My. Ribs.

It’s like inflating
a 17-inch balloon
inside a 12-inch barrel
made of popsicle sticks.

This balloon won’t pop.

Tension increases.
Pressure persists.

What is the breaking point?

When will the popsicle sticks

She has strong feet
or hands; I guess at
whatever moves inside.

Dad watches and feels
pokings and undulations
in thrilling unpredictabilities.

We three toss and turn throughout
the night. We want comfort in
limited space. Dad, though, does it
while sleeping.

She crowds my
intestines, stomach,
my lungs, bladder. To breathe
is to live; to poop is
to breathe. To pee means
not sleeping.

A little human–filling more
with brains and blood and
fatty tissue and a pumping heart;
with personality; with
muscles that make fists and smiles
and curiosity;
with life and joy and beauty–
as I lie on my side
pulls my ribs down,

stretching bone and
cartilage and my
threshold for pain
and my capacity
to love.

This barrel has already burst.

Neighborhood Sad

This past Sunday at church, the bishop announced from the pulpit that the son of a family in the ward was playing soccer last week and suddenly collapsed. The boy’s family took him to the hospital. The bishop said if anyone spoke Spanish in the ward, the family would appreciate a visit.

Wednesday nights, I go out with the Relief Society presidency to visit women who have recently moved into the ward. We introduce ourselves to these ladies, and we welcome them to the ward and reassure them of our desire to be their friends.

Tonight, while we were getting into the Relief Society president’s car to make some visits, the second counselor reminded me of the bishop’s announcement and said she received an email saying that the boy had passed away. She also said that because the family had spent so much time at the hospital looking after their son, both of the parents lost their jobs. It’s bad enough to have bills you can’t pay for, but for that to add another layer to a pile of grief and sorrow just breaks my heart.

The boy was 11 years old. It’s so much harder to get through sadness without answers or explanation. But I guess that the family isn’t really thinking about getting through it right now so much as feeling it. Feeling helpless, alone, crushed. Feeling angry, lost, numb.

I want to do something for the family, and going to the funeral doesn’t even seem an earnest effort at anything. Donate for the funeral or to a fund until parents can find work? Make them dinner? I want to show support. There has to be something more, something demonstrative, something that really matters. I’ll have to pray and ask for inspiration, an outlet for compassion or a way stretch out a hand; I need to see how One knows exactly what this family is feeling right now would do.

He Forgets Not His Own

OVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.
‘A guest,’ I answer’d, ‘worthy to be here:’
Love said, ‘You shall be he.’
‘I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on Thee.’
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
‘Who made the eyes but I?’
‘Truth, Lord; but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.’
‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘Who bore the blame?’
‘My dear, then I will serve.’
‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste my meat.’
So I did sit and eat.

“Love” – George Herbert

I just sat at a table and feasted until I could feast no more. I’m always a little shy around strangers, but they didn’t turn me away. There was comfortable conversation and laughter, and while I wasn’t with any relatives, I felt like I was with family. Though I may have inwardly resisted, because this family’s brand of crazy is a little bit different than to what I am accustomed, I accepted the invitation. The host gave me grace, and I sat down.

So hopefully goes the time when I come to Love’s table. (Except after feasting at Love’s table, I don’t get merciless heartburn and my host has to give me medicine to relieve the pressure. I feel a lot better after a couple hours.)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I am so very grateful for all of you. I have my reasons, which I’m also grateful for. 🙂

Dissection, Part 1

I’m somewhat a reactionary person. What’s on the surface sometimes has nothing to do with what’s just below the surface, which usually has a lot to do with what’s deeper.

This particular journey started a year and a half ago, when I had this reaction to some news I received.

It started to end a week and a half ago, when I arrived in Utah. Before I left Florida, I emailed my biological father, asking him what his plans are, and that I had an appointment to talk with an immigration lawyer on Tuesday, June 22.

When the plane landed in Salt Lake City, I texted Biodad, asking him if he was still in the country, and that if he didn’t respond to the text or my email within the next day I would cancel the appointment.

