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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Honest Scraps

Greetings, KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests, from your Now Empty-Wombed, Fully Caffeinated, Slightly Hungover Blog-o-Bee-Yatch!

A bit of background, for those of you who aren't blog-o-sphere regulars (GAWD, I can't believe that word has become a part of my everyday vocabulary): every once in a while, bloggers get these things called "awards" from other bloggers. Flattering and exciting, yes, but it's kind of like someone giving you a surprise puppy for Christmas: it requires, ahem - work - to accept and maintain. When you receive an "award," you can't just kick back and go "yay me." Nuh-nuh-no. Usually you're supposed to do something more with it, like write about a certain something, link back to a certain somewhere, and nominate a a handful of other bloggers for said award.

As for me, I have established myself as one of those bad blog-award receivers who never, ever, ever does what I'm supposed to do with these blog-o-wards. I get them from time to time, and I like it when I get them, because it makes me feel like a worthy human being. Yet, knowing that I will never conjure up the energy to actually do what I'm supposed to do with it, I never bother to even announce that I received it. That would be akin to merely kicking back and going "yay me," which I've already said you're NOT supposed to do.

(Similarly, I've built my own reputation as someone who NEVER remembers friends' birthdays - maybe the general month or season at best - which has let me off the hook, I think, for sending birthday cards at all, even to the friends who always remember mine. Not that I don't feel kinda bad about that, but I do find some self-comfort in knowing that it's "just the way I am," and I hope my friends view it as such, too.)


I just got another one from an unsuspecting blogger who obviously is unaware of my bad-blog-award receiver-ness: the Honest Scraps Award. This one involves posting seven honest things, hereby referred to as "scraps," about yourself.

Initially, I ran from this award like a bat out of hell, I think because I've been emotionally scarred by that 25-interesting-things-about-yourself thing infiltrating Facebook for the past month or so. What in fuck's name would make anyone want to read seven - let alone twenty-freakin'-five "interesting things" about me, or anyone else for that matter? Twenty-five things, times the 20-or-so friends that I have on Facebook, equals - well - you do the math: a LOT of "interesting things" to read about a lot of people. Plus a lot of time writing those things, time that could be spent clipping my toenails and making/drinking lattes.

On the other hand, the Honest Scraps Award, the more I think about it, is something I can do. It's a nice baby step; seven is not the same as twenty-five. And I like that "scraps" is such a generic term, meaning they can be honest anythings - not necessarily deep or serious or emotional, or even interesting for that matter.

So here I go.

1) Not an honest thing about myself, but an honest question, one that's been weighing heavily on my heart and mind: is it a common thing to have a FAX MACHINE at home? Seriously, is it? Because in the past few months, I can't tell you how many times I've had someone want to fax me something, asking for my fax number as though it's a given that I have one. The plumbers, faxing an estimate. The remodeling guy (that's REmodeling, ladies, not MODeling) wanting to fax me a drawing. The dentist, wanting to fax me a bill. The editor, wanting to fax me a contract. Um...excuse me, but what gives them the idea that I have a fax machine? Is this something that most people have, and I don't? Should I have one?

What's more, when I tell them I don't have a fax machine, they often wait in silence for me to come up with an alternative fax number to which I have access, as if I have one on the top of my head, which I don't. I suppose there's Kinkos, if I feel like battling Seattle traffic to drive to the nearest one, which isn't very close, and pay a few dollars. I suppose there's my work fax machine, but I hardly think that receiving a plumbing estimate is appropriate use of an office fax machine (is it?) Anyway, this seemingly prevailing assumption that I own a fax machine baffles me to no end.

2) When I was in college, I traveled around France and Switzerland for a month by myself, stumbled across a remote Swiss sheep farm in the Jura Mountains, and demanded in broken French that they let me stay there and herd sheep for the summer. I don't know why; I just really wanted to do this. Remarkably, they told me yes, and I slept in the top of a barn on a dusty mattress on a bed of hay, sneezing and wheezing through the night because of my dust-and-fur allergies, and traipsing through the fields with sheep during the day. I ate breakfasts alone at a wooden table; the farm owner would bring me bread and butter and coffee from the main house. At night, we would all go drink some kind of potent, nasty-tasting fermented liquor with the bearded farmer a few fields away. After a few weeks, I was so tired of being allergic that I left, hitch-hiking back to Geneva with a strange man in a clunky old station wagon, his severely retarded and drooling son in the back seat beside me, staring at me and picking his nose.

