Monday, January 29, 2007

Things I Love About Tingle (a small sampling)

1. She has photos of other people's children all over her kitchen...even though she lost her own son and has been struggling with infertility for years.

2. You cannot go to Tingle's house without coming away with all sorts of cool goodies that she just happens to have in her house--a new purse, clothing she doesn't want, fun soaps or hair do-dads, a cool journal. I think when she sees something cool, she just buys it with the knowledge that at some point, the perfect opportunity to give it away will arise.

3. She doesn't beat around the bush. If she doesn't want you to set your glass on the endtable then she tells you. If you leave a mess in the bathroom, she bitches about it. I like that. It's freeing for me because I don't have to worry if I'm annoying her--she lets me know and then I can decide whether or not to alter my behavior or face the consequences!

4. She has fun with my son and helps take care of him so J. and I can smoke together (or have sex, as the case may be).

5. She uses fun phrases like "jeezy Petes!", "it's all effed up," "it's all good" and "bun of a snitch!"

6. She tells me I'm beautiful.

7. She is beautiful.*

8. She's hilarious.

9. She gets excited about stuff.

10. Sometimes she will stand outside with me to keep me company while I smoke, even though she hates it. And sometimes, she totally refuses (see number 3).

11. She's really smart.

12. She walks and talks just as fast as I do.

13. She knows how to get me out of a bad mood.

14. She looks really cute when she purses her lips in mock disgust.

15. She has a personal code of ethics and stands by them without foisting them onto others.

16. She knows all about my bad habits and personality flaws and loves me anyway.

17. She likes my other friends (and they like her!)

18. She has a way of making people feel welcome and at home no matter where she is.

19. She's very kind but never self-righteous or sickeningly sweet about it.

20. She's edgy and deep and fascinating, and I look forward to spending the rest of my life learning more about her.

*Number One Thing I Don't Love About Tingle: That she cannot see the beauty and grace she possesses, inside and out.

Would you like some whine with that?

As I write this, the most beautiful snow I have ever seen is falling in Cleveland. When I go out for a smoke it tickles the tip of my nose and falls softly on my coat. It's so fluffy it looks fake. I think it has snowed every day we've been here, but since I haven't had anywhere I have to be there's none of the anxiety or disappointment that usually goes along with snowstorms in my everyday life.

Yesterday we went to A Christmas Story House, which is about 20 minutes from here. It was really fun to see the actual house and neighborhood featured in the movie. I tried to get a leg lamp for LilCherie, but they were sold out of the small ones and I figured LilCherie wouldn't really want to make a spot for a bigger one in her house. But I do plan to make some ornaments next year featuring photos of me, J., and a grumpy Bubba standing next to the leg lamp that's on display in the house.

After that we went downtown to Westside Market, a kind of open-air market for produce along with an old-style warehouse full of kiosks where local vendors sell meat, cheese, pastries, and other goodies. I always get something delectable there, but the raw meat smell makes me wanna hurl, so luckily it was a pretty quick trip just long enough for Tingle to get three pounds of smokies, which are these long, thin beef stick-like things. Ewww. She did share half with her dad, though, so it's not as bad as it sounds. Then we went on to Hard Rock Cafe, because my husband is fascinated with all things memorabilia.

The entire afternoon was a little stressful, with all the people and getting in and out of the car, etc. Bubba has been a little off his game this trip, probably just because of all the new people, places, sleeping arrangements, schedule disruptions. All in all, he's really been good--I mean, imagine what it would be like if your whole world just turned upside down and you had no idea why and no control over it at all. In that light, he's been doing really well--happily playing with all the toys Tingle and her hubby have on hand, watching DVDs, playing with the kitties, givingh hugs and saying "mease" and "tank-you." That said, there have been some really challenging moments.

On Friday we went to the Museum of Natural History with Tingle and her hubby, along with her brother and her nephew D., who is seven months older than Bubba. They were so cute together looking at the "dy-so-bows" -- holding hands, chasing each other around, playfully battling each other with chopsticks at the Mongolian grill where we ate lunch. We broke up for naps then went back to their house so the boys could play together and so I could see Tingle's new nephew, F., who was just born last week.

Bubba, coming off of a long and apparently deep nap, awoke in a foul mood. He did rally by the time we were at Tingle's relatives' house, but man, the whole time we were there I was on referee patrol because Bubba was doing his Whine and "MINE!" routine basically non-stop. To make matters worse, D. was behaving perfectly, letting Bubba have his way, trying to share his toys, trying to engage Bubba in play, which had the effect of making me feel like Bubba was even brattier. We had time-outs and meltdowns during the hour and a half we were there until finally we called it a day and came home.

I know two-year-olds are two-year-olds and this is just the way they are, but jeez, it really feels like it's a big report card for you as the parent and you've gotten a big ol' "F." When we got home I chewed up a clonazepam like it was a SweetTart and just rode it out. Cripes.

The funny thing is, while I was over at Tingle's brother's house, while I was holding that little 11-day-old baby and watching him nurse, I had an almost irresistable and overwhelming urge to procreate yet again. I mean, I missed it almost physically. "Yearn" would be an appropriate word--even as I'm yelling at the kid I already have to share the red car. My mind is so totally fucked up sometimes!

Luckily today was a stay-at-home day so we all got a chance to chill out a bit. We've been relaxed and easygoing and it's been very restorative. The guys went to Best Buy (again) this afternoon and Tingle and I snuggled on the big bed with Bubba and we were all lulled to sleep by the soothing sounds of the Island of Sodor on the DVD player. After Bubba went to sleep, we played some dominoes, ate junk food and had some side-splitting laugh attacks. A great way to end the day.

I'm sad that tomorrow is our last full day here. The time seems to have gone so quickly. I may be speaking too soon, since we still have the drive home to tackle, but getting here was so easy (from a Bubba viewpoint, not the speeding ticket and snow) that I feel much more positive about making the trip again, so hopefully we'll get back here more often than we have.

That's the update on Cleveland...I'm still wide awake and the rest of the house is asleep, so I might have another post in me yet tonight. We'll see what happens.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Sex and the Silos: Chapter 2

Chapter 2: Ann Has a Very Bad Day

As it so happened, while fate was pushing Ruth toward her own personal Americans With Disabilities Act, it was also placing Ann quite literally down in the dumps.

Ann was involved in a long-term relationship with a slightly neurotic and slightly more anxious eco-friendly metal head named Joseph. Most of the time, they enjoyed a comfortable relationship that included discussions about the downfall of society over cups of coffee at Barnes and Noble, attending various pagan functions, and smoking dope in the basement while listening to bands with the word “goat” in their names. Occasionally, however, Ann’s PMS and Joseph’s anxiety swirled together in a cocktail that turned them both into bad drunks.

Such was the case that Friday night, when Ann found herself in the Dumpster, searching with a flashlight for Joseph’s lost bottle of Xanax.

That morning, Ann had been nursing a pot hangover, pre-period cramps and a hormone headache. That same morning, Joseph happened to wake up late for work and couldn’t find any clean pants.

“I can’t believe I don’t have any clean pants,” he said, stomping briskly back and forth between the bedroom and the kitchen, as if his pants could be in the kitchen, or as if they might suddenly appear on his sixth trip through. “I washed a million pants yesterday,” he said. “I thought I set them right here”-- waving both of his hands in the general direction of the couch --”and now they’re gone. I can’t find anything when our house is clean,” he said.

