Select Page
Loved and Wanted

Loved and Wanted

Loved and Wanted

A Memoir of Choice, Children, and Womanhood

Loved and Wanted: A Memoir of Choice, Children, and Womanhood / Christa Parravani

Christa Parravani thought a teaching job at the university in Morganstown, West Virginia was the path towards a better life for her young family. Instead, she found herself unexpectedly pregnant a year after the birth of her second child. With a tenuous marriage and financial situation, Parravani sought an abortion. Although well within her legal rights, Parravani was ignored and misdirected by medical professionals. Once she understood she’d need to leave West Virginia in order to attain a safe, legal abortion, she felt her pregnancy was too far along.

What begins as one woman’s quest to come to terms with a pregnancy she didn’t plan becomes a searing portrait of the way systemic injustices fail those who are the most vulnerable. When Parravani delivers a baby boy, it’s clear to her there is something wrong– her son cannot nurse (and quickly becomes jaundiced) or move his arm. But she is swiftly dismissed by medical professionals, just as she was when she sought an abortion. In motherhood and in America, it seems, you can’t win. When the family travels to Los Angeles for her husband’s job, a doctor notes the bump on his clavicle– broken during delivery, and now healed.

This was one I couldn’t put down, despite its heavy subject matter. It is a cutting portrait of modern motherhood, and a deft rendering of place, with Parravani’s exacting prose throughout:

I held my baby son and it felt like I was a skydiver pulling the ripcord. We were falling together and I couldn’t hold him hard enough. He was going down on my watch, just like Cara did. I was in a haunted place, in my home and in my body. I bargained. I couldn’t let that darkness touch my son. My love, she died; but we were still here.

I wondered how a writer would handle writing about wanting to abort a child she ultimately gives birth to and, of course, loves, wants, and fights for. The answer is in Parravani’s advice to one of her students, wrestling with her own memoir: “I assured her that writing is a service, not an act of aggression but of love. People need to be seen and heard. I implored her to remember, to follow the path of bravery, not fear.”

 

Recent Posts

 

Loved and Wanted

Loved and Wanted

Christa Parravani thought a teaching job at the university in Morganstown, West Virginia was the path towards a better life for her young family. Instead, she found herself unexpectedly pregnant a year after the birth of her second child. With a tenuous marriage and...

Love and Trouble

Love and Trouble

At 44, Claire Dederer was suddenly crying a lot and dealing with the intense feelings she hadn't experienced since she was a young adult. She finds herself digging through old journals, remembering her youth, and drawing connections to her current "inconvenient"...

BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller Review

BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller Review

I recently upgraded our stroller and since E and I are both thoroughly obsessed with it, I thought I would share our BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller review. When E was about 4 months old, I hastily purchased a jogging stroller from a consignment store. The...

Love and Trouble

Love and Trouble

Love and Trouble

A Midlife Reckoning

Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning / Claire Dederer

At 44, Claire Dederer was suddenly crying a lot and dealing with the intense feelings she hadn’t experienced since she was a young adult. She finds herself digging through old journals, remembering her youth, and drawing connections to her current “inconvenient” feelings.

This memoir has been recommended to me numerous times, including during a workshop I took while I was reading the book (what Julia Cameron would call a synchronicity). 

Dederer’s prose is exactly what I love in a memoir: sharp and clear. What Dederer does well, she excels at: the chapter “How to Have Sex With Your Husband of 15 Years” is a masterclass in writing about your sex life without making anyone uncomfortable. And on the whole, Dederer presents a clear story for a certain point of view; I enjoyed getting to know the narrator through her recollections of love and sex from childhood to early adulthood. I saw myself in many of her stories, and has a hardcore keeper of journals myself, I loved the excerpts from Dederer’s own diaries. However, I found myself wanting more for context (many were only one sentence long) and could never figure out if there was a connection to the material that preceded (or maybe the diary entries were meant to speak to the next chapter? Regardless, I was lost).

