Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fine! - Vultures.

Okay. I think the red's fading a bit already. Although when the kids started pouring out of the portable after school today Eve's friend Ashley looked at me and said "Whoa! You weren't kidding, Eve!" And she has one eye bandaged, so...

Angus did come in after baseball practice last night, look at me and say "COOL!" Yeah, because eleven year old boys were my target demographic with this look.

I don't think this this fully captures it, but...







Eve just informed me that it's perfect for Canada Day.

On that note, everyone have a good one tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Went in for a trim, came out with weird Barbie hair

I have weird hair. I talk about my weird hair here sometimes - not nearly as much as I could if I really let myself go, because I realize that not everyone cares about the agony and torment that this hair causes me daily, nay, hourly, and I'm trying to develop a sense of proportion or, failing that, the ability to fake one.

I get perms. It's embarrassing to admit that. I get one maybe once a year and then I try to show up at the next gathering acting casual, hoping nobody will notice that the last time they saw me my hair was straight and now it's curly - and, because people generally just aren't that observant (meaning they don't spend an ungodly amount of time staring at me in the mirror), it kind of works. Many people, when I confess to the perming offense, look genuinely surprised. My friend Collette now knows that I get the perms, makes fun of me for the perms but loves my hair permed, and has been denied the right to perm because her hair is too thick (yeah, cry her a river, I do). So now when I show up after the perm, she says "I love your hair, goddammit. Fucking bitch." The more she curses, the better I know it looks.

For a while after the perm, I have magic hair. Hair that can do no wrong (well, it does a lot wrong, but compared to my normal hair it's much lower maintenance, which feels like magic). Hair I don't have to obsess over. But perms, despite the cruelly deceiving name, are actually not permanent. And my hair (wretched, wretched stuff) grows fast. So then there's the other half of the year.

About a year ago, I finally succumbed to my hairdresser's entreaties to let her highlight my hair. I thought it might look unnatural. Then I realized - I'm forty. Natural at this point does not look good. SCREW natural. So we did it. It was great - blonde and stripey. I still had my weird hairline and all the other problems, but the blonde and stripey sort of took attention away from all that.

Then I took my son to get a fire engine red fauxhawk for hockey playoffs. I took him to a local place that's really close by, and they were really nice and did a great job on his hair. The place I was going is a half hour away and my hairstylist is on mat leave, and the rest of the place is kind of high-toned and snooty. So I thought I'd try this place for a while.

The first cut and highlights were fine. I liked the woman who did it. I felt like she got me. So today I went in, and school's about to be over, and BOLO is next week, and my friend Zarah's coming for a week. So I said "how about we go a tiny bit more dramatic - maybe a couple of more intense lowlights and a tiny bit of red?"

I should have knows from the gleam in her eye and the way she said "REALLY?" that I was entering into a Massive Failure to Communicate.

I meant mostly blonde, with a couple of lowlights and ONE OR TWO red highlights. Instead she seems to have done equal amounts of all three - blonde, dark brown and Texas Chainsaw Massacre Cheerleader Femoral Blood Red. I look like one of those Barbies whose hair my daughter colours with things that look like Sharpies. I look like I'm auditioning for a girl gang movie. It looks like hair that should come with a rivet-studded leather bra and super powers.

I wish I could add "...and I love it!" But I really don't. Not yet anyway. I'm trying to embrace it. I feel like I'm not cool enough to pull it off - I hate that. Because after all it's just hair, and it will grow out, and it's the summer and I don't work in a conservative office...or anywhere really...and my daughter loves it. I'm hoping that, after screaming every time I look in the mirror for the next few days, it will start making me feel like a badass. Which is a whole other kind of magic.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Get it off me!

