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Monday, March 30, 2009

The Mysterious Male

Greetings, KuKd Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

There's this KuKd blog that Heather, one of my cool cat readers, alerted me to. It's written exclusively by - get this - a DUDE! I'm talking a real live DUDE with pectorals and all (presumably). I've gotten rather addicted to it, this blog. I love all of its dude-like qualities: the dude-like font. The dude-like color scheme. The minimalistic design.

Even the words themselves are minimalistic in a dude-like way - not high-end literature or anything - but just saying with brutal and concise honesty what needs to be said, not adding extra fluffy details. Meticulously including the details that matter. Unlike many of the men I know, this is a dude who openly and expressively FEELS! By that, I mean he is experiencing lasting ramifications of his wife's knocked-downage a year or so ago, and putting that experience into very dude-like words. Not so many words to make it a female blog, where things are so often expressed using as many adjectives and needless repetitions and circuitous routes as possible. No no, much more economical than that.

Right now this blog has four followers, all women. I'm one of those, of course, and there's Heather and Sarah too, both blog readers-o-mine. Anytime there are comments on this KuKd dude's posts, they're usually from one or more of the four of us, responding not just to him but to each other, clucking and cooing around him like nosy and nurturing hens. He's like our own personal pet male project: a KuKd man in need of comfort!

You see, I've never really been able to cluck and coo around Kevin. Just doesn't happen. I mean I do over little things, like if it sounds like he's getting a cold or something, but just so terribly much over the Kukd. There's a chapter in my manuscript where I discuss the mysteriousness of ordinary, Pabst-drinking, Sports-Center-watching guys when they're hit with something as traumatic as stillbirth. How do those ordinary, Pabst-drinking, Sports-Center-watching guys grieve when a shit-bomb gets dropped on their heads? How do they feel? How do they express what they feel? They don't cry very much, that's for sure. At least, Kevin did a few times, but none of the all-out, blowing-your-nose-on-the-pillow-case-while-cussing-out-jesus kind that I did.

Kevin is what I would consider an "ordinary dude" by most measures (except kinder, gentler, smarter, and more into Harry Potter than most "ordinary dudes"). I distinctly recall having this type of conversation frequently after our Shitty Event:

Me: "How ya doing?"
"Doin' arright."
"Sure?"
"Yup."
"But I mean, are you really really sure?"
"Yup. What else do you want me to say?"

He sort of got that cornered-rabbit look about him, like I was digging and prying and pressing for just..MORE. There had to be more, damn it! More female emotional complexity layered under that tough exterior! After lots of conversations like that, I was left to assume that he was - in fact - fine. Or at least, as fine as I was ever going to know. My parents and friends would pry me for more information (no really, how IS Kevin??), as though I had some kind of secret spousal access to his brain that nobody else had. But I didn't. All I could say was, Kevin seems pretty much fine.

It's not that he didn't grieve in his own way. He did. I think there were other things he was grieving besides just the loss of the baby. There was the fact that he suddenly had no control over anything, no devices to really help me or himself or anyone else. All of his conventional and pragmatic wisdom about how to contribute to the relationship, how to protect me and the burgeoning baby, no longer were relevant. He's a guy. A straight-up, son-of-a-Marine-Corps-colonel, beer drinking, sports-watching, boxers-wearing, boob-loving guy. Not the type to ever do a blog or sit and talk to me for hours about his feelings. I always wanted to wrest more emotion out of him - more deep and poignant thoughts - than I was ever able to do. Which perhaps is why I gobble up this KuKd dude's blog like one gigantic In-and-Out burger.

I should add that those are the very qualities I love about my husband. They are some of the things that drew me to him in the first place. God, if he talked and emoted as profusely as I do, I'd probably feel closed in and die. It's the exact kind of guy I'm drawn to - all of my guy friends except this one anomaly at work are that way. Aggravatingly-yet-endearingly practical, pragmatic, economical with words and ways, always on an even keel, chilled out. There's something just awesomely sexy about that, in my opinion.

Anyway...not that this aforementioned blogger isn't sexy in his own way. He is. It's because the things he says, the word he uses, are the things and words that would be used by the kind of guy I just described. Someone who doesn't say much in person, keeps those roller-coaster emotions in check, but rants about it anonymously online.

Speaking of which, the anonymousness brings a whole new element of mystery. Who knows, really, if this guy is really a guy at all? Maybe it's a housewife named Marge, or a famous chef named Maryama, or a teen girl skipping school and making up a new persona. It sort of got me thinking: it would actually be oddly cathartic to start a totally anonymous blog, and rant and rave about stuff on it, without caring what people say or think.

I could promote it on this blog, posting something about this "awesome, ranty new blog I just discovered..," not letting on that it was really mine! How cool would that be! It would be like Clark Kent and Superman! Interestingly, I know of one other dude with an anonymous ranty-ravey blog (well, not anonymous to me, obviously) - and he's just the type. Cool as a cucumber in his everyday real life, ever-reasonable and rational, and then unleashing his dramatic fury in a safe and disguised setting (and yes, he does fall into the "awesomely sexy" category too, for all of the things I just described. I wonder how HE'D handle stillbirth).

Anyway.

I probably shouldn't be talking about stillbirth, miscarriage, awesome sexiness, and ranti-raviness all in the same post. This just feels wrong somehow. I think jesus might be hovering over and watching me with disapproving eyes.

In conclusion, I've successfully figured out nothing about how ordinary-Pabst-drinking-Sports-Center-watching dudes grieve, not unraveled the mystery of the elusive Dead Baby Daddy perspective a single inch. So if you have anything useful to add, bring it baby, bring it!

Off to crank up the electric blanket to the highest level and go night-night.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Barf, Barf! Everywhere, Barf!

Greetings, KuKd/TTC Homegirls and Inquisitive Guests!

For the longest time, I've resisted the urge to pepper this blog with non-KuKd-related snippets of my personal life. I cave in and do it sometimes, but not too often. It's kind of like, what would be the point of that? Chances are, you're not here to read about the status of that hangnail on my left index finger, or which new recipe I screwed up horribly yesterday evening, or how I would rank my most recent bowel movement. Nuh-nuh-no, not you.

You're here to read about DEAD BABIES!

That is, you're here because you lost a baby or a fetus or a clump of baby-like cells, or because you have trouble getting knocked up, or because you've given up on getting knocked up, or because you're just oddly fascinated by dead-baby-related musings, or because you're a friend or family member who pops over to check out my online persona, or because you stumbled over here on accident after Googling "miscarrying hamster" or "does semen smell like brie cheese," as other poor innocents have in the past. For the most part,

you're here to read about DEAD BABIES!

Besides, rambling aimlessly about life in general was never the point of this blog. The purpose was, and still is, to write about - you guessed it -

DEAD BABIES!

and various aspects thereof.


All of that said, I've decided to allow myself a TEENSY-WEENSY bit more wiggle room to write about non-dead-baby-related topics from time to time - at least to include such things when they're on my mind. As some of you know, when you move along down that pipeline of time - away from when an event comprised about 110% of your total identity - it starts to comprise less of who you are. Which makes the urge to write about other non-KuKd topics more pronounced.

