Golden Equine Showers and Other Dubious Events I Can Anticipate In My Future: An Update On Where I’m Going To Live

Remember when I swore that I would update everyone on where Tex and I were going to live in my post Man Eating Fish, Bakery Theft and KKK Heaven: Let’s Introduce the Contestants? And then I didn’t? Well I have an excuse. It’s because I was showering off all the horse pee that was dumped on me. Figuratively thankfully.

Not so secretly, I had thought that Tex and I were staying. That our family would get to enjoy our happy home with its sun room and live in peaceful northern harmony for a couple more years. Or at the very worst, that we would be placed in the town that is a smaller version of where we live. After all, Tex is well liked at work, I mean who can live without a man who uses the word “eutectic” in a sentence? I know I can’t. Anyways with that confounding term and all Tex’s other shining qualities, I thought we were good, no better, I thought we were golden.

And we were. Covered in golden horsey showers that is, as the universe, or karma, or the gods, or whoever it was smited the both of us for being so cocky as to believe that we were going to stay.

When Tex told me where we were going to be placed, I quickly mass texted my family and close friends the name of the town and the words “I can’t even speak.” Then I dropped my phone and went to go curl up, lick my wounded ego and contemplate where I was going to live.

Frantically Sula tried texting, then calling all the while scrolling through my words to determine what place it was on my posted list we had been placed at. “Charm City?” her voicemail asked. “I don’t think it’s Charm City.” Then, when she Googled the place name, she realized the terrible truth. That we weren’t staying where we live, that we hadn’t been placed at my second choice, or my third choice or even my fourth choice with that fabulous indoor playground.

No dear readers, I’m heading to my seventh choice. The town that considers indoor plumbing and eeelecktricity, as they call it, to be “new fangled technology”. It was karma’s way of dumping a trough full of horse urine onto my head for being so smug as to only compose one version of my “updated” post revealing where my family was going to live. I was like those actors at the award ceremony who are nominated and still stand up when their name isn’t called on the stage.

I was going to invite you all to a bonfire at my house. We were going to light up all the boxes that I had saved just in case. Instead I started frantically packing said boxes, while my cowboy brother in-law who was visiting for the day said “Well $*@^, that sucks, I’m sorry.” while wrapping my equally shocked husband and I enormous, warm, bear hugs that only a rancher can give. My brother in-law then encouraged me to “scream, cry or break things- do whatever I need to do” while he watched Mini-Tex. I didn’t need to scream or break things, but I did cry while I started to box up our life.

So now that the moving van has been booked and housing with indoor plumbing has been secured (“Golly gee- you’re going to love this marvel!”), I can write an addendum to my Introduce the Contestants post.

Goodbye cruel world. I had wanted to invite you to a bonfire, but instead I’m moving six hours away, which doesn’t sound, far but it might as well be the moon in terms of distance to everything which resembles civilization. I hope everyone enjoys their grande coffees, automatic washers and dental floss. I will miss all of those things and you, my Unwashed public.

It is with a sad heart that I will pack up our covered wagon (we had to trade in our car to move to this place which is in the middle of nowhere) and bid you all adieu. The Great Unwashed will continue for ten or so posts because I have them banked but there’s no telling how long it will take me to teach a carrier pigeon to type my thoughts so wish me luck.

Soon to be very remotely yours,

The Great Unwashed

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Celebrity Encounters and Near Beat Downs

I didn’t think he would beat me to a pulp but I couldn’t be sure. I was on a flight from my new small town to a big city to meet Sula for a conference that she was attending. Sitting in between me and the bathroom was a man the size of a house.

As this was two years ago, I was neither pregnant nor traveling with a baby, thus, I was wearing my standard twelve year old girl disguise. My short stature and high voice confuse people. When combined with rainbow kneesocks and a penchant for ridiculous actions, I end up being mistaken for a grade schooler on occasion.

At that moment,  my thirty going on thirteen year old self was debating the pros and cons of climbing delicately over the arm rests and pretzeling myself into the small space between the giant man and the roof of the aircraft, in order to get to the washroom. On the one hand I had to pee BAD. Next to the other hand was one of the most muscly and enormous people I had ever clapped my eyes on outside of a circus act featuring strong men.

“What’s the worst that could happen? ” I asked myself, pulling up my knees into a crouching position,  preparing to move spider-like over the seats and the huge human obstacle next to me. I had decided that it was best to exit facing the man, that way if he woke up instead of staring at my large and speechless bum, he’d see my sheepish smiling face. At worst, he would stand up, unintentionally tossing me over his shoulder like a the year old in a tantrum. Luckily,. just as I was making my move, it was at that moment that Jon Mirasty woke up.

To be clear,  I didn’t know he was Jon Mirasty. If I had,  I never would have considered climbing over him. It wasn’t until after I politely asked him to move and returned from using the washroom that he introduced himself. Even then,  he only said his name was Jon and that he raised horses a ways outside the town I lived. Only when I asked him why he was traveling did he reveal his celebrity status. “I’m heading to see a surgeon. I messed up my shoulder playing hockey” he said. “Oh?” I said “Do you play hockey often? ” Simply, Jon Mirasty replied “Well I was in the NHL.”

I can talk about a lot of things; the importance of hiding candy so you discover it later like some sort of human Easter bunny, the proper way to shellac your own bum and of course the best strategy for accidentally flashing church elders. Tragically hockey isn’t one of those topics, so I brought out the only factoid relevant to the conversation that I knew, “Jordin Tootoo is also a hockey player.” Awkwardness for the win.

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Knowing one player’s name is equivalent to understanding the game right? (Photo Credit: sportsnet.ca)

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Luckily Jon Mirasty skated over my odd statement to continue the conversation. “Yeah, I know Jordin” he said. “I’m sorry” I confessed,  “that is the sum total of my hockey knowledge and I only know it because Jordin is First Nations and I work with some indigenous people.” Jon Mirasty quickly corrected me “Jordin’s Inuit.” “I’m Cree.” He added pointedly to differentiate.

