Rate My Stitches! (Warning! Pictures.)

On Wednesday morning I cut myself doing the dishes. A glass exploded in my hand. I screamed a few obscenities (good thing Em was in school and Elliot doesn’t yet know much English) and then yelled for Toby. I have no clue what I would have done had he not been there. On most days, he’d have been at the office already. But that morning our routine unfolded a bit differently. (Thank goodness.)

You know how when you cut yourself, you know immediately whether or not you’re going to need stitches? There’s no question as to whether you can wrap some duct-tape around it and continue working. Well, I knew before that shard finished its slice I was going to need stitches. All the blood was just punctuation.

So Toby took out a baby bib (oh, yes!) and we wrapped it around my bleeding hand using an ACE bandage. (Note to self: buy boo-boo supplies pronto.) I called a car service and headed to the ER.

A visit to one of New York City’s ERs leaves a person with many stories. There are the usual characters: those begging for pain medication while putting on one of the worst performances of their life; those looking for some attention because they don’t get any elsewhere; the crackhead; and the homeless guy pickling himself in years and years worth of booze. You don’t see the people who are actually in need of immediate emergency medical attention because they’re off getting said emergency medical attention. You see the rest of us, myself included, bloodied baby bibs and all.

But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about my stitches.

On Thursday I was picking up Em from school and I ran into a friend. She happens to be awesome and she has a cool job. She does the art direction for the blood and guts in movies. She’s kind of like Dexter but for movies. And, like Dexter, she’s really, really good at what she does.

“What happened to your hand? Pastry knife wound? Making roach wedding cakes?” She asked.

“I cut myself doing the dishes. Nothing cool, unfortunately. Just the boring old dishes.”

“Can I see it?” She asked, possibly looking for inspiration for her next project.

“Sure.” I pulled down the bandage.

“Oh, wow!” She sucked air in through her clenched teeth. For a second I thought I made the blood and guts artist feel squeamish. “Wow!” She said with amazement. “That looks like work done by a really bad makeup artist! But it’s the real deal. Who sewed you up? Where on earth did you go?”

I laughed. “It was a 10-year-old med student with no sense of humor. Terrible, right? I thought so too. Good thing I’m not a hand model.”

“Good thing it’s not on your face! Although, that have been great for Halloween. It actually looks like you did this for Halloween. It doesn’t look real at all. Terrible work.”

“I know. I was kind of surprised he’d only given me 4 stitches. It seemed to warrant more than that.”


Then she went on to say that I needed to go somewhere else, that the scar was going to be awful and that I may even get an infection since pieces of the wound were still open.

So, my wounded warriors. Do you think he did a shoddy job as well? Have you ever had stitches? What are your thoughts on my latest boo-boo?

Taken right after I got the stitches.

Taken today.

Sorry if I’ve officially grossed you out with all my skin issues lately. Happy Halloween!

The Seven Year Itch

(This might be the most boring post I’ve ever written. But I wanted to put it out there on the off chance another person is suffering as well.)

I was 30 and living in San Francisco when I first wrote about it. I wrote about the razor rash on my legs. At the time I thought it was from not ever changing my razors due to my neurosis about sharps in landfills. That wasn’t the case.

I moved back East and it persisted, sometimes it got worse, sometimes better. But it never fully went away. I wrote about it again.

I’ve been to at least a dozen doctors over the years. I’ve seen gynecologists, fertility specialists, primary care physicians, allergists, dermatologists, endocrinologists. I even asked a psychologist about it. The best I got was a prescription strength steroidal cream from a dermatologist. That helped, but it still didn’t go away.

Not one doctor had an answer for me. No one even seemed to care. I became more miserable and they wrote my misery off as razor rash or dry skin.

I decided I’d probably live this way forever.

But then last six months things have become much, much worse. The rash and hives have spread. They’ve moved onto my thighs and hips. And have finally reached my stomach and arms. Living a comfortable life was becoming increasingly more difficult. I’d wake up at night with blood on my shins from scratching. In the evening the rash was always worse. The removal of a pair of socks or pants seemed to trigger it. Taking off my bra made my chest itch. I stopped wearing shorts or skirts.

There was no relief. I tried every over-the-counter cream I could find. I gave up soap. I used certain detergents, none at all. I stopped taking hot showers, would go a few days without one. I stopped shaving. Started using natural ingredients only. Nothing got rid of the itch. I began to think maybe I was making it all up, that it was all in my head; maybe this was the first step into complete madness.

Desperate, I asked Twitter for new dermatologist recommendations because the woman I’d been going to for years wasn’t helping. On top of that she has a two-month waiting period. It didn’t even seem as if she listened to me anymore.

