Friday, February 26, 2010

I'm watching bobsledding and I can't think of a good title

Pam and I hit the gym for our regular Wednesday ass-whupping (as in trying to whup them into shape, with variable results). I was still high as a kite on my failed Wonder Pills, so it must have been really fun for Pam. We were walking down the hallway to the change room and someone passed her and she said hi. Then she turned to me and said 'that's Natasha's Mom' and I said 'oh, I know her. I didn't even see her'. Must have been the keeping my eyes straight ahead so I wouldn't weave like a drunken monkey, much like asking Pam to drive in order to reduce the possibility of me killing a family of six on the way over. As we walked into the change room I said 'What's her name? Karen, right?' Pam said "uh, I think it's Kara', and I said, 'no, I'm pretty sure it's Karen. We had..oh wait, wrong Natasha. You don't even know the Natasha I'm talking about.' Pam laughed (she laughs a lot when she's around me. I like to think she's laughing with me as opposed to...actually I try not to think about it too much.)

This conversation reminded me of when I asked my friend Janet when her birthday was. She said June 15th. I looked at her across the study table very strangely and she said 'what? Is that your birthday?' I nodded incredulously, and she said 'Oh, so you're thinking "Look, I didn't ASK you MY birthday, I asked you YOUR birthday. You don't even KNOW when MY birthday is so why are you telling me MY birthday?"' And I wasn't even stoned that time. I don't think.

Later, on the treadmill, Pam was talking about being at book club the night before with this woman who's baking a pie every week. I said, what's her name? She said Lynn. I said Does she live in Kanata? Yep. Does she have three kids? Yep. Any chance she blogs? Yep.

Holy shit! Pam's in a book club with Turtlehead! (This time I had the right person). After nearly falling off the treadmill I explained the connection (whoo hoo, World Trivia Night), nearly redeeming myself for the Natasha incident.

Yo Lynn -- I'm SO crashing your next book club meeting. I probably won't be stoned. Then again, I can probably catch a ride with Pam....

Thursday, February 25, 2010

You are getting very sleepy....

So, my magic bullet turned out not so magical. I think I may have mentioned that the last time I saw my doctor I was having fairly severe insomnia problems and a lot of headaches. She prescribed a mild antidepressant that was also a sleep aid and a migraine preventer. She may have also mentioned something about conferring magical Japanese-speaking abilities and the power to see through walls, I'm not sure.

I was skeptical. I waited until my husband was back in town and it was near the week-end to try it, and I was prepared to wait out a few side effects. So a few days ago I started taking it at bedtime.

The thing about sleeping pills, is that it's quite possible to find one that will, in fact, help you sleep, especially if you dial the dosage high enough. The problem is that, contrary and demanding creatures that we are, no sooner do we sleep a few hours than we're wanting to be awake, and functioning with a reasonable degree of coherence. On this count, most sleeping pills are not so good -- I guess that's why they don't call them sleeping-then-waking-and-functioning pills.

The first night I took one, I read for a while, then had that delicious, I-can-now-turn-out-the-light-and-lie-down-and-sleep feeling, that heavy-eyed nodding-over-the-book feeling that I rarely have. Most nights, I turn out the light because the time on the clock seems reasonable for a going-to-sleep time. Then I lie there in the dark, eyes closed for a while, eyes open for a while. I make grocery lists in my head. I reflect on whichever song is playing over and over in the back of my mind (once it was Put Down the Ducky by Hoots the Owl from Sesame Street. That was fun). I try to meditate, I try to self-hypnotize, I try to think about nothing. Eventually I go to sleep. Or not.

So the nights were great. The days, not so much. If you feel like it, blink rapidly ten or twenty times. That's what I felt like -- like everything was this stop-action film coming at me in jerky fits and starts, and I couldn't get properly braced for it. I kept feeling like things were flying at my head, or like I was just missing something important out of the corner of my eye. I felt untethered from reality and vaguely paranoid. It was wretched. I didn't have a headache, but I felt constantly on the verge of collapsing in tears or erupting in a white-hot rage. Eve's sweet little voice was unbelievably grating, and even Angus asking if I was okay seemed irritating beyond measure.