I'm paralyzed. No, not blog-blocked. Pretty much literally paralyzed. I've been having neck troubles lately, and when I woke up yesterday all the nerves between my shoulder blades and radiating up into my neck had gotten themselves into a giant clusterfuck during the night. Did you ever see that episode of Dr. Who where Donna Noble goes into the fortune teller's tent and then ends up in some parallel universe where she never meets the Doctor but then she meets Martha and finds out she actually has this giant bug on the back of her neck that's messed up the timeline so on the day she met the doctor she turned one way instead of the other and never met him, and she ends up having to kill herself to put the universe back the right way so aliens don't take over the earth? It felt like that - well, not with the aliens or the sexy doctor or a parallel universe or anything, it just felt like there was something ugly and chitinous and hurt-y embedded in my upper spine, and I couldn't turn my head or lift my arms or sneeze without passing out from the pain.

So I called Pam. We were supposed to go downtown, so I said maybe I would just call my chiropractor and see if I could come in that afternoon while the kids were at piano. But Pam, because she's sympathetic, and intelligent, and probably thought going downtown with someone who couldn't turn their head or lift their arms wouldn't be all that fun said, uh, how about you call and say I'm bringing you NOW. So I did. And afterwards it hurt a little less.

So we went downtown and had a fabulous day and she took me to Domus for my birthday lunch and we went into Lush and were entertained and educated by a lovely salesperson who slathered and soaped us and showed us Sex Bombs and jelly soaps and sugar scrubs and we left thoroughly softened and exfoliated and possibly married in some provinces.

Tonight I took my daughter to Cirque du Soleil, which was also wonderful, but I'm really tired and still quite sore, so I will elaborate more on everything tomorrow. I just felt bad leaving that cranky celebrity-bashing post sitting there for so long.

Friday, June 24, 2011

How do you solve an asshat like Maria

I think I first saw Maria Bello in an episode of Nowhere Man (a show I happened upon late at night a few years ago, about a photojournalist whose life gets erased by some mysterious 'organization' and he travels around trying to expose the conspiracy and get his life back - just the thing for someone with neurotic and paranoid tendencies). I thought she was really pretty - I love blonde hair with brown eyes. I was glad in a sort of remote, back-of-the-mind way, when she showed up in more shows, then got a spot on E.R., than made it big in the movies.

My asshat of a boss at the audio publisher where I worked for a while once told me a story about Margaret Atwood that reminded me strongly of the saying "if you want to keep your heroes, never meet them". I think I'd have to expand that to "don't read interviews with them either". There was a short piece about Maria Bello in my local paper where she tells her son "I'm a different kind of Mommy...that's why I'm not a soccer Mom...why I'm off to Haiti again...why I smoke."

WTF? Okay, admittedly I can't even define, in any logical, articulate manner, why that pisses me off so much, so feel free to call me on it. It just seems to encompass such an elitist, narcissistic, IDIOTIC sensibility. So...soccer moms never travel? So...it's a law that movie stars have to smoke? Poor Maria, having to explain to her child why she's so special and different from the common folk.

I'm not even that cranky today. Seriously. Even though I'm going out tonight and it's raining and my hair's going to be a goofiness orgy of frizz. But Maria Bello is totally not on my list of movie stars I want to be BFFs with anymore. That's right - I'm dealing her a crushing blow in my fantasy life.

I'm also reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. I love The Corrections. Admittedly, I can't stop reading Freedom either, but it's not with the same admiration. Leaving aside, for the moment, the issue of confusing the narrator with the author, I'm getting the distinct impression that Franzen doesn't like women much - or at least has some kind of issue that makes him delight in creating fairly repulsive examples of the gender in his books. Thinking back on some of his female characters in The Corrections, sadly, isn't doing anything to attenuate this feeling, which sucks because it's retroactively casting a shadow on a really great reading experience. I remember reading the Travis McGee series, which some writer I really admire had recommended highly, and suddenly stumbling into the same thing. There were interesting female characters, but all of the characters with true nobility and integrity seemed to be men. What put a definite end to my continuing with the series was a rape scene, followed by the woman killing herself, and the male character concluding that it was because she had experienced sexual pleasure during the rape and therefore couldn't live with herself. Really? REALLY?

