My Dear Jenna,
I was reading through my archives, the posts that I've written here. I noticed something that made me very sad. I noticed that I've written a lot about how hard of a job it is to be a mom, how you can be--say--amazingly creative and spirited and wonderful, and also challenging at times. About the fun things we do, and the frustrating times we share.
But I haven't said how much I love you here. Not to you. And it should be written here. So you always have it.
So let me tell you loudly, right here: I love you my Jenna.
I love you with all of my heart and soul in all of the ways I know how to, the ways I understand how to.
You know what I ask you, right? How much do I love you, baby? "A million trillion zillion and more!" Right? Yeh. And more. MORE! Can you imagine how much that is? How big that is? It's absolutely HUGE!!!!
I love everything about you, inside and out, from your soft skin to your dark eyes filled with light. You are a strong young girl with fire and wit and warmth and love and kindness for everyone you know. That's who you are, and I love you so.
What Mommy wants, more than anything else in the whole world, is for you be happy. To grow straight and strong and be filled with warmth and acceptance. To have peace. To be open and wise, to accept and show love. To be that amazing person you are already becoming.
If I could give my finger, my hand, my arm to be sure that you would never hurt, that nothing, no one would ever make you feel badly, I would. But I can't. Instead I can give you the tools and assurance that will help you come to understand that strength is in you. It's yours.
I will write more to you in time. I need to go rest now. I am going into your bedroom to check on you. You took off your pajamas tonight because you couldn't sleep. You know how you do that sometimes? Well, I'm going in to slip your shirt back on and pull the blankets up, to make sure your Care Bear is still in bed with you.
Then I'll rest too.
Bless you, Jenna. I love you always.
April 26, 2003
My Dear Jenna,
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 9:55 PM
Steroids are a very magical drug. They let you breathe when you can't. That is amazing. When you're gasping and coughing, they're a life saver, literally.
They also make you quite insane, volitile, tempermental, especially as you taper down.
They make you bloated, they make you eat everything, they make you retain water. They make you think on one hand everything is a good idea, and on the other hand, that nothing is a good idea.
This, I could do without.
Today my left leg is swollen, more than normal, and feels full, water or something. I've been drinking LOTS of water to try to flush out my system. Called the doc and he said to keep it up and see how tomorrow is--with a few caveats. Never mind all that.
I can't let go, release the stress. I'm trying.
I've spent my sick days this week with my laptop in bed. It was kind of like "staying home," since I usually work from the livingroom couch. I took some time off and went on vacation upstairs.
I've been having conversations with myself. I'm a good listener.
Some of these have gone like this:
"You have permission to be sick. You also have permission to get better."
"That thing you do--that feeling of living on borrowed time."
"Oh, yeh. I hate that. I know it's not normal, my thinking that I should leave Jenna's favorite pajamas out in case I don't make it home from a drive into town, that I should be sure her bed is comfortable and clean and cool and cotton and ready for her, in case she has to climb into it that night without me next to her."
"Yes that. It's not surprising, that baggage, since you almost died after Jenna was born, since you've already lived longer than your father did, but it's more than that."
"I think so."
"It's more than that--it's about your role then. The role of the innocent child who didn't know."
--more later. this is exhausting me.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 9:32 PM
April 25, 2003
Lesson 3 from the land of the freelancer is this: no more direct deposit. no more checks show up in your online banking account magically.
I never fully understood it. The they-put-money-in/you-take-money-out thing better known as direct deposit. It's all so bloodless. So sanitized. You work hard, or sometimes you screw off, and either way every two weeks money is slipped invisibly, while you sleep, or maybe even when you're going to the bathroom, in your account.
No effort is involved here. It's magic. You don't have to look anyone in the eye when you get your check. You don't have to resent the 70 extra hours you worked when the sweet HR maven hands out the paychecks, or feel a nagging pang of guilt because you accomplished nothing and are getting the same check as last week.
Direct Deposit is like a parallel universe. You're busy doing other things while elves put some money in your account. Some of us never even knew quite how much. Somewhere around x. That's close enough for jazz. No walk to the bank or drive to the bank. Don't get your hands messy with looking at ink on paper, or standing in long lines. Just let us slip it in there while you're taking a leak and everyone's happy.
