Saturday, February 28, 2009

Okay, as an experiment it lacks a certain grandeur...

A few days ago I was at Farm Boy and they had a bunch of maple smoked salmon, which I love, so I picked up a package even though it didn't fit anywhere on the menu for the next few days, and I try not to buy things that don't have an immediate use, so they don't go bad and get wasted. I stuck it in the refrigerator. A couple of days later I was getting something out of the fridge and I happened to glance at the package and saw, in teeny-tiny letters, the admonition to "keep frozen".


I looked at it. It was vacuum-sealed! I was under the impression that you could vacuum-seal things for hundreds of years and open them after nuclear winter had passed and they would be fresh as a veritable daisy. It must still be good. It didn't look bad. I couldn't quite bring myself to crack it open, though. Rotten fish smell, plus the admission that I had bought something without having a clear idea of when and with what nutritious side dish it was going to be served.... the horror! the horror!

So I can't bring myself to open it, and I can't bring myself to throw it out. There it sits, neither definitively good nor bad.
photo credit
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Schrodinger's Salmon is alive and well (or not) and living (or being dead)
 in my refrigerator.

Yep -- slow news day.

Monday, February 23, 2009

How do you run a marathon without stopping to pee?

photo credit
Creative Commons License
I often don't feel like I fit in. Okay, I almost never feel like I fit in. I've heard that this is not uncommon, so possibly if I got together with all the people who don't feel like they fit in, I'd fit in with them, but I suspect not. When I was little I was a weird kid who read too much. The one or two times my mother tried sending me to summer camp were not pretty. Usually she would pick one that my sister was the right age for, so I was a little too old, too uncoordinated for sports and too shy for games. On the upside, the counsellors felt comfortable cursing around me since I was the oldest camper. Eventually my mother let me stay home and read.

High school wasn't wretched, but it wasn't great. I was sort of on the fringe of the second-tier popular people, which meant the in-crowd sort of treated us like mascots or pets (upon reflection, total outcast might have been preferable). University was great, actually -- suddenly being a bit flaky and reading a lot was completely acceptable. Near the end of undergrad was when my brain chemicals started really not working and playing well with each other, though, and grad school was a lot of really great people and interesting course work mixed with periods of intense self-loathing and the conviction that everyone everywhere was staring at me with pity and/or disgust. There was also a few months of a staph infection that ate up my face, when people were, in actual fact, staring at me with pity and/or disgust, so that didn't help.

All this is by awkward and lengthy way of saying that I shouldn't be surprised that I seem to be the only one I know that hasn't been able to experience a glorious, breakthrough, middle-aged running epiphany.

Seriously. I thought running had been put back in its proper place -- you know, for scrawny intense fanatics, or for when something's chasing you. Suddenly my best friend, my neighbour, half my book club, it's all stopwatches and microfibres and 10 ks -- what the hell? I went from nice companionable side-by-side treadmill walks with my friend, discussing weighty world affairs while watching Entertainment Tonight to walking in resentful silence while ducking flying sweat drops from her side while she trained for the Run For Something-or-other. Hmmph. So after numerous testimonials -- "It's like discovering a whole new facet of yourself"; "I never thought I could do it and now I can't live without it!"; "I've found that when I run fast, my children can't catch me" -- I thought heck, might as well see what all the fuss is about.

It's a short, boring story. I did like it much more than I expected to (and not just because of the obvious favourable ratio of ass-lard burning to time spent exercising). Then my knee got buggered and it became an experience slightly akin to ramming a rusty spike up my shinbone into my kneecap repeatedly. My husband stuck ice packs on me and sent me back out (I guess figuring I should try to shrink my ass a bit more before possibly being crippled for life). The guy at the Running Room offered this incisive assessment of the situation: "yeah, that's probably not good".
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I rested and gave it a couple more tries. Same thing. So I'm back to lifting my little weights, walking (which feels really slow now), exercise biking and resisting the urge to stick out my foot whenever someone runs by. Not that I'm bitter.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More incoherent musings

So is it more lame that

a) my husband gave me an ergonomic snow scoop for Valentine's                                photo credit

b) I freakin' LOVE it?

