haven’t had the baby yet

We’re getting really close. It could be any day now. My due date is May 7.

Every day I wonder, will it happen today? Is that a contraction? Do I have to poop or is it the baby? Every time I go to the bathroom I check for blood and mucus. (TMI? Sorry not sorry. Pregnancy is gross!)

In the mornings I wait patiently for Smokey’s first movements, thumps to remind me that he’s in there, he’s hungry, and he’s pressing on my very full bladder. We’re still tied together in this body, cocooned and connected, snug and warm. It’s me and Smokey, Greg and me, all three of us savoring our last bit of time in this particular way of being a family that is about to change.

On the street people say things like, “You haven’t popped yet?” and “When is the baby coming?”

I DON’T KNOW HE’LL BE BORN WHEN HE’S BORN. YES I KNOW I AM HUGE. I’d rather they said, “Can I buy you a coffee/cookie/ice cream?” Yes. Yes you can. Thank you for your support.

Mostly I don’t go out much because then I’d have to climb three flights of stairs to get back into my apartment.

My dreams get stranger. My back gets more sore. My “productive hours” each day get smaller. I stop making plans. I cross off days on the calendar.

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Eating. Peeing. Waiting.

Talking to Smokey. Moving the furniture around in the kitchen because I’m “nesting.” Napping with my sweet sweet cats who keep their eyes on me, pat my belly, stay close at my heels. They know. They are watching out for me. I start reading a 900 page novel I have no idea if I will be able to finish because do people even have time or energy for reading when they have a newborn?

These are the days right before. The last days. The days out of time. I’ve always loved in-betweens.

 

 

3 years

me with guitar (to match pic of mama)mama playing guitar.jpeg

The week before my mom died, my friend Leah took the top photo of me. It was inspired by the photo underneath of my mom playing guitar on her bed when she was a teenager. I’d been wanting to recreate that photo with myself as the subject for a while, and since Leah (who is a professional photographer) was in town, we thought it was a good opportunity to finally do it.

A few days later my mom died. April 18, 2013 was the strangest, longest, and hardest day. There were things we had to do, so we did them.

Three years later, yesterday, it’s still really strange and uncomfortable, my insides felt itchy and out of place. My emotions flipped around from sad to calm to angry to cranky to trying to shut down.

Three years in the After. Baby Smokey rolling and kicking in my belly, getting ready to come out. I wonder if he will have her ears.

eating, eating all the time

eating

As soon as I finish eating, I want to eat again. I don’t know if it’s the baby getting bigger in these last weeks, needing more calories, or if it’s just comfortable to eat a bunch of small things one after the other all day. Eating right before bed helps me to rest. I don’t really sleep much, but I can stay in bed longer in the morning if my stomach isn’t growling. I don’t think a lot about what I’m eating further than what feels right in the moment. It’s all I can do. Sometimes if I see a picture of something, like pancakes, then I HAVE TO HAVE PANCAKES as soon as possible. Or the baby will tell me what he wants, which is often cheese or toast or popcorn or something sweet but undefinable.

ten years (technically eleven?)

Reflecting on the past decade of my life, as I prepare to turn 31 in a month and a half, and I felt the need to put photos of myself from each year next to each other. In some ways I think my face looks the same, and in other ways it looks totally different. Internally, I changed a lot during these years and it’s interesting to see how that affected me externally.

I’m not exactly sure why I need to do this. But it feels necessary somehow. Who was I then? Who am I now? What changed from 27 to 28, when I lost my mom and also fell in love with Greg? Why is this first adult decade so important? As I go from “young woman” to “regular adult/mom” there’s this desire to look back and remember who I have been so far and how I got here.

Me, ages twenty to thirty:

20:
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21:
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22:
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23:
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24:
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25:
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26:
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27:
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28:
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29:
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30:
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rocking chair

unnamed-1

Last weekend we brought this rocking chair from my dad’s house to our apartment. It’s the same rocking chair my parents rocked me in when I was a baby, and now we’re going to rock little Smokey in it.

I don’t know when they got it, or where from, but it’s traveled from house to house, and across the country with us. It used to be a shiny finished wood, which my mom sanded down and painted a dark teal. Now that paint is faded and scraped, so maybe we will sand it down again and paint it a new color. The pillows on it were covered by my mom with scraps of velvet and painted fabric from a studio she worked at one year.

It’s April now. In 10 days it will be the 18th, the three year anniversary of my mom’s death. I don’t know what it will be like this year. Three years into this new life, and it feels like she should still be here. I dream about her a lot lately– as if it’s regular life, and she’s just here, doing things with me. Last night I dreamt we were planning a trip to Europe together. When I wake up it’s hard to remember that these things didn’t really happen. I walk around all day with a strong sense of missing. I keep falling into the hole.

I don’t want anyone to say, “She’s with you.”
I don’t want anyone to say, “She’s watching over you and the baby.”
I don’t want anyone to say, “She loves you, she’s proud of you.”

