Child free

When I was four or five my oldest sister had a Cabbage Patch doll. One day, my family went to the zoo. For some unfathomable reason I wanted to take my sister’s Cabbage Patch doll with me. I don’t particularly like dolls, but I must have thrown a serious fit. Because my mother made my sister let me take it.

Dolls really are creepy.

Dolls really are creepy.

The doll had a cute little outfit with red rubber shoes and a full size doll stroller. I lugged this damn thing around the zoo all day. It was the biggest pain in the ass. Trying to keep track of the doll. Making sure it didn’t get stolen. Fucking with the stroller in the tight spaces.

I was terrified of my older sister. She was 10 years older. She was beautiful, and mean, and cold, and other-wordly. She was like a volatile goddess. We don’t speak anymore. But this is how I still imagine her. And her doll was not being damaged on my watch.

High school photo of my sister.

High school photo of my sister.

At one point during the day, I noticed that the doll’s shoe had fallen off somewhere. This launched me into an anxiety ridden panic. I retraced my every step till I found it.

I was miserable the whole day. I didn’t enjoy my experience at the zoo. I actually hate zoos now, for unrelated reasons. I had spent the whole day worried about this fucking doll.

And then I looked around me, at all these women, with babies in strollers. And I realized, this was their life. My experience at the zoo was the life of having a child. I would never enjoy anything I did ever again once I had children. I would be a slave to the anxiety and worry. And not only that; but a child would have it’s own will. It would go out of it’s way to be intrusive and obnoxious.

I thought all of those things, at 5 years old. And I vowed, right then and there, to never have children.

For the past 24 years people have told me that I would change my mind. ‘Once I had a boyfriend. Once I got married. Once I was 18. Once I was 25. Once I was 30.’ I have never wavered. I have only become more and more convinced that children are not right for me.

Let me say here: I love children. I love my nieces and nephews. I love my friends’ children. Children like me too. But having children is NOT the right choice, FOR ME.

I began trying to to get my tubes tied when I was 18. Every year I go to a new OB/GYN and every year they refuse. Once I started having heart issues my cardiologist told me I should never have children as it would probably kill me. I told him that I was way ahead of him.

Then I found my current OB/GYN. And he is amazing. He actually believed that I knew what I wanted for myself and my life. It only took me 10 years. And he recommended me to someone that could do the procedure.

The day of the procedure was the same day as my court hearing to get a restraining order against my ex boyfriend (which will be the subject of another post). The procedure was in the morning and the hearing was in the afternoon. I figured I’d have no problem making it to both. Especially since neither could be rescheduled. And because I am a complete idiot.

WARNING: This post is about to have graphic language involving lady parts.

The night before the procedure I had to insert a pill into my vagina as far as I could get it to go. It would help soften my cervix for the procedure the next day. I thought I knew what to expect with the procedure because they had done a test run the month previously.

The worst part about it the first time was when they ripped a one inch chunk of my uterine wall out for testing with no anaesthesia. But they wouldn’t be doing that this time. And yes, I cried.

I wouldn’t be able to drive after the procedure because I’d be hopped up on vicodin and valium (which I secretly thought would make the court proceedings much more enjoyable). So my best friend, C, and her husband drove me to the OB/GYN. I was wearing my trusty pajama outfit from this story, but had brought a change of clothes for court.

The nurse called me back and observed me taking my drugs. She and I had previously begun a long relationship via multiple phone calls in which I made wildly inappropriate jokes. She had not once laughed at a single thing I had ever said.

The drugs kicked in and I asked if my friend could come back and join me. The nurse, B,  said yes, asked if my friend would want to see me so exposed. I told her C was pregnant and we had a deal. She’d be in here for this and I’d be in the hospital for her delivery. B said not till we started the procedure.

I pulled out my cell phone and texted C. I was really drugged up.

Me: Something in this room smells amazing. And I don’t know what it is.

C: Are you alone in there?

Me: I am right now. I am going to start smelling things till I figure out what that smell is.

C: You are in a gynecologists office! Do not smell random things! You don’t know where they’ve been.

Me: Actually I do. Vaginas.

