Category Archives: Products

She Sells Sea Kelp

Bag of old kelp, going cheap!

The back story: It’s March, 2011, and I’m in in a panic over the Fukishima nuclear disaster. Convinced that vast waves of radiation are about to hit Southern California and poison my young daughter, I order a bag of dried kelp online. I’ve read somewhere that eating seaweed will protect her thyroid gland from the toxic effects of radiation exposure. This stuff, in particular, is premium–I’ve gotten it from a place in Maine that promises it’s the purest, highest-grade variety available–the Humboldt County Thai stick of seaweed.

“As opposed to the commercial crap you get at Whole Foods?” Mike teased.

“Whatever,” I replied, not laughing. “It’s got to be the best. This is serious.” Not to mention that I’d already been to Whole Foods, and their entire seaweed section was sold out. I wasn’t the only paranoid mommy in L.A.

The kelp arrived in a huge plastic bag inside of an even huger box. I’d ordered a pound, not quite registering just how much that would be. It was a lot. But I was happy to have it. For an entire year I fed it to Myra-Jean in everything–smoothies, soups, salads, you name it. I even gave her great, desiccated chunks of it to chew on whole. She was young enough to not complain–sometimes I even thought she liked it.

But time passed, and my fervor to protect MJ’s thyroid gland abated. It had been a year. Most of the radiation had surely dissipated. Plus, she was getting pickier about her food. You couldn’t just toss the kelp into anything now and expect her to eat it. It had to be hidden, and even then she often found it. Slowly I cut back on adding it, and one day I stopped altogether.

There was a lot left. I gave some away, but even so, we had a huge bag remaining. A shocking amount.

Being me, I threw it in the back of the cabinet.

And there it stayed, a dark, solitary hulk squatting behind bags of white beans, dusty cans of baby corn, and a never-opened box of instant miso soup packets. Even though it took up an absurd amount of space, I liked seeing it there. It felt reassuring. Bring on the next nuclear disaster, I thought; we’re ready.

So when Mike periodically asked if it could be tossed, my answer was always the same:

“Let’s hold on to it. You never know if we’ll need it again.”

Finally, about a month ago, Mike drew the line. It had to go. At least from the kitchen. I knew he was right. It was ridiculous to keep it any longer. It probably wasn’t even edible anymore. Although does dried seaweed really go bad? Has anyone done the research? Oh, well. It wasn’t going to be me who found out.

Pulling it from the cabinet, I headed for the outdoor trash bin. But I couldn’t do it. It was just too drastic of a move. So, in a burst of my usual non-pragmatism, I stuck it in the utility room. On the dryer. That’s on the way to the trash, I reasoned, but not there yet. It’s like purgatory, for bags of seaweed.

And there it remained for weeks, waiting for someone to decide its fate.

This morning Mike picked it up and raised it before my eyes. “We need to make a decision about this.”

“I know,” I said guiltily.

“Can I throw it away?”

“No. Yes. No! Um–look, can we just stick it in the emergency supplies box?”

Mike shook his head sadly. “There’s no room for it.”

Damn. I sighed. “I’m just not ready to let it go. It’s the purest kind of kelp. From the Atlantic. No radiation, no pollution…”

There was a pause. Finally, looking slightly defeated, Mike placed it back on the dryer and threw his hands up.

“You deal with it.”

And I will. In the next year or two. In the meantime it’s making the utility room smell pleasantly of the sea.

photo

Potty Deux

I had to deal with some pretty intense “share shame” after writing my two last posts. My husband’s acerbic comment, made after reading the first one, didn’t help:

“Jesus. You’re either going to gain a lot of readers from this one…or they’re gonna desert you in droves.” Such a cheerleader, that Mike.

And it was eerily quiet after I published what I have begun to refer to, in my mind, as the “poop posts.” Very little in the way of commentary. Even from the regulars.

“I can’t wait to hear what your mom says about this,” Mike asserted.

She didn’t say anything. Crickets. Struck dumb with horror, I suppose. Very unlike her.

And speaking of likes? None. Not that I care, really. But, OK, dammit, I do. Just a bit. As to how many dozens of followers deserted me? Hard to know.

One thing I do know? You’ll find no poop on Goop. I checked. The closest I found was “The Dirty on Getting Clean.” Which sounds pretty interesting, actually. And not at all fecal. No wonder Gwyneth is so popular.

Tonight, to distract myself from my recent perceived humiliation, I hacked into my mom’s HBO Go and watched an hour of Louis CK. I’ve been obsessed with stand up comedy lately, due to the free trial of Sirius radio I’ve had in my new car. At first I didn’t like Sirius–how the fuck do you navigate through all of those channels?–then I found the Comedy Central channel and my life changed. Commute? What commute? I’m listening to people being stupidly hilarious–I don’t even know I’m driving! It’s a superb, elating way to pass the time; now that I’ve experienced it, I don’t know how I’ll ever go back to NPR.

But I will; my free trial is about to be over. And I’m too cheap to pay for it.

