Sunday, September 6, 2009

Road Trip

Or a better name for this would be head trip. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

As you likely know, LA is burning. Again. And if you don’t live in LA you’re probably thinking. 'Whatev’s'. And that’s fair. When you have floods that take out all of your cows and tract housing I think, 'Aww. That sucks'. And then proceed to order my venti decaf cappuccino and obsess over how they never get the foam right instead of doing the right thing and sending dollars over the internet to your flooded plains. So I get it.

But the burning hill-line (like skyline) was so unnerving to me this time around. And I attribute that to my new status as protector-provider-procreator-person. And as that person, I, along with my teammate (aka the dad, hubs, cute husband) decided that the proper thing to do when you can see flames from your house is run. Sure the flames were 10 miles away and really the likelihood of them getting to our particular place of residence was pretty darn low. Yet I still got a new sticky sensation of unease that sent us packing. Of course that sticky sensation might have come from how freakin’ hot it was. But I’m talking about something else.

Parenthood has me right out on the precarious edge of reason and normalcy. I’ve heard friends reference this in the past and of course I just couldn’t understand it. When I was pregnant at a Christmas party last year (you know, cute pregnant? Not cankles and giant-face pregnant. That came later) my step-brother said to me, ‘Get ready to be terrified all the time’. Huh, I thought. This big guy is afraid? How cute. But yep, now I get it. It’s like a combination of a constant low-level adrenaline buzz spiked with a splash of irrational fear the imminent, untimely exit for my immediate family unit as well as everyone else I hold dear. How many times a night do I check to see if the wee one is breathing? Shoot this week I woke up cute hubs worried that he wasn’t breathing. I don’t know if this gut-bomb of anxiety diminishes over time, but here at almost five months in I’m still on the razor’s edge.

Plus the smoke was really bad. Here is a picture I shot last Saturday as the fire really kicked into gear.

Ominous, right? The real trouble came when our AC units were not doing their job of closing the vent and our place was filling with smoke. With watering eyes and hurting lungs I turned to our DEAR dear friends who had just came down from SF on Saturday to stay with us and meet the BHB and said. “We gotta go”. My lungs are big and they hurt, this is clearly not okay for the tiny-lunged dude. Thank god they not only understood, but they also gave us the key to their place is SF. So we home swapped. Not as interesting as wife swapping but just as weird.
Or it sure felt weird when we were driving out of town…did we just leave some of our BF’s ever in our smoky house? Did we just dump our sweet still-cone-headed dog on them to care for? Are we really passing up a flight to Seattle in favor of driving all the way there with a five month old? I ask you. Now that is nuts.

Unfortunately the ominous feeling of those towers of smoke and the smell of national forest burning didn’t fade when the image left our rear view mirror.

That dark feeling of doom trailed us north on 1-5 and didn’t actually shake off until we arrived in Seattle four days later. The trip was long and strange, we took it really slow and only did about 5 hours worth of driving per day – not that we only drove five hours mind you. More like eight - which is a heck of a lot of time to think.

The good news is that the big-headed-baby has been an unbelievable pleasure of a road-trip buddy. On the way up he was just a sweet, cooing, drooling, smiling, foot-waving rockstar. We rotated sitting in the back having face time with him with his adorable grin and then tried to have a little grown-up time in the front when he napped. The miles rolled by and the trees got bigger, our car dirtier and the baby farts funnier.

But we finally made it. Today we’re in Seattle which is our previous home. It’s beautiful here. There is nothing like early September in Seattle, it’s pretty much ideal.

I’m feeling better being around many dear friends but I am told by the same dear friends that the new fear-factor running my show doesn’t go away. Sure the first year is precarious and there’s lots to worry about, but it’s only just begun.

Anyone have any advice for coping mechanisms for this new cocktail of feelings? I think the recipe is part fear, part anxiety, largely overwhelming, heartbreaking love that is shaken And stirred. Do tell if you’ve found any chasers. Oh and despite my fun with the martini analogy here since I don’t drink booze anymore please don’t tease me with how you get it done that way. Please tell the other ways, if they exist…


  1. Not as interesting as wife swapping but just as weird.

    o lord how i love you!

  2. Dearest Janie,

    I could actually feel the anxiety in my solar plexus while reading your blog. My heart is racing from the fires, scared for Nicholas and all his bunny friends the and of course overwhelmed considering your long journey ahead with BHB. I'm not helping I know!! There's more.

    I am glad you are out of Los Angeles right now and surrounded by friends and beautiful Seattle; my past residence as well. I know right now that "I" need to breathe and think that might be a good option when confronted with all this anxiety. I know it's basic and simple and I know I am not speaking from exerpience being BHB-less, but I have had my fair share of anxiety.

    I had this dream the other night where I was actually slipping between those two states of consciousness of life and death. My body was dead on the floor but my consciouness still knew that I could choose love in the face of my fears or I could simply choose fear and die. And even knowing that fear of life and all the obstacles it will offer, and all the feelings of overwhelm that seem so constant even for me these days, I still chose to live. This dream has been with me for two days now and I am sure there are more messages in there for me. So... to live, I must breathe, for without breath my brain and body will most certainly die ... to face the overwhelm I must breathe... to make a conscious choices with clarity, I must breathe. Maybe all those yogis and Faith Hill have it right? Breathe. This is something you could not do in LA given all that smoke filling your lungs but now that you are in Seattle, breathe in that moist delicious Pacific Northwest air!

    Please give BHB and cute husband a big squeeze for me. Lots of love!!!

  3. We're following in your footsteps (tire tread? whatever) and heading up to Seattle ourselves. But it has calmed down a lot down here in LALALA! Blue skies again, temperatures down, even a cool breeze at night.
    As for the fear - not sure what I can say except I relate. If you had told me a year ago I'd wake up deep in the a**crack of the night from a pleasant dream, luxuriating in the comfort of our cool, soft bed and then willingly GET OUT to make sure my little girl was equally comfortable, I wouldn't have believed you. But its true.

  4. I think about earthquakes constantly. I always tell my students not to use the word "constantly" because it's a filler word that is almost-always hyperbolic. Here it is not. I'm insanely anxiety ridden. As soon as I put my foot down on a wharf this afternoon I had already run an apocalyptic earthquake drill in my head and worked out how I would wrestle her out of her stroller as the wharf collapsed beneath us so that I could save her from drowning. Insane. Bat shit. When you figure out what that coping mechanism is, I'd love to know. Honestly, sometimes I wish the End of Days would come already so I could stop fretting about it.