The Center of the Known Universe

November 23, 2009

My husband's arm is heavy against my ribs as he cuddles me in bed. I stroke his face and we touch noses. My long-haired Siamese, Ling, sensing that I'm awake and cuddling without her, jumps onto the bed and stands at my shoulder. My husband's orange tabby, Abby, not to be left out, leaps onto my legs and stares at me pitifully with a face full of longing. And then baby William awakes within my womb and begins to flail his tiny arms and legs against my belly.

Suddenly, a feeling overwhelms me...the feeling that everyone is vying for my attention, competing for what little I have to give...a feeling I thought was weeks away. And it terrifies me. I freak out and elbow away the cats.

Where am I in all of this? My body is not my own. I have desires, but not the energy to carry them out. I look at the hair piling up on the bathroom floor and think, "I should sweep that," and then I don't. I want my job back; I want to work on my Master's degree...not to be known merely as "the incubator." I want to feel useful, liberated. But I'm stuck, trapped in place by others' needs.

Please, dear readers, take my confession with a grain of salt. I love my baby, and being needed by others is rewarding in its own way. This is just one of the many emotions that I face as motherhood draws near. It's a complicated time. I will go to school and work again, but those prospects are months away. In the meantime, I must put my life on hold and hope that my dreams don't slip away in the process. It's not an easy thing to do.

Advice for New Bloggers

November 18, 2009

No offense to anyone in particular; just had to get this out of my system.

1. You can't gain 30+ followers after publishing your first post.

Attracting followers takes time. Most readers want to see you well established before they commit to following. Many new bloggers abandon their blogs after the first few posts or run out of quality material. If you're serious about blogging, stick with it. Followers will come, but weeks may pass before you see decent numbers.

2. Don't fall for the "I'll follow you if you follow me" trap.

I can almost guarantee that these types of followers aren't reading your blog (which means they won't be leaving comments, either). They are simply using you to try to illegitimately boost their standing within the blogging community. News flash: it never works. Plus, your dashboard will end up cluttered with bad blogs that you'll never read...and the moment you drop them, they'll drop you!

3. Feel free to advertise your blog, but don't beg for readers.

Begging just makes you look desperate and immature, and is usually taken as a sign that the blog's content is sub par. Good writers don't need to beg.

4. Don't insult your target audience.

Seems like a no-brainer, but I've run into more than one blogger who did this routinely, and had few to no followers to show for it. Telling your readers that they're wrong or stupid only (surprise!) alienates them. People read blogs to be informed, entertained, or inspired--not to be lectured or ridiculed.

5. Paragraph spacing, length, grammar, spelling, punctuation, font color, layout and blog design count almost as much as content.

A black background with neon green font may look cool to you, but it's murder on the eyes. (Several fellow bloggers have admitted to me that they refuse to follow any blogs published on a black background, no matter how stellar the content.) Same goes for pastel fonts on a white background, blogs written in size 6 Times New Roman, or huge blocks of text that go on forever. Posts without punctuation, however, are the worst offenders in my book. A period indicates that a sentence (or thought) has ended. If your sentences never end, I cannot process the information--nor will I attempt to. If you want to be a writer, bring something of the craft to the table.

6. Shakespeare hates your emo poems, and so do I.

Yes, we all get it: your life is circling the yawning abyss of angst and darkness. But people can only read so much badly constructed verse about the waves of isolation sweeping over your soul before they want to gouge their eyes out with a shrimp fork. Vary it up once in a while with a fresh perspective or a different topic. Use allegories or metaphors. Better yet, study up on the craft of poetry. A creative rhythm or rhyme scheme, a clever use of vocabulary, or a profound insight can suck me in like a Hoover upright. Otherwise, I'm not interested.

7. Post regularly, but not obsessively.

It's true: the more often you publish, the more often your blog will come up when readers click the "Next Blog" button on the Blogger toolbar. But publishing five times a day isn't going to help you gather followers any faster. In fact, it may actually drive followers away! Many readers follow several blogs at once, and they don't have time to read a blog that features several posts a day. Plus, in my experience, obsessive bloggers tend to quickly run out of quality material, ramble, or publish posts that are too short and utterly meaningless. Quality always trumps quantity in the quest for followers.

8. To gain followers, become a good follower.

Posting sincere comments on other writers' blogs often leads readers to your blog. The key word here is "sincere." Don't use another's comment box simply as advertising space for your own work. Instead, provide positive feedback on what that blogger has written. Doing so will earn you the respect of other bloggers and increase your exposure within the community. In time, fellow bloggers may begin promoting your blog of their own volition.

Keep up the good writing!

Slow Day

Yes, today is a slow day. Not that other days haven't been slow, especially since my pregnancy weighs increasingly heavier on me as each day passes. Slugs probably crawl farther in one day than I have lately. But slugs don't have pelvic bones separating under the weight of their unborn. Can you say, "Ouch"?

I dread getting out of bed in the morning because of stiff body parts that have to move and a bladder that will probably need to be emptied three times in a row before the urge to urinate disappears...if it does so at all.

Also, getting out of bed means the first thing I'll see is my enviable cankles and sausage feet. How uplifting!

