April 12, 2019

One year ago right now, you were still inside me. A machine spat pages to my left—my heartbeat and yours, jagged mountain ranges side by side. I was four hours away from holding you, and I will never forget that moment: how warm you were, how slippery and solid, how suddenly you were in my arms. Your eyes were dark and wide, your gaze calm. Your dad and I were laughing and crying, and I can’t imagine what the world looked like to you—a bright, cold blur, except for the two of us, maybe, our hands on your skin.

One day, my little Bean, you will tell us who you are. You will tell...

September 6, 2018

 Last night, on the eve of the 10-year anniversary of Nanny's passing, my daughter recognized her name for the first time.

We were lying in bed, and I was trying to feed her, but lately, as she's become more aware of the world, that world fascinates her endlessly. She turns from my breast to watch evening shadows lengthen on the wall. The click of the fan draws her eye, makes her smile. She glances toward the bathroom, where a light shines. She remembers the new delight of her feet, pulling them to her chest with both hands and clapping them together. A fifteen-minute feed can t...

March 13, 2018

 Photo by Adrian Collins Photography

Early on, when mornings were still surreal with the idea of you inside me--when you were the size of a poppyseed or even smaller, when my nurse spoke of you with caution, as if you could disappear at any moment, become reabsorbed into the darkness--that early, your dad predicted that you were a girl. 

"Look at the odds she's overcome already," he said to me. "A boy would've quit: 'Nah, too hard.'" 

We laughed, and I dared to hope he was right. I dared to hope you would stay. No--I dared to believe you would stay. 

And you did--but somehow,...

October 16, 2017

Fifteen weeks. I'm 15 weeks pregnant. 

Every morning in bed, I curve my palms around the little hard globe of my lower belly. Good morning, I think, smiling at the strangeness of this new part of me, wondering what else will have changed, grown, stretched overnight. On the scale and in the mirror, I take stock of these changes, still mostly unnoticeable to anyone besides Adrian and me. But something invisible has also changed, something no one would know but me: I'm a mother now. 

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I've been pretty public about our (my) struggles to conceive. (You can read here and here, as...

September 7, 2017

Every year on September 6, I make tortillas. And every year, they're wrong in a slightly different way.

The first year, they were as hard as tostadas and twice as thick as they should be. They tasted like burned flour. Another year, they were so salty the tongue curled upon touching them. Still another, they tasted like nothing, like air--as if I'd produced the physical form of something that did not exist. 

Every year, I try tweaking the recipe to fix the remembered problems: a little more water, maybe. What if I sifted the flour? (This, I thought, could be a brea...

August 31, 2017

Last Friday, I dropped by the HEB after lunch to pick up a few supplies for the weekend. San Antonio was on the outer edges of Hurricane Harvey's path, and weather reports warned that we might get up to 15 inches of rain with high winds and flooding. 

HEB was clotted with people. The water aisle was empty except for a case of Topo Chico (not the best advertisement), and the toilet paper aisle was the second most plundered. There was a sense of nervous excitement as people filled their carts with what remained on the shelves. ("Americans love a good end-of-the-world preparation,"...

June 28, 2017

From the outside looking in--and sometimes the inside looking in--the road to publishing your first book can seem labyrinthine, fraught with obstacles both seen and unseen. When should you query agents? How should you query agents? What does an effective query letter look like? How do you find agents who might be interested in your book? How many submissions should you send out? Should you grant an exclusive? When an agent offers, what should you ask them? What should you look for in an agent? What if more than one agent offers--what's the etiquette then? How do you decline rep...

June 7, 2017

Dear Charlie,

The night before you were born, I woke up every two hours to check my phone for a text message from your mom. She’d been having contractions since the afternoon before, a Sunday, and making my heart stop since Saturday with texts like, “She’s coming!” and “We’re heading to the hospital!” These were jokes, because your Uncle Adrian had surprised me with a trip to Big Bend the weekend before you were due, and your mom was punishing me for going away so close to your arrival. By the time we got back to San Antonio on Monday afternoon, though—after a seven-hour drive f...

March 25, 2017

Photo by Adrian Collins Photography 

When I made a "Health" category for this blog, I sort of hoped I wouldn't have so much to say. But after the close calls of last year, I made a New Year's resolution to be proactive about my health. That meant admitting to myself that, after sixteen months, it was strange that I had not gotten pregnant. It meant making an appointment to investigate, instead of continuing to make excuses. It means, now, saying on a blog what only a handful of people in my life know: at this point in time, I'm infertile. 

Every day for months now, I've wanted to...

September 6, 2016

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” —Anne Lamott

From clockwise: Nanny and Mom, circa 1970s; Nanny and baby Amanda, 1988; Nanny, AJ, Amanda, and I, 2007; Nanny's birthday, 2004 or 2005; Nanny and...

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