Back to stand up. Louis CK is my all-time favorite. I’d be in love with him, if he weren’t so gross. And masturbatory. And, yes, scatological. But these are exactly the things I also adore about him. He did a whole segment tonight on his leaky asshole. He said that sometimes he’s just sitting around, and suddenly he sniffs, and realizes he has to go wipe it. I quote: “My asshole is like a bag of leaves that no one remembered to tie up.” He utters such words. He paints such pictures in our minds. Nobody abandons him in droves. Jeez.

Feeling buoyed by my good laugh, I decided to get back on the literary horse. I know, this is hardly literature. But here I am. I’ve decided not, ever again, to discuss poop, assholes, or anything south of the waist on this blog. I leave that to the comics, who do it elsewhere–in my car, for starters!–with impunity and absolutely no shame. Me, I’m heading back to safer territory–laundry, my dog, our fucked up dishwasher, the fact that my daughter has now declared her middle name to be “Falcon,” (which sounds amazingly like “fucking'” when she says it quickly.)

And cute pictures of birds. I have tons of them. I am developing a collection. I’ll share them with you. You’ll “like” them, I’m sure.

But if you want to laugh your ass off? About shit, assholes, and other forbidden topics? Oh My God, you need to get HBO.

Or steal it from your parents.

*Cooper's Hawk Spotted Woodpecker

Poop Poohed.

Even my stool is an underachiever.

The Power of Poop–or its author, Tracy Mac–wrote me back this morning to tell me that, because I take an antidepressant–a low dose, for PMS! But still!–I am not a fit candidate for fecal donation.

Thanks so much for your offer of help…However the [medication] would be an issue if you take it for a mental health problem as there are links between unbalanced microbiota and mental health issues. I know that sounds difficult to believe, but there is now a great deal of research to support this. Gut problems don’t always manifest as diarrhea or constipation.

It seems that my gut flora aren’t, in the end, all that. If they were, I’d be a perfect picture not just of bodily health, but of happiness, equanimity, and mental balance. Well screw you, microbes. You’re clearly snoozing on the job. I am rescinding your blue ribbons, and replacing them with pink ones. Or white. Or tiny tin badges that just say “nice try.”

I am devastated. Crushed. Morose.

And slightly relieved.

Onwards and upwards. Perhaps next time I’ll just give some blood.

 

 

Friends and Enemas

I want to be a poop donor.

I know, there are many more noble pursuits, grand aspirations, lofty goals. But I’m a great believer in practicality, and this is something I can actually achieve.

The idea started, as most nutty ones do, at book club. I don’t know how the subject came up, but we took one of our many digressions from the work we were discussing and ended up talking about gut flora. Having discussed the health, maintenance, and benefits of same at great length, we eventually segued into a conversation about, well, poop. (Trust book club to find the gutter on any subject.) From there? A short hop to the topic of fecal transplants.

“Fecal what?” said one of my friends, disgust contorting her face.

Fecal transplants. Yes, it’s what it sounds like: putting healthy poop into the intestines of people with unhealthy gut flora. The healthy flora take over, like little intestinal Mormons converting tiny gut heathens. It really works. (Unlike Mormonism.) And they’re doing it more and more.

That’s the long and short of it. The details? No one knew. And no one wanted to.

We moved on. But days later I got to thinking about the conversation. Fecal transplants, huh? That must mean there are fecal donors. People with stellar intestinal flora. Who might those people be? Could they be…me?

Not to brag, but my gut is an all-star. It’s a fucking rock. If it were an athlete it would be Michael Jordan. If it were a warrior it would be Genghis Kahn. How do I know this? Two ways: one, I never, ever get sick. Two, I’m regular. I make the Staten Island Ferry look erratic.

Due to this, I’ve become rather passionate about the flora living in my intestine. I take pride in them, just as I would a prize herd of heifers. If my stomach were a barn there would be blue ribbons hanging from the stalls. As it is, I hang ribbons in my mind. My flora accept them, nodding sagely. They’ve been living antibiotic-free, eating well, and enjoying a low-stress environment for years now. They’re perfect specimens, every one of them. Coats shiny, eyes bright, hooves held high. Such as it is.

So when, recently, a gal from my book club sent out a link to a website called The Power of Poop I clicked it right away. The article in question was about do-it-yourself fecal transplants–a process that sounded both disgusting and Byzantine. But there was a link for potential clinical donors, and I found myself clicking it. I seemed to fit the criteria. Maybe I wasn’t crazy after all. Perhaps someone really could benefit from the rare qualities that my micro-livestock possess.

I decided to find out.

Look, maybe I’m nuts. Buy it’s better than drinking your own urine, right? Stay tuned. And hopefully open-minded. (;

bristol-stool-chart-1

 

Bird Flew

Stages of grief. There are the ones famously described by Elisabeth Kubler Ross. But there are other, lesser known types as well. Those, for example, experienced by a four-year-old girl who has to return a favorite bird book to the library. A book she has had out for two-and-a-half months. A book that can no longer be renewed and is many days overdue.

