Welcome to Wal-Mart

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Yesterday, I went to Wal-Mart.

I know, I know. That’s where I went wrong. But I drove right by one on my way back from taking my 6-year-old daughter to her cousin’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese and simply couldn’t resist stopping.

Clearly I’m a glutton for punishment.

But I’m not the only one, apparently, because Wal-Mart was mobbed.

You see, here in Iowa we’re expecting a blizzard—forecasters are calling it Snowmageddon—even Jim Cantore arrived yesterday (along with most of the presidential candidates preparing for another kind of storm). So grocery stores, supermarkets and super stores like Wal-Mart have been stocking their shelves in preparation for the mad rushes of people seeking milk, eggs, bread—the usual.

I’m obviously not the only one who associates snow with French toast. Yum.

I’ll admit, even I had two of the three ingredients in my cart (I’ve not needed to buy bread since receiving a bread machine for Christmas and soon after the bread making addiction that goes with it).

Wal-Mart was, as it always is, a mad house. The store was packed with last minute shoppers. The checkout lines were practically wrapped around the store. Well, the few which were actually open.

I’m a rather patient in-line stander. My mind sort of drifts away as I casually wait my turn. I don’t tend to get frustrated or impatient in line. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not always a patient person. In fact, I practically lose my mind altogether when I misplace something as meaningless as a flip-flop in December. But while in line and even in traffic, I manage to remain calm as the time slowly passes.

This may be my inner-city east coast upbringing that explains why I’m used to waiting—in line, in traffic, at the DMV. Or perhaps I somehow inherited the I’m-okay-with-waiting-as-long-as-I’m-around-others-who-are-also-waiting gene from my parents. It’s hard to say for sure.

But, from what I witnessed at Wal-Mart yesterday, the woman standing in line in front of me was obviously missing that gene… or perhaps she was missing something else altogether.

Again, it’s hard to say for sure. But when the woman in front of her dropped that two gallon canister of water (because you can never have too much bottled water in a Snowmageddon) and it shattered causing a flood of H2O and a necessary cleanup in aisle 11 (ironically, my lucky number), the seemingly normal enough lady in front of me lost her patience and her mind.

I didn’t even notice when it happened. My mind was in another place. The checkout kid didn’t say anything. He simply continued checking as slowly as humanly possible. Then at some point much later he nonchalantly told me that the man behind me and I would need to find another lane because he was closing his. It was in that moment that I noticed the woman in front of me start to twitch.

The problem was there was nowhere for us to go and she took it upon herself to stand up for us and say so. It wasn’t necessary but, at the time, I thought it was rather nice of her so I thanked her for doing so. There were so many people behind us already and all the other lines were just as long if not even longer than ours so when the woman spoke up, the checker changed his mind and said we could stay.

A few minutes or twenty later a woman pushing an industrial sized mop bucket came along but instead of using it and the matching mop to clean up the mess, she grabbed a large roll of paper towels (not the Bounty quicker picker upper variety either) and proceeded to roll them out all over the floor and try to sop up the tsunami. It didn’t work, of course. She created waves of water and waves of anger, as well.

The woman in front of me suggested (albeit snarkily) to the employee with the mop bucket that she should actually try using the mop instead. Then when the employee admitted she did not know how to ring out the mop, the demeanor of the lady in front of me changed altogether. She went from helpful to horrible in a snap. Had I expected it or had I been paying closer attention at the time, I might have tried to listen for the clicking sound her brain likely made in the moment when she in fact snapped.

The employee (a rather large woman in her late 50s or so) got down on her hands and knees in the checkout lane and started pushing the dirty water around with the paper towels. The woman in front of me turned to me with eyes dilated and breathing heavily and asked me if I thought she should mop it up herself. Huh? Then she simply disregarded my “I wouldn’t” and did.

She aggressively grabbed the mop, rung it out in some of the grossest water I’ve ever seen and started mopping the floor.  The employee, still on all fours, tried to tell the woman to stop but she wouldn’t listen. The lady just kept on angrily mopping the floor, pausing briefly to aggressively ring out the mop.

