Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Birthdays, balls and me not having my shit together. So, business as usual.

Why do I even bother putting stuff in draft form? Every time I'm stuck for a blog post I look at the drafts folder and everything there is as useful as tits on a bull. Once I saw Teri Garr on Letterman and she said she always writes things down on cue cards so when she goes on talk shows she'll have witty comments ready, and then right before she goes on she looks at them and they say things like "Khadafi goes to Moscow. Chicken on a stick". That's how it goes with me and draft posts.

Both my kids have birthdays at the beginning of a month. Since they were actually born on those days, at the beginning of those months, one could argue that it's been happening this way for as long as I've known them, and one would be indisputably correct. One might wonder why, then, I never realize that I have to get my ass in gear for birthday-party-type preparations not too late in the month BEFORE the aforementioned birthday months, if we don't want to be scrambling around at the last minute. But no. Every year the end of January or April rolls around and I'm going "Shit! Where are we having your birthday party? Who's coming? What do you mean you don't hang out with him any more? What are we going to do? No, we can't have an actual fire. What do I tell people to get you? What do you mean you don't want anything? Fine, I'll tell them to donate to charity instead and they'll think I'm a douchebag, NO PROBLEM."

We spent a few minutes looking for the phone number of one boy Angus wanted to invite, couldn't find it, so I went to the computer and typed out Canada.411.com, and then the three of us suddenly all looked up at each other from various points in the room and realized we were being morons since they're on the same spring baseball team. The mother had emailed us saying it was her son's dream come true - my husband as a coach (he's an awesome coach) and no chance of going up to bat and having to face Angus as a pitcher. Last year one small kid actually refused to stay at the plate for his third strike - it was like "he hasn't hit me yet, and I LOVE LIFE MORE, you bastards!"

Eve is playing softball this year, having gotten weary of the Minor boys with their abundance of strength and their dearth of accuracy using her for a ball target. She says she felt the softball and "I thought it would be more of a hence-the-name thing", meaning it didn't feel all that soft, but we've managed to convince her that the likelihood of being hit as often or having it hurt as much in softball is small. On the plus side for me, now Angus will still be playing two games a week but softball is ONLY ONE.

Yesterday I was headachy and hormonal and we had barbecued hot dogs and hamburgers on Sunday night so I decided we would just have leftovers after we got home from music lessons. Then Angus told me that he would like some San Francisco Giants clothing for his birthday so I stopped pulling stuff out of the refrigerator to look up where we could get San Francisco Giants clothing. Matt came home in the middle of this and then Eve wandered down because dinner was late and she was hungry, so I started just shoving food at people while Angus and Matt looked up fantasy baseball stuff and Eve helped out by making fun of players' names and they were talking about some guy who was a janitor before he played for the MLB and I said "does he bat clean-up?" and Angus said "HE TOTALLY DOES" and then after Angus said he wished all our dinners were like this, and I thought he meant the heartwarming and witty family banter, but when I said "what do you mean" he said "I mean I eat a hot dog and Kraft Dinner while Dad reads me stuff about Fantasty Baseball". But I was pretty happy anyway.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Face your fears. Or, you know, run away and hide from them like a total pussy.

A couple of weeks ago a group of us went high-speed go-karting for my friend Collette's birthday. I love Collette, because she is smart and funny and completely honest - not honest for the sake of being mean, but honest enough that she won't spare your feelings if she thinks you need to know something about yourself or your kids or her neighbours who should really close the blinds more often than they do. And she accepts honesty in return. She's also a really great cook, accepts my book recommendations with alacrity and keeps her weed in a Benefibre container (isn't that adorable?) And she's tough and hard to embarrass and willing to try almost anything once. I find myself trying new things because of her - remember when I went ziplining? That was her idea. Tubing? Arranged by Collette. I'm pretty sure she was the impetus for our Eastern Canada trek in summer 2009 - four families, two provinces, cooking lobster over a campfire and wading the tidal flats at Hopewell Rocks, and that one drive looking for a beach where one family's bike rack fell off their car, one family got a speeding ticket and we ended up almost getting arrested for trespassing on some military-type-place. I harboured a slight fear that two weeks on the road and in hotel rooms together might do irreparable damage to our collective friendship, but it was a fabulous experience that none of us will ever forget.

