Monday, December 29, 2008

Customer/service


I went to the store to buy something. Nothing in particular, just something. The clerk, ringing through my odd purchases, was surly, her hairy upper lip curled into a snarl that was half way to permanent.

We exchanged no words, no communications other than overt hostility; mine reactive, I might add. As I took the bag from her (the bag containing yet another pair of gloves, replacing the pair lost outside the swimming pool where it's no wonder mitts get lost; bundling and trundling wet haired children as the wind whips frozen cheeks is no picnic in the park) I considered options. "Have a nice day" might be misconstrued as truthful, "Good luck with your face" just too mean.

Instead I said nothing, intending with my eyes which I imagined red as burning coals, to convey annoyance. She said nothing too and our interaction seemed complete.

Until I realized I had to go back. The matching sweaters for the girls were buy one get one 50 percent off and in this economy hey, one can't be too careful and if it is a mother's dream to have creamy full necked sweaters on sweet girls for stunning family photo then by all means, brave the till and shop some more.

It was time for pure psychological warfare, although only I knew we were playing. When I worked as a waitress in a time long ago we would force smiles on our faces, the bigger and more ridiculous the better. I approached, teeth barred in a semblance of a smile but in what some countries might be an invitation to kill. Here in Canada means hit me with some more of that customer service.

*Incidentally, when travelling, also many years ago, in Europe I was surprised to know that Canadians are considered really picky, aggravating customers. Who knew?

Joke's on me.

Hideous by one turn the clerk beamed on like a flashlight (terrible, terrible metaphor) and was sunshine and pleasantries. Turned on my own self I was shamed by her smile. Could it have been me that brought out the worst in her? Was it my growly mood and snarky demeanor? I think perhaps.

I live, I learn.

*I was just joking about her looks. She was actually super cute in that way all people who work at The Gap are.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Shiny red Jetta


I can only think that the two young men in the shiny red Volkswagen Jetta had somehow come under the delusion that life is a movie. I simply can't think of another explanation for their behaviour.

Stuffed full of turkey and fuller of family we headed home Christmas Day. Around nine p.m., late for us with the two little wees but early, one would think, for a full-on festival of inebriation.

Sitting at a t-shaped intersection waiting for the light to change we had our first encounter with the red Jetta. When it whipped through the intersection, careening wildly on the road, my assumption was that somehow the driver had misunderstood. Obviously, the new lights at this intersection had confused him; after all, at barely a year old it was in the realm of possibility that the driver, home for the holidays, simply was unaware until it was too late.

Of course this presupposes that he had completely disregarded the fact that it is typical to stop at intersections, and that if he had any familiarity at all with the road and the rules of such, he would have stopped for the stop sign that pre-dated the lights.

The car that had to veer off to the side must have been in shock, but as nothing bad happened my breathing barely changed and we moved on.

The street has the option to merge to the right onto another high speed road. As we approached the intersection the shiny red Jetta roared towards us off the merge in reverse. When I caught a glimpse of the driver as I quickly changed lanes and tried to anticipate the actions of an obvious lunatic, I was shocked by his blase demeanor. One hand casually on the wheel, the other on the back of the passenger seat, cigarette dangling from his lips and Santa hat perched on his head, that split second was enough to comprehend just how much this guy didn't care.

I'm sure that the music was turned up loud, the drinks liberally poured and quickly downed. And can't you just feel it? The callous disregard of youth, the feeling that life is endless and easy and that if you want to act like your actions have no affect on others, then hey, let's do it.

As that stupid little car raced past us all I could think of was that on this night, of all nights, please let there be a blanket of protection placed. For all the people making their way home and not home, immersed in family and friends and love, let them be safe. Safe from one who mustn't enjoy those things, or if he does, has no true understanding of what those things mean.

This is the guy who, standing amidst the carnage he wrought would weep and gnash his teeth. His misery palpable and his anguish audible.

This is also the guy who doesn't get that he is in control of whatever is making him so unhappy. I'm not the praying type, but I think he could use a little of whatever I've got.

I should end this now but it's been like poison in me, thinking about the little red car and how close we (others) came to - what? To death? To injury? I know, we come near and far from those things every day. Every moment, and know not.

But to see it, so clearly and in focus. To see it with the two most precious things in the world sitting in their winter jackets and toques, peering with their big beautiful eyes out the windows, asking about Santa and watching the new Tink movie. To think, that at that very moment, stupid little red Jetta could have obliterated all that is good in our life. If you could feel this, this lump in my chest that for whatever reason I haven't been able to massage down, the tears at the surface.

In our quiet city, where not much happens and that is a good thing, that we have to worry about this. In a city with no war no terror no politicking we have to remember that some guy might feel a little Down in the Dumps on Christmas Day and might feel the need to pretend that life is a cartoon and that actions have no consequences....

I repeat my mantra. I am grateful for what I have. I am grateful for my family. I am grateful. I am grateful. I am grateful.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's my birthday


Mid thirties.

That's how I describe myself in the little blog description, and now it is completely true. On Wednesday I will be 35. Exactly mid-thirties.


I don't have an issue with age per se; especially since I still feel the majority of the time like my eighteen year old self and the rest of the time like my twelve year old self.

But as friends and I were talking about going to Italy for our fortieth birthdays and as that is fast approaching I wondered if all would be committed. I thought, no biggie, if people opt out we could do it for the next big number. And that would be 5-0. And I remember a woman whose husband surprised her with a trip to Italy for her fiftieth and thinking all sorts of thoughts, most of which centred around how many light years away that seemed for me.

I started thinking about this when I was staying with my parents a while back, travelling familiar roads. How have I changed? Am I different? Same?

I anticipated growing older as changing into someone else. I didn't realize I had to keep all the dumb stuff I did. Didn't realize that my brain would still be the same, that I would still remember taping Men Without Shame off the radio when I was in grade seven and how it felt to take the bus to the mall on the weekend.

It's all still in there, a veritable mish-mash of important and mundane, and no real semblance of order. When I picture people's brains I sometimes imagine their system of order. Methodical people, like my husband, I picture with a head full of shelves, reaching all the way to the ceiling. Boxes and boxes, all alike, line the shelves, all labelled with black marker and neat capital letters. "BIRTH OF FIRST CHILD" and "WEDDING" and an entire wall dedicated to basketball.


For someone a little more disorganized, let's call it creative, shall we, the boxes are heaped everywhere in a room that's just a little too hot. Overstuffed bags with items spilling out are pushed into corners and every container is different. Some areas are labelled and somewhat compelling in their neatness, but only because the owner has been alive for so long that really, if she can't organize the three thoughts she had before she was five she doesn't deserve to have any more. But jumbled together are weddings and picnics and thirty four Christmases along with many Easters and ham with cloves stuck in.

On a table, quite disrespectfully, truth be told, are all sorts of Bad Conversations and Hurtful Things, that if it were possible to just get rid of them it would probably be best for all. A sweeping arm, braced strong, wiping across the table and with one swoop, pushing this unorganized drivel into the bin.

Although a good strong Rubbermaid container, opaque, would do the trick since I don't think that, barring a head injury, selective memory processing works. Let me rephrase. For women over the age of seven, selective memory doesn't work.

It just hasn't turned out quite how I anticipated. Looking back, I can see now that the assumption was that when you had children it was like a big Secret (no, not that Secret) was unfolded. Wisdom, maturity, knowing the Right Thing To Do - it would all be there for me. Easily accessible and I could look back at my pre-child self with a gentle pity, 'ah, how hopeless she seemed. Look, there, at her putting on those pants with little stirrups on the bottom.'

Maybe that is the realization. I'm still going to be me. I'm the me that peed my pants in kindergarten and the me that won a prize in ballet and the me that has two beautiful children. I'm the me that has a hard time being wrong and the me whose heart bleeds at least once a day when she hears a sad story. Energetic and frantic. Bad housekeeper and good mother. All of the good and the bad wrapped up and none of it going anyplace soon.