I turned to the man behind me, who was equally in shock at the show and just as stuck as me since there really was no place for either of us to go, and we shared a nonverbal what the fuck is happening?

Then as the water swished and swashed to and fro and every which way, including ours, until we were in fact standing in it too, I moved around a few of my groceries so I could pick up my daughter and put her in the seat of the cart. I didn’t want her in the wacko’s way or to slip in the approaching puddles.

I’m glad I did because it was at that moment when things got really… um, muddy?

The lady who brought the mop but didn’t know how to use it reprimanded the crazy customer while she was mopping the slop and told her to put down the mop. The customer lost what was left of her mind, refused to stop mopping and claimed she was doing Wal-Mart a service, that she was in fact concerned for the safety of the employee and the other customers.

None of this made any sense, really, and she was more likely frustrated by the stupidity of the situation and unfortunately allowed that frustration and the fact that she was probably off her meds (and her rocker, quite frankly) to get the best of her.

The two women shouted profanities at each other with me and my daughter and the man behind us all trapped between them, the water, the industrial sized mop bucket contraption and the various shelves full of all the usual impulse buy items until the cashier finally called a manager and security for backup.

At which point, things actually got worse.

An assistant manager showed up and slogged through the water and tried to tell us the lane was closed, due to the flood and the frenzy, but Crazy Mop Lady refused to let this happen. She started shouting that we (as if she, the guy behind me, my daughter and I were indeed a team) had been waiting for at least 40 minutes by this point… To be fair, the time flew and the other lines weren’t moving any faster.

Assistant Manager Chad (I couldn’t have picked a better name for him) tried to take charge of the situation, simply by standing in the middle of it all like a buffoon while his employee continued to crawl around on the floor. He stood between her and Crazy Mop Lady and proceeded to shout to anyone who would listen that if she didn’t stop mopping he would call the police.

Well, she didn’t care and continued to mop up the slop. And, despite the fact that she was obviously insane, she did a pretty decent job of it.

Once Crazy Mop Lady finally finished her task, she put the mop back in the bucket, paid for her groceries and left the store. But Assistant Manager Chad, for no obvious reason, stayed put blocking me and the man behind me. Meanwhile, security showed up and then Chad and his employee, the mop-lady-who-couldn’t-actually-mop, stuck around to tell their versions of the story to the security person.

With the floor mostly mopped up, aside from the sea of dirty wet paper towels, I moved ahead and starting unloading my cart onto the conveyor. The man behind me did the same. I think we both thought the ordeal was over. But Chad was just getting started. Now standing a little too close to my daughter, who was still sitting in the cart, Chad ranted his version of what happened to security and really anyone who would listen. His tone got angrier with each sentence so I wiggled my way between him and my daughter simply as a buffer so he wouldn’t be shouting in her face (at no time did I touch him).

Then, as Chad spoke to security, the mop bucket employee started to cry. I felt awful for her. I imagined it being her first day and my heart sank for her. I told her it wasn’t her fault, even though it was partially since she wasn’t good at her job, but that didn’t matter really because none of the madness would have happened if that other woman had simply taken her meds or skipped shopping at Wal-Mart altogether.

Like an idiot, I was still trying to console the mop bucket employee when she and Assistant Manager Chad suddenly turned on me.

Somehow, they both confused me with Crazy Mop Lady, who was by this point long gone and who for the record looked nothing like me.  The two Wal-Mart employees began pointing at me and telling security all the awful things I’d allegedly said and done to them. They corroborated a rather detailed and mostly accurate story about the string of ridiculous events which had taken place. The only real problem with their story was that they had somehow agreed that the crazy mop customer lady was if fact me.

Chad claimed I’d pushed him out of the way while his minion said I stole her mop and cleaned the floor, putting her and everyone else in the store at risk. I tried to explain that they were clearly confusing me with that other customer but they wouldn’t listen. They kept insisting that I was the one who had stolen the mop and who had lost my mind at Wal-Mart that day.

Assistant Manager Chad threatened to have me arrested for all of it while my child sat quietly in the cart watching and listening.