Me: False alarm. It was my hair. They have a 3-d vagina puzzle back here that I am playing with. Bring my purse back so I can steal it.

3-D Vagina model!

3-D Vagina model!

The nurse walked in and I had my phone out. She gave me a shot in the butt and said it was time. I had a rather important question to ask her and the drugs had kicked in just enough for me to do so. “So, how long do I have to wait before having sex after this procedure?” I asked, B.

“Well, you really should wait 3 months before you start having unprotected sex. We will need to test you to make sure your tubes are fully blocked.”

“Yes, I know three months for my tubes to be blocked.  But I mean sex, in general.”

“In general you can’t have unprotected sex because you are still at risk for pregnancy.”

The OB/GYN, S, came in and so did some strange man who turned out to be the Essure representative. This was after my heart surgeries when I long ago stopped feeling things like shame.

“I know how babies are made. I’ve had sex many, many times before and not gotten pregnant. I just want to know how long I have to wait, after the procedure to have sex again.”

“Well, you shouldn’t have unprotected sex at all…”

I interrupted her. “Let me make this easier. When can I masturbate again?”

She flushed and mumbled, “One week.”

During the Essure procedure they opened me up with a speculum, then inserted a bunch of dilators into my cervix. Then they pumped my uterus full of saline solution and stuck a light and a camera in there. It was like the flooded movie set of a disaster film.

Like this, only mine were longer.

Like this, only mine were longer.

If I turned slightly I could see the inside of my uterus over my shoulder. The first spring got in my fallopian tube in less than 5 minutes. The spring blocks the tube and irritates it which causes the body to create scar tissue which eventually completely blocks the tube. It’s like a gross human pearl with a spring in the center instead of a grain of sand.

This is shoved in my Fallopian tubes.

This is shoved in my Fallopian tubes.

I suddenly thought of an idea. “Can I get one of you to take a picture of my vulva with all these dilators and cords sticking out? I really want to know what that looks like.”

B responded. “No. We can’t do that. That’s an invasion of your privacy.”

I rolled my eyes. “It’s my phone and I want the picture.”

“We still can’t.”

“Well, call C in here so she can.”

But they wouldn’t. I keep getting medical staff with no sense of humor.

Apparently my second fallopian tube is weirdly twisted. They tried to get the tube in for over an hour. I was in complete agony and crying. They had dilated my cervix too much and I was losing saline solution. So much so that they ran out of it.

We had to reschedule for the next month. I walked out to the waiting room in agony and was crying. I was nauseous from the pain and was wearing a giant medical pad to catch all the saline solution that was leaking out. I was a mess.

And if we didn’t leave right then, I was going to miss my court hearing. But that is a story for another post.

Roach Wars

My father is a collector. He makes jewelry, as do I. It is an obsession for him (and becoming one for me), but when I was a child I didn’t get it. He has vast row after row of baby food jars filled with beads, broken jewelry, semi-precious stones.

 

He also collects records. He has over 5,000. They are stacked in boxes all over the downstairs of the church where he lives. He also has between 10 and 15 turntables to play the records on. Only two or three are functional.

I'm beginning to paint this weird picture of a hoarding family.

I’m beginning to paint this weird picture of a hoarding family.

And he collects plants. I know you may be thinking: How can you collect plants? Aren’t they alive?

 

Yes. They are. We moved many, many times in my childhood. And each move involved packing up all his plants and taking them with us. House to house. All over Florida.

 

He has a particular fondness for bromeliads. So do I, as it turns out. I’d rather get a bromeliad than flowers. It must have been all those years helping him in the yard. Digging plants up, transplanting them, watering them. We had a compost bin that had to be turned and sifted through.

So beautiful.

So beautiful.

Even now I love the smell of rich fertile soil, the sound of a sprinkler spinning, the smell of fish emulsions (basically, ground up, concentrated fish heads, yum!), earthworms.

 

But for some reason, bromeliads seem to attract palmetto bugs. Which is basically a polite way of saying; giant flying roaches.

 

When we were kids, my brother, sister and I found a way to amuse ourselves with them. My brother was in charge of catching the disgusting creatures. I could never stomach that. As you all now know.

