Making Room

mood: excited | drinking: nope

rocker

I’m minutes from leaving on a jet plane, headed off to Illinois for a baby shower my Mom is throwing for me.

But before I go, here’s a little update… the latest poem in what’s becoming known as the “Fruits & Veggies series” because the title of each poem corresponds to the fruit or vegetable that most resembles the size of the little one.

This week’s veggie is an English hot-house cucumber, according to BabyCenter.com. I have no idea what an English hot-house cucumber looks like, actually, but I’m assuming it’s on the large side, as cucumbers go.

Last week’s vegetable was a Rutabaga, and here it is, in sevenling form:

Rutabaga

We are busy making room for you, redefining
our borders and relegating sharp objects
to the safety of high shelves and dark corners.

But it seems there is not enough room for my spleen,
and my gall bladder also has been displaced, small
squishy organs summarily relocated

by the push of my ever-expanding heart.

*****

-Lo, who has a boarding call.

Nesting Instinct

mood: busy | drinking: water

hippo1

On average, I’m not doing too well with all the old wive’s tales about pregnancy. I’m not garnishing my ice cream with pickles, I’m not excessively bitchy or weepy, and I haven’t yet noticed my fingernails growing at an alarmingly fast rate.

But this nesting thing? Yeah, I’ve got that hardcore.

Even when I’m exhausted, it’s hard to sit still. I’m constantly ticking off a mental list of things I need to get done. Last weekend I painted the nursery, with the help of a couple of friends. It’s now resplendent in shades of aquamarine. (I’m going for an ocean theme, since we do live just steps from the beach.)

Boy and I sat together in the soon-to-be-nursery on Sunday afternoon and plotted out where everything is going to go. Chiffarobe over here, crib over there, bookshelf on the wall up there. My nesting instinct has forced Boy into overdrive, too.

Our house was a two bedroom, and the second bedroom was an office. But baby and camera gear don’t make the best bedfellows, so Boy got busy carving out a niche in the garage for his new office. He’s very handy like that, and his new space turns out to have even more storage than the old one.

The weekend after we returned from our adventures abroad, Boy and two of his burly pals (yes, Mike & Chris, you’re burly) moved all the office paraphernalia downstairs. And now I have this wide open space that’s going to quickly fill up with a crib, board books and a large family of stuffed animals.

I find myself sitting at work making lists of things that I’d rather be doing at home. Safe to say that my brain is entirely elsewhere. But in my defense, having a tiny person kicking your navel out is a bit distracting.

I guess I hadn’t counted on that. When I first found out I was pregnant, I thought I would continue to be a well-balanced person, with lots of other things occupying my brain. I thought my blog posts wouldn’t center wholly around what was happening inside my belly. But I was wrong.

Becoming the carrier of a whole new person, it changes you in ways you can’t predict. I mean, I’m still me. But I’m also a mother now, as hard as that sometimes is for me to believe. And the larger my stomach grows, the smaller my focus gets.

I just want to shut out the world, everyone but me and Boy and Bean (and LeeLoo, too), and hunker down inside our little house to feather a fabulous nest.

But I can’t shut out the world completely, not yet. I have three more months of paychecks to earn, an epic cinepoem to finish (one more shoot and then we start editing!), and people who need my attention.

So I’ll make every attempt not to go into complete seclusion yet.

But if I sometimes get a far away look in my eye, you would be safe to assume that I’m trying to figure out how many mermaid bookends are just overkill in an ocean-themed nursery.

-Lo, who has only purchased one set of mermaid bookends… so far.

A Bun in the Oven

mood: expectant | drinking: nothing with caffeine or alcohol in it

bean_web

So I’ve been hiding a big secret from a whole lot of people for about 13 weeks now.

Yep. I’m knocked up. In the family way. I’m in the pudding club. Got a bun in the oven.

Said bun is currently named “Bean.” And no, we don’t yet know if Bean has a frank. And yes, we will be finding that out at some point in the next 6 weeks or so.

We’ve been told that Bean will greet the world on or around September 1st. I already have two people with their money on August. Either way, we’ve got a Virgo baby. I’ve been told this is a good thing. I’m not extremely well educated about my horoscope, so I’ll just cross my fingers.

I don’t have a big bump yet, just a small one, and so sometimes it’s hard to believe that this is all real. That’s what this is for:
bean_13weeks_2

See? Proof of life.

Boy and I are pretty excited about the whole thing. After the miscarriage last October, we kind of put any ideas of having a baby away on a shelf. We decided to put the brakes on the whole trying to get pregnant thing and do some soul-searching about what we really wanted.

I guess we didn’t apply the brakes very hard, because that’s about the time that Bean joined us.

I know that in about 6 months our lives will change in ways we can’t even imagine. So I’m not trying to imagine it. I’m just eating my saltines and apricots (yes, Bean loves the stone fruits) and taking each day as it comes. So far, so good.

