A few weeks ago we got some news that means, with some certainty, Caroline will remain an only child. This news wasn’t really shocking, but it was upsetting. As we have had some time to let it sink in I have come to better terms with it. I have to say, the hardest part has been being on Facebook. I took a little break from it all awhile back, took the app off my phone and didn’t check in for a week or two. But then I slowly started checking back in. The main thing I felt like I needed a break from was the group of people I know from college who are all steadily building their own little armies of children. Good for them, really. Great for them.
However, every last one of them cycles around the same set of articles about how the entire world is against them, what they believe, and how hard it is to have a large family these days. Every careless comment from a stranger about the many children they are toting around seems to indicate something extremely upsetting. Certainly any jerk drawing attention to you in a negative way is embarassing. I know this. At least once a week I am asked when we will have another child. I am told by strangers in the park, restaurants, the bathroom, that my daughter needs a sibling. I do not sit down a write diatribe about what this means about our society and its values. If anything, what it says is that people are very rude and feel completely comfortable saying anything they want to perfect strangers.
And these dear, smart, funny people are all falling apart. All of them, at some point has mentioned how horribly difficult it is to have so many children. Each shattered milk cup, diaper blowout, sleepless, feverish night is another indicator of how we bear a cross for the cause of being open to life.
And this is ok. It is a sacrifice to stay home with kids. But it’s also a sacrifice to work, at any job, with or without kids. Being an adult isn’t fun. We all want to sleep more, we all want to travel.
The life you are living is the life you have been given. Live it. I fully realize that I can unfollow these people, stop reading the articles, stop using every cry for fellowship from these lonely and tired mothers as a reflection of how I’m failing. I’m not failing. They are not failing either.
In September Justin will attend grad school full time. I will go back to work. Caroline will start Kindergarten. These things would be much harder to juggle with more kids. Money will be tighter and our time together will be less frequent. I’m ok with this! It would have been much harder to work through the decision for Justin to quit his job if we already had another kid. It’s hard to not think these things fell into place for a reason. Maybe they did, but maybe it’s just the life we have been given. We are struggling through it like anyone else.
It is hard to not think about the future, to think that some day I will sit back and wish we had had more. But more of what? More happiness? More love in this family of 3? It can’t be possible for my heart to be any fuller than it already is. There is no hole waiting to be filled. And if it is a “miracle,” as my doctor said, that I even have Caroline, then I will take that miracle and go forward. We will be ok.
There is nothing novel or surprising about the fact that after seeing David Sedaris last night I have only good things to say. I’m sure many people would consider him too big now, too mainstream, which is an attitude I reject. Like most reading people, I’ve read all his stuff and find it hilarious and moving. He spoke last night for over an hour, to an almost packed house at the Dallas Winspear Opera House. He read from his new collection, (which includes essays he has written specifically for teenagers participating in Forensics, after being told by many of them that they perform his work all the time. This delighted Justin) some new stories he’s working on, and musings from his diary. The audience was was great, an often tough feat here in Dallas. After the show he stayed for over 4 hours signing each and every book put before him. He stayed so long because he spent a good five minutes talking with each person who came up. Justin and I brought a book from home and purchased the new book there. When it came for our turn, he opened my book to discover that I had left my niece’s “Flat Stanley” (which I had brought to take a picture in front of the Opera House). His fatigued eyes lit up, “Oh this is so cute!” he said. I explained what it was and he signed my book accordingly.
I can’t say enough good about this author known by the entire world. His tour is putting him in a different city each night, and he brings such a genuine, gracious attitude with him. His anecdotes between stories were clearly off the cuff, which made it seem like a conversation with close friends. The time he spent chatting with us during the signing was endearing and kind. He seemed genuinely impressed when I mentioned Justin was starting SMU’s MFA acting program in the fall during our discussion of Forensics and theater. He asked what our plan was, what I would do, and laughed at story I told about our daughter.
To engage with an artist that has no monetary incentive to visit with fans in this way is remarkable. I’ve been reading Sedaris since college. His work is so personal that I feel like I know him, and the genuineness translates so palpably. Even though he is widely read and known, it is restorative to see so many people delighted by an author. In this age of smart phones and dearth of human interaction, it was wonderful to see so many people waiting hours just to engage with an artitst whose work means something to them.
In 2007, filmmaker Werner Herzog dedicated his documentary Encounters at the End of the Worldto Roger Ebert. At one point during Herzog’s commentary track, he calls Ebert “a warrior of the cinema.” Ebert responded to the compliment in a letter to Herzog.
My favorite part of Ebert’s letter:
I believe you have never made a film depending on sex, violence or chase scenes…You have avoided this content, I suspect, because it lends itself so seductively to formulas, and you want every film to be absolutely original.
You have also avoided all “obligatory scenes,” including artificial happy endings… And you don’t use musical scores that tell us how to feel about the content. Instead, you prefer free-standing music that evokes a mood: You use classical music, opera, oratorios, requiems, aboriginal music, the sounds of the sea, bird cries, and of course Popol Vuh.
All of these decisions proceed from your belief that the audience must be able to believe what it sees. Not its “truth,” but its actuality, its ecstatic truth.
You can read all of Ebert’s letter to Herzog here.
Still from Encounters at the End of the World
This is really beautiful.
“I’ve heard over and over again, we’re told that they had to let their kids, you know, their husbands, their wives, whoever it was, they had to stand back, not to intervene, let them hit bottom so they would crawl into a treatment and say, ‘Please help me.’ That idea, it is so dangerous. It has killed so many people. The other problem with it is that this is a progressive disease, which means that as long as it’s not being treated, it gets worse. So the longer we stand back and allow this to happen and allow the drug use to continue and allow the behavior that is caused by the drug use to worsen so that someone is going to use more drugs and it’s just a cycle, the harder it is to treat them. So addiction is a disease like anything else. It’s like cancer, like heart disease, like diabetes. And we know that at the first signs of serious illness, we want to seek treatment. If someone in our families had early warning signs of any of those diseases, we would bring them to a doctor to figure out what is going on. We would not wait until the disease progressed.”
Photo credit: istockphoto.com
Jason Molina on the recording of “Farewell Transmission”:
“Farewell Transmission” must be one of the most heroic recording moments of all time, because I called in people that were not already scheduled to be in the band and I was like, “Oh, now we’re going to have a violin player, and we’re going to have an extra singer.” I called out all of these things, much like a conductor does – and trust me, I’m not a conductor. I’m the break man. I will not fuck you up if I am the break man, I just don’t want to move anymore.
We put, I think, about 12 people in a room and recorded that song live, completely live, and unrehearsed. I showed ‘em the chord progression, they had no idea when it would end, and we just cut it.
Steve [Albini] did a beautiful job. I noticed that at one point when it was a little too loud or a little too soft he came and opened a door to make it work, because it was just an ambient recording. When you hear that song kick off everybody knows it, and what’s so disturbing to me is the way that I ended it is I was dictating to the band and Steve—I go “Listen. Listen. Listen.” And then at one point they all stop. It’s great.
I am incredibly devastated about this.
I’m in a really weird place right now where I feel pretty burnt out and don’t like reading anything snarky or negative, but also feeling overwhelmed by the extreme Pope gushing from Facebook friends. I think the bottom line is that the Internet is a barren wasteland that provides no happiness or middle ground.