Saturday, February 23, 2008


to quote Jane's Addiction, "i was standin' in the shower thinking." showering has become the only time i am really alone with my thoughts; needless to say they tend to start somewhere and travel through time and often times end abruptly somewhere completely different when the water runs cold and reality hits me like a nuke. my recent trip along the hygiene express had me reflecting on the actual act of showering/bathing over the course of my life, how the art of getting "clean" mirrored the different stages and events that have transpired over the years. to be perfectly honest for most of my life cleanliness has been an afterthought or a reward for being so completely filthy i was offensive even to myself. i had numerous justifications for not showering...water conservation...water quality or pressure...time...sleep, i am sure there were more but those are the most memorable. i do however remember a time when showering was an everyday event, almost a necessity.

i was probably 14 or 15. my teenage years were mostly horrid with the exception of the months spent at summer camp; Appel Farm was like two months of Shangrila amidst ten months of hell, there i was surrounded by like-minded folks living the experience each day provided. at camp the teenage armor i wore daily at home was placed on a shelf and each day i felt truly free, cared for and valued by my peers. we lived in converted chicken coops, 8-10 girls per bunk...girls for the most part are concerned with physical cleanliness...i surrendered to the positive peer pressure. each year there always seemed to be the same catalyst for the bunk to become aflutter, the showering schedule. for whatever reason everyone wanted the helps with waking up... to wash off nigh sweats brought on by the humid summer nights New Jersey offers as relief, the need to wash off the prior nights "date" and base jumping that adolescence affords. if you were the first or second in the shower (10 minute time limits) you were happy with hot water, third tepid at best, frigid by the fourth.

this particular summer i was fortunate to be bunking with my closest girlfriends, and wanting a morning shower and growing tired of the morning rotations and cold water Amy and i were lucky enough to stumble upon a "secret shower" with enough hot water to take 15 minute showers and shave our legs! it was located across the camp from our bunk in the conference rooms and would mean a groggy walk through the morning dew and waking at least half and hour before we normally would. we weighed our options and decided in favor of the excursion...memory fails me if we enlisted others or if it was just us. The walk there was quiet, the camp still under the spell of slumber, the mist rising through the rows of corn. in each of our possession was our bag of toiletries, towel and change of clothes...with the exception of the time we forgot our clothes and walked back towel clad much to the delight of the boys of bunk 13. for whatever reason after a week or so of our clandestine shower we were told it would have to end, much like that summer my return home ushered in the decline of my happy hygiene rituals.

as previously noted showering became more of a personal reward for most of my life, primarily an event ( lover...class), when i was in a new relationship i would scrub before and after coupling. if it lasted in would fall into a flippant routine of every few meetings or co-bathing encounters proved practical and fun. i suppose it could be over analysed as an act of self-deprecation and low self worth reflecting on my physical appearance. i rationalize this even now, i am a punker and most folks i knew were all pretty crusty so it went unnoticed.

i still enjoy being filthy from time to time, my hair so oily it stays in the ponytail even after it has been liberated from its elastic confines, when the water first hits it there is not immediate saturation. once it has been shampooed the feeling is incredible as if i had been baptized by bubbles and i feel exhilarated once more. i can not offer any self judgement, clean it seems, is quite subjective...on my cleanest days the filth seems to exist anyway despite my best efforts to prove otherwise...on my dirtiest i remember the joy i felt walking to the secret shower and crave the hot water. my happy medium is this, i meditate on the sound of the falling water and the moment of stillness i am privileged to know.

Monday, February 11, 2008

the nurseling

breast or bottle? i can count on both hands the number of times Atticus successfully latched on and nursed; i was literally and figurativly the "mom-cow" and expressed milk for an entire year, breast in the bottle. as a new mom i was regaled with the glorious stories of the bond that nusing fosters and shuddered at the horror stories of cracked nipples, pain and time consumtion of breastfeeding. i was feeding mothers milk in a bottle, would we be lacking that psychic bond that nursing was supposed to bestow upon us? in short, no. i still held him when he had a bottle, he was happiest napping on my chest (still to this day, his favorite location to rest) and i remembered that i had felt bonded to him while in-utero so why question, like my milk i went with the flow.

Circe, while gestating must have heard me stating that she would never know a bottle. i knew that i would not have the time to pump every 2 hours for 20 minutes each while contending with a newborn and a toddler. shortly after the four pushes it took to liberate her from the abyss she took to the breast and stayed there all night, suckeling and savoring the small reward. my milk came quickly and she was a great eater, often times when her cries of hunger first began and the breast unloosed a fountain of milk guided her mouth towards her reward. then came the allergies, she would nurse and scream as if she knew she was ingesting evil. after the diagnosis i was offered two choices, give up the foods myself and continue nursing or feed her formula. i was free and plentiful, formula would stay on the shelves, she on my breast. all offending foods are foods i love(d), while nursing this critter who i initially was thankful for her appitite i now had resentment for. it was more of a sacrifice than time, or even duty; she was taking more than the basic nutrients she was taking things that made me happy and turning them into forbidden friut. gradually as her body healed my heart followed suit, she was happy and nourished and i became grateful she wasn't allergic to soy.

for a few months Circe remained a contented nurser, foucused on her task of extracting the milk my body was more than happy to provide. i survived four bites during her first teething and then came mobility.

my breasts became an afterthought, there was so much to do, so many other things to put in her mouth. each noise is a distraction and whatever breast shes on is yanked hither and tither in order to find out what is happening in her surroundings. age and development are fascinating, she has traced each contour of my chest and face with her little soft hands, plays peek-a-boo with my shirts and has developed her own nonverbal gesture of raking her hand across my tattoo and placing that hand into her mouth. she nurses best at night in a dark room with an extended hand waiting for my finger to hold onto and i whisper to her that this too will end.