esteemin’ in the steam room

In ALL, INTERIOR DESIGN by Stephanie Klein50 Comments

It’s something you don’t think about when buying a new home.  You circle communities sizing up houses, double-checking the school district details.  Will the kitchen need to be gutted?  Wallpaper stripped?  Fixtures altered?  What are the property taxes?  Are there any easements?  You don’t think about the water pressure in your shower.  My mother chose the house in which I spent my childhood for the wallpaper in the bathroom.  It was red with gold accents.  I wish I had a swatch of it for my memory.  For everyone it’s different, a different pull or wow factor.  I loved this house the second I saw it, the neighborhood, the hickory wide-plank floors, the views.  And the bathrooms. 

I still haven’t showered in all of them.  We have five bathrooms in this house, and as I spell it out, I realize how it sounds.  Decadent, spoiled, braggy.  Who has five of anything?  You know, aside from dollars,or brothers,or cans of stewed tomatoes.  Okay, forget that.  The point is, I grew up in a house of four people, with two bathrooms, only one bathtub.  Now there are four people living in a house with five toilets.  Granted half of the people in the house still crap in their pants.  We’ve four bathtubs with showers.  I’ve yet to test them all.  I haven’t had the need.

I took a shower today that made me feel powerful.  Usually I just needle around in my version of pajamas, an oversized t-shirt coupled with sweatshorts.  Sometimes a tank, if I’m feeling thinish.  Today though, I felt inspired and ready to mix things up.  Living on the very edge, I tell you, I decided to shower not in the master suite but in the guest quarters. 

At my father’s request, Phil installed a radio in one of the guest bedroom bathrooms.  My father likes to listen to talk radio when he does his morning business.  I was always bothered by this. While the association of Joan Hamburg’s voice with my father’s morning crap is decidedly disturbing in its own right, I’m particularly ruffled by my father’s insistence of calling his bathroom time "doing his business."  When I was very young, I assumed he had a yellow legal pad and calculator in there.  "What’s taking him so long, Mom?"

"I don’t know," she whispered, and I remember thinking she was whispering because she didn’t want to disturb his work flow.  He must have a backlog of work in there,I thought.  There was always the newspaper, too.  And to this day, when I smell a newspaper, any newspaper, I think of my father sitting on the toilet.

"I have to come in.  We have no shampoo downstairs."
"Okay, but enter at your own risk," he’d joke.  And I’d draw in a deep breath and quickly dart past his knees, rummaging through the bottom cabinet in search of a container of shampoo.
"Oh my God, Dad!" I’d scream, holding my nose.
"Oh, come on.  Now I know you’re being dramatic.  I haven’t even done my business yet!"  It was the newspaper.  It was draped over his lap, and I’d come to believe that my father’s turds smelled like the news.  And they sounded like Arthur Schwartz. 

Today, as I prepped the bathroom for my shower, I remembered the radio Phil installed.  I’d chosen a radio that doubled as an iPod docking station for that bathroom.  I weaved through the house in my towel, searching for myPod.  Voila! I blasted my "esteem mix" and took a steam.  I felt clean and bright and refreshed.  It’s amazing, the restorative power of a shower, especially coupled with Aveda aromatics.  I was ready to take on the world!  It’s delightful being clean, swaddled in white oversized towels, buffed with fragrant body creams.  Cuticles clipped.  Waffle-weave slippers.  And as I went through my routine, Crash Test Dummies’ "Afternoons & Coffee Spoons" piped in, and I laughed to myself.

Someday, I’ll have
A disappearing hairline
Someday, I’ll wear
Pajamas in the daytime

I’ve kinda always had a disappearing hairline, and someday seems to be here now.  And it made me all giddy. 

Someday, I’ll poop
and call it doing business

So I ran upstairs singing my new lyrics and nuzzled the beans, both lounging on the floor watching Baby Einstein’s Sign Language video.  "Yay, let’s all wear pajamas in the daytime!"  I love my family and its many bathrooms, despite the business that takes place inside them.  Then I signed the word for poop, and wondered if the beans would come to associate poop with The Crash Test Dummies.


  1. With five bathrooms, I would need a maid. Even if bathrooms aren't used everyday, I feel the need to have them sparkling at all times, just in case. There is no way in hell I'd clean five bathrooms…..

