Friday, October 31, 2008

New thing


I love this blog!!!

Check out her art page, and look at the site that used to be her art gallery. Very fun stuff.

I can't believe I ever thought anything mean about her. Her writing suggests that she is a very cool, down to earth person.

Must have been my jealous side.

bah humbug


Halloween is not my favourite holiday. The smeared make-up, itchy costumes, snagged tights, and scratchy wigs never made me feel anything more than lopsided.

Now, with two little ones, it doesn't warm the cockles of my heart to watch the sugar work its way through their tiny veins until meltdowns are frequent and eyes are buzzed from a cheap sugar high.

Call me new-fashioned, but I'm all about the ease of a costume from the Children's Place and a party at the daycare. At night we can swap stories about Halloween lore (about all I recollect from my childhood were mountains of snow, a candy a day post Halloween, and fearful tales of razor blades in apples and poisonous treats. maybe that was razor blades in water slides? urban legends seem to all blend together), and hunker down around a vintage Thriller video.

Bah, humbug. Bring on Santa!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cheers to you!


I just wanted to say thank-you.

When I started this blog (and I still hate that word...does a rose by any other name...)...

When I started this blog it was a forum to practice writing. See, I do better with deadlines, and putting it out there, committing to something in a public place, was a way to ensure that I kept with the program, so to speak.

What I didn't expect, though, was to have so many people read it.

I sent the link to a list of people, offering it up, and I posted links occasionally on my Facebook account.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered a tool that shows me how many people are reading my blog. Then, imagine my surprise when I found that from 70 to 100 people stop by every day.

That's pressure.

Also, very cool.

I want to thank-you, all, for taking the time to stop in and have a look around. Thank-you, too, to those of you who post your comments and give me more to think about.

Thank-you. It means a lot to me.

Reading material


Sigh. There is just nothing like a good book.

I finally found French By Heart: An American Family's Adventures in La Belle France. It was in Sophie's toy box, the one that isn't really a toy box but rather holds all the toys that I don't like and will eventually give away. I never go in that box unless I'm putting something I don't like into it, so the book sat for about a week while I ripped apart the rest of the house. Conversations went something like this:

"Jade, have you seen my French By Heart book? I can't find it anywhere?"

"Are you joking? There are piles of books everywhere. When are you getting rid of these books?"

"Never. I will never get rid of my books."


"Well, you're not keeping them lying around the house."

"That's why I asked the contractor to build a bookshelf."


"Bookshelf? You told me that was a nook. For games and things."

"Yes, that is what I said. It's actually a bookshelf."

At random times throughout the day I would try to sneak into Stella's head, thinking if I just slipped in sideways I might surprise her synapses and she would tell me where the book was.

"Lu, have you seen mummy's book? The one with the pretty colours on the front?"

"Lu?"

"STELLA!"

(I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that if I called her by the right name she might respond. Lu is her nickname, that only Jade & I are allowed to call her by Decree of She Who Says So. No, not me, her.)

"Yes, mommy?"

"My book. The one with the pretty colours on the front. That I was reading upstairs. Have you seen it?"

"Nope. Can I watch my show now?"

Anyways, it was all on me to find the book and finally I did. What I did was stop looking for it and let it come to me...sideways.

Enough about the process. The book. The book was lovely. Lovely and sweet and charming, which is a very nice way for a book to be, but it also had a couple of moments (two exactly) where I laughed out loud.

If you need a gentle read and you are the kind of person (like me) who dreams about living somewhere far away for a while....then this book is for you.

Au revior!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Simplicity




Maybe it's like this.

I was reading the cover story in this week's McLeans (a toned down Canadian Newsweek). It's all about frugal living (that new buzzword, frugal, is bandied about everywhere these days, kind of like luxury was a few months ago...how fickle the marketing world is...) and it was full of all sorts of mind boggling tips, like don't buy three hundred dollar jeans and cook your own food.

But what I did like about the article, what was a new and interesting insight (for me, at least) was the discussion on the younger generation (*I like being able to say that. I think that being able to say that qualifies me for a whole bunch of things. Things like a full and matching set of pots and pans and bake ware that isn't dented and blackened.)

The younger generation, the article stated, is not so interested in the material world and more interested in quality of life. When I read that I immediately scoffed and thought well, who isn't? Then I sat back and contemplated.

I've been totally guilty of being caught up in the material side of things. Lots of times I do it in the name of quality, but more often than nought it's a simple expectation, an "I deserve this" attitude.

It's taken me a little bit by surprise, this realization that I've basically bought into all the marketing ploys that I raged against in my youth. When I decided to lay down the feminist torch (not snuff it out, lay it down - it gets heavy after a while) and just live, I found it easier to go along with the trappings of just living. Like wanting simplicity in the form of pre-made soups from Costco instead of making my own and designer jeans because Gap ones "bag out."

I tell my husband often enough, if I can't have exactly what I want I don't want it at all. Typing it out and actually thinking about that reminds me of a certain four year old in full throes of a tantrum. I'm a lot more lucid and my face isn't blotchy and purple when I speak those words, but fundamentally, it's the same thing.

I'm going to give it some thought. The credit crunch, to me, here in Canada, anyways, is a full-blown crisis created in large part by our media. But this may be the perfect time for me to re-evaluate just why I think I need what I need. And what might be more important.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

chaos/breathe


We're back to chaos in our house. The clothes are in the dining room, the bed is in the corner, and the closet is non-existent. Actually, the closet has been non-existent for three years now, so that's a tiny bit of a lie but proves my point about chaos.

