Life Is Handing Me Metric Tons of Lemons Right Now

And I can't find my juicer.

This blinding tooth pain I've been having? Yeah, that's probably being caused by an angry nerve. So I'll probably need a root canal next week. Happy Fucking Thanksgiving to me!

And the Amoxicillin I'm taking to clear up the infection that's probably raging in my gums right now? Well, that will probably destroy the flora in my gut that I've been working to restore by not eating wheat for nearly three weeks now. So, yeah. We can pretty much flush that little experiment down the toilet. I'm having 17 servings of macaroni and cheese in between layers of pancakes for breakfast tomorrow to celebrate.

And the Tylenol with codeine that I'm taking to kill the pain? Well, I'm not supposed to drive after taking it (thanks for the info, Mr. Pharmacist with the really bad nail fungus. You DO know you work in a pharmacy where they sell remedies for common ailments like nail fungus, right? Just sayin'.) How do you propose I get to work? Because this surgery isn't free, you know, and I need to work to pay for this shit. And all these trips to the dentist? Well, that's costing me money in the form of lost work. Dear Mr. Obama, I AM the health care crisis in this country in the flesh. Let me introduce you to my Single Lady Option.

The bright side? The dental hygienist thought I was a dead ringer for a certain blond celebrity (I get that a lot) so she labeled my x-rays "Meg Ryan".

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The Garage Sale Theory

We interrupt this interminably long season of rain and hail to bring you an update you on the state of affairs in the Sixties Triplex.

Ready? Take a breath, Internet. This is huge.

The garage is organized.

Isn't that thrilling?!! I mean, doesn't that just make you want to end sentences with an obnoxious amount of punctuation? Just picture it: Rubbermaid bins stacked neatly, one on top of the other... each with a little label in my symmetrical, all caps handwriting. Oh, the joy! The pure, unadulterated bliss at seeing my Halloween costume boxes stacked near the Christmas decoration boxes (not ON the Christmas decoration boxes, silly! THAT would NOT be organized! THAT would be sheer craziness! THAT would be blatant disregard for the universal rules of organizing that clearly state that decorations for holidays occurring in DIFFERENT months SHALL NOT TOUCH EACH OTHER!)

You've been so patient, waiting all this time to find out how we managed to fulfill our self-imposed mandate to get rid of half of everything we own. You deserve to share in my little heaven on earth.

But you're probably still wondering: How did you get rid of all those VHS tapes? What did you finally do with Alfredo the Concrete Parrot? Why did you move with all that crap in the first place, you idiots?

Well, the answer is that, the Garage Sale Theory proved itself again. People came in droves this summer and they ignored the awesome vintage melamine dipping bowls on the wooden lazy-susan thingee and they went right for the USED VHS tapes. They did NOT buy the couch in excellent shape but they ogled the mirror framed in a beat up, smiling, wooden half-moon face. They walked right past the chic cowboy boots, and instead picked up the torn bits of fabric and the ripped Mexican paper flags. And they gave me their hard earned money for what I was about ten seconds away from hauling away to the Goodwill. They did NOT give me money for stuff that I thought would be actually useful. Because, my friends, the Garage Sale Theory was proving itself over and over. The theory works a little like Murphy's Law. It basically states that if there is an opportunity for people to give you money for the junkiest, ugliest things you own, AND the nicest, in-best-shape stuff you own, the general public will always buy your junk. And your gently used, newly re-stuffed couch with the neutral color scheme PERFECT FOR ANY HOME will languish in your garage unused for the next four months.

We only had about four small boxes of junk unsold at the end of the sale. And we didn't have to haul one iota of it to the local thrift store. In this city, when you put something out on the sidewalk with a "free" sign on it, people come streaming out of their houses like termites out of burning log and they descend on your junk with a certain predatory glee. Within hours, nearly everything was gone. CLH and I shared many high-fives that night. HALF of our stuff was GONE.

Several weeks after the sale, we invited our good friend Gingi over and she helped us get even more stuff out of the garage. We hadn't unpacked our framed pictures yet because, well, we couldn't GET to them with all the crap down there. After we'd cleared out the stuff for the garage sale, we were able to unearth them, plus a few other goodies which we then decorated the house with. We couldn't part with Alfredo the Concrete Parrot, so he is now sitting atop our mantle along with a few other choice pieces of art and debris.

I think I might have cried tears of relief when Gingi was done. The place FINALLY looked like it was inhabited by ADULTS who knew a thing or two about design. The potted plants that we had just lined up front of the fireplace like a platoon of soldiers was tastefully dispersed around the house. My antique globe was finally taken out of the box of foam peanuts. The pictures of our relatives were finally hung on the walls. My favorite typewriter was put out on display in the living room. Huzzah!