Now if I could just wrap this thought all up in a gorgeous little package with a bow. And a card that says "To: Me."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oh baby it's cold outside


This has nothing to do with anything, but someone in our local paper spelled 'hoodie' with a y this morning. I know it's not the most compelling thing I read but I can't stop thinking about it.

It's not a new word, although that statement is only true outside Saskatchewan, where people persist in calling it a bunnyhug for reasons yet unknown.

How then, could such atrocious spelling get by? It doesn't even look right, which is always my excuse for poor spelling.

At this moment I should give a shout-out to a reader who kindly informed me that I spelled feminism incorrectly on my page....he even took the trouble to let me know via email as opposed to in the comments section so that it remained a gentle, private correction. Thanks again, and shame on me, a graduate of Women's Studies. That would be like a geologist not knowing how to spell his job title.

It is odd how dependent we have become (okay, fine, how dependent I have become) on spell check. I don't even try that hard, truly, to spell certain words because I trust my spell checker will pick them up for me.


That brings me to wondering what on earth will happen to this generation of texters, who have paired down words to the bare essentials. Will they ever be able to spell? Or will it be extreme polarization: those kids who enter national spelling bees versus the txtrs who don't give a hoot.

Interesting times.

And that brings me to my last thought. It's apparent that I am jacked up on too much caffeine by my inability to write a cohesive missive on anything. But this is my page and I can do what I want to.

It makes me crazy when people check their email or text right in front of me, as we're talking or while we're driving or whatever. I mean, is this only obvious to me that this is not exactly the most polite thing to do?

I'm not just talking about kids, either. The meeting I was late for yesterday? People who thought that they were subtly checking emails and furtively typing under the table. You're kidding, right? Turn. Off. Your. Phone. You are not eleven, you didn't just get an iPhone for Christmas, and really, if your assistant needs to know how you like your coffee I'm sure she can wait.

Like the guy in that really funny movie said, gosh.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Abundance




I've been repeating a mantra of abundance to myself. Time and money seem to be topping the list but hey, who's counting, besides me and Mr. Visa.

Images of completed manuscript (edits due SOON) and completed manuscript (who asked their mother to line edit? Not I. Whose mother is line editing? Yup. Line. By. Line.) Tree trimmed. Gifts wrapped. Music on. Children sleeping. House warm.

I read that book THE SECRET quite a while back. Not a huge fan, I found it overly simplistic and incredibly culturally placed. The scene where the guy is imaging himself driving a new car while ensconced in his reclining leather chair is seared forever in my brain as a what? really? that's what you focus your energy on? kind of imprint.

But it lead me to those other books, THE ALCHEMIST and ones like that, where the quest is on a different (dare I say higher) plain. And abundance seems to fit in with that.

As I drove to a meeting fifteen minutes late this morning. (Aside: I hate being late. Hate is a strong word and I use it purposefully; I hate being late. I find, however, that it may be a natural state of being while I have small children. My time, for now, is not my own, however I may bend and twist, and once I relax into acceptance I may be able to handle this concept better.) Had I left the house on time I would have missed the traffic heading downtown. As it was I was travelling with that great mass of people on their way to work. Missed all the lights and the short journey was more than doubled. On top of being late I was now....later.

I encouraged Raging Self to accept. No point in getting mad, I reasoned, as all the parts of me that I don't particularly like reared their heads like sharp toothed monsters. Abundance. Abundance. Life will go on the meeting does not fail without you it is better to come late than to not come at all....

And you know what? I got a perfect parking spot, didn't plug the metre because I had no change, didn't get a ticket, saw a bunch of people I like, and generally had a great day.

Abundance.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dear Santa,


A five year old (almost five) wants many things for Christmas. Barbies, Polly Pockets, movies, DVDs, some sort of ice cream maker, Doodlebops. You name it she wants it.

I'm sort of past that. I say sort of because I still love the magic of Christmas but I have this feeling that really, if I want something throughout the year I get it. I don't pine away, wishing for an iPod or a new perfume. I'm an adult and I'm the keeper of my own list, and perfectly capable of making sure all my needs are met.

Except that isn't necessarily so.

I had Christmas until I was seven. Sevenish, but for sure seven was the last normal Christmas. After that it was a mixed bag as one parent believed and one did not. More so than did not believe, that parent actually outright disdained it. I'm not going to get into all that, Time and Place, right, but suffice to say that Christmas was by far not fun.

Now that I'm all growed up and have my own house (that's sort of a lie; it seems to be in the clutches of a mad group of contractors whose version of "bright and early" comes at 2:00 p.m.) I want to have the Christmases I dreamed of. Of course expectations like that are easy to appease, right? Right?

I want lights and decorations. Inside and out. Scents and candles. Soft music. Let me be more specific. Seasonal soft music. Gifts and secrets and hiding spots. Something that tastes better than Egg Nog but does the same trick. Lots of drinks and wine. People dropping by. Secret Santas. Peering in windows of gorgeous storefronts. Games. A warm fire from out new gas fireplace (that one is about five years out but hey, I'm a planner). Cookies. Cookies dough frozen in the freezer, just waiting for someone to pop by. Appetizers on tiny plates with real napkins.

This year is a planning year. I can't get to my decorations or my Christmas music because they are in the storage area that requires a ladder and the ladder that has been custom built for the space is buried under a good two feet of snow. For you Canadians that's about a meter. Actually I have no idea what the conversion is but that made me laugh out loud. I know - it wasn't funny at all. Plus I spelled 'metre' wrong. Is that an Americanized spelling of a Canadian measurement? I can see where this is going.

Bed.

Part II (series on feminism)


Without a contract, I found, was not a good place to be. Nor is it a good place to be without a contract, without a job, pardon me, mid mat leave.

Ah, yes, but I did have a job. I had a job that was a demotion. That job was undeniably mine, waiting for me to come back to. A job I had conquered and done well at. That was part of the whole thing, you see. Because this whole thing went to court and we had a big fight about it, I have copies of their emails and other correspondence. Emails where they said that yes, I was the right person for the job, I believe the verbiage was "by far the better suited candidate," but yet the crux of it was they needed someone, anyone to do the job now. And I had no intentions of giving up that first year of sweetness with my little baby to appease these greedy little men.

I stuck to my guns, arguing and persuading (although obviously not well enough) and under the assumption that people generally do what is right. Generally buck up and get it done. Honour and all that.

Ha.

Not so, my friends. I found my delusional self consistently surprised by what [language alert] assholes people can be. People that I considered mentors. Peers. And some, even, gasp, friends.

The job was given, the contract signed, the deal was sealed. And thus began life's greatest adventure. Aah, don't be so dramatic, I tell myself. One of many adventures, not the greatest, surely, but one that certainly took up a good deal of valuable Time and Energy. Although these blasted renos seems to be ranking right up there alongside childbirth (and that's a mind freak if I ever saw one) and the Case of the Missing Job, it's still high on my list of life grievances.

How do you say it? Que serra, serra.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gross

I try to keep this light. No, that's totally a lie. But I don't usually go here. If I didn't have my own family to look after, I would kill these people.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Part I (series on feminism)


Back in the day when I was a little less world-savvy I got pregnant (on purpose) and lost my job (not on purpose).

I'll try to be the least melodramatic I can, although that also means I will stifle my innate tendencies. Here goes.

I had a job in a restaurant. Started as a waitress (love that word, don't you? 'server,' it's benign replacement, fails to connect the colour of a waitress, saucy and snappy and streamlined efficiencies) and was promoted to office manager then day manager and then acting general manager.

The acting part was a little bit annoying, but I was told it was while my boss ironed out his own niche. He was the district manager, I was the acting general manager until he was certain that he wasn't promoting himself out of a job.

I got pregnant and went on maternity leave. That, for the Americans, is a government funded leave of absence that extends for a full year. It's not a choice, for employers, it's the law.

It's also the law that they have to give you your old job back at the end of it, but that is where it gets a little fuzzy. For some people.

Mid-way through I was told through the proverbial grapevine that the woman I had chosen to fill my leave was now gunning for my job. Full of trust and naivete, I scheduled a meeting with the chair of the board. Imagine my surprise when it didn't seem as clear cut to him, this law on giving me my job back.