We bought this house like a giddy, geeky teenager who falls in love with a hot girl. Instead of wondering if she has a good head on her shoulders he...ahem...wonders if he'll get to touch just under her shoulders and towards the centre. We saw a gorgeous lot and a cool house, and even when we noticed (as our parents pointed it out) the old kitchen cupboard door nailed to the exterior wall in place of a piece of missing siding, we smiled and thought it charming.

We saw the massive backyard with its carefully constructed sitting areas as charming and cottage like instead of unwieldy and time consuming. The seductive windows screamed "California" and not "hot" and the flat roof was the epitome of cool instead of leaky and problematic.

The granny suite was sweet and the attached greenhouses had me spinning visions of a green thumb and vine after vine of tomatoes and gorgeous flowering lilies. The heated garage was a place for Jade to work on fun projects and the foyer would house a mini grand piano, the sound tinkling through the house as children read books quietly.


Ha.

But you know, even as we live in chaos this, hopefully, one last time, even as every solution is countered by a problem and every cheque is followed by another, I wouldn't leave this house for anything. I can see it now, more clearly than ever, how good, not good, how great, it's going to be. And the light is at the end of the tunnel and now I can see that light.

Feels pretty good.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pet peeving




In order for things to run smoothly for me there are certain things that I like to have prepared. Things like, I'll buy two bottles of body wash so we never run out, or extra bananas. I keep clothes for the dry cleaner in a bag at the front door.

I keep a quarter in my car for the cart at Safeway. You know, where you have to put a quarter in to get the cart? I keep the quarter in my car because nothing annoys me more than having to scrounge for twenty five cents to take in and trade for a quarter. Nothing more except this, that is.

Someone coming toward me, smiling face, to trade me for my cart. Except they don't trade me a quarter, they trade me....twenty five cents. Now I have to remember to put another quarter back into my car.

Sounds so petty, and it very well may be. Scratch that. It is. However, if me, packing two kids, can hustle into the store to get a quarter, why can't pretty lady? How does it make her life easier to trade me for my cart in the parking lot, instead of going into the store and getting her own quarter?

I know, I know.
Mundane and trivial. From feminism and Important Matters to wanting to knock some woman's block off because she's upset my world order.

I have obviously done one of two things. Either I have a) taken too much cold medication, or b) not taken enough.

I'm already over it.

Caveat:


I am sicker than a dog and so posts will all come via a haze of extra strong cold medication (it's been so long since I've had a cold and not been preggers or nursing; I was actually looking forward to a nice big dose of Tylenol Cold but it's not as good as I remember) and broken sleep.

Apologies all around. Incidentally, if anyone can give me a good tip for remembering how to pronounce the word "caveat," I will be forever in your debt. Maybe I'll even hand out a prize. I have two words I live in fear of actually having to speak: caveat and cadaver. No clue, so I usually just mumble or trail off.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Soapbox III


I thought I was done with this. And then I picked up a little book called Collapsing Careers: How the Workplace Short-changes Mothers, by Joanna Grigg. It sort of called my name at Chapters...who could resist? So I'll get through it and maybe it will enlighten somewhat.

Next week I promise I'll stop writing about this. I have a sore throat, maybe I'll write about that. And the cool new yoga pose I tried today. I know, scintillating stuff.
You know, it just comes to me....

Sweet dreams. I'm going to bed.

*I'm not sure how many of you will appreciate how happy I am to be going to bed at 8:44 p.m. on a Saturday night. Nod if you do.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Soapbox II


(part of an ongoing conversation with Myself)

See that's the thing. Either you do one thing really well, or two things badly. But why have we set up our systems like that? We have set ourselves up to fail.

By trying to fit into society's construct of women/men role alignment, we position ourselves poorly. The way the work week is structured, the way we work, work itself and what we value and don't, are all very paternalistic (and therefore, by the nature of the duality, unmaternalistic) structure.

For instance. If a person were to work from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with two small children and one spouse, the day could break down something like this:

Get up at crack of dawn.
Get self ready, quietly. (Quiet is imperative here; unthinkable how day might unfold if Childs 1&2 get up before adult members of household are ready)
Get Child #1 up. Feed, clothe, tooth care, hair styling. Talk about the potential happenings of the day. Encourage bright looking, kind hearts, and no kick fights under the table at daycare.
Ensure all packed lunches are ready to go.
Eat own breakfast. Make coffee and drink no matter what.
Get Child #2 up. Bottle of nicely warmed milk with vitamins and omega 3s added. Snuggle. Hold tight. Feed breakfast, always a hit-and-miss endeavour. Both literally and figuratively.
Start car and scrape windows because garage is filled with furniture, books, and an assortment of power tools scattered across the car parking space.
Other parent takes Child #1 to daycare and drives back across city to arrive chronically late.
Take Child #2 to home care (as yet unsourced but was thankfully a dear friend doing a dear favour that deserves not only Lemon Poppeyseed Loaf but also eternal gratitude).
Leave both lunch and all work materials at home on bench by door. Realize three blocks from work that all work materials are on bench. Drive back home and pick up. Thank god that the key is in pocket after momentary panic that key is lost.
Pick up children at appropriate times post day. Give children snack of berries, picking through to remove (mostly) mouldy berries that were purchased yesterday.
Make hasty supper, doing best to incorporate something green and something homemade. Struggle through supper with cranky and tired children.
and so on....

