An Unedited Flood and Landslide

I can feel my fingertips throwing off mad sparks.  Colors that don’t even exist in this humdrum dimension. Ohhhh it feels sooooo good to type.  It’s the best sex.  I was gonna say better than sex, but that would be unnecessarily divisive.  

 

Giordano took the kids to visit his mama up the hill and I’m ALONE.  My five favorite letters, in that specific combination, I want to climb inside them and writhe around inappropriately.  I know, I know, it’s not the letters, it’s their meaning.  But I love letters and words and strings of words so much.  I love the potential power they possess.  Maybe they are empty unto themselves?  Or maybe not.  Maybe it is the electric charge that shoots through me and plumps them up with holy value.

 

Fuck, I don’t want to waste my sizable crumbs of ALONE ness pontificating on the alphabet!  Although a crumb of a crumb was fun.  Onwards and upwards.

 

There’s too much to say.  I’m afraid I’m going to tear as it exits me.  Relax and breathe, Athena.  

 

Lately I have been having recurring flashes of the vision quest I did when I was like 28.  It was four days on the hill, inside a little rectangle marked by mugwort.  No food, no water.  

 

Have you ever thristed?  

 

I mean like REALLY thirsted….

 

It’s the most excruciating sensation.  Probably some kind of dying.  Which apparently I suck at, because I came down off the hill after two days and just chilled at basecamp.  Like a little native american style vacay.  

 

I guess I keep flashing on that memory because I AM THIRSTING again.  Except this time it’s not for literal water, and there is no hill to climb down, and no water at the base.

 

I can not get my head around why in fuck’s hella holy name I would choose such a crushing path.  In my stronger moments, I believe in a higher purpose for all this suffering.  When I’m in it, I wrastle the damn thing like a gator and lose every time.  I am imagining that you don’t understand, because in a few ways my life looks quite privileged.  Like having healthy, rad children and a devoted husband and exquisite land.  AND A DREAM WRITING JOB, which I am aiming to tell you about, but who knows where this wild current will take me.

 

But maaaaaan.  I’m starving for so many nutrients.  Let it be written that it is ANYTHING BUT NATURAL to raise children via the exhausted old nuclear way.  It’s the devil incarnate.  So barren.  Where are my witches?  Where are my bitches???  

 

Yes, it’s NOT just a cliche, it DOES take a village to raise a child.  And NO, relationships with men are NOT satisfying to the soul.  Well… at least not with my man.  But I hear so many women complain that their men are… ummm… idiots?  Hahaha.  Well… let’s just say, “not able to meet them at full capacity”.  Men have their place.  But it’s a the bar. Haha.  I crack myself up.  And if you don’t get it, too bad, cuz I only have a few hallowed minutes, not enough time to explain my subtle and complex wit.

 

But yeah, I think suicidal thoughts a butt ton these days.  And then I quickly realize that I’m waaaay too spiritual to take my precious life and I would never abandon my adorable kids even though I often hate them these days.  Yeah.  That’s not the kind of shit you say out loud.  Unless you’re Athena Grace.  Unless you are condemned to a brutal prison sentence which involves NEVER HAVING ANY PERSONAL SPACE except right now.  Then you would hate your kids too.  All their whining and demands and unrelenting neediness.  

 

But I will love them when they come home, because I am immersing in a heavenly realm, banging, yes BANGING these words out upon this screen, incense drifting in sweet swirls as I lay on my belly on my bed, engulfed in a sea of pale pink ALONE ness.  The window is wide open and it’s cold for June thirteenth.  Storm clouds are gathering, preparing to dump violent showers upon us.  Acacia leaves whisper elite secrets and the birds testify affirmative. 

 

So basically, what I need you to know is that I DID NOT KNOW WHAT I WAS GETTING MYSELF INTO WHEN I MADE A BABY WITH A MARRIED MAN.  I’m sure I’ve told you this part before, but when I told my Ma I was pregnant, she didn’t speak to me for like three days and now I know why.  

 

This path is crushing.  And what was I thinking when I married the volatile italian man and concurrently made a baby with him???  I must be a quintessential idiot.  I have kicked myself too many times for this string of questionable choices that has put me in an inescapable death grip life.  

 

Just for the record, Giordano is doing great.  Except when he flies off the handle.  But I decided to love him in spite of his “spells”… rather than waiting for them to stop.  Because they might not.  Shrug.  He’s really refining beautifully.  To his credit.  And.  He works all the time, and eats his food like a starving hound, and doesn’t have the best capacity for presence.

 

But his face looks lighter.  And I love the way it lights up when he smiles, and the little dances he does and then looks slightly embarrassed.  I love his sharp, musky smell and falling asleep in his arms.  (I joke that sleeping is the best part of our relationship.  And sadly, it often feels that way.)  I love his love of nature and his deathly charming broken english.  I can’t get enough of that.

 

So anyway, lemme tell you about my new writing gig.  I had a session with an energy healer a couple months ago, and I asked about work.  Writing.  She said a bunch of stuff, but most of it’s none of your business.  Wink.  No, just kidding, I only want to tell you that which will forward my riveting story.  Which is that she said it looked like writing about PARENTING would be in alignment for me. I practically puked.  I’m already so sick of that topic.  I can’t imagine flushing my creative time down the toilet in such a manner.  

 

Maybe I’m being dramatic.  But I did feel an aversion and I told her so.  Inside, I thought, I want to write about SEX.  

 

Too bad I’m not having any.  Haha.  How can I write about something that’s not even alive for me?  Actually, in the name of accuracy, we have sex about once every two weeks.  It’s usually hard to get started, due to how many withholds and complex shadow emotions I feel in relation to Giordano.  How frustrated and disappointed I often am.  How much MORE I want from him.  Especially in the way of raw, full throttled, unadulterated, penetrating PRESENCE.  

 

I digress.  Once I get into it, it feels AMAZING and I feel so glad that I married someone I love having sex with, even if it’s so hard to get there due to everything.  I also need you to know that I bought a day planner for 2020 and my friend Dara was like why do you need a day planner, you aren’t up to anything.  But I had lofty aspirations pre new year.  And now, the only thing I pencil in is a detailed account of my rare (and precious) sexual occasions!  I had to tell you because it’s one of those needless details that gives life it’s poetically evocative depth of field.  

 

Anyway, I always keep my finger on Nicole Daedone’s pulse.  She was the founder of OneTaste, mother of OM (Orgasmic meditation, which I swear by, and practice as often as humanly possible.  Which unfortunately isn’t the 4x a day that I wish it was.)  People project a whole array of shit onto Nicole.  From Angel to Demon.  But in my Seeing, she is on a potent and admirable Path of Mastery, and I always keep her close, because I am too.  In my own way.  And I like to stay attuned to those who remind me what I’m made of.

 

She was showing up in my dreams a bunch.  Intuitive dreams, from which I awake deeply impressed.  One thing led to another, but I don’t have time or desire for a play by play.  One day, she reached out to me and basically offered me a job editing a series of her old blogs.  Flattening the 3D elements and making them into magical, timeless prayers.  

 

I get to climb inside her mind and transcendent erotic encounters… while Forest sleeps and suckles my breast.  And unfortunately Serena watches too many cartoons in the living room.  I hate that.  But she likes it.

 

Anyway how do you like THAT???  I wanted to write about sex even though I am in a period of forced abstinence and I could NEVER source material as potent as Nicole’s anyway.  She is of another realm.  But by the Grace of a hella awesome God, I do have the sublimedivine gift to do her words some serious justice.  Ahhhh the moments that I spend “working”… are the truest moments in my soul.  It is Union in the classical sense.  I am so absorbed, I disappear.  Fully engaged.  Used.  Challenged.  Turned on.  This is what I’m made for.  

 

Noteworthy that I am so wholly satisfied doing writing work that is not “mine”.  I don’t crave the recognition that I thought I did.  I love writing my own life… and yet, these days, it is so dry and brittle and rugged.  I would sicken myself to write it all down.  I love disappearing into Nicole’s bold, illuminated genius. It’s the quintessential journey that IS the destination.  I never want it to end.  

