Saturday, January 22, 2011

80 days: soleil je t'aime

yesterday i started my day out right by taking naked pictures of myself and sending them to my friends. meanwhile, i listened to the glorious francoise hardy - soleil je t'aime over and over:

got to work at 9 even though i didn't have to be there until 10 so i could work on my first birthing from within assignment: draw your vision of a pregnant woman. it felt so natural to free-paint again. so often i don't do art because i put pressure on myself to produce something "finished" that can be framed and hung up or given as a gift. i promised myself that in order to do the assignments in the book i would let go of that. i would use whatever materials seemed right for the topic, trust whatever image came to me and totally immerse myself in the process. no matter how many times i learn this lesson, i always seem to lose sight of the magnitude of how deeply satisfying it is to paint and how nourishing it is for the soul.

she came out as a kind of mountain warrior. the darkness was important - midnight sky with stars, craggy, formidable terrain, the darkness of her womb. darkness as fertile, magickal, creative. at first i painted her sitting down in a golden chair that hugged and supported her body, but she made it clear that she wanted to be standing. so i worked with the triangular composition that emerged and made her body into its own mountain. her eyes are closed, but she is not asleep. she is strong and serene, powerful, still donning the vestiges of maidenhood - girlish flowers in her hair, pink polish on her fingernails. her heart is a blazing flower that sends roots down to the life force within her. the child is pure energy - white at the center, gold, pink and blue layers embedded in the woman's body, growing and glowing. the woman's hands draw energy from the universe for her baby and she receives energy in turn. her body is green to represent fertility and the purple in her legs is physical strength. her hair is wild and red, naturally, as that has long been my image of a goddess.

i can't wait to show it to my mom! i also kind of look forward to seeing the uncomfortable reaction on my dad's face, like when i showed him the portrait i did of lenya with labia baboonia.

today we make final decisions about the kitchen - tiles, granite, paint and light fixtures. i am feeling optimistic.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

83 days: impasse anxiety

woke up feeling deeply irritable and anxious. although i have been enjoying watching our veronica mars dvds in the evening, i'm not happy that i have been spending my evenings staring at a screen for as long as i can muster, just trying to stay awake until 10 so i don't wake up at 3 in the morning. it feels like a depressive way of living. so i got up feeling angry at myself - angry for not appreciating my time and using it better, angry that i haven't been cleaning up after myself or doing everything that i can to prepare the house. i was also irritated with luca for asking me to get groceries after work, which i did, only to return home to find that he had gone grocery shopping and bought all the same stuff i did.

often when i feel like this in the morning, a certain voice starts egging me on. it tells me we are going to have a perfect day, taking care of everything in a timely manner, eating properly, catching up on unfinished business and making all sorts of progress with my "things to do before the baby is born" list. the voice is no-nonsense - intolerant of extenuating circumstances, fatigue and flexibility. i am weary of it, as my good behavior tends to break down before i even leave for work. today it broke down as i was getting dressed, tossing clothing all over the bed and floor just trying to find something that fit and wasn't in the overflowing hamper. i wanted to pick them up, but i knew if i did, then i wouldn't have time to eat breakfast. on my drive to work i was frustrated that i didn't have any soothing cds in the car and considered just taking a mental health day, since i couldn't imagine not starting to cry at some point during my marathon body image group day. i was also convinced that i looked as disheveled as i felt.

but as i was headed downstairs to get my 9 o'clock patient, a slight girl with dark brown hair said in the saddest voice "hi zoe." at first i thought she was this other patient that doesn't generally greet me or ask me how i am. so i paused for a second, wondering why she was looking at me with so much longing, then suddenly realized she was a girl i had worked with in the past and had wondered about so much over the years. i gave her a big hug. she told me she really wanted to do art therapy and was thinking she might even want to go to school to become an art therapist.

my morning group was really honest and meaningful. i had everyone depict what they're really feeling when they say "i feel fat." the images had so much integrity - full of questioning and self-doubt.

at the experiential meeting david caught sight of the plastic-wrapped prepared sandwich i was munching on and declared "you're life is a mess!" i confessed that i have even been eating oreos. clearly a sign that the person who used to bring fresh baked cupcakes with homemade peanut butter cups to work each week has deteriorated into a debased condition. i almost offered to guest chef for the emotional eating program just so i could get a cooking fix.

i'm glad i came to work. it's heartening to get a glimpse of myself through other peoples' eyes. never mind that my desk is a huge mess.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