“Could they be in the dryer?” Ann asked through her toothbrush. She wasn’t particularly concerned about whether or not Joseph wore clean pants to work but was hopeful that if he found them he might shut up about it. He had recently stopped taking his anti-anxiety medication because he didn’t want the chemicals in his system, but he -- and Ann--were finding it hard to make the transition to Joseph’s all natural state. “I suppose they could be,” he said, sighing heavily as he stomped toward the stairs. “Of all the days I can’t find my pants,” he said. “I’m supposed to be there in like seven minutes and I can’t find any fucking pants to wear,” he said. He stomped back down the stairs in a couple minutes wearing a wrinkly pair of black pants and went straight past her to the kitchen.

It was at this point that Ann’s day began unraveling.

“Have you seen my Xanax?” Joseph called from the kitchen.


“Have you seen my Xanax,” he asked again, looking in the refrigerator where he kept his bottle, which held the last pill of his prescription. He’d been saving it for when he really needed it.

“I,” Ann said, then stopped. “I think I threw it away.” Joseph tipped his head in her direction.


“I think I threw it away yesterday when I was cleaning the fridge,” she said. “I thought it was empty.”

He sighed. “I don’t usually keep empty bottles of pills in the refrigerator but whatever,” he said.

“I’m sorry,” she said again weakly.

“Whatever, it’s not that big a deal,” he said, making it clear that it was that big of a deal as he did his pouty stomp out the back door. Ann looked around the fridge a bit even though she could clearly remember the Xanax bottle. She’d tossed it right after the 80-proof orange juice and right before the quarter-jug of lumpy organic kefir. It really had been empty, Ann was sure of it, and was pondering the possibility that perhaps Joseph didn’t realize he hadn’t had any left as she went out to her porch and lit up a cigarette.

Out in the crisp September morning sun sat the ugliest couch she had ever seen, sitting smack-dab in the middle of her little front lawn.

“What...the...fuck,” she said as she saw the couch, old, stained, an orange and green floral nightmare festooned with women’s panties, silly string, condoms and several signs featuring the word ‘pussy.’ A car drove by.

When her cell phone rang, Ann was still reeling from the obscene Barcalounger in front of her house. Cigarette number three of the morning was perched in her right hand so she had to reach in front of the steering wheel with her left to dig for the phone. She heard Babs coughing on the other end of the phone.

Babs was a woman Ann had known for seven years. When Ann met Babs, Babs was working as a nurse at the Mental Health Center, was happily married and had had a little boy about 7 years old. She really had it together. Over the previous six years, however, Babs had become bored with the marriage, divorced her husband, stalked a coworker, started smoking pot during her lunch breaks and spent two years dating a hobo. Currently unemployed, she was dabbling in internet-facilitated prostitution.

“Ann!” she said breathlessly from the coughing. “Hey sweetie! How are you today?”

“Well...” Ann said, her voice cracking in the first sign of a thrice-a-year all-out PMS meltdown, “Well, I got up today and there was a couch on my front lawn,” she said. “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about this, would you?”

Babs, currently 43 years old, was known to play ‘jokes’ on people that involved toilet paper, tampons and lipstick. “A couch?” she said, then started laughing, which caused her to start another coughing fit. “Well, no, sweetie...” more laughing and coughing “...I don’t...” A final loud barking finally cleared Babs’ airway. “I just was calling to see how you were doing.”

Suspecting a lie but not having the energy to confront the sometimes downright frightening Babs, Ann’s voice finally broke and she cried into the phone, “I don’t know what I’m going to do with that couch! How am I going to get rid of it? I don’t have a truck! I just didn’t need this this morning! I have PMS, I’m crampy, I have a headache, I threw Joseph’s Xanax away, and I have a disgusting couch on my front lawn!” By this time she’d pulled over to the side of the road to light up cigarette number four and pull herself together.

The ever-compassionate Babs laughed and coughed some more and said, “It’s just a couch, sweetie, don’t be so upset! It’s really not healthy for you to get so worked up. Now just calm down.”

That afternoon, after a barely tolerable day, Ann was pulling into their alley when the dumpster caught her attention. She pulled over, got out, and looking around to see if anyone was watching, climbed up the side of it and peered in. There were only about 10 bags in there, and she thought she could identify one that might be theirs. “What a shitty day,” she thought as she climbed into the stink and gingerly opened the bag that looked familiar. It wasn’t theirs, but the fourth one she opened held a the carton of lumpy kefir. One by one, she tossed out the slimy trash, finally dumping it around her feet. The Xanax bottle rolled past and stopped at a pile of rancid spaghetti. The unmistakable plinking of one lonely pill rattled in her ears as she picked it up.

Clutching the bottle in her hand, Ann pulled the car down the alley and into the garage next to Joseph’s Volkswagen. She trudged slowly up the back sidewalk. The house, usually filled with the black noise of Old Goat, was uncharacteristically quiet. She looked out the front window to assess the couch situation and saw a truck pulling away with the horrid couch in the back, and Joseph stooped over the grass with a trash bag, throwing away the last pair of underwear.

He met her on the front stairs. A piece of silly string hung from his goatee and the trash bag hung at his side. Ann stepped toward him and took his hand.

“You have silly string in your beard,” she said.

“You smell like a trash can,” he said.

“I found this in the Dumpster.” She handed him the bottle and he opened it, spilling the little pill into his palm. She leaned her forehead against his shoulder. He dropped the trash bag and pushed her shoulders back. He kissed both of her eyelids, both of them a little salty, and then lifted her face up with his hands to kiss her.

Then he took the Xanax and placed it tenderly on her tongue, closing her jaw with softly with his fingertips. He smiled, took her hand and led her through the living room to the downstairs bathroom. He set her on the side of the tub and started drawing a bath, adding a few drops of rose oil as the water ran, and then undressed her, careful not to let the spaghetti goo on her shirt graze her hair as he pulled it over her head. He helped her into the tub, then lit a candle for her and moved toward the door.

“Thanks,” he said. She looked at him wondering what he was thanking her for, but before she could ask he answered. “For not pretending that you were right.” He closed the door softly behind him as she sank back into the water.

And this is why Ann and Joseph were still together after approximately 73 shared period prodromes and at least half as many panic attacks.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cleveland rocks (like a subzero snowstorm)

God, it's already been almost a week since I posted! It's been kind of crazy. This is what's happened since I last posted:

*Bubba got some kind of a rash over most of his body early last week. It didn't seem to be bothering him, but then on Thursday we got the report that he'd thrown up at daycare not more than 15 minutes after J. dropped him off. We took him home and got him an appointment at the doctor, who diagnosed him with a virus. He seemed pretty fine for the rest of the day but then mysteriously puked again right before supper. The next morning J. comes into the bedroom and says "Depressionista, I think I've figured out what the problem was with Bubba. The milk we got day before yesterday is sour already." We then realized that both times he threw up it was within a half an hour of drinking the offending milk. So...a day off work for J., a doctor's appointment for Bubba...all because of sour milk. Oh well!

*Got my period for the first time in three months on Friday. Cramps were bad enough that I had a good excuse to take one of the Dilaudids I hoarded from my last medical adventure.

*LilCherie's birthday bash on Saturday/Sunday. Click here for details. It was great!

*Bubba got his second set of tubes put in his ears on Monday. All in all, not a bad experience. Thanks to Pioneer Girl, we had a portable DVD player on hand so we took Shrek with us and watched it in the hospital room while we were waiting for his surgery. It was over within 15 minutes and Bubba only cried for about two minutes when he was coming out of the anesthesia. The doctor said he had lots of thick, "silly-putty-like" stuff in his ears. It's actually a condition called "glue ear." I'm so glad we did it. Bubba is already repeating more sounds and words than he did before.

