I’m naked, writing reclined in the master bathroom jacuzzi. Ahh. Rental cabin in the middle of nowhere. With the family. My side this time. Another day of baby baby! It’s currently 11 degrees below zero. Welcome to Annandale, MN. 

Last night: turkey and beef burgers, no sugar pumpkin muffins, salted edamame, cases and cases of carbonated water. The perfect feast for a motley crew of alcoholics, weight watchers, and no-sugar-in-the-new-year enthusiasts. 

People say psychedelic mushrooms can be brutal but beneficial because they unearth the shit about yourself that you’ve buried. I can say the same about family. Three sisters, father, daughter. This house is filled with replications of myself—slightly altered. 

My sister told a story over kitchen island happy hour talk about how her ship’s been sinking the last two months. Said it’s funny, because the day her ship sank there was a jet ski, fully gassed, waiting for her at the ocean bottom. 

One of the morals of the story is that sometimes we can’t see the moral of the story until the chapter we’re reading is finished. 

Like my mother-in-law. She’s been sinus-infection sick the last week we’ve been home. And we’ve been shacking up in her basement. That’s a double whammy of anxiety for me, right? The sickness has been a curse for her, but a blessing for me, which turns out to be a blessing for her too. Why? Because I’ve seen her painfully restrain herself to protect the baby, and insodoing I haven’t felt so overwhelmed. Call it reverse psychology. Like yesterday, she was still hacking, and in my mind I was like oh it’s fine you can hold the baby, you’re not contagious anymore, and she says noooo not yet, and I see that love in her eyes and I know there’s nothing in her that would hurt EllieRoo. 

I don’t know if I unlearned fear. I just know that an experience occurred so now I see my mother-in-law in a different way. 

On the drive out to the cabin, Joe Rogan podcast with Bret Weinstein. Workplace sexual assault was the topic of conversation. As a male college professor, the subject matter applies to me directly. I’m in a position of power in a touch phobic culture. Which is ironically very much the same position older women find themselves in as they approach the baby. 

This tub is hydrotherapy. Except for the TV blaring downstairs, surround sound, Bose base. The baby is sleeping, I said. What!? he asked, joking. I can’t hear you . . . 

We are a growing population, occupying a ice-melt so shrinking land mass. Kate’s aunt gave us a a fancy pressure cooker for xmas. Even makes yogurt, the package says. The zeitgeist metaphor power of some xmas gifts is astounding. 

After my sister told the story about her sinking ship, the women in the kitchen were describing their lifetime experiences with yeast infections—trying to reach consensus on whether the white stuff down there was filmy or powdery. Testimony varied. 

I’m in a hot bath with the window open. The splotch on my groin is fading. A week on the jock itch cream, I hope I’m on the mend. Google says maybe I should switch to cotton underwear. But I really like my poly/nylon briefs. 

Damn the hot water feels good on my knees.