A Trip Down Toothbrush Lane

Are there toothbrush design teams? What I’m wondering is if there are people whose job is to design various toothbrushes. These people would come up with bristle thickness and placement, handle designs, widths, colors, etc. Then they would get together with other designers from the same company and decide which ones to make. Or maybe all the toothbrush designs have already happened so now companies just pull from old archives. Maybe they can mix and match, take brush heads from one design, mix with handles from another, and colors from yet another, to create a brand new toothbrush. They could have multiple options, depending on how many choices they have to pull from.

I wonder if there are toothbrush wars. Oral B, Colgate, Gum, Sonicare, Reach, or Crest (I’m sure I left some out) having it out over whose design was theirs. The way corporations are–the truly litigious among us and NOT average citizens as those who would silence us would have us believe–I would not be surprised. There could be a movie about it, with corporate moles sneaking into the design rooms of other companies to take their toothbrush secrets. It’s fascinating to contemplate.

Actually, as I began to contemplate this, I did a little internets searching and discovered many Chinese companies selling toothbrushes in massive bulk. You can get “cheap” toothbrushes for 15 cents apiece. You just have to buy 30,000 of them. What a great deal! I can just imagine the island of plastic these will create in the ocean. Colorful and massive. Ooh! I can get a bamboo toothbrush for only 25 cents, and I only have to buy one! What a great deal.

Further searching produced a site dedicated specifically to toothbrush designers who wish to avoid “ugly” toothbrushes. My god. A perusal of this is like viewing a microcosm of so much that is wrong in civilization today, with its hyper dependence on technology and ability to spend time in useless ways. There are toothbrushes you can connect to your phone to “track” your brushing. And toothbrushes that play music so you’ll brush longer. Toothbrushes that clean with “nanotech ions” instead of toothpaste. Minimalist toothbrushes that are alternatives to “ugly” toothbrushes. Toothbrushes with “two-tone” bristles because you know, the two tones in the average drugstore toothbrushes are so last decade. There was even a toothbrush with a hole and a tunnel in the arm so you could run water into it, thereby creating a toothbrush water fountain. My, oh my. Oh! And a special, “functional” package to carry around your tooth-cleaning twig, should you be so inclined.

The ways in which humanity entertains itself. It boggles the mind.

I had no idea. I just had a silly idea to wonder about toothbrush designers because last week my old toothbrush wasn’t doing its job (I always know it’s time to switch when the back of my teeth still feel fuzzy after brushing) so I went to my toothbrush stash (yes, I admit, I have a stash) and picked out another toothbrush. I used it for a few days but it was so harsh on my gums I went to the stash and exchanged it for one that turned out to be identical to the one I had replaced. The prior one had an enormous head and a clunky handle with even clunkier primary colors. The bristles were super stiff. It hurt to use, even gently. I’m not sure whose mouth it was intended for. A horse? The other toothbrush has a delicate small head with soft bristles (in only one color–the shame!) and a two-tone, smaller handle. All this led to the thought process behind this post and now here I am. I have whiled away 20 minutes and know more than I ever thought I would about toothbrushes. I can’t even believe the crap that is out there for people to waste their money on. No wonder Earth is covered in garbage.

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Yum

I love chocolate. Specifically I love dark chocolate. I do not really care for milk chocolate. I love hot chocolate, too.

I also like shelled pistachios. I don’t mind the shelled kind, but the delayed gratification aspect of eating them with shells on can be slightly frustrating. Also if the shelled kind are salty, my lips hurt after a bit when I eat them.

I really love ginger beer and ginger ale. The best kinds are the ones with lots of ginger in them. That Seagram’s crap shouldn’t even be allowed to call itself ginger ale–there isn’t any ginger in it! My best favorite right now is Bundaberg ginger beer. Oh, my. It is simply delicious.

Sometimes when I’m at the barn I nibble on pieces of hay. I really love alfalfa. It’s got a good, grassy taste and it’s kind of heavy. It is good to have a piece between my teeth while brushing my horse.

