Saturday, October 15, 2016

Life by Numbers


96 92 87 88 84 77 62 83 88 94.

27 and 4.




3 to 5.


My life has been ruled by numbers since June.  The number of grams my daughter weighed when she was born.  The fluctuating oxygen satuaration in her small body causing my own breath to catch and alarms to ring when it dipped below 86.  The number of weeks and days when she was born.  The day she was supposed to be born.  The lifeline of social security her birthweight qualified our family for. The number of miles from here to our new home.  The number of years I was willing to give Austin.  The number of days I have left here.

I never expected to leave this city with two more people than when I came.  A dog, sure, and she's coming along too.  But a life partner and daughter?  Never.  It would have been a fool's bet.

You couldn't have told me I would be choosing another cold state after leaving this warm and sticky one.  I would have argued and smirked saying never under my breath.

We were supposed to be living in Vegas by now, you know.  That was our plan.  We were going to work hard and stack cash and reset our accounts and stroll hand in hand under the bright neon lights in the middle of the desert.  We were going to get off work at 2am, run home to change and grab the dog and then drive 5 hours through the night, trying to outrun the sun at our backs to the Pacific.

While I may not be strolling Flamingo Ave., I do see the hours before the sun now, the night and I so friendly, so familiar.  But instead of heading to California, humming along to Ryan Adams on the car radio with the windows rolled down, I am crooning the Lumineers to my newborn, my daughter, with the widest and most restless eyes I've ever known.  Hers are the color of the Atlantic, gray and dark blue and stormy.  They are pulling us east, not west, towards family and financially easier footing.

I fought it. I wanted to continue on with our plans.  I wanted to see it through and carry her along with us.  But our daughter is mighty.  She has changed our course.  And I feel now, so much more than ever before, like I have absolutely no control.  I have no say.

I do not know what to do next.  I was not prepared for this shift in the direction of my life.  And while I am in love with her, I am in awe of her, and I am forever grateful for the universe telling me and my plans to take a back seat and let it drive (because I never really had a hand on the wheel in the first place), I still grieve for the life I wanted for myself that did not include a baby.  And I accept and expect judgement from that statement.  However, I believe we are complex enough, multifaceted enough to hold two (or more!) feelings within us at once.  I can love my daughter endlessly, and still wistfully look down the other path and life that could have been.

We're leaving this town in two weeks.  There are so many memories here, good and bad.  So many experiences that have forever changed me.  I'm a Mom now.  And I have to take it minute by minute, second by second, placing one unsure foot in front of the other until the next chapter unfolds itself, presenting my humble little family with its next set of challenges and opportunities.

I accomplished the one thing I wanted in this town though, one which will allow me to leave without any regret:  I lived the last 46 months the best I could, and in such a way that allowed me to continue writing a truly interesting story.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Blake was checking the perimeter, the sun having just sunk beneath the horizon.  When he heard the shots, he cut into the field.  Finding immediate coverage overruled his desire to go back for his gear.  Instinctually, he disappeared quickly and silently. 

The shots rang out from the west. 




One shot every five seconds or so.  He began to run, steady and measured.  Several minutes later, he heard another round of gunfire, closer and clustered together coming from the southeast.

Pop pop pop pop pop

He stopped and sank low.  The stuttering noise of what sounded like automatic weapons caused his heart to sink.  He only had his Beretta.  However, even though he was hidden at the moment, crouching near the soft ground, a single spray of bullets would eventually find him. 

He hunched low and began walking quickly north.  Pop pop.  He had to keep moving, only hoping he was headed in a direction away from the gunfire. 

A rigid branch crunched quietly as he shouldered his way deeper into the field, soft tassels brushing his cheek.

He thought about the last time he saw Tommy; he had been coloring at their kitchen table.  When Blake placed his hand on his son’s small shoulder, he looked over and saw the picture was of the American flag.  It was messy and child-like, but there was no mistaking the reds, blues, and blank white spaces marking the familiar stars and stripes.  He could still feel the softness of the boy’s husk-colored hair, streaks of blonde brightened in the summer, just like his mother’s.

