And then sometimes you really do get the sincerely genuine, “Congratulations! Children are such a blessing!”
But most of the time it’s a comment accompanied with a look of pity. It probably has to do with the look of exhaustion I wear daily—it doesn’t really blend well with the Mac concealer.
Yes. I am pregnant with baby number four. Now that I’m etching past the 12 week mark and the first trimester of exhaustion and nausea, the reality of what I am about to embark upon is overwhelming. It wasn’t “supposed” to happen for another year. I needed to finish grad school. My oldest is just entering pre-k and is not even four years old yet. I thought I’d have more time to prepare…as best as one prepares for four small children.
It seems like the female reproductive system is such a commonly discussed topic among media outlets and politicians. I’ve read so many blogs that talk about what we should and should not talk about with one another. But as more people discover our news, I feel like I have to have some type of stance as to why I am choosing to be so open to life. I may not seem very convincing in person because I am just so tired.
This week I had my new students read my short story, “The Liver Philosophy”. The moral of the story is to do what is right for you, even if no one else gets it. I had my students write a summary of what they felt it meant and quite a few of them wrote about some of their own choices that they are willing to be a “Liver” for. It was both insightful and inspiring. What moved me more is that I had forgotten to live out the very words I had once wrote!
I know that having a large family is not what everyone desires. I know that being open to “God’s will” is very open to interpretation. I also know that I am not one to judge other people’s choices, as long as they can respect mine.
I don’t know what I am going to do. My motto is that I tend to take life 50 minutes at a time. It’s the teacher in me. Every time the bell rings, a new class begins and anything and everything can change. It carries over into my home life. A meltdown one moment can lead to giggles the next.
Having my children so close together is hard. I’m really finally admitting it out loud. Maybe that’s one of the reasons you have to be open to God to have bigger families. You have to pray a lot for your sanity and you also have to admit that you need other people. It’s a hard thing to do when you have a lot of pride and you were once so independent, but then you look around and you see that you have a real family and real friends who live and celebrate this one life with you.
I sometimes question if I’m making the right choice, but then today happens. After a chaotic day, my three boys will be so sweet. And we do something random like “chase the sun”, which involves driving down an open highway to watch the gorgeous sunset while listening to The Postal Service. And they talk to one another like brothers do and say in an almost synchronized, rehearsed manner, “Good night, Sun,” to the melody of how we read, “Good Night Moon.” And I think, Yes. I can have another. I will survive thrive.
I sat on this random pew in the hallway near the receptionist’s office at the Jesuit Spirituality Center. I was here on a women’s day retreat with my mother and aunt. The first lecture talked about acceptance and how to cultivate happiness. I had just finished my first week of teaching curriculum and some of the presenter’s questions were really hitting home.
Do I let other people take away my happiness? Because I think happiness comes from outside situations based on my own agenda? Do I react with anger based on my own fear and insecurity?
Hmmmm. When I yelled at my kids this week because they weren’t paying attention, was it really because I was scared shitless that I would not be able to teach them the material?
So after the first presentation, we were instructed to walk throughout the campus grounds silently. No talking to Mom or Carla. I walked to the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee then I strolled through the library. Out of all of the literature there, I was attracted to “Living Catholic, the Catechism.” For 10 years I have studies almost every other religion except for the one I lived the first 18 years of my life. Based upon my current set of situations, now more than ever I felt I had to explore this religion through a matured pair of eyes.
I carried the book to that pew. I read through the first few chapters, when suddenly I heard this loud buzzing sound. I looked up to the front door, which was surrounded by large, uncovered windows, to see see a huge yellow jacket wasp flying repeatedly into the window. I thought it was on the outside of the window and was just a distraction from the moment, so I started to read again.
A few sentences later and the buzzing seemed to get louder and louder–demanding my attention. So I started to watch the wasp and realized he was actually on the inside of the window and he was trying to escape I watched him jump from pane to pane. Scratching. Buzzing. Trying to escape.
