floating kiss

Summer 2016

Summer is still here. So far it's been the season of visiting family, of first swims with Kal, of iced tea at the Co Op, of juicy, bright green lettuce that I long to harvest from my neighbour's garden and from the community garden plunked in temporarily constructed blocks of wood panels and black earth on busy Sherbrooke by the post office with it's cascade of long concrete stairs that Kal drifts towards every time we pass (he loves to climb stairs. He's very good at it).

I have shoes this summer. I'm not stuck in one pair of disintegrating, too hot Converse with Joel's hand me down socks. I have money to buy skirts and shaving cream for my legs, cute sandals and short hair cuts. I've been cool this summer, finally. Too cold, sometimes, at work, with an air conditioning vent right above my desk operating on overtime, tensing my neck and freezing my toes. I hide underneath shawls wrapped around my shoulders which makes me feel elegant.

Kal still has that wonderful, ridiculous bonnet hat from last summer. I'm glad to have a vestige of our perfect time last year. It was the best summer of my life. We just went to the park and went to the cafe and went to Aunt Fran's and I wore him wrapped around me or watched him crawl in the grass, meeting Mia to chat (she would always smile so warmly when she saw me) or meeting Joel for groceries (he was so at ease knowing I was always close by), no enforced schedule, no demands, no wasted time, just investing everything in my son and getting to know him.

Working is not easy. It is worth it though, and I know it. I'm marching towards something now, maybe for the first time ever. I'm trying to fill the writing experience bank as diligently as possible. I've written so much this year! You wouldn't know it to look at this blog but I've written so much elsewhere. I need a break from it actually, at least writing for others. That's why I'm back here. To remember what I write for myself and to have fun so that I can have the energy to keep moving forward.

Kal is so wonderful. We had a great day last weekend at Joel's dad. He's usually standoffish with his papi - they don't see each other very often (he never comes to visit us here) and he's a little brusque and speaks French - but they really warmed up to each other this time. They spent a ton of time just chilling next to each other in reclining chairs. Kal had skipped his nap and was tired and happy to do nothing. He almost never sits still at home. I love that. It's easier to handle than I anticipated. I will miss that energy when he's grown. I think that's a big reason people have more than one kids, to preserve the presence of raw life around them.

There are things I need to work on like loosening up and having fun. I can get weighed down by routine and by concentrating too hard on little details. It's very boring. I want to break out in little ways, all over the place, throughout the entire year.
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Who Really Likes Jobs Though?

The truth is I hate my job.

I really hesitate to write that or even acknowledge it to myself because I am lucky and grateful that I have one at all. It's necessary and it's made certain parts of my family's life infinitely easier. I remember how desperate I was to find one - not just to ease the financial burden but also to prove to myself that I was still employable and still had options. I don't want to take for granted the relief I felt when it was offered to me. That relief still persists.

But it's hard. And disappointing. I didn't want to hate this job, because I almost always hate jobs that I work outside the home. I find working for other people in offices while commuting disheartening and exhausting. I always have. It feels conventional, uncreative and a waste of time. I think that because I'm a snob, or because I'm an artist, or because I'm lazy or because I just really hate being told what to do. Or maybe it's because most jobs are pretty boring and no one really likes them.

I've enjoyed certain jobs, or at least aspects of them, and (except for the past 3 years where I went back to school, then worked from home, then went back to school, then was a Stay at Home Mom to an infant), worked without break since I was 15. I don't think I'm above working a job I don't like even though I need to support myself. But work is so trying. I'm sick of it being a slog. It would be so nice if it was even 15% less painful. If I had just 10% more fun.

I mean, while my job isn't intensely challenging, I'm still learning new skills and honing existing ones, including writing. It's in media production, which is the number one industry I prefer to be working in.

But it's also in adult entertainment and while I'm extremely sex positive, and won't presume to paint the entire business with the same negative brush, I find it all very troubling. I won't enumerate the issues that exist within porn, especially when viewed through a feminist lens, but they are certainly numerous.

