Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Ideal Burger of Memory

"Take hamburgers. Here, hamburguesas are really bad. It's known that Americans like hamburgers, so again, we're idiots. But they have no idea how delicious hamburgers can be. It's this ideal burger of memory we crave...not the disgusting burgers you get abroad."

This is a quote from the movie Barcelona which I saw years ago. I only vaguely remember the rest of the movie, but this quote about hamburgers stuck in my mind, and struck me as appropriate for this post idea. Except when I typed it out and really thought about it, it wasn't really appropriate at all. But I liked it as a title so much that I decided I didn't give a rip.

What this post was actually supposed to be about was not an ideal hamburger of memory, but a mythic hamburger of imagination. But for me the hamburger is a book. (Bear in mind I'm still slightly feverish). I was wondering if I'd started ordering books in my sleep. Every few weeks, a book shows up in the mail, often from an obscure town in the U.S. or U.K. Sometimes I recognize the title, sometimes I don't. But I know it's some book that I've read a review of and wanted to read, and the library didn't have it, but one of the booksellers on abebooks.com did.

For the most part, the books cost under two dollars. The shipping costs are higher than the cost of the actual book. The entire transaction rarely exceeds ten dollars. But still. I go to the library every week because I'm trying NOT to spend any more money on books, and, almost more importantly, we have no more ROOM for books. The only reason I'm spending that ten dollars, and bringing another centimetre-and-a-half-width shelf-taker-upper into the house is because, once I realize the library doesn't have it, it becomes infinitely more desirable than the thousands of books the library has. Because what if it's The One? The mythical book of possibility that will change my life, unlock the doors of perception, shatter the sacred truths, and put an end to cellulite forever?

Of course, it's all usually a huge disappointment. The package arrives, and... it's just another book. Sometimes it's enjoyable enough, sometimes it's quite dreadful and you have to wonder what the hell the reviewer was thinking. Sometimes it's quite magical, most often when it involves science fiction/fantasy short stories by women, now that I think of it. I put these ones in my triple pile of books on my bedside table and read them one at a time, trying very hard to stop myself, when I reach the end of one, from rushing on to the beginning of the next (if I have to turn the page over for the next one it's easier to stop, otherwise it's a pathetic display of me trying to wrest the book out of my own hands). They are wise and splendid and occasionally they blow my doors of perception right off the hinges.

It's not that strange a phenomenon. It's always easier to imagine that the book you can't read is better than the one you have, or the one episode of Lost that you missed was the Best One Ever, or the thing you didn't order off the menu would have been ten times better than what you chose. And sometimes it's just incredibly fun and giddy-making to realize that I am a grownup with my own money (well, my husband's own money -- I'm workin' on it) and I can go ahead and order a book if I want to -- I actually do remember being incredibly frustrated as a child when I wanted a book and couldn't get my hands on it fast enough. On the other hand, I'm a grown-up and I should realize that I don't need to have every book I read about. At least not before I get to the bottom of my tripartite bedside table pile.

If you want to read the story that made me NEED the Ellen Klages book, (it's about a library!), the absolutely freaking amazing author allows that here. Of course, it makes me despair of ever writing anything one-fiftieth as good. But the Ideal Burger of Memory can't help it if it wrecks you for McDonald's.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesdays (have gone monochromatic)

She says she's a superhero (we call her Super Orange Laryngitis Girl) but she also does interpretive dance. With her orange silly putty which was a prize from the MS Read-a-thon, which necessitates all clothing and accessories henceforth being orange. Plus the wall, which I painted to order as soon as she got home from school.




Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Feverish random thoughts

It would be somewhat inaccurate to say that today doesn't suck. Angus went back to school, still hacking up a lung periodically, but declaring that he feels fine. Eve has been an unhappy, warm-ish, snotty little heap on the couch all day (except when I asked her if she wanted me to put in Planet 51 or Fantastic Mr. Fox for her, and she stuck her head up and declared "Avatar!") and my throat feels like someone has flaming-arrowed a proclamation of doom to it. On the upside, I did manage to narrowly avoid spraying a bunch of Fantastik with Bleach into my load of darks, after I grabbed it thinking it was Spray Shout.