I felt I could do something to help out this little fellow. I got up and opened the door. I thought maybe he would feel the breeze and follow the wind to his escape. But he just kept flying into the glass.
Other retreaters were entering the door I was holding open-they just thought I was being nice. I was just patiently waiting to see if the wasp would get my gesture. He didn’t.
I went back to my pew while the wasp stayed in the same place. It made me wonder, how often when I wanted to escape was God holding the door open and I refused to follow the breeze? How often did I just bang myself against the glass? Like the wasp, maybe I just wasn’t ready for the escape at the moment.
I walked back to the retreat room with the sound of the buzzing in my ear. He may not be ready for the wind, but I think I’m ready for the current.
I have come to understand that I live my life by various philosophies. It allows me to bend my own rules instead of having to defend strict beliefs. Maybe, I don’t really like to be wrong and I like to leave some space to play.
Recently, I started to covet a new guitar. Don’t get me wrong the one I have now is great…for practicing. The action is high and it is very challenging to perfect high bar-chords. In the long run this will make me a much better player, but for now I am trudging on this nasty plateau.
Being a poor college student, I have some free time between my four jobs. When it comes to thinking of free things to do, I decided to check out a local music store to see what I should set my intentions on next. This is never a good idea when you don’t have the money to back it up. Yet, it strikes a desire to figure out a way to make your aspiration a reality.
Still, the ability to have a new guitar was not happening in my current reality.
I was telling my mom about the predicament and she told me this is a complete example of her “orange juice philosophy”.
See, when we were growing up, we didn’t have a whole lot of money. My mom had to have orange juice in the morning and she could only afford to get the cheap concentrate Winn Dixie brand. We thought it was fantastic. I can even remember eating it directly from the canister. We drank this orange juice for years with no qualms whatsoever.
Then Wal-Mart opened in the neighboring town of Crowley.
For the same price, my mom could get the Minute-Maid brand. Orange juice as we knew it was changed forever.
There was no returning to the cheap brand. Even if she ran out, she would drive the extra ten minutes to get her new fix.
So as I was telling her about my yearning for a new guitar after playing a new one, she told me to remember the orange juice.
“Never try something new if you are not willing to stick with the old one, because you may never want to go back,” she said.
I thought it was a pretty nifty little piece of advice.
Not long after that, I had a new roommate who moved in…with a brand new Yamaha guitar.
I wrote a few entries ago about how I’m trying to understand my own version of faith. There are a few recent situations that have caused maturation in this process.
The first occurred on December 7, 2009 when my second niece, Catherine Grace Marcotte, was born.
My sister Meggan was diagnosed on October 10 (our deceased grandmother’s birthday) with the news that she was a high-risk pregnancy case. She had very little–if not, zero—ambiotic fluid in her womb. She would have to be on extreme bed rest and if she reached 24 weeks, she would be admitted into the hospital for monitoring.
Well she did make it to 24 weeks. In fact she made it all the way to 27 weeks before she went into labor.
Catherine was born around sunrise on the morning of our great-grandmother’s 94th birthday. The 2.5 pound miracle was immediately admitted to the NICU.
During Meggan’s recovery, her high-risk doctor told us just how miraculous Catherine’s birth was. She said she had never been so impressed with a little baby. With how little fluid Meggan had, the fact that Catherine came out so strong and healthy was amazing.
I still have yet to see Catherine. She is still in the NICU and now weighs 4.1 pounds. She was taken off of the oxygen tube just two days ago. At this rate, she will be home in a month.
I know these kinds of births happen often. But when you witness the preciousness of life first-hand, it makes you wonder just how delicate things are pieced together. It really wowed me as to how so many people from Rayne prayed for Meggan and supported them through this difficult phase. It was a beauty to witness.
On an almost completely different plane, the New Orleans Saints have proven the longevity of the fruition process of faith.
After 40 years, they have finally won an NFC Championship and are headed to their first Super Bowl.
The fans have formed such a bond of unity during this season. I work at a restaurant on Sunday mornings and the vibe was so energetic. To see elderly ladies pulling for the Black & Gold gridiron was a spectacular site.