So there's that. There's also the drab parking lot, highway and shopping mall that are the only things to look at when I go out for smoke breaks. There's one cafe downstairs for food and the food they make isn't very good at all. The office itself is big and relatively nice. It's modern and has many stylish elements, but it also contains rows and rows of cubicles, which is never anything but depressing. There's no point in looking out windows because all you see is the parking lot.

Sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours a day, often with very little or nothing to do, is hellish. I try to break it up as much as I can but 8 hours is actually a very, very, very long time when you're watching the minutes go by. It's hard not to be melodramatic about it and describe how it quite literally feels like I'm watching myself die under florescent lights for X dollars an hours. It's unreal how depressing that is.

It's not all bad, of course. When I do have work I mostly enjoy it. My coworkers are amiable enough. There's free fresh ground coffee, a huge variety of tea, cake days and free light breakfast 2 days a week, lots of paid time off, flexible hours and no one to admonish me if I leave 15 minutes early here and there.

I know that's much more than many people have. I'm a putz to complain about it. But it's hard to feel like any of it's worth it, or even tolerable, when it means I have to be away from my son 9 hours a day.

I can't even write about that. Detailing how little I see him will break me tonight. It's the hardest thing I've ever gone through. I miss him so fucking much.

But I have no choice, and I do it for him. This job won't mean we'll ever be able to afford a house for him to grow up in, or all the latest fashions, or fancy vacations, or savings funds, or any of those other things people with real well-paying jobs (as opposed to just decently paying) can afford to give their children, but it will give us stability to ALWAYS have clothes and food and some fun things here and there.

I do know this situation isn't permanent. I know things can get better, within this job, with another one or some other variation. Right now though, I've never been so tired.
floating kiss

The Devil's Not

I feel more pleased than I have in a while. That's my little lantern we have on our back balcony. When I'm feeling depressed I don't care about small details. I don't see them at all. That lantern is all details - the teal, the punched stars, the half-melted candle with the stark black wick, all sitting on a mini table with a weathered top of tiles meant to mimic stained glass. And seeing it today made me happy, which is a good sign.

I live a fairly mundane life. When I lose pleasure in the simple things there's not a lot else to keep me going. So today I'm delighted that I'm thinking about finding a new tea to try. I'm excited (I mean, not fall down blow your mind excited, but still) to get hummus at the Persian grocery store we don't usually go to. I wrote a 1000 words today for a post about the first weeks home with Kal that I'm not going to share after all, but having typed 1000 words at all feels amazingly accomplished.

Also look at this little dog on Kal's sock. Amazing:

Another small success: yesterday, after getting advice from some wise people on Twitter, we tried to take Kal's daily schedule in hand with a mind to bringing his bedtime earlier. It worked well enough - he went to bed an hour earlier, but it involved more crying than I've ever seen before. But "some" is always going to seem like more than "none", which is what I'm used to, so I'm not particularly concerned.

We'll try again tonight. It involves putting him in his crib up to an hour before he actually falls asleep (and them taking him out, shushing him, seeing if he's hungry, putting him back, repeating) but it's worth it for him to get the extra sleep and for us to get a little more time in the evening to decompress. Hopefully he'll eventually take to it a little easier but we've definitely got to put in the work to get him there.
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Tight Squeeze, Cool Breeze

For the third time ever (not that I'm counting) Joël took Kal out on his own. They're going to breakfast with Joël's mom and then art supply shopping.

I'm enjoying the quiet. It's hazy hot out but there's a nice breeze coming into the bedroom where I'm camped out with the cat, my laptop, my phone and the PS3. If I had more electronics I would gather them to me.

Besides these journal posts I'm not writing much. I should be. I should also be tidying the house. I shouldn't have just broken that ant with my foot. I should make a plan. I should call my parents. I need to give myself a pedicure. You can always tell when I'm not feeling my best because I don't take care of my nails. Last year when I was pregnant I kept the black polish on my toes until it grew out. The good news is I feel like attending to it today. I also need to get my hair cut. The split ends tangle it unmanageably. I keep waiting for it to grow long but it doesn't.