My husband is currently sleeping. He reported to his ship this morning, then came home and puked his guts out. Poor guy. Not a great way to start the day.

I've used up almost all of my jewelry-making supplies, so I'm waiting for more to come in the mail. Considering they're being delivered by UPS Ground, there's no telling when they'll arrive. In the meantime, I'm trying to write out thank-you cards for all the people who brought gifts to my baby shower...two weeks ago. I can usually get through 3 or 4 cards before I feel mentally drained and have to stop. I suppose I'll finish them sometime before my unborn son graduates from college.

I'm hoping to leave the apartment sometime today to visit Babies R' Us. I still have a car seat to purchase. I'm feeling a bit anxious to set up the nursery and procure the last of the baby necessities because I feel the birth drawing near. It may not happen this month (God forbid!), but I doubt I will reach my due date in mid January. My husband is obviously nervous about it. He has banned me from uttering the word "contraction" within his hearing.

I suppose I should really start packing that hospital bag...just in case.

Obsession (or Distraction)

November 14, 2009

I know I've mentioned my new obsession of making jewelry a couple of times, so I thought I would post a few photos of my work. I love this hobby because it distracts me from pressing thoughts, provides a creative outlet, and boots my self esteem whenever I sell a piece...all of which is very good for me.

I also thought that you, my dear readers, could use some distraction as well from my weighty writing.

The "Wintergreen" Set

The "Sweet" Set

Necklace to the "Old Lace" Set

Earrings to the "Elegance" Set

The "Classy" Set

The "Black & White" Set

Thanks for reading!

A Fine, A Private Place

November 8, 2009

Home. Home for me right now is Newport News, VA, in a beautiful third-story apartment with granite counter tops and hardly any furniture. Hoping to rectify the furniture situation soon. In the meantime, I'm glad to be here. My soul is no longer out wandering the earth without me.

I'm not feeling quite as hopeless as I did last week. I just get weary of people very easily at times, and visiting family doesn't always conjure up glowing memories of my past life with them. I love my family and often miss them, but their lives have always seemed chronically dramatic. Not Jerry Springer dramatic, mind brother only has one baby's momma, and that's his wife...but dramatic enough to make me grind my teeth on occasion. I also feel guilty whenever I visit because I think I don't get to spend enough time with everyone. (How's that for mixed emotions?)

However, I'm glad to be back in my private place, both inner and outer. As my pregnancy has worn on, I've become quieter and more pensive. Maybe it's the hormones. Or maybe it's my brain's way of trying to grasp the enormity of my impending motherhood. I laid in bed early this morning and thought to myself, "What do I do with a newborn baby?" He'll be so delicate, too helpless to even lift his own head. Do I just hold him all day? Watch him sleep? Or more: will I enter this massive transition in my life with calm patience, or go around tearing at my hair?

Or both?

Seriously, I could care less about BPA in plastic bottles right now or questionable chemicals in the baby's bedding. I have more pressing concerns on my mind equal to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. (So far, the answers appear to be about as illuminating as 42.)

The problem is, weighty tomes equal to the size and volume of those read in college history courses have been published on the subject of childbirth and motherhood, and yet not one of them can tell me anything concrete about my child. Sure, he'll need his diaper changed often and need to eat about every 2 to 3 hours, but no book can tell me how often he'll cry, or if he'll experience colic, or how easily he'll learn to sleep through the night, or anything else that depends on the unique genetics and individual personality of the baby. Essentially, sometime after the delivery, a nurse will hand me my son--a precious, fragile, and totally dependent life--and say, "Just do your best until you figure it out."

And they call it a bundle of joy.


November 4, 2009

I must really despise Tennessee. Every time I come here to visit my family, I end up depressed. Thankfully, today is the last day of our visit. I can't wait to get back to our new home in Virginia.

I love my family and enjoy seeing intimate friends, but every time I come out here, I realize just how much farther I've grown from the people I know. And then I realize that I was never "here" to begin with. All my efforts in high school and college were strategically calculated to eventually take me far away from this place--or at least to encourage others to get out. A weak soul could die in a place like this, and often does. There's little here but abandoned dreams.

I feel so detached, like my real self is out hovering over a lake somewhere while my body sits dumb and empty like a dry husk. What can I say about myself? That the thought of becoming a mother in the next two months scares the hell out of me? That I feel alone in every thought and emotion? That the sight of my husband scarfing a half-dozen fun-sized Kit Kat bars in one sitting sickens and angers me? In the time I've gained 20 pounds, he's gained 30. I want to scream and tear my hair out, fall to the floor and implore him to not take another bite.

I laid in bed early this morning and wept--wept because I felt trapped between my husband and my unborn son. One drains me physically while the other takes from me emotionally, and no pause button exists for me on the remote control of life. So I just sink like a stone in a silent ocean, as far as I can get into the enclosed, secret places of my being, and shut myself in. I just want to go back to Virginia and absorb my mind in making jewelry again, finding comfort in the work of my hands and the brilliant colors of those small, glass beads.

I recently sold three pieces, so I have money again for new materials--a particularly bright spot in the week for me.