Tag Archives: hygiene

The Flossing Jar

The flossing jar

The flossing jar is less a jar and more a cream dispenser, but who cares about formalities?

I read an interesting quote in my paperback vampire novel two weeks ago. The vampire Pandora spoke to her victim before sucking the blood from his body, telling him,  “You should do something every day simply because you would rather not do it.” It was solid advice, and something that’s stuck with me.*

Since I’ve read the quote, I’ve gone to the dentist and purchased protein powder. These events are relevant to this story.

For the past two months, my diet consisted of a daily gallon of salad and some oatmeal. Note the lack of protein.

At my first physical in seven years, the doctor told me that I should eat lean protein in the morning to boost my metabolism and make my hair grow long like Tarzan and to make my muscles bulge from my slacks and Christmas sweaters.

I was ready for this to be a huge hassle. The idea of having to plan to eat protein seemed so unnatural to me that I hated myself for even thinking about it. Nevertheless, I figured I should follow the doc’s orders, so I bought Musclez protein powder, 2 dozen eggs, 5 cans of beans, and 6 cans of tuna and prepared for the lean protein haul. As it turns out, garbanzo beans taste incredible prepared can-to-microwave, but this was only a minor consolation for the protein nuisance.

In order to motivate myself to become a protein-eater, and thinking of that vampire quote,** I said that this was going to be the one thing that I do every day, the thing I do in order to build character and become famous and successful.

Shortly after my trip to the doctor, I went to the dentist, who peeled my gums off and sandblasted my teeth before removing the shards one by one. In the midst of removing a tooth splinter, he asked, “How often do you floss?” “Never,” I said. “You should floss,” he said.

I hate flossing. It takes time and it isn’t rewarding. So I thought to myself, this could be my thing, the thing I do everyday even though I don’t want to. Almost as soon as I’d resolved that conflict, I came across a glaring contradiction. I already had the one thing: the protein! And then they came like a flood, the millions of things I do every day that I’d rather not do, like shaking hands with all the invisible people in my room every morning, sleeping in occasionally, going to work, and getting my hair cut.

My day was filled with things I do even though I’d rather not. True, most of these activities are things I have to do and don’t do just for the heck of it, but still – 75% of my day is built out of necessity.

So I thought, maybe something equally important is finding an activity I love doing so much that I’d rather die than not do it. That’s why I do improv, and make time every day to eat calcium chews and sing loudly to myself in public.

And I solved the flossing problem by putting a quarter in a jar every time I floss; one day that jar is going to buy me a Carnival cruise ticket.


*This story isn’t true. The quote is from somewhere else, but I couldn’t remember where.

**Again, not actually from a vampire.

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Prophecies in the Bathroom

Speak and we listen, oh wise oracle

My roommate’s loofah is an oracle.

As it sits unassumingly on the bathtub’s rim in all its rough, spongy banality, it communicates with the gods and is our mediator, though I do not presume to call it our friend.

Its strange shape– the mysterious internal chambers, the bizarre woven texture, the evenly regulated rippling of its exterior—is designed to absorb the gods’ will and disperse it throughout the bathroom as if in a fine prophetical mist. How many times have I been in the bathroom when I am visited by intense revelations: insights into my future after I return from Egypt, novel birthday gift ideas, meals I should eat later on in the day, the appropriate length to which I should cut my bangs?

Before I knew the truth, I thought these moments of brilliance were the result of my own cognitions. Now I know they came from the sponge.

The oracle is ancient. Before this apartment building, before the city of Cairo had even been conceived of in thought or deed, the oracle quietly existed. In the time of the ancient Greeks, sandaled men and women would journey on foot for days with baskets and pots on their heads just to seek the oracle’s presence, and if they were lucky, its prophecies. It was revered by all, though they feared to worship it because of the gods’ anger.

The oracle itself did not want their worship; it wanted quiet. It longed to cease answering the absurd petitions of man and meld its consciousness completely with that of the gods. Daily and nightly it was pulled out of its reverie to a brash existence, greedy humans grubbing after what was not theirs to know. Who could ever truly understand the will of the gods?

The Greeks came and went, as did countless other civilizations, the piles of rubble growing and shrinking with the ages, until Cairo came, and the sponge was once again lifted up, into our bathroom, onto the bathtub’s rim where it now sits enigmatically, an endless stream of communication flowing between it and heaven.

I now realize I misspoke. The loofah could not belong to my roommate any more than the Rocky Mountains could belong to the United States. These kinds of things are not simply owned. Indeed, because the loofah oracle did not belong to me, I assumed it was my roommate’s and she likely assumes the same.

This is the wisdom of the oracle. It quietly leads us down paths of assumption, all the while safeguarding its own peace. It does not even pay the price of having to scrub elbows and backs and instead gently perfumes the air with knowledge, leading us to greater insights.

And today is the last day it gets a free ride. As far as I’m concerned, things are about to get exfoliated up in here. Just wait until the weather gets warm enough for everyday sandal wearing—I don’t care much for prophecies but I do need something to sand down the horns that grow on my feet. Thanks oracle!

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Damp Pants

The weather in Cairo can be quite warm, some might even call it hot. During the day the temperatures climb almost as high as those currently prevailing in Mid-America. And when we’re really lucky, there is equally high accompanying humidity. There are some places the heat is not a problem, like the classrooms at AUC and Alpha market. Everywhere else, however, it must be dealt with.

My apartment has three air conditioners (central air conditioning does not exist here/I have not seen it so it might exist), but they remain off 90 percent of the time. Our living room is particularly unpleasant, since its physical location is such that getting a breeze in there will be possible when little flying pigs tumble in through the window at the same time. The coffin-like air moves only begrudgingly and  only when human folk stir it directly. Regardless of the time of day and exact location, the apartment is always a little bit warm. And since I spend about 90 percent of the time I’m in the apartment sitting down, either doing homework, clipping my fingernails/toenails, or brushing my hair, I often suffer from what I call “damp pants.”

Damp pants is that special feeling you get when, after sitting for a while and then rising, you realize that a steady and even output of sweat from the back of the legs/thighs and the derrier was absorbed into the fabric of your clothing. Usually after walking for a few minutes, the clothes naturally disengage themselves from clinging to the body, but manual assistance may be needed. The severity of the situation depends on the material in direct contact with ones’ clothes. Our choices of sitting situations is particularly dismal: we can choose from warm blanket, to cozy couch, to fake leather chair, or to gross carpet.

Day after day and night after night, all of us suffer from damp pant syndrome, its only remedy wicker chairs and/or standing desks. Though it is not particularly harmful, I would hesitate to damp pants a pleasant situation. I think because of all the alien movies I’ve watched (Monsters Inc.), I associate dampness with filth, thus on some level I am continually disgusted with myself at the level of filth I bathe in every day. This does not, however, urge me on to frequent rounds of laundry.

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