Tuesday, July 11, 2017

eve of 28

It's the eve of my 28th birthday and I just need to write. I don't know what about. But, here it is.

27 hasn't been my favorite year.
Not because it wasn't eventful. It was the most eventful year of my existence. I had a baby. A beautiful, perfect baby who is strong and opinionated and incredible. And I am so so honored to have been the person to bring her into the world. But, nonetheless, 27 has not been my favorite year.

This was a year of a lot of transition, a lot of unknown, a lot of pain. A lot of physical pain and a lot of emotional and spiritual pain. I wondered and questioned and doubted and hoped. I felt sharp pains in my abdomen and my legs felt tired after walking for ten minutes. My body grew and expanded with a new life inside of me while I watched my country make a huge huge huge mistake. And now this little life is in the world and that scares the $hit out of me.

I don't know what's going on in the world. Everything feels a little bit off and a little bit wonky. I'm not doing what I've been doing the majority of my adult life and that is scary too. Suddenly I am fully responsible for another whole entire life. Should I have brought her into the world at this moment in history? I don't know. I think about that literally every day.

But there was a voice inside me that was screaming screaming screaming out, telling me she needed to be here.

And now here she is.

And my house is a disaster. Nothing is ever put away. Even though we clean all the time. It's like once something is clean, the other something is dirty again. There's laundry everywhere. I literally never put my clothes away because I just don't have the time or the inclination. If I have a second that doesn't involve taking care of my beautiful little girl, I sure as hell don't want to spend it putting the laundry away. I'd rather hang out with Ryan or take a fricken shower.

I miss the stage. I miss the stage. so. much. And I know I'll go back. I will. I've always known I will. But, being away from it is really really hard right now. It's been a little bit over a year since I performed last but somehow it feels like ten years.

In some ways, I feel like my life had to sort of fall apart to bring this little woman into the world. Pieces of me are sort of scattered all over the place. There's that dramatic writing book that I bought that I'm dying to read but haven't started yet. There's my rolled up yoga mat in the corner that I'm dying to take to a studio. My website is still up, begging for a new headshot. That breast pump is just laying on the floor because I have to go use it every day so I can make more milk for my baby. My favorite jeans cut into my once rock solid stomach. My dreams of directing float around in my brain, poking me, prodding me, every day.

And then there's that little precious perfect baby that I GREW IN MY BODY. With her perfect dark blue eyes and her smile that takes over her entire face and the way that she sighs but it sounds like she's saying, "uh huh." And the pieces of my life stare back at me as I stare at her. There they all are. All the pieces. And I'm there, in the midst of them. I'm there, somewhere.

Who knows what the pieces will look like at 28. Who knows what the new whole is going to look like. I don't know what the new whole will look like, but I do know that someday, that whole is going to be bigger and broader and deeper and sadder and more joyful than any other Alissa there's ever been.

And maybe that's it. Maybe that's what I want to say.
Maybe that's the point.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

can't even

I had a baby on International Women's Day - a beautiful, perfect baby girl named Brynlee. In some ways, I feel like a completely different person. My world has been turned completely upside down. I was expecting this but you never ever know how it's actually going to feel until it takes place. The whole I'd-lay-down-in-front-of-a-moving-train-for-this-tiny-human brand of love that people talk about? Yeah it's so so real.

But, at least for me, eleven whole days postpartum, it's not quite that simple. My world has not only been turned upside down, my body has gone through upheaval. After 29 hours (maybe I'll write about that next time), my body delivered my daughter and promptly transitioned into the next phase of motherhood. And let me tell you, this stuff is not for the faint of heart. They told me I'd be weepy, but good god, I didn't expect this. Yesterday, after a long day with my girl of what felt like constant feeding and feeding and feeding, Ryan walked in the door after work and I just started bawling. For no reason. Literally no reason. Then after I calmed down (barely), an ice cream truck drove down our street and all the neighborhood kids came outside to buy ice cream and I stepped out to watch and started weeping again. I didn't even know ice cream trucks were still a thing. And they still play the same song. Are you serious? There is so much good in this world and there is a friggen ice cream truck driving down my street and all the cute kiddos can buy ice cream in front of their house and they'll never forget it and someday Brynlee will run outside and buy ice cream and I'M NOT CRYING YOU'RE CRYING.

Several times over the last week and a half, I've just looked at my baby and then looked at Ryan and been so completely overwhelmed with being so in love that I can't even. I used to say "I can't even" but that wasn't true. It wasn't true until now. Now, I literally cannot.

Today we went to Whole Foods to get lunch and a couple things we needed and just to get out of the house for a while, and after a few minutes in the store, I started to have a panic attack. Don't ask me why. I don't know. I rushed outside with my water and the clif bar I had stashed in my bag while Ryan finished up buying stuff and I had to remind myself, "You are safe, you are okay, you are safe, you are loved." I'm sure part of the reason was because I had only had a yogurt to eat up until that point and it was 1:00 in the afternoon. I have to remind myself to eat a LOT more when I'm breastfeeding, especially when my baby is a little bear and wants to eat all the time. Be it hormonal or due to lack of sustenance, it was a hard moment.

