Sometimes It Goes Like This

I was walking from the coffee shop, crossing the road to the academy where I teach part-time, when I noticed it. I was in the middle of the crosswalk, and I felt good. I smiled.

I was lighter. I had just sat in a coffee shop and written steadily for an hour. I had worked on an article. I had tried to write this particular article last Friday night after Jude went to bed. But when I got to the last paragraph, it seemed I had two different pieces fighting each other and neither of them was quite on topic. All the editing in the world wasn't going to write a brand new piece. So I put it away. I reviewed my initial pitch for the article and re-centered my intention and most importantly, left it alone. I know many writers don't have the luxury of time, but in this case, I am glad I did.

As I was running down the stairs to the car this afternoon a sentence jumped into my head. I hadn't been thinking about the article at that moment, but had set today as the due date for finishing and emailing it. And as I started the car, this one sentence sprouted into a rough structure. And that's the moment I knew I could write it.

And I did. After I had written it and rewritten it and reread and reorganized and rewritten and reread once more, it was done. Writing is always hard work. Every time.

Today I put something on the page and it left me. The physical sensation of the loss was strong. But it was a positive feeling. My body experienced less resistance as I moved. My feet were tempted to skip down the sidewalk and it was hard to keep from singing.

Maybe when I write, I am somehow tapping into the very essence of what I am meant to do and who I am meant to be. So after I spend time with words, I have dug out a comfortable little hollow in the world, a snug place that is exactly me-shaped. It feels right.

Not everything I write is like that. Often it takes more time. Sometimes I give up. Most of the time the struggle to figure out what I'm writing isn't so easily resolved. Usually it doesn't all come together so neatly. But today it did.

And when it does, it's beautiful.


Falling for Fall

Sometimes I see another blog post that is a list of "things I love about (fill in the blank)" and I think, "Well, that's what happens when you post anyway, without anything to say." But for 3 days now I've been hit in the head with several things I am loving about the sudden fall weather in Seoul. And I thought a bit more about my knee-jerk reaction to lists of lovable things and I have changed my mind! Why not make a list of things I love about fall? Because everyone has an inexhaustible list of things that annoy the crap out of them and it's easy to harp about that shit. But sometimes i am trudging through a rough day, and a list of things to throw my heart's lasso around serves as a great pick-me-up. Also, when reading a list of things other people like, sometimes I am able to expand my own list by realizing Why, yes! That IS a great whatever and I've now added yet another dimension of appreciation to whatever.

So, ladies and gentlemen of the Internet, I present a list. Feel free to adopt my items and add more of your own in the comments!

1. I love the crisp bite of autumn air. It means that instead of sweating and sticking to my son, I finally get to bundle him up in the Moby wrap and tote him around like my own personal heat source. (have you used a Moby wrap in summer humidity? Don't bring that crazy near me.)

2. Big, loose sweaters over leggings. Like, please, Fashion, decide that it's awesome to cover my bumpy bits and show off my legs WITHOUT having to shave. Don't mind if I do.

3. I don't sweat all day every day! I find that living without central air conditioning makes me angry. I get angry so easily when I'm hot. I'll find myself storming around the house in a rage and stop to wonder what got me so worked up and I'll realize, heck! I'm just hot! Well, no more! The end of the mad melts! (And exclamation points. Sorry.)

4. TEEEEVEEEE. Parenthood is back, yo. That is all.

5. Jude in this hat. Do you need any more reason than this?


Gratitude covers a Multitude

First. Thank you. Yes, YOU. Thank you for all your kind comments, amazing encouragement, thoughtful and supportive emails, and phone calls. I read them all, multiple times. I'm probably not finished rereading them, either, to tell you the truth.

Second. The previous post was a bit dark; it was admittedly rushed and feverish and severely unedited in every sense of the word. This post is also being hurried and largely remains true to its first draft aside from spelling errors, which drive me berserk.

