03 July 2010

Blog Readers and Irishmen: Urine-portant to Me

I've come to the conclusion that the only thing more irritating than a blog that is never updated is a blog where the only updates are apologies for not updating. I've always found those to be a little too much ego to handle. Like, "I know you've all been waiting with baited breath to hear the excruciating minutiae of my unexceptional life, and I'm sorry I haven't kept up with the running tally of my back pimples, but I promise I'll update soon and let you all know how my colonoscopy went!"

Apologizing for not updating seems to say to me that, "My blog and I are so important to you that it was rude of me to live the life of a normal person and not write down every single thought I have for you to read, dissect, and debate."

But I digress. I'm deviating from the most important thing I wanted to talk about today, and that is: toilets. Or, more specifically, toilets in Ireland.

I recently got back from spending about 5 weeks in the Republic of Ireland. When I first arrived, I became immediately convinced that the reason Ireland has never become a major world power is because of the proliferation of alcohol. Everyone drinks in Ireland. I think that, if the indigenous ungulates had thumbs (and pocket money), they, too, would drink. Ireland is part of the European Union, and as in many European countries, everything closes at 6pm. And I don't mean "close" in the American sense, where the lights dim and shopkeepers make announcements that they'd really appreciate it if you headed toward the cash register. I mean, it's 6pm, the door is locked, and they're pulling the gate down in front, if they didn't already do just that at a quarter to.

The only exception to this closing time is the ubiquitous pub. Pubs in Ireland are like Starbucks in the USA - you can't spit without hitting one. No one is bothered by shops closing early, because everyone drinks once the working day is over. At any given moment, about three-quarters of the Irish population is getting foxed.

This, I thought to myself, is why you just don't hear much about Ireland. But the longer I was there, the more places I visited, the more restaurants I ate at, I discovered a much more sinister problem lurking in Ireland's back rooms: there are almost no public toilets in Ireland.

Oh, if you're in a pub or a Supermac's, there's bound to be a toilet. But rarely more than two toilets per room (men's or ladies'), and they're usually enough to, if you'll pardon the expression, frighten the piss out of you. I went into a pub toilet once and I turned around and walked right back out.

But during the day, or if you're not a drinker, you are out of luck. There are no public toilets anywhere. Shops will not only tell you they haven't a toilet, but the employees will stare at you as though the very notion of a toilet is too ridiculous to even imagine. One woman repeated the word to me: "Toilet. Toilet?" as though it was foreign to her. Finally, she said something akin to, "Why on earth would we have a toilet?"

Why on earth, indeed. This attitude would explain something else I noticed with alarming regularity in the good old R of I: public urination. In five weeks in Ireland I saw, and I am not making this up, at least 10 men having a pee in some random corner. Or behind a tree. Or into the river or the ocean. Or wherever he might have been standing. I was rather revolted, to say the least, but at the same time I'm not sure what else a person is supposed to do if there's not a pub in the immediate vicinity (rare, but it happens).

And as I mentioned, pub toilets don't seem to have any sort of hygienic standard, the kind that might be enforced by a government entity. Actually, none of the precious few public toilets I did find seemed to have been designed, or cleaned, by anyone with any human DNA. In one stall, the toilet paper dispenser had been mounted on the wall behind the toilet, forcing the user to either try to assess her toilet paper needs before having a pee, or contort herself into a position usually only seen in the Cirque du Soleil to reach said toilet paper after relieving herself.

Then there are the toilets themselves. Irish toilets have remarkably deep bowls, causing what I will delicately refer to as a sort of splashback when any sort of ... ahem ... matter enters the bowl. Just in case public toilets weren't hygienic enough, let's construct them so they function as accidental bidets as well! Why not? And when you come to the end of your time on the can, there's the flush. I didn't once see a public toilet where the handle to flush was actually attached to said toilet. It tended to be on the wall. And sometimes it wasn't a handle so much as a sort of metal cylinder that had to be pushed in. Lever or cylinder, it's a rare Irish toilet that will actually flush the first - or second, or third, or fourth - time you try. And it's nothing to do with whether the toilet has actually been used or not. Some of them simply have to be persuaded repeatedly and with great force. A few jets of water will make a bit of noise, and the toilet will gurgle in a somewhat convincing manner, but nothing much will happen.

