a story

our evenings together have been spent in an orgy of Vikings. the battles, the politics, the faiths, the cultures: enchanting. but the story is what keeps us watching past the witching hours.

in the show, lagertha often says that life is a story.

dfw1what is my story? what will i make of it? i build stories around my life, trying to make sense of it. i look back at the tragedies and connect them to the joys and the surprises and the wonder. i sit amidst my tears and worry if i’m too damaged to cultivate love: in myself, in others. was the happiness i felt untrue? it was so fleeting. have i diminished its existence because i forget what it is to be warm from within? in this desolate isolation, who is for me? are you there God? it’s me…

and-it-hurts-to-be-lied

where am i going? where am i now?

sweet bean, where are you? where are your kicks and your somersaults and your dear hiccups? you are sleeping, i hope. sleeping as i wish i could sleep. sweetly. untroubled by terrors. a slumber unmarred by harrowing discoveries. i hope you are rocked by my breaths; they rack me so but within they must be no worse than a three foot swell. i hope you are lulled by the gentle sounds of my heart, which beats on however much it breaks.

dfw2

frankly, i sometimes think it would be much easier to die. but i suppose that is the problem of writers and live-ers: the story is the living, yet it never turns out quite right. the discrepancy can drive one mad. quitting would be goddamn blissful.

another impossible bliss: sleep. it escapes me. how i wish i could fall into that darkness, joining my sweet babes, boom and bean.

alas, it is a David Foster Wallace kind of night.

dfwdawn approaches. perhaps it will bring some peace in living. and with it, i hope, a happy chapter.

i love you bean. i love you boom.

KT

out

 

if i die young

if i die young, bury me in satin sun; lay me down on a bed of roses. sink me in the river at dawn. send me away with the words of a love song

i’ve been dreaming of dying lately. daydreaming, sleepdreaming, i’m-talking-to-you-but-i’m-still-dreaming. it’s been on my mind.

dawndawn

and i realize: if i die today, or tomorrow, or on april 29th, i’ll be okay.

i’ll be sad, never having held my child, never cheering him on at his soccer games or helping him with his math homework or holding his hands to jump over his first wave; never able to show him how much i love him. i’ll miss holding boomer and chasing squirrels with her and kissing her sweet little nose. i’ll miss being her best friend and i’ll miss her being mine. i’ll regret not being able to see A grow into his own, miss being able to urge him on to achieve his goals, his dreams. but i know he will, so it’ll be alright.

nothing about myself though. nothing about my life will i regret. it won’t matter that i didn’t go to austin, that i’m not in med school, that i didn’t get to help build a pile of savings for my beautiful family. i won’t be disappointed that i never saw the ocean again, never danced on the swells, never felt the sun penetrating my skin as it can only after hours spent on the glistening waves. i won’t cry at never having hunted, never feeling the loss of life that fed mine, never understanding. i’ll have had enough to feel in my small life. i’ll have loved.

if anything, i will regret not loving more. in small ways: not being able to convince my dad to eat paleo; not smiling more; not being kinder. in big ways: living an ordinary life in an ordinary way instead of an extraordinary way, settling into routine instead of comfort, refusing to forgive.

but overall, i’ll have lived a good life. and i’ll miss it. but it’ll be okay.

the perfect words

31 weeks into this amazing journey of miracle-nurturing, and I’m astonished at how blessed I am: to be entrusted with this sweet, tiny, perfect human being who will call me momma. And I’m blessed in everything that makes this picture whole: my husband, my little direwolf pup.

As the days pass, the bean grows. I can’t see him apart from the secondary evidence of an increased roundness in my belly, but I feel his little feet and his hiccups make me laugh.

The other day, I woke up to stillness.

The gray pre-dawn light streamed through the cracks in the blinds, striping our gray pin-tucked duvet that looks like storm clouds, tickling the gray whiskers of our little gray wolf.

I woke up, in that still light, and did not remember I was pregnant.

I never forget I’m pregnant in the morning. Sometimes I forget at 2:00 or 7:12 or during physiology lab but never in the morning. Bean is usually wiggly in the AM, doing sun salutations no doubt.

Getting out of bed requires some maneuvering, so I realized then that bean was uncharacteristically quiet. I went about my morning routine, trying not to worry. I brushed my teeth, I ate, I kissed the boom goodbye, I moved some light weight, I drove to school, I studied before class, and I finally emailed A because the fear was building and I needed to dig an outlet before it exploded, taking me with it.

