Eli's Corner


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look what they’ve done to my song

I don’t generally take to this blog to talk about these kinds of things, but since I’m off Facebook, this is my outlet ;)

I stumbled across this video while looking for old Dolly Parton performances (yes, I do things like that).  And I was struck by the artistry and talent of this young woman.  This is a cover, but the lyrics are oddly prescient.

This video has about 3 million views to the 250-odd million that her more notorious videos have.  It makes me think. If we all clicked on, talked about, wrote about, paid money to see – this, this is likely what would prevail in pop culture.  Not that this is everybody’s taste – I’m just saying, if we celebrated artistry instead of stunts and autoexploitation, the industry would follow the dollar.  It’s oh-so-easy to jump on the judgement band wagon, but in doing so, we ratchet up the views on those videos that we’re clicking on just so we can shake our fingers at them, we generate buzz, we consume the paper-thin media coverage of these “events”.  In short, even as we complain, we make the very things we criticize profitable.

Brings to mind and old saying:

“I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”

I’m not saying Miley wouldn’t still do her thang.  But she’d be free to do it for her own sake, not because an industry demands it, along with a nation of armchair critics, however unwittingly they do so.  And we’d be free to enjoy what’s good and just not freak out about what we don’t like.  That just all seems better to me.


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temporarily possessed

I had an interview this morning.  The first one I’ve had in years.  I’ve decided it’s time to move forward with my life.  I’ve been in a major holding pattern with this whole fertility thing, and given the fact that I’m giving my ovaries some time off, I thought it would be a good opportunity to get back in touch with who I am and what I have to offer the world (aside from valiant attempts at procreation).

So no, I’m not getting a new job.  Prior to doing that, I’m going to have to have lots of meetings with accountants and lawyers, secure office space, hire at least two people and get everybody lined up with benefits.  In short, boys and girls, don’t go into business with your husband on a start-up; quitting is super complicated.  But this is not that story.

What I did do was finally submit a volunteer application that’s been sitting on my desk for about six months.  I mailed it off on Wednesday and by Friday already had a call back.  It turns out that my timing was good.  The local youth homeless shelter is desperately in need of English tutors right now.

I miss working with students.  And not just speaking to auditoriums full of them like I was for the past couple of years.  I miss the one-on-one interactions, investing in kids, helping them see their potential, trying to find a creative way to get them excited about learning.  I have limited experience with this demographic of student, but I figure, these kids are in need of nurturing.  And I’m in need of someone to nurture.

Don’t get me wrong – I get it that this is not about my needs.  And I don’t have a messiah complex or anything.  I’m going to be tutoring students, not saving them.  And being as how I am now old, have maturity and a good sense of boundaries, I was not intimidated in the least when she asked me to take a test to gauge the appropriateness of my responses in a variety of potential scenarios.  No problemo.

Most of the questions I answered easily.  No, I would not give a youth my phone number if he asked for it.  No, I wouldn’t confront a staff member about a decision he or she made in front of a youth.  Yes, I probably would go to a student’s university graduation if she asked me to years later.  Then question number four came.  I discovered that my brain could not formulate an answer to it, so I skipped that one, finished the rest of them and went back to it and stared at it for a while.  I was still sitting there staring at it when the woman called me back to reality.  I said I had answered all but one question.  She said, “That’s fine, we can just talk through that one.”  Then she proceeded to read it out loud:

“If one of the girls you worked with were pregnant and asked you to raise her child because she had no support, would you agree to?  If yes, why?  If no, why not?”

Um, this was unexpected. Obviously, in terms of boundaries, this is by far the easiest question to answer.  I see that now.  But in the moment, all I could think about was that hypothetical baby.  I sat there in what probably looked for all the world to be silence, but what was really going on can best be described in seconds 1.36-2.44 of the following clip:

When I came to, as if a spell had been lifted, I simply replied, “I would work with the staff to find the appropriate resources for the student.”  Seriously, it wasn’t that hard.  But you really wouldn’t believe how far that obvious conclusion was from my brain for several solid seconds.  Holy crap.

