Tuesday, August 30, 2011

By Popular Demand

The recipe for zucchini chocolate-chip cookies!  People actually demanded this.  I'm not just pretending that people are demanding things so I have an excuse to post them (although, let's be honest, I'm not above doing that, either).  

Anyway, I got this recipe from Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which is actually a super great book, with the bonus of lots of good recipes in it.  Her book made me think much more carefully about eating locally and about what I eat in general, without grossing me out, boring me, or making me feel terribly guilty and overwhelmed by problems I cannot solve.  And it inspired our little backyard garden that has kept us well stocked in zukes, cukes, okra, peppers, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes all summer long.  

So here's the cookie recipe.  It makes about two dozen cookies.

1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract
~ Combine these ingredients in large bowl. ~

1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
~ Combine in a separate small bowl and blend into the liquid mixture. ~

1 cup finely shredded zucchini
12 oz chocolate chips
~ Stir these into other ingredients, mix well.  Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet covered in parchment paper.  Flatten with back of spoon (small but important step).  Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. ~

They have more of a cakey texture than regular chocolate chip cookies, but I think they are absolutely delish. In fact, you may find yourself wanting to eat them for breakfast.  Which is totally fine.  Because they have zucchini in them, therefore they are a health food.

I would also like to say that I've read two things recently that have stuck in my head and I continue to mull over, so I wanted to pass them on. 

The first is a poem Brianna posted on her blog.  You know how reading those lines of Gilgamesh was like a take-your-breath-away kind of gut punch for me?  Well, this poem made tears spring to my eyes, but in a good way, like a sympathetic hug from a friend.  I keep going back to it when I think about living with good intentions.  I've copied it into my "grief journal" where I've collected all kinds of poems and quotations, and I just can't stop reading it.  Brianna lost George in the spring of 2010, and just recently brought home his baby sister, Clio, so she knows something about looking for a glimmer of light when everything feels very dark.

The second is a post written by Josh and  posted on Glow in the Woods.  It's about searching for our lost loved ones in the world around us, and missing them so much.  It's really beautiful.  I think that whatever our religious beliefs may be, there's simply no way to escape the longing we all have to have our babies here with us, and our desire to feel them near us.  I liked his perspective, and his honesty about how hard it is to feel that presence we so desperately crave.

Anything else I should be reading?  Or eating?  One can never have too much reading material or yummy vegetarian recipes, so don't be shy.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Big Girl in a Little Bucket

My mom e-mailed some pictures that I feel compelled to share.  They cracked me up, and it's one of my personal policies that the internet benefits from adorable pet pictures.  If you're my mom's facebook friend, you may have already seen this.  If not, they seem like a nice start for a new week.

The backstory is that my mom dog-sat for my cousin's dog over the weekend (my parents' dog, Blackjack, is at top left of the first pic).  Stella is a St. Bernard who is very much still a puppy at heart.  It was another warm August weekend in middle America, and Stella was feeling the heat.  My mom filled up a big green bucket of water for her, and then Stella demonstrated her complete lack of body space awareness.

See, she makes up for being oversized by also being incredibly flexible.  I'm just not sure there could be any water left in that bucket by the time she got that much of herself in it.  I admire that kind of determination though.  Stella's obviously a girl who knows what she wants and does whatever it takes to get it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sneaky Grief Spiral

I was telling David the other day that I think I've been feeling sadder lately.  These last couple of weeks, actually.  It seems harder.  I feel weepier.  Tears come so easily, my throat feels tight, and my chest is always aching.

Really, though, I might just be tired.

I said this to him, too, as I puzzled through why I would be feeling worse when really most things are okay.  In fact, pretty much everything in my life is okay.  Pretty good.  Maybe even great.  Except that Eliza is dead.

My friends are sticking around, dragging me out to dinner, crying with me, buying me lovely gifts, and sending me sweet e-mails.  I'm still connecting with new friends and I'm discovering that we have so much more in common than grief and baby loss and getting to know them really does feel like a gift from Eliza.  I have this new job that's just what I want to be doing and it's going okay so far.  I have a car that gets reasonably good gas mileage, a house that's freshly repainted inside, plans to do some back-to-school wardrobe shopping this weekend, two dogs to love on, and little projects to keep me busy.  Really, I can't complain.

But I don't have my baby.  And that makes it impossibly hard sometimes to appreciate the good things I do have.

So lately I've been feeling weepy and worn down and wiped out by grief.  And honestly, I think I'm just tired from my new job, new schedule, new responsibilities, the burden of getting up and leaving the house every single morning.  This combination of old grief + new tired threatens to send me on a sneaky grief spiral any given day.

The new job has me finished teaching by noon most days, but it also has me setting my alarm for 6am (which, for me, is simply unheard of).  I know it will just take a little while to adjust.  Right now, the problem isn't waking up early because I'm still a little anxious about first-week stuff, so it's more like I just feel stretched and jittery all morning, and by late afternoon I'm just useless and tired but I don't want to take a nap because I'm afraid I won't be able to fall asleep at night if I do that.  Bluh.

Of course I miss Eliza and I know that will never stop.  But I thought I'd gotten better at carrying that burden.  These recent events--the tears that bubble up and threaten to spill over during quiet office hours, the pit in my stomach that leaves no room for an appetite when I go to the dining hall on campus, the chest-ache that becomes a headache on my drive home...  These things feel like early grief all over again.

But really, I'm probably just tired, right?  The problem is that if you start out sad and you add tired, you end up in a bad place.

I saw the Sneaky Hate Spiral today (which is hilarious and true) and I thought that a less funny but equally true version of it would be the Sneaky Grief Spiral.  When you start out sad, mild irritations suddenly feel like major catastrophes, and if you're not careful, by the end of the day you could be totally spiraling out of control until your husband says, "Honey, what's wrong?" and you shout, "EVERYTHING!"

And then you feel really annoyed because it really FEELS like EVERYTHING IS WRONG but somehow saying that out loud just makes you sound like you're suffering from teenage angst.

It's true though, that when you're dealing with grief, and you feel tired on top of that (or, sick, or stressed, or whatever), any interaction (or lack thereof) with someone else moves from Random Occurrence to Personal Attack:

Inconsiderate drivers:  How can you cut me off in traffic when I'm already feeling emotionally fragile?  What are you trying to do to me here?  Why do you HATE me?

Whiny puppy-dogs: Why are you guilt-tripping me with your big puppy-dog eyes when I feel terrible already and I just need to lie on this couch and feel sad about Eliza and NOT get you another treat.

