Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Think I Know What We Should Do With War Criminals

Never mind hauling them off to the Hague. Just send them on a fifth grade field trip that takes place an hour away from the school. And make them ride the school bus.

Three classes. Twenty-five kids each. Three kids to a seat, when they're mostly too big to fit three to a seat, so they squirm and elbow each other and spill into the aisles and drop their water bottles, which roll under the seats, and then they try to climb under the seats to get them. A daytime high of forty-one degrees Celsius with the humidex. A bus with a non-existent suspension so your forty-year-old tailbone meets the seat with punishing force over and over and over. Five girls shrieking Justin Bieber songs directly behind your head. And that one kid whose face is somehow just really annoying.

It was Hell, manifested on earth.

The field trip itself wasn't bad, although I invariably volunteer for field trips, hope desperately not to be picked, get picked and wonder why the hell I keep volunteering for field trips. Except I really know why. I'm a stay at home Mom. Before my kids were in school full days I had very little difficulty justifying my existence. My husband would come home saying he'd had a rough day at work and I would say "really? Did anyone pee on you? Did you have to stop anyone from eating cat food? Did anyone nearly fracture your orbital ridge with their head while trying to reach the cookies in your backpack? Did you, at any point, hold vomit in your bare hand? No? Then shut up and help me bleach this."

But I'm nearing the end of my second year of both kids being in school full days, and I still haven't gone back to work. I know - it sounds heavenly. I assumed I would be giddy with freedom. I assumed my house would be spotless and scrupulously organized by the end of the first month, I would be finished my first novel by the end of the sixth, and OBVIOUSLY I would be thirty pounds lighter, because, like my mother said "you can go to the gym five times a week!"

From where I'm sitting at the kitchen table right now, I could reach out and lay hands on six novels, three textbooks, a kit for making twinkle tiaras, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Cheese Touch Game, a sock puppet wearing sunglasses, and a box of ant bait. That should give you a clue about the state of my house. The state of my ass? Let's not discuss it.

It's not that I haven't done anything. It's just that those six hours a day aren't as expansive as they seem once you're actually living them. Even though they seem like special, magical hours, it turns out they get eaten up and chipped away by stupid annoying crap just like every other kind of hour. I help out in the school library, I help out in the classroom, I take some courses, I go to for walks, I go to the gym. Sometimes I sit in my chair and read a book. Occasionally my friend Pam and I explore a new area of town or wander into a restaurant that serves us cupcakes instead of carrot sticks and asks us IF THAT's OKAY - those are good days. But I haven't started a business or trained for a marathon or even learned to play a Chopin waltz perfectly. I often feel like I haven't quite done enough with those hours, which then makes me wonder if I'm making the most of being a stay at home mom.

The days I go on field trips? I don't feel like that.

Helping in the classroom is a pretty cushy gig. You help dye some Ukrainian easter eggs, you help make stone soup, you read a book out loud, maybe you help someone build a pulley or make a bug out of playdough. You squeeze your butt into a chair that's too small and you get to be a fly on the wall watching what your kid does every day, which is kind of a kick. But field trips? Like I said, they make you ride the school bus - they mutter some crap about supervisional ratios, but really I think the teachers just want to share the misery. Because the school bus? The school bus would be too loud if that many kids all just talked. But they don't all just talk. THEY ALL YELL. Then you find yourself responsible for a group of kids which without fail contains some boys who will tear off ahead so you lose them and some girls who will dawdle behind so you lose them and frankly, I don't need the pressure - most of the kids who aren't mine at some point become so annoying that I flirt with the notion of losing them on purpose, but I'm always dimly aware that their parents probably find them somewhat less annoying and would probably not be overly impressed if I lost them. The last time my husband saw me checking the 'yes' box beside the 'will you be able to help'? question, with my usual grumbling, he said "you know, just because you're at home doesn't mean you have to volunteer for EVERY field trip". I looked at him blankly and said, 'um, actually I'm pretty sure it means exactly that.' Having to be behind a desk or on a factory floor or manning a customer service counter is a pretty solid excuse for not going on a field trip. Having a vague plan to put away the Christmas decorations that have been sitting on the stairs for five months? Not so much.