It was a surreal experience, and I still found hay and dust and clumps of sheep wool in my luggage and underwear for months to come, the image of that man's drooly, mumbling, nose-picking son forever etched in my mind. It was an image that made me feel deeply afraid and sad about something I could never quite define (but I loved the sheep herding experience).

Okay, I'd better start making these shorter, or it's going to be a long morning.

3) I have a tendency to hugely, passionately love everyone when I first meet them (unless they ignore me, or are so quiet that I have to work too hard to fill the space with conversation), even if we have political differences or whatever. I believe there is always common ground to be found. Usually this is fine. The only time it's not fine is when I realize two or three months later that there is something about them that rubs me the wrong way, like a particular habit, mannerism, or attitude that I find to be bothersome. By that point, if I've already let them into my life and heart, I must then figure out a way to discreetly push away from them, which I'm horrible at doing. Luckily, this doesn't happen very often.

4) I've always wanted to find ways to be more tangibly spiritual, and have been consistently disappointed in organized religion as a way to achieve that, in part because preach-i-ness in any form gets on my nerves (and what is church, other than a place to be preached at?). Even Unitarian Church, which I try once a year or so, leaves me wondering why I wasted a perfectly good morning listening to someone tell me supposedly meaningful things that don't really carry much meaning (to me), instead of sitting at home on my ass eating fried eggs and sausage links and reading the Sunday paper. Maybe some day.

5) For some reason, this one is hard to say out loud. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's hard to frame it without sounding like I'm putting down the lives of my wonderful real-life-friends and blog-o-friends with children. Let me preface this by saying that this is just my own personal, tortured view of myself and my life, my twisted priorities, shaped by my past and my family and the environment I grew up in. It is this: that notion of having a child, although it inspires in me a sense of wonderment and longing, also terrifies me to no end - and always has.

My initial decision to go off the pill, years ago, was itself fraught with reluctance and anxiety on the part of both me and Kevin. We simply didn't know if the obvious compromises involved with raising a child would be compromises either of us could make without becoming depressed. To this day, I am terrified of Motherhood becoming my life and sole identity, of myself becoming a Mother and nothing more. Again, not that being a Mother is nothing. It is something, and something wonderful and important, requiring utmost passion and talent and skill, perhaps more than I myself have. I admire my SAHM friends who pour their all into their children. Even so, I am fearful of my other ambitions and passions (of which I have many) being eclipsed by the responsibilities of parenthood.

Here's what I was fortunate to have grown up hearing from my family:

"Find your passions, Monica, and do something with them."

That is: I was pushed to do more than graduate, find a job, get married, have babies. From an early age, my parents pushed me to study abroad, join sports, do art, spend my high school summers doing volunteer work in the mountains of Idaho and Colorado, submit essays to contests, audition for plays, join the Peace Corps, find and develop my so-called talents, or at least my passions, go after the job I wanted, get published, whatever. It didn't matter what my passions were or how "good at them" I became; it only meant that I had some thing I loved, something I developed a talent in, and that I pursued it with gusto.

So I did, and here I am, passionate about things in my life that have nothing to do with producing babies. I'm an artist, and in fact, once had an art business, and might have one again someday. I'm a writer, and in fact, am striving to finish a book. I love traveling, and in fact, have made it a point to leave the country at least once a year. I'm a college faculty member, and in fact, I'm proud of myself for becoming one. I'm not rich by any means, but I make decent money, and I like bringing money into the household. I am proud of earning half our income, and enabling us to purchase a home. I like having parties, and in fact, I have lots of parties. These things ARE my life, and I can't bear the thought of losing them. And I have even more goals for myself in the future - creative goals, professional goals, life goals, traveling goals. And the thing is: none of them requires or involves a child.