 

It probably will.

 

And I guess this blog should too, because it’s time to make sweet potato fries and hamburger patties and garden fresh salad.

 

I hope that I have provided you everything from illumination to liberation to amusement.

 

I love you.

My Precious Paragraph ;)

I want to do some yoga before Forest wakes up and “crushes the ball” because my body feels like she’s seventy years old (which is way better than feeling a hundred!), but then Chandra asked me if I wrote my paragraph yesterday (I told her I was endeavoring to write a paragraph every day, just to keep my writer self on life support) and I said no.  I’ve got all these wild paragraphs lashing my insides as I go about my crushingly mundane days and it makes me very mean.

 

I’m tired of being mean.  

 

The other day, Serena had a call with one of her teachers from the ananda school.  Just to stay connected during our global pandemic holiday. Ultimately I believe it’s all orchestrated by God’s hella intelligent hand… but for some deranged cosmic motivation, Serena got assigned to speak with the teacher she likes the least- because she purports that he never paid attention to her at school.  Marco. Both of our recent video chats consisted of her standing in front of the phone like a stone. No, actually on the first call she started to open up and share her world, but he derailed her with his “agenda” (singing a song). That was the end of that. She turned to stone.  

 

The second call, I was already irritated, because the morning was sunny and by eleven am I was exhausted by obsessive tidying up and desperate to get outside.  But I wanted to be in integrity so we waited for the damn call. I felt so frustrated with mute Serena. “Do you want to share your favorite book with me?” Nothing.  This game went on for like ten minutes, culminating with a song- “all the world is my friend”. When we hung up, I was livid. I laid into her for being so unwilling to participate.  (I wish I didn’t…)  

 

Apparently part of my tirade included the phrase “colossal bullshit”, because she tossed it back to me later.  I was like “where on earth did you come up with THAT???”  

 

She said, “From you.”

 

I was impressed. 

 

“Colossal bullshit” has become one of our inside jokes.  It never ceases to lighten my mood.  

 

Yesterday was Easter.  Giordano worked. He said he was only going to work a “half day” and then “stay with the family”. But it didn’t turn out that way. He pruned olive trees, mowed grass, burned branches, cut wood. Basically what I’m driving at is that I hate him.

 

Serena and I attempted to color eggs the day before.  It was my first stab at it, and measured against my expectations (frown) I failed.  Since I’m not allowed “fare speza” (grocery shop) with children (due to corona virus restrictions), and Giordano was way too busy to make a run to the store, I asked Benedetta to buy us white eggs and dye.  She brought us six white eggs and some vegetable based red and blue dye. She said I could use turmeric for yellow. (I was expecting some old skool food coloring in plastic dropper bottles.) I googled how to dye easter eggs and it said boiling water, white vinegar and dye.  The red sorta worked. And the yellow. Not the blue. I kept adding more powdered dye and vinegar, thinking it would make the colors leach into the eggs more, but it didn’t. It only ate away at the egg shells. Frown. In a relatively bearable tsunami of frustration, I dumped the impotent cup of blue dye down the sink, spitting some lamentations about flushing money down the toilet.  (I wince imagining what despicable impressions I am making on Serena.)

 

Forest is now in my lap, btw.  It’s a little after six am. Giordano is already out working in the olive trees.  So I’d better cut to what I really want to say.  

 

I hid the chicken eggs, along with some little organic milk chocolate eggs with hazelnut filling, wrapped in lusciously evocative neon green foil in our yard before Serena woke up.  Upon reflection, this is a BIG WIN for me. Too often, I am a fanciful dreamer who lacks execution. But I birthed this mo-fo. Mostly alone. Wow. I’m my own hella proud mother.

 

Serena hunted for them while I made lunch. Giordano’s mama (whom Serena ADORES) helped her.  I was not sure if she’d be able to find them because despite her slicing, ageless intelligence, sometimes I am struck by her rudamentary four-year-old-ness.  I watched from the kitchen windows, impressed by her capacity to find. I could feel her delight from afar and it flooded me with that thing we all chase and rarely stop to receive.  

 

Thanks to quarantine, we got to have a family lunch with G’s mom and dad.  Until about six months ago mama and papa were completely out of communication. It thrills me to witness the family tapestry mending.  I feel partially responsible for this small miracle. Also Forest is a massive catalyst. Babies are made to heal and unite families.

 

Anyway, lunch was sweet.  Except that Giordano didn’t pay a speck of attention to me.  I told him later (while spitting fire) that if we made a video of the lunch, innocent viewers would not even realize we were married, much less acquaintances.  Except that we shared a baby…

 

Half way into our picnic, I made an embittered comment… like “Hey, I’m here,” to which he retorted that I must be jealous of Forest, whom he was holding and fawning over.  (I had shoved Forest into his hands because he was invading my lunch experience, as he mostly does– trying to grab my fork and play the drum on my plate… Giordano had already inhaled his first plate of food and was now running his mouth off in italian, his eyes wild and distant.)  

 

I really hate him.  

 

If I was in the mood to be wholesome and objective, I’d say our relationship is better than ever before.  But I’d rather express straight from my guts. He has not taken a single day off during quarantine. Oh wait, he was home a few days during the snow week.  He did indoor work. That was sort of nice.  

 

I’m pretty sure I also love him… because even though it feels impossible to get fed by our relationship, when I express my perpetual ache, I see him impacted and determined to improve.  This touches me. And yet we mostly abide in this holding pattern~ him living in fearful anticipation of The Future and consumed in relentless doing. Me vacillating between vulnerable need and callous indifference.  

 

My body has lost all trace of turn-on.  My guess is that this is due to a combination of living in perpetual exhaustion,  being emotionally untouched by my husband and having sub zero time to be with myself- exercise, muse and express my profound, psychedelically persuaded inner dimensions.

 

Often these days, I feel cripplingly bitter about becoming a mother.  I had no idea it would be like this. So desolate. If you are considering having kids, don’t do it in the nuclear model.  It’s the most unnatural thing a human can do. Well, except maybe capitalism. But it’s all a big, unsightly modern tangle I guess.  Anyway, having Serena was my calling, hands down. But I feel enraged for the excruciating path that I am walking.  

 

I wish you could see Forest.  He’s currently gazing at my nipple with adoration and fascination.  Touching it surprisingly gently with his index finger. Oh wait, now he’s whining and writhing in my lap.  But I’m not done.

 

I want to tell you that the cherry trees are in full, explosive blossom.  It’s April thirteenth. I’ve been eagerly awaiting springtime since the trees started releasing their leaves in late September and the breath of evening began to chill my summer-lovin’ bones.  Spring is in full effect and despite the layers of rage, desperation, loneliness and excruciating frustration, I am madly in love with this season. In love with the ecstatic choirs of birds and the feeling of the sun’s rays beaming from within my own skin.

 

I keep coming back to the affirmation that all of this is an essential step on my path of awakening.   I didn’t take any wrong turns, really. It sure seems like this in too many moments. But I am where I belong and it is a sublime (though gritty) privilege to be embodied, to be ground into holy dust and to radiate light for all.

 

Athena’s Mildly Ecstatic Resurrection

Whoa.  It’s been almost two months since I cavorted about the holy page of Athena Graceland.  WTF??? Nobody told me that having TWO children is exponentially consuming… But that’s no excuse.  There really IS no excuse for neglecting one’s soul-fire. 

 

Short of being dead.

 

Honestly, I was growing tired of my own shrill voice of suffering.  Like riding a trike that desperately needs some grease. Too much existential grief… is like living on a steady diet of flaming desserts.  They stop tasting great and even the leaping ethereal blue flames become last year’s fashion.  

 

So I spent my “Holy Days” deep-diving in my soul and my guts.  Purging and getting my feng-shui on. You know… doing “inner work”; facing my shadow.  The energy felt very conducive to such uncomfortable yet soul-full endeavours. THAT was my flavour of holiday cheer.  Haha. Not so cheerful, but I keep myself “God Company”…

 

It’s hard to measure inner work… but I have a feeling I made some progress.  I feel lighter, brighter and more available to the slobbering jaws of raw joy and transcendent contentment.  

