Category Archives: WTF

Bait and Swish

I love my daughter. I adore every fiber of her being. But her newest habit’s going to make me tear my hair out.

It’s saliva swishing. Like what you do with water after brushing your teeth, but using spit. It’s loud, gross, and sort of scary. I don’t know how she summons enough liquid to make the racket she does. It’s like Niagara Falls in there. She must have over-active glands. It sounds like the final deluge. I should build an ark.

She does this constantly, but it’s most acute when she’s concentrating. When she draws, for example, or attempts to write. It’s at its worst for puzzles. Of which, right now, we are doing a lot. I say “right now” because I find the passion for puzzling waxes and wanes. It’s like a food craving, but in a three-year-old. Who isn’t pregnant. Anyway. These days MJ wakes up asking for them. They must be comforting in some way. It makes sense–the order, the fulfillment, the knowing where things go. I get it. But the swishing. Jesus Christ!

At first I tried saying nothing. The advent of this new behavior has coincided, roughly, with my going back to work; if it’s a self-soothing mechanism, I figured, far be it from me to take it away from her. Then it became incessant. Giving in, I asked her kindly to stop. Nothing doing. We finally arrived at the “you’re seriously grossing me out” phase. She thought that was hilarious. The more discomfited I became, the happier she was.

It usually ends, now, in a threat that I will leave the room (and the puzzle) if she doesn’t stop. I feel badly about this. But I have a sound thing. Or certain sounds. Wet ones. Mouthy ones. I’d rather she farted. She could fart incessantly and I’d hardly notice. I would think it was cute. I can do poop, toenail biting, even puke. I’m mildly freaked out by nose-picking, but I’d even take that over this.

And yet. The pleasure of being in her company these days is so sheer, so pure, so profound, that even aural torture can barely make a dent.  Every moment is a gift. I feel totally unable to accomplish anything else, of course–anything that takes me away from her is intolerable. Phone calls to return? Sorry. House to clean? Later. Fundraising for her preschool? Someday. Time enough for all of that, I reason, after she’s gone to bed. Except there isn’t. Life, it seems, is about to get more disorganized. The puzzles may be the only thing in this house with all of their pieces in place.

On the other hand, the whole working thing may not last. At least not this job. I learned  from my boss a couple of days ago that a mistake was made– I can’t, in fact, get benefits for my family as a part-timer. Only for me. He’s terribly sorry for the mixup. He’s aware I took the job believing otherwise. His hands, however, are tied.

Never mind. I have to stay for now. Money is money, and one less insurance premium to pay is better than nothing. So I’ll stick it out, at least until Mike finds work. It’s hard. But there are up-sides. On the three days I’m there, for example, I hear no mouth sounds. Saliva is out of the picture completely. It’s a totally spitless environment.

There is one other perk: I have time to read. So I finished my book. The one about horseshoe crabs and other ancient species. It was a slog, but I got through it on my breaks. And I’m glad I did. It was helpful, in the middle of all of this, to be reminded of the vast sweep of time on earth, the six major extinction events that have occured since its inception, the millions of species that have come and gone. And of the four billion years the planet’s been here. Four. Billion. Such numbers give me comfort.  When they’re not scaring the shit out of me.

Having said that, my next book is “Gone Girl.” Book Club again. There goes all perspective, all wisdom, and half my brain cells, too.

I’ll get them back doing puzzles. I just need a pair of earplugs.

And a little bit more time.


Loaf Lost

If we were a restaurant, we’d have been shut down by the health department today.


Yes, it’s a meatloaf. Don’t laugh.

That’s the final version. There was an earlier incarnation, which tasted mystifyingly raw inside, even though it had cooked for an hour and a half. I ate a small slice, and got so freaked out I fed the rest to the dog. It was creamy, like polenta. I don’t know much, but I know meatloaf isn’t supposed to have the “mouth feel” of creme brulee.

