Thursday, January 22, 2009

Just in case...


Just in case my last few posts were giving you the impression that I'm not vapid and a rabid consumer of popular culture, let me put your fears to rest. Read on, people.

We're famous! Apparently on Jay Leno we were mentioned last night in his monologue.

Claim to fame?

A malfunctioning tanning bed.

Perez Hilton dubbed it the "Headline of the Weak" and if you get picked up by Perez by golly you've made it in this town. I'm not sure what town I mean because I'm not sure how many people in Regina are hip to his tricks, but I would venture to guess that in the city that rhymes with fun it's a big deal to get picked up by the same guy who blogs about all the stars.

I'll be back later with more maudlin complaining. Although I do have a few ideas percolating....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

And on and on


And the beat goes on.

(Sometimes on and on, droning and repetitive, but mostly just on.)

Life takes you everywhere and back, if you let it. That is the conclusion that I've come to, and of course, is subject to change given the whims of my nature. At any given moment I allow myself the ability to stop on a dime, reevaluate, and dramatically reinvent myself.

Whether it was nature or nurture, and by this time that is really just an interesting intellectual question to be pursued and discussed, cocktail party style, when Time is not pressing. We'll leave that for another day. Another decade, perhaps.

In high school I became mighty concerned with matters of Injustice and Inequality. Given that I was miserable (I don't have to feel guilty like L&L do, about having a Happy Childhood) it seems prosaic to say it (*I've always wanted to write that; prosaic to say it, it just reads so cool...really, I do feel like I'm painting with words sometimes.) but that Misery translated into the occasional positive action.

I became the poster child for opposition. I've mentioned it briefly before, but if anything happened to the underdog (and, given the position of underdog things happened to them quite frequently; our version of Friday Night Lights featured a much less attractive cast of generally working class jocks, and a jock by any definition is someone who, at the top of the Pecking Order, must Peck) I was there, ready to fight for fairness.

This spirit followed to university where I nearly drove my parents mad by enrolling in Women's Studies. Had they been aware that such a course was offered they likely wouldn't have even presented the option of further education. Women's Studies, of course, offered myriad ways to organize. To rally. To cry out against the injustice.

And then I was worn out. I guess that's why people typically go to school when they're young; it takes a lot out of a person. I was exhausted by the multitude of injustice perpetuated every single day. Female genital mutilation. Sex selective abortion. Wife burning. And on. And on. I turned my back (if not my heart) and lived my life in a gluttony of freedom, caring mostly for eyeshadow and cute clothes.

Of course, life has turned me around, gently tapping my shoulder and reminding me that hey, while others didn't cast off that mantle of feminism and continued to do the work that needs (to this day) to be done.

Here is the crux of it, though. I'm tired. I have enough trouble getting through my days, making interesting dinners and ensuring that the 3 kinds of milk necessary in our house are up to date and chilling. Going to yoga. Seeing my friends. Parenting. Wifing. Etc. Etc.

But I think that all signs point to do something. Whether it's going to be a letter or....and that's where I get stuck, I've got to do something at least. Something to ease this anger and disgust that this is still a Women's Issue and that it still exists.

On a lighter note, they just closed two daycare centres in my city. 60 spaces. Poof. Gone.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Not about that at all


This post isn't about how I'm obviously not a famous actor. Although really it may not be that obvious to you, you may have occasionally wondered from my scintillating wit and obvious creativity if I was. Rest assured. I am not.

Nor is it to bemoan the fact that I am not a famous actor. Certainly, the perks would be interesting. But worth it? To live with the ease of cooks and nannies and money? Overrated. For sure. It's character building to do all these things myself.

This post is definitely not about how I've gone on a personal Spending Freeze and all my jeans just feel old. For someone who wears lulus all the time this shouldn't matter but it does.

Also, I'd just like to point out that this post isn't to moan about how long these renovations are taking. I mean, it'll be so worth it in the end. As long as we haven't killed each other over the stress.