For the past few months, all you hear is “Who DAT!”. And I live in Lafayette, two hours from the Crescent City.
But Saints fans have existed through all 40 years of shotty seasons, yet they are still ever present and faithful to their patrons.
I feel this is a movement for Louisiana. After devastating hurricanes (Katrina and RITA), we are still here. Happy. Prospering. Even if the rest of the nation can’t see it.
Don’t you think it’s interesting that Yahoo.com released a poll on the happiest states and Louisiana ranked #1?
The media likes to play out devastation, and yes they did highlight the humanitarian acts of people going on air boats to help victims in the 9th Ward, but how much have they focused on the aspect of rebuilding?
George Clooney commented on the Haiti telethon yesterday that we should still donate money over the next few months to help rebuild the country. I totally agree, but what I want to know is how much coverage will still be allotted to the effort? How long before even that is old news?
The point is that many people still focused on all of the negative aspects from the levees breaking. What the media failed to emphasize was that a few weeks later, Hurricane Rita wreaked more havoc on the other side of our state. My sister who just gave birth lived in a FEMA trailer for months while she attended McNeese State University because she lost everything in her apartment in Lake Charles.
That wasn’t shown. It doesn’t really matter to the people here. We just rebuild and have faith that we will make it through. And have a great time while we do it.
I’m starting to see that whatever you have faith in, comes to fruition. It may take 40 years, but it happens. It happens faster in numbers, too.
Maybe we should take notice of what people really put their faith into. It could be an interesting outcome.
I saw light through my closed eye lids and thought it was the sun. It was florescent lights at a gas station.
“We’re in Wyoming. You have to drive now. But you’re about to see the most amazing sun rise.”
These were the last words I heard from Nick for hours. I got out of the back of Louis and went to the restroom in a grody bathroom. After scrubbing my hands and splashing some of the questionable water on my face, I purchased a LARGE coffee and banana.
When I slipped into my coveted driver’s seat, Nick was already crashed in the back and Rick was resting his head against the window. I started the vehicle and looked up to see nothing but an open sky that was now a navy blue.
It was 5:30 a.m. There were hardly any cars on the Interstate as I pulled off of the dirt road onto the ramp. A tiny strip of yellow blessed the horizon as a few of the stars danced their finale of the morning.
Rick asked if I wanted to listen to anything in particular, but before I could answer he already had a band in mind.
Explosions in the Sky.
No other band would have completed the moment more perfectly. I drove as the melody lulled the sun from slumber. This was going to be my first sunrise I witnessed on the trip. From the anticipation building in my tummy, I knew it was going to be glorious. It was the same feeling I had at the Grand Canyon. Peaceful excitement. Something from Nothing. An ironic paradox.
I originally planned on running at sunrise in almost every city. I learned quickly that gluttony and indulgence are so much easier to succumb to than energy exertion. Most people would rather do nothing than something too. I fell into that category several times this trip. Several times during my life.
I have all of these expectations. All of these things that I want to do. Life always seems to have another plan for me. Oh this hidden plan. It gets me where I need to go; where I envision I will be. Just never, ever the way I think it will get me there.
It’s like my mind and life like to play tricks on the “me” that witnesses it all. Because I won’t enjoy what’s right in front of me because I always feel like there is something else I should be doing. The things I have already thought about what I want to do.
My mind is the race track. There are always six lanes running at the same time. It seems like different participants at times. One finishes first. One has to finish last. But they all eventually cross the finish line of this grand circular motion.
This is what I realize as Louis climbed a mountain to reveal the entire sun beaming over an open valley. I was elevated to at least 7,000 feet and shared such an intimate moment with the source of light.
It was as though my answers were illuminated for this instant. I knew they existed and will now always be present, even though reality was going to throw a few hurdles across my track. This is why Alison told me to write this all down. She knew I was going to need proof to remember the illumination.
