Category Archives: new beginnings

not so surprising

We have decided to move again. I have never in my life lived somewhere for such a short amount of time, but as you all know, this has been a few weeks coming.

Now that the moving stress has worn off and J and I have had the opportunity to settle in a bit, explore our neighborhood, and most importantly, spend some time in our lovely new town, we both agreed that this is the very sort of place we want to live. We love the town so much. We love the neighborhood. We want to see BG grow up here. We don’t, however, want to spend exorbitant amounts of money improving someone else’s property when what we really want is our own home.

The idea of buying a home is central to the American dream, but for years, we have wanted none of it. We considered ourselves nomads. We never really knew where we would end up, and we didn’t want to be tied down somewhere if it wasn’t where we planned to stay. This is why we never entertained the idea of buying a house in Humboldt, even though the prices would have been more our speed.

But here, both of us are dreaming for the first time of seriously putting down roots, and with that comes buying a place. We have a long way to go before we get there. We’re probably looking at a few years of saving, planning, trying to make our work in academia somehow more stable while pursuing our other goals at the same time. But we want it, and both of us have admitted it to the other at the same time.

What does that have to do with our current living situation? Well, we know that we’re going to have to put in at least a thousand dollars to make this place livable, and that sort of makes us sick. We don’t want to put the work in here. We don’t want to improve this jerk-of-a-landlord’s property value when she’s not willing to spend a penny on it herself. So we’re going to find a place as soon as we can–probably some kind of townhouse in a complex in town. We just sold our second car, so it would be convenient to be able to walk everywhere, but it would also give us the opportunity to save a little while having someone else take care of issues like lawns and such. It has to be somewhere with a little yard, which is going to be challenging to find but not impossible. It has to be safe, and it has to be free of rodents and pot smoke and mold, and it needs to be suitable for a couple of years. The great thing about this area is that the country is no more than a mile away regardless of the direction you drive, so we won’t be far from peace or even lots of apple trees. They just won’t likely be ours–for now.

It is rather anxiety-inducing to think about moving again so soon, but we plan to move when J finishes up the semester, and my mom will be able to help us with BG, and everything will be rosy and positive and a step forward. Hell, moving back to our old place (which is NOT something we’re going to do) would be a step up from here. But we’re taking wobbly little toddler steps (thanks, Strawberry) toward our dream, and that’s starting to feel good. I already feel a bit lighter.

In fact, we packed a few boxes today. That’s how serious we are. Holy hell, I can’t believe we’re going to pack again.

In other more escapist news, it’s been since before BG was born that we have taken a proper vacation. We had planned to do a Yosemite trip, but to do what we wanted to do, we needed to have planned our trip a year ago. Therefore, we’re going to San Diego at the end of May–maybe spend some time at the beach, hit up some children’s museums, venture through the zoo, and more. I cannot begin to tell you how delightful this feels to be planning such a trip. Anyone have any suggestions for must-see stops there? We’ve both been there but only for brief stops and never to spend any time, so we’re very excited for the upcoming respite and some adventure with our boy genius.

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Filed under Baby Genius, moving, new beginnings, vacation

turning corners

J and I returned yesterday from an impromptu weekend getaway for Pride. Our county held its Pride festival in a new location this year, in a small riverside town that is a gay male hotspot. We love this little town for its quirkiness and for its proximity to both the river and the redwoods, which we both sorely miss these days. So, when we learned that Pride was being held there, we entertained the possibility of going and then camping in the redwoods for a night.

I have to be honest. We almost didn’t go, and it was because of me. I had a fair amount of anxiety about going camping. This was likely going to be our only trip this year, and our last trip as just a couple, so I felt that if we didn’t go, I would feel a good deal of remorse. Still, the anxiety was pretty overwhelming, so much so that I almost called the trip off the day before we were to leave. So many things fed into this: I wouldn’t be  having a few beers to help me sleep at night; I wouldn’t be comfortable sleeping; I might feel a bit too vulnerable; I wouldn’t be able to do my usual heavy lifting, and J would have to pick up the slack (I’m usually the muscle in our relationship). I couldn’t believe how scared I was and how worked up I had gotten myself.

The day before we were to leave, I awoke at about five in the morning, and laid there worrying about it. When J woke up, I began talking to her about it, voicing my fears. Soon enough, we were pulling out the camping gear, pairing things down so they wouldn’t be as heavy, and getting ready. She knows quite well that if she can get me to move forward that I typically snap out of it, and I did. She brought me extra pillows and insisted on a little ben.adryl to get me to sleep. Somehow, I was going along with it and was going to be okay.

