Thursday, October 5, 2017

I’m Going To Vomit

Now that my kids are older and can manage their own activities and I no longer have to worry about meeting them at the front door after a busy school day with a sandwich and a glass of milk, I have loads of free time to neglect housework find a job day drink get together with friends. So when a friend asked if I wanted to meet her and another friend in the city, I said Yes ma’am, the world is our oyster, and will there be food involved.

We decided to meet at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, aka the Mütter Museum. If you’re not from the Philadelphia area you may not have heard about it, despite the gross-out and horror movie-level reputation of its contents.

You see, kids, the Mütter is a medical museum that houses all sorts of biological pathologies, from the largest skeleton to The Soap Lady to a huge colon filled with 40 pounds of feces. The term “wet specimen” is used heavily here. There are brains and tumors and amputated toes in jars, oh my.

Slices of Einstein’s brain. Dessicated hands and feet. Real and fake shrunken heads, with DIY instructions. A wall of realistic wax models of all the bad things that can happen to an eyeball. We’re talking eye-dripping-with-pus after eye-with-a-piece-of-metal-stuck-in-it after eye-being-pushed-out-of-the-socket-from-a-tumor here, people. It’s revolting, yet hilarious, and not just because both of my eyeballs are presently intact.

You see, I am not a medical professional, nor do I have aspirations of being one. Also, I learned that day, nor do I possess even the smallest level of sensitivity to displays of graphic medical abnormalities.

Nor do my friends, evidently, because we gaped, gagged, giggled and guffawed our way through the Mütter amidst serious med students and people on dates and quite possibly others who were just trying to keep from hurling.

This place is Capital G Gross.

It is also fun, we discovered as we perused the wall of skeleton heads (or if you’re fancy: skulls). We giggled at the descriptions offered of the people they once belonged to. Some informed lifestyle and specific medical disorder suffered, and some merely gave causes of death, but other descriptors were hilariously left up to the imagination of the observer. I found the straightforward explanation “Gypsy” pretty funny but joined my friends in gasping back tears of laughter when confronted with a bonehead labeled – simply – “Idiot.”

Which is description enough for cause of death, am I right or am I right?

Once we got the skull rolling, everything we looked at was found hilarious. It was only mildly annoying.

As I banged open the
drawers that contained a collection of  junk people swallowed (OMG why so many safety pins? What kind of witch doctor saves this crap?), my friends ogled a 70-pound ovarian cyst and ruminated on the logistics of how a pair of conjoined twins fathered over 20 children. Our commentary was ceaseless. The mega-colon removed from the unfortunate soul who died of constipation served as a grim reminder to the assemblage to “eat more fiber and drink your water, kids.”

We were ignored. We couldn’t believe nobody else was as immature awed as we were regarding these medical marvels. Drinking lots of water is just sound medical advice.

One of my friends openly pointed out that tuberculosis was bad news all around, and I remarked that all the curved spines made my back hurt. Our other friend was still worrying over those conjoined twins, who married sisters.

By the time we got to the diseased reproductive organs, we had lost all control and it was time to leave. We sternly warned each other to run if one day your husband’s penis turns up looking like that, and finally agreed, after all evidence presented, that syphilis is to be avoided at all costs.

As we were discharged into the gift shop, we thoughtfully took the time to sign the guest book and thank the Mütter for an informative afternoon, along with previous museum attendees who had helpfully sketched some of their own anatomically interesting offerings.

I was glad to see that we were in good company in our hilarity, even if we weren’t overtly appreciated by our fellow museum-goers. Because darn it all, bodies are amazing. And funny. And so, so disgusting.

Death by delirium tremens, LOL.

 Seriously. So gross.


Monday, September 18, 2017


I did yoga today for the first time in years and now I can’t lift my arms.  

I feel like I’m always starting yoga up again. Yoga’s my thing, too, my favorite method of exercise. If I love it so much, the fact that I regular drift away to warrant a first time in years scenario is a problem. Why is sticking with yoga such a problem?

It could be because I like to lift my arms.

I could say that I’ve drifted away from yoga because of the strain this form of exercise puts on my wrists; I have virtually no wrist muscles. I’ve analyzed images of wrist anatomy and I am assured they are there, but maybe mine were designed less for supporting the weight of my body and more for activities like holding a book or swiping a credit card.