Anyway, I have a book club meeting tonight where we eat and drink and formulate the book list for next year. We each usually bring two or three choices and decide on one based on the rest of the list. One of the books I'm bringing is The Razor's Edge by Somerset Maughaum, partly because I like to visit or revisit classics under the aegis of book club because then I know I'll read them carefully, and partly because it was the Favourite Book of All Time of my asshat audio publisher boss (hey look, a kind of circularity in a post that I thought was ping-ponging around like a coked up rat in a maze), and when I read it, guess what? A definite whiff of Misogynists R Us. I'm interested in seeing if the other people in my book club think the same thing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In Defense of Baseball. And Irony, I guess. OR, the practical exact opposite of Wordless Wednesday

I got a tiny bit head-bitey this morning while responding to Nan's comment on yesterday's post. I sent the reply, then felt kind of upset and wondered if Nan and I were still going to be friends - I've never broken up with a virtual friend before, but I was feeling just as icky as I do when arguing with a real-life one. Then I figured we'd probably work it out, and then I wondered why her comment stung so much. I know she doesn't like organized sports. Do I not routinely bitch about organized sports, I ask myself? Self, I admitted, I do. My friend Zarah comes to visit every summer, and we usually get together once with another woman who's been friends with Zarah and my husband since before university. This woman is very athletic, and over one dinner she said she thought organized sports were wonderful and kids who didn't play them really missed out on something. Zarah found this offensive. I found it amusing.

My sister and I didn't play organized sports, beyond a little soccer when she was pretty young. My parents came from the prairies and the wilderness of extreme northern Ontario, and they weren't familiar with them or disposed to encourage us to play them. My husband, on the other hand, played hockey, often competitively, from the time he was very young. Should we have gone ahead and procreated without discussing the implications of this? Perhaps not.

I still don't really love watching hockey, even when my son's playing it. I do enjoy the fact that he's progressed, and it is entertaining to see the same kid who used to skate over and try to help kids from the opposite team up when they'd fallen go after someone for the puck in the corner. But it's kind of just a big jumble of kids for the most part, and if I can't see his number sometimes I don't even know which one is mine. And it takes up a good part of our week-ends all winter, since there's a game or a practice every Saturday and Sunday.

But baseball is different. We stumbled into it - I don't even remember what happened, there was a sign up somewhere, he'd hated playing soccer the last summer, we thought we'd give it a shot...

The spring season is May and June, and it's two games a week, which is pretty intense when the kids are still in school. In the first year of rookie, the kids hit the ball off a tee. Nobody can catch, the throws are all over the place, several of them skip the bases instead of running. They all want to play backcatcher because you get to wear the cool equipment, and then they can't see anything and they stumble around and the ball bounces right off them, assuming they ever get near it. Each at-bat ends when the team has gotten five runs in or there are three outs. In early rookie, we've been in many tight twenty-five to twenty-five games. It's pretty adorable, actually.

Then they play a second year, and some of them also play in the summer. The level of play starts to go up, because they play so many games. The first time a kid on a team catches a pop fly is magical, and hilarious - the whole park goes silent, and the kid usually looks like he's thinking 'holy crap! Was that supposed to happen?' Some kids start to pull away from the pack in ability, and some still have no clue what's going on - which is fair, because I've been involved in five or so seasons and I still don't know all the rules. What's nice is, for the most part, as excited as people get when one of the good kids hits a home run, everybody gets just as excited, if not more so, when someone who hasn't gotten a hit all season finally gets one.

