Saturday, April 2, 2016

Not the Man I Once Knew...

So me and Nathan have been together for 8 years, going on 9 this summer. We’ve been through alot together. About a year and a half ago we decided that we did indeed want to have children and get married, but Nathan was unsure. Our biggest difficulty at the time was that I still hadn’t met his entire family. His mother and father along with both his siblings live in Australia. Nathan asked me to come to Australia to meet his father and brother, and I agreed -- which was a huge deal because of my absolutely debilitating fear of flying. I decided that if I was flying halfway around the world, I might as well keep going and go see all the places I wanted to see before I settled down. Nathan and I took a three month trip around the world, during which we became pregnant and subsequently lost the pregnancy at eight weeks, about two weeks before we returned to the States.

During our time in Australia, I met Nathan’s brother and I really enjoyed his company. Mostly, I knew how much Nathan wanted to “help” his brother. His brother, Gareth, at 33 years old, is a bit of a recluse. He took his parents divorce very hard. Nathan’s parents got divorced when Nathan was 18 (he is now 36). When Nathan turned 18 he was accepted to UCLA and so his mother flew him over to the States (they were living in Australia). She brought along Gareth and their sister Jennifer, and expected/hoped that their father would soon be following them. While she was helping Nathan get settled into school she received divorce papers from her husband and she rushed back to Australia to try and salvage the situation. The situation was unsalvageable, and a nasty divorce fight ensued. For some reason, Nathan’s mother never moved back to the states -- although she desperately wanted to be close to her family, which initially why she came over in the first place when Nathan was accepted into university. She’s lived there ever since.

Knowing how badly Nathan wanted to help his brother, I decided to invite him along for our world tour. Gareth had recently bought a condo, and it was a very big deal to him that he had moved out of his mother’s house and had a semblance of independence. But he hated his job, and he was planning on quitting, taking some time off, and I guess figuring out what his next move was. I wanted Nathan and Gareth to bond, I wanted us all to quit our jobs and take a year off, during which we would live in one of my family’s properties down in Guatemala and work on making fun game apps. For the most part, everyone was on board. I helped Gareth figure out that he could rent out his condo and continue paying the mortgage instead of selling and losing money on it. We were in Australia for a month, but our time was running out and we had to catch our next flight to England, so we left Gareth behind to take care of some things and agreed that he would meet us in Spain in one-two weeks time.

Our first week together was great. All three of us enjoyed each other’s company. Gareth and I, well -- I felt like we got along like brother and sister, and it made me happy. I overstepped boundaries with him, and during (what I considered was a fun back-and-forth) I made a comment that he took to heart. He said something witty to me, and I said “Wow! Kitty has claws.” It was the beginning of the end of our relationship. He was offended that I would think that he “didn’t” have claws, whereas, I just used a random expression that I thought was fitting for the situation after he got me good. Mostly, I was just amazed at the flip in personality I saw. In retrospect, I imagine that I was the one suffering from a flip in personality. I was nearly a month pregnant by then and I had no idea. I was throwing up, feeling ill, but pregnancy was the furthest thing from my mind -- I assumed having children was just going to be very difficult for us.

Anyway, fast forward another few weeks, and we’re all together in Greece. We’ve taken a ship out to one of the islands, Milos, and I have reached a level of loathing for Gareth that I didn’t think was possible. He’s asked Nathan to stop holding my hand when we’re out and about because it makes him uncomfortable, something that never before had bothered him. The mere fact that Nathan is considering giving in to the request makes me furious. I want to this here and blame the hormones, but I don’t know if I can. I want to pretend that I am more understanding than I actually am, and say that I understand and see Gareth’s point. He’s traveling around with a couple, and he’s the odd-man-out -- I should have done more to make him feel comfortable. But the truth is, I am angry and selfish. This is my once in a lifetime trip, and the idea that I don’t even get to hold my fiance's hand feels like the worst thing in the world.

To make matters worse, I am feeling so sick that I am just certain I’ve come down with something very serious. I even imagine that I have cancer. My little sister convinces me to take a pregnancy test just to rule out the possibility. So I do it. Much to my surprise and immediate joy, I am pregnant. Nathan is the third person to know, after the poor greek man who had to translate the results for me, and Gareth is the fourth. But there’s no joy on his face when we tell him. He doesn’t seem happy -- and really why should he be? This changes everything. Suddenly, I don’t like the idea of Nathan quitting his job, of taking a year off and living in Guatemala. I change everything, and rightly so -- Gareth resents me for it.

