I’m Putting Disgusting Oils in My Mouth

3/52: Liquid
First it was “oil pulling.”

For those not in the know, oil pulling is the process of swishing oil in your mouth for 20 minutes (yes, about the length of episode of Parks and Recreation and not nearly as witty), for the purpose of cleaning your teeth, pulling toxins out of your body, and communing with a version of yourself that existed in a past life. I put that last one in there because ob-vi-ous-ly that could never work, and that’s exactly how you should view the first two things.

Gabrielle Blair at Design Mom did a post a while back about how she started oil pulling. I have an internet crush on her because she’s über cool and fancy, and she seems like a great parent who doesn’t binge watch The Only Way is Essex, but rather flips through the latest issue of Dwell while sautéing root vegetables for a sensible meal she has planned later in the week. So, I figured if she’s doing it, I should definitely do it. She made it sound fabulous.

Cut to: me swishing olive oil in my mouth because I was too lazy to go get coconut oil. This will make you hate having a mouth, people. Don’t do it. So then I thought, “Well, I can’t really blame her for the gross-o-meter in my mouth breaking because she uses coconut oil which, in retrospect, is a much more sensible choice.” So I bought the coconut oil and tried it and it’s still freaking gross. But then I kept doing it (this should give some reference for my idiot-level tenacity) just to see if my eyes would shine like a baby fawn in the first light of the day. (I believe fawn-eyes are listed as a benefit of oil pulling somewhere in the hippy sector of the internet.)

After many days of waking up early to chew on, then swish, coconut oil in my mouth I discovered I did not, in fact, have fawn eyes. To oil pulling’s credit, my teeth did feel clean-ish. Sort of. But, I did not feel any radical bodily changes that would indicate vacated toxins. I did not commune with Nelanie, the Melanie of years gone. But I DID repeat a super gross experience many times, beyond the point where Reason was like, “Nah, you go ahead. I’ll just go brush my teeth like a normal person.”

Bottom line is: Would I recommend oil pulling to a friend? No way, dudes. No way. Unless I was trying to play a mean trick on you. Then absolutely.

You’d think my participation in any oils-in-the-mouth experiments would be over. You would be wrong.

I started reading this website called Megsanity (ht to Abandoning Pretense) which is amazing because the main author is a therapist and so she’s super smart but she also likes to say weird stuff and swear a lot while she’s giving you priceless life advice. I want her to be my therapist pretty please. So, Meg suggested that oregano oil may be helpful in combating depression because of something called “serotonin reuptake.” If you’re curious, go read her stuff because she’s smarter than I am.

Well, we all know I suffer from the occasional brold, so I figured what the heck, right? Sweet lambs: let me tell you that oregano oil tastes like what angry might taste like if it was oil. The bottle says that “warmth is normal” which I assume code for “the fires of hell will awaken in your throat”.

I’ve been experimenting with flavor combinations of candy corns because, well, sometimes I make bad choices.

So this morning I thought, “What if I use a candy corn as a chaser? That might help…” Cut to: abso-freaking-lutely not. Candy corns and their sweet evil do not pair well with the fires of hell, especially if said fires taste like all the pizza sauce in the world. Learn from my mistakes, friends. I’m here to help.

So, what oils have you been putting in your mouth? If the answer is “no oils” please make something up. Just for me, okay? Somebody get in this oily boat with me.

image CC BY-NC 2.0 by Christopher Rose at Flickr

Re: Dear Jerrod (Or Horse Mouth Balls)

Say, "cheese!"
Remember yesterday when I put up that faux-post that was basically a letter to Jerrod? He and I had a little follow-up convo which produced these gems:

Jerrod: Thinking about you friend. Every day is a day to smile bigger.

Me: “Every day is a day to smile bigger.”? That’s about the cheesiest advice ever. And it totally worked.

Jerrod: I punched my dumb face in the balls after I sent it. My apologies.
And I’m glad it did.

Me: Hey, it worked. Don’t punch a gift horse in the mouth balls.

Jerrod: I’m a horse? With gifts?

Me: Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
Me: I guess that would mean *I* punched the gift horse in the mouth balls.

Jerrod: See. Smiles all around.

I’ve got the best friends.

photo CC BY-SA 2.0 by SirPecanGum at flickr

Dear Jerrod

WritingThis is a total cheater post in which I write a letter to a friend and pretend it’s a blog post.

