Thursday, June 23, 2011

I am Ophelia

I am Ophelia. 
Today, my young friend, Alice, and I were blown by the wind, far away from our familiar home (never mind where) and into a strange and mysterious new land, where everyone and everything was unfamiliar and new. 

(I am Krystal.  I am an irritable, lately miserable, frumpy housewife, and this afternoon, after the most miserable morning, as the wind nearly blew us off our feet, my daughter declared, "thank goodness we're too heavy for it to blow us away" to which I responded, "maybe we're not.  Maybe the wind can pick us up and carry us far off, somewhere where we don't know anything or anyone.  We can start brand new.  We'll pick new names, and speak in funny accents!  What's your new name?" 
"Alice,"  She replied.  "What's yours?" 
"MOM!  You can't be a boy's name.  Pick a girl one."  Sometimes she has no sense of humor. 
"Ophelia," I declared, as I threw my arms to the wind, secretly hoping it could carry me away.)

"Ophelia," she began, in the most charming British accent, "where can we go for some water?"  Finding myself parched as well, I decided we'd venture off into this new land, meet the locals, and see if our "home" money could buy us a few refreshments. 

We found ourselves nestled inside a cozy little hamlet (Applebees) where most of the locals seemed friendly enough. 
"Look at that pretty little baby boy there.  What do you think his name is?"  I asked Alice.  "I'll bet it's Francisco." 
"That's not a boy."  She insisted.  "That's a girl." 
"In disguise?"  I asked.
"Yes.  It's a girl, disguised as a boy.  Her name is Sarah.  She's a princess."  Alice looked worried, as she looked around, suspiciously. 
"Are they looking for her?"  I whispered. 
"I think they are." 

(The waiter, Joshua, appears.  "What are we up to today, ladies?" 
I reply, in character, "my young friend Alice and I are out in search of adventure today."  Alice covers her mouth to hide her obvious giggle. 
"We're pretending," she whispers, and our waiter doesn't seem as if he entirely gets it, but is friendly enough, and goes along with our silliness. 
"Ahhhh!  Well, what kind of adventure are we looking for?  Where are ya headed today?" 

To which Ophelia replies, "where the wind takes us!"  Alice erupts into laughter, as we order three desserts "two cherries on this one, please," and two gigantic waters.  Joshua disappears.)

"Alice!  I've just remembered!  It's your twenty fourth birthday!" 
Alice looks surprised.  She should.  She doesn't look a day over six. 
"Oh, thank you, Ophelia!"
"We should do something to celebrate.  Perhaps a nightclub later.  We can dance." 
We break into finger-pointy, shoulder wiggly, seated style chair dances.  Alice is briefly mortified as Joshua returns with our water. 


"Yeah!  Hydrate!"  Joshua cheers.  People are strange here. 

Alice and I pass the time by drawing rainbows on her place mat, and by inventing secret hand signals, in case we soon discover that this land is a hostile one.  However, we didn't get much past the signal for "I love you," because attention spans are short when one is six.  Er, twenty four. 
I remind her again of her birthday, and we realize suddenly that today is my twenty fourth, too. 

A waitress arrives with our desserts.  A hot fudge sundae, some sort of warm pudding concoction, and a strawberry shortcake.  All three piled with whipped cream, and stuffed into over-sized shot glasses.  Our eyes widen as we survey our sugary lunch, and thank the messenger profusely in our terrible accents.  "Oh, how loveleh!"

Quickly, I notice that there is only one cherry on the sundae.  Ah well.  Nothing was perfect in our old land, either.  That won't spoil our feast.  We grab spoons, and dive right in. 
Joshua arrives, as Alice and I are both in mid stuff, cheeks full of whipped cream. 
"How is it?  Did they remember to give you two cherries?"
"They didn't," I said, "but that's alright.  Everything looks totally pleasant." 
"Well, that just won't do!"  He said, and he disappeared again...

"Oh, this was just a lovely idea, Mommy.  I mean, Ophelia."  Her face was sticky with chocolate and whipped cream and ice cream, and some sort of strange mixture of all three.  Her pretty hair still in tangles from the wind that had sailed us over. 

Joshua returns, with two shiny cherries, resting on a dainty little plate.  "It's not a party unless there are enough cherries!"  Alice is beside herself, and immediately snatches one up, and dangles it in front of my mouth. 