 

My brother never had that issue. He still doesn’t. He can crush them with a bare hand. In fact, when he was very little, family legend has it that he used to eat them. That’s right. Roaches. They could never tell if he was eating dead ones he’d found or catching live ones and eating them. Either way, it’s horrific. My mother used to see him chewing and reach into his mouth only to pull out roach parts. *SHUDDER*

 

Anyway. On one side of our house there was a brick paved walkway with bromeliads on both sides. And tons of lizards.

 

We would catch the roaches and run over to the walkway with the roach squirming around in my brother’s cupped hands. I like to imagine us digging through the trash bags of aluminum cans in our yard and overturning rocks, trying to find roaches to use in our sick game. I don’t even know where we got them all from.

Why were these all in my yard as a child?

Why were these all in my yard as a child?

My brother would throw the roach down onto the center of the brick walkway. Not hard enough to kill it, but hard enough to daze it a bit. It made a very specific and particular sound when it hit.

 

The roach would sit for a second and then go crazy, trying to get back to the safety of some dark corner. But it was too late. The hungry eager eyes of the lizards would have already locked on to the defenseless roach. We eventually trained the lizards, Pavlovian style, to come running when they heard the sound of the roach hitting the bricks.

 

Three or four lizards would come running up. And they would tear the roach apart, fighting each other in some kind of tug of war. It was fascinating. Like a microcosm of the Serengeti. The roach was a zebra and the lizards a pack of lions.

They should make a documentary about this.

They should make a documentary about this.

We were bloodthirsty. We watched, riveted by the spectacle. We couldn’t get enough. My sister and I would beg my brother to do it again and again. Over and over. Till he got bored and would refuse to continue. But we were thrilled.

 

We would have done that to the exclusion of all other activities if we could have convinced him. Catching them ourselves was not an option.

Honestly, I still kind of want to see it again. Even now. Twenty-three years later. The thought of it is so compelling to me. And not just because I fucking hate roaches.

Emergency Room

So, after I was told to go directly to the hospital, I did what any reasonable person would do and called my mother; sobbing like a child. I was trying to tell her what was going on but was completely incoherent.

 

My boyfriend (at the time) drove me to the emergency room. He parked while I walked inside clutching my EKG printout. I explained to the nurse that I seemed to be having heart problems and showed her the paper.

 

I had no idea at the time what a healthy EKG looked like. But apparently it wasn’t on that paper. She immediately put me in a wheelchair and wheeled me back to a room. No waiting. No paperwork. No conversation.

 

I spent the next two hours with a heart monitor hooked to my chest. It beeped wildly every time my heart rate went over 180. Which was nearly constantly. I amused myself by pretending it was frantically trying to communicate with me but could only use incomprehensible beeps, like R2D2. Though it’s message likely would have been that I was dying.

What are you trying to tell me?!

What are you trying to tell me?!

While the nurses and IV techs tried to start an IV line. They stuck my right inner elbow, my left inner elbow, my right hand, my left hand. They had tried 15 times to hit a vein. Apparently I have thick skin and shitty veins (who knew?). With no luck.

Finally, an ex army nurse came in with a sonogram machine. She had an air of getting shit done about her. They rubbed some goo on my shoulder and pulled out a needle for a central venous catheter. The nurse wouldn’t let me see it despite my insistence that I could handle it.

 

But when that sucker sank into me, I could tell it was enormous. It’s circumference felt like a milkshake straw. Unfortunately, even with the lights out, she couldn’t find my vein. So she tried the other shoulder. And missed that vein. It hurt, a lot.

 

She looked at me with a serious expression. “We really need to get an IV in you to administer blood thinners. You could have a stroke without them. I’m going to try your neck, but if we can’t get it, it’s going to go in your groin.”

 

“That sounds unpleasant.”

 

“It is. And you won’t be able to walk around. And they get infected, like, all the time.”

 

I freaked out a little bit. She plunged the needle deep into the vein in my neck. Blood splashed out all over the hospital gown I was wearing. 17 times was the charm. I was IVed successfully.