So turn around and I'm now accountable for my account. In other words, if no invisible checks go in, no invisible money appears. I now know this, since I just bounced my first COBRA check.
At the same time, I just received my first grand--a live check--for a freelance project I worked on some weeks back.
The bounce doesn't feel real, because it happened behind my back, just like direct deposit once did. This is more like direct withdrawl. Of the $30 fee anyway.
But the check that arrived in the mail, with my client's pretty logo at the top and my name typed it, that felt real.
Now, I match the two up, use real-world deposit to pay the invisible withdrawl, and I'm left with....
thank you for your transaction.
nimrod, nimrod, nimrod, nimrod.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 2:31 PM
April 24, 2003
so I'm watching cops.
If you've ever seen your job disappear, or have decided to leave it based on a really shitty offer they gave you to keep you around, you know that watching cops at 2 in the afternoon is not exactly evidence that you're healing from the trauma.
I hate cops.
I also hate all the daytime judge shows: judge hatchett, judge judy, judge joe brown, and that texas justice guy.
You can tell I've been watching those too, huh.
I've been pretty sick--legitimately sick with a sinus infection and more.
the more part is joblessitis.
joblessitis is sort of like SARS, but you live.
The symptoms are: watery eyes (too much TV viewing on a television that you can't afford to pay cable for, so you watch through snowy cabless reception), nausea (comensurate with arrival of bills in the mail), depression and despair (can you spell, a-l-o-n-e?), followed usually by catatonic rocking on the slab floor of the garage (realizing you have no where important to drive to).
I'm not sure when they'll come for this bad girl, but I'm pretty sure they'll come. Periods of my life have been a cops episode in training.
It's one of those things you console yourself with when you're feeling like a useless gob of human flesh: 1) I've never been in jail. 2) I've never been on cops. 3) I've never committed a felony. scratch that. I've never been caught committing a felony.
bad girl bad girl, what I'm gonna do? what I'm gonna do when they come for me?
I like the venacular of cops.
"MAN, stop runnin your mouth so much--just shut UP!"
you just don't get to hear honest human communication like that on American Idol. Or in the board rooms of most corporations.
"Jeneane, I'd like to add something here--Let me float a balloon and see what you think."
"No, MAN. Stop runnin your mouth so much--just shut UP!"
the fever is down, but i'm congested like a mofo.
more as my mind regenerates.
For other fine reading, I see RageBoy is taking himself seriously these days. ;-) Halley on the other hand, writes about donating her snow globes to science and the science of spanking.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 1:16 PM
April 23, 2003
April 22, 2003
i think i know. i have jenna's sinus infection now. my teeth, my face, my cheeks, oh my teeth. ouch ouch ouch ouch. ooohhh.
in pain and going down for the night any way I can.
more when I can.
jenna whirling and speeding around me, high on steroids and albuterol,
and breathing just right again.
that matters more than anything.
in the pain
the absence of
white cotton sheets
ironed pristine crisp
to make a triangle
saying this bed
is just for you.
her welcoming arms
and ginger ale and
a spoonful of
to help me
how many times she
felt my head, brushed
cold wash cloth
hot water bottle
easing the hurt
lightly on my bed
and soft blouse cuffs
a kindness I could hardly
in my family
people paid attention
to the sick and the dying
sat vigils at bedsides
this is what we did
how to be well
This is our legacy.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 5:29 PM
April 21, 2003
raw. tired. late night/early morning breathing treatments for jenna. the worst asthma flare up in a couple of years. still trying to figure it out. According to the pediatrician, who was actually into spending a lot of time checking her today--a new younger doctor--she has a sinus infection--a whopping one, he says. He had to do another treatment in the office--I'd just done one before we left.She was so tight she was coughing her head off. After the second treatment she told me, "Mom, before my heart felt all squished, and now it feels open!"
Anyone with an asthmatic kid knows what that means:
shoot me now. really. a quick one. the temple. aim well, please.
Got caught in the rainstorm on the way to fill the prescriptions, which of course, weren't covered because the insurance company hasn't gotten my checks yet. Krogers was nice enough to fill the RXs for half of the amount and add a refill. So when I go back to get the refill, we should (capital should) have coverage. That was a really nice suggestion. A bright spot in a shitty morning.
