Category Archives: Uncategorized

No Towel for Owl

This is the first time he’s been washed in three years–I’m trusting the sun to kill any stray bacteria.

Contrary to appearances, I love this guy. He’s the first stuffed animal I ever bought for MJ, back at the L.A. Zoo in 2010. It was our first trip there; she couldn’t talk yet, but It was clear she needed to have him. Or maybe I did. It’s hard to tell. Anyway, he’s part of the family now, and as such, needs to be maintained. And, family or not, his filthiness has reached unacceptable levels. Mike’s been kidding that the doll was morphing breeds.

“You can’t possibly call that a snowy owl anymore. Is there such a thing as the murky gray kind?”

“There’s a great grey owl,” MJ replied primly. “Remember the one from the bird show?”

“Right,” Mike said triumphantly. “He’s one of those now.”

“No he’s not!”

“Looks like one to me!”

“DADDY!”

“All right, all right, ” I grumbled. “Enough. I’ll wash him.”

And so here we find him, a bird on a wire, a doll suspended, an odd bit of wash dripping onto the concrete.

But a snowy owl once more. And tonight he sleeps in my daughter’s arms.

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Soak Opera

Taking a bath isn’t what it used to be.

Pre-kid, the sight of a bathtub evoked sensations of relaxation and ease. A bath was a place for candles, fragrant bubbles, and a cup of peppermint tea. Bathing happened in limitless time. You forgot to check the clock. You added more hot water. Your biggest problem was how to turn the pages of your New Yorker without getting them wet.

Such notions are long gone. The bathtub, now, is the scene of a nightly battle. Or, at the very least, a manic, demonic screech-dance over which I have scant control. It is a place ruled by my charge–a four-year-old nut job–who views it–and me, when I am bathing her–as little more than an enemy to be foiled.

Bedtime, in general, is the time a parent dreads most. You are tired. Your child is tired. You are grouchy. She is punchy, wily, and petulant. She has lost the ability to regulate herself; you have lost your sense of humor. She is being forced to perform a series of tasks she considers unreasonable and unpleasant. She is determined you will suffer for this. You do. So she does. It is misery for all concerned. OK, not always, but often.

When I look at a bathtub now I immediately hear my own voice, terse and fatigued:

“I need to wash your face. Please give me the washcloth. Stop. Turn your face towards me. No! Take your finger out of your eye. I need to wash your face! It’s past your bedtime! GIVE ME THE WASHCLOTH! I NEED TO WASH YOUR FACE!”

I see the dirty ring on the bottom of the tub I need to clean again. I see the criminally excessive number of used washcloths–my daughter requires at least eight for every bath–draped damply over every surface. I see hairs. I see dirty cat footprints. I see my stress level billowing up like hot steam to a low, cracked ceiling.

But tonight, for some reason, none of that stopped me. MJ was in bed; Mike was working on school stuff. The day had been fine but warm, yard work had been done. I am between addictive TV shows, so nothing called me to the laptop. All phone calls had been returned. I had a moment.

I stepped gingerly into the bathroom. Kneeling, I cleaned the ring. It really only takes a second. Tossing the dirty washcloths into a forlorn heap on the floor, I turned on the water, fetched my book from the bedroom, and bathed.

Guess what? It was nice. Looking up from “House of Mirth” to a row of plastic animals, dinosaurs, and empty play bottles may not be quite as relaxing as reclining in pristine candlelight, but it’s not terrible either. Too bad I had no bubble bath other than–you guessed it–California Baby. But truthfully? It smelled pretty good.

And nobody had to fight me to wash my own face. Bliss.

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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. (;

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Shock Therapy

Et tu, Waste King? I thought you were the one appliance in the house I could count on not to betray me. You are, after all, the only one that was purchased after the Eisenhower era.

But there I was tonight, washing dishes. I reached out to flick on the garbage disposal, then screamed dramatically–how else can you scream?–when I realized I was being shocked. Quickly whipping my hand back, I shook it hard to lessen the numbing buzz that was traveling up my arm.

“What happened?” asked Mike from the dining room table. He was surrounded by a laptop, papers and files. He’s the treasurer of MJ’s preschool now. My little Bartelby the Scrivener. Minus the tall hat.

“I think I just got shocked by the garbage disposal!”

He didn’t look up from his Quickbooks. “Ouch.”

Ouch? That’s it?”

Now he looked up. And stared at me blankly.

“Aren’t you surprised?”

“Not particularly,” he said calmly.

“Why?”

“I don’t know,” he said, leaning back. Placing his palms on the table: “Were your hands wet?”

I looked down at them. “Yes.”

“Was the switch?”

Oh. Yes. “So that’s, like, normal?” I asked, rubbing my arm gingerly.

“I’m not sure it’s normal. But you probably completed the circuit with all that water.”

Great. I’m an eighth-grade science experiment. “Am I going to have nerve damage?

He smiled as he turned back to his screen. “Not likely. An AC current is surprisingly weak. I once got shocked by a fallen wire while standing in a rain puddle. My friend had to knock me out of there with a stick. But I was fine.”

I stared at him, agape. “A stick? Why?”

“I was immobilized.”

My eyes widened further. “That’s–a terrible story.”

“It was no big deal.”

“You’re crazy.”

He shrugged.

Finishing the last few dishes, I dried my hands thoroughly and walked out of the kitchen. My last words to Mike before I went?

“I will never touch that thing again.”

Scraping the dishes is no big deal. Being a human Tesla coil? I’ll leave it to my more sanguine husband. And remember to keep a stick handy.

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Expense Report

It’s a record, for me, at least. Today I visited three different grocery stores, bought eight bags of groceries, and spent just north of three hundred bucks. $311.02, to be exact. WTF? How does this happen? And how on earth do people with multiple kids do it?

Fortunately, when my marketing was done, I had a few minutes to myself, so came here to the library, where I’ve just picked up “Lean In” for absolutely free. Does this make me feel better? Slightly.

Now if only one of my daughter’s friends hadn’t repeatedly called her “stupid” today. It left her morose; I was worse. It’s all I can do to keep from walking over to the “bullying” section of the parenting shelf right now. There they’ll find me at closing time, turning pages, chewing my knuckles, silently sobbing.

The universe is vast. So are grocery bills. So is the list of things from which I cannot protect my daughter.

I am trying to lean in to the enormity of all I cannot change. To do otherwise is costly.

But laying down has its own price. Part of me wants to go home and teach MJ how to flip off her tormentors. This, too, will not help. But it might feel good for a second.

It’s a complicated calculation.

I am shopping for wisdom.

But I am bringing home mostly snack food.

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