He wrote, telling me it would be alright and that we could call the center if need be. As I was reading his comforts, I felt two little kicks.

I let A know, and here was his celebration of the news:

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The perfect thing to say.

KT

out

a circle’s end

Friday once more. Friday: the goal throughout the week, the marker of survival, the day which turns into night too soon. The thrill of Friday is the relief from Thursday and the expectation of Saturday. Yet, to this girl who has trouble living in the present, Saturdays seem to fall flat due to the impending Sunday which of course implies Monday.

As a freshman I took a seminar in Sociology. Required for the purpose of rounding me out, the course was taught by tall wizened white-haired professor named Eugene. His first question: would you prefer to be a caveman over what you are now? His tone: you’d be crazy if you didn’t.

I, stubborn in my pretentious views of science and music and literature and progress, shuddered at the thought. Thusly I made myself a nuisance for the remainder of the semester then tossed the course off as a biased waste of time. Yet Eugene’s views haunt me still.

I find that, over and over again, my heart would indeed prefer a primitive existence.

We were assigned to explore aspects of such a life, the first accomplished by a time fast. Swearing an oath to refrain from timekeeping for five days, I covered all clocks in my room, woke up without alarms, invariably stood outside the dining hall for endless minutes in the sub-zero weather waiting for the doors to open for breakfast, showed up early to math and late to sociology, and overall avoided disaster.

But this was not quite a fast in the strictest sense; I still tracked time in my brain, simply adjusting according to when a class began (or, more often, when the dining hall opened; apparently I was naturally hungry at 1600ish to no avail as dinner did not start until 1700.) I imagine in primitive ages time would look more like this: sunrise, noon, sunset. And days themselves: I still knew Monday from Tuesday and so on. If I were pre-society my time would not be marked my such intermediate chunks as weeks, but rather large stretches of indefinite seasons striated by mornings and nights.

I would of course feel stress: what would I eat? Would I be bored? The cold would be a killer more than an annoyance, and my greatest advantage now (book-knowledge) would have no play in such a world. But time would be a lesser evil; its passage would not instill in me a dread so suffocating, so paralyzing, for things like waking up in the morning or a project proposal or a task set forth by my adviser. If time were a problem, it would be because it was directly related a real one: death.  Do I have enough time to outrun this wild boar? Do I have enough time to track and kill this dear before the next snowstorm?  Time would only be an issue in relation to survival.

Strange: I often say it is my mission to live rather than to survive. But I begin to realize that when I am fighting to survive, I feel most alive. Whether that’s in a workout or a job interview or a desperate fight to keep it together.

I’ve also said that I’d rather live than simply exist. But existing, be-ing, encompasses the other times I feel alive: falling asleep with boomer, feeling the sun drown my skin in the summer, the profound stillness in savasana.

I suppose I don’t know yet what it means to live: not in the way that I want to live. This makes sense though; life is an action disguised as a noun so is inherently mysterious, contradictory, multi-faceted. What I do know is that I can change my life, I can change the way I live. Though I may not have the option of becoming a caveman, I do have the power to change my perception. Time, that great stressor and strainer, is but a structure I adorn with my fears. If I face them and refuse the role of coward, time will cease to be my great enemy. Time will be but a marker in the ebb and flow of my life: my life which I will spend living.

Monday to Monday, dawn to dusk: I will not allow the seasons of my life to be defined by routine panic or perpetual boredom. I will weave my story in richer themes.

I certainly am a meander-er.

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KT

out

two epiphanies and a forever valentines

A said something today that set me sputtering like a fire hydrant. He expresses the sentiment often, but most of the time my reaction simply festers, digging into that dark place in my heart, also home to my anger toward society at large and my longing to escape most of daily life as I know it.

They were innocent, responsible words: “Sweetheart, I won’t start chasing my dreams until you’re settled into yours.”

This response comes up at every possible turning point in our lives: our engagement, our wedding, job transitions, job applications, name changes, date nights, couch nights…you name it.  And each time, it kills me a little inside.

Why? I didn’t realize until it came pouring out of me today. While A was outside digging our old, blind and poorly mobile neighbors’ (husband and wife) car out of the snow, I slammed around the dishes and violently folded the clothes while screaming to boomer “I’m not chasing my dreams. Going to school for a degree that will lead to I don’t know what is not my dream” And then I burst into more tears, if that’s possible, because I realized I have no real, concrete, chase-able dream.