My super cool friend Jerrod checks in with me from time to time and I was juuuust about to write him back, and I was going to say something like, “I hate that I never have time to blog and…” blah blah, something else, and then my brain said, “Whoa there, little filly,”—apparently my brain is part cowgirl, and thinks I’m a horse. No problems there— “whoa. Why don’t you take all that energy you’d put into writing Jerrod and smack it into a blog post? Two birds, one stone, something about a bush perhaps…point is: It’s a good idea. *tongue click* *tongue click*.” At which point I trotted to my computer and fired up the ol’ WordPress.

BUT (don’t leave sweet reader! I promise you’ll like it too!) I basically sound the same if I’m writing to one person or a hundred (is that a good thing? Be sure to weigh in in the comments. Lord knows I lost track of normal a while ago), so you can pretend I wrote this to you, too. Ahem.

Dear Jerrod,

Greetings from the blow up couch that is currently taking up my entire living room! Yes, it’s true. The baby is still not sleeping. We’re trying to train her to sleep through the night again, but it necessitates a wee bit of crying on her part and, due to the opera-singer-quality pipes she has, we can’t keep her in the room she shares with her sister. So, she goes in our room, we go on the blow up couch in the living room, and everyone is equally miserable. Problem solved.

I’m really hating that I don’t have time to write much anymore. I write half a blog post in my head while I’m making coffee or driving the girls around, but I just can’t seem to make it back to the computer and take the time to actually write the whole thing out. I don’t know what’s worse—not writing, or having all those words rattle around in my head all the time. There’s enough stuff loose up there already.

We’re heading into a new season here. No, not Fall, because that’s not really a thing in San Diego. Instead, we transition from Summer with a season called Lunacy, in which we celebrate a thousand birthdays and our anniversary, craft Halloween costumes for four, chase the brilliant idea of making all of our Christmas presents (hello boiling beeswax, fabric scraps, sewing machine and insanity), and drink a questionable number of Hot Toddies. Every year I enter it with the highest hopes of being magical and lovely and sensible, and I end it with burns from the hot glue gun. It’s quite the spectacle.

So, that’s me. Mostly. I dunno I probably forgot a ton of stuff. Lunacy descends. How are you & the fam? Cough it up, friend. Cough it up.

photo CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 by jeffery james pacres at flickr. 

Sleep deprivation makes me cranky/murderous

exhaustedThe baby won’t sleep you all. Maybe it’s teething, or she developed bad habits when she recently had a cold, or perhaps she’s part werewolf and the moon is calling her to the woods. I really, honestly don’t know.

Whatever the cause, we find ourselves meeting the end of the day—which should be full of fluffy pillows and dancing sugarplums—with a howling dread. The night is when the screaming comes. The night is bad. Bad, bad nighttime.

At some point last night the baby was really going for it. I mean, with gusto. Like there is an olympic event for not sleeping and she was going to qualify if it killed her (and us. Sacrifices must be made for greatness.). The cat then sniffed our weakness and decided it was time to feign starvation and beg for food. This will not do, kitty. Oh no, it will not. The werewolf thing was *definitely* not the problem. It was the cat. For sure.

Me: “Did you feed the cat?”
Stephen: “Yes.”
Me: [irritated pause]
Stephen: “I could…”
Me: “Let’s kill the cat.”
Stephen: “…feed her a little more.”
Me: “Oh, yeah. Sure. Or that.”

One of us tolerates sleep deprivation better than the other.

And that’s my 100th post, friends. An account of my brief flirtation of the idea of murdering our family cat. Hooray?

A Royal Decree from Princess Chubbila Stinkerton III

Crown baby booties

Hear ye! Hear ye! The following is a Royal Decree from her Majesty Princess Chubbila Stinkerton III on her first birthday. Should any deviation from this decree occur, her Majesty’s discontent will be made known with a loud wail.

  1. Toys are no longer accepted in the presence of the princess; only trash, or items of formidable danger, preferably those shaped like the windpipe. Do not attempt to remove items from the hands of the princess at any time.
  2. Anyone who attempts to remove excrement from the princess’ nether regions shall have their murder plotted forthwith.
  3. Tasks of any importance that do not revolve around the pleasure of the princess shall not be tolerated.
  4. If the princess desires what you have, you shall relinquish it.
  5. The princess desires what you have.
  6. The princess shall utilize the magic of a forest troll to detect any sense of relaxation. Such senses will be vanquished.
  7. The princess’ pinky nail shall never be trimmed under any circumstances. The caretaker shall receive the shame of others who do not allow their charges to look as if they have a drug habit.

If you succeed in holding up these tenants, you will be rewarded with signs of affection. They will be hug-like and kiss-like in nature, and they will be coated in thick slobber and food remnants. Do not offend the princess by wiping said slobber from your face in her presence.

 p.s. Happy birthday Princess Stinkerton. We’re exceedingly blessed by your ridiculous self. Love you to bits.  