I decided to stop taking it. This is a great thing on a couple of levels. The last time I had side effects like this, I lived with them for months. I was in such a horrible place before taking it that I actually wasn't sure that the cure was worse than the disease. I needed it to work so much that I kept trying to convince myself that it wasn't that bad. This wasn't true, and eventually I figured that out, but I think it stole a lot of time with my kids that would have been much better otherwise. Now? Sure, it would be nice if I could be sure I was going to sleep every night, and if I didn't have so many headaches. But there are other ways I can manage. Also, the thing with medications like this is that, like any mind-altering substance, they impair your judgement -- sometimes to the point where, very quickly, you forget that what you're experiencing isn't normal. So yeah, doesn't everyone see slugs disappearing into their hair when they comb it? If there's a cricket trapped in the basement, well sometimes they're trying to communicate with you and sometimes they're just your garden variety insect, right? Doesn't everyone have little baby naps between blinking and opening their eyes?

This time I was clear-minded and on the ball enough to realize that nothing like this is normal, and that I don't need to live like that. I've actually... made progress.

I believe this calls for chocolate. Chocolate helps you sleep, right?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesdays: hockey redux

Regarding yesterday's post: yeah, the benches are uncomfortable and the 6 a.m. practices are a real drag...

Hard to argue with that smile, though, am I right?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Balance. On skates. While swinging a bat. And eating McDonald's.

I just read this article in today's Ottawa Citizen. It touches on something that I can see becoming an issue in my family, and something to which I've given quite a bit of thought (yes, I did have to erase 'something I've given quite a bit of thought to'; I can't help it, my infinitives just WANT to be split. Occasionally I dangle a participle just for fun too - clearly I'm just no damned good).

My husband played hockey. He was short, but fast, and played on competitive teams, which meant a lot of practices and a lot of tournaments away from home. His youngest brother was a really good figure skater, which meant thousands of dollars in equipment and coaching fees, and again, a lot of time at the rink. My middle brother-in-law? I'm not sure what he did besides being a quick-witted pain in the ass (sorry Eric) -- note to self, research posts before writing.

My husband, obviously, married me. I had a sister. My sister played soccer for a few years when she was young. Other than that, we took piano lessons. I read books. In high school, we were on the debating team (I sucked. She rocked. she was also a quick-witted pain in the ass. Must be a second kid thing). We got really good marks.

So now we have this kid. This enormous towering hunk of male child. We signed him up for hockey, a little later than most parents, because he wasn't chomping at the bit and my husband wanted to make sure he could really skate well first. He did not take the Minor Hockey League by storm. I figured we were safe -- he could play in house league for a few years, and I would only have to be dimly aware of the whole tedious, early, smelly-equipment business.

Then he started playing baseball. Holy crap, can this kid swing a baseball bat. Watching him catch a line-drive is a thing of beauty. He's really, really good. That's fine. I like baseball. I much prefer sitting in a lawnchair in the grass over sitting on a hard bench in an arena, my heat intolerance notwithstanding. I figured we could shove hockey back into the damp, sour locker room and forget about it. Baseball only happens in spring (May-June) and summer (July-August). We were laughing!

Ha. He's still playing hockey. And now he's in baseball winter training. Which means that from September to December he plays hockey, from January to April he plays hockey AND baseball and then in summer he plays just baseball. I keep telling my husband that at some point he's going to have to choose, but my husband is living in some happy little dreamland that says no, we can do it ALL. He mentioned at one point that he thought maybe he'd sign Angus up for speed-skating too. I started to marshall all my careful arguments, and then I decided to just hit him really hard in the stomach and assume he'd get the message.

We're nowhere near as taxed as some families yet, but this summer Angus wants to try out for the competitive baseball team, which he barely missed making last summer, mostly because he was technically still too young (my husband's face and my face when he was asked to try out must have looked something like this. If he makes it, this means we can't go away anywhere this summer. That's fine, if it's just for one summer. But how do you keep it from becoming your whole life? Or how do you decide that you don't mind if it IS your whole life? How do you maintain a marriage when you're basically two single parents, each hauling one kid to hockey and the other to dance, or swimming, or gymnastics? Or when one of you moves away from home with one child so they can be near their trainer, or a better facility? My family had dinner together almost every night. My husband's family had McDonald's twice a week while rushing around between skating rinks. He thinks this is normal. I try not to mention that his parents are now married to two other people (which, to be fair, is due to many many factors. Really).

