Tuesday, December 05, 2006
The Five Senses of Hell
Over the past 48 hours, I have had the privilege of experiencing each of the five senses of hell. It's been an edifying and strengthening experience, I'm sure... though I'd rather forego the suffering, if it's all the same to you.

Taste was the first one on the list. We'd had Chinese food delivered over the weekend, which is very exciting because we live in a small town in New Hampshire (so, not a lot of buildings to begin with, and even fewer actual, you know, Chinese people). Before this weekend, we only knew of one place that delivered, and its food was, well, sucky, to use complicated gustatory terminology. So Willem found this new place in the new phone books which had been delivered unceremoniously underneath the rear bumper of the minivan sometime last week, and they brought us Chinese food, and it was good.

So I was looking forward to having my leftovers for lunch on Sunday, and this time Willem did not violate the sanctity of the three-day rule, so it was waiting for me, happily sitting in its environmentally incorrect styrofoam packaging. I got Jacob down for a nap and Emily set up somewhere, anywhere, else, and sat down to a quiet, solitary plate of General Tso's chicken.

This stuff was a tad spicier than what I was used to from other places, which was a selling point for me, and there was much rejoicing. Right up until a rehydrated hot pepper found its way into a bite of fried rice and attempted to kill me on the spot. I'm a fan of hot food, I enjoy spicy chicken wings and hot salsa and so on, but when the heat reaches a point where the wax melts in your ears and your eyes water and you start randomly grabbing bananas, bread, milk, cat food, anything, dear God, anything, just to make it stop burning... not so much. I've stopped hyperventilating and weeping, but now I am distrustful of anything ensconsed in styrofoam.

So, then, smell. That evening, after bathtime and the laying-on of pajamas, the kids were wandering around the house in a desperate attempt to play play play, one last time, quick, now, before bedtime, must have fun, hurry, hurry! Then Jacob came out to the living room and told me, "I need a fresh clean diaper. My belly hurts." Okee-dokee, kiddo, way to get your mileage out of the previous one - you must have been wearing it for all of 10 minutes.

Into his room we went, down zipped the feety pajamas, and WHOOOOOOOSH-WHAM out came this horrible, truly seriously bad, smell, which was my only warning of what will heretofore be referred to as an Incident. Oh, it was bad. Whenever a diaper change results in everything within a three-foot diameter being crammed into the washing machine in the evening, it's just not a happy time.

My bliss by this point must have been palpable, truly. Can you feel it even now?

So, with two of the senses down, the rest of Sunday night and Monday morning were quiet. Too quiet. Ominously quiet.

Monday afternoon, Jacob and I headed into Emily's school for her school's "holiday concert," which is New Hampshire's attempt to be politically correct in its labelling even though all they sang were Christmas songs because clearly there can't possibly be any non-Christians in the public schools here. Poor kid had been sound asleep in his bed at 1:33, and by 1:43 we were seated on the floor of the gym/cafeteria/auditorium, surrounded by bored overdressed children and parents delusionally dreaming of the next American Idol.

The sound/sight of hell were both achieved in one fell swoop during this performance. At one point, some misguided or perhaps malignant adult armed a pack of first-graders with bells which might once have been in tune but were now so discordant that the sounds they emitted set Jacob's head rotating on his little neck and caused dogs in the neighborhood to rise up and dance and impelled Congress to allow Presidents a third term in office. It was truly a horrible, awful, terrible, no good, very bad noise.

And the only thing which helped distract from the noise was the delightful sight of my daughter, her particular frantic bell-shaking episode now finished, up to her elbow in her own nose, spelunking for whatever treasures she might find. In the first row. In front of everyone. Oh, was Mama's heart just aching with pride.

And I have it all on video. Though Willem and I watched it last night, and the soothing powers of distance and a lower-quality microphone rendered the Satanic brown note powerless and almost (though not quite!) pleasant. Never fear, though, the nose-picking is just as painfully evident after the fact.

Which brings us all to touch. This happened over the course of last night. I started to get a headache around 8:00 or so on the evening, which is not especially rare for me - I get 1-2 migraines a week and have worked my way through a large enough pile of preventative and abortive meds that now I have have a prescription for Vicodin and a wish for good luck from my doctor. Whenever a headache comes on after dinner or so, I typically just tough it out and go to bed, because I've never had a problem sleeping and sleep is cheaper than med refills.

So, by 10:30, I was ready to crash. Except for the fact that I was freezing. Ask Willem. It was as though there was simply no blood anywhere in my body. I was too cold to shiver. Just, brrr. I finally warmed up and fell asleep sometime around midnight. This is not the hellacious part.

I was vaguely aware, right around midnight, that Willem heard Jacob waking up and went in to check on him. This is one of the advantages of being hard of hearing, I can sleep through any number of nuisance and ignorable sounds (though the tiniest squeak from a nursing infant and I'm up like a shot). At some point, he woke me so I could try to repress the child, who had been awake several times by 1:00.

Long story short, the touch-part of hell can be encapsulated in the situation whereby you are still cold, you have a screaming lights-flashing migraine, you have just stubbed your toe so hard you had to lean down and reattach the damn thing before you limp into your son's room to try and determine why, after FIVE HOURS, he is still whining. And then you return to bed, doze for a while, and find yourself involved in a snarkfest with your husband whose logic and communication skills are not, shall we say, sharply honed by lack of sleep and abundance of frustration.

Good times, I tell you. Can't wait to find out that hell has created a sixth sense just for me.