We then went on to have a pleasant conversation for the rest of the flight. Always a writer and therefore curious about other people’s lives and experiences, I peppered Jon Mirasty with questions which he happily answered. When I asked Jon Mirasty whether he missed playing in the big leagues, the former NHL player surprised me by saying that he didn’t because it meant a lot of travel and being away from his family.

With that response rattling around in my head, I was stunned to discover after Googling Jon Mirasty, that like Jordin Tootoo, he was an enforcer. A position dedicated to beating up and laying hits on the other team’s players. In hockey circles Jon Mirasty was called “Nasty” because of his habit of laughing while beating his opponents senseless.

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My seat mate in action. (Photo Credit : Marchhockey.com)

Given this unique reputation, I was somewhat relieved that he woke up before I took the opportunity to climb over him. I’ll think twice before deciding to leap frog over men the size of Volkswagens the next time.

 

Rolling Around on the Floor Being a Screw Up

Sula,

I miss you. You went to the Arctic for three months and I was all “Whatevs my closest friend has gone to live with seals and arctic foxes” only not really, it was more like “I really miss Sula, I wish she liked civilization more than birds, seals and arctic foxes”.

I’m responsible for hiring our au pair. That’s right, I’m responsible for CHOOSING SOMEONE TO LIVE WITH ME. To date, you are the only room mate who worked out long term (I’m still in the process with Tex- I’ll call it a success after three years.) and I didn’t even choose you. You were all like “I need a place to stay” and I was all “I’m not in the country but here are instructions on how to get my house keys.”¹

I have had NINE unsuccessful roommates. NINE.² I am officially a screw up who can’t get along with anyone. And now I have to choose someone to live with to take care of my son.

Who put me in charge? It’s madness. I need a drink. Only I can’t. Because breastfeeding. Forever. For reals -the whole introduction to solids thing is going abysmally. Clearly my mammaries are too awesome.

So Tex and I joined Au Pair World to find girls and then I joined Au Pair Solutions because the women who run the Au Pair Solutions site have all kinds of advice and documents to help you. And I feel like these women’s shoes always match their belts and their homes are tastefully decorated and flawless like your mom’s and everything in their world lines up because they’re so damn organized and who put me in charge again?

There are approximately one hundred pages of documents to download from this advice site that I need to go through with a fine tooth comb and then alter so that they fit our family’s needs. I’m going insane and not just because the words “fine tooth comb” conjure up the idea to make a harmonica with a comb and wax paper.

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So much more entertaining than altering documents. (Photo Credit : momjunction.com)

I am so not an academic or businessy in the least. (I’m so bad at this that the Google mails claims I just invented a word.) My god, there must be a special camp for people like me where all we do is throw clay at the wall and talk about weird performance art pieces.

That’s what I’m calling what I do now-performance art. I’ve decided to send out my postcards to politicians and CEOs. If in the future you’re wondering how I got on the No Fly list, now you know.

I wish you had an international phone plan. I wish we lived closer. I wish my weird was something I could unleash upon a person after I meet them without it melting their face off like an outtake from Indiana Jones.

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I was going to insert a picture of the character’s face melting off from Indiana Jones but it looked disgusting, so instead I’ll put a picture of Playboy Bunnies which is as inappropriate and out of place as my weird. (Photo Credit: ibtimes.com)

I think that’s enough desperation for one email. Have fun at your international conference. I believe in you and so does everyone else in your professional world. Don’t accidentally sleep with any Frenchmen.³ It happens. You’re all like “Hello” and they’re all “Bonjour” and then suddenly you have a baby and live in the middle of nowhere. That totally happened to me. My life is a Public Service Announcement only not really because Tex speaks German so he greeted me with “Auf Wiedersehen” or some other similarly forceful sounding German word that made him seem both angry and like he understood clockwork and punctual trains.

For serious. Who decided that I was the one to do the paperwork? I’m into my third audit of the year from the CRA because the first two weren’t enough.

Hysterically yours,

Unwashed
¹ This actually happened, Sula messaged me while I was on vacation saying “I know we’ve only met a couple of times but I got this job and need a place to stay in your city pronto.” and because life isn’t fun without the possibility of dying in your sleep at the hands of an acquaintance, I answered with “The key’s under the turtle, careful the microwave runs a little hot.” and so started the love story of a life time. Only not really because Sula and I are both straight. We just routinely wish we were married to each other, enough so that my family gets uncomfortable and my grandparents sometimes worry that I’ll run off into the frozen sunset with my friend.

² Upon reflection, I realized that I actually forgot my most recent room mate disaster, which clinches the whole “screw up” idea.

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If this was Sesame Street the Count would say “Ten! Ten room mate disasters. Ah ha ha.” (Photo Credit : youtube.com)

³ In the same way that my academic friend Gordy studies an industry rife with Germans, Sula’s research has a huge French component.
Also if you can believe it, this email was sent while sober. You can imagine the kinds of messages I come out with while drunk based on my belligerent use of Caps Lock without alcohol. It’s probably for the best that I’ll be breastfeeding for the next nineteen years based on how poorly Mini-Tex reacts to every single piece of food that we give him.

We Need To Talk About Bunnies

Not these bunnies.

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They are cute though. (Photo Credit : yogadork.com)

This man’s bunnies.

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(Photo Credit : montecito-realestate.com)

I have a long running history of, let’s call them intense interests. Normally my obsessions are understandable. For a while there I would only talk about a certain type of fuzzy collectible.

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They’re like Pokemon- gotta catch’em all. (Photo Credit : live-av.info.com)

But I was twelve so that was developmentally appropriate. Although talking about Beanie Babies all day, every day for two years might have been a little much for my parents.

And of course there’s my long running fascination and love of anything to do with this celebrity.

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Not being obsessed with Mickey and his empire is like hating unicorns and drinking their blood, so essentially not loving Disney transforms someone into a unicorn hunting mutant, that’s right Voldemort got that way because he didn’t worship all things Disney. Take heed my Unwashed public. (Photo Credit : en.wikipedia.org)

For a short period of time I watched this woman everyday while eating my steel cut oats.

