Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Word About Inflammatory Breast Cancer

In recent weeks, I have been deeply touched by WhyMommy over at Toddler Planet. She has recently been diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) (this after watching her mother-in-law struggle with breast cancer), and is bravely sharing with her readers what this experience has been like for her and her family. She writes candidly and movingly, and her positive attitude that she will beat this beast is beyond admirable.

As she battles IBC, WhyMommy is also busy caring for two-year-old "Widget" and six-month-old "Little Bear" (whom she had to immediately wean). She has started chemo and is dealing with all the negative side effects it brings, including hair loss.

I ache for WhyMommy. While she is being brave and positive, shunning pity and asking for prayers, I have been freaking out for her. I wonder about what this battle is like in private, away from the blog. I don't know her, nor have I communicated privately with her, but I have imagined myself in her shoes numerous times. I don't know that I would be able to be as strong as she is. I don't know that I would be able to handle it as she has. She has my admiration and respect; and I wish there was something I could do to make this all go away.

And while I can't do exactly that, I can help her spread the word about IBC. The more people are aware of this type of cancer, the better the chances that it can be detected early and beat. WhyMommy wrote some words about IBC, and here they are:

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.


Please say a prayer for WhyMommy and/or send her a word of encouragement. And help spread the word about inflammatory breast cancer. You can take (you're encouraged to take) her words above and repost them on your blog or share them with your loved ones. I know she and her family would thank you for it.

And I do too.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/31/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, July 30, 2007

Babies Scare Me

Last week, during my lunch break, I went to visit my friend K in the hospital, where she's recuperating from the C-section that brought her third child into this world.

I spent my half-hour visit sitting in the rocking chair with a tiny bundle of boyness in my arms. He is sweet and soft and blissfully new and pure.

When I walked in and laid my eyes on him for the first time, I unexpectedly began crying. K began laughing at me, mainly because our friendship is largely an unsentimental one. In fact, we spend a great deal of time good-naturedly insulting and teasing and laughing at each other.

The fact that I reacted that way to the baby was surely about my friendship with K and the happiness I feel for her. But it was also about me. About where I am in my life and how a large part of all that I'm angsting over has to do with the second baby we have pretty much decided to have.

Almost a year ago, I was stressing out over the fact that I felt some tiny twinges of "I want another baby"-itis. And here I am, still stressing about it, but definitely knowing that I'm going to do this again. And knowing that - that we have gone from "no more newborns, ever" to "let's make a baby nowwwwww!" - sends the stress and freak-out levels to new heights.

I mean, people, Ben and I stated it just that plainly: We will never have another child naturally; we will never suffer the sheer hell of the first two-three months ever again. And we believed it. We HATED those first months. We were miserable. No amount of reading, advice or preparation mattered in the face of a baby whose milk was constantly coming back up, to the point that he could barely sleep; or in the face of all the fears and anxieties that assaulted us at every turn; or in the face of the sudden, overwhelming, permanent loss of sleep. However much we knew that most of it was perfectly normal, it still sucked. A lot.

So to find ourselves now in a place we never expected we'd be - with our adoption plans on hold but feeling like we want and need our family to grow and for Max to have a sibling before he gets much older - is nothing short of terrifying. I don't know if I can do this again. Just the thought of going through those first three months again are sometimes enough to make me want to call it a day and get Ben's tubes tied. So the other things - dealing with work-related issues, pumping my milk at work, going back to not-normal mode just when we've settled back into a routine of normalcy - just seem incredibly overwhelming. And oh hell, the loss of sleep. That alone is going to kill me.

And beneath all that lies my fear about going through labor again. The first time, it was the most painful thing ever, holy jeebus I thought I was going to die. But it went without a hitch. It progressed quickly and Max was born safely. During my pregnancy, I had decided that, since I had not been through labor myself, everyone else's stories of how horrible it was were meaningless to me. I didn't let them affect me; I didn't believe them. I chose to believe that I had no reason to fear that for which my body had been created. And so while I feared something happening to the baby, I didn't fear labor itself.

But now, now I know. I know what it feels like, and I know the fear of the possibility of that pain lasting not 7 hours, but 14. And I can't shake the feeling that while everything will overall go well, my second labor won't be as easy or fast as my first one (and I saw my sister's succeeding labors get progressively longer, which doesn't help).

I know that overall, I'm a strong person. I adjust. I adapt and then forge ahead even as the exhaustion and frustration eat me alive. I turn to my sense of humor to help me gain perspective. I write to make it all more bearable. So I know that I would deal with these changes and live through them relatively unscathed and survive them.

But still. As badly as I now want this baby, I'm terrified. I'm absolutely terrified and filled with anxiety. It's like going back to square one, but worse.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/30/2007   | | | links to this post

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lucky Bitch

Wow. That's all I can say.

Yesterday was an incredible day. At dawn, I was greeted by a smiling, just-woken-up-yummy little monkey saying to me, "Apy tay eeuuu, Mommy" - and what could be better than that?

Between Ben and Max greeting me with kisses and hugs, opening up their wonderful presents (diamond earrings! score!) and going out for breakfast at 7:30, it was a great morning.

In the afternoon, I went to the spa with my mom and sisters, where we indulged in massages, the steam room and basically just got to relax.

For dinner, my nearest and dearest joined me for dinner and cake, and I had a wonderful time just talking, laughing and pigging out.

Really, nothing major, but exactly what I wanted: love, good company and the chance to relax.

I'm lucky. I'm blessed. I'm grateful for it all.



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(Oh! And the presents! Awesome! This is the year I've gotten the most thoughtful gifts ever: a wide variety of pretty things that totally match my personality and tastes. Really, I was beyond impressed.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/29/2007   | | | links to this post

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Thirty!

Whhooooo Hhooooooooooo! 30!

The last shot in the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday. Taken, like, 3 minutes ago.

Please note the extremely cool T-shirt my BFF Mel got me, plus the dazzling diamond earrings from the huz.