These stages look something like this:

Denial.

Realization.

Meltdown.

Strong-arming parent into buying book on Amazon.

Whereas Kubler Ross’s stages can take months, we went through all of ours in a couple of hours.

First, MJ lost it with the babysitter. I wasn’t there for that part. But I heard about it.

“MJ was a little tender tonight,” the sitter told me when I got home from work. “She realized her bird books had gone back to the library,” here she gave me a meaningful look.

I winced. “Oh, right.”

“So she had nothing to read at dinner…”

“But we have other books.”

She nodded sadly. “She wanted the library ones.”

I felt myself growing defensive. “I told her. She knew they had to go back.”

“I know. She was just really upset.”

Shit. “Like, freakout level?

She nodded, “Pretty much.”

After she’d left–I paid her extra for her trouble–I went into the bedroom. MJ was putting her stuffed owls to sleep under a cloth napkin. She barely looked up when I came in.

“Hey,” I said gently, putting on my best horse-whisperer-near-skittish-colt voice.

“Hi, Mama.” she still didn’t turn around.

“Hear you had a tough night tonight.”

She looked up at me. Her face was streaked with dried tears, long salt stains on each cheek. “My bird books are gone.”

I knelt beside her. “I know. Remember we talked about this? We’d had them out for nine weeks. We had no more renewals.”

The tears immediately recommenced, tracing new paths over their predecessors. “I want ‘Look Up.’ I miss it. And the other one. ‘Birds!'”

“Which ‘Birds?” We had two–”

“The one with Blood Lust!” she sobbed. “I want my Blood Lust book!”

The situation devolved from there. She wanted the books back. NOW. Nothing could console her. I tried telling her calmly that it couldn’t happen at night–the library was closed. Big mistake. Reality was not of interest to her. We were at an emotional Defcon five. I could almost hear the sirens.

Opting for a different tack, I told her we could go tomorrow and try to take them out again. This worked for a second. But then I saw her face change.

“W-what if they’re gone?” she sobbed, voice quavering wildly.

“Well, they…might be. But–”

“They’re going to be gone!” she wailed. “My books! Another kid will get them!”

“Oh, honey,” I crooned. “I know. This is hard.”

Aimless sympathy was not what she was looking for. “I need to own them,” she screamed. “I want them always here!”

Ah. So this is was her endgame. Possession. I got it, but I wasn’t sure it was a good idea. After all, I couldn’t go buying her every library book she got attached to. We’d end up looking like Strand Bookstore. And being just as broke.

I told her as much.

“Then I’ll buy them!” she cried.

Really. I decided to call her bluff. “Well, you have loads of money in your piggy bank. Do you want to use some of it for this?

An upturned wet face, desperate with hope: “Yes!”

“It may not be cheap…”

“I don’t care. I have, like, ten hundreds of money.”

So, for the next half an hour, MJ and I traipsed around the house gathering cash from her various stashes. Most of it was coins, but she had some dollars, too. Adding it up as we went, we piled it all into a paper bag she occasionally uses as a purse. Once we’d gotten to $14–an amount I thought fair for two kid’s hardcover books–we went to my laptop and ordered.

“Fortunately for you,” I said, as I clicked the final button, “we have Amazon Prime.”

“What’s that?” asked Myra-Jean.

“Today’s Friday. You’ll have your first book on Sunday.”

She smiled beatifically and cuddled into my chest. “I’m ready for bed now.”

As promised,”Look Up!” came today. Myra-Jean was predictably thrilled. We read it this afternoon, at dinner, in the bathroom, and before bed. Tomorrow, God willing, we’ll receive “Blood Lust.” It’s coming from a third-party seller because–big surprise!–it’s out of print. Probably banned in some states. Used as kindling. Sold for mulch.

As for the money? It’s the first MJ has ever paid for anything. She had a hard time parting with it, in the end. But I think it’s important for her to understand that sometimes you have to buy the things you want. Not every day is Christmas. So I’m not giving it back.

I can’t, however, bring myself to put it in my wallet, either. I don’t want it. It’s her precious loot, after all. Meaning far more to her than it ever could to me.

So there the bag sits on our kitchen counter. A reminder of a sad night, a cycle of grief, a problem solved. Some good memories, some bad…

And some just out of print.

photo-49

 

 

 

 

Let Me Eat Crow

Sometimes the anxious is the enemy of the nice.

It’s not pithy, but it’s true.

When I wrote the other day that the birds Mike made for me as prototypes for my AE class were “not Pinterest-worthy” I was being unkind. And ungrateful, considering the hours he’d spent making them. Or, OK, minutes. I don’t know–I wasn’t there. I was at book club, discussing a book I hadn’t read.

I guess I’m a bit of a jerk across the board.

Anyway, I have a feeling I’ll be hearing the phrase “not Pinterest-worthy” for the next forty years. And deservedly so. Sorry, Mike. Your birds were definitely Pinterest worthy. And AE-worthy.

Overall, you’re just a super worthy guy.