Success in this field also depends on the support systems a person has. Some of this is how we set it up ourselves, but a lot is luck of the draw. People with family who can provide free and easy childcare (or even not free but still easy, easy in terms of worry and comfort levels) have a leg up on people who depend on outside care. Outside care, which can be downright difficult to find, is a whole new labyrinth of difficulties to navigate; from who drives and picks up to how to deal with staff turnover and shortages to home providers who do extensive renovations and get the flu.

Places for the little wees, a tricky age at best, are near non-existent, in my world, anyways, and the earliest that one will come open will be fall 2009, unless I choose to do the one here, one there, method, which I know from those close to adds yet another layer of time-rushing to the day.

Anyways, I don't fit in the world of desks and offices anyways, so this is sort of a moot point personally. Sometimes, however, when I think about how feminism can seem so far ahead and then suddenly so not, I get a little out of breath.

That's all. I'll breathe a bit this weekend and come back with the chip off my shoulder.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Soapbox


I've tried to stay away from this subject because I have been making a valiant effort to keep my thoughts positive and expect the best and so forth. But it's sticking in my craw a bit so I think best just address and move on. Or, more typically in my case, sideways, upanddown, and then (usually) assbackwards.

Growing up I expected that I would work, not get married, continue a lifetime of working, not being married, enjoying half-way but never all consuming love affairs, copious recognition for my journalistic endeavours, and partaking in world travel adventures.

Instead, I got some fun but meaningless jobs, fell in love, fell in love again with two little girls, and took a convoluted path to where I am now. (Which is sitting in front of a computer, practicing my writing skills instead of writing a report which would get me some money with which I could buy a full year's pass to Yoga Mala. Report will be written by end of day.)

Once I had the first sweet little girl my mind-set was thrown topsy-turvy. Work? Stay at home? Combination of the two? How to manage this conundrum was (nearly) all consuming. The issue was expedited by mitigating circumstances, namely, while I was on maternity leave my job was contracted permanently to someone else (the courts are still ironing that baby out) and so I went in a new and different direction.

This isn't meant to be a Historical Evaluation of my work history, nor is it an Examination of Industry Standards for Women. Rather, the issues I come up against again and again are those of Juggling. Or, as any mother can attest to, Life and Balance and So Forth.

See, when I work, I balance around those two sweet little girls and that one (sweet and sometimes tart) husband. That's how it is, because, in simple economic terms, he makes more than me and he works more than me. Makes sense, then, for him to take on less household tasks and for me to assume that load. Makes sense in a myriad ways, right, from simple economic to actual availability of time - who has more? Obviously, me.

But what if our world were structured oh so differently? What if it was an expectation that everybody does something other than parent? I write that and I imagine that all stay-at-home parents boo automatically, but hear me out. I don't mean to devalue the work in the home. Not at all. Nor do I mean that everyone should work. Or, maybe that is what I mean. Maybe, if it was an expectation, that all people were to work, not necessarily as hard or as much, then the burden (and let's face it, you can sugar coat all you like, but taking care of the home is about as stimulating as....Sponge Bob) of the Home would be divided more equally. If women grew up with these expectations and then didn't have the rug pulled out from out of them...if it was assumed that biology didn't construct our lives, that we have a say in them, too...

Wow, if all those things were true it wouldn't even be close to being the same world, now would it?

This sounds complainy, and it's not meant to be in the least. Nor is it a litany against the Husband. But I do wonder. Will those two sweet little girls live like this, in a construct of societal expectations, where girls can be anything they want as long as they still do the dishes?

Hm.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Canada, I KNOW you can dance!!!


I frigging love this show.

I just voted like 96 times for my favourite couples.


I surprise even myself with my abilities to go to the most frivolous of subjects at the drop of a hat.

(But really, who needs to watch the news before bed? I think the best sleeps I ever had was when we were in the habit of watching Just For Laughs Gags at 9:30.)

http://watch.ctv.ca/so-you-think-you-can-dance-canada/top-20/show-highlights/#clip98057

Connectivity


Telephones gave us a connectivity that changed the scope of humanity. Ditto fax machines, radios, computers and their ubiquitous partner, email. But none of the above has ever offered a tool with the potential to wrap it all up into a nice package and do a lot of mindless legword for us.

Until social networking sites, that is.

It seems, to me, anyways, that people rarely feel blase about social networking. I'm talking mostly about Facebook, since that is all I know. People either extoll its virtues or decry it as a terrible invention.

I'm of the rather not/mild opinion that Facebook is life altering. In a positve way. How many times in your life (this will change dependent upon age) have you wondered how someone is doing, or what they are up to, or where they ended up? How many times do you miss seeing a dear friend, and all the things that go along with a close physical connection, like children growing and home renovations and holidays? Those are the things you show your dinner guests, or you talk about on a sunny afternoon while sipping coffee and eating cookies. Not something you make into a big package and ship off to those dear but far flung.

Facebook decriers seem to all have the same three complaints. Let's examine them.




  1. Facebook wastes time.

    Response: Facebook doesn't waste time, you waste time. Unless you have a different version than I do, it's up to you to log in and it's up to you to log off.

  2. Facebook connects me with people I don't like or don't want to connect with.

    Response: I just bet you're the kind of person who pretends not to see others at Costco. L-ame. Unless you are a child, or you are unable to say no (which is not Facebook's problem, it's yours), you are perfectly capable of minimizing unwanted intrusions in your life.

  3. Facebook opens the door to targeted advertising and people will know pertinent information about me.

    Response: Unless you're posting your passwords online, I'm not sure you have anything to worry about. Does it really matter if the ads that pop up are in tune with who you are? Really? If you don't want people to know what your favourite book is, I'm sure you won't put it on there.