84 days: kitchen obsession and veronica mars

spent the last few days re-watching season 3 of veronica mars, which luca bought at tla's blow-out everything-must-go sale, along with a copy of jess franco's eugenie and a blu-ray of dr. zhivago. the hours not taken up by veronica's witty banter have been occupied with distressing thoughts of countertops, backsplash and wall color.

at first, all i had in mind was high contrast and either a sol lewitt wall painting or some framed alphonse mucha posters. our contractor set us up with a designer at home depot, who created a design that seemed reasonable. she worked at an infuriatingly slow pace and didn't have that air of design authority that both intimidates and reassures me. but we arrived at something and even managed to decide on cabinets. when i saw this kitchen in the thomasville catalogue i had a mind to copy its serene, understated aesthetic:

we ordered gibson cabinets in the amaretto creme finish pictured above. i figured we'd get black subway tiles, medium toned granite, creme walls and one of those black and white sol lewitt's:

but then i kept seeing these gorgeous all-white kitchens filled with colorful things and i started to doubt myself. i tend to go for color color color so the idea of just white seemed foreign yet appealing. i'm thinking of this type of thing, where the color is in the details:

so my revised vision included off-white cabinets, counters, backsplash and walls, colorful glass pendant lights, a red door, a bright rug, green plants, chairs with bold-patterned upholstery and a jewel-hued sol lewitt:

but i drew this idea out and it seemed totally boring! so then i was thinking of adding some of the leftover green glass tiles from the bathroom into the backsplash, which led to re-imagining the whole idea, asking everyone from interns, patients and the good people at dwelling what they would do, fantasizing about my friend lisa's mosaic-filled kitchen and feeling angry at our contractor for not being jonathan adler. blech. i am seriously stressed about kitchen design. this would have sounded like a joke to me when i was in high school.

84 days or so till my little bear arrives. can i do it? can i get the house ready on time?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

kafka on books

"I think we ought to read only books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn't wake us like a blow on the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good God, we would be just as happy if we had no books and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we love more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. That is my belief."

87 days: back pain and anticipation

true, it's 4 in the morning, but i did sleep for nearly 8 hours so i'm not sure it can be considered insomnia. just having a bagel with almond butter, banana and agave nectar in samara's room. soo delicious. her desk chair is way better than the one i have at work.

yesterday was pretty bad in terms of physical discomfort, but my spirits were much higher. spoke with one of the midwives in the morning who told me all my labs were normal and that she didn't think i needed to worry about my soy intake since i'm already producing "enough estrogen to blind an elephant." she also didn't think i needed 71 grams of protein a day, but just to make sure it's over 50, which seems way more manageable to me. so for now i am just going to eat what i want, with an eye for variety. i'm sure in a week or two i'll have another freak-out and start charting everything again and feeling convinced that i've done irreparable damage to my unborn. for now, i feel good and fairly confident.

today i'm going to a pre-natal yoga class near the co-op since the teacher i like changed over to that studio. she said she would give me some recommendations for my back pain. it was off the charts by the end of the work day yesterday. i went out to dinner with my intern and could not sit still. at one point we were both doing an upper back stretch, sitting with our hands clasped behind our heads, neck down, when the waitress approached and then quickly backed off. i thought the pain would never go away, but an hour later i was floating blissfully in the bath and then drifting off to sleep, wrapped in the cozy white robe that luca got me for our 2nd anniversary. so i am becoming aware of the cycles of pregnancy. everything comes and goes - the doubts, fears, pains, preoccupations. there must be something in this experience that will better prepare me for birth and motherhood.

the thing that always makes it all better is when the baby kicks. part of what woke me up was that it was doing a little tap dance on the right side of my body.

now i'm going to read some more of birthing from within. in 87 days (give or take a few) there will be an actual baby here with me!! i can't wait to see its face for the first time.

Friday, January 14, 2011

88 days: cranky and unsettled

there is of course much to be grateful for (even though my louise bourgeois studies had me doubting the whole notion of gratitude), but right now it is 1:30 in the morning and i am feeling cranky. and since 2 full days of crankiness has put me on guard for symptoms of depression, i have decided to start a countdown to my due date. 88 days to go. this is the current state of my affairs.

