Archive for April, 2010

April 18, 2010

Shark vs. Peanut

When John and I were engaged but not yet married (and I was thus not yet pregnant), I had already decided that when we had our first child I, at least, would call it “Shark.”  Boy or girl, I didn’t care.  We’d give it a proper name, sure, and when time for school came, we’d use that.  But in the meantime, I would call it Shark.  As I would be spending more time with the baby than John would, I figured that I had some kind of power I could exercise. And exercise I would.

The story goes back to many, many moons ago (before I knew John and his family, so this is hear-say, but I have it all on good authority) when one of John’s younger brothers requested that he no longer be called by his given name.  He wanted to be called Shark.  I’m not sure it lasted more than a few days, or even more than a few hours, but when I heard this story, it struck me as pure genius.  As far as I know, no one else in the family has more successfully claimed this as a (nick)name, nor has anyone even tried.  That in mind, and with the absolute certainty that nothing related to marine life would end up on a birth certificate, I was sure I would call the little one Shark for as long as I could.

Now I’ve known I was pregnant since about four weeks in—for those not familiar with pregnancy arithmetic, that means the baby was only two weeks in utero, (and yes, I am kind of proud that I knew so soon).  I’ve surprised myself with my struggle to call this little one Shark.  It was somewhat easier for the first few weeks; I still had to think about it a bit, but it came semi-naturally.  Then we saw the first ultrasound, and everything changed.

I mean that in more ways than one.  Seeing that ultrasound was hands-down one of the most amazing moments of my life. There was this little person that didn’t even look much like a person yet—it looked like a peanut. But it was very clear to see that it was something, someone, and I knew in a way I can’t explain that it was our very special little person.

We heard the heartbeat a few weeks later at another appointment.  The volume on the Doppler was turned up so loudly, I thought it sounded like the baby was trying to beat a door down!  Experiencing that sound was wonderful, but it didn’t affect me as powerfully as the ultrasound. Already, being a parent is full of surprises, and I’m looking forward to what else is in store.

April 16, 2010

Why I Blog

When I conceived of this blog (ha ha), I knew I would post early on about why I’m blogging, more for myself than for anyone else.  I wanted to record my motives at the start, as best I could describe them, with the idea that I’d compare this post to another of a similar nature later on.  Sort of like a time capsule, or writing yourself a letter during freshman year of high school that will be mailed to you upon graduation.

There are a couple of reasons I choose to blog at this point in my professional, personal, and writing life.  The foremost is that I think it will be useful in all three sectors to have a self-imposed, yet semi-public system to hold me accountable to writing a prescribed amount (about 500 words) on a regular schedule (three times a week).  This is helpful just for the sake of discipline, what with deadlines and a recordable measure of productivity, plus the practice of gathering my thoughts concisely and interestingly should improve my writing and other modes of communication overall.

The second reason is that I finally feel like I have something to write about.  I am a young, married, Catholic woman, living and working in New York City, and expecting my first child.  Of course, I understand that I am not the only person who fits this description, but I do hope that my perspectives on family, faith, work (whatever that may mean), and happiness in general will provide fodder for conversation both within and outside of this blog.  I hope to appeal to folks who aren’t in my situation, and to offer some insight into a less common life.  Lofty goals, I know.  But I also know that I do not want simply to write, I want to write something meaningful.

The third and final reason is one I didn’t quite realize until the other night.  I’d just finished writing when John came home.  Usually there’s something I can’t wait to tell him at the end of the day, but this time, the “thing” I couldn’t wait to share—that I’d published my first blog post—was accompanied by a smile like the Cheshire cat’s that I felt bursting out of my face.  I was so happy to have created something new, to have shaped my thoughts into a something that felt relevant and true, to watch something that I didn’t entirely expect appear under the quick strokes of my fingertips.

So the moral of the story is that I’m here to write.  My writing hopefully means someone reading, and hopefully someone getting something fruitful out of it, but I’m trying not to get too caught up in all that quite yet.  Right now, the goal is to write, edit, rewrite, rewrite, and hit “publish.”

April 15, 2010

. . . A Very Good Place to Start

John and I have been geographically blessed in our relationship. We grew up in pretty much the same town, and our parents still live there and likely will for many years to come. We both went to school in Boston. We both studied abroad in Germany (though at different times; this is more of a fun fact). And after school, we both got jobs in New York City. For about six months we were working directly across the street from one another . . . in Manhattan. Now we live in the same place, too, but I suppose that bit was to be expected.

What I believe really got us to where we are is not the geography that kept us together, but a couple of things I learned in the time when we were physically apart. We never put a hold on our relationship (minus the three-day “break” at the beginning of college that I suggested and then quickly nixed. If you know anything about my near obsession with Friends, you know it’s insane that I ever thought that was a good idea). Any time we spent apart was because there was something one of us needed to do. We’ve each readily supported the other when those times came, as hard as the few days leading up to the separation always were/are.

When I was a junior in college, I traveled a lot. After a semester in Boston, I traveled to Belize for two weeks as part of an international immersion/service/mission program, before spending a semester abroad in Berlin, during which time I also traveled to Ireland, England, and France. It was a wonderful year, and I have the scrapbooks to prove it!

The program in Belize was inspired by Pedro Arrupe, S.J., and it was intended to give students a unique opportunity to learn about other cultures, to serve others, and ultimately, to explore our own faith. It was hands-down one of the best things I did in college.

The philosophy of the program was centered on these words from Pedro Arrupe:

Nothing is more practical than finding God,
that is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings,
what you will do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read,
who you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

While we were in Belize, we spent some time with alumni who were in a program to serve internationally for a period of two years. I really enjoy volunteering, and I expected to come back from this trip certain that I would spend some time abroad after graduation. I was there to fall in love with the people I was meeting, the places I was seeing, the experiences I was having. And to some extent, I did.

But the real fruit of this trip, and it took a few months to figure this out, was that what I am in love with is my home—being with my family and my friends, being in familiar places, and being with John in particular.

A few months after I came home from Belize, I traveled to Berlin to study for a semester. In many ways, my lifestyle there was not dramatically different from that in the U.S., so it was not at all like what I’d experienced in Belize. The struggle in Berlin was that I had a couple of really lonely days. I didn’t make too many friends, and a lot of time was spent on my own, which I learned is only really fun when you want to be alone, not when you have to be alone. Through that experience more than anything else in my life thus far, I learned that being grateful for the good and the bad every day and in every situation is one of the golden tickets to true happiness.

By the time I was back home from all my gallivanting, the travel bug was out of my system. I knew more certainly who I was, what I wanted, and where I was needed.

And the really amazing thing was that I realized I had known it all along.

%d bloggers like this: