Monday, August 11, 2014

The Toddler Negotiator

A little thing I wrote down last year, on November 17, 2013:

Where does a one-year-old come up with this?

John's computer is surrounded by "bribes" from Gracie. She brings a favorite toy over to him and offers it in exchange for some computer time. "How about this, Papa? Is this good enough? Coaster for 'puter?"

It's a consistent strategy with her. "No, Gracie, I'm not giving you my phone for a little plastic cat."
Front-facing camera. Oh look! Hi self! Hi phone!

Her negotiation skills could use some work, but for a twelve-month-old, they're really not bad.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Installment #6 in the Book Reviews for Melanie series.

"I remember my own childhood vividly ... I knew terrible things. But I knew I mustn't let adults know I knew. It would scare them." -Maurice Sendak, quoted in the epigraph

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Read: 8/11/13-8/12/13
This review mostly written on: 5/22/14

"She was power incarnate, standing in the crackling air. She was the storm, she was the lightning, she was the adult world with all its power and all its secrets and all its foolish casual cruelty. She winked at me. ...
"It did not matter, at that moment, that she was every monster, every witch, every nightmare made flesh. She was also an adult, and when adults fight children, adults always win."

It's been about nine months since I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and I know I won't do it justice. I need to reread it several times, anyway. But that shouldn't stop me from recommending it to you.

What do I need to say about it? It's brilliant, unique. The narrator is a young child for much of the book, but it's no children's book, and not just because the fantasy holds some horror. Actually, it seems quite middle-aged, and I strongly suspect I'll enjoy it more when I'm older than I am.

That said, Neil Gaiman gets the feel and details of childhood just exactly, exquisitely right. The full picture, not just the popular nostalgic wonder, but the moments of helplessness, terror, grief. The moment when a stranger runs over the boy's kitten and thinks giving him some other tomcat fully makes up for the loss:

"'There you go. Cat for a cat,' said the opal miner, and he ruffled my hair with his leathery hand. Then he went out into the hall, leaving me in the kitchen with the cat that was not my kitten.
 The man put his head back through the door. 'He's called Monster,' he said.
 It felt like a bad joke."

The moment in his house when he needs to get away from someone, so he runs as fast as he can for the bathroom, the one room with a lock on the door. (Yes. I did that so many times, though in much less serious situations.)

The narrator is middle-aged in the frame story, remembering this part of his childhood, and wow. Handled so deftly. Occasionally, if I'm remembering right, his older perspective is interjected into the tale, but it's never distracting. Some of the middle-aged feel comes from your greater knowledge of what the details mean than the child narrator, but some comes from the power of the frame story. It's quiet and understated, but wow.

Oh! And this quote has rather more to do with some of the themes than I initially realized:

"I missed Fluffy. I knew you could not simply replace something alive, but I dared not grumble to my parents about it. They would have been baffled at my upset: after all, if my kitten had been killed, it had also been replaced. The damage had been made up."

Oh wow. That whole section has a LOT more to do with the rest of the book than I had noticed. Don't worry, I highly doubt anyone will figure out spoilers from that. But WOW. Life, death, attempted help, damage done...

"Lettie shrugged. 'Nobody actually looks like what they really are on the inside. You don't. I don't. People are much more complicated than that. It's true of everybody.' ...
"'I'm going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.'"

"I felt uncomfortable. I did not know what to do when adults cried. It was something I had only seen twice before in my life: I had seen my grandparents cry, when my aunt had died, in hospital, and I had seen my mother cry. Adults should not weep, I knew. They did not have mothers who would comfort them."

"I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I found joy in the things that made me happy." 

Memory, magic, growing older, life, humanity, desire and danger.

You should read it.

"'And did I pass?' ...
"'You don't pass or fail at being a person, dear.'"

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I Have a Thing!

It's going to be PUBLISHED! Squuuueeeeeeee!

If you need me, I'll be over here on the ceiling.* Ceiling Cat

Oh wait, you wanted a few details? Fine. Be that way.

My "thing" is a personal essay. It will be included in a collection about infertility and miscarriage, from Kalos Press. Mine is about miscarriage.

"This isn’t a book that offers solutions – there are plenty of experts for that. Nor is this a book that expounds theological explanations for pain and loss – that necessary job is already well done elsewhere.

"What this book offers is simpler, and more primary: it offers companionship. No one loss is like any other, yet sharing our losses can offer, if not true solace, at least the comfort of knowing there is someone else there beside you in the dark, someone who understands. We hope that in sharing these stories you will gain the words and phrase to better frame, to better comprehend, to better share, your own story." [-from the introduction-to-be, quoted in the editor's Call for Submissions here]

Why, hello, my life mission statement!

("I write for myself, because I have to. I try and I hope to write for you as well. These things don't have to be opposed, either. Though I do it for myself, I hope my writing is not selfish. I tell my story to let you know you're not alone.")

(I would also quote some other blog posts here, about how my personality type helps me gain the words to frame my story and to help give you the words you need; but I haven't quite written those blog posts just yet.)

Um. Anyway.


The publication process is not a fast thing, so don't expect this book to be out any time soon. But I will let you know when it's available!

Believe me. I will SO let you know. ^_^

*Okay okay, I've known for a little while now, but wanted to make sure it was fine to announce before doing so. Still. Squee.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Concluding the 48-Hour Book Challenge for Another Year

48-Hour Book Challenge Finish Line! I don't want to stop now, I want to buy Dangerous and keep reading. But there's a house rental I need to call about FIRST THING tomorrow, asking if I can schedule a viewing (ideally before someone else snaps it up), and Toddler will want care and attention and then there's another viewing appointment in the afternoon...

I didn't make it up to even 12 hours, sadly. Besides the things I mentioned in my starting post, the weekend was full of pain -- the D&C I had two months ago after my miscarriage seems to have caused complications, and OW. This... would be to my advantage, Challenge-wise, as it gave me a good reason to just lie on the couch and read. But it also messed up my sleep -- not sleeping at times in the night when I was trying to, sleeping on the couch during the day when I wanted to read. So it goes.

At any rate, I did more than last year, and I had fun. Just read one book, Writing the Other, but I thoroughly enjoyed gobbling it up. And reading aloud many parts of it to my sister, and discussing them. (Which I counted in my time, part of why I read it as slowly as I did -- I figure if reading aloud to kids counts, this should too?)

I read a Kindle version, but according to Amazon the paperback edition is 122 pages. So yes, the 4 1/2 hours I spent reading it was definitely slow!

My total time was 7 hours 45 minutes. 4 1/2 hours reading, 1 1/2 hours on my starting line post (mixture of how blogging takes longer than you think, plus I'm just generally slow at things), 45 minutes on this one (yeah, see above), and 1 hour networking -- replying to comments on my blog, linking to my blog, and browsing and commenting on other people's blogs!

Didn't review anything this year. Will continue to read and review the books I mentioned in my starting post list, just not officially as a part of the Challenge. Mmm.

So, for a more concise summary of 48hbc stats:

Total hours: 7 hours 45 minutes

Books read: 1

Pages read: 122

Hours reading: 4 hours 30 minutes

Hours blogging: 2 hours 15 minutes

Hours networking: 1 hour

Saturday, June 07, 2014

48-Hour Book Challenge, 2014: Diverse Books!

Attempting to participate in the 48-Hour Book Challenge again this year! (See my 48-Hour Book Challenge label for last year's posts.) With the Toddler and house rental hunting this weekend, making it up to the full 12-hour minimum for participation may be slightly tricky, but I have a waaaay better chance than I did last year with a seven-month-old.

Starting late today, after noon, so technically I'm doing the 7:00 a.m. Saturday through 7:00 a.m. Monday slot. As it's the latest one allowed.

The theme this year is diverse books, in solidarity with WeNeedDiverseBooks. Now, I only noticed that the Challenge was coming up a few days ago, and my shelves themselves seem to be pretty sad on the diverse front, for the most part. At least the ones in my TBR virtual pile. And I haven't gotten a library card at the new place yet, nor put any books on hold. But! I have a Kindle, and a credit card. Heh heh heh.

First up is Writing the Other by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward, a fun nonfiction pick I'm looking forward to. At least, it feels fun to me. Can't remember where I heard it recommended, and couldn't find the source in quick searches of my bookmarks and Feedly tags, but I'm pretty sure someone or other on Twitter or in the blogs I follow mentioned it.

Next is Dangerous by Shannon Hale. I always want to read her books anyway, and it sounds like this one fits the theme.