I don’t want anyone to say anything about my relationship with my dead mom.

You could tell me about a dream you had about her, or a place you were in that reminded you of her. You can tell me you feel her with you, or a story from when she was alive. You can tell me about the kick-ass cowgirl boots she helped you pick out, or a painting of hers that hangs in your home. Tell me you think of her. Tell me you miss her. Tell me a joke she told you.

If I choose to, I’ll tell you how I feel.

 

 

 

let’s all be nicer

I’ve been a Self-Employed, Full-Time Artist for one month now. I feel lighter. Why is that? I am living my dream, yes. But also there is something I don’t have to worry about anymore.

As much as I loved my job at Images Cinema (and I really loved it, I love that place so much), there was one part that dragged me down: customer service. All the small stresses, worries, annoyances that come with a customer service job can take up a LOT of brain space and emotional energy. Often my stress quotient was maxed out by bad customer interactions and I had no resources left to deal with other life things that needed my attention.

Almost all of my jobs have had a customer service element to them. I worked in customer service in some way since I was fourteen. That’s sixteen years. In those years I have been yelled at, talked down to, grossly hit on, blamed for whatever rule or policy someone was upset about, been verbally abused to the point of tears, denied a tip because someone wanted water that had “never touched ice”, accused of stealing, threatened to be fired, been called a fascist, been called the c-word, had a four page letter written to my bosses about me, and sat next to a coworker who was literally SPIT AT through a box office window.

Not everyone is mean. Of course not! There are a lot of really wonderful, amazing, thoughtful, kind people out there who are customers. But there are some that are not. And those some make a really big difference.

It’s easy. Just be nicer. Remember that the person serving you at the restaurant, cafe, retail store, movie theater, etc. is a human being just like you. They are doing their best. They are probably making minimum wage. They are probably tired. Fifteen other people have probably been mean to them today. They most likely have at least one other job to support themselves. There is a more thoughtful way to state your complaint. It is probably not this person’s fault. Also, especially at a cinema or theater or other entertainment venue, you are there to have a good time. Why make the people working there miserable?

I’m not trying to offend anyone by sharing this. It’s just that when you are in the position of working customer service, you can’t really say anything for fear of driving the customer away. You can get in trouble with bosses, even lose your job. But the customer is not always “right.”

So please, let’s all just be better humans to each other.

 

my becoming (at images cinema)

Ce_UPQAW8AEt858.jpg-large.jpeg This is a photo of me at the opening reception for my current exhibit: My Becoming. The description I hung on the wall reads as follows:

I am about to have a baby. As of this show hanging I am eight months pregnant– my due date is May 7, a week after I take the show down.

This is my first exhibit as an unemployed person. That is to say, I am now a Full Time Artist, my dream of many years. I am grateful for these two months as a full time artist, as I prepare to share that with the role of Full Time Mom. From December 1, 2010 until March 1, 2016 I worked right here at Images Cinema, during the most critical years of my adult life thus far. After leaving New York City and breaking my own heart (it needed to be broken, to let the light in) I moved in with my parents in Bennington for a year, before finding my own place in Williamstown. I found a community here, because of Images, and I stayed, so much longer than I planned to, because there was work to be done on my own self.

During these five-plus years some important things happened: My mom’s cancer resurfaced, and then she died. I met my husband (our first kiss happened right here in this cinema). I got married. I got pregnant.

Starting as a film projectionist, trained under the inimitable Dave Blair, I worked in the little booth upstairs; the most magical place in Williamstown if you ask me. That’s the best job I’ve ever done, something I am very proud and honored to have been a part of. As the theater transitioned to digital projection at the end of 2012 I transitioned to working in the box office, as well as the business office processing memberships and donations, along with learning and taking control of the digital projection system. I’ve been a part of history here, in this 100 year old, continuously run movie theater, something I am incredibly grateful for.

I’ve worked with some really special people here at Images, it’s been an honor to share this space with them. You know them– they program the films, sell you tickets and popcorn, smile when they see you, answer questions, create a unique and lovely movie-going experience, and clean up when you leave. I’m grateful for the work they do, and to have been part of it. Thanks for keeping the magic alive, guys.

These pieces are a mix of drawing and watercolor, little windows into my life. Each one is a different kind of self portrait: coffee cups are me, lemons and cat and wine and mixer.

From Pablo Neruda’s Ode to Things:

Many things conspired
To tell me the whole story.
Not only did they touch me,
Or my hand touched them:
They were
So close
That they were a part of my being,
They were so alive with me
That they lived half my life
and will die half my death.

Okay. Now I’ll waddle my pregnant body into the theater with my large popcorn and sit in the dark and dream some dreams.

Anna Moriarty Lev, April 2016

my becoming, self portrait.jpgmixer and wine bottle.jpgburgers and fries.jpgcitrus fruits.jpgflowers.jpgcats.jpgunnamed-1.jpgunnamed-3.jpg