  2. I can remember growing up my brother and I would sit on the end of my dad's bed talking to him while he sat on the pot reading the newspaper. He would be doing his "business" while we talked to him. I don't know whether to say ICK or LOL!! When my dad was ready to get up and wipe he'd say I need to wipe, and my brother and I would exit his bedroom, so he could finish doing his "business"!!

  3. Ah! I'm not the only one who knows that the Crash Test Dummies have other songs besides the insipid MMMMM MMMM MMMM MMMM Song. My favorite is Superman's Song. Many good memories with that song!

    Oh, and did you actually read and like Little Pink Slips? Or do you get paid to say things for the jacket cover. I noticed your comment while reading the book last night.

    FROM STEPHANIE: I already answered this somewhere… no author gets paid to write a blurb, for the record. Or at least not to my knowledge. I only write blurbs for books I've actually read… and Sally Koslow, author of Little Pink Slips is a fun talented writer. We were in writing class together, so I've seen Little Pink Slips in many different stages. It's fun!

  4. EWEWEWEWEW!!!! no one should EVER see anyone else pooping, unless the pooper is under three years of age. This would scar me for life.

  5. I agree- being swaddled in comfy towels/robes after a hot cleansing shower and lounging around in your house/apartment/etc that you love so much is one of the BEST feelings. This made me want to go home and do just that.

  6. Well, personal taste only … but, The CTD are pretty crappy!

    FROM STEPHANIE: I love them! Love that dude's voice, so deep. And the lyrics are so smart. I guess that's why there are 31 flavors.

  7. I always thought Afternoons was about a young guy dying of recently diagnosed lung cancer and speaking of his very near future. Keep in mind, whippersnapper, we didn't have no stinkin' Google back in them days to check the lyrics. Nosiree! We had to depend on our ears iffn' we didn't want to pony up $18.95 for the CD w/it's liner notes and sech like that 'n all.

    Happily, I have no memories of my late father that involve poo.

    FROM STEPHANIE: Yeah, I've always know what the song is about, but mostly I just like to sing the part about the pajamas while I'm still in mine.

  8. What do you NOT put on your blog/book/tv show/billboard outside your fantastically large mansion?

    FROM STEPHANIE: I never advertise it, but I know a class that might just help you out. Issues 101.

  9. This made me want to be in a bathrobe and slippers…not in my office with stacks of resumes to go through. Oh how I can't wait to jump in the shower.

  10. Two quick things – first – yay for bathtubs, bathrooms, aveda, white fluffy anything and the time to enjoy it. I have 3 bathrooms in my house with 4 of us – but of course, one of them is the 'spider bathroom' in the basement, and it's only been used about a dozen times in the 8 years I've lived there. I've considered turning it into a fabulous, luxurious spot for myself – but then, sure as shit, the teenagers would invade.

    Secondly – speaking of shit and teenagers – I find we have our most heart-to-heart conversations when I'm stationary on the pot. I guess they realize I can't run off and do the thousand and several things that always need doing when I'm 'doing my business'. So they come in – sit on the side of the tub, or sit in the doorway – it's probably among the most important conversation time we have. God. That really says something.

    Anyway – enjoy all 5 bathrooms!

  11. Is it weird that one of my only criteria for places to live is good water pressure? A bad shower ruins my whole day sometimes.

  12. OK, I'm dying to know: what else is on your esteem playlist?

    FROM STEPHANIE: Okay, so that song came on once my esteem mix was finished… that is to say, the song about a dude dying of lung cancer isn't exactly what I use to talk myself down from "poor me" mode. I could have sworn I'd posted the contents of that playlist… I'll go see.

  13. Eh, so she's got a big house. She also lives in a town where housing costs aren't insane. It's my one complaint about LA. Ok, not my ONE complaint, but there are definite advantages to living here- being unable to afford a house, however, is not one of them. So my husband, baby and I cram into a small apt. Eh, we're cozy. Anyway, I was writing here for some reason- oh yeah, Stephanie, how do you feel about baby sign language? I'm skeptical, but if it helps my little sprout communicate, I'm willing to try. Do the Einstein DVDs work?