And so, on Sunday morning, we packed up the car, and we drove West toward the little gay town on the river. When we arrived, the lightposts all had American flags with little gay flags under them.

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All of the local businesses had gay flags and various Pride decorations in their windows.

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It was still early, so we ventured to the area where we would be camping to secure a site. The drive in is through an old growth grove of redwoods, and then one is required to traverse a very narrow, steep, windy one-lane mountain road. We made our way up and up and up, past so many beautiful vistas, but toward the top were the most breathtaking.

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Once at the top, we made our way through the campground and found ourselves in a clearing where we soon discovered the bullfrog pond after which the campground was named.

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This was also where we found our campsite, a perfect little spot where we were able to pitch our tent directly beneath a redwood.

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We were thrilled to discover that not only were we very close to a restroom, but that we seemed to be the only people camping in this entire clearing (where there were five other sites). It felt like we had the whole pond, the whole campground, to ourselves. Needless to say, it was difficult to want to leave to go back to Pride, but we had promised ourselves we would–plus, we still needed firewood.

Off to Pride we went, where I was the token pregnant lesbian in a see of gay men. The celebration was held on the lawn of a resort, and it was quite festive. We enjoyed people watching, dog watching, kid watching, but after a bit of food and perusal of the various goods for sale, we were ready to go back to camping away from the people and festivities and noise.

When we returned, we settled in. We played some cards, took a walk around the pond, made a fabulous dinner over the fire, and simply enjoyed being out there by ourselves. Throughout the afternoon, three or four lesbian couples came to have romantic moments by the pond, and we were certain we would have camping neighbors, but we never did. At night, everything was quiet except for the owls and bullfrogs. It was beautiful. Sleeping was challenging, as I knew it would be. My hips ached all night, and I flipped from one side to the other throughout the night. I did sleep though, and by sunrise, J and I were ready to get up and enjoy our own slice of the outdoors for ourselves again.

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Each of us took her own walk around the pond, encountering all kinds of wildlife from deer to turkeys to ducks and the frogs themselves. J had found me a walking/fire stick the night before, and she insisted I take it with me on my walk around the pond. It was so lovely taking this little hike by myself with just my camera, my coffee, and a stick. It was therapeutic. I was so proud of myself that this more rugged T that has always loved being in nature still existed, that even though I’m busy growing this baby, I still had plenty of strength and energy to hike and build fires, and I still had the peace of mind to enjoy the beauty of this place.

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This was such an important revelation for me to have at this point in my pregnancy. So much lore around us says that pregnant women are fragile, and I have resented this, but at the same time, there was part of me that had started to embrace it. Not now. Sure I need to take life a little slower, accept the help that is offered to me, and avoid doing things that are utterly reckless, but I needn’t stop being me so long as I’m still capable of doing so. As the coming months make me slower and a little more dependent, I need to be able to hang onto this.

We wrapped our very short trip up with a hike through the redwoods later that morning. We felt so close to one another, so happy to be where we were. The redwoods always make us feel home, and we enjoyed them so much.

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 As we walked, we fantasized about our camping trips next year with our baby boy (yes, we’ll be those crazy parents), the hikes through the redwoods he’ll enjoy throughout his life. It brought us so much joy to picture our little family making new meaning of something we have always loved as a couple. And with that, we ended our last camping trip as a couple, all filled up with love and hope and eager anticipation for what the years will bring.

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Filed under camping, new beginnings, redwoods, the P word

the meeting

We met our midwife yesterday. J and I are still floating a bit from the experience. It was wonderful. She was wonderful.

It took forever to get to her place. She lives about an hour from us in this beautiful rural location amidst rolling hills covered wtih vineyards, and her office is in a building on her property. When we turned into her driveway and got out of our car, she was walking out of her garden holding a handful of spearmint. She came up to both of us, reached out to shake my hand, and held it with both of her hands as she looked into my eyes telling me how lovely it was to meet me. She did the same with J, then introduced us to her apprentice, her client who was just leaving, and her client’s little girl.

As they left, her apprentice asked us to take off our shoes and invited us in. The “office” is a big living room with pillows and comfy chairs and sofas and pregnancy and birth art everywhere. We were surrounded in goddesses, casts of pregnant bellies, paintings of mother goddesses giving birth. It was cozy and beautiful and empowering. Her apprentice asked us to sit wherever we liked and offered us tea and spearmint water. We gladly accepted. C came in and snuggled up on one of the sofas and invited her apprentice over to sit and cuddle with her.