Well, assuming no expectant mothers are foisting their children on me, I think we should be fine.  And even if they do, at least I’ve already worked through my response.  Now I just have to remember how to write an expository essay without the gratuitous use of run ons.  And fragments.  And I have to remember how to stay on topic.  Again, should be fine.


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sunshine award

Hey all,

I’ve been nominated for the Sunshine Award!  Yay!  I have to confess I had no idea what that was – being pretty green at all things bloggy – and it took me a minute to figure it out.  It kind of reminds me of the old chain letters you used to get.  Yes, I’m old enough to remember chain LETTERS, none of this email-this-to-100-people-or-your-cat-will-die crap.  I’m talking mail a pair of panties to 9 friends and you’ll get 200 pairs of panties in the mail.  I never actually did that because it was a lot of postage, and I felt weird getting panties in the mail from strangers.  Also, really, who needs 200 pairs of panties?  But this I will do, because it means that A Calm Persistence believes that I am a writer who brightens other people’s days – which is amazing and awesome.  Especially since I write pretty honestly about some pretty dark things on here.  I think we all need each other in this journey, and sometimes the honesty perhaps shines a light in the dark.  And if there’s any kind of silver lining in this process, it’s thinking that your going through it might then help you carry the burden with someone else a few steps of the way.  To be told something like this brings a little ray of redemption into the whole thing, and that is pretty wonderful.  And if I can help introduce you to some of the brave women who have been helping me along the way, then I welcome that opportunity.

Incidentally, you should read A Calm Persistence‘s blog.  Here is one good reason why:

stay positive

See what I mean about we need each other?  Ok.  Down to business.  This is my first ever award and I’m determined not to mess it up.

The rules are:

Include the Sunshine Award icon in your post – done!

screen-shot-2013-10-10-at-3-22-59-pm

Link to the blogger who nominated you – check!

Answer 10 questions about yourself – see below

Nominate 10 other bloggers to receive the award – ibid

Make up 10 questions that are super long and/or annoying to answer (ok, I invented that rule) – check!

Link to your nominees and let them know you nominated them.  – part 1 done and part 2 will do once I publish this – whew!

Ok – here are the questions I need to answer:

1. Why do you Blog?

I started blogging as an outlet for myself in the TTC process.  I typically journal to sort out my thoughts, but I thought perhaps if I did an anonymous blog, maybe someone else dealing with the same things might come across it and find it helpful.  At the time I had no idea there was a whole community out there.  Connecting through this medium with others on this journey has been an amazing resource and encouragement for me.

2. What are you most proud of?

Honestly, I know it sounds kind of pathetic, but at this point I’m just proud that I’m keeping on keeping on.  It’s been a rough few years, but stuff like this teaches you a lot about yourself.  One of my favorite quotes is “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste,” and my hope in all of this is that it will not be wasted but that somehow I will manage to stop wrestling God long enough to allow him to use this to shape me into a sturdier, kinder me.

3. What is one thing you want to learn how to do?

Dive.  I’ve always had trouble with getting inverted (flips, dives, cartwheels, what have you).  I’m an avid swimmer – goggles, swim cap, the whole 9 yards, but I’ve never learned to dive and am now at the point where it’s just embarrassing.  (As one gets older, it turns out, one really finds fewer and fewer scenarios in which bellyflopping and cannonballing are considered acceptable methods of entering a pool.)

4. If you could have any super power, what would it be?

This one:

Only less kill-everybody-and-start-world-war-III and more visit-my-family-whenever-I-want-and-have-dinner-in-Istanbul-tonight.  Also, it opens up several career paths:  search and rescue, crime fighting, crime, transportation-for-hire, smuggler, coyote, etc.

5. What is your best piece of advice?

Be kind to yourself.