In addition to yelling at me for no reason whatsoever in front of my daughter and a store full of customers, Chad kept using and abusing the word “literally” while pointing at me and shouting things such as “she literally grabbed the mop” and “she literally pushed me out of her way.”

Thank God for that part because it somehow kept me grounded in the humor beneath the insanity and for the man behind me in line who (in a thick Irish accent) finally shouted, “Are you all insane? This woman wasn’t the loon who lost her shit and mopped up that mess. This woman and her child were literally trapped here in the middle of all of it just like me.”

Irish dude and I were on the same page.

After asking to speak to a real manager and telling our version of the story, we finally escaped.

I loaded our groceries into the car, secured my daughter in her booster seat and drove away.

Then, as we pulled out of the Wal-Mart parking lot, I thought I’d better take a moment to tell my daughter how inappropriate the adults in this situation had acted. Mostly I wanted to make sure she was okay so I calmly explained to her what had happened and asked her if she had any questions.

She had one.

“Mommy, is literally a bad word?”

 

 

“Untitled”

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I wrote this “poem” a few weeks ago in response to an event that happened with my dad. He’s been going through a lot of changes lately and, as a family, we’ve been struggling trying to seek medical assistance and a diagnosis. Yesterday, he was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Dementia.

The following is less a poem and more or less a vomiting of my feelings onto the page. It’s raw and unedited and I plan to leave it that way.

I’m going to see my dad tomorrow. So I’m sharing this with you now as a way of getting it, along with some of the feelings and fears it represents, off of me as I move with my family into the future and try to figure out what this diagnosis means for my dad, for my family and for me.

Untitled by Val Zane
It’s not so hard for me to think of you as crazy considering you’ve always been completely nuts
For as long as I’ve known you. That’s right. Forever. Or for my forever anyway.
“They either love him or hate him,” I always say.
I bet you don’t even know that I say that about you. Well, I do.
But who cares what they think anyway? Or what I think or say for that matter.

Just tell me another joke. I need to laugh.
What happened to the eight again? Or was it the nine?
No wait. Now, I remember. It was the seven who ate nine and ten.
But when you tell it, it always sounds so dirty.
I’ll never be able to tell it like you.

It’s like asking a stranger for directions.
“Excuse me.” Smile, nod. “Make a left at the McDonald’s?” Uh-huh. “Thanks.” Smile again, then wave cordially and drive away, when I’d rather just skip ahead to the part when I call you.
“You shouldn’t talk to strangers,” you’d say with a quip that no one’s stranger than you.
It’s certainly strange how you always know how to find me and guide me home
Even from a payphone in the middle of nowhere. Do you remember payphones?
You were my compass before GPSs were ever invented.
With you I’m never lost.
But without you?

Mom said she spoke to the doctor.
Undiagnosable.
Well, sure, that goes without saying because you’re nothing if not interesting
Isn’t that what you always say?
Maybe you could use your map and point them in the right direction?
Oh I don’t know. It’s probably in the trunk of your car with your wallet and your keys.
They should’ve said: “We don’t know but whatever this is, it sucks.”
When they came and took you away the other day, I wasn’t there. That sucked more.
Maybe it’s your medicine. Or just old age? Dementia? Alzheimer’s? Senility?

It’s funny but I still see you and hear you the way you were. The way you’ll always be to me.
Or maybe that’s not so funny after all. See, you’re not the only one who’s confused.
Remember that time we were talking and walking together hand in hand and you stumbled and tumbled ass-over-teakettle, then stood back up and kept on walking like nothing happened?
That’s the stuff legends are made of!
You’re my hero. And anyone who says that’s cliché is just another asshole.
Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke. Right?

Is that what this is, just another one of your jokes?
It’s like you’re faking it, pulling a prank, playing a game.
Are you testing me, like way back then when you tested me on the state capitals?
Well the joke’s on you because I’ve forgotten most of those too. Have you?
Maybe it’s not me you’re trying to trick. Maybe it’s him. The hooded dude with the grim expression. Do you honestly think if he thinks you’re crazy, then maybe he’ll walk on by?
I’m not sure that’s how it works, but I guess it’s worth a try.