*Due to an unwisely long nap with Bubba on Bubba's surgery day, I was then awake until 5 a.m. Tuesday morning. After three hours of sleep, I slogged through work then came home and packed for our trip to Cleveland to visit Tingle and her husband. After that I was wired, so we watched "Flight 93," which I found intense and moving and not nearly as sappy as I thought they'd try to make it. So, I got to bed at midnight only to awaken at 4 a.m. to one of Bubba's middle of the night freak-outs and an incredible headache. When I got up again at 7:30 a.m., my head hurt so bad I was half afraid I was having some kind of an aneurysm or something, even though I knew from living with migraine sufferers all of my life that I was suffering from your classic migraine. It was all on the left side of my head, it came on when I was overtired and when I had my period, and there was a major nausea component to it. I threw up once in the morning and it got better for awhile, which is exactly what happens to my mom and sister. So I called the doctor for some pain relief and called in to work for the millionth time in the last few months...and slept ALL DAY.

*That night (which was last night, actually), with nausea medication on board, we set out for Cleveland. My post-migraine fog plus the meds combined to allow me to sleep almost the entire way, and luckily Bubba did too. Poor J., he had to drive for what ended up being about a 10 hour trip because it snowed for about 2/3 of it. He also got a speeding ticket in the middle of Illinois (79 in a 65). The trooper asked J. if he had a good reason for speeding. Of course we didn't, but is there such a thing? I mean, is there an answer that would really get you out of a ticket? J. suggested "explosive diarrhea" as a possibility. I think it might be worth a shot next time.

So we arrived in Cleveland at about 4 a.m. their time, and now we are here visiting Tingle and her hubby--just in time for the city's coldest day of the year! Before I had a friend who lived here, I didn't give Cleveland much thought, but since I've been here several times, I've come to realize that this place has really awful weather. Truly.

We've spent most of the day recovering from the drive and trying to get Bubba reestablished on some kind of schedule. Bedtime tonight took an hour of laying with him in the bedroom, along with another two minutes of him screaming behind the door he couldn't open, before he finally gave up. Hopefully tomorrow will be easier. We are planning to go to the Museum of Natural History so that Bubba and Tingle's nephew can see some dinosaur bones. Bubba LOVES his books with "dy-so-bows!" as he calls them, so I hope he has a good time.

I really enjoy our visits to Cleveland. Oftentimes, when telling someone we are going to Cleveland, people will say something like, "Why?" with a horrified look on their face, or even go so far as to express sympathy (this, coming from people who live in Iowa). I think Cleveland is a really interesting city. It has cool tourist stuff like museums and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, zoos, botanical gardens, the Westside Market, etc. Besides that, though, there is a real old-fashioned feel to the place. I always feel like I am stepping back in time to the 1940s or something. There are tons of mom and pop businesses, great little local places to eat, and an interesting mix of ethnicities. They've got the hood and the ritzy sections and everything in between.

Mostly, though, I enjoy getting to know a place from the perspective of people who live here. It's like having a second home in a place would never imagined I would learn so much about. Three years ago (almost to the day), I probably couldn't have picked Cleveland out on a map, I was that ignorant (I always got it mixed up with Detroit). But then I met Tingle and now I have this wealth of knowledge about an entirely new place. It's just another side benefit of our friendship.

I don't know if I ever explained how I met Tingle, and if not it deserves its own entry, but just as background for this entry I'll explain briefly--she and I met on an internet support group site for women who had experienced pregnancy or infant loss, run by a group called SHARE. We responded to each other's posts, then started emailing, then talking on the phone and the rest is history. The first time we spoke on the phone was when I found out I was pregnant. I still admire her for continuing to allow our friendship to grow even when she was in such fresh grief from losing her son and I was newly pregnant. It is a testament to her generous nature, one of the things I really love about her. Now she welcomes me, J. and Bubba into her home as family. We always feel--and always will feel, I guess--that our first children brought us together. I'm so glad to be here visiting my friend in person! It is worth the snowy drive, the speeding ticket, and everything else to be able to give her a real hug and watch her laugh at my freaky jokes.

So...that's the update! I am contemplating a post about LilCherie's sister...LilCherie, if you read this, let me know if I'm crossing the line, but I really feel like I want to post a little synopsis of my experience with her last Sunday. It's like it's just simmering in there wanting to come out in some way because it's just so damn weird! Let me know if it's okay. Also, I have another chapter of Sex and the Silos all ready to go. I just have to find my flash drive and have Tingle help me post it with her computer. Until then, my lovelies...

Friday, January 19, 2007

I've been memed...

Melissa at Musings and Mutterings tagged me for a meme (you should check her out, she does kick-ass song analyses)! The rules are:

1. Find the nearest book.
2. Name the book & the author.
3. Turn to page 123.
4. Go to the fifth sentence on the page. Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog.
5. Tag three more folks.

So, here's where you get to see what kind of a hypochondriacal dork I am. The book nearest me is the one I've been reading for the past week or so, Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It by Gina Kolata.

The sentences requested are as follows:

"The winter of 1975-76 had been piercingly cold, with bitter weather that drove even the hardiest people indoors. Gray piles of hard-crusted snow cluttered parking lots and rimmed roadways. Everywhere--on buses and subways, in classrooms and offices--people were coughing and sneezing."

Sounds kinda familiar.

It was a great book up until about page 250 or so where she starts talking in-depth about the litigation nightmares surrounding the swine flu immunization campaign of the 1970s. Then I kind of lost interest, but I'm still carrying it around in my bag in case I get the urge to pick it up again.

I like to read stuff like this in an effort to figure out how to save me, my family and friends when the shit comes down.

I'm tagging LilCherie and Tingle in an effort to get them to post. (oops, sorry LilCherie, I didn't notice you'd updated today). If you don't know what a meme is, all you have to do is do the same thing on your blog that I've done here, and then tag other people. It's easy!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Another post about my intestines

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I am suffering from antibiotic-induced diarrhea. Warning: If long, wordy "passages" about bodily functions unsettle you, then you should probably stop reading now. Those who know me in real life know that occasionally, I just have to "dump" about this issue.

Today is such a day. After yesterday's half-hour shit-out at the public library on my way back from the therapist's, I started the probiotic regimen I should have begun when I started taking the medication. Last night was fairly calm but for a few otherworldly rumblings in my lower intestine when was eating my ultra-healthy dinner (at 9:30 p.m.) of pastrami and swiss with brown mustard on pumpernickel rye and two Larry's® Cheddar and Sour Cream Mashed Potato boats (made with REAL potatoes!). So today I began the day with some confidence.

It was dashed about half an hour ago, approximately 20 minutes after my lunch. Now when you hear this next part, you're going to think I'm just plain stupid, but you have to realize I was starving, I was in a low-blood-sugar daze and all I could think of was getting calories quick. So I ducked into my favorite vegetarian Indian place and decided hey, I'm feeling okay, I'm sure the Indian buffet won't cause any problems! It was delicious.

On the way back to the bus, I knew it was a mistake. There were a few moments at the stop when I had to let out some of my buffer and I momentarily panicked that perhaps it was more than just air, you know what I mean? I was imagining the conversation I would have to have with J. ("Um, I need you to drop whatever you are doing and come get me and bring me home right now because I'm having an incontinence issue...") By the time the bus got there I was already fantasizing about getting to the relatively safe turf of my building, and by the end of the bus ride, I was doing some strategic planning. 'I'll take off my coat and scarf in the elevator, that way I won't have to mess with it in the stall and I can go straight to unbuttoning my pants.'