We shopped drenched.
Did the meds in the isle at Krogers. After the treatment at the pediatrician's office, and the steroid liquid, and the antibiotic, she felt so much better I agreed to let her to to school for two hours, at which time I would fetch her home for another treatment. She begged and pleaded to go to school. I thought maybe I could catch a two-hour nap while she was there.
We got to school, get drenched some more on the way into the building. Jenna has a melt down and wants to come home. So I bring her home with me. It's a good thing. She's already coughing again.
By now I've missed my interview with the unemployment office, because when you're doing it solo there's no one to take important phone calls, and when you forget your cell phone because your kid is wheezing, you're screwed. Not that I would have known what number to call anyway.
So now we're home. wet. getting undressed and going to climb into bed.
I hope for the next six years.
Do not disturb.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 10:56 AM
Sleep, tracing your breath
the arch of your
I try to climb
inside your dream.
You are so far
I can't touch
can't feel you strain
the angle of
how it juts above
the place that hurts
doesn't help, you are
I wrap you in
set you aside
for safe keeping
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 5:42 AM
April 20, 2003
-by Anne Sexton
Gone, I say and walk from church,
refusing the stiff procession to the grave,
letting the dead ride alone in the hearse.
It is June. I am tired of being brave.
We drive to the Cape. I cultivate
myself where the sun gutters from the sky,
where the sea swings in like an iron gate
and we touch. In another country people die.
My darling, the wind falls in like stones
from the whitehearted water and when we touch
we enter touch entirely. No one's alone.
Men kill for this, or for as much.
And what of the dead? They lie without shoes
in the stone boats. They are more like stone
than the sea would be if it stopped. They refuse
to be blessed, throat, eye and knucklebone.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 4:52 PM
The effort it takes to remember my life jolts me into familiar pain—my side that hurts, my right side to be exact, right under my rib, the place that always hurts, the place where I’ve been certain I have a malignancy for going on five years now.
A few days ago in my dreams I was inside my throat, turned the corner at the back, and saw several polyps. I knew they were polyps in the way you know such things in dreams. I didn’t know why I was seeing them, but they terrified me. One in particular looked bad. Jagged, not round, edges. Black. Raised Like the ones they show you when you search the Web looking for pictures of hang nails, and suddenly you’re lost in a dozen sites regaling the symptomotology and treatment options for a range of the fatal illnesses.
Something happened in the dream. As I stared in horror at my own malignancy, it began to rise from my throat’s surface, and was quite suddenly encased in a beautiful silver armor, which, in time, shrank the tumor and gave it a guilded, smooth, round edge.
Did it heal itself?
Did I heal it?
Or was it a message that something is lurking. A warning.
I left my dream, as I always do, six or seven times a night.
Life number 13. Lucky.
Because I’ve died at least a dozen times inside myself.
When I think back, way back, trying to uncover, or maybe construct--only my therapist knows for sure--the missing pieces of my childhood, I realize I had three of them. Not therapists. More than three. But childhoods. Each interrupted by a major life event, each split, or at least me within them, from one another.
Birth to 5: Mother, Father, Sister, Brother
TRAUMA: Father died
5-12: Mother, Sister, Brother
TRAUMA: Mother re-marriage
12-now: Mother, Step-Father, Step-Sister, Sister, Brother
TRAUMA: Final attempt at individuation
That’s more than enough childhoods for anyone. Two too many for me.
I say “Final attempt at individuation” because I don’t think I’ll live through another attempt if this one doesn’t work out. It’s simple biology, instinct even: Eat or be eaten.
I’m the only one who can.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 2:03 PM
I haven't digested the email from George this morning where he relates the car accident he was in.
Not really. As no word came from him yesterday, not since the day before, I entered that place of acceptance, of not knowing in or out, just is or was. I have gotten used to that place. There are days when I welcome knowing that I am in control of, have influence over, absolutely nothing. Not even breathing. Not even whether or not breathing continues. Nothing but here and writing. Sometimes not even that.
I opened his email this morning, so glad to find it there, to hear his voice sounding strong and loving, and jolted by his tale of riding with the couple who's studio he's working at, his friends, in a severe rain storm, and of the car losing control, and the wreck.