 

And this thing was huge. It felt like she had broken through my jugular and had somehow lodged it into my stomach. It had three ports on it. When they removed it before I was released I was horrified to see how long it was. The tube was almost a foot long. It was practically inside my heart. I wish I still had that picture.

Beastly.

Beastly.

 

I was immediately pumped full of drugs. And good thing too. That first night was one of the longest and worst nights of my life.

 

I was having really bad heart palpitations. So bad that I couldn’t walk. I had to use my IV cart as a walker to get in and out of the bathroom. I was extremely nauseous and spent most of my night on the bathroom floor.

 

I had a massive stroke my first night in the hospital on the bathroom floor. The nurse came in and saw me lying there and freaked out, thinking I had fallen off the toilet. It would have been funny if I weren’t so nauseous. I was rushed to the ICU for the next five days. In the ICU I wasn’t allowed to get up to pee and had to go in a bed pan. That’s was the beginning of the end of my dignity.

Looks like a diaphragm to me.

Looks like a diaphragm to me.

The nurses also had to give me an injection of a blood thinner, Lovenox, in my stomach every morning and evening. Apparently, the thinner you are, the more it hurts. I was very thin back then. It was agony. It was the worst part about the whole experience. Not the loss of dignity and privacy, not going without a shower for a month, not the 17 times with a needle. Those shots were pure torture.

 

This all means that if I had listened to my doctor’s original diagnosis, that I had panic attacks, I would be dead right now. I would have died at home of a stroke that very night. I am alive because I acted like a total bitch. Let that be a lesson to you.

 

I have a tiny scar on my neck from the A-line. I wound up being in the hospital for 25 days and didn’t leave till I was transferred to another hospital and had my first heart surgery.

Also, I totally stole the blood stained hospital gown. They wouldn’t have wanted to keep it anyway. I never could get all my blood out.

Taco Bell

I have had a migraine for the past 7 days. As such, I have been taking my migraine medicine in a very high quantity trying to knock it on it’s ass. It hasn’t worked yet. This migraine is like some kind of zombie motherfucker that won’t stay dead.

 

On Thursday, I left work at 9am. I was feeling very nauseous and could barely see straight. I went home and took a heady cocktail of all of my migraine prescriptions at once (which I am supposed to do when it gets that bad).

 

The pills hit me pretty hard as I had not eaten breakfast. Or dinner the night before (migraines are great for weight loss). About 30 minutes after I took my drug cocktail I started having the worst craving for Taco Bell ever!

 

I rarely eat at Taco Bell. Mostly because I don’t drink or do drugs. But there I was, dying for it at 10am. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t drive in my condition. I just sat there, impotently wishing for it.

My drug induced obsession.

My drug induced obsession.

I went online and looked up a food delivery service. But they didn’t deliver Taco Bell. I texted a friend at work, asking if he could bring me Taco Bell. But he couldn’t leave his job to satisfy my food cravings.

 

I tried to distract myself with movies and interneting. The hours ticked by. I expected my cravings to dissipate as I got more and more sober. But the craving wouldn’t die.

 

Six hours later, my migraine had returned and I figured I was safe to drive. I did an agility check by walking down my stairs. I felt fine.

 

I also felt incredibly lazy. So I left the house wearing pajama pants, flip flops, undershirt, and hideous cardigan that is two sizes too big that I only wear at home. (You guys already knew how sexy I am, right?).

 

The next issue was that I didn’t know where a Taco Bell was near my house. Like I said, I almost never eat there. So I pulled out my trusty cell phone and GPSed it.

 

My phone began directing me to the nearest Taco Bell. As I was driving, I felt a little light headed, but I figured that was from not eating for 24 hours.

 

I turned onto a major road near my place and said aloud “I don’t know why I should trust this GPS woman when she can’t even properly pronounce the name of the street I am on.”

 

Turns out I was wise to be suspicious. She directed me to a mall parking lot. I wanted to cry. I had been waiting hours for Taco Bell. And now, I was on an unsuccessful quest. I felt like I had been circumnavigating the globe, looking for a passage to India.