I managed to walk into the building without shitting my pants, and luckily my winter coat disguised the clenched-butt walk that was required. I made it to the bathroom without problems and my coat/scarf/pants plan worked perfectly. As I did the stall scan I realized there was one other person in there, but at this point it wasn't going to be an issue for me.

This brings me to the oft-discussed issue of bathroom etiquette. I've read the emails, I know all about the safe haven and employ it to my advantage whenever possible. Still, even then sometimes you have a visitor. And even if I don't know the person, I really don't want to have explosive, exceptionally foul diarrhea within ear- and nose-shot.

I was thinking about this in between the cramp waves, and decided the perfect solution would be a shit-stall specifically designed to tackle the myriad issues required for those times when someone has to take an exceptionally nasty shit in a public restroom. It would be an entirely self-contained, sound-proof facility, designed using the same advanced technology employed by those working with highly-infectious organisms, similar to a Biosafety Level 3 facility. Consider the following passage, which I've based on the CDC web site referenced in the previous sentence, edited liberally, of course, to give you an idea of my thoughts for a ShitStall 3 facility.

ShitStall 3 is suitable for shits producing agents which may cause serious or potentially lethal consequences as a result of exposure by the inhalation route. ShitStall 3 facilities should be located away from high-traffic areas.

There is a door that can be closed to keep visitors out of the ShitStall 3 while work with the agents is in progress. The door to the ShitStall 3 is kept closed to minimize unnecessary access by casual visitors, vendors, or persons not needing to be in the facility. Hazard warning signs may be posted on the door indicating any hazards that may be present, including radioactive materials, lazar lights, high noise emitting equipment, or toxic chemicals. There is a hand-washing sink available, preferably near the door. Waste materials are segregated according to hazard type, and there is an appropriate chemical decon tray for collecting contaminated implements. Work is done on the open bench, and plastic-backed absorbent pads can be placed on the work surface to collect splatter or droplets associated with the work. The bench tops should be impervious to acid and all furniture should be sturdy. If there are openable windows in the facility, they should be fitted with screens...additional protective equipment may include working behind a splatter shield or wearing eye or face protection. Depending on the nature of the work being done in the ShitStall 3, additional personnel protective devices may be worn, such as respirators.

There are some specific secondary barriers needed at ShitStall 3 facilities. These facilities are characterized by having a double-door entry. Because the agents released at ShitStall 3 facilities are transmissible by the aerosol route, particular attention is given to air movement in these facilities. Air moves from areas of lesser contamination to areas of higher contamination, such as from the corridor into the laboratory. Air movement is also single pass; exhaust air is not recirculated to other rooms. Exhaust air does not have to be HEPA filtered, unless local conditions are such that reentrainment into building air supply systems is unavoidable.

All work that may create aerosols or splatter is done inside a biological safety cabinet. Wall, ceiling and floor penetrations are sealed to keep aerosols in and to keep gaseous decontaminants in. The floor is monolithic, and there are continuous cove moldings that extend at least 4" up the wall. Ceilings should be waterproof for ease of cleaning. Vacuum lines are protected with HEPA filters so that maintenance personnel are not exposed to infectious aerosols.

I really don't think it would be any more embarrassing to enter a ShitStall 3 than it is to sit in an open-air restroom and let it fly. Plus, my idea would incorporate a separate entrance and exit so one wouldn't have to face the person next in line and vice versa.

And finally, one more thing. The courtesy flush. Am I the only one out there who resists the courtesy flush because the idea of a million aerosolized particles of diarrhea flying up into my vagina is troubling? When I've been forced to employ the courtesy flush due to an extra-heinous expulsion, I try to lift myself up off the pot a bit to try to minimize the risk of e.coli-nizing my cooter, but if you're mid-poop with the runs that maneuver can get dicey.

Finally, I leave you with this: the fruit of my Internet journey today to bring you the must up-to-date information on the topic. This is great.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Therapy Day

The weather is bitterly cold and I have antibiotic-induced crampy diarrhea. How are you today?

Actually, I'm in a pretty good mood, temperature and gut notwithstanding. I'm working through my fourth sinus infection since September and, coupled with the three weeks of bladder-infection/stent/IVP antibiotics, my bowels are really not up to the challenge. But in general, I feel remarkably better today than I did all last week.

I'm just getting back to work from my therapy appointment, which, as is often the case, starts out with the usual "things are going pretty well" conversation and concludes with deep revelations about my behavior. A few big ones from today's session are covered below.

•Perhaps the reason Bubba's behavior has been improving somewhat over the past week or so is because a) J. and I are getting along better so the general atmosphere in the house is less tense; b) I'm making a conscious effort to be calmer around him and sometimes succeeding; and c) we've actually been consistent in a few things, like making him eat dinner with us rather than watch TV while he eats. Sounds kinda obvious but it wasn't, to me.

•Today we discussed why I either freak out or immediately give in when it comes to Bubba. What it comes down to in both cases is my aversion to him crying. Ever since Bubba was born, I have had what I would call an overreaction to his crying. I know we are hardwired to react to a baby's cry, but my reactions could probably be called panic attacks. I never realized it was really that bad, you know, to give it the 'panic attack' label, but when my therapist asked me today to describe what happened/happens in my head when Bubba cries, she immediately said it sounded like a panic attack and once I thought about it, I had to agree. We discussed various possibilities for my reaction to Bubba's crying--maybe something from my own childhood?--but nothing really jumped forth until...suddenly I made what I think is an important connection.

After Hope died, there were many, many things that would hurt--seeing babies out in public, seeing pregnant women, hearing people talk about their kids--but the number one thing that would cut me to my core for months and months afterward was the sound of a baby's cry, especially a newborn. It hurt so deeply I would usually need to leave the situation if I heard it, even if it meant boxing up our food at a restaurant or leaving a gathering early, and this continued up until Bubba was born. Bubba's cries, obviously, were different, but as I've described above, difficult in a different way. Both situations induced in me a panicky flight response. I still have some exploration to do on this connection, but it seems obvious to me now that the difficulties are related. I plan to do some healing energy work on this issue.

•Revelation Number Three: Maybe, just maybe, it would be good to ask J. for help before I'm ready to have a complete meltdown. For instance....on Sunday Bubba had had too much juice (because I didn't want to say no and then have him cry) and he had a total all over the floor and the slipcover on the couch diarrhea blowout. The moment I discovered this probably would have been a good time to alert J. calmly that, in the words of my friend Pioneer Girl's husband, "we had a situation." But I thought I could handle it, and why wake up J. who is finally getting some rest, etc.

Fast-forward to trying to wrestle a screaming shit-covered toddler into a bath he doesn't want while feces moulder in the living room and down the front of my shirt, and it becomes pretty apparent that this is not going to lead to a happy ending. Sure, I ended up calling for saying "J.!!! I NEED SOME HELP! HE'S FRUSTRATING THE HELL OUT OF ME!" Perhaps it would be better to ask earlier and in a way that isn't humiliating or hurtful to my son. Yeah, he's only two, but wouldn't it be nicer for him (and J.) to hear a cheerful "Your turn!" or a polite "Could you take over for awhile?" Yep.