Again, and I have to continue to emphasize this again and again, "being a mom" IS - I believe - an important or tremendously difficult task, one that does require inspiration and passion and skill. What's true is that when I eavesdrop on mommy-conversations at Starbucks at 3pm on a weekday, or conversations of baby-lifting exercise classes at Green Lake in the mornings, their conversations rarely inspire me, or make me wish I could partake. I think I'd be the mom half-listening, staring out the window, getting spring fever, wondering when I would get my break from Motherhood, from these Mothers, from these Motherly conversations. Wondering where on earth I had gone, and if and when I'd ever return.

Maybe these conversations would be interesting if I had a baby. Maybe my entire set of life priorities would happily and naturally shift, guided by the pure and undying love for my child, the pleasure of spending my days home alone with that child. As someone who carried a baby to term, I can say that I DID feel a seismic shift of some sort deep within my soul, a love I had never felt before. But what if I had a baby, and those conversations - that lifestyle - STILL wasn't interesting to me? Then what? Would I feel as alienated from my friends as I sometimes do now?

I realize I could totally be setting myself up for people to say hurtful things like: so, why do you even keep trying to get pregnant at all, you selfishly passionate and un-parentlike person? Or: You brought your losses upon yourself (god, please don't ever say or think that, or my heart will fracture). Or: Why are you putting down the thing that I'm trying so hard to get? I'm not putting it down. I'm just saying, it's complicated. Or: You must not really be sad about your losses, then. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I miss Zachary, especially him, and I deep down I know I would have figured out how to weave Motherhood into my life without losing my sense of self. For him.

(I have to add one more redundant footnote because I'm horribly insecure and sensitive. To avoid Jesus or anyone else coming down on me, I should add, again, that I love and respect all of my friends who chose to have a child and stay at home to raise that child. And to repeat: none of this makes losing a child any less sad or horrible for me, nor does it lessen the love that I felt and feel for my first and second lost ones, nor does it make me less achingly hopeful that my future pregnancies will work out. It only colors the way that I deal with my losses, and compounds the issue of whether to try again, whether to keep pursuing parenthood. And it is a scrap, a very honest scrap, which is the point of this award.)

6) I love meat, speaking of bacon scraps, but I also love animals, and get disgusted by the thought of eating their flesh. Pigs are especially hard for me. I love pigs, but I love bacon. To make myself feel better, whenever I eat meat, I push the fact that it came off an animal's bones out of my mind.

There are only six honest scraps. Since the fifth one was long enough to count for two, AT LEAST, I'm going to say that I wrote seven. Let me think some about who to pass this along to, and get back 'atcha with that.

Off to brunch - yes, involving bacon!


Michelle said...

You remind me so much of my best friend who also is terrible at remembering things so that is ok by me.

OMG the fax machine thing I have just recently been having this problem too! I have had no less then 5 people in the last week say let me fax that to you and then when I say I don't have a fax they say "does you husband"...uh yea he does he just doesn't let me use it...stupid.

It sounds like you have got to do some tremendously exciting and fulfilling things and that is what I think will make you such a wonderful mother someday! I know it scares you because I have those feelings too sometimes but I think you will find a good balance because it seems like you are really well equipped to do that.

I really hope you are doing well. think about you often. Sending you lots of hugs my friend!

schweze said...

Hooray for your fucking profanity-laden friends!

Austen said...

This entry made me smile. Two quick things... First, regarding your emotional scarring from FB. I am quite certain that the people who tagged you did so because they did want to read 25 things about you. And I am also sure that they assumed if you didn't want to read things about them, then you wouldn't. So, hopefully this "honest scrap" exercise has allowed you to put that trauma behind you. ;)

Second, regarding your ambivalence about motherhood, most of the women I know have felt that way. Perhaps it has something to do with the unknown or change... In any case, you are not alone. As with everything, the sum of our experiences define us. You will likely never be "only" any one thing.

So, rest well. And enjoy your bacon. :)

'Murgdan' said...

I am a WAY worse award receiver than made a real honest scrap effort with this one. I have never done any...well, since my first month of blogging. I suck.

I have a fax machine, but it isn't plugged in and I just use it as a printer. An expensive printer.

I too traveled around France...and Italy alone...but only for 2 weeks...and not really that alone, because I tagged up with a tour group for half of it (but I was alone, other than the bus full of old people)

I mostly don't like anyone when I first meet them. So you're way more positive than me.