The book sometimes devolves into what feels like a collection of creative writing exercises: the ABC’s of Oberlin, not one but two open letters to Roman Polansky, a walking tour of Seattle’s University Way circa the early 1980s, a case study. To me, these felt more like the scaffolding a writer gives herself before settling in to write the actual book.

And for everything that Dederer lays bare, there’s something lacking. Throughout the book, Dederer hints at having lost her shit for 4 years:

“I lay in bed for a year; I cried for two. I got kissed or just chatted up or occasionally groped by men not my husband (not use of passive voice) and wrote them letters and had long phone chats with them. I blew deadlines.  I forgot appointments for my kids. I fell down on the job in every conceivable way: as a mother, a wife, a writer, a friend. I received furious or, worse, concerned e-mails from almost everyone I knew. I fucked up.”

While the reader does see Dederer meeting men who are not her husband, the rest only gets a passing comment at the beginning and end of her memoir. The reader does not see her fucking up in the present timeline, and really not even as teenage-Claire. Perhaps this is something she felt like she couldn’t (yet) write about, but I wish she had, as it would have added much more dimension to the story of her midlife reckoning. What does it look like when an upper middle-class, happily married, mother of two loses her shit? As a future middle-aged woman, I wanted more, the way I used to read pregnancy blogs long before I was pregnant myself.

Despite its faults, it’s a compelling read. Read for its coming-of-age insights and delicate but truthful hand in portraying private moments.

 

Recent Posts

 

Loved and Wanted

Loved and Wanted

Christa Parravani thought a teaching job at the university in Morganstown, West Virginia was the path towards a better life for her young family. Instead, she found herself unexpectedly pregnant a year after the birth of her second child. With a tenuous marriage and...

Love and Trouble

Love and Trouble

At 44, Claire Dederer was suddenly crying a lot and dealing with the intense feelings she hadn't experienced since she was a young adult. She finds herself digging through old journals, remembering her youth, and drawing connections to her current "inconvenient"...

BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller Review

BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller Review

I recently upgraded our stroller and since E and I are both thoroughly obsessed with it, I thought I would share our BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller review. When E was about 4 months old, I hastily purchased a jogging stroller from a consignment store. The...

BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller Review

BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller Review

I recently upgraded our stroller and since E and I are both thoroughly obsessed with it, I thought I would share our BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller review.

2016 BOB Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller

When E was about 4 months old, I hastily purchased a jogging stroller from a consignment store. The snap-and-go stroller wasn’t cutting it for walks around the neighborhood, but since that was all I saw myself doing with it, I didn’t put too much research into the purchase.

Less than a month later, I joined Stroller Strides. We ended up using that pre-owned stroller a lot, and I kinda regretted not buying something a little nicer from the beginning.

Fast forward 18 months. When I was attending instructor training in San Antonio, Farel (FIT4MOM’s Global Fitness Director) mentioned a new Stroller Strides BOB was on the horizon– and it had an adjustable handlebar. As a much-shorter-than-average person (I’m 5′), I was instantly sold. I’m not ashamed to say that I became a little bit obsessed with this stroller. I stalked amazon weekly, waiting for it to be released.

Finally, on September 14th: there it was. I quickly added it to my cart, then camped out by the front door. When it finally arrived, I took a selfie on the porch like a totally normal person:

2016 BOB Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller

Unboxing the BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller

E and I made an unboxing video for your viewing pleasure:

BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller Features & Specs

Per bobgear.com, the 2016 Stroller Strides edition has the following features:

