October 23, 2008


My email inbox is empty.
I check it several times an hour
and it remains empty
I am sitting at my desk
it is nearing 1pm
and still
I am in my pajamas
teeth unbrushed
hair a mess
cold coffee in the mug on my desk
I am listening to sad songs
and lamenting a life mis-spent
on fear and guilt and shame
but too tired to do anything about it

Dirty Dishes

I used to work with a woman, who, really, was just a great person and a great friend, but, like most people, she had a few quirks. I mean, all of us do, right? I tend to pick my friends based on their quirks and how much I either like them or despise them. So, this woman had some quirks that I loved and some that I just despised. One in particular was that she often tried to cover up things about herself that make her human. Like she might expect you to believe that she didn’t pooh or something like that. And she hated the word “fart.” All of these, in my book, were a little annoying, but she was just too cute and too funny to let them ruin the friendship.

One time, I went to her house to pick her up for something and when I walked in the door into the kitchen I noticed she had very carefully placed a dish towel over the dirty dishes in her sink. I looked at the sink and then at her and said, “Why did you cover your dirty dishes?” She blushed and smiled and said, “Oh Claire, I don’t want you to know what a mess it is.”

OK, I get the intent, but really, she and I both knew what was under that towel! And, frankly, it’s a little weird to me to go on pretending that we don’t know what’s under the towel or that covering your dishes with a towel somehow makes them less dirty or less there.

On the other hand, I know what it feels like to want to hide the dirty stuff inside or about me so that no one knows it is there. Even if I can find a big enough towel to cover it all, it seems like I would always know it was there and very likely, others would also notice it.

Peeling back the towel and rifling through the chaos and bleakness is hard, it is painful. It is scary. And I am left with the crushing knowledge that although I smile and laugh and try to do the right thing, I fail every single day and remain absolutely and imperfectly human.

I hurt someone with my humanness recently and I want to cry and scream and point fingers at everyone else. But it was me and only me who was responsible for the hurt. And it must be me and only me who sits with the sadness and listens to the truthful accusations. The towels are off and all I am left with is my dirty dishes for all to see.

Life in the Fast Lane

My heart is heavy this morning. I am reeling in the wake of a tumultuous few weeks..okay, let’s be honest, a tumultuous few years. Really, how much is one person expected to endure in one 3 year time span? I know, I know, I am whining, People endure much worse. People lose their legs, children are starving, and my mother always told me to be thankful that I was never drugged in a bar and sold into white slavery. That woman had some really bizarre fears and associated stories.

The latest saga started innocently enough. Saturday before last, Mike had a stomach ache. Nothing new in our house. That man can eat. I had made jambalaya and although I had followed the directions, the rice was slightly undercooked. I ate one small bowl because, aside from the crunchy texture, it still tasted pretty good. I think Max may have eaten a little, too, but something wasn’t quite right and the crunchy rice was a little unnerving, so we erred on the side of caution.

Mike, on the other hand, decided to eat 5 bowls of undercooked jambalaya. Earlier that day he ate popcorn and then with dinner, some canned corn. Needless to say, that evening, his stomach started hurting. Again, no one was particularly alarmed because that is what happens when you eat all that crap.

That night, Mike went to the movies and I stayed home with Max. We hung out and watched Snow White and then went to bed. When I woke up the next morning, Mike was pale and couldn’t stand up straight. He insisted it was just bad gas, but I, being the holder on an English Degree and having made a “C” in Biology for Liberal Arts majors decided it was something far worse, like maybe appendicitis.

I logged onto WebMD and asked Mike to detail his symptoms to me. Based on the pain and the localization and description of said pain, WebMD told me Mike likely had appendicitis, diverticulitis or a tubal pregnancy. We packed everyone into the car and headed to the emergency room. I fully expected them to check him out and send him home the very same day, but, somehow, the gods didn’t agree with my plan.

The doctor said they needed to do a CT scan to see what was going on and that Mike had to drink 2 huge glasses of some crap before they could do it. By this point, Max, who is a normal three year old, was literally climbing the walls. While we tried to have a rational conversation with the doctor, Max was jumping from the stirrup table in the room onto the stool on the floor. I envisioned the funk of every disgusting examination that had taken place in that room over the past 30 years slowly invading my healthy little boy and it made me want to puke, which I am sure that room has seen its fair share of.

Mike really wanted to just sleep, so Max and I left and went to my sister’s house where he could play with his cousin and I could whine to my sister about how I wish our mother was still alive. She would know what to do. She would help with Max and call Mike and tell me what to ask the doctor. It’s true, mother is always right, which makes it all the worse when she is gone.

In the end, Mike was admitted into the hospital with diverticulitis and a torn colon. The pain in his abdomen was being caused by air and other gunk that was escaping through the perforation into the abdominal cavity. They had him on I.V. Cipro for the 7 days he stayed in the hospital. The goal was to allow the colon to heal on its own without surgery because operating on a torn and infected colon means you need a colostomy bag until it can heal and well, no one really wants that. The people I know who have it don’t want it.

In the middle of this chaos, I was acting as single mother doing everything – bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan and never letting Max forget he’s a sweet little boy. It was absolutely exhausting and by Thursday, I crawled into the hospital bed with Mike and cried and cried. I just wanted him to come home and be at home if, for nothing else, adult conversation.

And now he is home, and life is back to normal. Whatever that means.