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. 

 

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 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 Poetry of Darkness

My inner perfectionist is ALL UP IN MY BUSINESS as I sit here contemplating what to write about.  I want to write something genius and get drenched in positive attention and validation, because these days, I mostly feel like a mediocre nobody.  If only I could show up here in Athena Graceland like a blazing comet that takes your breath away….  THEN I’d be worth the love and belonging I crave.

 

Ahhhhh feels so good to name that.  It was like taking a giant poop.  It’s the shit that lurks, unacknowledged in the shadows that can really “crush the ball”.  (My favorite Italian phrase.  Referring to testicles, naturally.)  It’s amazing how much stirring of the shadow is occurring in here lately.   I oft wonder “was this stuff always running me from the bowels of my psyche, and I just couldn’t make contact with it?”  This is my hypothesis…

 

Which makes it damn exciting that I am starting to be able to have some real, snuggly intimacy with it.  I guess.  If I give myself permission to digest, release, transcend.  Permission.  It sounds so easy.  But walking through it is like swimming through honey.  Except not nearly as sweet.  Maybe shit flavored honey…

 

I guess I could start by saying really fucking nice things to myself on a regular basis.  The kinds of things that would be glaringly obvious to say to ANYBODY I love and care for, when they are struggling.  The kinds of things I want YOU to say to me upon reading these words.  The kinds of things you HAVE been saying to me.  And for a few sacred mOMents, everything feels ok.

 

Like “Athena, you DON’T always have to be producing something in order to be valuable.  YOU are enough.  If only you could see the exquisite artistry of your BEing as you move through your days.  Even when you feel depressed and hopeless, your magic is contagious and inspiring.”

 

Yep, made myself cry.

 

Been feeling like a mediocre mom a lot lately.  Up until recently, at least I felt like I was succeeding at that.  Serena tells me how much she loooooooves me…. too many times a day too count.  Inside I’m like, “Really???  Even though lose my patience and shout at you too much???”  So much for “conscious parenting”….

 

I think I’m doing better than I give myself credit for.  It just hurts my heart so bad when I yell at this beautiful, perfect being who is my daughter.  (Tears silently spill down my face as I expose this intimate dimension of myself.  Maybe not “brilliant” writing… but honest.  Which is courageous.  Maybe lots of moms secretly feel like shmucks, but don’t want to admit it…)

 

Exhaaaale.  I just don’t know how to navigate the frequent moments when Serena yells and screams and rebels “for no reason”.  I’m sure in HER world, there IS a reason.  Even if she cannot name it.  She’s probably mirroring my emotional intensity.  Maybe this is glaringly obvious from your kush seat in the overstuffed armchair…. She’s also a scorpio.  I didn’t know exactly what that meant when she was growing inside me.  But it’s no joke, people.  Scorpion energy is emotional masturbation.  So indulgent and intense.

 

But I digress.  Sometimes (often lately), I feel like I just can’t handle my girl’s said intensity and unwavering push-back.  I wonder if it would be different if I was adequately reSourced.  I don’t have fuckin’ ANYBODY who shows up to take Serena out for the afternoon and give me a break.  Not even my husband.  (He’s too busy bacon hunting.)  I chose such a fucking hard Path.  Dianne says to keep going and never give up.

 

I’ve always been a spiritual PollyAnna at heart.  My Ma used to passionately wish that this was her last incarnation on earth.  She was OVER IT.   And I’d feel so damn good about myself, replying that I would come back here as many times as I was needed.  But I guess the ingredients I needed to thrust me into “Camp Over IT” were motherhood and a painfully difficult marriage.  Oh, and a seeming lack of ability to plug into higher Purpose.  That’s really the one that slaughters me.

 

Mom, I get it.

 

Did I ever tell you that when I told my mom I was pregnant with Serena, she stopped talking to me for like three days?  Seriously.  And we were living together in her sweet little one-room loft apartment.  It was INTENSE.  I didn’t get it.  But now I imagine that she foresaw the terrain ahead, and was grieving for me.

 

She WAS seeing through the filter of her own struggles, of course.  And probably I will triumph at some point.  Probably some day I will heal my precious inner child, get my writing off the ground and enjoy a more autonomous, focused and gratifying existence.

 

I guess I can lay the groundwork now.  By being sublimely kind to myself no matter what.  And appreciating the Grace of everything that Life is laying at my feet.