There was a sharp pain behind his right eye pulsing with his heartbeat, his vision beginning to blur.  Shaking his head and looking behind him, he saw the field went on and on with rows like black tunnels, bordering high stalks stretching high and thick.  




He felt the explosions in his chest, rattling his ribcage.  The early July heat was fierce and unrelenting, his undershirt soaked in sweat.  The sky was now black, and the vegetation so dense and straight and unmoving in the still night air.  Suddenly, there was beam of light, quick and fleeting.  It was yellow and artificial, swinging back and forth quickly, searching.
He decided to run in the opposite direction, and after fifteen seconds, he heard their voices.  They were yelling, high with tongues rolling.  He figured they were about a hundred yards away.  Because he only had his handgun, he was able to run much faster than he would have with his rifle and full body armor.  But because of this nakedness, he needed to find somewhere to hide before the band arrived.

Blake cut in and out and between the high growth of the field, trying to avoid bending any stalks and branches which would leave a trail.  Then he heard Sara’s voice causing him to stop.


This happened all the time.  He imagined hearing his wife at the worst of times, usually deep in the middle of combat. 

“Blake! Where are you!?”

It was both distracting and comforting.  He pushed it away and started running.  He couldn’t afford to be distracted, not when he was this vulnerable.


The gunfire sounded further now and less frequent.  Feeling he was in a good position, he slowed to a walk, his shoulders hunched, his pistol raised.  Suddenly, gunfire was everywhere.  It was closer now, above and behind him, no more than fifty yards away.  He stopped, unsure which way to run.  There was a snap of a stalk broken behind him.  He spun and fired once.  Nothing.  There was only an empty row staring blankly in front of him. 

A searing pain abruptly shot behind both of his eyes followed by a wave of nausea so intense he doubled over and nearly fell to his knees.  He tasted char and red meat.  Five seconds.  Ten seconds.  He was wasting too much time.  He knew he had to keep moving, they were too close, there were too many of them.


Pop, pop.  


His mouth was sour with sick, his head pounding.  Every direction he ran, it seemed he was running towards a new enemy with the others right behind him.

His right eye went dark.  The pain in his head was so severe he thought he was going to pass out. He stumbled half-blind, feeling a ridge on either side of his feet.  He didn’t know whether to trust this path or try and fight his way through the thin trees on either side.


He wished his wife’s voice was real, feeling the tears stream down his face.  Something caught his foot and tripped him to the ground, his face slamming down hard.  His breath caught in his chest, and he wondered if he should just lay there, waiting for it to be over.  He was so close to giving up.


He flipped over, the yellow light blinding his remaining left eye, and fired.  POP

The light swayed for a moment, slightly right then left, then fell to the earth.  Blake sat up slowly, and crawled towards the body.  The flashlight was pointing at the person’s feet.  They were small and narrow, wearing red Keds.  He followed the lean tan legs to a denim skirt, then a white tank top with an American flag, blood staining and stretching out from the dark hole in the center of the chest.  He couldn’t see her face at first.  Then, it glowed red.  Pop.  Then blue. Pop.  Then green into purple, pop pop,, and with a deep and overhead boom, it glowed white.  Sara’s eyes were wide, staring up from the ground of their Iowa cornfield, the fireworks scattered in the sky. 

Monday, September 5, 2016


For the past 89 days, I have spent some portion of my time, every day, in a hospital.  For the first 14, I was the patient.  Then, for the next 75, I would spend visiting my daughter, waiting for her to grow from one pound, fifteen ounces, and fourteen inches long to where she is now, six pounds, three ounces and eighteen inches long.  I am sure I will recount the struggles, the challenges, the battles, the victories and all the moments experienced in between someday.  But, for now, I will simply celebrate the homecoming of my daughter.  She is not sleeping at the moment even though I fed her by bottle and by breast and bathed her and sang to her and changed her and swaddled her.

And that's ok.

I will look into those deep dark blue eyes taking in all that is new and unfamiliar and undeniably home.  There are no bright fluorescent lights here.  No beeping monitors or laughing nurses or hourly vitals to be taken.  There is just us.  Just the four of us (Roxy is still getting used to her - her hands and feet have been licked all in good measure).

Here's to baby.

Here's to a new life.