For sure this post is not about the eternal debate I suffer regarding the status of women. It will definitely not be about how the world is still structured around a man's needs and the only way a woman fits in is if she contorts herself to that mold. It isn't about the struggle that rears its head, which suggests that in order to work families outsource their childcare (usually to other women) who are paid a pittance (because otherwise how could it be worth it to work) to do what we so obviously value but value kind of like we value a really good bargain.

This post will not get into the fact that bosses bemoan the time that women take to provide care for sick children and now the up and coming sick elderly parents. This post will not address the fact that women step out of the workforce to bear these children and then step back in, only things have changed and for every year a woman is out of the workforce her earning power decreases dramatically.

This post has nothing to do with how we could fix this issue. This post will not provide any information whatsoever on things like universal childcare or subsidies or affordable care or anything like that. And this post will definitely not talk about how Quebec parents pay $7 per day per child for childcare while, if I could find spaces, I would pay $30 per child per day.

This post is about how you make your own bed and you lie in it. And that is just how it is and if you want to change anything then for god's sake, do something. Instead of writing about it.

Enough said. I take your point.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


ohmigod I was just reading the Style section of this week's Globe and Mail (that's like Canada's version of the New York Times) and I have been living in oblivion.

DID YOU KNOW THAT GWYNETH PALTROW HAS A BLOG?

At this point I haven't even read it, but while it was loading I quickly typed up this post so that we can all be on the same page. Let's all read it and meet back here later to discuss.

Food for thought: Gwyneth is like my high school nemesis. Not anyone in particular, but that perfect, ultra-cool chick who just had it so together. Actually, maybe she's more like the really amazing girl at university. The perfect balance of World's Best Clothes worn effortlessly and witty and gorgeous and dating the lead singer of the band. I mean really. It's the mix of a love/hate relationship that she doesn't even know we're having.

Enough. I'm going to go read.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mindless


All dressed up, and everywhere to go. That was me last week. Looking mighty official, I even got a whistle from the contractors (I mean, really, boys, is it that crazy that I don't wear my lulus every minute of every day?).

I am so lucky. When there is six feet of snow (my editing of late requires me to translate everything into meters; it's nice to know that I can be lazy here) I can remain in my house, sweatpants on, secure in the knowledge that it really would be a waste of good concealer to brighten my eyes.

Let me tell you. I can worry about anything. Anything at all. That might explain why I now have a Red Cross emergency kit, filled with everything necessary to keep a family of four alive for up to four days. And now I think, why did I tell them (by them I mean you). If something happens they know I'm prepared and they (you) might come find me and take my stuff.....

It's in the shed. Look there first.

But seriously, folks, I really can. worry. about. anything. And I was so worried last week; worried that I would be late, that childcare would fall through (that's funny, I have a system all worked out for arranging childcare and it's called Luck, or sometimes more aptly, Misfortune and Poor Planning). How it works is this. Let's say I need childcare for a board meeting or some such. Instead of asking my trusty resources (that makes it sound like I have more than 3 people I can ask) I leave it to the universe. Very Secret of me, I know. I think, perhaps they will cancel the board meeting? Or, maybe my mother will call and say hey, I really wanted to come over to your house to watch the kids at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning? Or...something. What this usually entails is me making a nervous-stomach inducing phone call to said mother the night before and beginning with "of course, you can say no if you want to."

So I worried about anything and his good friend, everything. And you know what? It was freakin' amazing. I talked to terrific people, I said interesting things, I developed relationships. I went out for dinner two nights in a row and then today I went to a Second Series yoga workshop. Never mind that I didn't do a very good "bend over, stick your arms through your legs and wrap them around your back, look at your bum, and now walk around like a little troll." Not much trolling for me. But it was intense and good and I feel like someone took me apart, hammered me down, you know like you do with a tough piece of meat? and put me back together again. Except all sweaty.