6. If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?

I aspire to do what my totally inspiring in-laws have done with their money: pick a just standard of living and stick to it.  Then continue to work hard and invest wisely so that you can give extravagantly.

7. What is your favorite season? Why?

Summertime!  Sun on my skin, bra-optional sundresses.  (Don’t worry, I’m pretty flat-chested.)

8. What is your all time favorite meal?

First date with my now-husband.  He took me out to a 5-star French restaurant in San Francisco.  Neither of us had ever eaten a meal like that before (it involved pear soup with african peppercorns, a quail, a souffle, and chocolate mousse to end your very life).   The food, the conversation – and, doubtless, the swirling pheromones, made it the meal of a lifetime.

9. What is your favorite song?

Right now?  Probably this one.  It’s kind of been my anthem in my TTC process:

10. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

Well, when it comes down to it, I guess we could live almost anywhere in the world, but we live where we live (Vancouver), so I guess the question then is why.  I mean, it’s very pretty and nice, but it’s also rainy and expensive.  I think the thing that keeps us here is the community.  There are just some seriously cool people around here.  And they seem to have time to hang out, whereas in San Francisco, we had to book 3 months in advance to do anything with anybody.  Also, he’s got family nearby.

Ok, next step: As many of us do, I follow a lot of wonderful blogs, and these are just a few of them.  These all happen to be women working to build their families – most are trying to conceive, some have adopted, some are redefining what family means to them.  All are honest, brave and human.  These blogs have encouraged me, helped me feel less isolated and crazy, and have inspired me.

Here, in no particular order, are my nominees:

Adding a Burden

Redeeming Infertility

Project Sweet Pea

Abby Hummel

You Can’t Choose When

Stupid Stork

Hey, Myrtle!

Hang Your Hopes From Trees

On the other side of the belly button

The Elusive Second Line

And here are my questions to you:

1. Why did you start blogging and why do you blog now?

2. If you were running for President (or Prime Minister or whatever your head of state is) what would your platform be?  (Not trying to make this political…but wondering what social issues matter to you most.)

3. Of all the places you’ve been, which one would you like to return to?  Why?

4. If you could go back in time to the beginning of your TTC journey and tell yourself one thing,  what would it be?

5. If you were being interrogated by the CIA (or the KGB or MI6 or whatever your country’s scary secret police is…in my country it’s the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, I guess, which is just so Canada…our scary cops wear cute outfits and ride horses) what song would they need to play over and over to break you?

6. Any random hidden talents?

7. One of your top 5 quotes ever? (Because I always find it hard to pick my #1 of anything.)

8. What’s your proudest moment before the age of 10?

9. Best fictional book you’ve ever read (or one of your top 5):

10.  What question do you wish I had asked you?

Play along if you like!


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apart from this, i am

I spend a lot of time on here talking about who I am in the context of infertility, loss, endometriosis, chronic pain, a floundering career and various other issues. I appreciate this space, because I feel like it’s the one place where I can be as honest as I want to be about all of that.

But today, I’m doing something else. I’m taking some time to think about who I am independently of all of those things – as well as past pain and personal hangups –independently of any thing I would call an “issue.”

It’s so easy to identify with the hard things, and sometimes so hard to remember what’s left. So I just sat down and started writing a list, with general, timid terms at first, but they became a bit more confident and specific as the list progressed. Just for kicks, here it is:

So who is Eli, apart from all of this?

She loves to laugh.

She finds people interesting.

She’s compassionate.

She can be thoughtful.

She can be fun.

She’s good with words.

She doesn’t like conflict, but she enjoys a good debate (as long as nobody’s getting hurt or being super obnoxious).

She feels like culture is mostly crazy, and she wants to talk some sense into it.

She longs for truth.

She loves stories.

She loves to sing, mostly in private – although for a couple of years she sang lead in a heavy metal band because some boys at the high school where she worked as an administrator were looking for a lead singer for their band and asked her (possibly as a joke). She shocked them by saying yes. She always wore heels and a grey pantsuit when performing. The band achieved legend status.