 

I decided to just drive until I found a Taco Bell. I was on a major road. There had to be one somewhere. I almost got into an accident merging back into traffic. And that’s when I realized that leaving my apartment had been a huge mistake.

 

But I had to press on. I’d already gone too far not to. I crossed over a bridge and saw it! My quest was over! I triumphantly turned and found myself in the parking lot of a 7-11 gas station.

What the hell? It doesn't even resemble a Taco Bell logo.

What the hell? It doesn’t even resemble a Taco Bell logo.

 

It took me a second to remember that I had been looking for Taco Bell. I pulled back out into traffic. And then, I saw it. For real this time. The most beautiful sight in the world at that moment.

My sweet lord, yes.

My sweet lord, yes.

I pulled into the drive thru. I wanted four, no, five crunchy tacos. I wanted to slake my Taco Bell thirst once and for all.

 

I also got a grilled stuffed nacho, because I was still drugged up and it sounded good. Plus the girl said it was good and tasted delicious. But sadly, I’m afraid Cindy lied to me on that one. Them things are nasty.

Ew.

Ew.

I drove home uneventfully, stuffed full of Taco Bell goodness. And for the first time in my life I realized; Taco Bell really needs to start a delivery service. Seriously, Taco Bell. You can help make the streets a safer place for the sober people and keep people like me off the roads. Think of the children.

Gas Station Bathroom

This story may be a new low for my blog. Up till now I’ve kept things mildly classy. And all that is about to go out the window. We all knew it was going to happen sooner or later.

 

A few years ago I held a position at my job that required a significant amount of driving. In fact, all I did was drive all day long. Most of that driving was done in residential neighborhoods.

 

As such, I didn’t always know where I would end up going to the bathroom on a day to day basis. I tried to only use ‘clean’ places. Like Walgreens or Publix. But more often I was reduced to using gas stations.

 

I’ve gotten freakishly good at knowing, just from seeing the outside, how a gas station bathroom is going to be. It’s like a super power. And I’ve created a list of rules to live by.

 

Never use a gas station bathroom that has the bathroom entrance outside.

Hell. Fuck. No.

Hell. Fuck. No.

Never use a gas station bathroom that requires you to get a key with some giant thing attached to it. Common items are rulers, dolls, sawed off 2x4s. And finally, never use a gas station bathroom that is not a chain store.

The classic.

The classic.

 

There are rules about certain neighborhoods to not use a gas station bathroom in too. But I can rarely afford to be that picky.

 

I also have rules about certain chains that I will never use. But I don’t know if I want to slander anyone’s good name here. So I won’t.

 

Also, I always bring a paper napkin in with me in case there is no toilet paper. I keep a stash in the glove compartment of both my vehicles. I can do without paper towels, or even soap. (I have hand sanitizer). I can even do without a door that locks if I have to. But I absolutely cannot do without toilet paper.

 

One day I stopped at a reputable chain of gas stations to take a leak. This particular chain is the lowest I will go in a non-emergency situation. But it was also the only place around for miles.

 

I walked inside and was dismayed to see that this particular station only had one bathroom. For men and women to share. I have no aesthetic issue with sharing a bathroom with men. In fact, I use the men’s room almost as frequently as the women’s.

 

My issue with unisex public bathrooms is that: even though they get twice as much traffic, they aren’t cleaned twice as often. In fact, they seemed to be cleaned less than a gender segregated bathroom.

 

But it was bordering on an emergency and I didn’t think I’d make it to another location.

 

I walked in and found the room to be in my expected state of filth. I could handle it. I can handle almost anything as long as my expectations are met.

 

I pulled my pants down, honestly, farther down than I generally do. And I did my business. I don’t even know where my mind was. There was nothing remarkable about anything that had happened thus far in that day.

 

I should just go ahead and admit here that I love bathroom graffiti. It is amusing and entertaining. Actually, I like all forms of graffiti.

graffitti

 

When I finished, I went to pull up my underwear. And that’s when I saw it. There was a brown smear all across the inside of my underwear. My lovely pink underwear that I had recently bought. In fact, I couldn’t have worn them more than once or twice.