To put it differently (and I'd better switch to first-person pronouns here, for who am I to make general "truthy" statements about humanity): whereas stillbirth used to weigh down on my soul like a thick and heavy layer of cream on top of, larger than any other part of who I was, it's now sunk down and broken up, homogenizing itself into the rest of me. Which means that in real life, outside of Blog-i-stan, I am just as likely to talk about...oh...that awesome new thift store that just opened down the street, as I am to talk about my knocked-downage (for a more detailed discuss on where loss lives, click here or here.)

Anyway.

As you probably guessed, in the spirit of homogenization of loss, I'm going to focus on a personal snippet this morning, and hope that you'll indulge me, understand, and forgive. It does relate to your favorite topic

(DEAD BABIES!)

in a roundabout way, I suppose.

Last night, Tebow - my dog, aka Cheap Baby Substitute (see the connection?) - ate half of a tennis ball. That is: he chewed it into dime-sized bits and swallowed those bits, with a naively happy look in his scruff-fringed eyes. Now, I won't say I didn't know he was chewing on a tennis ball. He's a terrier, and terriers chew on things. What I didn't realize was that he was actually retarded enough to swallow those bits like a classic short-bus retard dog.

Honestly, I thought I knew my son. Um, I mean my dog. We brought him on this road trip from Seattle, specifically assuring Kevin's family that Tebow is SO WELL BEHAVED that you hardly know he's there. I thought he knew better than to swallow bits of chewed tennis ball, that he had some self-control, some survival instinct - like believing your teenage kid knows when to stop drinking, so you go ahead and let him keep that six-pack under the bed, just to allow him to practice being a responsible adult. Tebow has never done that before - or if he has, he's always shat out those foreign bits in an inconspicious way, not making an issue out of it.

Anyway.

Hours later, when everyone else was asleep (by "everyone else," I'm talking about Kevin and his parents, as we are currently on an in-law visiting trip in Phoenix) and I was awake like a caffeinated author-wannabe typing madwoman on speed, Tebow began to puke. Not just a little bit of heave-ho-ing, not a mere few tablespoons of fluffy-and-easily-cleanable-pet-vomit on the kitchen floor. No no. This was LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of wet, nasty, puke on Kevin's mom's carpet - here and there and everywhere. He was like this unstoppable vomiting machine: everytime I heard him barfing in one corner, I'd race over to grab him and set him in different room, and I'd hear him barfing again. Piles of doggy puke, here and there and everywhere!

I couldn't keep up, but was determined to handle this on my own, without rousting Kevin from sleep.

I should add that Tebow's vomit, not surprisingly, was full of little fragments of rubber tennis ball. Which - just to give you a clear image here - I only discovered by closely scrutinizing my dog's vomit from half-an-inch away.

Exactly what I wanted to be doing on my drinking-screwing-writing vacation: examining someone else's barf.

For the record, I hate barf. I really, really hate it - seeing it, smelling it, imagining it, stepping in it, sensing its nearness. Other bodily fluids I can handle - blood, puss, what have you - but when I see a puddle of someone else's throw up on the sidewalk, it haunts me for days and weeks, sometimes ruining my appetite. My worst fear is that someone might barf into my lap or directly into my face - it's like this weird phobia I can't explain. I actually thought for a while that the Person Controlling the Gears Up There (known to some people as God, but I call him the Big Asshole) decided not to let me have any babies, because He knew I couldn't handle people's throw up, and would therefore be an unfit mother (if that's true, then he does have a point).

Luckily, animal barf is nowhere NEAR as god-awful as human barf, so I was able to maintain relative composure as I raced from room to room, frantically scraping/sopping/sponging up puke puddles from my in-law's carpeted floors.

It soon got to where Tebow was dry heaving up nothingness - just air and a bit of that biley, yellowish nastiness that's left in the dredges of the stomach when everything else has been projected outward by force. I had a sudden image of my cheap-baby--substitute dog dying of over-vomiting, if that can really happen. Puking up an intestine or a spleen, or popping out an eyeball with the sheer force of his heaves, or - worse - of there still being shards of tennis ball lodged in his gut, festering, slowly releasing toxins of the modern industrial age into his bloodstream.

So, blinking back panicked tears, I rousted Kevin. That is: I conceded that I could not, would not, handle this by myself, while my feminist foremothers glared at me from heaven, condemning me for effectively undoing all they had fought for. We would have dealt with this on our own, without a man's help, because WE were stronger and more independent than you, Monica. But you know what? Screw it -it was late at night, I was tired and cranky and not making any headway on my book project, surrounded by vomit stains and a trembling, whimpering dog who was throughly confused and horrified by what was happening to his own body, and just not in the mood to play the military-wife-who-handles-every-catastrophe-on-earth-singlehandedly, like Kevin's mom always did.

(By the way, have you ever noticed the look that crosses a dog's face after he vomits? It's a look of, "can somebody please help me interpret this event for me?" and "what the crappity-crap is that mildly dinner-scented mass that just appeared before me, seemingly from nowhere?")

Parenthood is a shared duty, so I felt justified in seeking Kevin's manly help (as my friend George would say, what did I expect Kevin to do about any of this? use his penis as a vomit-vacuumer?). To make long story a bit less long: two hours of driving around Phoenix in the middle of the night with Tebow throwing up onto my lap (yes, my worst nightmare coming to fruition!), sitting in the 24-hour emergency vet and $250 later, Tebow pumped full of hydration and happy-tummy-meds, we all made it home and got to sleep around 3am.

I sort of wonder if this is practice for real parenthood, if the Big Asshole up there is testing me to see how I handle things, if I might be ready for making a baby someday. I'd rate myself...oh...a C+.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Our Waitress is Carrying a Child

Hello, Wordsmiths!

It looks like we've got some nice vocabulary to work with - I'm going to let that post sit there and fester for a few more days before I return to it and recap what new words we learned/created. This KuKd cool cat (who, like me, has also experienced the infamous Blight of the Ovum, which - contrary to popular belief - is not a World War II battle or wrecked alien spaceship), is also on a vocabulary creation journey of her own. Be sure to check out her new contribution to our lexicon, BFA, which also includes a nifty graphic.

Moving on...

Have I mentioned that I'm on a road trip right now?

That's right - Kevin, Tebow and I are coasting along the freeway corridor connecting Washington to Arizona, via Idaho and Utah. Tebow is our dog, by the way, for those of you who are popping in for the first time. This is our spring break, and since realizing how easily and terrifyingly bad shit can happen, we've decided to not waste a single week of work-free life by sitting on our arses eating Cup-o-Noodles.

Here's how we do it: stock the back seat with food in a cooler, so that we don't spend any money on breakfast and lunch, and fill the trunk with beer and wine, so that we don't have to spend any money on drinks. After all, we all know that money spent at the grocery store, unlike at a bar or restaurant, isn't REAL money (Kevin doesn't totally agree with me on this, but hey).