I can't deny that sports has done great things for my son. He was a timid, anxious child who reminded me of myself as a child, and I probably did subconsciously beg the fates to do something to make him not be like me. Maybe this is just a case of be careful what you wish for. Ever since he started playing baseball, he has a confidence that I never had. Other kids look up to him and coaches respect his ability. I'm grateful for all that. But he started playing the piano this year, and he really likes that too -- he plays every morning before school without even being asked. I loved playing the piano, and I NEVER practiced without various threats and blandishments. I accept that sports will be an important part of his identity. I just don't want it to be the only part.

Thank goodness I only have one boy. Thankfully, Eve's not that good at anything yet. Oh relax, I'm kidding. We've been observing a strict one-year policy for each type of dance (ballet, tap, Irish), partly because none has really held her interest and partly because the flaky dance school managers keep pissing me off. If she discovers something she really loves, I'm screwed.

All this is to say that I really respect Alexandre Bilodeau's mother's decision to pull all three kids out of skating and spend time on the ski hills together, although 'so he can win a gold medal in something else' probably wasn't top on her list of reasons. But the thing about the Mom in The Hockey Sweater? I totally disagree. Making her kid wear a Leafs' sweater was just cruel.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Head in the Clouds

I stayed up way too late reading Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell -- holy crap. I spent the first few pages thinking I will never be able to finish reading this; the first section is one of those English-man-on-savage-Pacific-Island-in-late-eighteen-hundreds or anyway a long long time ago (I suck at history) and the dialect was nearly impenetrable. I pushed through and that section ends abruptly (mid-sentence, in fact) and a new section begins, years later before World War II. The book is made up of sections that are separate but linked by strange resonances, and it's utterly, utterly brilliant in a bleak, mournful, 'this is the way the world ends' kind of way. And I stayed up way too late reading it. Then I woke up at five a.m. with a screaming migraine. My husband gave me some Tylenol 1s before he left for Angus's obscenely early hockey game and told me to sleep in. A couple hours later I half woke up and heard the kids playing their new favourite game at the bottom of the stairs. There were a few meatball balloons left over from Eve's birthday party two Saturdays ago, and Angus recently had the head-swelling honour of being one of the only two grade four students chosen for the grade five volleyball team, which won first place at the tournament last Wednesday.

So the game? You guessed it. Balloon volleyball. He's rarely in the house these days without batting a balloon around trying desperately not to let it touch the floor, and importuning his poor sister to play with him at neverending length. Variations include lying on their backs and batting it to each other with their feet. Yep -- our very own Balloon Boy.

Anyway, my headache was still in full force, and the hollow balloon-thudding and accompanying smack-talk was slightly irritating, but I liked the fact that they were playing something with each other that didn't involve the television or related electronics, so I stuck my head under the pillow and went back to sleep.

When I was eventually up and showered and sat down to check my email, I found this one from Angus in my inbox:

"sorry that we made so much noise if you heared all the noise when you were in bed.


Say it with me... awwwwww.

Head still hurts. But feeling pretty happy regardless. And put Cloud Atlas on your to-read list.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Meatball-Monkey-Pajama Party

Last Sunday -- February 7th -- was Eve's seventh birthday. We had her party on Saturday. Her third birthday was at home (my husband made a castle out of a huge cardboard box that I painted, and all the girls dressed up as princesses). For the last three years we've had her birthday somewhere else -- a neighbourhood play gym, an art studio where they all painted t-shirts, and the place where Eve took gymnastics. Angus's birthday parties haven't been at home since he turned five, I think (the Space Birthday Party). I always used to say I was more comfortable in my own usual environment, but many people assured me that being off-site, with the preparation and clean-up left to someone else, was the way to go. And to an extent, this was true. Honestly, even after this party I don't think it's any less expensive to do it at home -- at least if you prove utterly ineffective at limiting the guest list, as I seem to. But there is something nice about welcoming your child's friends into your own home, and being able to collapse on the couch when the last one leaves, instead of having to load all the gifts and leftover cake and decorations into the car and get yourself home.