I just want to say that for all the self-loathing I gave voice to, in equal measure there exists some sense of appreciation and gratitude for what I DO have. And I'd like to talk about those things for a moment, for the sake of balance.

There are several things I currently appreciate about my body. I have made peace with my face, except for the current double-side face that occurs, but that can easily be taken care of with a little exercise and a few less donuts. I like that one of my eyebrows makes its own decisions and follows its own will, especially when being photographed. I like the shape of my lips and the color of my eyes. Currently, I am admiring the way small tufts of new hair are growing back in after all my after-Jude hair loss. They are spiky, all right around my hairline, and many of them are glowing. Yep, that's right, my new hair is coming in grey and I. don't. mind. In fact, I kind of like it. I found my first grey hairs a few months after Jude was born and they don't bother me. I'm aging! I'm living life! I'm moving forward no matter how much I feel things are all backwards for me. So grey hair is a positive sign at the moment.

I like my wrists and ankles because they do not get fat. I like that my boobs have swollen beyond all reason to a size they will probably never recover from in order to nourish my child. I am proud of my strong legs that carried me and Jude around for 9 months and that still support us, just in a slightly different configuration. I like my rib cage, its size, the fact that it remains the same size no matter how much I try to hide it with layers of donuts and coffee. It gives me hope. I have a beautiful underneath. I just have to uncover it.

I enjoy my job these days. I have liked getting to know my students, seeing their progress, and having fun with them. I am completely in love with coming home from work these days, to a Jude who couldn't be more thrilled to see me. I love figuring out how to fit in a bit of reading every day, during naptimes (which are growing shorter and shorter. What is that about? Does anyone else have a 7 month old child who naps for like 20 minutes and then is back up and at 'em for the next 5 hours?), and after Jude goes to bed. I am no longer severely sleep-deprived as Jude sleeps through the night, with usually only one sleep-feeding. I am BEYOND DELIGHTED to still be mainly breast feeding my child. I'm so happy every time he refuses a bottle of supplementary formula while I'm at work and waits to nurse until I get home. I'm also so happy to feed him fresh, homemade baby food. He is so adorable opening his little birdy mouth and slurping up whatever veggie mush we've come up with that week.

In short, I could go on. Because there are so many good things in my life currently. But I'm so BIG, it's easy to lose sight of the little things, you know? Sometimes my body outweighs my brain. Ha. Okay, my body always "outweighs" my brain, among other things. I'm making small efforts to get back in shape. And hopefully those small efforts will turn into giant leaping strides towards feeling lighter and more free. That's the thing I dislike most- the feeling that I'm trapped inside this huge sandbag of a body. There is a woman inside me who might even give a second thought to the clothes she put on if she could just get to where buying clothes wasn't a reminder of everything she's doing wrong.

Anyway, thank you all for being here. For waiting out my long silences, pauses. For telling the truth. And for loving me anyway. My life would be worth so much less if you were subtracted from it. Honestly, sincerely, my gratitude is covering a multitude of insecurities and discontent. It also covers you. Can you feel it?


Figuring Things Out

I need to know why I can't stop eating. I mean, it's obviously some kind of emotional crutch in some way, but I'm just not sure how to explore this in a way that will help me be able to exercise a little self control. I'm really eager to be thin again. And not just that. I was watching these kids run the opposite way over the crosswalk the other day and I thought about moving my body like that, so carefree, with no thought given to it. It's like I conserve energy as a habit. I got angry playing badminton with Kenny the other day because I kept missing and having to bend over and pick up the shuttlecock. I mean, this was a serious rage I found myself in, with the fast breathing and inability to form complete coherent sentences because my brain was red.

Something I've never expressed to anyone except for Kenny: I want to be a yoga instructor. Like, that's what I want to do with my life. I want to figure out how to listen to my body, to stretch myself, and then to help others center themselves, too. I mean, obviously I want to be a writer, but I don't do much of that these days. I compose blog posts and letters and postcards to friends in my head, but rarely do they make it out of the "brain crack" stage, as Ze Frank so famously refers to it.