Photo credit Funky Shapes on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Buy these booties & other cute stuff at the Funky Shapes Etsy Store

 

Love asparagus. Love myself.

Asparagus on the grill

At the end of a hot day in San Diego, when I’m dying for a climate that involves more than one and a half seasons, I find myself looking over the grill to the palm trees, the golden light, the neighbors houses. The smell of white wine and salmon and dill swirls around me and though I hate this joke of a spring day, I love this moment. This moment is mine. This moment is a gift.

I hear my daughters in the other room, my husband lifting that (happy) burden from my shoulders for a while. I sit down and let words run. Like a long shower. Or a long cry. Or a long sip from a glass of wine.

It’s these little moments that I let go by all too often. They’re the moments you think, “Holy shit, I’m gonna make it. I’m gonna be okay.” I’m not saying it’ll be spectacular. Not magazine-worthy. Just good. Solid, deep-running, gratefully good. Good enough to make it until tomorrow. One day at a time, sweet Jesus.

The salmon isn’t done yet and I’ll likely burn it and the asparagus before I’m done here (don’t worry, I’m checking it), but I feel like I should catch these words before they wander off. All my swears and too much/not enough seriousness–I need to love those bastards & kiss them straight on the mouth. They’re me in zeros and ones. They’re me in syllables. They’re me in thoughts, and I need a good kiss from me.

And that’s what we’re doing in life, isn’t it? Taking a minute to believe that what we feel is worth a damn? Taking the leap of faith that we won’t be discarded or—maybe—those that will discard us had done so long ago, so we should stop tap dancing to keep them around? Isn’t that what life/art/love/faith is about?

So I’m giving myself a nice, long moment to treasure the words coming out of my thumbs because burnt asparagus (don’t worry, I’m still checking it) isn’t the worst thing I’ll produce, but perfect asparagus won’t be the best thing either.

It’s just asparagus, Melanie. Calm down.

And openness? Full and messy participation? Just freaking showing up? It’s not all that different. It’s the thing we share over small tables. It’s sustenance. It’s sacred and mundane at once. It’s just asparagus. It might be burnt today, it might not tomorrow. But either way it’s necessary. And either way it’s important to someone. Even if you’re the only someone who eats it.

 

[Author’s note: I wrote this post a while ago (in Spring—obviously), but I’m just getting around to post it. Because sometimes I collect drafts like a hoarder, and I can’t bring myself to show them to anyone else. There are a few little quirks in my breed.]

 Photo credit woodleywonderworks at Flickr CC BY 2.0

I’m Just Like that A-Hole

That Squirrel is Just Like Me

With disgust, he says, “Burning up the atmosphere while talking on the phone. Classic.”

“Says” is probably not the right verb. Maybe “spits,” or “shoots like poison darts from one of those tribal spitting tube things.” I’m pretty sure he followed it with such an enthusiastic eye-roll that he saw the back of his skull.

Yes, I had stopped the car, and yes, I was on the phone, and yes, the car was still running. I acknowledge that my actions made Mother Earth cry a little. I’m sorry.

Which is exactly what I said in response. Well, just the sorry part. Not the rest of it. To which he replies, “No you’re not.” (For real, Mean Guy?) And so, I gave up and tossed “Okay. I’m not,” at him as he walked away.

I will pause here so we can all say in unison: W.   T.   F.?

Now, I try my best to be eco-friendly. I really do. And I actually was sorry and turned my car off after that. Please don’t join Mean Guy’s team and start the Foundation for Scolding Melanie About Her Vehicular Choices. Please, oh please. But let me rewind about 15 minutes, and explain what possessed me to do such a dastardly deed.

I had already been up for 2+ hours, the first 20 minutes of which started with a baby crying, as per usual. I was hustling to get my two little crazies ready and out the door for a coffee date with a dear friend, which always plucks me from the edge of madness. “If I can just make it to the park, I will breathe some more. I can do it,” I said to myself in my peppiest inner voice. But as I’m wrangling a clip into my older one’s hair, the baby is standing all wobbly at my knee when she loses her balance, smashes her face on my leg, and cuts that little thing that connects her gums to her lip above her front teeth.

(Side note: WHY DOES THAT THING BLEED SO MUCH?! Does the jugular actually extend straight to that little thing? I mean, for real.) (Second side note: Google says that thing is called the labial frenum. You learn something new every day.)

So, as she gargles with blood and my older one screams because I tell her to go to her room just so I can have some space to think, I kind of bottomed out mentally. Just a little. A leeeetle brain scrape on the road of life.

