the box, then, is the basilica of the unbuilt.
A MEDITATION ON MESS. ALSO: YET. MORE. POOP.
What a good thing it is that I am not an EMT, trauma surgeon, firefighter, or anything else that requires leaping into the middle of a great big mess without thinking very much. Two situations recently reconfirmed my tendency to stand, mouth agape, in the face of a great big mess and think non-useful thoughts like: “This is extremely fucked up.” The first great big mess made me late to work, and resulted when I knocked over the entire can of olive oil while trying to straighten the kitchen. I had my transit card in my hand and my briefcase on my shoulder, but I thought I would clean up just a few little things on the way out the door, because I like to think of myself as a multitasking goddess—I can bring home the bacon! Fry it up in a pan! Make a horrible oily mess in the kitchen and use a whole roll of paper towels in my ineffectual attempts to clean it up, cursing vilely but softly so as not to wake the baby! I briefly considered leaving it for LT, maybe with a really apologetic note, maybe with some small plastic penguins floating in the countertop olive-oil-slick like an environmental-disaster diorama, but that just seemed wrong.
That was Friday morning. Friday night we had some of our drinkiest friends over for dinner, and after putting Nora to bed we drank more, and then somehow the clock said two-thirty in the morning and the body count stood at five bottles of wine and some back-up beers. I woke six hours later with just about every word of the hangover description in Lucky Jim burned into my brain:
Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he'd somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by the secret police. He felt bad.
After a few seconds I realized that what had really woken me was not my wine-disordered synapses but a brokenhearted wailing over the baby monitor, and I went immediately to investigate. Because Nora's mommy loves her, even after too much wine. I thought I would simply snuggle her, tickle her, change her, make her some oatmeal, get myself the largest glass of water in the universe and some Advil, read the paper, and so on and so forth. Instead, I opened the door on an Atrocious Diarrhea Underworld, the crib sheet and bumper and my daughter all hopelessly befouled, poor Nora standing as far away as possible from the worst of the mess sobbing and holding out her arms like get me out of here, because I imagine that the only thing worse than shitting the bed is being locked in with the results. Even sadder, when I spread newspaper down on the floor, lifted her out of the crib, and began the horrifying process of stripping off her onesie and diaper, Nora made about a thousand frantic lip-smacking noises at me, which is something she does when she wants to kiss and be kissed. It was as if she was saying I know I'm disgusting right now but please! Love me! I'm still worthy of love!
One whole box of wipes later, LT gave her a bath and I threw away her onesie, the crib bumper, and the entire crib sheet like a spoiled First World brat, because I could not fathom the idea of putting poop-smeared fabric into the washing machine. There are other onesies. There are other crib sheets. I only have the one brain. After the kid and the room were back to normal we all walked to the 24-hour diner for breakfast, because hash browns make everything better.
Nora's intestinal trauma took a while to clear up, which was frustrating since there is nothing (according to the pediatrician) that can really be done—we cut off her juice supply, fed her stick-to-the-ribs stuff like toast, bananas, yogurt, and rice, and kept her hydrated—but she still had a rough couple of days and a few more items of clothing got tossed into the trash.
SOME MORE OF MY NOT-SO-VERY-DEEP DEEP THOUGHTS ON MOMMYHOOD, YEAH YOU GUYS WON THE FREAKING JACKPOT TODAY
Everyone knows by now that I have an uneasy, flip-flopping relationship with spiritual matters. I am probably best described as an every-other-week atheist, and even on my off weeks I don't believe in a personal god who is all like Oh hey how's your life going, buddy? Need any help? On the not-completely-atheist weeks my spiritual side resembles something like this, which, if one was feeling contrary (and one often is!), could be construed as just a happy-go-lucky, feel-good atheism with a dash of New-Age mumbo-jumbo, but which nonetheless makes sense to me. I feel that the universe is an amazing place, which does not have a “consciousness” but which does prepare a place for you to exist specifically within it, as long as you are ready and willing.
I have become strangely more compassionate and yes, even more “spiritual” (whatever that means) since loving Nora, and I was wondering what that was about, and why becoming somebody's mother would bring about such a shift in attitude. I thought that mothering might make me fearful and untrusting, since it is so often a scary world out there and it falls to me and LT to protect this tiny baby who can so easily be hurt or damaged. I certainly have days when I feel ready to chew my own arm off with anxiety, when I worry about all sorts of evil befalling my child, and when I want to wrap her up in plastic or some of those quilted moving pads* and never let her experience anything unpleasant, ever. But lately I more often feel turned inside out with love, and that the majority of people on this earth are good at heart, and that the universe has prepared a place for Nora to exist specifically within it. Why?
(*Reason #45 to be thankful I am no longer a PR person/freelance writer. Let us have a moment of silence for poor Sean Kilcarr, who had to produce over a thousand words on the subject of quilted moving pads.)
Do you know the literal meaning of namaste? My concept of the “divine” is pretty murky, so I was always sort of faking that gesture and the feeling behind it in yoga class and such. But since Nora, the idea has taken on a weird twist. Every single person was once a baby. A nice baby, without any arrogance or pretentiousness or disgustingly misguided political beliefs. Sometimes, in manic Russian-mystic moods or after a lot of caffeine, I feel like I can see the babies that people used to be, and it makes me want to be nicer.
OKAY, THAT WAS EMBARASSING
I know I'm late to this meme-party, but here I am anyway. I brought beer and a casserole!
Look! Even Nazis like kittens.
More completely unlikely things to worry about.
For some reason I ate nearly an entire sleeve of white cheddar rice cakes instead of any actual food today, like I am on some kind of supermodel diet. I should have Marlboro Lights and cocaine for dessert, to keep the theme going.
—mimi smartypants is no longer allowed to drive the forklift.