Saturday, December 29, 2007

Talented Brilliant Women

This is a follow-up post, in which I complete my selections of five great women bloggers to whom I pass the torch of the Rockin' Girl Blogger award.

The problem is, the more I look, the more I find that the web is full of you talented brilliant women! I feel like I'm stumbling into one small party and picking five to declare the most amazing of all, while ignoring the fact that there are millions of others at millions of other parties equally stunningly worthy.

One redeeming fact: my five picks now get to tag five picks of their own. So it's not all up to me.

Without further ado, and, again, in no particular order:

3. It's not just one person writing this blog, so maybe it's not fair to make this pick. But since the theme is female empowerment, I think I can get away with it. Though I'm sure they'd prefer not to be referred to as "girls" rather than "women", it's undeniable that they are rockin'. And they do the rest of us rockin' females an important service, providing regular, all-important reminders that sexism is alive and well in our world, lest we lose sight of how we are affected and subtly (and sometimes not-so-subtly) limited by it every day. Feministing, edited by Jessica Valenti, Vanessa Valenti, Samhita Mukhopadhyay, and Ann Friedman, takes to this challenge with great spirit and humor.

4. I hesitate to even dip my foot into the world of cooking blogs, because there are so many treasures in this department, but I can't skip over Heidi Swanson, author of two great and inspiring cookbooks: Cook 1.0: A Fresh Approach to the Vegetarian Kitchen and Super Natural Cooking: Five Ways To Incorporate Whole and Natural Ingredients into Your Cooking. Heidi's blog, 101 Cookbooks, is jam-packed with great recipes, cooking tips, and mouth-watering images. Heidi does much of her own photography and graphic design, not to mention writing, cooking, tasting, musing. She's a powerhouse, and she lights a fuse under my butt to do all the projects piled in my filing cabinet and all over my desk. Heidi, you can cook for me (or better yet, with me) any time.

5. Kt (Kate Andrews) of The Department takes stunning photographs and peppers her blog with them, along with her concise and colorful writing. Her haikus, brief journal entries, platitudes with a twist, and sparky little self-helpish quips and quotations are often worthy of meditation.

I'm forcing myself to stop, though in my mind there is great clamoring: But what about all the infertile and mom-blogs? What about the artist blogs? That one I love by the mom-lawyer, the other by the mom-doctor? That one by the book editor? I'll have to compile them all properly, get them into my sidebar links, give them their much-deserved props.

In the meantime, I'll mention one other site, a resource for all of you female bloggers out there (or wannabe bloggers). Check out BlogHer. It's for you.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It's a Start

MC at MissedConceptions recently bestowed upon me a "Rockin' Girl Blogger" award, and I am delighted to receive it.

Actually, it was a few weeks ago.

More accurately, I should admit, more than a few weeks.

Okay, so it was August.

But here it is, and I post it proudly:

I'm only just getting around to acknowledging the honor, in part, because of the expectation that I now select five Rockin Girl Bloggers to honor in kind. Not an easy task, if you take it seriously – which I do – when there are so so many supremely worthy Rockin' Girls out there. But I'm going to attempt a selection, finally, belatedly. A little at a time.

Here I go with my first two picks. In no particular order:

1. I'll begin with Aliza Sherman Risdahl, who is the author of six books, including The Everything Blogging Book: Publish Your Ideas, Get Feedback, And Create Your Own Worldwide Network. I first came across her through her Babyfruit: The Miscarriage Blog and Motherhood Diaries, which played a part in inspiring me to begin my own blog, and got me hooked on her story. (At that time, motherhood was still in the future for Aliza.) I've since been wowed by all her many creative efforts, including several other blogs, writing projects, and independent filmmaking. She inspires me to put myself out there in like kind.

2. Penelope Trunk authors the blog Brazen Careerist: Advice at the intersection of life and work and penned the similarly titled book, Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success. I just discovered her and I'm excited by her thoughtfulness, great writing, and wide-open unselfconsciousness. I give her credit for getting me moving on this long-avoided chore. Speaking of which, check out her lovely post on procrastination.

More soon.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Medicine Man

Last night I dreamt of a man in a white lab coat. He wasn't a scientist, nor was he a doctor, per se. He was a medicine man.

Housed inside the mind of this medicine man was a room full of long, clean tables, fluorescent lights, microscopes, glass vials and slides and petri dishes. His thoughts were based on intuited fact, the result of careful scientific inquiry in the laboratory of his mind. He was a celebrated, highly regarded clairvoyant. A private audience with him was a great and rare privilege. And here he was, sitting down to talk to me about my fertility.