 

So that’s how my Jesus Season rolled.  Then came the New Year. 2020… talk about HYPE.  I always get super seduced by the glittery promise of a fresh start… but THIS ONE… was unprecedented.  You know… all the “twenty-twenty vision” talk. Plus, if you roll with the New-Age crowd (as I do) (Once upon a time, I felt ashamed of the myriad new age bones in this body.  I felt too “off the ground”… so I started going by my sword-plunging middle name, “Athena”, rather than light and airy “Dawn”. I piled rocks in my undies to help me stay on the ground, and over the years, like magic, integration hath occurred-eth.  Now that I actually leave footprints when I walk, I feel freeee to be as fuckin’ New Agey as I please, without a speck of shame.)

 

Where was I?  The New Age Crowd.  You know, the Queens and Kings of Ascension.  THEY talk of “collapsing timelines” and taking radical leaps of consciousness.  This talk (and the ensuing direct experience) really gets my juices flowin’. I DO taste overt notes of proof in my golden chalice of puddin.  Massive shifts.

 

But here on the dense old Earth Plane, even such phenomena as “massive shifts” have a way of occurring as understated.  I’m still just plain old me, living plain old life… Haha. I make myself laugh… cuz there’s not much plain about this questionable acid trip rocket ship journey we are on… 

 

…and yet it also IS the most ordinary thing ever…

 

What???  You say you want “tangibles”???  Ok, I’ll give you tangibles!!!

 

I became increasingly desperate to get Serena into the Ananda School.  Having her home with me every day was eating me alive. Every time we went on a walk, she would DEMAND that I told her the story of one of her favorite movies.  This included NEMO, MOANA or ANNIE (not much in the way of variety, eh?…). If I had a hundred thousand dollars for every time I told said stories… I’d be a gazillionaire by now.  I started to loathe the sound of my own voice. My overworked spirit ached to simply sip the music of trees and wind dancing. But Serena is a pitbull when she wants something. So this was our bargain:  I got to be outside and move my body… but at the cost of being a source of incessant blabbering.

 

At some point, I decided that I would use a battering ram if I had to… to bust through the door and get her into that school.  And with enough prayer and pestering and allies both physical and non, the door opened. I met with the director. She informed me that no scholarships were available (financial s-t-r-e-t-c-h), and that Serena would not be able to carpool with teachers who live near us, as had been previously suggested.  I left the meeting crying.  


Haha, so much for battering rams!  You see, the school is a thirty-five minute drive from our house… along tunnel infused motorways, driving on which scared the ragged pants off me.  Not to mention TWO HOURS in the car with Forest each day. It felt like tooo much. But my shining white knight of Gualdo Tadino, Sir Giordano, insisted that we take the leap despite the unsettling cost and exorbitant drive.  He embodied the solid, directive masculine that I long for, but rarely have received (I intentionally put that in the past, because I am open to this shifting). It felt soooooo gooooood.  

 

In fact, I fell in love with him.  Serena is not even his daughter… and yet he stood for the BEST for her (unlike her own impotent father, but I won’t get into that).  Seriously people, this school is amazing and so is my husband for supporting it. It’s founded on the principles of Education For Life (EFL), which support children to develop as whole, integrated beings, instilling in them a life-long love of learning and cultivating tools to be happy, purposeful, connected and awake humans.  

 

Or something like that…. Ask me again in a year.  Parents are required to participate in an online class on the principles of “EFL”, so that we are on the same page at home as they are at school.  

 

Serena is in her third week now.  Our lives are outrageously improved.  Psychologically, I dwelt in mild terror at the thought of the drive… but in practice, it is mostly delicious.  Meditative. Peaceful. Outside of time. Serena looooves to listen to the Annie Movie Soundtrack. When she is not in the car, I enjoy the soulful stimulation of elevating podcasts.  As long as Forest is not crying (which sometimes happens), the drive is a soothing respite in my day.  

 

The school itself is nestled at the edge of a wide, jade colored river, along which is a dirt path that stretches for miles (or kilometers as it is told over here…).  I can’t even tell you how fucking fantastic this is. Italy is a wet country… the rain spills in violent, juicy outbursts of elemental drama. There are springs up the wazoo… but as far as rivers and lakes go… one must drive for quite a ways to pay homage to such luscious liquid lands.  My soul has felt parched and starved since I’ve been here in these sprawling, hilly farmlands bordered by stalwart lines of jagged, modest mountain ranges.  

 

I HAVE FOUND MY WATER.

 

Forest and I walk along the river most days before we pick Serena up.  The birds sing harmonies with the wet, rushing music of the river. The trees and greenery are plentiful.  Life abounds.

 

When this opportunity arose, Giordano penetrated my teary self pity with the notion that when a door opens, one must walk through it, even if the “Hows” are not all clear yet.  He said (something to the effect of) the universe rewards us for moving with faith and courage.

 

Indeed.  I quickly manifested work writing newsletters for a luminary woman friend, who offers nutrition consulting and fertility coaching for women.   I love writing for her and she pays me well. I am able to do it with Forest crushing me the ball, which is my whole sweet life these days. (He doesn’t even nap alone!)  I feel powerful and abundant.  

 

Oh, and then, a week ago, I TURNED FORTY.  That really could be a whole nother blog… or at least a loaded paragraph.  But this is enough for now. Just wanted to drop you the longest winded postcard ever written!

 

With leaping, expansive love and X-treme humanness from Graceland…. ❤  Athena 

Destiny’s Harsh Hand…

It’s been a month since I’ve decanted myself here in Athena Graceland.  It’s five fourteen am. I feel afraid to write because an impressive posse of shadows are running amuck inside me, and I feel like barfing all over this pristine white space.  I feel extra vulnerable lately, like I’ve lost my skin. I’m not in the mood to be judged, or offered your shiny three cents… I almost hid out in my journal instead…

 

But then I realized that this chapter in my unfolding consciousness is essential, and if I don’t publish it here, the story of my Life will contain an insurmountable, irreconcilable gap.  I can’t live with that.

 

Writing and Orgasm.  I can see how they are two faces of the same wild goddess.  Both are eating away at my insides these days as I wander the dark labyrinth of early motherhood in a foreign country with a husband who I only see in the thick witching hours.  With both of these essential expressions of my innermost self imprisoned within me, I am jagged and dangerous. Tiny, winged demons proliferate within the folds of my calloused heart and tense body.  They wait on my tongue to leap out and attack when I speak.  

 

I shouldn’t write that!  So BAD to use my sacred gift of language to declare such warped nonsense.  Sigh. Maybe I should allow my crackling fingers to invoke purity and elevated consciousness.  But then my honesty will be suffocated by the blanket of contrived positivity… and for what? I trust myself to find my way out of this dark maze, through the power of literary alchemy.  One honest though artistically persuaded word at a time. Follow the electric rainbow brick road…

 

Actually, allow me to take a moment and announce a fantastic and certain revelation:

 

It WILL still be there when I get back!!!  Ohhhhh yesss….. 

 

Upon deeper contemplation, I have mined the inevitablity of this.  I AM that I AM. I might be walking a strange and haunted road… a road that I do not understand, and am having difficulty metabolizing… A road that requires layer upon layer of compassion and forgiveness and surrender.  But the psychedelic flame in me will never extinguish. This flame… is the “IT” that I cherish.  

 

Whoa, I just had a flash of a dream from before I awoke.  My home was not really mine… somebody moved in, and brought all their stuff, including a little dog.  I felt angry and resentful. I went into my living room and it was FULL of christmas trees and other holy-day decor.  Someone had slipped in when I was not home, and adorned it. It was lovely… and yet I felt violated. Somehow all this makes complete sense inside me…

 

Yesterday was the first sunny day in… some semblance of forever.  The greyness has been stroking my soul in washes of dull hopelessness.  Serena awoke with fever. But there was no way I could stay inside with this seductive lucidity beaming just beyond my dirty, aged windows… 

 

So I resurrected the stroller that has been folded up and aslumber in front of our house since late spring, when my belly was big and it became too difficult to breathe as I climbed the sort of busy country road beyond my driveway.  When I opened the stroller, it was a teeming jungle of bugs, spiders and even a colony of maggoty looking creatures. But I was unstoppable. I shooed them all away, fastened Serena in, Forest in the ergo, and pushed my impressive load up the broken, mildly trafficy road.  