Nathan, who has been caught up in the middle of all of this up until now, doesn’t say anything decisive until a week later, when we find out that we’ve lost the baby. The strong little heartbeat I saw during that first ultrasound is gone. Gareth never speaks to me about the loss, he doesn’t really speak to me at all anymore. My little sister has joined us, and we’re all together in Rome along with one of her friends who was traveling with her. I have support through the loss, but Nathan has nothing. Gareth wants to talk about his shattered dreams, but he never once asks Nathan how he’s handling the loss. This, and perhaps other things that I don’t know about, end up being too much for Nathan to bare. He gives up trying to fix things. He buys his brother a flight back to Australia, because that’s what he’s asked for, and the last time I see him is when we’re all in Venice together.

We return to the States and I am a jumble of mixed feelings. I want to get married right away, I don’t want a big wedding anymore. I want to make sure that the baby we lost has a proper family, a mother and father. I am also anxious to try again. Was Milos a fluke? Can we have another baby? Will I lose another baby? Is there something wrong with me? Is my body capable of carrying a baby to term? I need answers, but my body needs time to heal. Three month’s worth of time. Meanwhile, Nathan has grown distant. We talk about marriage, but he feels pressured. I can’t begin to understand him -- what is there to think about? We tried and we succeeded at creating life, we’re parents as far as I am concerned, even if our little one never made it to birth. I beg him to try again, he’s concerned about my health and my mental well-being. He also mentions his uncertainty, he doesn’t know what he’s going to do anymore -- stay in the States or move to Australia to be with his family. We’re hearing bad things about Gareth. He’s living in his mom’s house, he’s become a pretty severe recluse. He’s refusing to see his father or sister, and his mother is suffering because he’s so severely depressed.

In a moment of desperation, I ask him to help me make a baby, even if his intention is to leave me. I say that I cannot fathom the idea of looking for someone else, of waiting to make sure that I love them -- how long will that take? Do I even have enough time to wait? I am turning 30 this year. Nathan says he can’t do that. He says it’s wrong, and I say it’s worse to have wasted 8 years of my life. We argue endlessly about it. He says he tried to leave me but I wouldn’t let him, and I argue that I could never force him to do something he didn’t want -- that if he stayed with me, it’s because he loves me. Reluctantly, he admits that he does love me. Our life consists of vicious arguments during the day and then absolutely sweet and comforting moments at night when we slept in each other’s arms. I tell him that we can’t be wrong, not when our fights end this way, not when neither of us can stand to leave things badly. It’s a good sign, I say -- a sign that we can make a marriage work.

We try to make a baby, and we succeed on our fourth try. I am terrified. I am so sure we’re going to lose this baby, I am so certain it’s going to happen again. Still, I beg Nathan to marry me. He doesn’t want to. On the day that our wedding is scheduled in the courthouse, he tells me he’s still not sure. I break down in tears. I don’t even know what I am crying about anymore. I don’t know if I am more afraid of losing the person I love or being a single parent, or just the idea of going through the loss of another pregnancy alone. I am that sure that I am going to lose this baby.

He marries me.

Things are worse in Australia. We don’t really hear from his mother anymore. His mother always writes to me on Skype, we have a good relationship. She’s been a guest at my parents house and my parents adore her. But now she’s not around, and I am worried because during those last few days with Gareth when we were in Venice, I didn’t trust him. I slept with a knife in our room, I worried over the safety of my little sister. No, he never showed himself to be violent. Not once. But it was just a feeling. So I pester Nathan to try and reach out to his mom. When he hears back, things sound really bad and he decides that he has to go. I am 17 weeks pregnant, I have started to feel little flutters from our baby, and I just saw him during a 12 week scan. He’s perfect. We’re really going to have a baby. I tell Nathan to go, even though I hate the idea of him flying, and I hate the idea of him coming face to face with his brother, and I hate the idea of being alone when I am pregnant. But I am not really alone. We’ve been living in my parents house ever since we got back from our trip last August. We’re saving money to buy a house.