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Posted by Tere @ 7/28/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, July 27, 2007

Twenty-Nine

Going over pictures from the last year to find an adequate one of myself, one thing was very quickly evident: it was all about Max. Out of the 1,000+ pictures we took, .05% include either Ben or myself, .005% include all three of us, and .000000005% include just Ben and me. And of those, there isn't one where we look really cute and put-together.

So, on the last day of my 20's, I give you the two best pictures of me in the last year.






Max obviously needs to get his fingers out of his mouth.

And I, based on the changes I've observed, need a mini makeover.



(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/27/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Piscina Party

Time to get in the pool, y'all!







Please excuse the crappy-looking yard - we mow every four weeks, but at this time of the year, it grows too quickly to keep up.

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Baby Alert! Lilli had her baby! YAY!

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Posted by Tere @ 7/26/2007   | | | links to this post

Twenty-Eight

I became a mother! Much to my surprise and deep happiness (and much to my relief), at 28 I delivered unto this world a baby so delightful and sweet that my life shifted to a whole other level and took on the kind of meaning I never thought I'd know.

In this picture, I'm ten weeks postpartum. Thankfully, puffy face from hell went back to normal fairly quickly.

And I love those shoes, but man, they were killing me.





Look how tiny he was! I can't even believe he was ever that small, or that he was born even smaller than that!



(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/26/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Baby Before 30

When I was 17 years old, a gynecologist told me I would never have children. After making such a startling, dramatic claim, he tried to soften the blow by telling me that if I took birth control pills, I might have a chance. “But you’ll have to try to have one before you turn 30. After 30, your chances will be slim to none.”

The reason for this bomb dropping to my life?


To read the rest of this post, visit me at GNMParents!

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Posted by Tere @ 7/25/2007   | | | links to this post

Twenty-Seven

Deliciously pregnant and oh-so-adventurous! For me to touch a gator, even a small, taped-mouth one like this one, is quite a big deal.





Mainly though, I just loved being pregnant. Having swollen feet, leaky boobs, acid reflux and the puffy face from hell sucked; but overall, I loved it. This was a great year for me.



(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/25/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Short and Sweet, With Quotes

The quiet coming from my corner of the blogosphere is not a sign that I have sunk deeper into my funk. It's just a busy week at work and that seriously cuts into my blogging time.

Also, general malaise. Brought on by my "special friend". The one who "visits once a month".

It makes me want to "stab my eyes out" because the back pain and general discomfort is "so fucking awful".

I'm feeling better today, mainly due to "your love and support" and "vicodin".

Seriously, I appreciate all the messages (both comments and emails) of support and the "gentle" reminders that this too shall pass.

It will. And I know that.

Still, this sucks. It sucks "hardcore"; good thing I'm "funny" enough to survive.

Or something "like that".

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Posted by Tere @ 7/24/2007   | | | links to this post

Twenty-Six

Tere after one or two drinks. I can tell because of the tilted-head, body-leaning-the-other-way pose I'm doing.





Nice to the see the crazy, fly-away hair looking slightly tame.

But sadly, that tank top doesn't even come close to fitting me anymore.



(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/24/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, July 23, 2007

Dragging You Into My Misery

It's been almost a month since I posted about my problem. And well, it's still a problem. And worse, it's really, really, really getting me down.

The thing that I thought would resolve everything died in the water. It had nothing to do with me, just one of those crappy circumstances, but well. It sucks.

The thing is, the situation looks bleak. I made a bad decision, and now I'm paying for it. And solutions seem nonexistent. The things I've tried so far have failed, and every day is like going back to square one. And you know when you're in a bad situation, how you just want it to be over with? That's how I feel: desperately wanting for this to be over with and frustrated as each day ends without any changes.

Between my growing frustration and the anger I feel at myself, I am beyond defeated. I would give anything to go back months and months to a time when I could have avoided all this. That's the thing I'm stuck on: I could have avoided all this. Granted, I made my decision with information that has since turned out to be utterly and completely false, but still. I should have known.

Meanwhile, there's another part of me that feels that even when I do find a solution of some kind, it just isn't going to be the same. In other words, there is no real solution here. A lot of this has to do with my now being a mother and how that affects my priorities. I've spent a long time thinking and worrying about how to find satisfaction in my life outside motherhood while still keeping motherhood as my number one priority. And basically, it's damn hard. I feel like, despite my best efforts, there is no right solution. On top of that, this problem is affecting my plans to get pregnant, and that is just a whole other bag of suckiness.

Right now, I am taking steps to work this out, to find a resolution that works best for me personally and for me as a mom. I just hope I can fix this and move on, because right now? Life is really hard and sucky and depressing and weighing on me like a ton of bricks.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/23/2007   | | | links to this post

Twenty-Five

So my good friend Tony visits from New Orleans, and what utterly boring and predictable thing do I do?





Well, he and his friends really wanted Cuban food and to "experience Cuban people", so I thought it best to just give them the full experience.

And then we headed to South Beach so they could stare at half-naked women and all the other fabulous people.



(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/23/2007   | | | links to this post

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Twenty-Four

Extreme close-up. Taken at the Jackson Brewery in the French Quarter.






As always, crazy, fly-away hair in full effect.



(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/22/2007   | | | links to this post

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Twenty-Three

Almost a bride.

Taken the day of my bridal shower, my parents' front yard.








(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/21/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, July 20, 2007

When Pigs Fly

There are some traditions that must be celebrated, regardless of place or circumstance. For Cubans/Cuban-Americans, one such tradition is Noche Buena, or Christmas Eve dinner.

I don't know the exact history of how it was celebrated in Cuba, or if how it is celebrated here is how it was done there. I just know that in exile, the holiday has greater importance than Christmas Day. It is when families come together to eat, drink and dance.