She is the friend who will pay full price (even though she’s currently out of a job) to join you, your daughter, your unstable, recently-bereaved mother, and your alcoholic grandmother on a 2-week cruise when you have been ditched at the altar two weeks before the wedding and can’t get a refund on your honeymoon. She will go on that trip and sit in the middle of all that crazy with you.  She will sneak away with you to pound tequila shots.  If you eat 3 desserts, so will she.  She will even sing cruise lounge karaoke when you ask her to.

Frivolous beauty brings her joy. And makes her cry.

Mistreatment of the weak makes her angry. Like mama grizzly angry.

Sometimes she writes letters to celebrities she thinks are screwing up their lives and offers to let them come stay with her for a couple weeks. She thinks she could help. They never write back.

She likes nice things. And she likes to give nice things away.

She likes being around small children. She likes the purity of their interactions with the world, having not yet learned to stifle and mask everything they think and feel. She feels that children and very old people are lucky in that sense. They get to say exactly what they think.

Sometimes, she can be wise.

Sometimes, she can be funny.

Sometimes, she knows exactly what to say or do in a tough situation.

She believes people matter. She feels that especially young girls don’t know that they matter nearly enough.

She will stand in the path of a violent, heavily drugged man on the street (even though she’s very much expecting to be hit) because she doesn’t want to live in a city where people can be brutally attacked by a stranger in broad daylight and have their attacker walk away unencumbered while fifty spectators step aside to let him pass. She, in her heels, slacks and fluffy sweater, will be the one person to calmly stand in his way and tell him that he does not get to run away but must stay here and deal with what he has done. And for some strange reason, he will listen to her.

She’ll buy a homeless woman lunch because she really wants to buy her flowers but thinks it’s a jerk move to give a hungry person flowers and not also lunch.

She has little respect for people she thinks are phony, no matter what position they hold.

She just generally has a pretty low tolerance for BS.

She’s attracted to honesty, even if it’s honesty about unattractive things.

She’s attracted to humility.

She’s always been a sucker for a boy with a guitar, and she eventually married one.

She loves, loves, loves that she gets to see her quiet husband be crazy, goofy, brilliant, irreverent, and just straight up weird in a way that no one else on the planet ever does.

She is reborn every time she feels the warmth of the sun on her skin.

She likes the laugh lines she’s getting, but is not too fond of the sun spots.

Beautiful, clean spaces are balm to her soul.

She roofed houses to pay for college.

Every once in a while, she will embark on a crazy adventure that takes a great deal of courage. She hasn’t done this in a little while, but it’s in her.

She left a good chunk of her heart with a poor family in Argentina who loves her better than most people can probably love anybody.

She can pretty much quote entire Disney cartoons as well as chapters of the Bible.

She does a bang-on southern belle accent.

She thinks she looks good naked, if she’s very honest.

She’s willing to change when she learns she’s been wrong, even if it’s hard.

I kind of like her.

Who are you apart from this? I’d love to know.


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Isabel Allende, she kicks ass

In an effort to not go insane this week, and in keeping with my mantra of “Distract!  Distract!  Distract!”, I’d like to share with you a couple of my favorite things.  They have nothing to do with baby-making.

I saw this Ted talk by Isabel Allende and became immediately infatuated.  Such that I took it upon myself to start reading her books – in Spanish.  Granted, so far the book reading experience is less revelatory than listening to the Ted talk, as every other sentence sends me switching out of my Kindle App into my online Spanish-English dictionary to figure out what the heck a juala is or some such thing.  But I trust that will get better with time.  (Like, for example, I totally know juala now.  It’s a cage.)

But yes, Ms. Allende.  She is the kind of woman I aspire to be when I am older: braver, more irreverent, more sincere.  (Also brilliant, hilarious, beautiful, wise, rich and published would all be great.)

I leave you with this.  It’s worth a listen.

http://blog.ted.com/2008/01/03/isabel_allende/