Eve was leaning heavily towards Build-a-Bear for her party this year, which is in a mall about twenty minutes from our house. But then she mentioned that she really wanted to have a pajama party. The idea of herding ten-plus little girls around Build-a-Bear, then to the food court for cake didn't thrill me. Having those ten-plus little girls in pajamas and slippers wasn't something that made the idea more attractive (not that I haven't taken my kids places dressed in stranger costumes). Then I read Magpie's post about the Monkey Bread birthday, which intrigued me. I floated the idea to Eve and it was an instant love match. She also wanted to have a movie, so we decided we would show Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which Eve hadn't seen yet. It turns out that one of the principal characters in the movie is, in fact, a monkey, which made me happy (I don't insist on total unity of theme, but I appreciate a connection between elements, no matter how tenuous).

I ordered the aprons from the Dharma Trading Company and stencilled the names on (in glitter, at Eve's express request:

I got Eve some new pajamas (with monkeys and cupcakes on them!):

We got straw-coloured streamers and brown balloons to make spaghetti-and-meatball decorations:

(Is anyone else surprised that they make brown balloons? I was a little surprised).

While searching online for colouring pictures from the movie to have on-hand, I came across this fantastic recipe for spaghetti-and-meatballs cupcakes. Mine came out looking more like linguine than spaghetti, but it was still a big hit. The white chocolate 'shaved Parmesan' blew my shaker-cheese-loving little girl's mind:

The morning of the party, we put on our pajamas:

We got the stencils ready to decorate the aprons:

We got our next-door neighbour to come over early to prevent Eve's head from actually exploding:

When the girls arrived, we got them to decorate the aprons with stencils and fabric markers (another great tip from Magpie -- after they were done decorating, my friend Pam took them downstairs and ironed them to set the paint, rendering them ready for service in under half an hour). The stencils were also a godsend -- for one of Angus's parties we had kids over to paint t-shirts, but we let them go freehand: the result was twelve treasured but unwearable shirts featuring vaguely Spiderman-shaped blobs and explosions of colours that should never be seen together.


The girls coloured and played a game involving being blindfolded and having to pick their stuffed animals out of a bin in which all of them had been placed (it was way too easy. I meant it to be way too easy. I loathe and despise party games and I can't stand to have anyone lose. It's a character flaw.) Once the table was ready, we put out bowls of melted butter and cinnamon-and-sugar, pulled out the many huge bowls of dough that looked ready to take over Ottawa and distributed judicious lumps to each kid:

After they'd each filled an 8" tinfoil pan, we had cupcakes:

Then we got them to fill the family room with a huge pile of pillows and blankets we had assembled and distributed popcorn from enormous bags of buttersalt from Kernels:

If anyone got bored watching the movie (or talked too much) we sent them back out to the dining room table to colour.

It was a great party. Everyone had a good time, there were no conflicts (because there was only one game and no one lost, I'm sure of it), everyone got to take home a pan of bread to pop in the oven and scent the house with cinnamony goodness. The last guest left at 9:30 p.m. (but it was the next-door neighbour -- everyone else was gone by four-thirty). Eve said it was the best party ever, and even though most recent things are 'the best thing ever' in her mind, I think she really liked it. My friend Pam was amazing, and we also had help from a girl who babysits for us -- Eve was thrilled that a teen-ager was going to be at her party. And I got to do it in my pajamas.

She got a lot of great presents -- mostly craft stuff, which she adores. But her very favourite? The thing she said she was most hoping for?.............


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Odds and Ends. Mostly Odds.

I'm tired. I have a headache. I'm irredeemably blogcked (blog blocked -- has someone already made up that word? It seems to me like that word should have been made up a long time ago, but I've been told I don't exactly run on the same operating system as a lot of people that, if you want to be all conventional, you might call 'normal', so I can't be sure. I guess I could google it. What do you think a time-traveller from a hundred years ago would find weirder about today -- that we exercise for fun, or that we talk about 'googling' things several times a day?) It's February 18th. Crap, I was supposed to put clothing donations out for the Canadian Diabetes Association before eight o'clock this morning. I guess if they show up now I'll just grab the nearest pile of junk, shove it in a garbage bag and send them on their merry diabetic way. I will now dispense 18 random thoughts, because clearly today is not the day to try to achieve coherency.