Anyway. Today we went to the Mill of Kintail Conservation Area. It's not only beautiful, it was much cooler there than back in the city, with the breeze off the river and the shade from all the trees. My son Angus actually thought the R Tait Mackenzie Museum was really cool. There was a scavenger hunt with half of my group of six took VERY SERIOUSLY ("okay, let's all split up and look for different things! I'm looking for the anchor! I promise I'll find the anchor! Jared, you look for the tree with the cross on it! Angus, what are YOU looking for?!") and the other half was eminently willing to throw over in favour of going to look at the headless crow in the woods. There was a hike in the woods with frequent stops for conversation about animal habitats and frequent opportunities for me to get in trouble (Employee: "Okay, what's the first rule of hiking?" Me: "No talking about hiking! No, wait, that's fight club..."). There were two girls who walked around holding hands and stroking each other's hair, which struck an exact balance between cute and creepy, until I realized they were part of the Bieber-song-shrieking group, whereupon I filed them firmly under creepy.

The bus ride back? Well, it was full of seventy-five sweaty ten-year-olds covered in bug spray, so it smelled even worse. But Angus suddenly decided that the loud silliness at the back of the bus in which he had enthusiastically participated on the way there was now 'annoying', so he decided to sit near the front and said I could sit with him, and slept on my shoulder for a bit, so that was kind of nice. When we got home he said "thanks for coming. It was nice that you suffered with me." He's eleven. I take my bonding experiences where I can get them.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bit of an oversight

You know how the things you worry about often turn out to be the wrong things to worry about?

This past week-end was Eve's dance recital (on Sunday) and the dress rehearsal (on Saturday) downtown at the NAC, the same days as the Ottawa Race Weekend. There were going to be multiple street closures and tons of people. I was worried we wouldn't be able to get to the NAC, that we wouldn't be able to find parking, that we would be late (and soaking wet, since it was supposed to pour rain all day both days). Eve was worried that she was going to screw up in her duet.

Angus had a baseball tournament. He was worried the game would be called on account of thunderstorms. If they did get to play, he was worried that he wasn't going to be able to throw strikes. Matt was worried that he wasn't going to make it back from the recital in time for Angus's game on Sunday (he's the head coach).

We were going to take the bus to the dress rehearsal, but in the end Patti's husband Oli drove us all downtown on Saturday, dropped us off close to the right door and went off to find a parking place. The rehearsal went fine - my brother-and-law and his girlfriend were visiting, so Matt and Angus took Jeremy to the baseball game and Laura came to the rehearsal with us. We put up signs and held props and talked and laughed (she's awesome - smart and funny and gorgeous, and trying to find a cure for malaria) and she got to watch Eve's dances even though no one was supposed to be allowed because Hannah took pity on her when she said she couldn't come to the show.

The recital was fabulous. We couldn't get as close to the NAC because the marathon had more streets closed down, but Matt dropped us off and my mom and I and Eve walked a few blocks while he went and parked. It was different from the ballet and tap and Irish dance recitals - Hannah lets the kids do their own choreography and really doesn't interfere much at all. She told us that we had to suspend the urge to judge the dancing based on our usual criteria - which, it turns out, is really hard. But the things is, if some of the dancing is just little kids jumping around, the occasional flashes of genius are far above the rote steps you get at a more traditional recital. Patti's daughter Penny did a solo that was amazing. Eve and Maya's spider dance was really cute. For the last dance, Eve's class were colours in a painting, so there was a big canvas and one of the teachers painting, and the kids had layers of t-shirts on that they would peel off one by one behind the canvas and then dance around as different colours. At the end, they all burst through the canvas in tie-dyed and silver-glittered t-shirts. It was cool - I keep calling it the rainbow explosion, and Eve gets mad and says "It's called the HURRICANE of COLOUR, Mom!"

Angus's team won the tournament. Matt was a little late for the Sunday game, because although we made it downtown, they didn't want to let us leave - Eve was in the van with us, so there were multiple instances of aborted cursing as we ran into one blockaded route of escape after another. We finally thought we were clear and then some goddamned church group or ethnic faction or something had some goddamned festival that necessitated closing part of Fisher Avenue - let me tell you, if I had been able to figure out what was on that sign in what language I would be UNliking them on Facebook right now - but we eventually got home and he made it for the last few innings.