This just doesn’t feel real to me. Why do I refuse to believe what everyone else sees?
Even the butts of your best jokes are laughing at me.
But that’s okay because they don’t know you like I do.
You’re the opposite of… or was it the epitome of charming?
“But looks aren’t everything,” you’d say.
Tell me again about the man from Nantucket who uses his bucket for God knows what
And that thing he used to say… what was it again? Oh, does it even matter what he said?

When, in the scheme of things, I’m trying to recall all the things you’ve said along the way
All the laughs we’ve shared, your words of wisdom and the lessons you’ve taught me.
But I can’t. Oh great. Now I’m crying. And through all those empty threats, this is the first time you’ve actually given me something to cry about.
In a way, it’s like you’re already gone. Or not yet gone but already forgotten?

How is it I can recall all of the pointless, useless information?
Cross on the green, not in between. Or how E equals MC squared. All the things that Rob Base knows about and the ingredients to that cheesecake Mom loves so much. How flared jeans make my butt look small(er) or your secret for making the world’s best pancakes.
I remember it all but I’m forgetting you? Maybe I’m going crazy, too.
The irony is that if you weren’t stuck on a loop right now you’d be mad at me for making this about me. But don’t even try to deny the truth because we both know that’s what we do.

You’re the one who taught me ten and two. Don’t you remember?
And the best advice anyone’s ever given me: “If you feel like you’re going to fall, fall on your ass.”
And you know what? I still do that all the time.
Fall on my ass that is.

You asked me to write your stories down but they’re your stories, not mine.
I’ve given you books, journals, voice recorders.
Damn it, Dad. I don’t want to be mad at you but…
Couldn’t you grab a spare square from the diner or that coffee truck you loved so much?

Remember those road trips when we’d just talk? The turnpike was so beautiful at night.
Or that time we went out of the way to cross the Brooklyn Bridge just because?
Or when we drove straight from Philly to Florida and I read every single sign while Mom slept?
You said it was my responsibility to keep you up. See, you taught me about responsibility.

It’s so easy to remember your stories when I’m in them but I guess those are our stories
But the others? The ones which came before me?
Well, this is precisely why I wanted you to write them down!
Not just for me. For you. For mom. For the princess who calls you “Pah-Pah.”

“But I don’t write,” you said. “That’s what you do.”
And you’re right. You’re always right. And in a way, you’re the reason why I write.
But to write your life story is… well it’s impossible.
“Nothing’s impossible,” you’d say. “If you work hard enough for it.”
Shut up, Dad!

No, wait. I take that back. I’m sorry. Please keep talking. Start from the beginning.
Because I need your help. That’s why.
Because I can’t tell your stories—not like you do. At least not without you.
Oh no, you’re fading again.

So you have the stories and I have the pen. Is that how this works?
Well, then I think you’d better start talking because you’re running out of time

And I’m running out of ink.

“OK, you can flush now!”

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There are many words and phrases which surge me with feelings of joy. I am a word nerd, after all. And certain words and phrases cut through the melancholy and get right to the heart of the matter, blessing my life with smiles and laughter.

Every once in a while I like to post a list of my favorites (and least favorites). For example, hearing my husband say “I love you” or my daughter say “mommy” never cease to make me smile.

While hearing the word “peanuts” used in a sentence always makes me giggle, no matter the context. Go on, say it and see if you can keep a straight face. If you can, maybe your mind’s not as dirty as mine.

“That’s the best cupcake I’ve ever tasted” fills me with pride (if I was the baker of said cupcake) and “You were right” feels so damn good. “You can do it” suddenly invokes confidence while “Let’s do it” invokes, well, something else.

Certain words, like “Spring” and “Sunshine” and phrases like “Your child is beautiful” or “You’re my best friend” just have a certain… I don’t know what… but I know they make me feel happy. I have a very long ever-growing list of go-to words and phrases in my mind that just feel good to hear and make me feel suddenly optimistic. They are like little triggers of happiness.

Recently, my house had a problem. It was… how can I put this delicately? Constipated. Not the people in it but the house itself. We had a plumbing issue and the whole place was backed up.

