Category Archives: elephant girl

five finger discount*

I have to share my take on this. Busha wrote today (so prettily I’m freaking dying for a pedicure now) about a lovely young woman who was having a mani pedi and who has both an arm and leg amputation from an accident. Busha confessed she was curious whether or not the woman was charged full price.

So a few years ago, like six, was my first and only manicure and pedicure. The now famous Souster was getting married and I had to be lurvely as her maid of honor. I had a very natural looking French mani and then very crass-like threw my legs up over the manicurist’s table to have him do his first French pedi on me (we are slow to catch on here in the hills. And we do shit like hiking our crusty tootsies up on to a table to make some dude paint our toenails.)

So the whole time I’m getting the toes & fingers made all shiny, I’m thinking… “Do I dare ask for half price for the manicure?” I was 99% sure if I had the cajones-what’s Spanish for ovaries?- to ask for it they’d be too embarrassed to say no. I didn’t want to be cheap or all in-your-face about the freakydeak, but that’s expensive pampering for a lowly art student barrista. So I sucked it up and asked. The chick who ran the register was very smooth and happy to oblige. She was also still laughing at my French toes.

* Sorry, couldn’t help it. Cracking up at myself. So the moral of the story is if you have the ovarios** to ask for a very practical discount on your manicure by reason of having less than ten nails, you’ll get it.

** Yep! Looked it up.

an epic post: the interview, mother of all memes

I latched onto this at Sleepless in Cologne, and Bine sent me these really insightful questions. If you want to play too, comment here and I’ll ask you five questions (in no timely manner at all, I’m sure.) Make sure to leave an email address if I don’t have it, or a blog link and I’ll comment back with your questions.

1. although you have blogged about this before, could you sum up how you felt/feel redifined by becoming a mother? how much of it did you expect before setting out on this journey and what took you by surprise?

Being a mother became a primal calling- some powerful blend of biological imperative and mystical longing. In one year (I was 25) I fell in love with Bu, lost my mom, and my best friend got pregnant. I started daydreaming constantly about how I would feel as a mom. I wanted it so much and thought about it so much I seem to have really gotten a grasp on how it would change me. There weren’t a lot of surprises. Being in the experience of course is different from dreaming it, but it feels pretty much like I thought I would: exhausting and wonderful, challenging and fun. I feel empowered and more substantial from a psychological perspective, and I felt the deep shift from maiden to mother in a spiritual context. The changes were actually easier for me than I thought- I was worried I’d have severe PPD, given the hormonal ties with my depression and anxiety, but the smallish increase in anxiety is probably within normal range for a new mom.

The one thing that shocks me is the hard-to-define feeling that I’ve joined some secret society that I didn’t think I’d ever be allowed into. It’s not that I don’t feel worthy to be a mom, or that I ever really worried I’d be infertile (given my anatomical anomalies) but more that motherhood is so real and wholesome and, what:normal? that I’m kind of still vaguely surprised to be living it. That feeling might come from the idea from thinking in my adolescence and twenties that I wanted to grow up to be a cool loner drinking homemade absinthe and painting in oils with a bunch of cats and variously gendered interesting lovers running around. (I’ve always been wilder and fringe-y-er in my head than out.)

I’m dazed to find myself in a thoroughly unremarkable lifestyle with a little house, a husband, a baby, and dogs. It’s a good feeling, though, to find myself abruptly an adult in pursuit of simplicity. I’ve found that I’m grounded and peaceful at my center- however much I may write about my anxiety. I’m a sun now, with a little new planet dependent on my gravity. It’s come time to own my power and grow into myself. There’s been a sort of Persephone, Ophelia, female Peter Pan thing in my life and I’ve refused to own adulthood until now. It would be a huge disservice to Emsy to not rise to the occasion now. I want more than anything in this world to be the best version of myself so I can model real womanhood for her.

2. how and when did you get introduced to wiccan faith and how does it influence your daily life today? how many people around you are aware of this and/or share this with you?