And. No religion, thanks. I go to the Church of Starbucks on Sunday mornings.

Not that I had to make YOUR honest scraps all about me...but you know, I did. Sorry. I'm such a self-centered bitch, eh?

Brenna said...

Wow, these may very well have been the meatiest scraps I've ever seen! I was fascinated reading them--and of course could identify with a few. I went back to eating chicken and turkey and fish when I was pregnant with the boys after years of vegetarian life, and now I can't seem to give up that protein. I haven't been able to make the full crossover back to pork and beef and lamb and all of that, though--which I realize is a silly distinction (what, I'll eat things with feathers or scales but not things with fur?!) but whatever works. I feel healthier having some non-plant protein back in my life, so that's that.

I'm completely amazed by the sheep farmer story. Have read any of Haruki Murakami's work (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is where I started)? He has this sheep man character that appears in some of his novels (and of course there's the entire novel, "A Wild Sheep Chase") and for some reason when I read about your summer herding sheep Murakami came to mind. He's an interesting author to read!

As for your feelings on motherhood, I can relate. I wonder if we all can, on some level? From where I stand, unfortunately, I worry not so much that motherhood will keep me from continuing on the richly fulfilling path that I'm on (because, to be honest, I'm not on any path that particularly thrills me) but rather I worry that I might be using the pursuit of children to fill some hole within myself that should be filled in other ways. On good days I can convince myself that this isn't the case, but on bad days...well, it's hard. Let's just say that I understand the conflicted feelings child loss can stir up--misery mixed with so many questions.

Thanks for sharing these, by the way!

sharonvw said...

Oh dear, I just awarded you Honest Scraps and only saw this posting now.
I'm stunned you even did this one knowing how much you hate these things! ;-)

Cara said...

I saw your post title and thought, "I MUST know 7 honest things about this chick!"

I can totally see you embracing a new "stranger" friend with all your words and energy!

And - FYI - to avoid he "You don't have a fax?" dilemma, I just say, "Oh - it's on the fritz", then I don't look like such a non-techno-refuse-to-conform moron.

For, yes - I am also that person who still makes withdrawls by writing a check to cash!

Zee said...

Just popped in from...I don't remember where, actually, but I enjoyed this scraps meme a lot. I can completely relate to wanting the kids, but not being a mom-tastic person. For me it had everything to do with VB--wanting to have a kid with him, since before I met him I was never a kid person. But even after five unsuccessful years of battling infertility, I also sometimes wonder the same thing Brenna does above. (I don't even want admit any of this to myself, so for heaven't sake don't tell anyone!) As to loving to be friends with animals and also loving to eat them: I'm with you there too. I've just decided that it's a hypocrisy I have to live with, and then I try not to think about it. (Difficult in Denmark, however, where each packet of meat contains a detailed history of the animal - where it was born, raised, slaughtered, packed, favorite color, turn-ons, turn-offs. So, I tend to stick to hot dogs from the street carts whenever possible.)

jillkitchen said...

It is not common in my experience to have a fax machine at home. For a while, it seemed like more people did, but now, especially in NY, most people have access to scanners which removes the need for a fax machine. You just send a PDF! My home printer was cheap and does copies and scans, super easily.

I love the sheep farm story! I nearly collapsed laughing. I want to hear more about it! It sounds divine, aside from the allergies. Recently heard of a friend with a pig farm in France, I was fantasizing about their rustic (though smelly) existence. One that includes bacon, one of my favorite food groups, too!

Regarding the spirituality, have you tried meditation at all? I can't do organized religion either, but meditation has been an interesting and rewarding experience over the past month. Also, I've always wanted to check out a Quaker meeting - I've heard you mostly just sit in silence, which sounds pretty great to me.

Your parents are awesome - it is so great that they encouraged you in the ways that they have. Not many parents are like that. While mine try not to limit me, they are often unsupportive of my passions - like, why would you want an MFA in creative writing? How about law school instead? It's great that you love playing music, but shouldn't you be out somewhere finding a stable job with good benefits and money?

I think, from everything you write, even your doubts, that you would make an incredible mom. I even had a dream about it!