 

I said “buon giorno” to all the yappy dogs on the route with a high-pitched, chipper, sweet voice.  This quieted them quickly. I realized that dogs, like people, have strange ways of asking for love sometimes.

 

Serena was unusually quiet, which was nice, because mostly when we take walks, she demands that I tell her the same stories over and over again… For the longest time it was the Three Little Pigs.  But these days it is a melange of Finding Nemo, Annie and most recently Moana. (I just bought her the dvd of Moana, because as far as Disney movies go, it is the only one I can tolerate watching too many times to count.)

 

Once I got off the main road, my thoughts softened and ran lightly about the distant, colour-stained rolling hills, leapt about in crisp piles of earthed autumn leaves.  I drank the cool, clean air, became impregnated with bright empty space.

 

It’s always a challenge for me to make friends with Autumn… even though she is a knock-out.  She rouses my unconscious fear of death… Yet her evocative, poetic majesty is undeniable. Breath-giving.  Massive oak trees brushing their brown and yellow leafy crowns against a pristine wash of blue infinity. The Voice Inside whispered to attune to the formless space between…  I breathed it deep, asking for guidance.

 

Why does it mostly seem so difficult to see… this Path that is never not right before my eyes and in my very bones…?  Doors that won’t open, no matter how hard I hurl my desperate body against them… and meanwhile I’m slowish-quick slip-sliding up a twisty hill that could be construed as a goddamn mountain.

 

But I want different.  I am aching for a break from this Italy life.  This married life. Married to a sincere, caring man, from whom I am unable to receive the sustaining nutrients of intimacy.  After sixteen months, the relational deficiencies are starting to weaken me. I need to tap out long enough to replenish. Wrap this tremulous, sweating body of chiseled spiritual muscles in sensuous silk and sip electric pink gatorade held to my lips by a proud, encouraging coach.  Let the heaving in my chest subside as electrolytes whizz and sing through my stillness.  


California…. Give me your elusive, mythic hand.  Pull me close to your ocean, desert, forested, urban, mountainous body.  Let me luxuriate in your free libraries, abounding with BOOKS IN ENGLISH, let me drink from your endless stream of effervescent kombucha, feed me sumptuous nibbles of your raw chocolate laced with maca and reishi mushrooms… Drench me in friendship, deep, soulful conversations, quality time and support.  

 

If me and Serena had visas, and Forest a passport, I would be on a plane yesterday.  But life has filled my pants with boulders and it is hard to move, which I know is part of the Divine Plan… but still I want to spit on it.  I am weary and worn.

 

Giordano is growing.  I don’t need to leave him.  And yet, I am starving. I need to feed myself.  Loving him is like living on spaghetti and pizza.  After a while, this body needs some damn vegetables.  

 

There is so much more to say… the dawning sky is grey… but the wild rainbow flame within blazes now that I have poured myself forth upon the page.  May it light my way through this dark, craggy wilderness which Destiny’s harsh hand is leading me.  

Will It Still Be There When I Get Back?

Back in my experimental drug days (which incidentally spanned across an entire decade), I took ecstasy alone once.  I was quasi living with a weird and sweet old hippy dude, in a room that used to be a “grow room”. The walls were covered with shiny, silver mylar sheets, upon which I was free to paint and write and express myself freely.  I remember a moment in the midst of my heavenly corporeal rushing, where the sky figuratively opened and luminous revelation rained upon me. I grabbed a black sharpie and furiously scrawled it into existence on the wall:

 

“Will it still be there when I get back?”

 

Post trip, I revisited the colorful lotus flowers and butterflies and strands of words that had flown through me… and for the life of me, I could not recall what the hell “it” was, or where I imagined I would be circling back to.

 

And yet… there was something about this relatively cheap and fleeting revelation that has caused it to stay with me for the nearly two decades since its dawning.

 

Now we ride the wild spiral of time to the mOMent fondly known as “today”.  Athena Grace, mostly alone in the foreign, wondrous land of Italy, with two small and miraculous Graces of her own.  Serena’s school recently closed in the mornings, because it was too “outside the box” for the conservative folks of Gualdo Tadino, who are apparently content inside their safe, comfy boxes of public education.  Hence the colorful and fiercely devoted sisters of “Wonderland” did not have enough children for it to be worth their while to say open in the mornings.

 

We asked Giordano’s mama to be with Serena two mornings a week (not much, but definitely better than nuttin), while we figured out another solution.  Raphaella is “a magician”, as Giordano once coined his mama’s Gift with children… They build magical 2D and 3D worlds out of paper and colored markers and leggos of various sizes, in which Serena’s dollies and plastic animals, dinosaurs and insects lavishly inhabit… three hours of pure absorbtion in lavish fantasy scapes.  (Plus 100% Italian immersion.) Serena is in heaven.

 

Just as we were settling into a nutritive rhythm, came the voracious, slobbering beast called “The Olive Harvest”, who has once again consumed every last drop of my already hella absent husband’s time and energy.  And his mama too.  

 

Yes, I know that I “should” loooove olive season, because she yields such unparalleled exquisitry.  Spicy, bright green liquid love to drizzle freely upon everything edible. But she chews my already consumed husband up and spits him out into my bed smelling of alcohol and weed in the wee hours of the night, and then beckons him again as the first light smears the sky.

 

And I…

 

Wake each day, replete with a jungle of wild emotions roaring and tearing at me from the inside.  Immense, unbearable longing. My wild, creative Self, desperate to live and express. My body, heart and mind, begging for stimulation, intimacy and holding.  And yet, my days are all weighted with the incessant necessity of domesticity and precious dependants.  

 

I live inside the question of “what if”… what if I just let go into this all-consuming river of rigor that is full-time mothering.  And housekeeping. (The grocery store is my second home) But I want to be so much MORE than just a mother. The wild woman, the (BEST SELLING) writer, the sex priestess, the yogi, the friend, the hermit, the unabashed trail-blazing leader, the ecstatic dancer…. OUR LADY OF GOD-DRUNK GRACE.

 

And so each day is a silent fight.  All those hidden “Me-s”, unwilling to to be steam-rolled by the daily G-R-I-N-D.  And God, is it a grind. I am turning to shimmering, galactic dust. But I won’t let go and be decimated in the jaws of this mundane machine of motherhood.  Because…. If I DO….

 

WILL IT STILL BE THERE WHEN I GET BACK?????????

 

Will I forget how to write and fuck and gallop and dream?  Writing it out, it seems impossible and even ridiculous… To take the Athena Grace out of Athena Grace…. 

 

Surrender.

 

I realize surrender has its own life, intelligence and will.  It’s not like I can just say, “And now for my next wondrous trick, I shall offer my entire self to the psychedelic, dancing flames of my all-consuming Now Moment.  Ladies and Gentlemen, watch in wonder as I dissolve in the oceanic ecstasy of pure, self-less BEing.”  

 

My days ebb and flow with holding on and letting go.  They are exquisite in their own way. I will look back on this chapter with a pervading flood of fondness and gratitude.  The privilege, the holy gift of quality time with my innocent, fully present, creatively ablaze kids. So many moms miss this… because the River of Life sucks them into other compelling currents.  

 

I can already see the woman that Serena is, outside of time.  And I know that time will catch up to the soul-full maturity she exudes.  Her childhood is a marvel. A miracle that leaves me blinking with wonder to behold.  How can such an ancient soul manifest with such lucid innocence? My own childhood is vivified; alive once more inside me.  