As a child and teen I was very interested in fairy tales, the occult, and all the new age trappings- astrology, crystals, the Ouija board. I played with my mom’s Tarot deck. (She was a witchy-ish new age leaning Christian flower child.) In high school I was reading about paganism. I remember falling in love with the word ‘pagan’ in my English class. We were studying the Romantic poets (sigh) and one of the characteristics of the movement, according to my teacher, was a “pagan love of nature.” I quickly dug up stuff on neopaganism and decided emphatically that I was home. Initially, Wicca put me off as too organized and hierarchical- and too controversial (I had friends warning me it was “dark magic”- Ooh! Scary! Darkness Bad!). After I went to school in Pittsburgh, read Drawing Down the Moon, and found an informal class/forum in Wicca, I started identifying as Wiccan. I was studying pretty seriously for quite a while. After coming home to WV, I found the UU pagan group I refer to occasionally here. I met a priestess who was mentoring me in Pagan Universalism and who moved away as I got serious with Bu. My intent dissipated a lot, and since then I haven’t been active at all.

I’m definitely more interested at this point in being an active Unitarian Universalist than a practicing witch. They do overlap for me, and other pagan UU’s. It’s a lovely thing to have found a system that is so open and un-dogmatic that I have room to explore other traditions.

Having Emsy has really made me re-examine my passive approach to Wicca and UUism. I want to impart these teachings to her as she grows, and I am passionate about my faith. It does bring up the idea of openness again. I’ve never hidden my affiliation with Wicca, but I’m not as open as I used to be either. I rarely will be seen wearing a pentagram symbol (but I have one dangling from my rear view…Gaia is my copilot!) The grandies are aware that I worship God and Goddess entities of some sort and Bu’s used the word “witch” with reference to my faith. (Geesh- the word faith makes me really uncomfortable; just realizing this. I’m not faithful as such. I’m a “questioner” and don’t have dogmatic beliefs.) I do have some vague worries that Emsy will be denigrated by well-meaning, misinformed people if she takes to Goddessy-flavored UUism like her mama. Our neighbors and family are certainly not hip to earth religions by any stretch of this very stretchy imagination.

3. before you found out that your “birth defect” was non-genetic you were very scared that emsy might have inherited it. on the other hand i think you agree that it has made you special in a way. how did wanting her to be “normal” create a conflict for yourself?

It was a huge conflict. I lay awake in bed late one night early in my pregnancy, willing the little fetus to please, please, grow ten fingers, please. Every memory of self-consciousness was funneled into that moment and I just broke with it. I vented all the worries in that night and just bathed in tears. There was no brave child pretending to ignore stares from classmates, there was no haughty teenager telling herself, “He’s staring at me because I’m a hottie,” no snarky chick sporting a pirate hook on her tiny arm at Halloween and feeling like the Queen of Wild Beautiful Freaks. There was only a human animal feeling marked and completely isolated from her tribe and praying to her Mother goddess to please never, ever let her baby feel so odd and alone and conspicuous.

To allow myself to pray that prayer, I had to unblock a whole life of just stubbornly refusing to feel that primitive embarrassed difference. No, of course there is no shame or judgment intellectually, but there is a large and scary feeling to look this fundamentally different from everyone else I meet. Imagine something so much deeper than being fat in a room of trim people, or the ugliest girl at the prom. I know it’s not a disfigurement or a horror to look upon. I know I’m not monstrous or even that strange. But that awareness of not-normal just is. I never, ever allowed myself to feel that. I just didn’t let it be there. But I felt it somewhere, because I found it stored in me and projected onto my baby, and I couldn’t bear “inflicting” that on her. It would be my fault if she were deformed, because I didn’t get DNA testing. I would be responsible in a way my parents weren’t. They couldn’t have known or prevented it. I could have.

So it was a flood of relief when I found out about ABS (a probable cause, but not a conculsive diagnosis- it leaves unexplained the organ defects in my kidneys & uterus/cervix/vagina) and when the nurse pointed out two tiny vague hands with barely discernable but countable fingers on my ultrasound. Then, even better to hold her hands and touch ten tiny pink fingers. Now, I adore feeling her little left hand automatically grip onto the “handle” of the long finger on my strange right arm while my left hand grasps her right to lift her up. I love the way her head rests against the short little curve of my arm when she nurses like it was made just to cradle her.

4. you think your fear of making art is at least in part a fear of facing your “real self”. could you imagine treating this as a kind of therapy, for example choosing a fixed date every week like a doctor’s appointment you couldn’t call off or postpone, retreating to a studio and working for a couple of hours?