The centerpiece of this celebration is the pig. Ah, the pig. The traditional way to roast the pig - in Miami - is in a caja china, or in any similar pig-roasting contraption (if you do this tradition the *right* way, you start the day before by going to the farm and selecting the very pig you want slaughtered for your feast; there's also the option of digging a pit in your backyard and putting the pig in it, covering it with palm leaves, putting a metal pan over it and building a fire on the pan and cooking it that way. And yes, this is perfectly normal for us). It's a process that takes ALL day (longer, if you count putting the pig to marinate the night before), so festivities usually start early, and by the time the pig is finally ready, everyone's starving so badly that they surround the pig and inhale and sigh with joy and relief and then pick at the crispy, juicy skin for a quick nibble.

It is, without doubt, a big deal for us. A Noche Buena without a pig is not really Noche Buena at all.

So when you're a single Miami Cuban/Cuban-American living away from Miami, Christmas can be hard. Joyless, even. No familia, no pig, no party. My best friend CL faced such a Christmas last year when she was temporarily living in NYC. She wasn't going to be able to come home for the holiday, so her family decided to fly up and spend Christmas with her.

But what are a bunch of old-school Cuban parents to do for Christmas in New York-freaking-City? Well, CL's parents reasoned, being away from home was no reason to change their celebration much. If CL could not come to the pig, the pig would come to CL.

When my best friend greeted her parents, they carried with them a very large gift box. It was large enough that she wondered how they'd even traveled comfortably with it. Simple, her mom explained, "we packed it well, checked it in, and it flew as luggage."

My best friend opened the box, and inside she found a frozen pig, ready to be dressed and tossed into the oven (in lieu of a caja china).

Her mom had also packed black beans and yuca to cook there.

And so Noche Buena in New York City, for CL and her family, was very, very good. Almost as good as being home.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/20/2007   | | | links to this post

Twenty-Two

Hey look, more Tere-by-the-Christmas-tree! Last one, promise.

This time, it's with one of my sisters.






I adore those boots...




(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/20/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, July 19, 2007

This is Not a Deep Post

But it's extremely important nonetheless.

This is it. This is my real birthday wish list. Not the über-extravagant one; the practical one full of regular gifts that I really, really want. Plus some dream items, of course.

1. First up, I've been wanting to stop using plastic grocery bags for some time now. Now would be a good time, wouldn't it? So, I need me some canvas bags. These will work well. But the way I do groceries, better make that two sets, please. And I suppose I'll need a couple of these, too.

2. Boy, do I feel sheepish. I have repeatedly whined about the ridiculously extravagant Gucci purse I want, and all along, I've been linking to the wrong one. Forget what I've said before; it's this one. And me wanty very badly still.

3. I'm a total sucker for these kinds of books.

4. This is totally geriatric of me, but seriously, I'm asthmatic and need this kind of thing to help me sleep/breathe better. You want me around for my next birthday, don't you? Help me breathe better at night, then!

5. As I mentioned before, I want to be a happy cooker. To achieve that, I need new baking pans, a grill pan, and new tongs. Perhaps a gift certificate to anywhere that sells decent-quality kitchen goods?

6. This, from one of my favorite jewelers. Or this. This one, too. Ooohh, or this one.

7. And of course, this dreamy piece of gadgetry that is just so shiny and bright and lovely and just waiting to fill my life with joy.

And I'm just gonna throw this out there, but my love and friendship can totally be bought. I'm just sayin'...

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Posted by Tere @ 7/19/2007   | | | links to this post

Twenty-One

Our first Christmas, my grandmother's house. We'd been dating five months.





Benjamin, btw, totally has a thing for cheesy prom poses.

And why does it look like there are six or seven hands in that picture?




(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/19/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bloggy Linky Love (Updated)

As you can see by my recent ginormous post, BlogRhet is serious business. The last few weeks have been fruitful for me, because beyond enjoying all the thinking and discussing and general braininess of BR, I've been acquainting myself with each contributor's personal blog. At the same time, by clicking around comments sections and profiles, I've been discovering a whole slew of mama blogs and others written by some pretty cool women.

I feel like I've found the virtual promised land.

And I will share the wealth. The blogroll (which either lost some links during the template redesign and subsequent switch-over, or which I inadvertently removed during the last update) will be updated (presumably by this evening) to reflect all these new (or not-so-new, in the case of a few of these) additions to my blog reading list. Seriously, I might need to suck it up and get on Google reader or one of those blog-log, blog-lines things I've heard about.

BlogRhet has a section that shares information about the contributors. Won't you be so kind and learn more about them there? I'm lazy and am just going to do a bunch of links.

GingaJoy
Her Bad Mother
Miscellaneous Mum
Mimi on the Breach
Crib Chronicles
Them's My Sentiments
Slouching Towards 40
Blooming Yaya
Just Making It Up
Get In The Car!
The Ravin' Picture Maven
Chicken and Cheese
Mamanista

So, that's the gorgeous ladies of BlogRhet (kinda like the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, but with less Spandex).

These are other blogs I'm now regularly reading:

Lawyer Mama
Thailand Gal
Tastes Like Crazy
Hollywood Huddle
Toddler Planet (on a side note, TP's WhyMommy is currently battling inflammatory breast cancer - she could really use positive thoughts and good wishes, so please be good human beings and lend some support)

I'm also adding to the blogroll a couple of Miami mama's blogs that I read but hadn't previously linked to:

And Baby Makes Three
Claudia's Spaceship

Oh, and how could I possibly forget my beloved Subservient No More? Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds, one of my favorite blogs ever, is now on the roll.

Did I forget you? Do you want a spot on the pretty blogroll? Let me know, then. It's best to take advantage of me during times like these when I'm all about the love. Hit me up at the wrong moment and I'll just tell you to fuck off. Nicely, though.


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Ah, I knew I'd forget someone! I'm also reading Bilingual in the Boonies! Carrie and I seem to have some things in common, like being Cuban-Americans and making a big, big effort to raise bilingual children. Except that she lives in the boonies, a.k.a Tennessee.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/18/2007   | | | links to this post

Twenty

One word: finally.







