Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Of course the real twist with the Dion character is his rumored inability to communicate in the English language. This is actually a Conservative lie. Stephane Dion can communicate just fine, it's just when he communicates we don't
know what he is saying. If you visit his website there is a video of Mr. Dion
explaining the green shift in eleven simple words. All pronounced properly. He says "it is very simple, you tax less, what you want more of." Like Obama, Dion
is attempting to do politics differently. He eschews the easy to understand
sound bite and instead chooses to speak in what seems like short ancient Japanese koans, or riddles. "And how will a green shift affect my bottom line?" a voter may ask. "What is the sound of one hand clapping" he might answer. Look forward to tension-filled awkward silences in the leaders' debates.
That's all. Just thought you might want a laugh.
I can breathe here.
My grandma, an artist, said once to me that she loved the mountains but she needed to be able to see what was coming up. She had a sense of claustrophobia if she couldn't see over the next hill. I didn't understand this until I visited Vancouver, and everything thirty feet ahead was a mystery.
Space on the prairies has a different layer of meaning for me. When I think of Europe, I think of the thousands of years that the terrain has been lived on by so many. I could be dead wrong here, but the prairies seem to me less inhabited. Every inch of our space isn't taken up with a person or something wrought by a person; rather, cities are spread far and wide and people are, too.
I imagine that if one could see, for just a split second, all the people who stood in one place in England, that there would be layers and layers of people that had walked the same path over a millenia.
Not so here.
Maybe because the climate is harsh, maybe just settlement patterns and how things carve a niche...whatever it is, although I would love to visit these places, to walk where so many have walked before, I find a certain sense of peace in knowing that the places I spend my time are not so thick with history.
I hope I'm expressing this right. I know full well that people have come and gone where I am. And there may be so many more than the short history that we know of; before continents shifted and things moved, who knows what the patterns were. But of the history that we know, that we understand and can make assumptions about, I know that the difference between, say, London, and Lumsden, are huge.
This becomes something I tend to think about in the fall; as the air cools and the breeze whips the leaves into frenzied patterns. As I think about hunkering down and putting things away and...preparing.
I like to be able to stretch my arms out and close my eyes and feel openness. I think wherever you are from, no matter where you go, that place where you spend formative years leaves an indelible mark on your soul. I know I need this now; that wherever and wherever life leads, I will need to touch down and ground myself here every once in a while.
Friday, September 26, 2008
But when I started my yoga practice I was immersed in my body. And, it sounds like an oxymoron, but I was also immersed in my spirituality, my emotions, and how it all functions (or doesn't function) together.
Over the summer I was so in tune. It was incredible; I've never experienced this, at least, not since I was a child and it is innate to be one with your body.
Over the last month I've been immersed in work. My work comes sporadically, and I've been working up to the Big Deal next week. So this last weeks I've gone to yoga twice a week instead of my usual. I've missed it, on every level. The superficial, the break from the kids. The physical, the bending and stretching and strengthening.
But I had no idea how much I missed the meditative quality it brings to my life.
Ashtanga yoga is a form of yoga where breath is key. Without the breath, it is simply a form of gymnastics, of movement.
The breath, a deep swirling and audible breath, inhaling and exhaling the same duration, is the meditation. It heats the body, it focuses the mind.
When I first started yoga classes I went to the 6:30 a.m. session. There were only four or five of us, at most. The sounds of breaths, audible, strong, and smooth, resonated. I thought the instructor was playing some sort of CD. Later, much later, after I was able to cultivate my own breath, I realized. It was the breath of the practice; each person audible.
(*Now I wonder, when someone new joins in; are they made uncomfortable by this noise? Do they find it awkward? I hope they stay long enough to work past it; I can see how it would happen.)
All summer long my breath was strong, it was easy to slip into a deep subconsciousness and simply be.
But tonight my breath was ragged. I felt it stop and start, I was off. It was uneven. My movements were out of tune, often a beat ahead or behind.
Eventually I fell into the rhythm, and the movements became graceful, and my body found its way, my breath became smooth again. It took nearly the whole practice before I was graceful. I am so grateful; so grateful for this. I feel like I just hit a re-set button; all the stresses and worries and lists faded away for a few moments. I reconnected with myself.
There is nothing that brings this deep awareness for me; no text or thought or teaching. I think I'm on the edge of knowing; that this is a form of spirituality; that it can be that thing I've been looking for. But I still fear this knowing. It goes against what so many years of teaching taught; even though I disregard these teachings they are still in my cells.
Maybe yoga can wash them away.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I just wrote a sentence: "She kept stalking shelves." Maybe she did. Maybe that's her passion; to creep up behind them, unbeknowst to the innocent shelves, just sitting there, holding cans of soup and tampons and the like. More reasonable, maybe, would be that she kept stocking shelves.
I mostly do this when speaking. Stella is used to it, pointing out with glee my malapropisms. It's gotten to the point that I sometimes wonder; are synapses misfiring (obviously) and if so then -
Mom Brain is due to the myriad streams of thoughts we balance at all times. The black sweater can't go in the wash, there is a stain on the baby's jams, we only have three diapers left, Stella has a swimming lesson and I have to take the baby so we're going to need to little snacks and her swimsuit and her crocs and her towel and the lock (forgot that) and a bubba and she'll have to have a shower after supper and the clothes pile that's been dumped in the hall for a week has to get sorted.
I forgot to buy sliced cheese and so the grilled cheese cheese will need to be grated and I have to return three phone calls about the conference I'm organizing AND IT IS NEXT WEEK and the guy from one of the Crown corps has been sending me blank emails all day and I need to remember to phone and ask him what it is exactly that he's trying to say.
It's Thursday, which is the day that I water plants, and now that is getting moved to Friday because I forgot. I forgot for the fourth day in a row to call the painter to come back to put another coat on the door upstairs but I did call SaskPower about putting the power lines underground but I forgot to ask if I need to make a separate call to SaskTel.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
And all the self doubt and mocking and worry and fear and WHATNOT and yes, maybe it is a touch nasal, I wonder if they have voice coaches in Regina and I wonder what a voice coach does and I wonder if I should have one of those round table discussions you have with a group of your closest friends where they tell you every single thing you need to improve upon and you realize if you did this you would likely kill yourself and your children would have no mother and a terribly fragile mother with skin like a butterfly's wing is better than no mother and so you'll just have to shove all those thoughts DOWN and realize that hey, Danielle Steele got published. And her stuff is crap.