I’ve got intentions to do this. I need it, a little routine to break open the barrier I have made. I’m so intimidated by the time “wasted” by not making art. Like I have to start conceptually from scratch. I feel enormous pressure to be amazing, because I have seen hints of true, exciting beauty in my past work and I know it’s in me to be amazing. Instead of feeling blessed to know I have talent, I suppose I’m worrying that I really won’t find that spark if I dig for it. Part of it, honestly, is a fear of success. I’m scared the ideas or the energy are too big for me. It’s a weird mystic feeling for me- like I’m meant to channel something that’s too big for me or something? Gods, it borders on psychotic. It’s. Just. Art. It’s beauty and communication. I have to let go of this crazy obsession with the Artist as some powerful wizardy figure and just be a maker of lovely objects.

I want to start with art books, because they are safe and small and enclosed. Familiar and comforting. It doesn’t matter now what I make or how or the medium I choose. I just need to make, for me. Perhaps I’ll just think of myself as an artisan rather than an Artist and get down with the zen of creating tangible stuff.

I have to carve out a physical place and some time for it. Stop making it a big deal- clean the room and draw some pictures! I loved this question- I’ve always seen art as a therapeutic process. If anyone else is looking for a therapeutic or introspective approach to art, or just has a simple creativity block, The Artist’s Way is a great tool. That said, I may mount an archeological expedition for my copy and use it as a map.

5. if you had a fairy wish granted, what would you wish for? what would you really wish for?

Oh, this is so difficult. This was my nursing marathon brain occupation last night. Came up with very little in the way of concrete answers. What I want is to see is more empathy and tolerance in the world. How specific does this fairy need me to be? I thought of other vague responses: For everyone to have enough. World peace. Global Enlightenment.

What I want most, in this moment is a huge, cold glass of very lemony water and a large serving of pretty pink sushi. (Caught fresh, prepared, and served by a shirtless Captain Jack Sparrow, if it’s a very nice fairy.)

*Edit* I’ve just gotten a big kick out of this: I’m Jack with his compass and no idea what I want most;)

circumcision article

I was thrilled to see this article up at I’ve seen statistics on circumcision and natural birth and breastfeeding lately, but I’ve never, in mainstream press, seen any reference to this being a trend toward people taking back control of and celebrating the natural human body:

“The trend has also accompanied a change in Americans’ attitudes toward medicine and their bodies…the rates of drug-free labor and breast-feeding all rose during the 1980s, while the initial declines in male circumcision rates began during the 1980s as well,” said Katharine Barrett, an anthropology lecturer at Stanford University. “It may have been part and parcel of the wider effort to reclaim bodies — adult female and infant male — from unnecessary and potentially harmful medical interventions.”

Veeta (my darling cousin) can testify that I lost more sleep about the endless debate about a hypothetical foreskin than anything else when I was pregnant. Bu was pretty adamantly for it (fore it, haha) and I was arguing against it, tearfully. In the very end, when we were as sure as you can be that we were having a girl, he came around, I think.

Speaking of Veeta and natural bodies & such, here’s a nursing photo from this past Christmas. Emsy & M’Ello snuggled up with their mamas. (You can also see the funky arm really well if you’re a curious new reader.) It’s a low rez cell phone image, so I threw some [mystical misty mojo] blur filters over it. It was so cute. We had a couple of male cousins hanging out with us and being all non-freaked out- unlike my stepbrother on Christmas. (That was hilarious, by the way. He stopped mid-sentence and gaped when I whipped out the nips…lol.)

Thanks all over again, Veeta for being such a wonderful support:) I’m hereby reinstating Friday check in. Coming soon: M’Ello Bday cake cuteness!

the pendulum

Right. So, today I think I don’t want to change blogs or use a pseudonym.
Reasons include, but are not limited to:

1. What are the chances that some pedophile is stalking the baby through my blog and he is going to somehow find her? This is my insane sex offender paranioa which is very understandable considering the existence in my extended family of a child rapist. (Oh, how badly I’d love to publish his name, address, and a map to his house right here right now. He’s there, all smug and unprosecuted and ancient. He’s never doing to die. He’s so goddamn old, but he Just. Won’t. Fucking. Die. Debate my karma if you want, but there is rage and hatred and I will personally throw a party when this evil person stops sharing my planet’s oxygen. I won’t attend funeral for fear of actually spitting on his corpse or laughing or something. Seriously. Because his wife, while guilty of believing her pedophile husband rather than her young innocent relative, doesn’t deserve my rage. Or she does, I don’t know… some days I find her as guilty as he is… but I’m hanging onto a shred of decency. OK. Did not expect this post to end up there.)