 

Also, I knew I hadn’t had an accident. I was confused for a moment. Staring at what could only be poo. I leaned in to sniff it. Maybe it was, I don’t know, chocolate, somehow?

 

No, it was definitely poo. And it was definitely not mine.

 

I looked down at the toilet bowl. And there it was. Something I had somehow missed when entering the bathroom. Something I had somehow missed when pulling my pants and underwear down.

 

Someone had gone all over the toilet base. It wasn’t just on the base of the toilet. It was running down the underside of the bowl.

 

When I pulled my underwear down so far, I somehow managed to not only brush against it. I managed to smear it all over my lovely underwear.

 

I angrily went through the process of loosening my boots so I could step out of my pants, without stepping in my bare socks, on a public, gas station bathroom floor. I had to balance very precariously as I also didn’t want to accidentally touch myself with my ruined underwear.

 

I stepped out of the underwear and threw them in the trash. Then I got re-dressed. It felt wrong to go commando. I needed underwear. I hated the feeling of my jeans on my naked privates.

 

I washed my hands several times. As I exited the bathroom I breathed a sigh of relief that I had noticed the smear before pulling my pants up. Because that is not something I would have ever recovered from.

I won’t be offended if anyone stops following me after this horror story. Honestly, it’s probably for the best. Shit is going to start getting weird over here. And I have way more repulsive stories to tell.

Rotten Potato Smell

While working in Miami I spent a considerable amount of time house sitting for my boss. Nearly every weekend he and his wife flew (their own plane) down to their condo in the Bahamas. They left their three Rottweilers at home.

I know we all know what they look like but, puppies!

 

I had always been afraid of Rottweilers until I met these three dogs. They were sweet and friendly and extremely loving. Besides, my boss’ home was immeasurably nicer than my crappy apartment.

 

So when my boss’ in-laws went on a month long vacation, it was only natural that they ask me to house sit for them. Their house was hidden away on a shady plot in a quiet neighborhood. But inside, their collection was more impressive than some museums I’ve been in.

Exactly like this.

Exactly like this.

 

The place was overflowing with history. But more than that, they were collectors. They had a wall of military helmets from every major US war. They had antique glass on every surface and original artwork covering every inch of space on every wall. It was a pleasure to spend time in their home.

 

And also a huge responsibility. I had only met this sweet older couple one time. They had no idea the kind of destruction I was capable of.

 

Somehow I made it through the entire month without a single incident. I was ready to breathe a sigh of relief. I drove home in a kind of last minute panic that evening. I had one day to pack for a week long road trip to Maine.

 

When I stepped inside my apartment, the first thing I noticed was the smell. It smelled like spoiled fish. I assumed it was originating in my uncle’s room. He was an avid fisher and had pole after pole propped against the walls in his room. Not mention all the tackle boxes.

 

I stepped into his room and took a deep, long sniff. But the smell was not coming from the bedroom. I turned and headed into the kitchen and took another deep inhale. This time I was rewarded with burning nose hairs and lungs.

 

As my eyes watered I opened the door to the refrigerator and searched for the offending odor. But it wasn’t in there. Next, I tried the freezer. But it wasn’t coming from there either.

 

I turned and my eyes fell on the pantry door. It’s white slats were impossible to read. The door was innocently closed with no hint of the horror that lay beyond it.

 

I gingerly reached out and slid the door open slowly, as though I were expecting a body to fall out on me. The smell was stronger now, my lungs filling with acrid stench every time I inhaled. I searched the shelves.

 

The smell was now unreal. Like nothing I can even describe. It still smelled slightly of rotting fish mixed with human corpse, mold, and maybe a hint of gym socks. It was pungent and burning. I needed an oxygen mask. This could have served as a training module for firefighters.

 

Where could it be coming from?

 

I tried holding my breath for as long as I could to minimize my breaths.  But this only caused each breath I did take to be deeper and more painful. And then, I saw it. It was something that could only have come from a child’s nightmare. I blinked my eyes, willing it to not be real.

 

This was years before my heart surgeries. I was still squeamish at this point in my life.