Within the next hour he texted back, saying that he was still in the country, and that he’d be moving back to the Philippines for good in December. He asked when a good time to call would be. I told him Saturday afternoon.

I was hopeful about not meeting with the lawyer.

The next day was Friday. I woke up early to meet with a friend on campus. Later that afternoon Biodad called, and I answered. He asked me if I would still meet with the lawyer and ask about how much the services would cost, and if they were too expensive, he’d go back to the Philippines.

Maybe I should back up a little bit.

A few months earlier, he asked me for a favor, and over the phone, he sounded pretty bashful. He knows I recently obtained American citizenship, and he wanted to know if I would do a paternity test with him so that he could use his blood relationship as grounds to apply for a green card.

He said he didn’t want it to be like he was using me.

He expressed absent-father guilt, saying if he could stay in the United States, he’d be able to spend time with me. He’d help me pay for school, he’d buy me this thing or that thing. He’d pay for the paternity test.

I told him I would think about it.

At the beginning of my New York/Florida trip, which was the beginning of May, I scheduled an appointment with an immigration lawyer. The consultation was free; it would be useful. I texted Biodad, but he did not respond.

So a week and a half ago, when we were talking on the phone, his quality time with me is suddenly conditional. Lawyers are expensive. Obtaining a green card is expensive.

His efforts to maintain contact have not been consistent. In the past year and a half, eight straight months lapsed without a single call or text.

Six months ago, after Christmas, he sent me a Christmas text. He called a few weeks later to explain his silence: his wife was visiting from the Philippines.

And last month? when I was debating to go forward with the lawyer and didn’t hear from him until a week and a half ago? One of his daughters was in town (somewhere in Alabama), pregnant. She gave birth to a baby girl on May 15.

When people stop talking to me, I think either it’s because they’re trying not to lie to me outright, or they’ve abandoned me, stopped caring about me, somehow helped create the dark vacuum that I’ve been sucked into. This is a sick (unhealthy) way to react, I know, but I grew up in a very noncommunicative family. The wounds run deep.

I mean, of course life happens. People get absorbed, focused, busy. On a fundamental level, I understand that. But the reality of it is, when he doesn’t have time to talk to me because he has a wife – who is not my mother – visiting, and when he doesn’t respond to something he thought was important – AND that he INITIATED – because his daughter and brand new baby granddaughter are immediately present, his intentions weaken. I can no longer hold him to his word. His promises dissolve into nothing. He simply cannot divide his attention. He’s already let me down too many times to expect that. Another chance is out of the question.

And then – and THEN – he reminded me that last Sunday was Fathers’ Day. Then, just to be spiteful, I reminded him he forgot my birthday. He said that wouldn’t happen again.

I didn’t end up calling him on Fathers’ Day. I may not be a very good person sometimes or even a good daughter, but I am not his daughter, at least in the same sense that he is not my father.

Last Tuesday, I met with the lawyer, and she said some things that made a lot of sense and brought great clarity to the situation. She ended up saving me money and further grief. We shook hands, and I left her office. Before I could exit the building, sobs ambushed me, similar to how I reacted a year and a half ago. I stepped outside and took a deep breath, then I walked the four blocks in the bright sunshine to the bus stop.

A Few Peripheral but not Insignificant Events This Weekend

In which the Free Kayaking lead volunteer gathered us to explain the waiver:

“So, I see we have a child here.”

I looked around to see who brought a kid.

He was looking at me.


In which I ran down the escalator to catch the train home this morning:

I jumped from the last few steps to the platform.

But not far enough. Caught the last step as it sank into the floor.

Landed funny on my ankle. Rolled it.

It bent funny.

It hurt.

I swore. “$#!&!!”

I limped.

Subway doors closed. Missed the train.

Still limping.

Trying to keep it together for when my roommate moves back to Utah:

This is not successful at all.

Eyes are tearing up a lot.

She leaves Wednesday.

In which righteous people just can’t keep it together:

Sometimes the world makes me so freaking mad.

In which Mondays are quite possibly the worst day of the week:

See just above.

Then, other things.

In which this post went way south:

Sorry about that, y’all.