how I think about food. I did the Atkins thing for about 26 hours back in college before I realized Screw. That. But now, in order to not plunge my face into my 4 year old’s candy bucket, I have to convince myself that I love quinoa.
Two weeks ago quinoa was a fake food.
Two weeks ago brown rice had no real purpose. (Actually, I still wonder about that since I’m only allowed 1/3 cup of it anyway.)
Two weeks ago salad was to add a splash of color to my plate.
Now it’s: Oh good! I can have an egg white omellette with cheese again for breakfast!
Now it’s: Oh thank GOODNESS, there is no bread included with this salad on the menu.
Now it’s: Oh YEY! Someone brought peanuts to the potluck!
This is what we in the business call A Turning Point. Because the alternative is abject misery for the next few months.

***

I have decided that I need to change my attitude, not only outwardly in what I say to other humans outside my family but inwardly in what I say to myself.
Pre-decision
Other Human: “So how do you like living here in Hawaii?”
Me: “It’s very beautiful!” (in my head: I really don’t like it very much at all. Please stop smiling at me with such arrogant expectation of my grateful happiness to be living in quote unquote paradise. Don’t you get tired of being hot? Your store is 87 degrees. It’s going to take me 45 minutes to get home–4 miles away.)

Post-decision
Other Human: “So how do you like living here in Hawaii?”
Me: “It’s very beautiful!” (shut up shut up it IS beautiful stop now stop now)

See? Totally different.
thumbs up

I have begun to feel guilty for putting on a face that isn’t mine when out in public but then being so negative at home. Honesty is great, but not always helpful. And it’s not that I’m trying to trick myself–I know I don’t like it here. But that doesn’t mean I can’t try to concentrate on the good stuff. If I can blissfully make it 45 minutes through traffic without really registering frustration at the painfully slow movement of vehicles because I’ve been pretending I’m the main character in a Korean Drama for most of that time, then why can’t I pretend I really don’t mind living here? Maybe if I pretend long enough, it’ll start to be true.

***

As I was opening the mirrored side medicine cabinet one morning, I caught a profile view of myself in the big main mirror. I looked a bit off. My nose looked a little more Rocky Grazziano-ish than normal. My mouth seemed crooked. Huh. Weird… So I started adjusting the medicine cabinet mirror to see my face the way it must look to other people looking at me from other angles. The results were disturbing. My mouth IS crooked. My nose DOES have a weird bend to it. Has my face always been this asymmetrical or did I just never notice? Can I blame Hawaii–I mean, pregnancy for this one too?
Bloody noses, infections that don’t really count as infections, fainting, diabetes, wicked evil leg cramps from the pits of Hell, and now shape-shifting? IS the landscape of my frakking face actually being altered? Can that happen?

***

Most likely, my face has not changed. I am only just noticing it. Just now seeing it. And I’m not pleased with some of the details. But even less pleasing is the new view of the kind of person I’m letting myself become. I don’t want to be the negative one in my home. Even if it’s in my own head.
So I have to rethink this. Again. There are two new plans, and one new plan is usually enough for me. Redesign my diet and redesign my mindset. (For real this time.) I’ll just have to deal with my face though, cuz while plastic surgery is all the rage in the K Dramas, I can’t pretend myself all the way under the knife.