    FROM STEPHANIE: I took some free class at Babies R Us while I was pregnant. They gave me all this literature about the benefits of signing with your child, specifically that they tend to do better in grammar school and have double the vocabulary of those children who don't sign. And it does make sense… the bit that they're better equipped to understand the idea of imagination and pretend and symbols. They understand that their hands can be their hands and also stand for things, like butterflies and poop. I also thought it was really interesting in terms of how much more they enjoyed reading when they could sign because it enabled them to participate and anticipate. So while reading Brown Bear, or whatever that book is, they could sign bear and then lion, knowing the lion page is next, and then you say, "very good! You knew a lion was coming!" And they love it because they get to participate even though they cannot speak. You know, kids get bored. They can roll and crawl and scream and cry… they're all activities… and signing adds something else, another way to communicate. AND I hear it saves everyone a lot of frustration. I tivo a show called "signing time!" Very similar to the Einstein dvd. I figure… it can't hurt! I always say the word along with signing it. I'd also ask parents, with kids who actually sign, how they feel about it.

  14. How interesting that babies can sign. Is it the alphabet or a bunch of general signs that babies would need to know or learn? I had no idea… Guess the parents must watch and learn as well so you can all communicate together. Anything that helps the baby to communicate prior to verbal seems to make great sense. I'd love to hear how other mothers who've used it found it to be – especially once their child learned to speak.

    FROM STEPHANIE: They learn general signs (as do we)… milk, cereal, more, eat, drink, butterfly, caterpillar, bear, lion, hear, loud, listen, see, song, dance, swing, moon, stars, ceiling fan, lights, turn on, turn off, car, home, truck, mommy, daddy, bedtime, sleep, awake, hurts, etc. You get what I'm saying.

  15. ha! i've never commented before, but i had to this time. i too can't smell a newspaper without thinking of my dad in the toilet! i thought it was just me! i'm so glad i'm not the only one!

  16. The song "Afternoons and Coffeespoons" is actually based off of the T.S. Eliot poem "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." I love the poem, and therefore also have to love the song. (I'm taking off the nerd hat now.)

    Loved the post today– I'd like to know what songs are in the "esteem mix." I have other mixes, but that's a great idea.

  17. This is just one persons testimonial but my cousin signed with her daughter and now that her daughter should be learning how to use words they are having a hard time because they spent so much time in silence signing & the little girl much prefers hand motions. Whereas my daughter is 11 months old and already saying words like nana for banana or any food really, mama, dadda,bye bye, and woof (for any animal she sees) her daughter is almost 16 months and doesn't speak hardly a word. Maybe that is normal but it doesn't sound normal to me. Maybe combining words and signing would do the trick.

    FROM STEPHANIE: Every bit of research I've found indicates that signing absolutely does NOT delay speech. Sign language is a language. English is a language. The ability to speak is a skill. And eventually we all learn to speak. Sign language along with increasing IQ (and retaining those points until at least 8 years of age) decreases tantrums. It also improves confidence and enables children to bond even further with their caregivers. This is all found in the research… not stuff I'd know off hand. There are plenty of sites that address these concerns, and I encourage people to check them out. It's also beneficial for children who are already able to speak.

  18. Stephanie, I am glad you have experienced the power of the shower. With the right scents and fuss it can be almost better than sex. Well, close to it. Those Herbal Essences' commercial were on the right track.

  19. This is weird. It's 4 a.m. on the West coast and here's what I'm presently thinking. Almost 3 years ago, I met a person who had a mind, a personality, and a pen somewhat similar to my own. She was successful, but struggling. We became friends and I rooted my ass off for her. Like most people, I was fascinated more by the struggles than by the successes. I think I was even quoted in the Times. And now I fast forward to this post. I read carefully between the lines; I search for her tone, her personality, her vital signs. Wow, off the charts. Positively happy. What a transformation it has been. I've been fortunate to witness it, even from afar. And so dear NYNY, I'm officially switching my rooting interests from you to me. Wish me luck ;-)

  20. I loved "God Shuffled His Feet" (especially the matter-of-fact "and what with God there …")
    Their lyrics ARE smart.

