How To Make Uncertainty Into A Thing Of Beauty

I just had to copy and paste this. My friend Tim has an amazing way with words. I had no idea he was so talented with a camera, too. He sums up in a small video what I have been feeling for some time now: a little uncertain about everything. But Tim reminds me that Uncertainty can be a blessing.

I got to speak with a very good friend this morning about her Burning Man experience. I was feeling a little nostalgic for those feelings of bliss. She poignantly reminded me not to "invent roadblocks" when it comes to my happiness. Thank you, T. And thank you, Tim. I wish you the best on your journey... wherever it takes you.


To read Tim's post that accompanies this video, click here.

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Tee-Ranosaurus: A Kindler, Gentler Dinosaur

There was a time, about a year ago, when a certain daddy was very nervous about having his newborn son's face plastered all over my blog. It was understandable. But, over time, the kid starting developing a personality, started making adorable faces, and somebody grabbed a camera, posted some pictures on Facebook, and it was all over. I mean, how can you NOT want to photograph this cuteness all day long and then stick it on the Internets?

Having your picture on the Internet is an inevitability these days, isn't it? Especially when you've got incredibly talented photographers in the family. (Thanks to Greg for capturing this one and others.) My guess is that this kid, and the rest of his generation, will never NOT know what it's like to not be on the Internet.

Burdy and I flew back east to celebrate Tre's 1st birthday last week. We wanted to make something special for him, a handmade gift, something that he would find in a box in the attic in about thirty years from now and go: "Wow. Somebody spent a l o o o o o o t of time on this." And then he would try and wrap his brain around how something so ugly and lumpy could have brought him so much joy as a child.

I present to you, making their debut on the Internet, fresh from the sweatshop of Burdy, Incoporated, The Garbageasaurs!

Seen here in their natural habitat, the Garbageasaurs belong to rare group of dinosaurs, known for their soft cottony skin, and their exposed baseball stitch seams.

According to his mom, Tre loves them. And why not? They're made of t-shirts. And love. Lots and lots of love.

Also included in the gift: A set of a dozen blocks, also made of t-shirts, complete with handsome tote bag (also made of tees!)

My favorite part about these blocks is that they're not just from Burdy and me. They're from a whole group of awesome people, really. The Garbageasaurs, too. A couple of years ago, I asked my friends to donate to me t-shirts they would have otherwise turned over to Goodwill (or the rag pile). I've been using them to make clothing (with a little help from my friend Megan at Generation-T), and some of them to make baby toys, burp cloths, and all sorts of drawstring bags. I love that each piece I create has a story to tell. These blocks, for instance, feature t-shirts from all our friends here in the Northwest (plus some never-used boxer shorts thrown in for good measure.)

Happy 1st Birthday, Tre! You are so very loved!

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I have been struggling to come up with something coherent and funny to post these past few days, but every time I sit down at this computer, all I do is sigh dramatically and rake my hands through my hair and then promise myself I'll write tomorrow and that, for now, I'll just post the pictures I've taken of all the lost cat posters in my neighborhood and won't that be hysterical? Hahahaha!!! *More sighing*. I knew I wanted to post something today, though, so I went digging through some unfinished pieces and I found this little ditty. I wrote it originally back in the beginning of July.

Every once in a great while, your future self shows up to a baby shower, or at the gas station, or in the produce aisle of the supermarket and strikes up a conversation with you and it hits you almost immediately: this is what I am going to be like in 40 years.

Today was an average day for garage-saleing. There was the aggressive soccer mom who all but accosted me as soon as I set foot near her driveway. Her greeting came tumbling out all at once, a command rather than a salutation: THIS IS TO RAISE MONEY FOR BREAST CANCER AWARENESS. Whoa, okay. And a good day to you, madam! I strolled around for a few minutes because Hey! I support causes! But her stuff was way overpriced. Clearly, she hadn't read the manual about garage sale pricing. There was no way in hell anyone was going to pay $25 for a trench coat at a garage sale covered in cat hair and smelling of mold, even if it was for charity. Oh, and her aggressive daughter dressed head to toe in pink offering me cookies in her very loud outside voice? Seriously, kid. Take a hint from Dale Carnegie. At least tell me you like my hair or something before asking me shell out money for your almond bars. (I'm sure they're dusting off the chair reserved for me in Hell right now.)