1. From where I'm sitting I can see a three-day-old piece of pizza and a twelve-day-old cupcake. How have I allowed us to live like this?

2. I sort of want a dog. Up until a few months ago I still wanted another baby, and I still kind of do, but I'm clearly too old and broken for another baby, so I've transferred my longing to a puppy. Of course, if I have to teach something where to pee and poop and it's going to wake me up several times a night and I have to walk it twice a day whether i feel like walking or not and I can't go away for the week-end...

3. I want a cactus.

4. I don't really understand why someone who's won a gold medal comes back to the next Olympics and tries to win another gold medal. Geez man, you did it -- you achieved the pinnacle of success in your sport. Why spend another four years trying not to get any worse, so you can come back and either do the exact same thing in which case yippee again, or do worse, in which case, won't you kind of feel like a big dork? Dude -- move on.

5. Would eating a twelve-day-old cupcake kill you?

6. Why do I go to Chapters and think I'll be able to remember all the titles of the books I want to get from the library without writing them down? Is it the same reason I think that eating dessert at every meal including breakfast won't keep me from losing weight?

7. Did you know that there's a journal called Emergency Librarian?

8. Do you think the creators of Law and Order and CSI knew that their major accomplishment would be putting the phrase 'vaginal contribution' into the vernacular?

9. How is it possible that marshmallows are classified as food?

10. My daughter used to call marshmallows 'smushmallows'. When we were at the cottage with my sister and her kids, my niece laughed at this until Eve refused to say 'smushmallow' ever again. When I think about this, I still get slightly pissed at my niece. I try not to think about it.

11. I like polka dots.

12. I have never had so many black bananas and so little desire to make banana bread.

13. When I take a nap I always sleep upside down (with my head at the foot of the bed) so I'll know that it's not morning when I wake up. Otherwise it's too confusing.

14. If I wake up with my head at the foot of the bed and it's morning, this is not a good thing.

15. Plum sauce is mostly pumpkin purée. Why do the marketing gurus think that plum sauce is more appealing than pumpkin sauce? Okay, now that I type that out, never mind.

16. Now I want egg rolls.

17. Perhaps I should move my laptop out of the kitchen.

18. Stay in school. Just say no. Slippery when wet. Some restrictions may apply.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Under Where?

My sister called me this morning. In the course of conversation she mentioned that she was on the Indigo website ordering a book for her daughter when this book suddenly popped up in her sidebar. She couldn't remember precisely why she had intended to read it, but she ordered it anyway, and then she remembered that I had recommended it. This prompted me to look back in my posts for my review.

And I couldn't find it.


Full disclosure: I know the author, Ilana Stanger-Ross. Not intimately or since childhood or to pop over for tea (I wish), but she's good friends with my sister-in-law, and intimately tangled up in the genesis of this very blog (gasp!). It's true -- look at my very first post ever to verify.

If you're thinking that the fact that I know her and like her makes me more likely to give the book a good review, you are so flat-out back-assward blind-drunk cousin-wed WRONG, that...well, refer back to my very first post ever again. Ilana's the first person I've ever really known that got a book published. The phrase "gnawed to the bone by a million rabid rats of envy" springs to mind (doesn't precisely roll off the tongue, though). If there had been the tiniest of flaws, the most nearly imperceptible of errors, I would have percepted the hell out of it. In my tiny, shriveled, petty, unlovely heart of hearts, I wanted to hate this book.
Imagine my crankiness. For any book, it's great. For a first novel it's fucking brilliant, damn it. I didn't even have to skim it again to remember the whole story, which almost never happens. It's not the kind of book where you pore over sentences and pull out quotes. It's the kind of writing that creates a world so real that it sucks you right in and impresses itself on you so that you can see the mark of the bra strap on your shoulder when you stop reading. The characters are so real you can hear their voices as you read their remarks. I'm not Jewish, except reading this book? I was Jewish. And old, and seething with resentment and regret and self-admonishment and rage and yearning (yeah, all that wasn't as much of a stretch for me).