Then I'm going to attempt to read big chuncks of A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery by E. Benjamin Skinner. A... less "fun" nonfiction pick. I already have it and had read the first chapter a while back. It's important stuff to be aware of in general, and I think also important for a novel I've worked on a bit that involves some slavery. Slavery can look a little different in a historical form, so a fantasy novel will probably draw more on that, but I want to at least know more about the modern-day than I do now, so I can make informed choices. Not to mention more research can help with feeling the full horror.

Oh, and as far as the diverse theme goes, it talks about slavery all around the world. Again, not as much the positive and fun side of things, but again, I think it's important.

When I can't take that any more, I'd like to read Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay, an excellent book I was distracted from earlier somehow or other. It's fantasy inspired by eighth-century Tang Dynasty China.

Maybe another fun nonfiction book next if I can find one, but barring that, I'd like to pick up The House of Discarded Dreams by Ekaterina Sedia from the library. (It's actually available, without needing to put a hold on it; and it isn't by an author whose books I'm one hundred percent sure I'll want to own.) It was on Writing Excuses as the pick of the week in the episode "Writing the Other," and sounds pretty wonderful.

If I finish those this weekend, I'll take it from there. And possibly start writing reviews of them, which always takes me a while. I think it's a good list to be getting on with, for now!

All right! On to the reading! Yay!

Radio Silence

Or: All the Losses.

But that title feels too much like tempting fate. It's like when I had Cholestasis of Pregnancy, and so many times I wanted to say something like, "I have all the itchy!" except I'd read accounts which had shown it could get much worse.

Yeah, so I can be overly literal. What's your point?

I should probably explain where I've been for the last half a year? I wrote this post, everything not in italics, on March 15, 2014, but couldn't (or wouldn't) publish it yet, for various reasons. And then because we moved, as I mentioned we might in the post; a thousand miles north, and I was swamped. Also other things happened, and I was decompressing.

I thought about publishing a version more edited and updated, but I like the snapshot it creates as is. So I'm going to wait until later to give you more current details. Here, have a piece of a sad update:

Sorry for the long silence here. It's been... interesting. A lot has happened. As is often the case with silence. This year has paralleled 2012 too closely for comfort.

In the ten Christmases since I graduated from college, nine of them since I married, most of those years I've wanted to send out a Christmas letter. I've never done it, for one reason or another.

In the last few years, part of it was working at a liturgical church. Christmas is the Crazy Time. It's not enough that it's such a big holiday, Easter is that, but isn't as bad. It's also the year-end projects, and all the things to finish before going out on vacation.

So surrounded by liturgical symbols and words about Advent being a time of quiet and contemplation, I'd work overtime every day, then collapse at home, too spent and exhausted for thought. This last year, on my last day before vacation I worked almost eleven hours -- which perhaps isn't so very bad, except that it's exactly double my official office hours.

After that I was silent because of vacation. We went to Texas to see friends, and it was wonderful. Truly restful for me, and finally, a bit of that quiet and contemplation I'd heard so much about. Space, at least, to reset and recover. We stayed through the beginning of January.

January. At first there was a lot of adjustment, coming back to work. A new boss, other things. Then I was simply silent because I'd fallen out of the habit of blogging. I almost posted again, but...

The last week in January happened. I suspected, then found out I was pregnant. We didn't know how we'd afford a second child, or how we'd make room in our little house. Somehow, we would make it work. Somehow. I didn't know how I'd make it through work with morning sickness, either. It was already much worse than the early morning sickness with Gracie (codename). Make it work. Somehow.

The next evening Gracie suddenly came down with a high fever. We gave her Tylenol, and Tylenol, and more Tylenol... not all at once, of course... and I woke every couple hours in the night to check on her and make sure her fever didn't shoot up again.

The next day, the last day of January, I stayed home from work to care for her. But later in the day John came home, and I was called in to work, to find out I was laid off and turn in my keys.

The next month came with big decisions. Which direction to go in. An opportunity which seemed like it would have solved all our money problems, but may well have created new sorts of problems. We turned it down. There are still more decisions, and we might move. Also there were family events, more development to the tragedy I can't talk about.

Towards the end of February I went in for my first ultrasound. Only to find out our baby's heart wasn't, isn't beating. A missed miscarriage. It's been about two and a half weeks now, and still my body hasn't realized.

In my next appointment, the follow-up a week later, I thought to ask, and found out that his or her heart must have stopped within a few days of the ultrasound. The machine measured its growth to the very expected day -- 9 weeks, 0 days. So within a few days -- the margin of error.