Turns out what we SHOULD have been worrying about was whether or not Angus would walk down to the landing in the middle of the carpeted staircase at 8 p.m., just as we were all finally relaxing, and projectile vomit down the last six stairs, and then turn and try to run back upstairs and projectile vomit all up the first four stairs, before getting to the upstairs bathroom. Wouldn't you know it, I completely forgot to worry about that.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Walk a mile in another man's socks. Or something.

Last week-end we went to our friends' place for dinner and the kids played outside and Angus's socks got wet so he borrowed a pair from his friend Fletcher. Eve's entire outfit got wet because she didn't just walk in the wet grass - she laid down and rolled in it (I don't know, I don't ask any more), so she borrowed some clothes from Marielle. Tonight Angus went to his friend Anthony's place and it was raining (because that's what it does now) and they played baseball and basketball and his socks got wet and he borrowed a pair from Anthony. We also have a shirt that his friend Jacob left here at the last sleepover. Angus was getting undressed for his shower and he took the socks off and I said "throw them in the wash and I'll put them with Fletcher's". Angus said "we're becoming weird people who collect other people's clothing. People are going to realize that about us and then our neighbours will start disappearing and then when we go out walking they'll look at us like this" (makes strange face).

Wow, that was really funny at the time, and now as I type it out it looks really stupid. Okay then, back to Nicole's beaver post it is.

A few years ago we were out at my husband's grandparents' place, with his aunt and uncle. We were sitting around in the living room and all of a sudden Grandpa turned to Frasier (the uncle) and said:

"Did ya find those beaver magazines I left for you in your room?"

I know. I'm a small, small person.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mid-Week Miscellany

It's Wednesday, and I haven't posted since Monday, and I don't want to just let the week go by postless again, but I don't really have anything. I had book club tonight. We read a first draft of my friend Sharon's first novel Keeping Mum, which she printed out and bound for all of us. It was really good - it was so good that I totally forgot I was reading something by someone I knew while I was reading it.

I heard Rihanna and Britney Spears kissed at some awards ceremony. I was astounded. That anyone actually bothered to report it.

It's Eve's dance recital on Sunday. It's at the National Arts Centre, downtown, the same day as the Ottawa Race Week-end. This is causing me intense driving and parking anxiety, exacerbated by the fact that my Mom is supposed to come with us. I'm trying to convince my husband that we should just take the bus, but he's not really a bus guy. I'm trying to concentrate on the fact that dance recitals in the past have consisted of a rigid routine of steps, expensive costumes and eighteen-step instructions for how to do the dancers' hair, while this one consists largely of choreography the girls have made up themselves, five-dollar tie-dyed t-shirts and no particular instructions for hair at all. After years of bitchy office managers and self-fashioned temperamental artistic types, we are so happy where we are.

Angus had track and field day at school. He placed first or second in the 100 metre, the ball throw (big surprise) and the relay. He then came home and wandered around moaning about lactic acid build-up and begging for leg massages all night. Matt massaged his quads, which then prompted Eve to insist that her baseball game was hard on her legs too and that she also needed a leg massage. She then proceeded to leap a foot off the bed shrieking with laughter and bit down on her comforter to endure the rest of the massage. Sometimes you have to suffer for equality.

Then I read this post of Nicole's, which reminded me (in an unclear, tangential manner) of when we were at my sister's place last summer. We'd gotten there late so somebody went out and got us all McDonald's for supper. Later, the kids and I were up in my five-year-old nephew Jonah's room as he was being put to bed. For a bedtime story, my sister was reading him a book about fish, and she was at the section about salmon swimming upriver to spawn. She read, "baby salmon are called fry". She kept reading, but Jonah's eyes widened and he interrupted to ask, "do we EAT salmon?" She said that we do sometimes, and his eyes got even wider and he said:


Well, it was McDonald's. Who the hell knows what are in those fries, exactly?

Monday, May 23, 2011

At least he's still trying

So Saturday night we were hanging out with our neighbours - gotta love living next to a man who has a big green egg and is not afraid to use it. The women were talking about how we wanted to see Bridesmaids, but in that vague, no-specific-plan, it-probably-won't-happen way. But Sunday night we had just gotten back from dinner with friends and my neighbour came over and said her friend was over and they'd decided on the spur of the moment to go to the ten o'clock show and she wanted me to come.