•Finally, I was relating the bathroom struggle and happened to mention to my therapist in passing that sometimes getting Bubba from the tub to his room is a pain in the ass because once, a long time ago, Bubba slipped on the bathroom floor and scared himself more than anything else, and now he refuses to walk on it after his bath. So for the last, oh, six months or so we've been picking him up and carrying him to his bedroom. My therapist suggested we put a long rug in there so that Bubba could feel safe walking in the bathroom. Is this brilliant or what??? Can you believe I never, not one time, considered putting a rug down???? Jesus.

We covered all this in an hour. She's worth every penny she charges.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The soul-sucking ennui of being a somewhat productive member of society

I have been overcome with an incredible malaise/fatigue/exhaustion this week that will just not quit--hence, the sad state of my blog right now. I felt I at least owe an apology to anyone who clicks over here.

I don't exactly know what it is. I've been battling a low-grade cold for awhile, but it doesn't seem like enough to lay me this low. I stopped taking my Wellbutrin this week because of some unpleasant side effects so maybe it's my brain readjusting to my normally low levels of serotonin or whatever.

Or maybe it's my job. I have been beyond lazy at work this week. Once I get to work and fire up the computer, it's actually physically and mentally impossible to stay on task. I really find it so boring, it's like it paralyzes my soul. I spend most of the day surfing the 'Net and eating lots of junk food to keep myself awake. This morning I got off the elevator at vend-o-land hoping to grab a snack for later in the morning. I saw that all the prices had been raised so that now, the cheapest item in the machine is 80 cents. For a frickin' candy bar or bag of peanuts! I turned around in disgust vowing never to buy anything there again. Four hours later I was down there buying a bag of PotatoSkins chips to go with my sandwich (does anyone else remember that "TatoSkins" commercial jingle? 'TatoSkins have got baked-potato appeal and they're made with potatoes and skins that are real! Cheddar cheese and bacon, sour cream and chives, something something something you won't believe your eyes!'), and then an hour later I was buying a bag of Reese's Pieces and a Butterfinger Crisp bar. My only consolation is that I stopped before eating the Butterfinger. Now my stomach hurts. Possibly from the pressure of its "toady mass," as Tingle would say, rolling over the top of my pants. Which suddenly feel a lot more constricting than they did this morning.

Other than the actual work, I like my job. It's flexible, not stressful, I have great co-workers, get paid a living wage and get lots of vacation and sick time. But when I go home at night, I feel like a zombie.

It's been that kind of week. Not stellar, not horrific. Found out on Wednesday that Bubba needs to get tubes put in his ears again. The first set was put in about a year ago. He has fluid build-up in both ears that is affecting his hearing. And J. and I thought he was just being annoying by going "huh? huh?" all the time. It was a shitty mom experience very similar to LilCherie's last year. He'll have to have the surgery on Jan. 22. Sigh.

Started the day today with a wake-up from J. at 5:30 because Bubba was up and J. had only gotten to sleep two hours earlier. J. has insomnia issues but refuses to do anything about it, like commit to a regular sleeping routine or take something to make him drowsy or even sleep in the same place two nights in a row. And then I have to pay for it. But really, I didn't mind so much, because J. does most of the night-duty with Bubba. I got up and gave Bubba a bath, did his breathing treatment, gave him breakfast and then cleaned the entire house before coming to work. The house had to be cleaned because tonight we are going to a trivia contest fund-raiser and we had to hire one of J's coworkers to come babysit. I didn't want a babysitter, let alone a coworker of J.'s, see how we really live.

Then tomorrow night J. will be doing "board game night with the guys." Which of course I'm all for, since it makes me feel less guilty about my Girls' Nights. But it still means a night on my own which can get dicey sometimes and are always exhausting. I do not understand how people can have more than one child. It's really beyond my comprehension. I'm working with my therapist on my relationship with Bubba....when I'm up to it, I'll post a summary.

To end on a "lighter" note, I had a great 1-minute conversation with Johnny--whose name I found out this week--while riding the parking ramp elevator. We have often passed each other by the ramp because we both smoke and we both try to hide it from everyone else. We exchange pleasantries and nods when we pass one another. He's a very affable guy. Well, the other day I got on the elevator and he was there. I asked how he was doing and he said, "Lazy...I'm just riding up to the third floor to smoke." I replied that I was just going up to the fourth floor--also to smoke. We joked about how we have to hide it from everyone, especially with a smoking ban coming down soon that will encompass the entire health-sciences campus where we work. Then, like flame to match, this guy got completely pissed and said, "I'll tell you what--if I get busted after that smoking ban comes down I'm going out there and I'm smoking in the middle of that fuckin' street because I know it belongs to the city and not the university!"

Wow. I totally agree, but found his indigation, the righteous indignation of the segregated smoker, very amusing. Rock on, Johnny!

Die Samenzellen schwimmen in Mutters Scheide hinein, und kommen in eine Höhle in Mutters Bauch.

I found this in the archives of Slacker-Moms-R-Us, a blog I am thoroughly enjoying while I should be working. It's called "Where Babies Come From in German." It is completely hilarious. I even laughed outloud, thus giving away my secret to the rest of the floor that I am not, in fact, working.

More on the not working thing in a bit. For now, please go here, and then visit Slacker-Moms-R-Us!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

What Tarot card are you?

I found this on Sarah's site who got it from Catherine's site. It's pretty cool. Catherine and I are the same card...which one are you?

You are The Star

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Star is one of the great cards of faith, dreams realised

The Star is a card that looks to the future. It does not predict any immediate or powerful change, but it does predict hope and healing. This card suggests clarity of vision, spiritual insight. And, most importantly, that unexpected help will be coming, with water to quench your thirst, with a guiding light to the future. They might say you're a dreamer, but you're not the only one.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Sex and the Silos Chapter 1

First, a disclaimer. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental. Furthermore, the characters, events and other scenarios depicted in this work of fiction do not represent the author's personal morals, values or beliefs. In other words, don't hate me if there are things in here that are not politically correct. In fact, there will be a lot of stuff in here that won't be politically correct, nor represent my own personal values. Otherwise it wouldn't be interesting, right?

Chapter 1: Ruth Lives Up To Her Promise
I don’t know what it was about her, but when Ruth came to breakfast at Panera Bread that morning I knew she was excited about something more than the cinnamon bread samples. She even skipped ordering her chai tea and bear claw to come join us at our usual table, the one in the back by the couch and the plug-in so that Justina, ever-attached to her computer, could plug in when necessary without draining her battery.

“You will not believe what happened to me last night,” Ruth said. “Okay, so I was in the middle of my parent-teacher conferences right, and it’s getting late and I’m waiting for my last conference—”

“Who was it for?” I asked.

“Well, it was for Dakota.”

“Dakota? The masturbator?”

“Yes, that’s the one. Anyway, her mom arrives first--they’re divorced--and sits down with me and we’re chit-chatting you know, not wanting to get into the down and dirty until the dad gets there. She’s telling me all about their divorce and how worried they’d been about how Dakota would handle it, and then the dad comes in.” She paused and nodded enthusiastically, the little-girl grin on her face begging us to ask for more.

“So then what?” asked Ann, who liked to get straight to the point of things.

“Well, he is really hot,” Ruth went on, “I mean hot like Matthew McConaughey hot. He had this kind of longish curly blond hair and this great smile and he smelled really good...I got nervous just looking at him. Then I realized I was going to have to talk to him about his daughter masturbating in class and I got even more nervous, wondering if I should use the word ‘masturbate’ or tell him she was “touching herself” or just allude to it with the old ‘inappropriate behavior’ cop-out and I can tell my face is getting red and I can feel my bowels starting to churn, oh my god, it was awful. I really need my tea,” she said, looking over at the counter.