    after seven days
    he was quite tired, so god said:
    "let there be a day
    just for picnics, with wine and bread"
    he gathered up some people he had made
    created blankets and laid back in the shade
    the people sipped their wine
    and what with god there, they asked him questions
    like: do you have to eat
    or get your hair cut in heaven?
    and if your eye got poked out in this life
    would it be waiting up in heaven with your wife?
    god shuffled his feet, and glanced around at them
    the people cleared their throats, and stared right back at him
    so he said: "once there was a boy
    who woke up with blue hair.
    to him it was a joy
    until he ran out into the warm air…
    he thought of how his friends would come to see
    and would they laugh, or had he got some strange disease?"
    god shuffled his feet, and glanced around at them
    the people cleared their throats, and stared right back at him
    the people sat waiting
    out on their blankets in the garden
    but god said nothing
    so someone asked him, "i beg your pardon:
    i'm not quite clear about what you just spoke….
    was that a parable, or a very subtle joke?"
    god shuffled his feet, and glanced around, at them
    the people cleared their throats, and stared right back, at him

  21. And what about this one – cute and erotic at the same time:

    Swimming in your ocean

    When I'm sampling from your bosom
    Sometimes I suffer from distractions like
    Why does God cause things like tornadoes and train wrecks?

    When I'm swimming in
    When I'm swimming in your ocean
    Floating aloft on creams
    And scented lotions
    I can get pretty side-tracked
    I hope you'll understand

    When I kneel before your bounty
    Sometimes I wonder if there could be really
    UFO's that come from other planets


    And when you let me taste your fingers
    I take them like fruit and as I linger
    I wonder if my seed will find purchase in your soil…

  22. My godson was exposed to 'baby sign' from birth and started using them on his own at about 7 months. I take care of him a lot and I cannot tell you how helpful it is for the child to be able to say, "More banana" instead of hysterically pointing and pounding on his highchair. All in all he used about 15 signs (more, please, thank you, banana, apple, all done, milk, drink, eat, Mom, Dad, brother etc.) until he really started talking. But even today at 2.5 he still resorts to signing "More, please" when he isn't getting his way.

  23. Baby signing can be pretty useful when they're at the stage where their brains know what they want to communicate but their physical skills are not developed enough to form words. My 16 month nephew routinely signs "more" when he wants more of something (duh), and it's soooo cute when he does it in an attempt to say, "Do it again!!!" Like when I swing him upside down and he laughs in that awesome way babies laugh, and then he brings his hands together in the "more" sign – oh, it melts my heart.

    He also signs "please", which is cute.

  24. Not ruffle anyone's feathers, but a lot of times the Baby Einstein videos (among other brands) aren't as wonderful as everyone is led to believe. The research is lacking in actual evidence of successfully teaching children. NPR did a story on it about a year ago, and another one about a week ago. Anyway, I share this because I know some people who put way too much stock in video education–not saying any of you do, but it does occur.

  25. Bravo!…i love posts like these…they flow so well, aren't over written, and are comical at the same time. I work in a bank and I was doing my best to control my laughter, ah but to no avail. I think reading should be smart and enjoyable but also EASY. Today's was easy to read and now I'm just happy. I can smell a newspaper right now and I also think of my dad.

  26. Oh wow. I always thought my dad's crap smelled like the newspaper, too! Unlike anyone else's crap for sure. I can remember him searching for that day's paper and getting frustrated when he couldn't seem to find it. He absolutely would not poop without it. Newspaper or no newspaper, I can't understand why men take so long to use the restroom.

  27. When I read this post, one word came to mind…contentment. I love that feeling. It doesn't always grace my doorstep, but when it does there is nothing better.

  28. My dad used to get up from the dinner table (before everyone else) grab the paper and say he was going to the "john". It took me until I was about 10 years old to finally ask "WHO is John?"

    Five bathrooms…..sigh. Sounds like heaven.

  29. Too funny. We had four kids – six people in a house with ONE bathroom. Needless to say, there was NO privacy in our home. I always had to warn guests if they didn't want to be walked in on, they'd better lock the door! Now we are in our new home with three, count 'em, three bathrooms… and um… two people. To be fair, the children do come to visit…

  30. We`ve only one bathroom with a bathtub/ shower in our house (aside from a guest toilet – which you have to enter backwards because it`s so small that there`s no possibility to move inside). And I`m fine with that because it`s me who has to clean them :)

  31. I don't mean to sound like an idiot, but I'm not well-versed on children. Are your beans old enough to be left alone, or do you have a nanny? (More asking because we're contemplating getting pregnant, and I was envisioning spending the first 6 months post-pregnancy will my arms full.)