Nathan comes back. His entire attitude about his brother has changed. He’s hardened it seems. Gareth needs to grow up -- he’s being ridiculous, that’s what he says. I don’t like Gareth, but I still think he needs help, and I still would like to be one of the people to offer it. There’s another change, Nathan has made a decision. He’s going to move back to Australia in October, and I can either come with him or I can stay behind. Honestly, he says, he doesn’t think it’s a good idea for me to come along. He says I’ll be unhappy, and that I’ll miss my family and resent him. Honestly, he says, he doesn’t want me to come with him but he can’t stop me if I decide to come. I ask him if he’s willing to leave me, and with a little more disbelief, if he’s willing to leave our baby. He says he doesn’t really feel like the baby is his because it will be half hispanic. He says we’ve made a terrible mistake by mixing races and that our baby will be a mongrel. I point out that we all are to some degree, and he just says that it will be worse for our son. He says that if he leaves to Australia and I don’t come with him, then he doesn’t want to have anything to do with the baby. He says, I can tell him he’s dead. I don’t know if he means these things or if he’s...angry at me. He says that I forced him, that I trapped him. I say, I thought we loved each other. He says he does love me, but it’s still wrong -- we made a mistake. And I feel our little baby kick, kick the hardest he’s ever kicked, and I realize he’s reacting to Nathan’s voice. In the middle of this fight, our little baby is wiggling around like crazy, more than I’ve ever felt in these past weeks. Maybe it’s not to Nathan that he’s reacting but to me, my elevated heart rate, my sadness, my panic.

I am panicked. We had talked about this so much, about our family. He wanted me to be a stay-at-home-mom, we were going to homeschool, we were going to have piano lessons and camping trips. But now I know he doesn’t love our baby. He says, there’s no way our baby will be white, because one drop of my blood makes him hispanic. I am suddenly afraid of what my baby will look like. If he’s not blue-eyed like his father, Nathan won’t love him. I never thought I’d worry about my baby’s looks.

There’s no resolution so far. Nathan is here, we live together, we sleep together, and I take care of him to the best of my abilities. I am trying to be a good wife. He’s here because he figures I need the health insurance, but he’s still planning on leaving. I did ask him to stay until after the birth. He asked me if it was because I wanted him to fall in love with the baby. I half-laugh and half-cry. I am so scared of giving birth, and for some crazy reason I still see him as my best friend. I want him to hold my hand and comfort me as I try to squeeze this baby out of me.

He teases me now about whether or not I am coming with him. He says we can keep our little family if I move with him to Australia. I don’t want to move. I don’t want my child not to have a father, but I find myself wondering what kind of father Nathan will be. I feel like he’s already told me what he wants -- a divorce, to have nothing to do with me or the baby, to pretend like the last 9 years didn’t happen. A part of me wants to insist that it’s not real. That there’s no way in hell this is the man I fell in love with, that this is the man I’ve been with for the past 9 years.

I am not prepared to be a single mother, and although Nathan doesn't consider our marriage valid (since it was just a court issued marriage license), I feel that because of my faith I will be alone the rest of my life. It’s strange to say that, because it makes it sound like all I care about is having someone to sleep with, that’s not what I mean. I want him, the man I decided to marry. I want his companionship and support. Financially, I wouldn’t be a successful mother right now, that’s not to say I won’t try my fucking hardest for this baby. I am fortunate and blessed enough to have the support of my family. My mother does not want me to leave. I’ve told her everything. I personally won’t survive without my family. I need my mother and father, I can’t really even think about leaving them. And then again, I don’t even feel like I am really welcome to come along with Nathan.

I am asking for advice, for a fresh perspective on this. I know how easy it is to say he’s an asshole and I should let him go, but I have spent 8 years with this man. It’s not that easy. For every bad thing there have been wonderful things. This new, racist perspective, I don’t even know how to react to it really.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Milos -- My Shooting-Star-Make-A-Wish Child

A Poem for Milos

You should feel like a stone,
A dead thing, heavy with lost hope.

Deep inside, not ready to come out.

But you are light -- all light,
And radiance, and goodness, and love.

Love, my little Love.

More love in your brief,
Shooting-star-make-a-wish life,
Than I've ever given anyone.

For the life I've lived --
It was not enough to know
What you taught me in a few days.

A dream, a sigh, a touch of divinity,
You were fearfully and wonderfully made.

You were fearfully and wonderfully loved.

You're not heavy.