And weeks after that? THE COUCH WAS SOLD. I had to restrain myself from kissing the lady full on the mouth when she said she would take it.

So now, the garage is only half full. HALF! We got rid of HALF of everything! Sometimes, when I go downstairs to check on the laundry, I just open the door to the garage and stand there for a few minutes and marvel at the beauty.

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Go Ask Your Mom

I have just a few minutes here before I start my new nightly routine: slathering the left side of my ribcage with caster oil, throwing on an old t-shirt, then wrapping myself in a heating blanket. You know, a normal 82 year old's bedtime routine. It's to help detox my liver and get my poor, exhausted adrenal glands functioning again. I have to have a sense of humor about this because otherwise, my life is one long list of bizarre maladies and even more bizarre remedies. More on this later.

The real reason to post tonight is to share a little bit of the conversation I recently had with my mom. It was inspired by my friend Layla, who is pregnant with her second child. We were having tea at a local coffeehouse and we were talking about kids and where they get their funny little character traits from (this, as her first kid, a three year old, gets bored with our talking and is out on the sidewalk outside the coffeehouse in about 5.2 seconds because, as she puts it, she is "ready to go home now"). We got to talking about children being mini versions of their parents, and suddenly Layla asked me what I was like as a child. And I realized I had absolutely no idea.

So I decided to call my mom a few days later and ask her. Now, my mom is a phenomenal storyteller. My grandfather, her father, was too. But my mom hasn't spent much time rehashing the past for us recently. These days, she's busy trying to make ends meet, trying to stay on top of my brother's medical bills (he lives at home, and if you think my health problems are never-ending...). When you get her talking, my mom weaves a great tale. And she cracks herself up in the process. Guess that tends to happen when you have four highly resourceful, highly energetic kids whose idea of a good time is deconstructing household furniture).

So this is what I found out about myself (mom's words): I was a very forward child, always curious, always asking questions. I was always very self assured, very pragmatic. My mom remembers once, when I was about 6 years old or so, waking up from a nap to find me on the kitchen counter measuring out my pink bubble gum flavored Amoxicillin into a spoon. When she asked what in the hell I was doing, I calmly responded that it was 3 pm, mom, and it was time for my medicine. Okay, so I don't know the saddest part about all that: the fact that I had to regularly ingest Amoxicillin for chronic ear infections, or the fact that I had an internal clock that knew when to take it before I had actually learned to tell time. Geezus. Okay, how about a happier story, mom?

Well, there was that time I taught myself how to tie my own shoes. My mom showed me the "bunny ears" method, but I guess this method struck me as too juvenile or complicated or something because I told my mom, effectively, to back off because I wanted to do it myself. I remember this, too. I remember fumbling with those laces for what seemed like days, and the next thing I know, the knot magically came together and I declared, "I DID IT! I TIED MY OWN SHOES" to everyone in the house. Mom didn't mention anything about my being a boaster...

There was also the time my mom caught me with a steak knife in one hand and an apple in the other. Again, the question about what in the hell I was doing, and again the very calm, matter of fact answer. "I'm peeling an apple, mom". Oh, did I mention I was four years old at the time? Apparently, I had a lot of confidence in my motor skills back then.

It was really touching to learn all this about myself. And even more touching to hear that my mom's recall was so sharp and so specific. She's got four kids and she's often mixed up details about our lives, but, I felt like, in this moment over the phone, she was channelling her younger self, seeing everything as it was those thirty two years ago.

My mom also revealed that she suffered some pretty severe post-partum depression after she had me. I asked her what she did to help herself. "Nothing", she replied. "The doctors didn't take you seriously back in those days. So, there was nothing I could do. When you were awake, you kept me busy, and that's how I kept my mind off it. The second you were asleep and I had five minutes to myself, I started to spiral downward".

I'd had some ideas about my dexterity with kitchen instruments, but I never knew this about my childhood. My mom spent the first months of my life caught between the boundless love she had for me, her new baby, and the all-consuming depression brought on by the change in hormones in her body.

I thought about this for hours after I hung up the phone. How alone she must have felt, cooped up in the house with just her kid and her brain telling her that it would be better if she just crawled under a rock and died.

I have a new respect for her, and all mothers who battle with post-partum depression. I hope she knows that all her struggles were worth it, that I appreciate the life she gave me, no matter how banged up and bruised that life got later on down the road.

Thanks, mom. You did okay. And you should see what I can do with a paring knife and a piece of fruit these days.

