When you need to talk about feminism:
When you need to talk about growing older:
When you’re in trouble:
When you’re drunk:
Using DuoLingo, the free on-line language learning tool, has been a hoot. Le hoot. La hoote. I’ve committed 20 minutes a day minimum to the program, the first 20 minutes of Farrah’s nap. I started June 3rd and three weeks later I am 46% fluent in French. Those numbers are misleading – it is only my four years’ high school French that has gotten me this far this fast, vocabulary and sentence structure resurfacing with a teenager’s vigor. That’s why despite not having 20 minutes’ nap time to spare, I decided to pick up French again; I have a solid foundation and an aptitude for learning. Even if we move and another 20 years goes by without needing it, learning French (alongside my children) is a win-win.
Now I must go put on a dress and place a small pig upon my knees.
This edition I let the images speak for themselves.
Thank you so much for looking, especially those of you who chose to Follow Salvation recently.
Mostly Montreal Monday
The main street in the Gay Village opens up to pedestrians only during the summer and its ceiling is sprinkled with 170,000 pink balls.
It is as gay and as beautiful as that sounds.
“The pink balls work because they create a sense of enclosure. One of the problems pedestrian streets face, especially in a car-dependent North American society, is that they often feel empty and sapped of vitality. You don’t realize how much space cars take up until they’re gone; a street that seems narrow when it’s filled with traffic, like Ste. Catherine, suddenly feels vast when the asphalt is clear. The baubles counteract that by tricking the mind into thinking the space is smaller and busier than it actually is. Plus they’re fun. And, you know, gay.” – via Maisonvueve
May you all stroll under such an umbrella this Monday morning.
On a barely related note, check this:
“I snorted a whole bag of powdered pink flamingoes, and it was enough to power me through my blues.” – Jarod Kintz
Reading that perfect sentence makes me feel bad you had to read every word I wrote above it. But I keep trying.
I look like my house:
Pretty in the front, nothing on the sides. I just got my hair cut and it is the exact opposite of what I wanted, as depicted by the look on my face.
No matter though!
We make do.
This post is not about my hair though god knows it’s a topic I could discuss at length.
This post is about anxiety and panic. As my stylist was buzzing the sides the of my head – despite telling him I didn’t want anything “buzzy” – my body started with its sweaty, heart-racing, dizzying nonsense. It was then I looked at the fork in the road and chose the path most recently travelled: spiraling thoughts of me popping out of the chair, texting Kris to come get me, leaving the kids with who what where, everyone else in the salon staring while I hyperventilated in a cape, head half-shaved. Then I turned around and went back to the fork and told my brain to tell my body that this is just a fucking haircut. I closed my eyes and started to deeply breathe, blowing whiskers off my chin with every exhale until finally, despite disliking the outcome, I made it through the experience unscathed.
I “made it through” my haircut. Never in my life … I had my head shaved in front of a crowd only a year ago fercrissake and today, in my post 4/15/15 brain … I am the proud survivor of a haircut. I mean … really? Really.
The lesson learned for me is simple: put some of those pills in my purse. If I now have the propensity for full-blown panic – and I think I do – take a clonazepam before a haircut, a dental cleaning or a flight, just in case my body decides not to listen to my brain. My body can be an asshole like that so we make do.
Once a week my husband meets us at Arlo’s school and takes the kids on an afternoon adventure. Since the winter’s thaw, this usually means we swap bikes for a couple of hours.
Kris’s bike is different. For reference:
My bike comes with two kids and 70 extra pounds, his bike comes with a lock so complicated and a fear of theft so deeply instilled that I have to send him a photo of engaged lock to ensure its correct application. His bike also comes with spiky clip-pedals, an imbalanced saddle-bag, no rear-view mirror and general discomfort. But who cares, the bike is his and it is perfect for him and I will ride the hell out of it once a week because I ride alone. What is more remarkable than riding a bike alone however is the experience of riding a bike alone; absolutely no one gives a crap about The Single Adult Bicyclist.
As I mentioned in Evolution of a Risk-Adverse Mother, my kids and I bike around with everyone smiling at us. People point and say things like “Vous êtes courageux!” We get a wide berth coming and going and while I never fall lax on safety, neither have I felt threatened by another driver or cyclist.