"Do you have a contract? That says that you are the general manager?"

Appalled, I answered. "No, you know I don't. You also know [my boss] and you know that with him it was all on his word."

He seemed to mull this over. Stuck between a woman threatening to quit now, leaving them with a full-time gig for eight months till I came back, or screwing me and dealing with the consequences later, they opted for the latter.

"Well, if you don't have a contract...."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

oh Canada (musings of a tired and sick person)


Quiet snow, falling all day long. Silence is thick and calm.

Trees heavy with frost and the air full of fairy dust, sparkling. Every once in a while snow drifts down and lands noiselessly.

Tires crunch and it's hard to see the road through the swirling sifting snow. Eyes play tricks as gusts pick up curtains of flakes and set them down at random.

People hurry, some grouchy, mouths in firm lines slashed across their face, impatience bleating. Others luxuriate in the season, lulled by parties and drinks and carols.

Snowsuits and mittens and boots and scarves. Snowpants for playing and wrists that are cold. Toes frozen in boots. Cheeks red. Noses running.

Ice skates and snowshoes. Fast walks on frozen lakes. Street hockey.

Cozy inside. Reading and resting. Warmth and fires.

Even though I hate winter I wouldn't change it. I lie. Maybe the duration.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dazzling prose (not mine)


I just finished a heartbreaking/lifting book. The quote on the cover says it all:

"A wonderful feat of imagination and empathy. I had to supress bitter feelings of literary envy even as I couldn't stop devouring it." - LOUIS DE BERNIERES

SWEETNESS IN THE BELLY, by Canadian author Camilla Gibb, is thick with stories. I'm too young to remember Ethiopia as more than a place where there was famine and some singers sang a sad song to raise money, but Gibb's raw depiction of the land, the people, and the story of one in particular were epic in proportions.

Set in Ethiopia and in London, the intricately worded story of Lilly follows this displaced young woman as she searches for love and a place to call her own. Born of European parents who lived a nomadic and romanticized hippie life, Lilly ends up in Ethiopia just before the Emperor was deposed and the famine ravages and war ravages what the famine did not.

One of those authors for whom I force myself to slow down and read every word in the page so as not to miss any of her gorgeous prose, I know already that the story will stay with me forever. Images are seared into my mind and I think about Lilly and the people in her life throughout the day.

On a more base note, I certainly wish I could write like Gibb. Her sentences, the words she uses, I cannot even imagine how on earth she does it. I think perhaps I will ask. Do they tumble out, unbidden? Is it a work of art, each word on the page, its perfect placement well thought. Examined. Ach, well. It is enough that we are all different.

*Happy note; I wrote a letter to Nick Hornby and he wrote back! He also recommended some authors. I will post their names once I'm back in my palace so we can all check them out.

Monday, December 08, 2008

lost / Found Found


I think the crux of it all may be very simple. We spend so much time searching, whether we acknowledge it or not, and very often we miss. I know you know how we miss. I won't get into it.

At the risk of sounding like a certifiable lunatic, I really think that yoga might be the answer. An answer. My answer, anyways.

Now even Scientists with a capital "S" are finding that yes, maybe it's true.

I just have to quote, but please spend the time to read the full article on the Yoga Journal site.


In fact, many studies suggest that yoga can effect positive states of mind, despite life's highs and lows. In 1993, a British team measured the effects of three relaxation techniques: chair sitting, visualization, and yoga and found that yoga resulted in the greatest increase in alertness, mental and physical energy, and lust for life. Likewise,a 1994 German study, which compared a group of women practicing hatha yoga to a second group that did not, found that the yoginis showed markedly higher scores in life satisfaction, and lower scores in aggressiveness, emotionality, and sleep problems.

"Yoga primarily changes your consciousness, which includes your way of looking at things," says Cornelissen. "In the process, many aspects of your physical functioning also change, including your brain chemistry." Whether we use yoga or some other self-affirming behavior, it's clear that even born-to-be-negative types can choose to cultivate happiness. Just as a bad mood can become a bad habit that
perpetuates unhappiness, so can nurturing positive feelings lead to a more permanent positive state of mind.



I remember myself at the beginning of this journey, not even a year ago. Soggy body, from two children and not enough exercise. Soggy mind, from allowing the things around me to control my thoughts.

Twice a week, every week, and the changes were almost immediate. I remember wondering if they played a CD of swirling breaths, as I practiced in the warm hardwood filled room, soft lights and the night sky still black outside. It took me months to realize the breaths were the breaths of the other students, whose energy lifted me up and carried me until I found my own breath.


Now I know that forever this will be a part of me. That without it I have no centre. Lost/found found.

Life at the Manor


There must be something about moving away from the place a person is born and raised. Something that allows for in-depth introspection.

The children and I are lucky enough to spend a week at my parents while the bedrooms in our house are shuffled. Walls came down and are back up again and the dust is flying while they sand and smooth before the paint goes on.

We moved to an acreage when I was fifteen. I lived in this house until I was about twenty one; back randomly for varying degrees of time as I took my time finishing university. The life of a poverty stricken student was hard on the wallet and it was nice to always have somewhere to go.

I've driven these roads thousands of times. It's nearly rote. An advantage or disadvantage, dependent on the always present Time and Place, is the extra time it takes to get anywhere. There are no two ways about it, factor in a couple of highways and some snow and a person had better leave a nice cushion of time in order to be anywhere not late.

The disadvantages are obvious. I won't list them. The advantages not so. For me, it's a good thing to have that forced break; the lull in busy, as I drive to and from. Prior to an event it allows for a plan, thoughtfulness. Post event is decompression. Finishing.

What really got me thinking on this though is driving those same roads, with the same bumps and same scenery, is that it really walloped me and put me back. Pulled me back to my teenage self with a force I seldom experience, given my focus on the present and worries over the future.
I wonder if people who move away, and by that I mean far away, if they experience that visceral whomp when they come back home. When the familiar is laid out in front of them and it is all so...apparent. When you see the same paint and the same furniture, same roads same trees same skyline, it all blends and you really don't see it at all. But when you come back it's almost like it's all more alive, more poignant.

I wonder if seeing things like this makes a person more cognizant of who they used to be and who they have become. I wonder if people who move far, far away somehow have a leg up. If these things are front and centre come holidays when they traverse the familiar from long ago.

I wonder.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Power


You know how hindsight is always 20/20? And after the fact you can see why something had to happen? or not happen?

I've been stewing in my own misery for the last six weeks or so. After a strong and incredibly enjoyable yoga practice, life changing/affirming in its strength, the practice simply shrivelled.

Sometimes, to get by in life, certain things go by the wayside. Like a budget, only this was a time budget.

With this renovation swinging madly all over the place and eating up every last ounce of household energy it would have been pure selfishness to continue taking that time for me. I went about once a week, clinging to the liberation it brings mentally and physically, but once a week is like a drop in the bucket.

On this subject I was dejected. Of course my mind spiralled all over the place. Will I return? Is this the start of just not going anymore? You know when you go to the gym for a while and stop; you can't imagine just where you ever found the time? It became harder and harder to remember that this isn't normal life, that there would again be time.

This week, for the sake of my sanity, I went two days in a row. Going, feeling everything open and flex and move with the fluidity that yoga brings, I learned a couple of valuable lessons.

I relearned that likely life-long lesson about time and place. I learn it and I forget. I learn it again.

I learned that sometimes a break is the best thing. Somehow, oddly, I could bend further and experience parts of yoga that I hadn't when going three or four times a week. How odd, I thought. Upon reflection I realized that I was likely stuck, had rutted myself by preconceived notions of what I could do or not do. Taking that break I came back refreshed and with the ability to let my body do, instead of my mind allow.

It's good to be back.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Spoiled


Did I mention I got a new laptop? First laptop ever.

I love it.

White and wide and new and all mine. I can bookmark without someone adding new sites in and not organizing according alphabetically. No one will be allowed to troll Polly Pockets on this machine, nosiree.