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This makes more sense in the context of learning French. (Photo Credit: http://www.renaud-bray.com)

But then, somewhere around 2010, something strange happened. When I say strange I mean strange for me, it wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill homeless man setting a fire in public, or threatening your upstairs neighbor, or starting a frog pond in your basement kind of above average occurrence.

In 2010 I became obsessed with these women.

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This would be easier to explain if I were a dude. (Photo Credit flickr.com)

It started out innocuously, in the way that these things do; I began watching their television show “The Girls Next Door”. But then my interest took on a life of its own, first I bought the box set of their series. Then I watched the whole thing start to finish. When I was done I watched it again.

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Down the Rabbit Hole indeed Holly. (Photo Credit : amazon.com)

And I kept watching it.

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I can’t tear my eyes away. (Photo Credit : janetcharltonhollywood.com)

And reading about them.

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Have you ever seen a group of more interesting ladies? (Photo Credit : fanpop.com)

And acquiring Playboy related paraphernalia- come sleep on my red satin Playboy sheets; they’re super slippery!

I followed them on Twitter, which was quite remarkable considering that I barely know how to use Microsoft Word most days.

The obsession grew and I kept watching and re-watching their ditzy antics. My mother was ashamed, my father was amused, Sula was bewildered. I would proudly trot out my Playboy magazines at dinner parties. “Look at them” I’d exclaim, “Aren’t they beautiful?” My favourite part was when male guests would take the opportunity to spend twenty minutes perusing the magazine at the table.

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The perfect addition to any social gathering. (Photo Credit : amazon.com)

This bizarre preoccupation with all things Playboy was still going strong when I met Tex. But somewhere around the time that I moved to live with Tex, my passionate, undying love of the bunnies began to diminish. Instead of watching them every day, it was once a week. And rather than discussing their latest exploits at length (Holly had a baby! Kendra is contemplating divorce!) I talked about work, or books I was reading. Gradually as my life became my own personal fairy tale, including a tall, dark handsome cowboy and adorable baby, my interest in these women’s laughable exploits shrank, and I put away the DVDs and their scrapbook, rather than sitting open on the table or couch moved to the book shelf.

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Yes, they published a scrapbook and yes I have spent hundreds of hours reading it. (Photo Credit : amazon.com)

I even contemplated selling my Playboys back to the used bookstore. (We won’t discuss how grossed out my mother was that I bought second hand nudie magazines.)  Now, the girls have returned to their rightful place in the world, I think of them as often as I ponder the Kardashians or string theory, which is to say rarely, although it must be said that I never turn down a trashy magazine or book which mentions the lovely trio.

What It’s ACTUALLY Like To Have A Baby, Including All The Gory Details Your Mother Wouldn’t Tell You

A couple of months ago, I transformed from this

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Two days before Mini Tex arrived.

 

into this

 

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You can’t see it from this angle but I have in essence created a Mini Tex, the only way you’d know for sure that my baby is related to me is if you watched him emerge from my junk.

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Sometimes I can’t even tell them apart.

What happened in between was kind of like when a butterfly emerges from a cocoon. That is if butterflies screamed at the top of their lungs and covered the space around them in blood like something out of a B grade horror movie.

Until Mini Tex actually came into the world, I had no idea how it was going to happen, I mean obviously I had a rough idea of which people were going to come out where but Moms and surprisingly the internet have a way of keeping the whole process hush hush. Something I discovered before Mini Tex’s arrival while researching online. My friend Sula also commented on this fact after she asked her mother to elaborate about having children. So strap on your helmet interwebs, I’m going to give you a crash course in the birthing process. SPOILER ALERT – It’s going to be terrifying and also possibly a little gross.

 

Early Labour

Babies like to inconvenience people. Hence they choose to start their entry into the world at inopportune times like 2 am. You can lie in bed during this time but good luck sleeping because contractions hurt, not bad enough to take your breath away but just enough so that you can’t have sweet sweet dreams about former Playboy bunnies or whatever it is you like to dream about.

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Don’t judge me, their ditzy mannerisms and way of deeming everything “Super fun!” bring me joy. (Photo Credit: fanpop.com)

This continues for a while. Like a long while. Such a long while in fact, that you decide that your baby’s arrival should inconvenience your partner too, so at 4 am you wake him up. At this point you’re both stoked because your baby is almost here! All you have to do is walk forever to get him out faster. So even though it’s the middle of the night, even though it’s minus twenty-five out, even though you’re both a little drunk on sleep deprivation, you start walking. And walking, and walking. For Pete’s sake where is this baby? Does he need you to march an actual marathon with kilometer markers and race officials before he will come out?

10 am – Still walking. The good news is your labor is progressing; the bad news is that means during every contraction you have to lean a little on your partner, also you aren’t getting very far very fast. Please note labour is not the time to do sightseeing.

11 am – You walk past the hospital where your partner proclaims that it’s time to see a doctor. Having seen the birthing “suites” you are reluctant to check into the hospital; it appears the people who designed the rooms have never visited an actual hotel and didn’t understand the meaning of the word “suite”. Just outside the doors, you realize you need to pee NOW. However your body needs to contract this baby out of you. It’s a dramatic fight to see whether your bladder sphincters triumph over your slow pace to the washroom. After dragging yourself up a flight of stairs you make it to the loo just in the nick of time.

12 pm – You arrive at the maternity ward where there are wheelchairs everywhere as if women just randomly lose the use of their legs and drop to the floor. After checking in the receptionist asks you if you can walk the five feet to the next window. Clearly she hasn’t looked at the steps on your Fitbit that day.

12:30 pm – You are directed to a room with another woman in it who is either dying or about to have her baby right then and there based on the pained groans coming from behind the curtain. Her husband runs frantically in and out of the room crying “Epidural! Epidural!”