I'm that person who always used to be fighting against something. Likely has lots to do with how I grew up; where I had to endure massive battles to do pretty much anything. I got used to it; if it was worth it, I had to be willing to go to battle.
Poor Jade. Not exactly the most endearing trait, is it? To have a wife whose automatic stance is aggression.
But, like old wine and good cheese, I mellow with age.
Yoga is helping, and so is the dedicated time to reading books on modern spirituality. Spirituality is a reoccurring issue for me; has been for years. I won't go back to what was (I've said I'll tell that story and I will, but it's not ready yet) but I don't know yet what will be. The clock is ticking though, because I define it within my realm of responsibility to impart some form of spirituality to my children and so far have depended on Nana for that.
For me, a constant awareness and attention to my inner self is important. That's a huge struggle for women, in general, I know. Even as I write those words, "attention to my inner self," I think, what on earth, where do I get off, I need to put the priority on everyone else but me. My second thought is and why the hell would the reader care, but then I remind myself that a click of the mouse can take away anyone bored and it's not my concern.
I don't have it figured out, I don't have anything all wrapped up. But what I do know makes me happy, and brings a certain amount of peace.
Every day, I get a little (tiny) bit closer to figuring it out. Being the person I want to be, the person I have the potential to be. A never ending struggle, I am guessing, a work in progress, a shape to be moulded. all that. But I am not so hard on myself when I fall, and that is the ticket.
Ahh...this is so vain, it feels, but still it needs to be distinguished, needs to be understood, and I need to be thoughtful and mindful and keep trying. It's kind of like a run (hey, don't get me wrong, I am well aware that I am not the first person to compare life to a marathon or some such colloquialism), a long, endurance run. And this is maybe like mile twelve; where it's nearly half way, and I can breathe and there is a rhythm, and there will be miles where it's awful, and miles where it is perfect, and even more where it is manageable, and somewhat enjoyable.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
If you're not readers, let me put it into terms you understand. Let's see...television. What if they took one of your favourite shows, say, Beverley Hills 90210, and they changed the cast and made it a show about exactly the same things. Oh, right, they did that.
Okay. Let's put it in musical terms. How about, if they took maybe an existing band, where the front man dies, and instead of letting the band retire with dignified closure, they had a contest for a new lead singer. Okay, so I loved Rockstar INXS so I can't say I totally disagree with what they did there; but in terms of supporting my argument you get my drift...
Or if the designer for a label died and the label kept going...you say that happens all the time?
Books ARE different.
Books are DIFFERENT.
Before I got pregnant I'm not sure what exactly my expectations were. I know I thought about it, and knowing myself, I'm pretty sure I had some fairly strong opinions on the subject. But for the life of me I can't recall.
I know that I had a job that I loved, and in my mind, would have been the perfect job to have while I had a baby. It was flexible and fun and a breath of fresh air.
(*although I can be meticulous when I want to, I have a very hard time being meticulous when someone else wants me to. I'm like a Gen Y, only ten years older. I need to know why, and then I need to believe in why, which doesn't necessarily go over well in an office setting. Lucky for me I had a patient boss who, although I was a thorn in her side, was above and beyond in her compassion for this obvious fish out of water.)
Although Stella was only in daycare for first two days a week and then three, I was miserable. When I was at work I couldn't stop thinking about the fact that deep inside I felt like I should be taking care of her. I made myself sick with worry, and my guilt ate me up inside.
When I got pregnant with Soph I rested my frenzied mind, at ease in the knowledge that I would not go back to early morning daycare drop offs and the difficulties that arise when your child is sick. It was simple; I would stay home, the children would flourish, and the world would be right as I know it.
Not so simple. It really never is.
The stress has simply changed. Days are long when your only outing is to a grocery store, your companions moody and needy. The most scintillating conversation is a blow-by-blow analysis of The Little Einsteins or an elucidation on Why a Person Can't Watch TV All Day.
When the big project is laundry and even that can't get done, days can be long. When a baby is cutting molars for months on end and wants to climb everything in sight (including the console table, with its thick legs, it was actually pretty funny how mad she was), days can be excruciating.
I escape to my computer, to quickly type up a list or send an email; it's escapism, it really is. The major contract I'm working on right now should be charging me instead of paying me; it's my saving grace to do something, anything, where my label isn't momma and my most prized function is not to provide "cookcooks."
The biggest conundrum, the hardest thing to manage, perhaps, is that I love it. It's the most massive dichotomy I've ever experienced, except when I was expected to pick a side for my honours thesis, I kept convincing myself with my own arguments and changing my tack.
Every once in a while I remind myself how fast it's gone by with Stella; in the blink of an eye she's nearly in kindergarten and it will just as fast for Sophie.
Time and place, right, that's what I have to remember.
Monday, September 22, 2008
So yesterday at Safeway, after a brief discussion about poor people, Stella, Soph, and I purchased a roast beef sandwich, a plastic tray of vegetables and dip, a Macintosh apple, and a bottle of vitamin water.
We drove in the direction of downtown. I was hoping to find one of those squeegee kids. I find them infinitely annoying, but upon reflection realized that no young person is out on the streets because their life at home is charming and wonderful. No matter what their house looks like. No one can know what is in a person's heart.
Instead, for some reason, I veered off course and turned right by the Regina Inn. Right away, Stella was pointing out poor people, "Look, there mama, that man, he is poor. And there, that man, he is so sad his head is down." It was true; there was a plethora of downtrodden men.
I drove on. On one hand I thought, if we're doing something good like this, how could anything bad happen to us? On the other, I thought; be realistic. The last thing I need my two daughters to witness is there mother performing a random act of kindness and being beaten to death by a crazy person.
We found a relatively harmless but obviously mentally ill and very poor man sitting on a bench. Looking back, I think I picked him because he looked too fat to chase me.
[*I wondered later; should one of my criteria been a thinner person; someone who looked like they needed the food? No matter; this process will obviously be refined as we get more experienced.]