When I go to client meetings I will have at my fingertips something professional, useful, and a heck of a lot more impressive than my trusty pad and paper. Not to say I won't continue to take notes copiously; I love scribbling madly while someone talks and then trying to decipher just why I underlined the word strategy three times. But it will be nice to have files at my fingertips and my good friend the world wide web at my veritable beck and call.

I desperately wanted a Mac. I've avoided them for years. For so long it seemed to me that they were a showpiece for people to do a bit of nah-nah-nah-ing about. But lately their appeal has grown. Maybe it's an age thing; as I age I get busier, and I like technology that holds my hand. I love the Time Capsule, a product Mac has that automatically backs up your computer with Bluetooth. I know. When my file got all shaky this summer and my husband had to piece it back together (minus a day's work) while I stood tearfully over his shoulder, I became a back-up born again. Now he says I go overboard, but hey, he has servers that do it for him. I am in the hands of my crappy F-drive and those shady little memory sticks.

So instead I got a sharp little Sony VAIO. White. White mouse, too. Bluetooth. Now I just need a back up Fairy.

You know how cordless phones changed the world? And cheap long distance? How about fax machines. Email. Microwave ovens. Express manicures. The PVR. I think this little machine might do just that level of awesome in this house.

YEah.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

let it ROCK


I was born on the wrong side of the tracks. In my hood, this is called North of Dewdney. In your town it might be something else. Eastside/westside whatever it is / wrongside.

So I have a private fetish for loud rock music. Let me be more precise. Bad loud rock music. AC/DC, Def Leopard (see you thought I was going somewhere good when I said AC/DC - ha) and the more current Nickleback. Rock anthems, basically.

Tonight I was driving back from picking up my NEW LAPTOP (first laptop) and this ridiculously wicked song came on. I've only heard it a couple of times so I have to make up my own words but I just had to sing along.

Kevin Rudolph. LET IT ROCK.

My little Toyota was thumping as I pushed the factory stereo as high as it would go without crackling. Incidentally, that was pretty high.

My little head was (I'd like to say bopping but that just doesn't have the same impact) banging and I was throwing in the odd made-up lyric to make it seem like it was my song.

The reviews on iTunes are all on par; from 'sick sick sick' which I'm pretty sure means really good, to 'OMG GREAT!!!' to 'Pure Genius.'

Suffice to say that if I could have morphed back to the late 90s, to the Checkerdome, with about three stiff vodka paralysers, I would have. I wanted to breathe in that smoky, humid air and carve out my own niche on the dance floor and just throw up my arms and stomp my feet. The mood would have been perfect had I felt the abandon that comes with knowing I had a paper due the next morning. Even better. A midterm. I could always blow off a paper at two in the morning. Midterms, not so much.

If I could buy this song for all of you I would.

10 000 hours




That is what they have determined is the magical number that will make you really good at something.

Dr. Daniel Levitin has come up with that number in his book YOUR BRAIN ON MUSIC:

…ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery
associated with being a world-class expert -- in anything. In study after study,
of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert
pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes
up again and again. Ten thousand hours is the equivalent to roughly three hours
per day, or twenty hours per week, of practice over ten years. Of course, this
doesn't address why some people don't seem to get anywhere when they practice,
and why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others. But no
one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in
less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it
needs to know to achieve true mastery.

Interesting, I say.

I don't think I can count all the writing that I did in university and high school, when I wrote like a mad fiend for school and for pleasure. Nor can I count the "work" I did for the past few years, where writing has been a part of but not the whole.

So let's say I'm starting from scratch in June 2008, when I started to write the book. Four thousand words took approximately two hours per day, plus work was another two hours of some writing. I'll average it out to 2.5 hours over the summer.

This blog (still hate that word), a forum for me to practice since I'm useless without a deadline and a cup of coffee, only takes about an hour. If that. Each post may actually take a half hour, even less, as I'm sure is readily apparent by the quality of the writing.

Somehow, I need to figure out how to practice for a full three hours each day. I'm not ready to do another book; that's a summertime gig for me. Facebook doesn't count. Essays? Maybe I should try essays.

It's going to take me ten years at three hours a day to get to ten thousand, at which point I can shut this blog down because I will be a master. Be happy you're in here at the beginning. Hold on, we're in this for the long haul.

Monday, December 01, 2008

This is likely to offend someone (and ask me how much I care)


What the hell is going on in Canada?

As much as I have given kudos to the Americans in the past weeks I bow my head in shame over the shenanigans our parliament has been up to. Embarrassing doesn't cut it.

Pardon me, eastern provinces, but it really isn't all about you. Backroom dealings, the like of which we are witnessing today, smack to me of partisan politicking by no doubt about it, people whose ears still burn with disgrace over a lost election. Oh right. Two lost elections.

Do we really expect that during turbulant economic times throughout the world that an indecisive and playground fighting government is secure?

Here is a thought. Play fair. Don't like the results? Focus harder and play to win. Next time.

See cbc.ca for biased coverage and check out the comments.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The ongoing quest for (redemption) / peace


Six hours in a car with my mother and of course we ended up at religion.

Let me preface with this disclaimer. My mother is kind and quite lovely. On subjects where we disagree, however, she sticks her heels in and is veritably unmovable.

Suffice to say that we disagree on two things. One, comma usage, is more an armchair argument, a question of style. See, she would not have allowed that sentence.

Instead she would have it read: One, comma usage, is more an armchair argument. A question of style.

Or perhaps: One, comma usage, is more an armchair argument; a question of style.

I find this so fascinating that I think we should vote. Stop reading and vote now.

The other subject that invokes just as much passion but possibly more tortured-soul angst is the state of my soul. I tried to think of a way to have that come out as a pun but either I've lost my lame humorous abilities or there really wasn't a way.

I truly, firmly, and from the bottom of my heart, believe that as long as a person is seeking something and their heart is pure, that the way they find will lead them to something good. Nirvana, heaven, whatever you want to call it. I do not believe that Christianity is that way. Or rather, let me rephrase. I do not believe that Christianity is the only way.

Every spiritual path offers something. Dependent on time and place, meaning time of life as well as historical time and place meaning place in culture as well as place geographically, a truly searching person will find the path best suited.

It is impossible for me to find that spiritual peace within a Christian context. It is so interesting, how little things that we read/hear/see can illuminate. Sometimes grandly, sometimes quietly. I read on this blog (profanity alert) the most interesting post on religion. She speaks about the rituals of her childhood faith and the comfort they bring to her. Spot on, I say. I love to go to the Lutheran church on Christmas Eve; take solace in the familiar words. The hymns. The same-ness of it all. But somehow I cannot make the leap that practicing that faith will bring me peace.

My father would say that is my human nature and my stubborn will. Perhaps in the end he will have the last laugh, I'm not so sure. I can say without a doubt that it is not anything but my truth that leads me to know that my own saving will come not in any of the buildings with which I am familiar but rather within a quiet and very personal spiritual experience.

And that's okay with me.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hope (for)


I'm not the world's biggest fan of the prairie dog (*local free alternative paper) for anything other than its restaurant reviews, but recently John Conway wrote a piece that I thought was absolutely fantastic. Usually he drags on and on about the school board and I find myself nodding off, but in this piece, titled 'The Deep Politics of Obama' needs to be noted.

A vertiable free flowing examination of the recent American election and exposition on what that election means, to the world at large and to Canada, Conway extrapolates on the hope that this election has elicited; explaining why that hope is there and how that hope may bring great things to fruition.

And look at these numbers: 'Obama won because millions of new voters showed up at the polls. He won because, among those voting, 95 per cent of blacks, 66 per cent of young people, 70 per cent of Hispanics and 57 per cent of women supported him.' Besides calling into question my apparent misconception of how to spell percent, this illustrates in very vivid detail for me just how exhilarating this election was. How hopeful.

I don't mean to belabour the point, but good on ya, U.S. If we up here can catch this feeling of euphoric optimism, I can't imagine what you can catch.

*looked it up; per cent is British, percent is American. I'm gonna give this one to the neighbours south as a gift for their electoral prowess. plus I just like it better that way.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bad poetry week

Tapped out of money, of time. Of feelings

so

sublime


that being tapped doesn't matter.