On the whole, I've been really impressed with the families and coaches we've been in contact with. To be fair, it's not all sunshine and sunflower seeds - one coach had to step down one year because, well, he was a douchebag who cared more about winning than teaching the kids he was coaching about sportsmanship - AND THEY WERE SIX. And our friends had their summer ball coach politely suggest that they withdraw their kids one season because they were going to pull the team down (which is most definitely NOT the spirit the League advocates, although unfortunately the family didn't find this out until much later). But most of the coaches are exemplary - and I include my husband in this - about trying to instill some discipline and sportsmanship while still making the game fun for the kids. So yes, they are asked to sit on the bench while waiting to bat without too much yelling/hitting/wrestling/throwing, and yes, they are asked to be focused and ready to play their positions when they're in the field, but they're always praised for their efforts, whether they're successful or not, and they always get freezies or rice krispie squares at the end. One year my husband and his co-coach read jokes from a 100 Stupidest Jokes book instead of running drills to warm up before playoffs. If a player struck out at bat, he had to smile or else he was made to smell a baseball sock that hadn't been washed since the beginning of the season when he got back to the bench.

It's true that they are asked to sit or stand still sometimes when they don't want to - maybe even when it's practically impossible to, or feels like it. But I really see a real sense of satisfaction when any part of the team suddenly puts it all together and things start working like they're supposed to.

It turns out (and no one is more shocked than I am) that my son is an ultra-uber-crazy good baseball player. This has done wonders for his confidence, which was sorely lacking when he started playing at age six. When he started he was on a team that pretty much carried him, and since then he has been on teams where he was by far the best player, and ended up helping out the less-experienced ones. I feel like it's taught him a lot. My daughter is decidedly NOT a scary good baseball player, and she really likes it too (well, not at the moment, but generally). She's the only girl on the team, which hasn't been a barrier to her being accepted at all (there's also a funny story about my friend's daughter Rachel's team, and the time about halfway through spring ball when all of a sudden the word went around the bench that "Psst! Hey! Rachel's a GIRL!").

Holy crap, longest post ever. About baseball. Which is a sport. How strange. I could go on, but I won't. Anyway, these are my thoughts on why I really like Little League Baseball and why I thought I was kind of justified in telling the boys to stop kicking the gravel. And Nan - it's just what I believe, I'm not bothered if you have a dissenting opinion - except a little, at first. I'm trying to grow.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It keeps going...and going....and going...

Oops, I took a week off. Not that I was on vacation or anything. Actually, the lead-up to summer vacation for the kids leads to a lot of hard work on my part. First I had to finish Eve's giraffe project, then I had to help Angus make up a disco dance to Stayin' Alive - will somebody tell me why we're still in school? The report card marks are all in, it's a million degrees in the shade, and the teachers are assigning silly make-work stuff that I end up doing most of because, in addition to everything else, the weeks of rain at the beginning of the spring baseball season mean that baseball is STILL GOING, which is okay for Angus since he'd sleep in his hat and glove if I let him, but Eve and I are SO DONE. Partly because we keep losing - she's in rookie, which means it's coach pitch, and our coaches can't. Which is not their fault, they're volunteers and it's a hard job, but there it is. She's usually a really good hitter, and this year she was in a terrible slump, and I have no eye for this kind of thing, so I had to wait for Matt to take her to a game and come home and say "um, it's because of the crappy pitching", which was a bit of a relief, but still kind of a bummer because naming the problem was very decidedly not going to make it go away.

So now we're in playoffs (a week later than we should be). The end is in sight. In fact, if we lost last night we wouldn't have to play our game tonight, we'd go straight to the week-end. I don't want to say Eve and I were looking forward to losing but, um, it's really hot and and we're both tired and... anyway...

Of course they frigging won. Eleven to two. Eve was on fire. She played first base and got someone out. She played second base and got someone out. She got a hit. Everyone got a hit. I don't know if the coaches were pitching better or we just got lucky and the other coaches couldn't pitch either and their players didn't get lucky. Eve reluctantly admitted that winning was kind of cool, even thought she's less than impressed about having to play again tonight. We stopped at the ice cream truck on the way to the car (which was kind of rewarding bad behaviour on the part of the ice cream truck guy - who the hell parks right outside the baseball diamond and sits there playing the song for two innings while a bunch of six-to-eight-year-old kids are supposed to be concentrating on baseball? Actually, the other team was a little closer to the ice cream truck - maybe he won it for us) and the guy asked her if she was on the winning team and we both almost said no without even thinking.