I have a faint suspicion that my book addiction may have been transmitted to my son -- something about the way his pupils burst into flame as he grabbed my shirt, lifted me a foot off the floor and snarled "we are going to Chapters to get volume two of Diary of a Wimpy Kid RIGHT NOW!"

I feel fat today. I also feel stupid for worrying about being fat -- it's the gift that keeps on giving. I keep wondering when and where all this stupidity got started. Can you imagine that first cavewoman turning to her husband and saying "Hey Ug, does this tiger skin make my ass look big?"

We walked into First Choice at that golden moment today -- it was empty, and right after my kids' butts hit the haircutting chairs a bunch of people walked in (I did manage not to thumb my nose at them and go nah-nah-nah. I'm all class). After the nice Asian man finished cutting her bangs and flipped them under with the brush, Eve looked in the mirror and said in tones of the greatest disgust, "oh great! I look like my MOTHER again!"

So there you have it. I've turned my son into a drooling book maniac, I'm fat and uninspired and I have bad bangs. But I have a kickass snow shovel.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Also, I returned some overdue library books!

photo credit
I've been feeling a bit constrained by the daily routine lately, so we used this long week-end to shake things up a bit. A very little bit. Friday I took Angus to pick up his first pair of glasses which are so freaking adorable I just want to squish him every time I see them, which is fine with him because he agrees that he looks smashing. Then I took the kids to see Coraline (not too taxing, but I did have to brush my hair and wear a bra, which is how I measure degree of difficulty for most tasks). Then we let Angus sleep over at his friend Jon's house and skip hockey at 6:30 on Saturday morning (well, I did, and accepted the attendant fall-out). Saturday we went out to Smiths Falls to visit the great-grandparents for Valentine's Day and Eve's and Great-Nana's birthdays, and there was much making of merriment and Wii-playing by all ages and little pink cupcakes and musing over the in-laws that drink and the in-laws that don't (or worse, drink only one -- one! It's the loneliest number!) and discussion of politics and bank executives (it was a veritable inter-generational think tank. With scotch).
Sunday we moved crap from one floor to another for a few hours and called it cleaning. Then we went to crash our friends' kid's birthday party with some tequila. This resulted in the mind-blowing synchronicity of some guy in New Brunswick who rents cottages calling at ten o'clock at night and finding the very four families he needed to talk to all drunk in the same kitchen. I had a Finnish friend who once finished off a night of vodka-drinking by booking a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Railway, so this wasn't quite that, but still...

Yesterday we packed up our kids and my parents and went Winterluding - ice sculptures, skating, beaver tails, twinkly lights, non-residents tilting madly and bravely all over the canal. On the way home Angus asked if there was anywhere closer to home where we could get Beaver Tails. My Mom got mad at my Dad for not dressing warm enough. Eve loved the Cinderella's carriage out of ice, but thought we didn't bring enough food and the hot chocolate was too hot. The whole experience renewed my desire to stay at the ice hotel, although        unfortunately it would have to be with someone else's husband...

Today I'm dying to get back to my boring week-day routine. Things have been shaken just enough. The kids hardly got to watch ANY tv for four whole days! One night I was too drunk to read before bed! Time to take the insanity down a notch.
And no, I'm not wearing a bra.

Friday, February 13, 2009

He also drinks scotch very ably.

Eve just informed me that she measured herself at school and she's nine feet tall. At least I won't need the stool to reach stuff on the top shelf any more. She has also determined that the number one thing her father is best at is farting, and the number two thing is sleeping. Respect and unconditional love -- nothing like it.
As we were leaving for the movie theatre yesterday, I told the kids to grab their DSes since we were going to go early because it was a PD day and I thought it might be crowded (it wasn't). Angus said "do you want me to bring Brain Age for you?". I said "Why? Do I seem particularly stupid lately?" and he said, "well, you haven't been playing it much lately. Just saying." Humph.
I've discovered something quite useful. When Matt tells me he has to go away again (next week, for example), if I mope and list all the things that I have to do and all the reasons everything's going to be SO much more complicated now, and that the hockey practice is at 6:30 a.m. and I'll have to make Angus come to ballet etc, he feels kind of bad. On the other hand, if I say "that's okay, better that than getting laid off" and smile and suck it up, then he feels REALLY bad. Like, really-good-present, week-end-away-with-the-girls bad.
I'm thinking this will prove highly useful.
We just got back from my husband's grandparents' place, where we go in February to celebrate Eve's and Nana's birthdays, which are eight days apart. Eve was born the week before Nana turned eighty, so we gave Eve Nana's name (Pauline) as a middle name. This made her very, very happy and they've always been very close, and it's very cool having pictures of my six-year-old blowing out birthday candles with her eighty-six-year-old great-grandmother, and if you ask Eve her name she says "Evie Puh-LEEN Adams". Also, we always know how old Nana is, because it's Eve plus eighty. 
So that's good.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Random Thoughts Plus Two Book Reviews: Real Life and Brick Lane

