Monthly Archives: June 2016

Junk Mail Transforms into My Story

Ever since I was an awkward, unsure, adventure-romanticizing teenager, I have wanted to write a book.

I used to have penpals that I corresponded with when I was living in India, and whom I continued to write to once we moved to Vermont. I started writing to penpals when I wasletters about 10 years old, and continued until I was almost 18.

I remember sending out letters when I was 17 to all of my penpals, requesting that they return to me any and all letters I had written to them over the years.

“I’m going to write an autobiography,” I explained to them, “so it would be really helpful to have the letters to fill in the gaps that I may not be able to remember.”

It was really fun reading all of the letters I had written over the past 7 years.

But I did not write an autobiography at 17.

Now, at 30, with a baby in my belly and an incredibly supportive life partner who not only provides me with daily encouragement, but also with a typewriter, I am finally ready.

Not ready as in, ‘I know exactly what I’m doing or that I am confident this book will be an amazing success’, but ready like ‘No one is going to stop me. I’m going to write every damn day and say what’s on my mind and than I’m even going to go through and edit all that writing that I did, and than I’ll figure it out from there.’

After suffering a concussion more than 2 years ago that still affects me today, I became very aware of how hard computer screens are on me. They affect my eyes, my brain, my energy levels and creativity.

I was sure I would not be able to write a book on a computer. It would be torturous.

I was also sure I wouldn’t be able to write a book doing long-hand, because my wrist was sure to quickly cramp up and die before too soon.

That’s where the typewriter came into the picture.

Except I hate the idea of wasting paper.

“Oh, but we can get recycled and/or renewable resourced paper,” Addison assured me.

“Yeah, but there’s still all the energy that went into making the paper, and then our energy through money to pay for it,” I would say.

One day, after getting doubles of a piece of irritating mail from Blue Cross Blue Shield, I became exasperated. “This is SUCH a waste of paper!!” I cried. “They’ve already sent this to me everyday for the past three days, and now they’re sending TWO in one day? They ALL say the same damn thing anyways!!”

What was even more infuriating about these pieces of mail, was the ‘cover letter’ at the front of each letter, which was basically just a blank piece of paper with my name and address typed into one corner, and big words typed in the center that said “Cover Letter.” What purpose this piece of paper was serving was beyond me.

I snatched the cover letters up and declared, “Well, these are blank on the back, so I can save them to write on with the typewriter.”IMG_0042

And that’s when junk mail, bills and cover letters became exciting to me.

The transformation within me was subtle, like a plant growing quietly off in the corner of your house.

Now, whenever the mail comes, I eagerly tear open the credit card offers and phone bills, gleaning the papers from it that have blank backs.

And every day, I write for an hour on the typewriter, filling the backs of these pages and feeling no shadow of guilt whatsoever about wasting paper.

Occasionally I hit a jackpot when Addison messes something up with the printer and hands over a stack of single sided pages that he can’t use.

Life really is just about how you look at things, isn’t it? I used to feel irritated at the sight of junkmail, and now I feel excitement, anticipation. junk mail

Thus begins the story of transforming junkmail and bills into a story!



To baby… or not to baby?

Do you remember your first time discussing the all-important topic: ‘Am I going to have kids or not’?

I believe my first embarkment on the topic of this important life decision was when I was 9 years old, playing tag with my little brother and our two friends in the courtyard of a 3 story, marble and granite house in the heart of Mysore, India.

Our families had moved to India a few months earlier from Efland, North Carolina, and we were sharing the space of this house that, by most Indians’ standards, was no less than a mansion. The courtyard at the base of the house was fenced in, and although we could see traffic moving past and people walking by, we were separated from it all by walls and gates.

There was plenty of space for the 4 of us to scamper about, and as we darted back and forth, we were able to discuss–though somewhat breathlessly–the prospect of children in our adult futures.

Vraja, the twin brother of my best friend Tarini, asked me, “So do you think you’re going to have kids?” He seemed both enthralled and embarrassed by being the one to breach the topic. “I don’t know if I will… maybe!” he cocked his head to one side, before dashing out of reach of my pursuing brother, Gaura.

I raced after him, in order to follow up on the discussion. “Nah,” I yelled, gasping for breath. “I don’t think I’m going to have kids! Because I don’t think I would ever want to get married.”

Later, I would take Tarini aside to divulge my reasoning behind not getting married and having kids when I was a grown up.

“You see…” I explained to her, “My sister told me that the way you have to have a kid is the man has to stick his… ‘thing’ inside the lady!”

Tarini’s face was filled with the horror that I had been anticipating.

“I don’t EVER want that to happen to me,” I said.

She looked ill. “Me NEITHER.”

And there we sat, the two of us, 8 and 9 years old, on the rooftop of a house in Mysore India, considering our baby-less and husband-less futures.

Once I had made that decision, I didn’t worry about it or give it much further thought until many years later.

Once I had been able to come to terms with HOW babies were made, than it became a decision I would consider and discuss once again. Between the ages of 20 and 30, I would pendulum back and forth between theoretical futures.

There was the, “I MUST have a baby! NOW!”

Followed by, “I can’t ever have kids! There’s too much I want to do with my life! I’ll never NOT want to be accomplishing cool stuff, when would I ever have time for a kid??”

So when Addison and I were faced with the reality that there was a living, pulsing being that we had created, swimming around inside of me, the world stopped. We sat together in silence and in conversation, in wonder and in horror.

There was the cold, calculating voice that seemed to whisper to both of us, “You have a choice, you don’t HAVE to have this baby… You could be free of it if you really wanted to.”

I didn’t want to feel like that was a choice. I had never considered abortion to be an option for me, even though actually being pregnant gave me a newfound understanding and compassion for those who do choose to have abortions.

I just wanted to know that this child was a certainty, so I could than begin to move forward accordingly.

Addison left a day and a half after we discovered I was pregnant, headed back to Austin. We were pretty sure baby was staying. We weren’t sure where I was going, however.

All I really wanted was to “go home.” I was nauseous, homesick, tired of being in a different country. I also felt like I wanted to keep going. I hadn’t actually made it to Brazil!

I went back to share Watson’s room with him, and Addison went to get some space, some time to digest the news apart from me.

I called friends, family members, and one time burst into tears on Watson’s bed while he patted me awkwardly, cheering me by being sweet and silly.

I wanted to go home, but I also wanted to keep cycling. I wanted to fly to L.A. and bike up to Alaska. I wanted to fly down to Brazil and bike around Brazil before it was “too late”. But between pregnancy nausea and the Zika virus, those two options were out of the question.

I considered going to Vermont and staying with Addison’s mother for a while.

But finally, I got a message from Addison. His reflection time had led him to the turning point that he would later call, “Getting my head out of my ass.”

“This child is an expression of our love,” he said. “You are the only person in this world I would want to have a baby with right now, and I want you to come home.”

3 days later, I was in the airport and headed to Austin, my bicycle broken down into a box, my baby in my belly. We had all traveled across Mexico together, and now we were all going home.