Fight or Flight or Zzzzzzz…

It’s the story of my life: I’m perfectly fine. Until I’m not.
I was driving the kids to school, inching through traffic on the H1 a little after 7am and just about to get off at my exit. We were listening to music, war-gaming occasional strategies to facilitate the making of “good choices” and avoiding boo-boos. I was to drop them off and then head straight over to Kalihi for my very first week of leading a small group in Bible study. I was vaguely nervous, but assumed all would be well and that, as when I taught the composition classes in grad school, as soon as I got in there (many times after putting together a lesson plan literally 10 minutes beforehand in the bathroom) I’d manifest, The Persona: I’d magically come up with confidence I didn’t feel, trains of throughout I’d not prepared in the least, and an extroverted personality that exuded charm, inclusion, and the appearance of intelligence and authority on the subject on which I was supposed to be well-versed. (At least, that’s how I always felt. The students’ impressions of my charm and intelligence are irrelevant.) However, I fully expected to feel ill the few moments before going in. Every time.
But I was still on the H1 exit ramp. I hadn’t even completed Phase 1 of the morning. I was not supposed to be ill yet–this was still prime denial of responsibility time.
Yet, there I was, now at the stop light before the first of four ridiculously long stops, sandwiched between cars with nowhere to pull over, and feeling I had to go to the bathroom, throw up, and dump a bucket of water over my body at the same time. And the prickling… Son of a…I was going to pass out. Soon.
I drank from my water bottle. I bounced my legs up and down. Cranked up the AC full blast. Placed my wrists against any cool surface. No dice. I prayed to make it around the corner to the extremely sketchy road with several abandoned residences and overgrown parking “lots” of various failed businesses. LONG feeling story short, I was able to jerk the minivan across oncoming traffic to get off the road.
Raise your hand if you’ve been nearly 7 months pregnant and tried to put your head between your knees…

A celebration of life... Dralion
I managed to stay conscious and get the kids to school, where I had to put my head again between-ish my knees before calling my people to tell them I didn’t’ think I could make it to Bible study. I was going to the hospital.
And why not? Since Sam’s surgery and my last appointment it had been nearly nine days since I drove around the Tripler parking lots cussing like an HBO character that there were no places left. I almost missed it.
Still feeling distinctly “off” but considerably less likely of killing anyone due to unconsciousness, I set off for the H1 again. This was not my first rodeo–I’ve fainted more than a few times in my day, in several exotic locales ranging from a Dominican marketplace to Heidelberg Castle’s ballroom, and at least once during each pregnancy–so I wasn’t so worried about that. It was the other sensation I had. One that I remember being present each time I went into labor. As I was driving I was struck by how freakishly calm I was. I even, purely as a social experiment, tried to spin myself up:
The baby isn’t ready. If this is labor, we’re in trouble, Precious.
It’s going to be ok.
You’re bailing on your very first week as a leader. That’s a great first impression. We told you last year you weren’t able to do this. See? This is what happens when you overextend yourself.
I’m not overextending. It’s the only thing I’m doing and both kids are in school now. It’s fine.
You’re not calling Sam. Why? Is it because you know something is wrong and you can’t handle seeing it confirmed on his face? It is, isn’t’ it.
I’ll call him when I know for sure. I don’t want to scare him for no reason.
You’re scared, aren’t you? You should be. This is the same feeling and it’s too soon. Something is wrong. You’re going to lose him too. Accept it now and then it won’t be so bad later.
I’m not scared. I’m really not. I don’t know why, but I’m really not.

As Labor and Delivery is on the opposite side of the hospital, and it was a special occasion, I paid for valet parking. That, my friends, is money well spent.
They (the doctors, not the valets) did all manner of tests on my blood pressure, blood, heart, baby–all perfectly fine. And despite my not being dehydrated, over the next couple of hours I was obliged to drink an inexplicable amount of water, just for kicks. Surprisingly,the extra gallon or so of water did improve my levels of whatever they were monitoring. Next they had me lie down and then stand up at several intervals. Again, blood pressure was fine, but my pulse was too high. There was an impressive sounding medical term for it, but the doctor explained it as my “fight or flight reflexes are very sensitive.” I was instantly ready to go. Now–apparently this isn’t as awesome as it sounds. My first thought was, “Great! Maybe I WOULD survive the zombie apocalypse!” because my current plan for any sudden plummet into a dystopian society is to shoot MYSELF in the head simply to avoid the stress of having to figure out how to survive…

I would much rather run away from something, or better yet, hide somewhere in a manner requiring no physical or mental exertion, than fight it. Public Speaking. Leadership of any kind. Confrontation. Expression of true feelings to someone’s actual FACE…no thanks.
Hawaii has had other plans for me. For the past six years I’ve been day-dreaming about the day when both kids are in school and it will finally be All About Me again during the day. Reading! Painting! Writing! K-Dramas! Haircuts! Shopping in stores full of breakable objects without anxiety!
Since they’ve entered school, my days could not have been less about me. I still have chores to do. I still run the same errands. Sam was still at home for the first month to make me feel a bit guilty about going out to do fun things on my own. Friends have been in crisis. Little old ladies have literally needed rides home from the doctor. I’ve become a leader of a group and have responsibilities associated with grown-up stuff which include making PHONE CALLS.

