Monday, September 27, 2010


I just sat pondering my latest spam offering for so long that I really feel like I have to share it. It's like a found poem, like a hymn sung by a crackhead angel -- it seems that if I puzzle it out and move some words around and read it aloud in the proper tone of voice I might just unlock the mysteries of the universe:

cruel Julian with Grub and Deuterium oxide

you can tangible a unquestionable life.

I usual in actually, it's implausible so roll in on an ry it, do it sporadically!

Mini Chill? contains a familiar commingling of herbs and amino acids called Relarian?

that has been proven, in published clinical trials not not to not unexpectedly curb accentuate and eagerness,

but to in act improve your heavens and enhance mentally ill gamble a accidentally on!

Mini Chill? doesn't liaison drowsiness,

so whether you're in the medial of a stressful hour at kisser all out

or enjoying a lifetime silly with your friends

Mini Chill? is guaranteed to bring back your day.

Brilliant, yes? Who hasn't found themselves in the medial of a stressful hour at kisser or run afoul of cruel Julian and wished for something small and cold to enhance their mentally ill gamble? And the daring use of the triple negative (not not to not)? I stand in awe.

Have an implausible Monday. Do it sporadically!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fed Up

What is with everyone needing dinner every single goddamned night? My god, it's relentless! How have we not come up with a better way to address this yet? I've heard that there are actually women who can produce a colourful, balanced, palatable meal that doesn't include day-glo orange cheese or twinkies night after night AND do all the other stuff that goes into having something resembling a life. Since school started, I've been concentrating on making dinner. Yesterday I looked up and realized that I had done nothing but cook dinner for roughly seventeen days. I don't think I can live like this.

So I've been experimenting with cooking in bulk. You know, where you cook big batches of stuff or cook more than one thing at once? Conventional wisdom has it that you freeze the excess for easy consumption later on, but that would entail emptying out the three half-empty cartons of ice cream and forty-seven leftover freezies, plus the frozen peas we use whenever someone hurts themselves, so instead I'm making everyone eat three dinners on Tuesday and not feeding them again until Friday. I'll let you know how it goes.

We had our sort-of-bi-monthly dinner party that we do with four other couples last Saturday. My friend Janet did the main course. My friends Janet and Collette are neck in neck for brutal, no-holds-barred competitiveness. Janet also has this enduring, endearing ability to say things just a little bit wrong, which I love. We were at Janet's sister's house and we played this game that her sister Susanne likes, where everyone writes down the names of as many famous people they can think of and puts them in a hat, then you split into teams and one person on the team has to pull names and yell out clues to makes their team guess as many names as possible in a minute. You can imagine how quickly this degenerates into a meleƩ of name-calling and obscene gestures, particularly when the group is fairly evenly split between literary nerds and physicists ("Frequency conversion guy" "What the..." "Hertz!" "Guy who wrote the Count of Monte Cristo!" "Oh fuck off"). Plus there's this weird phenomenon whereby, no matter what, some obscure person like the third baseman for the 1934 Yankees will show up multiple times. So for the magic moment of the night, it's kind of a tie between Janet pulling a name, saying 'he's a singer' and then glaring demandingly at her team for the next seventeen seconds, and the fact that she kept calling her incomparable veal osso bucco 'osco bosco'.

I love my friends.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tarred With the Same Brush

We've had a letters-to-the-editor conversation in the local paper going on recently, between people who think Muslims are being unfairly expected to apologize every time acts of terrorism are discovered to be planned or perpetrated by radical Islamists and people who think that a) this isn't actually true or b) Muslims should apologize, or at least be clear about the fact that they are against such acts.

One such letter was written by Maher Arar, whose story is known to most Ottawa residents if not most Canadians. The letter is titled "Muslims Have Nothing to Apologize For", and can be found here. Arar states not only that Muslims should not be expected to apologize, but speaks negatively of the imams and members of the Muslim community who have done so, in part because the suspects referred to haven't always been conclusively proven to be guilty. He also decries the fact that this is a unique phenomenon to the Western people/Muslim people dichotomy, and that no one paints all Christians or Jews with the same brush when a Christian or Jew commits a crime.

I have mixed feelings about this. I don't want every Muslim person to feel like they are constantly expected to apologize for a minority of homicidal zealots who perpetrate atrocities under the auspices of their religion -- but I really appreciate it when they do. I would say the important part isn't that they're condemning specific people who may or may not be proven guilty, but that they're condemning the whole radical Islamic agenda. I have heard enough imams make equivocal, hedging statements about 'jihadist' acts to really appreciate when someone of the Muslim faith says flat-out that Islamic terrorists are wrongheaded, criminal and must be stopped. On the other hand, I get that it must seem unfair and tedious if you are a Muslim and you feel like all the eyes on your street turn to you every time some yahoo blows himself up thinking he's headed for paradise and a bunch of willing virgins.