 

And Forest.  Even though the rigors of a baby ache and break my body… there is nothing as precious and tender as being charged with a pure, new babe.  Not yet lost and tangled in worlds of words. He speaks with his wide awake eyes, his wide mouthed smiles and his cries. I am drunk, kissing his squishy, bulldog cheeks, drinking his milky breath deep into my lungs.  

 

God I hope….

 

IT will still be there.

 

But the “I” who gets back will surely not be the one who embarked on this Journey.  

 

This must be the ultimate Cosmic Joke. 

 

Transcendence on the loose!

Honestly, I started to get sick of the linguistic moans of my own tortured soul.  A year of blogs strewn with grief and “second world problems”. (Is there such a thing as second world?  I don’t feel like I’m part of the first world, over here in the medieval farmlands of Italia, with hot water heated by the wood stove during winter and a twenty-year-old, patchwork Fiat… But our toilets DO flush… so it can’t be the third world…)

 

I feared I was a broken record, bemoaning all my woes in electric pink typeface, as tears streamed down my thirty-nine year old cheeks.  But soft beams of light are now bleeding from the not-too-distant end of my dark-assed tunnel, and they whisper promise of being gloriously blinding one day.  

 

When I first landed in Italy, my friend Miriam (who has lived in this intense region herself) said I had found “my people”.  Inside I thought, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME???” These intense loudmouths, who prefer shouting over each other to good old fashioned sharing and listening… But a year and a baby in, I wonder if she might be right.  Maybe I am a loudmouth lunatic at heart. Haha.

 

My Italian still has a long way to go, but I can understand enough to get the jist of 69% of conversations…  And I’m starting to feel damn fond of the passionate, giving hearts of these people. I can’t even get through a trip to the grocery store without being barraged by heart-full glances, words and acts of service (Yesterday and old couple gave me front-cuts and then paid for my water and cashews before I even knew what was happening!).  I can show up at anybody’s house at any time and be received with fervent hospitality and enthusiasm: snacks, tea, toys for Serena, casual conversation and smooches on both cheeks. 

 

In California, I usually radiated an aura of friendliness that reflected back on me in most settings… but still… there is a very unique and delicious collective signature over here.  America still reeks of that deep-seated, Declaration of Independence, “each man for himself” vibe. Get ahead, muther fuckers. But Italy is full of die-hard, family oriented children of the earth.  Often, I’m the only one under seventy at the spring where I collect water. Cars parked on the side of the road, “their people” foraging blackberries, wild asparagus and soon, my favorite– CHESTNUTS!!

 

Yesterday evening, me and my cute little family went to a celtic harp concert at the Saraswati House- a renowned school of Indian music, nestled deep in the green, furry hills above our home.  Giordano’s dad has studied and taught there since the stone age or something. He is a master of bansuri flute. Celtic harp isn’t exactly “Indian”… but somehow this exquisitely talented earth angel made her way onto the roster.  

 

I have a serious “thing” for harp music.  Always have. Maybe it evokes visceral memories of Where I Come From.  

 

I stopped chasing transcendence at least a decade ago… because I only exhausted myself in the fruitless pursuit of the elusive I AM that I AM.  No matter what I did and didn’t do, I never could touch or taste this elusive “IT”. Since then, I’ve had a few unsuspecting brushes with this hallowed magic carpet of timeless contentment, whence I am swept into the palatial Presence of The Infinite.  

 

Last night was one such stroke of auspiciousness: Nestled on a mattress against the wall of a hippy-ish room- the floor covered in oriental rugs and cushions facing a low stage. Profoundly imperfect and devoted husband to my left, wriggling but silent almost-four-year-old soulmate daughter to my right, fresh, eternity-drenched baby boy in my lap.  Transfixed by quick agile fingers plucking evocative, golden melodies out of thin air. I was hypnotized by the unbroken motion of a marvelous tree who offered up her lusciously green leaves to the wildness of the wind through a rectangle of window within my view. Tears stung my shy eyes as the complex strings of my very own heart were masterfully struck.  The fantasy-stained revelation of every moment already lived, yet to be met… washed out in the understated perfection of this eternal, fleeting NOW.  

 

As I recount this precious, revelatory scene, I wonder what of THIS “eternal, fleeting NOW”?  Is it less transcendent and special? Am I less content and realized? Nah… This is a damn delicious slice of hallowed Existence too.  Dangerously groovy beats streaming into my ears, Forest a-slumber in his carseat at my feet, clinking plates and muted conversations casting a backdrop of ambiance as I dive deep into Athena Graceland and offer relics of my consciousness in the name of Creation, Revelation,  self-pleasure, cosmic posterity… The poetry of Existence as sung by this awe-struck, God-drunk One.

 

But what about the “yucky” moments that arise?  I’m getting better at savoring them. Last night after the concert, Giordano and I found ourselves in one of our blessedly frequent squabbles.  They are mostly so stupid that I quickly forget their content… they are usually to the tune of me feeling unheard, unseen, criticized, insulted, telling him as much and being met with a revolving door of attack and defense.  We are two people from distant galaxies living under one roof. We collide and clash and throw off dangerous sparks as easy as we breathe. I was doing the dishes and spitting fire. A light came on inside as it occurred to me that I could savor this flavor of relating-  the ridiculous, riveting play of me-and-him-ness. As the sleeping victim inside me awoke and undressed, I became slippery with sass, inebriated by the epiphanic rush that none of it REALLY mattered. Two bruised up children, gleefully hurling mud pies at one another, while their ever-wakeful souls spill with mirth.  And maaaaaaybe, just maybe…. I even LOVE him…

 

This past year I scratched lines into the walls of my cell, meticulously counting the days of my stay in hell, dreamt of my impending escape, struggled not to drown in the goopy swamp of self-hatred, wondered how in fuck’s ugly name this could possibly be my “Highest Destiny Manifest”, God’s Omniscient Wisdom and Love in Action…. 

 

But from my autumnal perch in “Dolce Peccato” cafe, in this happening fondly known as “Today”, it seems like what’s on the other side of all the suffering is True Freedom.  (Probably what is on the other side of all suffering…) Like a slow-flashing strobe light, I keep having glimpses of this delicious state of consciousness. I breathe deep and flood with the gentle ecstasy of self love.  

 

Forest is a miracle worker.  He has bathed our family in healing light.  Day by mundane day, I am rising (as opposed to “falling”) in love with my imperfect little life.  Shedding layers of incongruent “supposed to”s. Last winter, a woman I hold in The Highest suggested that “loving what I have” might be The Path.  This seemed like crossing an impossible ravine. No conceptualizing my way across…`

 

But my poetically persuaded homeboy Hafiz called it, way back in the fourteenth century when he said, 

“This sky where we live

Is no place to lose your wings

So love, love, love.” 

 

A bridge between hearts

On the outside, summer has melted into the cool breath of autumn.  The gods have ostentatiously announced this turn by hurling copious lightning bolts and savage booms of thunder upon the green heart of Italy, as Umbria is fondly known.  Deluges of rain drench the earth with abandon.  This transforms the suffocatingly humid air to cool, sweet delicacy.  The trees are still green.  (I am dreading their impending shedding and nakedness…)  The days are no longer unbearably hot.  Just warm and friendly.  But winter winks and whispers from not too far off.

 

On the inside though, my hellish walkabout through emotional, spiritual winter is showing signs of thawing.

 

Forest’s arrival was NOT a graceful transition.  Preparing for birth gets so much hype… but often, the postpartum period gets left to the wolves.  This is mostly how it was for me.  I made a few feeble cries for help… and received a bit of blessed support around the ragged, jagged edges… Mostly in the form of a meal here, and a meal there… But my primary experience as a sudden mother of two with a thrashed and bleeding vagina, and a ripped open heart, was a desolate one.  I do NOT recommend this experience.  If you are pregnant, or intending to become pregnant…. ASK FOR HELP.  Demand help.  Feel wildly worthy of help.  Saturate yourself in support, postpartum.

 

I could get lost in the gory details of my searing postpartum experience, but that’s not what my heart longs to share.  I survived.  My body is resilient and strong.  Now Forest is one and a half months earthside.  And spring is breathing light and warmth upon the barren scapes of my heart and soul.