We tried all the usual methods: Drano, plunger, prayer. But nothing worked. So we gave in and called a plumber. He came yesterday and even with his 90 foot (yowza!) snake, he couldn’t satisfy the situation. While he couldn’t get our pipes working properly, he didn’t charge us either (that probably only happens in Iowa) — Nope, not even for his time. Instead he recommended another plumber… one with an even longer, ah-em, snake.

After several days of rotten smells and nasty liquids (and other foul grossness) backing up from our pipes and flooding our laundry room, the man with the biggest snake I’ve ever seen worked his magic this morning and made me the happiest girl in the world when he added a new phrase to my list of favorites…

“OK, you can flush now!”

Another Thing About PKD

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I recently caught a pretty gnarly case of the Flu. My whole family had it. Your whole family probably had it, too. Unfortunately, it’s been going around. In my house, my husband had it first and then I made the mistake of wishing it upon myself.

I said, “I wish I could take it away from you.”

I was being sincere, too. I really love him and if one of us had to be sick, I’d want it to be me. But the problem with wishing is that if you’re not specific enough, the funny little wish fairies like to play practical jokes. Sure, I got the Flu from him precisely as requested. But I got it after he was already done with it. That’s obviously not what I meant! Effing wish fairies! Oh well. No use crying over spilt wishes. But be careful what you wish for… alright?

The worst part, for me, wasn’t the Flu itself. Don’t get me wrong; that part sucked. Is it just me or does it seem like the Flu gets worse year after year? Bigger. Meaner. Stronger. Faster. It’s like the Flu is on steroids. Or maybe it’s being produced by Nike… or perhaps Gatorade would make more sense. I don’t know. But, like I said, the Flu wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was the kidney infection that the Flu caused.

All that vomiting and diarrhea (Yay! Nothing says Happy New Year like some quality toilet time) took its toll. I’d become pretty dehydrated. And the dehydration negatively affected my kidneys, possibly rupturing one or more of my cysts in the process. When kidneys lack water, they contract. For people with PKD, this causes the cysts to run out of space and press into one another, causing more cysts to form and rupturing some of the cysts which already exist. This causes blood to form in the kidneys, in turn, causing the kidney infection.

Ugh. Kidney infections, if you’ve never had one, are very painful. And they can be difficult to diagnose because the pain doesn’t always originate where you might expect. For example, while I regularly have some level of pain in my lower back and flank areas, where the kidneys are located, when the infections come on, I tend to get a severe pain in my upper stomach area. It’s an awful, debilitating pain that comes and goes and it has a childbirth-contractions-like quality. And much like the Flu, it arrives bearing gifts such as fever, chills and body aches.

At first, I just thought this was some sort of Super Flu (picture regular Flu but with a cape and tights). But soon, I couldn’t stand up. It didn’t take me long to realize what was happening. This isn’t my first PKD rodeo.

I can’t complain. It’s been awhile since I’d had an infection like this. But I’ve been through this before and I know the routine. During my kidney infection sabbatical, if you will, I started feeling invincible. I’ve almost allowed myself to forget altogether that I have this disease. Even though I’ve been drinking my gallon of water a day, as prescribed by my super awesome nephrologist, and I’ve been doing my best to stick to the rules and manage the situation through holistic methods, like yoga and positive energy, I’d somehow forgotten that there are times, like now, when a tougher, more hands-on approach is required.

Hands-down the most effective hands-on treatment for a kidney infection is the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin (AKA: Cipro). It gets into the kidneys and really kicks some kidney infection ass. So I’ve started my 14 days. It’s only a matter of time. Cipro comes with its own sucky side effects, but at least it gets rid of the kidney infection.

While I admit that this sucks (and oh boy does it suck!), I also know there are far worse things and far greater struggles. It’s just another one of those things in life that, while painful, eventually pass (much like gas or kidney stones or bad hair days). This is just a blip in the overall scheme of things. I say that to my friends and family when they’re having bad days or are dealing with issues, mistakes or crappy circumstances which are out of their control. It always seems to make them feel better. And it’s true.

So now I’m saying the same thing to myself.

This is just a blip. Nothing more and nothing less. That’s all. This too shall pass.

And would you look at that? I’m already starting to feel better.

