Toilet puppies.

I want a late night show or Saturday Night Live to do a fake infomercial advertising my latest great idea.

So, you go to the supermarket, and you’re looking for the essentials, i.e., toilet paper, and you’re standing there in the aisle staring at your choices… The brand with the soft puppy on it, the brand with the soft bunnies flopped on top of each other, the brand with the soft teddy bear smiling at you creepily. I don’t remember the brands’ names, I only remember that they represent themselves with the softest things they can think of.

Happy things.

Fluffy things.

Youthful things.

Things that, frankly, you should not be wiping your ass with.

Well, I want to sell a package of puppies with a picture of a toilet paper roll on it. “As soft as toilet paper!” the label would boast.

“Like the softest thing you can think of, which is not actually toilet paper – it’s puppies – so why aren’t you using puppies on your bum?”

It would go something like this: “Puppy paper. Soft like toilet paper.”

Also, what’s the deal with spa-edition toilet paper marketing? Do puppies go to spas? Do puppies relax in tea cups? Do puppies light scented candles?

Do puppies use toilet paper?

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Disclaimer: If I get fired from my marketing job for this, I’m blaming the innermost creases of my brain wherein the weirdness is nourished.

Pediatric memory.

This is what I completed from the Memoir Writing class I not-so-recently finished. I’m not sure if it’s complete yet.

The pleather cushioning of the examination counter-tops in the patient rooms still call to me as an inviting yet risky place for a sick kid to sit. Carrying my infant son from the reception area towards ‘Room 2′ makes me realize the cast in this medical office hasn’t changed in 20 years. The patients are still either awkward teenagers or snotty toddlers. The nurses are still squealing over some red, wrinkled newborn. The doctor is still running late, and most definitely won’t be sorry about it.

I set S down on Room 2′s green version of the pleather counters and take in the mock-kid-friendly décor. As S polishes the counter top with drool and coughs up a demonstration of why he was brought here, I attempt to osmosis a mental warning to his seven-month-old mind.

Two decades ago, my two brothers and I endured these doctor visits as a group, lead by our mother. The three of us, cub-like, would squirm in the cramped patient room while waiting for our common foe. Together we were a recipe for a rumble, but we (mostly) heeded my mother’s warnings not to fight, lest the doctor walk in and see it. Collectively, we knew that equaled a bad start and little-to-no hope for surviving the checkup intact.

The cartoons on the walls gave us a little courage. They were stupid, and we knew we were better than they were. In the hierarchy of pediatrics, the doctor was at the top and the cartoon wallpaper was at the bottom. We were somewhere in between the height chart and the rainbow band aids.

My mother would make jokes to calm us in between scolding us for climbing up the cabinets. Just as we would start to laugh, we’d hear the thickly Boston-accented pediatrician barking down the hall and she’d shh us while controlling the smile breaking through her lips.

Waiting for the pediatrician, I notice the smell of band aids and tissues make a sterile contrast with the cartoon wallpaper. S is still perched on top of the counter cushion, held up with the light support of my hand on his back. Through the open door of our room, he’s flirting with a 14-year-old girl across the hall. She smiles at him, he smiles back. She coos, he squeals. More smiling and their conversation is a nervous patient flirtation.

I can still taste the intimidation like a wooden ‘aaah’ stick – raw, dry, with the fear of splinters. I stand next to S, mama now, and wonder what kind of mother I’ll shortly be in the face of terrible bedside manner. In my mind, the unsmiling, impatient pediatrician of my youth doesn’t wait for new mothers to make up their minds.

My mother watched closely from behind the doctor’s hunched shoulders as we were poked and prodded. This, while we were forced to answer inane questions in a mumbled jargon that as kids we had to learn to comprehend. It was that or ridicule. Somehow, my mother kept the pack dignified and kept us safe with her own bullish remarks or maternal brand of protective sarcasm. She’d crack a few sharp-witted retorts and we’d watch as sometimes – sometimes – the ice-cold doctor from Boston would betray a microscopic upturned lip.

There were other times when she’d manage to prove her industry intelligence and score an outright conversation in the patient room while we strained not to hear the crickets in between the lines. Sometimes, her coolness would actually match the doctor’s. It was a transformation that made me shudder inside.

The finish line was piling into the doctor’s fish-tanked office for the check-up ‘review,’ which actually meant listening to him and my mother spar about the latest kid-disease news. Contented not to be a part of it, we knew our tongues/ears/self-esteem were safe; we relaxed and enjoyed the fish. At the end of it, my mother herded us out of the office with our vaccine charts and dignities intact.

S is smiling bouncily and the pediatrician walks in. The childhood stuff stays with me as I pin my baby down at the doctor’s request, robotically listing symptoms. Doc is fairly quiet. Does my projected calmness disarm him? S lets out a yelp and my childhood pediatrician soothes him. He makes a remark about his lady-killer eyes. He adds that whatever is making S cough is viral and will clear up in a few days. I hold my face still.

He tells me to join him in his office after I finish dressing S. I take my son to the fish-tanked office, assuming there’s nothing much to ‘review’ since I don’t have much to say about the latest news in childhood diseases. Maybe it’s because I’m young, maybe because he heard what I do for a living, but my pediatrician gets to talking about YouTube and his latest internet venture.

“See, I’ve set up this entire directory of videos, interviewing medical professionals, built it from scratch – doctors talking to doctors. And this damn video start up is giving me hell getting it licensed out to them. Obviously they’re offering way below what this stuff is worth.”