Get ready my Unwashed public, you’re about to get the Coles Notes version of how labour progresses. Standing between you and your beautiful newborn is your cervix. You’d call it an asshole for keeping your baby from you but your cervix has kindly been holding the little bugger in for nine months, so you forgive it. In order for the baby to emerge, your cervix both has to thin out (efface) and dilate 10 cm (Make a hole 10 cm in diameter for the baby to come out of. Also, does that seem like a really small opening to anyone else? After all, you’re having a human baby not a ferret. )

The doctor comes in to check your roommate, it isn’t polite to eavesdrop but you and your partner do anyway because in all likelihood the father of the child is going to be running down the halls shouting for pain meds rather than in the room to catch the baby who is certain to come flying out any moment now if the woman’s cries are any indication.

It turns out your fellow labourer is three centimetres dilated, just like you and a long way from having her baby. Score one for yoga breathing to reduce pain and relax your contracting muscles. You ask to go home so you can continue the world’s slowest walking tour of your city.

4:00 pm – You lie down to rest because you are not the Proclaimers walking five hundred miles and then five hundred more because you can’t fall down at the door at the end as directly after all that endless marching about, you have to push.

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That’s great that you guys want to keep going- I’m going to take a nap. (Photo Credit : citylab.com)

 

However, sleeping is a bad decision because between this bout of inactivity and the bath you take immediately afterwards, your baby takes the opportunity to turn and you have back labour.

7:00 pm – If given the choice between pushing another human being out of me and back labour, I would happily squeeze another person out of my lady garden. Back labour is painful, for the first and only time, yoga breathing fails you; there is nothing aside from loud sobbing which can contend with this pain.

Funny side note about back labour and marriage – One of the many aspects I found sexy about Tex was this sprinkling of salt by the temples in his dark coloured hair. The day after Mini Tex was born, I noticed a new patch of grey by his ear, it’s hard to say whether it was caused by watching me scream in agony while his son was coming into this world or watching me rock back and forth while sobbing because of back labour.

8:00 pm – After watching you rock back and forth sobbing for an hour, your partner insists that you return to the hospital. Existing is uncomfortable, breathing is uncomfortable, so walking back to the hospital is definitely out of the question. Also when I say “uncomfortable”, I actually mean excruciating.

9:00 pm – After all of that laboring, the doctor checks and deems that you are fully effaced but still only 3 cm dilated. Being fully effaced is a good thing but you don’t hear that part through your pain, all you hear is that you’re in the same place as ten hours ago and conclude this labor is going to continue forever. Then you think of the video from birthing class of the woman who had to have a C-section after her labor failed to progress. You dissolve into exhausted tears.

Baby birthing side note – While caesarian sections make for cuter infants right out of the womb; Mini Tex came out puffy eyed, bruised and looking like he’d been on the losing end of a baby bar fight. I don’t know what babies would come to fisticuffs over. Who gets dibs on the breast with the tastier milk first?

I digress, C-sections are actual SURGERIES. Meaning there are stitches and a much longer recovery process. Having had six stitches in my leg this past year which hurt like the dickens, I can’t imagine enduring a surgery and then caring for a small person while I recovered. Also you stay in the hospital for longer which is zero fun. Picture traveling on an uncomfortable bus for four days, that’s what the hospital is like; there is a lack of fun and it smells funny.

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If you add an IV to this image, the experience is identical, right down to the person next to you who gives WAAAAY too much information. (Yes I recognize the hypocrisy of this comment as I am in the process of sharing my birthing story with the greater electronic world.) (Photo Credit: yelp.com)

10:00 pm – Given that you’ve been up for twenty hours, are in pain and exhausted, you decide to try some morphine. There’s a catch though, morphine makes people puke so the doctors administer Gravol along with it.

There were a couple of reasons I decided that I didn’t want an epidural. The first is that pain evolved for a reason; people without pain receptors don’t live as long. Those little jabs are your body’s way of communicating what’s going on. Also, it’s my completely unfounded belief that epidurals mean more tearing. So in my mind, an epidural was like trading short term pain for long term recovery pain. Lastly and most importantly, I’m built small and metabolize pain medications poorly. Cold medication leaves me a stoned wobbly mess. This was why when I was given a normal adult dose of Gravol and morphine during my labor, my pupils shrunk to pinpoints and I passed out. It was so bad that Tex had to lift me into my preferred position during a contraction and then lay me back down after it was done so I didn’t topple off the bed.

12 am – You walk around the hospital, still wobbly from the Gravol and morphine. You swear off drugs, green fairies and rainbows for the rest of your life.

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Except for you my delicious morning friend. (Photo Credit : fakefoodwatch.com)

12:30 am – Having spent the past five months practicing squatting because it shortens labor and helps get the baby into position, you decide to squat.

12:31 am – You scream bloody murder for your partner to help get you out of a squat because it makes the contractions so intense you can’t bear it. There goes five months of doing the malasana yoga pose for zip.

2 am – You get moved to a delivery suite. Again don’t let the second word deceive you, unless this is some sort of private American hospital for millionaires, there is nothing swanky about this hospital room. By contrast, the staff are amazing. I’m not saying the labor nurse was an angel, but if she had pulled out a harp and sprouted wings, I wouldn’t have been surprised. The nurse spoke in soft soothing tones, anticipated all of my needs and was wonderful.

3 am – Not everyone’s water breaks in a grand and embarrassing splash in the middle of a grocery store. Some must have their water broken during labor. The doctor will apologize for the discomfort while they do this, I’m assuming because they’re under the impression that every other part of this process has been like a day at the spa.

4 AM – The heavenly nurse decides to leave her harp in the closet for the time being, but offers you something even better -gas. You remember from birthing class that if laughing gas is used for longer than an hour that you get a wicked bad hangover. You make a mental note to check the time and then realize that time and your ability to tell it, has lost all meaning.

5 AM – You’ve now been up for twenty-seven hours, niceties are no longer necessary, you yell at your caring husband when he doesn’t move his chair right away. You bellow at the doctor that you are ready to push. Perhaps it’s because you seem rude and unreasonable that the bad cop physician is called in.