So, Mean Guy, I put to you that I was not functioning at my best when you came upon me and my evildoing. I had just successfully parallel parked (which is my Mt. Everest of driving), and I was calling my husband to commiserate about our bloody child, and get a little verbal fist bump for my parking achievement. I’m sorry for not being with it enough to ALSO win the Person-Who-Cares-Most-About-The-Earth award.

It’s safe to say that I was not/am not currently Mean Guy’s biggest fan. But the thing is, I’m just like him. And he’s just like me. Really.

Sure, I typically try to restrain from blurting judgements at people in my neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have them. I can’t even pretend that I don’t have a running ticker tape of other people’s offenses: I can’t believe his kid does [that thing], why the freak won’t you use your signal?, why don’t you support my “common sense” approach to [this political issue]?, why can’t you see that that’s a crazy, misogynist thing to say?, etcetera. Good thing there’s a small mental spigot where my mouth hole is, otherwise people would know exactly what an a-hole I can be.

What allows us to walk around wagging our moral finger at people is the feeling that they are not, in fact, just like us. They’re inconsiderate and privileged and selfish and lazy. And yes, they probably are a little. Just like you. Just like me. And you know what? They’ve had heartaches. They’ve experienced loss. They’re chasing joy. They’ve probably made themselves sick off brownies before. (Because that’s a basic right of passage, right?) They’ve done all of that—just like me. 

Maybe Mean Guy read an article about the shrinking polar ice caps and got so frustrated that he split his labial frenum by brushing his teeth too aggressively. And then he wiped off the blood, drove down to his favorite coffee shop where he happened upon me, an active participant in Earth’s demise.

Or maybe he was just cranky and needed a snack. You never know.

After a quick, slightly embarrassing cry at the counter of my favorite coffee shop (which is also Mean Guy’s favorite coffee shop—not awesome), and some loving support and wise words from friends, I dusted myself off. I’m alright. I’ll patch up that little ding on my heart, no problem.

And Mean Guy, I’ll cut you a break. I’ll extend some kindness to you and assume the best. I’ll assume that you’re not always that snippy, and that on a bunch of days you’re not Mean Guy at all. I’ll assume that to a lot of people on a lot of days, you’re actually Nice Guy. And I’ll try to muster up as much grace and kindness as I can for you, for me, and for everybody else.

p.s. If you want to read an incredibly helpful book about peace, kindness, and other gooey things, check out Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace) by Chade-Meng Tan. I give it all my thumbs up. 

 

Photo credit Marko Kivelä on Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 

The Problem with Being a Writer

The problem with being a writer…

The problem with being a writer is that you have to give yourself that title long before you feel you deserve it.

The problem with being a writer is that it makes you twitchy and self-conscious.

The problem with being a writer is that it makes you conceited and vain.

The problem with being a writer is that being self-conscious and conceited at the same time is hard on the brain.

The problem with being a writer is that people who have less talent than you will be more successful than you.

The problem with being a writer is that people who have more talent than you won’t be successful at all. And if they can’t do it, how can you?

The problem with being a writer is the comment section.

The problem with being a writer is that blog stats exist.

The problem with being a writer is that you keep checking your blog stats.

The problem with being a writer is that any modicum of success gets you addicted to a drug you can’t buy, so you live mostly in withdrawal.

The problem with being a writer is that you never take compliments seriously.

The problem with being a writer is that you checked your blog stats again.

The problem with being a writer is that there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever get paid a dime.

The problem with being a writer is that you can’t stop wanting to be a writer.

 

Photo credit Donovan Beeson at Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Mother of a Broken Heart

Yesterday, my 4-year-old and I went to an appointment with her cardiologist.

Now, if a 4-year-old has a cardiologist, then you know something rather craptastic happened at some point. For reference, here’s a summary of our crapisode:

Heart EKG painting photo by Leo Reynold

When our first daughter was 2 weeks old, she screamed all the time. She had a hard time eating, and then she started breathing really rapidly. She also looked pretty pale, but we are very white, Casper-esque people ourselves so maybe it was normal…? Being first-time parents, it was impossible to know which things were normal crazy baby things, and which things we should flip out about. Being the judicious people we are, we went ahead and had a tiny bit of panic about most everything.

When the breathing thing started though, we asked ourselves, “Is this crazy crazy, or normal crazy?” Having received no answers from each other’s blank, sleep-deprived stares, we called the advice nurse.

After a couple of “it’s probably fine,” phone conversations, we still weren’t totally convinced and my husband decided he would feel better about going back to work if we had someone look at her again. So in we went.

Enter the Life-Threatening Holy Moses Circus, starring our 15-day-old baby.

