Roach got caught in the kitchen
Old transmission died
Tax man well he’s taking us
Takin’ us for a ride

Yes, all these things happened in the summer of 2009. We had a small, if morale-killing roach infestation, we had to invest in a new transmission for our 10-year old 150,000-mile traveled minivan, and we were selected for a tax audit.

I’m not one to vilify the IRS and its staff, but the dude responsible for reviewing our flagged returns seemed lost in work and in life. His awe-inspiring sluggishness, apparent ill-health, and general incompetence made him simultaneously a figure of both disdain and pity. We actually tried to help him more efficiently perform his duties, patiently leading him back to lost tangents: “OK, well let’s finish adding up the gas receipts from 2005 before we address the charitable contributions.” In truth it was only my husband, Stephan Crump, who was valiantly trying to keep him on track over the two 3-hour sessions (eventually resulting in us paying another $600 or so just to end the torture.) Myself, I was barely able to lift my head from the auditor’s desk, let alone do arithmetic.

Half of my face ain’t workin’
It won’t move on one side
Gravity pulling me pulling me
Deep down
Deep down and wide

A few weeks earlier, I had contracted a shingles-like virus that left me with extreme fatigue, thick dull headaches, vertigo, and yes, a face that was paralyzed on the left side. For about 5 weeks, I couldn’t blink that eye and had to wear an eye patch against debris on those rare occasions when I rallied to leave the house. Various gels and eye drops were required to keep the eye from drying out, and I went through an ineffective succession of pain-killers and other medications to help me cope and try to walk in a straight line if I dared. The drugs were all prescribed by my home-birth midwife who was not your typical free-wheeler with the prescription time. But desperate times call for… ‘Cause yeah, I was 7 months pregnant. This a joyful fact, though it did predispose me to that virus, and it sure did add to the spectacle, while apparently doing nothing for the auditor’s inclination toward mercy. Then again, I was trudging through the long halls of the midtown Manhattan IRS office like a morose, drunken, pregnant pirate. Too weird for sympathy, perhaps.

The paralysis did serve as a kind of natural Botox, as the lack of expression made all wrinkles disappear from the left side of my forehead (they’re back now, though my eye still won’t open as wide as the right one, hence my dread of the obligatory promotional photo sessions)

Plump drops fall from the ceiling
Dripping down on our bed
Curling up on the bathroom floor
Knees wrapped round my head
Call off the show
Repack the bag
Drink scotch whiskey down
Time to find a new religion
Maybe a new resolve
No frowning

The previous summer — a leaking roof, bickering over finances, a miscarriage that over a weekend transformed my body from a temple to be protected into a polluted vessel, ripe for the revelation of peaty nectar after a sleepless night on tour in Scotland.

Ultimately, these were small problems — we have these small blond blessings so preciously peaceful in their beds — and we’re more than all right.

Will we get any sleep tonight?
I don’t know
Bouncing checks and another fight
I don’t think so
All things grow toward the light
This I know
Through this wall on the other side
It’s all right