As for the argument that people don't judge other groups based on the actions of a few? I think that's total crap. Would you want to be a Catholic priest right now? Do you think they don't feel they're being scrutinized by every parent with a vulnerable child? I just listened to a piece on the CBC about a town where ATV operators are in a feud with the other members of the community; some people drive the ATVs irresponsibly, tearing up farmers fields among other things, and the responsible drivers claim that they are being penalized and judged based on the actions of a few reckless morons. I'm not defending it, but I think it's ingrained in human nature -- we can't know everything about everyone in a certain demographic, so we extrapolate from the examples we have. I have an overall negative opinion about cyclists; a few of my friends are cyclists, and I believe them when they say they obey the rules of the road and don't run stop signs or weave in and out of traffic, but the majority of my experiences as a driver seems to indicate that all the cyclists I don't know personally are dumbasses with death wishes.

I don't have any answers, this is just something that's been on my mind. I thought I'd throw it out there and play Bear in the Big Blue House, by asking What Do You Think?

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Autumn of Our Discontent

Today I'm getting things out of the way -- you know, those little things that every time you see the item involved you think "I have to..." and then you go on with your day and don't do them? Okay, maybe it's just me. I cleaned the crap off the top of my dresser -- some baseball cards (into Angus's card bin), some bedtime story books (into Eve's bookshelf), the sparkly pipe cleaners with which Eve spelled "Mom" and "Love" (into my box of stuff Eve made me). I cleaned out a box of receipts and threw out the ones that I didn't need any more. I sewed a hole in a pair of tights that have been hanging over the stair rail since last winter.

Usually this kind of thing gives me an immense feeling of accomplishment. Today that immense feeling of accomplishment must be having the same trouble getting out that I am. I was supposed to go shopping with my Mom this morning because the last two nights I've been feeling like I'm coming down with something and it was supposed to be pouring rain. Today I feel fine (not sick, anyway) and it only rained until nine-thirty and then the sun came out. And I realized I'm just having trouble leaving the house. I'll be able to get out and pick up the kids, but I should have gone shopping with my Mom and looked for snowsuits for the kids and gotten some groceries and I feel this overwhelming urge to...not leave the house.

I always say I love fall, but I've realized over the past few years that, much as I like the cooler weather and getting back into the school routine and having more time to myself, my brain chemicals seem to want to go a whole other way with things, which is bloody inconvenient for me (and don't suggest exchanging them for other, more cooperative brain chemicals. I tried that -- no one wanted to trade). I have this pit in my stomach that I could ascribe to the fact that I'm taking the kids for piano lessons after school to a COMPLETE STRANGER, but really it's just a big chunk of free-floating featureless anxiety. Staying in the house seems safer, but then there's the whole I'm-useless-and-lazy-and-frittering-away-my-me-time-fretting-instead-of-learning-Japanese-and-weaving-washcloths thing to confront.

It's tiresome.

Is self-knowledge any use at all when it doesn't generally lead to self-transformation?

Anyway, yesterday was great. We were supposed to go to our friends' cottage with our usual four family group, but it was raining, so we took our potluck stuff to their house and they cranked up the big pool to hot-tub-temperature and the kids had three big floors to destroy instead of one tiny cottage and we had a bocce ball tournament in the rain (which my team dominated until I deserted my partner who was my friend's nine-year-old son to play bananagrams and he won with a sub and I didn't win a single game of bananagrams, and don't even let me get into how I feel about being better at a game that involves rolling big balls at a little ball than a game that involves intelligence and vocabulary, but anyway...) and it was lovely. I should have asked if I could move in. Collette would have made me leave the house today.

When we were walking in the door after leaving, we asked the kids if they'd had a good time and Angus said yes and Eve said "yeah, but I don't know about that bitchin' ball. I don't think I'll be playing that again." I don't want to play bitchin' ball either. I don't know how to stop.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Obligatory Back-to-School Post

One week down. I'd know how many to go, down to the last day, if Eve had the same teacher as last year, because that teacher kept track of how many days of school were left. She also knew how many days were left until her retirement, but she seemed to really enjoy teaching despite that.

Eve was up until after eleven the night before the first day. I think it was partly a shifted body clock from summer craziness and partly excitement. I was a nervous wreck (not for any good reason, just because overreacting is who I am and what I do), and trying to hide it, which was less easy when she ended up in bed with me from nine-thirty on watching the clock and speculating on how she was going to feel going to school the next day on 'one hour of sleep'. She tried reading. I scratched her back. She cuddled her Build-a-Bear with the heartbeat. She wouldn't listen to music because she's convinced that if she goes to sleep listening to music she gets nightmares -- I tried to explain to her the inherent unreliability of anecdotal evidence, but she wasn't buying it.

