Week of Living Dangerously

Oh, the humanity. We haven’t seen this kind of drama at our house since the potty training weeks. Or maybe the newborn, sleep-deprived weeks. Or maybe ever.

Why am I telling you my woes? Not sure. Maybe I’m just tired. And broke! And addled. Writing about it takes me outside the here and now, gives me distance to breathe and to see it all from a new perspective. So here are the events that unfolded of late in our little world.

Saturday: Discover lice on my daughter. Lice! First encounter with these critters. Frantic call to pediatrician, several trips to drug store and many, many loads of laundry ensue.

Sunday morning: Water pours from garage ceiling. Trusty Plumber is called, who traces it to leak in kitchen that’s been dripping for, well, years.

Sunday night: Just as we’re heading to bed, water pours from kitchen ceiling.

Monday morning: Trusty Plumber returns and fixes upstairs toilet leak (yuck). We now owe Trusty Plumber small fortune.

Monday night: Dog begins vomiting uncontrollably. Vet consulted. Dog returns home with instructions to stay away from the good rugs and eat boiled chicken and rice.

Scamp, in happier times.

Tuesday: Dog appears near death. Returns to vet who admits him to hospital, takes x-rays, runs blood work, and keeps him on IV-fluids all night and all next day.

Wednesday: Dog diagnosed with acute pancreatitis. Sent home with four different medications and total bill that would get me halfway through that European vacation I’ve been dreaming of.

Thursday: Lice still hanging on. Panic prevails.

Friday: Lice spread to other family members. Panic turns to hysteria and, at last, professional is consulted. (Yes, they have such things.) Lice Lady combs all family members, entertains us with stories of professional nitpicking, and leaves us with magic comb, runny mousse, peppermint spray, and bill that would get us through the rest of Europe.

Saturday: Cage housing two parakeets gets much-needed cleaning, when we discover one bird can’t use his claw. Emergency-weekend, exotic-animal-vet consulted. Bird determined to have either terminal tumor or broken leg, which could be treated with x-rays, cast, calcium supplements, pain meds, and many follow-up visits—to the tune of what would get us home from Europe in style. Bird is very regretfully put to rest—for a much smaller fortune.

Skip forward to today, where things have settled to the point that we can laugh about some of it. (A tiny, little bit of it.) And now I can write it all up, give it a sideways spin, skew it toward the hopeful, maybe even the humorous, and move on. How else could I write what sounds like a casual and unintentionally heartless account of losing my little bird? (His name was Gatsby, by the way—Daisy died two years ago. I loved him. I miss him. And his buddy seems sad in the big, empty cage without him.)

That’s Gatsby on the left, looking kind of meek beneath his buddy, Cirrus.

But hey, maybe a character I’m writing about will live through these things now. Maybe she’ll decide to become a Lice Lady. Or fall in love with the Trusty Plumber or the (apparently very wealthy) exotic animal vet.

Maybe not. In any case, it’s important to keep perspective. It’s only money, right? Only bugs, only dog mess, and brown, rancid water and dry rot.

This week reminded me of what one of my professors used to say: “Disaster can strike on any street corner.” And certainly the last week or so has been stained in a much larger sense with real disasters. Ricin in the mail, explosions in Texas, and of course, bombs and the shelter-in-place manhunt in Boston. Our lovely guest blogger, Adrienne Kerman, was at the marathon, and then locked inside her home in Brookline for days afterward. We’re so grateful for her and her family’s safekeeping during this time. Our hearts go out to all of Boston. And to West Texas. And to all the others involved in such horrors.

So I’ll comb, and mop, and clean. And write. And be thankful it was the week it was, and not the week that could have been.

Stay safe, people. Write well. Check your kids’ hair.



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