 

I’m grateful that it’s summer.  I might be conflagrating in soul-angst… but I’m no dummy!  I am still able to luxuriate in frequent near-nakedness.  I am still deeply moved by the ambiance of overflowing birdsong that pours upon the warm, bright world each day.  The disarming, supple softness of Serena’s three year old skin.  And the way everything is play for her.  Gorgeous trees dripping with glistening, red cherries, of which we are free to eat as many as we please.  A husband who often falls short… but is a die-hard who stands the fuck up after he falls, and sincerely does his best to learn and grow and evolve.

 

A husband who loves his unborn son more than I do at this point.  Giordano’s love for Forest is palpable.  Sometimes I’m scared that Forest will be too much like Giordano…  Sometimes I feel like Forest is the steel-jawed trap that keeps me bound to a life I hate.

 

OMG.  A monk and a nun exiting the grocery store, pushing a full shopping cart!!!!  One of those monks that looks like Friar Tuck.  And a nun who resembles…. Whoopie Goldberg.  Haha, just kidding.

 

Anyway, I’m looking forward to holding my son in my arms.  It’s still hard for me to believe that a baby is going to come out of me.  Even though I’m giant and exhausted and insanely emotional.  It was like this with Serena too.  But I imagined that the second one would be different, given that I’ve done it before.  Nope.  Still unfathomable to me that in about four weeks, I will have a SON.  A tiny human will emerge through my vagina and depend on me for EVERYTHING.  Whoa.  And he will be oozing with the fresh scent of Heaven.

 

Okay, I guess this is the part where I just breathe.  Dunno what else to do now.  Oh, except to keep being earth-shatteringly sweet to myself.

 

From my heart,

Athena Grace

 

Sunlight and Sweet Relief

Mmmm somebody at the table next to me is wearing aftershave.  As a kid, I used to relish watching my dad shave before work (swing shift in the casino!).  He’d squirt a shamelessly generous poof of Barasol beard buster shaving cream into his hand, spread it about his five o’clock shadow and go to town with his blue bic razor.  Fast and focused.  I’m sure he could have performed this ritual in the dark.  Then he’d rinse, dry and pat his tender, virgin cheeks with enchanting, blue splash of Aqua Velva.  To my seven year old self, this was the scent of a man.

 

Smell.  So powerful.  A memory orbiting a distant moon, suddenly fallen like a smoldering comet in my nostalgic lap.

 

I’m happy today.  And profusely hoping that I can ride this wave all the way to shore.  Wishing said shore was days away.  One of my earth angels, Dianne, said that with sunlight and a heart that says yes, I am a force to be reckoned with.  I feel that today.

 

I feel that filled with this happiness, I can do ANYTHING.  I feel wealthy and bold and creative.

 

Even though I barely slept.  Sleep is not my forte lately.  Most nights, I fall asleep with Serena in her bed… wake an hour later, pee (at this point, I spend half my life peeing) and then snuggle like a soft, squishy animal into bed with Giordano.  At which point, I rest into the weight of my struggle and the suppressed force of my Desires.  He is exhausted and quickly becomes a virtuoso performance of gentle snores.  I lay in his arms, envious of his ability to relax and release, calling out to an unresponsive God to fucking help me.

 

How’s THAT for glamorous?

 

Quite frankly, in this moment it DOES seem a bit glamorous.  Angels in heaven don’t have such privilege and pleasure.  WE get to swill grit and darkness by the cup-full.  WE get to embody a spectral depth of poetry that cannot be fabricated or feigned.  Of course I can only say this because my Merciful Lord hath lifted me to “the surface” for a generous hit of sunlight and existential relief.  From here, the depth of my Journey looks stunning.

 

I AM so thankful for my people.  If I died in this moment, my heart would explode like a huge cream-filled balloon and your BEingness would shatter and refract as rainbow sunlight in every direction throughout all space.  I’m feeling you all.  Seeing your faces, hearing your unique music curl like incense smoke throughout my Infinity Within.  In the eyes of my ego, I am so imperfect… but in my love for you, I am limitless, pure and perfect.

 

I was suffering because Giordano has been WORKING.  He leaves early in the morning, and returns home at bedtime.  During the day, he sends me loving little audio messages.  Nothing fancy.  He’s not a poet.  Nor excessively feminine.  But his heart is sincere.  This makes me miss him and want more….