When I was young, thin and believed that short shorts were appropriate attire in February, I ran marathons. My mother who has run the Boston marathon five times ran my races alongside me. She would yell when I walked, urging me back into a run then run circles around me singing and taunting me when I slowed my pace and once, my mother threatened to leave me in the middle of nowhere if I didn’t run faster. That last story may be a slight exaggeration, but only slight, all I remember were chasing her heels for five kilometers as I tried not to lose my ride back to the hotel. Anyways, it seems that all of this loud, determined coaching was preparation for the consultant who bellowed a baby out of me.

Nowadays doctors are taught empathy and to think about patients’ feelings. This woman must have been trained before this era. She was merciless. During every contraction she yelled “PUSH GIRL PUSH!” at the top of her lungs as if she was on a distant mountaintop, instructing me from afar. Her insistent instructions were contrasted against the soft, angelic tones of the labor nurse who whispered into my ear “You’re doing great Unwashed” in between the drill sergeant’s shouts. When this forceful woman wasn’t roaring instructions at me, she would critique my efforts to the resident who was sitting in the hot seat, silently waiting to catch Mini Tex; “she’s not using the full contraction, she could be pushing longer; she’s barely doing anything.”

This is the part that some women dread, that you’re told about beforehand. You poop in front of God and everyone. But it’s a bit like being the kid in line for a carnival ride. You’re just so damn excited and caught up in what’s about to occur that you mess your pants then keep going because – what the hell? It’s the tilt-a-whirl.

The part that is not mentioned is that all the signals for your bladder get kind of scrambled, so if it’s full, which it probably is, it will make pushing a baby out harder but more on that later.

So you keep pushing, and the bad cop doctor keeps shouting instructions and you can feel your baby’s head almost coming out of your kootch. You change positions, ostensibly to make pushing easier, but in reality because you’re more likely to be able to kick the vocal doctor-cop while sitting up. The bad cop tells you to feel your son’s head as a way to try and encourage you to keep pushing. This is a bit like someone saying at mile 25 of a marathon “Look! You’re almost there! You just have to run for fifteen more minutes!” Instead of being invigorated, you want to slap them and then lie down and die from exhaustion.

The only tidbit I could find which described the actual birthing process said that when the baby crowned (laymen’s terms for when the largest part of the baby comes out) it felt like someone taking a blow torch to your crotch. Having received a small terrible burn on my hand once, I kept waiting for the blowtorch. It didn’t arrive. I will admit that it hurt, and you definitely feel your skin stretching and tearing. If your husband is watching, he might be horrified. Those who didn’t grow up on a farm should likely stand near your head around about this time. Although that puts them in closer proximity to your mouth which at this point is emitting a lot of sound because you’re yelling so loudly that your voice will hurt for two days.True story.

But then you have a baby. Which is awesome for the twenty minutes you hold him for before you pass out from exhaustion.

 

Afterwards

Remember the spoiler alert that it was going to be gross? And the part about the bloody butterfly and everything looking like a B horror movie? We’re totally at that part. You might want to stop reading. Or at least put down your sandwich.

Birthing is a messy business. I feel badly for the custodial staff of the hospital, because despite my attempts to clean up, after I used the bathroom, it looked like the set of “The Shining”. There was blood EVERYWHERE. The poor sod would have needed three mops to deal with that floor.

Also recall my statement about the wiring from your brain to your bladder being scrambled? Basically there’s so much going on in that area that your brain is all “Bladder, shut the hell up, we’ve got bigger issues than the need to evacuate your contents” this lack of communication continues even after you’ve had the baby. Luckily the nurse who took care of me in the maternity wing knew this. She carefully explained this fact, then turned on a faucet full blast, told me to sing in to help me relax and basically did everything short of sticking my hand in a bowl of hot water while showing a slideshow of Niagara Falls.

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“What does this make you think of?” (Photo Credit : youtube.com)

 

Have you ever gotten a paper cut? On a joint? It’s super painful and keeps opening up right? That’s exactly what peeing after having a baby is like. Only there are a thousand paper cuts. On your kootch. And some jerk keeps smearing hot sauce on them.

This sounds awful but urinating is a picnic compared to your first bowel movement after having a baby. Nic Sheff, author and drug addict, described in his book “Tweak” having to pick pieces of granite-like stool out of his butt after going on a month long meth bender. This experience seems preferable and significantly less painful than pooping after having a baby, an event which happens multiple days after the birth. My advice? Take the stool softener they give you at the hospital, and then steal your neighbour’s supply of stool softener too, consider it their comeuppance for not having read The Great Unwashed’s cautionary tale of birthing before creating a person.

So that’s a true life birth story. If I had a larger audience I would expect the birth rate to drop significantly but as it is, I think I’ve probably just traumatized my uncles and grandfather. Sorry, but I did warn you to stop reading multiple times.

Also, I should probably add that even though my doctor missed her calling as the furious head of a military operative, I only pushed for forty-five minutes. The average amount  of time is two and a half hours. The take home point here is that if you want to get the job done, choose a physician with anger management issues who really wants their coffee break NOW.

This post is dedicated to Sula who asked all of the best questions and was appropriately horrified by my responses.

 

That Time I Made A Murder-Suicide Pact

My life was ending. As far as I was concerned, everything good was moving four hours away, so in my car-less life there were only two reasonable options; kill or be killed. Luckily Sula felt the same way. And so, without vocalizing our intent, a murder suicide pact was made. The night before my best friend moved away forever, we decided that the best way to mark this occasion was to drink ourselves to death.

In lieu of beer pong, we took a shot for each happy memory, throwing alcohol down our throats in an attempt to obliterate the knowledge that spontaneously popping over after work, after church, before bed, just because, would never again be an option.

The evening started with wine. Toasting all the nights we had spent eating, “like peasants” as Sula’s brother would joke, with just one light on. We drank because never again would I keep a stash of my favourite vino in Sula’s fridge because I was there so often. Pouring out the last our bottles; red for Sula, white for me, we celebrated all of the hours spent sitting in our pyjamas working diligently on our respective projects.