There was the lady who looked like she should have had that garage sale about twenty years ago. Seriously. That shit was sooooo dated. And ugly. Something happened in the late seventies and early eighties to home furnishings in this country that can only described as "tragic". And this woman had made some SERIOUS investments in her home decor back then. I like that stuff tells a story. I like when it's kitschy. I don't like when it's embarrassing for everyone. A DUSTBUSTER? SERIOUSLY? The last time I saw one of those was in 1987. Which was probably the last time I saw Richard Simmons on the cover of a cookbook. Which she was also selling. Which were laid out next to some framed posters of kittens playing piano. And monkeys dressed like businessmen.

There was the sale that promised "high end modern stuff" which mostly consisted of Ikea crap still in boxes. The real gem in the crown, though, was the woman who got into her Cutlass Supreme afterward visiting that sale and complained that everything was too pricey. Oh, really? You think so? Well, I've got a twenty-five dollar trench coat just a few blocks from here that will make your eyes pop out of your head on springs.

The real treat was the sale I wasn't planning on going to at all (Tenet three of the Garage Sale Theory: It's always the sale you just happen upon that yields the best stuff. The lesson here? Plans yield to crushed hopes.) Anywho, I stopped for bit. The first thing I noticed was that stuff was laid out wonderfully. Antique sheets and tablecloths underneath milk glass pieces and ornate serving bowls and stuff. Drinking glasses shaped like boots. Really well done. And reasonably priced. I saw a medium sized serving platter and fell in love. I picked it up for a mere $2. There were other pieces that I liked, but I thought I'd already broken the bank by spending a whole TWO dollars. I wandered next door where another sale was happening (and where I scored a sleeve for my iPod for twenty five cents). But I couldn't get that second platter off my mind. It was a thing of simple beauty. And I wanted it. And this is when the OCD kicked in. My mind did somersaults trying to justify spending an additional $3.00 on a serving platter. Oh, the agony (and this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I can't sleep at night. That, and because I am trying to figure out the evolutionary advantage to having one's two front teeth spread really far apart and having that hangy-downy part of one's gums between the teeth. You know. Science-y stuff).

I went back for the platter. I paid for it. I felt better about myself. I calmed down. And then the woman running the sale wanted to know where I lived. Huh? Oh, well, I said. Not too far. Closer to downtown. Well, we have these sales three times a year, she said. So check back. And as I was about to walk away, my twin showed up.

Now, she wasn't my twin in the traditional sense. She looked nothing like me. But her skin, it glowed. And her eyes, they sparkled. They sparkled they way someone's do when they have a basement of treasure they are just dying to show someone. And I'm a good audience. A very good audience.

This is my job: I collect stories. I write them down. I have a face that says: Please, go ahead and tell me about that one time you knew that guy who piloted planes and then was killed in a freak accident but that you still keep in touch with his widow and her neighbor, who sure did make a mean margarita and that that dog you had as a kid, why that dog could balance a wiffle ball on its head for a full minute and it wouldn't even move or nothin'. My face also says: I like stuff that other people call "junk". I like to see whole rooms of it. If I could, I would lay down on that junk and do the butterfly stroke through it, letting antique teacups and gooseneck lamps and baseball cards and ashtrays glance off my skin like water while I dipped and came up for air.

So my twin, she says: what are you looking for today? And I am almost stunned silent because this is a serious question. It makes me wonder: what the hell AM I looking for? I mean, what do I do this for? Why do I get up early on the weekends and pay people my hard earned money to haul away stuff they were going to take the the dump anyway? What am I out here hoping to find? Dishes, mostly, I think. Yes, dishes. That is the most practical thing I can think of to say. Burdy and I are eating off of chipped earthenware because we got rid of our old clunky set and we haven't found the perfect replacement set just yet... so we are eating off of an even older set, which is chipped, and we need new dishes. So I'm looking for dishes. But I'm also looking for wedding theme ideas. And perhaps for an apothecary/farmhouse themed armoire to put all my dry goods in. And OOOO!! I know! wine glasses! And also, something to put on the mantle! And a piggy bank in the shape of a donkey! And something to put my makeup in when I travel! And a record featuring a cigarette smoking Asian dude! Yeah! That stuff!

And then she does something completely unexpected. She invites me to her house. Somewhere, deep inside, my inner child bristles, and I can hear my mom's voice telling me not to talk to strangers. But mom, this nice lady! She's offering something better than candy! She has a whole room of STUFF!