What I'm doing instead of all that is working on relaxing each vertebrae in my back and in my neck, all of which ache constantly. My feet cramp. I have a tight bulging muscle in my jaw because I grind my teeth every night. I've yet to figure out why or how to stop it. It's just how my body will be until I die, I guess.

These posts are necessarily morose because this is where I want to place all that bad enervy. My family doesn't need to feel it. And when it's written here I can come back and read it over and over again until I'm sick of the tone; I don't need to wind and unwind the thoughts in my head. That distance is good.

When the boys get back I want to be more present with Kal. That's my goal for the day. I need to find something that he can use to help pull himself up safely. He tried in his crib this morning but there's not enough for him to hold onto so he ended up unbalancing and getting his face stuck between the bars.

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Notes on Anxiety, Lactation, Disappointment, Perseverence

Yes, this is my third post in one day. I'm also writing in my regular journal. This recent bout of anxiety has me scrambling for purchase on anything that feels remotely productive and creates something different than the four walls around me and the 6 streets I walk from the house to the store to the park and back again.

My anxiety was triggered by a lactation medication I didn't taper off of properly. I should have known better but these pills, which I'd been on for months, had made me so goddamn fat and I got so goddamn sick of being fat. For a long while it had been worth it - we were able to breastfeed for 5 months, and then pump for 2 more. I'm delighted I got to do that. I didn't realize it would be as important to me as it was and, given the challenges we encountered, I think we had great success.

But pumping is not breastfeeding. It's much more laborous, and there is zero glamour. I was pumping up to 10 times a day. I would sit on the couch while Kal, stuck in his exosaucer, reached his arms out to me and I'd have to ignore him because I was pumping. I pumped in the car. At night I'd be just drifting off to sleep and I'd remember I hadn't pumped, so I had to rouse myself, sit up and pump for 15 minutes. When all you want to do is sleep, repeatedly squeezing one hand on a pump, massaging your breast with the other while staring into space and watching the minutes tick by is a lesson in madness.

No matter where I was I'd feel my boobs start to swell after an hour or two and knew I'd need to get home or find privacy so I could pump. Because I had such low supply, any missed pumping session felt like a big deal. Every single one made me feel like I was failing. I felt like the only thing I should be doing was pumping. I was missing out on those spare minutes while the baby napped, before he woke up, when he was playing quietly or while Joël watched him in between working. I could have been writing, or walking, or exercising, or plucking my eyebrows, or calling someone or ANYTHING.

At the same time, I felt successful. After a hell of a lot of work, dedication and research I was producing 1/3 of what Kal was eating. It made me feel maternal. It made me feel like I was doing right by my son (whether or not that's backed by any research). It made me feel like I was refusing to let my body fail. But after two months of exclusively pumping my hands ached and my mind was completely consumed with how many ounces I was producing. I decided to stop. Just stop. All done. I thought things would get better. I thought I'd have more time, and lose weight and...I don't know. I wouldn't have to pump anymore and that would be enough.

But it all went to shit. Almost immediately I started having panics attacks, bad enough to send me to the doctor. I've dealt with unmanaged anxiety before and have no interest in doing that again. That shit will fuck you up.

The Doctor put me back on the godforsaken pills in order to relieve my body's reaction to the withdrawl. We're tapering off them properly this time. But in the meantime it causes my breasts hurt and leak. I pump very occasionally to ease the discomfort but because I do actually want to stop pumping for good I'm not doing it enough to actually produce anything for him and so don't even get that satisfaction.