There's also the fact that having the only girl on a baseball team full of six-to-eight-year-old boys pretty much ensures that you have the best-behaved kid on the team. The unfortunate corollary to this is that you end the season pretty much ready to wring the neck of every other player. Seriously -- you were just asked not to kick the gravel for the fourteenth time and look, three seconds later you're kicking the damned gravel again? Really? Hey you, you're playing second base, stand up. Stand up. Stand up. Stand up. No really, you have to stand up. Um, any chance you could stop throwing that helmet against the fence? No? Okay, cool.

So if they have baseball they don't really have time to do homework. So I just do the damned homework because at this point I just don't care any more. They keep asking if they can just skip the rest of school and I keep saying no, partly because I'm afraid they'll miss something fun because shouldn't they just be doing fun stuff now? and partly because it's like a rule that you have to go to school, and I'm all about the rules (except the one where you don't do your kids' homework). But I'm weakening.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Will no one ease their pain?

I like to think I'm not a grammar snob. I'm fine with the opening of Star Trek The Next Generation when Patrick Stewart says "to boldly go" even though it's a split infinitive (truthfully Patrick Stewart could say whatever the hell he wanted and I'd listen with gladness in my heart). I've been known to dangle a participle or two (I'm badass like that).

It does shrivel my soul a little, though, when someone abuses an apostrophe. And I'm on Facebook -- I see a LOT of apostrophe abuse.

Sometimes I think about pointing out someone's error -- gently, kindly, self-deprecatingly ("I know, I know, I'm totally anal about apostrophes, and it doesn't really matter, but just in case you always wanted to know..."). But I never do, because I have a feeling that, no matter how nicely you do it, correcting someone's punctuation usage is going to light you up as a big ol' douchebag.

And then I got a few emails from this library staff listserv that I had to join as part of my last course and now can't figure out how to un-join (how's that for good-grammar?) in which someone agreed with something someone else had said with the expression 'here here!'.

And someone else responded "I'm sorry, but this is one of my pet peeves. It's 'hear hear'".

And you know? She DID come across as a big ol' douchebag.

So go ahead. Have your way with those poor little apostrophes. You won't get any trouble from me. (I'll just talk about all of you behind your back's. SEE, doesn't that just look SO CRUELLY UNUTTERABLY WRONG??? How can we stand by and let this happen, are we barbarians?)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mediocre Pictures of the Day of AWESOME

Mostly it was awesome because, you know why?

Because I wasn't on a FUCKING FIELD TRIP, that's why.

Not that this wasn't fun:



Okay, actually it wasn't that fun. It was fun going with the kindergarten class. OH MY GOD, A COW. OH MY GOD, A HORSE. OH MY GOD, A TRACTOR. Seven and eight year olds are just too freaking jaded. I found it mildly amusing when our guide told them to try not to freak out and laugh and shriek when the animals, ahem, relieved themselves, because it was upsetting and unsettling for the animals. I wanted to pat the woman on the shoulder and console her for having just uttered possibly the most useless statement anyone has spoken, ever.

I was soundly vindicated some moments later. OH MY GOD, IT'S PEEING!!!!!!!!

The only fun part was when I found my friend Collette who was there with her daughter's class and we sat on a bench watching the kids play on the play structure and talking about how badly we would suck as teachers:

Me: "Yeah, it would be bad. I'd have favourites, and I wouldn't bother to hide it. I would always pick the same kid to take the attendance list to the office."
Collette: "I'd be even worse. I'd have kids I didn't like, and I wouldn't bother to hide it. I'd be all, 'put your hand down Bobby, no one cares what you think'."

That was awesome.