You know those laundry labels that say 'remove promptly from dryer?' Don't they just make you laugh with quiet indulgent affection? Oh yes, you dear little sweater/skirt/delicate lacy slip, I leave everything else crumpled and forlorn in the dryer all night or all day or all the whenever-the-hell-I-feel-like-it because I tend to throw laundry in right before I go to bed and then not think of it again until everyone's out of underwear and the pile of dirty clothes in the hall starts to heave itself around in search of water and soap, but YOU I will remember to fetch freshly heated and wrinkle-free the minute, nay, the very SECOND that indescribably annoying buzzer blats. Trust me.

You know what I hate? People who 'work tirelessly' at things. Especially because they're mostly noble, philanthropic, admirable things, which is a metric f*ckton of annoying, isn't it? Nobody really 'works tirelessly' at serving people sullenly at a drive-thru, or developing an untoward fondness for prescription painkillers, or letting their laundry sit in the dryer for three days until it looks like this only less cute. No, they're working tirelessly at curing porphyria, or repairing homes for senile talk-show hosts, or draping the naked in fresh and unwrinkled clothing (yeah, I know, it's getting old). I only ever work tirefully. Just thinking of working at things makes me tired. Just thinking of those people working tirelessly makes me unspeakably tired.

Angus just gave Eve a hug and she turned her head so she wouldn't cough directly into his face. Isn't that sweet?

So the Tylenol kicked in a couple of hours ago and Eve is now singing and trying to break her record for continuous ball bounces without fumbling. My Tylenol has not yet kicked in, and I sort of hate Eve right now. My mother said I should still keep her home tomorrow. My mother has clearly forgotten that kids can be sporting all the symptoms of cholera one second and dancing on your head and juggling kiwi fruit the next.

Pam and I usually walk on Wednesday mornings. If I was a working tirelessly sort of person, I would drag my diseased, phlegmy, migrainey ass out of bed in the morning. But we've covered that already. We've started walking on this really nice trail, where we run into a lot of people walking dogs, many off-leash, which isn't technically allowed, but they've all been remarkably well behaved. Can't say the same for that woman who blatantly let her dog take an unscooped poop in blatant view of our approaching selves. So we fixed our implacable gazes on her, bore down on her like a couple of avenging angels and VERY sternly WISHED HER A GOOD MORNING in a slightly less friendly tone than we customarily employ. Why? Well, obviously because Pam and I are a couple of GUTLESS PUSSIES!

I'm finding myself a little creepy at the moment, so I'm going to pop a few more pills and put my plague-ridden self to bed. Working tirelessly in the pursuit of mediocrity. That's how I roll.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

So Wholesome It'll Make You Hurl

It was a beautiful day today. And we had no plans. This, naturally, sent me into a complete panic. Our general pattern for week-ends all year has been Matt and Angus out at hockey Saturday and Sunday, then showing up tired and napping or watching a James Bond movie, while I do course work or read or clean and Eve colours or plays with the girl from next door.

For some reason, my impulse with a day like this is always to try to get together with someone else. The kids like to have other kids to play with, and whenever there's more than two adults I have this hope that margaritas will magically appear. But who the hell is going to be around at short notice on a beautiful Saturday? I made two or three calls (nobody home at the first place, nobody I liked at the second house (kidding, it was the husband), sick at the third house). I faced the fact that we were going to have to do something as a family -- alone.

I informed the kids that we were going for a walk at the Chapman Conservation Area. They weren't overly impressed. I said if they did this for me, nicely, then we'd go to the park afterwards and Angus could play baseball and Eve could swing. And we could ride there in our new van. And I would refrain from calling them ungrateful wretched ingrates for the rest of the day.

Angus loves being outside as soon as the weather turns nice -- preferably with some kind of ball involved. Eve can go either way. In truth, she loves fruit, vegetables, and playing outside. But she's a little shit-disturber, so for my Mom she delights in saying "I love salt!" and for my Dad she trots out "I HATE the smell of fresh air". We sweetened the deal today by giving her Angus's old sunglasses, which she declared made her look crazy cool.

