When You Ask Me How I Am, I Want to Say This

How are you? 

Hey, what’s up?! 

What’s new? 

Hi! How you been?

Good! BH! Can’t complain! 

Oh, you know. Kinda tired, a lot going on. But good! 

Not too bad. You?

Oh. The niceties.

Hey Yocheved! How are you?

you ask me how i am thats a tough question to answer because i have no idea what you want to hear and in truth i feel like i’ve been complaining so much lately so much like who can stand me you must hate me im turning into that perpetual nag do you really want to hear how freakin big i feel how ugly how totally out of touch with my usual shape what the hell is my usual shape where its been years since i was that shape that i wish was usual and you dont want to hear about me pushing forty and my classic self-deprecating humor and other ways i defend against feeling too much and it feels lonely to hold that all inside which reminds me of this jonathan safran foer book im reading now and theres this amazing quote that made me cry truth be told im always on the verge of tears i wonder if people notice when i cry like sometimes i witness a moment that seems so utterly human i start to cry this kind of ugly cry that ruins any hope of being explained away with my self-deprecating humor a certain kind of ugly cry thats so uniquely me and i wonder if anyone notices like when i die will someone say yocheved used to cry she used to cry because she loved everyone so so much and oh right that book i was telling you about by the way im in middle of reading twenty books i read so slow i tend to get distracted in mid sentence and i feel like im getting spacey even more spacey lately maybe its being pregnant why does it feel like im always talking about being pregnant how prosaic of me or so freakin tired or stressed or wondering how the hell im going to raise $200k while on maternity leave oh g-d dont think about your job or maybe its an enfp thing or sometimes i think its because im highly creative and my mind works so fast and is always creating connections and so you think im spacey and distracted but im light years ahead the movie is playing in my minds eye and i see every possibility every contradiction every beautiful nuance all connected merging together into one multi lane highway and that vision of oneness usually makes my cry makes me feel so close to the people around me yet so far and that brings me pain ya pain did you know im always in some sort of existential pain since im young it weighs on me and whenever i try to talk about it i feel kinda stupid and extreme and tell myself to relax relaaaaaax yocheved wow i hear that all the time everyone just wants me to relax just calm down just stop being so intense no one wants you to be intense i gotta be just enough just interesting enough just smart enough just strong enough just witty enough but what if ill always be too much and im spilling all over the place and im dripping everywhere and i just want to be in one place and i want to feel it now and now im so huge and so pregnant and now im spilling out everywhere and its even more messy and even my husband cant hold me and even he tells me to relax and when youre too much for the people you live with well i wont go there because well even in my stream of consciousness i have to guard my heart and insert my self-deprecating armor i mean humor here please oh did that work are you distracted welcome to my world and yes that book im reading what a book so poignant theres this line where he says im holding onto everything im trying to let go of or something im not good with details and wow when i read that i mean that makes so much sense right how is it that were always holding onto those things that we know deep down we have to let go of why is it so hard to let go all my life i want to let go and im holding on to so much afraid what would it actually look like to be free when i was younger i used to laugh on command this loud belly laugh and it was automatic and so cathartic and i havent done that in years i havent laughed that belly laugh on command because im scared and i dont want you to judge me and im already all over the place spilling everywhere and so you want to see me explode thats not right im trying to maintain some semblance of dignity which lately is even harder because i havent even told you about my kids but i wont go there because oh man im going to cry how will i ever get this right theres so much that can go wrong and one day itll fall into place and well have a moment of deep understanding and love and acceptance and some sort of sappy thank you mommy for everything and itll all be worth it oh it hurts oh im going to cry oh the risk and i wonder how bad can i get it before the damage is irreparable before its too late and i wish i could collect all those moments where i say the right thing where the hug lasts long enough to feel your softness and melt where it seems like youre all happy content fulfilled and seen for who you are oh its not appropriate to brag about our kids but imagine if it was i want to brag even though im drowning barely breathing how selfish am i whos dream is this anyway the long days and nights whos this all for where does it all begin and end i remember being seventeen and visiting this older guy a family friend he was so smart it was so innocent i was curious sitting with him in his attic i was so innocent watching him play guitar in the shadows smoking a cigarette chuckling at the irony and his james joyce novel ulysses was on the floor and i wanted to seem smart like him so i picked up his book and it ends with this long stream of consciousness these letters barely words just flowing for pages and pages and even then i understood that nothing really makes sense its all just letters just letters that we pretend make up words we pretend we know the stories that it all makes sense but its really just letters spilling out everywhere no line breaks or punctuations just letters and we our stuff the things we cant let go of create the space between the letters that make up the words you know sometimes i dream i imagine myself as an old woman wise wearing a long scarf and long earrings and a long dress and im living in jerusalem and i sell flowers or maybe i have my own antique shop or maybe i dont know i just am and no one knows what lamplighters is or where crown heights is or what i wrote about last week or any other projections of me and they just meet me and im old and im settled and im oddly beautiful and im holding my space and im all in one place and only oozing out love and wisdom and care in appropriate doses see i am relaxed finally and i laugh out loud that belly laugh and im proud of my kids and ive finally let go…

Boruch Hashem. I’m doing well! And you?