So anyway, today. My Mom told me yesterday that she had decided that for my birthday she would plant my front planter for me. This is possibly the best idea I have heard ever. Of course, being my Mom, she was on my doorstep with bags of dirt and a bunch of plants by the time I wandered down from the shower, or I would have a 'before' picture, which would really bring home the full effect of this gift. Sadly, the lopsided display of overplanted grape hyacinths and the one measly yellow tulip with its mutant dandelion offspring went unphotographed.

But you still get that this is WAY BETTER, right?:



While my mother was slaving in the heat and dirt, I swanned off with Pam to buy linens, since the other night I rolled over and bed and my toe caught on something and there was a loud ripping noise. Shut up, it was a tiny hole in the bottom sheet becoming a great big gaping hole in the bottom sheet. So we went to The Linen Chest, where a lovely woman who I think might have been just a tiny bit high kept telling us that if we needed help to call her Rebecca - or maybe it was if we needed help to call her, Rebecca - and then she talked about how my smile was lovely and real and we - Pamela and Allison, which were beautiful real names - were warm, which was good because cold people sucked her energy. Then she gave us chocolate, so it was all good. I bought green sheets with tiny subtle polka dots in them.

Then we went to Pier One where I picked this up, ON A WHIM:



(Guys! It has CUPHOLDERS!)



...and this REALLY NICE warehouse guy helped us load it in the van. Then we went to Red Lobster for lunch and our server was named KAITLYN - and YES, she totally fit into the parade of INSANELY HELPFUL and possibly slightly chemically altered service people that came our way in the day of awesome.

Then we came home. And before I went to pick the kids up for school, I was looking out in the backyard at the cardboard wrapped chair pieces that my lovely husband has since assembled into an actual chair, and there was a fly buzzing around. So I opened the screen door - and it flew out.

See? Awe. Some.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I'm a Moron

And the universe is just fucking with me now. I volunteered for Eve's class's field trip this week, because I'd gone on Angus's and I didn't think fast enough to book a colonoscopy or have a crippling accident that would have convinced Eve I couldn't go on hers. And the teacher sent a note saying thanks for offering but we already have enough volunteers.

YAY. Full credit for good intentions (which I did not have, my intentions were distinctly grudging and ungracious) and no requirement for arduous follow-through.

Then she came out when I went to pick up Eve this afternoon and said she'd had two last-minute cancellations so they could really use my help after all.

SONOFABITCH. Should have maimed myself when I had the chance.

I get to drive by myself this time. It'll be fine.


Nan from Wrath of Mom was talking about movies she hasn't seen and movies she loved but couldn't watch now, which reminded me of A Room With a View, which I adored and watched over and over. Once I watched it with my friend from University. Jen was funny and outgoing and I was always a little in awe of her. She spoke her mind and worked in a bar and slept with older men. After the movie, she said wistfully, "you know, if I was living this movie, I just know that I would be in love with George.... I would kind of want Freddy (who would be her brother if she was living in this movie, but let's just let that go by)....

but I would end up sleeping with Mr. Beebe."

It was an impressive display of self-knowledge.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Overheard

On the way to the dance recital, Eve was in the back seat with my Mom. We were at a stop sign and a man passed us. He was pushing a jogging stroller and wearing nothing but running shoes, socks, and a leaving-nothing-to-the-imagination pair of spandex shorts. And a heart monitor. I heard Eve say to my Mom:

"If you're going to take your kid for a walk, it would be nice to have an ounce of dignity".

(actually I think she said digginty, but I believe she made her point).


Last night Angus was getting ready for baseball talking to my husband, the coach. He said "do I at least get to catch tonight if I can't pitch?" Matt said "no." Angus said "WHAT?" Matt said "look, I have a bunch of positional debts to pay off or the parents are going to start getting ticked off at me. If it makes you feel any better, Jack's getting equally screwed. Well, not totally...

I'm letting him catch for an inning just to piss you off."