Missy came to my rescue. She suggested I see her dermatologist. This doctor had answered a lingering skin question for her. I got an appointment for the following week. This time I’d go in and beg for help. I wouldn’t leave without some sort of answer, even if it was just a plan.

On Monday, a 7-year long question MAY have been answered. After running a test on my back, the dermatologist diagnosed me with Dermatographic Urticaria, or chronic urticaria. She said there’s no way of knowing how or why I developed it. Usually there’s an event that jumpstarts it. A person might be bitten by a lot of mosquitoes all at once, triggering an intense histamine response. That response is remembered and the body begins creating its own hives. It could have started from stress. No one knows.

Here’s the bitch: the more I scratch, the more my body releases histamine creating a terrible cycle. The more hives, the more scratching; the more histamine, the more itching. Repeat until I’m covered in hives.

There are some days I look like a leper.

She prescribed me a super strong allergy medication, which will turn me into a zombie. I have two kids. One is a baby. Turning into a zombie, unable to stay awake, is not an option for me.

When I got home that evening, I had the biggest outbreak I’ve had in a while. I scratched myself raw. My mother was visiting and asked me to stop and I couldn’t. We covered my legs in ice and I took a Benadryl. It helped. About 30 minutes after the itching stopped, I had a piece of dark chocolate. My legs broke out immediately. I took a picture.

That’s when I realized that I’d had chocolate right before the initial outbreak. Could this be a food thing too? And, if so, could I find a cure without using medication?

So I researched. I discovered there’s low histamine diet where one avoids foods containing high amounts of histamine. You can’t avoid the chemical entirely, but avoiding foods containing higher amounts can help. Here’s the list.

The surprising thing is, several of the items on that list have given me allergic reactions in the past—more common allergic reactions. (At age 26 I went into anaphylactic shock after eating shitty shellfish. I have had an epi pen ever since.) Cinnamon is on that list, as is red wine, cheese, chocolate and bleached flours. Most processed foods trigger high histamine responses. And preservatives are the devil. All of those items, except for cheese, have given me problems in the past. (During my allergy screening, cinnamon and lobster were my two highest offenders.) What’s more fascinating to me is that the longer shellfish and seafood has been sitting around, the worse the histamine response. This explains why fresh seafood and shellfish doesn’t give me any problems. Weird, right?

I am entering day three of this diet and my itch is gone. I have no new bumps (the old ones are still healing) and there haven’t been any hives at all. Not one.

So, I’m going to follow this diet for at least a month to see if it does indeed help. I need to go for at least that long to make sure this isn’t still a hormonal issue, which is what I thought was the case in the past. One thing is for sure, this has gotten much worse the older I get and seems to progress with every pregnancy.

This diet hasn’t been easy! I don’t eat red meat and I enjoy seafood a great deal. So the list of what I can eat has become really, really small. Even soy products are a no-no for now. And I eat a great deal of soy. And giving up chocolate might be impossible, but at least I can cut back on everything and sneak some treats in from time to time. That is, if this works. If not, I’m back to square one.

What Terror Looks Like

Here is a shot of Em on Splash Mountain with my mom and dad. Of course we had to buy a copy because every time I see it, I laugh. But the kid is terrified.

I mean, look at his face. Terror. Pure terror.

When he saw the picture, he said, “What’s wrong with me?”

Kid, you’re terrified. Here’s a closeup.

Terror. Yet, I still manage to laugh when I see it. (Then I immediately want to give him a hug and tell him it’s gonna be OK and then probably laugh again because, dude, look at that face! So the bigger question might be, what’s wrong with me?)

Anyway, he skipped Space Mountain, of course. But I didn’t! That’s me in the front wearing my nephew’s mask.

Underneath it, I’m screaming too.

Speaking of hilarious faces of terror, Check this out. It’s hysterical. Be sure to click the “Play button” at the top. It’s probably the best thing I’ve seen online in ages.

My Family

Em’s teachers recently asked all the kids to bring in pictures of their family. I had to send two along since we don’t have any shots including all four of us. Are we a minority here? Is this common? I’ve been curious. Anyway, that’s no longer the case. Last Sunday, at my graduation, my father offered to take a shot of all four of us.

We need to remedy this. I think a professional portrait might be in order.

Thirty-One Years.

I have exactly 7 minutes before I have to pick up Em from school. I have 7 minutes to write about REM and how they broke up today after 31 years of making music together. Thirty-one years. I have 7 minutes to write about how much that band meant to me.

I’m trying to cram a whole lot into 7 minutes, now 6.