“C’mon, finish the story and then get your tea,” I said.

“I’ll get your tea for you,” said Justina, who always liked to be of assistance.

“I want to hear the story,” I said.

“It’s really not a problem,” Justina continued. “It’ll only take a minute.” She gave me that look of sweetness combined with a genuine bewilderment as to why I couldn’t wait for Ruth to get her tea.

“Come on,” I said. “Obviously Ruth has some big news here, let’s hear it!”

“Okay,” Ruth started back up, “So we go through the usual pleasantries, then I pull out Dakota’s file and we start going over everything, her spelling, her math, her music....everything but the hands in her pants. Mom’s getting antsy because she has to go teach some Bible class or something and asks if there was anything else, so I went for it and told them.”

“How did you say it?” I asked. “What were the exact words you used?”

“Well, I said ‘I do have some concerns about some behaviors she’s exhibiting during film time.’ Mom looks puzzled and Hot Dad says, ‘What kind of behaviors?’ so I take a deep breath and just say, ‘Well, she’s been touching herself in her private areas.’”

“You didn’t really say that!” Ann says, laughing.

“Yes, I did, swear to god,” Ruth replies. “Anyway, the mom has this look of total shock and disgust on her face and says ‘Where would she have learned THAT?’ and looks over at Hot Dad. Hot Dad says, ‘Yeah, Jennifer, I’ve been teaching Dakota to masturbate. Jesus Christ.’ I explain that it’s pretty normal behavior, every kid figures it out on his or her own eventually and that we just have to find a way to keep her from doing it in inappropriate places. The mom glances at her watch and says something about working on it and then bails for the church thing. So it’s me and Hot Dad all alone in the classroom.”

“Oooh!” Justina said, her eyes sparkling. “Did you do it? Right there on the desk?”

Ruth rolls her eyes, tilts her head and purses her lips. “Do you really think I’d do it with a student’s dad during a parent-teacher conference?” She paused for a minute. “We waited until we’d had a few drinks at Flanigan’s,” she said lowly, leaning in for effect.

After the initial giggling and oh my gods were over with, Ruth leaned in again.

“Girls, I’ve done it,” Ruth says. “I’ve had sex with a man in a wheelchair.”

With only one cup of coffee behind us, we were momentarily stunned and confused. “Hot Dad’s in a wheelchair?” Ann asked with a hint of disbelief.

“Yep. He’s a full-fledged gimp!” Ruth said brightly.

Within the group, it was a well-known fact that Ruth was an equal-opportunity kind of woman. She had claimed, many times under duress from myself in particular, that physical disability or disfigurement would have no impact on whether or not she could be attracted to someone sexually.

"So...what happened to him? I mean, why is he in the chair?" I asked.

"He's a paraplegic," Ruth said matter-of-factly. "He was injured in a diving accident when he was 19."

"So what was it like?” Ann asked in that same ‘what the fuck’ voice.

“It was great! It was...pretty normal, really, but great!”

“How did you...” Ann moved her hands in a generalized simulation of groping and fondling. “...I mean...could he do it?”

“Well yeah, I’m sure he could do it,” Justina chimed in. “I had a stallion, remember Charlie? When he fell out of the trailer, his hindquarters were paralyzed but before we got him put down he still got hard-ons when the mares were around. Even when people are paralyzed they still have reflexes that can cause an erection, right?”

Ruth nodded. “I had no idea either. At first, when he asked me out for drinks, I figured it wouldn’t go any further than that so I wasn’t too concerned about it, but we kept talking and we were having a great time, and then he put his hand on my knee and this jolt just went through me and I knew he wanted to fuck me,” Ruth said. “I didn’t like, you know, want to say ‘what kind of sexual function do you have,’ you know what I mean? But I didn’t want to propose something that couldn’t happen either.”

“So how did you end up doing it?” Ann asked.

“Well, we went back to his house, which is really very nice,” Ruth said. “It’s got the most beautiful hardwood floors and a huge kitchen with this window that’s almost one entire wall. And his bathroom is amazing--it has this huge whirpool tub with a door on the bottom of it, kind of like a car door, so you can just open it and slide in, and a huge shower with a padded seat in it....”

“Yeah, yeah, get to the good stuff,” I interrupted her.

“So we go in and he wheels over to the kitchen and gets a bottle of wine and comes back to the living room where I’m sitting on the couch and pours me a glass. He looks at me and says, ‘I know this can be intimidating,’ and kind of motions toward his chair. ‘But trust me, I know what to do, and I have no problem showing you how.’”

“Ooooh!” Justina says again.

“So I said, great, I’m game!” Ruth said, and we all know that yes indeed, she really did say ‘I’m game.’ “He took my hand and pulled me over to him, and he leaned up and I leaned down and we kissed, and then we went to his bedroom and we did it.”

Ruth paused and smiled at us with pride. In Ohidoa City, things don't get much better than this, and Ruth knew it. A single girl in Ohidoa City usually had four choices: the white church-going sensitive sweater-wearer; the white tradesman; the white mid-level manager; or the white farmer. For a girl in Ohidoa, doing it with a farmer (or farm kid, as it were) was like getting your learner's permit--we'd all done it, usually by the age of 16, and truthfully it didn't take a whole lot of practice or talent. It was a hell of a lot easier than parallel parking, for sure.

Don't get me wrong, farmers have their merits (they have a lot of stamina, they're usually pretty open-minded and unflappable, and they also come with lots of fun stuff like outbuildings, hay lofts, and secluded homesteads on which you can frolic naked under the stars) but sometimes, well, sometimes you just need variety, and Ruth found it sitting in a chair right under her nose. The only way it could have been better is if Hot Dad was also black, European, and uncircumcised. Still and all, in Ohidoa City, hooking up with a paralyzed Matthew McConaughey lookalike was pretty damn impressive.

I cocked my head at Ruth. “You can’t just say ‘we did it,’” I say. “We need to know how, Ruth, you know that! Did he get a hard-on? Were you on the top or the bottom? Was it weird, I mean, how can he even tell what he’s doing down there?”

Ruth rolled her eyes but went on. “Okay, we got to the bedroom, he went to the bathroom for a minute, he came out and wheeled up to the bed and just lifted himself out of the chair and onto the bed with his arms. He’s got great arms.

Then he sort of scooched over to me, leaned on his elbow and started unbuttoning my dress and kissing me, you know, the normal stuff. We got undressed and just felt each other up basically —”

“Did he have a hard-on yet?” Ann asked, clearly fascinated.

“No, not yet, but I didn’t know what to expect so I wasn’t offended or anything. He really seemed to be enjoying himself so I was like, whatever happens happens, you know? It is what it is. So anyway, we go on like this for awhile, and then he says, ‘Get up on your knees,’ so I did it and he grabs one of my legs and just pulls it over his face and went at it. For 45 MINUTES. It was AWESOME! He never got tired, never got bored...he was totally into it the whole time. It was like he was totally in tune with my body--he’d stop when I got close and then start up again and kept me hanging for 45 MINUTES!” Ruth let out a wistful sigh. “Finally, he let me go and it was AWESOME.”

We all muse on this enviously, in silence.

“So then I said, ‘Now it’s your turn. What can I do for you?’”

“Awwww,” the rest of us say in unison.

“He said ‘take my cock in your mouth...’”