While the intial onset of anxiety was caused by the medication withdrawl, it seems to have triggered an episode in my underlying anxiety disorder. This whole ridiculous escapade has completely halted everything else I was doing well. Where I had energy I'm now depressed. Depression makes my body ache, which makes the walks I was taking with my son feel like a slog. I was meeting people, but now I feel self conscious. I was working, motivated to find more contracts, and applying for jobs. I would find time to do that at 5 am when the baby went back to sleep after his first wakeup but now it's all I can do to not fall asleep with him on the couch before even putting him back in his crib. I had quit smoking, and stopped drinking and eating meat. The mental energy needed for that kind of discipline is buried in fog.

I'm extremely disapointed that this happened. It doesn't seem fair that after all this work, one little misstep has caused everything to come crashing down. None of what I was accomplishing was easy to do in the first place. But most importantly it was FUN. I was having fun. And now everything is hard and tiring and boring.

I know it's temporary. It has to be. I'm starting an anti-depressant next week, for which I have high hopes. My depression overall is fairly low, all things considered. I've dealt with this brand of anxiety for years so I'm practiced at dealing with and overcoming it. It will get better. It always does. It's just a pain that I have to work at it again, when I had been sailing fairly effortlessly.

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^^Titled by Kal

Right now he's chewing on the draw string of my pyjama pants. I'm not bothered by still being in my PJs. Most days I'm not, and lately I've needed a rest.

I love that he's so happy to chill with me. So far he's not a hard kid to entertain, as long as you're close by. He gets a bit squirmy in the evening before bed (which used to be at 7:30 but is now creeping later and later) but I think most kids get that way when they're tired.

I'm not sure how well his daily schedule is working. We've been winging it since he was birn whixh has worked at for the most part. As he gets older I wonder if it wouldn't benefit him to tighten it up, especially if he's going to start daycare. From what I've heard they expect kids to have a feeding and nap schedule, which is foreign to me.

I mean, we have a vague structure to the day but he gets up at suxh wildly varying times (anywhere from 4:30 to 7:30), needs different amount of naps depending on whether he's going through a growth spurt, which seems to happen every other week, and he naps anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. So I'm confused about how to implement a schedule around that.

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Oh Hey There

When in doubt, start a new blog.

Well, this is a very old blog, indeed. It says I started it in 2003 but I remember hanging out on livejournal much earlier than that, getting all scandalized by Legolas MPREG slash (of all the fics to be my first, it had to be MPREG. Obviously it made an impact if I remember it 14 years later).

I'm not back here for fic or fandom but because it felt strange writing anything personal on my other blog (voilacherie.blogspot.ca) when I was using entries written there for my portfolio. Hello, potential employer! Please enjoy a link to this essay and then let me know what you think of my feeding schedule for my baby.

So this is where I'll be posting updates on my son Kal, who is 7 months 3 weeks old, and my husband Joël, who is 388 months old and me, who is probably 30 years old or older.


All of the old entries are private, which is for your safety. All new entries will be public so don't worry about missing anything. I actually viscerally love Livejournal, so I'm anticipating having lots of fun.
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And For His Next Trick...

**This is an old post moved over from my other blog. If you're reading from mobile it shows up as recent.**

Kal has learned all kinds of things these past couple of months. He went from being a little bump on a log to an aware and interactive human practically overnight. First it started with him being able to see our faces. He then started smiling at us, so I guess he liked what he saw.

Then came the giggles. I've written about those giggles before. We can mostly only coax them out by tickling him. When he's overtired at night we just have to give him a look and twiddle our fingers in mid-air for him to start giggling.

Sometimes when I lean in real close to his face and say "A-goo a-goo a-goo" he'll start laughing. Lately I can get a couple of giggles if I pretend to munch on his feet or his hands.

He smiles at the cat. My cat, Kismet, of course, because she's the best.

He pets them. He actually puts his hand out and moves it back and forth over their fur, or swirls his little fingers around. Being a baby he also grabs fistfuls of their hair. Minx takes to this the best because he can stand getting the rough pets.

He rolls over onto his belly like it's nothing. At first tummy time was a weak, grunting affair, but without warning he figured it no problem. He can push himself up on his hands and look around, craning his head to find my face before giving me a big grin. He'll very occasionally sleep like this, but usually will start fussing after a few minutes. Then I'll go in and flip him over, taking care not to bounce his head on the mattress or the playmat on the floor when I do.