I nod in faux earnest. “Yeah, you’re most probably getting ripped off for your premium content.”

“I mean, you search for this stuff on Google, and what, they think I don’t know about SEO? That I could easily post it on YouTube and call it a day? This stuff is pure value…”

I nod politely as he lectures me on topics that are my career; I don’t bother interjecting when he makes incorrect assumptions. His rant is a token of trust. A recognition. I hold on to it like some delicate trinket, something paper-thin.

And anyway, his ego is too big for me to break alone. If my brothers were here, we could have teamed up.

Weird egg.

Is this weird?

I picked up a few things at the grocery today to bring home after work. I shoved the heavy bags on the floor of the car and then pondered what to do with the eggs.

Ok, hold on. I don’t usually do the shopping, and when I do, I’m usually not alone, so I never really come to the point where I have no one to hold the eggs in the car on the way home. This was a new quandary for me, here in my late 20′s: What does one do with the eggs when one is alone?

I’ll admit; at first I did something pretty dumb. I put them in the backseat with the seatbelt across the cardboard carton’s little chest. Then I stood back and laughed at myself. Not in a friendly way, but in a mean, schoolyard-bully way.

Then I thought, what’s that big car seat for if not to protect our delicate hatchlings?

And so you have it. My eggs settled in the safety of Evenflow’s mighty wings and all twelve arrived in my fridge safe and uncracked.

Maybe doing up the seat belt was a bit much though.

Also, it didn’t stop them from being boiled soon after.

Petting zoo don'ts.

You know what’s always fun? Zoos.

We took Koala to Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo on erev Shavuot to meet the animals, just like Curious George in that version of the book where he pretty much gets rewarded for feeding the animals when he wasn’t supposed to and I never really understood that, considering you’re supposed to learn a lesson in kids’ books, aren’t you…

Anyway.

Going through the petting zoo, I couldn’t help notice this dad, his kids, the goats they were feeding, and his cigarette. Wait, what?

Seriously? Smoking, not only in the zoo, but in the petting zoo part? Where the baby animals and baby humans hang out?

Ah well. First time at a zoo with the bebe was fun, and I think most of all Koala enjoyed making noises and fitting in for it.

Writing, Etgar Keret, and where the &%*# is Peter Pan?

Every year or two I get an itch to complete something on my bucket list. Last year, it was performing in the Vagina Monologues. For the past six months, it’s been getting back into my writing habit.

I’ve been on a quest to discover the right outlet for skill-sharpening. It’s no shock that Israel would lack easily-accessible writing courses for English speakers. There are a few here and there, amateur and professional,  and I’ve been dipping my fingers into different pots trying to find the right one.

I recently completed a memoir-writing course with Madelyn Kent, a former NYU-Tisch writing instructor turned olah chadasha. She led me to Evan Fallenberg, a seasoned oleh (1985), who writes, translates and teaches, operating from The Studio, a workshop for writers in his home. On his website I found out he was bringing Etgar Keret to speak there the next week.

So last night I drove the hour and 45 minutes in evening traffic, up past Netanya, to hear Etgar Keret talk. His writing and his speaking go hand-in-hand, which was fun to discover.

It was also funny to hear him say that he can’t write from truth; he needs to make up his stories and keep the true experiences unwritten. He has trouble taking the experience and turning it into a written story. Opposite problem from me, you see.

The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be God was the first present my then-boyfriend/now-husband ever gave me, and I became completely enamored and inspired with Keret, seeking more. But since then (2005) I have not been able to tap the inspiration the way I’ve wanted.

The last time I wrote something I was really, utterly, completely proud of was in 2003. It was a series of short-short stories about some of the very first ways I experienced Israel. The truth of it and passion behind it lent me a hand I never realized I had before.

And slowly I began to come to the conclusion: it’s much easier for adult-me to write based on experience than actual story-telling. Kid-me could tell you tales of worlds and planets and creatures; at sleepovers with my best friend, from my sleeping bag on the floor I would sprinkle her and her younger sister with colorful characters that just flowed from my mind to my mouth. I would dream of places I knew by heart, and before I went to bed, I’d think up new chapters for my reappearing players. I didn’t just have imaginary friends – I had fine-tuned characters.

But somewhere along the way, Peter Pan grew up and I can’t find that place anymore. And now that I have a kid, I really, really want to. Maybe it’s what will help me reunite with my story-telling. That, and working on this item from my bucket list.

Bad cops. #fail

Can you call the cops… on the cops?

The Israeli Po Po need a lesson in legality, or at least car-packing safety.

This issue in general pisses me off, above and beyond. Israeli traffic cops don’t enforce the law enough. Sure, once in a blue moon you’ll see a guy pulled over or you’ll see cops on patrol in the city streets. But the lack of enforcement goes too far in this country.

And half-a-minute radio ads about driving safely so your kids have parents does not substitute for pull-over punishment.

A couple weeks ago, I witnessed a 4×4 driving down the wrong side of the road in industrial Beit Shemesh to avoid the traffic in his lane. The wrong side of the road. Cars are squeezing past him to avoid a collision. And then a TRAFFIC COP comes face to face with him – and squeezes by to avoid collision. No pull-over, no comment.

So now we have this copper out on Road 60 with a bike shoved out his trunk. Before the photo was taken, we watched as the trunk was flying high above before it slowly came down again over the bike. No visibility, but tons of responsibility.

Shame, shame, shame.