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Writer shuffling between New York, London, and Manila. I like to keep work and romance geographically separate from the rest of my life.

I was watching Doctor Who the other day, and he said something that I’ve been thinking about, especially in this phase of my life:  sometimes there are no good choices.  Sometimes, all the options you have reek of hell and damnation, and you aren’t excused from making the choice anyway.  So even with full knowledge of the consequences, even knowing it will slowly, painfully, eat you up from the inside, you still have to jump in, because life goes on, and you do what you got to do, and you make the most of what you’ve got.  

I always knew that growing up meant making hard decisions, and yes, there’s never a deficit of that.  There’s always some kind of sacrifice; there’s always some call to give up what’s fun and easy for what’s hard but right, and we try to do it, because we know that’s the right thing to do, the good choice.  We want to stick to our principles, be true to ourselves, prove the strength of our character.  We could take on the consequences, because we were worth it, because our integrity was worth it.  We could live with whatever we might have to lose, because at the end of the day, we could go to sleep at night.

What I hadn’t realized was that sometimes, growing up means not having any good choices at all.  You find yourself in the dark, and in there, life won’t even give you a “better of two evils” scenario - all your options are just as vile as the next.  All you can do is figure out which demon you’d rather be tortured by.  All you can do is pick one out of the equally bad and damning things in front of you, decide which consequences can be most controlled, what sins you can carry, and just learn to live with yourself. In this world, guilt and anxiety are simply the accoutrements of daily life. Conscience-induced insomnia is just another thing to get through.  (And besides, should all else fail, aren’t there pills for that?) 

I’ve changed in these last two years, and while I still recognize who I am, there’s so much about me that I’d rather not see anymore.  So much I’d rather leave out of the light. I’m constantly surprised by how I’ve managed to wend and stumble and fall my way here.  There’s a faint, twinkling flash at the end of the tunnel, I can believe that, but it doesn’t make the tunnel any less long or dark.  And it doesn’t make the shadows they’ve cast on me any less real.  And it doesn’t mean it won’t be a tight, claustrophobic squeeze.

Flash on Literary Orphans

A flash story of mine, which I’ve called “The One Who Calls You John”, will be up on Literary Orphans 9/24 issue (that’s next Wednesday, folks!).

Long-time readers will probably recognize it, as I may have posted a rough draft here some time ago.  Anyway, I hope you read it and enjoy!

I used to write about broken, jagged love.  Imperfect love.  The approximations of love.  Almost-loves that bud and bloom in the space of a night.  Aftermaths and picking up pieces.

What am I to do now that I find myself on the other side?  In love, content, and dare I say it, happy?

Dum-dum-dum.

motherhood, etc

They tell you once your baby comes, you’ll forget all the pain and everything will be worth it.  You will be overwhelmed with love and maternal devotion, and your life will never be the same.

That’s true, I suppose, up to a point.  But let me just say this: I remember every agonizing minute of my 36 hours of labor.  When I first saw my son, I didn’t feel a tidal wave of affection or even emotion.  What I felt, instead, was something bordering on apathy.  The pain overwhelmed me. Meeting my son did not.  Was it the exhaustion of birthing?  The aftermath of the too-little-too-late epidural?  Or was I just a strange kind of mother?  I don’t know.  I didn’t know what to make of myself, to be honest.  And I would venture to guess that the sentiment was shared by the nurse who tried to offer him up to me, and to whom I responded with “no, not now please.”

***

The love came after.  

At first, all I felt was responsibility, uncertainty, the feeling that I had made the biggest mistake of my life.  How could I have agreed to be responsible for a child???  A human.  Jesuschristwhattheactualfuck.

And this is what I felt when I lay on my hospital bed, my little baby son next to me on a crib.  This is what I felt when I, exhausted beyond belief, had to get up every two hours to nurse and suckle an infant who was now completely under my care.  This was what I felt when I changed his diaper for the first time, and noted the dried up crust of an umbilical cord protruding from the beginnings of a belly button.

The love will come after, I told myself.  It was a mantra I held on to for dear life.

***

The love comes after.

It did.  It does.

Let me tell you something.  What you feel in the earliest days of motherhood is not indicative of your worth as a mother.  The love you may or may not have when you birth your child is not indicative of the love you will have for him when you finally believe that he is yours, that he is your son, that he is now, completely and irrevocably, part of your life. 

Luke is only 7 months old, and here are the things I know:

He is the brightest spot in any room.  He is an angel.  I will do anything for him.  And I pity anyone who tries to truly hurt him, for there are places inside me that are dark and bleak and grotesque.  Pity the fools who would meet my demons, for they would not survive.  (I promise.)

image

 

alone for the first time in 6 months

Last Saturday, H and my little boy L flew to England.    

This is the first time I’ve had this much time to myself without having to feed/change/clean my baby or write up a report, answer an email, or analyse a new set of data for work.  And I think it’s driven me to either depression, insanity, or both.

For instance, I have suddenly realized that I no longer have friends. 

Okay, yes, exaggeration. What I really mean is my friends’ lives, like my own, have kept on moving and I find myself a little bewildered at how jumbled up everything is now.  How did I not notice this?  Party girls are at home with serious relationships, the potheads are potless because of the baby, slacker boys are still at work, and best friends have moved to other towns and can’t come over anymore.  My mise en place has been overturned.  I don’t know who to call for drinks, or a movie, or to hang out. The bar I love is closed.  And well, I’m alone.

You see, when you’re coupled and with a child, you get used to never, ever being alone.  It’s so strange to identify as an introvert and to suddenly feel so uncomfortable with introversion.  I never thought that would happen.