Then we’ll see how tomorrow goes.

I’ve been writing a lot about the whole thing privately, and I may post a bit of that here soon. But don’t worry, I don’t believe the world needs another mommy blog.

I’m still me, after all. Just slightly, um, enhanced…

-Lo, who is officially up the duff.

Like Lucy

Mood: Wishful Thinking | Drinking: The Usual Tea

lucypevensie

When I was a kid, I wanted to be Lucy Pevensie.

I wanted to stumble across a magical wardrobe and find myself suddenly transported to a strange world filled with all manner of bewitching possibilities and talking animals.

I believed that if given the chance, I, like Lucy, would be the fiercest ally of dryads and nyads, of fauns and other furry folk.

I would believe in Aslan. I would see him amid the trees when no-one else could, and would keep believing even when all hope was abandoned.

I deserved a chance at magic, I thought, and looked for it everywhere, always expecting to chance upon a clue, a key to Narnia or some other equally fascinating and decidedly non-Earth-as-I-knew-it realm.

Then I grew up.

And now? Now I find my magic in the small places and neglected corners. I find my magic in words and in rhythm and in drinking sweet tea. I find it where I can.

But I still wish I could be Lucy Pevensie. I wish I could believe so easily, hope so bravely.

Perhaps I still have a chance, though. I can’t exactly be Lucy herself (on account of my advanced age and all), but maybe someday I could be her mother.

-Lo, who sometimes believes her dog can speak.

Wee Ones

underwatertoesMood: Anticipatory
Drinking: Fluids

See those juicy underwater toes right there?

I’m planning to be nibbling on those in a couple of days. Perhaps even underwater, since it is still 93 degrees up northern Cal way, and there is a pool not too far from my sister’s house.

I always used to think it was weird when people would describe babies as delicious, as if they wanted to slather them in marmalade and feast.

But now I understand. My wee nephew is the possessor of many juicy appendages, and I have already been guilty of trying to gobble him up on more than one occasion.

I’ll have to remember not to mention that to him when he’s older and more easily embarrassed.

I’m not sure why people do that, anyway. At age 29, I met a woman who lived next door to my parents when I was a baby. She couldn’t stop shrieking at me, “I used to change your diapers!” As in, “Don’t tell me you don’t like onions, I used to change your diapers!”

I wanted to backhand her.

You know when people ask you what your superpower would be? Most people choose super-strength or flight or invisibility.

I think I would like the ability to say exactly the right thing at exactly the right time. Of course, I would totally use this power for evil.

I am not always great with words in their instantaneous, spoken form. On paper I get to push and prod them around until they line up in the little shapes I like, but when put spot on in any given situation, I can’t for the life of me find the words I most want.

In high school I was tormented by the constant lack of a clever retort, which would have come in handy with all the social awkwardness. Even now, with all these years of practice, I come up with a great response 2 or 3 days later.

I would like to add some measure of invicibility to my super-word superpower, though. So after I tell the shrieking diaper lady, “That’s nice, but don’t expect me to ever change yours!” I won’t be worried that she might pinch me.

Or, in more common situations, when some dude yells something from a passing vehicle, I can make my smart-ass comment back and then go all Buffy on his ass when he turns his truck around.

Wow. Look how far we’ve come from underwater baby toes. I have no idea how that happened. Or why. Or what the point of this post is, really. Except that I’m roadtripping for nephew time this weekend, and I’m excited.

It’s been an odd sort of week and I’m all out of sorts, so if you’ve made it this far in this post, you deserve some sort of medal. Or a snickers bar. Your choice.

-Lo, wandering off in search of baby bits.

Teeter

teeter_red
Mood: Fair to Middling
Drinking: Sweet Tea

Teeter

There are more days now
when I know what I want

and even the threat of your
teenage years cannot dissuade me.

All that stands between us
are pink pills and a precipice.

Last week a transvestite named Erika
stole my bicycle right out of the garage
at three in the afternoon.

And I keep thinking he is lucky
she is lucky
they are lucky
you aren’t yet around.

Already I have begun
to brandish a taser
on trips to the laundry room

but if you were here
I’d be packing more heat –

blades, bullets and brass knuckles.
If you were here

I’d be willing to kill.

-Lo, who’s not afraid to use it.

Newborn

jude_hand_crop
Mood: Sweet
Drinking: Chai

There is a new person in the world. Small and innocent. His miniature feet are like velvet. His head smells of meadows and milk.

I am utterly in love.

My sister is a miracle worker, bringing such a perfect wee thing into being. I am so proud. So proud of her, and so in awe.

“You’re a woman now,” I said to her in the labor room. And we both laughed. But I was serious.

She has gone beyond. Someday, perhaps, I will follow. But until then, I’ll stand here in wonder that such a thing is possible. Nothing, and then life. Emptiness, and then a perfect small person.