Then, while Kevin drives (as the son of a Marine Corps colonel who flew those huge helicopter-like monstrosities in the Gulf War, Kevin is more genetically inclined to operate a motor vehicle successfully than I am), I wear my anti-nausea wristbands and type frenetically on my laptop, reminding Kevin to stop if he sees a nice-looking truck stop. I love exploring truck stops. To keep myself from projectile vomiting all over the keyboard, I drape a t-shirt over my head and the dashboard to make a little tent, blocking out the puke-inducing scenery whizzing by. Screw the pretty mountains and rolling farmland: this KuKd momma has a book to write, a blog post to churn out! Life is too short to look at the mountains!

Last night, we pulled into Boise, Idaho, which is where I am now. Boise's okay and all, but what I REALLY liked was checking into our anti-septic smelling motel room (I LOVE MOTELS!) and enjoying our own little low-budget happy hour, complete with cheap wine out of styrofoam cups and cans of beer, good conversation, and dinner at an Eye-Talian restaurant across the street. I told Kevin I wanted checkered table clothes, candles, a dark wood interior, and a humongous plate of spaghetti that we could share, using our mouths to play tug-of-war with one long noodle (does anyone else remember that scene from "Lady and the Tramp?"). It wasn't quite like that, but close enough.

Our waitress was carrying a child. Her belly protruded far enough to nearly hit me in the face as she lean over to refill my water. She was young and blond, with braces on her teeth and clear blue eyes. I looked at Kevin as she walked away and said, in my slightly tipsy-slurred voice, "Our waitress is carrying a child." He nodded and said "yeah."

That was it.

I don't know when it happens, at what point men and women start to veer off onto separate tracks with this whole KuKd thing. It just does. I'm not saying it's bad; I'm simply remarking that, at some point, the woman continues on with lasting issues of identity and self-worth that the man doesn't have. Or doesn't seem to have, anyway. Or maybe has, but in a different form that isn't expressed.

For me, the thought process goes like this:

I was there once, right where you are, waitress with protruding belly. Seen it, done it, got the t-shirt. I was even PAST where you are, even MORE protruding. My belly wouldn't have merely ALMOST hit a customer in the face. It would have knocked over the table with its hulking, honking presence, sending both customers flying across the room simultaneously! It would have made meatballs fall off their mountains of spaghetti with the forceful wind it created as I whizzed by. It would have made customers whip their heads around and stare, gaping at the sheer enormous wonderfulness of my pregnant belly! I could have served wine carafes on that belly, balanced this basket of rosemary foccacia bread on it, deflected bullets with it!

What IS it with this inexplicable desire to stand up and shout, "I WAS PREGNANT TOO, WORLD! I WAS PREGNANT I WAS PREGNANT I WAS PREGNANT!" Is it the same thing that an elderly war veteran in plain clothes must feel when he sees a young, freshly scrubbed soldier in fatigues walk by? Does he get the urge to shout, "I DID WHAT YOU'RE DOING, ONLY WAY WORSE AND MORE INTENSE. BOO-YA."

For the record, I did not stand up and shout anything at the Eye-Talian restaurant. I was a big person, a normal person with reasonable behavior. After Kevin said "yeah" instead of the "yeah, and I can totally see how that would bother you in an illogical way, you poor misunderstood thing!!" as I was secretly hoping he would, I let it go. The truth is: no total stranger is going to give a rat's ass about my past, my pregnancies, KuKd status. They can't, don't, won't.

I know that, but I reserve the right to remain pissed off about it.

The good news is that the dinner was delicious, and cheap - since we only ordered water. No need for wine at dinner, when an entire motel-fridge-full is awaiting us across the street.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Vocabulary Brainstorming Session

Good Morning, Flax Flakes!

With mind and colon both in a good mood, let me begin the day with a totally random thought, because I'm a human being and I have such thoughts frequently. Then, it's time to put on our linguistic thinking caps.

Here's the random thought: I understand why Kevin likes to leave the bathroom door wide open and the vent turned on while we're taking hot showers (I'm not necessarily talking about hot showers TOGETHER, although that would be included in this scenario). I just don't like to do it.

When I'm taking a hot shower, I like the water to be really, really hot. And when I step out of the shower, I like it to be a seamless experience in terms of temperature. That is: I like the dry space that I step into to be relatively warm as well, so that my body doesn't go into instant hypothermia and break out into goosebumps all over, negating all of the positive happy warming effects of the hot shower I just took.

I don't like it when, unless the shower curtain is pressed against the white ceramic tile wall on both ends to create an airless seal, there is a draft of cold air interrupting my hot shower experience. I don't like it when the shower curtain blows slightly inward from the draft, touching my blissfully hot, wet, naked body (can't wait to see the Google search terms that lead people to THIS post). I don't like stepping out of the shower into a cold, drafty space and having to mummify myself in a towel in order to stay reasonably warm.

That's why I like to keep the door shut, vent off. I know it's a bad thing to do, but I don't care if spots of mold form on the ceiling! I don't care if the paint on the door starts to peel! I don't care if moisture from my shower seeps into all of the cracks and crevices and pores of the bathroom walls, turning the entire bathroom into a cube of rotting, termite-infested wood! When I step out of the shower, I want to step into a warm, non-drafty space, period.

Just had to put that out there.

Moving on.

*

Here we go: thinking caps, everyone! Thinking caps!

Here's what we know:

The official name for loss, once no longer in its rawest acute form at the forefront of your mind, is Quinoa, aka Milo. Glad we've ironed that out.

Now, I need your suggestions for the following terms, which apparently don't have suitable names. Let's start with the obvious ones:

1) Stillbirth. Why does that sound so medieval to me? Sorry, but "still" doesn't quite cut it, doesn't exactly capture the essence of what's going on. I'd go so far as to say the term "stillbirth" gives me the creeps, reminding me of a porcelain baby statue, sitting still and dust-coated on an old lady's fireplace mantel. A dead baby is much more than a "still baby." So we need a new word for "stillbirth."

I've thought of things like Dirth (my son's/daughter's Dirth - death + birth); Shot Down Stork (get it? if you don't get it, just ask, and an astute reader or myself will explain it); Rude Awakening (as in: pregnancy like a beautiful dream, and then someone shakes you in the middle of the night, forcing you up and out of that reverie); Target Returns (as in: that baby gear you bought now gets to be sadly, emotionally returned - unless you figure out something else to do with hit); Abrupt Halt; Card Collapse (someone likened it to "collapse of a house of cards); ASS ("Awful Shitty Surprise" or "Abruptly Stopped Sneeze); USO (Unexpected Shitty Outcome); UFO (Unexpected Fuckity-Fuck Outcome); SANU (So Awful, Nobody Understands), etc.

Any others?

2) Due Date. I'm talking, of course, about that day when the knocked-down baby was supposed to be due. I'm drawing a blank here. Maybe something like: Chocolate-n-Kleenex Day? Ball Point Pen Day (the day you had circled on your calendar)? Smudged Ink Day (now smudged)?