I have the opposite experience riding my husband’s bike. I am suddenly one of thousands in the Great Bike Blur down Any Street, Montreal. I turn aggressive, having to “Hey! Hey! HEY!” both pedestrians and drivers by the time I’ve reached my first red light. “I’m riding here!” This is the kind of city cycling I was afraid of – defensive cycling. It’s like the smaller I am, the bigger the target — or the more invisible I should say. The kids and I are easily seen what with our adorable balloon flags on our 20-foot-biking-system but if you blink after checking your blind spot, me, Single Adult Cyclist, could be in real danger. I’ve seen more near-misses than I care to think about while riding my husband’s bike, and now that’s all I think about.
My husband is a full-time bike commuter, even in the winter.
He is a bolder and more confident biker than I will ever be. His bike is perfect for him but please, watch out for him. Look out for him. Notice him. He refuses to bike with adorable balloon flags attached.
Mostly Montreal Monday
MuralFest has been on my calendar since it was announced and yet I really haven’t done any of it because I’m not sure how to do it. We should have at least taken a morning and biked the map of new murals but instead playgrounds overtook me. Because.I.don’t.see.enough.playgrounds. Grr. The choices I choose.
Luckily after school one day, I started to point out the ever-familiar cat on Rachel Street
only to find it turned into THIS:
WHAT?!? Same place, same artist, different cat. MuralFest!
This artist is Shalak, aka Shalak Attack. I waited until she came down the ladder before forcing her to look at the pic of my kids in front of her previous work, asking her name and basically fawning all over her. Here’s a little bit more from her site: Shalak Attack is a Canadian-Chilean visual artist dedicated to painting, muralism, graffiti urban art, and canvases. Shalak has manifested her artistic expression on urban walls across the world. Shalak is a co-founder and member of the international art collectives “Essencia”, the “Bruxas”, and the “Clandestinos”.
You should check out her gallery to see more of her incredible work because INSPIRATION.
She and her partner, Bruno Smoky created this mural and though I didn’t speak with him, we also got to watch him develop this piece:
Look at this detail, all with spray paint!
I know I’m one of the hundreds, thousands maybe who saw this mural that day but I’ll never forget the privilege of being witness to such greatness and in turn, the artist’s kindness to me and my kids.
I am in a legit fandom. Thank you Montreal.
Of the last 2,000, not one day has been spent without a child at my breast. That’s approximately 5 1/2 years, the age of my eldest, Arlo.
I started writing a quippy top ten list about gazing longingly at the tunics I cannot wear and the plastic surgery to which I look forward but I found I was forcing the words and the quip.
Breastfeeding for 2,000 days deserves respect, reverence even, and a closer look at that kind of personal commitment.
Before I had a baby, whenever I thought about breastfeeding I would inventory all the liquids that secrete from my body and nearly gag at the prospect of someone drinking one of them. (I confess that I was not 12 but in my 30s with this thought.) When my teacher told me milk is produced via a different endocrine system than say, snot, it eased my mind considerably. Suffice it to say, I was not a woman born to breastfeed her babies. I acquiesced to nursing for the recommended six months but in the end, Arlo breastfed until he was three-and-a-half and Farrah Star, two, still nurses at least four times a day.
It is difficult to articulate the power and pull that comes from feeding your child and this is where the reverence comes in; breastfeeding is a holy communion. It is more than love. You become more than you because someone else lives through you. Yes, there are hormones and chemicals brewing but the attachment is undefinable. To this 2,000th day I have a visceral reaction to being separated from my children for more than a few hours. To the end of their days they will carry me inside of them. Breastfeeding has been more than a bond, it is transubstantiation; milk into motherhood.
As a woman and not a machine however, I have experienced pain, fatigue, frustration and many tears surrounding the extreme dependence that exclusive breastfeeding demands. In 2,000 days though I have never considered weaning. From the first latch I understood breastfeeding was theirs; something they did, not something I gave and feminism aside, so were my breasts. There was never a time when I wanted to quit yet there were a number of times when I was told to quit, and that is one tip I offer: surround yourself with people who will support you even when it’s hard. I often needed help through not out, and this help came time and time again from my midwives, La Leche League and fellow doulas.
I have nursed my children during four cycles of IVF, two hurricanes and multiple stomach viruses. They have breastfed in the subway and atop a mountain, on the beaches of Bermuda and this morning, as she does every morning, Farrah Star breastfed on the stairs of her brother’s preschool.
I don’t know how long Farrah Star will go. I turn 45 in a couple of weeks and I am a nursing mother. Will I be 46 with a 3-year-old at my breast? Maybe. Only Farrah can know and she is welcome to stay close to me for as long as she requires. It is my privilege to nurture as she needs, as Arlo needed. It’s how we take communion.
