Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ode to our south normal house--part I

I’ve never really written here much about this great old house that k and I live in. This summer will mark our 6th year here. And now I think it is time to write about this place that holds us and keeps the rain off our heads and keeps our toes warm (well sort of warm) in the winter and catches our sweat in the summer, because this house has heard so much of the joy and pain of our lives in these last years.

The house we live and love in was built in 1903.

The horse hair plaster walls have soaked up our memories like the sun-dried earth soaks in a good rain. There are families who have lived here before us and contributed the oils of their feet and the grime and stickiness of their hands to the floors and walls. Their words rest in the still vibrant—never been painted over—wood trim and their idiosyncrasies stain the ceilings and closets.

The living room wall.

I love this old house. The floors are a light oak and the walls are trimmed in a gorgeously orange, brown stained wood. The living room and Dining room run into one another and the original wood rods that held heavy drapes to keep in the warmth are still in place.

The mantel and coal-burning fireplace are older than the house and stand as a solid, gorgeous welcome to anyone entering. The ceilings are tall and spacious. And the radiators that bring us steam heat sputter and squeak and spit all winter.

The floor, a radiator, the lead -glass windows...

The mantel.

When I wash the floorboards, I smell the scents of the people who lived here before us. I always wash the floors and the window-sills and the wood trim by hand with a mixture of murphy’s oil soap and vinegar or meyer’s cleanser and vinegar. And the hotness of old wood wafts into the rooms as the warm water seeps into the hundreds-of-times-humanly hand-caressed-with-wet-rags floors and trim and sills.

More wood...

I am a lover of history—of all that has come before us and the various perceptions connected to all of that living and loving and wallowing and warring and mystifying and dying. I got As in Social Studies and History classes all through school. Even in 9th and 10th grade when I was a total slacker (before I realized that I was so good at school and that my braininess mattered), I aced my Social Studies classes. While I tend to not believe in ghosts, I do believe in the leftover energy of people who have gone on from a place. Our house has always had a good energy. And the energy that lingers here the most is, I believe, from the people who lived here the longest.

This old stairway.

I did a slew of research at the Ypsilanti Historical Archives back when we first bought this house (we bought her from friends who had lived here for five years; before them a family had lived here for 12 years; before them a family had lived here 51 years—the family with the whispers hanging loudest on the staircase and in the clawfoot tub—the Blum family).

The Blum family ate and drank and slept and gardened and got sick and fought and talked and breathed and did things I will never know what here in this house where k and I drink and eat and sleep and fuck and laugh and cry and throw things at the sun and cook and smile and dream. Back in the day before google, white pages, or fancy sophisticated search software, Ypsilanti published this address book thing that actually listed all of the residents living at a certain address and their professions and relationship status. After quite a while of research, I learned that the Blum family lived here from 1935 to 1986 in some way shape or form. It seems as though Oliver, Mary Magdalen, and Leo were all children to Mary Louise Blum and that Mary Magdalen and Oliver lived here unmarried, together until 1978 when Mary died. Oliver went on to live here until 1986 when he died.

Oliver’s Obituary was kept in the Ypsilanti Archives, but Mary Magdelan’s living relatives either did not have an obit written up or the Archives just didn’t have one. However, there was a Catholic, prayer card—you know the kind with a picture of a saint and a person’s name, birth date, and death date, in the archives for Mary. I assume it was in Oliver’s possessions. So, Oliver’s obituary listed no living relatives; it seems as though he was the last of his line and therefore it is really hard to find out any information on the family other than what I was able to find at the archives and of course the amazing little remnants of their living left in the built in workbench in our basement and the rafters of our garage.

Then the other day, I came upon this magnificent list from the electronic version of Ypsilanti Gleanings

Oliver Blum’s estate was acquired by the Ypsilanti Historical Society. So, my one glimpse into the worldly things other than the basement and garage gifts that might have been kept in this house or in the house’s garage are a waterfall of words that describe objects that once were here in my space and are laid out in the estate acquisition list below.