Eve being crazy cool:


As soon as we got there, it was nothing but good omens:


We were walking on a boardwalk set directly on the grass and Eve wanted to know why there was a 'bridge but no water'. Matt said it was because it probably got swampy, and they wanted to protect the vegetation. Eve said (happily), 'oh, so this is a nature place?'. I said yes. Then she grabbed my arm and said:

'BUT I'M AFRAID OF NATURE PLACES!'


She did, however, like the bulrushes.


Eve with her cotton candy bulrush (it was broken already):


Angus: 'Eve, come look at the swan'. Matt: 'It's not a swan, it's a duck. The ones with the green heads are called mallards'. Ten minutes later -- Angus: 'Look, there's another swan'. Matt: 'It's NOT a SWAN'. Angus: 'I know. I'm just saying that to annoy you'.



Then the walk came to a rather abrupt end, unless we were planning on going for a swim (Eve: "I am!")


On the way back we saw a bird. If we were good parents determined to give our kids a thorough natural education, we would have looked at our bird book when we got home and figured out what kind of bird it was. But we're us, so we forgot and now if I go looking for the bird book I'm just going to wake everyone up. Here's a picture of a bird in a tree:




Oops:


Oops again:


You don't even want to know how many tries this took:


On the way back to the van we saw a guy swinging a kayak up onto his head. Eve said "Is that a kayak?". I said "That's Mr. Canoehead". Eve said "that's a canoe?". I said "no, it's a kayak, but there's no Mr. Kayakhead". Matt said, with a considerable degree of scorn and impatience, that it was called portaging. Eve said "is that French for carrying on head?"

I was almost at the van, and I yelled back at the kids "thanks for coming on the walk you typically ungrateful wretched little ingrates". Angus laughed, and Eve said "What about ME?". I said "I was talking to both of you wretched little ingrates", and she said "oh, good. I didn't hear that."

We went to the park and swung and played baseball (I got nailed in the boob by a wild pitch. Ouch.)  Then we went home and did yard work, then we barbecued chicken and watched Fantastic Mr. Fox (brilliance, sheer brilliance). Then we played an uproarious game of Yahtzee (no Yahtzees tonight, but a freakish number of full houses). It was fun. My family doesn't suck. About tomorrow, though -- anyone wanna do something?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Good thing they weren't testing my emotional stability

I wrote my first exam in seventeen years last night, for my first library tech course. I wasn't stressed about the exam itself -- the instructor had assured us that the purpose of the exam wasn't to trick us, it was just to assure that we had met the learning goals of the course, and I knew that I had. Compared to the multiple-page essay questions on magical realism and narrative lyricism in One Hundred Years of Solitude, I was pretty sure this would be a breeze, and it was pretty close. But the actual mechanics of finding the right building and the right room and my exam actually being there and not tripping and losing all of my pens down a storm drain on the way... that I was nervous about. I drove to Algonquin the day before and scoped out the building lay-out -- people I knew were divided into two more or less equal groups on thinking this was a logical and prudent step and thinking it was thoroughly anal and laughable. Don't feel obliged to tell me which camp you fall into.

The night before I didn't sleep well. I read a little too late, thinking it would make me sleepy, then couldn't fall asleep. I got up early and walked with Pam anyway, thinking I could rest before the exam which wasn't until 6:30. I got home from the walk and grocery shopping at about eleven. The kids were slated to go to my Mom's from school and have dinner there, which seemed like a good plan when we made it, but the day just kind of stretched into this uncomfortable amorphous blob of hours to kill, and I couldn't really settle to anything. I read the paper. I cleaned up a little. I made some spicy black beans. I studied a little. I walked around flapping my hands a little, because Angus does it and I wanted to see if it actually worked as a tension reducer. It does a little. I left a little too early, which turned out okay, because when you get to the room you have to line up and wait for some woman to fish your exam out of a big box of exams.