I should take a moment to describe the midwife: C. C is 62 but honestly looks about ten years younger. She has long silver wavy hair, which she ties back on the top. She is somewhat short, and thin, and she wears long skirts and flowing clothes.  When she smiles, her eyes twinkle, and when she looks at people, she seems to look beyond any guards they might have up; she looks straight at people’s beings.  She is a crone, and she looks like the crone archetype.

After everyone was settled, we sat in each other’s presence for a moment drinking our tea and making small talk. C would ask us questions about our lives, and then asked us if we had questions. I looked to J to ask the majority of the questions. I wanted her to feel more part of this than she did in the past. The whole coversation was easy, organic. J asked how the IUI would work, and C explained the process. At one point she asked if either of us had ever looked at our cervix. When we both replied that we hadn’t, she pulled out a speculum for each of us to take home so that we could cervix-gaze at our leisure. (J later told me that she has no interest in her cervix and does not intend to look at it. I told her that was fine as long as she had some interest in mine. She does, so all is well in cervix land.)

We knew before that C had only done one insemination in the past, but she has wanted for quite some time to be able to provide IUI for those who ask. She has for ages been involved in feminist and gay rights activism (she told us she and her husband only got married when it looked like marriage would be legalized for gay folk in California, and they toasted Gavin Newsome at their wedding), and she wanted to be able to help out women like us. C has a midwife friend who will be training her to do IUIs, so she talked about her for a bit and let us know that if we wanted to work with her instead we could. J said, “No, we want to work with you!”

A smile broadened across C’s face, and she said, “Good! Because I really want to do this for you! I’m so excited about this.” I think I teared up a little when this happened. I proceeded to tell C that when I found her website that I knew we had to work with her, that we needed to know her, and I told her I dreamt of meeting her. She smiled knowingly and said, “It’s so important to listen to your dreams. We can learn a lot from them.”

We discussed a few more details. C had finally researched what she would charge us, which was one of our hugest concerns (as you all know). The final answer: $150. If that’s not a bargain–a downright gift–I don’t know what is.

We continued meandering through conversation. C and J talked about their parents’ deaths. We discovered that she too was an English major in college (her poetry about birth is stunning), that she’s an ordained minister. We talked about our dreams to have children. C even asked if we had names picked out (we do) and asked if we would share them (we did), and it was utterly beautiful. C talked a little about her philosophies about pregnancy and birth too: she discourages unnecessary ultrasounds, promotes home birth, and, well, my foggy brain can’t remember the rest right now. We did tell her that should we get pregnant, we would like to talk with her about being our midwife, and again that beautiful soft smile crept across her face. “Of course,” she said. She’s a lovely woman.

An hour zipped by, and it was soon time to leave (I still had to teach my final class of the day), and she told us to take some apples (from her trees), and offered to get us some spearmint, which we unfortunately had to decline because we weren’t going home for a few hours. She gave us both a warm hug, told us again how excited she was to be working with us, and sent us on our way. J and I left full of hope and peace and eagerness to get all of this started. We were lifted up in a way we have never been through all of this.

J took me out for sushi after I taught my class, and we reflected on the appointment, how her home reminded us of Humboldt, how she reminded us of the best of that place, of home. We kept talking about it all when we came home, dreaming about our child, knowing that somehow this woman was going to help us bring him/her into the world.

We feel like this marks the beginning of the end of our break, the restoration of hope in a new and reassuring form, the beginning of Reproducing Genius Phase 2.

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Filed under insemination, J, midwife, new beginnings, The Long Break, ttc

the new girl

I don’t handle being the new girl very well. I was never really a new girl when I was a kid because I went to the same school from Kindergarten through 8th grade. When I went to high school, I had my friends with me. When I went to college, it was different because everyone (at least in the dorms) was new. In my former teaching positions, I taught amongst my mentors from graduate school, so I still wasn’t exactly new. But now, I’m the new girl, and I don’t like it.