So I put the remaining half back in the oven. Because Mike would need dinner, too, when he got home. And I was not feeding him turkey pap.

An hour later I remembered to get it out.

“What did you do to it?” Mike said, when he saw it.

I shook my head. “I don’t know, exactly.”

“Oh, well. I’m sure it’ll taste great,” he said, in that game way people do when they know they are about to step off of a culinary cliff.

Later, after he’d eaten all of it–good man!–we talked about what had gone wrong.

“It just wouldn’t cook,” I insisted. “It was in there forever. It tasted like oatmeal. And then it got burnt.”

“Was the oven temperature right?” Mike asked.


He shook his head. “Then I don’t know what to tell you.” There was a pause. “Did you follow the recipe?”

“Yes,” I snapped, rolling my eyes exasperatedly. Then I thought about it. I’d used a bit more ketchup than was called for. And a bit less meat.

I mentioned this.

“How much more ketchup?”

I counted in my head. “Maybe four times?”

His eyes widened.

“It was a mistake!” I stammered. “I read the recipe wrong. And then I forgot–and I had to–anyway. Maybe five times. Do you think that could’ve been the problem?”

“It’s a lot of extra liquid.”

I cocked my head. “Ketchup is a liquid?”

He ignored this. “Of course it tasted creamy. It was soaked.”

Whatever. What’s done is done. But I’m renewing my vow–first made after the Mark Bittman chicken debacle two years ago–to never again cook a recipe that calls for a meat thermometer. It’s not worth the pain, the humiliation, or the attendant mild nausea.

As for our home-restaurant? The one Myra-Jean is now calling “Food?” We will simply go vegetarian. Or vegan. Or better yet, raw. I suspect I have a knack for that.

Reservations, anyone?

Bugged Out

Sorry to keep you in suspense for so long. We were packing, flying, getting settled in…

“Oh,” you say. “Bravo! They didn’t get sick after all!”

Not so fast, optimistic readers. We did get sick. Today.

For God, capricious trickster that he is, needed us to get across country, spend one day with our family–thereby, assumedly, infecting them all, like Typhoid Marys in fancy dress–and only then did he lay us low. Or lowish. I must confess, I’m mostly just tired. Myra-Jean, however, threw up all morning. But now she’s out back playing with Mike. Kids. The resiliency is incredible. Also? Puking is easier for them. They do it, but they don’t seem put out by it the way we adults do. There’s a certain nonchalance.  I guess life is so filled with outrageous surprises for them that this is just one more. “Oh. Now my liquidated stomach contents are shooting out of my mouth into a mixing bowl. Maybe after I can go to the park.”

On another, perhaps even more disturbing  note: In the one day we spent in New Jersey I got two ticks on me. On my leg and  on my foot. I was wearing jeans, for fuck’s sake! And every conceivable kind of bug spray, from the homemade stuff my mom’s friend made–just for the wedding!–using sun-steeped teas of oregano, basil, and geranium, to the DEET-based it’s-so-toxic-that-you-should-throw-your-clothes-away-after kind. Guess what? It’s all bullshit. The ticks are coming, and there’s nothing anything in a squirt-bottle can do about it.

It’s depressing.

At least it looks like we’ll be better for the wedding. In this sense, at least, the bugs haven’t completely won out. We’ll be there with bells on.

And oregano. And DEET. And tweezers.

Still–paranoia be damned–we’ll have a beautiful day.


The pill bottle in the background–which I captured by accident–is my mom’s antibiotic prescription. For acute Lyme’s.

One Flu Over the Mockingbird’s Nest

We make plans–the old saying goes–and God laughs. Well, he’s chuckling up a storm right now.

We’re supposed to be leaving for New York tomorrow. On the first leg of our epic tour. Stop one: my sister’s wedding. It’s on Saturday, in New Jersey. Remember? I’ve been worrying about the ticks?

But here’s a bug I never thought to worry about: the stomach flu.