You stay there until you're ready.

Visit me in my dreams,
I'll hold you there.

You'll grow up there,
And we'll have each other.

Visit me when you miss me,
I'll wait for you every night.

Love, my little Love.


Just three days ago I got back from a three-month-long tromp around the world. I saw ten beautiful countries, and interacted with hundreds of magnificent people. Best of all, I got to travel with my wonderful fiance and my favorite (and only) sister. I experienced a little of this and a little of that, happy and sad moments that now seemed utterly trumped by the emotional whirlwind that my life turned into during the last three weeks of my trip. Now all that I had to share about my travels, well it seems so pointless in light of what I lived right before coming back to the States.

Shortly after leaving Australia, around mid June, my body started to act and feel differently. By mid July I was certain that I had some terrible terminal illness that would result in a slow and painful demise. I couldn't hold a single meal down. I was suffering from awful nausea. It didn't help that we were traveling through Europe right in the middle of summer when temperatures reached nearly a 100 degrees in Spain, France, Italy and Greece. The food that I saw looked completely unappetizing, which made no sense at all. After all, hadn't I been told that I was going to taste some of the best meals of all my life in places like Italy and France? The truth was far from that. Food tasted like ash. I had a singular craving for bananas, a fruit I have never been particularly fond of. My hair was falling out and it was so dry and brittle, and my poor skin -- it looked awful.

Pregnancy didn't cross my mind until my sister, who joined us in the last three weeks of our journey, mentioned it. Even then, I was doubtful. Although I have always dreamed of having children, it seemed like a distant possibility for me. And yet, after the nausea got worse, I saw no harm in taking an over-the-counter pregnancy test. 

We were on the Greek Island of Milos when I finally decided to try the test. It was July 28th, 2015. Dutifully, I followed the instructions as best as I could -- although I couldn't read a single word of Greek. I mean, really, how hard could it be? You pee on the stick and then you wait for a symbol to appear. A plus sign means your pregnant and a minus sign means you're not. Simple. 

Except it wasn't that simple.

I stood over the sink staring at my pregnancy test and the double, parallel'ed lined result. What did two lines mean versus one? Nervously I looked at the box where the pregnancy test came in -- it was still in Greek. The curiosity, anxiety, excitement, and hope (yes, a touch of hope) all got the best of me and so I snuck out of the hotel room and went in search of the hotel manager. Well, to be honest I was looking for his grandmother who also worked in the hotel, but she was taking a nap. The young hotel manager looked so concerned for me and so willing to help that I finally gave in and handed him the test box. I pointed to the results and I asked, "Which one means positive? Which one means baby?" He looked at the box, and then pointed to the double lines and said, "that means positive -- baby."

I burst into tears right there in his office. He laughed and hugged me, and got teary eyed. Then he held me at arms length and looked at me very seriously and asked, "is this happy news?"

I laughed and cried and nodded my head. "Very happy news," I said. We continued to celebrate, and then, he told me he would send his sister down to see me later in the evening because she was a midwife. Grateful and giddy, I thanked him and left. 

I couldn't wait until I made it back into our hotel room (it was actually an apartment), so just as soon as I walked onto our small deck, which overlooked a great valley and the ocean far bellow, I started calling out for Nathan, my fiance. He came out looking confused and worried. He knew how sick I had been feeling. He knew that I wanted to see a doctor because I had convinced myself that something was seriously wrong with me. He did everything in his power to find me food that I could keep down -- white bread and white rice is what I had been craving earlier that day along with a banana milkshake. But now he was standing with me outside in the hot afternoon sun with the stunning white and blue buildings that the Greek Islands are so well known for behind us. His sweet worried look will stay with me forever. I savored it because I wanted to see how it would change.

"We're pregnant," I said with fresh tears streaming down my face. His worried look melted into shock, then bliss. Yes, sweet, beautiful bliss. I was up in his arms and his mouth was open in a perfect O. His eyes were big, and he was stuck somewhere between hugging me and holding me so he could stare at me. 

We were going to be parents. I think we both immediately felt that we already were.