 

I had left several potatoes on a phone booth before house sitting for my boss’ in-laws. They had putrefied beyond any hope of recognition. They were now a liquified mass that had soaked into the phone book.

 

And they appeared to be moving.

 

I moved closer, trying to discern what I was seeing in the dim recess of that pantry shelf. It was maggots. Thousands and thousands of maggots squirming en masse.

 

I recoiled in horror. I was not prepared to handle this. Not mentally, not physically, not emotionally. And the smell. I could not believe such a smell could come from a plant. I began to gag from the smell. But I did not vomit.

 

I searched the room frantically for some means of containing this. But my only choice was to take it off the shelf and put it in a trash bag. And I had no gloves.

 

I briefly contemplated going to the store to buy a pair. But I knew if I got into the car at that moment, I would drive away and never come back. I would drive away until I got the horror of what I had seen out of my mind and start a new life somewhere far far away.

 

I considered my new life for a moment. I would move to Belize and live in a treehouse with Sergio, my sexy imaginary boyfriend. We would drink fresh squeezed juice and make love for hours during the tropical downpours. I sighed.

 

And then I turned and faced my hellish reality.

 

I positioned a trash bag under the shelf and reached out with a metal spatula, trying to slide it off the shelf and into the bag as quickly and neatly as possible. But it was not meant to be.

 

The phone book was glued in place by rotten potato juices. I pulled harder, using the spatula as leverage, willing it to break free. Half of the phone book suddenly ripped away.

 

It hit me in the chest and trailed the entire length of my body. I saw, to my disgust, that there were no longer pages inside the phone book. It was a phone book cover surrounding a mass of maggots.

 

Maggots that were now wriggling on my clothes.

 

I walked away and I steeled myself, taking a deep breath, and went back in. I picked the phone book off the ground and tossed it into the trash bag. Then I reached into the pantry and dug my fingers behind the second half and began wiggling it, trying to free it.

 

The maggots took this opportunity to begin squirming their way slowly up my wrist. As long as I live, I will never be able to forget the feeling of reaching into a mass of live maggots and feeling them twitching their way up my arm.

 

I finally broke the phone book free and tossed it into the trash can. Then, ignoring the maggots all over me, I began cleaning the shelf. Trying to rid it of all evidence of this abhorrent experience.

 

I used an entire roll of paper towels scrubbing that shelf. I bagged up all the trash and walked outside grateful for the comforting smells of car exhaust and ethnic food. As I turned the corner to our building, I saw my uncle approaching.

 

I warned him. “Don’t go into our apartment yet. It smells awful and there were maggots.” I imagine how I must have looked to. Sweating, hair crazed and frizzy. My tone and expression the dull numbness that can only come from shell shock.

 

“Maggots?”

 

“Yes.” I didn’t have the wherewithal to explain. “I haven’t puked yet. And if you go in there, you will. And if you puke then I’ll puke. So don’t go in there, please.”

 

He waited outside while I made sure there was no longer a hint of stink or maggots.

 

I washed my hands up to my elbows. And then I did it again. And then I washed my face. And then I washed my hands and face. And I stared back into my own eyes in the mirror.

 

I didn’t recognize myself anymore. I was a stranger. I was someone that could be up to my elbows in maggots and not vomit. I once vomited from eating beets.

 

I felt something on my bicep. A weird tickling. I looked. It was a maggot. I picked it off and casually washed my hands again.

 

My uncle came into the room and stood looking at me for a second. “Are you okay?”

 

“Yes.” And the thing is, I really was.

 

“Want to go eat something?”

 

I looked at him. Despite everything, I was somehow hungry. “Yes, I do.”

 

And you know what? That night, less than and hour later, I even ate some potatoes.

 

PS: If you type ‘rotten potato smell’ into Google you will read some fucking hilarious stories. Seriously, I’m crying from laughing so hard.

 

Falling

When I was 10 my family went to see my half brother and sister and their mother. I had seen pictures of us together when I was younger, but I was very suspicious of them. I knew they were related to me, but I had no recollection of them.

Who were these people claiming to be my family?

I would have been miserably bored on this visit, except that I had two new presents to occupy my mind. My mother had bought me my first diary. It was a small child’s diary with a photo of two white horses on the cover.