Thank goodness child predators weren't on to my proclivities back then. Fuck your candy, sir. You want me to get in your car? Tell me you want to show me your collection of velvet Elvis paintings and maybe your shed full of mason jars. Then I'll do whatever you want.

I love to entertain. And so does my twin. So when I get to her house, she shows me shelves and shelves of plates. Nautical themed ones and silver ones and ones shaped like king crabs. I can't believe how much stuff she has. Silk plants enough to reforest the Amazon. Wine glasses to entertain all of France. And it's all packed very neatly onto shelves in her basement. She knows where everything is. The Fiesta collection? Behind this curtain, please. Watch your step by the stationary bike. Christmas wreaths organized by size? Right this way. Did you say you needed a glass punch bowl supported on a cast metal base in the shape of a flock of migratory birds mid-flight? Well, why didn't ya say so? It's right over here!

I spent the next hour pawing through her stuff, listening to her stories about the party she threw last Christmas for her something-something board and how everyone just loved the spread she brought. She showed me pictures of it, even. There is was: the green and red plaid tablecloth, the cookies on the Christmas tree shaped platter, the bean dip in the bowl with the pine cone motif. The glasses hand painted with snowflakes. And all of it picked from the shelves of Goodwill and magically put together with her expert eye.

She then did something extraordinary: she offered to lend me some pieces. I had a party coming up, I told her, a baby shower, that I needed to plan for, and I would need serving dishes. She had everything, right down to tiny ornamental forks to pull meat from crab legs. It was amazing. We shared a rare kind of trust, a trust between lovers of all things kitschy and beautiful. Her eyes asked: will you take my Precious and care for it? And my eyes said: I would never do anything to harm your Precious. I promise.

In the end, I never took her up on her offer to borrow her serving pieces. Burdy's father passed away a few days after I met this woman, and we had to fly back east to make funeral arrangements. The next thing we knew, it was go-time, and we had to cater the party without the silver cast punch bowl.

There will be other parties, though. There will be need for tiny forks and platters in the shape of fat Santas. And when those parties happen, I will make a run to my own private warehouse of all things horribly beautiful, and I will visit my twin, and I will borrow that wonderfully overdesigned punch bowl.

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I Have No Idea What To Call This One. Stranger Danger?

Know how sometimes you want to update your blog with a funny story about how you fell in a 16" sinkhole in a city park while drinking and then you had to then pedal your bike home and you hummed "Pushin' Up My Baby Bumblebee" over and over again to take your mind off the fact that there was blood running down your leg, but then your would-be father-in-law ups and dies and you have to fly back to the East Coast last minute and the next thing you know it's the middle of August?

Yeah, me too.

I don't mean to sound so callous about my father-in-law's death. I really don't. He was a good man who lived a long and full life and we will all miss him dearly. It's just that sometimes, despite my best agnostic tendencies, I am compelled to think that God exists and that he has a really horrendous sense of timing. I have really wanted to sit down and write about the whole experience, but, honestly, time management is not my thing right now.

I will write more about the funeral and the trip back East and all the darkness that was brought, kicking and screaming, into the light. It was an emotionally exhausting trip, and I am still processing what it all means.

What is fresh on my mind, however, is the bus ride home from the airport. Because God, if he exists, also has a thing for kneeing you in the balls when you're down.

Riding public transportation in a city late at night can be a dicey thing. Here in the great city of Seattle, physical safety when riding the bus is not usually one's prime concern. What is of concern is one's mental safety. It is not without cause that certain of our bus lines are referred to as "mobile psych wards". Some of the greatest serial killers of our age were born and bred right here in the Evergreen State. Charming, huh?

So, Mr. Burdy and I decide to forgo the fifty dollar cab ride home from the airport and put our money where our civic-minded mouths are and we take the light rail to downtown to then catch a bus home. The whole train ride, Burdy and I argue over where to get off. I insist that we take the line all the way to Westlake Center and then hoof it on over a few blocks and catch the bus that picks up near the market. Burdy, using a series of apps on his iPhone that calculate the timing of bus routes (and simultaneously the average annual rainfall in the Philippines, I think) insists that we should just get off in Pioneer Square. No, I insist. I've taken this route before. Let's just take advantage of our whole $2.50 and ride the train to the end of the line, I say. The train goes faster than the bus, I say. It's logical, I say. I don't want to deal with the belligerent drunks in Pioneer Square, I say. Why ride the slow bus at the beginning of its route when we can take the fast train to the end of its route and then pick up the slow bus when it's already a third of the way to our house, I say. Burdy taps the iPhone a few more times. He's starting to remind me of Dean Stockwell's character on Quantum Leap, and I want to punch the iPhone for giving us what I presume are bad predictions about the future. My intuition is telling me something. And my intuition is never wrong.