Forgetful/busy husbands:  OMG he said he was going to call me at lunch and he didn't and he's probably so sick of talking to me because I cry all the time and now we're going to be one of those couples who loses a child and gets divorced and I already lost my baby and now I'm going to lose my husband.

Busy friends:  She never calls me anymore and I know it's because she feels like she has nothing to say to me because I'm not the same and she feels awkward and she doesn't want to be around me now and now is when I lose all my friends and I should just stop wearing deodorant because WHY BOTHER no one wants to be around me anyway.

Inconsiderate neighbors:  How can you take my parking space in front of my house when you KNOW my baby died several months ago?

NPR reporter:  My WORD can't you talk about something more cheerful?  Do you really have to give the report about the animals who were taken from a hoarder to a shelter while I'm driving to work?  I mean I am already on the edge here.  What are you trying to do to me?  

Friendly store clerk:  How dare you ask me how I'm doing today?  Obviously I am TERRIBLE!  LOOK AT ME!  I look like crap!  I can only wear waterproof mascara!

Person Who Bought the Last Bottle of Essie's Turquoise and Caicos Nail Polish:  Why would you take the LAST bottle when this is the only color that could POSSIBLY cheer me up today?  How could you be so cruel?  Don't you know how hard my life is right now?

Really, it just gets more ridiculous from there.  The sneaky grief spiral.

You take grief.

You add tired.

You get crazy.

So I think maybe this afternoon I'll have a good cry and then go ahead and take a nice nap.  I obviously need it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Welcome to Hell; Whoa, This Place Looks Familiar

I'm teaching Gilgamesh this week.  It's a really old ass poem (it's basically like the first thing ever written down on a clay tablet).  I've never taught it before.  If I'm being perfectly honest, I've never even read it before.  At least, not carefully.  I was assigned it in undergrad, but that was in a class I took with this guy I had major crush on (alas, it didn't work out, as he didn't notice me at all except to ask if he could copy my homework) so the reading assignments were not much of a priority.  (Note to Brooke in college:  You can do better.  And you will!)

Anyway.  I'm prepping for class, I'm reading through the poem again, and I come to a moment that takes my breath away.  It's this weird point toward the end of the poem where Gilgamesh's dead friend Enkidu has sort of been resurrected.  Also, Gilgamesh has accidentally let his really special, magical, super awesome drum fall down into Hell.  Oopsies!  It was a gift from a goddess, and it's kind of a big deal.  So he calls on his dead friend Enkidu to go down and get it.  Enkidu is apparently an agreeable sort of fellow, so he ventures down into Hell to fetch the drum.  And then there's this:

Around him, the lament for the dead arose;
for she alone, in that sad place, is at home who,
having given birth to beauty,
has watched that beauty die.

That's the definition of Hell.

It was written almost 5,000 years ago.  On a clay tablet.  With a freaking stick.

"Who," the ancient, toga-wearing, sandal-sporting writer wonders, "Who could possibly feel at home in Hell?  Oh, I know.  Somebody who feels like they're living in it every day.  Someone who has lost a child."

She alone, in that sad place, is at home.

And THAT is why I teach literature.  Because everything that matters, everything that makes us human and connected to one another, every joyful and anguished moment of our suffering gets worked out and puzzled over and articulated again and again.  And sometimes you discover that someone who lived centuries before you, on the other side of the world, in a place you can't really even imagine, went through Hell.  And lived to tell about it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

In the past 7 days...

* I lost a favorite cardigan.  And then found it.  Hanging in my closet.  Where I swear I looked for it a thousand times.

* I made zucchini chocolate chip cookies.

* I went to a Saturday morning faculty meeting, only to realize 2 hours into it that my department chair had misinformed me, it was only for adjunct faculty, and I didn't actually need to be there.

* I cried a lot of tears.  Some sweet, some really ugly.

* I e-mailed five students who were in my composition course last fall and are enrolled in my literature course this fall because the last time they saw me, I was eight months pregnant, and I gave birth to Eliza five days later.  I had to tell them what happened so they wouldn't bounce into class on the first day and say, "Hi Dr. Taylor!  How's the baby?"  Because the mere thought of that scenario made me cry some of those ugly tears. (If it had just been a couple of boys, I might have risked it.  But five pleasant, cheerful girls, a couple of them especially friendly...  I knew it was just a matter of time.)

* I sort of decorated my office at work.  My favorite items include a spray-painted portrait of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (a gift from a student last spring), my husband's school picture (seriously it's so cute that he gets his picture taken every year--I like to include them when I send out Christmas cards even though he'd die of embarrassment if he knew that), and I already have the frame for the picture of Eliza's name.  Just need to order the print.

* I ordered some used books on the middle ages because I still have a lot to learn...

* I did just a little back-to-school online shopping.  I've decided, though, to do most of my back to school shopping at consignment and second hand shops.  Why?  Because I need PROJECTS, people!  And I already repainted 2/3 of my house. 

* David and I decided we would try to plan something fun twice a week.  Nothing flashy.  Just dinner out or a movie or a TV marathon or whatever.  Something I can write in my planner and look forward to.

* I needed to return a shower curtain I ordered online but I thought what they were charging to print a pre-paid packing slip was ridiculous.  So I decided to take it to the post office and return it myself.  I ended up paying $2 more PLUS the time it took me to go to the post office.  Lesson learned. 

* I called my therapist and moved up my next appointment because I was REALLY sad.

* I sipped a glass of wine, cooked dinner with David, put on some music, and he twirled me around the kitchen and I felt... happy.

* We bought tickets to see Jamey Johnson in concert because my husband has a man-crush on him. 

* I went to hours of faculty orientation, administered placement tests to incoming students, and made awkward small talk with other awkward academics (none of whom asked me if I had kids, God love 'em).

* I watched three movies in a row on Saturday because David and I were both having a rough day.

* I created a powerpoint with visual images related to Gilgamesh.

It felt like a really long, really busy, really exhausting week.  And classes start Monday.  I hope I'm ready for this.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Her Name

I've written before about how much I love Eliza's name.

I came across Carly Marie's website in the early days after our loss.  I'd shut down facebook (before going back six months later and then shutting it down again) so when I read the directions about submitting a name, I wasn't sure if I could do it without a facebook account and it all seemed confusing and overwhelming and I just wanted to die.

That fog has cleared (at least, most of the time) so a couple of weeks ago, I found myself revisiting Carly Marie's website and I saw that she was taking requests for baby names to be written in the sand and also posted on the part of her website she calls Christian's Beach.

