Happy Pre-Valentine’s Friday.

Happy Valentines Day

On Valentine’s Day, my parents are flying to Chile. Not to celebrate the holiday. Not to be romantic. They’re leaving on Saturday because of some precise combination of flight prices and work schedules. (Did I forget to mention my dad hates to travel?)

Growing up, I didn’t witness much kissing, or even hand holding, between my parents. And sometimes, I thought that was weird. And then one day junior year of high school, I witnessed my boyfriend kiss his mom. Smack. On. The. Lips. And I thought that was weird then too.

So moral is, go out. Today. On Valentine’s Day. The day after. Kiss or hold hands, or don’t. With your boyfriend or your mom, or your Golden Labradoodle. Or, as my six-month-old son prefers, grab someone’s face with a bit of force and then open-mouth slobber whatever protruding part–nose, ear, chin–is closest. It’s weird too. And I love it.

Why You’ll Never be able to Write while Pregnant, and Other Fairly Stupid Tales

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I wrote a short story during an undergraduate creative writing course. The protagonist was a pregnant writer. (She gave up using highlighters because she feared it would affect the fetus.) But I, the real writer behind the curtain, had never been pregnant. My professor suggested reading something in the African Literature tradition wherein I might find more examples of the relationship between thinking Mom and thinking, kicking, growing baby. He said I could find interesting works on how the two brains might strangely, interestingly, creatively intertwine. He suggested a few specific titles, all of which I’ve now, unfortunately, forgotten. So instead, when I became pregnant roughly a year ago to the day, I hit the internet. Hard.

First, I found gems like this one: “For many women, the ability to think is one of the first casualties of pregnancy.” (http://www.watermanwords.com/index.php/tips-writing/100-writing-while-pregnant)

And this one: And then there are those who are actually pregnant while writing a novel. We turn into a bundle of hormones and cravings, fall asleep at inopportune times and occasionally wonder if our brains have been replaced by a sack of cornmeal…How are we supposed to keep characters straight when we keep putting our clothes on inside out and walking down the street with all the seams showing?” (http://laurastanfill.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/pregnancy-and-the-writers-brain/)

The article, unfortunately, goes on: When in doubt, blame pregnancy brain–whether that’s for losing your keys again or using too many adverbs.”

I can’t (and won’t) speak to any other woman’s experience of pregnancy,—I’m now the mother of a happy 3.5-month-old—but I know that if you wake up and tell yourself you can’t write, then, pregnant or not, chances are, you won’t be able to write.

There are many things that might keep one from writing, some legitimate, some, well, not so much. A death in the family. A head cold. The laundry. Writing, because of its implied flexibility, is, unfortunately, acutely prone to the back burner.

It took me quite a while to find any article that implied something contrary to the common pregnancy-will-only-leave-you-drained wisdom. But could the small human in my uterus help me? Could he provide something extra? Give me an experience, and a perspective, I’ve never had? (Curiously, this last one is something, I think, that most writers value.)

I did, finally, come across this article (http://booksbywomen.org/creativity-in-pregnancy-by-eleanorfitzsimons/), called Creativity in Pregnancy, and written by Eleanor Fitzsimons. And, unlike the other articles I referenced earlier, it wasn’t all subjective. It cited studies, and quoted author interviews, and I was delighted.

Pregnancy will be different for every woman, every partner, every baby, for that matter. It might be a blast. It might be miserable. It’ll likely be something in between. But it doesn’t help anyone—writer, reader, plumber, firefighter—to spring from the gates and assume the worst. Pregnant or not, do what you’d do every day. Write. If you can’t, fine. Stop, relax, re-focus, repeat. Isn’t that always the process?

Pregnant Writer’s Advantage #2: Distraction, Art for my Son

 

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Happy Mother’s Day to Mine.

 

Mom & I in Zeeland, Nederland

Mom & I in Zeeland, Nederland

A few lines I found scratched in a notebook from college:

Vows to my Mother

I promise that by the time you get sick of waking up at 5am to put the twenty-five-pound turkey in the oven, I will find it endearing.

I promise to help my brother and sister in your absence, to be there in case of failed marriages or credit card debt.

I promise to retain a minimum of 27% of what you’ve taught me.

I promise to eat well and be kind to strangers, especially old ones.

 

For the interesting history of Mother’s Day, read this article by National Geographic.

Happy Friday before Mothers’ Day

Alright, so I don’t technically have a child. Yet. But, one has been growing in my uterus for the last 30 weeks; I’m going to count it. My presents this very first year include:

1. Two men’s formal-wear vests from my parents

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2. Two cans of root beer from my husband

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Click here for a story about motherhood before I knew much at all about it: http://www.versewisconsin.org/Issue112/poems/stroikStocke.html.

 

Pregnant Writer’s Advantage #1: A Thorough Cleaning of Your Belly Button

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When there are other things on your mind–things other than writing, that is–you can either clear them out or let them consume you. Do some housekeeping (metaphorically), and get rid of them. Or do some housekeeping (literally), and let it take up your whole day. I’m treating pregnancy as a great excuse to do the former, though it would be much easier now to commence a thorough cleaning of my outie. I’ll spare us all the photo.

Best and Worst Reason not to Write: #7

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I’ve been dropping hints all week. (Remember these? Photo of bike with suspicious carrier. Incriminating syntax.) But here’s my final and most obvious shot. Above is the face of a coffee-adoring woman who’s spotted bags full of freshly-ground Turkish coffee. In Istanbul nonetheless. And, get this, according to the sign, the bag she’s pointing at would cost her half a Euro. This woman, however, has been weaning her intake. Why? Because she’s four months pregnant.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Unabridged Adventure Series: Part 3

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Page 510, DOTE to DOUBLET. My unequivocal favorite find so far.

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