(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/18/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Just Like His Mommy



About 1/2 of his shoe collection. I know, I know.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/17/2007   | | | links to this post

Nineteen

The age of hair experimentation. Cutting, dyeing, straightening, curling, cutting, etc. I was a mess and I took it out on my hair.




Get a load of that dinosaur of a laptop! This was for a work-related project, by the way - I don't normally hang at the beach with computer gear and stare seductively into cameras.



(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/17/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, July 16, 2007

Am I In, or Am I Out?

Talk has already begun at BlogRhet about the concept of inclusion and exclusion: how we do (or don't) belong to a particular blogging community, and - for me, anyway - what our responsibilities are once we are a part of a community to those who are not (or, do we even have any responsibility towards them?)

I chose to write about this topic because I am - in some ways - an outsider. Prior to joining BlogRhet, the only blogging community I belonged to was the local South Florida one. And to that I belong simply because I live here, I write about life here and - most importantly - I have been building relationships with other local bloggers.

Let me discuss the So Fla blogging community as I see myself belonging to it. When I was on the verge of leaving anonymous blogging behind, I began to discover a bunch of blogs by other people in So Fla. I was fascinated. I began to be part of the conversation simply by commenting frequently at the blogs that compelled me enough to do so. I think many enter into communities the same way: by commenting. In my experience (and from anecdotal evidence), this leads to either the commenter and blogger engaging in conversation (through a post's comments section or privately via email) and/or the blogger and his/her readers clicking on the hyperlink in the commenters name to access their blog. This is, anyway, what happened with me.

As far as the So Fla blogging community goes, it seems open to accepting any and everyone who wants to engage in conversation and/or take it a step further and meet in person. There have been blogger meet-ups, and some real-life friendships have developed, particularly among the women. A group of us are now in the process of addressing issues related to social responsibility and using our blogs and writer's voices for the greater good. A feeling I have about the local community (and y'all can tell me if I'm wrong) is that while it certainly is an imperfect community (and there is a degree of in-fighting and flame wars), there is nonetheless a unique sense of familiarity that comes from sharing the same living space (and the fact that So Fla is one crazy, effed-up place is a big factor here). A good example of both the good and the bad of the local blogging community, particularly as it both includes and excludes, was when Tancredo opened his yap and people came out swinging from all directions.

But I am more than a So Fla blogger. I am also a "mommy blogger", though I neither knew it nor identified myself as such when I began to write at A Mom, a Blog and the Life In-Between. And while I have felt like a part of the my local blogging community, it is in the mommy blogging community that I have felt more excluded and alone than I had hoped I'd be. In my opinion, there are two key reasons for this.

First, I discovered mommy blogs the same way many people do: through one of the "major" mom bloggers. It seems that for many, this is how the floodgates are opened. I doubt my story is very different from others'. In discovering one big mom blog (MB from here on out), I discovered other "popular" MBs, mainly through her blogroll. The first sign of exclusion, for me, was realizing that, by and large though certainly not absolutely, big MBs link pretty much to other big MBs. The more I think about this, the more I think this has a lot to do with what I call blogging generations. What we now consider "major" MBs are first-generation. When they began, they were it, and they all found out about each other and developed their own relationships and linking/blogrolls. But we are now in the second or third generation of blogging, and so, while we continue to discover and read well-known MBs, they (for the most part, again, there are no absolutes) are not in a position anymore to reciprocate. This, of course, is my non-scientific guess.

Either way, the case can be made that many of us who came into mommy blogging recently (say, in the last year-and-a-half to two), have built a community different from the one created by the popular MBs. The problem comes in when these earlier communities seem more like a clique - and an impenetrable one, at that. When you are a new blogger and think only those blogs exist, and those bloggers, presumably without intending to, shut you out (by not responding to your comments, or personal email, or reading your blog, etc.), it's easy to feel excluded.

I certainly did. Let me be clear: I did not think it intentional on anyone else's part. But initially, it was incredibly off-putting. Enough that I asked myself, why bother reading someone's blog when they don't even bother to respond to you or read your own work? And for a while, I didn't. I had enough going on with my local blogging community and the little world I was cultivating in my blog to "bother" with bloggers who ignored my ass.

The feeling passed as soon as I discovered a whole other MB community, one that seemed (to me, anyway) much more welcoming and inclusive. But the notion of exclusion, intentional or not, has stayed with me. My guess is that this is because while I now interact with a great group of MBs (specifically BlogRhet, but most definitely other wonderful individuals), I still don't feel like it's "my group". I will read anyone I come across whom I find interesting. I will add to my blogroll just about anyone who asks, the only real exception being anyone whose philosophy or parenting style or ethics I morally feel I cannot support or encourage (hasn't happened yet, but I suppose it could). My approach tends to be to welcome one and all to my domain, and then reciprocate by visiting theirs (often or not, it just depends on how busy I am) and either commenting where appropriate or making some sort of contact with the writer to let him/her know I enjoy their blog. Yes, I suffer from an extreme sense of fairness, but to me, this is an important part of being a blogger and part of a larger community. It seems extremely unfair to me to be someone who enjoys a large readership (and therefore, a lot of virtual support and/or the ability to make a living off your blog or blogs) and then not return the favor by reading smaller, newer blogs and/or communicating with those bloggers. I got into blogging, in large part, to make new friends (and amass hundreds of thousands of readers so that publishers have no choice but to offer me a sweet book deal for my novel-in-progress, natch). And if that's my aim, then I have to give what I get, no?

