Washroom Stories

Oddly enough, today I wish to reminisce about bathrooms. The idea came from Irene Waters, the illustrious writer and memoirist.

Her suggestion came at the same time a friend of mine is on vacation, a friend who keeps posting ratings for the various bathrooms she’s visiting. Little did I know that this is an activity she’s indulged in for a few years, supposedly stemming from a terrible experience with one. To this, I can relate. I did not realize how crucial a good seat for relieving oneself became until my first cross-country drive in 2015.

It inspired a star-studded poem:

I’ll tour this grand old land of mine;
I’ll drive from ocean to sea.
I’ll walk where millions walked before,
But,
I’ll not sit where they all …do their business.

Unlike some of the older participants in Irene’s prompt, I haven’t lived through a drastic era of change regarding toilets. Every house I’ve lived in has had what I have now: an indoor model that flushes with the aid of plumbing that enters and leaves the house. No water closets or outhouses. I do not believe I’ve ever lived somewhere with a septic tank.

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Yes, I’m spoiled. And young, I suppose.

I have stayed in less-posh situations. I recall a summer camp one year with limited water and sewage supplies. We were advised to follow the old poem, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.”

My family also spent a couple of summers at a cabin in the woods with its very own outhouse. I still recall the dread of midnight nature calls, shaking my flashlight through the dark and whooshing trees on the path and out to the pit-with-a-door. Due to active imaginations, two of my children are currently afraid of using the toilet alone. They said they imagine a head poking out of the hole and biting them. I don’t know what they would have done with the outhouse in the woods…

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For my part, my only childhood fear of toilets involved imagining an alligator in one. I’ve never lived in Florida nor visited beyond the airport, but had heard a news story to the effect in elementary school. I also feared for spiders and such. I think, as a female, one’s fears are more justified since one always has to sit.

The one advancement in washrooms I have experienced in my lifetime is the automation of its basic functions. Automatic toilets, sinks, soaps, and blowers make using the bathroom a breeze. They also made for many, many times of standing over a peeing child to block the sensor so he does not get flushed on before he’s ready.

In a somewhat-related experience, I recall a music trip to San Francisco in my senior year of high school. For the first time, I encountered public stores that did not offer a public restroom. Also for the first time; I was directed to a public toilet, on the street corner, that utilized two-way mirrors as walls. When inside, a visitor could view everything outside as if he were not within a building at all. My childhood experience of knowing one could see through this glass by getting close did not encourage any desire to use this facility.

I suppose, like my friend, I also note and rank vacation bathrooms. When in Rome, eh?

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Photo Credits:
Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay
Image by Luciana P. from Pixabay
Image by David Rinehart from Pixabay

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Track Memory

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Anticipation clung to my twitching legs. A girl nearby hopped; I copied. Another stretched, as did I.

We pretended to ignore the waiting barriers. We’d glance to the nearest, flit to the next and next and next, then end at the finish line.

Too soon, I heard, “Runners, take your mark.”

“Se-e-e-e-et!”

*POP!*

Out of the blocks, I ran to the first hurdle.

Fell.

And sat and crumpled and cried.

Then, felt an arm about my shoulders. Heard a repeated lullaby of encouragement from a onetime friend.

“You won,” she reminded, “By not hesitating.

“And, tomorrow, you’ll run again.”

 

Written for Carrot Ranch Literary Society’s #2 Contest: Memoir.

The Very Worst Missionary

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I haven’t been able to read an actual, physical book since…

Let’s see: how old is my youngest? And, how long was his gestation period? Divide by four, carry the two, add a year… Maybe we’d better go with a very safe date. When did the Berlin Wall fall again?

This uncultured gulf has been due to children, children, and housework. Lately, however, I’m pleased to confess that my free reading time has been spent catching up on the blogs that automatically fill my inbox with 45 daily posts.

Yeah, yeah. I know I need to cut back. I can stop anytime I want. It’s my life; my choice.

What does this rambling have to do with the title of my blog post tonight? It’s called “setting the scene.” For; I found out about a woman’s blog, and accompanying book, whilst reading through the Fractured Faith site. I think.

Point is, I read one post by Jamie Wright about how to edit the swearing in her published book and was laughing audibly (for you, M). Right there, on the spot, I ordered her book from the Amazon. After it arrived, I read it non-stop. You know, between feeding, cleaning, avoiding work, writing, sleeping, conversing, and living.

It took me a few days, but Jamie Wright’s book was FREAKING HILARIOUS.

Allow me, if you will, to quote some of my favorite passages:

“God will not be swallowed like a pill to cure herpes of your soul so you can run in a field of sunflowers with your hot boyfriend.”

 

“When you struggle in your forties with things that wrecked you at fifteen, I don’t think you’re supposed to say so out loud. It makes people uncomfortable.

“Everyone loves an underdog, but we prefer our stories of wrestling and redemption to be told in the past tense: I was depressed. I had anxiety. I felt insecure. I slept around… We’d rather hear from drunks when they’re sober, our depressed when they’re happy, our sick when they’re healed. We want to see wild horses broken and to believe in the hands that tamed them, because most of us hold our own dark places of wrestling with unbridled messes in our souls that sometimes spill over into life, and we desperately need to see that maybe we too can overcome the things that are ruining us.”

 

“The past lies beneath our beliefs like the soil of our soul. It’s the wet clay and dry bones and clumpy dirt, the grit and gravel, the small stones and loose sand, and the petrified turds that the adult formation of our faith must rest upon. Your history is like an inheritance, a patch of land that, though you may not have had much choice in its early cultivation, belongs solely to you.”

As you can read, she’s a conversational storyteller with an attitude; but one who says some deeply profound things in a relatable way.

This was worth the cost of actual purchase, plus more. You should get a copy, too.

Fair warning, however: if you are a prudish sort in terms of language, buy the book and follow her guide for editing. She’s unapologetic about some very common cuss words, but you’ll be able to black out the most egregious.

And, frankly, she makes it very clear that you can take her as she is or, simply, not. I consider myself very prudish over cussing, but found her profanity fit perfectly well with the dialogue of the writing.