These are my observations for today on things I like to eat.

I am Boring

I think I might be quite possibly the most boring person in the world. One of those people who, when they speak, others look at as if to say, “Did you say something?” or “Um, really? How interesting” when what I said was not interesting, but they were just being polite. Inside they are wondering how much longer they have to pretend to listen, or when they will be able to go and organize the pantry or something.

I’m unfortunately so boring that there isn’t even any irony in it. I am not stupid and boring, so that if I told the story of stepping on a ping pong ball and causing Bunny Bixler to not complete her ping pong winning streak, everyone would look at me agog as if to ask, “Is she serious?” I’m not even like the boring guy who talks about insurance sales. At least that guy has a monotone voice that can help others sleep. I’m just a void, a blah.

This boringness of mine might be a good thing. If I committed a crime, all of the witnesses would forget what I looked like. “I think maybe she had blonde hair? Or maybe brown? I’m not sure.”

This is even assuming they noticed me in the first place. “I thought there was someone hanging around, but maybe I’m wrong.”

“The person might have been wearing a grey t-shirt. Or a black one? Can’t recall. Jeans perhaps? Or leggings? Dunno.”

Yep. Boooooorrring. That’s me in a nutshell.

For the Birds

A month ago this would have been 7 am and I would have been waking in the hours before it anyway, so trying to sleep through it now is an exercise in futility. This stupid human construct called the time change wreaks havoc on my already toss and turny body. Insomnia is a constant companion. It will go away for awhile. Turning wifi off near my bed made a huge difference. But there is also the brain that tosses and turns too much. When I remember meditation, this helps a lot of the time, but I don’t always remember it and so…

I think if I suggested that the time change is a conspiracy to mess with our minds I would be accused of being a conspiracy theorist, the new fastest way to shut down inquiry. Yet I wouldn’t put it past the deviants running this shit show to sit rubbing their hands in glee as the population crashes its cars and goes even more crazy every time the clock shifts forward and back, forward and back. It’s just more evidence to me that these kinds of human constructs are for the birds.

What is that expression, for the birds? I went and looked it up. It’s an American expression from the army shortened from “shit for the birds” because birds ate horse poop, so something that was for the birds was considered drivel, nonsense, irrelevant matter. Hmmm. I doubt it was nonsense, drivel, or irrelevant matter for the birds who ate the shit. Even calling it shit belittles it, somehow. It actually is part of the cycle of life, and of many insects for birds or other animals to eat manure. All the way around, humans find a way to make what Earth comes up with meaningless.

How did I get here? This is what happens when I’m too tired and wake up before I’m ready. My subscapularis is in its own little personal hell, so when I woke and couldn’t sleep I used my little thumby tool to rub out the friction between the muscle fibers, then still couldn’t sleep so played cards on my phone (an activity I know is useless and also not helpful to sleep because of the blue LED light in the phone but I did it anyway). Then I started thinking about the time change and looked at the clock and discovered it was six and then wrote this. I am nothing if not a master of writing useless stuff when I’m tired. But hey, now I know where for the birds came from. They can come and peck through this post.

Round Peg in a Square Hole

In 2008 I sold a house. I had remodeled the house back to its original character, pulling out 70s carpet and mobile home wallboard, and installing built-ins and woodworking true to the house’s 1920’s charm. After the sale, I realized I had forgotten a little ceramic sun, a smiling cherub made by a local artist. I went to the house and asked the buyers if they had the sun. They told me they had thrown it away. Shocked and hurt, I said goodbye and left. Over the next several months, I heard from neighbors I remained in touch with that they had ripped out the built-in bookshelves, torn out all the shrubs in the back yard, and cut down the giant tree in the front yard. After hearing this I vowed never to return to this place into which I had poured literally years of my life making beautiful. I did not want to see how it had been ruined.