The more public toilets I used, the more convinced I became, as I am now convinced, that if Ireland ever wants to have any kind of global impact, they need to re-think their plumbing. In my opinion, a nation rises and falls on the strength of its public toilets. I think that's what has made America the great nation that it is. We may have economic crises to face, we may be divided on important issues, we may face international ridicule for some of our policies or laws. But, by gosh, we know how to do public toilets.

And that's what I'll be celebrating this July 4th, dear blog readers. This great nation called America, and its remarkable system of public bathrooms. I can go into almost any store in America, ask to use the toilet, and be pointed in its direction. And that, to me, is what freedom is all about.

28 April 2010

It's not the years, it's the mileage. No, seriously, what's up with the mileage?

Ladies and gentlemen, I have lost my mind.

I think.

A week ago, I noticed that the odometer in my car was at 123417. Sort of random, but in my odd little mind I realized that I would soon be rolling over 123456. Which would, of course, be awesome. I made a mental note to keep an eye on my mileage so I could properly document this momentous event.

And then, promptly, I forgot all about it.

I have a receipt from the gas station that proves that I put twenty dollars worth of gasoline in the car a week ago Monday. $20 buys a little more than half a tank. Two nights ago, I got in my car to go to the mall. The gas gauge told me I had less than a quarter of a tank left.

I was puzzled. By my calculations, I should have had between 1/4 and 1/2 a tank left. I decided I must not be getting the MPGs I once enjoyed - the car is, after all, thirteen years old. I briefly glanced at the rest of the dash, just out of habit. What I saw shocked me.

I had missed 123456. I had missed it by a lot. The odometer read 123722. That would, I knew, account for the missing gasoline. But I was deeply puzzled. Because I did not put those miles on my car.

I've gone back over the past week or two seven or eight times. I can account for 80, maybe 100 of those miles. Which still leaves me with 200 miles I can't account for. 200 miles.

My first thought was that perhaps one or two of the neighborhood miscreants had taken my Camry out for a little joyride. That would explain the miles and the gasoline. But that can't have happened - I Club my car every night. Unless said miscreants had spent hours driving back and forth in a straight line, that wasn't my explanation.

I know of at least one instance in which I have sleepwalked. I wasn't very adventurous at the time. I organized my sock drawer. Driving seemed unlikely.

I asked my mother if she'd been dosing me with Ambien. She plausibly denied it. So I'm stumped. All I can conclude is that I must have gone somewhere in that car and been traumatized horribly enough that I've blocked it out of my mind. That can mean only one thing: the mafia is after me, and I am in serious danger.

So if someday soon I call you up to report that my kneecaps have been broken, don't panic, I knew this was coming. But do be kind enough to drive me to the hospital. In your car, not mine. Because mine is out of gas.

17 March 2010

God Is Good, But Never Dance In a Small Boat

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, a few of my favorite Irish verses (including the blog title)

May those that love us, love us,
And those that don't love us, may God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles, so we'll know them by their limping.

There are only two things to worry about. Either you are sick, or you are well.
If you are well, there is nothing to worry about. If you are sick, there are only two things to worry about.
Either you will get well, or you will die. If you get well, there is nothing to worry about. If you die, there are only two things to worry about.
Either you will go to Heaven, or you will go to Hell. If you go to Heaven, there is nothing to worry about. If you go to Hell, you'll be so busy shaking hands with friends that you won't have time to worry!

13 March 2010

Shiny Suds

I hate it when my cleaning products turn into perverts.

05 March 2010

Snuggies FTW!

I really suck at this blogging thing. You'd think I would have figured that out, oh, twelve years ago or so, but such is life.

In my defense, I have, as before, been working on my adoption blog, which keeps me too busy to have anything of use to say here. I digress.

I came across this earlier, and I had to share.

