A year of motherhood

On Halloween of 2015 I had my fortune told. I asked what the next year would hold for me. The card reader was none too pleased with my broad and vague question. I’m not an especially emotive person I’ve been told and it means these readings tend to go awry as I don’t give much for them to react to. She started talking about a male figure who would be a strong presence in my life and as there wasn’t anyone I could connect it to she suggested maybe it was god. Hard no there. I love a good tarot reading but felt this one was bunk for me.

Sometime not long after that reading I got pregnant, with a child that is anatomically speaking male. This past week my baby turned one.

It’s true, a year is a broad expanse of time, hard to define. Time seems to slip off it’s axis with a baby; the days pass by so slowly but you blink and a whole month has passed. You’re always looking forward at milestones and simultaneously feeling a strange amnesia as to when things happened.

I tried to write something when I was still home on maternity leave but it turned into a jumble of unfinished sentences and thoughts. My exhaustion ran so deep I could not think straight, let alone write. I knew those first few months would be hard but I did not know how thoroughly destroyed I would feel. Between waking every two hours, recovering from the birth and the intense flood of hormones that came with it and any nutrients I was getting being literally drained from by body in the form of breastmilk, I felt like a ghost of myself.

Having a newborn reasserted for me that community is necessary. I wish our lives weren’t isolated as much as they are in this modern world. Communal living, which I’ve always been interested in, makes even more sense now than it did before. Having people around right after I gave birth was essential for me. I felt isolated and alone, especially after Shawn went back to work, and having people visit, even just being around and not doing anything, made a world of difference. I desperately wanted to be around other adults but getting out at the beginning was hard and I could never figure out the timing of getting to certain mom groups or was too nervous to go. There was something deeper though, even now, where being a single family alone still feels sort of wrong, like we should be connected with others.

I’m thankful that I was able to find a community online to connect with. They saved my sanity and answered my inane questions for the many months when I had no idea what I was doing. They helped support me when I felt disconnected from everything from my life before. There were so many times when I was trapped under a baby when I was still able to check in with my people on my phone and I’m not sure how people managed before without that. I suppose they had friends and neighbors who might drop by in real life. Or they were just lonely.

Friends warned me how hard breastfeeding would be. I’m not hardline about any parenting strategy in particular so I had already made peace with the possibility of using formula despite the rhetoric of breastfeeding being the way and the light. Yet when we struggled from the beginning I could not let it go. I toiled through weeks of pain and things just not working, hours of being attached to machines and not able to just cuddle my baby, meeting with expensive consultants and taking hard to get medications, just because there’s this idea that breastmilk is magic and not just food. I cried a lot. I felt like I was in a limbo because I wanted to give up but I was afraid of feeling like a failure and never being able to turn back that decision.

I held out as long as I could, basically until pumping at work became an exercise in uselessness. I am proud of myself for making it as long as I could under the circumstances. I can’t help but feel a twinge of remorse looking back that I could have just switched to formula fully earlier and had some more freedom. Realistically I’m not sure I would have found more freedom, I was still learning how to take care of a newborn, but it would have been a relief to not have had to do all that I did. Alternatively, I look back still and just wished things worked. They didn’t and there wasn’t anything I could do about it and yet I still wish there was a way.

A lot of people talk about getting back to themselves after they have a kid. At the beginning there was certainly a loss of autonomy and an inability to do the creative things that before felt like they defined me. I would never say that I didn’t feel myself though. To be honest I feel even more myself now as a mother than I felt before. It was if it was always a part of me that I had just been waiting for. This comes as no surprise to me.

There certainly was an adjustment as things got more manageable, and as I went back to work, to not having as much free time. Overall I don’t mind that much though. I don’t feel like I had expanses of free time before, but rather that I have more to do now and generally do it more efficiently. Creative endeavors are still a struggle but I don’t feel as bad about it. Instead of feeling like I’m letting things slip by, I feel like my time is full and it seems right.

It’s been hard to connect with people again, even now, especially when our main form of socializing before was going to the movies, an activity that’s not especially baby friendly. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still slightly submerged in motherhood and I need to make an effort to build community again. To be honest I was never great at making plans though, so I’m letting myself off the hook a little.