Westlake, I say.

Pioneer Square, he says.

Westlake, I say.

Pioneer Square, he says.

University, we both concede.

So, we get off at University.

We get inside the bus shelter and I impatiently ask Burdy, who checks his iPhone again, when the bus is coming. We've just come from 90 degree weather with 17,000% humidity, so Seattle's crisp nighttime temperature of 65 degrees suddenly feels like an arctic blast and I want the bus to hurry up and get there so I can be warm again. Also, it's late and I am cranky. Just as Burdy is about to tell me when the bus will be arriving next, a guy leans in to the bus shelter and asks when the bus is coming. Call it street smarts, call it a woman's intuition, call it the simple fact I could deduce from the timber of his voice that the guy had been smoking unfiltered prison cigarettes for most of his life, but I knew this guy was going to be a thorn in our sides.

What commenced after that question, (and Burdy's iPhone-assisted answer), was a self-obsessed diatribe, unparalleled in its bravado and its audibility (this coming from a person who has listened to her fair share of nutbags at bus stops). I knew this guy was buttering us up for beer money the second he cheerily said "White people know everything!" (I muttered under my breath in response "No, the iPhone knows everything. We don't know shit"). I can smell a street ruse a mile away. Sure enough, five minutes in to his soliloquy, he turned quite somber, asked us our names, gravely shook our hands, introduced himself as "Dave", delivered a mini-sermon about how "it's all about the love", and then asked if we had a few bucks for beer.

You'd think that being denied beer money would make a man take his dog and pony show elsewhere. You'd think that he'd understand a thing or two about body language, about how no eye contact suggests disinterestedness, that the way we were having a FULL ON CONVERSATION on TOP of his, that we were NOT interested in making friends. But not this guy. No, this guy was persistent.

Also? R e e e eeally high.

Dave told us, with emphatic arm gestures, that he'd spent ten years in the Army and twenty years in prison. He showed us his tattoo of iconic images of San Francisco (and then I was teased for not being able to identify the Folsom Prison tower on his bicep. You know. BECAUSE I'VE NEVER MURDERED ANYONE.)

He told us he was half black, half white, that his mom had flaxen hair, that he got the shit kicked out of him for being a "half breed" (his words, not mine), that he loved the city of Seattle for its festivals (were we going to Hempfest next week? No? Why not?! It's going to be aaaaaaawesome, duuuuuuuude), that he'd just bought weed in the U District, and that his "friend" had just given him Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon and he was listening to it on his portable CD player on infinite repeat.

Oh, and he'd just gotten laid.

I believe the words he used the term "that fine honey" to describe his ladyfriend and some choice words involving a vacuum-like experience, but it was the way the words dripped out of his mouth and the way he cocked his head back and let his knees go slack that let me know we were talking about a "fine honey" for hire. Then, contemplating the temporary nature of his recent lovin', he said ruefully, "I just want someone to love on my summer sausage, you know?" And then he laughed a deep throaty villain-from-the-movies laugh and looked me straight in the eye.

Even the cooties left my skin just then. Fuck this, they said. This shit's naaaaasty.

At this point, the kitsch factor of this whole encounter evaporates. Whereas this guy was once a wayward, lonely stranger, innocent fodder for a blog post, he was now some drunk asshole whose self aggrandizing bullshit was bordering on aggressive and I was going to have to pretend to ignore him in a four foot by two foot bus shelter. I no longer cared about his 16 inch long dong, or his prison record, or his love life, or how cool he thought Seattle was. I just wanted to go home. But the bus wasn't there yet. So, I turned, leaned against the edge of the bus shelter, and faced the direction the bus would be coming from. I was hoping this guy would somehow, magically, understand that now I really didn't want to listen to him.

And that's when I feel something warm and rubbery being shoved into my ear.