 

We planned a sunday trip to the “seaside” (adorably, that’s what he calls “the beach”)  and sweetly anticipated it all week.  I can’t recall a single time since I’ve been in Italy, where we’ve done something together and had a harmonious, nourishing, pleasurable experience… mostly it’s hard to connect, I feel lonely, we fight…

 

But still, I brought my Beginner’s Mind on Sunday.  When the rubber met the road, he was “nervous” (and mean as a biproduct).  And I was like, “Really???  We’ve been anticipating this beautiful day all week, and now THIS is the best you’ve got???”

 

But apparently it was….

 

As is often the case, he didn’t respond when I talked.  He interrupted me.  He complained and ruminated on things not of the Present.  He drank a small bottle of white wine with lunch, like he does on most of his few days off… as if this were a legitimate escape from the burden of his overactive mind.

 

Little by little over the course of the day, my heart closed.  Despite this, I strove to enjoy Serena’s refreshing, innocent company, let the sunlight and warmth recharge me, release my burdens to the salty, undulating sea.  I sort of succeeded… in a decapitated fashion.

 

But LISTEN.  I am NOT telling you all this to defame my husband.  I understand him pretty well… These days, he is living beneath an intensity of pressure that would break most mortals.  Considering this, he’s actually been pretty damn nice.  He’s breaking through some deeep-assed patterns of anger and cruelty.  Doesn’t mean I’m loving it… but my respect for him grows.  This is a big part of what makes me stay.  That, and his love for our unborn sun.  He loves our baby (and Serena) too much for me to leave without giving him a chance.  Though the notion of leaving is an unrelenting devil on my shoulder, who taunts and seduces me until I am stumble drunk on his hollow promises of happiness in distant lands.

 

Last night, we nestled into bed pregnant with The Unspoken.  Instead of passing out, he stayed with me.  Slowly we unraveled some profoundly unwieldy knots.  He impressed me with his capacity to receive my harsh honesty, and stay open.  I wish he was more consistent in this domain.  But perhaps, with practice he will be.  Because he didn’t used to be this good.

 

We talked until we were empty and united.  Then he asked if he could lick my…. Uh-huh.  I have been feeling so sexually shut down these days.  Depression and lack of trust is not exactly an aphrodisiac, as it turns out.  But what did I have to lose???

 

He rocked it.  In general, he has good technique… yet mostly, I feel like HE’S not loving it.  He’s just being courteous.  I’m all for courtesy… but there IS something to be said for The Zone.   The alchemical expanse where giver and receiver melt and meld into one sprawling puddle of pleasure.

 

I’m not gonna give you all the details of my sex life.

 

That’s not my point.  My point is that I don’t believe I should hide the full spectrum honesty of my existence out of shame and cultural conditioning.  Sex should be normalized and healthy and spoken of at LEAST as freely as struggles and fighting.  And another point is that talking shit out is rad.  I mean like super rad… but it can only get a couple so far.  The rest must be said with wordless lips, with touch and lust and passionate, embodied love.  I dare you to argue.

 

I awoke early this morning, and the freshly hatched day was a-flood with sunlight and the exotic, diverse songs of birds.  It also happens to be Giordano’s birthday.  My body was still brimming with pleasure.  I got up and made us coffee, brought it back to bed, and we tandemly geeked on our phones.  (As much as I despise it, my phone is a portal to so many loving connections.  Sigh.)  Oh, modern day romance… not too romantic.  But the Moral of the Story, is that I felt happy.  And leisurely.  Serena slept until 8am.  And I found myself laughing at the “problems” that usually plague me and sink my blessed ship.

 

Then I wrote it all down, and feel Brilliant.

 

May this wash of sweet relief sustain me for…

Days…

Or perhaps lifetimes.

 

Thank you for your LOVE.

Thank you for your Courage.

Thank you for Believing in me.

Thank you for BEing.

 

Love,

Athena

 

Hella Green Grass, Butterflies in the Wind and Not-So-Soft Knocks

Blog Pic

 

If you go back seven or eight years in this here bloggie, you will find many-a-reference to “The School of Mostly Soft Knocks”.  This is how I fondly referred to my life.  Ha!  I guess I have since graduated.  Because the knocks ain’t so soft no mo’.  I was tickled remembering this outdated version of me though…

 

But today in honor of the spirit of Soft Knocks, I shall mine my mind for mundane pleasures and glistening fragments of beauty which pave my Path… and put them in one, palatable pile.  Sorta like those birds that build nests out of glitzy, shiny objects.  My most recent garland of blogs have been so heavy and dark… which is fine, because I’m not here to present myself other than I AM.  (Mostly…)

 

But today I’m in the mood for lightness.  Lightness with a tinge of bleeding heart romanticism and wistful longing, of course.  Grin.