Tapped out of patience, oh lord, it's all gone it's
used
up

and it really isn't funny anymore.

Tapped from the inside from the upside downside all aroundside. When the music turns up in your head and won't turn down in your head. It's all around. And loud. Like a big bad sound.

I never did get poetry. I wrote a bunch, in high school, even got to go into a gifted class because of it where I promptly made them regret that by acting out and writing a paper on Hitler's good side, for god's sake, I'd apologize to my teacher but she isn't with us anymore. I wrote poetry constantly. I loved words so much, you know, that's what it was. In elementary school I got made fun of for, among many, many other things, reading the dictionary and you know what? It wasn't an affectation; it was totally for real. I wanted to know each and every word there was to know. I dreamed of linguistics classes and savoured good words like, oh, I don't know, soup, maybe. I really like soup, too.

(be damned to all of you comma haters, I don't care if I'm a cog in the wheels of change, I refuse to change. for now.)

In grade ten or eleven a couple of guys who thought they were all that and more wrote some sort of treatise that I recall vaguely as being pointedly mean to some of the more downtrodden in the school; I promptly went home and typed out (on my little word processor) a scathing rebuttal calling their behaviour 'asinine,' at which point I was dragged into the Principal's office to have a long and drawn out argument about appropriate language. I'm sure I lost that conversation but I stick to my guns that it was perfectly appropriate and perhaps even more apt than they cared to admit.

But enough about me. Let's talk about poetry. My personal and very uneducated opinion on it is that it is intensely personal and usually makes little to no sense. Although I do have an abiding love for e.e. cummings and the poem Tara read to me at my wedding.

Accepting new ideas, critical commentary, and nothing mean from anonymous posters.

You got me dancin, yah


We got our tickets to So You Think You Can Dance Canada Top Ten Tour. Let me rephrase; technically we don't have our tickets in our sweaty little hands (and technically I'm the only one with sweaty little hands) but I have a receipt bookmarked and was assured I would have literal tickets no less than five days before the show.

Can I get a WHO-WHO?

What is it about dancing that gets me? I don't know much about astrology, so I have no idea if it's in my sign. I am terrible at taking direction so I would never be able to learn choreography. You should have seen us when we signed up for an entire semester of learn to dance at the university; it was quite irritating to learn the Jade was supposed to lead. I mean for the love of god, it's the two thousands.

The show honest to goodness brings me to tears. I well up. I save it on the PVR and watch it again. I even (I can't believe this either) phone in my votes. And I have such trouble choosing who to vote for that I typically vote for 2 or 3 different couples (or now, individuals).

I can't dance myself as though I don't care. I can't sway a little, or even a medium sized amount, and look like a normal person. You know, at weddings and stuff because that's about all the dancing venues I get to these days. I have to go full throttle, MTV style (which is always amusing because a) I am obviously not a rock star, and b) I don't think people on MTV get super excited when they hear ACDC, but I'm making assumptions here; (maybe the more geriatric of them do) and dance like a cross between a rap star and a back-up Pussycat Doll with more than skin on her bones and less hair on her head.

*I'm not sure how their extensions don't fly off while they are shakin' it, but that isn't my concern. Mine is usually not to slip and fall or to ingratiate myself with the DJ so that he'll play the x-rated Eminem song at a wedding with children and old people.

I have visions of attending the show in February and somehow, magically, being transported to that life that I'm certain runs parallel to the one I'm living right now, the one where I'm a back up dancer who knows how to get down to the beat. The dancers, in awe of my talent, will beg me, flinging up their arms in adulation, 'oh, won't you please do just one number with us,' and of course, graciously I will concede.

Or, maybe I'll console myself with the current arrangement of dance-off's with the girls.

I aways win against Soph.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ramblings




We've been sick in our house, battling several versions of cold and flu for over a month now. With children I think it's pretty much par for the course.

But this morning I woke up when my alarm went off, and for the first time in over a month, didn't roll over and shut it off, succumbing to another hour or so. This morning I got up, drank my hot lemon water, and worked.

Starting my day like this sets me up to win. I know it. But some mornings, actually, most, lately, have been rather the complete opposite. Waiting for Stella to come in, stuffed animal in each arm, with the 'need to pee now' urgency that really only a small child can have. And then I heave myself out of bed, on the proviso that it always feels better once you are up.


It's true, for the most part, it does feel better once you just start doing. Making breakfast, turning on the coffee machine, all those tasks that are now (almost) rote; a person can forget how miserable they feel as they blow their nose for the 40th time.

But when you finally feel better, when you know it isn't a one-off and that tomorrow will be the same, it's like winning a little mini lottery.

Speaking of lotteries, it has become ritual that our behaviour-based Slurpee treat post Saturday ballet is accompanied by the purchase of a Set for Life lottery ticket. I thought it only fair to share with Jade how I will take my payout, if (when?) it comes.

There are two choices: first, to have a lump sum one million dollar payout, or second, to take weekly payments of $1000 for 25 years. I know that Jade would take the million, no question. Not for me, nope. I would quite enjoy that little 'win' every single week. What an upper! Imagine. Every single week, if something goes wrong or a bad day comes along, I can enjoy that thousand bucks in my bank account.

Yeah, I could handle that.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Style of pen


I got the best book in the mail today. This should really hammer home just what a total nerd I am. Grammatically Correct: The Writer's Essential Guide to punctuation, spelling, style, usage and grammar by Anne Stilman.

A gorgeous little hardcover published in 1997, I had to search my dear Amazon for it and it took nearly three weeks to get here. Oh happy day!

Seventeen pages on the comma. Serial commas, dependent clauses, parenthetical elements (perhaps my personal favourite), and so many more. I am in heaven.

It addresses semicolons, another favourite, commonly misspelled words, abbreviations, EVERYTHING.

I've only just had time to skim a few chapters. I was working today, you know, but it's already proved me right a few times. I'll keep it to myself, but feeling quite self satisfied at this moment in time.

Lights out at eleven, meaning I have approximately eight minutes to indulge.

Ah, the life I lead.

New boots!


Let's take this to a whole new level of completely superficial.

A while back I posted on boots. A lack thereof. A feeling of need. Unfilled.

The need has been filled, taken care of, assuaged. And it feels damn good.

I got new boots

and I love them

I got new boots

and they make me smile

I got new boots

and my feet are warm

I got new boots

and they have sparkly crystals on them

I got new boots and they are filled with fur

I got new books

they have good grippers

I have new boots

and now I need a new contract to fill the gaping void in my bank account.

*these are not the exact boots I have; my crystal pattern is more random, or if it is something, I cannot tell what it is.

**I seem to be obsessed with sparkly things. I hope that in ten years I am not gluing appliques onto a sweater.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The dark side of the upside


There is a downside to every upside. It only makes sense, right, otherwise how would we ever know when we're up?

Right and wrong, black and white, happy and sad. It all goes around and it all comes back up...but to get there you have to come from somewhere.

The manuscript arrived yesterday, you know that. And some of you called and some of you posted and a few of you emailed...and you were all so happy. That was so nice. And I was so happy. But of course, lurking under the happiness, sort of festering there like I imagine little mice with sharp pointy teeth sit and chew on ropes (don't even ask me where that image came from, just note that it is quite well-developed when I see it and I won't bore you with more details other than to indicate that the mice are brown and their eyes somewhat reddish) is the self-doubt.

Here is where I can nearly hear your sighs, your oh, I knew this was coming, and the clicks of your own little mice clicking and closing and maneuvering how do I get off this page anyways?

It's so typical, boring, really, the angst of any writer or creative person. So expected. Can't I do anything different?

See, it's just this, exactly. What if the person who read it, the one who was paid, felt some sort of, well, obligation? I mean, she was getting paid. And she was once struggling, and unpublished, and felt all of this...

Cathartic, really, just to write all that. Because you know what I realized even as the words appeared on the screen?