It’s shaping up to be a wonderful Christmas.

Over the last few days, with the phone call that it was happening, it was happening Right Now! And then the trip to the hospital, the chaos of it all culminating in the arrival of new flesh and blood… It’s such an overwhelming experience. Over the last few days I kept thinking of a poem that I discovered in a poetry workshop earlier this year.

All I could remember was that it was written from the perspective of a newly born baby, and that I was deeply moved the first time I read it.

So I dug through my piles of poetry and found it there among the heap. It’s called “First Hour”, by American poet Sharon Olds, from her book The Unswept Room (2002)…

That hour, I was most myself. I had shrugged
my mother slowly off, I lay there
taking my first breaths, as if
the whir of the room was blowing me
like a bubble. All I had to do
was go out along the line of my gaze and back,
out and back, on gravity’s silk, the
pressure of the air a caress, smelling on my
self her creamy blood. The air
was softly touching my skin and tongue,
entering me and drawing forth the little
sighs I did not know as mine.
I was not afraid. I lay in the quiet
and looked, and did the wordless thought,
my mind getting its oxygen
direct, the rich mix by mouth.
I hated no-one. I gazed and gazed,
and everything was interesting, I was
free, not yet in love, I did not
belong to anyone, I had drunk
no milk yet, no-one had
my heart. I was not very human. I did not
know there was anyone else. I lay
like a god, for an hour, then they came for me,
and took me to my mother.

-Lo, who is celebrating the season of miracles.

Finally Awake

apresunreve_alice
Mood: Catatonic
Drinking: Water

You’ll be happy to know that you can now (or later) gather ’round the computer after consuming large quantities of holiday bird and sink into a peaceful, even catatonic state while you watch the newest cinépoem.

It’s better than football.

Unless, you know, you’re one of those freaks who actually likes watching football. But if you are, chances are you’re not reading this website. If you love football and read this website, well, you must be ambidextrous, too, you crazy fool.

Back to the point of the post: new cinépoetry.

Après un Rêve (After a Dream) is the 18th cinépoem to arrive on our scene. It was inspired by a couple of things… the poem itself was written shortly after I found out my sister was pregnant. The title is borrowed from a musical piece of the same name by composer Gabriel Fauré.

The Fauré piece is also the musical score for this cinépoem, and adds a great deal of melancholy ambience, helping to create the dreamlike state we were shooting for.

The look and feel cinépoem itself was inspired by a recent trip to Ireland. Boy and I decided to shoot a photographic cinépoem abroad, as we’ve done before in Paris and in Venice. This time, instead of letting the cinépoem loose throughout an entire city, we stayed within the lush green confines of St. Stephen’s Green, in Dublin’s fair city (where girls are so pretty).

We shot the series within an hour’s time, early one fine Friday morning. I’m sure the Dubliners thought we were very strange tourists, but they were polite enough not to mention it.

I’ve only recently discovered the other words to Après un Rêve (the musical version). Here is the translation based on a French text written by Romaine Bussine (1830-1899), which is apparently based on an Italian poem by an unknown Tuscan artist:

In a slumber which held your image spellbound
I dreamt of happiness, passionate mirage,
Your eyes were softer, your voice pure and sonorous,
You shone like a sky lit up by the dawn;

You called me and I left the earth

To run away with you towards the light,
The skies opened their clouds for us,
Unknown splendours, divine flashes glimpsed,

Alas! Alas! sad awakening from dreams
I call you, O night, give me back your lies,

Return, return radiant,
Return, O mysterious night.

They’re all beautiful, I think. The cinepoem, the music, the anonymous Italian. I love them all.

Go visit the waking dream here. Non-mac people can check out the YouTube version here.

-Lo, who dreamt last night of spaceships and sparrows.

The Peanut Proclamation

jobelly2Mood: Chipper
Drinking: Diet Dr. Pepper

I’m going to be an aunt soon.

My sister is gorgeously, beautifully pregnant with an ever-growing bump that we’ve been calling “Peanut”.

He’s a first for the Witmer clan. First grandchild for my parents, first baby for my sister, and the first time I’ve ever been so close to a pregnancy.

Friends have popped out wee progenies here and there over the years, and I’ve been there at baby showers and first birthdays. But I’ve never been so involved before.

Last weekend I attended a birthing class with my sister, and was quickly overwhelmed by just how much I do not know about this whole process.

You’d think, being in possession of a womb myself, that I would be a little better informed. But I’m also a member of the Unused Uterus Club at work (where myself and my fellow Unused Uterians are surrounded by women who’ve already gone where we few, thus far, fear to tread.)

I think my mother was afraid I’d be either terrified or grossed out by the class (and the incredibly crisp, unedited videos) and make my Unused Uterus Club Membership permanent.