Justina giggled.

“It was still soft, but I did my best and pretty soon it started to firm up a little bit.”

“But could he feel it?” Ann asked.

“Well, I asked him afterwards, and he said he couldn’t really feel sensation like he used to, before the accident, but that seeing me down there was arousing and that his body just takes over. So anyway, I do this for awhile and he firms up and then he kind of pushes me back toward the bed and hoists himself up over my body and then we did it.”

“Did he come?” I ask.

“Well....I don’t really know, it was weird. He was really into it, you know, and we were really going at it, and then he asked me to lick his chest and when I did, he kind of did that grunting thing like men do when they come and then it was over.”

“Did you ask him if he came?” Ann asked.

“No, I didn’t want to make him feel bad if it didn’t happen, you know. But it certainly seemed like he had some sort of...release.”

“I cannot believe you fucked the masturbator’s paralyzed father,” I said, and we all laughed.

“I told you I would have sex with a gimp, Lynn,” Ruth said triumphantly. “It just so happened that I never had the opportunity until last night. And it wasn’t like a sympathy fuck or anything like that, this guy is HOT. We’re going out again tonight.”

Then she got up and headed over to the counter for her chai. We sat in stunned silence for awhile. I think we were all still thinking about those magical 45 minutes.

“Wow,” Ann said.

“Yeah,” I said.

“I think I could use some of that," Justina sighed.

Ruth returned with her tea. “So,” she said. “What did you guys do last night?”

* * *

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Poor! Huh, good god yall, what is it good for?

Absolutely nothin'! Say it again!

Yesterday I paid bills and realized I have $377 dollars left for the rest of the month. J. and I have separate accounts, so it's not like I'm going to have to support the whole family on that for the next 25 days, but it is supremely depressing. Especially since I am also in debt.

A substantial amount of the money we earn goes to three places: house, daycare, and car payment. Then there's are our payments on our debts and the health insurance, which we basically have to pay for since it's taken out of J.'s check.

We both have good, stable jobs. I have a four-year degree; J. has a two-year degree and has worked his way up to a decent position at his job. We have one car, a Saturn Vue; our house needs siding, new windows and carpet; our furniture is almost 100 percent hand-me-down (or handmade, and free, from my father). I honestly cannot remember the last time I bought a brand-new piece of clothing for myself (for Bubba, well, I splurge a little there...if buying stuff at Target is considered a splurge). My point is, we do not live extravagantly at all, but obviously we live beyond our means. The depressing thing is that according to our "means," we should be living in a one-room apartment, driving a 1977 Pacer and sending our kid to Abuse-a-Lot Childcare Center.

J. and I have had money issues ever since we first got married--the main issue being we never have enough. I'm not going to detail all the reasons why we are in the jobs we are and why it would not be advantageous for us to relocate or switch jobs, but trust me that we are kind of stuck in our current position until J. finds a better job in the area or until his grandma dies.

Is there anyone else out there waiting for someone to die so that you can have a little bit of financial freedom? I know this is so crass, but I'm all about being honest, even if it makes me look bad. J.'s parents both died in 2000, and we got a bit of money from their estate which allowed us to put a decent downpayment on our house (which we've since borrowed against) and pay off our credit cards. We said we'd never use them again....and of course we did, and here we are now with a brand new pile of credit card debt. Fucking credit cards!

Because J.'s parents died so young, whatever estate they were going to inherit from J.'s grandma now passes to J. and his two sisters. She's no millionaire, but she's comfortable. Part of her income comes from piece of land that was placed in a living trust for his grandma but was willed to J.'s dad so it is technically now "owned" by J. and his sisters.

J.'s grandma is 97 years old. She lived on her own until last month, when knee replacement surgery and small heart attack forced her to stay with her 70-something daughter.

J. and I both "joke" about how grandma is never going to die, and conversely, try not to worry too much about our debt because once she does kick off, we should be able to pay it off. But it's pretty depressing to think that someone has to die for us to be debt-free.

Obviously, J. doesn't have the closest relationship to his grandma. While always a decent person, she definitely favored J.'s biological sister over J. and his other sister who were both adopted. And, J. and I rationalize, how much fun can it be to be 97 years old? Your husband's dead, one of your two kids is dead, most of your friends are dead, you're in pain a lot, it's hard to move around and do stuff...etc.

I was thinking last night about how every generation wants the next generation to do better than they did. That led me to thinking about Tingle and LilCherie, who are definitely doing better than their parents did. Me, not so much. I don't know if this is due to Tingle's and LilCherie's financial skills or the fact that my parents made substantial money and I know theirs struggled. In any case, I do feel somewhat like a failure in this regard. It occurred to me that "doing better than your parents" is a somewhat arbitrary measure of success, but still it bothers me that two intelligent, responsible and educated adults make less money than my dad did all by himself, even though he never went to college.

Is it more difficult to live these days? Are things more expensive than they used to be? Do we just think we need more stuff than people did back then? What's the deal?

I remember, shortly after getting married, the shock of how much it cost to live. That first year, we were borrowing money from relatives to pay our rent and eat. We looked at Christmas as an opportunity to have a free meal and scam some leftovers that might last us a few days so we wouldn't have to buy groceries. Once, during a week of especially dire straits, I went to the local "cheap" food store. This will say something about my family: I had never been in one before. My mother had never bought a generic-brand anything.

I walked in and looked at the exposed ceiling, the cement floors, and the huge sign over the door that said "CASH ONLY!!!!" I looked around at the shoppers, and I'm ashamed to say I judged them, who mostly looked disheveled and...."poor." I turned right around and never went back. Not even to this day.

To walk into that store would have been admitting that I was poor, and "poor" wasn't--and still isn't--a label I could live with. Even though it's probably closer to the truth than any other I could come up with. There's such shame in this country about not having a lot of money. You can exchange stories about sex or intimate medical stuff or your sexual orientation but don't you dare talk about how much money you make--or owe!

I don't know I'm just elitist or if my attitude is just a leftover from my fairly pampered upbringing, but I know that I never want to be perceived as poor. And that's probably why I use my credit cards and rack up debt and end up waiting for an elderly relative to die so that I can get out from underneath it all. At times like this I often think of the wise LilCherie, who told me recently: "Your childhood just needed to be shittier, then things wouldn't seem so bad now. It worked for me."

When I was about 13, we had a gift exchange in our Girl Scout troop. My partner, Angela, was a fringe-dweller of my social group and was what you would call a "sad sack." I went to her and asked her what she wanted for Christmas. "A friend," she said pathetically. Thrown off by the answer, I thought for a moment and then said, "Well, I can't buy one for five dollars, so what else do you want?"

"Some leg warmers, I guess," she answered.

Nope, you can't buy friends--or a lot of other things that I am truly thankful for.

Possible Titles for This Post: My Psychotic Child; Not So Happy Things; or Why Don't They Make Tranquilizers for Toddlers?

The Scene
It's Tuesday night at the Casa de Depressionista, oh 'round 7 p.m. The happy family is engaged in fun but quiet activites like playing with the train and reading books. The three of us are happily snuggled on the bed in my room, reading Everyone Poops and Dinosaur Roar.

7:20 p.m.: Bubba is starting to show the signs of sleepiness. The decision is made that it's time for bed. J. and Bubba go to lay down in J.'s room, which is where Bubba's been sleeping of late.

8 p.m.: J. makes the last of his trips to the living room to get the puppy, the car, the train, the red train, and the kitty that Bubba "needs" in order to go to sleep.