Once my dream was to be a physics professor. And A kept preparing to sacrifice so I could do that (his job, his home, his comfort and friends and family.) But then I sacrificed that dream because more so, much more so, I wanted to build a life with him, not away from him. Then my dream was to be an orthopedic surgeon. And A was again willing to sacrifice, but I again backed out because even more than working with my hands for a big fat paycheck, I wanted to see our son grow. I wanted to be present for his miraculous, fleeting childhood.

Then I found biomedical engineering which, honestly, is fine. But it’s just that: fine. Not really a dream. It let’s us take care of the bean without relying on a stranger which is AWESOME and is the irreplaceable, priceless, central reason for our decision to do it. But it means I’m not making money, I’m not contributing, I’m not helping to create the environment A needs to set sail and fight for his dreams which are much more solid than my own. And for that I feel awful. The guilt which follows me around trips me up, knocks me down, makes me question the point of it all: this stupid degree, the great unknown which lies beyond, the audacity to want a job I like versus a job I tolerate.

And then, still venting to boom, I started railing against even being with someone, even being married to A, even being committed and all of those things that come along with building a life with someone else. And here: epiphany number one. These thoughts and tears I was airing to boomer echoed the very same doubts A had expressed to his best friend (not me) some time ago.

I was royally the worst: a snooper, fueled by the insatiable curiosity to know and understand every aspect of my newly minted husband. Armed with his password, I read his emails. I found one complaining of my blindness to mess, my idiocy when it came to doing simple chores, my unwillingness to engage his family or friends, his feeling of pure isolation and foreignness in his own house, and an admission that it was far easier, and he was happier, when he was alone.

I found this six months after we married. Still on my honeymoon high, the fall was bad and broke my heart in what felt like too many pieces to count. I licked my wounds for two good weeks before fessing up to my despicable snooping, trying to find an explanation for what felt like the ultimate betrayal, trying to comprehend how he could feel this way when I felt as though I gave up everything to be with him (the abandoned visions of physics and a tiny wedding and an escape to start a new life were fresh on my mind.) He explained. He forgave me. I forgave him. But the scars were new and tugged at my heartstrings, mostly because I still did not understand them. I could not comprehend their origins.

Not until today, when I realized their truth inside of me: sometimes A annoys me for the very person he is: stolid, reliable, utterly giving of himself. Just as I annoy him for the person I am: a disorganized daydreamer who is fiercely protective and stubbornly refuses to give the time of day to people she a) finds silly or b) perceives have wronged the ones she loves. And I too thought it would be much, much easier if I were just alone. And I too told my best friend (who happens to be a puppy.)

Why did I want to be alone? Because my dreams, once so simple, dependable, achievable, now lie in someone else. My dreams are not achievements, or careers, or livings; my dream is to live. It is to live in peace and freedom as a mom and a wife and a woman unplagued by worry or fear. Considering that one of the two things I worry about most is A’s happiness (the other is bean’s health and all it encompasses) and the thing I fear most is a zombie life with hours wasted just killing time, I know that I can only achieve my dream if A is not stalled in the chase for his. After assuring this base, I can move on to building my life and adding to it, chasing new dreams of my own.

It is so easy to live on an island. It is so hard to depend on someone else.

It is so easy to love boomer, always. She asks nothing of me.

It is so hard to love A sometimes. He asks everything of me: he asks me to be a better person, even when I don’t know how to be or who to be  and even when he know that our definitions of “better” are wildly different.

I likely would be happier more often if I were on my own, or just with boom. But it would be a hollow kind of happiness. It would be a happy whose amplitude was limited by dearth of experience, muted by an absence of a demanding type of love. It would be the kind of happy painted on a dream that only required me to reach as high as a lamp-post; now I’m asked to reach for the stars.

And that is epiphany number two: my dreams are irrevocably entangled in A’s. They depend on his happiness, on his dreams. But because of the person he is, because of his very sweet, good, godly qualities of steadfastness, constancy and selflessness, he won’t give himself wholly to the pursuit of his happy life until he knows we are on solid footing. So we have to work together, and maybe it’s up to me now to work hard and quit waiting for A to work hard too. If A won’t jump with me, I can at least jump with the knowledge that he’ll soon follow (as long as I land well.) It’s not the way I want to do it, but what I want is not necessarily what I need.

What I know I need is A, and for this reason I’ll keep asking him to be my valentine tomorrow, and next year, and the year after that, and on and on and on.

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He is my 100 days of happy, my 1000 days of happy, my lifetime of happy.