Yes way. Mike just came down with it. I am listening to him vomit as we speak–he’s in the bathroom thirty feet from here. Don’t chide. I feel terribly for him. But what can I do? A grown man doesn’t need someone to hold his hair back. All I can do is bring him ginger ale. Which he will summarily expel anyway. It’s awful. A few minutes ago he said, “now I know how people on chemotherapy feel.” Why is everyone in this house obssessed with cancer? It’s downright ghoulish.

I don’t know what we’re going to do if he’s not better by tomorrow. Or, even worse, if I get sick. Or Myra-Jean does. It’s one thing for Mike to miss my sister’s big day. But for me to? That’s a whole different level of industrial-sized suckiness. And God forbid Myra-Jean does. That would be the worst. She’s supposed to be the flower girl. She’s been preparing for months, even writing a song for the occasion called “Pop like a Poppy.” It consists of two or three flower references and then the words “garden claw garden claw garden claw” in rapid succession. She plans on performing both it and “Space Oddity” at the end of the service. She won’t, of course. Instead, she’ll end up hiding behind my skirt the whole way down the aisle, but she’s got to dream, right? So let her! Please, God, cruel trickster, don’t give her the grippe right before the big event. She’ll be crushed. Like a poppy. Or some other fragile-stemmed bud.

Me? I’m basically sitting here waiting to get sick. It could come on any time. I’m trying to distract myself. I’m thinking, for example, of the day I just spent at traffic court. Remember the rolling-stop-sign citation? I went in finally. What a bust. Here I thought I was going to get my “To Kill A Mockingbird” moment. Instead, I got ten thousand other, totally banal ones, all of them spent waiting in line. You should have seen the queue outside the courthouse alone. Those metal detectors work double duty. Too bad they’re still so slow.

Or maybe it’s just that there were so many people there! In trouble for the stupidest things! This wasn’t the building for criminal cases, mind you. Only for jackasses like me. Did you know you can get a $330 ticket for throwing a lit cigarette out of your car? I mean, look. I hate littering as much as the next person. Actually, more. I’m that lady, after all, who’ll walk up to you and say “Um, did you need a bag for your dog’s poop? I have extras.” It’s amazing I haven’t been shot. By someone from the other courthouse, that is.

I still think $330 is draconian.

And jaywalking. It’s still a thing. Can you believe it? When those cases came up I found myself rooting urgently for the defendants. “Fight it. Fight it,” I muttered under my breath. Until the guy next to me, who was reading an AA book in Spanish, looked over at me like I was nuts.

“It’s just stupid, is all,” I said, shrugging.

He smiled uncertainly.

“Never mind,” I sighed. “Good for you for getting sober.”

Man, was his fine high.

Anyway. I’d take ten jaywalker tickets, five summons for tinted windows, and at least one littering citation if I thought it would keep me from missing Abigail’s wedding. So if there are Gods out there, I’m asking them now, please, quash the bug. All of them, if possible. Make my immune system strong, like bull. MJ’s, too.

As for Mike? It’s too late for that. But if he could be better by 4:08 PM tomorrow I’d be incredibly grateful.

What? I’m asking for a miracle?

Guilty, your honor. Yes, I’ll see the cashier right away. But–may it please the court–may I be assigned community service? Preferably in New Jersey? Sometime this weekend would be great.


Little Pitchers, Big C

“Mama, come on! Play doctor with me!”

“One second.”

I tapped hurriedly at my computer. I was trying to list something on ebay while simultaneously keeping MJ company. She’d been patient, considering she’d been asking me to put the laptop down for over fifteen minutes.

“Give me…one…more…minute,” I muttered, as I tapped out a description of the hideous kids’ top I was trying to sell. What’s a euphemism for “I wouldn’t put my child in this if she were naked in a nuclear freeze?”

“To die for,” I wrote.


“OK, OK,” I said, not glancing up from my screen. “Are my patients ready?”


“Doctor’s tools?”

“I laid them out.”

