Monday, March 28, 2011

A Beach on the Other Side of Mykonos (My Special Place)

I am on a beach on an island in a world with a strange woman whose nipples are white. We’re talking white white, the kind of white that made me think, at first, that maybe she had slathered them with zinc oxide or that they had been badly burned and then peeled, whiter than real. That white. Of course this is not the point of my special place, but it is worth noting: the rest of her skin was tan and she lay down with all the nonchalance of a not-American at a topless beach, bending, skin folding, as if she were not her body, white nipples and all. Close by Bryan and I sat on our towels eating figs, playing gin rummy and staring. To this day we still talk about those nipples. Remember? How white they were? That white.

But that is not where I go when I get my blood pressure taken. No, I close my eyes and go somewhere maybe 5 minutes later. Take a deep breath in and walk to the water, Bryan and the girl and the playing cards behind me. Exhale and dive into the gentle waves, bright turquoise like the sound of a plane high in the sky. I smile, my eyes open and I can see everything; it’s hard but entirely possible to laugh underwater. Did you know? At night now I cannot breathe. My nose stuffed, the baby sits somewhere full inside my torso and my throat is warm with the pasta I ate days ago. I cannot breathe and so my chest tightens, grasps, 140/90 and rising. When I blow my nose my nipples leak, the way they are supposed to but still I feel somehow broken.

Which reminds me—of Avent bottles and watery eyes—that one time in grad school I wrote a paper about Philoctetes, the Greek warrior who is bitten on the foot by a snake during the Trojan War. Although he is an expert bowman, the wound festers, suppurates, emitting a smell so horrible that he is left alone on the island of Lemnos to die. The story is ok, I suppose, if you like Greek tales, but what I remember is that my professor wrote in red pen large on my paper: SUPPURATES IS NOT A WORD and I felt defeated. But it is. Was then and still is. Suppurates: to fester, draw, to ooze. Once again back on an island in Greece where I close my eyes and dive in as if I, too, am not my body oozing from nipples not white but there. Just go to my special place, go to my special place, two more months and then some I hold my breath that I cannot breathe and smile.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I wrote an ode to my ankle bone. That’s where I’ve been. And then I decorated the page with drawings of tears and eyes, tears coming out of eyes and lots of Egyptian Ankhs. Here is a snippet, just for you:

No, no! Go not to Lethe, ankle bone delicate and proud

Like a bobbi pin for fine hair, *sigh*

Wolf’s bane, droop-headed edema shroud

Bidding adieu, Truth in Beauty, Beauty that must die.

And then I decorated my room with posters of my boobs lined in heavy black eyeliner.

Which means, of course, that in reality I went to Anthropologie and fell in love with this dress.

Knowing that it would be for after the baby. Like a few weeks after, right? I took it to the dressing room just to see how the shoulders would fit, ignored the confusion of the girl as I handed her a size 6 and squeezed past her into the doorway. If you need anything, my name is um, Arden. Um—mkay? And then she shut the door and I could not get the dress on. Like even half of it. My large breast that has become one mottled brown areola like some well-intentioned Doctors Without Borders, only it’s Nipples Without Borders—it would not even fit through the head opening with the side zip opened. So I sat there on the little reclaimed wooden stool in the dressing room with one boob caught in the vise grip neckhole of a seaworthy box-twill horizons dress said to represent pale sand, verdant ground and cool water, and felt very, very sorry for myself, Robert Smith and all.

When I said that I am not a very good pregnant person I did not mean that I am not very good at being a person who is pregnant. Apparently I am very good at that. My body knows just what to do, pops and blows, poofs, poots, bam and pow! Pregnant. I guess what I mean is that I’m not very good at being pregnant and a person. I think how back in the day pregnant women were not really seen out in public. How before Lucille Ball there had been no pregnant women on television. And I think maybe I should have been pregnant back then. Just shuttled away to a room somewhere with soothing wallpaper, left with water and chocolate and a stack of magazines to gestate. Percolate. Emerge months later with faint circles beneath my eyes that only made me look more tragically romantic, my ankle bones once again sharp.

So that’s where I’ve been. And while I cannot promise I won’t disappear again—the wallpaper! It is so pretty!—I can say that I will be back. Someone once told me to never cut your hair while you are pregnant, and I’m guessing the same goes for your blog. I won’t make any rash decisions while this hormonal and not-me, and although I may write secret bad poetry about the lost love of delicate bones and comb my hair forward, I will not cut my hair, myself, or my blog. 28 weeks and counting…

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio? (Plus Ponch and One Blasphemous Rumour)

Coo, coo, ca-choo, my friends, though no nation turns it’s lonely eyes to me. This is where I’ve been: taking a glucose tolerance test (which I think I failed), talking to my doc about birthing options, i.e. cut me open and git it out, and reading on Babycenter that Little Lorem Ipsum is now the size of an English hothouse cucumber which would make total sense to me if I were baking a Shephard’s Pie but seeing as how I’m not I have no idea how big my baby might be. Is an English hothouse cucumber bigger than a bread box?

With Zoey I crafted a Birth Plan, typed it up and printed out multiple copies to hand out at the hospital. Included in my Birth Plan: preferred ambiance, push positions, people allowed in the room, pain relief options and props. Yes—props. I had a ball, you know? One of those yoga balls I planned on bouncing on? And Tootsie Pops in case I got dry mouth. I think I thought birth would like going to the circus. But when we left for the hospital at 4am I forgot to bring the ball and when Bryan handed me a Tootsie Pop I threw it down which was around the same time the doctor announced the need for an emergency c-section. You ever heard the one about how to make God laugh? Tell him your plan. Last year when we went to Mexico I unzipped the side pocket of my luggage and found four copies of that 2006 birth plan which never even made it out of the bag.

In 1978 I was 6 and didn’t quite understand why I felt not exactly funny ha ha or funny strange but more of a funny oh watching Erik Estrada in that tight highway patrol uniform. And then came the episode in which Ponch and Jon deliver a baby at the disco and it clicked—this was the mysterious doing it, so I decided then and there that I would do it with Erick Estrada on a disco floor lit with colored lights while everyone politely turned their backs and clapped their hands.

Granted I was a little confused with the logistics of it all, but I still am, so? I think this is my new birth plan. And please tell me you saw this episode because I searched for days trying to find the clip to no avail. All I could find is this riveting number of Ponch grooving it up not moments before he delivers the baby. Totally worth watching if for nothing else than the look of longing on Jon’s face 1:22 seconds in, plus the guy in the back with the white pants is packing it at 2:07. There is a brief moment when you see the pregnant lady dancing at the 0:30sec mark. Do you remember? How she goes into labor and everyone forms one of those solid gold circles around her with their backs turned? How they still kinda’ swing side to side clapping? At 6 I was not quite sure what went on inside of that circle, but at 38 I’m thinking this is my new birth plan. (I might as well make God laugh with something that is actually almost funny.)

And that, my friends, is what you’ve been waiting for. I probably should’ve opened up with Depeche Mode.