    FROM STEPHANIE: We do have help. However, we also use baby monitors throughout the house for when they're in their cribs.

  32. I am just about two hours away from walking out of my office and never coming back. Although I did give two weeks notice, I have decided to be bad and spend the rest of the afternoon reading archives of your blog. I may also change my homepage to it too so when the IT guys come to take my profile away, they will have something fun to read. This site kept me sane and will be in my favorites at my next job labeled "Recent Market Analysis". Nothing like a good laugh to get you through the day. Thank you.

  33. I think signing is an excellent idea. Supposedly it increases their IQ at least in studies they've done with other babies whose parents did not sign with them.
    Im one of those parents. I kept meaning to do it but just never did, and then he was jabbering away before I knew it so oh well. He knows how to write his name now. Just wait until they get to that stage. It's sooooo cute how their little name looks all crooked and running down the side margin, one or two of the letters backwards. hehe.

  34. Why does it bother you that your Dad says "doing his business" when you use the word "make" when referring to your bathroom business?

    It's kinda the same thing.

  35. Sigh.

    Do I really want to know about someone's father's bowel movements, or actually ANYONE's bowel movements? Is contemporary literature really enhanced by the seemingly gratuitous discussions of vaginas and penises and other such personal information on blogs? Just askin.

    I mean…it's hardly Henry Miller.

    TMI, ladies!

  36. Someone already said this, but kudos for appreciating how smart CTD lyrics are. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is my single favorite piece of literature EVER, and I totally go into nerd-vana when it makes its way into pop culture. So needless to say, Afternoons and Coffeespoons makes me absolutely giddy.

  37. to the person who commented on stephanie talking too much about her "mansion," you should know that the cost of a "mansion" in austin, texas is nothing compared to most parts of the country. in cities like austin, neighborhoods are built with huge homes and lots of amenities because that is the going trend…hence the term "mcmansion."

    on the other hand, i find it excessive to have five bathrooms because its extremely bad for the environment to be supply energy/heat/air to so many unused room!

  38. My experience with teaching a young child sign language is a little outside the norm, but nonetheless, one of the best decisions ever made. My daughter had two brain tumors removed, one at 18months of age and the second at 2 years old. As a result of both removals, she is missing approximately 1/5 of her brain – and it is the part of the brain that controls communication. The doctors told me she would never communicate and that I should consider institutionalizing her. Were they ever wrong!

    Ashley is now 12 years old. I started signing with her as an infant. Today she is a fluent signer and has no trouble communicating her thoughts, desires, and needs. A chapter about her is featured in a new book named "The Short Bus" by Jonathan Mooney. Interestingly, the title of her chapter is "How To Curse In Sign Language"!

    Needless to say, I'm all for teaching babies to sign!


  39. It's been a busy summer in our household, the oldest preparing to go off to college, so I hadn't checked in on your post in awhile.

    I had to comment! This is such a happy happy post from you, we the readers can feel in in our gut! Just great to hear you so happy Stephanie. And, keep signing to those babies! I have two nephews and a niece that were taught to sign as babies, and they rock! The oldest is now 6, and the smartest and most well behaved kid I've seen at that age. I realized it's because he doesn't throw tantrums, he quietly signs his requests if he's not being heard.

  40. To the person who commented about 5 bathrooms being excessive: Stepahnie appears not to care, or know, about the concerns of the rest of the world. She pines for more, more, more. She wants to be envied. I am sure she will pass these great values on to her daughter.

    FROM STEPHANIE: What, Lucas is all of a sudden chopped liver?

  41. Love VA,

    You make me laugh. Not only do you think you know Stephanie Klein BUT you also feel it is important to comment about it! And you read her words(obviously religiously). I laugh at you and your absurdity.

  42. Love VA, not only do you read this blog but you reread this blog over and over again hoping to be acknowledged. I'm glad you don't mind me laughing at you. It makes it that much funnier.

  43. love VA– Using "gain an ounce of self awareness" after stating, "Stepahnie appears not to care, or know, about the concerns of the rest of the world" is a bit egregious, to say the least.

  44. Coco-
    I do not think I know Stephanie Klein – just what I read here. I do not think commenting on a blog is important either. I also don't give a shit if you laugh at me or not. Laugh away. I read this blog to see when the owner will ever gain an ounce of self awareness.

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