3) That thing that you feel whenever you're around happy pregnant women, or happy women with babies. What the hell IS that feeling? To me, it's like throwing whole bunch of emotional tidbits into a big cauldron and letting it simmer for a while: jealousy, wistfulness, disappointment, resentment, some joy and happiness thrown in too (we're not a bunch of heartless monsters, after all!), sudden urges to sprint in the opposite direction and squeeze one of those squeezy stress balls...it's just this slate-gray ball of something in the stomach.

What IS it?

I'll stop there with the word creation. Let me know your thoughts - no new vocabulary word is too ridiculous. No experience with KuKd is necessary.

Here's to community brainstorming!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More on Perspectives

Greetings, KuKd Tribe Members and Inquisitive Guests!

I apologize for slipping under the covers for a moment - my brain has been thoroughly taken up by getting issue #4 of Exhale "to press." One would think that it would be easy, putting together an online magazine on a subject you care about! I surely thought it would be. People send you good stuff. You mindlessly copy and paste that good stuff into a website with a glass of wine balanced on your armrest, mess around with fonts and colors (the best part!), click "publish," and boom - you're done.

Not so, I'm finding out.

I won't bore you with all the nitty-gritty 'zine-editing details that somehow act as a great big time-sucking vacuum. Just trust me: such details exist. Not that I'm complaining about this fact; I'm just covering my own ass in case anyone ever thinks I'm slacking in the blogging arena due to lesser affairs, such as experimenting with different hair-dos, or perusing Cosmo's 2008 list again with great hopes for one - JUST ONE - decent looking male (I gave up on that many moons ago).

What's more, I did waste about three precious minutes of my morning peeing on a stick (my piss smelled delightfully like an espresso-urine cocktail!), watching the one blue line show up, but not the other blue line, feeling an unbalanced mixture of things, and tossing the stick into the trash.

Not that I really, honestly thought I was knocked up. Do we ever really dare to think such a thing anymore? Truthfully, I have no idea where I am in my cycle right now. Anyone who has forcibly expelled the entire contents of her uterus (including what looks like about three cups of blood) by shoving some magical pills up there will attest: all sense of cyclical normalcy, connection with Mother Nature, just goes away. Right down the toilet, along with those three cups of blood and that godforsaken ovum. My body is a mystery to me now, a temporary slave to Western medicine.

I just needed to know for sure. Because if I WERE knocked up, that would mean I would be spending my entire day feeling horribly paranoid and guilty for that undisclosed number of whiskey shots I downed at our dance party on Friday, chasing them gleefully with cold milk straight from the gallon, as well as the ungodly amount of caffeine I've been infusing myself with lately.

I'm a writer, not a mother, dammit! I'm trying to finish a book! We writers treat our bodies like shit. It's how we produce our best work. We drink a lot of coffee and booze. We eat Fritos from the bag in unchecked handfuls. I've done all of the above these past few weeks. If I smoked, I would do that too. But I don't smoke, thank god.

Anyway.

So there was relief that the line didn't show up. But there was something else: a bit of I'm not sure what, just a flutter. Maybe a twinge of disappointment? How could that be! As I said, I'm afraid of children these days!

Here is what it was, actually: a fleeting glimpse of an Irish-looking boy with dark brown hair and a big smile, freckles on his nose, a composite male child representing those lost, some children I created but never knew, randomly showing up to haunt me, as he does at the oddest times. A searing little edge of frustration at not knowing him, or them, or whoever they are (what IS a four-month fetus? an 8-month baby in utero? a blighted ovum?), frustration at having nothing but my imagination to connect me him/them. Imagination can be such a lame-ass substitute sometimes. He might have been blond. Could have been a total shithead with a drooling problem and a bad attitude.

Why would the mere sight of a single blue line evoke his image without warning? What's that got to do with a pee stick, months and months and months later? And why wouldn't his image stick around, but disappear into the crunch-crunch sound of my morning cereal, the busy-ness of my day, not to be thought of again for some time?

What the fuck is UP with that?

I never claimed to UNDERSTAND the psychology of KuKd, I can only attest to its overall weirdness and randomness. So don't quote me in any scientific journals, please.

Anyway.

Those are the things took my day, my week. Exhale completed, the image of that strange composite boy evaporated, the morning cereal digested, the pee stick safely ensconced in the bathroom waste basket for a nosy house-guest to rummage through and discover (surely there are people who do that...), or perhaps for an archeologist to discover a thousand years from now, wondering why our earth is so littered with pee-and-coffee-infused plastic sticks...

Now that I'm FINALLY HERE, after all of the above, I suppose I should get to the point of this post, or at least make you believe that I do, in fact, have a point. By now, though, I think I've probably spent so much time building up to my main point (whatever that was going to be) that I may as well save that main point for my next post! Yay me - successfully dodging the task of saying something concise and clearly meaningful!

Let me wrap this up with a bit of meaning anyway, for those of you who need some closure:

In my last post, I indulged you in a couple of post-KuKd reality checks: life inside the head of a dead baby momma, 1.5 years after the event. To summarize: I concluded that "Ultimate Shitty Event," although a seemingly appropriate name at the time, somehow doesn't seem to fit this event anymore. "Stillbirth" won't work either of course, this flat and gray compound word, so medical textbook-ish, boring and blah, hardly conveying the rip roaring excitement of delivering one's deceased offspring! I will continue to work on finding some new terminology, and am ever-open to suggestions. In fact, let's do a blog-versation soon that very topic, shall we?

Also in my last post, I conveyed (I hope) my post-KuKd propensity to over-think, over-worry, over-freak-out about various things.

What I WAS going to do this time was continue a bit further down that road of pointing out some less obvious aspects of post-KuKd life. I think I've touched on that a little bit here - the strangeness of something as simple as a pee stick, the conflicting desire to both be a mother, again, and be a writer. Just a plain old writer, living on the edge, putting myself out there. Over-analyzing things, again.
Hallucinating sometimes, not knowing what to do with those hallucinations, what to make of them.

Wishing I knew.

Signing off now as your ever-confused, KuKd blog-o-babbler! Start getting your vocabulary strategies lined up for our upcoming quest to find better words for some key KuKd terms: stillbirth, miscarriage, and -yes- infertility. Down with scientific jargon!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Perspectives

Greetings, Guests and KuKd Strong Mommas!

First, a quick news update:

Some of you may recall my post from a few weeks back, where I questioned where loss lives once it's not just below the surface of your skin, when you're one-or-more years down the pipeline of time after losing someone or something you love.

After some very scientific research and careful consideration of others' feedback, I've concluded that loss is a grapefruit-sized, dark blue-gray blob named Quinoa, sometimes going by the nickname "Milo." Quinoa, aka Milo, oftentimes breaks into a series of smaller, disconnected blobs that float around in your body - similar to what you'd find in a lava lamp - existing in the shadowy cavities of your head and trunk. Sometimes Quinoa, aka Milo, coagulates into a singular, larger blob that drifts toward the surface. It's during that coming-together period that you become acutely aware of its presence, and start feeling like physical and emotional crapola, possibly even breaking into sobs over silly things like a Pampers commercial.

Damn Quinoa, aka Milo. I'm going to call it Quinoa, for the sake of simplicity.