The guy sitting at the table in front of me got in trouble for opening his exam early. Then he had a long question for the invigilator about something in his exam. I worried that he was going to be a troublemaker and wondered if I should move. Actually he was completely silent for the rest of the exam, but after a few minutes I realized that between questions I was flicking my pen between two fingers making an annoying tapping noise. I mentally apologized to the guy in front of me and made myself put the pen down between questions.

Turns out I can't write more than two lines without messing up words and writing crazy crooked sentences at this point. I raced through the easy stuff, then flipped back through and finished the stuff that required a bit more thought, then flipped through about ten times more than necessary to make sure I hadn't accidentally missed five pages of questions or anything (it could happen). For the life of me I couldn't formulate a coherent definiton of index, which was stupid but I only had to pick ten so it didn't matter, except that I totally knew it and it made me crazy.

I finished in about an hour and a half out of a possible three hours, handed in the exam and then spent the next ten to fifteen minutes wandering around the parking lot trying to find my car. It was like I popped some weird emotional cork the minute the exam was done. I used to be a cry-at-the-drop-of-a-hat person. Weddings, funerals, auto shows, commercials with kittens in them, I was your girl for copious waterworks. My Mom used to get mad at me for crying all the time, which, hello, like it's a voluntary function. When Angus was a baby I cried a lot too. But in the last few years I could count on one hand the times I've cried -- not sure if I used up my lifetime allottment or became suddenly insensitive or what. As soon as I was back in the car, I felt weirdly weepy. I was happy. I was fully one-twenty-fourth closer to a credential that could allow me to spend all day in a library AND GET PAID for it. I was happy. And tired. Really, really tired. I felt like I might fall asleep while driving. I stopped at an intersection, and four teenagers were crossing the road with the tiniest dachsund I've ever seen, and it's stumpy little legs were moving so fast they were basically a hummingbird-wing-like blur. I laughed so hard I could hardly start driving again. I decided to go to Chapters because the kids were still at my Mom's and my husband was hashing out baseball teams somewhere and I didn't feel like going home to an empty house. When I walked in they were playing Constant Craving by k.d. lang, and I was convinced it was the most beautiful song I'd ever heard and it almost made me cry again.

I bought this book and this book, because I'm trying to fill in some gap in my coverage of the classics, and it has to be better than this book, which I'm finally almost through, thanks be to all that is good and holy and not about whales. I went home and the kids were just going to bed. They were telling me stuff and I suddenly saw that Angus had a big fat lip, and he said he fell off his bike riding from school to my Mom's, but he was fine, it didn't hurt at all. So naturally I burst into tears. He kept saying he was fine, and I kept thinking how brave he was being, and realizing he was riding with his friend Jon, so even though it must have really hurt he wouldn't have felt like he could show it, which made me cry harder, whereupon my entire family declared me mad as a box of frogs and told me to go have a drink or something.

I ate some salmon, because I hadn't eaten before leaving for my exam, even though I'd meant to, but I'd gone up to fold laundry and happened on an old episode of this show, which I didn't even really watch when it was actually on, and Felix borrowed a gun to go deer-hunting and the family dog got shot, and I couldn't tear myself away until I found out if he was going to pull through, so I ran out of time to eat. I do realized this has blown my neat little theory that I only went loony AFTER the exam, but I strive for honesty here.

I went to bed and started reading this book, which is possibly the most beautiful and original ghost story with a wonderful sense of wholeness and rightness, or just an okay book that I read in a heightened state of appreciation. Then I finished reading it, because it was impossible not to. Then I laid down and cried some more. I felt fine, just like I'd sprung a slow leak from the eyes. It was annoying because my pillow kept getting wet.

I'm back to normal today. Mostly. Here's hoping this is a one-time thing, since I'm looking at roughly twenty more of these over the next four years, and it would be nice if I don't have to go home from my library job to a padded room.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Knowing Me Knowing You April

I'm playing knowing me knowing you with Shan because hey, free blog post idea (this reminds me of a Jack Handey saying).