So sure, I was up for being strapped into a tiny car and racing around a track at speeds of 60-70 kilometres per hour. Okay, I don't precisely love driving. I don't even really like driving, really. One might say I'm almost "afraid" of driving, if we're being brutally honest. I can get the job done, but really I'm going around perpetually expecting an imminent crunch of metal on metal, checking my blind spot five times before changing lanes and spending long moments virtually paralyzed in fear when I have to back out of anywhere.

But it was Collette's birthday. And I've tried a lot of things that I thought I would hate and ended up loving them.

This, as it happens, wasn't one of those things.

I kept thinking that maybe when I was strapped securely in, low to the ground, wearing a helmet and pretty much assured that I couldn't actually kill myself or anyone else, I would be able to overcome my fear and drive faster than I'm usually comfortable with. I would have happily tossed back some false courage, but I'm a rule follower, and one of the rules stated clearly:


Please note that Karts are considered as a motor vehicle. The law regarding driving a kart under the influence of alcohol or other substances is the same as for your car.

Based on the fact that the guy giving us our instructions in the cloakroom told us to stand aside because the bachelor party coming off the track would be piling into the room to grab their coats and they were probably too drunk to walk a straight line, "although they didn't drive too badly", maybe be careful driving in Quebec. But, you know, I thought maybe I'd be okay, even sober.


I was wrong. The first time I took my foot off the brake my limbic system threw up, had a seizure, saw its parents having sex and found out that Soylent Green is people. Of course, I tried it again, repeatedly. So basically my entire experience consisted of feeling alternately lame and terrified. Me and the guy with the blue flag had a close and special relationship by the end of the night. The blue flag is the one they give you to tell you to move over so faster people (otherwise known as EVERYONE) can pass you. By the tenth lap or so, he would give a desultory twitch of his blue flag when I went by, and I would twitch my middle finger aimlessly back at him. Finally I just settled in for some fairly grim-and-joyless rounding of the track, feeling the grime and diesel fumes settle a little more deeply into my skin with every minute.

The good thing about being a grown-up is that you can try stuff like this, and if you don't like it or excel at it,  it's okay. Twenty or so years ago, I probably would have had to pretend I was sick or injured, and limp off the track to cry in the bathroom for a while. Now? I just finished up, stopped at home to wash an ungodly amount of black gunk off my face and cleavage, and proceeded on to the back-of-the-liquor-cabinet party. Which I'd also never tried before, but it turns out I'm really good at those.

A couple of days ago our friend Dave sent around an invitation to play paintball for his birthday. Collette's really looking forward to leaving him facedown and crying in a puddle of paint.

I'm thinking that one of the other great things about being a grownup is that you can face something that you've never done before.... and choose not to do it.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Mondays on the Margins: Words and Friends

I don't play Angry Birds. Or Fruit Ninja. Or Zombies vs. Watermelons or whatever. My ipad has tons of game apps on it because of my kids, but it's just not something that activates my pleasure centers. When I'm stuck waiting for my kids in the car or outside dance class I generally read or, if I don't have a book, clean out my purse or something - my phone doesn't even have games, or the internet.

But every now and then I get hooked on a word game on Facebook. The one where you use the letters to make up as many words as possible, or the other one where you... uh, do the same thing but in a grid? I was addicted to these for a while but it was a long time ago, they sort of catch fire for a bit and then everyone moves on.

But I kept hearing about Words With Friends, and I kept thinking hey! I like words! I like friends! I really need to check this game out sometime. So this past week-end I became probably the last person in the Western World to start playing Words With Friends. Which name is a VICIOUS LIE, let me tell you, because it's SCRABBLE.

I FUCKING HATE SCRABBLE. As my friend Collette says, Scrabble is NOT about vocabulary. it's about strategy. Vocabulary I have. Strong skills on the strategy front? Not so much.