Here's to the next great adventure.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Year of the Rabbit

The stairs to the basement creaked loudly.  The light switch at the top had stopped working earlier that year so the light had to be turned on at the bottom.  Jin had been meaning to fix it for months, Danielle too nervous to walk downstairs in the dark while she was pregnant, avoiding all trips without Jin leading the way.  He cursed himself for waiting so long as he stumbled down in the dark carrying the heavy and awkward glider. 

“There are always miracles.”

It was the year of the rabbit.  Danielle didn’t believe in signs or God or fate, but Jin did.  He prayed to both the Christian God and to his ancestors every day since finding out about his son.  She called him old-fashioned.  He could picture his son, James, a strong and handsome and funny young man.  Her due date was on Easter.  She had chosen the name for her father.  He liked it because it was the name of Jesus’s most beloved disciple.

“He is a fighter...”

There were dozens of bags from Danielle’s most recent shower.  He set the last of them down in the corner of the basement, overflowing and haphazardly filled with blankets and onesies and crib sheets and diapers.  He began with the bedroom because he knew it would take the longest, and there was very little time. 

“…but we want you to be prepared.”

He moved on to the kitchen.  He couldn’t decide if he wanted to put the champagne that had been chilling in the kitchen’s refrigerator into the one downstairs, or allow it to come back up to room temperature, or throw it away altogether.  The checklist in his head was getting crossed off, one room after another.  He found the box for the breast pump and the Baby Bullet broken down and folded behind the washer.  He reassembled them and carefully placed the equipment back in their boxes.  Danielle had given him such a hard time when he came home with the Bullet.

“He isn’t even going to be able to eat solids or baby food for months.” Jin remembered their small fight perfectly. 

Why did you buy that?”  They were folding all of the recently washed baby clothes they had been given in the basement, when suddenly Danielle let out a little “Oh.” 

He remembered her looking down and then up again, her face sheet-white.  She looked so scared.

“We never really know why things like this happen.”

He scanned the house once more, looking for all traces and triggers.  He grabbed the What to Expect When You’re Expecting book from her nightstand, leaving nothing in either of the bedrooms.  As he turned to head back downstairs, he noticed the overnight bag sitting by the front door, forgotten in their haste.  He slung it over his shoulder and headed down.

“I would give him about a week.  His liver is no longer responding.  His organs are beginning to shut down.”

Danielle would be home tomorrow.  She hadn’t spoken since they had taken his small body away, all 800 grams of him, just under two pounds.  Jin had tried to comfort her, praying silently to whomever would listen, but she would not be consoled.  Her eyes staring empty, her mouth set.  The tears never stopped streaming down her cheeks and into the soft creases between her neck and chest and engorged and useless breasts. 

“Sometimes these things just happen.”

After coming back downstairs for the last time, Jin sat down in the glider, surrounded by everything they had bought and been given and made in preparation for their first and only son.  He began rocking slowly back and forth when he noticed a small gray rabbit lying face down on the floor.  It must have fallen out of one of the bags.  He remembered buying it a few weeks earlier, gently placing it in the corner of James’s crib.

“Lay your hands on him and let him know you are there.”

He got up and walked towards the toy.  Picking it up, his breath began to shorten as he felt the softness of its ears and arms and legs, reminding him of the gentle blonde fuzz all over his dying son’s body.   He squeezed his eyes shut and clutched the rabbit to his chest, sucking in a shallow and sharp breath and then letting out an anguished sob.  His head hung low, a stabbing pain shooting behind his right eye.  He started wringing the rabbit’s body, twisting it in opposite directions.

“He can hear your voice.  The ears are some of the first things to develop.  Talk to him.”

He threw the rabbit with all of his might.  Silently it fell to the floor, as if caught by something invisible, too light to carry the weight Jin needed.  The unimpressive result of this violence enraged Jin.  He turned around and picked up the glider and heaved it at the entertainment center.  It crashed into the TV and dented the wall deeply.  He moved on to the boxes and bags, swinging them in every direction.  Onesies with “Mommy and Daddy Love Me” and “Little Rascal” stitched on the front, blue bibs and tiny hats and swaddlers and pacifiers falling all over the floor.   He grabbed the bottle of champagne he had decided to leave out to warm, and hurled it against the wall near the stairs.  It hit the switch and the light shut off, leaving him in complete darkness.
“He isn’t in any pain.”