VintageScreamingWomanPink
And I’m just so hella tired all the time that after I do the things that need to be done, I’m too drained to pull out old stories I’ve never finished or set up the paints.

It’s ok to be a coward. As long as nobody can see me, right? As long as nobody calls me on being a coward. If I can foist it off on, “Oh, I’ve got WAY too much going on right now.” “I think I need to just take it easier on myself, ya know?” “Well, with the kids at home/at school/breathing, and Sam being injured/recovering injury/just getting back on his feet, and (ace in the hole) being pregnant…”
It’s ok to have it be All About Me. Just for a little while, see, not forever.
I’d convinced myself it was fine. It was more than OK to focus on myself. I deserved it, dammit. It wasn’t so much selfishness as it was self-nurturing.
I convinced myself it wasn’t an ugly thing. It would look ok–much like this designer maternity dress I’m wearing today. It was marked down from 190.00 to 7.00. I ask you–how could I NOT buy it!? Well, the fact that it isn’t really my size, is a bit risqué on the top, rubeun-esque from behind, and has a pretty significant, though faint, stain down the entire left side could have factored into the decision-making process. But if I just wear it around the house… The problem comes when I have to leave the house to pick up the kids. Am I going to change? I honestly haven’t decided yet.
If it ever IS All About Me, that would be fantastic. But then when it stops being All About Me I will be quite resentful. And, if I really think about it, when it was truly All About Me before we had kids, Sam was in Iraq, and I didn’t have to work, it got old pretty quick. Alone with my thoughts. Perfectly lovely, as long as they were good thoughts. It was fine. Until it wasn’t.
So, I’ll probably have to leave the house at some point and decide how I’ll be dressed when I get out there.

We have been in Hawaii for one year. They’ve closed the main gate we use to get off the housing area and funneled everyone allllllll the way around the reservation, adding more precious traffic-battling minutes to an already frustratingly long drive. And when that one re-opens, they’ll close the back gate–my secret passageway to the Commissary, PX, and God help us all, Target. I’m going to have to work harder to get places for a while. Commies.
Being forced to go this new way puts me smack in front Tripler Army Medical Center, resplendent in its pink facade on the mountainside as I come down one of the hills. Yesterday was a dark and overcast morning. I came up that hill and saw Tripler as we coasted down, and as I always do, immediately associated it with our first two months living in the lodging there. Which, if you might recall, sucked.
Next week will be one year since the second miscarriage. I remember thinking then that in a year everything would be different. We’d live in a house. We’d have friends. We’d have a life. We might even have another baby or close to it.
As I saw Tripler on that dark morning mountainside I also saw a huge arching rainbow right over the building. Perfectly centered. Perfectly symmetrical. Almost like it had been put there on purpose or something.

Being a 13 year old fitness conscious Asian time-traveler housewife

Thank you, Enfamil, for reminding me how old Baby #1 would be right now. And by “thank you” of course I mean, “bite me.” I swear, I unsubscribe to these emails every three weeks or so. Follow my example, Enfamil: Let it go. I know it’s hard to unwrite something, to unregister information. I feel you. But it’s time.

Muscle memory is extremely powerful. (Except, apparently, when I attempt an exercise program. I get Muscle Alzheimers when working out. A study should be done.) Even now, I had to go through the above paragraph and delete the extra spaces after the periods because I’ve been recently informed that two spaces are too many after a sentence. My thumbs are twitching. I feel compelled to click the space bar twice. I just did it.

