i have a lot of feelings

feelings

Ever since being pregnant, and birthing a baby, and being a mom, there’s a lot of extra hormones raging around inside my body. I cry a lot. I’ve always cried– like at the movies or on the NYC Subway. But now I cry more, and from the faintest hint of any commercial involving babies (the first time Giles successfully put Cheerios in his mouth I cried retroactively at every Cheerios commercial I’ve ever seen). When we first brought Giles home I cried every evening at 5:00 sharp. For two months.

Sometimes I am crying about more than what it appears I am crying about.

Luckily, Greg often seems to understand exactly what it is I’m really upset about. Sometimes he doesn’t know, so he asks. Sometimes he puts a bowl of cereal in front of me because he knows I am actually just hungry.

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sometimes

sometimes

other times

Being a mom is so complex. I am so in love, and deep parts of myself that have been waiting are coming to the surface and blooming. Being a mom is something I’ve always wanted.

But there are moments, sometimes whole days, when I feel completely overwhelmed and like my whole existence is dedicated to this tiny human and there’s none left over for me.

Sometimes I cry a lot.

Sometimes Giles smiles and my whole being melts.

Sometimes I want to ask for help and I don’t know how. Or I want so badly to figure it out for myself, do it my own way, that I just don’t want anyone’s help.

I try to take a few minutes each day to do something that makes me feel like myself. And I try to let other people help me. It’s good for Giles and me to have breaks from each other, for him to be with other people and for me to be by myself. I’ve always needed alone time and being a mom doesn’t make that go away.

I’m still navigating this. How to be a mom and be a wife and be me and be an artist and do all the things. We’ll figure it out. As a family. I think I’m doing pretty okay so far.

 

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.

 

 

 

holding it in my hand

I finished the cancer comic book. With the help of a really lovely woman named Kate Barber and the Publication Studio at the Williams College Museum of Art, it is printed and bound and is a real live book I can hold in my hands.

adventures of a left breast

I want to cry. The intense joy of seeing the physical result of seven years of work plus the deep sadness of my mom not being here, not seeing this, and the sadness of everything we’ve gone through… seeing it and holding it I want to cry.

Reading the first part of this book, my mom’s part, is the only thing that makes me feel close to her right now. When other people tell me they dream about her or feel her presence I get mad, because I don’t feel it. It’s too much for me to feel it, or she just isn’t here, and I’m so mad, because she’s not here and she’ll never be here again.

But she’s in this book. At least, a part of her is. 2007 Viola is here, and I remember all these scenes. Reading her story in her own voice with her drawings and collages and handwriting is comforting and devastating at the same time.

We made this together. And I finally finished it.

Now that it’s a real live book, organized and formatted, I’m going to send copies out to publishers and hope it gets made into a book you can actually buy in stores, at comics festivals, and on the internet. I’ll let you know when that happens. (Incidentally, if you are a comics publisher reading this, feel free to contact me.)

work-in-process

I’m in the middle of a lot of new things. Writing, comics, things without a label yet. Here’s a look at my desk right now:

comics in progress

 

Hopefully I will have more to share with you soon. But it’s this in-process place that I love. And it’s necessary. The ideas need to marinate, I do one thing at a time, eventually the final product becomes clear. It’s the same way with being a person. You don’t know what all the little things are going to add up to until after. And you have to feel the uncertain feelings.

I’m also doing the important work of being a fiancee, like making pinterest boards, reading wedding blogs, talking giddily to family and friends, looking at Greg with doe eyes, visiting venues together, talking about music and food. It’s an interesting place to be– a fiancee. The only time I’ll be one, and for just a year, until I become a wife.

 

november 11

The first time I drank Boddingtons was on a freezing February night in Syracuse in 2007. I had taken a Chinatown bus from New York that that arrived in a dark parking lot where Lee was waiting for me. We went to a crowded pub for dinner and he ordered two beers. “This will change you life,” he said.

My mom had very recently been diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time and Lee was the only person I wanted to talk to about it. I ignored all the calls coming to my cell phone that weekend– friends wanting to see if I was okay, because they’d heard from someone else about my mom. Lee and I walked around campus throwing snowballs at each other. We watched a soccer game on TV– the only soccer game I’ve ever actually watched. Argentina was playing. Lee made crepes for breakfast.

My bus back to New York left at 2am on Sunday from the same dark parking lot.

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March 10th, April 18th, September 6th and November 11th.

Those are the birth and death dates of two people I have lost. I always know when those days are coming, always feel it about a week away and it hangs on for a few days after. I want to do something momentous on those days and I also want to crawl into a cave of blankets and hide. Nothing I do is ever satisfying or important enough, and I never feel better.

Tonight I’m going to drink Lee’s favorite beer and try to just feel the shitty feelings and remember as many memories as possible. It’s never going to be fair or okay.