Sima is a wonderful character. She's strong but flawed, intelligent but deeply unhappy. Timna, the beautiful and exotic stranger who enters her life and changes it forever, is a real character in her own right as well as being a catalyst. There's something so quotidian and so beautiful about the bra shop, women congregating around something that hinges on the body, on vulnerability and nakedness and sexuality, on something that can be a basic garment of support or an accessory meant to reveal, to engender desire, which is a shimmering thread running through the novel.

I suspect I didn't write the review as soon as I read the book because I felt like I couldn't do it justice and Ilana might read it and unfriend me on Facebook or something. Either that or I just forgot. I hope it wasn't the whole bitter and corroded with envy thing. Nah. I forget stuff all the time. Last week I went to pick Eve up off the school bus and she wasn't there because she'd gone home with her friend Laura which I knew, but forgot. Happily, the police were pretty understanding.

Clearly publishing a stunningly fabulous work of literature wasn't good enough for Ilana, since now she's a midwife. Don't you hate her? Come on, you kind of hate her. Don't worry -- I have it on good authority that she underwent some wacky government experiment which means that now she never sleeps. That's not really true of course, but thinking it is like balm on my acidly envious soul.

Way to go, Ilana. You bitch.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Not Fair or Sporting in Any Way

I'm sad. And angry. And sincerely bewildered.

It doesn't take a genius to look around at the world and realize that wealth and resources, luxury and leisure, and something as basic and intangible as old-fashioned good luck, are distributed with a wild and baffling inequality over the face of the earth. Logically, a large number of geographical, geo-political and historical forces are in play, but often the image of a large, simple child scattering gold with an unsteady hand flashes into my mind. What is it that makes it so that people who already have to scrounge for the most basic necessities of life are also situated in areas where earthquakes and tsunamis occur with disproportionate frequency? I love my children, and I appreciate more than I can say the fact that I am able to provide them with nutrition, shelter, and multiple other things that are more luxuries than necessities, but all the money I give to World Vision or the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders doesn't come close to redressing the balance.
Photo by fauxto_digit
And then people who live here, much closer to me, in this rich and fortunate area of the world. People who come looking for a better life and end up in a hand-to-mouth minimum-wage cycle with the added hardship of winter cold. People who are born into poverty and can't find a way to break out of it. Babies who are born into childhoods of abuse or neglect. And good people, like my friend Patti, who somehow, through no fault of their own, end up walking and working for most of their lives through a karmic shitstorm of unknown origin. The intermittent but unrelenting rain of crap has included: parents divorcing, leaving mother with four kids, including one severely disabled (but really cute and funny -- she called me a pisshead on more then one occasion) daughter: increased responsibility on Patti as the oldest child, through which she still managed to maintain high grades and high performance in a variety of sports: two of the most colicky babies I have ever seen EVER, one with a life-threatening peanut allergy: a rocking cool nurse aunt being killed by a careless transport driver: multiple structural and flooding problems with her house: bed bugs: and her awesome, full-of-life, more-physically-fit-than-the-average-Olympic-athlete husband Oli being levelled by peri-myocarditis, resulting in permanent heart damage, an inability to work for a time, and a likelihood that he will never be able to achieve his previous and desired level of physical activity.

Patti recently wrote about her mother (who I know and agree is all kinds of amazing) and said she hates being called a saint. I wouldn't call Patti a saint. I would call her a fucking marvel. It's not that she's not bitter -- who the hell wouldn't be bitter except the most lobotomized, martyr-wanna-be, professional victim asshat? It's that she's bitter in a suck-it-up-and-get-on-with-it way, a funny, foul-mouthed, bomb-the-bed-bugs and pound the shit out of the driveway with a cement-breaker-thingy, make a pot of soup and open a bottle of wine kind of way. A way that lets us joke about how bad her luck is and makes me wonder sometimes why she still lets me be her friend, because things are not even. I don't live what normal people would call a charmed life -- I'm not super-beautiful or super-rich or super-talented. But my babies were textbook babies, my basement has never flooded, my roof has never leaked, my parents are together and my husband is healthy (so far). And I'd like to say, sincerely, that I'll take the next one -- the next catastrophe, the next bout of malaria, the next structural collapse, the next blow out of left field -- so she can rest for a while. Of course it doesn't work that way, and if it did, it wouldn't be truly sincere, because everybody feels like their own life is hard enough, even when we know it's not, and I don't really want the shit to shift its focus from her to me, because I am cowardly and weak. I just want the shit to go away.