My body’s muscles are quite insignificant. As they frequently remind me. The heart is a muscle. I can only assume mine is reasonably strong. But if imagination were a muscle I would be Miss Universe.

I have recently acquired and cultivated an obsession with Korean dramatic television starring a certain Korean actor–an obsession akin to the mindless infatuation experienced in the early 90s with one Sean Patrick Flannery who starred in the series “The Young Indiana Jones.” For the first time since middle school, I have had the pleasure of feeling the kind of brainlessness that produces such thoughts as, “If I were not myself I would totally have a shot with this person. It could happen!” and then leads to the purchasing of various teen magazines consisting mainly of neon framed photographs and headshots with little to no text to muddle the reader with the boundaries of reality. Watching these shows propels me back to my young teenager self, reflexes reverting to questing for Tiger Beat, collectable cards, and posters.

(…Does Korea have Tiger Beat? An equivalent surely. Can I google that? Who do I know still stationed in Korea?…)

I know several things. In my brain. Things like: That character is not a real person.  That guy you see with your eyes, having memorized those great lines and practiced those facial expressions and movements, he actually goes home and changes into less awesome clothes (you know, of this current century), probably has less than perfect skin and bloodshot eyes, tells rude jokes, short changes his waiter, and kicks his puppy. And: I’m quite happily married. Even if I actually met this person, there’d be no way I’d do anything about it. But on the days when it seems the culmination of my life’s work is the combined accomplishment of spending less than 200 dollars at Costco, mopping the kitchen floor AND vacuuming the upstairs, getting my daughter to use the toilet, and applying my eyeliner perfectly, I find myself escaping into that 13 year old’s World Of Ever Rising Hope. It happens without my realizing it until I’m pulling into the garage, putting the minivan in “park,” and my life as a 21 year old scrappy orphaned shop-keeper with perfect skin who has finally realized she loves The Guy who has relentlessly and amusingly (yet with an aloofness boarding on rudeness) pursued her after first rescuing her from a sniper suddenly ends. Or something involving time travel.

It’s a habit. I do it without thinking. And I feel like I should stop, cuz it can’t be too healthy, right? I have a good life. I have a beautiful and loving family. I’ve even almost stopped hating Hawaii. (The fact of my being surrounded by beautiful Asian people enables me to pretend I myself am a beautiful Asian person and thus that much closer to being a fictional character in a TV show whose plot would be unintelligible to me without subtitles is irrelevant.)

But hey, Self, whatever moves your furniture. At least you’re not doing heroine.

Muscle memory is an interesting thing. (two spaces, delete) I have no problem with memory. Or maybe I have a HUGE problem with memory, in that I hold on to stuff longer than I should. If the ideal muscle is strong and toned, which is the more effective strategy: hold on to everything/power through or let go of everything/free myself of the potentially painful before I know its purpose? If I power through, focusing on the reality of each situation, I’ll become a more rational person. If I escape into my Choose Your Own Adventure head several times a day, whenever I feel something unpleasant, I’ll eventually become incapable of operating without the constant scrolling of an alternate ending in the back of my mind.

I tried a new exercise DVD last week and was so proud of myself for pushing through the pain. The next morning, my own legs nearly threw me down the stairs because they couldn’t handle stepping down. This is not a humorous exaggeration. I slid down two steps and had to cling to the railing with both hands like I was on the sharply tipping Titanic. I’ve only just regained the proper use of them and am hesitant to attempt such a work out again. But I’m about to be 35 and suddenly acutely aware that spending my free time reclining on various soft surfaces while scooping forkfuls of King Cake into my mouth does not benefit my physique. So.  Hold on to everything, remember it all, do battle with my fantasy coping skills, push through the pain, and risk throwing myself down a staircase? Or let go of the past, escape into my increasingly complex library of imaginary scenarios that distract me and make me feel better, accept daily disappointments with an immediate irrational substitution, and risk getting fat? (Yeah. This is how my mind works.)

Cue the subtitles.

Image

In the right light, this could absolutely be me.