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday Best

It looks like a beautiful day out there.  I'm sure it is hot and muggy, the breeze only strong enough to annoyingly move around the pieces of hair not sweating and clinging to your neck.  But it looks beautiful.

I was able to spend a glorious thirty minutes in the hospital's courtyard this morning.  I had been up for over three hours, but it was still early and cool and the birds were out, flying all around the enclosed space.  Before that, I had blood drawn, prenatal supplements and iron distributed.  I had been visited by three nurses and one attending doctor.  All of them asking me the same questions I hear every morning, afternoon, and night.  Any tenderness when I press here?  Any nausea?  How about blurred vision?  Can you still feel the baby move?

I read an article last night about birth control.  Apparently, my situation happens in only 6% of cases.

The bracelets on my wrist make me look like some sort of ACL attendee.  Except instead of getting me backstage, they alert doctors of my penicillin allergy, my blood type, and a bar code which is scanned a dozen times a day when any one of my fifteen nurses flushes my IV or gives me Tylenol or hooks the baby up to a heart monitor for 20 minutes (which always turns into over an hour because they have other patients too).

I have finished two books so far.  I wasn't very impressed with either of them.

I am trying to keep my spirits up, read books, write and think about baby names.  I'm trying to do my best.  But this week, I am going to allow myself to wallow a bit.  Just this week though.  Because had my life continued on the way it was supposed to go on, the way I thought it was going to continue, the way any just and kind God or universe or supreme being would allow it to go on, would still have allowed my boyfriend and I to be driving somewhere through Arkansas at this time.

I can still picture it.  I would be driving and looking for a friendly, grassy area to stop and walk Roxy around but edging myself just a bit further on,

Make it to 6:00pm.  

Keep going until you get to the next exit.  

Go another thirty miles and then you can stop.

I would be so excited and anxious to get there, to have a vacation from both of my jobs, to be able to get out of town and the heat and spend days and days with my family and old friends I haven't seen in years.  We would stop in Nashville tonight.  We would check into a cheap hotel, sneak Roxy in and walk around the city for a bit.  Then we'd crash and sleep hard but not long because I'd want to get on the road again.  We'd go to this little restaurant the boy had found, Biscuit Love ( right as they opened and I would have bought a coffee mug.  We'd push the critter around the block once more before hitting the road again, our bellies full of benedicts and coffee.

Then it would be a race.  I wouldn't want to waste any time.  There is so much I have to do as the MOH and I would want to see my sister.  I would want to get this wild circus of a wedding week underway.  I would want to get everything started that we have been talking about for a year.

But instead, I can do little more than pick up a new book, read the first few pages and put it down again.  I count down the hours until I have to order another meal from the cafeteria.  I wonder what everyone else is doing today.  I've texted many; the boy, mom and sister and a few friends but haven't heard back from anyone yet.  It's so quiet.

My flowers are starting to die.  Some still look great and happy and beautiful.  But some have given up, no one to change their water, the window probably very warm there as they sit with nowhere to go.  It's been a week since they've all arrived.  But I don't want to get rid of them yet.  They add a lot of color.  They remind me of those who sent them, still out there, living their lives.

Friday, June 10, 2016


Of all of the posts I've written, of all of the words, these will absolutely be some of the weightiest and life-altering.

There really is no other way to say this except: I am pregnant.  I will be having a child.  It wasn't in the plan and any of you who has known me for more than five minutes knows that having children was not in my future vision for my life.  At all.  But, as many of you and now especially I know, life doesn't really care what our plans are.  My boyfriend and the father, is the only one I could imagine to be the one who is here with me now, next month and for whatever happens for our little family in the future.

My due date is September 17th.  Which is just shy of three and a half months away.  Without going too terribly far into the medical details but to also ensure I'm not grouped into the MTV-class of women eligible for a ridiculous reality show (Toilet-babies, anyone?), I had done everything I was supposed to, taken every measure to guarantee this didn't happen.  But, I ended up being the 1 in 100 for whom preventative methods just don't work, the less than 5%, the miracles or the ones who end up in a room being told something they never thought in a million years they would hear.  But I was that one.  I am in that small percent.  I heard those words at 1:34 p.m. on Wednesday June 8th telling me I would be a mother.

