You’re Not Yistening!

I’m delighted that RR seems to be moving out of the “You’re not YISTENING to me!” phase. For months that refrain has been echoing in every room in the house and echoing in my head. Oh wait – that’s a persistent scream, not an echo at all. An echo requires time in between utterances. She doesn’t comprehend (or doesn’t care about) the difference between disagreeing and not listening. No doubt she has been overwhelmed by a sudden explosion in words. Going back to school flipped the language switch and she has been speaking in paragraphs and chapters. It’s so noticeable (to her and to us) that after reciting the minutiae of falling out of bed in the morning for several minutes, she said to me “that was a LONG talk, mama!” We both were a little awestruck at the number of words spilling from her mouth.

Along with YOU’RE NOT YISTENING, some other babyisms are on their way out. Ls are beginning to make more of an appearance. She’s dressing herself and picking out her own clothes. She makes her bed most mornings, something she began on her own and which I fully support. We also make our own bed – could it be that it rubbed off? Her fingers are lengthening, her arms strengthening. Life is a constant refrain of I’m okay mama! I’m not hurt! after she crashes yet again onto concrete after running at breakneck speed down stairs, over walls, across streets.

She is observant and thoughtful and she still sprinkles conversation with little quirks I’m sad to break her of. Did you heard the violin, mama? I did, faintly, from several blocks away, over the roar of the passing bus. I did. And, my favorite, her diplomatic way for telling us we are flat wrong. Did you fought I said I wanted the window open? I didn’t. Did you fought I didn’t want a cookie? I did. Did you fought I wanted you to keep talking? I didn’t.

We tripped and fell into a princess costume for Halloween. Queen Elsa still rules supreme, having been the drug of choice since we thought we toilet trained her the first time in May. My mother did the stitching this year since I proved inept at cutting satin and making pleats. I’m so grateful to have her nearby. RR even spent the night earlier this month and happily packed an overnight bag to visit her this weekend (even though our stay was just for the afternoon).

She is a treat. An awe-inspiring package of smarts and beauty and laughter. We are so lucky.

IMG_2152

 

Panic, Brought to You by the Cancer Center

There I was, back at the fucking cancer center.

I approach this annual appointment with trepidation but this year I was mentally armed. I took the whole day off. I scheduled a morning spot, in hopes I wouldn’t have to wait as long. I knew to expect the x-rays and blood work and humiliating nipple stickers. I mentally committed to wearing the ridiculous gown so that they could check all my lymph nodes if they wanted to. I was prepared to inform the cranky intake men in advance that yes, my blood pressure would be high, so that they wouldn’t lecture or threaten. It’s always high, I say, I am anxious when at the doctor. This is an understatement but, unlike my high blood pressure at a routine well visit, none of their business.

It began well enough, considering. Considering the registration desk balked at adding my wife. It only says husband, she said, I can’t use that field. It’s the law, I said pleasantly. I’m sure you can just use that field. We had a tense moment, she and I, but she recovered enough at the end to say congratulations, which I took as a positive sign for the rest of the visit.

In fact, there was no blood work or stickered x-rays. The waiting room was packed but my name was called fairly quickly. The intake person was someone my age who was understanding and reasonable about my blood pressure and didn’t tut at me when I clenched my teeth at the pain of the cuff. She weighed me without comment (I, of course, filled in the lecture about having gained weight since the last visit. I’m beating myself up enough, thank you, I don’t need more help. She deposited me in a room and said I didn’t even need the gown. You guys, it was like I was going to make it through the day without crying. I didn’t even see the colossal anxiety attack coming.

We took a slight trip downhill when the next nurse came in and produced a gown but she did turn up the heat and gave me a second gown and warm blanket. I don’t think I’m so large that a regular gown shouldn’t fit but it was far from being able to close. I pulled out a book to read and distract myself, since the naked wait is usually no less than 45 minutes later. I was pleasantly surprised to the see a resident in under a half hour. And she and I managed all the questions and prodding with only a few measured, deep breaths on my part.

You know though, she and I had the same name. Not only the same, not-so-common name, but the same unusual spelling. Could she have started the visit by commenting? Building some rapport? Would that have halted what was about to come? Could she have become my ally when the whole world got dark on the edges. I think, yes.