I was disconcerted by his appearance. It wasn't just the lab coat giving him an air of Harvard/MIT intensity, but also his black and silver-flecked hair trimmed tight to his head, his no-nonsense wire-framed glasses, and a matter-of-fact expression. He looked like he needed a shave, like facial hair was an issue for him, like he had shaved that morning and maybe again at midday, like if he didn't stay on top of it, he'd have a full beard before dinner. I felt lucky to be talking to him, but nervous around all that sharply focused intellect and hair-sprouting vitality, holding my breath for whatever he was about to say. He was already talking.

The medicine man told me that I would never again conceive a pregnancy. J~'s sperm were no longer viable. And then, with nonchalant ease, he brought me inside his mind-lab to explain about DNA and genetic recombination and what was getting in the way for my husband. All of it made perfect sense, though I don't recall the details now.

What I recall is a strange cocktail of emotion: sadness, but more than that, profound gratitude for the information, for the freedom to finally move on.

It hit me today that I am no longer swamped by the afternoon blues. Recently, for more than a month, I slogged through a daily bout of grieving. It felt like a new space were being carved into my interior. It hurt. I didn't understand it, but I accepted it.

And then I started applying to graduate schools.

In relating a dream from his youth that he credits with giving him the cure for a deeply infected burn wound, Ketut Liyer, the Balinese medicine man in Eat, Pray, Love, said that "sometimes dreams are just joking". But clearly, he also believes, sometimes they're not.

My own dream ended the way dreams often do – the way thoughts end, usually – in a fuzzy slide into something else. I simply drifted from the medicine man's magical laboratory into a vision of my childless future, as if wandering, mid-film, from one screening room to another inside one of those big movie multiplexes. Again, I don't recall the details of that second dream, only bits about the setting – there was a sidewalk and a brick wall – and the emotion: my own Harvard/MIT-ish intensity, a deep engagement in my work and the people I was trying to reach with it.

When I woke, it was like emerging from my own chest.

I may not have a shiny laboratory in there. But there is something.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Ex- Factor

There it was, in my inbox Tuesday afternoon: An email. From my ex-husband.

Imagine that.

Now imagine the "gung-GUNG!" sound from Law and Order, or any other deep, dramatic, percussive musical effect meant to evoke the heart skipping a beat or leaping into sudden overdrive. Because when I saw his name on my screen, I think my heart did both.

It's been more than a year of no contact between myself and this man with whom I once felt certain I would spend the rest of my days, the person whose sudden amputation from my life caused the deepest emotional trauma I've ever experienced. I've said it before and I'll say it again: a miscarriage is bad, but I'm telling you, it doesn't even come CLOSE to what that divorce felt like.

Understandably, A~ suspected I wouldn't want to hear from him. But to the contrary: as uncomfortable as it was to feel my heart buck and stall, it was easier than stomaching the loss of a deeply trusted best friend. And it's nothing compared to imagining him out in the world, thriving, happy, relieved to be done with me, telling his friends and family, "Phew! Am I glad THAT's over!" I am deeply reassured to learn that I have not morphed, in his mind, into the first daughter of Satan.

Or maybe not until now.

Because — also understandably — he'd prefer that I didn't write about him on the blog. And here I am, spilling the beans all over the place.

Then again, I haven't revealed his identity (or my own, for that matter). I haven't pasted the contents of his email into this post (and I won't). I haven't revealed any juicy personal gossip, like is he still with the girl he left me for? Are they happy? Truth is, I don't know the answer to these questions. But as curious as I am, I know it has no bearing on ME, my character, worthiness or happiness. Whatever feelings I might have about the details of his post-divorce existence can be processed in a less public arena. Yes, in other words, I am capable of respecting his privacy.

At first I thought it might be difficult not to gloat if I were to learn that he is unhappy, but actually, I find myself hoping that he IS happy. In fact, I've cried every night since that email came, feeling sad at the possibility that he is sad, remembering how closely I used to carry him in my heart, feeling strangely disembodied by my reticence to reach out. (Is this the emotional equivalent to the amputee's phantom limb syndrome, phantom love syndrome?)

(To be fair, I've been pretty darn busy this week, and the memories that A~'s resurfacing bring up aren't all sunshine and rainbows and unicorns. Not that we didn't have some very memorable good times. But moving toward each other these days means picking through some pretty treacherous, tedious karmic rubble.)

In her EXCELLENT memoir (oh how I love this book!) Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and IndonesiaElizabeth Gilbert suggests that, "When the Karma of a relationship is done, only love remains."

Wouldn't that be nice?