My mother continues to decline. More than I've let myself see, think about, or admit. I don't think she remembers my name; she certainly doesn't remember my daughter's, but she loves to see her. I should take her to go visit more often, especially now that I'm a stay-at-home mom. Especially before we move, if we do.

All the loss.

But no, I know it could be worse.

What's my point?

I don't know, how can I know yet? I've barely written since that last week in January, and I process through writing. But I'm in a time of waiting now, and I think I'm beginning to come back to myself.

I want to be honest, here at Quettandil. I want to be like The Actual Pastor, and "Living my life as is, instead of as if." Heh. If this update on my life is my poor man's version of a late Christmas letter, it must be the most pathetic one in history. Now, if I were actually like The Actual Pastor, this post would both be deeply honest AND super inspiring. Somehow. I... don't know how to do that, yet.

But here it is. Why I've been silent, and the frame and context for whatever follows. If we move, I may not have much time to post again for a bit.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

November Lessons

Back at the beginning of July I participated in a linkup with "Fifteen Things I Learned in June." It is, of course, kind of a regular thing. A monthly linkup. And I'm participating again! Finally! Here's the linkup at Chatting at the Sky, "Let's Share What We Learned in November."

From the serious to the silly, here's a taste of my November:

1) I need to limit my choices, duh! Sorry, it might be more "duh" to me than to you... it's a personality thing. I'm easily overwhelmed by decisions and things. My reminder/flash of revelation came courtesy of Modern Mrs. Darcy (also a strong INFP, yay!), in this post, "Concrete changes I've made because of MBTI and enneagram insights."

The question, now, is just how to go about limiting my choices... I can get so exhausted by decisions and I have so many options I want to keep open, even deciding how to limit the choices is difficult! There are so many things I want to do! How do I build routines that take that into account? Routines to change up the routines? I feel like I need a template for a template for a template. Yes, I know I'm ridiculous.

Related, but not quite the same:

2) Better to progress than to not act because you're trying to make the perfect choice. I guess I already knew this, but I attempted to take it to heart this month. I think. If I'm remembering right. Hey, I'm including it in November, okay? It's my post and I'll include this if I want to. So there.

Um. I mean, I've heard in a few places recently, like the book Quiet, that our society values action over careful decision too highly, and those of us who sit around contemplating really have something unique to offer, and often make better decisions.

Sure, but I've got it bad, and I can take forever just on daily minutiae. This is to help me dial back. (Er, dial back on the pondering, not the acting.)

3) I have a tendency to either run from myself (With books! Facebook! Twitter! Blogs! TV!) or attempt to control every last thing about myself (Plans! Schedules! Goals! Rules!). I swing back and forth between the two.

(Yes, even though I'm an INFP I have a bit of J in me, too -- I do like schedules and rules and things. At least... in theory. I love the idea of them. Carrying them out not so much. But oh, how I can dream!)

When my desires turn to addictions turn to digging myself into scary holes, I become so terrified of myself I try to plan and box myself into perfection. (Spoiler: doesn't work.) Two different kinds of running, really, and two different types of lying to myself.

I don't want to do that anymore. I want to be present, here, now. I want to show up and face my life. All the clichés! They're cliché for a reason. There are some things I should try to plan for (see above, about limiting my choices), but I don't want to plan all the things because I'm afraid of any desire or emotion poking out.

Hot baths always seem to reside in the middle, at least. Even though baths are so wonderful that they turn into something I "should" do, which normally brings the danger of the controlling-myself-to-death type of running, I can't seem to lie to myself in a hot bath. Though, I'll admit, I can compose overly optimistic future plans while soaking, even if I'm not actively running away from myself yet...

Great birthday. Thanks, Beth!
4) The Hyperbole and a Half book is SO. Awesome. It's like, one million awesome. Seriously. I think it might be the funniest book I've ever read. Plus there are serious bits that are also awesome. "Depression Part One" and "Depression Part Two" of course, though I already knew about those from her blog. And "This Is Why I'll Never Be an Adult." Classic. But also new ones (I think?) like "Motivation," and "Identity" Parts One and Two. I think. I can't double check right now because I've loaned the book out, but in some ways they struck me as sort of different takes on the issues surrounding "This Is Why I'll Never Be an Adult." As you might notice with #3, I can relate. Though again, different take. (And hers is better.) Similarities. They have them.