And yet, I can argue that I have my own circle - anyone can. So what marks the line between being inclusive and being exclusive? For me, it's all about how you react to and treat your readers. Some will argue with me, but I am a firm believer in reciprocity. I mean, if you visit my blog and it's just not for you, that's cool; I don't expect you to read it regularly, even if I do read yours regularly. But if I comment on your blog or email you, I DO believe in receiving a response of some kind. And not all bloggers do this. Granted, when you have hundreds or thousands of readers, it's difficult to do. And that's got to be hard. I've heard that popular bloggers heavily feel the burden of navigating this world, of building relationships and commenting here but not there and then dealing with hurt feelings and criticism. And my opinion on that is that a blogger - well-known or not - should comment where they please and damn those who criticize them. But I also believe that, hundreds of readers or not, a blogger, especially one who has gained "fame" or money or a solid reputation (or rather, precisely because of that fame, reputation and money), bears some responsibility in being inclusive, in responding to comments (on their own blog, whether in general or in particular) and playing a role in the community (stepping outside their circle, fostering the community, etc.). And specific to well-known (or "gateway") bloggers, because that is how so many enter into the MB world-at-large, there is a particular onus to be welcoming. Is that a fair thing for me to ask of them? Maybe not. But I stand by it. Heavy is the head that wears the crown and all. When you reach a certain stature in any particular niche, there are some expectations that come with it. In this case, I think that expectation is that gateway bloggers be welcoming and responsive, even if it's just in a minor way (such as, a short post recognizing a new crop of commenters - and many new commenters identify themselves as new to the site or to blogging - and welcoming them - or something to that effect; or directly addressing comments that either ask questions or express enough emotion that warrant a response. My suggesting this doesn't mean it doesn't already happen, though).

So, is the behavior of bloggers that comes across as unwelcoming or clique-ish "bad"? Not really, I guess. But it's alienating. And what I've shared here are the factors that, for me, determine how welcome one feels in a particular blog and in different blogging communities.

The second reason for my prevailing sense of exclusion is by far a more important one to me, and the one I really want to explore (yeah, all that rambling up there is basically a preamble). And that is the fact that I am a minority; and that, more than anything, perpetuates this feeling - even in places where I have been included.

If you doubt it (or, do you even think about it?), let me confirm it for you: the mommy blogging community is white. And I am not. At least, not as a general cross-section of Americans define "white". I am white in race but Hispanic in culture. And that makes me not white - at least to anyone who is not like me (I use the term "white" and "regular Americans" to mean white Anglos and basically, what has always been considered the majority in this country). I've already discussed some of the aspects of growing up Cuban in America. The thing is, a great big chunk of my childhood was NOTHING like what most regular Americans experienced. My parents were not American, and so they were unlike anything outside Miami. My world was insular and unique. It was Cuba inside the United States. And I was shaped by that. It has affected the way I see the world, the logic and reason I apply to everything, the way I parent, the way I express myself. And it is utterly alienating. Outside of South Florida, I am a foreigner. The country I was taught to love, respect and honor is a mystery to me in many, many ways.

And while blogging has opened my world in so many ways, it has also made me feel quite alienated at times. It has underscored just how different I am. And it's frustrating. I mean, I read some things that are completely foreign to me. Like, I can't wrap my head around it. And then I check the comments out, and everyone's agreeing, and I'm just floored. I resort to my tired and true line, eso es cosa de Americano, because I don't know what else to make of it.

Obviously, this is not intentional exclusion. But it is a kind of exclusion nonetheless. It is my feeling that the MB world-at-large is predominantly made up of white women. Few are the African-American women, the Hispanic ones, the Aisan ones, etc. Of course, this ties to questions of privilege; and the assumption is that white, in many ways, equals privilege. But there are plenty of African-American, Hispanic and Asian families that are educated, wealthy and just as privileged as white ones (to name the top minority groups in the U.S., but certainly this is can be true of all minority groups). I have made an effort to find blogs (specifically, MBs) by minorities. And they're out there, but not as many as I wish there were, and certainly not in numbers that would drive the point home that we're here and living and loving and have just as much to offer as anyone else. This dearth of minority-voice blogs is another topic unto itself, but for the purposes of inclusion or exclusion, I have to ask, where are the minorities as far as commenting in MBs? I mean, yeah, you don't comment on a blog by first announcing your ethnicity, but there is a void of comments and conversation from women (and mothers) from the perspective of a minority voice.

Is this just me? Do any minorities who read MBs ever feel like, "WTF? I so can't relate"? Does anyone else feel sometimes that the mommy blog world is a microcosm of the United States, where white voices lead and prevail and there seems little room for minorities? And where these white voices seemingly have little to no experiences beyond their white world? The fact that parenting blog advertising dollars are spent entirely (or close enough) on blogs written by white people speaks volumes to me. This is shades of gray, because advertisers will go where the readers are, but doesn't it say something that these advertisers and parenting blog review and media networks have yet to consider anything beyond white? That no one has thought outside the box and attempted to reach minority audiences that have billions and billions of dollars in buying power? Because I may be Hispanic (a term few can even correctly define), but I've got money to burn, too!

The exclusion of the mom blog world of minorities is simply one based on ignorance. You cannot address, or include, that which you do not know. It is true of me in the reverse. But as the minority here, I can't help but see it as a disadvantage. The funny thing to me is that I find myself relating a lot to "foreign" MB's, particularly ones written by Canadians. I don't know if it's because I perceive them as minorities, too (even though they really aren't, but at times this seems like an American playing field) or because I've always had an affinity, a certain soul recognition, with Canadians in general. But outside local blogs, I can relate most to those.

This is hard topic for me to write about (which is why I chose to write about it), and I feel like I have more questions than answers to offer. Still, I think it's an important part of this conversation. A difficult, perhaps sticky, part, but necessary nonetheless. How do you feel about it?




I'd love for you to join in on this conversation and share your thoughts. Because this post is part of the work we at BlogRhet are trying to do, I've closed comments here so that the discussion can happen there. Please visit BlogRhet to comment.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/16/2007   | | | links to this post

Eighteen

Turns out I don't have many pictures of myself at 18 and 19 (and 17, too), that either don't include TFBIETL or that are of me with someone else (parents, siblings, etc.) in front of an X-Mas tree. And I already have a couple of those coming up (18-22 were lean picture years, it seems. Which goes well with the fact that those were, overall, really difficult years for me).

So here, at 18, a few things pop out at me:

* What was I thinking, tucking my shirt in like that? Unfortunately, I did that a lot back then.