Step into the two thousands, as Tara would say. The double 00's. Out of the 90s. I'm sure phones and electricity and typewriters were all scary objects, too, at one time. Isn't it better if we all know each other a little more, instead of cocooning in the insulated spaces of our own creation?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

On writing, again


I finished Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It's a book that will stay close to my heart forever. There are few books that do that, most slip through my mind like water off a rock. Many times I've gone to the library and made it half way through a book only to realize that the sense of deja vu is actually not, I have read it before.

But like Life of Pi, What Girls Learn, a few things by Stephen King, and my Dale Carnegie books (I never said I wasn't a geek), EPL touched my heart deeply.

(Oddly enough, I was reading three books at the same time; EPL, French by Heart, and The Alchemist, and all three compliment each other quite nicely.)

I think it's a case of on one hand envying the author for her life; it's like she stole my playing card (except it's the one I don't play, it's the one in my back pocket). The one where my life consists of glamour and travel and I really did become a journalist, traveling all over the world and writing for a living. The one where I go off to India on a spiritual journey. The one where I have a place in New York city and a comfort level in California (except mine would be Vancouver). The one where I had the luxury of time and the latitude of introspection to devote an entire year to self discovery.

On the other hand I envy her the loveliness of her prose, the perfect structure of her sentence. Her ability to write about things so deeply and with such meaning that it played like music in my head. And in the next breath her voice was wry and her wit was light and just right and fit just perfectly. Perfectly.

I fancy myself a writer, it's been all my life that I felt this way, but only recently that I believed it. Bit of a conundrum I've faced, but I'm not sure that artists were valued so much in the climate I was settled into; I sort of assumed that it would be best to get one of those Real Jobs. I hid out for a while, in restaurants, where no one ties you to a desk and a person is surrounded by youth (and unscrupulous other people, so it turned out) and tried out the Desk Job and realized that I am no good at it. And that is just fine.

But, and I know all writers feel this way, when I read what Elizabeth Gilbert has to say and how she says it I take a big gulp and remind myself that it's okay, I don't have to be perfect, I don't have to be her.

Writing makes me happy. Even if no one ever reads what I write, it's always been the thing that I go to. Thank god I remembered.

Mull this over

Hey, think about this with me. Are social networking sites, like Facebook, the demonic and greedy hand of some negative force, or a tool for good and social change?

I'm going to think about this and get back to you on it....

Journey


I went to a church the other day. I'm not sure it was technically a church, I'll have to look at their literature and see how they define themselves. But it was in a building that was shaped like a church, their was an order of service, and the focus was spirituality.

I'll give you the Coles Notes version of why I went. Having grown up in a home where religion was a battleground and people staked their systems deeply and unyieldingly, I withdrew from anything that smacked remotely of ritual, god, and rules.

But there is a gaping void that needs to be filled, for sure. And gaping is not an exaggeration. I finished Eat, Love, Pray, the other day, and at the risk of putting too much of myself out there, I really identified with certain facets. Not the not having children part, that I simply don't understand, but rather the yawning search for something. For context, for meaning.

SIDEBAR:


*On the not having children thing; I really just don't get that. I
don't get it. I'm trying really hard, recognizing that not all people should
have children, but I don't really understand people who choose not to. Even as I
write that I want to strike it out, so harsh and judgemental. Somehow I'm going
to have to work through this...animosity is too strong....inability to
understand. There. That describes. I'm going to have to work through my
inability to understand.
Why does it matter to me? Why do I care? I
know that since I was small I like people to see it my way. I know, I know,
everyone does. But somehow I seem to have a corner office on the tenth floor of
"my way or the highway," and maybe people who say that they don't want children,
or the ultimate, 'I'm too selfish to have children,' really get my goat. Maybe
I'll have to practice a mantra (here we go again - do we practice a mantra? do a
mantra? speak a mantra? it's like you're watching me stumble my way through the
English language over here) on how to let this go. Let me work on it and I'll
get back to you.


Whew. I forgot even what I was talking about.

Oh, yes, the church/notchurch on Sunday. It's Unitarian, and I think the fundamental belief is that there is no "one way," no "only way," it all leads to the same place/idea/whatever at the finish line, and a good heart takes you there. I'm pretty sure they have a much more succinct and possibly relevant description, but I left it at home. Look it up if you need more info.

The service this Sunday was on Yoga as Spirituality, which when I saw it listed in the paper was like a really sharp jab in the ribs, someone Higher Up saying "okay, you've been looking for a sign, couldn't make it much more clear than that, other than to have a big black arrow pointing to it". So I trucked on over to this little church in a pretty part of town, and along with some obviously sensitive intellectuals, Cathedral hippie types, and the occasional crazy, listened to a lovely and inspired woman inspire me.

I'm not sure this is the final destination on the spiritual train journey, I might have to board at another stop, I'm thinking the Hindu temple (although I must clarify that a person can practice Hinduism and keep eating meat, I don't think I can go back to cooking separate meals again and I've been spoiled by my perennial favourite flavouring, Bacon).

It's getting closer. I know it. This is all leading somewhere. And you know what? I'm actually enjoying the journey, which is something new for me.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The gap at The Gap


We like to shop at The Gap. Sometimes I feel like a cog in a wheel when I'm there, it's just so easy, but really, that's the point. Everything fits, I know the sizes and no one has to try anything on. Washes well, wears well, colours are great (I'm talking specifically about the children's stuff; the adult has been a little...how you say...hit and miss? off the mark? TERRIBLE? for a few seasons?), and Everybody leaves happy.