Anyway, this very week marks the 1.5-year anniversary of that which, in the past, I've referred to as the Ultimate Shitty Event. I like to take stock at times like these points of chronological significance: step back and look around, peer down at myself from above, and assess the situation.

A word about the term, "Ultimate Shitty Event," which - even as I say/write it now - seems somehow obsolete, inappropriate, just plain inaccurate. I recall feeling, 1.5 years ago, that stillbirth was just about the cruelest torture that Mother Nature could ever put a person through. It felt just plain wretchedly raw and hurtful, even shameful, the hugest black dot weighing down my time line of life. Stillbirth so surpassed my earlier mishaps in the suckiness department, and was so much grander and more grown-up than anything I'd ever had to face (aside from the trauma of falling into an Uzbek pit toilet, but that's another story), that for me - at the time, and many months thereafter - it was THE most "ultimate shitty event" in the galaxy.

In the context of my basically damn good life, it was.

But let's be honest, and I hope I don't ruffle too many feathers by saying this: the great big stillbirth dot on my time line has grown smaller, more manageable somehow. 1.5 years later, I'm pretty darn sure that shittier things than the miscarriage-stillbirth-miscarriage combo can happen. That this, shittier things have happened to people, are happening to people, and will inevitably happen to me or you or anyone else.

This certainly isn't something I would have said even six months ago, but I'm just far enough down that pipeline of time to where I can say it now with moderate certainty, Quinoa the Loss Blob having dissipated into marble-sized blob-lets in my arteries.

Someday, I'll have to deal with some truly grown-up things that test my survival limits, like burying an adult loved one before me. Somebody like Kevin, my parents, my brother. A child I haven't had yet, but who passes away before me. Or my dog, even (don't laugh). I'm not saying we should all sit around and fret about future horrific events (I do this sometimes, and trust me, it really doesn't get you anywhere).

So now, with the perspective of a wee bit of time behind me, I'd say "Ultimate Shitty Event" is no longer the best term for my son's stillbirth. It just doesn't account for all of the other crappy things going on around the world. Perhaps I'll go back to call it "Zach's Dirth" - that is, his death-and-birth at once, or "Ultimate Shitty Event for Me," which grounds this dramatic term a bit more in truth, without making this grandiose claim that my loss is somehow worse than anyone elses' on this godforsaken planet.

Or I could just not worry about it and call it what it is: "the stillbirth." That's what Kevin would advise if he were lying here on the living room floor beside me, instead of snoozing in the bedroom.

Which brings me to my second "perspective" of the day:

KuKdx3 has turned me into an over-thinker. It just has. I worry too much, I think about things that aren't worth thinking about, I imagine shit that isn't there. So abrupt and surreal is shattering of reality that takes place with a stillbirth, that I still haven't totally figured out what's real and what isn't.

Take the fact that I still, STILL, get convinced every once in a while that there's a lump in my breast, or a tumor lodged in my pelvis, or that one eye looks smaller than the other, or that one bowel movement felt strangely different from the one preceding it. I have no evidence of anything being wrong, other than my own paranoid thoughts swirling around my brain and colliding into one another. It's not as bad as it used to be, back in the days of the frantic late-night calls to the consulting nurse with Kevin looking on, waiting for my bout of panic to pass. Like this one:

"Thank you for calling Group Health. May I have your Group Health ID Number?

"YEAH BUT HANG ON: I'M POOPING BLOOD! I SWEAR, I JUST TOOK MY MORNING DUMP, AND THE WATER IS TOTALLY RED! LIKE BRIGHT CRIMSON! I'M PRETTY SURE IT'S COLON CANCER, BECAUSE - "

"M'am? Did you eat beets with dinner last night?"

"Beets? Actually yeah, I did eat beets."

Silence on the other end.

"Oh, so that's it. Well, never mind then. Do you still need my Group Health ID Number?"

Those kinds of calls haven't happened in a while, to my credit.

More recently, take my sudden, irrational fear of getting pregnant, which crept up on me for really no good reason last month: Kevin and I were happily engaging in you know what (some people call it the Humpty Dance), when I suddenly burst out with: "Pull out. Pull out! PULL OOOUUUUUUUTT!"

I don't know where it came from, this weird fear of pregnancy. And I don't mean to make light of my infertility-fighting sisters' situations. It's just that, I don't get where anything has come from these past few years - the losses themselves, the foreign and confusing emotions that followed them, the cancernoia, the longing for a puppy, the obsessive quest to adopt a baby from Uzbekistan (that idea sort of fizzled, once I saw all the zeros in the adoption fee), the anything. I'm pretty sure I used to have a basic understanding of how the world worked, but everything I thought I knew before has gone out the window. I'm pretty sure I used to think logically about things like whether I wanted children, whether I wanted a pregnancy, but all of that logic has spread like Quinoa the Blob of Loss, and I can't seem to access it.

Oh well.

Coming soon - a third 1.5-year-time-line-perspective relating to my recent tavern date with the Baby Ladies. That is: N and C, my pre-stillbirth prego buddies, the lucky bee-yatches that went on to have their babies after Zach was gone. I learned something new about myself that night.

But you'll have to wait 'till next time.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Dead-Baby-Daddies: Lemme Hear You Say Ho!!!

Greetings, Guests and Mommas!

Somebody asked me recently how Kevin dealt with losing babies. Actually, a lot of people have asked me that over the years - but this particular question came from a gal whose daughter was stillborn just a few months ago, and who wanted some coping advice for that man-o-hers.

Of course I thought to myself, me? Give coping advice? Kevin? Give male-coping advice? Uh, right. That's like asking us for help with putting up drywall, in which case our simultaneous answer would be: grab your checkbook and find a good contractor. Still, I decided to indulge her and give it some thought, tapping Kevin briefly for advice.

His response was: "Hmmm. I'll think about it after I'm done watching ESPN Sports Center."

Needless to say, that was a dead-end conversation.

So here's some totally unscientific dead-baby-daddy advice I thought I'd put out there, dredged from the depths of my brain, without any help whatsoever from Kevin himself (which says something about how men deal with shit like this), based purely on observation and instinct:

First, congratulations, Dead Baby Daddy! You failed to produce a living baby, which makes you automatically less manly than...say...John McCain, who effortlessly spread his strong and viable seed with a quick flick of the dick (or several flicks, as the case may be). John McCain, whose reproductive powers are a true sign of biological and cosmic superiority.

You, on the other hand, have testicles like little flecks of useless dust; a penis the size and strength of a small hair Scrunchy; sperm the quality and robustness of a dying slug; a testosterone level that barely registers under a microscope. You've no choice, now, but to channel your masculine, seed-spreading energies into other, hopefully more successful directions.

Here are some steps to get you started:

1) Have a home-remodeling side project on hand, not yet completed, and money in the bank to pour into that project, for when dead-baby-disaster strikes (which it will, because - as mentioned above - you ain't no John McCain). The second the news comes in, your primal urge to fix up the house will kick in, so be ready for it. Have your toolbox accessible, plans drawn up, paint colors selected, mallet ready for bashing in walls, spray washer for eliminating cobwebs from the basement.