This post is insane because I am writing it as quickly as possible. I'm not editing, which is death to a writer like me because it's way too vulnerable. Not because I'll reveal something personal, but because you will see me without any filters- the filter of "that sounds stupid" or "too many adjectives" or "Oh God you're not David Foster Wallace, are you? Write a paragraph using more than one sentence, geez" kind of filter. The one that makes it comfortable for me to hit publish, even if I'm revealing something less than flattering about myself, because at least I have written in a somewhat coherent fashion and my style shows I'm worth something, gosh darn it, even if I am a neurotic mess and a repetition of all my past mistakes piling up over and over again without any progress. My lack of progress might be redeemed by grammar and clean Hemingway sentences. Or not. Maybe you all see through this anyway. Good for you. Welcome to my darkest corner, the "What if they think I'm ignorant" fear.

So I'm bypassing all that here. I'm just letting it all hang out. Which is impossible not to do when my back fat is constantly pressed into sections by my bra. I am thankful that my breasts have swollen to a size F because I am still breast feeding and that is one of the only things I'm happy doing these days. It's like a saving grace in my day. But I'm not happy about the swelling of everything else and I know I "just" had a baby, but Jude is like almost 7 months old and so I think we can retire the "just" and just call me fat now. Let's speak the truth. The truth about how I feel: I feel like an offense. When I walk down the street with my tiny head like a pimple on the top of this enormous bloated mid-section, I actually feel offensive, like people will cringe to look at me. When I buy shirts out of necessity (all the others had holes or are stained), I feel ashamed that I have to buy the biggest size. I feel ashamed of myself, just walking around with Jude. Because people can't see the excuse that I make for myself when I'm with him. I carry Jude most of the time in a carrier on the front of me. He protects me from judgement somehow. And whenever I am without him, I feel uncalled for, inexcusable, un- whatever. Just un, nil, naught. I feel like I don't count for anything.

Now, for the other half of this truth: I know all of that is bullshit. I know it deep down to my core, that these negative thoughts are not honest, that most of it stems from living in this tiny-worshipping country. But another truth is that I'm not fat by accident, you guys. I'm fat on purpose. Every time I refuse to exercise self-control, to use discipline and keep my spoon out of the Nutella jar, or pretend like "one more coffee can't hurt," I'm making a choice. I'm killing myself through a thousand tiny indulgences every day. I'm sitting in a bakery typing this now. And do you think I didn't have a 255 calorie chocolate dipped, baked thing? No, of course I ate it. And I drank a bottle of water to cancel it out. Ha.

In conclusion: I am a crazy person. I want to change everything. And yet I'm willing to give up nothing to get it. However, I am tired of having all of this stuff on the inside of my head and I'm tired of rehashing it with myself, and I'm tired of feeling like an utterly worthless piece of crap because I can't tell myself no.

Today I am saying no. No to keeping all this pent up. No to not writing. No to not moving. No to not pursuing my dreams. I'm clearly unhinged, mentally and physically. But I can make a choice today to work on it. To do better tomorrow. To prove that it's the one thousandth three hundred and thirtieth time that you start over that counts.

I'm pushing publish. And I'm starting over. And I will never not edit myself again. Because it's way too ugly. But I have proved that I can do it. I can strip everything bare, lay everything out. I have no choice. Not doing that has gotten me nowhere. We'll see where I end up.

Anyone out there? This place has been a tomb. But I am a phoenix today. Rising from the ashes. Damn, I'm lucky. Because the God of my father is one who deals in turning ashes into beauty. Beauty from ashes. It's my story. I've made ashes of this body, this life. I'm ready for the beauty. And it doesn't come free.

DO WORK, Danielle. Do the work. And drop the self-loathing. It's so counterproductive. And end this freaking post.

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