Why should it matter, right? It's just a fun game between friends. Except I can't just have fun. No fun exists without subtext. When my friends all beat me, and they do all beat me, because I'm busy spelling 'it' and adding an 's' to 'car' and figuring out that I can spell STEAMIER with all my letters, but not anywhere on the actual board, I think that they're secretly revising their opinion of me as an intelligent person, and feeling really embarrassed for me, and wondering what the respectable length of time is before they can quietly unfriend me and pretend this horrible unpleasantness never happened. I'd probably be less mortified if I'd thrown up on their sofa while their mother-in-law was visiting. Not to mention the fact that when Sarah Piazza said on Facebook that she "needed more partners for Words With Friends" she neglected to add "to chew up and spit out". Quaids? What the fuck are quaids? She's brilliant, and articulate, and she knows words AND STRATEGY. And yet I keep going back for even more humiliation and wordish carnage.

While I was crawling away from a WWF debate in ignominious defeat, I stumbled across another app called  94 seconds. In this one, you have 94 seconds to give as many answers as you can for things like "mammals that begin with the letter T", "flowers that begin with the letter R" or "auto manufacturers that begin with the letter W".

It's really hard. Especially for someone like me, who tends to go: Uh, a mammal. DOG. No, that doesn't start with a T. Uh...TOG. No, come on, a mammal that starts with T, this is easy....I suspect the whole point is that the mind isn't flexible about things like this, it tends to fixate on one result and can't easily find another one, although some people probably are naturally better than others.

There's a fish category. I kept not being able to come up with anything, so at one point I just started typing a random word and putting 'fish' after it. Zebrafish! And then I was surprised as hell when it was right, so I kept doing it. Railfish! Thornfish! Razorfish! Penisfish! (I think I made that last one up, but honestly it's hard to be sure). I'm not entirely sure what the point of the game is, since the same question tends to come up in subsequent games so your result gets better by default because you start being able to memorize some answers, although just when I think I've really got it figured out I forget that the 'M' element from the periodic table is Mercury, or that Drum is a pretty freaking obvious answer for musical instrument that starts with D, or I get "Country that starts with C" and don't automatically put THE ONE I LIVE IN. But I can't stop playing it anyway. I'm probably creating some very specific and odd new neuronal pathways. I might start craving razorfish on toast any moment now.

So yeah. If you need me, I'll be over here wondering if I can close the hundred-and-forty-seven-point gap between me and Sarah, or trying to desperately to think of a foreign capital of a sovereign nation. That starts with a V.

Friday, April 19, 2013

So, it's Friday

This week has kind of sucked.

No, really.

I'd like to pretend that I'm more, I don't know, noble or sensitive or exquisitely attuned to the suffering of the world than I actually am, and claim that I've been struggling this week solely because of horrific things that have happened to other people, but that would be a lie, and I've sworn to myself that I will never lie to you unless you ask me how much I weigh or whether I still watch Grey's Anatomy. I think it's just my old stupid seasonal transition difficulties. I didn't have a very busy week, so I thought I should either tackle a satisfying project or two that I had been putting off or engage in some hardcore goofing-off - watching movies all day, or reading a whole book while the kids were at school, or something.

Instead every day was just a total non-starter. I couldn't settle to anything - I didn't even manage to wallow slothfully with anything you'd call success. I walked on the treadmill every day, but other than that I just kind of wandered around not being able to figure out what to do. I went to the mall to get Eve some new pajamas after realizing that her pajama situation was similar to the underwear situation described in this post - actually I didn't even realize it until my husband pointed out in a rather pained fashion that her pajama pants ranged from too tight to be remotely comfortable to falling apart. I bought Angus some jeans at Old Navy because he's too unsophisticated to like the insanely cool jeans I bought him at the Guess outlet at the Train Yards ("the legs go out too much at the bottom!" "They look cool like that!" "No they don't!") but the ones I bought him were "too skinny" - my son is the freaking Goldilocks of pants. I have to return them and attempt to obtain a pair that are Just Right, and hope he doesn't get eaten by three bears.