We decided to skip the rest of our island tour -- it was really too hot. We were suppose to head to Santorini next -- but we took a ferry back to Athens the very next day. On July 29th, 2015, I got to see my baby. She was 7 mm long and her heart was 193 beats per minute. I loved her instantly. Nathan couldn't come in with me, but he marveled at her first portrait, and grinned as he tried to make out tiny hands and feet. I didn't have the heart to tell him quite yet that at a mere 6 weeks, our sweet little baby looked more like a kidney-bean than a human. 

I would like nothing more than to go on talking about how happy we were -- how happy we are as expectant parents. However, the unfortunate and painful truth is much different. We got to enjoy our little baby for about a week. It was long enough for us to share our news with our parents and a handful of other family members. Sadly, on August 6th, after spotting a bit of blood, we headed to the doctor in Rome and found out that our baby no longer had a heartbeat. The doctor was unwilling to give us a definite answer after what she saw, and instead asked us to meet with her in the hospital where she wanted to re-examine me with a different ultrasound machine. It was in the hospital, separated from Nathan (men weren't allowed in that area of the hospital) that I lay on a bed with my legs spread open in the air, surrounded by four Italian women who all stared at the small gray and black screen. They spoke to each other quickly in Italian, and took turns pointing at the screen that was turned away from me. I lay there and stared at the ceiling, tears soaking into my hair -- hoping beyond hope, but knowing by the feeling in the pit of my stomach what was about to come.

Nathan stayed strong until we were out in the hall away from the other patients. That's where the doctor caught up with us and explained to us the situation. She said that if there was a heartbeat and now it was gone, then there was a very probable chance that we had miscarriage. She touched my shoulder and assured me that this didn't mean we couldn't have healthy pregnancies in the future. Her kindness fell on deaf ears.When she left us, Nathan and I stared at each other for a while and then melted into each others arms.

His tears made me strong. I lead him away to a bench where we sat wrapped up in each others arms sobbing. I realized in that moment, with a bitter-sweet sense of comfort that there was no one in the world I would rather share such happiness and sorrow with. He felt my pain because it was his pain. He loved this baby just as much as I loved her. No one else, in my world, could comprehend my grief.

Of course we sought a second opinion, and then a third, and finally a fourth. Nothing changed. The heartbeat was never found again and we finally made peace with the diagnosis -- fetal demise.

I call my baby a girl because she visited me in a dream that first night, on August 6th after we were told that the heartbeat could not be found. That night I cried myself to sleep. The next thing I know I was on a beach, walking after someone. In my arms I held a baby girl -- she couldn't have been more than nine months old. I assumed that I was chasing after the baby's mother, but I was never actually able to reach her. I could only see her ahead of us -- her long dark hair falling down her back, her arms stretched out and waving as she weaved in and out of the water. At some point I stopped trying to catch up and instead focused on the infant in my arms. She was gorgeous. She had a sweet round face, and big brown eyes. Her lips were a perfect cupid's bow and they were always in a darling pout. But what made the biggest impression on me was how bold she was. This sweet little child kept leaning toward the water. She would throw her soft little arms towards the waves, as if she wanted to swim.

She was just like I use to be, absolutely fearless.

I loved her in my dreams, and when I woke I knew it was my little baby who had come to see me. I won't say that it made me feel better or that it gave me much comfort, but it sort of did. Some small part of me felt satisfied. There was my child in my dreams, my little Milos, and some part of her is immortal -- and she came to visit me, and she will come again -- of that I am sure. But most importantly, someday we will finally be together. Someday, all three of us (plus hopefully other little siblings) will get to be a family. Not in this world, but in a better place. But, like I told her in my poem, and like I tell her in my prayers, and every night before I go to sleep -- she's always welcome in my dreams.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

I Am Going Home

I’ve waited my whole life to travel the world, and now that the opportunity has finally come I can’t help but reflect on the path that led me away from home and my eventual return. My family immigrated from Guatemala when I was three years old. We came to the United States seeking asylum from a corrupt and violent government, and in the process left everything that was familiar behind. My father tried very hard to make a living in Guatemala and raise his young family, but after having his life threatened he made the decision to move us all to the States. He says that it was a difficult choice, but given the options, he knew he was doing the right thing.