Don't think about whether this home project actually NEEDS to be done right now, if it's an efficient use of your time and money. None of that matters. What's important is that you are actually doing something constructive, building something, smashing something, bashing something, sanding something, painting something, scrubbing something, hammering something. It is, in fact, the only route back to real manhood.

As you do this, your Dead-Baby-Momma wife/girlfriend/partner will look at you with undying love in her eyes, your inadequacy as a sperm-shooting offspring-producer erased from her mind as she marvels adoringly at your newly acquired handyman skills. You'll enjoy it when she looks at you this way, when she tells her friends and family, "YES! He did that all by himself!"

And you'll feel like a man again. A useful, productive, actively contributing member of the household and of society at large.

2) Plan a romantic getaway with your Dead Baby Mommma (that is: your wife/girlfriend/partner/friend-with-benefits), about four or five months after the Shitty Event. That's long enough for her to not accuse you of trying to make light of the situation, but short enough to where she still really needs you to pay attention to her. She also needs some reassurance that life without this baby is a life worth living. So make that happen.

Go someplace warm and tropical, even foreign - Central/South American are both good bets, as is the Caribbean, and splurge on the room with the ocean view. Tell her often that you love her, even when her face looks like that of a puffed-up sea monster from bawling all night. Buy her some g-string undies for the trip, and assure her that she looks hot in them, even if she doesn't. She feels totally unsexy right now, depressed and disappointed and hateful of how her body looks. Your extra kind words will get extra mileage during this trying time in your lives.

And who knows; you might even get laid (no guarantees, though).

Although this piece of advice seems more about her, it's really about you, because you'll be happier if she's happier.

Trust me on that.


3)
Get used to giving and listening a lot, and not getting much in return. Sorry dude, but that's just the way it's going to be for a while. Dead Baby Momma is going to blather and sob and express strings of profanity, even at times when you aren't feeling the punch. Your job will be to listen and take the brunt of all that, even when you're not in the mood for it, so develop some good listening strategies. Even fake-listening strategies are okay; try thinking about basketball tournaments coming up, or aforementioned home remodel projects, if you aren't "feeling it" when your wife/girlfriend/partner/friend-with-benefits is.

Also, get used to fielding phone calls, running errands, pouring through medical bills, making dinner, etc. Many of those things will become your job.

You'll handle them fine, because you're a man, and because you'll appreciate those abundant opportunities to be busy, to make valuable contributions where other chances to contribute seem few and far between.

4) If you manage to go to a support group, be prepared to come away wondering why you just wasted a perfectly good evening sitting around with a bunch of weepy women and less-manly men than yourself, everyone talking and sharing and caring like some sort of elementary school story time. Ask your Dead-Baby-Momma partner, gently but with conviction, if she wouldn't mind instead going out for steaks and beers next time, promising that the two of you can talk about stillbirth to her heart's content. She might even say yes, and feel flattered that you're taking her on a meat-and-booze date.

5) At times, your nose might feel prickly, and hot water might gather behind your eyeballs. This is called "crying," and you should be ready for it. It will probably happen to you at least once (indeed, perhaps ONLY once) during this ordeal. When it does, it will shock you to all hell, because it might not be something you've ever done in your adult life.

You'll see yourself doing it in the mirror, hear your own voice trembling, feel your lower lip quivering, and you reach frantically for a wad of Kleenex. Embrace this sensation, and just go with it. It won't come as naturally or as often as for your Dead Baby Momma counterpart, but when it happens, she will love you more than she ever has before, hurt by the sight of your tears (she'll get over it, though). She'll tell her friends and family members proudly about how you cried, and they will all secretly commend you for your ability to emote in the face of tragedy. You will have proven yourself to be a real, feeling, quality man - the kind of man that Salt-n-Peppa discuss in that song, "What a Man, What a Man, What a Mighty Good Man."


There's more, but those are a few strategies to get you started. You'll just have to wait until my next book comes out, "Knocked Down, but Not Out: The KuKd Man's Man's Guide to Getting Through Stillbirth."

Friday, March 6, 2009

Randomness

Greetings, KuKd Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

Two nights ago, I awoke at 2am after initially closing my eyes at 11:30, and never went back to sleep. The rest of the night was spent frittering away the hours, dipping into my book project, Googling useless things like "dude ranches" and "Ryan Gosling," rearranging house plants, and poking in and out of Facebook while Kevin slept with obnoxious ease. Which resulted in one of those completely surreal, achingly tired and spacey, sleep-deprivation-hangovers that you get after pulling an all-nighter in college.

Remember those days? Back when pull an all-nighter to plow through ten zoology chapters, perhaps punctuated by a midnight run to Denny's for pancakes, was considered a novel and cool idea? Well, screw that. I need my sleep. It was only through infusing my body with a series of stimulants yesterday that I was able to prop up my brain and function with relative normalcy: plenty of Dark Elixir, of course, including a large mug in the morning and a triple-shot latte before our staff meeting, followed by a fair amount of beer and wine later that evening. Tonight I slept fine, and am feeling caught up, praise sweet jesus.

This prompted me to write a Dark Elixir-related post that I've been meaning to for a while.

Every once in a while, somebody posts a comment to this blog that seems to come out of left field. Nothing hateful or overtly disturbing (yet...knock on wood); just something that make me scratch my head and wonder if the commenter actually bothered to READ any part of this blog before speaking up.

The best example is one that was posted in response to There's a Brick On My Brain, in which I was lamenting my own self-imposed ban on coffee consumption, for the sake of making a baby (for the record, I'm currently going through an "I don't want a god-damned baby" stage, so just try to follow along without getting as confused as I perpetually feel). My rationalization in giving up something I loved being addicted to was my sense that:
Caffeine coats a woman's ovaries in some kind of anti-pregnancy, pro-miscarriage film of slime and makes us forever infertile.

Admittedly, it was a short lived experiment in torturous self-deprivation for the sake of contributing to the world's overpopulation problem, and I was back on coffee the next day, which I probably bragged about in a twisted "addicted-n-proud" kind of way, as depicted in my very next post, "Devastating News:"
It saddens and embarasses me to report: I caved. It happened fifteen minutes ago. I needed inspiration to write the next chapter of my book, and some energy to get ready for tonight's cocktail party. But that brick on my brain was blocking any sort of motivation to do anything other than sit and stare at the wall. And then, the espresso machine ten steps away started calling my name.

"Monnnnnnnicaaaaaaaaaaa," it said in a deep and womanly voice. Hypnotizing, with undertones of evil, like the witch in Snow White. I ignored it at first. "A double latte...just two little shots...won't hurt you or your uterus. Come here, my pretty!"

Here is what some random dude posted in response:
Caffeine addiction shows up when a person cannot stop consuming caffeine in high amounts, causing his/her body to demand the substance and react negatively if that no caffeine is intake. Some people find it very hard to function well without at least one cup of strong coffee or tea in the morning. The stimulating effects of caffeine are caused by a central nervous reaction, the heart rate increases, blood vessels expand and the brain receives more oxygen. These caffeine effects can last for up to 8 hours, and once they go off then the body feels extremely lazy and slow as a side effect.