The beginning of my journaling career

The beginning of my journaling career

I was never one of those girls that liked horses. In fact, I was, and still am afraid of them. And they don’t like me either. I don’t know why my mother picked that cover out for me. But it didn’t matter. It was a real journal with a really shitty lock and key.

It looked like this and I broke it after 2 weeks.

It looked like this and I broke it after 2 weeks.

She had also bought me my first Walkman, which was life changing for me. And it came with a cassette tape. Paul Abdul’s Forever Your Girl. I didn’t particularly like Paula Abdul then or now.

But I listened to that tape until it got warped and creepy sounding. Like a talking doll whose batteries are slowly dying. And even though that was 20 years ago, I still know every word to every song on that fucking album.

They say you never forget your first.

They say you never forget your first.

I’ll never know what prompted my mother to buy me what was to become the two most important items of my youth. I had certainly never mentioned wanting a diary or a Walkman. But even at that age  had a passion for both writing an d music. Maybe she thought it was something that would be a quiet distraction for me. She couldn’t have known how much journaling would affect my life.

I spent the family weekend with my headphones on and my face in my journal. Which was to become my new look for the rest of my youth.

At one point everyone wanted to go on a trip to somewhere. I honestly don’t remember where. It’s possible that I didn’t even hear where everyone was going over “Cold Hearted Snake.”

But I didn’t want to go. I couldn’t be convinced or cajoled into it. And since I was 10, my parents didn’t want to leave me alone in a stranger’s house. So my mother decided to stay behind while everyone else went out.

She was inside working on a crossword puzzle and I was out in the yard writing and singing. I somehow came to the conclusion that I should attempt to climb the palm tree I was leaned against. I don’t know where that idea came from or why it even occurred to me.

So, I began climbing up the spines of the palm tree. I don’t know how they held me to even climb up. But I was young and very, very thin. I’m sure most of you have seen palm trees, but maybe not up close.

It really does make a convenient ladder.

It really does make a convenient ladder.

I am afraid of heights and yet had absolutely no issues climbing higher and higher. It was fun. Like climbing the beanstalk from Jack and the Beanstalk. The spines made a very surprisingly easy to climb ladder.  It was so easy that I lost track of how high I was getting. Little did I know that I was like Icarus, flying too close to the sun.

When I finally stopped and looked down, I was about 40  feet off the ground.  I froze. I was really high up. I had never been up so high in a tree. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t think I could get down on my own.

I stayed like that for a few minutes. I didn’t want to call my mother for help. I didn’t want to bother her and I knew she would get mad.

I waited and waited until I finally stopped feeling so afraid and decided to try to climb back down on my own. Climbing down is always harder and more dangerous than climbing up. Unfortunately I waited too long and my muscles were exhausted. My arms and legs were shaking with both fear and muscle strain.

I lost my grip and fell the almost entire way down. I somehow landed without breaking any bones. But I had hurt my arm. It felt raw and scraped up and sort of burning.

When I looked down I saw that I had cut myself from my inside wrist all the way down to my inside elbow. The cuts ran the entire length of my forearm and some were cuts were very, very deep. Which incidentally is also the better way to attempt suicide. I wrapped my shirt around my wrist, but it wasn’t enough to staunch the blood flow.

I snuck into the bathroom and washed my arm, hoping to wash away some of the blood and make it look less severe. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hide it from my mother for long. Especially if I couldn’t get it to stop bleeding.

But I couldn’t get it to stop bleeding. It was gushing. And the blood didn’t want to coagulate. I rinsed all the blood out of my shirt and went to face my mother.

My mother tends to faint at the sight of blood. She saw my arm and freaked the hell out. We didn’t have the vehicle and this was before the days of cell phone popularity. We couldn’t even find any hydrogen peroxide.

We wound up using paper towels and finally managed to stop the bleeding. I never did go to the doctor to get my arm looked at. I probably should have received stitches for this wound, but didn’t. And even though it has been 20 years, I still have little scars all up and down my arm from it. Like little reminders of why you should never ever climb a palm tree.