It’s kind of funny. You can always make something from a memory. Even if it didn’t exist in the moment you originally experienced it.
That’s why I take history with a grain of salt. Half of the time, the intention of action is different than most people expect. Plus, it’s just a culmination of several hundreds of thousands of people’s experience and perception.
How will we possibly be able to write the history of now? There are 7 billion people on this planet. The difficulty of keeping things accurate and true could be nearly impossible.
But I digress from my original memory. Off on another track.
I drove in a peaceful state until 7:30 a.m. We were 30 minutes from Fort Collins and I had no energy left. We stopped at a McDonald’s and I reverted to the back seat.
The alarm went off before I knew it. I splashed some water on my face, tried to blow my sinuses through my nostrils, and attempted to get the guys moving. I knew I was in for a long day. Our goal was to reach Fort Collins, Colorado–which was 24 hours away.
I opened the door to find a gentle rain pouring. It wasn’t huge drops like in Louisiana. It was more thin, pin-like pellets that seemed to bounce off of you, rather than dissolve into your clothing.
We packed up Louis and were on the road by 7:15 a.m.
Rick called David to locate their position. The plan was to eat lunch in Bend, Oregon. According to Tammy, we would get there right before 11 a.m.
We drove through windy, mountainous roads past several Oregon State Parks. The view was breathtaking. I felt like a sponge trying to absorb any last drop of this experience.
We arrived in Bend right on time. I received a text message from my aunt Carla to check my email ASAP, so I grabbed my laptop and connected to the restaurant’s wireless Internet.
My sister Meggan was to be married in a few weeks and her bachelorette luncheon was that afternoon. The message said “Wish you were here.” The picture was of my grandmother, mother, a few aunts and Meggan’s friends and they were all making a peace sign. Except for Carla, she was sticking out her tongue.
It was the first moment of the trip where I felt like I was missing out on something important. I knew I had missed a few parties and such, but I had the whole “Out of sight, out of mind,” mentality. Had I not thought that way, I would have been homesick the whole time and would not have appreciated the experience right before my eyes.
I smiled to myself and made a peace sign back to the picture, then closed my Mac. I would be home soon enough.
Interesting tidbit here about Bend. My brother-in-law plays online games and made a buddy through a particular game. They played for years but had never met. A few months prior to my trip, his online friend came visit Louisiana. I didn’t meet him personally because I was still living in Lafayette at the time. He was from Bend.
Once I arrived home, I was listing the cities we visited and my brother called his buddy to tell him I went through his small town. When bro told him where we ate lunch, his buddy said he could literally throw a rock and hit the restaurant from his backyard.
We had an amazing lunch that day, shared some intimate hugs with our new friends and piled into Louis again.
Then we drove.
And drove some more: through the high desert of Oregon, through the SMELLY dairy farms of Idaho.
We decided I would switch from the driver’s seat once we hit Utah. When we were an hour or so from the border, we realized we were at a quarter left on the tank. We hadn’t pushed Louis yet to see how “E” was “E”.
The gas light came on and we all three grabbed our iPhones to see how far it was to the next gas station. I turned off the A/C and dropped speed to 60mph. The next stop was 50 miles away.
It was the longest 50 minutes. No one talked. The uncomfortable tension between Nick and I could have made Mr. Rogers cringe. Rick said we were going to be fine and he calmly read a book.
I wish I were as cool as Rick sometimes.
When we got to about 10 miles away I started to breathe easier. Every mile that passed at that point was one less that I had to walk and I knew it would be easier and easier. Finally we saw the lights of a gas station and a “Welcome to Utah” sign.
The sigh of relief sounded like a tsunami crashing against the shore. There was now a vibe of peace after the tension storm.
Rick filled up the 14-gallon tank with 13.48 gallons.
We stocked up on water and jerky. I sat shotgun and smoked an American Spirit as we drove through Salt Lake City. I was contemplating my role in the universe and what I may do upon my arrival home. Did I want to move away? Did I want to stay? What is this path unknown?