But there is this one kid who works in at our Gap who I'm pretty sure hates me. There used to be a store manager who also didn't like me, but I've noticed he's gone over to the Old Navy (which has none of the endearing qualities of Gap and my babies' heads are way too big to fit into their baby clothes but is good in a pinch for say, Halloween costumes, leggings, and cheap pajamas).

Back to the kid. Now, I'm not putting things out of proportion here, I fully understand that he likely hates his job, as well as me, but it's mildly disturbing and sometimes downright frustrating to be hated by a clerk. I admit I'm not a tidy shopper, and sometimes my nerves are fried because invariably while shopping seems like a fun idea at 11 a.m. on a Saturday, we don't get out of the house till something like 3:40 p.m. and the fun of shopping with a particular and very Thoughtful Shopper (complete opposite of my frazzled and frenzied free-for-all BUYITBUYITBUYIT) coupled with typically hungrythirsty and wearing thin patience children makes for a drill sergeant like barking of "this, notthis, this, do you have this in a 5, do you have any more plain black t-shirts in a 5, no, not the one with a ruffle, plain...." doesn't get me points right off the bat.

But I am nice, and I smile a lot, and generally apologize for bad behaviour (both mine and the children's; husband is usually pretty good other than wandering off at pertinent moments to look at shoddy sweaters that he would never wear).

So we went specifically to get snowsuits and boots for the kids. Specifically. I put everything in a pile, including the size 5 boots for Soph, and when I got home I realized he hadn't sold them to me. It wasn't like he charged us for them and then forgot to put them into the bag, not so terrible as that, but it did mean that I had to pack up the kiddies the next day (in a foot of snow that has since vanished, as though it had never been...oh, right, except for that gaping wound in my bedroom ceiling caused by snow and retarded contractors) and trudge back downtown, find parking, go pee in the Bay bathrooms which are second only to Starbucks at Chapter's in terms of overall stench, and buy the boots.

Same kid was there. I'm like, "hey, you forgot to sell us the boots yesterday," and I could almost swear I caught a glimpse of triumph in his eyes as he didn't pretend to care.


I can only hope that he ends up with a drill sergeant for a wife and they have triplets right off the bat. In the middle of winter.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

On fine-ness


It's all going to be just fine, I decided.

At the risk of sounding like Mary Poppins, I realized that maybe the lesson I've been meant to learn is that I can only control how I react to things.

I think I knew those words, I could explain the meaning and extrapolate on the context but I didn't necessarily apply to the situation. Any situation. No, maybe that's not right. Certain situations; the easy ones. Only if I felt like it. (And I sure am good at pointing it out to others. "Hey, you know, maybe you should think about how you are choosing to react here...." I just bet that makes people's hackles stand on end. Apologies all around.)

Sitting in the sunshine and gluing crystals on what is to be titled Bauble: on sunshine (or can it already be titled, even if it's not finished? is there a rule of thumb or an order or a generally acceptable set of principles that determine the appropriateness of titling things? as per usual, I digress.) Sitting in the sunshine, tweezing and gluing, I realized that life is still pretty darn good if the roof is leaking and it's okay enough for me to be thinking about Stella at the Grandparent's Tea, and Soph is playing on the floor, and the dog is snoozing and the music is strumming (Pavlo) and I feel at peace.

It is a combination of things, I think, that are bringing me here, to a brink of some sort, a cusp of some kind. Where things are colliding and near missing and my heart is unwinding. The past years, of growing with (because of) my children, my husband, my aging, my mortality. The intensity of yoga and how deep it can take a soul. The search for the other layers that exist; the layers that are not tangible how we normally (typically) define tangible, but the ones that are perhaps the most tangible: our hearts and minds and souls and feelings and energy.

The roof is still leaking. But maybe my heart has been patched. Some metaphor, huh?

Artist: Kelly Tunstall

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

No depth here

*don't expect much; I slept on the very top edge of sleep, listening to the "ping ping ping" of water hitting a bucket. Incidentally, it was the same bucket that brined the fab turkey last weekend...

Sleep really does cure all. And so does sunshine, and contrite contractors, and children napping.

And you know what really puts a shine on my heart and a squeak in my step? Those Lotto 649 commercials. The one in particular that I'm thinking of is the grandparents standing on the dock of a fabulous cottage and the daughter says "you know we'll be visiting every weekend" and so they say "we know, that's why we got you these," and hand the daughter and the son each a key...and then point out the two more fabulous cottages across the lake.

I well up when I see this commercial. I think it's empathy, I can feel their bliss. It feels real to me; the ecstatic looks on their faces, the realization of dreams, the satisfaction that the parents feel as they give such a generous gift...

Obviously I did not get enough sleep. But I did go to Costco for nice appetizers (lentil soup, turkey sausage, 1/4 of a wagon wheel, and a cracker with Helluvagood dip) and mains (1/2 hot dog with ketchup and onions and 3/4 poutine).


I am a good mother, I swear. Just some days more so than others. Hey, those kids are lucky they have a roof over their heads...ha ha. I'll stop now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Roof, Part II

I mean, is it really so simple as to realize that a leak roof is not the end of the world as I know it? It's just when I think about the process to repair...the moving the furniture, tearing apart the roof (and that will mean the walls, too) and the drywall dust and the contractors coming in and even if they take their shoes off their socks are always dirty and having them hammer away all day while I work or the baby is sleeping and someone always wants to use the phone or the bathroom or have a chat about the weekend or even if they don't it's awkward if they show up at 8 a.m. on the dot and I haven't brushed my teeth yet or don't have a sweater on and my boobs are all saggy and the dog always freaks out when they come to the door and we'll have to paint and GOD it's SO annoying.