2. You can only link my real name to this blog through a relatively obscure link.

3. I don’t think I’ve ever posted anything terribly offensive. The worst case scenario I can think of is the grandies finding the blog and being pissed that I whine about them sometimes or being horrified about my actually practicing Wicca (however rarely) instead of just copping to being interested in it. (They know this already, I think.) I don’t think I say anything here that I’m not comfortable owning up to.

4. I have an “out” plan already for when Molly’s bigger and it becomes a little pathetic to have a blog named after her. That’s why it’s I’m limited to lunar themed titles but that’s OK given my religion/aesthetic/personality.

5. How incognito can I be if I want to still blog about my very rare birth defect and post photos of me & the Birdie?

Of course, I may swing the other way. I do love the title in my head (and registered just in case) for the new blog.

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more Heidi Etiquette

I waxed rantsome in my comments, and don’t have a nifty “Recent Conversations” widget on le blog, so I’m just reposting it:

Bine wrote:
waaaah! i just wrote a long comment, clicked preview, it looked fine, and when i clicked publish, it just disappeared! sigh … okay, once more:sounds like you should apologize to your boobies for the scolding you gave them earlier this week.but glad to hear it’s “only” teething, though this can be a bother, too, i think it’s better than a bad cold in such a little one. most of my friends’ babies teethed quite easily and developed only a slight fever while their molars broke through. i hope you won’t go through this for every single tooth molly gets.

and glad to hear you got some “away time”, too, i can’t imagine anyone not needing that from time to time.ehm …

and now to the awkwardness … i hope this question doesn’t annoy you, but do you have to shake with your left hand if someone offers you their right? i only know the one picture of you you entered for thordoras olympics, but i think it looks like you could shake with your right, too. i, personally, would have gone for the hug, because i like to hug and you look like a pretty “huggable” person*, but people who are reluctant to embrace might want to make a point of not being “afraid” to touch it (i know some people are, oddly enough, like a bodily infirmity is contagious, or something).don’t you want people to touch baby elephant? or do you assume they don’t want to? or is it just more awkward and uncomfortable for you?i’m really curious about it, i hope you don’t mind.*i’m one of those, too. i prefer a hug to a handshake with people i like, but there also seems to be something about me that makes people want to hug me. a friend of mine who experiences the same, suffered a lot during breastfeeding, because every time someone gave her a hug, her breasts leaked …bine

I wrote:
Oh, Bine, I HATE when that happens with a comment. Let me know if it happens again, and I’ll put the smackdown on HaloScan. Dirty bastadz.I meant to add that option in my Handshake 101 tirade. Once or twice maybe someone has reached and grabbed that arm to shake it, and just, ew. First of all, I never offer it, so they are like right up IN my aura grabbing a body part, so fuck no that’s not cool. Secondly, due to people’s general awkwardness or my own or whatever, people usually don’t touch that arm. Because of that, when it is touched it feels really intimate and I’m hyper aware of it. Bu and my one other longterm boyfriend are really the only lovers who would casually touch it, and often little kids will. My employer’s little girl is obsessed- it’s so amazingly tender and sweet. She’ll sit with me and stroke it lovingly. She also likes to floor me with cuteness by doing things like walking in when I’m using my little arm to work a paper cutter and saying “Heidi! I like your arm!”Kids are funny. Once in a while they’re scared- which I totally get. What little one hasn’t been unsettled by a stroke victim’s pulled features or the painful look of an amputee? …Totally normal the fear of the new. Most of them are fine after we speak, and they’re assured it doesn’t hurt. Lots of kids think it’s really groovy. There was a younger neighbor kidlet who said it looked like a hot dog, and he called me hot dog. My nephew, of babywearing fame, thought it was so wicked. I can twist the two fingers together and it looks awesomely freaky, so that was his favorite So I went off here, huh? I’ll post it in the main blog I think.heidi

PS. That’s hilarious about your friend’s boob-leakage. Sucky but really funny.

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handshake mechanics, coffee, and a book

I don’t usually have baby burn out. I have double working mom burn out, but pretty much I want to spend all my free time sitting in the floor flipping through board books and saying things like “Look at Duckling. Her mama is Duck. Look at tadpole! He grows up to be Frog. Frog jumps! Up down, up down, up down,” in a psychotic sing-song voice.

