Oral Hygiene Queen

My Photo
Location: Midwest, United States

I floss daily, brush after every meal, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.

RSS Feed

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Scary Stuff Soon, and in the Meantime: Poop Humor

Well, thanks to kind and encouraging commenters, I am planning to post excerpts of my dad-memoir-in-progress. I just have to figure out which chunk to start with. You'll see something here soon. And then I may actually start posting more than once every seventeen days, since I'll have a backlog of material. Things could get pretty crazy around here. Wait. I'll be talking about my dad. Things will certainly get crazy.

But before I begin with the heavy stuff, I have to share a wee poop story. (Heh heh. I said "wee" and "poop" in the same sentence.)

Tonight I was changing Roo's diaper after her bath. Just as I was slapping on the Pamper*, Roo let out a forceful fart. I laughed. She laughed. I said "Did you fart?" And she said "My poop barked!"

You can't make this shit up. And it seems to run in the family.

* We actually use Huggies, but "slapping on the Pamper" just sounds better. Don't come to Oral Hygiene Queen for slavish verisimilitude.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Me in Memoir

So, I'm writing away every day on my dad-centric memoir during my Creative Writing class, as my students work on their novels or short story collections or poetry collections. It's going well. My word count is nowhere near where the official NaNoWriMo site says it should be, but I'm pretty much ignoring that anyway, just as I encourage my students not to worry about it. The important thing, I tell them, is that we write every day, even if it's just for a few minutes. But Monday through Friday, I give them - and me- at least forty minutes every day.

It's going well. I'm struck by how much writing is learning, figuring shit out. I know this. I tell my students this all the time. "Writing is a form of thinking. Writing is a way of gaining understanding about whatever it is you're writing about." But, despite that, it's still a revelation how much I figure out about myself when I write about myself. And though I'm focusing on my dad, this thing I'm working about is also about me.

And for that reason, I'm nervous. I have told my students that I'll share what I've written come December, just as I'm asking all of them to share what they've written. And I'll give them the option of sharing an excerpt, if they don't feel ready to photocopy every false step and hastily-worded metaphor. So I guess I have the option of sharing only an excerpt of mine. But that would feel very unbrave for the mentor-figure of the group. Plus, I'm proud and I'd hate to have my already paltry word count reduced by my reluctance to share.

What am I worried about? Mostly that this stuff, which is so fascinating to me, will be boring to everyone who's not me. Why should anyone else care about my "I remember this and I remember that and then this happened and then I felt like that." I try to recall that in my view Joe Brainard's I Remember is one of the most vivid, compelling, and hard-to-put-down books I've ever read, though it's just two-hundred-some pages of brief paragraphs (sometimes only a short sentence) beginning with the words "I remember" in no particular order and with no plan or structure. But he was a New York School painter and neurotic bon vivant living in sixties Manhattan. And I'm just me.

I've also been sort of meaning to post excerpts of the memoir-in-progress on this blog. And perhaps I will. Soon. But I'm nervous. I'm apprehensive, for the reasons I mention above, and also because I'm afraid the conflicted, expansive, befuddling dad story will open up it's maw and swallow my blog. I'm afraid I'll have to change the name of my blog from Oral Hygiene Queen (a name that identifies me as my mother's daughter) to "My Dad Issues" or "Good Daddy Gone Bad" or "Turned Around, Man, Found My Daddy Gone."

I think I'll post some bits anyway. I hope I do.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


I've never done NaNoWriMo before. I'm a poet. Once in awhile I bust out a short-short story and send it off to Quick Fiction and feel fine when I get my rejection letter because, after all, I'm a poet. (Though I actually feel fine getting rejection letters from poetry journals, too, since the chances of getting published are so astronomically small that I expect to get rejected, and only really react on the rare occasion a poem is accepted, or if I get that strange and wonderful thing, the form rejection letter with a bit of encouraging editor ink: "No way in hell will we publish this, but it was more interesting than most of our slush. Keep trying! Send us something else in nine months!")

This year, though, I'm doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for those unfamiliar with the acronym - or is it an abbrevianym?) because I got the bright idea to make my Creative Writing students do it. (I told them they can adapt the challenge to whatever form inspires them, which began a plethora of exciting acronymizing - National Short Story Collection Writing Month = NaShoStoWriMo, National Poetry Collection Writing Month = NaPoCoWriMo, and National Graphic Novel Writing Month = NaGraNoWriMo). Then one of them said "Are you going to write with us?" And what else could I say but "Of course."

So my version of NaNoWriMo is National Memoir Writing Month (NaMeWriMo, appropriately enough), where I am grappling with the enigma of my father and my relationship with him, trying to figure out how the mensch I adored so much at ten turned into the prick I finally had to cut off all ties with for several years at thirty. Actually, the real enigma is the reality that these two dudes are the same dude, at least in many ways. It will be interesting to share some of this with my students, given that I often use stories of the more innocent and hilarious aspects of my dad's insanity to amuse and inspire my students. But I never go to the dark places in my dad's personality, and to write a memoir, this I must do. I'll leave out some stuff. The porn, definitely. The copious quantities of midwestern weed, probably.

I'll let you know how it goes.

[Oh, and for those who are curious, a postscript to the lice thing: The lice thing was a PAIN in the ASS. They returned three times with Roo which was the worst, because she was the family member least able to hold still and deal with the treatment (or understand why we kept torturing her). As I've explained to several people who've asked why lice seem like such a bigger deal and a thornier problem than when we were kids: it's so bad now b/c lice have become superbugs, so the usual pesticide treatment (active ingredient: permethrin) is 50% effective or less. We ended up trying that (failure), then a horrible home remedy with Cetaphil cleanser (smelled nauseating and also failed on Roo). The thing that finally worked (and the one that was actually the least toxic) is "Licefreee," essentially a saline gel that dessicates the little fuckers and their eggs. I hope we're done with it, but the whole thing was such a fucking pain. God spare you from being lousy with lice.]