8:05 p.m.: J. gets serious, turns out the light, and says "Bubba, it is time to go to bed!"

8:06 p.m.: "Bubba, lay down, it is time to go to sleep!"

8:07 p.m.: "It is nigh-night time!"

8:08 to 8:20 p.m..: "If you don't lay down quietly, I'm going to take the train away. If you don't lay down quietly, I'm going to take the train away. If you don't lay down quietly, I'm going to take the train away..."

8:20 p.m.: Train is taken away. "TRAIN.....RED TRAIN...WAAHHH!"

8:30 p.m.: "Do you want to rock? Okay, let's rock." J. and Bubba move back into Bubba's room where they rock in a futile attempt to lull Bubba to sleep.

8:32 p.m.: Bubba wrestles out of J.'s arms and makes a break for it to the living room, plants himself on the couch and announces "I wanna wah car movie." "Bubba, no more TV. It's time for bed," I say, and J. repeats it.

8:33 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.: Bubba is taken back to bed, crying, "I WANNA WAH CAR MOVIE!!!! I WANNA WAH CAR MOVIE!!! I WANNA WAH CAR MOVIE!!!"

8:45 p.m.: I hear J. in the bedroom: "Bubba, this is ridiculous. IT IS TIME TO GO TO SLEEP."

8:46 p.m.: "Fine. If you want to cry, then you'll have to cry by yourself. I'm going out to the living room."

8:47 p.m.: A beleaguered J. trudges to the living room. "Do you want me to try?" I ask. J. nods yes, admitting defeat. I go to the bedroom, take all the toys away except for Blankie, lay Bubba down and say sternly, "It is time to lay down and go to sleep."

8:49 p.m to 8:51 p.m.: Bubba has crawled to the bottom of the bed, threatening to fall off head first. I pull him back and hold him in my arms against his will, trying to get him to settle down. This pushes him over the edge from bratty to hysterical. I take Bubba into his room and tell him he's sleeping there. He refuses to go to bed and keeps running for the door. Finally, I leave the room, close the door, and hold it shut so Bubba can't get out. He screams hysterically, you know what I mean--the jagged breathing, the coughing, the high-pitched rhythmic screams that sound like he's being tortured. He tries to open the door handle and then knocks on the door. I can't handle it and cave, opening up the door.

8:51 p.m.: I pick Bubba up, hold him, and go over to the rocking chair, trying to speak to him softly, trying to calm him down. He screams louder and thrashes out of my arms. "FINE! I GIVE UP! DO WHATEVER YOU WANT!" I yell at Bubba, marching out to the kitchen while Bubba follows me wailing "DADDY DADDY DADDY DADDY DADDY DADDY." J. comes up from doing laundry and I tell him, "I cannot handle this. This just makes me too angry." I go to the couch and sit crying tears of anger. Yes, anger, at my two-year-old.

8:53 to 9:05 p.m.: J. takes Bubba to Bubba's room, plants him in his bed, and tells him he is sleeping there and that's it. Bubba wails and thrashes and runs around the room, refusing to stay in bed.

9:06 p.m. to 9:20 p.m.: J. closes the door to Bubba's room and holds it shut from the outside. Bubba wails, tries the door, knocks on the door, coughs, calls for his Daddy about 106 times.

9:20 p.m.: Silence. A mere two hours after we began the bedtime routine.

9:20 to 10 p.m.: J. and I discuss the utter ridiculousness of what we've just gone through. We both agree that it's time to lay down the law as far as bedtime is concerned. I said, "If he's going to scream and cry for two hours before we "lock" him into his room, why don't we skip the two hours of torture and just put him straight in there and hold the door shut?" J. agrees. We have essentially agreed to imprison our child in his room until he falls asleep.

Last Night
We put the plan into action. Bubba wails and cries for five minutes and then goes to sleep. However, he wakes up an hour later, crying "Daddy's bed! Daddy's bed!" and J. has to rock him to get him to go back to sleep. The report this morning from J. is that Bubba was up four times through the night wanting to come into his bed, but J. didn't allow it. I know that was a major accomplishment for J.

You know, I thought once we got past the up every two hours to feed thing when he was a month old that things would progressively get better. I thought that by now we'd have a kid who marched into his room when we said "Bedtime!" and went to sleep easily, snuggling his stuffed animal and dreaming of whatever toddlers dream about. Now, this naivete ripped so unceremoniously from me, I honestly believe that we will never have an easy bedtime with Bubba until....well....never. I imagine that he will resist bedtime until he is a teenager and then he'll be out with his friends until all hours of the night and we'll still be laying there awake, worrying and hoping he's okay.

We will not have an easy, restful night until 2022 at the earliest.

You know the funniest part of this whole thing? On Tuesday night, J. actually asked me, with some seriousness, "So...I guess another child is out of the question?"

And then I laughed and laughed and laughed.

Happy Things

First, an update on my anger management efforts. It's going quite well, really. I had a fabulous weekend with my husband. We had sex!!! And it was satisfying!!! Equally astounding is that we did not argue; we enjoyed each other's company; we still managed to get a few things done around the house; and in general felt happier with one another than we have in a long time. My parents had taken Bubba for the weekend so we could enjoy New Year's Eve as adults, and that helped a lot.

Truthfully, there were not too many times that my anger was provoked, so I don't know that I can take a lot of credit for what went right last weekend; but I know I was much more aware of how I acted toward J., how I spoke to him and how I listened, and I think he recognized that. He also put forth his own effort by doing some laundry and housework on his own without me asking.

One realization I had this weekend is that when J. plays PlayStation, it's not necessarily a rejection of me. Yes, you heard it here first: there is something that J. does that is not ALL ABOUT ME. I came to this realization when I was straightening up the house on Monday, preparing for my parents' return with Bubba. There were just a few things to get done, and I was puttering around doing them while J. played PlayStation. My first impulse was to sigh and get bitchy, but due to my new awareness I stopped and instead calmly said "J., could you take those clothes downstairs?" And he actually stopped playing PlayStation and did it right then. That, of course, helped my mood. A few moments later, after he'd started playing the game again, I came across another thing I needed him to do, and the same scenario took place.

It was at that point that I had the thought that "Hey-maybe he's just playing PlayStation because at the moment, there's nothing really required of him, and he likes to play it. Maybe he's not intending to shirk his duties or ignore me--maybe he's just passing time." Novel thought, huh?

Over the past several days I've spent a little more time recognizing the good things about J. He is getting really good at thanking me for the things I do around the house or with Bubba. At the end of the weekend he noticed my efforts to be more patient and less angry and told me I was doing a good job. We've both been under the weather this week with colds, so we've been struggling through to get everything done and take care of Bubba, and I feel we've really been working together. Last night, he wasn't feeling good, and I was in a depressed anxiety attack about money (I'll save that for another post), and he said "Just do what you need to do to feel better--I'll take care of things tonight." The fact that he was so willing to just let me do what I needed to do, even though he was sick, actually made me more willing to pitch in. I didn't do a whole lot, but I did probably more than I would have.

Another highlight from the last few days is that on Tuesday, J. and I had a good, relaxed but deep discussion about how we parent Bubba and how we tend to repeat the patterns of our parents. At first I was afraid he'd discovered my blog because he actually asked me, "What did your mom do when she got mad at you?" and "How did that make you feel?" but he said he was just thinking about his own parents and how he felt when he was a kid.

So...that's the relationship update. I'm planning two more posts today: "My Psychotic Child" and "Poor--What is it Good For."