Now, it's nearly midnight, it's dark outside, it's chilly, and I am groggy from lack of sleep. I cannot immediately put together the sensation of warm rubber, cold night air, and relative silence followed by the woozy strains of muted brass instruments in my ear into one cohesive experience. Slowly at first, and then all at once like a train going 186 miles an hour into a brick wall, it all comes together: it's Dave's EARBUD in my ear! From his CD PLAYER. He wants to share! That's Dark Side Of The Moon I'm listening to! And rather than dwell on the milk of this human kindness and the universal language of music kicking down the barriers of age and race, all I can think is: I hope I don't have ear herpes now.

Throughout this whole thing, Burdy keeps trying to interject with clever little bits, tries to answer this guy's rhetorical questions (You guys know Haight Ashbury? You guys know Pink Floyd? You guys ever been to Folsom Prison?), but Dave is too wrapped up in his running dialogue to respond. And God bless him, Burdy is trying to make lemons out of lemonade. Drunk, high, unselfconscious, with tendencies towards violent outburst lemons.

Let's cut to the bus ride, shall we? Now, when you belong to a Facebook group called "I SURVIVED growing up in Irvington", you know a thing or two about how to properly board a bus with a crazy guy behind you. Get it? I SURVIVED Irvington. I didn't just LIVE there. I SURVIVED it. Like a freakin' nuclear holocaust. That's what growing up there was like. Only with crack vials and bullet casings instead of radiation.

Anywho, I was tired, and all these years of living in this Wonderbread town has made me go soft, so I got on the bus AHEAD of crazy guy. BAD CHOICE, amigos. Let me give you a lesson in dealing with Crazy: You always let the crazy guy get on FIRST. You let him find his seat, and then YOU sit about twenty seats AWAY from him. You dig?

Luckily, Dave found a seat at the front of the bus after we'd found ours at the back. He then he proceeded to poke a young woman in the arm across the aisle to get her attention.

Now, I had only just debarked a plane from the East Coast a few hours before. My hackles were up, my fists were poised in punch-mode down at my sides, and I was READY to take on the first idiot that crossed me. But, I have to hand it to the Northwest: there's something about this place that just lowers your blood pressure. By the time I entered that bus shelter, I had already sassed someone at the airport for being in my way, and I was in cool-down mode. I was in a sleepy sort-of transition phase on that bus. The East Coaster in me wanted to tell this idiot to stop singing aloud to Pink Floyd and to leave the girl alone. But the West Coaster prevailed, so I just sat there with quietly my teeth clenched, waiting for the bus to get to our stop.

I was also FUMING at Burdy for having made the end of our trip such a hassle. Had we gotten off at the stop I wanted to, we never would have met Dave, and we could have gotten home in relative peace and quiet.

Instead, we were listening to Dave recount, at the top of his lungs and in vivid detail, his blowjob.

Yup, right there on the bus. I guess drugs will do that to you: make you forget about appropriateness and decibel levels. Hey, I'm a fan of recreational drug use. And I can get behind recalling fine works of sexual art. Just not on the bus at midnight in front of senior citizens, you know? There's a time and a place to talk about the size and shape of a fine honey's mouth, okay?

After about ten minutes of this crap, the bus driver did something I have never seen a bus driver do in this town: he got on the intercom, and in a stiff, offended manner, said: SIR! YOU ARE ON PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION! YOU CANNOT TALK LIKE THAT!

I snorted. A guy with a Folsom Prison tattoo on his arm is not really inclined to heed the chastising of a ninety pound bus driver. Just sayin'.

More details about the BJ, more "MUH-NAY! mumblemumblemumble MUH-NAY!" from Dave.

Then, the bus driver does something even MORE astounding. He PULLS THE BUS OVER. But, instead of saying WHY he's done this, we just sit there, all of us, in stunned silence.

Except for Dave, who has no idea we are pulled over.


Remember how in grade school the teacher would make everyone stay in for recess because one kid had done something wrong and now the whole class couldn't go outside because the kid wouldn't 'fess up and everyone KNEW who the kid was and was giving him stink eye but the kid just sat there doodling on his desk? Yeah, that's how sitting on the bus felt.

I could feel the East Coaster rising in me. I was LITERALLY just about to shout NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR BLOWJOB, DAVE. CAN IT! when some young kid in the front of the bus turns around to face Dave and makes the slicing-neck motion with his hand. "Chill out, dude. Bus driver wants you to be quiet."

"WHAT?" Dave yells. He pulls the earbuds out of his ears. "ME? Oh, sorry man", he says to the bus driver. "You want me to get off here?" he asks. Silence from the bus driver. Dave looks to the kid for advice. "Does he want me to get off?" The kid tells him to just keep quiet so we can all get home. But Dave does the first unselfish thing of the night. He gets off the bus.