I don't give a shit. I say that with a smile, so if it comes across as harsher than I intend it apologies all around. But I think it's all going to work out, at risk of sounding all la-de-da on you, I think it's all going to be just fine.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Smiling


There is nothing here except for a mild headache, a good deal of dust, two cranky children, one tired husband, and some withering plants.

Oh, and the copy of my manuscript that arrived back from the service offered by the Saskatchewan Writers Guild.

We're coming in from the car, it's snowing, the kids are starving for lunch and I haven't eaten since sometime yesterday because I haven't felt like a million bucks. But I dump coats on the floor, flouting Rule #22 (of thousands), and rip open the manila envelope. Which, incidentally, is not the SASE I sent with the manuscript, but whatever.

The purpose of the service is to provide the following:

An assessment of the content of the work you submit.
A summary of the strengths and weaknesses (if any) of your writing.
Advice on steps that you may take to further develop your manuscript.
A response to up to 3 specific questions that you may submit with your manuscript.
Your manuscript will be sent to a professional writer will then give you an anonymous evaluation.

Okay, so a couple of items before I tell you how it went.

1. I sent the first copy with no changes. I wrote starting June 17 and finished around the end of
August, approximately 2 months. Monday to Friday, about 4000 words a day.

2. I didn't fix much. A few typos, that was all. Nothing to do with plot, names (I had a guy named Dan and I changed his name to Will using auto edit; you have no idea how many words have "dan" in them. That was an interesting moment in time.)

I sent it off to this service because I wanted them, basically, to tell me if they thought I was on crack, to think I could write a book. I imagined the response would go something like this:

-Get a real job.

Or maybe,

-Um, no.

In the interim, while I waited the almost unbearable 6 weeks, 2 people read it and liked it. Gave excellent suggestions and well-thought and useful feedback. But see, these are my friends. And they will like it no matter what, I sometimes think, because they are just amazed to see me do anything at all.

Anyways, I digress. So I got it back today. And you know what? They liked it! They said with a rewrite it would be ready for publishing. I've already done the brunt of the work, because the suggestions from friends were aligned with what anonymous reader said. And bottom line, they liked it. Liked the dialogue, the flow, the plot. My writing!

Right on!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Essay II (part one of two)


Tyler. "Blame" the feminists?? For what? I'm really asking here, for real, not trying to be an ass. I'm just so curious as to what you blamed them for.

I think we're still coming to terms with the modern world. When things were biologically driven, it was easier to figure out. That's probably not actually true, it likely brought its own litany of issues but let's say it was so for the sake of this argument.

A few hundred years ago, pre-industrial revolution, if you were a woman you had babies and tended the home and if you were a man you did the farming or whatever your station in life suggested.

Now, things aren't defined so much by biology. I'm talking about the fact that a woman and a man can nearly do (and maybe totally do) all the same jobs. But, women still have babies and men still don't (except for that one person on Oprah) and that is how it is.

So.

During WWI they needed women to work, right. Who would work in the factories, make sure the home fires kept burning? Thus Rosie the Riveter and all the campaigns to get women out doing what men used to do.

It succeeded, and when the men came home the women were like, what, no thanks, I'm not going back in the kitchen. And so were born all those hilarious but very serious manuals on how to be a good housewife. You know, you'll get a black and white one as a forward every once in a while, all hahaha, except that they were totally serious.

So we've come a long way, baby, that's for sure, but the choices are still hard choices sometimes. Men aren't exactly falling all over themselves, blogging and writing about how hard it is to tear themselves away from their children and homes to go off to work. Not that I want them to, that certainly isn't the solution I crave, but the dilemma seems to fall squarely on female shoulders.

The crux of it seems to be that men are struggling with identity while women struggle with the same old, same old. Women struggle with unequal pay and massive work/family struggles.

Actually, in my book I address some of these issues...betcha can't wait.

Oh boy


I was sitting with Stella last week, eating dinner out. We rarely get time alone together, and even more rare that it's simply togetherness, without trying to accomplish something.

It's nice, too, to sit across from her and look into her eyes while we eat. We typically eat at our island, side by side. What we miss by doing that is looking at each other. It was nice.

Beside us was another parent/child combo. A mother and this time, and her son. He had to have been ten or twelve, and was such a nice kid that he smiled at Stella a few times. Most boys of that age don't pay attention; he must know a four year old.

As we ate our meals something slipped into my mind that never had before. It's pretty likely that we've hit our allotment, with the two girls. This shop is closed, if you know what I mean.

And as sweet as it is, as glorious as these two little wonders are, I'll never have that special bond that a mother has with a son.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like I don't love my girls to pieces. To the moon and back, so the story goes. But I wonder about that more unconditional love that a son has for his mother, that unwavering bond. And the difference, to be loved by someone the opposite of me. Male. Who didn't choose his love, as my husband did, but rather is bound by something else entirely.

If wishes were horses, though, and I certainly don't want to wish my life away. But it is a thought I'd have, so here is where I tried to make some sense of it.

Maybe all of my grandchildren will be boys.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Essay

[this was a response to Tyler's very provocative comment on the SLAM dunk; it got way too long so I decided to post it as a blog on its own]

The comma thing is weird. This will date me, but when I was in school, the word "too" was always blanketed by commas. As in, "I think he should stay out of my business, too." and "I was going to get the green one, too, and then I decided not to." Interesting.

So here is my thought on this conversation. It's been a long time since I threw down the mantle of feminism, but I'll put it back on for a second.

When I was in first or second year women's studies I read an article (hypothetical) on a couple who had a baby and decided to raise her androgynously. So they dressed "it" in gender neutral clothing, "it" played with all sorts of toys, and so forth. No one was allowed to change its diaper except the parents and so no one outside of those two knew if it was a girl or boy. At first, the children at school were freaked out by this genderless being, but as time went on and they saw that the child wasn't bound by gender expectations, they gradually wanted to wear the same ambiguous overalls and become as "it."

The thing with the story, though, is that isn't necessarily how it would turn out, much as my twenty year old self wanted it to.

See, as much as we pretend that the differences between us as male/female don't matter or are constructs of society, I'm not sure that we're finding out that is true. Hormones, body shape and size, brain functions - these things are all affected by our biological sex. Now, let me venture a little off the path to say that it is my personal opinion that our strict definitions of male/female are too restrictive, I see it more like a continuum of sex...like some people are totally male and totally female and some fall somewhere in between.

I firmly believe, though, that if a person is a whatever - a writer, a lawyer, a politician, a firefighter - the way they do their job (hobby, whatever) is coloured by their biological sex.
So you make a good argument, for sure, when you say why distinguish his sex, why not just say Nick Hornby is a great writer, but to me, doing that wouldn't be the right thought; it wouldn't express what I want to say, which is that in my opinion, Nick Hornby is the greatest male writer.

Maybe writing does erase our difference sometimes. Sometimes, maybe it highlights them. I guess it depends on how the writer wants to be perceived, and how the reader perceives the writing.

So if all of this is the most trivial stuff you've heard in a long time, Ty, I apologize. It's been a long time since I've been in school, and a long time since I've thought about all of this. Also, I know that as soon as I decide this is how I feel I usually change my mind to the complete opposite. That's why I wrote two versions of my honours thesis; I couldn't decide from day to day which way I felt.

Final point. Having a baby enforced for me the biological divide between male and female. I believe we are more the same than we are different, but we are still different.

Amen.

(gosh, I feel like I'm in school, this is totally fun)

(also, I feel like I totally may have missed the point of what you were saying)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

SLAM dunk



Little bit of basketball talk, there, for the old husband.

Nick Hornby is maybe the best male writer around. I typically read the chicks, just realized that, other than Stephen King, and he has a unique style. It's fluid and graceful and heartfelt.

I read HIGH FIDELITY a million years ago and loved it.

(*the movie does not do it justice. this is typical, I think, the only movie I've ever seen that is better than the book is Shawshank Redemption and most movies of books are downright awful plus if you watch a movie made from a book hm that sounds wrong it should be inspired by a book it wrecks the magic. you'll only know what I mean if you read a lot.)