Our family settled in Santa Barbara, California and given that I grew up here, this is the place I consider home. Even so, when I turned 18 and graduated from high school I couldn’t wait to leave my sunny, beach town and go explore on my own. I ended up in San Francisco, where I went to school for two years. Shortly there after I came back to Santa Barbara and took a year off school in order to pursue a desire to become a teacher. I gave a year of service to AmeriCorps, where I worked with a caseload of children as a literacy tutor. During that time I met Nathan, and when I finally decided that teaching was not my calling and that I wanted to go back to San Francisco to finish my degree, he came along with me. Two years later, freshly graduated from college I returned to Santa Barbara and worked with another nonprofit, The Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum. Nathan had moved to Santa Monica for, and we were trying to make our long distance relationship work.

It didn’t.

It was too hard to be apart. This time around, I decided that I would move to be with Nathan. Since he had followed me to San Francisco, it only seemed fair for me to support him on his adventure. We lived in Santa Monica for a few months before Nathan received another job offer in Newport, so off we went to Irvine.

It’s been a long three years, but after so many wonderful experiences one of which was working with Stampington & Company we both finally decided that it was time to come home. Granted, home is a hard concept for us to wrap our heads around. While we were getting ready to move back to Santa Barbara, I daydreamed about us moving to Guatemala and living there for a year. Although I was born in Guatemala, it doesn’t really feel my home or my country, but there’s a part of me that wants to experience it before I fully settle down and start a family of my own. Then of course, there’s the fact that Nathan’s family lives in Perth, Australia, and I cannot begrudge him his own desire to live close to his mother, father, and siblings. We decided that our ideal situation would leave us both working from home with the liberty to move between the United States and Australia, so that we could spend equal amounts of time with our loved ones.

My mother calls us gypsies, moving from place to place. The thought always made me smile, but now that it might become a possibility, the idea of having an international family that moves across the globe on such a regular basis makes me feel happy. It’s the sort of life we’ve always had, so I believe that it would suit us just fine.

So now I am back in Santa Barbara, and Nathan is still in Irvine, waiting until his two weeks notice is up so that he can join me. We both decided that this was the perfect time to finally travel, so we’ve planned a trip that will take us to Japan, Australia, The United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Sweden, Germany, and maybe even Morocco. With the way things fell into place, I ended up having some extra time to spend with my parents and it just so happened that they were taking a two week holiday in Guatemala I gratefully tagged along when they offered to bring me. We’re leaving tonight!

While packing my bag I realized how strange and wonderful it is that my journey to see the world will begin from the safety and comfort of my home both of them. Here I am in Santa Barbara, surrounded by my family and now we’re traveling to a place that I should have called home, but was never able to. It is a wonder and a blessing, to be given the opportunity to travel to my
parent’s country, where I can only hope that I will find a part of myself. I can’t quite articulate how grateful I am and how fortunate I consider myself. Before undertaking this trek across the globe, I’ll get to visit my birthplace and reconnect with the benevolent ghosts that haunt my memories.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Random Moments of Poetry

In the deepest part of night
I think of you

In cold and silver light
I think of you

When the stars burn bright
I think of you

When my heart’s beat is slight
I think of you

And nothing that I think or that I do
Will bring me back to you

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It Sings Without the Need to be Heard

I've been finding it hard to sleep. The inability to climb into bed, close my eyes, and drift off into the land of shadows and creativity has been a huge frustration. You see, I am a lucid dreamer. For me, every night is an adventure, and so I await my dreams with the same anxious excitement as those who wait for the latest installment of a television show. But the world is not without its mysteries, and even on these occasions when it's very hard to find a silver lining, I've come to discover that one must stop and listen, wholeheartedly, to what the universe is trying to say. However, because we don't quite speak the same language as whatever ancient divinity stretches out from here into eternity, a few things are simply bound to get lost in translation.

A few nights ago, while I lay on the couch and stared at my computer screen — aimlessly — browsing through Etsy stores, hitting reload on Facebook every two minutes, and checking on Skype to see if anyone was around to chat, I heard the most curious little song bird. It was three in the morning and I couldn't begin to imagine what crazy bird might actually be up at that hour chirping away its musical, but seemingly random little melody. 

Abandoning my computer, and following an instinct and craving for the outside world, I stepped onto the balcony and looked around. There was the glow of the pool below, an eerie blue-green that captured an iridescent quality when the breeze brushed across the water's surface. On the other side there was just the deep and impenetrable darkness of the hill side. The shadows of the hill swell were darker and harsher than the night sky at its horizon. 