Also this song:

It came out in December, but that's okay, because I'm not counting it as something I learned. I'm just saying it relates to the other stuff. That's all. Don't judge.

5) I absolutely love Joss Whedon's version of Much Ado About Nothing. As it turns out, I had seen the play before, but it'd been quite a while. This was a magical way to be reintroduced to it. I've watched it just twice now, once with subtitles (because baby distractions); and it was even better the second time, with the subtitles (because Shakespeare). Oh, and watching it with the enthusiastic audience of a sister also helped. I DO love sharing things. Which makes the subtitles doubly helpful, as they probably helped Melanie's understanding too, thus the enthusiasm. Next I want to watch the commentary. I love the music, I pretty much love everything about it. Oh, and Amy Acker is brilliant. Many of the actors are, really, but Amy Acker, especially the "That I were a man" speech... *swoons*
Also great present. Thanks, John!

Technically, I watched this for the first time at the end of October, but I watched it a second time in November, so it counts. Because I didn't really learn how very much I loved it until the second time. Yeah.

Oh, and found this review of it later, while writing this post. Yup. In agreement.

6) I can actually publish blog posts on three days in a row! Woo! At least if I try to just make them short little posts. Of course, I might then only post up one more thing in the entire remaining month... Oops.

7) Taking a little partial break from the internet and such? Feels So. Good. Not checking one's phone, not reading blogs as much... I mean, I love blogs and such, I do. And I want to keep up with ALL THE BLOGS, which is impossible, and even when we talk about what I really mean, just keeping up with all the ones I like, it's still hard, because there's a LOT out there that I like. And I have a little girl, and etc. etc. But I am not quite exactly like some other textroverts I know -- unless I have some space away from the internet, it gets where I can't hear myself think anymore. There are too many voices in my head.

8) Baby (or maybe I should call her Toddler, now?) seems to like cats more than kittens. Huh. I guess it makes sense -- they're almost as big as she is. If I could see tigers up close, with no fear they'd hurt me, I guess I'd like that better, too.

9) Nirvana has an Android app now! "Enthusiastic cheer!"

10) Oh, how quickly a toddler can gain speed and comfort when she really starts to walk. Girl's getting fast. Also: Awwww! Kawaii desu yo!
Obligatory baby picture. Sorry it's not better. Did I mention she's fast?

11) We have a truly insane amount of onesies and rompers.
Board books for a sense of scale?
That isn't even all of them. There's a smaller stack of long-sleeved onesies behind that stack. There are more in the laundry hamper, and presumably more in the garage. Haven't finished going through all the boxes I'd packed away for when she'd be older, yet. She's older, now.

12) Stayed away from my baby for a whole entire night for the first time ever. It was... uncomfortable, still, as far as needing to pump a lot and it not being enough, but, ooh, it was worth it. Could have been better, as circumstances made it impossible for me to go to bed very early that night, but still. I woke up a few times, smiled, and went peacefully back to sleep. Bliss. Thanks for the birthday present, John!

Er, what I learned was that it's surprisingly uncomfortable still, but still awesome. I guess. I mean, I suspected as much, mostly. But hey, now I know!

13) WOW, is my girl introverted and sensitive. I mean, I knew that already, too, but it's rarely demonstrated with such high contrast as it was last Saturday.

My sister stayed the night, and Gracie hasn't seen her often, as she lives in Oregon. That morning as soon as Gracie woke up her emotions were all over the place, from joyful squeals to despairing cries. I thought at first she was on edge because of the stranger in the house, but no. In the middle of her crying we went out to the living room, she saw my sister on the couch, and... instant silence and calm neutrality while she observed the stranger. The edginess was just from being around the crowds of my extended family celebration for Thanksgiving on Friday. Recovery. She needs it.

14) Learned some things about intersectionality and what feminism looks like for people of color. I think I want to learn a lot more before I talk about it much here, though. Maybe I'll post a few links, soonish.

15) I'm better at Dutch Blitz (can also be played with regular playing cards under the name of Nertz, among many other names) than I used to be, many many Thanksgivings ago. Also, two-player is fun, provided game play is adjusted properly. If each person plays with two decks instead of one, you try to get rid of 20 cards instead of 10, with the assistance of five stacks instead of three.. yeah, it's fun. Also makes three-player seem pretty easy, as those five stacks make it feel like there's a ton of stuff to keep track of.