How may thousands of miles away is he? I knew something was wrong yesterday, but if I had let my mind flit across the hundreds of constructs of disaster where I usually reside in unhealthy comfort, I would have been paralyzed, not able eat or speak, to talk to friends, to relate, to warm and be warmed.
So I waited. And this morning I find out the wreck was bad enough to have totaled the car, but George, thank God, is fine. He said his neck actually feels better. With two severely damaged disks and a bone spur in his neck going into the accident, I can only think (read: hope) some chiropractic adjustment took place with the impact.
PTSD. It's not that you consciously fall to the ground in a heap with every blast. It's that with every surprise, every other surprise flashes back. Pow, pow, pow, whatif, whatif, whatif.
But I didn't.
I can't name what I feel. Joy that he is okay. Joy that I hear joy in his writing. Everything else, I'm leaving where it is. Won't let it surprise me this time.
Love you, George.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 12:32 PM
We don't know, either universally or individually, exactly what our relationship to the dead is. Individually, it constitutes part of our work, our work of love, not of hate or destruction; we must think through each relationship. We can think of this with the help of writing, if we know how to write, if we dare to write. Also with the help of dreams: they give us the marvelous gift of constantly bringing back our dead alive, with the result that at night we can talk with our dead. Each of us, individually and freely, must do the work that consists of rethinking what is your death and my death, which are inseparable. Writing originates from this relationship. In what is often inadmissable, contrary, terribly dangerous, and risks turning into complacency--which is the worst of all crimes: It originates here.
--Helene Cixous, Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 11:17 AM
There is, it seems, a constant undercurrent of rumination in the blogworld over how much we say about ourselves, how much we tell, what we show, how far we go, what we don’t disclose, what we hide, where we pull up.
In other words: how public should we be?
I’m noted for being a blogger who’s pretty public, open, honest. I think I am. I hope so, because practicing being real in my blogging has helped me become moreso in my offline life… One feeds the other. I gain insight from the things I say here, insight that helps me be more real with myself.
My archives are testimony to me, they are me looking into my own rear view mirror, thinking things like: “What was I THINKING?” or “Wow, yes, it was like that,” or “I can’t believe I wrote that out loud…How many people read it?” The pattern of re-examination informs me. I grow because of it.
I think too many bloggers get trapped in a catch-22 over self-exposure, though. They start out with a few self-telling, honest, often painful posts, and suddenly put pressure on themselves to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth in all manner of all things on their blogs. Some of us who tend toward very public expression of very private places begin to feel an unreasonable responsibility for 24/7 exposure. Even begin to resent blogging. And who wouldn’t.
Perhaps pure-personal-truth-telling can be sustained, but does it need to? Who puts the pressure on—our readers or ourselves?
Unless we’re going to live here, naked, all of us, with a real time voice recording of the goings on inside our heads and hearts, we can’t sustain the open-wound model. And we shouldn’t have to.
At the same time, I’ve cycled through the next part of the honesty phase many times. The next phase is where I pull up. Don’t really have anything to say. Start thinking of deep dark secrets to reveal because the need to name and share these things is still present, but I’ve already told you most of what I want to tell you about the place I’m in.
Generally from there, I gravitate toward humor and absurdity, because that is a universal language. And even in those things, my state of mind is revealed to you.
We don’t need to share everything, you and I.
The important part for me is not writing about those edgy, private, risky places. It’s writing from those places. I have said that before. When deeply personal and volatile things—real or imagined—are going on in my life, my inclination is to share them here. But not always. What I do, when life issues are too close to the bone to share, is use the energy and passion and, yes, even panic, to drive what I write here.
You see, so, it’s not writing about the events, it’s letting the associated emotions wash over you, digging down into them, and then writing from that place. Stepping down, as Cixous would say.
So maybe this post is my way of saying to those who have been wondering whether or not they’ve gone too far--those who are anxious about what they’ve written, not written, who knows, who doesn’t—that you can use that very angst to power your writing. Even when you’re not writing about your current state of mind and heart, we can feel when you’re writing from it. Every single time.
Well, that’s how I do it. Or try to.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 8:45 AM