Thursday, June 24, 2010

Organic Overboard

I recently started a job as an aide in a physical therapy clinic. Our clinic is on the first floor of an extremely average two story office building. So average, that I did not even bother to notice who shared this building with us. Why would I need to know? I just figured there was probably a dentist office or a small scale drug operation upstairs. What I would come to find out is intriguing, concerning, and disgusting.

It wasn't until I had been working at this clinic for a week that I learned the true identity of our upstairs neighbors. Though it was right on the sign by the front door, I had never bothered to look. As I heard a comment in passing about the residents upstairs, I ran to the front of the building to confirm such a vicious rumor: Ste. 220 - Andaluz Waterbirth center. As my brain slowly processed those 3 words, a single horrifying image would not be suppressed any longer. All I could think of were the yellowing water damaged tiles that littered the ceiling of our clean physical therapy clinic. I remember thinking to myself, "Self, I wonder what caused that water damage if we are on the first floor of a two floor building." I'll tell you what it was from . It was from particularly violent births that caused the hot tubs that are directly over my head to splash enough water and afterbirth on the floor to leak into our clinic. Forget about biohazards, that's straight up nasty.

All this week, there has been the steady sound of children running above me. Constantly they run, back and forth. I started to wonder what was going on up there. Why are so many little kids running around, sounding like they are going to break through the ceiling? There is only one explanation, the babies. Growing up in Oregon, I am no stranger to all things organic. Giving birth in a large tub with a midwife to help surface the little sea monster is about as organic as you can get. After hearing all these kids running around, I am starting to think these organic water babies are being born with the ability to run. I am now convinced that giving birth underwater is so natural that these babies are being born with, dare I say, super human capabilities. I swear to you now that a baby born underwater can breathe underwater as well as above. Michael Phelps: underwater birth. Ariel the mermaid: underwater birth. Sarah Palin: underwater birth. The evidence is clear.

I don't think I'm quite ready to stand under a leaking ceiling tile and awaken my inner superhero, but as soon as I see narwhal flopping down the stairs, I'll be first in line. Until then, I'll continue to throw up in my mouth every time I think about exactly what has been leaking into my clinic.

Friday, June 11, 2010


I have always had a distorted view of tradition. When I was young, I decided that everything I liked was a tradition in hopes that it would regularly happen for the rest of my life. When my family spontaneously went to Seven Peaks water park on one of our bi-yearly trips to Utah, I conveniently decided it was a tradition. Boy was I disappointed on our next trip when I was the only one that packed my swimming trunks and the only one that shed tears in mourning over our lost tradition.

I have come to realize that I fit right in here in Portland. Someone planted a huge rose garden and named Portland the rose city. Somebody else decided that every city needs a festival. As luck would have it, our extremely large and proud neighbors to the south also decided they couldn’t live without a rose festival. In a pathetic cry for attention, Portland made it a tradition to have not one, but two parades to celebrate its rose festival. My guess is that somebody tried it once and some na├»ve little kid with a suitcase full of swimming trunks and expectations decided to keep it going.

Last Saturday was Portland’s Starlight Parade: the perfect example of a tradition that never should have been. For some reason, I went with low expectations and for some reason, things started working out. Little by little, I let my guard down. By the time we miraculously found a front row spot to spread our blankets, I was once again that 8 year old boy in bright red swimming trunks grateful for frivolous traditions that were never meant to be. Following are the highlights of this experience.

With my new found optimism, I was not going to let the white trash family sitting next to me rain on my parade. As they slowly crept farther onto my blanket, I tried to pretend they weren’t there. I let them have the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they didn’t notice their dirty children jumping over me to get to the street. Maybe they thought of me as part of the family. Then I turned around to see what I was slowly kicking back onto their blanket. Imagine my face expression when I see a small cage with little claws reaching for freedom. Who brings their ferrets to a parade? As the manly woman took her precious out of its cage and started kissing it I literally saw my dad standing over me saying “Son, just because we did it once doesn’t make it a tradition.” I instantly wished I had learned from the past. I wished I was miles away from the personal space invading family with their urine soaked ferrets.

A staple of low budget parades is the high school marching band. Following each marching band is a small group of devoted parents pulling wagons of water. I posted a video of what I thought was an over excited father who had too much to drink. After he danced alongside four different marching bands, I realized he was a simple spectator that had finally found his place in life: dancing down the street waving a glowing baton.