Carly Marie is a photographer and a bereaved mother of a little boy named Christian.  She lives in Australia.  She's gone on to have three more beautiful living kids but one of the many ways she keeps Christian's memory alive is by doing this service for other parents who are missing their babies.  She has taken on a lot of other amazing projects, but what really blows me away is that she goes to the beach at sunset almost every evening--six days a week--and writes their name in the sand, and then takes a beautiful photo to capture the moment before the tide sweeps it away. 

So I filled out the form, welcoming the chance to type Eliza's name.  I made a donation.  And this morning I received this JPEG file and it took my breath away.

It's perfect, isn't it?  Just like our baby girl...

I know things are easier.  But damn.  Missing her is still so hard.

I watched Eat, Pray, Love this morning.  It did not change my life, although it did make me think that I could probably put more of an effort into a daily practice of meditation if I were living in a lovely screened-in hut in Bali.

Still, there was one point in the movie when Julia Roberts was crying about missing someone (a boyfriend) and someone said to her, "So miss him.  And every time you think of him, send him love and light."

No, I'm not packing up and heading to Bali to find myself or to India to find a guru (although I would totally take Julia up on a trip to Naples for some of that pizza Margherita that she ate in the movie).

But this is me taking a deep breath.  Looking at the sunset.  Recognizing that my sorrow is so deep because my love for her is so great.  Or, as I just wrote to another bereaved parent, I wouldn't take away the grief even at its worst, because I know it's a corollary of my love.  And I wouldn't do away with that love just to be relieved of the pain.

But omg, folks.  My heart.  It hurts.

I miss her.

And so I'm sending Eliza love and light.  In those beautiful shades of pink and gold.  Every moment of every day.  And even in those dark moments when I don't know what I believe anymore, I believe that she can feel that.  I really do.

Friday, August 19, 2011


So I'm a big fan of Pinterest.  If you're not familiar, it's a website and service that allows you to "pin" any image that you find online to one of your virtual boards.  So, for example, you can click on all the clothes you want to buy from Anthropologie and J.Crew and create a fashion pin board.  Or you can click on photos you love on home decorating blogs and create a living room inspiration pin board.  You get the idea.

(If you're not on Pinterest, I think maybe they've opened it so anyone can sign up.  If you click over and need an invitation, let me know and I'll send you one.)

The best part about Pinterest is that you can see what other people are pinning, and then re-pin it to your boards.  (And then other people pin what you've pinned and you feel personally validated.  Or maybe that's just me...)

So I've been scoping out a lot of Pinterest projects to keep me busy.  And here's what I've come up with:

Project 1

First, I came across this inspiration:

picture & tutorial from The Cottage Home

And I decided to make my own tile coasters.  But I wanted to switch things up a little bit.  So I used scrapbook paper just like the tutorial says, but then I dragged out our old-school typewriter and typed up some quotations to personalize the coaster and give them as gifts.  A couple of my friends got song lyrics that make me think of them--everything from Dave Matthews to Tim McGraw to Beyonce.  A friend of mine who TAed with me one semester got a set of coasters with a quote from each of the novels we taught, including:  "This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve" (Name that novel!  It's one of my favorites.)  I was so happy with the way the coasters turned out, I even made a set for our house, with lyrics from some of our favorite country songs--"Hey ramblin' boy, why don't you settle down?  Boston ain't your kind of town.  There ain't no gold and there ain't nobody like me."  They are more subtle than the ones above (which I love for the pops of color).  But these match my new living room hues, and I have to say I think they're pretty freaking cute.

From top left they're from "Total Eclipse of the Heart,"

And I need you now tonight
And I need you more than ever
And if you'll only hold me tight
We'll be holding on forever
And we'll only be making it right
'Cause we'll never go wrong together

and George Strait's "The Chair,"

I like this song, too, it reminds me of you and me, baby, do you think there's a chance?

Ann Murray's "Danny's Song"

Even though we ain't got money, I'm so in love with you, honey
and then "Please Come to Boston"

Hey ramblin' boy, 
why don't you settle down?
Boston ain't your kind of town
There ain't no gold
And there ain't nobody like me 

I love any version of this song, but I heard Kenny Chesney cover it at a small-ish indoor concert when I was in college and I really loved it then.  All these songs make me happy and make me think of David and various stages in our relationship.  So they make a happy addition to our living room.

Project 2
Also, I saw this tutorial, and decided that I could do something with all of the wine corks that I've been collected over the past few weeks months years:

tutorial available at The ReUser's Guide to Green Living
 "D" isn't exactly the cutest letter (I dunno, I think W and E and C and F are all cuter...).  But I bought a brown letter D shape at The Lobby and I came up with this:

It took a shitload of wine corks, but I liked the idea of reuisng/upcycling them.  And the D looks pretty cute hanging on our dining room wall.

Project 3

When we repainted the bedroom, we took down all the frames that we had up on the wall and I decided that I wanted a fresh start.  We'd had heavy black frames up in there, and although I'm a big fan of a solid black frame, I wanted something lighter in our room.  So when I saw this project on Pinterest:

Here's the tutorial at The Steen Style
I decided to do our wedding song.  There are now lots of songs that have special meaning for David and me (hence the coasters) but the first song we danced to at our wedding was "Can I Have This Dance?" by Ann Murray.  It's quite possibly the cheesiest song in the entire history of the world, but we chose it because it was the second song we ever danced to (after George Strait's "The Chair") and we danced to it at Echo's (a bar in Nevada that has since burned down) so it had some sentimental value.  Also we chose it because we took ballroom dancing lessons before we got married and wanted to find a waltz.  Even though we had completely forgotten how to waltz by the time the reception rolled around.  One, two, three.  One, two, three.  Ok, let's just stand here and sway like normal people.

So, I made a trip to Hobby Lobby, picked up a canvas (30% off!) and a white paint marker.  We still had leftover sample paint from trying to decide on a bedroom wall color, so I just grabbed one of those jars of Behr flat paint, and coated the canvas in a soft gray color (actually paint color was Road Runner by Behr).  I typed up the lyrics in a word document so I wouldn't forget them, and fixed the margins and whatnot so I could count how many lines they took up (18) and space my letters accordingly (each line 1.5 inches).  The next morning, I used a pencil to make a small mark on each line, and a yardstick to help me write straight.  And I free-handed the lyrics onto the canvas.

I ended up with this:

 It's s obviously not perfect--I don't know what happened with the spacing there.  Why did I start moving in from the left hand margin and smushing the words on the right?  Gah!  Why couldn't I catch that right away?  Why is the thickness of the paint inconsistent?  Why is my handwriting wonky?  But I'm telling myself that it's precisely the imperfections make it ours.  After all, it's not like our marriage is perfect.  And what it lacks in perfection it makes up for in longevity.  As for the canvas, I don't know that it's something that will hang out on our wall forever, but for $13, it makes a nice little personalized wall art I see everyday when I walk toward the closet.  When David saw it, made a big deal about how great he thought it was and even though he was probably just being nice (the way he admires a second-grader's artwork, for example), I decided to believe he likes it. 