the house

i have a strong impulse to nest like there's no tomorrow, but this imperative has been completely thwarted by the destruction of our kitchen. that has meant the loss of 2 of the rooms in our house, since we put everything from the kitchen into the dining room, leaving it with about 4 square feet where the fridge is and a corner of the table for assorted dishes and utensils, which must be washed in the upstairs bathroom or basement utility sink. i knew that this would be trying and i was right. the house no longer feels comforting. i can't unwind after work by cooking, i have to eat all prepared food and i worry about inhaling toxic fumes. i think if we had undertaken this project in warmer months, it would not be quite this much of a challenge. at least then i could spend lots of time outside. but as things are, i feel trapped in a house that does not feel remotely homey. working on creating a nursery could be immensely satisfying, but i feel like i can't clear out the 3rd bedroom until there is a place to put the furniture in the basement, which we can't really do until the kitchen project is completed and the basement project is underway. so much to do and i can't get a move on!


to complicate things even more, my recent doubts about soy consumption have forced me to reconsider my relationship to food, which took years and years to build up. i feel like i have been doing the vegan thing all wrong. now i wonder if i'll have to start eating rice and beans and lentils and greens all the time even though those are not foods that particularly appeal to me. and i wonder if i'll always have to be so vigilant about what i feed myself and my child or if i can settle into these new updates to my diet comfortably in time. i'm happy to be sharing my body with this little person, but with that comes so much more responsibility and concern.


all the money i've been spending on food is driving me nuts. it feels like such a waste. i wish i had friends who lived close by or neighbors that would bring us food or invite us over for meals. thinking about that makes me feel like i have no community. i want to save money for the baby but i just keep spending and spending.

my body

my body is always the last place of comfort, no matter what else is going on, but with my expanding belly has come back pain. sitting up for any stretch of time is horribly uncomfortable. i'm fine when i'm stretching or walking (usually) or lying down. this has made watching movies nearly impossible, playing the piano out of the question and sitting at my desk at work or with a patient seriously challenging. i can only imagine that this is going to get worse. oh, and i know that i'm not supposed to lie on my back, which limits my lying down positions to one side or the other. blech. not to mention that it takes tons of effort to actually roll from one side to the other.


my insomnia is present usually 3 - 5 times per week. i wake up in the middle of the night for several hours. i try to use the time in meaningful ways, but i wish i could just sleep through the night. i don't want to be reading about birthing from within at 3 in the morning - i would much rather be having nightmares about the kitchen or about giving birth and then completely forgetting about the baby.

ok, i think i've exhausted all of my complaints. looking over my list, it doesn't seem surprising that i am distressed since all of the things that feel under construction are basic needs - food, sleep, shelter, physical wellness. makes it harder to work on self-actualization. i need to go into a different room now. i'm blogging in samara's room since i can't use my computer unless it's plugged in and i can't work at my desk because they power strip must have got knocked out when i blew a fuse the other night. all the pictures of michael jackson are kind of freaking me out. he seems so troubled. i can't even begin to imagine what it must have felt like to be him.

Monday, January 10, 2011

soy fears

had my first semi-unpleasant appointment at the birth center this evening. i did not especially like the midwife we met with and left feeling worried once again about my diet. i have been so vigilant about getting enough protein and calcium, but when i asked about the possibility of consuming too much soy, she was not the least bit reassuring. she said that soy has a lot of estrogen in it, which is why they do not support the use of soy infant formula. she couldn't really give me a sense of how much is too much during pregnancy, nor was she remotely reassuring when i questioned if my high soy intake could have already caused harm to my baby. all she could say was that she really didn't know.

i had expressed a similar concern a while back on the post punk kitchen boards and people seemed to get aggravated, claiming that there is nothing wrong with soy and all the anti-soy propaganda is spread by the dairy industry because soy products cut into their sales.

so i'm feeling very insecure. it has always seemed like the healthiest thing to be vegan and now i am doubting that. i know i need to not be an extremist about this and just take care to eat more variety and depend less on soy for my protein needs. i also need to call the midwife that seems much more knowledgeable about dietary issues and resist looking things up on the internet and freaking myself out.

on top of my soy worries, i'm also worried about all the fumes from our now undone kitchen. the room is sealed off but it smells funny all over the house. i want my little cub to breath clean air and be nourished by wholesome foods. it takes enormous mental discipline to resist my copious fears and self-judgments.

i need to relax. how do i do that? i will consult my anxiety list. this is my advice to me for times like this:

~is there anything messy, unclean or unfinished around you? if so, take care of it now.
~any nagging projects/phone calls? take care of them!
~is there anything bothering you? write about it, talk about it, blog, express it, gain insight, work it out!
~breathing meditation
~journal exactly what I am feeling
~write a letter to myself in response
~throw a basketball around in the gym
~go for an aimless drive and listen to music
~call rachel, bryn, jill, mom, etc.
~play/snuggle/sleep with cleo
~draw or paint
~take a bath
~write rachel a letter
~read about art/artists
~take a walk
~stretch or do yoga
~connecting with the ground
~wiccan spells and incantations
~listen to music I like
~read things I’ve written
~showering, swimming, washing up
~think about my friends
~read nice things people have written about/to me
~draw or paint
~look at art books
~drink water or tea

ok. i am going to get a big glass of water and not assume it has been contaminated by construction fumes. i am going to draw a bath and play some really nice music. afterward, i'll do some stretches, pick out an art book and flip through it in bed, maybe copy a drawing.