I pulled up, hopped out of the car and offered the bag of food. "What is it," he said, his voice flat but suspicious, nonetheless.
"Roast beef?" My own voice was questioning; I felt bad. Why had we picked roast beef? Why not the chicken?
He was thoughtful. "I'm going for a lunch at the Soul's Harbour Mission," he said.
"If you'd like to keep it for later, you can," I explained. "Or, I can take it and give it to someone else." We looked at each other. "It's your choice."
His hand didn't let go of the bag. "I can keep it," he said. I said something mundane and got back into my car. He stared at the car as we drove off.
We rounded the corner and drove, by fluke, right past Souls Harbour. I had never seen it before. There were hordes of people inside and more coming down the street. One young man, in his early twenties maybe, was walking down the middle of the street, his stride forceful and his arms swinging. His eyes burned with madness or drugs. We looked right at each other.
A man told me a story when I was little. He saw a poor man and he wanted to help. He bought him some groceries; forty dollars worth. He told me, if he had a million dollars, and he gave one dollar each to a million poor people, it wouldn't even make a dint in the problem. It wouldn't even feed them, not even for one day.
But I think he had it wrong. Even if you feed one person, even one meal, it makes a difference. I want to make sure I tell my girls a different story.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
I was downtown the other day, on a rare trip. I love going downtown during the week. It's such good energy; all sorts of people, doing all sorts of things.
There were the working women, some in leftover and still pretty summer clothes, but more in gorgeous ensembles with great boots and layers and chunky sweaters. Lots of grey.
Men just look better all cleaned up. And some clean up pretty good, that's for sure.
Fall is the season where it's so exciting to buy new clothes. Maybe it's because they are so much more substantial than the flimsy stuff we were in the summer. I find it easy to go cheap in the summer; but in fall, I salivate over expensive sweaters and new pants and boots and belts. I tend to also buy a lot of stuff I don't need; I work from where I sit, for the most part, and I don't really need a suit or a blouse or three pair of boots. But I want these things.
I've always been like this. When I was young, in high school, I would save my money to buy fancy, beautiful, over-the-top dresses. I bought what I loved, not what was practical. I can't even tell you how many wonderful dresses I have purchased and either never or rarely worn. I've kept a few; a gorgeous red velvet dress with the prettiest neckline and a slim, fitted shape. I bought this when I was eighteen, for what, I'm not sure. A navy blue strapless dress with a crinoline underneath, with the cutest little white jacket over top. A black, polka-dotted jacket with geometric cutouts in the back, filled in with sheer black fabric. So 80s it screamed power suit.
There are so many memories associated with outfits. One in particular stands out. The summer before high school, when I was twelve, my mother let me order an outfit from the Sears catalogue. My dad had come down with his no pants rule pretty hard, and so I chose a long denim skirt with an embroidered patch just above the rear pockets. I paired it with a plaid shirt and pink turtleneck; rolled up the sleeves on the shirt and it was really pretty.
Unfortunately, because of my parental friend restrictions, I had not communicated with my friends over the summer and was unaware that to look like one cared on the first day of high school was the ultimate faux pas. I sat in my desk in homeroom, sick with agony as I realized that I was the only person not wearing a t-shirt and jeans. The only person wearing a skirt.
The problem here was twofold, although the secondary issue was nearly non-existent next to the overdressed dilemma. Although it was overdressed in a different way. It was still summer, it may have been still August. It was too hot to be wearing long-sleeved flannel shirts over turtlenecks. But that problem has followed me into adult life; I still like to pack up all my tank tops and short shorts about August 25 and pull out boots and tights and sweaters.
*Speaking of beautiful sweaters; there is a gray cardigan in my mind that I need; I have looked everywhere. I spied it on the top rack at Havik the other day and pulled it down. The $550 price tag meant that I immediately put it back up, but I would highly recommend that if you have some money burning a hole in your pocket, you pick one up. If you wore it every day for 4 months it would only cost you $3 something a day...
Saturday, September 20, 2008
I found that the Harlequin romances were good because they were light and easy to carry. I could take out my limit and not break my arm getting them home. Most were awful, but there were some real jewels in there. And if you grow up in a house with a great deal of strife, sometimes it is really nice to read a book about a lovely young woman (virginal or not, depending on what imprint you're reading and whether it's pre- or post- 1970) who, because of her lovely behaviour and kind heart, falls in love and is swept off into the sunset. The only problem, as I saw it, was it only took about an hour to read a Harlequin, so I really did have to take out at least fifteen.
When I ate breakfast I read the cereal box if I had already read the paper, Reader's Digest was devoured the moment it arrived, ditto MacLeans and Newsweek. Business Week I had a tougher time with; I still am not thrilled to see an article with words like index and S&P and things like that; I can tell from a glance if it's going to be a good read or hideously boring, and Business Week rarely got a nod.
We had a bookshelf; nothing fancy, this old wooden thing. It moved from house to house, and the books on it were all the same. Old textbooks from when my mom went to university, plus a few that came from who knows where. All of the books we read were from the library, so the books on the shelf were never updated.
I read them in times of sheer desperation. I think that's when I read whatever Mark Twain that had Huck Finn (and I hated it, I'll be honest), and a few encyclopedia's, and there was a book of fairy tales that had the real endings; the one where the mermaid dies at the end, and not the current crap that Stella loves.
There was one book on the shelf, though, that I never touched. I read the back of it, and deemed it not worthy. I want to underline how weird this is. I would read a bottle of shampoo, I would read a report on world markets, I would read instructions, in times of need, and I simply refused to read The Hitchkiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's not like I could even tell you why. I know I wasn't a huge fan of the cover, the one we had was paperback and sort of a bluey colour with pink letters for the title, but I've read lots of books where the colour wasn't my favourite.
It may have been the description on the back, although I can't think of it and my copy is packed away in a box somewhere (*of course it is; I will not be able to put my books out until this next renovation is finished; I miss them so much!). The description must have been odd, it is an odd little series of books, but still.
We moved, two houses, before I finally succumbed and picked it up. Within two pages I knew it was going to be one of the best books I had ever read. I was in shock. It had been sitting under my nose for years. All those bored afternoons, craving something, anything to read, and I had rejected this quintessential, mind-blowing story. For no good reason.