Plus you've got to admit, the lyrics are super sweet:  I'll always remember that magic moment, when I held you close to me cause we moved together, I knew forever you're all I'll ever need. 

Almost makes me miss the dance floor at Echo's.  Almost.

Project 4
While I was in the mode of making wall-art, I decided to do another little wall hanging to put in our hallway, where I plan to re-do our little gallery of frames.  So I opened a Word file, re-sized it to 5x7, made 1" margins all around, set the font on Courier, right and left justified the margins, and typed up a bunch of words that have special meaning for David and me--things we love, places we've traveled, and lots of inside jokes.  I moved some stuff around to make things line up a little differently, and then printed it on cardstock and framed it.

It's not exactly fine art, but it makes me smile every time I look at it.  Lots of my favorite things and favorite memories listed all on one page.

So there ya go.  Just a few projects that I've been using to keep myself busy.  Funny how my syllabi still aren't finalized and yet I've got this crafty stuff all over the place...   So What about you?  Are you pinning?  Do you want to be Pinterest besties?  Here you can view my (now defunct) obsession with starburst mirrors:  bythebrooke on Pinterest.

My next project:  Teach myself to use Photoshop.  Can anybody recommend a good online tutorial?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Just So You Know...

Yesterday I totally had to call bullshit on myself for this post.

I know.  After I got all these super nice comments and everything!

It was like suddenly I didn't believe a word of it.  Not worse?  Are you kidding me?  Of course my life is worse than it would-could-should have been.  Everything should be different!  It shouldn't be too much to ask.  All I want is my baby.

And I could sob on and on about it.  As I did last night.

Not better or worse?  Not divided into before and after?  Seriously?  Everything in my life is either before (when I was happy) or after (post December 2010).  It's like the fall of the fucking Roman Empire.  Everything in the ENTIRE WORLD happened before or after that shit.

I read somewhere a comment from a bereaved mother who said that if she were to make a movie of her life, she would have two completely different actresses play her.  One before her baby died, and one after.

In my movie, we would move from this:

to this:

Except less bad ass and more weepy and pathetic.  But you get the idea.

Anyway, my point is that on a good day, I really try to believe what I wrote.  And if I can't subscribe wholeheartedly to those ideas, I can at least feel like I'll get there eventually.

And on a bad day, I consider getting a neck tattoo of the F-word.  Might hamper my future employment prospects, but would adequately express my emotional response to the world on those bad days.

So I was thinking about how much I've really changed.  What is different now?  There's some fuzzy-wuzzy stuff about appreciating small things and not taking my family for granted and loving my husband more than I really would have thought possible.  I'm not saying those things aren't important, because they are.  But the fact is, I appreciated my family and loved my husband before Eliza died, too.  The two major changes are that I am way more anti-social, and my tolerance level for bullshit is significantly lower than it was.

That's why, when I assigned a peer review session in class one day and actually heard a student whisper, "This is bullshit," I didn't pretend I didn't hear him, or wait and write a comment on his worksheet, or send him an e-mail, or ask him to stay after class.  I stood up and said, "OK, [Student's Name].  You can take your things and leave."  I said it before I even thought about how I was going to react.  I just didn't have it in me to take that kind of crap.  So he took his things and left.  And wrote me an apologetic e-mail right away, trying to explain that a comment that sounded like a criticism of my assignment was actually a compliment on how great his peer's paper was, and how it didn't really need any revision.  Part of me was actually a little shocked that I kicked him out of class, but it wasn't that I was being ballsy or bad ass.  The point was, my life is hard enough.  I didn't need a student giving me any trouble.  I won't tolerate it.  I don't have the emotional energy for it.

As far as social stuff goes, I'm so picky and choosy about what kind of things I'm willing to attend.  I want to know who else will be there.  I hate meeting new people because I'm afraid they'll ask me if I have kids, so I was dreading the orientation at my new job.  The great thing about meeting academics is that they will ask about your research interests.  And the secret is that they don't want to know about your research interests--they want to talk about their research interests.  So it's not too hard to twist the conversation around and avoid "normal" topics entirely.

I want to avoid a big family gathering as long as possible, not because I don't want to see my family (any of them are welcome to visit, individually or in pairs) but because all I can think about is that Eliza should be there for [insert holiday or family function] and she's not here and I just don't want to be part of it without her. I've only gone to one of David's ball games because I don't want to be the wife who's there without kids.  I don't want their pity and I don't want to pretend I'm okay, either.

This summer, a colleague of mine asked if I wanted to grab lunch or coffee to talk with him about a course he was teaching.  It was one I'd taught before so he wanted to ask me about it, I guess.  This colleague and I are not close friends.  He did not send me a sympathy card when Eliza died (But who's keeping track?  Oh, that's right.  I am.).  He's a perfectly nice guy, I suppose.  But last time I talked to him, his wife was pregnant.  And the truth was, I had no desire to meet with him and talk about the class and also make awkward small talk.  Before Eliza, I would have met with him out of a sense of obligation or collegiality or something.  But now I'm doing what it takes to get through the day.  So I sent him a polite e-mail saying I was too busy, and I attached some course material for him to use if he wanted.

Before Eliza died, I talked on the phone a lot.  My best friend and I talked at least once a week, maybe twice a week.  Now, I almost never make phone calls, unless I'm calling David or my mom.  Seriously.  I don't call anyone.  I wait for my friends to call me if they want to, because I feel like I have nothing new to say.  It sucks because it means I miss out on lots of stuff, and I rely on my friends to always make the effort to reach out to me, which I realize is an unfair burden.  But right now it's still an effort for me to answer the phone and have a normal conversation.  Even with my BEST friends.  So that happens...  maybe every couple of weeks?  Initiating that conversation is usually beyond the scope of my emotional energy.  And if I don't hear from them, I tell myselves they're very busy, but a part of me always thinks "Omg they don't want to talk to me because everything has changed and now I am different/sad/boring/scary/lame/awkward/jealous/bitter."  I hate being that person, but I can't get around it some days.