And then she left. I waited. Another hour. And, being scantily clad, I opted not to step into the hall wondering about my situation. I had seen the full waiting room. They were surely aware they had an occupied room. And when the NEXT nurse came in, brisk and perky, she acknowledged the wait without apology. They did know. I wondered if this was normal enough for them not to notice. In all though, this wasn’t a big deal. I expected a wait. I came prepared. I was using my keep calm skills. I was mostly okay.

Until I totally wasn’t. It started right around the time of the freezing stethoscope and you should start eating leafy greens out of the blue. Where did the oxygen go? It and my self-control spirited out of the room, and when I opened my mouth to respond, that I do, in fact, eat lots of leafy greens, I simultaneously realized she was lecturing me about the relation of my weight to cancer and making all manner of assumptions about my knowledge of health and my eating habits. I didn’t pass out, but I couldn’t answer when she asked me for the fifth time what my very-obviously-a-crocodile tattoo was and meant. I couldn’t answer because I could not breathe. I leaned over not to pass out, aware that she was asking again. And trying to focus on the other Meridith, the one sitting passively, the one who could have built some rapport, who might have saved me, just by using my name.

And actually, I was still somehow not past the edge. I managed to make a new appointment for next year. I managed to get to the parking lot. I managed to put the car in reverse (though not without fumbling into the wipers, the horn, and the hazard lights) and, as I was about to back up, a probably well-meaning worker began to scold about my space. I shouldn’t park here, he said. It wasn’t marked as maintenance, but apparently it was, and he was undeterred when I pointed out that I was actively crying and I’d like to go. I’m just trying to help you out, he said. For next time, he said.

My father once took my keys when I was too emotional to drive, saying that it was just as bad as driving drunk. So I was tried to hold it together for everyone else that had to drive next to me for the five minutes it would take to get to my wife, who makes everything better. But the worker wouldn’t move from behind the car and I was near to sobbing. I pled with him to please move, couldn’t he see he was making it worse? He was disinclined to hurry.

Some years later, he moved and I made it to Debra, completely in humiliating pieces, and she took me home. I’m trying to decide what the impact will be if I refuse to go back and then get cancer again and HAVE to go back having not been. How much worse will it be then? Weighing mental health and preventative health, how much difference is it making to visit the cancer center AND a dermatologist AND a general practitioner on the regular? As we have now moved to what counts as an glorified skin check, how much preventing is this step doing?

My brain was fuzzy for days after the visit, as if my memory and response time had short circuited. That can’t be healthy. I’m typically medically attentive but this time, I might have had it. I have year before the next appointment. Plenty of time to decide.

Soiled

Every so often, I catch myself mourning my cute, round, baby with her giant eyes and solemn outlook. Most of the time, I love her spring-loaded self. One solid strand of muscle devoting equal intensity to chasing, jumping, climbing, coloring, sleeping, and eating. Her flexibility always surprises me (mama, why aren’t there mushrooms on my pizza? a) mushrooms? b) totally mellow when I shrugged). While there are fits pre-loaded for appropriate times, they are nearly predictable and nearly always involve the potty.

You guys. She is now four and some. She is STILL not potty trained. What was mildly concerning and mostly frustrating is now baffling. Why doesn’t she get it? At least the deposits (of both kinds) occasionally make it into the toilet, but a good day is often followed by four accidents in 3 hours or some other feat of bladder/bowel olympics.

As you would, we’ve checked any constipation and tried every training technique in the books. All the books. As we rounded the corner on four we were in constant communication with the doctor. We’ve all been on the same page (all of us but RR). The hold-up doesn’t seem to be medical although we’ve made an appointment with pediatric urology. We were both reticent to go that route, having had our own fights with our bodies early on and the mental scars to match it. There’s plenty of time though, the earliest appointment we could get was for March.

March.

One of her teachers has been concerned about a sensory hiccup and recommended an occupational therapist. We again held off (until now) since by all reports she has zero other indications of another sensory issue. At all. Anything. Except this. We’re off to see that person on today. I am hopeful that she will have a suggestion transcending a sticker chart (her initial reaction) which, you should see RR approach a sticker chart, the disdain. The utter indifference.

RR cannot be swayed.