I think of this now because I just read that they are having someone write a sequel (there were five original books, I think five, it may have been four). The author is dead, I think, and why on earth anyone thinks it could be a good idea to have someone else try to match his wit and skill is beyond me. They failed when they did it with Gone With the Wind, and I can't see why it would work with this even greater set.
What do you think? Can it ever be a good idea to have a new author try their hand at an old series?
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Take one solid relationship. Add in months of anxiety, coupled with dwindling bank accounts. Factor several overworked and grouchy tradespeople. Into the mix throw differing styles.
To really turn it up, have a baby or two.
Put the baby crib in the office, along with any accumulated furniture.
When the crib breaks from being taken apart and put back together so many time, use duct tape.
Become so familiar with the taste of drywall dust that you can distinguish between the Rona and Home Depot brand.
Heat? What heat? If you really want to test the depths of love for each other, disable the heat for an entire winter. It's true. We disconnected the heat upstairs. I'm not sure we understood (maybe I should speak for myself here) that it gets frigging cold if you turn the heat off on an entire and energy inefficient lumbering house for a full winter season. I'm surprised we didn't burn the house down, with our little radiant heater from Costco (you know, the ones they put right at the door in the winter, and you can feel the heat almost burn your face when you walk in.)
We shared the heater with poor Stella, who slept in the same room as us for a long while, because when we took the walls down it took a very long time to put them back up.
Who knew it would take six weeks for a microwave? When you only have a stove, which sat pulled away from the wall on a weird angle, and no dishwasher (wahwah, I know, but I do love a dishwasher) and a leaky sink and no shower OR tub...a microwave was to me what running water and toilets must have been...back before they had those. (*Notice, what a cunning writer I am. I never let on, did I, that I have absolutely no idea when exactly the running water and toilets came about. Only that I know that they must have been important. I only point it out to illustrate my skill.)
No tub, no shower, that really took the cake, was the last straw, broke the camel's back, and proved that we will stay married. I'm not even going to get into it, the difficulties with two working adults and one filthy toddler and only a grungy laundry room sink with no plug. It makes my chest tighten up just thinking about it and now I'll have to go to yoga tomorrow just to get the thoughts out of my head.
I think I'm going to appreciate life a lot tomorrow.
She's even taken to telling me that if she eats too much popcorn she'll get
What do I do? Advice, please? I want happy, healthy daughters...and a happy, healthy world. I try to lead by example and all that jazz, but I do check out my bum in the mirror (come on, don't we all?) and I do weigh myself every morning. Although for some odd reason I tend to weigh less around 3, so I occasionally check in just to put a smile on my face. Now I digress...
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
It pays off, though, in that they've had decades to practice their hits and the words tumble out of their mouths, almost unbidden, and, in the case tonight, hands fly across the piano in a blur.
The sound was full and perfect. The songs were classics, the ones everybody turns up when they play on the radio.
But mom brain kicked in a couple of times, reminding me that this excursion isn't the norm. First, when we went out for dinner and the server asked what kind of perfume I was wearing. My brain scrambled madly for this name that always eludes me. "Demon," I reply, as my date nods seriously and the server hides her surprise. "I mean Alien," I find the right word in the messy storehouse that my normally orderly brain has become. Thinking sideways, I knew that the perfume is the darker sister of Angel, by Thierry Mugler, and I also know I don't like the word; presto-chango and Alien is Demon.
Next up is the word that scrolls across the massive screen behind the band. "Does that say 'lunch," I ask, squinting as the bright lights are hurting my eyes and my companion worries that she will have a seizure. We strain and turn in our seats. Halfway through "The Bitch is Back" we realize that it says "bitch." How does an addled brain turn that into lunch?
And the clincher, the one that puts me into the old and out with the new. We leave before the show is over so that we don't get stuck in traffic.
Drywall dust is probably in the genetic make-up of both of our children. I remember coming home from the hospital with Stella and pumping breast milk (little bugger wouldn't nurse) while the drywall guy worked in the bathroom. We'd nod and smile and he would kindly pretend not to notice my nakedness amidst the whir of the machine. (I can still here that stupid pump if I concentrate. Nine weeks of madness meant that sometimes the whir would become a word and I would nearly go stir crazy.)
The night we went into the hospital to have her the contractor (sweet Danny) put in the toilet. A nice touch; could have used it at nine months preggo and peeing about every, oh, one point five minutes, and having to trundle down the narrow stairs with no handrail, into the downstairs basement bathroom that had a leaking pee trap (that's kind of funny if you think about it, leaking pee trap) and, once I was really awake, head back upstairs for fifteen minutes or so of restless sleep.
When Stella was two we bought our current Money-Pit-I-mean-dream-home. It's beautiful, and it will be great when it's finished....
I know. I think it's funny, too.
When Soph was born we had the sweetest couple, a lean-mean-renovatin' team, they were, doing some odds and ends. They were so excited when she was born, and saw her before most of our friends did. They even had a keepsake gift for her, and inked on it "Love, the workers," as Stella called them.
I've gotten used to having contractors around. Right now they're outside, putting the something around the windows. I know it has a name; it will come to me.
I forget they are there, which should be hard to do because they listen to the rock radio station all day long. Two guys, who would be cute in a blue collar sort of way, if they didn't always look hungover. Nice, so nice, it's actually rare to have them not be nice.
But I pick my underwear out of my bum (or my nose, yes, sometimes my nose) and there are people outside. I'm sure they're not watching me, they are putting CLADDING that's what it's called, on the windows but still. I should not forget myself.
I can't imagine what we will do with the vast amounts of time and energy, and let's face it, money, once we don't have to make weekly trips (daily trips) to Home Depot.
What will Jade and I talk about? Will we stare at each other, blankly, without construction to debate? Or will we take the spare time and have people over for dinner, play with our children, sit in our backyard. Sounds positively luxurious.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
It was truly an honour to be taken inside this man's studio, where his things reside in their precise places.
It was also truly an honour to be taken inside this man's head, where his thoughts reside in their precise places.
John Noestheden was gracious and delightful. He is interested in time and space and the universe, and the thought he invests and the time he takes to create his pieces, be they the diamond pictures, the black spots, or whatever, is impressive.