1. Do you have a library card?

Yes yes yes oh my loving god a world of yes. If I didn't I would have to sell my body and my children and all my worldly possessions to support my book habit (yeah, selling my body might only get me four pages of a Chicken Soup for the Sociopath's Soul, but my kids are cute). I put books on hold and promise myself I will ONLY check out the books on the hold shelf, and then books leap out at me from the shelves on my way to the check-out computer and the stack of books on my bedside table grows ever taller and shakier. There was this thing for awhile where the library stairs were trying to kill me, but they fixed them. My kids love the library too, but not as much as I do, and honestly they just kind of slow me down so I only take them with me every third or fourth time.

2. To carry on with the theme, would you purchase a digital reader like a kindle?

Originally I thought no way in hell and why does everybody keep feeling the need to try to replace my beautiful beautiful books? But I've seen one and it's much more reader-friendly than I expected it would be. I guess it's more practical for portability and god knows I have waaaaaay too many bookshelves taking up space in my house. So I'd never say never, but one would pretty much have to fall in my lap attached to chocolate, and I'm still not giving up my matte-covered trade paperbacks.

3. Which night of the week is fright night (aka your busiest night of the week)?

We actually haven't really had one this year so far. Eve has Irish Dance Monday evening, they both have piano on Tuesday and the rest of the weeknights are free, and then hockey on the week-ends. Eve has gone as far as she can in swimming without jumping in so we're taking a break from that. We are, however, about to enter spring baseball season, with one kid in rookie and one in minor, which means four games a week, often on four different nights, which turns us into two single parents living in the same house, high-fiving each other while running in and out from various baseball games, and trying to fit in a few minutes of homework here and there. And making sure the equipment doesn't get mixed up because Angus doesn't take too well to ending up with Eve's pink batting helmet.

4. Watching Idol? Who are you picking to win?

Idol? You mean that nefarious show that kept Glee from me for three months? Not if you tied me down and toothpicked my eyelids open.

5. Do you have a clothesline?

No, and I miss it. In my parents' old house we had a mile-long clothesline that went from the deck high across the yard to a telephone pole. I absolutely loved pegging clothes out and sending them sailing across the back yard. Now I have a tiny Barrhaven backyard. I dry most things on a rack in the basement. I suppose we could get a rack for the backyard, but it's just not the same.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Honest Crap...er, Scrap

It totally looks like I ripped that title off from Tracy, but I didn't. We just have similar immature and slightly foul-mouthed sensibilities, and she's quicker off the post than I am (ha).

My bff who I'm convinced I should have met when I was five because she would have made that whole anxious-childhood-miserable-adolescence thing infinitely more enjoyable (and good on fate for finally rectifying the error) Pam has bestowed the Honest Scrap award on me. I've seen this one around, and honestly, I'm confused by it. It's not for scrapbooking blogs? There's an arm holding a hammer. It's for people who are good at hammering..together...scraps of...knowledge or something? Anyway, it's from Pam and it's an award, and either of those two is more than good enough for me. And my little hammer.


The Honest Scrap Award Rules say that I must:

1. Brag about the award.
2. Include the name of the blogger who gave you the award and link back to that blogger.
3. Choose a selection of blogs that you find brilliant in honest content.
4. Show their names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with this award.
5. List at least ten honest things about yourself.

I've recently done the handing out awards thing and I don't think I frequent enough blogs to do this again so soon -- may I defer the handing on of the award?

Now for ten honest things. Does anybody besides me somehow automatically think that 'honest' equate with embarrassing or confessional? I don't want to gross anybody out here or make everyone run screaming from their laptops. I will try to strike a balance.

1. At one point when I was not exactly right in the head, I used to close my eyes for a few seconds while I was driving. Only on stretches with no other cars around, and only when I was alone in the car. Probably not long enough to make any difference. I don't do that any more.

2. Sometimes when I get other people's mail by mistake -- really wrong, not like I can walk two doors down and return it -- I read it (I've since learned this is possibly a federal offense, so I might not do it now). I just like the anonymous peek into someone else's life. Once at our apartment in Toronto we got a really witty interesting one from some gay guy in B.C. I sort of felt like writing back.