Thank you for reading.
Mostly Montreal Monday
When school is closed here it is called a “Ped Day” which sounds like a holiday celebrating pedicures but it’s actually short for Pedagogical Day which sounds like something you should see a podiatrist about. Either way, we had one on Friday and while Kris and Arlo were at the Grand Prix, Farrah Star and I were on an adventure with friends.
It’s been my experience that it takes nine months to a year to settle in to a new city. (Winter doesn’t help.) We are nine months in Montreal and I’m happy to say many friendships are taking root and having fun is getting easier and more bountiful. (Summer helps.)
One such new friend, Heather, invited us on an outing Friday and we were happy to oblige. SHE EVEN DROVE — no wait — she followed her GPS, responded to her daughters, gave me a history lesson on Quebec AND drove. It was amazing. I just drank my coffee, handed 38 graham crackers to the gigglers in the backseat and listened to why things are the way they are.
Our destination was the sculpture garden in Lachine and it did not disappoint:
“Parc René-Lévesque is an urban park in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is located in the borough of Lachine on a jetty between the Saint Lawrence River and the end of the Lachine Canal. The jetty was created in 1848 during the digging of the Lachine Canal. A parallel jetty, created in 1883, is used as a yacht club. There is a sculpture garden consisting of twenty-two sculptures by Quebec artists in the park.” – Wiki
I didn’t get permission to post photos of Heather’s daughters so here’s an unidentifiable one just so I can say thank you and
Say yes to everything!
That one is Untitled because all I can think of is regret when looking at it. As a parent I should have stopped those parents and offered a copy. This is my favorite shot of the week but one of the least popular as far as Facebook feedback goes:
I’ve come to learn that faces are pretty popular in street photography because they indicate bravery while capturing the shot. Eye contact is the definitive measure of ball size. This shot has neither but I can tell you I got real close to this man and I like the outcome very much. I hope you do too. An excellent weekend to you from me. Thank you for looking! Lisa
Continued from Know Clonazepam Know Peace …
It’s been seven weeks since my panic attack that launched a regimen of melatonin, sleeping pills and clonazepam. I’m happy to say that with the exception of a few oddball nights, I now only take the melatonin. Why the melatonin? Because it tastes like candy. Note to self: Stop that, dumbass.
I am exactly where I’d hoped to be when this all started; “Take only as needed”. I completed my due diligence; I saw my doctor and hugged it out and I saw a therapist and talked it out. The therapist diagnosed this as Situational Anxiety and sent me on my way with a pat on the back for my rational thinking, self-care and propensity for smug.
When I first came out with my story the responses were swift and personal: “I‘m on it, I‘m better, take the pill!” It made me feel if not normal then at least understood and certainly cared for. There was almost a universal chorus of “Help yourself now and worry about the effects later.” The overwhelming majority unimpressed by benzodiazepine addiction shocked me but I felt desperate and so I went down the rabbit hole. I took the pills.
The second most common suggestion was “You need to take care of yourself. Put Farrah Star in day care.” This was universal and it only increased my feelings of isolation and inadequacy. Absolutely no one said “It’s going to be hard but I know you can do it, you can get healthy and be a good mother to your daughter with your daughter,” acknowledging and respecting our place in this world. I don’t think I’ll every stop being or needing a Doula.
Seven weeks later I find myself on the other side of a mental break, a break delivered at the pull of a specific trigger – flying with my sick, traumatized baby with no home to shelter her – relatively unscathed. If I need the pills again I not only have them but trust their effectiveness. Health is everything, mental included, and I am thankful for the help.
I understand now that the push-to-pill was not a knee-jerk, blasé response from so many; it was my own fear of dependence translating simple goodwill. In the light of day I also realize no one was telling me to “get rid of her” though that’s how I heard it while licking my wounds wild-eyed at 1am. People just wanted me to get better, right then and by any means necessary. The details and directives didn’t need to apply, it was the intent and compassion that ultimately resonated. Compassion in clonazepam.
I move forward, awake in a different way and with a steadier gait.
I appreciate you reading along. As a child of adoption I document everything about my health so that my kids will never have to guess their medical history. That I also share it here on BPS means I get to speak my truth, out loud, and for those staring at a bottle of pills they never thought they’d need, I offer over-the-counter peace, to be taken as needed.