To a movie.

That started at ten o'clock.

At night.

Naturally, I waffled. It's who I am, it's what I do. But Matt said "you should go". The kids said "no, no, I want Mommy to stay!" even though they were already supposed to be in bed, and Matt told them that Mommies get to have a good time too.

I thought, how sweet.

I thought, how thoughtful.

I thought... HEY, he's totally angling for sex when I get home.

I went to the movie. I laughed until my stomach hurt. I came home happily exhausted and expressed my gratitude to my sweet, thoughtful, transparent husband.

Tonight he took Angus out to test bats and then they had a baseball game. He called at eight-thirty and said he was taking Angus to McDonald's on the way home and was wondering if Eve wanted anything. I put in her order for a small McFlurry and then he said:

"What about you? Did you remember to eat?"

Did I REMEMBER... to EAT? So now we're pretending that I'm some daydreamy waif who wanders around forgetting to eat? Gracious, I might just waste away to nothing if my big strong man didn't offer to bring me some french fries with a half life equivalent to nuclear waste. THAT's how we're playing it tonight?

I'm willing to give in to consideration with an ulterior motive, outright pleading, even a little shameless flattery...

But THAT was laying it on a little thick.

Friday, May 20, 2011

It was Monday....

...and just like that it turned into a bad blogging week. I've heard that some bloggers schedule their posts. Or have days when they post and days they take off. Pshaw, I say when I hear that. I don't need schedules. I don't need deadlines. Of course, I always say the same thing about weight-loss centres and creative writing groups -- who needs 'em? I know what I need to do. I don't need a group - groups are for pussies!. I just need to harness the fearsome power of my mind and will and it shall be done! And have I published a novel or lost thirty pounds?


Angus's baseball team got to play two games this week. Eve's played one and then her Thursday game was cancelled the very moment they were walking out the door (as Eve tells it "I got my stuff on, but then my tights under my baseball pants were too hot, so I took them off, got my bat, and my helmet, and we were going out the door, and Daddy pulled out his phone and looked at it and said 'oh come ON!'"). The diamonds are closed again, until Tuesday. I've suggested we substitute checkers for baseball just for this season, but no one's gone for it so far. We'll see who's laughing when it's the last day of the season and we're all out trying to play eight make-up games before dark. King me!

More on my fabulous day in Montreal with Julie later. Right now I'm tired and it feels like someone is intermittently poking a sewing needle into the soft place behind my left ear, and I've read too much about great achievements by people I know on Facebook today.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Water Water Everywhere

I hope all the people who whined and grumbled and beat their breasts about the water ban know that I totally blame them for this apocalyptic rainfall - I'm well nigh certain that Mother Nature in her infinite wisdom and bitchiness heard them and said "YOU WANT WATER, YOU PUNKS? I'LL GIVE YOU WATER". We're in week three of the spring baseball season. The kids should both have played six games so far: Eve has played two, Angus has played one. My husband, who coaches Angus's team, has had to have his belt and shoelaces confiscated. Every time he opens his computer and yells "Nooooooooo!" I know they've cancelled another game because of the danger of losing a kid in a pit of slime, or of the entire diamond floating away and ending up somewhere around North Bay. It's not good.

I was going to call this a List of Things that Have Made Me Smile Lately, but then I typed that out and it made me throw up in my mouth a little, so let's just call it Things That Have Mitigated the Suckage Somewhat.

1.This book. I actually bought it thinking it was non-fiction, although when I realized it was a novel and reread the back cover copy, I don't know what gave me that idea. I'm a Jewish groupie - I mean I'm a groupie for Jews. Or Jewishness. I find Judaism fascinating, especially as I read more and learn how far back into history the tradition of blaming the Jews for every crappy thing EVER and generally hounding and harrying and torturing and executing them reaches. I keep wanting to throw up my hands and go "what the hell?" and then realizing that better minds than mine have tackled this problem unsuccessfully.