3. We've reached the point in our marriage where my husband's repeated expressions drive me insane. I don't think I have anything that I say all the time, so I really notice when people do. My friend Patti says "I hear ya", which I find adorable. Our friend Tony often says 'therefore -- ergo' which means the same thing, but I still find it endearing. My husband says 'that's for sure' at the end of statements frequently, and it makes me want to rip my ears off and set them on fire. "It's not for sure!" I often scream in my head. "Nothing is certain! You're a goddamned PHYSICIST, how can you not know that? It's a particle, it's a wave, it's the FIFTIETH time you've said that today! I hate you!" I think it's a sign of my personal growth that I never say any of this out loud. He also says dilapitated instead of dated. It's a wonder I haven't driven a stake through his heart.

4. I always let people in front of me when I'm driving. Except those people that zoom up the lane that's ending to get a few metres ahead before merging. Then I'd rather cause a six-car pileup than let them in.

5. It's possible my driver's license should be revoked.

6. I like some of Miley Cyrus's songs (sorry Jane).

7. I am lazy. I want to play the piano well again and write short stories and I theoretically have six kid-free hours during the day Monday to Friday right now. I should be accomplishing more.

8. I'm not sure if my daughter ever starts keeping a diary I will be able to not read it.

9. Sometimes I worry that if I had a choice between being nice and being pretty I wouldn't pick being nice. I guess it's a good thing I don't have a choice.

10. Once when I was buying jeans after having Angus the saleswoman was so skinny and seemed to look at my tummy so pointedly when she asked how old my 'newborn' was, I said he was two months old when really he was ten months old.

11. It drives me batshit when people pronounce it 'nuculer'. Like, if I met Mother Teresa and she had said 'nuculer' I would have been in doubt about her ultimate goodness, despite all the self-sacrificing and healing the sick and living with the poor and everything. People -- it's not that hard to say nuclear. Now people that say Feb-u-ary? Not a problem. Calling a month Feb-ru-ary is just dumb.

There you go. I hope we can still be friends. Everyone else, I mean -- Pam is totally stuck with me. I know where she lives.

Wordless Wednesdays: One small step for a bathroom...

BEFORE:

HALFWAY THROUGH (WHEN I ALMOST THREW IN THE TOWEL):

WTF?:


AFTER:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Stupid stuff addendum

One of these I left out of the originaal Stupid Things post. The other one grew out of the post, a beautiful organic flowering of stupid-fruit from a stupid-tree. Stupidity breeds stupidity, I guess. Maybe I should write a post about smart things and see if that helps.

Stupid thing number six: When I got home from the student conferences I was sweaty and hot so I went up to take a quick shower. I showered and got out and washed my glasses carefully and dried them and put them on and freaked out because OH MY GOD I COULDN'T SEE ANYTHING I'VE GONE BLIND I HAVE BRAIN DAMAGE EVERYTHING'S WAVY AND DISTORTED. Or wait, maybe I already have my contacts in.

After I posted, I got a funny comment from Amber saying she pictures my kids with accents like Charlie and Lola. I can't even describe how funny and sweet I found this, so I responded, at some length. I closed the email box and there was the post with another comment. From another Amber. And I thought oops. Did I just reply to the wrong Amber? Which is pretty much indefensible. It's not like I didn't know there were two Ambers. It's not like two Ambers haven't replied before. Amber, I still love your comment. Amber, I'm sorry for the unnecessary information on my children's speech patterns.

Stay tuned -- there was yet more stupid stuff on the week-end. Largely in a fun way that involved the world becoming wavy and distorted again. On purpose.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Seven Stupid Things Before Breakfast

Okay, I did bolt my oatmeal down before dashing out of the house this morning, so they weren't strictly speaking all before breakfast.