KT

out

what is now

school–how i’ve longed to be back since i first said goodbye. stints were had at gtown and nova, but part-time attendance did not satisfy the itch.

so i placed my goals in fast forward (with a significant tweak) and got back to school.

here i am, juggling five courses and a decision that will largely impact the rest of my life: choosing an adviser. while i have practical visions of working for a sports company, researching, designing, and creating tools to help athletes become stronger, faster, healthier, the path is difficult to see. with where i am, i have plenty of clear paths to rehabilitation engineering, neurological biomechanics in the realms of cerebral palsey and duchenne muscular dystrophy, and a future in plush academia or a government lab. but these research modalities do not appeal to me as of yet. i can only see them capturing my interest if my dear little bean were to suffer from one of these ravagers; in this case i would pursue cures and management with all humanly passion.

but supposing we are blessed with a child (and children after him) free of these diseases, i would like to work with athletes; i would like to focus my efforts on optimizing movement as opposed to restoring it. it may not be as noble, but i threw nobility to the wind when i decided against becoming a theoretical physicist: a philosopher poet who speaks in tongues of mathematics, if you will; a profession that would have brought me as close to God as i could ever be.

which leads me to the decision which weighs even more heavily on my mind. in only the silliness i can muster, it is a decision of the past. it is my decision to leave physics, to leave austin, to leave a future that i knew and with which i was comfortable. i dwell on it now, when for so long i thought i had made peace. “why?” i beg myself, when i’ve beat myself to a pulp. “why do you wish for the future behind a door now long shut?”

i cannot give a logical reason, for such wishes are folly and poppycock. instead i can only say that this reality i’m living seems a poor mimicry of the future i imagined then. and so, i’ve fallen into the trap of comparison; as always, the cruelest are the weighings between who i am and who i believe i ought to be, who i am and who i was, and who i am and who i could have been.

when i am malevolent, as i am wont to be, i paint myself in sordid light:

i had the chance to be in the top astrophysics school in the country, with a cushy stipend in addition to the full ride. instead i attend an unranked school with a small department in a new field lacking tradition or respect, must fight for a scholarship each year, and feel as though even grocery shopping is a luxury, (one i exploit far too often.)

i had the chance to live in a city that was loose in stress and rich in sunshine, the chance to ride my bike to school everyday and take boomer with me into class and cafes and bookstores. i had a chance to live in a city that breathed music, where i could explore that other half of me that longs to paint sweet notes for an appreciative audience. i had the chance to join a university weightlifting team and participate in the greatest community of crossfit outside of california. instead i commute up to two hours a day, spend at least half an hour looking for parking despite my golden parking permit, can hardly squeak a melody out of my rusty pipes let alone strum a tune on my dusty guitar, and am part of a gym that threw my dear husband out like smelly trash.

and oh my husband; such a large part of why i changed my path was to be with him for our first year of marriage. but would not our marriage be stronger now if i were happy with who i am?

and therein, dear readers, dear me, lies the rub. i am not happy with me. after such a long time of struggling to make peace with my outside, i seem to have neglected my insides. surprisingly the peace with my outsides came with a decision to -be- at peace with my outsides. i did not want this bean to have a momma who obsesses over every inch that grows around her waistline or every inch lost from her legs or the pathological asymmetry of her broken-jaw-ed face. so i put that away. sure i become frustrated at the strength and gains i’ve lost, but i do not let these annoyances ruin me or my spirit for very long.

it is different with my insides, with my thoughts, with my soul. the flow of my consciousness, so ugly up there in pink, shows the glut of pollution in every eddy and burping bubble. i am so mean to myself (those two “i”s again). i bully myself. i beat myself up at every corner, at every stoplight, with every breath of my body. and because of it i am small. i am battered. i am near helpless. i keep abusing myself for the decisions of my past, for the person i chose to become. in doing so i arrest my growth: i am so busy taking punches, i do not have the strength or the time to become who i want to be. frankly i don’t have the time to live.

this is perhaps why the past month seems a blur. why it does not seem at all full of living.

i haven’t lived, not in this world.

i won’t, until i decide to be at peace with my entirety. it’s time to return to the blessing that is now: to the sweet husband who fights so hard and carries his crosses with grace and patience, the dear pup who models love for this loveless woman, and the wee babe that grows inside of me.