This wrist weakness leads to the ultimate frustration of not being able to support my full body weight on my hands like the other, more nimble yogis in my classes. This balancing act is a major part of every yoga class, and it’s beyond my level of expertise. Realistically the weight of my legs alone matches the weight of the petite crow-posing sprite on the mat next to me. The danger of losing control over my heft and crushing the innocent as I attempt to stick the flying pigeon is very real. I need to keep my center of balance low and connected to mother earth, for the safety of all involved.

On the other hand, I can tree pose for days, not unlike an actual *ahem* tree.

Anyway, I’ve been doing yoga off and on since I was 26 years old, an accomplishment that I was stunned to realize, and I feel like I should be better at it by now.

Or maybe not, considering that most of those years since 26 were “off” ones, some of those years saw more yoga-ish classes than actual, full-blown yogic centers of enlightenment that influence every facet of life, an authority that I think yoga should have if you claim to be into yoga, like Madonna or Gwyneth Paltrow. Who wouldn’t want a Gwyneth Paltrow-esque version of her own best meditative life?

I want it, and I want it now.

The plain truth is that I got out of the habit of practicing yoga, and I want back in but it’s hard, maddeningly, like anything worth doing. I have to get used to the idea that I am not going to be at the zenith of my yoga skills right out of the gate at this point in my life which is about four years after the last time I was into yoga. Yoga-ish, at that. I have to practice, practice, practice, until I can support the equivalent of a tree trunk on my bird-boned wrists.

Namaste. Sigh.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017


It was exactly one day after we had returned from vacation, and I had yelled so long and so loud that I went hoarse.

It started out calm, then escalated as my frustration rose against a child of mine who I perceived as knowing an expectation but was trying to weasel out of fulfilling it on a technicality.

Vague enough for you? It’ll have to do. Writing about teens isn’t the same as writing about toddlers.

The bottom line is that I lost it: my calm, my cool, my sh*t. I lost it. It came back around quickly, but not before I felt the old Guilt bubble to the surface. I haven’t felt that guilt that strongly in a while. Maybe a year, maybe two. It could be that my kids are too old for Mommy Guilt to play a major role in my life anymore, or maybe it’s just been there so long that it now only registers for mega-infractions like yelling myself hoarse and not because I bought white bread instead of whole grain.

In any case, I yelled and then I felt bad. I’m a better mom than that. I’m better than that. Did I mention that I also used the F word?

We were just back from a 2-week vacation, one in which we laughed and hugged and held hands and shared hotel bathrooms without much fanfare or mutual annoyance. We all behaved. We were the perfect American family on the perfect American vacation, road-tripping up the coast of California, seeing all the best tourist attractions and none of the worst. We said yes to souvenir t-shirts and appetizers and desserts. We saw mansions and took studio tours. We rode bikes and walked on the beach. We played cards. We went to an aquarium.

Not 24 hours home, and I was screaming the f-bomb at one of my children.

Is it this life? Is the pressure of keeping it up and everything in it straight too much for me to bear? Is life too hard, too fast, too much? It runs like a machine – shouldn’t it get easier? I’ve been doing this for so long – shouldn’t it get easier? My family is growing, able to take on more of their own responsibilities – shouldn’t it get easier? I’ve been an adult for longer than I haven’t been an adult – SHOULDN’T IT GET EASIER?

The raspy voice inside my head says “No. It should not get easier.”

None of it gets easier. I say it to my kids, remind my husband, and commiserate with friends. It will not get easier. Certain things that were hard before will fade away, but other things that are harder will fill the open spots. Kids not sleeping at night turn into teenagers staying out past curfew. Stealing “me” time becomes unnecessary; how to spend time productively becomes an issue. The heaviest worries, like whether we’ll always have what we need? Those never go away. New ones: health concerns, changing relationships, parents getting older, the loss of loved ones – they are real, and sudden, and demand attention.

And they aren’t made easier by me throwing temper tantrums and screaming swear words until I am hoarse, no more now than before.

Ah, this life. It rages on and on, no matter how we deal. There is no extra allowance for gracious acceptance. You get what you get, and you can try to make it wonderful, and sometimes your efforts fail. The only beauty is that you may have the chance to do better tomorrow. But even that is not guaranteed. The best thing to do is to make the best out of it all while you have it.

And to not beat yourself up for raging against it sometimes. If you’re lucky you’ll have people in your life who forgive you when you crack, and catch you when you fall.