Every day I have to make an effort to live in this "new normal" and not fall apart.  I have to make an effort to find the good, or to seek it out.  Making plans requires forethought and effort and a level of energy that I'm using to just get through the day.  So if someone else doesn't do it, it doesn't get done.  Weekends that used to be filled with seeing friends now loom empty since I assume those friends are either getting together for baby playdates or going out of town to visit doting grandparents or maybe they're just hanging out with their babies but are afraid to invite us over?  Sometimes I don't want to hear about what people are doing because it's just another reminder of what we'd be doing if Eliza were here.  I have trouble accepting invitations in advance, so I make a lot of "game time" decisions, which I'm sure is annoying.  Want to do something Friday?  I'm not sure.  Let me get back to you on Friday.

So I try to make small plans for the two of us to look forward to--a movie matinee on Saturday.  A DVRed episode of True Blood.  An out of town concert.  A shopping trip with my cousin.  An art fair (that we may decide not to go to at the last minute because what if there are just too goddamn many strollers?).  I keep myself busy with projects and errands because usually I need something more to do than watch reruns of 90210.  Except sometimes I'm so wiped out that the Dylan-Kelly-Brenda love triangle circa 1996 is the only thing my brain can handle.

So what I'm saying is, I guess I'm not always doing so well at absorbing and accommodating this great loss.  I'm doing what it takes to survive, and most of the time I feel like I am doing pretty well, all things considered.  But even if I can get away from thinking about life as better or worse, I almost always wish it were different.

I just really miss her, and everything my life would be if she were here with us.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Odds and Ends

Thanks for all your help with the great shoe hunt.  I ended up ordering this pair from Macy's.  Because I had a 20% off coupon, and because I don't think I can walk without wobbling in 5 1/2 inch heels, even though Jessica Simpson obviously thinks this is something I should be able to do.

Nine West Ambitious pumps $69 at Macy's
Alas, they aren't as cute as the Jimmy Choo's, and they don't have the platform of the Jessica Simpson heels, but they're a cute patent leather pump, and they'll go with anything.  So I'm satisfied.

* * *
Yesterday I saw one of the best movies I've seen in a long time.  It was absolutely heartbreaking, but also fascinating and intriguing and astonishing.  And I learned something about history that I didn't know before.  Also David agreed that it was really good.  It's called Sarah's Key and it stars Kristin Scott Thomas and it is SO worth the price of theater admission to see it.  It's about an American journalist who is living in Paris and she discovers the apartment she's about to move into is connected to a Jewish family who was deported during World War II.  She starts investigating their story.  The plot unfolds through flashbacks and present-day investigations.  I was filled with dread and hope the entire time.

Of course it made me think of the time we were in Paris a couple summers ago, when we tried to visit the memorial museum.  Unfortunately, it happened to be closed for renovations.  But we got to see part of it in the movie.  Such a shameful part of a beautiful city's history.  And so unbelievable that I'm only a couple of generations removed from those events.

Of course, as you can imagine, any story about what happened to a Jewish family during World War II is bound to be a heartbreaker, and this one is no exception.  But that's also precisely why it's worth seeing.  In fact, the film comments directly on why such sad stories need to be told, and need to be remembered.  Still, if you're emotionally fragile, there are parts that will be really difficult to watch (the historical facts make it all the more horrifying).  But I am still thinking about the movie twenty-four hours later, and I'm glad we went to see it.

* * *
Speaking of French stuff, if you want to rent a DVD (or watch a great film on Netflix instant queue), let me recommend the movie Tell No One.  I guess the genre would be suspense.  The story is a mystery--it's about a doctor whose wife was murdered eight years ago, and then he receives an e-mail with a link to a video that seems to show his wife alive and well.  Yes, it's in French, so it's subtitled and you have to pay closer attention than usual (sometimes I like to work on sewing projects or ironing while watching TV but this movie required my full attention since I had to read the dialogue).  I also fell in love with the soundtrack.  A couple of the songs are now on our iPods in our playlists of songs that make us think of Eliza.  So good.

* * *
And speaking of history, also there's a book recommendation I can make, while I'm bossing everyone on the internet around and telling them what movies to see:  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Schaffer.

I feel like people talked a lot about this book a few years ago--it was the sort of thing that books clubs were reading, I think.  I came to it later than that, and I started reading this book having no idea what to expect.  To my surprise (and delight!) I discovered that it's historical fiction in epistolary form.  Meaning that it's set on the island of Guernsey (located in the English channel between England and France) during World War II, and the story is told through a series of letters.  To be honest, it takes a little bit to get into the story, so give yourself a few letters before you make up your mind about it.  Once you become familiar with the characters, you'll get totally absorbed in the story.  At least I did.

* * *
Yesterday we discovered Trader Joe's carries ready to bake brownie mix.  It's actually ready to bake.  As in, you don't have to add eggs or oil or anything.  It just comes in a baggie ready to be poured into a pan.  Could anything be more of a short cut?  I mean seriously.  Who buys that sort of thing?  How lazy can you be?

Let me tell you:  those brownies taste pretty good.   Especially with ice cream.

Friday, August 12, 2011

For Better or Worse

A while back, Laura Jane posted about the idea of coping and moving forward after the death of a baby.  How do you keep going when you know that your life will always be worse than you thought it would be?

I left this comment on her blog (actually I left a loooong, rambling comment, but this part sort of sums it up):
Yes, our lives will always be a little bit worse because our babies died. But I think it's also true that our lives will be deeper, richer, wiser, crazier, more absurd, more interesting, more complicated, more adventurous, more appreciative, and more sacred because we love and miss those babies. 
It doesn't make it better. But there are moments when I realize it is what it is. I will piece together the best life I can have and it will never be the life I hoped it would be. The truth is, there's probably nobody in the world who has the life they hoped they would have. Some event has occurred so that everyone's life is a little bit worse than they would have hoped. Our brand of tragedy is especially heartbreaking and unfair, but life is a gamble like that. And we are all living in the middle of better and worse.
Sure, I can write it to LJ and sound somewhat convincing.  But the truth is I've really struggled with this.  I don't see how things could ever get "better," knowing that we'll never have Eliza here with us.  Her birth should have shaped our lives as new parents, and instead her death feels like it shadows in grief everything that happens next.

I've always been the person who believes that things will work out if you try hard enough, and really want it.  But I just can't see what could ever work out that would balance this loss.  There's no windfall possible in my future that would some how make all this worthwhile.  I know logically, intellectually, that this pain won't eat me up for the rest of my life.  I know time will help with that.  But still, I find myself stumbling under the burden of this idea that I have to accept my life as forever worse than it could have been, worse than it should have been.

I can't say that I've had some kind of revelation that changes that point of view.  But I do think I'm experiencing a growing realization that (although there are lots of fictional plots that want to convince us otherwise) there's actually no singular moment that defines our lives--unless we allow it to.  The possibility of parallel universes aside (you know, Fringe-style), my life now can't be compared to some alternative life I might have had.  Imagining how my life should have been, with Eliza in it, is unavoidable and sometimes irresistible.  But in reality?  There is no better version of my life I might have had.  This is it.  This is all I get.