Lord of the Flies

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We had new carpet installed in our house the other day and we love everything about it… well, almost everything. The color and texture are great but we could do without the flies that have invaded our house.

The 3 guys who installed the carpet were in and out of our place all daylong from 9am until around 4pm. They were very hard workers and they did a phenomenal job, but they left our front door wide open the whole day. It was easier for them to keep the door open than to constantly open and close it. I get that. But not only did our air conditioning fly out, but the flies flew in.

And much like bad tenants in NYC, they refuse to pay rent and they are nearly impossible to evict. Believe me, I’ve tried (almost) everything!

Typically, I am not a violent person. I’m not a fan of the death penalty or war or random or not-so-random acts of violence by any means. I live my life being nice… for the most part. Don’t get me wrong. I’m no angel by any stretch of the imagination – and mine is vivid. I have been known to have a pretty hot temper from time to time and I can be quite mischievous at other times. But I’m not out to hurt anyone or anything, physically or otherwise.

In life, I have acquired many mantras. One of them is that it’s good to do good and another is that karma can be a real bitch. Well this week I’ve tried being good and all my good karma has literally flown right out the window.

I have been pushed too far and now I must fight back.

Armed with a box of Rice A Roni and a water squirt bottle, I have become a warrior. Around these parts, I am the strong arm of the law to fly after fly after fly. Of course, I’ve done my best to give each one his (or her) chance at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It’s the right thing to do. But while I have opened the door time and time again to let more than a few flies fly out, they have, more often than not, chosen to stay. One SOB in particular flew out but then chose to fly right back in! I got him though, don’t you worry.

I have asked nicely and when that didn’t work, I begged, pleaded. Please leave!! I have tried every trick in the book. I have even tried reasoning with them. But have you ever tried to reason with a fly??? They are beyond negotiation.

I can’t say that I blame them for wanting to stick around. The house is coming along nicely. We have food and air conditioning and, at times, a pretty sticky toddler. Plus, and I don’t mean to brag but, we have lights and they seem to really like lights. By fly standards, we are practically Club Med.

I’ve asked nicely. A few were cordial enough not to overstay their welcome. They left on their own accord. But the others are a bunch of jerks, taunting us every chance they get. They relentlessly land on and in everything. And I’ve seen The Fly. I know what they do when they land. Guh, gag me.

My husband has had enough too. In an odd form of hand to fly combat, he flicked a few dead with his fingers. I wasn’t aware of this gross but highly effective talent of his. But since he’s well aware that I’m not about to test his technique myself, he also hung some flypaper strips. Unfortunately, the only thing those stupid sticky swirly strands of ewy-gooey tape seemed to attract was us. Ick, can I tell you how much it sucks to walk backwards into one of those things and have it get stuck to your hair! It sucks royally. But you know what’s even worse? Face first. Oh that’s when I finally lost it!

Clearly the little buggers can’t take a hint. So now it’s time to get serious.

I am no longer playing Mr. (um, Mrs.) Nice Guy (Gal?). Whatever, you know what I mean. I’m in a serious, take no prisoners kind of mood. I got my water bottle filled and ready to go, and this box of Rice A Roni (chicken flavored, low sodium) is burning a hole in my hand. I didn’t think it would come to this but I may have to invest the 99 cents in a fly swatter. I’m about to whip out my chopsticks and go all Mr. Miyagi on your asses (do flies even have asses??).

Flies, your free vacation is coming to an end! If I hear one more bzz-bzz in my ear, I swear to God I’m plugging in the vacuum. Haha, it’ll suck to be you!

Heed my warning! Hear my battle cry! Get out and stay out!

This is war! And this time, I mean it.

Not-so-Super 8

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The ride from New York to Iowa was a breeze. Lyla slept the first 14 (YES, 14!!) hours so we decided to make a go for it and drive straight through. I’d like to give a special shout out to Huggies Overnites! Thanks to them and some marital teamwork, we made it in about 20 hours, counting a dozen or so pee and coffee breaks.
We arrived a day earlier than originally expected, got to surprise a few people and stay the weekend with family. That was fun. Then, late yesterday afternoon, we drove the rest of the way and checked into the hotel. We are staying at a Super 8. But I have to be honest. So far, it hasn’t been so super.