Everyone on the bus visibly relaxes. We get home and I throw my things into a corner, get changed, and crawl into bed.

The last thing I say to Burdy before falling asleep:

"Rule Number One: You let the crazy guys get on the bus BEFORE you. Rule Number Two: Don't engage with the crazy guys. No eye contact, no telling them your real name. Rule Number Three: Trust your wife's intuition. When your she says get off at Westlake, GET OFF AT WESTLAKE, FOOL."

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Car parked in driveway, dusk settling around us. Food in our bellies, our livers and pancreases working harder than ever to dilute the grilled catfish and gin and tonics into usable calories...

"So, what's the plan?"


Stephanie: "Uh-oh. Are we in our mid thirties and officially out of juice?"

We are. Getting drunk and pulling stunts has lost its appeal and hauling ourselves out of lawn chairs requires a sort of grunting and not just a little scuffling of feet trying to get a purchase on the deck.

We're getting older. Not old. Just older. Two of us are pregnant. Two of us are moving to China. Two of us are planning a wedding (sort of). Two of us have moved far enough away that traveling is just more effort than it's worth. The band's breaking up. It's hard to watch. It's hard to reconcile. Just a few years ago, my body would have ignored the metric tons of gin passing through it and would have just jumped in that stolen grocery cart being pushed by someone full of whiskey and laughed long into the night.

Now I'm worried about taking multivitamins.

Where is the rite of passage for the thirty-somethings? Our twenties have all these significant mileposts: graduating from college, moving in with boy/girlfriend, moving away from home, making our first disposable income... but the thirties... they turn in rather than out. And now we are here... the late twenties having slipped away under cover of night without so much as a goodbye note. We thirty-somethings are filled with routine and tendencies towards security and safety. We are ritualized and ordered. We smile quietly and run our fingers through our hair when we talk. We don't make as much noise as we used to.

I guess the next logical thing is kids. Except, we're only just starting to have them. We are, by necessity, peeling off and reconsidering our alliances, making new ones. Ones with people who know things about childhood development and who are available at 6 am. We're trading our beer cozies for baby rattles and it feels... normal. I have to wonder about my parents who had me nearly ten years earlier in their lives than my friends are having their kids. I was born when my mom was 24. TWENTY FOUR. What was I doing at 24? Being an idiot. Abusing myself. Working for the weekends. Hanging out in great clusters of friends. NOT raising children.

Which ultimately leads to the question: If I'm not having kids, what AM I doing with my life? Whereas kids once sounded like needy, codependent things, they now sound like fun playthings, things that make you want to get up in the morning because they love you unconditionally, things that enrich your life, not just suck the life out of you. All those notions have been turned on their heads. Intellectually, of course. I mean, in my head it all has been turned around. Has my heart been turned? How many cute babies do I have to see before my loins ache to house one of my own? Apparently, I need more convincing. I am not compelled. Yet.

What is this thing I need to do? Write a book? Get some sort of traveling done? Get a degree?

I laid in bed this morning at 3 am wondering about birth pains. Imagining the different intonations each of my girlfriends' primal screams would take on. I had cramps, so I imagined my own birth pains. I thought of my struggle with endometriosis, of my mother's same struggle with it, of my sister's, I thought of the twins that have occurred in my future husband's family, I thought of the twins that have occurred in my dad's side of the family. I thought of the miracle that it would be if my tiny frame, my small runt body of the litter, ballooned one day to house another set of look-alike babies. And of the days of labor. And the joy. And the mounds of laundry everyone always talks about. And the things those children would teach me. Teach us. My new husband and me. Would we last? Would I prove to myself that I could do it? Would my weaknesses get the better of me? Am I even meant to labor like that? It seems like after everything else I have inherited, physical and mental, that I should not have to endure such pains to create a legacy of my own.

Sometimes my hands find their way to my bellybutton and they lovingly cup those ghost children. It is years of slouching and overeating that I hold there- not a baby, but indecision and boredom on cold days, and my compulsion to work long hours without stretching.

Sometimes I strain my eyes to see past the mountains in the distance, imagining that beyond them lies some place I have simply overlooked for the requisite amount of easy living and sunshine... and that, if I just squint harder, what will come into focus is where I am meant to be.

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