But just the opposite happened. My dad attributes my stoic stomach to growing up on a farm and watching hundreds of newborn creatures — puppies, kittens, lambs, goats, etc. — make their somewhat slimy but no less miraculous way into the world. I’m sure that’s part of it.

But the avalanche of new information was ultimately what won me over… learning about the four stages of labor and the way the body readies itself for what is to come. I had no idea, and now I’m utterly fascinated.

I’ve always thought of pregnancy as nine months of waiting for the torture of childbirth. Yes, a miraculous new life is growing inside of you, but at some point it’s going to need to come out, and the coming out part is going to hurt.

But the pain is just part of the process, I think. And I know I’m saying this from a safe and painless vantage point — unused uterus and all. But after the birthing class and talking to my sister and thinking about the millions of women who’ve already been there, well. I think the actual act of parenting is much more daunting than the few hours of birthing.

I’ll get the inside story in a few months from my sister herself, as she crosses over to a place I’ve never been.

All our lives, I’ve gone first. First to drive, to date, to drink. First to get a bicycle, and then a horse. First to break curfew, first to leave home. And now, finally, she gets to take the lead.

I know she’ll be amazing.

And I? I’ll be an aunt!

-Lo, who has big plans for Peanut’s punk rock t-shirt collection.

Smells Like Children

kids2Mood: Measured
Drinking: Diet Coke in a Can

Last weekend, Boy and I played host to some old friends and their two little rugrats. (It’s an affectionate term, Internet!)

I guess the LeeLoo should get some credit for playing host, too. She was so very polite whilst being covered in shredded bits of Kleenex by small shrieking tots.

I think the game was “TeePee the Dog with the Smallest Bits of Tissue Possible While Giggling Hysterically at Extremely High-Pitched Levels.” She did very well, just laying there and taking it like a champ. But then she does love to lick on baby toes, so I guess the trade-off was more than adequate for her.

We had lots of fun with homemade pizza a walk to the park and small bowls of messy gelato for all. I even dug out a dusty box of coloring books and crayons from the depths of the garage. One of our small guests has a great liking for drawing dinosaurs. He also will only eat crackers and grapes.

The habits of childhood are mystifying to me. I remember having a strong aversion to liver and onions (which has followed me into adulthood), but I don’t remember much about my own toddler-sized likes and dislikes.

After all the sippy cups and ziploc baggies of crackers were stowed away and our guests had tucked themselves back into their minivan and headed east again, Boy looked at me in the blessed silence and said,
“You know, if we have some of our own, they’re not going to go away at the end of the day.”

I flopped down on the couch next to the dog and picked a bit of half-chewed tissue from her ear.
“Yeah,” I sighed.
“I know.”

It’s a topic that’s been beaten to death recently, what with another approaching birthday heralding another year in the Unused Uterus Club, as well as the way one of my very best friend’s little belly is starting to pooch out in an adorably pregnant way.

Boy’s mom wants to know, my Grandma wants to know, people I don’t even know at all want to know, “WHEN ARE YOU GUYS GOING TO START A FAMILY?”

There are so many things I want to say to that question, not the least of which is,
“None of your business!”
And also, “We already ARE a family.”
And then, “I really haven’t the faintest idea.”

At first, there were so many things we wanted to do. And we’ve done a lot of them in the last seven years. But the thing I’m beginning to realize is that you never, ever, finish your To Do List.

Visit one exotic land and you’ll discover six more that you just have to see. Finish one book and you’ll want to write two more. Settle into a little house and you’ll soon need a bigger one. The list will just go on and on, forever.

Meanwhile, in the background, behind all the hustle and everyday bustle, a clock will wind up and start ticking, at first so softly that you can’t even hear it. But the years start to spin by faster and faster and pretty soon the goddamn ticking sound is all that you can hear.

And by “you”, I mean me. Because I’m standing up here with my head cocked to the left like Captain Hook on watch for the crocodile, but Boy can’t hear a thing.

I guess if you’re lacking in ovarian capacity, a biological clock is beside the point.

So there I was on a bright Sunday afternoon, slow roasting in the sun at a playground, feeling like a barren intruder among all those self-confident breeders, a colorless island amidst a river of primary colors, watching the roommate of my bar-hopping days wrangle her children like a seasoned veteran, like a real mommy, like a woman.

And the clock was beating in time to my banging pulse.

Suddenly I was afraid.

They say you’re never really ready for it. I believe it. If I’ve learned anything in this life, it’s that you’re never really ready for anything. Not even when you’ve read all the books and done all your homework. You’re never prepared for the real thing. You’ve just gotta jump in and kick and splash and cough and swim.

One of these days, one of these days
I’m jumping in.

Until then, I’ll just let my li’l sister tell me how deep and cold the water is…

-Lo, who wants to know if she’s Auntie to a boy or a girl. What are you, Peanut?!

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