 

Don’t get me wrong… Life is demanding, and my body tense from holding and nursing a baby all day, while perpetually juggling the needs, demands and whims of an almost four year old and maintaining the impossible tidiness of a not-so-small house…

 

During my pregnancy, Giordano often expressed a hope that Forest would bring us all closer and balance the dynamics of our family.  Though deep down I shared this wish with him, I still mostly cringed when he spoke it… because it seemed like way too much responsibility to load onto a nine pound human with a soft, open skull.  (He’s twelve pounds by now…)  From my vantage point in this moment, it appears that Forest’s mighty soul IS actually capable of this superhuman feat.

 

It always comes back to the timeless chicken and egg quandary… Does the inside give rise to the outer?… Or…???  But as I grope about in these invisible realms, my intuition says that what we perceive as “inner” and “outer” are but one sentient, infinite ISness.

 

I always have a figurative finger on the pulse of The Collective.  Recently, I felt an intangible shift that was beyond me and my own paltry circumstances. AND at the same time, my said paltry circumstances began to shift…

 

Witnessing the depth of love and care that Giordano has for his son made it increasingly difficult to abide in my cherished, long-standing fantasy of fleeing with my children to the familiar and now legendary land of California The Beautiful.  I still mostly did not like my husband… but this distaste began to pale in the bright luminosity of his paternal love.

 

I challenged myself to practice approving of him… even in the face of my glaring distaste for his ways.  I really CAN be a critical bitch.  Honestly, I’d hate to be on the receiving end of my curdled criticism.  Simultaneously, Giordano became less aggressive.  He began to apologize faster and touch (and actually FEEL) me more.  You could argue that this was a function of my behavioral shift… but my sense is that there was a larger energetic gale at play.

 

Theories and hypotheses aside… more lightness is dawning upon our home and family.  I still don’t luxuriate in the company of my husband… but nor do I drown in distaste and pain, as I oft did before.  Forest is a bridge between our hearts and minds, where before it was mostly impossible to pass.  With this exotic flavor of newfound affinity, anything is possible for us…

 

Concurrent with my nuptial blossoming, I experienced a delicious, pivotal moment in my relationship with Italy.  I was at the grocery store with my kids…

 

Italian people are wild about pregnant women, and even wilder about babies.  Everywhere I turn, I am serenaded by a chorus of impassioned exclamation, “AMORE!”.  Women, and even a few men, lust for a peek at the angelic face of my slumbering baby snuggled against my bosom in his wrap.

 

So there we were, civilizedly foraging for food at the aesthetically mediocre Coop, which is nestled in the archaic heart of Gualdo Tadino, being fawned over by the masses.  An almost young, blue-eyed man offered me front cuts in the intimidatingly long checkout line.  But there was another couple between me and him.  Flustered, I looked to them for a read on the situation.  I was shocked when they both smiled and waved me in front of them, as though it was sheerly autonomic.  A red carpet sprawled open beneath my astonished feet.

 

I attempted and mostly failed to share a friendly conversation with the kind man who instigated the front cuts, but despite the lack of intellectual understanding, my heart and the entire mOMent overflowed with warmth.

 

Pushing the shopping cart into the warm, sunny morning, I had the warm, fuzzy thought, “I like it here in Italy.”  Followed by the stunned realization that I had never had that thought before.  I fondled and reflected upon this new awareness for a bit… and concluded that it was probably a fleeting fluke.  After all, my emotional waves tend to be drastic and dramatic and watery.

 

To my surprise, the feeling has lasted.  I realize that I have adjusted to life over here.  For the first year, I was painfully aware of what was missing.  Foods, friends, family, comfy swings that cradle your butt at the playground, the ability to have a damn conversation….

 

But I’m starting to develop a taste for pizza… I make my own peanut butter.  I found pickles that don’t totally blow.  I brew my own water kefir.  The list goes on… but the moral of the story is that I am synching up with my new environment and life.  I am not devastated by the often silence between Giordano and I when we drive places together.  Sure, in my ideal world it would be swell to love to talk with my husband… but silence is kinda okay too… He DOES put his hand on my leg mostly always…

 

I love our land, abounding with fruits and foragables… I love how safe I feel here.  Serena can wander about freely.  (Not that she does, mostly.  She tends to cling.)  I am able to understand quite a bit of Italian, even if my speaking is butt-ass remedial…

 

Reflecting on my suffering, my dear friend Dara invited me to reflect on my original Desire/intention for coming to Italy.  I had to dig a bit to get back there… but it was FAMILY.  I ached for family.  And now I have it.  Gloriously imperfect, as Life mostly is… but nutritious and beautiful too… if I’m open to it.

 

Given the incessant imperfection of life in/as duality, may I embrace the grace that is always here.  What a shame it would be to awaken to this ever-flawed goodness as I am blinking out of this existence.

 

The almost free birth of Forest (part 3)

How in Fuck’s holy name would I survive a twenty minute car ride???

 

Giordano may not have “lost it”… but nor did he have it together…. He asked me if Forest was moving anymore… I reflected on this, and then realized, no, he hasn’t moved for a while.  Still riding the swelling wave of fear that “going to the hospital had catalyzed, now I was paranoid that my baby was in distress.

 

I waddled into the hallway.  I braced myself on the small white desk that abides there (for lack of a better home).  Another vicious contraction and furious push.  Another.  And another.  OMFG.  Rapid fire.  “Good position or NOT, this baby was on his way out.  I took my police pants off again and somehow made it to the living room.

 

I climbed into the ugliest brown armchair you’ve ever seen (I’d been wanting to excommunicate it from our house since the moment it found its way in), braced myself with hands on the wall.  Gave a few more colossal pushes.   COLOSSAL.  I had no other choice.

 

THE RING OF FIRE.

 

The women on video chat had instructed me to “hang out here” for a bit… rather than pushing straight through it… so as not to tear.  Stretch open slowwwwly.

 

I had not met the ring of fire while birthing Serena.  Up until this moment, it was but a dramatic and terrible title.  Well… for those of you who, like me, haven’t a lucid intimacy with this fearsome BEAST…  It truly lives up to its name.  Irreconcilable BURN.  Like a dragon breathing fire on your genitals, burning them to oblivion.

 

I “hung out there” (haha, there was nothing casual or relaxed, as “hanging out” implies…) for maybe two contractions.  Three at most.  And then BAM!  Out popped…. SOMEthing.

 

Giordano was standing behind me, pouring with intensity and panic.

 

He announced it was Forest’s head.  He said Forest looked dead.  Like a damn fool (or maybe just a vulnerable, birthing woman in an altered state), I believed my doom and gloom husband!  Desperate to get his whole body out ASAFP, I pushed again.  And again.  The second time, part of his body slid out.  Third push, VOILA!!  Giordano and I clumsily caught him together.  Blood guuuussssshed out of me, drenching the ugliest chair in the world.  (A dried up, crimson splash still remains on the wall next to the radiator!  I want it to remain forever.)

 

The umbilical cord was wrapped around Forest’s neck one loose time.  I untwisted it.  (I want to “normalize” this occurrence.  Hospital culture would have you believe this is an “emergency situation”.  Rarely.  Many babies get benignly tangled in their cords.  I discovered this on the freebirth podcast, so I was not alarmed in the least.)

 

I held my jumbo, blood-bathed son!  He gasped for breath.  He sputtered, still full of amniotic fluid.  I sucked his nose and mouth.  This didn’t seem to help.  He cried.  (Giordano says he cried immediately… but as I had just pushed a nine pound human through my vagina, my chronology is not quite as crisp.)  Little Forest looked like a “fish out of water”… Alienated by this lickety-split miracle of moving from  spirit to form.  Breath, body, blood, otherness…  Ugh.  (We all must be NUTS to come here and subject our Selves to all this hoopla!)

 

I asked Giordano to hand me a towel.  Of course it was white! Speaking of white, my white tank top was now mostly RED.  The towel too.  I cradled my slimy baby in the rough, line-dried towel.   He was alive!  After he cried for a minute, he quieted and looked around.