* I wore that particular shirt to death. I can't explain why, but it was ridiculously cool to me.

* That was the only belt I owned.

* Crazy, fly-away hair was in full effect even back then.

* My teeth. Perfection.








(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/16/2007   | | | links to this post

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Seventeen

Two big moments in a 17-year-old's life:

Grad Nite at Disney World:




(with my BFFs C and M - who hopefully will not kill me for not cropping her out!)


and Prom Night:




(doing the Electric Slide)


p.s. Yesterday's picture was taken in the French Quarter in New Orleans.


(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/15/2007   | | | links to this post

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sixteen

Because you just can't handle my utter coolness.





Bonus points if you know where this was taken.



(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/14/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, July 13, 2007

Quince

I did not have a traditional Quinces party. I was still longing for my super-cool party and had no interest in a traditional Quinceañera party. Because I had no party, I didn't have a traditional dress, either. Still, a Quinceañera needs a special dress, and I designed mine (short and with blue in it, which was decidedly untraditional) and had my aunt make it.

The one traditional thing I did was celebrate a Mass. I also commemorated the occasion by getting studio portraits done.






And of course, it would not be a proper Quinces portrait without the classic, close-up, hand-resting-on-face, eyes-staring-hopefully/deeply/dreamily-into-the-distance pose:







And finally, finally, finally, I entered what I considered my prettiest phase ever. Even though I was still sporting those long bangs.





(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/13/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Join the Fight Against Congenital Heart Defects

Baby Diva was born with a heart defect, a condition called tetralogy of fallot that threatened to take her tiny life. At almost three months old, she had open-heart surgery to correct the defect.

On August 9, Baby Diva will celebrate her first birthday. She has a good chance of living a normal life. Her mom wants to spread the word, and is holding a contest in Baby Diva's honor.

Once you read her story, perhaps you'll consider making a donation to the American Heart Association? Sadly, there isn't enough funding going into research and treatment options for these defects, especially given that heart defects are among the most common birth defects and are the leading cause of defect-related infant death (approximately 40,000 babies are born each year with a heart defect in the United States).

Read more to find out the different ways you can spread the word and make a difference.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/12/2007   | | | links to this post

Fourteen

Ah, the pretty was creeping back in (funny, me thinking I'm posing like a model really just comes across as me looking pissed).

This was the night of my freshman year Homecoming Dance, which I attended with Cold Dead Fish (I think we'd been dating a few weeks at this point).

Notice the longer bangs? That was step 2 in my program to release myself from The Bangs of Hell. It would still be years before I was bangs-free, but it was a step in the right direction.

And that dress? I loved, loved, loved it to pieces. I wore the hell out of it to zillions of parties.








(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/12/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My Problem with the Pacifier

Well, not mine, exactly. More like Max's problem with the pacifier. Although, he himself doesn't think it's a problem; I do. So maybe it is my problem...

No matter, I have something to share with you:

My problem was that I got smug about it. Max doesn’t like pacifiers! He spits them out! I’m so lucky! Hahahahahahaha!


How do you think this is going to end? I'll give you a clue: not good. Read my post over at GNMParents and share your thoughts there.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/11/2007   | | | links to this post

Thirteen

While I have a knack (a gift, really) for styling other people (I would make a fantastic fashion consultant), I've always been pretty talentless at dressing myself and putting myself together (as in, to this day, I never know what to do with my hair, and I have no knack for styling it or myself). This truth was in full effect at 13. Behold, my idea of a "cool" hairstyle:




Then check out this outfit:



Balloon shorts, tucked-in T (both ridiculously baggy), scrunch socks, and those shoes. I loved those damn shoes, yet right now, they look so off to me somehow. I know, consider that it was early 90's. But still. Awful.

My teeth, however, rocked.



(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/11/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Castaways Against Cancer Complete Their Mission

So, remember when I wrote about the Castaways Against Cancer? My friend Patrick and his crew finished this year's kayak trip from Miami to Key West, which they've done for 8 years now to raise funds for cancer research and to honor those who have fought (successfully and not) against the disease.

The Castaways raised over $40,000 this year, which is amazing. I'm so proud of them and their dedication to this cause.

Take a look at their website, where they've posted a slide show of this year's adventure.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/10/2007   | | | links to this post

Twelve

Today's image is a study in more seriousness, late-80's fashion (Pleats in my pants! Death to pleats!), and crappy hair.





Aaaand.... more weddings! I spared my sister the embarrassment by cropping her out.

But look - nice teeth! The braces were off and my teeth were a beautiful sight to behold. Otherwise, it's just more awkwardness and hellacious hair.




I still had a ways to go before finally getting that bangs just look like shit on me.



(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/10/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, July 09, 2007

Eleven

Serious. So serious. Maybe I was going for a particular "look" here, but I fail to see what it is.







(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/09/2007   | | | links to this post

Mondays are Random

My Monday's gotten off to a bad start, but hey! That's no reason to deprive you of all the random shit floating in my brain!

1. Does anyone know WTF happened to the Krispy Kreme shops in the Doral and South Miami? Both have shut down in the last month. Is the North Miami Beach one still open? This is a travesty! I don't know how I'm going to survive this...

2. How was Max a size 4 in shoes in May, and is now a size 6?

3. I know it's normal: summer rolls around in So Fla and the small ants come out from hiding. Still, it sucks. We have ants everywhere. Heaven forbid we leave one tiny crumb on the floor, counter tops or dining table - we have an infestation in a matter of minutes then. Seriously, it's time to call the exterminator.

4. Max still remembers Zoë, and it kills me. The other day, he stopped in the middle of his activities, looked around, and said "Zoë?" At that same moment, I was going through a box of pictures and pulled out one of her. I showed it to Max (still don't know if I should have done that), and he squealed with delight and started chanting "Zoë! Zoë! Zoë!" He then began to cover the picture with kisses. My heart breaks all over again every time I think of it. He doesn't seem sad about it (he wasn't disappointed when Zoë herself didn't materialize), and a part of me is happy he still remembers something, but it's all so sad, too. I ended up putting that picture in a little photo album he plays with.