Some days we go through six changes of clothes. Other days just one or two or none. Of late, now and then, we lose our ability to be balanced and both of us at separate times have been frustrated with her. She and I had a lengthy talk while she angrily sat on the toilet, her insisting that she didn’t have to go and me insisting that she try, given the damp state of the panties I had just stripped off (yes she normally does it, yes I’m usually more sane). I gave in and told her all of the things I would normally not say. That she is smarter than this. That at that moment her brain knew better than her body. That she needed her smart brain to tell her body that it has to try harder. And I walked out and shut the door.

As I criticized myself up and down for that reaction, no matter how measured my tone, I heard her tiny voice piping through the door, talking to her body. explaining. She was earnest and lengthy. She peed. A lot. This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I can only imagine how she feels.

As much as I would like to say that discussion (hers and mine) closed the door on this business, yesterday happened as normal. Damply. This is an endless stress in our home between my wife and I and us and our daughter. There are plenty of good things. But this thing. It’s maddening, saddening, frustrating, baffling. I hope one of these appointments helps, because time and neutrality (and stickers and rewards and pre-rewards and encouragement and self-care and indifference and so on and so on) hasn’t been.

Everything

I still honestly can’t believe I’m married. Maybe that’s why newlyweds take honeymoons. At least there’s a life interruption that says hey lady, shit is different around here. The only thing that feels different around here is an invisible identical everything.

We’re beginning of the week shoppers. Come the weekend, we make a grocery list and plan menus. Often we give up on a meal but, for the most part, we stick to it. We’re also forgetful and so sometimes it means a quick trip out for a vegetable or lunch the next day or cake. We obviously eat a lot of cake. Debra is usually the runner outer and every single time she walks out the door, I wonder what will happen if she doesn’t come back. Will a terrible accident mean I lose both my wife and my legally-not child? How quickly would social services arrive to take her away? Obviously I’d miss my wife and my cake but RR, taken in the night, I can’t even breathe. Marriage hasn’t made her mine, but it has made me the most logical choice in a tragedy, even by the most callous of social workers.

On vacations in friendly places, we hold hands. Sometimes we kiss chastely in the street. We give ourselves the chance to wonder what it would be like if no one cared. While people probably still care and some of them, even in our excellent community, are offended, we are now legally entitled to be married. It hasn’t changed them, but it has changed us. We’re bolder, more willing to blame them and not ourselves if they are offended. You’ve probably reached this point, the point of not caring, long before we have (in whatever part of your life you’re anxious about) but for me, this feeling is novel.

I find myself saying thank you frequently. To acquaintances and strangers, people who have recognized us from the press. It’s unnerving, the casual eye-contact and recognition, especially when someone doesn’t verbally acknowledge that they’ve seen me before. I’ve changed my response from “Oh, thank you!” to “Thank you! I’m Meridith” and sticking out my hand. It seems to make a difference. See me, it says. I am friendly, it says. I am just like you.

It’s every moment. The ones when people aren’t looking and the ones when they are. It’s half wanting to yell from the rooftops and half quiet this is rightfully ours. It’s wanting to talk about it forever and knowing that moment has passed (sorry, folks). My soul is soaked in tears – of happiness, of disbelief, of amazement, of gratitude, of notice me I am changed. But unusually for me, all the tears are being shed inside, for better or worse.

The fabric woven from my life was already erratic, marked with knots and tangles, thread changing color and texture midstream. This is the gaping hole closed with lace and fine stitching that you notice once but that I run my hands over every single day and will, for the rest of my life. Everything is different.

 

 

 

Holy shit. Did that happen?

I imagined the moment in my mind: a hotter than usual spring day at work, watching live feeds and twitter streams, waiting for news about the Supreme Court’s decision in Someone vs. The State that would change my life. I imagined the agonizing wait between the decision in some other state and the inevitable consequence in Virginia – the day we, too, would get the right to be married.

I did not imagine that I would wake up on a completely unremarkable Monday in October with a slight cold and by 11am I’d be rushing to the Courthouse. I was married on Monday. MARRIED. To my gorgeous wife. Married.

meridithanddebra

Civil rights. Civil fucking rights. They deserve their own moment. It’s all their own moment. But today is to tell you about my wedding.