16) Not only is Toddler growing well now, as in the "Fifteen Things I Learned in June" post, but she even jumped up to the next growth curve, she's not on the very bottom line anymore! Woo!

Saturday, November 09, 2013

"DST is eeeevil," or: Mixed Feelings

I'm finally going to participate in RambleRamble's weekly linkup. I've meant to, many times, but never quite made it before.

The prompt: "Need to get something off your chest? How about sharing a good rant with us?"

My snarky post would definitely qualify as ranty, but I'm not going to get that one ready by midnight tonight, so a different post and rant it is. I'm sorry if some of the sentences here don't make sense or don't scan easily. I wrote this kinda quickly (for me). I mean, I composed parts of it mentally in the wee hours of the night last night, and mostly wrote it down (and edited, and added the pics and links) during my daughter's naps today. I'm not sure if I caught and clarified all the confusing bits. I tried.

Unfortunately, this rant is going to be watered down a little bit by the mixed feelings. Not that I have mixed feelings about Daylight Saving Time itself, the concept of it. Far from it. Pure evil. But... Well, I'll explain later, after the rant.

Let's start out with a couple little quotes from Facebook. This is what I've already said about Daylight Saving Time ending. In comments on a status.

"As a fellow new (-ish) parent, I'm terrified of what this means for the time change this year. I mean, fall is supposed to be the good one! The magical extra hour of sleep! But I'm sure that as soon as 4:30 rolls around my girl's gonna be like, "Mama, Mama! I'm so happy, Mama! Aren't you? Isn't life great? Let's plaaay!!!" (Roughly. She doesn't actually talk yet.)

Somehow, I'd always heard from parents that Daylight's Saving Time especially sucks when you have kids, but it seems like I only heard about how hard it is to get them to go to bed when it's still light outside, not how hard it is to get them to SLEEP IN JUST ONCE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD.

Weekends are when I get more sleep deprived. Because even after almost a year, I can't seem to get it through my head that I can't stay up later on Friday night. Oh, and the tireder I am, the more I make stupid decisions... like staying up late. It's like an infinite loop of tired and dumb.

Phew. Apparently I had a few things I wanted to get off my chest on this topic. >_>"
Later I said,
"Seems I spoke too soon.

Best. Jinx. Ever."
"She'll sometimes sleep longer if we let her cuddle in bed with us. And there's no light anywhere.

Of course, other times she just climbs all over us, scratches our faces..."

I saw one person on Facebook defend Daylight Saving Time on the grounds that children were walking to school in the dark. Please, think of the children!

Um? Wait, when were they walking in the dark? In the winter? Fall is when DST ends, sooo... yeah, no time change would not affect that a whit.

Even if it did, um... maybe we should start school later in the day? Just a thought? I mean, I know there can be some logistical issues, but if the alternative is Daylight Freakin' Saving Time, seems like a good idea to me.

That's the other thing. Why are we trying to save light in the summer? It's summer! There's plenty of light! What, because there's so much of it, so we're trying to stockpile it for the winter? Sorry, I don't think it works that way.

This is probably a good place to link to The Actual Pastor's very nicely ranty post on Daylight Saving Time: "The Real Reason We Observe Daylight Saving Time: to Kill Parents." It is bitter and lovely.

Yep, once upon a time, at least the evil of the time change in the spring was sort of kind of counterbalanced by the joy and magic of the extra hour of sleep in the fall.

But now? Now that I'm a parent? There is no magical extra hour of sleep, there is only pain and anger. I see Daylight Saving Time's true face now. There is nothing good in it, it is rotten to the core. It should die a terrible, painful death, be burned to ash, and have its ashes scattered to the four winds so that no one might ever reassemble the pieces and resurrect the practice.

And yet, for all that (and I do believe that), I can't end on that note. Last year my daughter was born on the day of the extra hour, and I can't think of it without being reminded of her.

It's kind of hard to maintain the rage of being woken up at 4:30 in the morning because of the most retarded, useless practice ever... when you remember that at that time last year you were also up, because you were in the middle of giving birth to your child.

To be mad about not getting that extra hour of sleep you expected (and maybe to actually lose sleep because you foolishly went to bed planning for it, even though you knew it was not to be), when last year you hadn't slept soundly, for... well, for weeks actually, to a certain extent... but especially not since you checked into the hospital approximately 36 hours earlier.