It's about time the Snuggie used its mighty power for good and not evil. Go, Snuggie, Go!

Click and help, peeps. Click and help.

17 February 2010

Mr. Whiskers's Revenge

My therapist owns a cat.

You may have read about this before, here or here. I've tried to let the subject die, but it refuses. Every so often, during therapy, I will look at John and remember that he owns a cat. And I will fight the urge to ask about it. I don't need to know the cat's name, really I don't. I'm happy to think of it as Mr. Whiskers. Or at least I am, as much as I can be happy to think of it at all.

But I can't stop now. Mr. Whiskers is so much bigger than any 50-minute therapy session or blog bit. I've been thinking about him and speculating about him and laughing about him for so long that I knew something had to happen, and it was up to me to make sure it did.

And so I've added something new to my resumé. It took me until about 5am, but I did it. I am now a singer-songwriter, for I have penned "The Ballad of Mr. Whiskers."

I may record a performance and put it on YouTube. I'm not sure yet. In any case, here it is, in all its early-morning cowboy-ballad glory.

The Ballad of Mr. Whiskers

Legend has it there once was a mighty, fluffy feline,
They say he lived with a man named John in a pad East of the Beeline.
His eyes were wise, his fur was soft, his claws as sharp as Fiskars,
And legend says he lived up to his name of Mr. Whiskers.

Mr. Whiskers! Yippee-ki-yi-yo!
Mr. Whiskers! In a sweater and a bow!

Well Whiskers was the toughest indoor cat you've ever seen.
He could take on any Tom in that Cat Fancy Magazine.
He lived on milk and Fancy Feast and though he'd sometimes roam,
He was loyal still enough to come when John called, "Daddy's home!"

Mr. Whiskers! Yippee-ki-yi-yo!
Mr. Whiskers! Strolling through PetCo!

Now Whiskers, he looked good in both a sweater and a hat,
And even Santa Claus confessed, "Now here's an awesome cat!"
Mr. Whiskers walked with pride in a collar and a lead,
And though he'd rather now, that cat could swim across Lake Mead.

Mr. Whiskers! Yippee-ki-yi-yip!
Mr. Whiskers! Playing with catnip!

No woman was ever good enough for this noble cat's friend John,
Whiskers frightened would-bes off with a show of cattish brawn.
And so the bachelors lived alone, a counselor and his pet,
But Mr. Whiskers is, of cats, the best of all as yet.

Mr. Whiskers! Yippee-ki-yi-eer!
Mr. Whiskers! Loyal through the years.

John died alone and Whiskers mourned the loss of his dear friend,
Then Mr. Whiskers disappeared and so our story ends.
But be alert, for Whiskers might just pass on by,
You'll know him by his whiskers and the twinkle in his eye.

Mr. Whiskers! Yippee-ki-yi-yi!
Mr. Whiskers! The legend never dies!

16 February 2010

Blah blah blah

I haven't updated this in nearly two months. Bad Jill! Bad blogger! Shame!

It's not that I haven't been writing (the frequent updates on my adoption blog are proof of that). Or that nothing has happened for me to write about.

I've mostly gotten very lazy lately, and also depressed. And my fibromyalgia is doing bad, bad things to me. I wake up most mornings feeling like someone beat me soundly with a potato sack full of unripe fruit. Which is not, as you can imagine, a very pleasant thing.

I used to take meds for my fibro, and they worked well enough. But I stopped taking them when I got pregnant, and never started them again. They were expensive, for one. Also, I think one of them might have been doing some sort of damage to my kidneys. And Barbers have kidney problems to begin with.

So no more fibro meds for me. I'm not taking the antidepressant I was on before my pregnancy, either. I'm back on Zoloft. The SSRI I was taking before has a high incidence of liver damage. And I'm very attached to my liver. I've had it as long as I can remember. Also, for some reason, I have always been skeeved out at the thought of anything liver-related. I like to pretend I don't even have a liver.

So apparently I can either have good brain chemistry and lots of energy, or I can have a liver and kidneys. I've rather unsportingly chosen the latter.

I think that's it for now.