Maybe more impressive, however, are the layers and layers of meaning and precision that are fundamental, I would suggest, to everything he does.
What was a surprise, although it shouldn't have been, given his very kind email back to me at the beginning of this whole adventure, was his respect for TK and I. Two women, bedraggled mothers and wives and friends and of the Land of No Time, who fancy ourselves creative types, and he was so respectful and encouraging and understanding, and its rare that I use this word, empathetic.
It was refreshing.
You know what else it was, though. It was liberating. I'm not educated in these realms. I don't have a fine arts degree, I don't study it on the side, it isn't some secret passion. I'm not going to blow you all away with a hereto unknown knowledge of art history and technique and the field. For god's sake, the glue I used turned yellow. What do I know.
But what I do know, what I know now without a doubt, is that what I do is art.
I gave it some other labels. "It's a craft," I said, "It passes the time." I was embarrassed by the idea of labelling myself as some sort of even part-time artist; how crass, how bold. How very...lame.
Maybe this is because I know real artists. Ones who are just artists. That is their Job. How frightfully fun that must be.
So John's work is heavy, and layered, and precise, and beautiful and meaningful. And, in contrast, mine is pretty, and light, and a bauble. And this is what I get, what I finally comprehend. Baubles are okay, too. I would venture to guess, I'm putting it out there, that baubles are art.
It took her a while, but when she did find her groove she found it with a
Her greatest accomplishment, other than a mean poppy seed
lemon loaf (best served with room temperature marble cheese), were the many
years of companionship she provided to her loving husband who never stopped
appreciating her sardonic wit and extreme good looks.
Her children, you might have heard of them due to their myriad accomplishments, big hearts, and multiple talents, remember her as "one with a gentle manner, a kind word, and full of encouragement."
Friends and relatives celebrate her passing as
only a life lived with humour, verve, and passion can be.
Instead of the current:
A shrill, high pitched voice was often heard coming from her really big
mouth. Children and pets often were seen running for dear life as their mother
counted her three favourite numbers, "That's one, that's two,..." until she
offered up badass spanks and barbie.com revokage.
The husband, a patient and long suffering man, could often be seen
escaping to work where he could screen her many random calls.
Friends and associates all were amazed by her ability to
re-work any deadline, re-think any thought, and re-nege on any promise.
"We're having her stuffed," an anonymous family member said gleefully.
"She would love to think she was still presiding over her home, putting people
in the corner and doling out frantic barking orders."
Flowers gratefully declined; please make a contribution to Math Skills for Everyday People; we're certain her life could have been different had she only learned to count past "three."
Sigh. I'm working on it.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
It's been a bit chaotic here, to put it lightly, and I'm certain that Jade feels a sense of freedom when the door closes behind him and he can escape. That's how I think of it, escape, although maybe he doesn't quite grasp the caged feeling I've been experiencing lately.
It has been a constant struggle for me, the work/motherhood thing, and only lately did I feel like I had a handle on it. Of course, that's misleading, because as soon as I thought I had a tenuous hold on "aha, that's how I feel about things," those things change and the ground shifts beneath and I have to start all over again, analysing, ruminating, and basically letting my thoughts run through me like little demons.
Good grief, hopefully it's the full moon that's making me feel this way; I
tried to think of another word to replace demons (let's be honest here, I tried
for about 1.5 seconds, and couldn't. I always find that I write better when I just let it come out, first try, although Carmen, the best editor I've ever had (yet) would likely disagree quite forcefully.) and nothing came to me. They do feel like demons, honest.
Lately, Stella has been...thinking, thinking, be nice, she's only four....demanding. How's that? All you mums out there are chuckling, reading between my not-so-subtle lines and replacing it with your own version of four year old tempest. Soph is either getting teeth or morphing into a hateful dictator in pink pajamas. I'm not seeing any teeth, so unfortunately my home may soon be ruled by someone whose idea of a good time is getting a really good grip at the base of my hair and shaking her bottle of goat milk all over me.
(*note to friends; if you've been wondering why I smell rancid all the time it's because my kids are allergic to milk, OKAY? it's goat milk you smell. you're supposed to love me because of my flaws.)
Suffice to say, days have been long. Longest yet. Of course, I only let on to this in times of sheer desperation, calling my own mother and weeping before she even gets out a hello. And this is what she says, and what I know she'll say (which is also why I try not to phone at these times but I also have no willpower. This blog could apparently also be called "Kristen's Flaws."). She says, in that kind and measured way of speaking that she has, "It isn't going to last long, you know" so that I'm now eaten up by a whole new guilt called Why Don't I Appreciate Anything.
I've been explaining (although I really think explaining anything that people don't have a vested interest in is wasted time; if they cared they would figure it out on their own.) So I've been explaining to poor Jade just how tricky it is to keep a smile on your face and not bash your head on the counter but I'm not sure he got it till this morning. Once he got it, he cheerfully held the baby and then went to work, where I hope, I really do, that he is getting a lot done and appreciating the fact that yes, it is work and it is very serious and very meaningful, and let's face it, very important to our bank and our fetish for take-out and nice clothing, it is also FREEDOM in the truest sense of the word to someone who works with a four year old's sleeve touching her (this is true; right now she is standing in her customary place, RIGHT BESIDE ME) and it is only a matter of (not enough) time before the dictator awakens.
As I said before, I wouldn't trade it for the world...and I think I'm getting an inkling, a bit of a handle, a grasp, on the fact that I'm never going to Figure it All Out and that is okay.
As long as I can hang on by my fingernails during times like this...
Saturday, September 13, 2008
It was AWESOME.
He was kind, and smart, and funny and passionate and wonderful. And his art is amazing and meaningful and beautiful and moving.
We went this afternoon, my friend and I. I don't think I realized how nervous I was until we were on the highway.
That's how I anticipate anything difficult or frightening. I tend not to think about it until it's nearly upon me at which point I have a hard time catching my breath. It's about 50/50 as to how well this serves me; on one hand, I truly am removed from the situation in terms of nerves and so I don't work myself up into a sweat. On the other, it may be that a continual small smouldering fire burns just under the surface of my consciousness. I think myself unaware, but it is there. Anyways, I knew I was nervous and hey, what could I do about it, so I pondered for nought and it all worked out in the wash.