Back many moons ago in Tyler's Calgary apartment** I saw another Nick Hornby book and thought god, I have to get that. I didn't, and he fell off my radar for a while. My fault completely and I am abjectly sorry.

I am in such a haze of tired (for example, tonight, when I took Stella to Costco for a perfectly delicious meal of a hot dog and poutine, I left my bank card in the cash machine and it ate it up) that I don't even remember ordering his book SLAM from Amazon. Maybe I'm sleep shopping. I know it was a pleasant surprise when it came in the mail, and I unwrapped my new Amazon package. I put the book on a pile and tried with ZEN blah blah (I'm trying Tyler***, I'm just soooo tired and I'm pretty sure I need to be able to think for that one. I hope it's not too upsetting, I don't have much left in me right now.)

As I said previously, I picked it up for a lark and (let me ask one of the staff writers from Gossip Girl to join us now) OMG - it was freaking fantastic. Laughed out loud, I mean LOL (for whatever reason I like acronyms in general except LOL. probably because it took me until six months ago to understand what it meant because no one actually says "laughing out loud," while many many people do say oh my god, in a kind of valley girl way), cried silently, and was massively sad when it ended.

Let your fingers do the walking, people. Amazon is cheap, fast, friendly, and it will remember your credit card number so it really is painless.

(sorry for all the bracket thoughts. I excuse myself from rational and decent writing until this renovation is finished. Jade says my writing is annoying when I use so many brackets but it's my blog.)

**This is not the Tyler who occasionally comments on this blog

***This is the Tyler who occasionally comments on this blog

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cheers to the USA (and macaroni)


I'm not sure if you've got me all figured out yet, but let me just paint you a picture.

A glass of white wine, chilled perfectly. The newest issue of McLeans magazine (again, for you Americans, it's like our version of Newseek). Children fed and happy, playing.

I fill up a bowl of...

no-name hamburger helper.

And I eat it and fill up another and eat that, too.

[aside: use of "too" with commas. see, I grew up believing that if you said "too," you automatically placed a comma after it, as above. the other day I saw an advertisement on a bus and it left off the comma. I'm pretty sure it was a government advertisement, too, or I wouldn't have been so concerned. have the rules changed? please let me know.]

So I ate two bowls of macaroni in bright orange cheese sauce, with ground beef, for heaven's sake. I did put peas in, for something green.

(Like something borrowed, something blue, we must always strive for something green on our plate in our house.)

And, if I could just paint this picture a little tackier. As I stuff my face with soggy cheesy macaroni, I read all about the election of Obama and I find myself crying. With hope, with fear, with a wish for the American people that all goes well. With a wish for the world.

(I swear, I just had the one glass of wine.)

I want this election to be all that people hope for, dream for, plan for, wish for. That it takes the fractured state of our neighbours to the south and heals. People, economies, countries.

Maybe it wasn't the wine at all. Maybe there is something in the hamburger helper. Anyways, here's hoping.

*Listen, I wasn't bawling or anything like that, if that's what you're thinking. Not weeping. But I did well up, reading about the excitement and fear and expectation. I'm an emotional gal, what can I say.

Ode to the eff word


[ALERT: BAD LANGUAGE AHEAD]

I love the eff word. Love it love it love it. It popped into my head this morning when I read a comment posted by the Illustrious and Obviously Brave anonymous person who called me spinny and huffed about my posting on shaking things up.

Eff you, I thought, and eff you and eff you. Only when I say it in my head it has the proper spelling and harsh consonants and impeccable pronunciation like when you're really mad and the word just flies out all tight and 'ck's.

You know, like if you said "duck" really, really clear. Duck you, I thought, you anonymous blog commenter, lurking around with your anonymous moody insights. All witty and whatnot.

If you're reading this, my anonymous poster, my witty friend, be aware that this is more of what I spoke of in my Reply to you; more of that "tongue in cheek." I hope that the interweb was kind and you were able to find a web definition on the fly. Good luck with that.

It must be my service industry background, my affinity for the foul. The crude. Since I had the kids I've tried (in vain) to tone it down. For about a day I substituted, flip and such. It sent shivers down my spine, how bad it felt. Weak.

Then I tried nothing at all, but it was like I kept it all inside and then it would rise up like a volcano and spew forth, at very inopportune moments.

It's fairly obvious that my poor children have heard the profanities come from my mouth. Upon return from a lovely wedding I asked my mother, the babysitter, how it had gone. She told the story of how Stella explained that the princess doesn't say duck (substitute at your own discretion; she didn't) because then the prince won't marry her. Nice.

Ah, life could be worse, right? A few eff bombs here and there might make the world a spicier place.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

ka-POW


"I love my child but I never want to lose my identity as I only have one life to live and it is not hers."

-Anonymous

The above is taken from a comment on a post yesterday. You know when you see a cartoon and the little balloon above a character's head says ka-pow? Yeah, that's how I felt.

At the risk of getting all Bon Jovi on you, it's my life!

I'll keep this short and sweet. We've been down this road before.

I had no intentions of diving back into this subject where I seem to get lost and wallow for posts on end, I'm sure to the ambivalence and possible annoyance of childfree readers, but this sucked me back in. Wholly and completely.

(is it echoing through your head? the refrain?
and it's now or ne-vah...)

I get mixed up, worrying that if I don't devote all my Time and Energy to the two small people sounding sleeping upstairs that I am a bad parent. I felt angst and torment when I worked when Stella was small and now that I work from home I feel guilt when I work and not care give.

But I've been moving closer and I think I finally figured out (with my head, maybe not my heart just yet) that it's okay to tell your kids to read a book on their own or play for a while while mum works. I don't need to hold their hands, playing Barbies or doing intricate crafts (ha, that's a laugh. I don't even do simple crafts) all day long. It's okay to still do the things I like/need/want to do.

It's my life...

Friday, November 07, 2008

shake shake shake...


*Gosh, I've been gone so long. Just let me shake the drywall dust out of my hair and get right to things.

Let's talk about shaking it all up. Just because things are the way they are doesn't mean that that's how they should be, right?

So who came up with this whole man/woman living in the same house, anyways? (I'm not really asking, but go ahead and answer if you simply must).

What would the world be like if women lived together, in twos, let's say, me and one of my best friends, the one most suited to me, and men lived together in large communal groups.

Hear me out. Sounds crazy, I know, but then who thought the Americans would elect Obama?

So I would live in my house, with my good friend. Things would be smooth like butter. She doesn't bang around madly, unloading the dishwasher loudly, opening and closing drawers with force, going to bed later than me, just when I fall asleep and thus waking me. We would have our separate bedrooms, of course, arranged just so, and our home would be a veritable machine of well organized organization.

Men would live in communal digs, however they would like to set it up. I have to admit I haven't given their arrangements much thought, other than to assume it would be barracks style because they apparently don't need quiet times and neat and tidy. They could leave their razors in the shower on the ledge until the big bad bully beat them up and if they dumped their towels on the floor, well, hey, they would find them where they left them. Mouldy and mildewy.

The children would, obviously, live with the women, I'm thinking Monday to Thursday* and spend the weekends with their fathers. Oh, of course there would be children. How would we get them, you ask with a wink and a smile? Plain and simple: booty calls. I have a feeling all our calls would be answered, and appointments kept. It would be to the discretion of the lady whether the husband spends the night, of course.

I don't know. Call me crazy...or tell me this might just be my best Idea yet.

*The Monday to Thursday arrangement would leave weekends free for shopping, long lunches, movies, book reading...ahhh...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Last time (?)


There never was any doubt, really, that it would suck to live through massive renos again. But as I told Jade last night, I barely remember the nine months of agony in our last house when we ripped out the kitchen and a new one was put back, slow like molasses.

Cooking all our meals in the shifty concrete basement, with the washer as a counter and the makeshift sink with no drain.

Then we gutted the bathroom.

When it was all pretty and perfect, we moved.

What I remember from that house are all the memories we created in that new kitchen. I remember how happy I was every single time I was in it. Not the mess, the stress.

As I write, in my space in the hall, with books and papers piled madly everywhere, I can see our bed through the gaping wound in the wall. I am a light sleeper, and I'm already curious as to how I'll do with the bed pushed up against the windows and holes in the walls. And the ceiling, that hasn't yet been repaired.

The lights only work in half the house and the heat in maybe 3/4. It's cold.

But the mudders and tapers are booked, the contractor is back (and somehow looks tanned...I wonder if his no-showed-ness for the past five or six days saw him somewhere hot and warm) and the electricians have strung so much wire I'm thinking I may have to apply for a credit card to pay for it.

But the down and dirty of living through this many massive renovations is that I know we will always stay together. Who else could understand that the taste of drywall dust gets into your mouth and flavours your food? That certain tradespeople want to chat all day long and others would just as soon you beat it. That cutting a wire could mean that you have no lights on the exterior of your house for, oh, maybe a year.

We're bound together, Jade and I, simply by enduring (at our own behest, mind you, but still) the disruption of a remodel.

But let's not push it. Maybe this should be the last time. Here's hoping!

This and thats


The peeing contractor is back today, thankfully I'll be out and not home to witness his...let's call it an inability. I thought about posting a sign, "Sit to pee," but it's so hard to get trades in these days I live in fear of pissing them off.

(Did you get my not-so-subtle humour there? pissing? If I were a truly funny person I wouldn't have to point it out, but I'm not, so I take whatever I can get.)

I wrote a book this summer, that's new. See, I can tell you now because a good friend read it for me, one who tells me like it is, straight up, and she liked it. She's that friend I have that can be tough to have, because she sets the bar for everything she does very high. It's good, encourages a person to be all they can be and that sort of thing, but it's hard, when I want to be lazy and middling.

So this friend, she didn't come to me gently and tell me to change tacks, go back to being a waitress. That was nice. The second nice thing was that she liked it. That was better than nice. And of course, my mum is reading it. She said, "But you sound just like an author?!" The surprise in her voice was palpable. From that sentence, and her tone, I understood that she had been steeling herself to read 312 pages of dry, wonky prose that meandered meaninglessly, and that by virtue of her being my mother, she would have to find ways to be supportive yet ensure that I got a grip on reality.

Oh, and I was back at yoga last night, snuffling and coughing and loving every minute of it. And then I went and cooked myself in a crisper (a.k.a. tanning bed) for ten minutes. No wonder I feel fantastic.

Last item. I discovered one white hair. Very white. This was interesting, in a heart-stopping-time-standing-still sort of way. I'm still thinking about how I feel. Thank god I have a hair appointment on Saturday.

p.s. the image today is random, just liked it a lot. here is the link. given my mood, it probably should have been a flower but c'est la vie, right?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Oh, did you think this was going to be a post?

Well, IT'S NOT!

I'm busy watching So You Think You Can Dance Canada because it RULES and you should be, too.

let's get...political...



Not to get all political on you...but let's do it anyways.

(Do any of you hear Olivia Newton John when you read the title? I do.)

I feel like, for the second time in my life, we are living history. Of course, we're living history every day, but some of it just plain old isn't very interesting.


But when the United States, and all of us around the world, experienced 9/11, that was history. I'll never forget moments, feelings. It's all seared into my brain and onto my heart.

And now, Barack Obama.

If you asked me, I would have said that Americans weren't ready. That of course, the vocal ones, the media and arts and more liberal of the bunch, of course, they were ready. But not as a whole, no way.

As I watched the campaigns unfold, and I confess, I did not watch that closely, not wanting to experience the feeling of helplessness akin to when the Al Gore fiasco took place, but as I watched, things seemed to be shifting.

Sarah Palin shook it up a bit, and for a brief and agonizing moment I worried that she could distract the issue just enough to ruin everything.

But the people rallied and I have to say, although it didn't bring a tear to my eye, the results of the election certainly warmed my heart.

I think this could change everything.



Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Spilling secrets and other things


Normally, I try not to spill secrets on here.

But I'm fairly certain that the trades we have contracted right now in our house don't read my blog (I might venture so far as to suggest that they don't even know what one is), so here goes.

One of the people working today, an older gentleman, asked to use the washroom facilities. Sure, of course, I said.

He went in, did a short business, and came out. I noticed the toilet was not flushed, and saw the lid was up. Soph has a mad habit lately of seeking out available liquid sources, be it the dog water, shaken bubbas, and, yes, the toilet. Her favourite, she treats it like a personal sink, rinsing and rubbing with glee.

The toilet was filled with pee and so I stepped into the bathroom to flush and my sock was soaked.

Yup. Pee.

My fast gag reflexes were in full force but I held back and controlled myself, peeling off the sock, and wiping the foot down with antibacterial wipes and then bleach. I then followed suit on the floor, toilet, and anything in the near vicinity.

The second time he used the facilities I was prepared. Good thing too, this time there was a veritable pool on the floor.

Pardon my French, but what the eff? Seriously?

I know that an older gentleman can have issues with control, and I'm guessing, with aim as well.


Then sit down. That's all I have to say. Sit down. Once you start pissing on the floor you've lost your stand, point, and shoot privileges, as far as I'm concerned.

God!

Good day to you, too


I don't know what it is about today but I feel fantastic. Like I've been running at forty percent and today it's a hundred.


I dropped Stella off and as I drove around the lake, admiring this jewel, this gorgeous thing in the middle of our city, I was counting off my blessings. And thinking, how it seems as though all the happy in my life has been crammed into these last few years, basically since the girls were born. My own two jewels.

It's at times like these, when I get all personal and introspective that I wish the readers of this blog were not those people close to me, family and friends. At times like this I wished my words went out into the world, read but from a distance, from people who don't know me enough to judge me too harshly.

I find it easy to slip back into unease, worrying that what I say can and will be misconstrued, misunderstood, mistaken for something else.

Easy to concern myself: will people find this wallowing in self-actualization too much? Will they think, god, get a life, and stop talking about the one you think you have?


Then I remember. It's all a choice to click here, and does it matter? Does it matter what anyone thinks? And, maybe more importantly, I remind myself, that for the most part, people think of themselves. Not in a bad way, but isn't that how our days go? Groceries, and what to have for lunch, and when did I drop off the dry cleaning, and god, did anyone let the dog out this morning?

The main gist of my thoughts this morning have been how, apart from very temporary moments of happiness over the years, the larger blocks have been more recent and only over the last two years have I really narrowed down who I am. I think this is fairly typical, early thirties musing on life and perspective and where do I go from here. But of course, when it's you, it's all so new and fresh and exciting (and sometimes, terribly terrifying).

I have come back to that creative side, the one that was dormant for so long, and I feel a veritable outpouring. I'm sure it will wax and wane, dependent on that ever present time and place, but at the moment it is both exhilarating and exhausting to keep up.

Wouldn't trade it for the world.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

lost/found found


The kid just got picked up by Nana for Sunday School. I still don't know how I feel about this. Do you ever do something because something is better than nothing, but the something is so far from ideal that it doesn't assuage your worries at all? That is what this feels like.

As her parent, I should be the one setting up and guiding her spirituality. That sounds more presumptuous than I mean. I don't mean that I should set up strict parameters and force her one way or the other. What I mean is that I should be the one doing the legword, getting her ready, taking her places and explaining the process.

My only excuse is that the thought of religion makes me tired. My bones ache when I think of it. I need to redefine, to set the expectations and consider the methods. A spiritual quest, instead of a search for a dogma or defined belief system makes me feel more at ease.

I tried the Unitarian church but it seemed to close to the skids for me. What on earth do I mean by that? I think that for me, to house a creed or doctrine in a building that looks exactly like any given church implies a certain affinity to Christianity. And for me, personally, that isn't going to work. Picky, I know. But the only way this is going to work is if I examine what I can and cannot embrace. A half-hearted attempt will only end in failure, something I'm happy to recognize would have happened had I committed to the Unitarian effort.

Next stop will be Hindu and Buddhist creeds. I know next to nothing about either and need to explore.

Advice welcome and quite possibly necessary as I feel (lost) in this complex labyrinth. And now it is not just my own spirit that matters.