I'm sensing there is a lesson in all this, but right now, at this very minute, I don't even effing care.



I hope that if you live in Canada, you voted.

And I hope you voted the same as me.

Life lesson (un?)learned


It never rains but it pours. So trite, so true.

I was sitting on the couch. It snowed this weekend, and we have the most gorgeous windows facing our backyard. The snow was thick and white, and since many of the leaves had been still on the trees when the snow fell, the leaves scattered randomly across the white expanse.

I was reading. Eat, Pray, Love, which has been recommended to me too many times to count. I picked it up for a friend, and then decided that I can't give it to her without ensuring it is as good as everyone says....

Stella was at daycare, the baby asleep upstairs. I read and occasionally looked up at the birds or whenever a whump of snow falling off a branch or the roof of the shed caught my attention.

The phone rang. None of the three handsets we have were on the main floor. The only one that I knew for sure was in place was upstairs, in our bedroom. I took the stairs two at a time and bounded across the bedroom.

As I answered I also looked down at the carpet; I had stepped in something thoroughly wet. Feeling around, I realized the floor was soaked through in a spot. I wondered if the cleaner had spilled a bucket of water? No, this makes no sense. I looked up.

The light fixture, one of those round, cheap deals from Home Depot, was filled nearly three quarters with muddy brown water; water which was dripping down onto the floor. I stumbled on the phone and as I dialed Jade I looked at the bubbling ceiling. Only a person well versed in leaking roofs would recognize the faint pattern in stipple that water damage will make.

I nearly howled. Okay, let's face it. I think I did. I also phoned my mum, and warned her at the beginning; "mum, I'm going to use the eff-word, okay?"

*You see: (the story is long so I'll make it short) we came from a home with water in the basement. We bought a house on purpose with no basement. We were proactive, we decided to re-roof the aging flat roof immediately. We chose a contractor who completely screwed us. Made the roof worse than it was when he started. The RCMP (police) are charging him with fraud because he did this to other people. Unfortunately, we couldn't sue because he had no money and insurance doesn't cover it...so, we paid tens of thousands more dollars to have another company come to fix his mistakes....after years of dreading the rain I finally felt secure that the problem was solved...

The contractor showed up right away, he was contrite and kind and on top of it, especially when he realized it was a mistake on their part.

This doesn't do much for the fact that the ceiling in our room will need to be replaced, but nonetheless it will get fixed.

So this is what I've been thinking about. I was literally sitting on the couch, thinking about how great my life is. I finally feel like it's coming together; I am content and happy and I know what I want to do.

So why did the universe throw this curve ball? What lesson have I failed to learn?


Sunday, October 12, 2008

and then
//gratitude//

'Tis the season, right, to list off your thankful things and name your gratitude.

I've been thinking a lot about that lately and it came to me tonight, in the depths of tired. I'm still in the depths, so this may have tinges of lunacy.

I'm so thankful that we live in a world where people can make baubles. I'm thankful that we live in a world where we can argue about good music and bad music and pay 99 cents and download things that touch our soul. I'm thankful that we can take classes and learn; read for pleasure, cook for both sustenance and camaraderie, and raise our glasses to family.

I'm so thankful that children can play and worry about how tall is a fairy and cry for mama and be picked up. I'm thankful for friends who can tell you the the truth (in spite of/because of the fact that they love you).



We look out our windows and all we see are sunshine and cloudy days and all we decide are what kind of jackets to wear. We listen for airplanes and sirens and there is never a shred of worry. We decide between Safeway and Superstore and chicken or beef and we eat leftovers and rinse our plastic and the water goes on and on.

We wear pretty things and we fold them up and put them away in cozy rooms and we read a chapter and snuggle a bit and sleep and sleep.

I am so thankful.

Cheers!

Friday, October 10, 2008

best Things


One of the best things is making your first turkey and having it turn out totally.

*Although it should be noted that it is completely disgusting to root around in the cavity of a poor dead bird. Especially for a reformed vegetarian. Had it not tasted so delicious I may have had to convert back.


(Thank god it was good.)


Another best thing is having just a tiny bit too much wine so that you stop worrying if everyone is having fun and start relaxing. That's when people really do start having fun.

Having a few more people to hold the baby, so that when you get in her sight lines and she starts with "mamamama" there are several people who can (and do) intervene.

Chatelaine recipes.

Advil.

A large dollop of Baileys in my coffee.

Picking at leftover turkey.

Cleaning up when it's all over. That's nice.

Paying a niece to watch the little ones, so that she has a job and the kiddies have a minder.

Family. Family. Family.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

a little bit of....clarity


Have you ever caught a glimpse?

Even just a momentary feeling, almost makes you want to pounce and say aha...out loud. A day where if asked, you could elucidate on it all, educate on the meaning, and extrapolate from whatever.

Flashes of wisdom, of understanding, of the here and the now and the why.


I don't know how and I don't know why, but it seems to me that these things come when we least expect it and surprise us like a gentle tap on the shoulder from another world. A layer of meaning that exists just above us and beside us, if we could just squinch our eyes just so we could see it all. Like cloudy ghosts, the meaning is there, on top of everything and through everything, but we see only what is tangible and right in front of our eyes. Sometimes without knowing how, that meaning bursts through to us (in spite of us, it seems to me) and we catch that glimpse, where it all comes together.

