I have a blue One Line a Day Journal with gold gilded pages. If I am diligent it will hold my memories for the next five years. That thought appeals to me. I want to record my memories for the next five years. And so every night I settle down in my chair to write and every night the pen won't work. Doesn't matter what pen. Doesn't matter how fiercely or how lightly I press down. The only memories I've managed to record are a series of nightly scrimmages against shitty pens and reluctant ink and I never win.
So what if I decide to write here instead, every night? Fuck the journal man, its an analog nightmare. It belongs to be dropped into a bathtub. This blog is my old friend. Instead of trying to write anything particularly crafty or fresh, I'm just going to try and put something up here every day.
Why, do I sound like a fifteen year old on Myspace? Well brace yourself, it's going to get worse. Because I also don't feel like editing myself, not ever again. Besides, I could use a bit of the youthful optimism and vigor of an teenager taking her first shot at E-journaling, cracking her knuckles and wiggling her fingers above the keyboard of a fresh-from-the-box birthday Macintosh, promising the world at large that she will not sleep! Until new content is produced daily! And with searing sincerity at that!
I should be so lucky. We all should!
My baby, Olive, is rounding the corner to half a year old, and the world around her appears to be shrinking, as if I've accidentally put everything into the dryer. Clothes that fit her yesterday are too small today. The Peter Rabbit Lovey given to her by her great uncle Peter (not a rabbit- in fact an Oboe player recently retired after 30 plus years in the Venezuelan National orchestra) was the length of her body when she was born, now it fits casually in the crook of her arm.
I've got to be more careful with the laundry. Because the inevitable conclusion of all this out-growing business is that one day she will STOP BEING A BABY. And I'll have neglected to write any of it, all because I never knew where to start, and my pens, no doubt aggregated from bank counters across the city, were consistently worthless.
So here is what we did today. We dropped my mother at the airport and said goodbye after a five day visit. My parents live far away from us, which is a big terrible mistake, but I will address that at another time. Or maybe never at all. The other notable thing about this day is that we went to the Botanical Gardens for the first time, and Olive tried to swallow a dandelion. Then I had to dig around her mouth to remove a wood chip. I'd rather not remember that part, to be honest, it totally freaked me out. You better believe I'll be thinking about that wood chip tonight as I try and go to sleep.
I have a wicked case of post-partum anxiety. I will address that at another time, too. And since I suppose I feel like sharing tonight, I'll also tell you straight up that I have another mental health issue. It's a neural glitch involving sounds. Certain sounds make me so full of rage that I'm actually no-joke seeking therapy for it. It makes me feel really horrid, like I'm broken and mean. But I'm starting to realize it's just not my fault. There's just a bug in the system, that's all. I'll write about that later. We have time.
But the wood chip. The dandelion. I loved being outside in the soft spring air and feeling the sun on my neck. I liked parading my gorgeous infant around the park and trying to act humble, as if I didn't know that she was the world's most delectable baby (except I do know!) But I did not find it relaxing in ANY WAY to lie with her on the grass as she carefully inspected small pieces of nature, each the diameter of her wind pipe, and then mashed them into her open mouth. I doubt she found it relaxing either, to constantly have interesting things grabbed away from her. Where's the fun in that?
If you're going to suggest I bring a blanket, I'm going to have to stop you right there. Olive is freakishly fast crawler for a not-quite-six-month-old. She had no time for her great aunt's knitted afghan OR the Burt's Bees Organic pink and white checkered floor blanket. (I'd brought them both without realizing it.)
I walked her around the gardens a little, talking to her, letting her rub the tree bark with her small, small hand. We found an empty cabin and that was a much more soothing environment. She zipped along against the wall, studied the grain swirls in the wood and then began to lick the floor until I gathered her up again. I dipped her toes in the creek for the first time.
Everything is brand new to her. There's a first time for everything they say, and right now everything she does is her first time. Even the completely mundane things- like waiting to turn left at a green light and growing impatient when it takes a while. Or losing something somewhere in the house and getting frustrated at yourself for doing so- it's funny to think about, but we all once did that for the very first time.
I would have carried her around the trails all day long, but she's getting too heavy for that. Plus she wants to move and explore on her own, I can't fault her for that.
That stupid journal never would have let me write this much. It censored me with its teeny compartments. One line a day? Really?
When we got home from the gardens I zipped Olive into her starfish sleep suit and gave her the pacifier with a stuffed reindeer on it. We read a couple of board books about dinosaurs. The books came from my cousin, Alison. My sister says that when I talk about board books it's really annoying, and I get that. I can totally see that.
Even after the books though, Olive was rubbing her eyes with her fin - the starfish suit turns her arms into fins, it's wonderful- and squawking. She wouldn't fall asleep. So I opened up the novel that I'm reading, which is called A Tale for the Time Being, and I read that aloud and she eventually succumbed. She was on her side and resting her fin and one of her luscious cheeks against my arm. It was difficult to extract myself without waking her up, but I had to. I had to go and clean the kitchen.
In truth though, I didn't clean the kitchen. The kitchen was never cleaned today! Instead I just messed around and then I watched a few online tutorials about a new lens that I have. It's not very poetic but it's the truth. Most of life is the same old same old. Then again, since Olive was born, even the quiet and bothersome tasks makes me really happy. As long as Olive is around while I'm doing them.
I suppose that's where I'll end this today. I think I'll cull her bookshelf a bit and then brush my teeth. I'm going to try and sleep after that, and I'm going to do my damnedest not to think about the wood chip in her mouth that I had to fish out. Or what will happen if I one day turn my head and miss it and she swallows.
Being her mother is every clumsy metaphor that's ever been written about love, but it's also wretched with the most vivid and imaginative fear that's ever existed. I don't claim to be alone here. You could say I've finally tapped in.
Goodnight. I'll talk to you tomorrow. I know you don't believe me but just you wait. Just you wait.