Eliza died.  This happened.  It's sad, and unfair, and terrible.  And of course my life is different than it would be if she had lived.  But there are millions of scenarios in my life that could have gone another way that might have been "better."  Like if I had gone to law school instead of grad school.  If I'd continued to study Spanish in college.  If I'd done a semester abroad (I always regretted not doing that).  If my first best friend hadn't turned out to be a two-faced meanie sometime in fifth grade.  If I'd tweezed my eyebrows before my freshman year of high school instead of after.  If I'd gotten that one part I auditioned for.  If I'd gone to a more highly ranked university for undergrad.  If the boy I loved in college hadn't broken my heart.  If I hadn't poured hot tea down my arm in grad school and given myself third degree burns and a huge ugly scar.

These have all been losses or worries or regrets at some point in my life.  But they add up to my life.  And even though I'd still go back and change some things if I could (especially the stupid burn on my arm), I know that there's not really some magical, perfect version of things that could have been.  There's no way to know how my life would have played out if any one of those things hadn't happened, and there's no reason to believe that it ultimately would have been "better."  Eliza's loss--like all those smaller losses before--has brought its own gifts into my life, made way for changes and experiences that wouldn't have otherwise been possible.  Being her mom is shaping everything that happens to me next, and I decide whether that's a blessing or a curse.

I still can't imagine getting to the point where I wouldn't leap at the chance to turn back time and change everything so that Eliza stays with us.  But I am realizing that she's part of a narrative I can't accurately define as worse than it should have been, because it's the only story there is.

Please don't misunderstand me.  I still hate this story.  I still want my baby.  I'd take any risk and make any bargain, any sacrifice to have her here with me.  I miss her so much.  And I still can't say the words, "I really miss her," without dissolving into tears.

I also want to be clear on this:  When I talk about gifts and opportunities, I'm NOT preaching about the broken road that leads us where we're meant to go (remember, I don't hold by those silly notions).  I'm just trying to accept the truth of my life story, and let that truth carry me forward.

So I keep coming back to the idea that my life can't be worse only because there's really no better to compare it with.  It is what it is.  I'm doing the best I can with the cards I've been dealt, just like everybody else.  This happened.  It can't unhappen.  So now I wait and see what happens next.

Yes, it's so tempting to think that if Eliza had lived, everything would be better.  A part of me will always believe that.  But my grief for her isn't just about my life, and what would be easier or better or more fun for me.  I mourn a baby girl who, for no reason at all, was denied the chance to live this life.  And yet I keep remembering this line I read somewhere:  For all we know, it might be just as lucky to die as it is to be born.  

Eliza's death is a tragedy that we'll mourn forever--her lost potential, our lost hopes.  But I'm starting to realize that I have to quit thinking about my life as though it were ripped in half on that day. As though it's a simple cause and effect.  Before and after.  Like everything since that day has been transformed to something darker and scarier and sadder than it was before.  Don't get me wrong--it still feels that way a lot of the time.  But as far as thinking about what might have been, and comparing my life now to the life I should have with an eight month old baby here with me...  even when I do it, I know that I'm missing the point.

The point isn't better or worse.  The point is making the most of this "wild and precious life" that I have.  Wishing it were better would eventually mean wishing it away.  And I still want to know what happens next.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Perfect Pair of Pumps

One of my favorite things about The New Adventures of Old Christine is that Christine is impossibly self-centered and shallow, and she needs people to like her in order to feel good about herself, and she blows small things totally out of proportion.  In other words, she's me, only divorced with a kid, and funnier, and somewhat less introspective.

In one episode, her best friend asks her to get a document notarized, which she needs for her immigration hearing, and Christine gets distracted while looking for a notary and ends up completely forgetting about the document because she wanders into a clothing store and has a personal crisis:  She is BETWEEN SIZES!

I know, that's not a crisis.  I know that shopping for clothes pales in comparison to the real problems of life.

But, you guys, I really want a pair of nude-colored patent leather pumps and I cannot find a suitable pair ANYWHERE online.  I mean seriously.  Surely these are not just imaginary shoes, right?  I mean, the Duchess of Cambridge wore them in Canada.  The people must be demanding similar footwear.  So where are they?

I can imagine exactly what they look like.  I feel like I have seen this pair of shoes.  And yet, they elude me and all of my online shopping skillz.  And this is hitting crisis mode!

I need these shoes!  They can be worn with anything!  They are a crucial aspect of my back to school wardrobe!  I am unable to do my job without these shoes!

I have this theory that people should choose careers based in large part on what kind of clothes they want to wear every day.  This is why I have the perfect job.  I get to dress up and wear high heels if I want (or ballet flats, with ankle length pants, and sometimes even jeans on Fridays if they are dark and I wear them with heels or tucked into boots), but I don't have to be on my feet all day if I choose to wear heels, and I can do a lot of my job (the grading and prepping part) at home, wearing my pajamas.  It's a win-win.

But seriously.  I only win if I can get these shoes.

(And can I just say how much I freaking wish this was really the biggest crisis in my life?)

Updated to add:

Oh, I found the perfect shoes.  Just slightly out of my price range.  Where are the perfect knock-offs?

Jimmy Choo Patent Round-Toe Pump
$665 at Bergdorf Goodman

Monday, August 8, 2011

In Which I Get Annoyingly Philosophical

"Everything happens for a reason."

I've heard this line a couple of times, as people search for something they can say that will bring me comfort in the midst of my sorrow.  I know it's hard to know what to say.  I can tell you that falling back on "Everything happens for a reason" is a big fat fail.

To be honest, I find it incredibly shocking that so many people seem to subscribe to this idea.  I wonder if they've done a Pew survey of how many Americans would say they agree with this statement--I suspect the vast majority.  In fact, I guess I shouldn't be so surprised, because before Eliza died, I was one of those people who probably would have agreed with this statement (or at least said it out loud as though I believed it) without really thinking about what it means.

Now I wonder, do the people espousing this point of view actually grasp the extensive implications of that philosophy?  I mean, I totally get the desire to organize life experiences according to a narrative that makes logical sense even if we can't understand it at the moment.  I would LOVE to believe that things happen for a reason! To think that there is some clear organization to this world, that seeing it is just outside the realm of human ability.  But someday, (I dunno, I guess like judgment day, or maybe the day after judgment day) God will just take me aside and say, "I know it really sucked that Eliza had to die, but you'll understand once I tell you the really good reason I had for arranging things this way."