His studio is immaculate, everything in its place. The crystal pictures; diamond pictures, he called them, are magnificent and a pleasure. The thought that goes into this, conceptual art, he called it, and he's an art professor, so he should know, is staggering.
The time he took, to explain his processes and passion, to us, is appreciated to the bottom of my heart.
If he could understand, and I got the feeling that he did, what it's like to be mired in the day-to-day, the kids are fighting/dinner isn't made/work is busy/when can I have a moment just for ME/etc./etc./and/so/on, and just how much it meant to be taken, slowly, calmly, and lingering...(it was that lingering that maybe meant the most, the feeling that time was standing still and that any question was a good question and let's just pause...see what comes). It was great. It made it all seem like really, for real, it isn't just a saying, there is a time and a place.
*More on this; it's not exhausted in the least. But I had to put all this jumbled mess of thinking somewhere. Ask away if you have questions...it might provide some focus.
Friday, September 12, 2008
So You Think You Can Dance is quite possibly the best show. Ever.
Maybe I feel that connection because I think I can dance. Maybe it's because the judges don't try to hurt people's feelings so you get that sick voyeuristic feeling common on American Idol.
(This is where I invite you to weigh in; to remind me of what a good dancer I was. Come on girls, I know you want to!)
Stacy W., of grade seven sleepovers; I recall dance competitions in your basement.
Christine P., of grade five and Motely Crue; Smokin' in the Boys Room will forever go down as my first great attempt.
And later, Checkers. I can still stand at Shoppers and feel the beat. (Sometimes I get the urge to run over to the cash register and beg the clerk to play the Beastie Boys. Maybe if I had a plastic cup full of Vodka Paralyser that I could spill a little on their sleeve they might do it. )
Sometimes I crank it up and the girls and I have a little dance fest in the kitchen. I used to do this in the dark, when Jade was studying for exams and never home. We lived in a house that felt like we were on a hill; all big windows on an ally, on display for anyone to see. I would turn out all the lights, turn up all my tunes, and rock the night away. Don't feel sorry for me, it was really fun. I even took a hip hop aerobics class at the Field House that made me think that I had some "moves".
So You Think You Can Dance (and now there is a Canadian version!) is maybe the new version of mum's who like to watch figure skating. I recall that was all the rage in my younger days and now I don't know a soul who watches. As I write that I realize; I know one woman, and I like her a lot, who watches figure skating.
Here is the clincher, though. I well up when I watch this show. Yup. Sometimes more than well up; last night I cried. Sometimes its the beauty of the dance (seriously; these dancers are effing fantastic), sometimes its the story of the person behind the dance. Whatever it is, I love it.
If you take my advice, if you try this show out, you may be off-put by one of the judges, Mary. She laughs like a crazy person but her heart is made of gold.
Please only comment if you have nice things to say about my dancing prowess.
She is the type of working mother, the only type, maybe, that can be lauded by the Republican party, because she does it all herself. Yup, it's the return of Supermom.
When I linked this blog to an article by Christie Blatchford of the Globe and Mail, I was excited by her positive commentary on this atypical political leader. I mean, yes, there was Clinton, but aside from being Clinton, isn't she very much just like a man? We never heard much about her identity as a wife (post Monica/Bill, anyways) and mother.
(*although, it's interesting that as I write this I want to call Hillary Clinton "Hilary", and call Sarah Palin "Palin"....what's up with that? is that some Democrat/Republican thing that's happened to my brain?)
But with Palin, motherhood, and her, what's the word...conquering of it, is front and centre. Labelled first and foremost as a hockey mom, and the media takes the lead from the campaign headquarters in this instance, Palin is being trotted out as How to Do It All. Let's remember, and this is important, that Republicans (Conservatives in our world) have long denigrated working mothers as detrimental to the family unit. Now their poster-woman is a woman, who, by golly, can think and work and jeez, take her blackberry into the hospital room and go back to work three days after the baby is born.
See, it's a bit of a conundrum. On one hand, how lovely that it has suddenly become politically incorrect to criticize working mothers. But on the other; is this what we want our standards to become?
I'm not saying motherhood doesn't have its easy moments. But to expect the woman working for less than six figures, the woman who has a stack of bills to pay and, south of us, no medical care, to bust a move out of the hospital and back to the world of rent cheques and minimum wage work, post-partum while her breasts are leaking and her childcare bills increase in inverse proportion to her wage, I'm not sure it is fair to expect her to be Supermom.
There is still such a divide between camps. One says that sure, a woman can have it all....as long as she can do it all herself. The other says that we make better families by offering support, like affordable, high quality child care and parental benefits.
I'm all for women in politics. I just worry, what about the message this sends to all the women. Blatchford, in her article, lauds the hockey mom governor with five kids and a grandbaby on the way. But one thing I forgot is that Blatchford doesn't have kids. When she's hopping on a jet plane or going for her early morning jogs or writing political commentary, she's not balancing anything other than her beloved dog. This doesn't take away from her ability to comment, but without having children, she can empathize but not understand what it is like, in the world as we know it, to juggle the roles society sets out for us and then we define.
What I don't mean by this is that women (or men, for that matter) without children fail to appreciate what that means in its entirety. Not at all. There can be great empathy. But, having been there, I know that the divide is great between thinking about parenting and children and actual parenting and having them. I don't think that the subtle (and not so subtle) nuances can be truly appreciated or understood until a person is digging in the trenches.
This is all just my opinion; of course. Weigh in. Does Sarah Palin create her own set of family issues?
*this article was inspired by a perennial favourite of mine, Ellen Goodman, who writes for the Washington Post, see today's LP
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Well, I'm not going alone. So they'll have two of us to take down.
I'm just kidding. I can't wait, although, yup, those are butterflies. For sure. Hopefully I'm my usual well spoken and witty self and they fall in love with me.
I watched and my heart was sick. It was sick for a long time after, I think.
I was fortunate, to work with people as heartsick as I, and fortunate, to work in a place where we could take the time to talk about it. Try to work through it. Find some sense, some meaning, some hope.