Valentine's Day. The higher grades were allowed to bring change and buy Hershey's kisses a few days ago. They addressed them however they wanted, and then they were delivered today. Angus gave all his to all his female teachers, past and present (that's my boy). Then he came home today and said "some sixth-grade guy named Dawson sent me a Hershey's kiss. I wonder why." ...?
Apparently a lot of the local schools are going to have different start and end times next year for some reason (something to do with the buses, or saving money, or saving money on the buses). Considering the furor that was generated earlier this year when our school had to close one afternoon senior kindergarten class and move fifteen students to the morning, I'm anticipating a backlash of epic proportions. Personally, I'm girding my loins for an exhausting round of hiding my head in the sand, missing all the public meetings, waiting until it's a done deal and then complaining loudly and bitterly. It's a strategy that's served me well in the past. I imagine it will be particularly useful when my kids start dating.
I need a reset book. My bedside pile could probably take me out with an injury at this point, and nothing's really grabbing me. I'm reading one mystery that's kind of flat, two science fiction books by M.John Harrison that are making me feel slow and obtuse, Claire's Head by Catherine Bush which, even though I loved her last book, is not really engaging me. Clearly it's them, not me, right? But every now and then, I start reading a book and really like it, and then stop reading it. It's not like I make a conscious decision, I just suddenly look up seven books later and realize I put that one down and never finished it. I think maybe it's so I'll have something when I need to escape from this weird, uncomfortable, not-fitting feeling. That's what I'm going with, anyway. I'll see if it works.
You know what would be really refreshing? If someone in a tv show experienced a traumatic event and then afterwards when someone asked how they were they said "how the hell do you think? I'm totally f***ed up. Don't expect me to do my job or be any kind of a husband or anything for the next six to twelve weeks. I probably really need some kind of intensive counselling, man." Wouldn't that be great? I think there should be a blanket policy that when anyone in that situation starts with that "I'm fine" bullshit they should be cold-cocked, thrown into a panel van and taken away for a nice long rest.
Real Life
by Sharon Butala
I grabbed this off the shelf in the library on a whim, because I'd been meaning to read her for a while. She always comes across as quite prickly and unlikeable in any interview I've ever heard her in, but I've heard she writes passionately about nature and western Canada. These were all slice-of-life stories about women who mostly inhabit rural areas (maybe all of them do, but I'm not getting paid for this so I'm not going to check). They're not bad, but none of them really moved me. There's one where an artist meets a former lover or husband at her exhibition and they reminisce about another couple with whom they swapped partners, and how this eventually resulted in the other woman killing herself. A little melodramatic, as if deep dark secrets are necessary to give added depth to memory. In another story, a woman with an autistic son is living apart from her husband because he wants the boy to be put in an institution. She's a teacher, and takes on a night class which is taught in a monastery, where she's strongly affected by the serenity and quiet of the monastic lifestyle. Okay, but a little obvious and it doesn't go any further than that. One features a woman in a farm community who suspects a young wife and mother is being abused by her husband and tries to help. The one I probably liked the most was about a woman teaching in an isolated community where most of the population attends a local church. The pastor informs the congregation that the world will end next Saturday at six o'clock, and the teacher is faced with trying to comfort terrified children without offending their devout parents. Her backstory is that her husband died and she came to this town to get away from everything in her old life, but strange phone calls make her think that someone from that life is trying to reconnect with her.

I don't know if these weren't fabulous stories, or they were fabulous stories that I just didn't love. I'm having a reader response crisis. It seemed to me that she was trying very hard not to give to much away, to be spare and illuminate by that spareness. This may have misfired slightly.