I’ve seen my fair share of sexism, overt and otherwise, but having a child has really highlighted the societal ways that women are pushed down. I’m fortunate to have a job that has been understanding of my time off and schedule but just thinking about how men don’t have to deal with many of these things makes my blood boil. Women I know have stayed at bad jobs so they wouldn’t lose their FMLA protections. Others have been fired while pregnant or on leave even though it’s illegal. It is such a hinderance to have to build in a year of work if you want to make any change in your career if you also want to plan to have a child. I took time off to stay home with our son but no one expected Shawn to do the same. It creates an imbalance from the beginning that is hard to correct even in the best of situations. There is a certain level of responsibility that comes with being a gestational parent but I wish culturally that other things were a bit more level. In the current political climate, where it feels like we’re backsliding on women’s rights daily, all of these fears and frustrations have been crystallized.

I’ll try not to end on such a negative note though. Despite the difficulties, having a kid has been an absolute joy. We are still going on adventures and though it takes a bit more planning and a little more travel time it’s been great. Things I’ve always wanted to do (making a halloween costume for my kid for example) have been a delight. All the hard things are offset by exciting firsts and dreams come to fruition.

I don’t know what the future of this blog will be. I do miss having a place to write, but I know that blogging is not the same as it used to be. I probably won’t write much on parenting going forward because I’m certainly no expert and I don’t feel especially comfortable with sharing details about my child with the whole world. I was feeling reflective and wanted to put some of my thoughts on this first year down though for myself if nothing else. I’m looking forward to incorporating more creative things back into my life. I can’t wait to make another quilt (when it cools down) and perhaps will share some of those projects like in the old days.

A new year

We’re heading out of summer and into fall and it seems I owe everyone an update. My plan was to take down this blog this year. I scarcely updated it and it just didn’t feel like part of my world anymore. I started to want more privacy while also feeling like there wasn’t as much interaction as there had been back in the day. Behind the scenes, taking down the blog would have taken some work. Archiving old recipes and photos and such. I just didn’t get around to it. Life got in the way. It wasn’t a priority just like writing new entries here wasn’t a priority. So I locked it and left it for another day.

In the past month or so I’ve gotten a few emails and notes from readers who asked about the blog and since I hadn’t totally removed it, it just seemed better to put it back up for posterity. I most likely won’t be updating it anymore. I’ve started posting images and back entries from our adventures over at slow universe.

Then again, I’ve found myself longing for a place to write again so perhaps I’ll revive things, but no promises.


The new year is here. Now is the time for both looking forward and looking back. What was accomplished this year and what can we strive for in the next?

I wasn’t particularly fond of 2014, though it held lots of wonderful adventures. I aimed to write more, which I succeeded at on some level. I finished a new feature script and made progress on another, which I feel pretty good about. On the other hand, this writing is hiding away on my computer, rather than out in the world, so it sometimes feels like it hasn’t happened. Though there were a few posts here I was proud of this year, I’ve neglected this blog I am not sure I will continue to keep it. I may find another avenue to share photos and words.

Another goal was to do more camping and exploring and we did much more than I ever expected. Shawn and I visited Joshua Tree, Yosemite (in winter, spring, summer and winter again) and Pinnacles. We went backpacking in Kings Canyon, in Big Sur and the Fish Canyon Narrows. We took a trip to Oregon and Washington, visiting Mount Hood, Mount Rainier and Olympic National Park. We hiked to the top of Mt. Baldy and I took my first cross country ski lesson, two things I could not have imagined myself doing even just a year ago. There were also several trips I haven’t even blogged about, including Death Valley, Sequoia, Point Reyes and the Salton Sea.

Clearly Shawn and I had a bit of wanderlust this year, which was both exciting and refreshing. It did make me feel less productive though than I normally am. I watched significantly fewer movies this year than previous years, which in some way was a relief. I did on the other hand read more books, a trend I’d like to continue in this new year.

So what are my goals for 2015? It’s best to write them down, lest I forget, which I inevitably will. I want to make more meaningful connections with friends, more time spent in the real world than online, which includes making an effort to meet people in far away places that I consider dear to me. I want to put myself out there more as a filmmaker. It’s much easier for me to be reclusive about such things, but what I really want is to be out there making stuff. That means working on other people’s films (especially lady filmmakers) and sharing more of what I’m doing. I also want to allow myself time for hobbies. The thing I missed the most this year was small creative projects, which really fell by the wayside. I already have a sweater in mind to knit and some quilt ideas on the horizon. I’m looking forward to all the things a new year can bring.

