Relaxing and growing.

Relaxing at an outdoor French film this summer.
There are a few pages of questions in one of my labor books about your ideal labor. It asks you where your ideal labor would take place, who would be there, this sort of stuff. But then it gets psychological.

"What mental activity have you done that took the most out of you?"

"List five ways that you can find the extra bit of stamina in you when you feel you have nothing left to give."

And then, "What helps you relax the most?"

One of my favorite things about being pregnant is this, the process of introspection, the process of preparing for the mental and physical battle that will be labor. It is deeply satisfying for me to go interior and question the ways I approach challenges in my life... especially knowing that my preparation is going to be very relevant in about 11 weeks.

So I was thinking about my answers to that last question this morning. I listed out three things:
  • not having a schedule
  • not having too many people around
  • swimming
Ummmmmmmmm. Wat. 

First off, I am basically the physical manifestation of a schedule if there ever was one! I am also extroverted and I take on a lot of social responsibilities, which means that I'm always with people. And SWIMMING?! I have not been swimming since Camp Mighty last November. 

These answers, however, feel entirely accurate; I'm somewhat troubled by the fact that I've been living a life that blatantly ignores what I need to do to relax. How long can a person go without relaxing, truly relaxing? I would rather not find out.

I feel as though 2012 has been an enormous year of growth for me already. A lot of it has to do with preparing to expand our family, but I also think that I owe a big part of it to slowing down, focusing more on me and our needs, saying no when I need to. I feel like I know myself better today, like I'm less apologetic for things I'm not responsible for. 

We are the makers of our own happiness. For a while I was really good at identifying huge projects and huge trips and enormous active ways to keep myself happy. But lately it seems obvious that I don't want those things. Lately what's been making me happy are small things. Watching the Olympics with no time frame in mind. Eating chocolate mint cookie ice cream. Taking long walks alone. Baking tartes and crumbles with the fruits from our CSA. Incessantly texting my family photos of the nursery and the cats. Laughing at Chris and his antics.

I'm really proud of myself for letting go and relaxing. Now I guess the only thing left is to find a pool...


Life List update.

This afternoon Leigh came to Brooklyn and we got Italian Ice and sat on a bench and talked about life. The first No Is For Wimps class just wrapped up yesterday and I wanted to rehash it with someone. Leigh teaches at a university and I needed her wisdom.

Because, you guys? This NIFW class was hard to teach! I had an awesome group of participants and there were amazing moments of amazingness, but there were also moments where I doubted myself a ton. Like, who am I to be teaching this class? I mentioned this to Leigh and she had a very Leigh response.

"I mean, that's like everything in life, right? If you're not worried about being great at your job, then what the fuck are you doing?"

Duh. DUH! Right? Thanks, Leigh. Thanks for reassuring me that every single thing I try doesn't need to be the most successful thing that has ever existed. (Phew.)

A few minutes ago I sent out some final emails to the NIFW group and glanced back at my Life List to see if there was anything I could check off after this experience. And as it turns out, I've been busy! Here are my most recent updates (and feel free to share how you're doing in the comments...)

Working on NIFW in my office (closet).

29. Teach a class.
BOOM. Done. Creative Summer Camp has officially wrapped and I officially taught it. 

52. Find an awesome pillow that is not too thin or too fat, but just perfect.
I did this! Chris and I walked to the Macy's in Brooklyn that is 10 minutes from our apartment. We'd had one too many nights of "I have a headache because my pillow sucks" and finally hit the threshold one needs to purchase new pillows. And people? It took FOUR MINUTES to choose new pillows that cushion our faces like angels for 8+ hours per night. 

The lesson here is do not suffer for 4 years with stupid-ass pillows. Just go to Macy's and figure out if you're soft, firm or extra-firm. For the low, low price of $19.99 per pillow, you will sleep like a baby.

66. Create an online community around NIFW.
Yikes! Ok, so I'm going to call this good because I got something up and running. Things are still semi-baked but NIFW is a tiny, baby platform now and it feels like something I can build upon. In fact I have 1.7 billion ideas for what to do with it next (and this pesky giving-birth thing in October is getting in my way!). So yes, an online community feels created. Enough for now.

67. Visit all the 826 Valencias. 
At The Boring Store in Chicago.
Update: I visited The Boring Store when I was out in Chicago in June. It wasn't my favorite of all the 826 stores, but I did pick up a notebook made out of an old floppy disk and laughed at some of the ridiculous products they sell. Now I just have to hit up L.A., Ann Arbor and Boston. 