Midway through the second term of school, my kids' school does something called student-led conferences instead of parent teacher interviews (well I dunno, maybe the parents with really bad kids still have to have an interview. Kidding, just kidding!) You go in and they present a portfolio of their work and talk about what things they could have done better on and what things they're particularly proud of. If the kid is nine and a boy, he probably does most of it in a rapid, barely audible monotone and if the kid is seven and a girl she probably does it in a very loud and animated fashion, with frequent punctuating bursts of laughter. It's all very enjoyable.

Stupid thing number one: I was in a hurry this morning, but I'm trying to eat well right now so I was determined to have my oatmeal and blueberries at eight-ish rather than eleven-ish which is when I was probably going to get back. But I was hurrying, so I opened the big-hole cap on the cinnamon instead of the little-sprinkle cap. Wow, that oatmeal was full of cinnamony goodness.

Stupid thing number two: I got into the driver's seat of the truck and immediately felt an agonizing pain around my tailbone. I haven't been to the chiropractor for a few weeks and my back hasn't been great, but this was seriously painful. I thought crap, now I'm going to have to sit in uncomfortable school chairs for an hour and then drive straight to Joanne and hope she can fit me in. When I got to the school, finally found a parking place and got to the classroom and sat down, I immediately felt the same stabbing pain. I thought what the hell? And reached back and found that my belt was twisted around into a big lump right at my tailbone. Sometimes a stabbing pain is actually the result of ....something stabbing you.

Stupid thing number three: Angus was walking me down the hall to Eve's classroom and his friend Fletcher was saying goodbye to his Dad, who we know quite well because our families hang out together all the time. The Dad asked Fletcher if he wanted a kiss good-bye like he'd given his sister, and I put my arm around Fletcher and said 'what about me? Do you want me to kiss you? Have a good day, Fletcher' and he looked suitable embarrassed and amused, and as I turned away the Dad said 'I thought you meant you wanted me to give you a kiss', which made me think no, because that would have been shockingly inappropriate behaviour. At school. Holy crap, does he think of me as someone who would behave shockingly inappropriately at school? Note to self: email his wife and figure out exactly how big a sexually harassing flake he thinks I am.

Stupid thing number four: I was sitting at Eve's desk and she was at the next desk showing me her work. I saw something on my jeans leg and reached down to flick it off. I ended up with something blue and sticky on my finger. I think I looked sort of horrified, and Eve said "yeah. Benjamin's not a very tidy eater." Right. It's food? "But this is blue" I whimpered. "Um, I think it's jello" she said. Note to self: wash clothes worn to school in very hot water.

Stupid thing number five: I had to go buy a birthday gift for a party Eve's going to on Saturday and Angus has outgrown most of his shorts, so I picked up a couple pairs for him to try on. He's only nine but quite big, and he doesn't like anything tight (and me neither, so no problem). I don't find sizes in any clothes terribly consistent, but one pair I picked up was a size 12 or 14 pair of dark blue denim shorts, and the legs are big and floppy, and of course he adores them. As he walks away in them it occurs to me that, after years of mocking them, I have bought and bestowed upon my son his very own pair of enormous pants. At least they cover his underwear. So far.

Stupid thing number six: hey, I'm out of stupid stuff. For the moment. Check back in five minutes.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Two Solitudes

This is the face of a boy who thought he was out of the play-offs after his team lost 2-1 to the first place team on Saturday, then found out they got to play one more game against the same team on Tuesday night and then beat said team 6-1 and therefore now advances to the division play-offs:





This is the face of his mother who just realized hockey isn't over for the year after all:
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*





(http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5isPjTg2Ymw/SoLVE0k3UjI/AAAAAAAAAO0/g2dUy2-2dCQ/s400/monster2.jpg) is where I found the angry monster picture)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Happy Easter in images

I've been too blissfully gin-soaked, sun-burned and laughed-out to blog all week-end. We've been hanging out at my Mom's house with my sister and brother-in-law and my niece and nephew. Here are a few of our Easter episodes:

Eve decorated eggs and painted egg cups (Angus was going to help but he got the chance for a sleepover at his friend Noah's and deserted us unceremoniously).