I'm sure this stream of consciousness is interesting to no one but me but I'll post anyways so it doesn't look like I have been doing nothing. This may not be much more than nothing, but I will spell check and it still counts in my books.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

chchchchch changes


Change happens. Usually the stuff we hear about is the monumental, mind-boggling change that requires sleepless nights and endless discussion to be determined. Or the change that comes on the fly, surprising in its ability to confer difference so quickly.

Slow, creeping change, the one that sneaks up on us like water lapping quietly, that we don't hear so much about. Change like watching a child grow or a flower bloom. Slow and steady, yet relentless. (Ruthless)

What I like about myself (hey, no one ever said I was modest) is that I'm a mix of the two. Really, a technical marvel. I make rapid and sudden changes, like one day I smoke and then poof, the next I am an ardent and augmentative non-smoker. Poof.

Other change I like to spring on myself. Creaking and muffled. One day I didn't want kids. Many years later I had morphed myself into a Human Being (the force of will was almost unimaginable, but bear with me here) and now two tiny human beings cling to me with like barnacles on a boat. As a matter of fact, one is propped on my hip poking at the screen.

*I will return to this later as the poking has become rather violent. I henceforth blame all unnoticed spelling errors on Sophie.*

Change is good.

Right?

I'm feeling the pangs of difficult decisions looming. On one hand/on the other hand plays out continuously, the refrain looping endlessly.

Maybe one of the changes in myself is to trust myself. Before (before what, I don't know, but basically before I felt like I do now) I didn't trust my instincts, my intuitions. I've learned, mostly the hard way, that those two things are the biggest barometers I have.

Change.

Coming.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Do-over


It's rare that I find television that I enjoy. Perhaps that explains my fixation with reality shows; no expectations, no disappointments. My tastes run to the sexy visual eye candy shows like Gossip Girl and Entourage, or the too smart for their own good 30 Rock, Arrested Development, and The Office.

It is unfortunate, but I tend to avoid Canadian productions. I find the accent annoying, that eastern brogue grates on my ears, and the feeble attempts to make dramas irritate. However, the tides are changing. A cross between glitzy American drama and razor sharp smart British productions, Being Erica has completely won me over. (*be warned - if you click on the link music will start playing and if you are like me and your volume is turned up really loud and you don't know it yet it can be quite shocking)

The show is all about over-educated but unsuccessful Erica, a pretty woman who at 32 is single and not happy with that status. The single part, not the pretty part. Erica feels she has bungled nearly every decision she ever made, leading her to a mediocre (at best) life.

The chance to "do over" these moments is offered and Erica, well, she doesn't jump, but she does agree. The first episode takes her back to high school and it's a gooder, with a dance and booze and a make out session with her high school love. It was awesome! The soundtrack, the clothes, the lingo - it all worked.

I'm excited! Good TV! Good Canadian TV.

I'm also intrigued by the do over. Who wouldn't want it? Major events, like the time I started dating this total dud in grade nine, to the heartbreak of a good friend who I knew liked him. I still feel bad. The time I spoke in a meeting, just to speak, only to say totally the wrong thing. Every day brings with it a new opportunity for a do-over in my world.

I should make a list. Top five do-overs. This could be a whole subject for Nick Hornby; he loves lists.

I love the whole idea, the concept that we could magically have a whole ream of do-overs. Would you have any do-overs, given the opportunity?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

If an unpublished author has an opinion....


Nathan Bransford (I called him Nathan once and my husband freaked out, wondering who this online persona was) wrote about queries. I have some strong and not necessarily well thought ideas on this, so I'll put them on here instead of on his blog.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that a query is a bit of an antique. You don't see artists peddling query letters to galleries; no, they send photos of their work. They don't paint a picture and then hope that the gallery likes the painted mock-up.

A query letter, to me, is to precarious. There shouldn't be so much weight put on the letter. It seems to me that first chapters would be much more useful, although of course I understand the agent's time is precious and so on.

But seriously, folks, there has got to be a better way to do this.

Here is my dual nature coming out in full force. I guess if I were to send in a resume it's that same type of hook; I'm trying really hard to get someone to want to call me for an interview based on a few lines on a piece of paper. Same dodgy process.

