Despite now having three children, becoming an Infection Control nurse, and having the not-so-insane-(probably) desire to return to school to become a virologist, I’m not particularly germaphobic. I mean, I’m not exactly begging for germs to come into bed with me and make germ babies, but I am pretty laid back when it comes to Teh Germs.
See Pranksters, even knowing full well that I don’t usually WANT to know where that thing the kid is shoving into his mouth has been, I’ll admit it: I’ve allowed all of my children to crawl around on the floor without washing it first, I let dogs lick their faces, and I consider “washing a pacifier” to be throwing it into my own mouth for a couple of seconds. I own a thing of antibacterial hand sanitizer for those particularly disgusting stink-a-palloza (a term normally reserved for the scent of particularly badly cooked fish) diaper changes, but I often forget to use it unless it’s a true craptastrophe.
Despite all of that. Despite being raised by hippies whose idea of “cleaning” involved some patchouli-scented spray that ended up gumming up entire surfaces. Despite the “germs are our friends… sometimes” mantra I chant after I watch the dog eat his own excrement, I have a confession to make.
Hold your breath, Pranksters. This is gonna be a shock.
I love, love, LOVE bleach. If I was allowed only one cleaning product for the rest of my life bleach would be it. Between the cats with worms and the kid who cannot seem to manage to pee sitting down, yet lacks the attention span to actually aim his urine at the gigantic gaping porcelain god, bleach and I are BFF. No, it’s DEEPER than that. I love bleach like I love oxygen. I’d marry bleach if I could be certain I wouldn’t inadvertently mix it with ammonia while cleaning the craptastrophe under my kid’s bed.
(Hey, I never said I was smart)
My love of bleach, though, it’s now bordering on obsession. Suddenly I want to dip the baby in bleach after his diaper explodes. I have to stop myself from following both Ben and Dave around with a spray bottle of bleach. I’ve considered bathing in bleach because I love it so very much. Instead of sprinking sage or whatever it is new-age people do around a house, I’d happily use bleach-scented air freshener if I didn’t think it would squick people out.
THAT is how I feel about bleach.
When Clorox asked me to come up with some words to describe occasions in which I’d use bleach, I was all, “WHERE DO I BEGIN?” and started writing a sonnet. But they got specific: they wanted SILLY words to add to their Clorox Icktionary not an ode to bleach.
I came up with two: stinkapalloza (overcooked fish) and craptastrophe (pile of crap under my kid’s bed). Because, well, obviously.
Anyway, it’s a good thing I’m in therapy or I’d (still) be standing on the side of the road with a big “I HEART BLEACH” sign. We all know how THAT turned out.
(answer: straightjacket time)
Blah, blah, blah disclosure time:“This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Clorox blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, you can totes click here.”
Some fifteen(ish) years later, I can’t help but hear the voice of my father screaming at me every time I use my turn signal, “SIGNAL YOUR INTENT, REBECCA” followed generally by some nonsense about “AND PUT ON A FUCKING PAIR OF PANTS, DAMMIT” because that’s the way my brain works: it remembers odd turns of phrase and holds them captive in some random corner of my mind that could be better used, oh, I don’t know, LEARNING HOW TO MAKE COFFEE?
(stands up holding cup of lukewarm coffee in Styrofoam container and announces:)My name is Becky, I’m 32 years old, and I can’t make coffee.
However, I CAN remind you (loudly) to SIGNAL YOUR INTENT to other drivers, which has always made me giggle: what if my intent was to flash them or whip donuts at old people? Is there a special signal for THAT because my turn signal doesn’t seem to do much beyond blink stupidly.
Nevertheless, I DO signal my intent every fucking time I turn, which means that somewhere along those years in which my father remains convinced I didn’t listen to him, I actually DID listen to him.
Goes to show you never can tell.
A couple of weeks ago, when the rains came and the river engorged, I checked the forecast on my i(can’t)Phone as I was dressing for work, figuring we were probably due for a tsunami or something. I learned that while we were NOT experiencing an earthquake, fire, tornado, random flinging of fish or *waves hand* some OTHER horrible disaster, we WERE under a flash-flood warning.
Which, no shit, Sherlock. The river looks as pregnant as half my Facebook feed.
I continued reading what the National Weather Center had to say about this particular warning, wondering if this here part of the Fox River was to be submerged that day. Turns out, not that day, but it did give me a particular bit of wisdom I can’t get out of my head for the life of me.
This message informed me that in the event that I should encounter a standing body of water on the road, rather than say, “Wow, my car needed washing anyway!” and truck on through, I should instead “Turn around. Don’t drown.”
I can’t tell you why this stuck with me long enough to tell my coworkers about it a couple of hours later (and, I should add, not having encountered any bodies of water on the ground or elsewhere), but it did. It’s not a particularly funny statement – the idea of drowning in a car is fucking freaky as fuck – and it’s not even a particularly useful statement.
I mean, SIGNAL YOUR INTENT can be applied to just about everything you do, ever…
Wanna go on a date? SIGNAL YOUR INTENT.
Want to eat? SIGNAL YOUR INTENT.
Want to lounge around in your underwear? CLOSE THE BLINDS, THUS SIGNALLING YOUR INTENT.
…but “Turn Around. Don’t Drown?” I can’t come up with a single other instance in which those words, in that order, would tumble from my mouth.