Caffeine addiction can cause death, mainly because the abuse of any stimulant can cause high blood pressure or and heart problems, so if you abuse of it chances are you put yourself at the highest risk of a heart attack.

You need to be careful with caffeine withdrawal because it affects your overall health and therefore, you need to control your consumption of caffeinated products to prevent your body reactions to caffeine withdrawals. If you need more information about caffeine effects and caffeine addiction symptoms or prevention, please investigate a little further on this topics. You can find more info at: http://yourcaffeineaddiction.com/

Now, I realize that new people come over to this blog from time to time, and read a post without having any context other than that one isolated post, and then get the wrong impression from reading that post alone. Understandable. But this particular response made me laugh, because it showed such a huge ignorance of not just my attitude toward caffeine, but of the ENTIRE TONE AND STYLE OF THIS BLOG!

Dude, I would have told him if I knew who he was, this is really not that serious of a blog, or some kind of medical forum. I mean it is, but it isn't. Honest to god, do I really sound THAT torn up about going back on coffee, or THAT serious about stopping drinking it in the first place? Going back and re-reading those posts, I was like, is that truly the impression I give - that I'm waiting for somebody to leap in with some scientific information to save me from my self-destructive habit?

Furthermore, do you really think it's a good idea to tell a dead-baby-momma who is already tremendously, irrationally fearful of death and cancer and car accidents, and who is now finally getting away from that mode of thinking, to tell me that coffee causes death?

All I could really think was that this guy is some kind of anti-caffeine-website marketer who Googles things like "weak-ass people who are addicted to coffee" as solid sales targets. What a strange job, to try to get people to stop doing something as silly and benign as drinking coffee. I could see doing this with people who are...I don't know...killing kittens. But drinking coffee?

For the record, according to this very legit website:
Death from a caffeine overdose has usually involved accidental administration by hospital personnel of caffeine by injection or by tablet, or suicide using caffeine-containing tablets. The acute fatal dose of caffeine taken by mouth is at least 5,000 mg-the equivalent of about 40 strong cups of coffee consumed in a very short period of time. Thus, death from a coffee "binge" is unlikely.


Hellooooooo!!! I'm not at 40 cups a day yet. I'll let you know when I get close. And one more zinger for ya:

Caffeine has also been used as an aid to fertility. A major cause of human infertility is sperm that are not mobile enough to reach and fertilize the egg. Studies of nonhuman mammals have shown that when caffeine is added to semen it can increase the mobility of their sperm and enhance fertilization. At least one recent study suggests that, in fact, fertility too is enhanced by caffeine. According to the findings, women are twice as likely to become pregnant if prior to artificial insemination caffeine is added to the semen of their infertile mates.


Take that, random anti-coffee dude who copies and pastes irrelevant, not to mention scientifically inaccurate, information onto other people's blogs! I hope there's more where that came from, something to give me great fodder for amused delight.

:-)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Where It Lives: Part 2

So, Guests and Regulars!

Last time, you were left with the question of where loss lives. At risk of sounding like a) a bad folk singer; or b) one of the dread-locked, pot-smoking, wannabe-poet English majors I used to date in college, let me carve out this question more deeply:

Where does loss live, when time moves forward, and the events of the past move further behind (into aforementioned time-tunnel), losing their acute shape and color? Where does it live, if not just beneath your skin where it used to be, palpably in the pit of your stomach like a festering wound, or just on the surface of your frontal lobe, consuming your thoughts? What happens to loss, when you aren't so intertwined with it anymore that it permeates everything you say and do and think?

What happens to your story when you can no longer remember the precise feeling of holding your child, limp and baby-shaped and wrapped in flannel? And when the memory of the events surrounding his death get hazy, the brightness leading up to it, the angst-fill time following it, when it begins to feel like a story being told about somebody else entirely, where does the story go?

Add to that the fact that our culture fails to give us the proper tools for co-existing pleasantly with our losses. What sanctioned spaces are there, really, for acknowledging our losses in a society where dramatic public meltdowns are frowned upon (I can say that was one of said frowners. Public meltdowns: reserved for the loonies at the downtown bus stops at night, and/or Italian descendants from Long Island), and where most people just aren't comfortable approaching such unsavory topics as human death and dying and deadness?

At the supermarket? No. At the dentist's office? No. At a faculty meeting at work? Hell fucking no. At a happy hour with friends? Possibly, within limits, and sufficient booze to lubricate the conversation. But watch out; your friends - even your good ones - don't want to hear you snivel and wallow about the crap that's gone on in your life, and nor would I expect them to (okay, I'm not saying I'm Mother Theresa here. I USED to expect them to, and then realized how unrealistic that expectation was, and have since lowered my expectations. Got it?) Why should they, after all? They've got their own crap to deal with.

Oh, there were times when I was given an official chance to pause and feel. Just, you know, feel miserable on cue, like a trick pony. It happened whenever a fifty-something social worker or a grief counselor sat beside my hospital bed, clipboard in arm, to tell me what I was supposed to feel, when and where and why. Warning me that if I didn't hold the baby, breath in the baby's aura and wallow in his deadness, I would regret it later. Assuring me that I could cry - really, I could - right here and now, and shoving a box of Kleenex toward me. I felt pressured around these people to act in a certain way, as though if I didn't appear sufficiently depressed, one of them might write something incriminating on my permanent record, like "HIGH-RISK FOR MELTING DOWN LATER INTO INCREDIBLE HULK-LIKE SUICIDAL MONSTER."

I have never quite figured out how to live with my losses, side by side, allowing them to take up their rightful space inside my heart, while hanging onto the attitudes and behaviors that I had before they occurred. Usually, these days, I feel pretty much normal. I do my job, which I love. I hang out. I drink. I write. As time goes by, I've felt increasingly disconnected from that day on the calendar, August 19th, 2007, and days before and after that. It becomes dreamlike. I often realize that so much time has passed since I shut myself in the bedroom to bawl, or slipped into a melancholy mood, that I worry I've forgotten about my lost babies, or that I'm inhuman, or that I'm imagining these events.

Which brings me to...duh duh duh duuuuhhhhhh... Rachel Getting Married. Yes, the movie that Kevin and I saw on our recent date, the very film which fueled this blog post.

I won't say I have the golden be-all-and-end-all answer to the question of where loss lives. I'm still looking for it. But there was a point in the middle of this ho-hum movie where it came to the surface, revealing itself in full force, quite unexpectedly.

This might be a bit of a plot spoiler, but oh well: there is a point in the movie where Rachel announces she's pregnant, right in the midst of a huge family argument. It wasn't the pregnancy itself that struck me. It the way this news calmed the entire family instantaneously, stopping their shouting match in its tracks. It was the way her father's face lit up, her sister calmed down, everyone just came together and forgot their troubles, reaching out to rest their hands on Rachel's still-flat belly, attached to it already. In love with it, this baby. The certainty with which everyone talked about "THE BABY" from that point on, brimming with hope and love and excitement. Not hope, but certainty. "Because when the baby comes..."...you know.

