the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Twenty-six

Yesterday was my 34th birthday, and I spent it much like we’ve been spending all of our days in the last five weeks, stumbling around in a sleep-derived haze of who are you? Where am I? What’s my name again? I mean, we’ve sort of got a rhythm going, one where the drummer and guitarist are playing two different songs, and the lead singer is just making up words as it goes along, and the sound is just awful but we’re calling it “art.”

Marlo is being fairly cooperative in the sense that she’s sleeping through the night, meaning she wakes up to eat a couple of times and goes right back to sleep after a few minutes on the boob. I know that casually saying the phrase “on the boob” may be insensitive to a certain fraction of my readers who would rather not have to hear about such details concerning life with a newborn, so to make up for that I won’t tell you about how a chunk of her neon yellow poop squirted out of her diaper onto my shirt this morning, and instead of jumping up to clean up the mess I sort of sat there admiring the shape and texture of it, wondering aloud if it was a raisin? Maybe a kernel of corn?

So you’d think we’d be getting a fair amount of sleep, except she is such a loud sleeper, just like Leta was. She grunts and moans and growls, so half the time we don’t know if she’s awake and upset or if she’s having a nightmare about that one time she came shooting out of a vagina. I mean loud. Really loud. Like we’re sleeping with our heads right next to a dryer that’s rolling around a pair of tennis shoes, a wad of coins, and a hammer.

Anyway, my birthday. Right. That’s where I was going with this. I got an early birthday present last week when it was announced that I was among the 30 honorees on the Forbes list of “The Most Influential Women In Media” for 2009. Um. Yeah. So. Soooooo. Let’s just twirl this around in our brains for a second so that you can see why BATSHIT INSANE was my first coherent response to such news.

You’ve got Oprah Winfrey at the top of the list, and then it goes on to Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters, and others like Ann Curry and Katie Couric and Martha Stewart and Lesley Stahl, and everything is fine until you get to number twenty-six, Heather B. Armstrong, and it’s like the list suddenly falls off the edge of the earth. Heather who? Heather what? Who is this woman? And I can just imagine the usual buttoned-up, proper reader of Forbes wandering over here, reading a couple of lines and thinking HAS FORBES LOST ITS MIND. And my every inclination is to post my father’s phone number right here so that they can call him and commiserate.

My mother, obviously, was over the moon when I told her the news, but my dad’s first response was, “Is Ann Coulter on the list? Where are the conservatives?!” and I had to spend the next hour convincing him that the list wasn’t some vast liberal conspiracy. Meaning it was exactly like every single phone call I’ve ever had with him. HA! HA! I’m only kidding. A little bit. Related: Marlo looks just like my father, and the other morning she was making this really angry face, and Jon looked at her and goes, “What’s wrong, Mike Hamilton? Are you still upset about Obama?”

So, yeah. I’m number 26. Twenty-six. Which of course blows my mind, and for a few days in my sleep-dreived haze I would look at Jon every few minutes and go twenty-six? For real? And then we’d high-five each other and go, “Twenty-six!” I mean, ridiculous. That’s exactly what it is. Absurd. But that did not stop me from reminding Marlo about it every time I changed her diaper. I was all, DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM, KID? YOU’VE GOT NUMBER TWENTY-SIX WIPING YOUR BUTT.

Yesterday morning I was still kind of high on the news of it, that combined with the fact that it was my birthday, so I woke up in a really great mood. Marlo slept in a little later than usual, and Leta played quietly by herself in her room until she heard us rousing. We all four then spent the next half hour in bed making faces and singing and tickling and living a page right out of Good Housekeeping, and right before we all skipped merrily upstairs to have breakfast I hopped over to let Coco out of her crate. Only to be hit in the face with a smell so nauseating that I fell over dead. I died. There was a funeral and elaborate floral displays and my mother threw herself over my casket and yelled, “Twenty-sixxxxxxxx!”

As Coco stepped out of her crate I suddenly realized that she had urinated all over herself, I guess while she was sleeping because she never whined to be let out of the crate LIKE A NORMAL DOG WOULD HAVE. Like a normal dog with a brain. And it’s not just a little bit of urine, it’s like Niagra Falls in that crate, and she is covered head to toe in it. I catch her a little too late, meaning I’m standing there debating over whether or not I care about what it would mean to grab an animal soaked in its own bladder juices or do I mind what those bladder juices are doing to the BRAND NEW CARPET on the floor, and oops, there are fifteen footprints that will remind me forever that once you adopt a Miniature Australian Shepherd you shorten your life by, oh, a good twenty years. Oh, right. I’m already dead. Because of her.

Jon swoops in, grabs her up off the BRAND NEW CARPET, have I mentioned that part? BRAND NEW. It could not be newer, it is so new, the newness is the newest of all new, The Mayor of New, and he runs to the back door, sets her down to open that door, and then realizes his fatal error. Because Coco then seizes that opportunity to shake the piss off of her body. All over the floor, the walls, the ceiling, and of course all over Jon’s body. It was like a Jackson Pollock canvas in that back hallway. If you could have seen it you would have marveled at the color, the scheme, the abstract way the piss splattered and flung through the air. A masterpiece, I tell you.

For the next hour I chased that dog around the backyard in an attempt to douse her with the hose, an instrument she loathes as it contains water — and I don’t know what happened to her in a previous life, maybe water stole her car or called her names or punched her in the face, but Coco reacts to water like someone would react to an intruder with a knife — and since I hadn’t had a chance to put on any clothes, there I am, number twenty-six, an Influential Woman in Media, running madly around my backyard after a dog with no brain, wearing nothing but my panties and a t-shirt covered in milk stains and dog piss. On my birthday.

I’m not going to lie, I stopped several times, hose in one hand, the other hand pointing proudly to the giant milk stain underneath my left boob, and yelled, “Twenty-six, bitches!”

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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