Brick Lane
by Monica Ali
I had heard of this book but not read it, and I took it out with a few others for my Mom when she asked me to pick out some books for her. When she gave it back to me I decided to read a few pages before bed to see if I wanted to read it before returning it. I ended up reading over half of it in a drug-like haze and staying up way too late. It's about a young Bangladeshi woman who comes to London in an arranged marriage to a much older man. It's the story of a life, and it does make you think a lot about the immigrant experience but chiefly it's the characters that made it so irresistible for me. Nazneen, the woman, is so determined to be a dutiful and devout wife and mother, but naturally the events of her life change her beyond what she thought possible. The description of her claustrophobic days in the apartment of the housing estate when she first arrives are so effective I almost felt physically uncomfortable. Chanu, her husband, is not cruel or malicious, but he is a dreamer with an inflated opinion of his own intelligence and prospects; again, the descriptions of him eating messily while holding forth about English literature or his library scheme, usually massaging his stomach, are viscerally discomfiting. Then there is Karim, a young Bangladeshi man who fancies himself an activist and becomes Nazneen's lover, although there are a great many similarities between him and Chanu. Nazneen's friends, the ones who remain traditional and those who become westernized, are also unforgettable characters. I always think real writing talent means being able to create an utterly believable world, where readers feel like they're witnessing real lives of people they care about. I would say that Monica Ali has real writing talent.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I'm probably just under the Polly Pocket Super Mall

I'm feeling a little lost in my life. Sometimes I feel like I know exactly who I am and what I'm doing (whether or not I feel like I'm doing it well is another story). Sometimes I wake up feeling like I've been partially erased during the night. My outlines are all blurry. These are the times when I think hey! I need to train for a marathon! or hey! I need to buy a two-hundred-dollar glass bead making kit (and then hide it under the spare bed for the next five years) or hey! I need to get a job! And I run off in seven different directions as if complicating the hell out of everything is the answer, when in reality I should just clean out my laundry room or give away the eighty percent of Angus's closet that he hasn't worn for three years or play my poor neglected piano which gets even less action than my husband.
And the stuff. What's with all the stuff? I don't think of myself as particularly materialistic. Our cars are old and crappy, our couch cushions have holes in them that are almost the exact size and shape of my kids' butts, and I don't enjoy shopping. So where the hell does all this crap come from? Did somebody forget to tell me that babies are born with little stuff-generating kits? Because I blame the children, obviously. Okay, I have a lot of books, but those fall under the heading of basic necessities, right? Don't you find that in houses with no books the air is just a little thinner? (Seriously? Is it just me?) I'm not the one that requires that glitter glue, pipe cleaners and seven different colours of yarn be available at a moment's notice. That avalanche of stuffed animals I started yesterday while cleaning up for the cleaning lady -- not mine. And the bins of fake musical instruments, random puzzle pieces, wind-up creatures that don't exist in nature, tiny plastic darts?
Okay, I'm being unfair. I have a serious problem with not being able to throw things out. It was bad before I had kids -- now it borders on the pathological. I try really hard; I go up to their rooms with garbage bags and roll up my sleeves and turn on loud, angry music and get ready to be ruthless. Then it all goes horribly wrong. I can't remember the dates of any important wars, I can never remember when Bernini was born, I don't think I can name a single cabinet minister, but I remember when every ball, yellow chicken and scrap of paper was given to my children, and what they looked like playing with it, and I feel like it shreds my soul to get rid of any of it. Also, I always feel like if I get rid of any of those odd-shaped pieces of plastic that the very next day one of the kids will go "where did that silver octagonal widget that is the very key to making my very favourite car/princess chariot/robot work properly go?" (like I can't lie to my kids convincingly? Cripes, we just convinced them last night that 'you put your weed in there' was a gardening reference).
And I buy them too much stuff. Not everything they see or everything they ask for, but when I see something I know they'll love and it's not too expensive I often buy it and put it away for a special occasion, like when Matt's away and they've been really good, or ... Tuesday. I start buying stuff for Christmas in July and by December I have so much stuff that I can't actually give it all to them and still show my face in public, so I give it to Toy Mountain, or save it until they're three years older than the maximum recommended age for whatever it is. I try to keep reminding myself and them that just because something is new doesn't mean it's any better than what you already have, and sooner or later it will be old and boring too (once, after this type of speech, we left Mrs. Tiggy Winkles and Angus, who was four, said "I understand what you're saying, but it's just that all that stuff looked excited"). They don't whine and throw tantrums when I say we're not getting something, and they're always very sweet and grateful when we give them stuff; this should NOT make me want to give them even more stuff, right? They're both sweet, compassionate, creative kids, and I'm just going to stifle that if I keep adding to the commercial, plastic, made-in-China clutter.
My chief theory is that there are just too many damned shopping hours. As a rule, if you don't see stuff, you don't want it. Now that we can go shopping at night and on Sundays, it's too easy to do it recreationally, whether you actually need anything or not. Add that to the fact that you can buy Bratz dolls and little pets with absurdly large eyes at Loblaws, and clearly we're all overmatched. Add that to the fact that I'm a moronically emotional pack-rat, and clearly I'm screwed.
Yes. This must stop. Sentimentality is bunk. I'm suffocating
under all this stuff. Or maybe it's just that I need more books...