My coworkers seemed similarly befuddled by the sentiment and I vowed to cross-stitch it on something, well, if I cross-stitched anything ever, which I am pleased to say that I do not. We also told one another as we passed in the halls, “Turn around. Don’t drown,” for no particular reason whatsoever.
This morning, one of my coworkers frantically ran into my office, and, not noticing that I was in the midst of a particularly important conference call, practically screamed, “THEY’VE EXTENDED THE THUNDERSTORM WARNING UNTIL 12:15!”
I craned my neck to look outside, thought, “yup, sure is dark out there,” before shrugging at her and returning to my call. It’s April in Illinois. Thunderstorms are as omnipresent as deep dish pizza and a deep abiding hatred of Wisconsin.
Once I hung up the phone, I decided that I probably SHOULD see what sort of weather I was going to have to deal with some 9.5 hours later when I decided to leave Not Chicago. The Weather Thingy told me that St. Charles DID have… not 4. Not 5. But SIX entire warnings and not a DAMN one of them about the fish.
(won’t someone think of the fish?!?!)
I clicked on each of the six blinking advisories to see what would ACTUALLY apply to me and, upon scrolling down through the “you’re probably gonna wanna get the balls outta there,” I noted something. Something major.
“Hey Ames,” I said to my coworker who happens to have the misfortune of sharing an office with me.
She put down her paperwork and looked at me, “Yeah?”
“THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE THINGY DOESN’T TELL ME TO DO WHAT I’M SUPPOSED TO DO.”
She blinked at me.
“What do I do if I encounter still-standing water on the road? DOES THAT MEAN IT’S TIME TO WASH MY CAR AND/OR SHOW OFF MY MAD OFF-ROADING ABILITIES?”
She blinked again.
“Duh,” she said. “TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN.”
And just like that, I lost my ability to retain any new phone numbers so that TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN can forever live in my subconscious*.
*And yours too!
It took me by surprise.
In part, I’m certain, because I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off for three months running (which, I should add, always gives me the delightful impression of a severed human torso running around with feathers stuck in it’s puckered pooper)(you’re welcome), and in part because I’m readjusting to my new life.
Lemmie back up, for those of you not playing along at home: the weather here in Chicago is one of two seasons:
1) Ass hot
2) Ass cold
(I wasn’t so good at mah maths)
Collectively, we refer to them as “ass” which, in a nutshell, is accurate but couldn’t be farther from the truth of what Chicago really is. We’re a great city, we love our cheeseburgers, passionately cheer for our favorite sports teams (North SIIIIIDDDDEEE) whether they’re winning or not, and we’re a loyal bunch. It may take time to win us over, but once you have, we’re yours for life.
Which is why we all still live here, despite the temperatures fluctuating from ass to, well, ass.
The winter had been mild, as far as Chicago winters go, until the endless snow began in January. And February. Then March, that wily whore, decided to get in on the snow action. In April, naturally, the rains came.
I should stop to mention that the only reason I noted the rain was because I have moved from higher ground to on the motherfucking river (not, I should clarify, to be confused with “Rolling on the River” because I’m pretty sure that the Fox River is not the river of which Ike and Tina sang), which, naturally, is in a valley, which means that when the river gets high, my pooper puckers alarmingly. In the six months I’ve lived here, I have to admit that I’ve grown quite fond of the FBI Surveillance Van and would, therefore, hate to see it underwater.
I should’ve been annoyed today. My i(can’t)Phone was broken, which meant that the fancy whoodilly on my dashboard that allows magical gnomes to play my digital music over my radio would not be working. Which left me with two radio stations: The Badger* and some SUPER Christian station that’s always damning someone or another to hell. While occasionally amusing, I was running late for therapy because while blogging is SORTA like therapy, therapy is pretty awesome and allows me to flex my narcissistic muscle for upwards of an hour.
It had been a long day in Not Chicago, and while it was a good one, I was annoyed that I’d let myself do “just ONE more thing” before realizing it was time to scoodledoo, and OMG if I’m late, I’ll probably FAIL or something *whines* and and and and…
That’s when it hit me.
Instead of being annoyed by the mountains of “white” snow, which I call “Chicago white” because they’re grungy and gross by April flanking the country road I take home, I was smacked in the face.
The world, well, it had woken up.
I cracked my window, preparing for some sort of weather incident in the car (I was imagining tornado, but it’d have probably been an ice storm, just for kicks), just because, well, obviously, and there it was. The wind blew into my car, smelling of fresh earth and new beginnings, reminding me, once again, why I pink puffy heart springtime in Chicago: the possibilities that yawn before us truly are endless.
The farmland that follows my merry way home had somehow transformed – where there had, just yesterday, been miles of yawning Chicago White sludge, I could see vast acres of green miles into the distance, peppered occasionally by crisp red barns. The robins, fluffy and fat on the earthworms the rains had dredged up looked fatter, more healthy and more determined than I’d seen them in many years.
An endless parade of people seemed to exit their homes to busy themselves, helping their bit of earth to wake up and coax their flowers into blooming, all of us pasty white from this unbearable, endless winter. They stood as I drove by, hands in the air, waving hello. I waved back like a lunatic, probably preventing them from ever attempting to wave at any stranger, ever, but I could tell they felt it, too.
The world was waking up.
The endless winter had, at long last, passed.
And the possibilities, well, they are endless.
*I can’t make this shit up.