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KT

out

 

 

what’s up buttercup

an entire month (and three whole days) of the new year is behind us. they’ve come and gone, and some of them have even been lived.

my goal for this year was to live, truly live: to make every breath count, every smile real, every word well-spoken and every laugh easy. but when i look back on the small marker of “one month down,” i don’t see a lot of that.

perhaps i simply suffer from memory loss–perhaps the good times are buried deep in untriggered synapses of my very pregnant brain. things have happened of course: big things and little things. off the top of my head, the ones that stand out are:

  1. primland
  2. south carolina
  3. leaving bacteria
  4. turning down summit
  5. Ph.D.ing
  6. A’s stuff (there is so much of it; i wish him the whole wide world and a king’s bounty)
  7. growing bean

but the days don’t seem to be defined by the things, by the dids or by the didn’ts. they seem to flow to a melody in a minor key: a haunting dirge, no variation on a theme. i’ve done little living and lots of wishing; these wishes, unfulfilled, leave me empty and tired. they are not concrete; they dissolve at a hint of practicality, they scatter at the smallest attempt to speak of them.

what are these wispy imaginings? they are full of texas or vermont or kyoto, marked by the absence of monetary woes, weaving days that stretch because they are so full of love and understanding and sweet peace. they are isolated except for those few souls who make my throat tight with emotion. evenings are easy and silence is comfortable. things don’t need to be said. voices are beautiful. there’s enough room for the important things in life to be important. full freedom. plenty of room to breathe.

the strange thing is, the less real these wishes seem, the less real I feel. what’s wrong with me? why can’t i just live?

wind

it’s time for this girl to become a momma, and to stop asking questions that have no answers.

KT

out

warm

the wind and the chill rival south quad’s cruelest midwinter gales.

ushered in with the smooth, foreign terrain of blanketed snow, this bitterly long, cold week continues even as the white shrinks into islands rising from patches of brown grass and gray dirt. so too this post languishes; an idea that was pure, driven, whole and encompassing now in remnants, battered by time.

but there is some beauty yet in its memory.

that first night, this first draft, the warmth kindled within while my fingers and toes and nose all froze. sweet boomer, in her tiny ferocity, battled the wind which threatened to bodily carry her scant eleven pounds. she walked back and forth across our new landscape, seeking a place to relieve her bladder. i’d brought her out unleashed, following A’s example for nighttime excursions and warily trusting that my great blessing, my best friend, would not run. time stretched, and boomer continued to search for that elusive perfect spot. i could not tell if my shivering was due more to cold or fear: each passing set of headlights burned into me the sad image of my pup caught between wheels, me too late, too slow, to save her. i shadowed her, of course, but she is ever so fast when she sees squirrels.

when i thought i could take it no longer, she finally deigned to squat. there, as her water steamed the snow, so too it warmed my heart. i was so proud, so relieved. it rivaled the joy that overwhelmed me at her first outside pee. she was so small, probably half her weight and less than that in length and height. a fluff of fur, she had rung the bell on the door and i raced her down the hallway to the patch of grass in front of our window. she squatted and i let out the biggest yell and holler i had; watching her tomboy success (that right leg is always up when she goes) i swelled with motherly delight. what strange, small things bring me such exultation.

thankyouemerson

other small fires in this frigid air:

  • bean, dancing around in this belly of mine
  • m.e. swings with A
  • forgetting myself for a bit with knitting and studying
  • sleep, which is all i want to do these days
  • burning quads from positioning squats
  • the space left from happy memories too quickly lost
  • home

KT

out

primland

there are days specially marked as “good.” these days may be spontaneous; indeed it is to the credit of the liver to have a multitude of these pleasant surprises. often, though, the ones that stay in mind are planned. whether it be a wedding or a christmas, once-in-a-lifetime or repeating, they offer inspiration of what life ought to be in every moment.

A and i shared a full two days of schemed “good.” we set off on an adventure to southern virginia, over the river and through the woods and up into a great appalachian hill. our destination: a resort, owned by the primas, rented for our partial use. we played in stone and fire, we slept in wood and iron, and the rain sang to the ebb and flow of our moments.

fire

it brought us to that intimate understanding, that brimming companionship: so familiar in our courtship, it seems to flee in the face of routine and obligation.

it brought me to that land of dreams, where everything is possible and work is good. where living was not so difficult.

it is a goodness which gives me courage to face ordinary days, soul-draining days, days marked by rage or bothers or ennui. i face them and i find what is beautiful within. and so today, one of those ordinary days, i decide to make it good.

for an hour (or until I can’t get back to the erg): row. every two minutes, 3 single leg deadlifts (each side) #95. score is meters.

KT

out


only made it to 18 minutes until deads took all my time. 1786 m. goal: develop fitness and engine to the point where i can complete this workout.