Although somehow it seems more fair in that context. One of the commenters on NB's blog suggested that he's a writer, not a salesperson and I thought that was whammo-slammo.

Maybe there is no answer. I wonder about shaking the whole system up. What that would entail, what it would (could) look like at the end. To expect that people write books, there is no real "true" set of rules that govern the process for publication, other than researching the rules that each agent/publisher has and gingerly trying to remain unoffensive yet compelling...arg.

Honestly, the system and processes seem whack to me. Of course, were I to be published tomorrow I'd be extolling their very virtues, so really my opinion isn't exactly scientific.

I think this is a tree falling in the forest type of post. Interesting to only me. Let's see. Do you have an opinion on this?

the Dark Side


The dark side of being unpublished novelist (I love the ring of that, unpublished novelist...kind of up there with out-of-work actor) is that I must wait tables, I mean edit, on the side.

It's not the editing that gets me down. Far from it, it actually gets me up because I see that people can do it. People write things (with a lot of mistakes) and get published. So in a way, it brings me up.

What kills me is that time doing things other than my own stuff. I haven't touched my manuscript for a few months now. It went through a few reads and has been in the clutches of my mother, a thorough critic with a hate-on for commas. I'm itching to get back to it. It calls my name in the night, those first few moments after I lie down and the sentences and fixes pour through my head until I forcibly disregard them.

I need a few days, maybe a couple of weeks of uninterrupted, pure editing/revision time. Along with a house where I can lay pages out and have them remain undisturbed as I sort and rearrange. Maybe I could rent a hotel room or something. Hmmm.

Me and my laptop, copious cups of coffee with that miracle product, fat free creamer from Safeway (I don't even want to know how they get it so creamy-delicious), a red pen (not ballpoint, the other kind) and my iPod (luxury!). No one sitting by my side, asking me to read them particular sentences or what colour starts with "o." To which I replied "octopus," which totally showed that I wasn't listening. Chagrined.

Maybe, as that jewelry designer on The Bachelor said the other night, I need to vision board it. If I build it....

(And what was up on The Bachelor the other night??? I mean what was UP?)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Me.


The day is done. That's a lie, no mother's day is ever done, is it? But the day is done. The part where I was all on my own.

Daycare was a breeze. Her little bottom lip curled up and she cried when I left but was over it quickly. Big sister was sweet, telling me that when Soph saw her in the hall and cried it upset her. "My eyes got wet, and I wanted the day to be finished," Stella explained and my heart felt all squishy with just how much I love them.

I put on Real Clothes and when I picked them up Soph stroked my skirt, wondering what had become of the requisite sweatpants.

A midday yoga class was pure heaven and made every interaction seamless. Meetings were fun although it takes me a while to get my groove back and have useful things to say.

Life is good.

Time for....


Today is the first day that I have guilt free child care. A whole six hours to myself. The little one went with the big one to daycare.

In anticipation of this momentous occasion I thought of every single thing I could possibly fit into this time, including work. Shopping, long leisurely lunch with a girlfriend, yoga, pedicure, brow correction, errands....the list was growing and growing.

I've gotten better at this over the years, this over-estimating how much time I have and piling more and more on until if the list were an image it would be one of those circus cars with the clowns piling out and out.

As I narrowed what I could accomplish down into reality I remain happy with the result. A few hours of uninterrupted work, a blissful yoga class, eyebrow taming, and one appointment for which pantyhose is a necessity. I'll try to make sure I don't wipe someone's mouth for them and stay focused on the task at hand, things that can be difficult for a mother who works alone in front of a computer.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Who are you?


When I took sociology classes in school we would often begin a semester by identifying how we identified ourselves. Not by name, but descriptions. If I had to do it today it would go something like this: woman, mother, wife, writer, friend. Of course, what a person says as well as the order is important. For instance, it would be noted that I defined myself by my gender. Many men wouldn't, while most women would. Second, why am I a mother before a writer? Seems perfectly obvious to me, but may be clear as mud to some.