At this exact moment, I am listening to my baby's heartbeat.  It is sticking to a steady 145-160 bpm and much to my nurses' chagrin, he or she moves around a lot making the monitor unable to read as it should.  It is so surreal and so strange and so not at all what I thought I would be doing one day before my twenty-ninth birthday.  What a present, right?

In addition to being told I would be a mother, I would also be staying in the hospital...until the baby arrives.  We are both healthy at this moment but because of a small complication, I cannot go home.  I cannot work.  I cannot be out of bed for more than a few minutes at a time.  My full time job will to work through my reading list, write the next great American novel, and keep this little critter in my belly as long as possible which, best case, is two months but could be in the next two days (let's all not hope for that).

Someone, something, some great universal being or power or God himself wants me to have a kid, wants me to be a mom.  And know I am embracing this shift, this life-altering reality.  I am excited to TRY to be the kind of parent I've always said should exist to create the most incredible and respectful and just downright cool kid (because all any of us can ever do is try).  I have such an amazing support system and there are many things that are going to happen and plans (tentative because, well, you know, those can't always be counted on) we are so excited about.

I'm sure there is much to be figured out, steps to take, things to buy and favors to be asked but for now, know I am happy, we are healthy, and we couldn't be in better hands.

Much love to you all, from the three of us.  More to come...

Monday, May 9, 2016


It has been months since I have visited this site, let alone written anything to be published and shared.  So much and so very little has happened, nothing really of note.  But I am peeking my head and my heart out once more to reenter this world of the written word.

I have been trying my hand at novel writing.  I will not say much about it because it is still so new and so precious to me that I feel I want to hold it close until it (and I) grow in strength and confidence.  But suffice it say, it feels very much like my own, and something I am excited about and feel I will be proud of.  And if nothing more happens to it than its completion and possible self-publishing on Amazon, I will be satisfied and continue trying my hand at other things and exercising my writing mind and muscles regularly.

The weather is perfect here in Texas.  It is warm with a cool breeze, the skies are nearly always blue with big puffy white clouds and the days are long, stretching late into the evening making the darkness so quick and fleeting that I feel like a small child again heading to bed not long after the sun has set.

I missed speaking here.  Writing this small bit out, I am realizing how much it did for me.  Even if there isn't anyone out there reading these words.  Even if they are simply dumped out into a void.  Even if nothing comes of it other than my typing fingers strengthening, I will find myself glad to have been here.

Happy Monday, everyone.  I hope you are all filled with as much hope and inspiration for things to come as I am today.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Bad Grownup

What makes one a good grownup.  How is it decided you are an official adult?  A 401K?  Children and a spouse?  Graying hair?  I have none of these (the last thanks to my brilliant sister - stylist and colorist), but does not having those things mean I am not an adult?

I remember my mother saying she would forever be 28.  It didn't matter how many times the calendar read October 30th, she always said she felt 28.  If asked, I bet she would still stand by that statement.  I also now know exactly how she feels.  Except I feel a little bit closer to 19.  

There is a running joke between my fella and I that I am a "bad grownup."  I forget to buy toilet paper, I fall (ahem) a year behind in filing my taxes, and recently have begun what I thought was only characteristic of teenager: bailing on perfectly good jobs without anything else lined up and no real plan or reason why.  

This June, I will enter the last year of my 20's.  And it's scary and depressing and I am filled with all kinds of insecurities about it.  

But I also feel like good things are going to happen this year.  Big things.  Life-changing things.  Because they have to.  Because things have been really really shitty.  And all things must come to an end, this too shall pass, blah blah, etc., etc.

And, I have decided I am the only one who determines what kind of adult I should be.  So tonight, I will eat ice cream for dinner.  Tomorrow, I will set the alarm for 8am but forgive myself if I want to hit snooze a few times.  I will start the day with lemon water and morning pages.  But most importantly, I will try to be present (because all any of us can do is try).  I will try to enjoy this week, this day, this moment because no matter how we may feel on the inside, the days will continue to pass, and we were never promised many.