 

Watching my newborn son register his arrival on planet earth was perhaps the most incredible moment of my entire life.  (With Serena, the nurse wiped her off with objectionable wet wipes from a package, which caused her to scream her head off for a few solid minutes before passing out on my chest.)  Forest was calm and wide awake.  His open gaze slowed time and silenced mind.  He abided in this sober, wakeful presence for at least an hour.

 

Meanwhile, I cradled him and waddled around the house in a wide-eyed stupor, his umbilical cord still plugged into the depths of my womb.  Blood gratuitously spilled from between my legs, leaving an artistically rendered trail of my haphazard course.

 

Giordano had called his Mama back in the “we are going to the hospital” chapter, asking her to accompany us.  (Apparently the Italian stereotype about men being super attached to their mamas is no joke.  I tease him that she is his first wife.)  Within minutes of Forest’s arrival, in came “Nona”.  This was a plot twist, but it felt right.  Forest called in Family.

 

Hubby-Dearest and his Mama tag-teamed with the mop, cleaning up endless puddles, streams, rivers, dribbles of blood.  (One “pro” of birthing in the hospital, is that the family can just chill and swoon while the “hired help” does the dirty work.  And trust me, it was a lot of dirty work…)  I remember standing at the bathroom sink, cradling Forest, and marveling at my two smeared, bloody footprints.

 

Blood continued to flow like wine rivers after I found my way to bed.  We had been so good about covering the bed with a shower curtain and a janky old duvet cover… I forgot to account for the messy aftermath.  Our *one* pair of summer sheets now shall sing the story of Forest’s birth forever more.

 

Oh.  And Forest’s HEAD.  Whoa, people.  When he first came out, he looked like an asymetrical UNICORN.  His head went on a magical mystery tour to pass through my vag.  Good gracious.  I think I texted or called Karen back and asked her if this was “normal”.  To my profound relief, she affirmed normalcy, and reassured me that it would quickly reshape.  It did.  But Lordy, I wish I had snapped a photo.  It was remarkable.  (I wish I had photos and video of the whole birth…. But there was no one I wanted to invite into my sacred space to play the roll of photographer.  This is a minor tragedy.)  I took a selfie when I got into bed.  Then I asked G to snap a couple more.  The rest must live in the mythic distortion of my and Giordano’s memory.

 

When got back in bed, my body shook violently.  This continued for at least half an hour.  Completely involuntary.

 

I offered Forest my breast and waited for the urge to birth the placenta.  Nearly two hours later, I was still waiting.  I consulted Karen, and she told me to get the thing OUT… so I lightly tugged on the cord, as I pushed.  My placenta was not so jazzed to part ways with my womb, but finally blubbered out into  the plastic, orange bowl.  What a fucking relief.  Now Forest was not attached to the inside of my body any longer, but to a bowl hosting a blob of bloody meat.

 

Next on the thrilling itinerary, Giordano and I burned the umbilical cord.  (This coterizes it, so a clamp is unnecessary.  I also preferred this means of release, for its ceremonial and elemental aspects).  I wanted  to give Forest plenty of time to reabsorb all the goodness the placenta had to offer… and yet, after two and a half hours, I was done with the large-scale production of cords and bowls and bloody organs.

 

The cord burning was the quintessential scene for a movie… though living through it was traumatizing.  Giordano, who by this time was crabby and way less than generous, was holding the candle.  I held the baby and the cord?  G kept scolding me for holding the cord too close to the flame.  He had the patience of a piranha.  Thanks dude.  I guess he forgot that I had just pushed a human out of my vagina, and was still in the process of losing gallons of blood.  I kept asking him to be nice.  But apparently he didn’t have access to this particular virtue at this particular moment.  It probably took eleven minutes.  The longest eleven minutes of my life….

 

Our bedroom now smelled like a barbecue.  The three inches of remaining cord protruded from Forest’s little belly like a white worm. I ate a ripe banana and went to sleep.  It was a little after 4am.

 

The nearly free birth of Forest (part 2)

The facet of freebirthing that was most compelling to me was not being “checked” to see how dilated I was, or being told when to push, or any other externalized reference points along the Journey of Laboring.  Instead, the birthing woman is totally undisturbed and able to experience from the INside-out.  (I’m imagining that some readers will find this perspective audacious.  Like “WHAT??? YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY KNOW HOW TO GIVE BIRTH WITHOUT A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO AND WHEN.”)

Well guess what?  You CAN.

Except here’s where I lost connection with my inner authority:

Expectations…. I imagined that the second baby would be easier.  It was taking waaaay too long.  I was in waaaaaaay too much pain.  When would I feel the fucking urge to PUSH???

Night had swallowed day, candles danced wiggly, golden light about the dim ambiance of my pink bedroom.  I finally felt a mild urge to push.  I guess I texted my doula friend Karen in California… and asked her…. something.  She video called me on fb messenger.  As Grace would have it, she was about to give a chiropractic adjustment to three mamas (two of which I had known for over a decade).  Suddenly I was being supported by FOUR women from across the world.

Mostly this was soothing and helpful.  But in retrospect, the call lingered beyond its expiration date.  I lost touch with the inner authority that had been the coveted treasure of my freebirthing quest.  I was lost in the wilderness of pain… Vulnerable and reaching outside for salvation.

The call sprawled on for over an hour.  Contractions.  Pushing.  Lioness roars.

I asked Karen if breaking my own bag of waters (which was still intact) would accelarate the process (I had heard this in other birth stories…) She said go for it. When I reached inside, I could feel the bulging bag… At first I was tentative about breaking it with my nails. But after three or four tries, it burst. Gusssssssh….

Nothing changed, save the manky bedspread, which was now cold and wet.

I felt inside to see if Forest’s head was at the door yet. I felt SOMEthing…. But it was not very “head-ish”… It felt like two squishy peaks, with a valley in between. WHAAAAAT??? Not a foot. Not a head. Too small for a butt…. Was there REALLY a normal baby-shaped person inside me??? Or just some random, alien scraps, all smashed together….

When my waters broke, Karen said “He’ll be out in two pushes.”

My inner authority flew out the window and I placed the weight of my salvation in this statement. Time bled on…. My concern mounted as my endurance dwindled.

Now, please allow me to pause and comment.

My writing style is especially feminine. Rooted in and informed by feeeeeling. Decorated with poetic metaphors. Striking, abstract imagery. Frivolous, philosophical meanderings. Bursts of unapologetic raw-ness…

And then there is Athena Grace writing about BIRTH.  Exponentially feminine. I notice a voice inside who is critical of my “failure” to walk a straight line of “chronology”. Well, I am going to grab my ovaries and overtly affirm– FUCK THAT SHIT. I am a WOMAN.  I have a woman’s (heartful) mind, and I am sharing my Woman’s Voice. I never really identified as a “feminist”… because I’m not into raging against the machine. But it turns out that at heart, I AM. The world held hostage by our severely crippled systems NEEDS women’s’ voices to resound boldly through the Collective, heal the heart of ALL, and purify the waters.

This story is a wild, bucking spiral montage of images, mOMents, feelings… and of course a juicy climax (or three). By the Power Vested in Me, I declare that this is RIGHT and BEAUTIFUL and perfectly natural. Not to negate straight lines. I reserve the right to ride those tamed beasts as I please.

At the start of this account I forgot to mention that as during my labor with Serena, it was increasingly impossible to pee. I was hoping this condition would not recur with Forest. Frown.  I had to squat or sit on the toilet for a million years of discomfort before a pathetic trickle would dribble out. Not being able to release deterred me from drinking too much. I was hot and sweaty. I needed fluid. I drank sips and tangoed with the terror of bursting my bladder.