Oliver Blum Estate
Small Wash Board
Old Dominoes
Nutmeg Scraper
Level-Auto Parts, Inc.
Can Opener
Bone Handled Pocket Knife
Razor Strop
Pens & Pencils-Local
Mouth Organ “The Sportsman”
Items from World War II.
Canteen Cover
Duffle Bag
Belt Buckle
Auto Hydrometer
Multi Colored Shawl
Lace Tablecloth
2 Dresses
Man's Suit-Hart, Schafner
and Marx
Man's Coat

Monday, February 16, 2009

waiting on spring...

I cannot even begin to express my recent tendency to cry.
Tears well up on the rims of my eyeballs without warning, without explanation, without an apparent reason. Except, I know there is a reason. Bigger than me and vast like the sky above my favorite lakes--a reason.

Yesterday, in the shower at the gym, I had a wee anxiety attack. My breathing became shallow and the coldness that dashes dark and bright across my belly, when confronted with thoughts of loss of control and mortality, coated my skin even though my body was hot through and through from time in the steam room. I counted to myself 1,2,3,4,5, breath, 6,7,8,9,10, breath, etc. And breathed deeply and caught air and was thankful for my lungs and my ability to still breath. I think the anxiety attack was prompted by the fact that I started a rather light period yesterday, and the sight of blood in my underwear brought I kind of terror into my space.

I've been trying hard to process all of what has happened to me and k in the last many months and still i have no solid answers. I am learning that answers are not necessarily what I need; what I do need is spring and the thawed soil beneath my hands and the sun on my back and face and the warmer rains that make green things grow.

I am also learning that while miscarriage is not very well formally documented/written about, what is out there is out there for heterosexual women. Damn, there is almost nil on the queer experience of miscarriage. I guess we, who have been through it, are creating it informally through the blog world. And it is not to say that I cannot relate to some of what is out there in terms of straight folks' experiences, but the things that are coming up for me are markedly different from what I have read. However, I have had beautiful conversations and connections with straight friends who have been through the painful process of miscarriage, so I am very lucky to be supported in real time.

In thinking about spring and my need for her to come to me quickly, I ordered a great amount and variety of herbs last week. I went for both trays of plugs and seeds and then some rarer, ready to plant in the ground plants.

I really want to grow a lot of chamomile and coriander this year. I use them both frequently and chamomile essential oil is really pricey. While a may not brew it into essential oil quite yet, I will make infusions of it and the stuff is great for joints (I swear by it).

Anyhow thinking about growing things is what gets me through the days--well that and riding my bike and holding my kk.

My kk, she is so kind to me and so silly and so beautiful. She makes me laugh even when I do not want to laugh. She compels me, in loving kindness, to do things when I would rather stay home and do nothing. For instance, on saturday she prodded me gently to got sit at a bar and drink a beer with her. The beer tasted good, but her company was better and I made a time-line of the miscarriage on a napkin and we talked about life and love and then she prodded me gently to go to a party that I did not want to go to, but I went and I got to sit in front of a warm fire in a Laze-E-boy and talk and it was nice.

I am blessed beyond reason to have her as my love.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

updates-emotions, bicycles, and baby-dreams

it has been a hard few weeks.
my emotions have bounced around from feeling pretty normal--content--and laughing a lot to feeling weepy and out of control.

I went back to work last week and it went okay. I made it through, but my heart is not totally present in the field of caring about others, right now, cause I am still focusing on me.

And I think that is totally fine.

I mean really I feel like a wet towel that has been rung out and then hung out on the porch to dry and then drenched again with a cold down pour of winter rain then rung out again and hung out again and on and on.

But through all of this, k and I have been supported by such loving and supportive friends. Good people who have held us by being in their presences, by showering us with kind words, with dinner, with company, with laughter, with camaraderie.