i could also use some reassurance from my readers (real angela? fake angela?) that i have not poisoned my baby with soy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

joycian lyricism

took a break from registering for newborn necessities to revisit ulysses. last year my emotional energy could be summed up like this: “i’m a bloomite and i glory in it. i believe in him in spite of all. i’d give my life for him, the funniest man on earth.”

here are some gorgeous passages from the text:

“when one reads these strange pages of one long gone one feels that one is at one with one who once….”

“among gumheavy serpentplants, milkoozing fruits, where on the tawny waters leaves lie wide. pain is far.”

“it flows purling, widely flowing, floating foampool, flower unfurling.”

“evening will find itself.”

“one must go first: alone, under the ground: and lie no more in her warm bed.”

“a warm human plumpness settled down on his brain. his brain yielded. perfume of embraces all him assailed. with hungered flesh obscurely, he mutely craved to adore.”

“brightly the keys, all twinkling, linked, all harpsichording, called to a voice to sing the strain of dewy marn, of youth, of love’s leavetaking, life’s, love’s morn.”

“the sighing voice of sorrow sang.”

“she is the bride of darkness, a daughter of night.”

“gazelles are leaping, feeding on the mountains. near are lakes. round their shores file shadows black of cedargroves. aroma rises, a strong hairgrowth of resin. it burns, the orient, a sky of sapphire, cleft by the bronze flight of eagles. under it lies the womancity, nude, white, still, cool, in luxury. a fountain murmurs among damask roses. mammoth roses murmur of scarlet winegrapes. a wine of shame, lust, blood exudes, strangely murmuring”

“theres nothing like a kiss long and hot down to your soul almost paralyses you”

Saturday, January 1, 2011

top ten films of 2010

1) black swan
2) i am love
3) chloe
4) inception
5) shutter island
6) life during wartime
7) winter's bone
8) piranha 3d
9) ghost writer
10) cyrus

i'm not sure i totally believe in my top ten list this year. i'm sure that black swan was my top film of the year. it's brilliant exploration of repression and female embodiment. it's in the tradition of the best polanski and cronenberg films, examining a horrifying and liberating transformation from safety and fear to sexual and emotional freedom that comes at a great cost. everything about this film was a delight.

i am love was a beautiful character study for tilda swinton, full of epic transgressions and bravura.

i don't think chloe was on anyone else's top ten list except for mine, but i stand by it. read my analysis here.

inception and shutter island were both gorgeous blockbusters with entertaining stories and plenty of reality bending. leonardo dicaprio does a great job playing these arrogant guys who are in way over their heads.

life during wartime was a sequel to todd solondz' 1998 film happiness and it renewed my faith in solondz after his last few turkeys. he went much more for pathos than comedy here and it was actually quite moving. the re-castings were genius and the scene with charlotte rampling and ciaran is probably my favorite scene of the year.

winter's bone is on most people's lists this year. it is indeed a really well-crafted, well-acted film about a world i'm glad is one i've never known.

piranha 3d on the other hand, has not been mentioned on any of the critic's lists, but for me it was by far the most entertaining film of the year. i went to it begrudgingly, not feeling well, not especially wanting to see a horror movie, and i wound up laughing for an hour and a half straight. this was some serious campy fun. the underwater opera scene also deserves best scene of the year.

ghost writer was also good fun from the exiled roman polanski. very slick and suspenseful, in his grand tradition of a stranger or foreigner entering a new space and getting swallowed by it.

i just saw cyrus yesterday, so it still has a bit of settling to do, but it was certainly the most surprising film of the year. it's a very genuine portrait of love triangle between a woman, her new lover and her 21-year old son. this could have been an interesting but forgettable drama, but their choice to cast comedy actors john c. reilly and jonah hill really gives the film a textured edge. it's hilarious while also maintaining an emotional integrity (and intensity) - a rare and special achievement.

as for my favorite performances of the year, i have to go with tilda swinton and charlotte rampling. for the men, i give it to christian bale for his turn in the fighter and ewan mcgregor in i love you phillip morris. i thought he was much more impressive than jim carrey.

happy new year!