Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sit & stare time

Do you ever feel like there's just too much struggle, suffering, pain, life going on all around you? I used to not feel it so much. I could walk through the world and other people's stuff didn't get picked up and glued to me like it does lately. It stayed put and I kept moving. But now, now I've got all this mama going on. Or maybe it's age. I don't know. But now, I seem to feel the sadness more keenly. Here's a few of the more recent things:

I was at a local, free, community dinner on Tuesday night when this man passed out. He looked to be about 25 or so and his skin was gray, ashen, not a color you should see on skin. He didn't come to right away. I thrust the baby toward my mom and took off.

When I was in middle school, there was a situation where a teacher was choking in front of us. Even though we'd just had Heimlich training, there were so many of us that no one moved. Luckily she got it out on her own but I was watching and thinking how someone should do something but surely it should be anyone but me. And then I was thinking how long it had been and how weird it would be to intervene now. And I thought how if she died everyone would think it was because we all panicked and that'd be true but it was also that we didn't like her. And what if we actually hated her? And I knew I didn't hate her but I also had sat so long that the inertia of it all had set in and overcoming it was too big. So she got it unstuck and the whole room seemed to breathe and now it stays with me. You should get up.

So I got up and started going through my First Aid/CPR training and before I knew it he came to and we helped him sit down and got him some juice and a cold compress and his color started coming back and a nurse came and so I tried to move on. But he didn't really get medical attention and his color just looked so bad. And I can't stop thinking about him and wondering if he's ok. What if he used heroin or was having a heart attack or I-don't-know-what. His friends seemed too self-invovled to actually take care of him. I hope he's ok.

There's this guy I used to know but not well. He killed himself. Heroin addict. I see his parents at this store all the time and feel so incomprehensibly sad for them that I want to hug them and tell them I'm sorry. But who am I? I went hiking with your son once. I was less than impressed with him. I'm sorry for your loss. That's not the sort of thing I do or say. I'm not a hugger. Not with strangers anyway.

A kid had an anxiety attack in the office today at the school where I'm filling in. I felt so bad for her. I remember being that age and how overwhelming it was and I'm glad she found a place to be while waiting for it all to pass.

There's all these kids with distracted parents, busy parents, no extended families. There's all these kids who need someone, need something. And they look so lonely at a time when it's already so lonely.

A lot of kids' first sexual experiences these days are "hooking up." And I don't know what to make of that entirely. I have a polyamorous friend. She hooks up all the time. It really is fine. Intimacy is part of some experiences but not others. Except these are the first experiences kids are having. Their naked skin touching another person's naked skin. This much of their naked skin hasn't been touched since they were babies and they were loved. But this is hooking up, not loving. And their peer culture is saying they should feel fine. And when they don't feel fine...? They what? Squash it down deep?

There was a girl in the office with a patchwork of cuts deep and wide and scarred up on her wrists. She wore short sleeves. She didn't even care; being that hurt is THAT normal.

Another kid signed out early. I once interviewed him because his parent had a significant drinking problem. I wonder if that's still going on. If he's still carrying that around and pretending to be ok. I feel for all the pretending-it's-ok the kids all around me are doing. I feel for them.

My whole 20s I didn't believe in God. My faith was gone and not for any particular reason. Or maybe for every particular reason. I just remember that I realized that it no longer made sense to me intellectually. I didn't have another answer or disbelieve, I just decided it wasn't important to decide. I decided to just live my life and let the question of god work itself out howeversaways. I became comfortable with this not-knowing. I was wearing jammies when I went to the church of Agnosticism on the sabath. Spiritual but not religious. Interested in your thoughts but incontrovertible.

Then wham, I started believing in God again. And I feel all closeted about it. I don't want you to know and think I'm a religious person. I don't want you to think you can't swear or say something about fucking anonymously. I don't care. So most of me doesn't want you to know I kinda sorta probly believe in God these days. Even though I have many religious friends whose connections I envy. Even though I respect plenty of religious people. I don't want you to think I'm one of them. I don't want you to think you have to hide your thoughts from me. I'm not all that certain. I'm certain I'm not an authority on this; just a friendly ear, an interested mind. 

I didn't used to carry it so long or so far, but now I do. I used to recognize it, let it wash over me and walk away with the moment left behind like a shadow. As the sun came in, the idea fled.

Not now. Or maybe I'm kidding myself. Maybe I've always carried it. I don't know. Maybe I need to put it down and ask god to pick it up. Maybe that's the idea of this God stuff. I don't know. I just know I feel for them all. Their sad is magnetic.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My two moms

I've been reading crap I shouldn't read. I shouldn't read it because it clouds my head with bad writing but I miss reading so bad reading is what happens. I can't read books when I'm writing. I can't hear my own voice well enough when I'm listening to someone else's.

I read this article I won't cite here because it's not worth you reading it really either. It's a nice idea, I guess. It's a set of photos of moms sitting next to each other. The photos each contain two women each holding a sign that says what two divergent choices they've made as moms. "I had a scheduled c-section. I had a planned homebirth."

The idea, of course, being that two women who have made very different choices can find common ground and be friends. And the reason I take offense is NO FUCKING DUH. Of course two women can make different choices and still be friends. We're grown ASS WOMEN.

Don't insult us like that.

The premise is this mamby pamby bullshit I don't like that implies that because women disagree, sometimes vehemently about these choices, that they're being sophomoric. That disagreements among women are to be taken down to a level where we're being adolescent girls fighting over boyfriends instead of adults making profoundly meaningful decisions with vast impacts on an entire generation of children. To degrade our disagreements on decisions like whether to breastfeed or not and what method of discipline to use, is to degrade our next generation.

The decisions we make as parents are far-reaching and meaningful. They are not benign or arbitrary.

If you choose to feed your child fastfood vs. organic home cooked meals, let's not call those two equal decisions.

I'm not saying you can't value a friend or that a mom is a horrible person for making a decision that was in the moment, the best decision she could make. I'm not saying we should fail to support one another and henpeck her to death. But let's neither pretend that the two decisions were equally valueable. One decision was harder.

I cloth diaper my kids. I don't like rinsing shit in the toilet. Not at all. I don't want a totem pole of martyrdom rectified in my honor for it or anything. But when you say, "that must be hard." It is. And I should be doing more. I should be taking the bus more. You should too. We should be preparing our stories for our children of why we made the choices we did. I want to be able to say, "I tried. I bought things used and recycled and used cloth instead of depositing piles of shit in a landfill."

We shouldn't be holding hands and pretending like none of it matters. Neither should we be scrapping over who does what best. We SHOULD be pushing each other to be better. Not every choice leads to the best outcome. Is it really so bad to have to justify the choices you made? Because certainly not all of mine have been good. But I should be able to be proud of the ones I made that were hard-wrought and good. And so should you. And when you made better choices than I did, I hope it made us all better.