It is so good to be loved so well.

I'm back on my bicycle. I rode on Saturday with kk and hit 2,400 miles on my 9 month old Trek Portland. My plans for more mileage by the bicycle's first birthday were interrupted by the whole pregnancy and then the lack there of. So, now I am hoping to get back up to good mileage by commuting as many days of the week as I can. My dream is to hit 4,000 miles by the end of May--my baby bike's first birthday. It is really a long shot, but...

On Sunday, i fixed up my Redline 925. I put on new brake pads and fixed the rear tire and took her on a sweet little ride around town.

Yesterday and today, I rode my Portland to and from work and my crotch is tender. I had not been on my bike since December 8 which is a really long time for me. I Forgot what a hard, slender seat can do to those tender, fleshy parts. But, all in all, it feels so good; it feels good to have these controllable parts of my life back.

I started looking for therapists this week, too. And my initial visits have been exhausting. I have been revisiting the traumatic parts of the last few months and that causes a lot of residue to surface.

Last night I dreamed that kk gave birth to a baby and we were putting the baby up for adoption. This brother and sister were adopting the kid, but I was arguing about how we had tried for so long to get pregnant we couldn't give the baby away. And then I won the argument and we took back the baby and we were both breastfeeding her.

That is only the second pregnancy/baby dream I have ever had in my whole life. I had one dream when I first found out I was pregnant and once again it involved me breast feeding the infant.

I'm not sure what the dream last night means, but I think it has something to do with letting go.

Tomorrow is our 9 year anniversary. So long we have had this love; we have been through been through thick messes and clear loveliness. tomorrow I'll write an ode to my kk here on this good old blog.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

working on carving me back into me

As of today, I’ll be missing period number three. I would have been three months pregnant this week--1/3 done with it all. Damn.

I’ve been super fragile. I’m not used to being delicate and breakable. I am used to strength and tenacity in all things. This, of course, does not mean I am insensitive; I tend to be ultras-sensitive, but I usually pull myself up after I crash out. I usually make it on through the fear and sweaty palms and feelings of terror or sadness that might well up in my chest. I realize it is okay to be fragile. It is okay to need help and call on friends and family for care whether it be the need of comfort, food, or mindless chatter to keep me from my own worst thoughts.

Lately though strength is not my forte. The other night I cried and screamed so hard I think I scared the hell out of kk. My hip had gone all painfully whack. It hurt so bad and I thought, “what if I lose my ability to walk? What if my body is failing me? What if…this and that and this other terrible thing, etc?”

This is not what it means to be vulnerable; this is however what it means to be ground up and spat out. And then it demonstrates the reaching to put myself back together with the greasy ligaments and bony fragments of my former self. And gristly, ground round is hard to repair—it is hard to carve back out the image of the me I have been accustomed to and familiar with.

And this re-negotiating me, isn’t even all about the miscarriage…It is about where my mind and heart are after such a strange experience. Realistically, kk was supposed to be the carrier of our kid. Realistically, I am quite a boy at heart. Realistically, I do not prefer periods and bleeding and some of the other femaley things about me. Realistically, I love my own version of me as a woman. I like bending gender. I never thought I would explore my version of me as a queer woman through the lens of my own pregnancy. And then I was in the middle of raging hormones and the possibility of a child coming into our lives and the shock and physical and mental befuddlement of it all. Of course, now this experience is one of the tools I’m using to carve through the ground round mound of malleable material that I am right now.

Furthermore, I think we come into realizations of who we are in the world through every experience and that versions of womanhood and manhood and queerhood are constructed on multiple levels. I do not need to be pregnant and give birth and/or be a parent to come into a full version of who I am as a queer woman. I fear that often people who choose not to have children are left in an isolated place among the breeders and their offspring. I think it is critical that we understand that we are all in our own time and in our daily deeds and experiences constructing who we are and that our versions of ourselves do not need certain events, biological or other, to make us complete.