The bird continued its song, but I wasn't able to see it. Of course, the first thing that came to mind was a nightingale — but it almost seemed like the obvious choice might be incorrect. I actually came back in and did a quick google search for "Nightingale Sound" and the first result was a recording of something very similar to what I was hearing. 

Content that I had just learned something new, I decided I would try to go to sleep again. My world was a vibrant blue, that sort of depth-less blue that belongs to the afternoon sky just as the sun begins to roll down into the west. And much to my surprise and delight, sleep found me in a matter of minutes, leaving me with a few precious hours of rest and dreams before I had to wake up for the day. 

I figured that would be the end of my short affair with the nightingale, so again, imagine my surprise when last night — at around the same time, three in the morning, I get woken by that same high-pitched chirp and call. I woke up without the slowness that comes with sleep. I was alert, as if I had just closed and opened my eyes. Granted I had just fallen asleep a few hours ago, but hey — three hours of sleep isn't very much.

The stillness of my bedroom at that hour was such a strange juxtaposition to the vividness of my nightingale's song. Without lifting my head from the pillow, I followed the line that forms where the walls meet with the ceiling all the way around the room and I felt — whole, safe, and happy. The world flashed that same sky blue that I feel when I am calm, a sentiment that I can honestly say I haven't been able to enjoy in a long time. But it was brief, like a dream. Then the bedroom was plunged back into its normal darkness. It wasn't dark though — not pitch black, but rather a comforting and deep gray. It's the color that the world takes when it slows down, when it feels like it's rotating with a leisurely pace. 

I haven't been sleeping well because there's a lot on my mind right now. There's the upcoming move, the looming decision to get serious about buying a home, the uncertainty of how my future time will be divided, and of course, the overwhelming weight of our decision to try and become parents. It's fear and joy all mixed up inside of me, flowing through my veins like some potent stimulant — akin to coffee, maybe. 

It's anxiety and excitement — hope and dread. 

I am jittery.

But there I was, three in the morning and awake in the most profound stillness that I have felt in quite some time. My nightingale was still singing outside — so bright, so audible, and so attuned to me. There I was, lying besides my best friend and the person whom I've picked to be the father of my children someday, and I realized how much I am still fighting with myself. I am still scared to take the plunge and give my all to my craft. I am still not writing everything I want to write. This whole blog post is a second draft of the original I came up with as I laid in bed last night, listening to the nightingale, and tracing the shadows of the shutters across the ceiling. 

I was too scared to get up and writer. 

There's this urge in me. It's primal, but not predatory. It's soft and easy, but utterly unavoidable. It won't go away no matter how much worry I try to bury it under. I still narrate the story of my life inside my head. I still feel words pumping through my veins, thick as blood. But I had to be reminded that it's not all doom and gloom, and it's certainly not do or die — although it often feels that way. There are precious moments of stillness, when the world is asleep except for the tiniest but brightest soul, a little song bird that's chirping away in the dark of night. 

It sings without the need to be heard.

I don't need to be heard, but I do need to sing — er,  I mean write

I know it's easy to just chalk everything up to nature. It's easy enough to simply believe that the nightingale is there, regardless of my consciousness. But I choose to believe something different. I don't want to believe in coincidence. The world is too magnificent for that. That little bird — it's a part of me that came to remind me of something important. It's was the echo of my own happiness, and a needed reminder of its constant presence in my life.

Monday, March 2, 2015

I am Only Happy When it Rains

Well, that’s not exactly true, I actually really enjoy the sunshine. However this rainy weather made me think of Shirley Manson’s song, and while I am sitting here reminiscing about my youth this throw back to 1996 seems quite appropriate.

So I had this whole plan to write two blog posts a week throughout the month of February in order to prepare my fledgling blog for my debut in the third issue of Bella Grace. That didn’t go exactly as planned, and finding myself unable to write left me in a dark place. There is a lot I need to say, but the words have failed me.

I am an exceptionally slow thinker, and sometimes it just takes me a little bit longer to digest things before I am able to put them down on pen and paper. But today, I woke up to the sound of rain and armed with a cup of coffee and Manson’s song on repeat, I finally felt compelled to write.

So where do I start?

I left my position at Stampington & Company two weeks ago, and I thought I would have more to write about concerning the experience, the after thoughts, the regrets and the hopes for the future. However, I haven’t really made my peace with it yet. There’s going to be so much movement in the next two months that I don’t really have time to consider what’s happened or what’s going to happen. I feel sort of stuck in a place of high emotion.