The days seem so long now.  And the nights are even longer. 

 I also tend to slip into drama more easily without someone to spot me.

Let’s see how this goes. 

My son, the cutest baby ever.

My son, the cutest baby ever.

HEY, IS ANYONE STILL OUT THERE

So, I guess I’m back.  Intermittently.  Sorry for the absence.  I’ve been pregnant.  And I’ve given birth.  And now I have a four month old son.  He’s adorable. Funny how life works.

I just had the burning desire to share a thought in my head, and realized I had no one to share it with.  Except you, my nameless, faceless internet.  I suppose I’ve always had you. 

See, throughout my pregnancy and this being-a-mom thing, I haven’t had time to read, much less write, and now that I am deep in the throes of a semi-real job, with very real responsibilities, I’ve felt myself slipping farther and farther away.  I need to pin myself down again.  I need to pen myself down again.  (Yeah, yeah, I know what I did there.  Forgive me, I’m a bit rusty.)

So, to start, a tiny little ramble, before my baby son wakes up, and/or his father needs the computer.  Let’s call this one on The Fault in Our Stars.

I haven’t read it, just this review by The Guardian, which seems to be vaguely disparaging and celebratory in turns.  It is not a great piece of fiction, I presume, but something about it piques me.  The glamour club of chemo patients (“The movie is up to its armpits in the weird, inverted glamour of the sick.”), the young, twilighty love, the swooniness of it all.  

I think that may be it.  Being a mother, being a reponsible adult (finally), holding down a job, these are not “swoon-y” moments.  And by god, sometimes, I need to swoon.  I need to read something that pulls me in and back again - emotionally, with raw verve.  I worried that my mental acuity may atrophy with motherhood, but that hasn’t been the case.  It’s my emotions that have taken a strange dip.  This romantic has veered away from romance, and that doesn’t feel like me.  I need to feel like me.

So, I guess this is all a jumbled, inarticulate way of rationalizing my need to buy into this latest reincarnation of Young Adult Twee.  Hey, we use the tools we have to do what needs to be done, right?  Don’t judge.  (I told you I was rusty.)  

The pink line that changed my world.

The pink line that changed my world.

Anonymous said: haha johnny depp? why you look so uptight?

Hah. He’ll get a kick out of that.

Follow up to question below.

Follow up to question below.

Anonymous said: got a new boy yet?

Yes, actually.

Re-reading Anne Sexton

'I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.” 

― Anne Sexton, To Bedlam and Part Way Back

He says he loves how beautiful I am in the morning.

And I can almost see what he sees: a girl barely awake, hair in disarray from sleep, barefoot and looking for a discarded bra while the early light streams gently through the window. She looks lost and innocent and pure. I am unmade and unmasked.

But I don’t want to be loved when I’m vulnerable.

Love me when I’m strong. Love me when I’m wielding my weapons. Love me inspite of my shields. It’s too easy to love someone who needs to be loved. I don’t need you, but love me anyway.

And I will love you like no one else can. I’ll tend to the monsters you like to keep. I’ll laugh with all the demons you’ve befriended. I will take you as you are, and you will never have cause to hide even the ugliest of your pieces. I will show you the world.

And when it’s all over, I promise, you will always remember me.

excerpts: strange and beautiful

For Cece, Anette, Mila, Hazel, Apple, Cassandra, and all the girls whose real names I will never know, but who let me in their lives regardless.

***

Tonight, we’re sitting on a bench, on display. We are in our slutty best: the shortest skirts, the most diaphanous tops, the laciest lingerie under carefully kohled eyes and blown out hair.

It’s just like a night out, a pretty blonde, an actress from Australia, tells us. The striking girl beside her, a painter with wild curly hair, laughs.

Artists find their ways here too easily, I often think. We tend to be less scrupulous, more used to bending ideals to fit the day, more flexible with morals. I suppose we’ve had to be. Empathy is our drug, and we’re all of us addicted. We see too much, feel too deeply, to keep to black-and-white.

Another girl rolls her eyes. I haven’t had a night out in three years, she says, and I’m definitely not counting this as a replacement. There is an edge to her soft voice, like cotton candy gravel, that the rest of us are careful to skirt around. She’s been doing this the longest - for almost as long as she’s had an autistic son.

***

Under the table, we are a knot of limbs. We are so many bodies crammed together, just flesh to be picked over, bought and sold. Sometimes I no longer know which pieces are mine.

But this is my last night here. The last night of three months. I have enough for a downpayment on a rental, and to pay off debts, and get me solvent again. Enough. It’s not enough to hit the ground running, but it’s enough to stop in my steps, to coax my legs out from the routine of gyrations. It’s enough to find my feet, and I’m grateful.

It’s strange, isn’t it it? Most of us come in seduced by easy money, and visions of Louis Vuitton bags, and dinners at Nobu, and medicine for sick sons. Yet we leave thankful that we can even find our feet.

***

It’s only when the world collapses around you that you really get to see what’s been holding it up. It’s when you see your foundations, the pillars on which the essence of you rest.

Because the slow collapse is every bit like the striptease I’ve taught myself to do, to withstand on a nightly basis. The extraneous things make everything pretty and exciting, but they don’t matter, in the end. Most men don’t even remember the color of your bra - and if you’re doing your job right, maybe they shouldn’t.

What matters is the bravado. The smile. What matters is the absence of your debris on that dance floor, because you kept it together. In the end, it doesn’t matter what keeps you up. It only matters that you don’t fall apart.

It could be worse, one of the veterans shrugs. She speaks as if worse was a gradient on which our lives must necessarily fall.

Themed by Hunson. Originally by Josh