To be angry that the good chunks of sleep you did get were so short, when last year the epidural gave you some really nice good chunks of sleep too, at least when you weren't literally shivering uncontrollably from a reaction to it, just trying with all your might to keep your teeth from chattering. Or until you were woken by alarms at your baby's heart rate, and a lowering of the pitocin. Or woken by nurses giving you antibiotics for an infection. Still, you think back to the beginning of labor, and ah, that epidural gave some good sleep!
Daylight Saving Time last year. About an hour and a half before Gracie's birth.

It's hard to measure pain sometimes, it's so subjective. Even more so, memories of pain. But there are objective data points, here and there. At first I remember how I was handling it, how I thought I could've kept on going, if I hadn't learned I had to keep going for so long, that I was only dilated 1 cm.

Then I remember. I remember when the labor started, how I could laugh with people in the room, and check Facebook. How that quickly changed, how soon I could only watch a bit of very mild TV for distraction -- had to be a calm nature channel, nothing stressful or demanding to my brain, my attention.

The contractions. The pain always lingered, so to speak, after the needle on the graph stopped showing the contraction. It took a little while to come back down to normal.

Soon I could only watch the TV as a distraction between the contractions. But soon after that there wasn't really any "in between." Maybe there was officially, but the pain never went away. Between having had Braxton Hicks contractions that would last five minutes or more, sometimes, and as little as a minute apart (or less), possibly because of an irritable uterus that wouldn't completely relax for twenty mintues at a stretch at times, and then add in a low level of pitocin to start up actual labor? Things became not happy.

Not that, you know, labor is normally happy. But I've heard inductions can be worse than "regular" labor, and I'm pretty sure I've heard there are supposed to be breaks between contractions, at least until close to the end. Unlike some of the stories from women with an irritable uterus.

I used to get really bad menstrual cramps. Bad enough to throw up, once, and very close to that many, many other times, as I realized after the vomiting incident. Labor... was kind of, sort of, a little like that? You know, besides being a ton worse. But with cramps, moving around, tossing and turning from side to side, will help a little bit, for a moment. With contractions (real honest-to-God ones, not the Braxton Hicks), it's like if you move even a fraction of an inch, you'll be impaling yourself further on the metal pole that's rammed down your center. All you can do is breathe and count, and then you can't even do that, all you can do is exist until it's over.

That's my experience, anyway.

Sorry, I don't know when this became a rant about childbirth. This is not the next part of the pregnancy complications and birth story I've been meaning to tell. But, it's written, I guess I'll go ahead, out of order or not. And I'll remind you that expressing the difficulty of something does NOT mean the person talking thinks it was a mistake, or not worthwhile. Momastery's "2011 Lesson #2: Don't Carpe Diem" is relevant here. None of this diminishes my love for my baby, not even a tiny little bit. Similarly, talking about how hard parenting is, or how I miss long stretches of sleep? Yeah, the appropriate response is not, "Well you shouldn't have decided to have a kid, then." Just in case you were wondering.

Some people say you forget the pain when the child is born, to which I give a very mature and dignified, WTF??!

I mean, I know the Bible has a verse about how a woman forgets her pain for the joy that a child has entered the world (John 16:21), but I'm pretty sure it was being poetic, and speaking very generally. I've heard women talk about this as though they literally forgot. That that's why they would have another child, because they actually don't remember what it was like. And I'm not just talking, "Oh wow, I forgot it was this bad," but like, forgot. the. whole. thing. Seriously? I mean, I was skeptical before I had my daughter. My brain, as far as I know, just doesn't work like that. I didn't think childbirth would damage it in such a way that that would change. It didn't. Childbirth was... memorable.

So, anyway, since I DO remember all that, it's hard to be very mad about Daylight Saving Time, somehow. Well, other than Daylight Saving Time never being an important or necessary part of bringing a child into the world. That little detail.

I almost wish it was easier to stay mad. Like I'm the jerk invalidating my own emotions, saying, "You think that's bad? Wait 'til..." Bleh. Well, here's a compromise with myself. I can be mad about lost sleep the other 364 days of the year. I can sure as heck be frustrated that, with a few exceptions, I haven't had more than four or five hours of sleep at a time in over a year now, or even as much as four at a time in I don't know how long now, maybe weeks? That ohmyGOODNESS I really need to night wean this child.

But I love her, and a day that reminds me of her birth can't be all bad, despite itself. Even if the concept of DST is pure and unadulterated evil.

Around 8 hours after her birth.