I don't know how all the other schools do the first day, but I hate, loathe and despise the way our school does it. At 8:15 they open the doors to the gym and everybody crowds in and has to move around in unmoveable conditions looking for the big piece of paper with their kid's name on it. It's hot and airless and really just adds immeasurably to the crappiness of the experience. Last year when we found the list with Angus's name on it the teacher wasn't even there yet. I was happy with the teachers they got, though. Angus has the same teacher he had in grade two for English, and she really got him -- if he said his stomach hurt she'd tell him to have a snack and put his head on his desk for five minutes before letting him call me. He has the male teacher he had for math last year for French, which is good because he loves him, and bad because the guy's French is really quite bad, but oh well. Eve has the teacher Angus had in grade three for a month before things got switched around, and I like her, plus I'm kind of relieved she doesn't have the teacher I was afraid she was going to get. I think of her as the mean teacher, but that's not really fair. Pam's daughter has her, and as Pam puts it, "she's serious. We're silly". I'm sure the kids would be fine, but we might get in trouble. I'll probably be thinking up creative ways to bust Pam out of detention before the end of the year.

The last couple weeks of summer were lovely. Eve and I hung out with Sabrina and her super-delicious two-year-old (and her dog -- it would be a near thing to say who Eve loved more) for a morning, and went shopping for school clothes -- this was the first time she actually wanted to try things on. I'm pretty sure that she not only has a better fashion sense than I did when I was seven, she probably has a better fashion sense than I do now. It's kind of annoying.

I'm journalling this and I know it must be really dull for anyone who isn't me. I'm wobbly and uninspired. I went for a couple of walks and baked an oatmeal cake. I'm trying not to fall back into bad habits on the sleep and diet front, with... mixed results, let's say. Maybe I need a mean teacher to whip me into shape.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

If All Else Fails, We can just watch Camp Rock 2 a Bunch of Times

Back to school day minus two. We have no plans for Labour Day weekend. I hate when we have no plans and yet I go on not making plans. Angus was in Thunder Bay and Matt was in Washington and I didn't know what they would feel like and I knew that everyone we know probably would have made plans if I waited until they got back. And yet I waited. It's a mystery.

My husband got back the day before Angus, so the two of us plus Eve plus my Mom went to pick Angus up at the airport. After the incident, my mother in law said no one even asked her for I.D. when she met him in Thunder Bay. I guess they were only worried about getting stuck with him, not giving him away to a stranger. Also, while having a drink with my Mom and talking about the incident, I jokingly said "I should have just made something up, it's not like they verified it", and then felt much less amused as I realized that this was totally true and I REALLY COULD have just made it up, since there was NO WAY in hell my mother in law wasn't going to be there on the other end. Damn my inherent impulse towards honesty and trustworthiness.

When we got home from the airport, Angus went in for an emotional reunion with his Playstation 3 and Eve went next door to see if Victoria was home. Victoria is our next door neighbours' youngest daughter who was born less than a week before Eve and they're inseparable whenever schedules allow. I went over with her to ask my neighbour if she wanted to have a beer later (translation: 'holy crap I need a beer, want to have one with me so I don't look like a lonely alcoholic?'). She said they were having people over so I said never mind and she said 'no no, come over anyway, it's all the people you know from every other time you've been over', which means a few very nice couples who must think I have no friends of my own. Which is fine, I'm not proud. Matt came over for a beer then went to bed early, Angus stayed home and played video games and Eve stayed until they had no option but to invite her to sleep over -- none of the women in our family are proud, apparently. So much for my plan to start re-training Eve to not stay up way too late and sleep in until nine-thirty, since starting Tuesday we have to be out the door at eight o'clock. I left well after midnight and she was still going to watch Beetlejuice before going to bed. Then her and Victoria and Victoria's older sister Alexandra all slept on Alexandra's bed like a heap of kittens. I drank some margaritas and some vodka from a transparent skull and some pink stuff, because what the hell, I have three days to be hungover. I love my neighbours. And their friends who pretend not to think I'm a friendless party-crasher.

Memorable quotes by Angus on his trip:

"I got a new video game. That I bought MYSELF." Me: "With what money?" Him: "The money that Nana Barb gave me" (big cheesy grin).

"I got to use Bill's ipad all week". Eve: "Did you push the fart button?" Angus: Yes. Yes I did."

"Grandpa Mike took me on a boat ride. We saw the Staals' cottage. I tried to take a picture of it but it was too big."

"You'd be surprised how often it feels like the plane is going to crash when you're flying by yourself."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Word Picture Wednesday: The Park After Dark

After a day spent in a curtain-pulled house, hiding from the blasting sun, nursing my pounding head: my daughter, the dim glow of her white and purple zebra pajamas, the flashlight strapped around her wrist tracing crazy patterns on the sand below, swinging up into the stars.