Eve loves my sister, because she braids her hair and buys her gorgeous girlie clothes and takes her out to buy lipstick. My sister loves Eve because my niece is a total tomboy who will never ever consent to have her hair braided, or wear girl clothes or makeup. Isn't genetics interesting?



And of course, what's Easter without a little basketball (what? What do YOU wear to play basketball?):



A little two-on-Daddy/uncle action:



A little hockey (because who doesn't long to go sit in an arena on a 27-degree Easter Saturday?):



A little tetherball in one's pajamas:





A little soccer with an ultra-tough Teletubbies ball. In pajamas.:



A little mountain climbing:



A little something Eve and Jonah like to call 'butt karate':



A few cut-throat games of Cranium Cadoo (Eve: okay, you can't guess from my charades, so I'll give you a hint: It's an animal that's stinky and black and white. Jonah: A Panda!!). And yeah -- pajamas.:






Some customized place-settings:



And a big thank-you hug for Grandma for all the cooking and baking and sewing the aforementioned pajamas:



Pictures missing: The rocket balloons on Friday night. Turns out watching four kids and a couple of men blow up hugely long, sausage-shaped balloons and then release them to spin in a comically phallic fashion (the pink ones should be outlawed) over the neighbours' rooftops just never gets old. Especially in a balmy backyard with patio-side gin and tonic delivery service: and The Easter egg hunt that I slept through on Sunday morning.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Moral values and men in drag

We watched Hairspray for a family movie night last week. We watch it quite often, Eve especially. One night while Angus and I were out, Matt was desperate for something to watch with her that didn't involve fairies or barbies, so he stuck it on. Eve loves anything with singing and dancing, so she was all good. Of course, it's not without its parental pitfalls: "What's a Negro?"; "Why can't the white people and the brown people dance together?"; "What's sintegration?". Sometimes I'm more surprised by things they already know (at one point Michelle Pfeiffer's bitchy bleached-blonde character pulls the padding out of a young dancer's bra -- Angus: "what was that?" -- Eve (dismissively): "just some fluff to make it look like she has boobies" -- Me: sputtering inarticulately).

It's funny with kids. When they're very young they find almost nothing surprising because they know nothing to begin with -- everything is possible. Eve used to make her female Barbies kiss and get married. I hadn't thought about it, but after a few years of Disney movies I don't think she does that much any more. I also have to remind myself that just because I'm all for homosexual rights including marriage, she doesn't necessarily know that just by osmosis. We had a funny/ appalling moment when Christopher Walken as Wilbur Turnblad and John Travolta as his wife Edna were kissing, and Matt said "you know that's actually a man, right?", and the kids were mouth-hanging-open shocked, which kind of surprised me (really? they bought that?), but then they kissed and Angus said "ew, then that's a man kissing a man", which also surprised me in a less amusing way, and I said "well, that's fine", and Matt said something really stupid like "well, it's okay because he's pretending to be a woman", and my head exploded, but then I looked at Matt and it was obvious he hadn't really meant to say that, and then we had to pause the movie and have a small discussion.

Then we watched some more and the whole integration thing came up again and we went back over the whole white people thinking that dark-skinned people weren't as smart or as good, and policemen hassling them and people not letting them be in the same classroom or swim in the same pools. Eve looked distressed and said "but Mia's not that bad" and we had to pause the movie and emphasize once again that those white people were WRONG WRONG WRONG. Then Eve started to list the people in her class that wouldn't have been able to be there in the 1950's, and Angus reiterated his original opinion, which was 'well that's stupid.'

Oh, and the moment in the first song when she sings "There's the flasher who lives next door" and Angus asked what's a flasher, and we said some people walk around naked except for a coat and then whip open the coat at random passersby. Angus sat there looking stricken, until we finally added that these people are not well, and this behaviour generally results in a fine and/or imprisonment, whereupon he looked extremely relieved -- I guess he thought we were laying it out as a legitimate career choice or something.

So yeah -- fun movie night and all-around education in how you can start to assume too much about how your kids think and what they know, and how the time we make to spend with them can be really important. Although thankfully I won't have to advise Eve on stuffing her bra when the time comes.