You know that question people ask you about which five CDs you’d take with you should you find yourself stuck on some deserted island? My answer always included at least 2 REM CDs.

You know how you have your heart broken in high school or college and you’re not sure you’re going to survive it? REM got me through all of that. (Paired with the Stones, naturally.)

Recently, I asked Toby Joe if there was anyone famous who, when they pass away, their death will hit him kinda hard. My answer was Michael Stipe. I know, I know. He’s not dead. And he might do some solo stuff for us, but REM is done. Done. And I feel a little saddened by this news.

I love REM. I have so many memories wrapped up with REM, so many hours spent listening to them, I couldn’t even begin to put it all into 7 minutes, now 1.

So I won’t.

Anyway, REM’s breakup got me thinking: I can’t think of another great band (of their stature) together for that long, who didn’t lose a band member to drugs, suicide or to some other downfall. That doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist, but I can’t think of one. Can you?

I have to run. I’m late to pick up my kid. I guess it just feels a little lonely knowing it’s over.

Or maybe it’s my youth that’s over.

Behold: The Cake

Here’s my final cake. I put roaches on it. Not too weird, right? Let me explain.

When I got this project, I pictured a really simple, white wedding cake. I wanted to try and do something really elegant. I imagined super fine piping, minimalistic but nice. And then I pictured something on it NO ONE would want to see on any wedding cake. Ever. A roach! A roach would be funny on a wedding cake, especially a wedding cake made in NYC where roaches outnumber people by like a billion. That would be funny, right? I mean, who wants a roach on a white wedding cake? Not me!

This image was funny to me. But the roach would have to be as realistic as possible. The cake would have to be well done, too. It would have to look close to perfect, as close to perfect as a pastry student could get. It couldn’t look cartoony or cheap. If any of the things listed above didn’t work out, the cake would suck. I had my work cut out for me.

Given I hadn’t ever worked with gum paste prior this cake, nor had I rolled out fondant before this project, I am pretty damn pleased with it. And it tastes good too! Even the fondant is edible. The roaches are as well. But I won’t eat gum paste. Or roaches.

I don’t know. I kept thinking of the last scene from Secretary. Where Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character (Lee Holloway) is making James Spaders’ (Mr. Grey) bed and it’s a perfectly made bed. And then at the very last moment, she puts a giant bug in between the sheets. I kept thinking of that scene. I don’t know why; maybe I have a tumor. But I love that movie. I love what that bug represents. So, yeah. Bugs, dudes. Bugs.

Anyway… that’s my cake. But for those who don’t like the bug, I took one without it as well.

In about 15 minutes from now, I am heading to Em’s preschool where I will show the kids the bug cake and let them eat the shit out of it. I hope to have pictures of that as well. Getting there will be tricky. I plan to wear the baby and put the cake in the stroller. This is NYC. No one will care.

Hey! I wonder if I’ll see any roaches.

The cake isn’t too weird, right? I bet the kids won’t think so! I mean, have you ever seen Yo Gabba Gabba? Kids don’t find anything weird.

ETA: this is what’s left of the cake after Em’s preschool got a hold of it:

It was awesome. They loved it. I loved watching them eat it.

That F*cking Weird Kid

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Emory started school last week and there’s been some adjusting on my part to the new routine. He’s going to the same school, but it’s at another location. And that location is a wee bit further away. So, it’s been a bit of a change. Plus, my big boy is away every single day! This is a first for me. He’s gone to school before, but only for a few days each week. Now, it’s every day and I miss him. I really miss him.

The lollipop business is still going strong. A year ago today, I had about five sales. At the time of writing this, I have 932 transactions. Many of those included more than one sale. I owe every last bit of that success to Etsy who featured me last October. Things have been going strong ever since. I am so grateful for their help and everyone who has supported me since then. Thank you!

Speaking of lollipops! I just rolled out my first Halloween lollipop. It’s called Trick Or Treat. It’s apple on the outside (just a hint!) and a candy corn on the inside. It’s quite good! I test everything I make before selling it. I usually make small individual candies first. I often end up with a stash. This stash is already depleted. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it is. So, if you’re a fan of candy corn, this one’s for you!

What else? I graduate this weekend! I can’t believe I’m finally done with pastry school. I started in July of 2010. I have given birth since then, which seems crazy to me. I was adopted by an entirely new class since then, too. It’s been a long time. Anyway, we’ve been working on our final cakes for the past several classes. Think of a wedding cake, but it doesn’t have to be for an actual wedding, if that makes any sense. Basically, we can do whatever we want within the timeframe we’re given. We do need a certain number of gum paste flowers for chef to grade, but they don’t have to be on our actual cake. We have to include some piping, as well as rolled out fondant. Other than that—color, style, concept—it’s up to us. Oh, and we can’t really do anything on our own. It has to be completed during class hours.