The French have a saying that has always fascinated me, presque vu, and it illustrates this perfectly.

Presque vu is very similar to tip of the tongue sensation - it is the strong feeling that you are about to experience an epiphany - though the epiphany seldom comes. It literally means almost seen.

I had a little bit of presque vu today. I'm not sure you can have more than a little bit, or too much, or enough. Goes against the very concept.

But driving through the park I had a flash, a mere second, where it all came together. Although the knowing was fleeting, the feeling has lasted all day.

It's been nice.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Not for the faint of heart

CAVEAT: Seriously, this is not for the faint of heart. The following may make no sense at all. Comments welcome.

You know what all the current credit crisis crap in the media reminds me of right now? It reminds me of when I was in grade seven and my teacher caught me reading a book that I had stuck in the bucket drawer and not-so-cleverly thought he could not see. I was reading a choose-your-own-adventure or some such easy read and he said that if I was going to read in class to at least make it worthwhile. He gave me a book about the aftermath of a nuclear war, when people lived underground and ate pellets instead of food. It may have been a tad...too much for an impressionable 12 year old.

But those were the times, baby. It was all about the cold war and the potential war and the wars behind us and the wars beside us and the wars that would doom us all eventually. Inevitably. I thought about war after that every day, worrying and planning. I decided that my downfall, if I made it through the aftermath, would be my glasses. At some point, as I straggled through the pitted landscape like one of the characters in The Chrysalid's, my glasses would break. Unable to see clearly, I would succumb to a slow and painful death after I tripped and broke my leg or fell deep into a crater.

I continued on, taking American History as a sidebar and thinking that if I could just understand what led up to war I would be better equipped to see it when it was coming. 9/11 really shook that theory up. An ordinary day/turned extraordinary day. And no one saw it coming.

It's only been in the last year or so, no, make that the last six months, four months, two months, ongoing, that I've begun to realize that thinking about potential hardships doesn't discourage them from arising. It may in fact provide more energy to things we (I) don't want.

*I've veered off track here, I know. You do realize that I rarely edit these things; it's more an unburdening/kind of stream of consciousness type writing that may or may not make any sense.

What I mean to say is that I fear that with the media focus on negative, with the talk in the shops and the word on the street all doom and gloom and what's the worst possible outcome (and it doesn't happen that the master of All Horrific And Worst Case Scenarios Herself has written another prophecy of what is to come, only this time it isn't nestled in the guise of fiction but rather will stand front and centre at the bookstores shrieking like a crazy prophet preaching Armageddon); with all this talk and energy and worry, are we going to talk ourselves into the last thing we want? For god's sake, I went to Walmart today and thought, gosh, I should buy some macaroni here instead of Safeway because it's cheaper and then I thought will this be me, in three years, rioting in Walmart and duking it out with some woman over the last can of tuna or a loaf of stale bread?

I sure hope not. I hate Walmart.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

(cloudy) day



Another scintillating conversation on the state of my Mind....

I had my four days. Those people should have charged me to work for them, I can tell you that much.

I love my children. I do, I love them I heart them they are my life and my happiness and my up and my down.

And sometimes they are my down.

I guess it was different, maybe, when my mum's generation had children (of her socio-economic place) it would have been strange, if not unheard of or nearly so, had she gone back to work. Come to think of it, she did go back to work, three weeks after I was born but then something happened to her tooth, an abscess or something, and that was the end of that. A newborn + dental pain = career done.

But in her circle it was the rarity to work outside the home, the norm to mind the children.

Maybe that's where my angst over this whole situation comes from. Guilt, and expectations, my own and everyone else's layered on top of how I think I am perceived. I have to remember - most of the time, no one is thinking about me at all.

Or maybe my angst comes from the disillusionment that permeates when expectations are shattered. (Gosh, I hope Nathan isn't reading this; I think he wrote a whole article on the use of the word shattered. If I can think of another to replace it I will, but thus far nothing is coming to mind.)

It's bloody hard work to stay at home after having worked and managed my own time for my entire life. Now I'm at the beck and call not of a cranky boss or a demanding deadline. Rather, a four year old who cocks her eyebrows at me like a miniature thundercloud and a fourteen month old who grips my pants right around the knees with the force of will of a drowning man.


Except sometimes I'm the one who is drowning.

I think, this, too, shall pass, and nothing has helped more than a repeated mantra of "time flies" and "it will go so fast" and "one day you will wish for this moment." That really does help.
But sometimes, lost in the drudgery, I forget and I fail. I yell, I cry, I say the things I swore I would never say. And I say them with purpose, even as I think with my half brain "what, why, no, don't say that," and I do it on purpose. I might even yell a little louder.

I have to get a grip. I'm balanced, precariously. I think I have it, I'm nearing the plan.

I just need to understand it, so that I can verbalize it and explain it. So that in the heat of the moment when it's up when it's down, I can tuck it close by and hold on for dear life.

(*Hey, I know I'm melodramatic. I don't need you to tell me.)

u/r



u/r
not me
u/r

not

ready

u/r
not them
u/r

not

finished

u/r
not over
u/r

just begun

just fresh

just free

just new

u/r go start go now go

go

g

o

Monday, October 06, 2008

Looney tunes


I had a DJ booked for an event this weekend. Let me clarify; I had a company contracted to provide DJ services this weekend. The company went bankrupt and they offered to send someone from the newly formed replacement company. I thought about it and decided to have the people providing entertainment the night before also provide DJ services.

When you run events it's nice to be able to sleep at night, secure in the knowledge that the people you have booked are going to show up.