 

This morning Karuna said she saw gorgeous butterflies courageously navigating strong wind.  This is exactly what I mean.  Beauty-full… with a hint of tragedy and a splash of shattering paradox.

 

Perhaps I am a stunning butterfly, bravely navigating a violent wind storm.  Maybe we all are.  Exquisite and fragile… mostly invincible in our surrender.

 

It’s laughable that everyone else’s grass seems so much fucking greener than mine… And yet, this region of Italy in the springtime, is the greenest place I’ve ever seen.  Soft, rolling hills that sprawl on infinitely.  I was driving Serena to school this morning and she said, “Mama, do the red poppies remind you of Grandma Sumitra?”

 

I told her that once…  And now she occasionally feeds it back to me, precisely when I need a heaping dose of Mama.  These poppies are insouciant spots of flaming red, bursting from the endless, undulating sea of green.  I imagine driving along these country roads with my Ma sitting shotgun… her singing sincere praises of these occasional, glorious bursts of red.

 

My mom loved to take scenic routes and drive slow.

 

The poppies remind my inner child “Dawnie-cakes” of the cans of fruit cocktail she devoured back in the “good olde days”.   Remember?  Grapes, pineapple, peaches, pears… and occasional RED CHERRY.  Probably only three per can.  The scarcity made them utterly thrilling.

 

(How did I survive my sugar-laden childhood???  My mom bought me bags of chips ahoy and oreo cookies and set NO LIMITS on my consumption!  I could eat them till I was sick.  And I did.  And sometimes Cap’n Crunch cereal.  Which I consumed in the same over-indulgent, carefree spirit.  Kraft Cheese and Macaroni- implemented with real cheddar cheese in addition to the hella tasty, neon orange stuff in the packet…. And speaking of cheddar cheese, there’s no such thing here in Italy.  Which occasionally bums me out.)

 

And speaking of my mom, allow me to delight in the memory of being twenty years old, and taking a “metaphysics” class with her at our beloved Unity Church on upper Filmore Street in San Francisco.  Taught by the charismatic, southern wonder, Revered Maureen.  Ma would pick me up from my cheap, filthy house in Oakland, and drive us in her Volkswagon Rabbit convertible.  Sounds hella stylish, right?

 

Well, the caveat was that the top was broken, and would not go up… so we had to navigate the windy Bay Bridge and the nocturnal, foggy city scapes and sketchy lower Filmore neighborhood, totally exposed.  She kept her semi-trusty steed equipped with a mexican blanket that I desperately swaddled myself in.  She sported a decently warm jacket.  What especially tickles me about this, is that it is SO signature “My Mom”.  There were always breakdowns, challenges and struggles born of financial scarcity.  But it never stopped her from Living Life.  She still took us out to lunch and we luxuriated over many-a-latte.

 

In fact, she drank lattes until the day before she died.  My brother left our camp in her hospital room and went to the awesome coop grocery store just down the street (in Grass Valley), ordered my mom the latte she requested “on her deathbed” and said “Please make it GOOD.  It’s for my mom and she is about to die.”

 

In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, “So it goes.”

 

And speaking of lattes, there’s my Dad, on the opposite end of the spectrum.  He drinks Folger’s Crystals.  Religiously.  Haha and he calls it “coffee”!!!  Two cups in the morning.  Ever since I’ve known him.  Upon reflection, I LOVE THIS.  I’ve never considered him “the perfect dad”… but from the perspective of a writer, GOD YES, he’s a quintessential character in the Story of My Life.

 

Not too long ago, I wrote about how “fucked up” I felt by my relationship with him.  But lately, as I’ve been navigating this multidimensional web of difficulty and heart-ache, he has showed up and totally has my back.  He doesn’t always show up when I “want him”.  But when I “need him”, he is in my corner.

 

His name is Bart.  I always thought that was a funny name… and even a bit embarrassing… you know, because it rhymes with fart.  But since I’ve been pregnant with a boy, I’ve been more curious about name meanings.  So I googled “Bartley name origin”… And I was tickled to discover that a primary origin is Scottish, and means “Birch Meadow”.  I dare anyone to tell me that’s not just fucking LOVELY…

 

And dig THIS about my dad- he’s a CRAPS DEALER.  In the Biggest Little City….  Has been since before I was born.  Which is getting on forty years.  Speaking of being forty, maybe the haunted fun-house I’m lost in is a symptom of midlife crisis!  I never believed in those things… but perhaps they are real after-all.

 

Anyway, don’t you think that’s perfectly poetic for me???  A dad who drinks Folger’s Crystals and deals craps in Reno, is married to a spanish woman named Mercedes, who is twenty years younger than he… Oh, and he LIVES TO GOLF.  When we used to talk on the phone, golf was THE topic that would bring him alive.  I mean how much is there to SAY about GOLF…. But… it didn’t matter, because it was said with raw PASSION.

 

My parents separated before I was two… but I spent summers with my Dad as a kid.  Traumatic summers.  He was emotionally volatile.  And pretty damn narcissistic.  He would totally lose control and yell about dumb shit.  He had a knack for making the most simple things complicated.

 

And then I married him.

 

Yeah, I guess I’m workin’ the shit out with Giordano.  He’s too much like my dad.  I should say, like my  Dad USED to be… Dear Bartley has calmed down and smoothed out in his “old age”.  It’s actually moving to recognize my papa’s soul growth.  I feel like a proud parent when I tune in to his noble Becoming.  Yay Dad!

 

Anyway, I hope I pass this rigorous ”class”, and don’t need to repeat it…  In regards to working out my core wounds and karmic… I wanna say “garbage”, because I totally hate it… But I suppose one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure.  By the Power vested in me, I declare myself vast enough to swing BOTH WAYS- I can hate my Path, and celebrate it’s nutrient-dense rightness too.

 

Well… how was THAT for a hearty dose of lightness?!  Haha!  I dunno about YOU, but it hit MY spot!

 

Oh Life….

 

You Unwieldy Beast…

 

🙂

 

 

Breathe. Write. Heal.

I think of this blog as my Life Story.  Sure, there’s a butt-ton (my favorite unit of measure) of mOMents that happen within the massive cracks of time between posts… but if you added these pages up and divided them by themself… you would get a fairly vivid and tonally accurate sketch of my Dense Adventure this time around.

 

With this in mind, what can I say today that will carry you along the shadow-carved carousel continuum that is my Life?

 

I want to make broad strokes, so you can taste the ALL OF IT that I am swimming in.  Broad strokes, intricately engraved with microscopic renditions of The Lord’s Prayer, naturally.

 

I often feel like captain of the Titanic these days.  In charge of a hopelessly sinking ship.  It’s a visceral feeling… the sinking starts in my heart and spreads like fire.  Sometimes it begins upon waking.  Others I am spared till mid-morning.  It’s a stiff cocktail of loneliness, isolation and poverty.  I flush with a sense of desperation and burn for someone to hear me and hold me and be a messy flesh-bag by my side. But my american friends are dancing with Mister Sandman…

 

I almost always find myself alone.  In my house strewn with the at once inspiring and despicable aftermath of the endlessly exploding imagination of a three year old.  Alone with Serena, that is.  Serena who needs so much of me. (Except in those said blessed mOMents of sovereign, bursting imagination.)

 

The haunted rabbit hole of desperation has a distinct gravitational hunger and suckles me forcefully.  I try to breathe deep and stay awake.  But the pain is intoxicating.  I can’t believe THIS is what I was born for.  I start to quietly beat myself up for losing my Way.  For living a life that is waaay less than extraordinary and glorious.

 

While Serena is napping, I scroll down my instagram feed and see Tony Robbins juicing up audiences the size of twelve football stadiums, acknowledging his soulfully gorgeous, supportive wife, recharging his batteries in Fiji… I see healthy, bright beings telling it on a mountain about how they start their day with celery juice, and I feel eternally fucked, because where I live, it’s near impossible to find organic celery.  I see mamas who are raising their littles immersed in nature, without the festering devil that is “screen”.  I see pregnant women who are committed to regular “work-out” routines, promenading around local farmer’s markets with their three year olds and having satisfying intimacy with their husbands.  And so much more.

 

I hate social media.  I never felt like this before.  I guess I should take a break…  But I’m afraid if I unplug, I will be hopelessly alone.