His grandfather bought him an exosaucer and it's been great for his development. At first he could just sort of lean around in it, his feet not quite touching the bottom. Once he grew a bit more he started reaching out for all the little toys on it and quickly learned how to pull them towards him. Now he spins around in it easily, grabbing each toy in turn.

He reaches out for all kinds of things, especially his bottle. He knows how to bring it up to his face and pop the nipple into his mouth. Can't hold onto it himself for too long, and hasn't figured out how to tilt it to get the milk to flow to the end but I'm sure that'll come soon.

When something he's holding falls away from him he follows its trajectory and reaches for it.

So he's not quite doing advanced calculus just yet but what he can do is quite something.

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Whining About Winter

**This is an old post moved over from my other blog. If you're reading from mobile it shows up as recent.**

The other day my mom came over for the expressed purpose of getting me out of the house.

I don't do well with winter. Montreal, where I live, does winter very hard. There is snow on the ground from December to March. It's icy and freezing fucking cold for most of it. My husband is the only one with a driver's license and he's been working ridiculous hours, so the car is off limits and I'm terrified of taking the baby out when it's too cold and being stranded somewhere. Never mind that since we moved below the tracks the only access to anywhere remotely interesting is an underpass with two sets of long, icy stairs.

My mom and I attempted the stairs together and managed it, but I can't imagine doing it on my own with a heavy stroller and a heavy bucket car seat and a heavy infant and ice and slipping and oh god.

Sometimes I'm not a particularly adventurous person.

So the baby and I have been stuck inside the house an embarrassing amount. I've gone absolutely stir crazy and am uninspired to do anything besides put my head down and survive until spring.

I watch too much tv. Cleaning is often the most exciting part of my day. Sometimes people come over, and I do talk to people otherwise, but I'm still here at home, inside.

I feel the worst for the poor baby, who is pale as the driven snow from lack of sunshine and must think this whole wide world thing is actually awfully small and has a pretty heavy cat-to-human ratio.

When my mom and I went out we stopped at a cafe. Kal could not contain himself looking at all the people. He LOVED it. I feel terrible for keeping him so cooped up but I honestly just don't know what to do. I could try wearing him when we go out instead of taking the stroller but I'm unpracticed at that, don't have the right outdoor gear for it and because he won't let his arms be tucked into the wrap he's top heavy and could topple out. AND DID I MENTION THE ICE? I've taken some bad spills on these sidewalks. I know my city. It's not made for walking in winter. It's especially not made for walking with young babies, I've discovered. So I'm just inside, all the time.

My butt actually hurts from sitting so much. If I watch one more minute of DVRed episodes of Say Yes to the Dress, I'll...no, never mind. I am never sick of Say Yes to the Dress.

But still! I want to take my baby to the park! I want to sit with him in cafes and write, I want to talk to people and join yoga groups and do a thousand other things. I'm waiting to start my life with a baby and not just sit day in an day out watching tv and playing with the same six toys, waiting to go to bed so I can get up and do it all again tomorrow.

I mean, if I was a single mom or had older kids you'd bet my butt I'd have to figure out how to get out. But that's not my situation, so that tiny bit of permission to not do the thing that's hard is enough for me to let myself get psyched out.

Winter is such a beast. I will really have to figure out how to conquer it because I can't do this again next year. If you're reading this, do you have any tricks for making winter more enjoyable, especially with a baby and no car?

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You'd Better Run, Run, Run

**This is an old post moved over from my other blog. If you're reading from mobile it shows up as recent.**

This post is inspired by the Velvet Underground song. It is here:

I bought a treadmill, which is ridiculous. It weighs 300 lbs. It retails for $5600 brand new. The woman I bought it from used it to train for marathons.

I am not a runner. I used to jog when I played rugby, and once regularly in a fitness gym class. I like being active but concentrating exercise is not really my thing, so the idea that I own this top of the line treadmill is pretty absurd.

