Lourdes Mint's Mid-Life Miracle

Real-time memoir of the coming year (5/20/14 – 15) and the achievement of a life-long dream

Archive for the month “September, 2015”

The Question Is Disappearing. (Or: The Garden Orb)

Here’s a story for the Daily Prompt: Doubters Alert — “What commonly accepted truth (or “truth”) do you think is wrong, or at least seriously doubt?” @ https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/doubters-alert/Why?

My straight response comes afterward, if you’re interested.

***

“That’s not a hobo spider. It’s a garden orb. See here.” She passes him her device, the screen of which clearly shows the characteristic stripe of the harmless creature now squashed in the bottom of their tub. He pretends to look and nods, but he already knows, like almost anyone would, could.

“Hmm.” He says. He rubs his eyes, red from lack of sleep. The new baby cries in the next room. “So…”

“So, you killed it for no reason.”71dcMndpBgL._SL1500_

“I panicked,” he says quietly as she scratches vigorously at her upper arms. She’s been doing this since the birth. He chalks it up to postpartum hormone fluctuations, which he knows all about.

As he turns away, he makes a mental note anyway to look it up: postpartum + eczema, postpartum + scratching/itching, postpartum + tics, etc. She bends with noisy effort to collect the little pulpy mess with a square of toilet paper. “You panicked.”

She’s tossing the spider into the toilet, he thinks as he heads down the hall toward the baby’s room, and she’ll let it mellow with the yellow rather than flush it. One flush, even from their H2No toilet, uses more than a gallon of water. He knows. She knows. Everyone they know knows.

“Panicked!” she says louder, just now (perhaps) realizing that he’s left the room. Well, there are things one can do for that, you know. One doesn’t need to suffer that nonsense unless he chooses to!”

I know, I know, I know. We all know. You probably know already, too, were born knowing –— he thinks, looking at the baby before he gently lifts her into his arms. The baby’s eyes are clamped shut as she wails on, but there are no tears yet. That happens later. The crying is upsetting, of course, but less so if you understand that it’s normal. He finds it upsetting anyway, could not sleep, panicked. He’s very tired. Everyone’s tired. And all of this is normal.

He hears the toilet flush after all and then the still-pregnant-sounding footsteps of his wife as she approaches. “Or instead of getting help for your panic disorder, maybe you could try leaches or something, you know, to suck the bad blood out. But then again, it could be a demon. Too bad Father Cohee’s still in jail.”

Father Cohee has been dead for five years … she must know that, he thought. She’s exhausted.

Now, she is standing in the nursery door way, puffy-faced and drawn-looking at the same time. He hates it when she gets like this and this is worse than usual, but again and most important: he’s not surprised. He’s been expecting this. “You should try to sleep,” he says.

“I knew you were going to say that.” She attempts to tighten the draw string on her knit top, but her boobs, big and heavy as sacks of flour, get in the way. She starts to cry.

He blinks at her slowly, sensing something shifting, murky out of the corner of his eye. He turns to face the baby and begins to hum to her. His wife stomps off and slams a door. I would too, he thinks. I’m a shit.

In bed later, his wife turns to him and says, “‘The Old Gray Goose Is Dead.’ I searched and found a match for the tune you were humming. It was familiar, but I couldn’t place it. Please tell me you can come up with more suitable material for a lullaby.”

“I can.” Anyone can. “Good night.”

Sleep comes quickly and ends abruptly, with no dreams in between. The baby wakes at 11:00 p.m., 2:30 a.m., and 5:45 a.m. This goes on for a couple of weeks before a new pattern develops. All normal. All to be expected. There’s plenty of crying, there are harsh words, and there apologies. But there’s also joy (or some feeling he doesn’t really attempt to identify or even describe; he believes his wife feels it too) — moments the three of them share that seem gilded, brilliant with significance, before they’ve even passed. Again though, certainly all of it this is well-charted territory for new parents. (Except, except, except!)