Five years ago I bought another bungalow, my first after the sale of the house in 2008. Built in 1941, it had been a rental for over 20 years. The seller chose mine from several offers based on the letter I wrote to her telling her about my two daughters and my desire to make a home for them. I loved this little house. It was darling and sweet, with an arch between the dining and living room, and tiny arches over the door bell on the wall and the phone nook. This little place was simply lovely.

The seller had installed new windows and had some plumbing done before the sale. She installed a new sewer line, which tore up the front yard. She covered the wound with sod to spruce things up. Upon move in, I set out to create a habitat for birds and bees. I covered the sod with native plants in varying sizes. I installed a watering system to keep everyone happy in the summer. I nurtured and watered and pulled the grass out by hand. No poisons touched this place. I planted small trees that grew tall, fluffy medium bushes, and flowers–so many flowers! Every spring and summer the yard hummed with the life of pollinators and birds, flitting among the plant life, which grew prolifically.

In spite of my love for this adorable house, I gradually grew to despise the city in which it was located. Thousands upon thousands of people were moving into Portland, and it was changing, and not in a good way. It stopped being friendly. Traffic became unbearable. Costs skyrocketed. I decided I needed to live somewhere less obnoxious, plus our whole family wanted to be closer to the land and away from cement and fuel exhaust and noise. After nearly two years of consideration I put my little house on the market, vowing that this time I would find a buyer who loved the house as much as I had. Someone who would care for the plants and gardens. Someone who cared about the character of the place and would not rip out the built-ins in the kitchen to replace with ugly granite counters and steel appliances.

Immediately after listing, someone stole four blueberry bushes out of the backyard. They dug them up, filled in the holes, and covered them with mulch. This broke my heart. I cried and cried, hoping that whomever had taken them would care for them as much as I had. I could only hope that they would show as much care for these plants as they had for hiding the evidence of their thievery.

I received a couple of offers, but both were much below asking price. Two weeks after listing, I received an offer that was below what I was asking, but not by much. As part of the offer, the prospective buyers wrote me a letter telling me how lovely the plants and landscaping were, and how they had seen the yard grow and change over the years, and how this made the house special to them. Oh wonderful! I thought. These are the kind of people I’m talking about. These people will take care of my house. I counter offered to a higher price and they accepted.

I have often in my life discovered that I can be quite naive when it comes to treachery. I don’t see it coming and when it happens, I am shocked and angered at my own naivete. In spite of my efforts to try and make this house sale different, I stupidly did not ask the right questions and made assumptions based on this letter that the people actually wanted to live there and leave the plants alone.

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. They have been gutting it and have a for rent sign out front and are planning to “thin” the trees and plants. Even worse, the neighbors discovered they are turning my darling bungalow into a duplex! (Although I guess I can’t call it mine anymore, now can I?) And unfortunately, since I let the guy know I was upset about this, he isn’t letting me come and remove the plants he is planning to kill at the end of the week. When I told the guy that I felt like I had been misled, he told me that he should never have talked to me because I am “too emotional.” Basically, Mr. Lack of Empathy turned his being a lying asshole into my problem because I had an emotional reaction to his destruction and dishonesty. What is really remarkable to me is that I had not really expressed much when he said this.

I’ve spoken to the neighbor, begged him to get in there and rescue things before they are killed. I don’t know if he will do it. He is one of the few people I know who loves plants as much as I do, but his yard is full and his husband has told him no more plants. I asked him just to take them out and I’ll come get them. The most frustrating part of this is the powerlessness that I feel. If I lived just a little bit closer, I would be there now with buckets and a shovel bringing those plants here with me. Getting further away from that city makes it that much harder to get there if I have some need to. I am going to complain about the realtor who brokered this deal, the realtor who allowed these people to lie to me and lead me to believe they were going to live in this house and take care of the plants when they were planning otherwise. I had many conversations with him about my desires. He knew what I wanted. He may have represented them and had a duty to them, but he also had a duty to be honest, and giving me a letter that implied other than their intentions was dishonest. At the very least, I am going to post reviews of him everywhere I can.