Yesterday was the first day of school. I had to get up at 5am, leave by 6am, teach at 7am. The morning was fine, as was my commute, but arriving at school, things weren’t so fine. As the new girl, and a part-time, adjunct faculty member, I’m one of the people who matter least to the other faculty. Being an adjunct is a weird deal anyway. We’re part-time, have no job security, make less money for teaching the same classes, don’t get health benefits, and don’t have a voice in department decisions. We’re a step above warm bodies. So being the new girl and being an adjunct (at a place where I was turned down for a full-time position) is wearing on my confidence. It’s difficult to join conversations with those who have been there for twenty years, who see me as some green youngster who isn’t part of their community. I’m sure it will happen to some extent, but I left yesterday after my class feeling fairly dejected. To be honest, I came home and cried in J’s arms.

It didn’t help matters that my first class yesterday was frustrating. Half of my students didn’t show up because there was no room number on my classroom door! Some of them showed up near the end, so I had to give my opening talk multiple times. None of them laughed at my usual jokes. They were still asleep, still adjusting to being in their first college classes ever. They asked no questions and responded to none of mine. That class is going to be a tough one.

But there is always a silver lining, isn’t there?

My evening class was a different story entirely. It’s on this brand new campus with beautiful new buildings and lots of excited people. I arrived to find a coupon for a free coffee beverage in my mailbox, so I used it for a chai and got ready for my evening students. I met another English instructor, and she was lovely. This campus is a satellite campus to the main campus. It’s an adjunct. Many of us who teach there are adjuncts. People are nicer, more eager to bring one another into the fold. On top of this, the students were fantastic and fun. They laughed at the appropriate times, asked questions, and were generally eager to participate. I can tell already that they’re going to be a good group. When I came home, I walked in the door smiling and excitedly told J about my experience. I’m sure she was relieved that I wasn’t crying again.

And so it begins. I’m teaching again, back in front of the classroom where I belong–for now. It’s going to be an adjustment teaching these new people in these new places, but I’m welcoming leaving the house a couple of times a week for work. Working from home, as I usually do, can be a lonely venture. Now I just need a sense of collegiality, a feeling of belonging. I hope to find it before long.

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Filed under new beginnings, Ramblings, school, teaching writing

awe

J and I are at my parents’ house. We dropped them off at the airport early this morning for a cruise they’re taking. Now J and I are housesitting, enjoying some private 4th of July celebrations like drinking our favorite Mexican beers, grilling, sitting in the hot tub, and loving the peace and quiet that oen can only find in the country. It’s lovely.

We met our niece last night. Little B. stole our hearts. Here she is with her stressed out face. My step-dad is convinced that her last life was a rough one:

The visit with my sister and her baby was bittersweet in some ways. I mean, we loved seeing my parents with their first grandchild. They both are so happy and in love with this baby. It was great to see my sister making her way with her daughter, and it was beautiful for both J and I to see one another with the baby. But then we also both felt our own desire for our baby that much more. These were some tough feelings to reconcile. There is no doubt, however, that we both love this little girl, and we look forward to being her aunts. We just hope that we can provide her with a cousin very soon.

We’re off to the cute little country store for a few finishing touches for dinner. I’m making my basil and red pepper potato salad. Mmm.

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Filed under family, new beginnings, niece

The Oppressive Redwood Curtain

 

We live behind what is called the Redwood Curtain. This is an area that is secluded from the rest of California. Our county is surrounded by redwoods on three sides, and on the other side, we have the Pacific Ocean. Behind the Redwood Curtain, life is fairly peaceful. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth. When the thick Northern Pacific Fog rolls in, it sits on our trees like a down blanket, and it makes this place one of mysticism and awe. But one can only live so long under a wet blanket. This was a lesson we learned last weekend, and something I wanted to write about before the big bomb was dropped in our laps.

Last Sunday, until said bomb, we had a fabulous day exploring our new hometown-to-be. We started off by driving around to a few apartment complexes that I had scouted out. We stopped at one, had a tour from a super-skinny woman with Lee Press-on-Nails (I had no idea they still existed!), and found ourselves more than a little underwhelmend with what they had to offer for the high price they were asking ($200 more than we were hoping to pay). This started us on a small downward spiral. As we drove up to other complexes, we started realizing that the places we thought would be in our price range were exactly the sort of places we would have settled for as college students. They are not, however, the sorts of places we want to live in our thirties, and they are certainly not the places where we want to have a baby. That was it. We were officially discouraged.

Then J saw a sign for another complex, and we took a look. It was this beautiful villa-style place that had class and charm and was around the same price as the first place where we had stopped. And then we saw some others like this. J looked at me and said, “This is what we need to be looking at from now on. We have to stop lowering our standards.” And she was right.