It’s located about an hour from Jason’s job, and a bit further from our family. We could have stayed closer but all the nearby hotels had no pool. I was fine either way, but knowing that I really wanted a pool, Jason insisted on driving the longer distance to and from work each day so that Lyla and I could be happy. If you know him, this will not surprise you. He is a very thoughtful and generous person, especially with his family. And if you know me, you know I wasn’t about to argue.

Today’s Jason’s first day at the new job. I’m very excited for him and I can’t wait to hear all about it. I wonder if this is how it will feel when Lyla goes to Kindergarten? Hmm, probably not considering I was sound asleep when he left this morning. To be fair, I’d been up all night. Unfortunately, we all were. Lyla had a tummy ache (too much Iowa corn too soon perhaps) and because of it, none of us got much sleep. I hope Jason doesn’t nod off during training.

Then this morning, I realized – after he’d already driven away – that I left my cell phone in the car. Now I have no way of reaching him at his new job, nor would I ever think of calling on Day 1. I don’t want to do anything to hinder his first impression (or mine – I don’t want to be perceived as the crazy wife who calls and has him paged on his first day!). Besides, I’m fine and I’m certain he’ll try to call me on his lunch break to check in. Hopefully he’ll do so from inside the car so he’ll at least hear my phone ring before he gets too worried about why I’m not answering. He probably won’t jump to the same serial killer or Children of the Corn conclusion I would, but I still don’t want him to worry.

But let’s get back to the not-so-Super 8.

The bad signs started the moment we checked in. First, they messed up our reservation. We were planning to stay here a full 30 days. But somehow, they have us checking out and back in 3 times during that time. We didn’t find that out until we were standing at the front desk with all our stuff… our 30 days worth of stuff! While I love surprises, some things are nice to know before you arrive.
It might not have been too awful if it wasn’t for the fact that the checking out parts were rather lengthy. For example, the first time we’re scheduled to check out is on the 14th and then they don’t want us back until the 20th. So… uh… where do they expect us to go for 6 days?? Rather than repack and reload the car weekly and live in and out of our car for 6 day spurts, we’ll make other arrangements. So much for my blog about 30 days at a Super 8! Oh well. I’ll happily get over it!
I’m writing this blog while my toddler destroys the room behind me. When it comes to destruction, Lyla’s worse than a hair band.
She’s already broken one of two phones in the room, ransacked the towels, unrolled the toilet paper, unplugged the lamps, somehow locked the safe, and tried to eat the complimentary soap. Not bad, considering we’ve been here less than 24 hours. By the time she’s done, I’m sure I won’t miss the place. There’s no such thing as childproofing here. She can get into everything. Whoever designed this place couldn’t possibly have had children. Everything is the perfect height for her little hands to reach. She can open the front door (luckily not the deadbolt). Right now, she is opening and closing the fridge like she’s suddenly come down with a nasty case of toddler OCD. She can even reset the thermostat because it’s at eye level. I feel like I’m having hot and cold flashes, but at least she’s having fun.
She’s prank called the front desk so many times that I decided to unplug the phones. Now the hotel phones are her play phones. She has been on a very important conference call with the puppy, kitty and mouse all morning. Rather than interrupt, I’m blogging.
This morning, we made it downstairs in time for free breakfast (it ends at 9am – what the??). I thought free breakfast was a great feature until Lyla dumped free Fruit Loops all over the lobby. Tomorrow, we’ll eat bananas and cereal bars in the room. There’s a little coffee pot and that works for me.
The indoor pool is great. It’s the saving grace of the not-so-Super 8. We’ve spent more time there so far than in our room. On the drive here, we stopped and bought Lyla a little inflatable floating toy. She loves it. Floating in it makes her laugh and smile nonstop. My plan is to spend most of our time in the pool. It’s the easiest way to keep a baby happy. And if she’s happy, then I’m happy. That (and coffee) is all I need.

What’s That Smell?

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For an entire afternoon, I searched for a very bad smell that seemed to be following me everywhere. It wasn’t until later when I realized…

Yep, it was me.