The hour was creeping past midnight and I was getting nestled into my seat when Rick tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a letter with my name on it.
I was quite confused. Then I recognized the handwriting.
My little chief. She was taking my position at the Vermilion and told me she was trying to plan a surprise for me. I had completely forgot.
I opened the envelope and found a novella written on journal paper. No sooner did I start reading her words did I also reach for the Kleenex. No one has ever written anything like that for me before. It was beyond an Ode to myself. It was the truth. About friendship. About life. About sharing. About learning. About everything.
It made me cherish the relationships I get to experience with people. It cemented my understanding of what I know Alison will accomplish in her lifetime; and made me grateful that I will get to witness her achieve it. I am fortunate to have the bonds that I do.
Rick was given the mission to give this letter to me at an appropriate time. He had been carrying it around with him for a few days and that was the first moment I would have had to read it. Given what I was thinking about when he handed it to me, it was more than perfect.
“Lafayette, she needs you,” Alison wrote. These words have haunted me since Utah. It sounds like such a boost to the ego. But in all actuality, sometimes I think I’m just the one who needs Lafayette.
I fell asleep after rereading the letter. My heart was smiling. Part of me felt like I had just accepted this mission of a lifetime.
I went through one rem cycle and awoke to my phone ringing. It was Neal. It was 3 a.m.
Neal has done a complete 180 in the past two years. He has become very involved with social activism and environmental issues–very far from Pub daze.
He had just gotten into a very heated porch discussion with a friend and the friend’s ex-co-worker; both of whom were just laid off from oil field related companies. We were starting to see this happen more and more where we lived.
It was a very twisted point for Neal to have someone very dear to him challenge everything he had been working for, especially when those individuals were shafted from the source of his frustration.
(P.S. Since this situation things have evolved)
Either way, it was a cool moment for our friendship because we realized the value of how we can level one another out. We both live in these big imaginative worlds inside our heads, and somehow those two fantasies collide into reality every once in a while. It’s even more exciting to know we will see those fantasies become reality one day during our physical existence.
Our conversation ended as Nick pulled into a gas station. We were at the edge of Utah and Nick said he had a few more miles in him. I decided to try the back seat out for the first time of the trip. I curled in the captain’s seat and looked up at the stars through the view of the back sunroof.
There were so many shining throughout the sky. I suddenly felt like a shooting star: flashing through the eyes of thousands of strangers for a moment as I travel to an unknown destination. Unknown to myself and to the viewers.
Hopefully I spark something inside of them as I shoot by. Cause them to take a breath and realize they are awake. Alive.
I fall asleep to the thought, but my vessel kept moving.
I have sat in a cubicle for four months. Like the song “Little Boxes” on “Weeds,” I feel like I’m made of ticky-tacky and we all look just the same.
I have drafts for three children’s books. I have more ideas than time to make any of them happen.
And somewhere in the Internet, I am drifting to Eugene. I am somewhere on I-5 awaiting an epic party, still reveling my time in Portland.
I have had so much trouble finishing the tales of my road trip through the west. I have issues accepting when certain phases are over. But somehow, I have managed to bring Portland to me.
I feel I am ready to complete the first portion of my blog. I didn’t make it to Canada. Instead, I chose security, which defeats the concept of a path unknown.
While I stand at the copy machine, I am at war with my inner conscience. I feel like a sellout, however, the responsible side knows this is what I had to do to pay the bills for a little while. This is not forever.
By finishing this adventure online, it will be time to embark upon a new one here in Louisiana.
I never thought I would have an unknown path at home, but alas, I do. It is a trail I have yet to explore.
I plan to share it here. No longer will I drift nowhere. My current has a purpose, even if I don’t know what it means yet.
That’s the new concept for me; faith. I don’t know how to explain it exactly, but that’s where the journey comes in. Through my stories, I hope to grasp and share the understanding. I just know for the first time in my life I absolutely know in my heart I am exactly where I need to be. It is not where I expected. It rarely ever is.
So now, it’s onward to Eugene. Who’s coming with me?