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An Explanation

Hey, you payers-of-attention to linear time: I missed a day of posting. I know. But mama needed new boots, so she blew off writing and went out and bought them. And my, how new leather smells soooo much better than my apartment, which is where I have been cooped up for the past week trying to scratch out another babillion words for this "novel" I am supposed to be writing. Look for a make-up entry real soon here.

Since it's mid month, I thought I would take a moment here and answer a few questions that many of you have been asking me lately.

Question #1. Who in the hell is "CLH"?
CLH stands for Common Law Husband, and that is the pseudonym I have given to the saintly man I have been sharing my life with for the past ten years. Since we have been living together for so long, we are considered by the state of Washington, where we live, to be a common-law husband and wife. And there you have it.

When I started this blog years ago I was supremely paranoid about privacy. I wasn't sure I wanted anyone to know specifics about my life (HA!) because I wasn't sure what direction I wanted to take this blog in. Was it going to be my soapbox for my political rants? My venue for exposing the unprofessional doings of my clients? My million page opus on the juxtaposition between this city's yah-sure, you-betcha, can-do, consensus buildin', community-lovin', hug-fest attitude, and its staggering inability to make a goddamned DECISION ABOUT ANYTHING, SPECIFICALLY A MONORAL!? Ahem. (Smoothing down skirt and straightening hair). Where was I? Ah yes. Now that it's been a few years and now that I've told you about everything from my Eustachian tubes to my House In The Flight Path Of An International Airport, I think I can come clean about who I spend the majority of my free time with.

CLH's real name is Stan, but he also goes by Mr. Stan. At one point, he also went by the nickname Smooshy, hence the name of his blog and his business name. He is the one who makes the Internet go in our house, the one that does the majority of the laundry, and the one that makes fried eggs exactly how I like them. He is wonderful with kids, he is a black belt in Aikido, and he is a very talented massage therapist. As he has never killed a spider indoors, his karma is quite good. He is also eligible to claim a seat at the right hand of the Father for putting up with my mood swings, my demands for French Fries at 11:25 pm, and my utter disregard for the "proper" location of the toothpaste cap.

Question #2. How does one avoid the public stoning that is sure to happen once my crazy neighbor/soccer mom friend/impossible coworker reads what I have written about him/her on my blog?
Well, I don't know the answer to that one, my friends. Blogging is a balancing act between saying enough and saying too much. There are the lives of your loved ones to consider, after all.

Chances are, if you're committing your day to day life to your blog, you are going to have to tell a story or two about someone who REALLY pisses you off. And that's okay. I would advise against devoting TONS of time on bashing your coworker (unless, of course, you're trying to make us laugh. In that case, bludgeon the guy to death. Really. Go for it.) Seriously: I think there are ways to tell your audience a story without exposing all the identity revealing specifics and still make it readable.

I think you have to ask yourself two basic questions before you sit down to blog: for whom am I writing? And why? If you're worried your grandma from Texas might be reading your blog, and she might not like the part where you get high and start using your dog's back for an ottoman while you lie on the couch and watch re-runs of "Benson" night after night, you might want to turn your filter up to eleven. You risk, however, depriving yourself and your greater audience of the full experience of your life. Editing your work for the more sensitive reader means you're probably leaving out some of the very excellent stuff that makes us cranky, petty, angsty, confused, and therefore human. Not that those are the only things that make us human; there are plenty of other horrible things that make us human as well. It's just that blogging offers us the unique opportunity to hide some of the more "colorful" sides of us, and I say that we do ourselves a great disservice by not telling the whole story of ourselves. What is the Internet if not a giant sounding board for all of us to yell about our stale cookies? Or coo about our babies? Or post videos of our cats running into walls? Give your audience as much as you are willing to give up and I think the connections you will make with perfect strangers will far outweigh the scorn you'll receive for admitting you don't particularly fancy your neighbors. My only rule for writing is this: be honest. Tell the truth as best you know it. Be aware that your truth is not every one's truth.

This is YOUR blog, and YOUR life. Be honest. Be aware.

And the next time that sonofabitch in the next cubicle over starts chewing his doughnut with his mouth open again, you make sure to tell all of us about it.

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A Short List

Here's a short list of things that brought me joy today:

1. Getting the filling between my two teeth filed down so that the blinding pain would cease and desist.

2. Being told by the dentist that I would need to suck down 9 ibuprofen a day for the next three days to help with the inflammation. Mandated muscle relaxation. I love it. Just in time for my period, too!

3. Seeing pictures of Ellen Degerenes and Portia De Rossi's wedding day on Oprah.

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