Anyway, this book. I can't even pinpoint exactly why I loved it so much, except that I just recently realized that I sort of like it when I finish a book feeling like it was all kinds of awesome while being uncertain what, exactly, it was about. I felt this way about The History of Love - most of my book club did, actually. Once we started talking about it we realized how difficult it was to figure out when and in what order events happened and what was real and imaginary and all the connections, and yet we all agreed that it was a deeply transporting and fulfilling reading experience. This book was the same. It juggles storylines and characters - at one point it took me half a chapter to realize that the grandfather was the same character who was a college student two chapters before. It write about playing and listening to jazz in a manner that actually feels effective. It twists up the experience of being Jewish with the experience of being African American into a heady, contentious whirlpool of - I don't know - self-righteousness, entitlement, accusations, comparisons, areas of demarcation and overlap. There is the question of whether good people can be good artists - musicians and writers specifically - or whether genius excuses a certain level of bad behaviour and mistreatment of lovers and family members. There are moments of insight, but no trite scenes of 'redemption.' I didn't race through it - it was like very good dark chocolate that I kept stashed away and every so often I would parcel it out to myself, and it was always richly satisfying.

2.This CD. I got it in university and the other day I realized I had never gotten any of it onto my ipod so I searched for and found it. I remembered a party I was at last Christmas where one of the other women had had someone tell her she resembled Jane Siberry and when she saw a picture of her she was deeply offended. I think Jane is quite striking actually, but this woman was kind of a nutbar so I just found her pissiness kind of amusing. And this verse, from Calling All Angels:

Oh and every day you gaze at the sunset with such love and intensity
It's almost as if you could only crack the code you could find out what this all means
Oh but if you could do you think you would have traded all
All the pain
And suffering
Ah but then you'd miss the beauty of the light upon this earth
And the sweetness of the leaving.

Yeah, I know. One track of my mind thinks "oh don't be ridiculous. Most of us would trade all the pain and suffering for a twinkie. Plus, haven't you been listening, there's NO LIGHT ON MY EARTH right now". But the other track thinks "what a beautiful way to think about it."

3.Leftover ice cream cake from Angus's birthday.

4.My purple tulips from Pam. We have vowed that we will venture out to partake in the beauty of the Tulip Festival on the first sunny day (Pam politely requested that I stop phrasing this as "if the fucking rain ever stops we're going to see the fucking tulips, got it?")

5.The Big C. Cancer sucks. Laura Linney is fabulous.

6.Mom of the Perpetually Grounded, who figured out who was stealing my bubbles. I'm hot on the little bastard's trail. I will have my bubbles back!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Book Review: Anatomy of a Disappearance, by Hisham Matar

First, apologies to Bronwyn at Penguin Canada for Blogger having buggered up her blog tour for this book (try saying that three times fast). This review should have been posted yesterday.

Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar
This is a curious, spare book. Nuri is a young boy raised in Cairo; his parents are loving, but his mother is profoundly depressed and his father, an "ex-minister and leading dissident" of a place referred to only as "our country", is somewhat remote. When Nuri's mother dies, he feels like he becomes "a series of tasks" to his father, although he is still cared for solicitously by Naimi, a servant with close ties to the family. There are frequent visits from his father's friends from their country, who hint at his father's turbulent and exciting past.

Nuri and his father are vacationing in Alexandria when they meet Mona, who enchants them both. She marries Nuri's father, who is fifteen years her senior, but seems torn between the security of her older husband and Nuri's youthful adoration and burgeoning sexuality. She torments Nuri by acting coquettish and teasing and then implying that he is the one who has traversed boundaries.

Nuri is sent to boarding school in England where he feels even more alienated; he befriends his roommate but wonders how "a happy German boy with happy parents" can understand anything about his own life. Then his father is abducted from the apartment of a Swiss woman while the family is on vacation, and the remainder of the book revolves around the bewildering bureaucracy Mona and Nuri must navigate to unravel the mystery of his father's disappearance and their increasingly strained relationship.