I just don't believe it's going to shake out that way.  And I cannot even begin to fathom the sort of reason that even God could offer me that I would find to be a remotely acceptable excuse for her death.  She was not a sacrificial lamb, she is not a guardian angel.  She's just my baby.  And there is no reason for her not to be here with the people who love her except there was a terrible, random accident and now we're all sad about that.

It's easy to explain a near-miss, a close-shave, a narrowly-avoided accident, a remarkable survival, by attributing it to the hand of fate/God.  God must have been watching over that guy who walked away from a terrible car accident.  We hear that sort of thing all the time.

But does that mean that God just got careless or busy and that's why another car accident took out an entire family?  Or that the lack of divine intervention means that it was part of his plan for innocent people to be cut down in the prime of their lives?  Was there a "reason" for that?  It was their time?

The fact is, we devise methods to intervene and save lives all the time.  That's not thwarting a master plan.  That's being reasonable and responsible and pro-active.  Why would anyone want to believe that we are passive creatures, pawns of fate?  And yet I hear this line of thinking all the time.

It's also easy to believe that things happen for a reason when everything in your life has worked out well so far.  Before Eliza died, I was a pretty lucky girl.  Sure I had lots of angst, but my life was pretty sweet.  I might have even said I was "blessed."  I used to like to think that there was a REASON David ended up in Nevada, and a reason I was assigned to substitute at the elementary school where he worked.  I used to think there was a REASON that I was assigned to the third floor of Banks Hall my freshman year of college, where I met some of my very best friends.  It was easy to believe that the people in my life came into it for REASON.  I was supposed to move to St. Louis, meet this friend, take this job, get introduced to these people. It was all part of a greater plan.

But, no.  Good things happened to me because I was lucky.  (Until I wasn't.)  There's no plan.  The point of it all is to make the most of what you're given.  There's no reason you're luckier than someone else.  It's just how things have shaken out so far.

You see, if I believed that those good things happened for a reason, then I'd also have to believe that there is a reason that toddlers get cancer.  I'd have to say that there's some reason that a tornado would rip a child literally out of his father's arms.  There's a reason that an entire airplane full of innocent people was flown into an office building.  There must be a reason that a drunk driver plowed into a young father on his way home from work.  There's a reason that an electrical fire took the lives of two little girls.  There's a reason that Alzheimer's has made a stranger out of a beloved grandmother.

And what could that reason be?  How could anything POSSIBLY justify those tragedies?  What kind of reasonable explanation could I ever be offered that would satisfactorily explain why my baby died?

(In case you're struggling with the rhetorical questions, let me help you out with the correct answer:  There could never be a good enough reason.)

There are two distinct ideas connected to the thought that everything happens for a reason.  The first is that there is a lesson to be learned here.  Those affected by a tragedy are expected to emerge on the other side, better, wiser, more appreciative, something like that.  If your experience makes you bitter, angry, or chronically depressed, then we don't say there's a good reason for that.  We quietly think that perhaps you have not sufficiently learned your lesson. It's a medieval point of view, but we cling to it.

The second implication is the idea that life is divinely ordained and its events are entirely out of our hands.  I do not subscribe to this notion.  These are stories we tell ourselves when we're safely outside trauma and loss, or when we're trying desperately to make sense of it and random chaos is too frightening to consider.  It would be nice to feel like our lives have a clear purpose and we can sit back and wait for that plan to unfold.  Not to worry!  God is in control of everything, that it will all work out in the end!  Comforting, perhaps.  But this outlook prevents us from having to take responsibility for our failures.  It also suggests that God parents through cruelty--like abusing kids who don't want to eat their vegetables.  It sidesteps the fact that the meaning of life is what we make of it, and ignores the most essential aspect of free will, which is that God doesn't control what happens to us.

I believe that the reason we seek spiritual and human connections is because we need strength to face the random chaos of our reality--the reality that terrible things happen for no reason, and there's nothing we can do about it except to seek the grace to get through it and try to help each other.  I do not think this idea is in any way incompatible with a Christian philosophy (although I realize it's also not so far removed from the Zen Buddhist notion that life is suffering and our purpose is to help to each other through).

I believe that we make our own meaning out of any event in our lives.  Substitute teaching at an elementary school became meaningful because I met my husband there.  And we decided to stay married.  We gave that encounter meaning; it didn't have it on its own.  We're struggling to give Eliza's death meaning, to honor her by appreciating life on a day to day basis, by finding love wherever we can.

But we have to fight to make her loss meaningful.  There's no greater lesson to be learned from it.  This is not a teaching moment.  It's just a tragedy.  Life just sucks sometimes.

So I don't believe that everything happens for a reason. And I know you can't argue someone else out of their "truth," but I really don't want to have to listen to it, either.

That said, I do think there are lots of good reasons to make the most meaning you can out of every day, even when it's a struggle.  I'm still seeking pockets of happiness and trying to exist in those moments.

Here are a few of my favorites:

the sweetest pup

the unpredictable one

the hubs
it made me cry, but i loved it.
summer reading

all things grapefruit--including soda!

Friday, August 5, 2011

DIY Adventures

We had this little table in our entry way:

Like most of our furniture, this table was carried over from David's bachelor days.  It's functional, and not totally hideous, but the golden tone of the stain didn't match a single piece of the (already mismatched) furniture in our house.  Except it kind of matched the mirror that hung above it.  But even so, these pieces looked kind of "country" and also kind of lame.  Not exactly inspiring for the first thing you see when you walk in the front door.

It seemed like the time to spruce things up a bit.

I didn't want to just replace the table because even though it's a cheap piece of furniture, it's doing its job quite well.  It works well in that space just inside the front door because it's relatively small, but it has good-sized cabinets, plus a small drawer.  We use one cabinet to house dog leashes, wipes for doggie paws, and doggie poo bags.  The other holds the kind of random stuff we're not sure what to do with--cell phone box and instruction manual, wristlet purse I sometimes grab when we're going out the door, pedometer, and iPod.  Stuff that's a little too bulky for small drawers, and nothing that we would want to display on an open shelf.  So rather than try to replace it, I decided it just needed a coat of glossy black paint to give it a new life.

I researched (read: googled) an online tutorial for painting furniture and determined that I needed (1) a good primer (2) some good paint (3) clear polyurethane.

The wood had some kind of finish on it that was worn off in places, so first I sanded down the whole thing.  That was gross and resulted in me being covered with a kind of yellow dust from the golden-colored stain that was on it.

And it still looked the same:

So then it was ready for a coat of primer.  I used Glidden's gripper primer in a gray color since I'd decided to paint the whole thing black.

