Panorama of San Bernardino

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Wonder Woman

Today is a good day.  I feel that I have come through the wringer and am dry.  There are no more tears to be shed.  Or lost dreams to mourn.  There are only new plans to make.

Part of it is just feeling well physically.  This has been a hard month.  I was swollen with all of the hormones and having been off them for a couple of weeks, I feel better.  And having gone through one of the hardest nights of my life with the miscarriage has made me stronger.  It had to.

When I was a little girl in the 1970's, I loved Wonder Woman so much that I had her picture on my wall.  I begged my mom to let me change my name to Lynda because I knew the real name of Wonder Woman was Lynda Carter.  I wanted to be Wonder Woman aka Lynda Carter so badly.  She was strong and brave and beautiful.  And, my little self knew Wonder Woman was somewhere inside of me just waiting to come out.

Some people say, "what would Jesus do?"  Instead I ask myself, "what would Wonder Woman do?"  Wonder Woman wouldn't moan or whine, "why me?"  No.  Wonder Woman would never do that.  Wonder Woman would twirl herself into super hero status and hop on her invisible plane to save the world, golden lasso and all.

In a way, after my ordeal, I felt transformed.  No longer am I a mere human.  Instead, I morphed into a bad ass Amazon who could take on the world.

And I got my hair done.  Don't underestimate the power of the hairdo.  It means a lot to look good and feel good.  And with my straight keratin hair and glasses, I have to say, and I know we're all thinking it, that if I squint at myself in the mirror, I resemble Lynda Carter in her heyday.

Just a little.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Not for the Faint of Heart

Music always inspires me and on Thursday night at the Fox Theater in downtown Pomona, I had an epiphany at the Jack White concert.

This has been a hard two months.  I did IVF, got a positive result for pregnancy and then seven weeks later was told I had lost the baby.  They called it a missed miscarriage where for some reason your body rejects the embroyo early on.  Only a sac remained.  Like an abandoned house that someone had moved out of, the sac stayed in my uterus as an awful reminder.  I was told I needed to schedule a DNC to clean up the mess.  I have learned that life is not for the sqeamish.  Nor for the faint of heart.

To think about it gives me a stone in my chest.  Since the diagnosis I have tried not to think about it too much.  Thinking can be overrated.

Instead, I stayed busy and went into work every day, resolving my clients' criminal problems and tried to move on.  Please excuse me if I seemed a bit distracted.  I felt like I was not myself anymore and this new me was disconcerting.  A type of Invasion of the Body Snatchers had set in.

At the Jack White concert on Thursday, I felt more like my old self.  We arrived early at 5 p.m. to try and get wristbands for the floor and saw that the will call line wrapped around the venue.  I shrugged my shoulders (shoulders encased by a Replacements t-shirt) and walked to the end of the line a block away.  The line moved and by six we were sitting in the bar next door to the venue.  You weren't allowed to leave once you had picked up your tickets so I snagged a table and Adrian brought me an O'Douls.

(Was I tempted to drink?  Of course.  I am always tempted.  But, I knew a Coors Lite would not solve anything and my almost two years of sobriety would be out the window.  And, I don't do moderation well my friends.  But that's another story for another day.)

By seven, they opened the doors.  The rush of excitement for me at a concert is always palpable.  It gives me a rush of adrenalin.  The crush of people in line to buy a t-shirt did not dissuade me and after forking over the cash, I changed into my new t-shirt.  We weren't familiar with the opening band so Adrian and I sat outside and basked in the sun on the patio.  I even smoked one illicit ciggerate (just one I promise) as I chatted with a purple haired girl about her tatoos.

By the time Jack White came on at almost ten, I was exhaused.  My feet hurt so bad that every time I stepped, I had tingles of pain.

By hour two, something happened.

Jack White played my favorite White Stripes song ("I can tell that we are gonna be friends") and I jumped up from my chair in the "disabled" section of the floor (don't judge, I was in a lot of pain and no one was sitting there) and started dancing like there was no tomorrow.  The music consumed me and song after song took away all the pain and sadness.  We stayed until the very last song which I almost killed myself jumping up and down to like a maniac and knew one thing for sure.

I was back.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Writing Process (as a work in progress)


My fellow VONA alum and all around writer extraordinaire Joshunda Sanders asked me to participate in this blog tour (see her process at http://joshunda.com/2014/06/02/my-writing-process-forget-what-you-hear-about-writing/) and I agreed.  Here goes:


1) What are you working on?  I have been working on my memoir about growing up in the 1970's and 1980's in the Southern California area known as the Inland Empire (which back in the day was the antithesis of an empire).  The memoir is tentatively titled "My Inland Empire: Hometown Stories".  The book is told from the first person perspective of Jennie, a dreamer and the oldest of three sisters who live with their manic mother and alcoholic father in Ontario, California.  The book spans Jennie's formative elementary school and teenage years and ends with her dropping out of high school and thinking all is lost.  The themes of the memoir are loss, forgiveness, and the reconciliation of memory.  Each chapter begins with a narrative (novel, movie, TV show) that Jennie imagines herself into and ultimately, Jennie must learn that she has to be the heroine of her own story.  My memoir has been a seven year labor of love and for now, I have put it aside to give it some perspective.  My goal is to do a final polish and edit and submit it to agents by the tail end of this year.  My other recent project has been essays focusing on fertility after forty which I have all too much familiarity with (see http://www.xojane.com/healthy/cookies-dont-lie-or-i-waited-until-42-to-have-a-baby-and-i-am-hoping-that-it-is-not-too-late).  I have been conducting research and would love to write a book on the fertility process and the heartbreaking nature of  IVF which rips out hearts (and wallets) and too often leaves one broken and disappointed.  The book would be about redefining expectations.