I also forgot to mention an essential, terrible (and retrospectively comical) thing about Giordano’s role during my labor. If I had a nickel for every time the man asked me “WHY”…. I’d be one rich bitch.  MEN— Listen. When a laboring woman makes a request, DO NOT ask her WHY.  Fucking never. Each time he did, I told him this. But obviously, it didn’t go IN. Because his WHYs fired off like a machine gun, driving holes in my peace and sanity.  WOMEN— if your man asks you WHY while you are laboring, send him to me and I will personally rip his over-active head off. And for anyone who finds themself asking “WHY not ask WHY?…”

I’ll tell you.

BECAUSE. It engages a part of the brain that should NOT be active while a woman is in such an intense, intuitive, altered state.

And NOW, back to our riveting story.

I didn’t feel that I was progressing. (I WAS… but not in an outwardly measurable way, like I WANTED to be…)  Karen said if Forest wasn’t out in another half an hour, I “should” go to the hospital.  Eeeeeeeeeek. This would be a major MESS. It was after eleven pm. Would they cut me open? Give me a hodge-podge of horrific interventions? Give my baby antibiotics and injections? Burn me at the stake for birthing outside The System? There was nothing bright about this proposed path.

Except the survival of my child and myself.

Giordano became anxious. Ugh. Just what I needed. He did NOT want to go to the hospital…. Which was actually a surprise to me. I thought he would be the first to subscribe to conventional protocols.  But at this point, he was scared of all the same shit as me. Only more so… because dude tends to expect the worst. But actually, I was impressed by his ability to stay grounded and “calm-ish”… given where the current was carrying us.  In the end, he didn’t lose it.

Through brutal contractions and involuntary baring down, I made a phone call to Manuela, who was holding energetic space for us… and told her that I thought we should go to the hospital. She said “Be wise.”

I forgot this part, but apparently I had also texted Benedetta– “HELP”, at some point.  (She reminded me of this a few days ago, and I had a good laugh about it.) She said she awoke to my text and freaked out. She had become a contact point for a slew of people who were eager to be updated about our progress and wellbeing. She said she called me. I vaguely recall trying to speak to her through excruciating contractions and pushing. Haha. It sure is funny now!

Then I pulled on my beloved, well-worn Berkeley Police sweatpants and a WHITE TANK TOP (what was I thinking???) and attempted to walk. I had to stop every couple steps and breathe and puuuuush.

I HAD TO.

How in Fuck’s holy name would I survive a twenty minute car ride???

 

The nearly free birth of Forest (Part 1)

Forest

The second one is sposta pop out like a ping pong ball… right?

 

That’s what I thought….

 

I was wrong.

 

It took about the same amount of time laboring to get Forest out, as Serena.  Twelve hours.  But this time, I did it at home.  Alone.

 

Well… alone with Giordano.  Was this intentional?  Yes and no.  I wanted to have a woman/women with me… who would just sit quietly in the corner and hold a streaming vigil of prayer and presence.  But apparently God did NOT want this… since both of the women I asked to be with me were cosmically thwarted from attending.

 

“Free Birth” is the term for birthing without a slew of “trained professionals” getting all up in a birthing mama’s grill.  I was intrigued by this idea while pregnant with Serena… but not nearly courageous enough to trust my deepest inner knowing in the boundlessly deep waters of the feminine mystery that is birth.  So I deferred my inner authority, and opted for the hospital route with her.  Which was perfect.  (Marin General is the creme de la creme of hospitals that truly support natural birth.)

 

But this time, I was familiar with the territory. (As familiar as one can be with the cryptic wilderness of the Divine Feminine! Ha!)  Well, lofty philosophy aside, it’s what I FELT TO DO.  So I spent the months of my maternity gathering information and validation, mostly via birth stories told on the “Free Birth Podcast”, and by the time my tiny man was ready to emerge, I felt ready, and even enthusiastic, to do The Thing!

 

Everyone knows that expectations are the devil.  Of course I tried not to have any.  But this was impossible.  I imagined that as with Serena, I would go into labor on my due date, July 14th.   Or at LEAST by the full moon (lunar eclipse), July 16th.  Nope.  Besides the painful fights with Giordano, those days passed without much fanfare. Only a few egoic efforts to get my labor juices “aflow”… long walks, sex, orgasm… the basics.  But as it turns out, all “magic feathers” and lore aside, birth has its own cosmically informed intelligence, which I boldly hypothesize has NOTHING to do with the overlay of “wizardry” many of us get off on professing.

 

For about five nights straight, I went to bed fondling the precious hope that I would awaken in the night to contractions, as I had with Serena.  At two am on July 18th, my hope materialized.  Elated, I opened my eyes to the juicy, round, beam-dripping moon, dancing beyond my bedroom window.  I savored every twinge of deep, delicious ache in my womb.  God those moments live legendary inside me now… I felt totally alone and yet sweetly intimate with ALL.  My heart steeped in transcendent joy.

 

As with Serena, the contractions stopped when I got out of bed.  My labor had a very keen intelligence, and when I was focused on caring for Serena, it would ebb… After I dropped her off at camp, the waves resumed.  When she returned from camp, another pause.  It wasn’t until my saintly friend Benedetta came and picked Serena up (with her own nearly-newborn and four year old sun in tow) at around 4pm, that labor REALLY went full throttle.

 

I had imagined laboring in the little wooden house, nestled in my garden (which I have adopted as a temple…) but by mid afternoon, it was way too hot in there, and the mattress felt like a granite boulder.  After turning a few too many dizzying circles of indecision, I realized there’s no place like bed.

 

Oh dear… This event occurred exactly two weeks ago, and by now, the whole epic event is a goopy smear in my mind’s eye.  I guess I had a butt-ton of contractions in said bed… It didn’t take long for them to start firing off fast… which made me certain that Forest would soon emerge.

 

I was inspired by the birth story of a woman named Jinti Fell… She had an idyllic, peaceful freebirth in water, with only her husband, three year old daughter and sister present.  She said she concentrated on affirmations of opening and surrender.  So with each contraction, I relaxed my yoni and imagined my cervix blossoming open… melting INto the pain, rather than contracting in reaction to it.  I felt powerful and courageous doing this.

 

Until I hit a point where the contractions were coming so strong and rapid, that I lost access to this enlightened response.  It became a matter of survival.  No holds barred.  I felt that if I gave myself over in melt, I would be eaten alive.  This continued for hours.  I focused on my breath… and alternated between chanting gutterally based AUMs and “blowing through an imaginary straw” with each exhale (Benedetta taught me that technique, touting that when the jaw is relaxed, so is the yoni.  She said her first baby slid right out of her as a result… ummm… I can’t say that was MY experience…)

 

What of my wild card husband?  As I imagined, he was not the Masculine Rock that I wished he could be.  When I looked to him in the heat of intensity, his eyes were perpetually a-wander in far-off lands.  This was no surprise.  A restless, wild mind is his M.O.  Still, I wouldn’t help wishing for his solid, unwavering presence.  But given his nature… he did well.

 

As I had requested, he didn’t impose himself in my space.  He made himself available… but hung back until I made a direct request for support.  I felt the wounded place inside me, where I was tentative to ask for help from him… fearing rejection or disconnect.  (By now, our “track record” is brimming with disappointments and blood-bathed conflict…)  But when one is in enough pain, one must transcend the fear of rejection.  I asked him to rub my sacrum, which by now was screaming with ache.

 

At this task, he succeeded beyond measure.  I felt… profoundly felt.  He touched me as if he were inside me.  And at this point, I didn’t care if he was thinking about all the money we owe, or his perpetual craving for pizza, or whatever runs through that man’s mind… I was journeying through a realm of unceasing pain, and he was minimizing my suffering.

 

Until he got hungry.  And then the salvation of his touch withdrew and wandered to the kitchen.  A while later, he returned to the bedroom with a plastic tupperware full of tuna salad.  The smell ruined my life.  He innocently offered me a bite.  DISGUSTING.  I shunned him from the bedroom.  But the smell saturated the warm, thick atmosphere of late July.

 

When he returned (I had no sense of time by now), I asked him to light an incense to mitigate the terrible stench.

 

Then what happened?  Contractions raced through my body like a freight train with never-ending cars.  The sun crept toward the horizon, and eventually sunk into darkness.

 

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