We found a great Mexican place for lunch, and we proceeded to have a fairly monumental conversation about why we have been aiming so low. I say this because we were really starting to consider pouring wine at the local wineries for jobs. We were seriously considering living in substandard dwellings in pretty crappy neighborhoods just so that we could move. But when you add all this up, it means spending thousands of dollars to move, then working jobs for which we are way overqualified, living in apartments that we outgrew about seven years ago, watching our backs in bad neighborhoods, and generally being miserable. We had to ask ourselves, how would this be any better than here? And why are we aiming so low? And how is it that we’re suddenly thinking that we ought to aim higher?

When we sat down to lunch that day, we realized that behind the Redwood Curtain, we have learned to strive for mediocrity–for just getting by. For example, recently one of our mentors (the director of the program in which we teach), upon hearing where we were moving, told J, “I can see you running an office.” Alas, this is not the first time someone has urged us into careers as receptionists and secretaries; some of our best friends have done that too. But we have masters’ degrees. The thing is, with masters’ degrees, people here behind the Redwood Curtain are receptionists, secretaries, bartenders, and waitresses because that’s what this place has to offer. I have the greatest respect for people who hold these positions, but we have five college degrees between us. We teach at a university. We don’t have any business being secretaries.

That day at lunch, we sat there with tears welling in our eyes, becoming aware of just how oppressed we have been by this place. We’ve been brainwashed by our colleagues and mentors here that we are doomed to lives of multiple jobs and part-time work without enough pay, but suddenly on that day, as we looked out at this city sprinkled in autumn leaves, sunlight, and people walking through the park and playing with their kids, that we’re capable of so much more. It may seem a simple realization, but to us, it’s what we had to discover on our fact-finding mission because it’s the only thing that is going to get us out of here, out of the fog behind the Redwood Curtain.

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Filed under new beginnings, redwoods

On the Road

 We’re here in the city where we plan to move in a few months. We got here late, but already J has gotten a lead on some potential child advocacy work. She was also offered a job pouring wine at a winery we stopped at on the way here. Things are going well.  

We’re both utterly exhausted after our week from hell, but we’re having a nice time connecting, enjoying some down time and the prospect of discovering some areas we may want to live. The hospitality person at the winery where we stopped made some suggestions for communities to visit that are smaller and a little less expensive near the city where we’re currently staying, so we’re going to see how we like them, so we’ll check those out tomorrow too. This place is definitely far more of a city than we’re accustomed to (our town has maybe 7,000 people, while this one had more like 150,000), with all of the traffic and congestion that comes with that, but we’re open to learning about the area. It’s all part of the adventure that we’re looking forward to. 

On the TTC front, I admit I’ve had a little wine today, but I’m okay with it. So many of my straight, coupled friends who have gotten pregnant have drank until they found out, and while I am dedicated to being as healthy as possible, I also know that if I do find out I’m pregnant, it will all be okay as long as I don’t keep this up. Hell, one of those women got rip-roaring drunk with me just a couple of nights before she found out she was pregnant with #2 (and had apparently done the same before she found out about #1). I know I don’t have to defend myself. I think I’m trying to assuage any guilt I may feel in the future about this. For now, it’s helping me wind down, and at this point, reducing the stress I’ve been under is probably just about as important as avoiding toxins. Alas, I’m a sucker for good wine. What can I say?  

Also on that front, for those interested in obsessive behavior, I’ve been a little crampy today with no signs of a period. It could be something; it could be nothing. The fact stands, I’ve had some cramps, whatever that may mean. 

For now, I’m off to bed and will post tomorrow with exciting tales of our adventures in this city.

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Filed under exploring, new beginnings, new city, symptoms, TWW

Preview

I know I have mentioned that J and I are moving at the beginning of the new year. We’re moving to a new city that we’ve visited plenty of times. We have no ties there, no job prospects, no places to live (and it’s definitely more expensive than where we are now). However, all of those factors are part of the draw. It’s going to be a fresh start all around, and we’re excited.

This weekend, J and I are going on a fact-finding mission to the new city, which feels good, but we’re both a little stuck. What do we do there? We thought we would look at some apartment complexes, maybe familiarize ourselves with the different parts of the city, but we really are perplexed about what to do. I haven’t moved since I came here fourteen years ago to go to college, and J has only moved to join the military and to go to college. So this is completely new territory, and we’re going to bumble our ways through it. If nothing else, we’ll have a nice, relaxing weekend out of town imagining a new life.

Wow. We’re just under three months away. Holy shit.

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Filed under exploring, new beginnings, new city