Monday, February 9, 2009

My love is ruled by evil market forces

Yesterday Eve and her friend from next door (her name is Victoria but Eve usually calls her Fictoria, which amuses me; it makes it sound like she could be imaginary) were picking dolls to take next door to play with. Victoria had a girl doll and Eve said "but don't you want a boyfriend?" Victoria said no, and Eve said, "well, too bad you're gonna miss out on all the love!"
Don't you feel like all the restaurants and retailers in the world are saying that to everyone that chooses not to observe the massive fromage-fest that is Valentine's Day? I know this isn't fresh or original, but I was just talking to my best friend on the phone and I suddenly realized I hate Valentine's Day even more than I thought I did. For single people, it's a giant kick in the teeth from a world that already bombards them constantly with images of cutesy couples and nausea-inducing nuclear families. For newly coupled people it's waaaay too much pressure (what does it mean if I do this? if I do that? If I do nothing? An otherwise promising romance could be crushed flat under the weight of all those sub-standard waxy chocolates, stuffed red poodles and cards full of bad puns). For the comfortably long-term partners, it seems like it should be no big deal: we've been married for twelve years without mutilating each other beyond recognition, we shouldn't need overpriced floral arrangements to show our love, right? That's totally how I feel, and if we do something I always feel like we're just caving in to sleazy marketing engines -- and yet, if we don't, I always feel kind of lame. Obviously, it's impossible to win (when you're wishy-washy and easy influenced, like I am. Clearly all you people lucky enough to have firm and unswayable opinions are fine).
When we were in university, my boyfriend (who I later married and now call 'hon' or 'dumbass' depending on the tenor of the conversation) made me one of those -- now I don't know what they're called -- those things kids make out of folded paper where you stick your fingers in and depending on what number you end up with there are different answers? Anyway, it was cute (I'm pretty sure I didn't think he was just cheap). My friend whose bastard husband walked out when the kids were two and five months is in a new relationship. She's decided to have the kids for Valentine's Day (way to go, Z!) The first year we had Angus we ordered dinner from a catering company in Ottawa that offered dinner for two packed in adorable little containers with main courses and sauces and drizzles and came with instructions for preparing it all. This was less to celebrate our love than to be able to eat something that wasn't cold, slobbered on, or three days old.
Maybe it's not totally terrible to have a small reminder on the calendar to stop and do a little momentary cherishing. But we shouldn't have to risk death in the card aisle at Shopper's Drug Mart or break into flower stores after hours for it. That said, you know I'm sticking that crooked heart-shaped card dripping with glue from my daughter on the fridge. And if you come over you better say it's adorable.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Please, can I corporally punish just ONE?