Patti emailed me today to tell me that a newspaper story in our city paper for the last few days about a man who was killed in a snowmobiling accident is actually about her husband's brother.

I am now mentally composing an open letter to a God that I may or may not believe in, that goes something like "Dear God who may or may not exist: Regarding my friend Patti -- may I ask what, in the name of all that is good and holy, is your FUCKING DAMAGE?"

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Vicious Campaign of Abuse and Neglect

Eve had a great birthday party on Saturday (more on that later). On Sunday (her actual birthday) the little girl from next door (who had come to the birthday party an hour early at noon and went home at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday) came over again and they played with birthday presents for hours, rejecting all offers of food and completely ignoring or shooing away all the adults in their general vicinity. Then, around eight o'clock, Eve came into the family room, looked at Matt and said reproachfully, "you know Daddy, I think only three people said happy birthday to me today. And none of them were you."

Angus went to a 'At Home on My Own' course on Saturday (to spare him the shrieky giggly joy of thirteen little girls painting aprons and baking monkey bread). They taught him a lot of logical, fairly obvious things that we probably had already told him, but somehow learning them in a classroom makes them seem more official. He came home with a certificate that Matt says he's pretty sure is 'legal permission to abandon our kid'. Angus's favourite thing was a list of things it said to answer yes or no to, such as "if you have a house key, you should keep it out in the open," "If you lose your house key you should make sure to tell everyone that it's lost", and "you should print your address on your house key in case you forget it". Angus was lunging around yelling "hey everyone, I lost my house key -- if you find it, make sure to go break into my house, the address is right on it!".

When Angus got home, he took one look at the remaining little girls and decided to retreat to my Mom and Dad's house for a sleepover. To give you a sense of how stringent the rules are at my Mom and Dad's house are, once I asked him if he wanted me to pack any toys or games as he was headed over there and he said, "Nah, I'm just gonna watch TV and eat stuff." When Matt went to pick him up, my Mom asked if he ever eats dinner when he comes home from her place. Matt said yes, he eats a full dinner. My Mom said 'well, the way he eats here, you'd think you never feed him', and Angus said 'that's right, they don't!' Matt made a disbelieving face at him, and Angus retorted, 'all you ever feed me is breakfast, lunch and dinner!'

I don't know how we've managed not to have them removed from our care. Such as it is.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dream a (Weird) Little Dream

I'm currently up to my ass in birthday-party prep, so I'll just share Eve's dream from last night. She's been having a lot of nightmares lately, which often makes her afraid to go to sleep, and also lands her quite often in my bed at four a.m., so the fact that she had a funny dream was welcome news:

"First I dreamed that I was in a world made of Lego, and I was made of Lego too! Then I dreamed that I was back in Madame Waterfall's class and... this is embarrassing and I don't want to say it... but I will because it's so funny...(whispering) we were studying on butts! (pause for long, breathless belly-laugh). And Madame Waterfall said there's never been anyone in the world who had a butt that was bigger than them. And then we went on a field trip -- to China!!! And we saw someone whose butt was bigger than them! And Madame Waterfall said 'I guess I stand corrected'."

Sleep on that, friends.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I'm SO sorry, Girl who was doing my pedicure!

Photo by Tambako the Jaguar
There are certain things I've always been fastidious about. Some would say borderline obsessive-compulsive, and they wouldn't necessarily be wrong, but I prefer to think of it as being fastidious. Actually I don't love the word fastidious. Actually the more I type it and think it, the more I dislike it. The t and the d are too close together, and there's something unseemly about those two i's. So let's call it... meticulous? ANYWAY... I've always washed my face several times a day, especially when I'm wearing glasses instead of contacts, because I hate feeling like my face is oily and my glasses are sliding down my nose. I take a shower in the morning and usually a quick one at night, sometimes to regulate my wonky body temperature before going to bed, sometimes just to rinse off the day. When I had Angus and was exhausted and insane for the first few weeks, I thought that might break the bedtime shower habit. It didn't. Sometimes I even got up and combed my hair and brushed my teeth before breastfeeding at 2 a.m. And 3 a.m. And 5:30 a.m. Yeah, okay, even I can see that that doesn't so much put me in the non-crazy column. The point is, even though I have two kids and no memory now, even though I'm often depressed and lacking in drive and unlacking in ass, I generally took enough time to make sure I still looked presentable. True, this may have taken the form of looking in every mirror in every room I passed just to ascertain that my chin was too fat and my eyebrows were too thick and my forehead was somehow just too THERE, or taking down and putting up my hair six times, sitting on the floor crying and then wondering where the last forty-six minutes went and why my scalp was a little warm, but everybody defines 'taking pride in your appearance' differently, okay?