My first coat looked like this:

Tons of the yellow wood still showing through.  I know that primer doesn't have to be perfectly even, but I decided to give it one more coat.  It still didn't look perfectly even, but it was better coverage.

I went to Sherwin Williams to get the paint.  They had some super glossy stuff that had a built-in top coat, so the girl told me that if I used it, I wouldn't need to add a coat of polyurethane once I finished.  I decided that cutting out one step sounded like a great idea, so I took her word for it (so far it seems to be working just fine).

The first coat of paint looked terrible!

Gray primer showed through everywhere.  In fact, this might have been after two coats.  I know darker paints take more to cover, but I really thought two coats would do it.

I ended up doing FOUR COATS of black paint, on top of TWO COATS of primer to get the sucker covered.  Also it was a million and six degrees outside and I was a sweaty, soggy mess as I worked on this.

I brought it inside to the final coat(s):

Finally it started looking glossy, just like I'd imagined it.

And this is where we ended up:

I got some little blue glass drawer pulls and I think they look cute.  I'd considered a starburst mirror above the table, but so far I'm liking the look of this one.

All in all, I think I spent more money on paint and supplies than David actually paid for table.  Also the cabinet doors sometimes stick because of all the coats of paint.  And it took much more time than I expected since getting good coverage was not easy.

But it looks good!  And I was glad to have a project occupy my time AND turn out pretty well in the end.  I'm happy with the results, and I can say that I refinished a piece of furniture myself!

This DIY stuff could be addictive.  Now I find myself looking around the house for other things I can paint...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Living Room

Well, the living room still isn't quite done.  We don't have everything back up on the walls, but we mostly have the rest of the room put back together.  And although the perfectionist in me would like to wait to do my online reveal until I've made all final decisions and every last detail is perfect (and free of dog hair and clutter), the realist in me recognizes that's not actually going to happen for a long time ever.  So, with the walls looking a little bare, I give you THE LIVING ROOM REVEAL.

Oh, here's a little refresher of BEFORE:

Oh, the plaid sofas.  Easy on the butt, hard on the eyes.

View from the front door.

view from the dining room / hallway

And here is the AFTER:

View from dining room/hallway - new window treatments, TV and bookcase rearranged.

Cream colored slip covers, new ottoman, new paint on the walls and ceiling!

View from the front door.

I should add that the BEFORE pictures are annoyingly dark because actually the new wall color is a couple shades darker than what was up there before.  But with the crisp, light colored furniture, the whole room feels lighter.
Here are things I like about it:
* No more plaid!
* Placement of the TV.  Not so haphazard looking in the corner.  I prefer it centered on the wall  This was a discussion David and I had for years before I could change his mind. Now he agrees it's much better my way.  (STORY OF OUR MARRIAGE).  Of course, we don't have a matching bookcase to balance it, so I need to decide what will go up on the wall there.  Maybe The Tempest playbill/poster that was there before, but maybe we need a change.  Something vertical with a solid frame that will add some balance to that wall.  Or maybe a really big clock...  TBD.
* The curtains.  Sale at West Elm.  Ordered two, thought it was a bargain.  Put them up and... something was off.  Followed Monica's advice and ordered two more.  Yup, that's what I needed.  Not such a bargain anymore, though...
* The paint color - It's Behr Perfect Taupe.  The swatch looked way more brown than gray (even stuck up on our wall where it lived for several weeks) but the walls are now reading gray.  Not sure it looks great with the earthy tones of our rug, but the rug does have some blue/gray in it.
* The ceiling.  We painted it Aqua Breeze.  It reads much bluer in photographs than it does in real life.  In person, it's subtle, but noticeable.  I like it.

Here are things I'm not sure about:
* What to do with my favorite green lamp
* Whether I like the pillows, whether they are too "fancy" because of the silky material, whether the pattern that kind of echos the curtain is too busy

Here are things I'm resigned to:
* The ottoman being a little too big for the room.  Because we love the storage space.  Also it's super convenient for foot resting from the love seat or sofa.  And it rolls out of the way for when I do my dorky workout DVDs.  So comfort/convenience wins, at least for now.
* The slip covers being wrinkled/askew/messed up
* Not buying new furniture until we move OR I find our dream set on super sale...

Yes, the slip covers ARE a bit of a pain (basically they look fine--until you SIT on them) but let's have that before and after one more time...


No plaid!  Isn't it refreshing?
Yeah, I think we'll deal with the wrinkles.

So that's the big project that's been occupying my time.  I'm still spending lots of time thinking about what's going back up on the walls, how I want to re-do the gallery of frames in our little hallway, and what's going to go back up in the bathroom, and whether I'll like the new shower curtain I ordered...

I have to say, this busy-ness has been really good for me.  I miss Eliza just as much as ever, but the everyday living of life is a little less painful, and I'm grateful for that.  I realized that I'd been going to bed with my brain running through paint swatches and pillow covers, and that was a nice change from the oppressive sadness that tends to lurk up at night.

There was a time, not so long ago, when I couldn't imagine having the energy to take on all of the little projects that I always had going, and now here I am with a bunch of little projects in various stages of completion.  I don't know exactly how I got here, but here we are.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Painting Projects

We have been doing all kinds of home improvement projects that all involve painting.  Over the weekend, I painted a little console table that sits by the front door.  And we painted the living room.  And our bedroom.  Today, I'm painting the bathroom.  Because now that I've started, I just CAN'T STOP.

Eventually I will do pictures and have a big exciting reveal and we'll all pretend this is fancy home decorating blog.  But right now I'm still trying to get things put back together and figure out what I want to put back up on the walls and what I want to move around and how I can possibly thin out the number of bobbleheads in my living room (so they are all confined to one curio cabinet) without my husband noticing...

My kitchen looked like this all weekend:

That's a lot of paint.  Also paint samples - we got three, hated all of them, got three more.  Because we like spending more money on samples than it would have cost to buy a gallon of paint.  Also that's Chinese take out in the paper bag.
Now I'm about to make another trip to Home Depot so I can get started on this crazy bathroom project.

If you think that being busy with these projects has helped distract me and make things easier, you'd be right.  Of course I think all the time that we wouldn't be doing this stuff if Eliza were here.  I realize that sadness will never go away.  But as I told David last night, I miss Eliza as much as I ever did, but ordinary life has gotten a little less painful.

Or maybe I'm high on paint fumes.

(Just kidding--we got low VOC paint.)

Anybody else finding nice distractions from their worries?  Are you having similar bursts of productivity in the hot days of August or just laying low?  Got any tips for painting stripes in a bathroom?  (I'll let you know how that goes).