  • Comes with a Stroller Strides fitness classes coupon (valid in US only) and a Stroller Strides Fitness Kit by BOB, including a handlebar console, Stroller Strides exercise manual and SPRI® fitness resistance bands.
  • This product comes with a coupon for a free week of Stroller Strides classes by Fit4Mom. Find classes near you at fit4mom.com.
  • Swiveling-locking front wheel swivels to maneuver tight turns with ease or locks forward for increased stability when jogging or on rough terrain.
  • Adjustable padded handlebar offers 9 positions to create the perfect fit for parents of all heights.
  • State-of-the-art adjustable suspension system offers 3 inches of travel and 2 stages of weight support for an ultra-smooth ride.
  • Easy 2-step fold for convenient transportation and storage
  • Travel system-ready when using the BOB Infant Car Seat Adapter (sold separately). Pair with a BOB B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat by Britax or with other major brand car seats.
  • Air-filled tires on high-impact polymer wheels make for a smooth ride whether on-road or off-road.
  • One-hand recline adjustment lets you quickly lay the seat back with the simple squeeze of a button.
  • Fully upright seating position so your child can see the world on all your adventures.
  • Extra-large low boy cargo basket provides 15% more storage space so you can take everything you need when you’re on the go.
  • Ultra-padded seat with ventilation and a five-point harness keeps your child comfortable and secure.
  • Integrated pockets store snacks, drinks, and other necessities.
  • Extra-large UPF 50+ canopy shields your child from sun and weather.  Includes a large viewing window so you can keep a watchful eye.
  • Enhanced quick-release design makes it easy to securely attach both the front and back wheels.
  • Easy-remove wheels allow the stroller to become more compact for easy storage in tight spaces.
  • Adjustable front wheel tracking helps correct alignment with a simple twist of the knob.
  • Foot-activated parking brake secures stroller in the stopped position.
  • Wrist strap provides safety while running and includes a buckle to lock the stroller closed when folded.

Feature- and spec-wise, the BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller is the same as the BOB 2016 Revolution Flex. The main difference is that the Stroller Strides edition features the FIT4MOM logo and is only available in blue. The Stroller Strides edition also includes a handlebar console, SPRI fitness bands, a Stroller Strides exercise manual, plus a coupon for a free week of Stroller Strides classes. The bands are a must-have if you want to work out on your own with your baby (I would also suggest a copy of Liza Druxman’s Lean Mommy to supplement the included exercise manual), and nice-to-have if you’re planning to join a Stroller Strides franchise, because bands do wear out, break, and otherwise get lost– you’ll need replacements eventually).

BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller Review

A few weeks into owning the stroller and with several classes under our belt (both with me as an instructor and as a regular ol’ client), I can say with certainty that the BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller is worth every single penny.

Comparing this stroller to my previous stroller, the tires are larger, so it’s much easier to run with. I love that I can adjust the handlebar to a height that’s comfortable for me. The 5-point harness is far more secure than our old stroller, too, which gives me peace of mind when I’m running with E in the stroller (accidents do happen, which is why it’s so important for kiddos to be properly buckled in during class).

The included handlebar console has a zippered compartment and a beverage holder. It is, unfortunately, too small for my 40 oz Hydro Flask, but a standard water bottle would fit just fine. I usually stick my phone in the beverage holder and use the zippered compartment for E’s many snacks (snacks are crucial for getting through a workout with a toddler).

2016 BOB Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller

The cargo basket is roomy enough to fit my mat, bands, Hydro Flask, and anything else we need for work out. There’s also a pocket on the back of the seat that’s perfect for storing anything you want to get to quickly, plus interior pockets for kiddos to stash toys and snacks.

2016 BOB Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller

I’m going to assume the padded seat is comfortable because, like I mentioned, E is obsessed with the new stroller. He insists on riding in it when we go check the mail, a journey he’s been walking for since he was 18 months old. The fact that an almost-3-year-old who’d rather be running and jumping is begging to get in a stroller and ride is pretty telling.

BOB Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller

The sun shade is extra-large and almost completely shades E when he’s sitting in the stroller. This is great from a sun-protection standpoint and also for stroller naps. The seat is super easy to recline, too.

All in all, this stroller did not disappoint and was worth the wait. I hope this BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller review was helpful if you’re in the market for a jogging stroller. It’s  a must-have for moms looking to work out with their babies (check out the duallie model if you have 2 kiddos). Check out FIT4MOM to find Stroller Strides classes near you.


(This was not a paid review, obvi. I’m just completely smitten with my new stroller and Stroller Strides.)

On Achieving Iced Coffee Perfection

On Achieving Iced Coffee Perfection

I love coffee. Kinda. It’s probably more accurate to say I like coffee-flavored milk. Which is where my Starbucks Gold Card comes in. Nothing I make at home tastes quite as good as what I can get for $5 at the drive-thru.