5. Although I've tried to fight this feeling, I just cant: I want an iPhone. I'm very surprised with myself; I tend to be pretty ambivalent about gadgets - indifferent, even - so either the marketing hype has gotten me, or I just really am enamored of all the beautiful possibilities of this purty little phone. Sadly, there's no way in hell I'm paying $600 for it, so I'll have to find a way to survive without it. I'll make do, I suppose...

6. And finally, this is such an abomination that I can barely speak. There are no words. This goes against everything I've ever believed in, everything I was taught to believe in, everything I'm passing down to my child. I am referring, of course, to this:


Why anyone would see fit to create decaffeinated Cuban coffee is something my mind cannot understand. Only thing that could be worse than its existence is actually drinking it. Please don't tell me if you do: I don't think I could handle it. Plus, I'd have to break up with you.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/09/2007   | | | links to this post

Quick Note on Countdown

Had some scanner problems; "Eleven" will be up late this afternoon.

Regular post coming in a short while.

Posted by Tere @ 7/09/2007   | | | links to this post

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Ten

Oh HELL. No wonder Danny Ll. didn't like me back!

At least we were on the right track with my teeth by then.







(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/08/2007   | | | links to this post

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Nine

The day before, I'd been surprised with that sweet puppy you see there - my beautiful Tammy. The day of this photo, I was given a surprise party. Two surprises in one weekend? A puppy? A party? Best birthday ever.





I had a long career as flower girl and junior bridesmaid. This is one of my many 80's weddings. My hair is permed. Including my bangs.






(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/07/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, July 06, 2007

Eight

Who you gonna call?

Apparently, Richard Simmons.

It was 1985, after all...




The teeth, by the way, had only grown worse. I was soon fitted with the thumb-blocking device I mentioned.




(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/06/2007   | | | links to this post

Is He Sleeping Through the Night Yet?

Oh my hell. If there's ever been a question I hated as a new mom, it was that one. UGH. The way it's always asked, with an emphasis on "yet", eyebrows raised expectantly, the underlying tone being, If you're a good, capable mom, Max zonks out at 8 pm and doesn't say a peep till 8 am.

There was no other question that would silently make me seethe the way that one did. Especially when the poor baby was just a couple months old, and especially when I was asked by people who had kids, as if they themselves never dealt with a baby who would have a hard time falling and staying asleep.

Why is a baby/toddler who sleeps through the night viewed as a sign of "good", "successful" parenting? Why did I feel so damn inadequate when I would talk about how Max fought sleep so much? I mean, to me, it sucked, but I didn't think it was abnormal. I never felt badly about it until I would say something and someone would be all horrified and tsk-tsking me. The pressure. The awful, awful pressure to force my baby do something I couldn't make him do (unless I wanted to ignore his ass and let him cry and wail until he soothed himself, which so wan't an option) was pretty annoying and stressful. The implication seemed to be, if I don't get that baby out cold, he's going to be one spoiled, manipulative little beast of a child.

Today, parents around the blogosphere are writing about the stupid, annoying questions they were asked during pregnancy or as new parents. I decided to jump on this because the sleep question used to make me want to rip people's eyes out. More than the breastfeeding questions.

Writing this post, I'm acutely aware that I've had a really hard time dealing with how parenting is watered down to this awful cliche that's a mix of all the incorrect crap on TV and movies plus dozens of friend-of-a-friend stories and pat, unrealistic answers and expectation. People have shared their notions of parenting with me, or what they think the baby *should* do or how he *should* behave, as well as what I *should* do, and it's pure myth. And pure crap, too. So my solution of sorts has been to inform people where and when I could, even if it was just a short phrase that communicated my take on things. (I expect to write more about this later; I can just feel it).

Of course, I have some manners in me, so I never answered rudely or was a bitch about it. I just didn't want to be an accomplice to false ideas and unrealistic expectations by staying quiet.

Sooo.... to get to the point of today's post. Now that I've shared my thoughts on the most annoying question, I get to tell you what I wish I could have said.

Is he sleeping through the night yet?

What I would say: No, and I'm o.k. with that.

What I wish I could have said: Do you sleep through the night yet? Because I don't. I get up to pee, to have a drink of water, and sometimes, just to lay there and think. Of course, I suppose if I stuff him within an inch of his life with formula/cereal I can lull him into a coma; or, if he does wake up, I could just ignore him and let him cry and scream all alone in the dark, because that will teach him!

Now you share: what are the most annoying questions you've been asked when pregnant or as a new parent? Don't you wish you could have just handed them this? At least to smack them with it, if nothing else?

If you'd like to participate, the rules are here.

Edit: I should add that this rant excludes those who asked out of genuine curiosity; people who were/are childless or not used to being around babies. From them, I didn't take it as a judgment or annoying question. Just wanted to clarify that.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/06/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Year of the Sun

I’m getting a tan this year. Oh yeah, you heard me right: my pasty-white skin? By the time summer wanes to less-summer, will be tan, tan, tan.

Perhaps I should back-up a bit. As a child, my summers were heavy on beach and outdoor activities. I would start each school year a light shade of brown. I’m blessed with skin that starts out pink and warms to gold by the day’s end. Really, I’m gorgeous when I’ve got a tan (just ask Ben, who fell in love with me during the last summer I ever tanned, and has spent the last decade complaining that I’m too white and pasty). For many, many years, it was impossible to go about my daily life and not end up a nice, toasty color.

But. I live in Miami, y’all, and it’s hot as hell out here! You can bake and fry year-round, and a girl’s got to protect her delicate complexion! Yes, I’m vain enough to stop being out in the sun (or wearing a hat when I am) because I fear looking weathered and overly wrinkled. And being only 30 when I do.

Oh yeah, there’s also the whole “my body has a tendency to produce quasi-malignant moles” thing. I’ve lost count of the suspicious moles, or the ones cryptically diagnosed “pre-cancerous” after a biopsy, I’ve had removed.