The writing is beautiful, although I felt somewhat held at a distance from events, even when the events were tragic or involved the all-consuming, ungovernable passions of young Nuri, who describes Mona's body in loving, yearning detail. The entire story seems based on absence, the absence of safety and stability - for Nuri with his loving but unknowable parents, and for Nuri's father in the absence of a safe and welcoming homeland; it is as if events in his birthplace have conspired to erase his past, while leaving his son unable to move into the future. Apparently there are autobiographical elements in this book (although Matar maintains it is not autobiographical), as Matar's own father was abducted to Cairo and taken back to Libya 20 years ago, and his fate is still unknown. Matar has said that when the Libyan revolution is "complete" he will return there to search for his father. Perhaps this book, so affectingly permeated with loss and yearning, is part of his search.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I want my bubbles back

I feel flat. Flat like three-day-old ginger ale. Flat like my hair twenty minutes after I leave the house. Flat like Gwen Stefani's chest (not that there's anything wrong with that). And it's annoying, because in the winter I was sick and it was winter so there was that, and then I got better (but now Eve's given me her cold and I'm paralyzed with fear that The Cough is going to come back), and then it was raining a lot so I thought, well maybe it's that. But now it's sunny, and it's not winter, and I'm supposed to have turned that goddamned corner. I had imposed a nice little linear narrative on that part of things, and this chapter was bright, and productive, and inspired, and THREE-FUCKING-DIMENSIONAL. And now goddamned if I haven't looped, and here I am - flat, again.

I know -- it's ridiculous that I should be surprised by my own loopiness at this point in life. But I want my damn bubbles back.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Knowing Me Knowing You May 2011

So just when I'm in the depths of blog despair, whining "but I don't FEEL like blogging" and "I don't know what to BLOG about" and "should I ask them if this looks infected?", in swoops my Fairy Blogmother who wallops me with a magic wand and says "Quit your bitching! Bibbity bobbity boo, here's a ready-made post for you."

1. What was your wedding song?

Sunshine on Leith by The Proclaimers (500 Miles is still my favourite Proclaimers song, but it would have been a slightly less romantic first dance). And I'm not about to trash talk anyone who got married in a glass slipper. I wore ballet slippers to walk down the aisle but only because my Mom said she would disown me if I wore my Doc Martens the whole time. There was a great moment when my sister called out "Allison, can you flash your boots so this gentleman can take a picture" and I lifted my skirt up and Matt's uncle said "oh thank God, I thought she said boobs!"

2. If you could guest star on any TV show, which one would you pick?

Are you kidding? The camera puts on ten pounds. If I'm pretending I'm not me? Buffy the Vampire Slayer (okay, I'd need a time machine too, but time travel is no more less likely than me ever voluntarily going on television, unlike my daughter, who is getting up at stupid o'clock in the morning on Wednesday just to stand there and look cute in her baseball uniform in the background of Ottawa A Channel's morning show, and telling everyone she meets that she's going to be on TV).

3. What is your favourite children's book?

Oh sure, why don't you just ask me who's my favourite child? Let's say The House at Pooh Corner. "And being now Completely Unsettled, he said very quickly and squeakily: 'This is a trap for Poohs, and I'm waiting to fall in it, ho-ho, what's all this, and then I say ho-ho again.'" Also, I love Eeyore - he's such a mopey bitch.

4. Did you watch the Royal Wedding?

Nope. Then again, I've never watched my own wedding video (the camera - ten pounds - try to keep up). I did see clips of it (the Royal Wedding, not mine), and I don't really get the dress. Sure, she looked nice, but she would have looked nice in anything - and the thing on her head kind of left me cold. My husband liked it (of course - he once told me that, of the four women on Sex and the City, he only liked Charlotte, the conservative one, as if this would surprise me, bless him.) About Kate's dress he said "well, I like that they didn't try to do anything too funky." Because yeah, at a royal wedding, the big danger was that anything was going to be 'too funky' -- "well Frank, I think we're all agreed that the Queen should not have gone with the leather bustier".

5. What is your favourite thing to have off the barbecue?

I'm pretty sure you could grill a piece of chipboard and it would be good. I gag on green beans - unless they're barbecued. I don't really like steak - until someone puts one on the barbecue. The exception is hot dogs - my hot dogs must not have grill marks, and I really prefer them flabby and boiled (I know, so wrong, but what about hot dogs isn't, really?)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Then We Played Strip Twister

I sort of want to talk about how phenomenally awesome the band my Mom and I saw last night was, and I sort of want to talk about how cosmically eye-bleedingly wretched the book I read today was (why did I keep reading it? I don't know, leave me alone, I have issues), and I really don't want to talk about why I don't have the will to do justice to either of those things, so here - a sop to the blogging gods. Tomorrow is another day.