Until today.

img_5166

Over the weekend, I devoured Jenny Rosenstrach’s new book, How to Celebrate Everything. It’s every bit as good as Dinner: A Love Story and Dinner: The Playbook. When I came to her husband’s method for making iced coffee concentrate in a french press, I immediately added it to my food prep list for the week, even though I was a little skeptical. I’ve tried to make cold brew in the french press before and haven’t been wowed by the results. But if there’s any food writer I trust, it’s Jenny. She’s yet to steer me wrong.

Incidentally, also on my food prep list this week was PSL syrup after hearing Kelsey mention it on a recent Coffee + Crumbs podcast.

After I got E in bed for his post-lunch siesta, I filled a mason jar 3/4 full of ice, added the cold brew concentrate and milk in a 1:1 ratio, and topped it off with 2 Tbsp. of the PSL syrup and 2 Tbsp. of half and half.

Y’all. It was perfect. Plus, cheaper and probably healthier than my beloved Starbucks.

Iced coffee perfection achieved.

pumpkin spice iced coffee

 

On Writing, and Being Known

On Writing, and Being Known

“You certainly have a way with words… when you take your time,” my 11th grade US History teacher said as he handed my paper on Hemingway back to me, a big red “A” scrawled on top.

Writing has always been my thing. It’s as natural to me as drawing air into my lungs. I discovered the transformative power of journaling at an early age, filling page after page of cheap spiral bound notebooks with both the mundane and the significant events of my life. I’ve written love letters, hundreds of LiveJournal entries, and one slightly ridiculous poem about sugar cubes. I’m often not sure how I feel about something until the words are flowing through my pen. Words are my super power.

unknownlandscape

unknown landscape, 4″ x 6″. Shot and printed sometime in college, probably 2005.

I’m quite certain my journal literally saved my life the year I was 20, the year my anxiety caught up with me and I was drowning in depression. My mental state was roughly equal to the surface tension of water. I couldn’t turn off the tears, I’d lay on my bed in a ball and imagined myself sinking into the mattress and then disappearing completely. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to be here anymore. Practically every night I dreamt about something horrible and unspeakable happening to one of my five siblings. It was the most desperation I have ever felt in my entire life and I never want to go back to that place (my thoughts from that time still terrify me on a truly primal level). My journal then was an anchor made of paper, the thing that kept me rooted in place, the thing that allowed me to occasionally pull up for air from the darkest depths while my brain healed itself with therapy and medication. And time.

But gradually, I stopped writing as much. Life became full with graduate school, and full-time employment, and a man who knew how to love me even when I was having a full-blown panic attack in our bathroom. My brain wasn’t telling me as many lies, not going haywire over every perceived danger. I still kept up my journals, but I would go weeks between entries. There are many things that happened that I did not even give a cursory mention.

Although writing has been my gig since I left my library job at the end of 2012, I have not been taking my time. I’ve been writing, but not my own stories. Not the stories that matter, not the things that help me make sense of where and who I am and how I even got to this place.

I signed up for Known, a creative storytelling workshop with Coffee + Crumbs, because my creativity has been at all time low, because I’m starting to forget what it feels like to be anything other than a wife and mom. I love being those things; my husband and son are my everything. But I know there’s more depth to me than that.

Since the workshop started earlier this month, I’ve filled pages and pages of my journal with notes from the weekly lessons. And I’ve written, a tsunami of words. I’ve written about a loss I’ve never shared and the boy who had my heart when I was eighteen, and what it feels like now, to be 32.

I forgot what this felt like.

Of being exhausted not because my insomnia is back (again) but because I’d been writing after I put the baby to bed and couldn’t turn it off, memories of things that happened over a decade ago suddenly flooding back like it happened yesterday. Of feeling buoyant because I was putting my words out into the universe instead of letting them weigh down my heart and clog up my brain. Of the satisfaction that I’d made something today other than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cut into tiny squares.

This is what it feels like to practice my craft. I pour another cup of coffee and I keep going, taking my time.