I poured stolen Baileys onto ice cubes to commemorate when Sula learned how to crochet left handed in order to teach me the beloved pastime. We tossed back a second mug of that delicious, creamy liquor while reminiscing about my inability to line dance and the Friday nights that we walked down the street to the local bar to take lessons after dinner.

With a bit of spray and a satisfying crack, cans of cider were opened and consumed as Sula and I talked of all the weekend when we spent first the morning at the Farmer’s Market and later paddleboarding or cross country skiing at the local provincial park in the afternoon. It was at that point that we decided to take our goodbye party on the road. Specifically down the street to that same bar where I used to crash into strangers while attempting to learn the electric slide.

At the bar, while slugging back beer, we sat on top of a picnic table and stared up at the night sky trying to brainstorm ways we could continue our craft nights, sewing tutorials, dance lessons and hiking trips. In the place of a solution, we ordered more beer.

Initially we believed that our attempt had been unsuccessful, until we woke up the next morning with the most killer hangover in history. Sula and I spent the day running back and forth to the bathroom or dry heaving into the sink when the other person beat us to the coveted porcelain spot. Despite our painful heads and certainty that the end was near, at six o’clock Sula packed up her belongings and drove off forever. I couldn’t have pictured a more appropriate send off.

This post is dedicated to Sula who is once again heading off into the frigid north. Good luck lady, I’m glad that you graduated from crouching in the woods with bears at night to walking the tundra during the day. And even more glad for the giant anti-polar bear rifle you carry.

Travesty Tuesdays On The Road – The Lesbian Arctic Edition

Last year, prior to leaving me for the Arctic without a second thought or one love letter (I wrote her three), I attended a conference with Sula. We went to a banquet together and then spent a weekend roaming about the city having a grand old time. Despite all of my attempts to the contrary, only one person mistook us for a couple: the gangly youth who drove us to the airport and likely spent the rest of the time fantasizing about Sula and me acting out the scene from Scream 4 where all of Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends wake up in bed with Charlie Sheen, only without the tiger blooded madman of course. The following is the last two letters that I wrote to her and her crew ostensibly to lift their spirits and remind them of the horrors of the South: traffic, bathing, more than five people!

Dear Sula,

You’ll want to stay in the Arctic because as soon as you return to the lower ten, I’m going to waste no time in trying to convince everyone we meet that we are a couple just like the guy who drove us to the airport in Winnipeg. The difference is I think the majority of people when they ask us “Did you go on any dates?” won’t be thinking “Oh please let them say “no we just stayed in the hotel room having naked pillow fights and jumping up and down on the bed”.

Also the minute you get back, I will take you shopping (horrors!) and then tell people that I’m pregnant with our love child that we made without the aid of a sperm donor through our devotion for each other, like Immaculate Conception only with more crocheting.

Either that or when I’m asked what I’m having I’ll say “an ostrich probably or maybe one of those warm blooded fish actually not maybe, definitely” think of all the awkwardness you’re avoiding up there. In the Arctic there are no bewildered salespeople only people with tanned faces and hands if everything I’m told is true.

 

Enjoy your time in the sunny North, I’ll be preparing the best way to tell people that we’re having a baby iguana and that you plan to take it on walks with a leash.

So much love,

Unwashed

 

 

Camelia,

You need to stay in the Arctic, it’s a matter of self-preservation or at least that’s what the comic Piled Higher and Deeper tells me. According to them, grad school is terrible and should be avoided at all costs. By Piled Higher and Deeper standards, you are winning the International World Universe Grad School Contest; you are avoiding being in the lab and the grind while looking like you are being hard core and an awesome, amazeballs scientist. (Sorry I know that “amazeballs” isn’t a word but not everyone can win the International World Universe Grad Student Competition.)

Hence you need to stay where you are, based on my limited research which doesn’t include attending grad school; I’ve determined that it’s in your best interest to remain in the Arctic permanently. Don’t worry, Elizabeth will be there with you and you can pretend to be doing important science while reading Diana Gibaldon books for at least three years by my calculations.

Before you call me a crazy person, (which in fairness would be unfair- in all honesty I’m more of a failed scientist/ dirty hippie) listen to my reasoning. Grad school has deadlines whereas the tundra has pretty icebergs. Grad school has stress and supervisors; the Arctic has sweet, sweet solitude. Grad school has papers; the tundra doesn’t even have trees! Where would it get papers?

I believe the correct decision is obvious here, I shall be sending you a care package of overfilled calendars and recordings of colleagues telling boring stories about their pet gerbils in the event that you have a moment of weakness and think of returning home.

Sincerely yours,

Your savior from the perils of academia

Travesty Tuesdays On The Road- The Arctic Edition Part Two

I’ve talked about loving Sula more than cheese; when you have that kind of affection for someone, it tends to spill over. Every year before she heads off to the Arctic, I write Sula letters. Last year, even that wasn’t enough, I started writing her crew. Here are two of the inappropriate pieces of correspondence that I penned to her crew.

Dear Luke,

It’s more than halfway through the field season so I can understand feeling a little homesick, so this letter is here to provide you with some comfort. I mean sure civilization is great and all, and yes we do have the internet and thus porn but who needs naked people and videos of puppies learning how to climb stairs when you could have vast open tundra where the entire world has the potential to be your bathroom? Peeing in public is not encouraged down here, and so while we do have images of nipples readily available, you sir, have it much better.

So the next time you are wanting a burger, or perhaps television, simply drop trou and urinate freely to remind yourself of the wonderful amenities of the Arctic. Unless of course you are next to a camp mate’s bunk, that might make you unpopular.

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No amount of GIFs of kittens on pianos could possibly complete with this level of freedom. (Photo Credit: http://www.dreamstime.com)

Sincerely yours,

That lady who has no concept of social mores and writes to random people under the guise of offering comfort but not really.

 

This year was Liz’s second year on Sula’s crew. When I grow up, I want to be Elizabeth- she is the ultimate hippie, living completely off the grid and making art some of which appears on Sula’s blog Northofthegrid.com.