Eve went over to her friend Abby's house after school today. Abby's Mom brought her home at supper time and said they dug out Abby's old Clue Junior board game and had a great time. We sat down for a cuddle in the rocking chair, and I said, riding on a wave of Clue nostalgia, "Does Clue Junior still have Colonel Mustard?" Eve said "yep". I said "And Miss Scarlet and Mrs. Peacock?" She said "yep". I said "and Mr. Boddy?" and she said "huh?" I said "you know, the dead guy". She said "WHAT?". And I suddenly realized that the whole point of Clue JUNIOR was probably to avoid having six-to-nine-year-olds playing a game involving a DEAD BODY. I said "um, right, sorry, never mind. So what's the mystery in Clue Junior?" and Eve said "Who ATE the CAKE!"

I've always had a problem with irony - once I took a whole seminar about it and I still miss it half the time. I'm pretty sure, though, that there's some kind of irony to savour in the fact that my last post was about people not considering their words carefully enough. (Allison, in the family room, with an accustomed lack of tact.)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Suck it Up, Ya Pussies

In a recent episode of Modern Family (the awesomeness, oh the awesomeness), the flamboyant gay character Cam is directing the play at the school attended by two of the extended family's children. When his partner Mitchell suggests that perhaps Cam's directing ambitions are a little steep for an elementary school play, Cam indignantly says "Why do you always have a to throw a wet blanket on my dreams? You do it all the time and do you know what I end up with? Wet dreams -- I heard it as soon as I said it; just leave it alone."

I'm using this as a humorous example of a curious phenomenon. Some people do indeed hear the words that come out of their own mouths - other people? Not so much. Once I was standing around in Halfway Lake Provincial Park with my junior ranger boyfriend and some of his friends. One of them asked me why I kept ripping leaves off the bush and tearing them up into little pieces, and I said "I don't know, I like to have something to do with my hands", and before it was even out of my mouth I knew it was a mistake (see how I followed one possibly dirty statement with another one there?). On the other hand, I had a friend who once walked up to a guy in a parking lot and said "could you please jump me?" when her car was dead and couldn't figure out why everyone was laughing.

Our city council recently had to impose an ban on outside water use for most of the summer in parts of Ottawa, including the part where I live. This is due to a faulty water main, which means we'll be getting our water for the next few months through a much smaller pipe. If we overuse water, the system will become depressurized or dry, which results in bacteria growth which in turn could result in indoor water being unsafe to drink without boiling. In order to mitigate the inconvenience, the city is offering water trucks to top up pools and hot tubs and rebates on rain barrels.

Okay, it's not ideal. Our summers are hot, and few images are more evocative of summer than kids running through a sprinkler. I enjoy gardening, and looking at other people's gardens when I walk around the neighbourhood. But some of the reactions I've read and heard in the past few days seem, to say the least, out of proportion, and I keep thinking "do you seriously not HEAR yourself? Because if you did, how can you say that with a straight face?" It's "ridiculous" -- which part? That a water pipe was faulty? That we have to conserve water in order to maintain its safety for drinking? That we have to not do a few things that, honestly, are kind of dumbass anyway (like watering grass that serves absolutely no practical purpose)? Let's not forget -- they're topping up HOT TUBS -- this isn't exactly the pinnacle of hardship and deprivation. Someone the paper interviewed said "rain barrels? Come on, this is getting out of hand - it's like the green bins in the recycling program". You'd think we'd been asked to boil our children rather than gather rainwater and compost food. And then there's my favourite so far -- "this isn't a third-world country!" Um, yeah -- that's why our worst problem at the moment is dusty cars and brown lawns rather than inadequate food, medicine or shelter.

I get it. It sucks. We're used to our modern conveniences being on-hand and uninterrupted. If I had young children who were in love with their turtle pool, or had just moved into a house that didn't have a lawn yet, I'd be annoyed. ANNOYED. Not enraged or livid or apoplectic. Government makes a lot of decisions that are shortsighted, wrongheaded, and just plain stupid. This doesn't appear to be one of them, and no matter how many times people stamp their feet and say it's 'unacceptable', it doesn't change the fact that it appears to be necessary. Of course, a lot of people are taking the measured approach - like one woman in the schoolyard said "we're still better off than 98% of the planet". That's someone who hears what she says. Unlike these people.