"Look around at all the people who came to celebrate your twenty fourth birthday."  I say. 
She's pleased. 

Sarah, the baby girl in disguise as a boy, is carried by. 
"There goes the princess!"  I say.  "Do you think Joshua is looking for her?" 
"I think he is!" 
"And he brought us those cherries..." 

We both look at the plate with the single cherry.  "I'll bet they're poisoned!"  I say. 
"No they're not!"  Alice insists.  "I ate one already, and it wasn't poisoned." 
"Well, then.  You eat it.  You eat that one, and tell me if it's poisoned.  I don't want it." 
Unaffected, she snaps up the remaining cherry, and chews it defiantly. 
I feign wooziness, and pretend to faint.  She isn't fooled. 

Midway thru our third dessert, Alice decides she can't eat anymore. 
"Ugh.  I can't get thru it, Mom.  If I eat anymore, I'll blow up."
"Like a blow-fish?" 
"What's a blow-fish?"
"It's a fish.  It fills up with air and gets big and round and fat.  Like this (puffy cheeks)." 
Alice looks unimpressed.  "No, not like that." 
"Well I don't want to look like that.  Who knows what might happen in this weird new world.  You'd better help me finish this, so I don't blow up like a blow-fish." 

We finish our dessert, and immediately break into more finger-pointing, wiggle dancing, pausing only when Alice thinks someone might be looking.  She is briefly mortified once again when Joshua returns, and asks her if she was doing the Karate Kid maneuver.  She stares at him, blankly when he remarks on the generation gap. 
"Oh, no," I reply.  "She's twenty four today!" 

(I am Krystal.  I am an irritable,  lately miserable, frumpy housewife, back at home again, wishing things could be different.  Hoping that my little daughter will be able to remember the fun adventures of Alice and Ophelia, and forget the shit that drags on in between.  Knowing full well that isn't how it works.
Wherever we were, it was lovely there.  I hope she'll ask me back soon.) 

I am Ophelia.  I was blown here by the wind. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


That is his name. 
I realize it's not the proper "Maximilian", but that's his name, nonetheless.  I named him when I was nine, maybe ten years old, after one of my dads gave him to me.  I don't know why he was special, I'd had a hundred stuffed bears before, but I immediately knew he was different.  And I can't really remember any stuffed bear before him, or since.  
He was big, and brown, and naked, but for his red bow tie.  His stitched brown mouth sewn into a Mona Lisa-esque smile. 

Max-A-Millions has absorbed gallons of tears, buckets of snot, oceans of urine, (my daughter is a bed-wetter.  What were you thinking?) even strawberry jam, and still he does not protest. 
Within his raveling stitches he has housed love letters, hate mail, pens and pencils, and never once has he said to me, "I hate this about you.  Change this." 

When I am sick, sad, weak, or pitiful beyond toleration, my beloved Max-A-Millions nestles close, so that I can mumble complaints and grievances into his furry ears, and he never so much as lets free a sigh in frustration or disappointment. 

He, at the risk of sounding like the fat girl who loves her stuffy way too much, is the perfect man. 
Maybe it's because his mouth is made from stitches and he can't open it to tell me all the things I do wrong...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Nothing to see, here.

There is nothing profound to report today, not really. 

While out shopping, an old man stopped us in the parking lot, and asked me to return his shopping scooter to the store.  He had to show me how to operate it, and it made me laugh.  I missed my grandfather profoundly, and thought of him, as I drove that scooter toward the store at mach negative four thousand.  Holy shit, could it have gone any slower?  It was like the opposite of the Delorian, and I think I went backwards thru time. 

A little girl and her mother were buying an enormous bunch of balloons, and my daughter, of course, asked, "can I buy a balloon?" 
Maybe it's not the nicest approach to parenthood, but telling them "no" without discussion is normally the easiest way to avoid tantrums and begging, since they know I do not negotiate after "no." 
She didn't whine, or protest, and as a consolation, I offered to color a beautiful balloon bouquet with her the moment we arrived home.  This seemed to satisfy. 
As we pulled away from our parking space, the mother of the little girl with the balloons waved me down. 
"My daughter would like to give your little girl a balloon."
I didn't know what to say.  I wanted to cry.  The little girl couldn't have been more than eight.  We thanked them both until we all might have been made uncomfortable by it.    
My daughter chose a pink balloon, (of course) and spent the rest of the day pulling it behind her as if it were the greatest present she'd ever received.  "One day I'd like to give someone a present like this." 