2) How does your work differ from others’ work in the same genre?  For me, memoir has to be the bloody and raw truth.  Too often, people censor their writing and leave out the ugly details.  I have been accused of being too open, but the writers I love the most just lay it all out there for everyone to see.  I don't know if my work is different, but I do know that my story is all my own.


3) Why do you write what you do? For me, writing is a compulsion.  My best stories come out like water from a tap.  I know dedication is important but I think sometimes when I try too hard, I overwork a piece.  Inspiration is important and my punk rock music always inspires me in my writing.  I also write to quiet the demons in my head and heart and to find some peace through reconciliation.  My childhood and young adult years were very difficult at times, but they also contained lovely and adventurous moments that I would not trade for the world.  My goal is to always capture the characters in my life in a truthful and compelling way.  That is not to say that finding that truthful portrait has been easy.  That has been the hardest part and also the most cathartic.  Through the writing process, I have had to try and see the holistic picture of my family as opposed to making anyone a stereotype. The truth is never one color.


4) How does your writing process work? I write in spurts while balancing my job as an attorney/public defender.  Early mornings are always the ideal time for me.  I try to blog at least once a week and always have something in the pipeline.  My writing process is a work in process and my goal is to write every day this summer.  Writing workshops have proven to be my biggest inspiration.  At VONA (http://www.voicesatvona.org/), I met so many beautiful teachers and writers and it kick started my entire memoir writing process.  I took this year off but plan on attending at least one workshop next summer. For me, having a writing community is the key and honing one's craft is an imperative.  Finally, I think writing goes hand in hand with reading.  I have always been a voracious reader and gravitate toward the memoir and young adult genres.  Reading a good book always inspires me to be a better writer.


On June 19th, two of my favorite writers and friends will post on their blogs about their writing process.  I know they will be fabulous.


Samuel Autman (http://www.samuelautman.com/) is an assistant professor of creative writing at DePauw University and has been widely published and is hard at work on Sanctified: A Memoir. 


Gina Devore is a singer songwriter (http://www.reverbnation.com/coat), poet and writer of creative nonfiction. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Steak Sauce

I grab the Worcestershire sauce and think of you.  How you would always barbecue those huge rib eye steaks.  How I would always pull away when you tried to hug me as a teenager.  How I never understood your need for affection.

Now I do.  I get exactly how you must have felt to see little pieces of you brought to life.  You must have been in awe.

You made creation seem so easy.  Seven of us, all girls.

Yet, I always knew somehow that it would be hard for me.  Even as a little girl, I somehow knew.  Conception would be a struggle.
  
And, as I sit here at the Steer n Stein trying to process the knowledge that what once was in me may no longer be.  Reconciling that all this effort toward parenthood has been for naught.

I take a bite of steak and chew.  I don't taste anything but that sauce.

It reminds me of you.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Oh Baby (Part II)

There are baby pictures everywhere in the office.  I walk by a collage containing dozens of pictures of infants with captions like "thank you for making our dream come true."

As I sit in the waiting room of the fertility office waiting for my second ultrasound, I pray in my head hoping God can hear my private thoughts.  I am willing him to listen.  It is a truism to say that I want this baby more than anything.  The last week I have been coaxing the baby to grow.  I wake up in the middle of the night and rub my stomach and whisper to myself, "you can do it".

This has been a chaotic and draining process.  I thought getting pregnant would be the hardest part, but no, staying pregnant is even harder.

Today they will again do a transvaginal ultrasound to see the baby.  Please let there be something there.  A tiny pebble and a heartbeat for me to hear.

I promise to not ask for anything this big again.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Six weeks and counting and hoping and praying

I am sitting on the beach in Newport writing this.  My hubby took my mother-in-law and I here to enjoy the sun and sand.  I needed to clear my mind and for me, sitting on the beach and watching the ocean is a tranquil and meditative environment.

My mind is swirling like the waves before me.  Last week, I went to get a six week ultrasound and while they saw a gestational sac, they didn't see anything else.  Of course, I overreacted and didn't sleep for days worrying that there is not a baby there despite all evidence to the contrary (rising hormone levels, expanding girth etc) and ignoring the fact that the ultrasound was very early.

After a week of angst and much research, I have come to the conclusion that I should not have had such an early ultrasound. There were no danger signs such as bleeding or cramping and thus, it wasn't medically indicated in my non expert opinion because all it did was freak me out.

When I talked to my doctor, he pleaded with me not to worry and said that I could return in a week

Tomorrow I will have another ultrasound and am hoping and praying everything goes well.  Wish me luck.  In the end, I have to believe all is OK.  And whatever will be, will be.