It was this random moment, not at all even the point of the movie, that stirred something deep inside me, and - before I could control it - I lost it, silent sobs erupting. Oh, I could go on describing what it was exactly that was upsetting, but there's never a quick and easy explanation. The sudden sense of what I lost, and will never have again: an innocent and exciting pregnancy where everyone is earnestly hopeful and thrilled. The recollection of my parents losing something too when the babies were lost. It wasn't about just me. The memories of certainty and love, all of the feelings leading up to that due date - pouring back into the front of my brain.

The people sitting nearby likely thought I was laughing, but I wasn't. I contained myself, keeping it on the hush hush, sucking back my snot. But my torso was a tightly wound-up ball of horrible, gut wrenching sadness, dry heaving. And I thought to myself:

There it is.

The loss, I mean. It was in there somewhere, I was relieved to discover - it just needed the right trigger to surface. And that's what happened.

Now Kevin is like a sturdy, strong oak tree in our relationship, and I'm like vine of ivy, taking on a whimsical and passionate, sometimes heady view of reality. He was there instantly, as he always is - not just just physically there, but emotionally, too. Right away he understood, and put his arm around my shoulder, pulling me inward toward him, not ushering me out of the theater or making a huge fuss, just waiting for it to pass, this moment. He knew this is now a rarity, moments like this. They come few and far between.

And it did pass, within a few minutes, and I wiped my snot and tears on my sleeve, and we didn't discuss it later. We would have if I'd brought it up, but I felt no need to. What's there left to discuss?

That's the thing with the loss, though, after enough time has passed for it to get boiled down to simplest terms, and folded back into the core of your being. For me, it's gotten to where it doesn't need discussion - it transcends words and explanations and other earthly things. Just a deep, dark, blob of something in the recesses of my mind, coming up for air at the oddest times.

I should name it. Maybe call him Herman or Fred or something.

Where It Lives: Part 1

Greetings, Guests and Regulars!

PREFACE: In the course of writing this post, which was supposed to be about my dog but ended up going in a different direction entirely, I had to type the words "diarrhea," "scenario," and "mozzarella" about five times apiece before correctly guessing how to spell them. I'm a writing teacher, for fuck's sake! I should know how to spell those words! Alas, I feel like a fraud.

Moving on to the post itself (from which ended up omitting the reference to "diarrhea" - sorry to disappoint you).


* * *

Clouds settling in over Seattle, a warm mug of caffeinated Dark Elixir balanced precariously on my lap, wedged between my belly and the edge of my laptop. If anything out of the ordinary happened - sudden movements, forceful sneezes, earthquakes, hiccups, jolt-worthy telephone rings - this coffee would spill onto the keyboard, with milky-brown rivulets seeping into the crevices between each letter and symbol, which I can't imagine wouldn't cause irreparable damage.

Still, I keep it there, because I enjoy the sick thrill of living on the edge in this way.

Last night, Kevin and I went on a date, as part of our explicit effort to carve out more one-on-one time together. He points out, as he always had, that I tend to get overtaken by my own extrovertedness, planning more gatherings with friends and family than our lives can really hold, cramming our calendar with far too many parties and dinners and happy hours. Part of this stems from my deep-rooted fantasy that life can and should be like an ongoing episode of Cheers or Friends - where everyone is surrounded by a close-knit group of people at all times, woven into your daily life, bringing out each others' best and most friend-worthy sides, co-venting and gossiping about big and small things alike, from current events to bowel movements to what you had for lunch.

The point being: that sort of living-in-a-tornado-of-friends lifestyle isn't exactly conducive to quiet romantic evenings. Hence: last night's date. Our date consisted of driving halfway to Seattle's Lower Queen Anne neighborhood, which is urban and gritty and makes our own street feel like rural Illinois by comparison, and walking the remaining 20 minutes to our destination, the Uptown Cinema.

First, though, we ate at a Greek cafe called something totally Greek-sounding like "Athena" or "Acropolis" or "Baklava." I wore mascara in honor of the occasion, something I don't often do, and made sure I pointed it out to Kevin, who otherwise wouldn't have noticed it (why is it that guys NEVER EVER NOTICE IT WHEN WOMEN WEAR MASCARA, even though mascara is about the coolest and most beauty-enhancing make up product on the face of this earth, requiring great finesse to apply???!?).

Anyway.

It was one of those depressing eating-out scenarios where your eating companion chooses the "right" thing to order, and you, unfortunately, choose the "wrong thing." You are left to begrudgingly force your own flavorless or tough or overly fatty or just plain disgusting meal down your throat, cursing the menu for tricking you into thinking this would be a good selection, and casting jealous sidelong glances over to your dining partner's correspondingly flavorful, tender, perfectly-but-not-overly fatty, superbly delicious plate of food.

You are mildly happy for your lucky and happy dining companion, you guess, yet you bitterly wonder why YOU got the short end of the culinary stick. Down in the darkest place in your heart, where your most evil and unspoken thoughts click around like cockroaches, you wish for a brief and sadistic instant that THEIR food was as bad as YOURS, just so you wouldn't feel alone (not to mention hungry).

Then you realize that you're thinking like an infertile or dead baby momma whose friends keep having babies, and you shove those bad thoughts out of your mind and eat your sub-par food quietly like a good and unselfish person supposedly would, soaking in your own self-pity as the scent of your partner's obnoxiously wonderful food wafts into your nostrils. You do it because you know there are children starving and genocides happening all over the world, so you really should clean your plate without sulking about your bad luck, and because you did pay $8.99 for this flavorless mound of mushy, salt-and-oil-coated peas from a can, which is precisely what I did.

Back in our courtship days, Kevin would have felt sorry for me, or pretended to anyway, letting me graze off his plate and eat half of his smoked-mozzarella-and-eggplant sandwich (which tasted like hot dogs - that's how damn fucking good it was). He would have said, "here, Monica. Have some of mine," knowing that this simple act would fill me with gratitude and leave me feeling full and content, exponentially increasing Kevin's odds of getting laid that night.

Nowadays, though, as we approach our seven-year wedding anniversary, we're more like two siblings or best friends that fight over food, watching each others hands and plates like protective vultures, policing one another for food-stealing. Okay, it's not totally like that, but somewhat. Dude, we're old.

But none of the above, actually, is the point of this post - which, as I said, was supposed to be about my dog, and ended up being about something else entirely. And even that "something else" isn't what I really wanted to talk about here.

What I REALLY wanted to talk about was where loss lives inside of a woman who has lost, particularly a woman like me, who avoids sappy sentiment like the plague. Where does loss go if you aren't the type to brood and wallow and think too hard? And how does it manifest itself, or does it?

And this has to do the movie that Kevin and saw after I had forced down my canned, oil-coated peas while smelling his mysteriously and torturously delicious hot-dog-scented "vegetarian" sandwich: Rachel Getting Married.

But I didn't get to the point this time, as often happens, so stay tuned for "Where It Lives, Part 2" coming soon to a blog near you. This blog, in fact. Just don't eat at Athina Grill (that's what it was really called) beforehand, and if you do, avoid the vegetarian shit platter.