Except for that weighty, winged thing fluttering about in the shadows of his peripheral vision.

Yes, except for that. No, he’s not sure what it is. He doesn’t know how to find out more about it. He’s not sure whether he should or can do anything in response. But he is sure he doesn’t want to panic — not now, especially.

When he was a child, he remembers now, he’d ask his mother so many questions (“Does God live in the The White House?” “What happens if you fall into lava?” “Where did the first seed come from?” “Why does Dad work at night now, too? Who goes to the dentist at night?” [She had a quick answer for that one: “Vampires, that’s who.”]) and usually — if she didn’t know the answer (and sometimes even when she did, probably) — she’d do just as most parents then believed good parents should: admit it and suggest going to find the answer together.

“Hmmm,” she’d say. “That’s a good question, but to tell you the truth, I have no idea. Let’s see if we can figure it out.” And they’d go straight to her laptop. Usually, they’d end up watching YouTube, funny clips or music videos that were popular when she was growing up … and, finally, they’d check out her Facebook page. He remembered often waking up in the middle of the night — either on the couch, his head on her lap, the laptop “sleeping” on the next cushion over, or in his father’s arms, being carried up to bed. The next day, he’d try to recall whether or not they’d found an answer to his question, not because he cared that much anymore but more “on principle” — he told himself then. He doesn’t remember that last detail now.

Tonight, the baby cries at a new time: 4:40 a.m. It’s his turn, he knows, and the pumped milk is ready and waiting in the fridge. He looks straight ahead, keeps his eye on the prize, passes another garden orb on the way: first the steps, then the fridge, next the bottle, now the baby, and finally the bottle + the baby. Ahhh, “there we go.” The crying stops.

She has real tears now, right on schedule, and once he brushes them away, he and she will stare into each other’s eyes until the bottle is finished — a great antidote, he’s found, to the dark, flapping thing. Then, sleep can begin again.

***

We give a lot of lip service to the importance of questions, questioning, curiosity, etc., to the superiority even of questions over answers, BUT our institutional, cultural, and personal practices seem to suggest otherwise: we are as afraid of “not knowing” as ever, speeding toward “certainty” on as many fronts as possible — some of us begrudging the believers their beliefs, others calling the scientists out on the seeming inconsistencies or contradictions in their conclusions. It is good to know, even when knowing = trouble, complications, or worse yet more questions. I think that maybe the only thing as irresistible as having the answers (at the risk of sounding sappy) is love (and with it, the fear of losing love), which puts the pedal to the metal in our drive to know.

 

 

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I did my thing (Part 2)

There’s no “I did my thing (Part 1)” so this may be cheating (but there is this: https://lourdesmint.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1214).

Anyway my thing was such a small thing: mailing a check — which is not to say that money is no object for us or the person we owed it to, because that’s definitely not the case. But in the grand scheme of getting our monster of a house ready for sale, this was one of the smaller costs … and we were then VERY close to putting it on the market. So mailing that check that day, with my old friend Rochelle’s words of wisdom in mind, I had to ask myself: exactly why had I procrastinated with this particular check, along with several other final DETAILS really, when working on the house/the move has been such a time-hog and soul-sucker for more than a year now?

The answer may be obvious. I have no idea. It’s going to take a while for me to dig myself out of the hole I fell into and regain perspective … or perhaps discover an entirely new one. But I think the biggest challenge will be in not looking for another albatross to hang around my neck once this one falls away. IMG_3520

People can become accustomed to and very adept at adjusting for the weight of their burdens, the frenzied tempo of chronic stress, even the warped “comfort zone” that is defined by the ever-widening gap of what they feel must do and what they can actually do. Looking back, I see I have traded in one albatross for another for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure why. But I don’t think it’s as much about being a glutton for punishment as it is about not being sure what I should or, no,  can do with my (relative) freedom — once more time & space become available in my life again.