This afternoon, I was feeling super annoyed at how much I literally just sit holding my baby while she eats eats eats eats eat. And as I scrolled through Instagram, I saw a picture my friend posted - a picture of her with her arm around her friend, a mother that had to deliver her baby two months early. And now that sweet one lb, fourteen oz. baby will be in the nicu for the next two months to finish growing. I saw that and, again, I started to cry. I sat there cuddling my nearly eight pound baby, so so incredibly thankful that she is perfectly perfect and I am home with her and can feed her myself and she is doing amazingly well.

I'm feeling overwhelmed with love but also overwhelmed with a whole lot of other things. I've never felt so anxious while driving or so aware of all the stupid drivers around. I've never felt so completely out of control of my own emotions. Every single other mom that I've talked to about this has said to me, "This is so completely normal," and I cannot tell you how much better that makes me feel. Kindness and understanding and patience go a long way.

As do visits from your mom, even when they're just to deliver lunch.
As do sunflowers and a box of brownies when you can't even. Thank you, Ryan. I don't know what I would do without you.

All this to say - hi. I'm here. I'm figuring out this new me and it's scary and wonderful and really intense. But I am thankful for the kindness and love surrounding me.

Be kind to each other. Everyone is fighting a hard battle. Even when the battle is the best battle they've ever fought.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

the weight

Yesterday, women (and men that love them) around the world marched in solidarity with each other. It was truly an amazing thing to watch as pictures and videos of hundreds of thousands of people across every continent rallying together sprung up all over the internet. It was such an exciting day.

The day before - the dreaded day - I was feeling so torn about going to the march in my city. I sat in front of my computer, avoiding listening to or watching what was taking place in Washington. It felt so gross. So wrong. How did we get here? Is this real? Is 1984 finally a reality? Is this the apocalypse? Why even try anymore? What's the point? What's it all for? Why keep going? My couch is cozy so why ever get up? **drama**

Okay, maybe it wasn't that extreme. I try to stop myself from fully going down that mental path. But, let's be real, it wouldn't be take that much to get me there.

I wanted to march. I really did. It felt important. It felt right.

But, also, I was scared. Really scared. What if some crazy pyscho tries to hurt us? What if this peaceful protest turns into something dangerous? **actual thoughts**

Also, I'm 33 weeks pregnant. 33. weeks. pregnant. I'm a month & a half away from giving birth. I get winded walking through the grocery store for crying out loud. My relatively small body has done an amazing job at growing this baby so far but it's also been telling me lately, "Hey, you gotta lay low. We are on the home stretch here. Chill. We gotta cook this baby a few more weeks."

I was really really torn.
I decided to march.
Then I decided not to march.
I wanted to march for myself and for my girl.
But, what if something happened?
I wanted to not march for myself and for my girl.
I decided not to march.
Then, I didn't know.

Call it my first "lesson" in parenthood. Deciding which sacrifice for my little girl was more important.

This is undoubtedly a moment in history that will be remembered for a generations and I want to be able to say that I was an active participant in it. I want my daughter to know that her mama stood up for her when she couldn't yet stand up for herself. Also, I need to take care of her safety. This little Beeb is not even out in the world yet and she's already having me make tough decisions! What is this?! (how am I allowed to be a parent)

So, I sat in inner conflict, as the inauguration inevitably took place, wondering what was the right thing to do. Instead of deciding to march or not to march, I made a donation in my girl's name to the Obama Foundation. That felt good. That felt right.

Ultimately, at the urging of my dear friend Megan, after hearing my concerns, I decided to go to the rally at the end of the march instead of actually marching. It seemed like a happy medium. So, my feminist husband (geez I like him) and I drove downtown, walked ten blocks (which was nearly my limit) to the Capitol Building and joined the tens of thousands of women & men that love them in rallying together. There were pink pussy cat hats & little kids & old kids and assurances everywhere that the future is still bright. That future generations are not doomed to administrations that disrespect women & minorities and that call outright lies "alternative facts." Yesterday helped me believe that the pendulum actually does swing towards justice. It helped remind me that I am bringing my little girl into a world where people will still speak up for her. Simply showing up at the end of the Women's March in Sacramento yesterday was enough to put some light back into my perspective. And for that, I am glad I made the decision I did.

This is a really scary time. It's a scary time for me, it's a scary time for my country. But, all is not lost. And as the Sacramento mayor told us all yesterday, "Peaceful does not mean complacent."

The little girl inside me that nudges & rolls & pushes into my ribs every single day reminds me she is already strong. But, she is yet voiceless, as so many others are. She needs me. The voiceless need me and need us.

Sometimes I feel voiceless.
Sometimes, the literal weight of life inside me prevents me from marching.
That's why I need you. That's why we need each other.