Wednesday, December 18, 2019

the hardest privileges

1. hibernate

This time of year, my body wants to hibernate. Even in LA, when we're never more than a week on either side of a heat wave, the warm air filters through extra layers of atmosphere, giving everything a surreal glow. Today it's chilly but bright. There are holiday playlists and discounted pajamas for grownups. It's so tempting to curl up on the old crib mattress in Dash's old room, which recently became our office/eventually-maybe-a-baby-room. Dash has moved into the front room, which he loves, and which also prompted a week or so of extra meltdowns because change.

I want to read all the books and watch all the seasons of Madam Secretary and drink hot spiked beverages. To fall into a mood the same way I'd fall asleep, a dreamy surrender.

But those hygge vibes are hard-won. Maybe not actual Scandinavian hygge, which Wikipedia tells me translates to "everyday togetherness," implying that you don't have to do much more than stay in to achieve it. In America we'd rather make it a market and an occasion, which translates to a lot of work, perhaps especially for women and moms. The gifts and the decorating and the making of hot spiked beverages. I'm doing my best to simplify the holidays, but even the act of simplifying takes some work. In America we like to work.

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash
I love curling up with an old map and a string of Christmas lights in the same color palette as my old map.

2. create

Last week, I finally finished a full draft of the memoir I've been working on since 2013, in fits and starts and so many stops. So many times, I thought I was pivoting briefly to write a column or a blog post, and then another three months would go by. The memoir covers 2010-2015, the marriage-miscarriage-cancer-adoption years. The years when I was a really good time for everyone who knew me. I'm proud of it. It's not finished, but it's closer to something resembling a book than it's ever been.

I'm proud of myself for not (knockonwood) giving up on a story I needed to tell, a story that is not just about "some hard stuff that happened," but which is about storytelling itself as both superpower and kryptonite.

It's the most marketable thing I've written, but when I think about sending it out, I feel exhausted and glum. A wonderful agent tried to sell the last two books I wrote, with no luck. I hope she'll take a chance on me again.

Once upon a time I was a promising young writer with two books published by cool indie presses, and then I blinked (and wrote three unpublished novels) and became a middle-aged writer who hasn't published a book in a decade.

Aging is so fucking humbling. Aging is the hardest privilege.

Photo by Hello I'm Nik 🇬🇧 on Unsplash
Sneak preview of my memoir.

3. recreate

AK and I approached our holiday calendar like something between a jigsaw puzzle and a hostage negotiation. I want to write an essay--maybe after I hibernate--about how transactional behavior can actually be good for relationships. For years, I thought if I just explained to AK how very tired I was, she would be like, "Oh, you poor thing! Would you like to spend tomorrow resting and writing while I watch Dash? You deserve it."

Turns out what I was actually doing was whining, and while I have no intention of stopping my emotional weather reports entirely, it works a lot better to say, "I'll go camping for a night if you'll give me a half-day to write later in the week."

And so we are seeing family and camping and driving up to Cambria, and it will be genuinely fun. More so because I already took care of some household stuff (the room switch) and some writing stuff (the memoir) and slotted in time for a little more household stuff (putting away the Christmas presents I will be overwhelmed very grateful to receive) and a little more writing stuff (getting the memoir in shape to send to the agent who may or may not remember my name).

4. wait

The last time I blogged, almost two whole months ago, I said that we were live and waiting to adopt. This is still true--if you're reading this and have a baby you'd like us to raise, hit me up. But it's taken a frustratingly long time to get moving with our facilitator, for a handful of small, no-one's-fault reasons, and we are juuuust getting off the ground.

Our facilitator said the average wait time with their agency is about a year. Still shorter than the national average, still shorter than the time we waited for Dash, and probably NBD in the grand scheme of things, except that we just fucked around for two months following a nine-month home study, and nothing is going to happen over the holidays, and fuuuuuck where does time go?

I am reminding myself that we're already parents. I have a wonderful and preoccupying life right here in front of me. But I still feel all those old feelings bubbling up, that little Simpsons bully on my shoulder saying "Ha-ha, you don't have a baby." I keep thinking about being in my mid-forties with an infant, about getting clocked as their grandma. There are worse things in this world. Because I also think about cancer, of course. Still on brand after all these years!

Photo by James Lee on Unsplash
I feel like this judgy sand castle has never adopted a child.

Last night I dreamed I was at some kind of indoor gym/play space, doing cartwheels and shaking my ass, when I looked around and realized everyone else there was a teenager or younger. One of the coach-type people told me I looked great for 44 (I'm 42).

When AK and I were waiting to adopt the first time, I charged up my defenses. Maybe I wasn't a parent, but I was skinny and fashionable and literary, so there! In the past few months, I've climbed out of a kid-/job-/occasional-PTSD-related self-care hole, but at best I can report that I'm schlubby and I read semi-regularly. How am I supposed to be cloak myself in glamorous defenses when I can't be bothered to floss?

And that's my update. I am motivated and gunning my engines. I am world-weary and fine. Fuck, where does time go.

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