79. Write a wedding post and have it published on A Practical Wedding.
I should have written this differently. I have no control over whether my post is published on APW, so I'm calling this done. During my wedding-post-a-thon earlier this summer, I sat down and wrote a post, submitted it to APW and even included some photos. If it's published on their site sometime, I will beam with pride. But even if it isn't, I gave it a college try and found other ways to share wedding insights in the meantime.

90. Take at least one trip alone every year. Could be as simple as a long weekend to visit friends or fam.
2012: Chicago with my Mom. (I should clarify that "alone" means without Chris or our kids...)

... so what's next?

Well here are a few Life List items that I anticipate tackling sometime later this year!
Holy moly, let's all hope I give birth in 2012.
This is me this morning, at 27 weeks.

6. Redesign my blog (or pay someone else to do it)
25. Accompany my brother (singing) at a concert in front of other people.
31. Start a Saturday morning tradition that I continue for a year.
53. Rewatch Lost.
76. Speak French with my children so they have a base knowledge of the language at least.
78. Go to a movie and sneak into a second one after the first is over!
85. Have my sister as my doula for the birth of at least one of my children.

Why I did not include "give birth" on this Life List is beyond me! So let's just add it in as #103.

103. Birth a baby.

Because like it or not, this baby is coming out sometime this fall. And I'll be damned if I don't get to check something official off for that!


My time of day is the dark time.

Chris started a new job this week. For the first time in our relationship, he wakes up and then I wake up and then we leave the apartment for different locations. I've been sitting on this news for a while now. In a year that seems ever-changing, his decision to work somewhere new ranks up there among the biggest. It was a long road getting here but now here we are, spouses with different day jobs.

It feels okay so far.


Tonight I wasn't tired yet so I left the house after Chris fell asleep. I took my keys and I took my bag and I walked for an hour, wandering down Court Street and back up Clinton. Court was filled with bars that spilled onto the sidewalk, pizza places still serving Italian Ices and a beer garden that was loud enough to wake the dead. I peered into restaurants where some people were having first dates and others were having last dates. Girls in sundresses hugged outside of the movies. I wandered in a new candy shop that recently opened and chuckled at my youth in candy form. (How did we eat some of that stuff?!)

Then I'd turn back a street and walk back towards home on Clinton, where tall brownstones lined the quiet streets. I passed several people reading on their front steps; others stared into space with a cigarette in hand. 

I padded on in my sandals, the ones that are getting harder to strap on because of my belly. I peeked into windows that illuminated dinner parties and couples reading and someone snoozing in front of the television. Cabs rolled by with their lights on. 

I didn't feel alone.


I used to think having a baby in the city was the worst thing in the world. I used to think that the subway would be awful and not having a car was limiting and the dirtiness was insurmountable. Lately we've been realizing that there's something to be said for leaving the apartment and stumbling on society. Observing the tiny moments of other people's lives has got to count for something, especially as we stand on the edge of brand new lives ourselves.

After an hour I ended up at the bodega down the block, smelling fruit alongside strangers at a quarter to eleven. The muggy air unleashed the smell of peaches and I broke down and carried an armful of fruit into the cashier. I've eaten half the watermelon slice while writing this blog post and it tastes like summer and my grandparents' backyard. I skipped dinner tonight because I wasn't feeling well and as it turns out, all I wanted was some fruit.


"Some nights I walk around town, protected by my malachite machine-made bracelet that Esther gave me and by Oscar's track team relay baton, which I could use as a weapon. The obstetrician said I should exercise for the baby's sake, and when I do that, I sort of accidentally see into people's living room windows even though I don't always want to... when they see a pregnant woman walking by unaccompanied, pregnantly huge like me, carrying a track team relay baton, they usually give me a smile or a wan wave, like I'm contributing to the Gross National Census or the enlarging welfare of humanity. People go by, things go by, such as me."

That's Chloe's last chapter in The Feast of Love. Tonight this passage came back to me during the quiet part of my walk on Clinton. 

I can't believe I'm pregnant. The realness and rawness of it isn't something I understand all at once, not at any moment. It keeps slipping away from me, fading into to-do lists or doctor's visits or foods to avoid in restaurants. It's like how I can never seem to effectively meditate, how I can catch hold of the quiet inner space for seconds at a time but nothing longer. 

I can just tell that I'm going to be massively overwhelmed by his birth. The labor, I feel somewhat prepared for. But meeting him, my son? It slips away into one of those untouchable spaces. I feel like those people who do "first looks" on their wedding days. Someone amazing is right behind me. He's so close and the anticipation builds; I know it's someone I love but I just don't fully know what to expect when I turn around. He has been so close this whole time and yet totally unknowable. 

Nine months is a long time to wait to meet the person who's been inside you this whole time.