Dublin Days

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What I Dreamed Last Night

I was working in an office, and I was trying to get a wireless signal on my cell phone by holding up a little bit of stripped wire (ok, technology has never been my strong point). Anyhow, it wasn't working. Then I dropped my phone under a conference table and was trying to crawl on the floor to get it, despite there being 10 people sitting around the table having a meeting.

Suddenly, a co-worker, played by Phillip Seymore Hoffman, came up to me and said, "What's your name again? Right, Bridget, I have to tell you that you may not have realized it but I am your superior and your work really isn't up to scratch."

I called him an asshole, and said to another woman in the room, "He's not my boss, is he?"

Possible Dream Analysis: Technology is prayer?? Phillip Seymore Hoffman is God???

Thursday, January 24, 2008

How I Am Today

I had an interesting conversation with my good friend Dee yesterday that has got me thinking. She was talking about a TV programme she watched recently about intensive chicken farming, and how she was seriously thinking about changing to a vegetarian diet. I caught about 5 minutes of the show, too--Jamie Oliver's Foul Dinners programme on Channel 4. But, to be honest, I was so disgusted by what I saw that I:

a) thanked God I haven't eaten chicken in 11 years, and

b) turned the channel.

I didn't have the stomach to watch the conditions these chickens were being raised in, and brutality shown to them in the name of profit.

Now, I have to be honest, I didn't become vegetarian because I had strong feelings about animal cruelty. And until recently Jamie Oliver annoyed the shit out of me (his School Dinners programme changed my mind). I took vegetarianism on when I was 23 as a kind of challenge to my lifestyle, my own personal discipline and to my thinking. And it was one of the best decisions I've made over the years. It lead me down a path of questioning other things that, like eating meat, are the status quo in our culture. Things like what medicines I take, choosing to breastfeed, trying to eat organic, Irish produced food, and avoiding buying a car (which is a decision that I have to admit I sometimes curse when it's raining and I'm pushing two kids around in a stroller uphill...but most of the time I'm glad we don't have a car).

But in questioning my diet I've also come to reflect on what we get from food, nutritionally and spiritually (and I use this word in relation to our general feeling of well being, and contentment, not in a religious way. Don't worry, I haven't abandoned my Atheist ideals). I've come to believe that the journey of our food to our homes, and into our bodies has a definite impact on the nourishment we get from it. I know for a fact that when I take my time in preparing food, when I've planned the meal thoughtfully and purposefully, when I cut up the vegetables carefully, it tastes better and it is more enjoyable. And I also believe it gives us more nourishment, too.

To see those chickens being treated with such a lack of respect only confirmed that I made the right decision 11 years ago when I stopped participating as a consumer in meat production. And it affirms that I'm doing the right thing for Siofra and Paddy in giving them a vegetarian childhood. Naturally, it will be their own choice when they grow up if they want to continue as vegetarians, but while I'm making these decisions for them, I know this is what's best.

I certainly respect everyone's right to choose what foods they eat, and I have no problem with others eating meat, but my hope is that more people can start eating deliberately, with thought and reflection. So, if you're heading out to buy some chicken (or beef, or pork, etc.) why not try to go organic? I know it's more expensive, but you deserve it. Or go buy some organic lentils and vegetables instead, and use the leftover money to get some nice wine!

How I Am Today? What's with that title? Well, I just wrote an entire post and didn't mention grief or sadness (except for those poor chickens). I am able to think of other things, for short periods of time. I met with my good friend Caroline on Monday and she paid me the most glorious compliment: she told me that there was a sparkle back in my eyes. That made me feel good.

Note: True, I write these posts for myself, really. But if you're reading this, would you mind leaving a comment? Go on, feed my ego. -B

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Go With It

I've thought about writing something here a million times over the past couple of weeks. I never did. Grieving is tiring. It takes a huge amount of energy. Crying is tiring, too. I've cried everyday for 23 days in a row. That is work. And right now, I guess it's my full time job. I've taken 6 weeks off school, which feels like a long time one minute, and no time at all the next.

I've been thinking a lot about time lately, and how to manage it. The first week of 2008 was the hardest yet. Christmas kept us moving, thinking, and the minutes and hours passed at a normal rate. But then it was over, and New Year's was over, and my birthday was over, and there was a whole year of hours and minutes ahead of me. Without the distractions of the holidays I was left with a huge hole in my life, and in my heart. Time slowed down and I was stuck in the saddest moment ever. I wondered how long I'd feel like this. How many more days will I be crying? How many hours can I go without having to sit down and give in to feeling hopeless? How will I feel at Fionn's grave? How will I feel hearing the results of the postmortem? How will I feel when we think of trying for another baby? How can I ever face another 40 weeks of worry and anxiety? How will I carry this sadness inside my body for the rest of my life? Have I lost hope in things working out?

One of the midwives that attended Fionn's service said something to me that came into my head a couple of days ago. I asked her what to expect, physically and emotionally. She explained the physical bit, and when it came to grieving she said, "Go with it." At the time this didn't mean anything to me. I filed it away because I respect this woman, and figured she knew something more than I did about this. But yesterday I retrieved this from my memory, and I think I know what she meant.

I'm trying to stop thinking about tonight, tomorrow, next week, next year. I'll face then when it comes. "Right now" is all I can do. If I feel horrible right now, that's that. If I feel ok, that's better and I'll enjoy it. The unpredictability of how I feel moment to moment has forced me to be in the moment, to dive into it, feel whatever is there, and leave tomorrow for later.

This doesn't come naturally to me. I am a planner. I plan my life, my kids' lives, my students' lives in the classroom. I plan our meals and make a list that shows what's for dinner tonight and what ingredients I need to make it. I buy airplane tickets 8 months in advance because then we know when we're going and we can plan around it. So this Go With It routine is new to me. It's my new job.

However, there have been a few other times in my life when I've been able to Go With It. During labor I was able to go through each contraction one at a time. I didn't think about the next one or how many more I'd have to get through. Time became abstract and irrelevant; I was unaware of how many minutes or hours had passed. All of my energy was put into the moment.

It's time for me to Go With It again. And funny enough, it's my experience of giving birth that is guiding me through this. I've realized that just as giving birth is an act of love, so is grieving. Each pain filled moment expresses love and devotion.

We all know the product of labor is a baby.

What's the product of grieving? Hope, I hope.