But I got it for $100 because the dear woman who owned it was moving to Greece and needed to get it out of her apartment ASAP. It was fortuitous. I'll probably never get a deal like this again, on anything. I am amazed and grateful.

I desperately need it. I gained 50 lbs. FIFTY. POUNDS. I'm 5'3.5". I'm not delicately built but that's still a lot of weight on limited real estate. I was doing really well throughout my pregnancy and was only gaining what the doctor recommended - 0.5lbs/week, I think. It was only in the last couple of months that I really lost my resolve. The stress and the physical discomfort was too much and I started inhaling chocolate. I got up to 205 lbs. When Kal was born I immediately lost 25 of that and was encouraged. At 180 I wasn't the heaviest I'd ever been. I was convinced I could take care of it by keeping a slight eye on what I ate and that was it.

But taking care of a newborn at all hours of the day and night is exhausting. Chocolate has caffeine in it. I once ate 16 pieces of chocolate from a Christmas box in 10 minutes like it was nothing. So I stopped losing the little bit of weight I had and quickly gained it back. Then I started a new form of birth control and overnight I was 10 lbs heavier.

And then I was pissed about gaining more weight so I ate some more, and added a couple more pounds. Because fuck you, self, that's why.

So now I'm the heaviest I've ever been in my life while not nine months pregnant. It isn't helped by the fact that I've never been in worse shape. I feel heavy and tired, my circulation is bad and my goddamn knees hurt. I'm not horrified by the way I look - I don't think being overweight makes you unattractive. But on me this amount of weight isn't a look I like. I'm not my ideal self, or whatever Oprah would say.

Mostly it's stressful psychologically. I was a fat kid, and mostly a fat teen and quite a fat young adult. There were times when I was really into rugby and weight watchers where I was thinner than not but mostly it was rough. I've always been chubby. Being slender is not in the cards for me and I'm more than fine with that now, but as a child I outweighed all my female classmates and most of the guys by a good 20 lbs. No clothes in any stores fit me (I mean that - I would spend hours trying things on and walk away with nothing).

I feel so bad for that poor girl who had to pull on so many pieces of clothes until she was flush in the face and crying, whose stomach always hurt from too tight waistbands, who was mocked and targetted and bullied daily for years. It shouldn't be like that for any child. It's incredibly stressful and it makes no sense. And it makes no sense. Some kids are that size. It's just reality. They should have clothes and be able to exist in life without being attacked.

For the record this is what I looked like:

You'd have thought I'd burned people's houses down with their pets still inside for the way they sometimes treated me. In fact I looked totally adorable. Nice t-shirt, Dawg.

When I was in my early 20s I slimmed down for the first time ever. I lost I think 40 lbs in one shot and never gained it back. I sailed right to 30 at a fairly reasonable weight for my size. I was almost always happy with it.

So now, with the weight I've gained, I'm fat again for the first time in almost 10 years and it's making me a little panicky.

I don't want people to mock me and/or ignore me. I don't want to look in the mirror and feel that burning shame I used to when I was a kid (I don't, but you never know when it will resurface), I don't want to have to hunt down clothes or consider what my stomach fat is doing when I sit or feel envious of other people's bodies. It's hard to feel good things about yourself when you're fat. I enjoyed not having to think about it when I wasn't overweight.

So that's why this treadmill is a serious boon. If you read my last post you'll remember I'm somewhat shut in because of the freezing cold. I can't wait another 3 months (I know spring technically starts sooner than that but let's be real actual going outside weather doesn't begin until mid April where I live). I've already gone on it twice, and even jogged for an 8 minute stretch. It was amazing.

I'm tracking what I eat, which is an enormous amount of food. I've slowly started cutting back on that, counting calories and opting for less processed fats and sugars. It's not an exciting process and it requires constant vigilance, but that's how you've got to do it. I've lost weight healthfully before and I'll do it again. Hurray!