So, about 8 or so years ago, I began to be more cautious. I’d always used sun block, but I began to use facial moisturizer that’s SPF 15 every day, and wear a hat, and cover myself after being out on the sand for a while, and just cut back on the amount of time I spent in full sun. The result has been that I haven’t had anything more than a pink nose for years. Well, o.k., maybe my legs and arms get some color, but you know what I mean. My approach to summer has been more “hide in the A/C!” and less “I’m staying out till the sun sets!” Growing up sucks.

But I feel differently this year. I miss my tanned self. None of my current moles (most of them in unexposed areas, anyway) are threatening to go bad on me. So I’ve been thinking, why not allow myself to tan this year? Why not skip the hat and cover-up at the beach? Why not go back to just using sun block?

And so, I’m just gonna do it. I’m going to get a tan this summer, people. I most certainly am.

All I have to do now is let my A/C-addiction go and reclaim the outdoors.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/05/2007   | | | links to this post

Seven

Two pictures. Because I've lost all sense of shame.






The hair. The teeth. Knee-high Holly Hobbie socks. I just don't know where to begin.



(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/05/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Fourth of July



Posted by Tere @ 7/04/2007   | | | links to this post

Six

Ooohhhh boy. The awfulness, it burns. At this point, I was acutely aware of the fact that I looked like a boy, and that my teeth were downright frightening (crooked, huge and bucked).








(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/04/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Five

The last adorable picture of me, so enjoy it. The ugly came for me - with a vengeance - between the ages of five and six. After this, there's nothing but fug for many years to come.






(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/03/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, July 02, 2007

How I've Managed a Deep Post on a Monday is Beyond Me

I'm exhausted, people. Terribly, terribly exhausted, and I really have no idea why.

I started thinking that the problem may be that I still haven't totally resigned myself to all the responsibilities of motherhood. "Resigned" probably isn't the best word... accepted, perhaps? Either way, I still battle this kind of dread every morning as I wake up. I don't know what it is - I mean, I've always been a morning person and still am - but since I became a mother, mornings are hard for me to cope with.

The routine is that I wake up and feel a wave of self-pity because I am just so fucking exhausted that all I want to do is sleep for one uninterrupted day. Then I feel like a real asshole, because Ben is the one who wakes up first and makes life ridiculously easy for me by getting Max ready for daycare (or, on weekends, by playing with him until I emerge a half-hour to hour later). And I really am an asshole, you know? How do I have the nerve to take that extra half-hour of sleep, to shirk my duties as wife and mother, then feel sorry for myself because I'm so exhausted I can't think straight? But I do. And then I cringe at the thought of all I have to do and will not get done (my bedroom currently looks like the inside of a white-trash trailer, yet whenever I try to get busy cleaning, Max is underfoot, getting himself into precarious situations. If I close the door and leave him to Ben, he stands at the door, wailing. Same old story). I cringe over how I have to get up and get moving, without a chance to ease into my day, to fully wake up before I have to do and be everything.

But you know, this isn't it. This is me being stubborn with myself, with my new life. There is nothing about my morning that should make me feel pity or cringy. My husband shoulders the work; my son is totally cheerful and adorable and babyish with me; I still get to put the coffee on right away, even if I can't drink it in peace.

Still, there's no denying the exhaustion. Even Ben (usually quite oblivious to my moods beyond "bitchy" and "complainer") has noticed and commented on it. He approaches it as a joke ("I thought you were dead last night; I had to put a mirror underneath your nose"), but he's right. I fall asleep and it's like I slip into a coma. I hear and feel nothing (which worries me, with Max by himself in a room and all). If I wake up in the middle of the night, I make sure Max is fine, stop by the bathroom, then fall right back to sleep as if I never awoke (in the past, I would've been up or restless the rest of the night). And in the morning, I'm like an angsty teenager that you have to practically drag out of bed and drop on the floor in order to wake her up.

There is, of course, some crappy things I'm dealing with. I've wondered if, in my struggle to be depression-free and keep everything running smoothly and not give in to my negative feelings (about myself, life, this world), the exhaustion is caused by all that it takes for me to just keep myself and my life above water and moving forward. There are many days where I feel like if I stop and think about something - however minor, in the great scheme of things - for too long, I will cause a chain reaction that could destroy everything. The fragility of the life I have built is ever-present in my life. The notion that all can be lost over one seemingly simple decision - over choosing left over right, later over now, yes over no - is something I'm intimately familiar with.

I don't know if I believe the saying that happiness is a choice. I think that I mainly disagree with that thought. But I do feel that our reactions are a choice; that how we view situations are a choice; that what we choose to do with our feelings is a choice. So I have chosen to behave in certain ways that keeps the darkness out. I force myself, on a daily basis, to cut my own bullshit, to deal with the anxiety, to just be a woman and suck it up. To endure.

I'm not always successful. In fact, I fail a lot. But I keep trying. I keep constant sight of the person I want to be, the principles I want to guide my life with. And then I try to act on it. I don't want to be like everyone else. I don't want my job to suck the life out of me, the daily grind to take my sense of humor away, the ways of life here and in our society to leave me feeling that there is no joy or wonder left anywhere or in anything.

Maybe it is all this that is making me so exhausted. This feeling that what I am and what I want to be are inherently at odds with Miami, with the U.S., with life in 2007. Right now, I don't know. But I'm trying to figure it out.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/02/2007   | | | links to this post

Four

My first day of school, ever. Forever immortalized with that huge wet spot right on my waist (I spilled toothpaste on myself, I think).

There's another picture of this day that's a close-up of my face as I stand at our doorstep, waiting for the school bus. The look of fear is undeniable. I was right to be so scared: Kindergaten sucked.






(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/02/2007   | | | links to this post

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Three

I used to call that my "sexy" pajama.





(Part of the 30 Years in 30 Days countdown to my 30th birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/01/2007   | | | links to this post