Over the past few weeks, though, something weird has been happening. I run errands, pick Eve up from school, take her home, wait for Angus to show up and get homework and dinner started. Normally I would have to wash my face, change my clothes and maybe even shower again. Now sometimes I don't get back to my mirror until bedtime. Sometimes I look okay. Sometimes I look bad. Whatever.

And then today, I was getting a pedicure with my friend Pam and I rolled up my pant legs and looked down and almost died of embarrassment.......... the hair on my legs was like FOUR INCHES LONG!!!!! And I don't think I've ever gone more than a day or two without shaving my legs. When girls in my residence would joke about only shaving once a week or not shaving until exams were over or even just not shaving as a matter of principle I would smile insincerely and wonder what on EARTH was WRONG with them (hey, I have principles. I just prefer them not to snag on my tights). And now even when I concentrate, I... I... I can't remember the last time I shaved my legs. (whimper)

I honestly don't know if I should be glad that I'm getting less obsessive, or sad that, clearly, I've finally decided to just let myself go.

On the bright side, the other afternoon I dropped in on Pam and she had jam in her hair.

(Sorry Pammy, if I'm going down, I'm takin' everyone I can with me!)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Yes, I do get rather passionate about my tinned fruit

I've totally run dry. Empty. Echoing, with a little layer of dust in the bottom. I feel like I'm doing everything half-assed this week, with the one bright spot being that, for the most part, I'm at least still trying to do it. I dragged myself to the gym Monday and today. Today, amusingly enough, almost everybody I saw come into the gym looked half asleep. My friend Pam was on the treadmill next to me, in a similar state of brain-lock, and at one point she tried to say 'if you live in an apartment' but instead she said 'if you live in a hot tub', which resulted in twin bouts of hysterical laughter that earned us a few dirty looks and almost sent us flying off our treadmills.

Photo by Andrew Sardone
Monday after working out I went down to get groceries. The plan was to work out, get what I needed for meals for the week and for Eve's birthday party on Saturday, go home and shower and go into the school library for the afternoon. And I needed canned peaches. Do you think I could find canned peaches? I walked up and down every aisle, then I looked at all the signs hanging from the ceiling. I saw canned vegetables. Canned fish. Snack fruit, but no canned fruit. I asked one grocery store employee. She sent me to the snack fruit aisle. There was no canned fruit. I asked another one. She sent me to the canned vegetable aisle. Canned peas and asparagus (shudder), but no canned fruit. Finally someone looked at the floor plan and sent me to aisle 6. The sign hanging above aisle 6 listed canned fish, crackers and bread sticks. Crackers AND bread sticks. They couldn't forego listing bread sticks in order to list canned fruit?

This extra ten to fifteen minutes of increasingly frustrating and futile canned-peach-seeking totally pushed me over the line from Monday morning foggy-but-functioning to Monday morning ready-to-stuff-myself-in-a-corner-and-sing-songs-from-Moulin-Rouge-in-a-sad-little-voice-ing. And the thing about the library is that Bonnie's out for surgery and it was a substitute, and Bonnie said go ahead and come in still, but really, why would I go put away books for someone who's getting paid to be there for two weeks and that's practically all she has to do? And all the stuff I had to do for Eve's party was spinning around in my head because I'm wacky that way, and I still had to go into Eve's classroom to do the math bags before the library and...

then it occurred to me. I'm a volunteer.

Sometimes I'm really good at missing the obvious. At least now I know where Loblaws keeps the freaking canned peaches.

Yeah, this post? Half-assed, like everything else this week. If you lived in a hot tub, you'd get it.