And then, a dinner that took all four members of our family to prepare, if you count the little one helping me dig potatoes from the garden. 
It was nice. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Green Divide

Our youngest small person gets chronic ear infections.  So chronic, in fact that she was a lip-reader, and nearly deaf by two years old, because of the constant blockage in her ears.  Evidently her pain tolerance is pretty high, because she rarely made a sound, other than crying over a wet diaper or a hungry belly.  We had no idea there were issues with her ears until pus began oozing out one day, and she scolded me for covering my mouth when I spoke.  Not a Supermom kind of day, to discover your kid is practically deaf, and you've let her head fill up with infection. 

Our reactions back then were to rush her to the doctor at the first sign of trouble, pump her full of antibiotics and pain medication, drop mystery liquids into her ears, and wait for magic to happen.  And magic did happen.  For a while.  The infections always returned within a month or two, and we'd repeat the process, each time sort of hoping someone would suggest that magical surgery that would rid her of this problem forever.  And sort of not hoping for it at the same time, because who wants to think of their baby, helpless on an operating table, no matter how favorable the end result? 

And then, my grandmother filled up with cancer. 
It seems she's been at one doctor or another nearly every day since her diagnosis.  Scans, and tests, and blood work, and now the treatments...and so many medications.  And the medications and treatments themselves seem so very frightening.  So many chemicals and foreign things being pumped into her and stuck inside of her.  So many not-found-in-nature things being forced into her bloodstream, all with the intent to "cure" the very foreign thing that's taken over her body...
It seems so...


And I have begun to consider lately, very adamantly, the things happening in our own home. 
Our daughter's ears have been one of those considerations, and it hasn't been a great upheaval.  Four fairly painful infections have come and gone over the past few months, without the use of antibiotics, and with minimal use of conventional pain medications.  Old-fashioned "witchy" medicine has done the trick to cure her, along with a little TLC, and both she and I have been satisfied with the outcome. In the end, it's become much harder to break down and take her to a medical doctor for conventional medicine, when "voodoo" can't cure her.  At the moment, she's sitting with a belly full of antibiotics, and an ear full of pus, and it's bothering me.  A lot. 

And causing me to wonder, what's this like for my husband? 
Because the refusal of medicines and the home remedies have not been the end of it.  I have become aware of nearly everything around me.  Around us.  Inside of us. 

I've given up shampoo, completely.  There are strange concoctions all over the house, and showering is no longer as simple as grabbing a bottle from the closet and lathering up.  There are are unlabeled, gritty bars of solid soap, there are blended containers of fruit in the fridge, there are canisters of dry powders, vinegar blends in the's impossible to keep up with what's what, and he can't possibly keep up with what strange brew I have scheming at any given moment, in search of that "perfect" blend. 

He's painfully shy, and I wonder if my insistence against plastic bags at the grocery store is more embarrassing to him than I realize.  If I've forgotten my cloth bags, I just ask the bagger to toss my items (normally no more than four or five) back into the cart.  I swear, it seems to make him uncomfortable.  If he's at the store without me, I think they see him coming, and bag those five items in six goddamn bags, to make up for what I didn't take.

So much of this is brand new, and very unlike the person I was just a couple of years ago.  I worry about how it affects him.  How he handles the fact that his wife stopped wearing commercial deodorant.  How he feels about the fact that his wife started making her own cloth menstrual pads.  Is he weirded out by baking soda toothpaste?  Have I turned into some alien-esque creature to which he no longer relates?  Some tree-hugging, hyper-aware, chemical-paranoid conspiracy theorist, when all he wants is to sit down to a pizza and a Dr. Pepper, that he brought home in a plastic bag, and not have to catch shit about it from his wife who hasn't shaved her pits in three months?

He's had more patience than I think I might have, were I in his position.  Part of me senses great ambivalence from him.  Were there no one else on the planet to judge him, I think he might be absolutely with me.  And were I not here to bitch at him for using gasoline to kill weeds in the backyard, I think there would be a hazy green cloud over our house right this very moment.