Happy New Year! May all your dreams be within your grasp.

new things

sunset-1It’s easy to let blogging slip by when you’re outside exploring. I try to take pictures, remember moments to bring back to this place. I keep finding that the weight of a large camera gets in my way. So it takes awhile for me to collect my thoughts and assemble them here. Too long, one might say.

There are other things too. I’ve been blogging here in earnest for over six years now. It has evolved over time, from a place of mostly food, to a more personal journal and then to catalog of adventures. I’ve let things go quiet in part because the blog world isn’t what it used to be. Long ago I sought out blogs to connect with others. These days blogs feel like a window where you’re always on the other side of the glass. It’s easier to chat on twitter or just ignore the internet all together. Social media or whatever seems to be spiraling into a new place.

I’ve started a new instagram account and in many ways it’s taken the place of a lot of what might appear on the blog. A cell phone is light and easy to carry with me up a mountain. This isn’t some kind of goodbye post, more like an introduction for a new place to find me. The past month has been full of travels and October is full of Halloween festivities and it feels like there hasn’t been a moment to sit at a computer to write it all down. I will though, in time, I will.

summer’s end

San Gabriel Mountains from Mt. BaldyWell here we are, creeping further into the year. Summer burns on but suddenly I can see Autumn on the horizon. I’m not quite ready to to give up the excitement of weekend adventures playing outdoors but I’m starting to look forward to the cooler months. Luckily, with California’s varied climate zones we’ll be able to keep exploring into the winter. I am looking forward to visiting the deserts that are too warm for the summer months. But I’m getting ahead of myself here; it is still August and there are many sweltering days ahead.

There have been a few, brief, glorious rainy and overcast days here in Los Angeles. Having spent most of my summers on the East Coast, it’s something I miss greatly. I remember one year, leaving the Newark airport on a bus, the grey skies unleashed a wondrous downpour and I thought to myself I am home. I remember lightning storms and fat rain drops falling on me. These are some of my favorite summer memories. Yet here, the drought continues, forests turning into wildfire tinder and lakes drying up completely.

It was always so hard to return home at the end of summer, sometime in August, when the valley would still be devastatingly hot and all my friends still in the East. I have so many memories of plane rides where I couldn’t breath, the air just evaporating from lungs as I held back sobs. The loneliness would form a pit in my stomach that I would carry for weeks. I would try to make grand plans to keep myself occupied: this year I would pour myself into school work or another I might try to see every movie possible. Mostly I would just end up listening to sad songs on repeat until I felt nothing as teenagers are wont to do.

We visited New York this weekend for what felt like only a moment, spending time with family and not having time for too much exploring. While we were there, time moved slowly, as it can when away from every day realities. We walked the streets of the bustling city, celebrated the love between two people and got to meet our new nephew and it was so nice. My heart was full and upon leaving I felt that small pebble in my stomach, the sadness of going home, back to real life. I wish I could have stayed, seen the friends I missed and spent more time with those close to my heart.

I’m not so great with long term plans. I have no idea what my life will look like at the end of the year (probably much the same as it does now) let alone five years from now. It seems so silly to make plans when things are always changing regardless of my intentions. This post from Liz, posted the day I started writing this, coincidentally touches on exactly this. I do believe in goals though and deadlines.

Today the kids in Los Angeles went back to school, earlier than I ever did as a child. There was always so much hope a the beginning of a school year, excitement mixed with dread. Adulthood rarely has these sort of reoccurring punctuation marks. A chance to start fresh or be let down again. Now we just trudge forward waiting for a break in the clouds.

I listened to a report on the radio about the death of Lauren Bacall and though she lived a long life, full of success, I couldn’t escape that feeling that everything comes to an end. Death is inescapable. I couldn’t help but think of her later years when she was no longer acting and imagine what it must have felt like to look back and see that her achievements were all in her past. Perhaps it was a comfort, to know you could just drift forward. Perhaps it was like a dull aching loss with no grand schemes in front of you.

In theory my accomplishments are still in my future. It’s best I get started making them happen. I was going to make a list here for some sort of accountability purposes but I’ve gone over it so many times in my head it’s burned there like a mantra. Summer may be coming to a close but creative times are ahead.