 

In other news, I don’t think I mentioned here that “Misha”, the cat who hangs around our house, had three kittens in our living room on the night of April 10th. (The auspicious birthday of my legendary childhood bestie, Amber…)  One kitten died days later.  Another one died yesterday.  Serena and I loved her to the Other Side.  There is one left…

 

Why do kittens drop like flies around our house?  I’ll tell you why.  They are Giordano’s dad’s cats.  He does not spay/neuter them… and they just breed prolifically and shit everywhere.  Giordano says there are about thirty… but I have no idea how he can know this.  They occur as infinite to me.  They are all inbred my now, and infested with ticks and worms and lord knows what else.  A few of them have set up camp at our house… And it’s impossible not to love them.  But this entails living with a broken heart for the conditions of their existence.  Such a different mindset than “where I come from”.  I grew up with Bob Barker’s relentless, devotional plug at the end of every Price Is Right episode, reminding viewers to spay and neuter their pets.

 

Anyway, the remaining kitten, I named Pleiades… because she has bulging, blue alien eyes.  She seems slightly retarded: scrawny, trembling and weak.  But also adorable.  Now that her siblings are dead, she is always under my feet.  Needing warmth and another heartbeat.  The same things I am needing.

 

When left alone, she pours with incessant, agitating cries.  So I carry her around in my pocket, or hold her close to my heart.  This soothes us both.  I hope she survives.

 

I never thought I’d be one of those moms who lived only for her children…

 

But lately, in moments it feels like Serena is the tread that keeps me going.  However imperfectly. (And.  The deeper me lives for Humanity.  At my core, I know that all I feel through and live is in service of The Collective.  Digesting the energies that few have the courage to encounter and embrace.  The True Me is passionate about this.)  Yesterday was swimming day.  I drove us to the pool at half the speed limit, because I couldn’t find the will to do more.  The ache inside was debilitating…

 

Lately I find myself thinking of Sylvia Plath… imagining that I know the crippling depression that drove her to take her own life.  I’m too spiritually minded/hearted to do such a thing.  But I understand it…  I also think of my recently deceased, schizophrenic maternal grandmother.  I’m not mentally ill.  But these days, I recognize the homeopathic dose of her that lives through me.  I wonder about the burden she carried… A genius with no support in expressing her brilliance.  So instead of playing oboe for the symphony, she married a jolly man, fresh from prison, (grandpa robbed a train station and did… ten years?) made three daughters and a home.  And went crazy.  That is such a simplified version… but suppressing creativity, dreams, desire, brilliance in the name of survival, cultural “appropriateness”, lack of support/validation… I blink in astonishment as these themes live through me now.  I want to hurl them against a wall of stone and fire.

 

That’s why I am here writing, even as my life seems to be sinking and I come undone.  I might not have “IT” figured out.  I might be failing in the eyes many of the peanut gallery who live inside me.  But I can still write about it.  I can always write about it.  This is my sanity and salvation.

 

And speaking of sanity and salvation, back to my swim.  We made it to the pool, and miraculously, I found my way into my neon, sport bikini, my massive belly bulging like this burgeoning full moon.  We set up camp on the (indoor) tile pool deck.  I opened Giordano’s laptop and put the Peppa Pig DVD inside.  It wouldn’t play.  I tried ten times.  It got stuck on the FBI Warning.  A man came and took “my lane” while I was wrastling with unwieldy technology.  Desperation filled me to overflowing and tears poured forth.

 

Getting my ass in the pool had seemed like a dose of disgusting medicine, moments ago… But suddenly the threat of having this life-line robbed from me was a cosmic injustice that I could not endure.  “Luigi”, the kind-hearted man at the front desk came and asked (in Italian, of course) what was the matter.  We mutually grappled with the language barrier in attempt to right this Royal Wrong.  He offered for Serena to watch a program in the office, where there was WIFI.  Serena refused to be that far from me.  I told her she could sit at the edge of the pool and watch me do laps.  Nope.  Not gonna happen.  All I could do was sit there, stupefied by IT ALL.

 

After eternal moments of glazed desperation, I prepared to close the computer… and got a hunch to try restarting it.  So I did.  And then Peppa Pig played like a Boss.  The cool water swirled and swaddled me in love.  Buoyant movement and breath, I floated through an interdimensional world beyond time.  Alchemy.  Life didn’t get any easier when I emerged forty-five minutes later… but I was tenderized and able to keep going.

 

My wise and luminous friend Elizabeth told me to keep breathing deep into my heart.  To stay in my heart no matter what.  She said that hitting rock bottom is “auspicious”.  She said “A light will go on if I can stay in my heart and embrace my pain.”

 

Yes.

 

Breathe.  Write.  Heal.

 

For the well-being of ALL.

 

Amen.

 

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