Anyway, I’ll have a picture of my cake next week. I will say this much: no one is likely to ever, EVER hire me to make their wedding cake. Also: I might end up friendless. At least that’s what I’m starting to think based on the response I received from my classmates. My “concept” didn’t go over too well with them. They looked at me with disgust in some cases. I got a snarl from one gal. And another said, “You’re not really doing that, are you? Because that’s really gross.”

Here I thought it was a little funny and not all that weird.

Something occurred to me on Sunday night while having dinner with Toby Joe. I’m 37-years-old and and I’m still very much considered “that fucking weird kid”.

“When will that finally change?” I asked him seriously.

“Never, Michele. You’ll die that way.”

“But I don’t, and never have, felt all that weird. I feel I’m very normal, even boringly so.”

“Well, that just means you’re really fucked up.”

So, yeah. My cake might be considered strange to some, which could be interesting since we’re “showing them off” on Sunday night during our graduation party. But I’m doing it anyway. It’s no stranger than fondant, y’all. And besides, I’m used to social anxiety and awkwardness.

Tales About Nothing

Emory has an imaginary friend named Nothing. Nothing is with him most of the time and travels with us in Emory’s pocket. The existence of Nothing has spawned some pretty profound, existential conversations as of late. Here are a few of our more recent conversations.

Conversation One

Em: “Nothing is in my pocket.”

Me: “Oh yeah? Do you want something in your pocket?”

Em: “No. Then there won’t be room for Nothing.”

Me: “Oh. Right.”

Em: “But if you hold Nothing in your hand, something will fit in my pocket.”

Conversation Two

Em: “Nothing told me everything last night.”

Conversation Three

Em: “I want Nothing in the bath with me.”

Me: “Really? Won’t that be boring?”

Em: “Nothing is NOT boring.”

Me: “Oh, right. I’ll go get Nothing.”

Conversation Four

Em: “Nothing is keeping me up.”

Me: “Then why are you still awake?”

Em, a little confused: “Because of Nothing! Can you tell him to be quiet?”

Me: “Nothing! Hush!”

But then yesterday Em had to have a little talk with me. I think I was getting too good with Nothing. You see, Nothing tells me stories perched from the palm of my hand. And I always give Em some details and he always loves it. But I guess I’ve been getting too good at talking to Nothing. Because Em listened to me go on and on. When I was finished, Em politely said, “Mama? You do know Nothing isn’t real, right?” Which is a profound statement in that of itself.

But Nothing is very real to me.

Boga Babe

One of my favorite people in the whole world has an amazing shop on Etsy. And I want to share it with as many people as possible. Her name is Dianne and she and I have yet to meet. Yet I feel like I’ve known her forever. I can’t explain it. I won’t try to. I’ll just say that she’s just the bees knees and I wish she lived closer. As it is, we have a relationship via text messaging, email and Twitter.

Anyway, enough about how much I love her, her shop!

She makes amazing baby mats. They’re super well-made. They’re stylish beyond words. They’re original. They’re machine washable. I know this because we give Elliot naked time on our mat and Elliot always manages to poop or pee on it at that time. We use it for other things too. I use it at the park, the playground. I use it at the indoor playroom Emory goes to.

So! Do you know anyone who’s knocked up? These make excellent and original gifts and you’re supporting a kick ass woman. She’s seriously one of the best people I have yet to meet. Also: TURTLES! Cutest damn thing ever.

She does custom orders, too. So if you have an idea in mind, maybe your kid loves Yo Gabba Gabba or Goofy? She’ll hook you up.

Go on! Check it out.

HOLY SHIT. Pictures.

This is my neighborhood. I took a walk earlier to see how things were going before Irene hits. (Captions above each picture.)

The new fish shack near the water. Haven’t been yet.

Bagelsmith. They stay open ALL THE TIME. Seriously, it could be the end of days and you could buy a a bagel there.

The Future Perfect with a perfectly funny window treatment.

East River State Park. Mandatory evacuation for this area (about four blocks from us) It was basically a ghost town.

Blackbird Parlour. Boarded up but bumping inside.

Oy Vey indeed. (I have no idea what this bar is called or how it’s still open at all to be honest.)

NYC Muffins. Boarded up but ready for business. As you can see, everyone is in a panic.

Teddy’s Bar and Grill. AKA place where scenes from Boardwalk Empire was shot. (Among other shows/movies.)

Oh, and this is my baby. Arrr!