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Brilliant Beauty! - Bath with Plastic Bags


I needed to detoxify. Some doctors believe that atopic skin conditions (アトピー性皮膚炎) are caused when patients cannot digest and detoxify unnecessary substances in their bodies; therefore, they itch to force scratching, which helps release the substances from their scars. I realized that I do not sweat -- when my death metal husband was sweating a gallon of perspiration in the hottest summer in Japan, I sweat just ant’s tear worth -- I needed to find a way to sweat.

When I thought of sweating, the first thing that came to mind was a sauna; so I looked up sauna places around my apartment. They were usually available in fancy gyms and beauty spas. However, their monthly fees were super expensive. If I have to spend $30 - $80 every month, I would rather buy new handbags, shoes, and skirts instead.   

I was thinking of how I could have a sauna in my apartment without spending a lot of money while avoiding any mold buildup -- when I was a student in Indiana, my school house had a mold problem because I created a jungle-like atmosphere -- Once, I even had mushrooms growing in my bathroom (that’s my story and I’m sticking with it)! I am a tiny Asian girl, so I don’t need much of a moisture barrier to keep my body moist. I thought of using an umbrella, a bucket over my body, and even building a plastic igloo in my bathtub. But I did not want to suffocate with those plastic covers over my head.

Disposable plastic bags are ideal for cost and sanitary reasons. If they are old and dirty, I simply toss them out and use new shopping bags that I occasionally collect. I cut a rectangle out of the shopping bag (one of the higher quality, thicker plastic bags from upper-class or specialty stores, like the Tin Tin tote bag my sister gave me) to expose my face and breathe. Then I take a bath with it over my head for a straight week. Amazingly, I sweat!

My facial skin became smooth and fabulous after a few weeks, so I decided to create a cover for my whole body. I cut the needed holes in a trash bag (eco friendly and recyclable) and used it with my facial bag.

I also bathe with natural salt and lemon. Salt makes me sweat more and helps detoxify. I sometimes use table salt when the natural salt is gone, but I prefer to use natural salt with minerals from the ocean (I don’t mind which one, they’re all great oceans). I bought a bag of it from a regular supermarket. Lemons' vitamin C helps neutralize tap-water. I used to bathe with a whole lemon, but for budgeting reasons I now cut them into eighths.

A bath usually lasts about an hour (I listen to musicals, like "Chicago" -- my husband downloaded it for my phone). I used to read poetry books in the tub; but I realized that I cannot sweat much when I do not concentrate solely on sweating.

With hot water in one fifth of the bathtub, two plastic bags, a handful salt, and a piece of lemon (while singing “Pop! Six! Squish! Uh uh, Cicero, Lipschitz!” -- my husband was frightened when I did it behind the shower curtain), I have finally worked up a sweat and have great looking skin. After the bath, I do not forget to dry the two bags (proudly hanging from the shower curtain bar).

As fate would have it, I was finally happy with my skin three days ago. But then I cooked potato salad (I know, the nerve), and the hottest potato splashed on my forehead. A quarter size skin came off above my right elbow. I burnt myself.

Well, life moves on -- I took bath every night and brain storming how I could erase this burnt scar. 



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Of the collection, Janine Joseph writes:“I do not know/ if I am even right to be a mother at a right time,” discloses the speaker in the opening poem of Mother Said, “I Want Your Pain.” Evocative and startling in their unflinching clarity of image, these poems are inheritors of the aftermath of nuclear fallout and chemical warfare. They are tuned to the movement of transgenerational traumas. Grandmothers who “hid in a ditch with three horses” while B-29s shot bullets overhead, leave relatives who later ask of our bequeathed earth, “Is the land poisoned or not poisoned?” Here is a striking collection with a deft voice, poised even as it turns on or transcends an observation or emotion: “Grandfather watches TV on the highest volume,/ the howling-wind.”

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