Sunday, April 9, 2017

Evicted

Evicted is getting a hand-written form under your door, unsurprisingly because your superintendent told you it was coming, but reading the crumpled pages for clues for what your life will be like now. Evicted is cinderblock walls and freight elevators up to a storage unit that is four degree Celsius, we're all shivering in April as we load in box after box after box. Evicted is passing your upstairs neighbour without saying hello, because they get to stay in their home and you're out like last night's pizza box. Evicted is wondering if there was anything you can go, how much fight you can fight, that little brainworm that wonders if this, despite paying your rent on time and never blasting your music and being generally pleasant, is somehow your fault. Evicted is house-hunting in a city with a 1.4% vacancy rate, where the average rent went up by $300 in 2016, where we've applied for three houses and gotten none of them. 

Evicted is also walking through your apartment, the apartment that was your son's first home, where he learned to eat and sit up and crawl and say his first words, where your husband would snuggle with a sleeping newborn while he watched horror movies and you slept, where there were dozens of sink baths and the baby's first Halloween, his first Christmas, his birth day and his first birthday, where you laboured in the shower and in the living room and over two interminable nights, where you meet this person who is now in your bloodstream, and evicted is weeping because you have to close the door on those spaces and never see them again.

Evicted is fighting with your husband because we don't know where to go, where to live, how to live, and because there is no union in your wants, there is wanting in your union. Evicted is dancing in your mother-in-law's kitchen, swinging the baby over your head with a smile on your face and then bursting into tears as you spin him low, because while her house is beautiful, it's not your home. Evicted is resenting her beige walls, not because they're beige, but because you don't have any walls of your own.

Evicted is grief, the loss of a home, a house, an address. Evicted is suspending magazine subscriptions and using your in-laws as a mailing address. It's suitcases on the floor, lined up and lids neatly flipped down so things look tidy. It's a milk crate that doubles as a bedside table, and a pile of things—books, cards, an iPod, a jar full of markers—that make you feel safe. Evicted is not knowing where you packed the library books.

Evicted is anger, rage, frustration, hopelessness. It's low morale and wild mood swings. It's spending rent money on things that might make you feel okay, because when you're staying with your in-laws, you don't have to pay rent, so it feels like there's some windfall. Evicted is thinking about ways to pay them back for a month (maybe more, hold your breath) of free lodgings. Evicted is hearing the baby cry in the middle of the night and getting out of bed as fast as you can, because you don't want to disturb everyone's sleep. It's whisper-fighting, it's long silences, it's sleeping on opposite sides of your double mattress. It's undereye bags and eye twitches. It's long walks to get out of the house. It's cooking in someone else's kitchen, keeping everything so clean, so neat, please don't notice we're here, please don't be mad at the space we're taking up.

Evicted is an unexpected rush of shame, of embarrassment. It's another thing in a line of things—sick parents, bad births—that make you wonder, "Is this a bad time, or do I have a bad life?" It's wondering if you have done something to deserve this, and if so, how to reverse it. It's trying to remember if you've stolen stones from scared burial grounds, and if so, which ones. It's thinking about how you will talk to your son about why you had to leave his first home. It's being blessed that people took us—him—in. It's an emotion so loud and unshaped, roaring and buffeting the inside of your head, that it deafens you everything else, joy especially. It is trying to figure out how this story ends, and not having an answer.

Evicted is more than storage units, more than boxes, more than crashing at the in-laws, more than moving. It is fear. It is heartbreak. It is rage.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Where We're At

My life is basically on fire right now: between 24/7 childcare duties, part-time work that is just a weensy bit unboundaried, being evicted, househunting, the snowstorm, a baby who is learning how to walk/unlearning how to sleep, and also the general day-to-day grind of it being almost, but not quite, the end of winter...I am tired. I think I'm actually doing okay, emotionally, right now, but I'm also looking forward to having my midlife crisis/breakdown sometime in the next 18 months. Once we get unpacked, of course.

Anyway, because this blog is my neglected friend who still loves me despite the fact that I never call and never write, and when I do show I'm all disheveled and distracted, I'm here to write a very haphazard list of things that are sustaining me, or non-mom things I'm thinking about, through this tire-fire of a financial quarter.

1. Soma chocolate. I keep some gingerbread toffee from Christmastime beside my bed, and every now and then I remember it's there, and I eat two glorious bites. (Don't be fooled into thinking I'm some sort of chocolate aesthete, though. I mainline a Cadbury's bar every other day. "Why can't I lose this baby weight?" It's a mystery, truly.)

2. The New Yorker. My ability to read any kind of book is basically nonexistent right now, so I lean heavily on The New Yorker to make me feel smart. Their arts writing in particular is such a luscious, nourishing slice of heaven—last year's profile of Michael Heizer, the recent profile of Catherine Opie, even the interview with Jack White (in which he talks about the talismanic power of three in his creative practice); all are helping me stumble forward in my own self-conception as an artist. I realize that this sounds self-indulgent at best and insane at worst, but after a decade of saying "I want my spaces to look this way, I want my clothes to tell this story," I'm starting to realize that I can recast all that as being in service to a larger through-line in life, and that feels pretty delicious.

3. I'm currently running a March Madness-style poll on my Facebook page, in which I attempt to goad my friends into narrowing a list of 32 films down into the Ultimate Feel-Good Movie. It's so much fun.

4. The third Baby Dance Party is coming up this weekend, and I'm getting a new phone from my earnings. Lord knows I've made my poor Galaxy Nexus suffer long enough. I will miss you, little friend. Remember that one time someone posted a picture of a spider on Twitter and it scared me so bad I dropped you on the bathroom floor and cracked your poor screen? And instead of replacing it or feeling bad, I then just thought of it as being "a reason not to take my phone if I got mugged"? That was very silly. Also, your camera was terrible.

5. I am feeling all these feelings about my body, which is basically: Okay, now I am a fat mom, so what am I going to to about it? Because right now, in this season of my life, I don't have the time or the space to work out. Normally, I exercise at home, but it's hard to do on a hardwood floor that creaks like a fucking horror movie all day long, because just breathing weird from two rooms over will wake this baby up, so forget about a floor that makes it sound like a pile of lumber falling off the side of a boat. And the snow and the cold make it very unappealing to do long summer-style walks. And I eat chocolate all the time. And muffins. And brownies. And I'm not exactly mad at it, but I am just very aware that the longer this shape and weight lingers, the tougher it will be to dispense of it. And I'm just so body-tired all the time. My back hurts. My wrists hurt. I am not in dance- or yoga-shape. I am unbendy. It's shitty, because two years ago I was in the best damn shape of my entire life, and I knew it, but I took it for granted. I can get it back. And now? I am...not. And I can't figure out which reserves to draw from to make the changes, because it feels like all my reserves are tapped.

6. Building on #2, Abstract, on Netflix, has been so inspiring and cool. I love how confident all these designers are; like, they show up, and they do their jobs—well, because they're at the top of their game—and they're pretty humble but not falsely so, and the stories that they tell are just astounding. I need a push, a change, a new direction. I love being a mom and being a writer, but I want to change the shape of the world. So: How?