April 1, 2011

Empty, Full, Empty, Full

Sometimes, if you're too busy to get the message on your own, it punches you in the face.

I'm surprised I don't have a black eye today.

Wednesday night, J and I and Willa spent a few hours roaming around the farm I grew up on (here's a piece that explains why this is a big deal). I'd heard it was on the market and called the agent to make an appointment to see the place. At first, I just wanted Jacob to see it. I mean, he's been hearing stories for years and had no topographical context in which to place his wife's childhood. He had to see it. And, I wanted to see it for myself. Maybe I need closure or something.

But, then I started thinking about it as a real possibility for our farm. It's the right size, the right place, the right buildings, the right options.

What a rabbit hole that became. I'll write more about it in a few days, when I've had a little more time to process but for now,  I'm just not sure how to describe how I felt, standing in front of that old house, wind whipping -- past, present and future colliding.

That night, whether it was all the juice from the farm visit or just part of my all-night diner gig (Willa has decided that nursing every hour and a half in the middle of the night is totally acceptable for a 6-month-old), I couldn't sleep. So, I got up at 3 a.m. to go through the photos from the trip and send a few off to my editor for my next Home Again column on The Daily Yonder and New West.

What ensued is why I'm surprised I'm not black and blue.

Below is an email I sent to Jacob at 10 a.m. while Willa, shockingly, was taking a morning nap. But first, a note: There is some language inappropriate for children in the following post. It's also language inappropriate for some adults and certainly language inappropriate for me. I apologize. :)

(Also, just for clarification, "the Italy photos" mentioned are the photos from our honeymoon two and a half years ago. They got lost in Jacob's great computer crash of 2009, so we were both delighted that they're still on his camera. This is why, you'll see, they really upped the ante for this whole rigmarole.)


I've been fighting with trying to get the damn photos off the damn camera all morning. No luck on your machine -- it says the device is not compatible with Windows Vista.

So, I took the Italy photos off my computer and put them on my hard drive. (I imported them yesterday -- but because they're in RAW form, they did not go into the right folder, so importing again, in order to get to the photos from last night, would have not overwritten those files, instead, saved them all to another place and my hard disk is already full.) 

Then, I imported again and success! They came in nicely. EXCEPT ALL THE PHOTOS FROM LAST NIGHT. 

Then, my computer started shutting down because the hard drive was totally maxed out. Sounded like a jet plane was taking off under my keyboard. 

So, I took the Italy photos off again and tried to re-import, all the while totally panicked that something was going to go haywire and erase the camera drive. 

I got an error message again saying the drive was full, but I couldn't find the photos to delete them this time. 

So, I'm backing up the whole machine now and then I'll go in and do a full sweep. (Don't worry, the Italy photos, as well as all the Willa photos from the last six months are safe on the hard drive and I'll be deleting documents and big PDFs to get more space to keep all my photos on both the drive and the computer.)

But, in waiting for that to happen, I pulled up my phone to text Vann to see if she might want to go for a walk because I need a walk. 

INBOX FULL! My phone chirped. 

Well, that's fitting, isn't it? I thought. Since the camera is handy, perhaps I should take a photo of that. 

I put phone on table, which happens to be full of stuff, and I realize that I put the phone right on top of the little yellow slip from the post office saying our mailbox is full. 

Too Funny! I think. Perfect photo opportunity to illustrate how I feel this morning.
Too full! Hard drive maxed out. Software shorting. No room for messages in or out (hence me crying this morning when you asked where the diaper covers were).

So, I take off the lens cap and the damn thing doesn't focus. It doesn't click. I'm really panicked now. Jacob will KILL me if I've done something to this camera. I can't even work a Goddammed camera.

Then I look at the dialog box on the top of the camera. 



Guide, from Left to Right: Empty coffee, empty eggs (the only things on the table that I would *like* to be full), full phone on top of slip from P.O. notifying us our box is full and the mail can't fit, full camera, full external hard drive, full Mac (complete with the blue screen of death, just after crash No. 1)

During all this, I hear Willa stirring, just waking up from her nap.

I'm happy to have had the time I got with the nap, but still feel a little raw from the night, the lack of sleep and the constant nursing. I'm just not sure how much more I can give.

I feel my chest to check which side I should nurse on and both sides feel empty.

I carefully open the door to the bedroom to see what she's up to.

I scan the bed to see if her head is up or if she's just still grumbling.

I don't see her.

The bed is empty.


I panic, looking on the floor.

Oh God, she fell off.

I scan again and she's not on the floor.

Then I see her tucked near the edge of the bed, stuck between the bed and the wall.

I rush to pick her up, crying by now (me, not her).

She smiles big and coos at me.

Hey mama! I'm up! Look where I rolled to!

The rest of the day, I filled with her.

Empty, Full
Full of ideas
Empty of time
No room for shine

Full of connection
So empty in places
Full of sorrow
Because of empty spaces

Empty breasts
But full little tummy
Full diaper?
Empty mommy
Empty of patience
Empty of sleep
But right now
Bed is full

Wait, bed is empty?
Oh My God, Oh My God
Full of guilt

But she's full of smiles
Heart is full
So very, very full.

Lungs empty
Lungs full
Lungs empty
Lungs full


  1. Your picture took my breath away.
    Then I read your blog.
    You are beautiful.

  2. Loved this post, thought about it all afternoon. Such good insight, and in the end all that really matters is good, even if she's wedged in the corner of your bed.

  3. Lovely and insightful and smart and compelling. Please keep writing, and keep on posting pictures of Willa!

  4. I'm so glad you're writing this! Lovely! Also, I'm sorry about the night feedings. . .I remember.

  5. You are such a wonderful writer and a wonderful Mommy! Some days can be so frustrating when nothing seems to go our way. Oh and just a note, Kaitlyn nursed every hour and a half at night for at least the first year of her life...it was just something I had to adjust to.

  6. Damn you, Courtney. You always make me cry. The tears are streaming down my face as I type and I turn to see Jake watching me silently from the kitchen doorway. Of course, I tell him that he MUST read this amazing new work from you. Thank you for sharing your intimate moments and thoughts... so honest and beautiful. I love you more than words could possibly express. Cannot wait to read more...
    Sending you lots of love from Portland.... and a big hug & kiss for Jacob & Miss Willa.

  7. double damn court. i felt empty and now i feel full. thank you my dear for sharing.



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