In that almost-wedding-moment in August, I bought a dress that was too plum-colored and too heavy for summer. Independently, my wife’s best person helped her pick out a tie that matched perfectly. We threw them on and rushed to the courthouse to stand in line for marriage license. I guess you can’t leave rights out, after all. The room slowly filled with other couples and members of the press. The tiny space was chaotic and filled with happy families waiting for that very moment when it would be legal to sign the first license.

radifera_vaifl_0002

We couldn’t have planned it better – the press followed the first family out to the courthouse steps and in the silence, Debra and I committed to each other, again, in front of the Clerk of the Court.

The community started there, with the hugs and the handshakes from our fellow brides and grooms and the enthusiastic embrace from the Clerk. It followed us to the steps of the courthouse where we settled in to watch the string of ceremonies, listened to the happy honking from passing cars, and began to panic, a little, about everything going right.

IMG_2005

 

 

Before we got there, we called our local families and our best friends and planned on a 3:30 ceremony. Yes, we’d have to wait two hours, but the license was in hand and we were likely to make it before the Supreme Court could take it away. There’s that rights thing, popping up again. A co-worker arrived with a veil, her own balsa-wood bouquet, and a tiny champagne bottle with paper cups. Friends left their offices. Their children walked over with picked wildflowers for RR. My parents brought RR and we slipped her into a new dress. And then it happened.

ruby

We were married. We are MARRIED. In the state that we live in. Married.

I could talk your ear off. About the press and our fellow newlyweds. About the tremendous outpouring of support from our community. About the gifts our friends gave us – their presence, a serenade from the steps, their joy in this victory. We’re married. You can share our moment here and here and here. I’m not promising this is the last you’ll hear about this. I’m still overwhelmed and a little tongue-tied. But I wanted to tell you, because you are always here to listen, that I am filled with joy and amazement and a sense of gratification.

Married.

radifera_vaifl_0060

 

 

 

 

15 Minutes

cover

Last Wednesday we landed on the cover of the local weekly paper.

stillnotlegal

The interview came about the normal way, which is weird in and of itself, to think of interviews as being normal. There was less angst over clothing and talking points this time since it’s our sixth time in one paper or another in the last couple of years (seventh if you count an impromptu television interview). It’s both cool and surreal to see RR grow up in newsprint.

do you

It also satisfies something inside that with each interview we’re getting closer to equality. The evolution from captioned activist photos on the front page to below the fold interviews to DOMA updates to a sizable interview in a weekly has come with more tolerance and more acceptance (and a better photo each time). Our interviewers have become increasingly more well-informed and relaxed (and so have we). We sound more confident and articulate each time (thank goodness).

inside

Pride was this weekend and Debra sat under a dripping tent while RR and I donned raincoats and  camped out on a blanket in front of the stage. Our allies stopped by and friends joined us on the blanket to have a very short but gratifying conversation about queer space.* I was prepared and sort of nervous to be recognized since our pictures are tucked inside a news box on every corner but we slid through the day peacefully. It was a weird feeling wondering whether people were identifying us privately but not saying anything or whether we were surrounded by 2000 gay folks and their friends at a gay celebration who hadn’t picked up the gay issue of the popular weekly.

rr and box

To top it off, Debra was quoted on the front page of Sunday paper having very briefly talked to a reporter at her Pride booth. The butch-focused booth was a new endeavor for her and I was thrilled to see her hard work well received by the community. And, while we live in a progressive town, having something about butch identity on the front page is a major accomplishment.

I say all that to say this: I’m hugely proud of my family and I really hope this is the last time we are in the news talking about our rights. If we’re in the paper again, I’d like it to be a wedding announcement.

*While we have super friends, super super friends, there’s something to be said for that moment when everyone at the table (or blanket, in this case) is coming from a common place of understanding. I’m delighted to be able have it both ways and the first makes the second even more cherished.

 

Fire Cider

Saturday was for cold season. Although we’re all healthy, we are anticipating that the giant petri dish that is working in a University will eventually gift us some kind of cold. So we tried our hand at fire cider. I can’t explain this to you. Go here for a recipe and here for a video.

photo 1

We usually muddle through with a combination of good luck, strong immune systems, and a healthy dose of elderberry syrup, but it seemed as though this horseradish-boasting recipe* could blast through a stuffy nose. This is the bane of my winter.

I have no idea what to expect but I can’t wait to give it a shot!

photo 2

 

*Debra was on horseradish duty. Unfortunately, I may never be able to convince her to do this again. Then again, maybe those were tears of joy at grating duty?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 749 other followers