 

Dear Elizabeth,

You can almost see the end of field season, so understandably you might have a touch of homesickness.

Actually probably not. Based on what I hear from Sula, it sounds like the Arctic is your home; it has no running water, you have no running water, the Arctic has no electricity, your house has no electricity. You, my dear, are living out my minimalist fantasies and if my information is correct, I think you may in fact live in the Arctic year round already.

In fact we’re having your significant other and pets flown in to stay here for the other ten months of the year. I don’t think you’ll notice much of a difference. Also it will give you more time to come up with awesome drawings for next year’s camp swag.

 

Yours truly,

The woman who isn’t brave enough to actually live with a zero carbon footprint like you and is also not as committed to science, really if I’m being honest- I’m a bit of a sissy and Elizabeth, you rock.

P.S. Sorry for the long yours truly, on top of being a failed scientist and a bad hippie, I apparently don’t know how to write letters.

 

 

That Time I Proved I Was Inefficient and a Weenie

It’s possible to love someone to the ends of the earth but to also realize that you could never work with them. Sula spends three months of the year living in the Arctic without running water, electricity, and heat. In my heart, I knew that not only am I neither tough enough nor brave enough to do this but that I possess nowhere near the amount of common sense to make a field season happen. I proved this fact repeatedly the last time Sula came to visit and we hiked into the back country to camp.

After returning from the Arctic not only did Sula have the best pack, she was also the heartiest, having carried guns, science equipment and everything needed to survive on her back all day, every day for the previous three months, thus she was given the heaviest load. (Did I mention she returned with a six pack? And not the alcoholic kind.) By contrast, at almost five months pregnant and carrying a pack that Tex bought for five dollars that proceeded to fall apart over our eight kilometer hike in and out of the backcountry, I was given the smallest load and Maddie, who functioned as a kind of a doggie tow rope for my exhausted self.

Everything was going fine, we arrived at the camp and Sula was tasked with setting up the tent given that she can set up equipment that she’s never seen in complete darkness, in the middle of a howling blizzard with no instructions and both eyes closed.

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This wold take Sula all of ten minutes, And thats with a coffee break. (Photo Credit : pinterest.com)

I was asked to get water, an errand normally completed by Tex when he and I camp together.

Even though it was summer, Tex and I live in the very, very, very far North, which is to say that there are approximately two days a year when one would want to swim outside, and both of those days occur in July. Sula and I went camping at the end of August so the water was exceptionally cold. Prior to filling the collapsible camping bucket, I removed my shoes and waded out, my knee may have bumped an iceberg or two in the process and I shrieked in pain and surprise.

Always the leader, in hearing the most vulnerable member of her crew scream, Sula ran from the tent, down to the beach to make sure I was ok. “I’m fine” I called to her, “Just getting water. See?” Emerging from the liquid frozen abyss, I proudly showed Sula the fruits of my labour- a bucket of water so murky with sand and “seaweed bitties” that one would never be able to drink it. If I’m being honest, there may have been a small fish or two in my gathered water as well. Sula nicely explained that it wasn’t potable even if we did strain it, which would leave approximately two teaspoons of clean water

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What do you mean we can’t drink the beach? (Photo Credit tcpermaculture.blogspot.com)

and then pointed to a more appropriate location to gather clean seaweed and crayfish free liquid.

Aside from spilling the first bucket of clean, “bitty-free” water I gathered on the beach, things started looking up from there. That is until I set my socks on fire twenty minutes later. Thankfully they weren’t on my feet at the time, they were only drying next to the fire. The night continued to go downhill when I revealed that Sula had packed in two litres of milk and a giant container of potato salad for dinner. Jokes were made about how I will be made to carry a lasagna in a Pyrex dish into the back country when Sula is pregnant.

Between my dismal packing abilities, dramatic over reactions to water and partial lack of common sense, as we were hiking slowly back to civilization I turned to Sula and asked “I could never come to the Arctic with you could I?”

“You could,” Sula answered kindly, “I’d just have to send you back in the twin otter airplane before you ever touched the tundra.”

The neat part about close friends is that even if you can’t ever work with them, you can still have all kinds of fun.

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(Photo Credit : Sula)

Reliving the Greats – On The Road: The Flying Maddie Kerouac

When we first started dating, Tex went into my archives and read every single post I’d ever written. To this day, he’s my biggest fan and cheerleader, given that, I thought he could choose one of his favourite posts from the year as a part of my five day countdown to my blogiversary.

Despite Tex’s claims that he doesnt understand the purpose of indoor pets and non-working animals, Tex chose the post I wrote abour Maddie flying home from our wedding with Sula.

So without further adieu, here is post three of five of the top five posts from this past year.

On The Road : The Flying Maddie Kerouac

10 AM – This is bad. This is very bad. The bags are packed. I repeat the bags are packed. Every single one of them, from the small purse bag to the over-sized wheelie bag. I would run around in a frenzy but anxiety has pinned me helplessly to the floor. Worst of all, the purple prison has emerged.

Life up until now has been pretty good. Admittedly there have been some rough times like when Sula disappears for what feels like forever and I stay with either the nice smelling woman who gives me endless treats (Who gets a cookie for peeing and has no thumbs? This dog.) or the newly fat one who takes me paddleboarding and hiking but ultimately, it’s a good life.

Then I met the purple prison. It showed up at the nice smelling woman’s house. I got stuck in it for longer and longer periods of time. Sure I got treats afterwards but nothing makes up for shoving yourself into the world’s smallest hiding place in a hellish game of hide and go seek where everyone can see you.

Now it’s out again. I rode in it ages ago when we went into a tiny building with bad smelling air and too many people that made my ears hurt. The building made a lot of noise and I was trapped in the violet temple of doom for what was probably a day before Sula helped me fight my way out. Then we got in a car and drove for what must have been two days.

The point is, the bags are packed, the purple prison is out and nothing good can happen from now on. Possibly forever, the purple prison is exceptionally powerful.