We've come far, since those days, I firmly believe, in terms of talking about these things. But there is obviously, of course, so much more. More tolerance, more dialogue. More listening.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I got all clogged up. That feeling of weight on my chest, pressing down so I can't breathe.
I've read that some people carry stress in their shoulders, others their jaw. For me, it's my chest. If I could see the energy that surrounds my body, when I feel like I did this afternoon there would be a knot right in the middle.
Yoga massages that knot away. Dissolves it. I melt.
On a lighter note, one of the Langley girls came. First class, so I thought it would be fun if we went fifteen minutes late and entered an in progress advanced instead of beginner class.
Hopefully we can still be friends.
related, but we didn't know why," says Noah Shamosh, a psychologist at Yale
Doesn't that make sense? Wouldn't you think that it's obvious that if you have the willpower to wait for things that life might be better?
I know; that's rich, coming from me. I used to search high and low for my presents and then try mightily to slide the tape off so I could peek. In grade 8 or 9, when those god awful black leather bags were all the rage in the north end, I wanted one desperately.
I snuck into a Christmas present and saw a bit of black leather. I was on top of the world.
Needless to say, the disappointment was sharp on Christmas morning when I opened my gift to find a small, tasteful black purse.
I'm sure that the purse was a way better purse than those headbanger, tasseled bags that I coveted. But no matter. It was awful to be so disappointed; more awful to cover up my disappointment and exclaim in gratitude.
And now to find out. Those first forays down the path of instant gratification likely damaged my intelligence.
This has never been more apparent than today.
It seems that the simple task of parenting is beyond my control.
Misnomer, maybe, to call it simple, but how to describe the perfect nuance that gives weight to the difficulty of the mundane, the agony of the simple, and the joy in the insubstantial.
It's easier, I find, to deal with a crisis or at the very least a happening. This standard day appears beyond me.
I'm veering off track, no longer interested in talking about instant gratification; how about some simple kudos or good job buddy; how about a bit of validation; acknowledgement that changing diapers and cuddling and not being mad after someone bites you on the leg are all important in the grand scheme of things. Maybe that's the key. They seem so unimportant, so trivial. I mean, who cares if the baby can't be put down or the preschooler is bored. How much does it matter, when there are things going on....wars and elections and deals and events with consequences and imaginations...what is it really, to watch Soph put on Stella's sunglasses for the hundredth time and still, it makes me smile.
It is something. It is what it is, not to be cryptic, but it really is what it is. Watching two little people grow; teaching and learning and it's hard and endless and the most important thing I can do. Probably ever.
Doesn't mean I don't need a break, though. Thank god for yoga.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Monday, September 08, 2008
(I know. Why have friends that just show you up, time and time again? Annoying.)
I'm more the hot headed type myself.
I've been trying to watch my language. It's hard. When you have my service industry background, f-bombs are second nature and sometimes I think I could make a trucker blush.
(What? You thought Stella's education of Nana, on the appropriate usage of f***, came from...elsewhere? Thanks. I appreciate how well you don't know me.)
In the heat of the moment, though, when I'm reaching for something, anything, to drive home to her just how CRAZY she is making me, I came up with a classic.
"If you don't stop, you're going to get...a BADASS SPANK."
Excuse me? Badass spank?
In the first place, a spank? It's become not only a last resort, but an all-the-time-resort. More a smack than a true spank, it's undertaken in the heat of the moment by me and doesn't affect her much.
So in true, hotheaded, let's-not-think-this-through fashion, I pulled this one out of my...arsenal...right arsenal...and let it fly.
Badass spank. I don't even know what to say.
I'm not sure; did I expect her to understand the connotations? "Hmm...mum must be serious. Not only is it a spank...it's a BADASS SPANK."
She loves that song. It's on a lot; she knows most of the words. Singing along there, in the back seat, "she's a baaad girl...she's so dangerous, she's so dangerous, she's a baaad girl."
Inevitably, "why is she a bad girl mommy? why is she dangerous?"
First I went with trying to explain that the song meant that bad was cool. This concept was tricky, too complicated for a four year old. After it morphed into talking about Jail and Police I tried again. He's just joking, I said this time. Then we went through the four knock knock jokes she knows and what to do if it rains cats and dogs (try not to step in a poodle - sidesplitting stuff, I know, how on earth do I get through my days). Then I said you know, we've been talking all day and you got up really early. Can we just be quiet for awhile. "Sure mum." Ten seconds later her second favourite song came on.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Um, yeah. So the anti marathon training worked out as expected.
Aside: You know when a really funny movie comes out, and everyone you know goes
to see it and tells you how funny it is, and then when you finally go it's never
as funny because you've built it up in your head? That's a little how I feel
about the iPod. I find the volume controls very disturbing (possibly because I
lost the English instructions and had to figure it out in French), and also I
don't find that it listens when I stop moving my finger. Bit of a life of its
own. Maybe if I got one ten years ago when it was new technology I wouldn't
expect it to blow my socks off.
I digress. (And I apologize to my iPod; I would never give you up; I just wish you were more...touch friendly.) So I got it back to Wake up Call, because the next song was Pump It (Black Eyed Peas) which may be the world's second best running song.
But thank god I went. I forgot for a minute how running can do that same thing yoga can. It clears out all the stuff that isn't important. It helps me breathe again. I need to remember that. Even if I am, currently, anti-marathon.
*picture credit Langley Girl f/b account and other Langley Girl h/b photog.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
It's also a great perspective on the newest woman to enter the fray, Sarah Palin. Who, although I disagree with her politics, I still think is very, very cool.
There are specific rules as to how I read a Stephen King book.
I have to hold my arms against my sides while I read them, and the limbs on my body must be on my bed, chair, whatever, at all times. No part can be hanging off whatever I am reclining on.
I cannot put the book down on the floor beside my bed (where "in progress" books go) with the cover up. I am too afraid of what may be lurking under my bed to put the book under there, so I usually put another book, open, on top of the Stephen King cover so I don't catch a glimpse of it accidentally.
I've been reading his latest. Duma Key. I have to say, with a critical eye, it is not his best, but if you're Stephen King I think you're entitled to an off book, say, the way I might make an off meal. (Like the time I tried to make burgers on the BBQ and put bacon in them so the flames roared up and then burned them to a crisp.)