I was thinking about this because Michelle Obama has declared that she will be a mom first upon entry to the White House: "My No. 1 job would still be a mom," she said (Leader Post, Tuesday January 6, 2009).

Interesting, how although she is an Ivy League educated lawyer, she still notes first and foremost that she is s mom. Of course she is filtering what she says in context of media and appearances, but I find it intriguing that this is her best option. Her husband probably doesn't list off his descriptions as father first, but then I'm just guessing.

I don't think the world would be a better place if women identified by their careers first, necessarily. I don't think that for most, what you do is the defining overall factor. On my deathbed I'm not sure that what brought me cheques is going to matter all that much (*although given my last ranting blog that may or may not be true). Again, I'm guessing here, but I hope that the things that bring me contentment will be the relationships - with children, husband, and friends.

But maybe, just maybe, the world would be a better place if all people who are parents identified that as an (the? most) important marker. Fathers declaring that yes, first, I am dad, second I am banker/baker/candlestickmaker. Maybe then childcare would be a priority; affordable and accessible and dare I say it, quality childcare, would be abundant and flexible parent-friendly workplaces the norm.

We're on the cusp of great things here, in terms of sorting out gender roles and responsibilities. We still have a lot of sifting through to do, a lot in terms of fairness and balance, but if we keep the dialogue open we will get there. And hopefully a woman like Michelle Obama can give us a leg up on just how we can do it.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Kanye West vs. money


I am such a loser.

I spend my time repeating mantras in my head. The dominant theme recently appears as a running dialogue, something akin to "I need to make some more money I really don't want to go on a budget god I love that new Kanye West song I need to make some more money I want new jeans Kanye West RULES I need moneymoneymoney" whilst whenever I go to yoga or focus, dammit the refrain is like "ah, just relax. Abundance is all around [moneyineedmoneymoneymoney] I am thankful for abundance I am grateful for ab[moneymoneymoney]bundance in my life I anticipate [moneymoney] the abundance that is yet to come.

Sense a reoccurring theme here?

Although definitely not as intriguing as the comma dilemma, I fear that my weak mind is just not strong enough to stave off the insanity of the recession or depression or whatever we want to call it. I do my best, immersing my tiny brain in reality TV and organizing the playroom but the pesky thing seems to have a mind of its own, beating me down.

Renovations, fun as they are, (*said with dripping sarcasm so much so that I just had to wipe off the keyboard), cost so much more than just the tears of pain cried when yet another contractor drops off the face of the planet to smoke crack. Let me be more clear, in case you missed that. He was smoking crack the whole time, it was only near the end that he decided to smoke it in such copious amounts that even I, the least cool person on the planet, became hip to his ways, and it was then that he dropped off the face of the planet but only after we gave him eight hundred dollars to do so.

It was at this point that I momentarily lost my ability to trust anyone, including him, which is funny because I had trusted this person immensely for weeks and weeks, functioning as his own personal Bank Machine, and it was only when he came with an obvious abscessed tooth that I showed wild signs of realizing that we had been Had. After I nearly accused him of stuffing his mouth full of cotton to mimic signs of tooth decay I, of course, regained my senses and gave him three hundred dollars. Thank-god I learned to trust again, I hold that moment close to my heart, because I am positive he didn't smoke it. Positive.

As my more powerful dumb side reads every miserable news article on the tanking economy and sees all the lunatics preaching Armageddon puff up their bony ribcages with righteous indignation and build more powerful websites for all the crackpots out there to peruse as they search for the plethora of supporters calling this the end of the world, reason and hope persist, weakly, but persist they do. "Breathe...what will be will be," and up speaks fear, "um, yeah, and what will be will be you, living in your crawlspace wishing you didn't just yank out the wood burning fireplace. Best get some bottled water, missy, for the end of the world as we know it is nigh."

Yikes.

I had best ensure that copious yoga ensues so that fragile brain stays intact.