Done, finally. “I’m coming right now.” I hit enter, waited for confirmation–Congratulations! Your item is for sale!–and shut my laptop. Standing up, I smiled gamely. “I’m ready.”

Then I saw the waiting room. Otherwise known as the row of small chairs MJ drags in from all over the house to prop my patients on. There were, like, fifteen. Each one containing a stuffed animal, fluffy and impatient-looking.

“Jesus. That’s a lot of patients, Myra-Jean.”


“I have errands to run.”

She looked at me sweetly. “Just do these guys and we’ll be done.”

I took a deep breath. We could start, I guessed, and see if she got bored.


Sighing, I walked to my office. The couch. “Bring me number one.”

MJ–who moonlights as the ambulance driver–hopped onto her plasma car, drove it all of three inches to the waiting chairs, and grabbed a small brown horse. Pivoting the car slightly, she drove it another half a foot and dropped her passenger on the coffee table.

I picked it up. “Hi, little horse. What’s your name?”

MJ replied squeakily: “Lisa.”

I petted my client’s mane. “Hi, Lisa. And what seems to be the trouble today?”

“I have a stomach flu.”

“Oh, dear. Let’s start by listening to your heart.”

As I tucked the hard plastic of the stethoscope into my ears, I drifted onto auto pilot. I was on script now, and frankly I could recite my lines in my sleep. The ailments never varied; neither did the treatment. Patients came in with one of three things: the stomach flu, a fever, or a cough. They got their hearts checked, blood pressure taken, ear mites removed (a mysterious process involving  waving a strand of yellow straw around their heads), and a stool sample taken (don’t ask). Then they were declared cured. They left, another one took their place.

What a grind. I can imagine just a little bit what doctors under managed care must feel like. I often consider going into dentistry. But then I remember my patients have no teeth.

I was interrupted in these musings when, three patients in, something woke me out of my stupor.

It started with a dog. A small one, with dirty-white and brown fur. At first her visit seemed routine. Myra-Jean pulled up in the ambulance. The dog was thumped onto the coffee table. Her voice, when she told me her name, was as pipey as always.

“I’m Mina!”

In my mind I was way off at the mall, choosing a new suit for work. I said my next line absently. “What brings you in today, Mina?”

Myra-Jean smiled brightly. “I have cancer!”

I looked up quickly, pushing my stethoscope off of my ears. On the other side of the room, Mike glanced up from his reading, eyes wide.

“What did you say?”

“Cancer!” So cheerful. She might have been saying “ice cream!”

I shot a glance at Mike, then twisted my lips uncertainly. “Um, I don’t handle things like that.”

“Yes you do,”  Mina/MJ squealed blithely.

“No, I don’t,” I told them pointedly. I looked directly at MJ: “Honey, where did you hear about cancer?”

My daughter smiled, clearly satisfied that she had stumped me. “Awigas told me.”

Ah, Awigas. The imaginary friend. Denizen of San Francisco, outer space traveller, expert on all things, and recipient of any and all free-floating responsibility.

I nodded sagely. And said nothing. I really didn’t know what to say.

Fortunately Mike chimed in. Thank God. With perfect eloquence and kindness he explained to Myra-Jean that cancer was a serious sickness. That she probably knew about it because she’d heard us talking. Because we knew people who had it. That it was so serious it didn’t really belong in a game. That if she had questions about it she could ask, but that Mommy wasn’t comfortable making light of something so grave.

Myra-Jean nodded, appearing to understand. I hoped things hadn’t gotten too serious for her.

“Anyway,” I added, more cheerfully, “if Mina really had cancer she’d need a specialist. And I’m just a general practitioner. So let’s give her a stomach flu instead, OK?”

MJ didn’t miss a beat. “My dalmatian doll is a specialist.”

Needless to say the doctor’s office had to shut down early. The physician needed a break. There were some unhappy customers left in the waiting room, but I assured them they’d get seen early tomorrow. They always do.