A few days prior to the event I got a phone call from the DJ who had apparently been scheduled to work the show. See how I said apparently? Yeah, that's because I have no idea, nor do I care, who the DJ is. I just contract the company to provide someone.

The gist of the phone call was that he thought that I was being unfair by not having him DJ the event. I explained my position and we seemed to have a mutual understanding. Or at least I thought we did, till I received this email in my inbox:




Dear xx,
As per our phone chat, here is my contact info and a resume.
I’m self-employed full-time in the music and entertainment industry.
I also have a great deal of special event and PR experience, 10 years of education with a Communication Degree and Music Diploma. With an encyclopedic knowledge of music, I am an excellent, fun and personable DJ. I am probably one of the very few DJ’s in the industry who is a real musician and fully self-employed in music.
Not an easy task in this day and age (ask anyone how much music they or their
kids have illegally downloaded or copied, my industry is being robbed $700
million a year in Canada alone). Not to be dramatic but with my background and
aptitude, I am fully a living example of someone who’s career is stolen by this
situation. Thus I do count on these shows to make a living and DJ’ing is not
just a side job for me. Plus I enjoy it. I’m do have to express that I’m a
little upset at this situation with the show on Sat night. I had this
booked on my calendar for several months and there was a contract.
I’m an independent contractor. Despite the situation with xx, we did contact you and
try to honour the contract. Yet it was just given to [another company] *author note: the other company was not bankrupt I have performed 3 booked weddings and at the Terry Fox Run with brilliant results since this has happened to us. (Illustrating that we as DJ’s being honourable, good business people and not leaving these folks in the lurch....tho their deposits were frozen by the bank....we paid ourselves from the balance). I still feel this should be my show. If you want I can talk to ]other
not-bankrupt company] and explain the situation and see if I can work it out
with them. I do appreciate your offer to do other events and please contact
me for future shows. Thanks & Best Regards,
xx


Help me out here. I started feeling pretty guilty, imagining this guy living on his last dime, counting on the dough from the show to pay his overdue rent or face eviction. I felt this way until one of the lovely people I talked to about this said, "hey, he can go get a job at Tim Horton's, if he's broke," and then I felt a bit better.

Did I do him wrong???

On writing


On the weekend I read an interview with Sarah McLaughlin where she said that she is a better writer when there is turmoil and angst in her life. That her new music comes as she experiences difficult times.

She recently separated from her husband. They have two young children. Her new album covers the break-up.

What she said didn't resonate with me at all.

I don't mean that it's not how it works for her; far from it. Having listened to her music off and on (much more "off" for the last few years), I always felt it came from a dark place. Sadness permeated.

What I mean is that I may be the complete opposite. Let me try to explain.

When I write, whatever it is, whether for work or for pleasure, I write and I feel good. It's also the opposite. I feel good and I write.

When I'm upset or angry I write, too, don't get me wrong, but it's not something for public viewing. It's black, sort of stream-of-consciousness crap that just gets out all the bad feelings; kind of like squeezing a bag with liquid in it until it's flat and limp. I was going to say it's kind of like draining pus from a wound but that's pretty gross.

Not the kind of stuff I should be sharing; your opinion of me might change drastically.

(Occasionally my poor husband will get a quickly typed email from me, illustrating every last detail of JUST HOW MAD I AM. Poor guy. Maybe Maria could set up some sort of permanent delay when I send him emails; so I could delete them before they made their way to his eyes.)

And it's not to say that the more challenging life experiences, the difficult times, the other, not to say that doesn't make me a better writer. Likely it does. But that is not the place where I start, where I come from.

Just a thought. It's so nice to have some free time, to have thoughts!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

What I like


You know what I like?

I like when I'm working and the building is air conditioned and I get here at six in the a.m. and I leave here at 9 in the p.m. and I go outside for a second

and the warmth of the air is like summer

and that warmth is such a surprise

it's supposed to be fall and crisp and cool and the leaves are down down and down.

I like taking off my coat because it's too hot, much too hot, even though I drove to the tailor's on Saturday and begged them to put a new button on it so that it would be ready for the conference and I forgot to take it in earlier and now it seems a shame to not even wear it.

I like that at first I try not to turn on the air conditioning in my car because it's so nice to breathe warm air that is still fresh; with the window down and the staleness of hotel is leaving my nostrils and it gets so hot that I had better turn on the air but I'll leave the window open anyways.

And I like when I leave I can put my coat over my arm and the air is chilly, not like summer but fall for real now, and it's cool but not cold and it's just so good to be outside.


I like that.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

a motion/e motion


We were talking last night about that kind of love where couples are married for decades and they still hold hands and are sweet to each other.

The conclusion was that that kind of life is rare. The people involved in the conversation were at different stages; one married (me), one divorced, and one unmarried.

I was thinking about it later; wondering; is it really just chance or fate that can draw people together and give them that amazing love that we have all been witness to; be it a couple who holds hands in their seventies to a couple whose eyes truly light up when the other person walks into the room.

I don't think it's fate at all. Life is what you make it, and the same rules apply to work to family to love. If you want heart stopping, gorgeous love, you have to do more than go through the motions.

It's due diligence, love style. It's all the little things and most of the big things; building up instead of down.

It's opening, a willingness to change, to listen, to adapt, to stand back when necessary and step forward when it's called for.

Instead of going through a motion, which is so easy, I think I need to invest more e-motion into my marriage. I want young couples to whisper when we're old and gray, and wonder how we did it.

I want the full meal deal.