Currently, I am waiting for my boyfriend to quit his job and for us to be released from our lease here in Irvine, California. After that, Nathan my boyfriend, is heading to Australia to visit his family and I am going to Guatemala to visit mine. A month later, when we’re reunited, we’re hoping to get some traveling done, and then return to Santa Barbara — my home town, where we might end up settling.

It’s really a lot to think about. All these plans for the future are really just up in the air. Who knows if they’ll happen or not? Meanwhile, there’s a concoction of emotions inside of me that is one part excitement, one part anxiety, and many more parts love. Love for family, love for Nathan, love for art, and love for myself.

It was love for myself and love art that lead me to leave Stampington. I simply needed more time to work on my own projects. It’s love for Nathan that’s making me look to the rest of the world as a playground for self-exploration. And as always, it’s love for family that will call me back home to Santa Barbara the place where I belong.

That’s about it for now — the rain stopped and with it my will to write is gone. I want to expand on some of these plans, and I definitely want to share some of my creations. I actually kept up with my promise to push myself to be creative every day until my birthday, which is actually only seven days away on March 9th. It will be a lot of fun to have some project posts up as opposed to these dense and emotional ramblings!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Art is an Intellectual Pursuit

Art doesn't come easy for me. If it has to do with writing, then it’s usually not a problem. I can undertake a project rather quickly and most of the time, my work will get a second or third pair of eyes looking over it. I like the system — I like immediate feedback. But more abstract art, like pulling together images, colors, and textiles — well, that just seems more complicated. Rather than using my words to try to convey an idea or a feeling, I am trying to achieve the same thing but with a physical representation of what’s going on in my mind. My writing is personal, but presenting an art project is personal on an entirely different level. Suddenly I am seeing white because I am so nervous, and I am not particularly sure I actually want any feedback.

Then it struck me — I really only ever create art when it's for a project. When I was in elementary school, I created for the sake of praise. I enjoyed my teachers gushing over what I could draw or how I could manipulate clay into intricate little sculptures. Later on, when I took an art class in high school, as a prerequisite for graduating, I was introduced to the world of collaging. It was a new way to conveying ideas with bits of cut out paper, doodles, and whatever else I could fit on the page. Composition was everything for my high school teacher. We had to balance the page, we could put whatever we wanted in our collage as long as there was a reason behind it. She questioned everything.

Why this cut-out word?
Why this brush stroke of color?
Why this image as opposed to that one?

Though this sounds like an oppressive environment, I think that it was under this teacher that I was really able to develop as an artist. I couldn’t just say I had a “feeling” or that I was following my “gut” — now I had to explain what that meant. It brought my two loves together, art and words.

Why this word? Because it’s what came to mind when I saw red.
Why this color? Because on this particular day I was feeling this particular color.
Why this image? Because that image spoke to me — and this is what it said.

Yes, art is definitely a feeling — if not a full-blown force of nature that we as mere mortals, cannot resist. And while there’s something wild, passionate, and consuming about following our instinct and creating for the sake of creating, I believe that art is first and foremost an intellectual pursuit that urges us to discover our humanity.

But I digress. What I really wanted to share today was a short conversation I had with The Shoppe manager over at Stampington & Company. Jennifer Taylor and I work closely on creative projects, product descriptions, and the composition of Creative Impulse and Post Script. I think we share some similar ideas when it comes to creating art. She mentioned that she had decided to challenge herself with creating one personal, artistic item every day until her birthday, sometime in April. When your main job is to produce creative content—be it writing or actual art projects, it’s easy to experience burnout and moreso to feel a little unattached with your work. As an artist, though I am still a little shy calling myself that, I think Jennifer’s idea is wonderful and I’ve decided to join her. My birthday is in a month, on March 9th, so the task seems somewhat manageable.

I don’t want to force anything. What I really want to do is push myself out of this weird place where I need perfect compositions. My creations will be made in the early hours of the morning, when it’s still misty and magical outside. I’ll give myself half an hour at most. I won’t share everything, but I’ll try to share as much as I can. The point of this project, for me, is not to create masterpieces, but rather to play — to play with art supplies, to play with materials, and simply to experiment and let go of some of my anxiety and perfectionism.