Some strange process seems to take place in my brain whenever a slip comes home for a field trip or a class event asking for parent volunteers. I don't really know why. Generally I like to think I'm fairly clear-headed as far as self-knowledge goes. I don't buy clothes that are too small thinking I'll lose weight and fit into them. I don't invite more people over for dinner than I can comfortably cook for. I don't buy a bag of cookies unless I'm prepared to personally eat every single one, should it be required of me.
So what is it about those pink or green slips of paper that suddenly renders me incapable of remembering that I am a grumpy, unpleasant person who doesn't like noise, or crowds, or children (apart from a fairly narrow selection)? No, now I'm suffused with visions of myself as a serene and patient dispenser of knowledge and guidance, surrounded by sweet, laughing children looking up at me worshipfully (I know -- I have got to check what the hell they're mixing in with the toner).
Oh, did I mention that I have a Master's in Comparative Literature? Therefore, I am uniquely qualified for.. well, sweet fuck all, if we're being brutally honest. Certainly not for something called "Scientists in the Schools". The other two times I volunteered for Scientists in the Schools it was for Junior and Senior Kindergarten, and it didn't involve much more than making playdough bugs and trying to teach four and five year olds how to say 'proboscis'.
Angus is in grade three now, and this one was about forces. So whatever... gravity, friction, inertia, light sabres. One adorable little girl watched me fire up the gyroscope and said "it's like magic!" and I was like "yes! Magic! Wait, no -- it's physics!" Apparently it's not acceptable, either, to say "Excuse me, this group of kids is kind of dumb and they won't stop touching the salad spinner; can I have a different one, please?" Smacking hands is frowned on, also, which is bogus because man, don't some hands just cry out for smacking? Not to mention the fact that Angus looked half-dead and couldn't stop yawning (too much Diary of a Wimpy Kid last night, I guess). When the teacher said thank-you, I'm pretty sure she meant for leaving and never coming back.
On the up-side, it's Friday, and now I feel really entitled to my nudity, sexuality, violence and coarse language.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Put this woman in charge!

The Necessary Beggar
by Susan Palwick

Magic! This book is magic. It's the kind of book where you just want to give the author a Nobel Prize and let her rule the world because she just gets how it's supposed to be. Her book "Flying in Place" is a riveting, heartwrenching story of a young girl in a horrifying family situation. It was the kind of really good book that's really hard to read -- and I didn't even have children when I read it.

The Necessary Beggar is quite a different book. The family in question is colourful and close-knit, and they come from a world called Lemabantunk (bit of a mouthful). Their world is primitive by many of our standards, but beautiful and enlightened -- most people spend a year as a Mendicant, a sacred beggar who lives by the kindness of strangers. Weddings include the Ritual of the Necessary Beggar, which is a reminder of civic duty and a fertility rite, reminding the couple that they must welcome their children as 'squalling strangers'. At the beginning of the story, the family has been exiled from their world through a gate which leads to other worlds, and leads them to ours. The reason for their exile is the supposed murder by Darroti of a sacred beggar woman named Gallicina.

The family comes into our world and is immediately interned in a refugee camp in a war-riven and fear-filled near future. The story revolves around the different reactions of the family members to their exile and their new life, and the people whose kindness helps them start over. There are also flashbacks to their old world and its legends and rituals, and the real story of what happened with Darroti and Gallicina. Zamatryna, one of the youngest members of the family, plays a pivotal role in the family's search for redemption.

The themes of exile and immigration, transgression and forgiveness, are sensitively treated in this book. I love the blessing of the Necessary Beggar: "For what you have given me, your errors and those of all your kin are forgiven. For charity heals shortcoming, and kindness heals carelessness, and hearts heal hurt." Okay, maybe it's a little simplistic. I was interested by the fact that the Utopian world of Lemabantunk was so far behind our world technologically as well -- is there an accepted perception in sci-fi/fantasy that technology equals some sort of fatal fall? Are we doomed to a world of war and alienation if we drive cars and use microwaves? Either way -- the story was beautiful, and uplifting. I wanted it to be real.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Maybe it's something in the water. Or the wine.

Day three: still wandering around beaming at everyone like a deranged birthday clown. I think people who walk by me are starting to swerve away, probably so they don't get any happy accidentally sprinkled on them. Today at gymnastics I felt like I had the wittiest, funniest, most intellectually stimulating conversation with the other Moms, with just the right amount of profanity to make us seem hip (we probably talked about Hugh Grant's butt and lunch room duty - who cares? Perception is everything).