But then…

I was home 4 of 5 days this week with the Teething Demon Changeling (doctor visit yesterday; she isn’tr sick, the fever’s from the teething.) who replaced Molly. This feverish, clingy, fussy baby who can’t sleep and has to be physically touching me every single second has given me my first taste of the burn out. I turned a meeting today into Heidi Time, and snuck out of the house an hour early to go sit at the thrift store/coffee shop having alone time before I met my client. It was bliss to have dark roast with full caffeine (I almost always get half decaf out of fear that I’ll turn the nummins into Red Bull or something) and biscotti while I caught up with the girls. (I worked there for years while I finished school up until I was 5 or 6 months pregnant.) I found this gorgeous book and picked it up for the Birdie’s birthday in May. They had nothing clothes-wise for me or the baby, unfortunately.

After catch-up time with coffee and my old peeps, my client and I met to go see her sign maker. The woman who owns the shop looks exactly like Jennifer Coolidge (Stifler’s Mom) and she cracked me up. She shook my client’s hand, looked me over and declared “You can’t shake- you get a hug!” and then dove at me with her voluminous frosted hair and a giant, sweet smile and gave me a huge, serious girlfriendy, bear hug.* The meeting went well. I have to find a way to transfer my files into something their archaic, just-shy-of-an-abacus computers can read, but she was cool. Her prices are excellent, which is great for my client. She’s an artisan (stained glass loveliness) and start-up entrepreneur, so yay.

*This is interesting- the etiquette of Baby Elephant. When someone thinks to offer me their left hand to shake, I’m ecstatic and give a firm and warm shake. When people hug or kiss me on the cheek in lieu of the shake, it’s generally fine. Usually people who do that have good energy and intuit that we should be on hug terms. Once in a great while someone wants a hug and I feel very patronized or weirded by the sharing of space. A lot of the time, maybe most of the time me and my new acquaintance just smile broadly and forego handshaking or hugging or cutesy Eurokisses. The most annoying thing is when someone offers me a right hand, and I’m forced to “shake” it with my left. Obviously this doesn’t work and results in a seriously lame princess-like dainty gesture which seems like I want them to kiss my hand or something. Which I do not. It’s awkward to me, probably to the right-hand offerer too.

So if we ever meet in person, you are all officially on the hug tier of my social hierarchy, and now we don’t have to be weird.
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well, hi? how are ya? i totally missed you yesterday…

Our internet service was down all day yesterday. I had a lot of offline work to do, so it wasn’t a loss. I spent way too much time turning this:

into this:
It’s the background of a cover for a client’s huge-to-me 5o-something page catalog which I can’t think too much about or I get a little embryo of an anxiety attack in my gut. It’s a bigger project than I’ve ever done, and I’m still wobbly on my InDesign feet, and it the dealine iscomingthisfastohmygods.

Meanwhile, in Molly Tooth Watch 2007, we have one still in the just-broken-through stage on the bottom, and a matching top one, as well as one you can see pretty well on the top, if you catch the 1/778678332 of a second glimpse you’re allowed before she rebels. The nursing-biting has abated for now, so I no longer flinch every time she latches on.

In the land of me-separate-from-Molly, I keep getting compliments on my baby elephant post from people in real life, who I totally forgot read my blog. It’s disorienting and yet very cool. The comments on the post were so encouraging and awesome. Thanks:)

Oh, I meant to post this on Thor’s journal, but due to previously mentioned ISP tragedy, I didn’t. And now I’m lazy, natch, so I’ll postie here:

Happy Belated, L’il Bit:) Many awesome parties this spring. The Souster’s “Irish twins*” will be 5 and 6 (holy shit!) in March/April, and Molly’ll be a year (holy holy shit!) in May.

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*Did I just use a racial slur? Am I allowed if I have a stray ancesetor or two from Ireland somewhere in the mix? What if I named my daughter Molly Shayne**? Does that help?

**Shayne is actually Hebrew (or Yiddish?) for “beautiful.” See footer on blog. I was reading Prodigal Summer one very pregnant day, when I read an allusion to the poem, and I convinced Bu, aka Shane, that we had a new spelling (not Shane) for the Birdie’s middle name. If we ever have a boy his middle name will be Heidi; it’s only fair***.

***and now I stop being silly, and wishing I knew how to do actual footnotes to a blog entry, and get my ass back to work.