4 PM – Terrifying update – The fish is being packed! When Sula returned from Alaska she brought with her a giant box of delicious smelling frozen fish. Sula said while I was staying with the newly fat one and the tattooed man that she had caught the fish in a river. She was silly and wrapped all of the fish in plastic so they’re difficult to eat raw and all at once, but I forgive my master when she does foolish things sometimes.

Oh no, oh no, why are the fish being packed? I liked the fish. I had planned to eat the fish with Sula, but now I don’t know what’s happening.

4:30 PM – There are shoes. I repeat everyone is putting on their shoes! Please let me come, please let me come, please let me come, don’t take away all of the bags and the fish and leave me here forever. I’m standing next to the door so you know that I’m ready to leave, I will follow you anywhere, please let me come.

4:35 PM – The newly fat one is holding onto my leash while Sula and the tattooed man carry everything else including (horrors!) the purple prison. I would prefer that Sula hold my leash so I knew I was staying with her, but her hands are full.

4:36 PM – Sula and the newly fat one are urging me to pee. Who can pee when everything good in the world is packed up into bags???

4:37 PM – Me apparently. After I relieve myself, Sula, the newly fat one and I continue down the street without the tattooed man and the fish. Why are we leaving the fish? I liked the fish! And the tattooed man wasn’t too bad either; he would play a game to towel me off when I was wet and I slept in between him and the newly fat one on their bed.

4:38 PM – Calm yourself Mads, we can live without fish and the tattooed man, we still have the two most important people, life is good. Ok, life isn’t good, but it’s manageable, your favourite ball went into the suitcase, we can remedy this awful situation.

4:39 Pm – We are in the car, sure it’s a really hot car but this isn’t so bad. Focus; you are in the car with your two most important people, life is ok, pant, life is ok.

4:40 PM – We drive the car down the road and pick up the tattooed man and the fish. Hurray! The fish are back. I jump on the tattooed man’s lap when he climbs into the car to express my gratitude; thank you for returning my fish! Dinner is back on.

4:45 PM – I am riding on the newly fat one’s lap which has become smaller of late. I do not like this arrangement. Not only would I be more comfortable in the backseat on Sula’s lap but then I could be sure that she would stay with me and not leave again.

5:00 PM – The car is slowing down. This does not look like the dog park. I do not like this new place. I give a plaintiff look to both Sula and the newly fat one in the hopes we will leave and go to a dog park. Or even better we could go to a beach! I love the beach.

5:05 PM – This building smells like cleaning fluid, fear and hurry. Worst of all I am being held by the newly fat one while Sula walks away with all of the bags. Newly fat one, follow her! Don’t you understand that the only way to survive is by staying together?

5:07 PM – Where are they taking the bags? My favourite ball is in there!

5:11 PM – We’ve actually lost the fish now. A frowny woman I didn’t recognize in a uniform came and put them in a machine. Goodbye fish, goodbye dinner. I guess I don’t actually need you now that my bowels have seized up from worry. I don’t think I will ever eat again. This fact is confirmed when Sula tries to feed me a piece of buttered bagel and it falls directly out of my mouth. The world is ending and food tastes like sawdust.

5:15 PM – I am standing on both Sula and the newly fat one to prevent them from getting away. Sure I’d like the pack to stay together but I am small, and the tattooed man feeds me treats but not meals; I have to be prudent about my choices.

 

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If I can just stay in this position until the end of time, then everything will be good. (Photo Credit : Tex)

5:20 PM – Ack! I moved to stretch my legs and now Sula is walking away.

If I don’t blink, I can keep her in my sight. (Photo Credit : Tex)

If I don’t blink, I can keep her in my sight. (Photo Credit : Tex)

5:21 PM – She is back, the world is ok now. Well not ok, but you get my drift.

5:25 PM – A horrible thought has just occurred to me, the bags are gone, but the purple prison is still here. Am I supposed to go in the purple prison again?

What if I can't ever get out? (Photo Credit : Tex)

What if I can’t ever get out? (Photo Credit : Tex)

5:27 pm – Seeing my distress, the tattooed man tries to cuddle me.

 

5:28 PM – Sula picks me up and I relax entirely in her arms. This would be a good place to die, maybe I should just expire here while we’re all together and the horrible purple cage hasn’t captured me.

5:30 PM – My worst fears have been confirmed; the newly fat one is placing me in the purple temple of doom.

Please beloved fat one, don’t put me in here, I might never escape. (Photo Credit : Tex)

Please beloved fat one, don’t put me in here, I might never escape. (Photo Credit : Tex)

5:32 PM – Everyone is hugging. Why is everyone hugging? People leave after this happens. Stop hugging! Or hug me so I know that I am coming with you.

5:33 PM – All is well, Sula is picking me up, I am going with her.

5:34 PM – Scratch that, the pack is breaking up again; the newly fat one and the tattooed man aren’t walking with us!

5:36 PM – The rest of the pack has reappeared, but they’re stuck behind a glass door. I plead with them to find the handle so they can join us. They are smiling and waving. The newly fat one is pressing her face into the glass. How can they joke around at a time like this? Do they not understand that I will need all of their help to escape the purple prison?

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For Pete’s sake come out from behind that glass and rescue me from this purple case of torture! (Photo Credit : Tex)

Update: Maddie survived her harrowing adventure and made it safely back home and out of her traveling case, after flying once again in a small noisy building. A day and a half later, her bowels unclenched and she attempted to recreate herself in poop form. This would have been more impressive had I myself not done such a thing after a trip. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why I love her so much; we both hate traveling and airplanes.

In case you are interested, small dogs may fly in the cabin of airplanes if they and their carrier together weigh less than 22lbs or the weight of a small personal item. The dogs must stay in the case FOR THE ENTIRE TIME and must be stored under the seat in front of their owner. The airplane must be notified in advance that they are flying with someone and there is an additional fee. Animals are not permitted on flights longer than four hours out of respect for their well being and need to pee. Sula limited Maddie’s water intake before the flight to visit me and going back.