As for Mina? Her diagnosis is still in question. Mike and I know what we think it is…

But MJ, Awigas, and a certain spotted canine I know? They have a different idea entirely.


Waiting For Poo (Doh!)

Mike thinks Myra-Jean is the next Samuel Beckett. I think she’s just fucking with our heads.

Either way, she’s been turning out some pretty interesting literature recently. All on the subject of pooping. Three books in the last couple of days, each one more cryptic than the one before. The first two can at least be understood–they are basically anti-defecation tracts, repeating the general sentiment that Myra-Jean does not, ever, want to become potty trained. But the last one? Um, can you say Rosetta Stone? As in, need one?

But I get ahead of myself. Let me say that, after she wrote the first two books, something happened. Something amazing. We had our first–our only–true poop in the potty. It was a miracle. Finally! A few months short of the four-year-old mark, too!

Needless to say we were thrilled. We sang, we rejoiced, we posted on Facebook. (OK, I did. Mike doesn’t even have an account. Which makes him, I suppose, superior to me. Except that he gets all of his dirt from my page.) We were so thrilled we would have given MJ anything. And we did. She got a half an hour of music videos. She got Halloween candy. (Yes, it’s still around. No, it’s not stale. I don’t think. I didn’t taste it. Is there such a thing as a stale Nerd?) Finally, she got a kitten. Or was promised one. Yes, a real one. I know. We’re suckers. And gluttons for punishment. As if one mentally deranged dog isn’t enough.

But the next day MJ, having accepted her rewards with great pleasure, declared she would poop in the potty no more.

“What?” I said, trying not to yell. “Why?”

“It splashed me,” she replied primly.


“The poop.” She shook her head. “I didn’t like it.”

I sat back on my knees, weaving slightly. Suppressed disappointment will do that to you. As will hours of sitting on a bathroom floor.

“Look,” I said, “poop doesn’t always splash. It almost never does.”

MJ looked at me suspiciously.

“I mean, I get a splash, like”–I reached in the air searchingly–“once a month. Or two. What happened to you was an anomaly.”

“A what?”

“It never happens. Splashes do not happen.”

“I felt one.”

“No, I mean–you did. But it was a freak accident. Please try again.”

She wouldn’t. I begged. We went back and forth. It was a talk of epic proportions. I felt like a UN ambassador brokering peace in North Korea. If UN Ambassadors do such a thing. And if feces are involved.

We got nowhere.

Finally I had an inspiration. “Look,” I said smiling brightly. “You have to poop. You can’t hold it in forever–”

“Yes I can,” she interrupted.

“No you can’t,” I snapped. Then I took a deep breath.

“Here’s the thing,” I went on, all serenity again. “I’m willing to compromise, just to get out of this bathroom. OK? So how about I lay an open diaper in the toilet. Beneath the potty seat. To catch the poop as it falls. OK?”

Myra-Jean considered this preposterous idea. Which clearly wasn’t, to her. “So there won’t be a splash?”

I fought to keep my face placid. Staycalmstaycalmstaycalm.  “No splash. Just…a gentle thwock. OK? Can we please do this?”

She thought about it more. “Fine.”

And that was what we did.

And now guess what? It’s the new normal.

And I’m about to lose my mind. We’ve been working on this one thing for what feels like seven centuries. I have bent over so far backwards to make MJ feel unrushed and unpressured that I am in some sort of permanent yoga pose. Call it “hapless parent.” And still, we are only here. Pooping into–instead of in–a diaper. I’m an idiot. Or am I?

It’s really enough to make you question your own sanity. Never mind your kid’s.

I will leave you with today’s book. Mike claims it’s his favorite yet. May I remind you, he went to art school. Both grad and undergrad.

Here’s the text, as dictated precisely by MJ moments after getting off of her new rig:

Page one: “Wow! This is actually very easy. (Sigh)”

Page two: “(Sigh)”

Page three: “I really didn’t want to do it at first. (Sigh). Huh (like a sigh).”