I don’t fit in this death culture. Most people, when they hear this story, ask me, “What’s the big deal? They’re just plants.” But why should it matter less because they are plants? Why are their lives worth less? Plus even more than that, what about the fact that habitat I created that was teeming with life? Why don’t those lives matter? For whatever reason, these liars want to destroy this mini ecosystem. No reason they could offer is justification for misleading me or for doing any of it. They want to gut the house and remodel? Fine, whatever. I’ve lived that. But to take out the plant life and destroy it, too is simply wrong. And telling me that this was what made the house so beautiful and special, just so that I would accept their offer is just plain evil.

This is the review I wrote onĀ  the agent who represented the buyers: Mr. Michalowski represented the buyers when I sold my house. As part of their offer, the buyers wrote me a nice letter stating how much they loved the landscaping and beauty of my charming little home, and how they had enjoyed watching in change during the years that I owned it. In the course of negotiations, I explained to Mr. Michalowski that I was excited to have someone interested who wanted to live in and take care of my house. I told him that I didn’t want someone who was just going to rent it out. He never once insinuated that the buyer’s letter was a complete lie and that they intended to gut the house, kill the plants I had spent years nurturing, and turn the thing into a duplex. He did well by his clients, letting them lie to me so that the sale would go through. Now the sale is done, his pockets are lined, and the neighbors I promised would have a family next door will be subject to living with renters who don’t give a damn about the house or anything associated with it. I offered to take any plants the buyers wouldn’t want, but Mr. Michalowski said the sellers could make these arrangements once the sale was done. Landscapers are coming this week to “thin” including taking out trees I spent a fortune on and spent years nurturing to ensure they would grow. Devious and void of any integrity, that is how I would describe both these buyers and Mr. Michalowski. If you want an agent who will do the devil’s bidding, if you want a smooth operator who will skillfully lie and evade, he’s your man. If you want honesty and above-board negotiations and information, run.

Edges

There is this edge of me that wants to be liked.

There is this edge of me that doesn’t want to rock the boat.

There is this edge of me that wants to drink lots of cold water, but there is another edge of me that doesn’t want to do all the things I’m supposed to do.

There is this edge of me that would like to lash out irrationally.

There is this edge of me that would like to speak up.

There is this edge of me that would like to shut up.

My gum hurts. Right behind my front two teeth. There is this edge of me that would like to poke this place until it bleeds.

There is this edge of me that dreamed of a Rabbinically bearded man carrying a frothy furry rabbit on his shoulder. When I kissed the rabbit, the man kissed me and his beard hair became tangled in the fur of the rabbit and in my teeth and I spit it out.

There is this edge of me that would like to reach out and slap that smug smile off one person’s face, but there is another edge of me that would rather pretend she does not exist. This latter edge is bigger.

I went in to floss my teeth and drink cold water and thought about my edges. I knew while running the soft cloth between my incisors that some things do not belong here, including cold water that runs through metal that was stolen from the ground and formed into tubes with which to corral the water. The fire hydrant in the street does not belong here because the street does not belong here and the hoses that would carry the water from the fire hydrant do not belong here, and the places the water would cover if the hoses were aimed at them and the hydrant were opened do not belong here.

I am comprised of edges and live in something that does not belong. I used to believe it was myself that did not correspond, but really it is the places around me within which I cannot capitulate that were not meant to be. And so there are edges of me.

Tap Tap Tap Tap

I’m lying in my room with the french doors open (there are no windows, but french doors) and reading. I hear tap tap tap, tappity tappity tap. I look out to see what it is and there in the trees is a woodpecker.

The bunnies live in our yard and I can see them as well, sitting in the yard nibbling the weeds. A squirrel is digging and Willow the rabbit is hopping over to say hello. This scares the squirrel who runs away. Silly squirrel, bunnies won’t hurt you.

I so much prefer lying and listening to a woodpecker than any man made noises, and watching the creatures that live out there. It’s peaceful and lovely.