Isn’t that the worst? Deny if you must, but I’m sure we’ve all been there. Or been “it” for that matter.

Nobody wants to admit being the source of the bad smell. But it happens. So I feel obligated to admit it when it happens to me. I’m occasionally the bad smell. I might as well fess up. There have been times when I’ve skipped a shower, forgotten to apply deodorant or when I’ve passed the point of being able to deny a passing of gas or blame the person next to me – with a straight face anyway. So what? Bad smells happens to everyone!

And since becoming a mom, the smells are far worse than they used to be. I’ve smelled of sour milk, formula, strained peas, vomit, urine, day-old apple juice. Show me a mom who hasn’t?

But this time was worse. It was poop. Gross, I know! Let me explain…

My daughter is going through a pre-potty training phase where she often feels the urgency to rip her diaper off and run around. Ordinarily, this is adorable and funny. If watching a toddler run bear-butted and free, giggling in joy, doesn’t bring a smile to your face then you’re simply not human, or you’re probably not the child’s mommy anyway! Toddler tushies are priceless and, yes, I’ve taken photos and even video of my own toddler’s tush. I hold myself back from posting the pictures in any public forum, on FaceBook or showing them off to friends and strangers. But I have them and I plan to keep them. Someday I vow to embarrass her with them.

But this particular time wasn’t quite so adorable. This time, the diaper was full of poop when she tore it off and before I had a chance to stop it from happening it was already all over her, me, our clothes and everything else!

Of course we removed the soiled clothing, soaked, showered and scrubbed the poop off. Then while she napped (pooped from all the pooping, I guess), I scrubbed the floors and walls. Then I showered again.

It wasn’t until later – much, much later, when I realized I must have missed a spot. And, for the record, there’s no such thing as missing just a spot when the topic is poop because that “spot” followed us around all day. It was everywhere. To be honest, I did not think for a second that it was me. But it was.

While Lyla slept, I continued to clean and disinfect and even lit a candle and opened the windows to air out the place. When she woke up, we went for a long walk on the beach and every now and then I swore I still smelled it – when the wind was just right. I didn’t think much of it, thought it was my imagination rather than a real lingering smell. Later, we ran a few errands together and made a trip for groceries. I’d put the moment and the smell behind us. Or at least that’s what I thought. But in the supermarket, I smelled it again. And others smelled it too. I saw them scrunching their noses in the classic ‘what’s that smell?’ fashion. I scrunched mine back as if to say I smelled it too. Still not wanting to go back home post-poop-episode, we decided to grab a smoothie and a Happy Meal (Lyla loves fries, but who doesn’t?). I swore I smelled it in line, but ignorantly assumed it was someone else. Finally, after enough time had passed for the coast to clear, we went back home.

Then the doorbell rang. It was UPS ironically dropping off a shipment from diapers dot com.

I answered and I could tell immediately the UPS guy smelled it too. He didn’t even try to hide his expression as he literally turned his nose up at me. The smell must have smacked him right in the face when I opened the door. Or maybe he saw the actual spot. He didn’t say one way or the other so I still can’t be sure. Although unlikely, it’s entirely possible because as it turns out he came face to face with it. In fact, his face was almost as close to “it” as mine.

After signing for the package and shutting the door, I noticed the smell was still there. I must have missed a spot, I thought to myself. But where? It seemed to have been following me around all day. That could only mean one thing. It had to be on me.

That’s when I realized a teensy tiny speck of my child’s feces was on my glasses. It had been there the whole time. I’m not entirely sure how it got there or how I failed to notice it. It must have either splattered up onto the wire frame of my glasses (better there than in my eye!) or perhaps my daughter touched my glasses (better them than my face!) with her poopy hands while I focused on cleaning her up. I’d obviously removed them from my face prior to showering but didn’t even think about checking before putting them back on my face. Why would I? To my knowledge, I’ve never before had poop on my own glasses. But there’s a first time for everything, I guess.

So the spot I’d missed was literally right before (or beside) my eyes the entire time.

Next time I smell a bad smell, I’ll know to check there first!