Page four: “I’m not sure if I really want to do it. HHHH. Sigh.”

Page Five: “Monin Gada. Monin Gada. Monin Gada. Monin Gada. Monin Gada.”

Page six: “I don’t know if it’s going to be easy or not. In the end I am going to watch all of my videos and eat all of my candy.”


What else is there to say? I’m nuts. Why shouldn’t she be? Clearly the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

But when it does fall? What a sound that makes.


Whoops, in a Vacuum

Is this a job for a repair shop or the genius bar?


Sometimes I feel like God does things to me just so to provide material for this blog. I should be grateful. But this time I think He’s gone too far.

have to blame God, because honestly, I don’t know how else this could have happened. I mean, yes, I was vacuuming near my computer. Which was, yes, on the floor. And did, OK, have earbuds plugged in to it.

But really, Dyson, is your suck that strong? I am awed anew.

And super bummed.

And hoping that you–or Apple, or both–have generous warranties. And a good sense of humor.

Soapy Opera

Among the stats I’m made privy to here on WordPress, my favorite is the list of search terms that, on any given day, lead to clicks on this blog. It’s always interesting. There are a lot of “mockingbirds singing all night,” tons of “oleander poisonous?”, and a good number of “old Gaffers and Sattler dishwashers.”

Yesterday, though, I got a new one: “innocent bystander handsoap.” And I just love it. It begs so many questions. Did the searcher find what they were looking for? What was it? Could it be that they, too, were assaulted by a renegade TJ’s hand-soap and came online to find help? Or is something else–something strange, dark, and bubble-related? Something about which I am clueless?

We’ll never know, most likely. Yet I will enjoy wondering. And googling it myself, if I get the time.


Search Views
innocent bystander hand soap 1
poisonous trees to humans 1
bra thumbs 1
Other search terms 1
Unknown search terms 1
Total search terms 4


Stabbed In the Book

To add insult to injury, I’ve been betrayed by my book club.

After months of reading excellent choices, all of which resulted in at least slightly substantive conversations–OK, when we weren’t talking about dolphin rape, sea sponge tampons, and the like–we’re now reading something so dim, unappealing and insipid I’m  embarrassed to admit what it is.

A hint: Annie Hall.

Yes, it’s the Diane Keaton biography. I can’t even remember the name. “This Is It?” “What Have You?” “Nevermind?” No, that’s the Nirvana album. Honestly. Am I going to have to lug myself out of this chair to go get it? Is the name really that forgettable?

Sigh. I’ll be right back.

“Then Again.”

Look, I don’t mean to be unkind. I’m aware of google alerts, and I don’t want Ms. Keaton to be offended if she stumbles upon this post. But on the other hand? I think she’ll have to be. Because I so don’t want to read this thing. Here’s how much: I happen to own a copy, because my mother read it a year or two ago and insisted on leaving it with me when she flew home. I told her the only thing I would use it for was kindling. That I’d rather be cut up with a pizza roller than read a single page. That if it was the last book in the world I’d gouge my eyes out rather than–

“Read it,” she interrupted. “It’s about her mother. It’s cute.”

Cute is something I like in my bunnies, not my books. I’m not going to cuddle with the thing. I’m not going to tickle it under the chin. I’m going to read it.


Because I am reading it. I read everything my book club chooses. It’s Pavlovian at this point. But man, am I pissed about it. Every time I pick it up and see Keaton lying there on the cover, her legs up the wall like some yogi on her cycle, I just want to puke. Instead I curse and curse.

This is not what book clubs are for. Give me Catherine the Great. Give me Cleopatra. Give me Henrietta Lacks, even, who was only heroic by virtue of how sick she was. Just please. Don’t give me kindling.

We may need it if the gas gets switched off.


Throwing the Book At It

It’s hard to write when you’re flooded with anxiety. Or even wading clumsily through a couple inches of it. If only there was some kind of pump. A mental wet-vac. A mop. Because let me tell you, insurance doesn’t cover it, and to say it’s messy is an understatement.

