i have this list.  it involves things i like to fantasize that i will do in order to make myself more sane, more human, more humane…just more.  it evolves, changes daily sometimes.  more frequently, it gets shoved to the back of my mental clutter drawer, ignored until some trigger calls it forward, calls it back to my attention.  often, in regular life, i get too busy and consumed to pay much attention to it.

one of the gifts and cruelties of bedrest is that i am not too busy to pay attention to it.  it worms its way to the front of my subconscious and perches there, accusing me in the lulls between work phone calls and doctor’s appointments.  it shouts, you could be writing the great Canadian novel!  you could be learning tax law/saving children in Botswana/improving your French/organizing the back porch recycling pile!  you could be doing something useful!

it’s not wrong.

and the longer i turn a deaf ear on it, the worse i end up feeling.  so last night, with work winding down in a couple of weeks, and another three months of bedrest to go if all goes well, i sat myself down and let the list reel out, loose and wild.  i came up with a couple of things, all of which were salient reminders right now – as i bob helpless and prostrate on the waves of whatever shores destiny has in mind for me, feeling more like an aimless couch lump with every swell – that i am still making choices, even if i don’t control everything i’d like to.

1. i need to stop eating corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup.  i have insulin resistance, for chrissake…mild insulin resistance, but hell, mild diabetes doesn’t really sound nearly as good as no diabetes.  i have eaten three entire bags of red licorice in the last week…i’ve gone on a Nibs kick, and have been eating them like they’re a drug.  which, given their contents, they kind of are.  it’s not just the gestational diabetes heebies on my mind, either; it’s the whole subsidized corn industry in North America, my discomfort with the ubiquity of all this over-sugared, processed corn in every bloody thing.  we protect corporate giants whose products infiltrate our grocery carts like secret spores, even when we try to make finer choices.  i do not want to be a part of it.  i do not want the poison.  erm, except, of course, it is so silky and sweet in my mouth…but i will stop.

2.  i need to start cooking in general.  pregnancy does weird things to my appetite, makes me ravenous and finicky all at the same time.  vegetables molder in the fridge while bananas get consumed as if Curious George lived here.  Dave cooks, and i wrinkle my nose and crave corn syrup, impossible to please.  the work of food – the sheer labour of it – makes me feel defeated and paralyzed and like there are no decent easy options and then comes the whole poison lure again.  but cooking makes me feel creative, and even frugal and virtuous if i approach it as challenge rather than chore.  i can chop sitting down, and choose recipes that don’t take a lot of physical exertion or standing to cook.  i can.  i’ll feel better.

3. i need to get out and interact with other human beings not interested in taking my medical history at each encounter.  i called one of my oldest friends last night and asked her to take me out on a dinner date next week.  i called the local food bank and asked if i can volunteer to make sandwiches there and serve them (whilst sitting) one lunch hour a week, so long as i’m not in the hospital.  i need a place to be that is not here.  i need to feel useful, part of something outside this house.  i need random encounters with people…little conversations, snippets of other lives to intersect with, concrete things to do.

4.  i want a wife.  Dave and i are taking applications, actually, for a mutual wife of the Betty Crocker variety, if anyone has any candidates they’d like to volunteer.  there’s a sweet-faced farm girl at the local market who’d be perfect…she makes the best lemon squares, and is hearty and capable, like she could whip the place into shape in no time flat, making our home more organized and economical and wholesome and preferably installing solar panels on our porch in her spare time too.  she’d weed the garden, which is choking to death already, before the window boxes are even planted, and would have a dustbuster concealed under her apron to suck up all the cat fur congealing in the corners.  she would bring me cold water every hour, whilst i write on the couch.  she would be all the caretaker – cooking and childcare aside, we can handle that – that Dave and i want to be but are unable to achieve in these strange, imbalanced days…me invalid and him overloaded, flotsam piling up around us.

5.  i need to create something, engage in making something tangible, more permanent and protectable than consumable meals and mortal offspring.  not the great Canadian novel, probably, but something.  four summers ago, i spent a week in the Swiss alps with filmmaker Peter Greenaway, as part of the Ph.D that languishes unfinished and largely unmissed behind the letters in my name.  Greenaway, famous for “The Pillow Book” and “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover,” is a piece of work, a charmingly fierce and self-replete personality…and inspiring in ways i never expected.  what i took away from that week of mornings sitting around boardroom tables watching short films and doodling in my notebook is mostly encapsulated in this four word note: dude is obsessed with lists.  his work, from the earliest days, is all about cataloguing, layering narrative with signs, permutations of order, rosters.  i groove on this.  my imagination was fired by this.  fiction and history with trivia and minutiae…squee. so i am making a private list for my daughter, this long-imagined daughter whom i still cannot believe my own fortune in getting, whom i still cannot believe will cross safely into my arms.  we are fifteen days before the threshold of viability, this daughter and i…and this list will be fifteen stories of mothers and daughters, my lineage, what i know.  i figure i’ll finish it sometime before she learns to read.  or will have something to prove to myself she was here in the now, squirming as i type, no matter what.

6. i cannot be a lover right now, on strict pelvic rest, but i need to find ways – beyond desserts – to inhabit this swelling body that i’ve been ignoring now for months on end, eyes averted not from the externality but from the inner secret of this divided house, afraid to be madonna, not allowed to be whore.  i spent years of my early sexual life disconnected from myself, caught then in cycles of self-loathing i did not believe i’d ever heal.  fear is more disembodying than self-hatred, i discover.  and yet i long to relax into myself, loosen myself, stop living closed away like a prim, crisp bakery box that might spring open if even looked upon too lushly.  milkshakes are not cutting it.  i miss the loving, the release.  but what i need is to find ways of being present in my body without those, for now.  preferably without involving the young farm wife.  advice welcome.

i am still here, still abiding.  i am trying as hard as i can.