*That sounds like I consider myself a chef on par with Stephen King as a writer; not so...what I mean is actually that since he writes so prolifically it's almost the way I cook. Maybe once in a while it feels mundane to him, which is how it can feel when you do anything day in, day out.
Anyways, Duma Key. Not the greatest, but still very frightening. At times where I can feel myself getting really freaked out I will say in my inside head voice, which is very stern, "Okay, that's enough. This is not real. There are no wavering sea creatures off the Florida Keys." I worry that if we make it back to Mexico or somewhere similar and I go in the water again I will imagine Stephen King-esque creatures ready to grab my ankles. So I have to get a grip before all this imaginary stuff takes hold on my fragile imagination.
I only have a few pages left and so rather than finish it tonight before bed and run the risk of a restless and nightmare filled sleep I thought I would read it this afternoon. What could be safer? Baby playing on the floor, sunlight, okay, grey skies, streaming in the windows.
Suddenly the baby shrieked in fear. I mean fear, panic, terror.
I jumped and looked out the patio doors, expecting if not a sea creature, dripping weeds and water and ready to clasp me in his gruesome bony fingers, maybe one of those escaped criminals. Instead....my dog, Henry. He got into some burrs and his little shaggy ear was completely matted and standing straight up on his head. His expression was frantic, and we could see his eyes peering out at us because all of his fur was caught by burrs instead of hanging over his face. If I didn't feel so sorry for him I would have laughed out loud. I may have smirked, but he doesn't know that.
Once my heart stopped pumping loudly in my ears I put the book away, off in a corner where I don't have to see it. I'm not sure if I'll finish it; even during daylight hours my nerves aren't safe.
Friday, September 05, 2008
"People are always talking about originality; but what do they mean? As soon as
we are born, the world begins to work upon us, and this goes on to the end. What
can we call our own except energy, strength and will? If I could give an account
of all that I owe to great predecessors and contemporaries, there would be but a
small balance in my favour." - Goethe
I fell in love with one of your diamond drawings; my friends Rosanne Wood and
Jeff Little have one in their living room. At this point, I'm not flush with
cash, and so I tried to recreate my own version at home.
It was fun and I
loved doing it! I had only seen yours the one time, and I just kind of did my
It bothered me, though, in the sense that I didn't want to feel as
though I am "copying." I worry that since it's not a form that is used a lot, as
far as I know, anyways, that you might have a bit of a dibs on it.
thoughts are, and believe me, I've given it a great deal of serious thought,
that if you painted a picture of a flower and used a certain type of paint, if I
went out and bought the same paint and then painted my own flower, it would not
be infringing on anything. But since you thought of the crystals, you might have
more...invested? Is that the right word?
Anyways, this could go one of three
ways. You may not care at all that I have done this, and may choose not to
respond. You may care a great deal, and come after me angrily. Or, you may take
this as the compliment it's meant to be...I assure you that I don't presume to
even come close to think that I am even an artist. The only thing I can say is
that I loved your piece, and then when I took inspiration from your piece, I
really enjoyed doing it.
(For the record, I won student of the month in
grade seven because I drew hundreds of purple grapes and meticulously coloured
them in. When I doodle, I draw patterns. Something about it pleases me, and I
find your work intriguing and exciting and wonderful.)
If you have anything
you would like to say to me, or if what I am doing bothers you in the least,
please let me know. It makes me even more nervous to know that you are married
to Kate Davis; I had no idea until I saw today's paper. Now it's possible the
wrath of the art community may come down on me.
Next step - research Bazaart. I'm setting a target for how many I'll make over the winter months (such a cozy endeavor, while the snow falls, don't you think? Maybe I'll start drinking in the afternoons...glue a few crystals, have a sip of wine....). Then, on a beautiful sunny day (wishful thinking, right? I'd like to know the stats on how many days Bazaart has been held over the years when the sun did shine!) I'll lay out the sparkly pictures.
The queen of the non-pressure pressure is one of the Langley Girls (that's what I call the masters of this group fun I'm induging in on Sunday). Langley is the street they live on, although I could be wrong because I typically think I know where to turn and make the wrong choice, and their area is full of twisty turns and dead ends. So it may be called something else entirely. But Langley Girls has a nice ring to it.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
I dedicated myself to a summer of not running. Even when I wanted to, when the pull of my running shoes was great and the lure of the lake almost overwhelming, I stayed strong and did not run.
I figured that the odd and very occasional lapse into running wouldn't hurt, and so I trained approximately two but no more than five times.
Factoring the weight of the baby jogger, itself twenty pounds, plus the 4 year old, at 41 pounds, and the little bobby, a staggering 23 pounds (as my shoulder will attest to), that's a very heavy...oh, I don't know, I'm not a math major, math minor, or math liker, but it was freakin' heavy. Anyways, factoring that weight in I estimate gives me another ten runs or so.
In anticipation of the September 21 marathon I spoke with one of my fellow relay runners. She said, "You might be running on the 21st, but I'm running this Sunday, on the 7th. "
Bah, humbug, I said to her. And said it again as my team met for drinks at the Keg, where we did not talk about the logistics of this race nor did I pay the stranger who so kindly (and unwittingly)signed me up for this. Not exactly the way to make new friends. Sign up to do something and then proceed to bitch and moan and do everything in your power to get out of it. Nice.
This makes my little self-challenge all the more fun. Not only have I trained by not training, but I also have anticipated the date incorrectly thereby giving myself no more chances. No time for a last minute attempt to condition my body, nosiree, I'll dive in head first and give it a go. Tomorrow I'll get some really strong painkillers.
Wish me luck!
(Tips on how to recover from shocking the system are welcome.)
*I should note that for several years (I kid you not) I drove an '88 Honda Civic that had no music...the music stopped working in 2000 and I drove the car until December 2006 ohmigod I just realized as I wrote that how absolutely ridiculous that was...what was I (not)thinking????
Note: if you are (and it is unlikely that you are, but on the off chance...) in the same boat as I, and have not yet crossed the threshold to Modern Times and the Age of the iPod, then start transferring your cd's now; it takes a blasted long time and slows down your computer.