And it’s not just me. The whole house is on edge. Mike and I, we have our reasons. Unemployment–Mike’s, at present–being a huge one. Money. Dwindling. Savings. Plummeting. Confidence. Tanking.

Get-rich-quick ideas. Burgeoning.

Having said that, I still haven’t sold my wedding dress, or even completed the listing. So much for my little schemes.

Meanwhile, we need new glasses for Mike, repairs for the car, a garbage disposal, school tuition, flea medication. It’s cliche to say that such expenses bloom when it’s least convenient. Such wisdom, however, adds small comfort.

Then there are the insects. Not those around now–although we are having a strange influx of moths, whose corpses are smeared, like little silvery ghosts, on every wall in the house–but future ones. We’ve finally booked our summer trip to parts east, and my anticipatory bug-a-phobia is in full swing. Instead of looking forward with grateful excitement to a journey with stops in New Jersey, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nova Scotia, all I can think is: Deer flies. Ticks. Mosquitos. Repeat. Deer flies. Ticks. Mosquitos. Repeat.

I’ve googled how to prevent Lyme’s disease. Then stayed up ’til midnight learning how incurable it is.

I know. I have to get a grip. People have real problems. These don’t qualify. Much.

Except then there’s the cholesterol. That’s real. I just got diagnosed with high levels. So, supplements have been ordered, milkfats lowered (just shoot me), and desserts basically eradicated. Cheese–my dear friend, confidante, and snack therapist–has been given the boot. We can stay friends, but never again will we sleep in the same bed. And this is something to grieve, as far as I’m concerned. Like, Elizabeth Kubler Ross–the whole thing. I’ve said forever that I wanted to be buried in a block of Cracker Barrel. But no more. Bury me now in a rough case of rice crackers. That’s about all I’ll be eating from this point forward.

So the food thing is a drag. And there’s that mid-life crisis I referred to earlier. It’s still bustling about, wiping both hands on its well-used apron and chuckling as it bustles about the kitchen. You should have heard it snicker when I checked out “Eat to Live” from the library. Cackle, more like it. Fucking asshole. Let it eat oatmeal with chia seeds for breakfast every day. See how peppy it feels.

Finally, there’s MJ. Her anxieties are flowering like peonies at Trader Joe’s. She is worried–continuously–about pooping in the potty. She fretted  when we told her we were going to San Francisco for the weekend, then cried when it was time to come home. She dreaded the fireworks last night. Until she saw them. Then she laughed and clapped her hands like a mental patient. But until that moment? You’d have thought we were dragging her off to a firing squad.

Speaking of which–and I digress–the Eastsider ran a piece today about how to tell the difference between the sounds of firecrackers and those of gunshots. “Oh, good,” I thought. “I’ve always wondered. Now I’ll know.”

Four experts later, the consensus was: there’s no way to tell.

This is life right now. It’ll improve. Or it won’t. Either way, we’ll walk through our fears, large and small, and learn that most of them are unfounded. What choice do we have? To lock ourselves in the house and never emerge, subsisting only on delivered Thai food and bottled water? I’ve considered it. But just think of all that BPA. Plus, Myra-Jean doesn’t like spices.

So out we go into the world, with its bugs, stigmatisms, and unidentifiable explosions.

Myra-Jean makes books when she’s anxious. I’ve talked about it before. This week she’s made four. Every time they’ve worked. She’s been immediately calmed, and able to proceed with whatever it was that was frightening her. It’s a magical tool, and fun, too. If only it were so simple for us grownups.

Maybe it is. Perhaps it’s time to make a few for myself. The first one will be called “Jessica does not want to end up on intravenous antibiotics after being bitten by a deer tick.” The next: “Jessica does not know how to enjoy a plant-based diet.”

From there? The list goes on. And on. And on. The drawings should be fun.

The feelings behind them are not.