There's a certain stereotype of pregnant women acting hysterical under the influence of too much progesterone that I've always found vaguely offensive. I believed it was mostly a misogynistic myth perpetuated by a predominately patriarchal society with paternal attitudes towards women. I scoffed at the notion of women sniffling sentimentally at diaper commercials or boo-hooing at Lifetime channel movies. It takes a lot to make me cry during a movie and when a movie does manage to squeeze out a tear, you'd have to twist my arm to admit it. Maybe it's my Korean upbringing, but I've always been known for keeping my emotions under control and being a rational and analytical person. Not exactly stoic, but an even keel person not prone to neurotic behavior or emotional outbursts. I think I even felt slightly smug about this. Well, not anymore. I can top blubbering over a dumb commercial or sappy movie any day. I have truly hit rock bottom in my emotional stability. Yesterday, I burst into tears because my Chia Pet refused to sprout.
Let me preface this story a little so I can justify to myself
that a padded cell and a maternity strait jacket aren't in my
immediate future. At week 25, I definitely feel pregnant, and
it's starting to get uncomfortable. Since I'm bulging out in
front and behind, I feel like a cross between a beached marine
mammal and a bull in a china shop -- clumsy and corpulent. This
bovine feeling, coupled with the certainty that I'm only going to
get bigger has not done wonders for my not-so-sunny disposition
this week. At the grocery store I saw a Chia Lion head and I just
knew I had to have it. I've always secretly wanted a Chia Pet.
Maybe it's that catchy yet cheesy theme song, "Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!"
coupled with the irresistible kitsch factor. But mostly it's
because I figured that maybe this would be the one plant-like
thing even I couldn't kill.
It breaks my heart, but I have the blackest of black thumbs. Plants regard me as a cross between the Grim Reaper and Medusa. I get within ten feet of one and they either shrivel up and die or turn into stone. The only thing that proliferates around me is mold, since I have a propensity for leaving leftovers in the fridge until they have a few birthdays. In contrast, my dear mother -- arguably the meanest woman alive, is Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest. Mommy, mommy quite contrary, yet how green does her garden grow! All she has to do is walk through a garden and flowers bloom in Technicolor, vegetables grow to gigantic size and I swear that even birds chirp and butterflies flutter around her. Yet now that my belly is burgeoning with new life, I've been feeling rather earth-motherish and fertile myself. I tried to justify my herbicidal tendencies: maybe this time, it would be different. Heck, Chia Pets aren't even technically plants -- they're some bizarre bionic hybrid of half pottery, half plant. There's no soil or fertilizer involved, how hard could this be? Besides, it would be nice to watch something besides my belly grow.
I followed the directions scrupulously. What I thought would take a mere few minutes turned into a weeklong ordeal. First, you have to soak the seeds and the clay head for 24 hours in water. I did that and exactly 24 hours later I retrieved the wet, bald Chia Pet from the sink. I have to confess that this naked Chia Lion head is the ugliest thing I've ever seen. The huge hole drilled at the top of the head for water looks like a psychedelic trepanation experiment gone awry. Not to mention the grooves cut into the head for the seeds to adhere to. After 24 hours, those Chia seeds, which looked like innocuous poppy seeds, morphed into a slimy, gelatinous mixture that looked part ectoplasm and part fish roe. It took everything I had to bring myself to apply that quivering mess onto the pottery head without losing my lunch.
Once I was done with the seed application, all that was left to do was to fill the head up with water and wait. According to the instructions, I should see results within three days. I placed the head on a sunny windowsill in my home office and diligently watered the head and waited and waited. Three days later, no signs of life. Instead the seeds were looking suspiciously petrified. I began to panic that my Medusa touch struck again -- the seeds were turning into stone! I waited another day and when nothing happened, I took desperate measures. I tried to simulate a greenhouse effect with a Saran Wrap Quick Cover -- it looks like a shower cap. It was the perfect size for the little lion head so I misted the head thoroughly, put the mini shower cap carefully on the head and waited another day.
The next afternoon, my husband Teddy walked into my office to find me crying over a moist, bald Chia Lion head with a blue shower cap on its head. I was so far gone at that point that I failed to see the complete insanity of this scenario. I think he was afraid, very afraid. But he gingerly reassured me that maybe it was just a bad batch of seeds and that we could always buy a new Chia Pet. "You don't understand!" I wailed, "If I can't even take care of a Chia Pet, how am I going to take care of a baby!" My failure to nurture a living plant heightened my fear of failure to nurture another human being, a much more complex biological organism that is higher on the food chain. If a plant can't depend on me, how can a baby? Unlike babies, Chia Pets and plants come with directions, and still I managed to screw that up. I was inconsolable. Teddy suggested that I give it another day and quickly hightailed it out of my office, no doubt to hide all the sharp objects in the house.
The next day, I took off the shower cap and my heart leaped in my
chest. There, on the slimy head was a sign of new life! But my
heart plummeted when I realized it was just mold. Apparently, my
bad touch doesn't affect organisms of the single-celled variety.
Instead of a Chia Pet I now have a Moldy Pet. Maybe I could learn
to live with that. It may not be as verdant and lush, but it's
certainly a lot fuzzier.