 

 

What’s one small thing that you (yes, YOU) can do today? (Part 1)

IMG_2974Just thinking of my overwhelming list of to dos — the kind that follows me into the shower, spoons with me at night, and takes a bite out of my sandwich before I get a chance — and I thought about this friend of mine. I’ll call her Rochelle. She’d say, “just take one small thing off that list, one that you can do by yourself today (in under 10 minutes, say) and just do it.” Crossing that one little thing off your crushing, intimidating list steals a disproportionately large amount of its weight and bluster, according to her.

She did this for 80 days or something like that (I forget all of the details, but I think she gave herself as many days as she had items on the list) and FORBADE herself to add anything more to the list until everything on it was crossed off. For a while this was very hard for her and she’d sometimes sneak-start a new one, but then destroy it.

This idea completely freaks me out, still. No lists???

“But how’d you get all the other stuff done, the stuff that you HAD to do but that came up in the meantime, on say Day 48?” I remember asking …I still wonder.

She said she made a mental note of those things and did them too. To this day, she refuses to keep a to do list* that’s longer than four or five items and that can’t be done within a week or preferably a day. (WHAT???) What she discovered in the process of her little experiment, she said, was that her elaborate to do lists were a SHAM: not only were they a terrible form of procrastination and a really crappy reminder, right there in black and white, of how lame she was, but also they didn’t really work … for some people anyway, like me, like the old Rochelle. And — this is the best part — by relying more on her memory, she claimed that what she had to do became more integrated with who she was, her true values and priorities, in fact helped her manifest those things in her life. “I remember what I have to do because it makes sense for me to remember.” She’d also realized that so many of the things on her old to do lists were things she thought she SHOULD do versus things she really needed or wanted to do.

Today Rochelle is one of the most productive and successful people I know personally AND she’s living and making a living in line w/ her own ideas of what’s important. She talks a lot less than she used to, isn’t as twitchy either, seems happier, drinks less, but she’s still Rochelle. And this reminds me of one last thing she said about the old lists: she felt that they, along with other old habits, were like so many old friends who’d provided her comfort over the years, never let her down, were always there for her — and that for a long time, she equated getting rid of these habits with a sort of betrayal … not only of these friends but of a self that she’d formed in their trusted company. But they had become less comfortable for her over time (more on this later, maybe) and by saying goodbye to them, she actually felt more like herself, her true self, than she had in years.

So right now I’ve picked my thing, so small but slightly incriminating in my not having done it, and I hereby commit to getting it done today, crossing it off my list. Not sure yet whether I’ll commit to the rest of the plan.

Either way, I’ll report back later on my success.

WOULD LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT YOURS…

*As opposed to a grocery list or an action/implementation plan in list form, in which each item is the next step in a sequence of steps for getting X done

Your “plans” will never go as planned if …

Your “plans” will never go as planned if you make no plans. I really don’t like TOO MUCH of this kind of talk, coming out of my mouth or going into my ears, buzzing around in my mind, but today it fits. This week, this month, this year — I could go on — it FITS! Although it’s not really that I had no plans as much, I think, as that I might not have shared them best with the people who needed to know them most …

But I don’t want to hear, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” I don’t want to hear about the importance of spontaneity, etc. I have a PhD in that. Yes, I’m all for spontaneity, but to go well, even it benefits from a plan — in fact, I don’t think it can’t truly exist in the absence of a good plan. Without one to derail or to bust yourself out of, what is spontaneity really except doing something you feel like doing pretty close to the time you first thought of doing it? (No big deal.)

And how about free-wheeling? Love IT. (If my doctorate was in Spontaneity, my dissertation was on Free-wheeling.) But there too: you’ve gotta have that wheel in order to pull it off. And historically there’s not much that’s a bigger deal than the wheel when it comes to forward motion, progress, etc. At this very moment, I can’t think of a single thing. But maybe that’s because of where I am today, this week, this month, this year.

Anyway, look at this splendid young woman. I’ll bet she has herself a plan. Wheels too!

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Found on inked-dollz.blogspot.jp

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