Nurses and doctors and EMTs materialized in the exam room. I heard a call to the ambulance. A nurse prodded my daughter’s head with a gigantic needle, commenting, “This looks scary, but it’s okay.” Then they smothered her face with a bag of ice noting again that it looked scary, but it was okay. Somewhere between that, the crash cart, the intubation, the swollen liver, and the blood transfusion I got the distinct feeling that things were not, in fact, okay. We had left the realm of normal crazy, and landed squarely in the vast terrain of crazy crazy.

The next few days were spent with nurses monitoring and logging our daughter’s frequent episodes of tachycardia, while a bunch of doctors tried to figure out why the heck she was having them in the first place. About the fourth day, they figured out that she has an accessory pathway in her heart, which was throwing it off, and rocketing her heart rate to 230+. The fifth and sixth days were spent finding the right cocktail of medications to help her heart regulate and regain strength, and help her body get rid of the extra fluid that had built up under all that stress.

On the eighth of some of the longest days of my life, we were sent home with three bottles of medicinal magic, thus ending the tour of the Life-Threatening Holy Moses Circus. We were not sad to see it go. We administered a slightly complicated schedule of elixirs for six months, and then it was like it never even happened. No medication. No heart beating straight out of a tiny chest. No Significantly less panic.

What do I want to say about all of this anyway?

As I read “Normal,” on the EKG printout, and heard her doctor say to himself, “Perfect,” and, “Strong,” as he listened to her heart, I knew I wanted to write something about this whole wild thing we experienced. But what?

I could talk about how the NICU is strangely frightening and comforting and lonely and communal all at the same time. About how all the parents share fears and hopes and unspoken sadness. How you see parents go home with their babies and you feel such happiness for them, along with a deep pang of jealousy. How you scrub your arms, up to the elbows, for the full three minutes every time you enter the room because each baby feels like the thinnest glass, and you don’t want whatever germs you carry to be the thing that shatters them. How NICU nurses are pure gifts. How when you hear those NICU nurses held your baby in the middle of the night, you want to weep because it wasn’t you.

I could talk about exactly how devastating it is to get a rejection letter from an insurance company while your baby is intubated and unconscious from the morphine, because she—at 15 freaking days old—has a “pre-existing condition.” About how pre-existing conditions are absolute bullshit, and if eliminating their use by insurance companies is all the Affordable Care Act does successfully, it’s still a huge win for all of us. How insurance premiums, and co-pays, and exorbitant charges feel like ransoms when you realize you’ll pay any amount of money to see your kid live another day. And how that—that is just plain immoral.

I could talk about how the gratitude that lives in my bones, in my heart, and in my soul doesn’t keep me—on those normal crazy days that are unbelievably hard—from wanting to run from my family and live in a small wooden cabin in Canada.

I think what I really want to say, though, is that I love her. I love her, I love her, I love her. And her perfect, strong, normal heart brings me to my knees with joy. She is precious, and sacred, and funny, and crazy, and I love her.

Holy Moses.

 

Photo credit Leo Reynold at FlickrCC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

Keepin’ it Real for Mother’s Day Again

Every year around Mother’s Day, I wonder why I don’t see any cards that I relate to. Cards that speak to me. Cards that praise the everyday accomplishments of mothers everywhere.

Like calling poison control and discovering that the thing your kid ate is non-toxic. Or answering 204 questions in the span of an hour and a half without giving yourself a concussion just for the peace and quiet. Or getting anything—really, even one. single. thing—done while children are in your care.

So, because I’m a giver, I’ve whipped up some e-cards that really capture the spirit of Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day, mama! Here’s hoping there’s a mimosa coming your way.

someecards.com - The swears in your frustration rants are barely even audible. Mom, you're just the classiest. - Read more amazing things at www.MelanieCrutchfield.com

someecards.com - Your voice is always so calm—even when you get that look in your eyes. Thanks for thinly veiling your cracking spirit, Mom. - Read more amazing things at www.MelanieCrutchfield.com

someecards.com - Mom, remember that one time I snuggled sweetly on your shoulder? Sorry I threw up on you after that.

someecards.com - We're taking a family vacation for Mother's Day! LOL. Just kidding. We bought you a real present. - Read more amazingness at www.MelanieCrutchfield.com

someecards.com - I don't love you THAT much, Mom, but I AM afraid of that stranger. Thanks for being better than that stranger.

 

Can’t get enough? Check out Keepin’ It Real for Mother’s Day (2012) and Happy Motherhood Survival Day (2013). And while you’re at it, go ahead and share your favorite everyday accomplishment. Kid didn’t eat an eraser today? Brag on that business, mama. 

%d bloggers like this: