Tag Archives: bad day

Ants in my pants: Life unmasked

One of the bloggers I read, Joy in the Journey, has a project she calls Life Unmasked. “Social media makes it easy to create fake portrayals of ourselves,” she says. “While it’s possible to share too much, I grow weary of all the “I have it all together” super-people posts.”

I’m not sure I could be accused of writing too many “I have it all together” posts. If anything, Mike sometimes intimates that I do the opposite too often.

But I like Joy’s project and how she encourages people to “share slices of real life from the previous week… the real, un-photoshopped, deal.” Plus, to be honest, I’ve had a crappy 24 hours and I feel like venting and this framework allows me to believe that maybe, just maybe, that venting is not completely self-indulgent.


Where to start?

Maybe with the short conversation I had yesterday with Mike. He’s been gone since Monday morning, two days drive away down near the Cambodian border. Between his work commitments and my baby commitments we haven’t managed more than a 15-minute conversation all week.

“I’ve got to run in a couple of minutes,” he said, “but how’s your day been?”

“I’m stuck,” I said. “I’m totally spinning my wheels in a big mud puddle over these writing decisions I need to make and I’m getting nowhere.”

“So the genie didn’t show up today,” Mike asked.

“The genie’s dead,” I said.

“But the baby’s alive,” Mike said, mustering the forced cheerfulness of someone who’s having a crappy day themselves but is trying to be there for someone else.

“Yes,” I said grimly. “The baby is alive and the genie is dead. Do not ask me this afternoon if that is a fair trade.”

I knew I didn’t (totally) mean this even as I said it. Mike knew it too, which is why he laughed.

So writing sucked yesterday. Writing is sucking a lot at the moment. I try to remind myself that I have a healthy 11-week old baby, that I only get time to myself in a couple of 45 minute chunks every day, and anything writing-wise that I manage to accomplish is icing on a chubby, smiling cake. This doesn’t always make me feel better.


Then came yesterday evening after I’d been in the house alone all day. Yesterday evening at 7pm when I desperately wanted to just sit down in front of the television with a drink in hand and try to find an English speaking station. Any station. But I had a tired, grumpy baby on my hands. A grumpy baby that I was trying to bathe alone for the first time…

Which was going OK until I turned the water pressure up too high on the hose as I was filling the baby tub on the bathroom floor. The hose reared out of the tub and started to dance, spraying cold water all over everything, including me and a naked Dominic who was lying on a towel a the entrance to the bathroom. Dominic was not impressed.

When he finally went down for the night at 9:30 I knew I should go to bed myself, but I couldn’t sleep. Which is why I was still awake at 11 when Zulu started up with a flurry of angry barking downstairs. That little dog has the bark of a fully-grown Rottweiler. Most of the time that’s a good thing. Not right after you’ve settled the baby.

I definitely wasn’t awake at 3:30AM when Zulu began doing exactly the same thing all over again (except this time right outside our bedroom door). I was certainly awake afterwards though. And so was Dominic.

"This milk SUCKS"

Dominic never really went back to sleep and finally started to demand food at 4AM. It was not a peaceful nursing session. He attacked my nipples the same way a trout goes after flies. He lunged forward, latched on with a fierce intensity, sucked for a while, and then pulled off and made a face that let me know he wasn’t a fan of the beverage on tap at present. Sometimes this grimace was accompanied by a shriek of protest. (To be fair to him, this is probably because I ate chili yesterday in a meal someone cooked for me – a mistake I will not repeat anytime soon.)

I finally managed to get a full feed into him, then he threw up what seemed like most of it into my hair.

He was leaking out the bottom, too, so I pulled a pair of pajama shorts out of the dirty clothes basket to add to my tee shirt so that I’d be semi-decent if any of the neighbors happened to be up and peering through our un-curtained windows across the hall.

I noticed the first burning sting right as I was undoing Dominic’s diaper. I should have stopped right then and there, moved him back to the bed, and disrobed with all haste. I didn’t. If you cull any life lesson from this post, let it be this: When there are ants in your pants in the tropics, don’t put off taking action in the optimistic hope that there’s just one wandering around down there. That is a reckless optimism indeed.

And that’s life unmasked, folks, bought to you by seven ant bites, a needy baby, a barking dog, and an absent husband. Oh, and a dead genie. Yeah.

What about you? Got any life unmasked stories to share from the last week?

When Laos is hard

It’s Tuesday morning at 7:20am. I’m sitting in a dark kitchen with the door wide open behind me, because there’s no electricity. There hasn’t been any since 1:15am when it went off suddenly during a storm. The departure of the electricity knocked out the air conditioner but not, unfortunately, the new drip that has started recently. Somewhere, somehow, there is a leak up there onto the ceiling of our bedroom inside the house when it rains. It’s loud, it’s irregular, and it annoys the living daylights out of me.

While we’re on the topic of sound, let me tell you about yesterday.

Much to my distress, it seems the man right over the fence from us has decided to set up a little woodworking shop at his house. Yesterday he and another fellow spent all day sanding down wooden doors. Anyone who has spent much time near power tools knows they can be incredibly loud. Try to imagine spending from 8am to 6pm listening to the sound of two electric sanders about thirty feet away from you, grinding down wood (but don’t try too hard, because if you’re anything at all like me this is a hugely upsetting experience and there’s no real need for both of us to have bad days on account of the power tools outside my window).

By 5:30 I was totally unable to concentrate, so I went to wash the dishes.

As I was standing at the sink I smelled something acrid that I’ve smelled more than once before at that sink. This time, as I filled the sink with warm water I noticed the smell getting stronger. Then I noticed grey tendrils curling up behind the tap. Smoke was leaking up from around the sink. When I opened the cupboard under the sink a whole cloud of chemical-smelling smoke poured out. No fire though, I guess that’s something to be thankful for.

When Mike came home last night to find me in A State he called one of his national colleagues and asked them to come over so we could talk to the men over the back fence and find out what is going on. Sadly it seems the power tools are going to become a regular feature of our life here – maybe not every day, but whenever the man over the back fence can get business.

Maybe we should offer to pay to send him to barber school, or something.

Mike and I went out to dinner. We talked. I ate all sorts of things that are bad for me. Then we came back home and sat at the kitchen table and smelled smoke again. Not the same as the kitchen sink smoke, but undeniably smoke. We smelled all over that kitchen – each other, the bulbs in the ceiling, the power strips on the floor, the light switches on the wall… we can’t figure out what might be causing it.

“I think I’m going to take our birth certificates and some other documents into the office tomorrow,” Mike said, stuffing our important documents folder into the backpack that doubles as his briefcase.

I did not have to ask why.

We went to bed. At 1:30 this morning when the power went off and I woke up with a start.

“Have you expanded your circle of hate to include me, yet?” Mike asked as we were both lying awake in the dark, getting hot, and listening to the drip in the ceiling.

“No,” I said. “I still just hate Laos. You can come with me when I leave. Tomorrow.”

“That’s really good,” Mike said – not actually intending to convey any praise at all, “that you’re able to go from peacefully asleep to hating an entire country in under two minutes flat.”

“Well I did a fair bit of groundwork yesterday to prime that pump,” I said. “Yesterday by ten I was still only hating the men over the back fence. By noon I was hating our house. By two I was hating the neighborhood. I didn’t get to the hating Laos stage until right before you came home. But, as we’ve just witnessed, once you do the hard work of getting to that level of hatefulness you can stay in that sphere for a while and jump right back to that particular point at the slightest provocation. Not,” I finished, “that I consider water leaking into our ceiling a slight provocation.”

The rain finally stopped, and so did the dripping. The power did not come back on. Mike eventually took his pillow and went across the hall in the hopes that this would help at least one of us get back to sleep sometime before dawn.

“You might want to take a shower now,” Mike said later this morning at 6:45 when he came back in. “Water pressure’s dropping. There may be no water in the system soon.”

“I will wait,” I said, getting up. “Until the power comes back on and we have warm water.”

Downstairs here there is no coffee because the kettle is electric.

“Bye,” Mike kissed me as I sat at the kitchen table and headed out the door to his very full day.

From the driveway I heard the sound of an office vehicle trying to start, and failing.

I went outside.

“Battery’s too weak,” Mike said, getting out, looking like he was hating Laos a little now, too.

I sighed. He sighed. He turned and walked out to the road to catch a tuk tuk. I came back inside to the sound of hammering from over the fence and a finite computer battery. It could be a long day.