Actually, watching Eve's skating lesson made me a little sad. When she refused to try I found it hilarious. She would stand motionless on the ice, gesturing madly at the instructor ("Do you know how wobbly these things are? Do you know how slippery this stuff is? You people are the most unreasonable tyrants I have ever encountered!!") This could last most of the hour, and I found her sheer tenacity sort of admirable (with the added benefit of seeing my husband's head nearly explode). But tonight she was really trying, and I realized she wasn't just being stubborn -- she's actually terrified of falling. So seeing her gamely but very slowly step-stepping around the rink made me sad. But that improvement, tiny and glacial as it was, earned her the Star of the Week certificate, so then she was happy, which made me happy. Maybe I just shouldn't watch next time.

Maybe this ludicrous cheery glow stems from starting the week getting sloshed at my mom and dad's and then coming home and taking two Advil and having the best sleep I've had in months. And waking up with no hangover (not good -- how am I going to learn my well-deserved lesson? Right now all I'm thinking is cripes, all the stressing over not exercising too late, which pill should I take at what time, warm milk -- GAH -- and all I really need to do is develop a drinking problem, preferably every night at dinner. I even got out of helping clear the table because my Mom was afraid I'd drop something). Don't know. God knows an impending onslaught of seventeen sugared-up five and six year olds doesn't usually take me to my happy place. Maybe this is a new and previously unsuspected dimension of denial. Maybe I've caught some wacky happy virus. I'm sure I'll be back to my normal, grim-and-weepy self in no time.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Laying bare my haddock... er, soul

So today, apparently, I do love mankind (woman, child, human-kind). It was sunny, and I went to the gym so there were endorphins (and giddy disbelief that I actually got there) in play. But it wasn't just today. Last night at dinner at my Mom and Dad's, I drank as much wine as my Dad (and if you knew my Dad...) just so I'd have an excuse to hug them and say I love you guys before I left. At the gym, I was looking around picking out everybody's best features (great hair...nice arms... friendly smile) and then I went down to get groceries and someone moved their cart for me to get by and I almost wept with gratitude.

What the hell is going on?

Today I realized it wasn't January any more, so maybe that's part of it; the realization that spring will come again, and everything will thaw out. Partly it's that Matt just got back after being away for almost two weeks, which always makes me feel weird. But I think sometimes this just happens. I remember in high school and university I got accused (or just catalogued) as flirty which always kind of confused me, because I didn't feel like I was flirting. I think it's just that the people I like, I like a lot, no matter which gender. I loved living in residence because no matter what my mood was, there was always someone around to share it with. Most of my best memories revolve around being surrounded with my favourite people. I do love doing things with my husband and kids, but sometimes it feels impossibly sad and lonely to only be living with three other people (I guess I should have gone ahead and had those extra kids, although I had in mind people who wouldn't want to make you strangle yourself or them quite as often). 

The world is so different now from the times when you would grow up knowing your own family and the people who lived within a certain radius, and people just didn't go that far. In a way I know it's great that we can move around so much now, that we can know so many different places and people. But in a way I also wish that I could keep my family and friends closer, that I wouldn't meet people, fall in love with their laugh or their way of saying hello or their absolute lack of ability to tell a joke properly (it's okay Zarah, you have other talents) and then have them move away where I never see them enough. Even if I had to get up at dawn to milk cows to have it that way (okay, maybe not. I'm sure I would have died from a hoof to the head before the age of twelve).

I read another blog post a while ago where a woman confessed to doing something which she thought was horribly shameful and unforgivable, when she was struggling with alcoholism, and she wondered if she was being punished for it now with her father's illness. Pretty much everybody who commented said the same thing I was thinking; something along the lines of 'oh please, I've done way worse than that'. Generally, I feel passionately thankful that no one can read my mind -- not only because of the embarrassment component, but because I'd feel so guilty about all the people dying of boredom. But this made me think, maybe it would be better if everyone knew everyone's secrets, because most of the time they would react with much more kindness and understanding than we expect.

Not sure where I'm going with this. Like I said, I feel weird (is it still the Twilight contact high? That goddamned book peeled me open like a grape. I may never recover). I should probably stop overflowing on everybody with drunken, immoderate affection and figure out what the hell I'm going to put on Eve's birthday cake. But if anyone needs a friendly ear, or an over-the-top compliment, or a kidney, you know where to find me.