I didn't really feel like cooking. I didn't really feel like reading. I fell asleep early enough but waking up was miserable - Matt was in Sweden, but usually the first few days are great in the morning and it's only the end of the week where I feel dragged out. I was trying to read this, but I couldn't even get through a paragraph without feeling dense and dopey, so I stuck with a sort of lacklustre mystery novel, but mostly I watched Buffy on the ipad every night and then just read a few pages before falling asleep, which is really intensely catastrophically not like me.

Then Pam and I went on a road trip yesterday to the UPS Store in Ogdensburg New York. We checked our passports multiple times to make sure the pictures and expirations dates hadn't magically changed to pictures of wanted criminals and dates far in the past. Crossing the border was the usual - even when they're nice they're not nice, you know? We had a fabulous lunch at a restaurant called The Dirty Gringo, because I had found good reviews online, not because it looked nice, because it didn't, when you pull up it looks like a little shack where you'd worry about the bacteria count and the likelihood of getting in a fight with a biker. But the staff is charming and the food is amazing, especially the spicy black bean cakes. Then we came back over the border, which is usually better because, you know, Canadians, but it wasn't - the guy looking at my receipts was convinced I was trying to pull something. It didn't help that the packages were mostly Lands End kids' bathing suits but there were two items for me from Fresh Produce - his eyebrows shot right up, and then I couldn't stop thinking about my sister imitating some guy on tv saying "we should be worrying about weapons and instead we're just asking people if they've got any fruits" and then I had to bite my lip to not burst out laughing, which I was pretty sure would get me and Pam tied to chairs in a locked room somewhere, and then I started thinking about how I could spin this into a really good blog post or possibly a Penthouse Forum story, and then he sort of threw up his hands, gathered up all my invoices and threw them at me, like "I know you're engaged in spurious behaviour but I don't feel like breaking out my handcuffs right now, so go away".

Then Matt came home today and the kids came home from school and we spent a couple hours in the family room trying a pencil experiment that Eve had heard about and arguing about what constitutes an irregular verb in English and trying to get Angus to show us his muscles and then Matt started trying to play Eve's piece on the piano and she started hurling invective at him, and for a moment I felt like we were one of those charmingly madcap sit-com families. And then Matt went out to a baseball coaching clinic and Eve and I were trying to decide what else we could give her best friend for her birthday party tomorrow - we have a cool Minecraft shirt from Redbubble, but they gave Eve a ton of moustache stuff for her birthday so I wanted to add something, but she's not at all like Eve, so books or music stuff or art stuff were out, and finally Eve reminded me of what her friend loves most of all, so I've spent the last few hours making fancy bacon.



And I feel better.




Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mondays on the Margins: Rape Culture - We're All Soaking In It

I don't want to talk about it. I don't know what to say about it. People are sick of hearing about it. I feel small and cowardly when I don't talk about it. Some people I know have already said things about it. Hannah did a good from the heart post. Bon did a good from the brain post, which I like to think of as the "it's not that we don't see your side, it's just that your side is whiny and entitled and suckholish - here's why" post. Rehtaeh Parson's father did a post that will rip your heart out, and a while before, this post by Hannah's friend Carol about Amanda Todd really made an impression on me.

I'm going to come at this through books, since that's kind of what I do. In 2010, I read a book called I Don't: A Contrarian History of Marriage by Susan Squire. Reading it was one of those a-ha moments that you have about something where you've kind of been peripherally aware of something but suddenly it hits home with an unpleasant burning thud. I had much the same sensation when reading Betraying Spinoza by Rebecca Goldstein - in that case it was how naive I had been and how incomplete my knowledge was about how far back and how wide-ranging the persecution of Jewish people went and was. With Susan Squire's book, it was a similar realization that really, as far back as the beginning of civilization, it's impossible to escape the conclusion that men as a gender are really deeply and strangely and almost morbidly suspicious of and sort of frightened and disgusted by women. I've been meaning to buy a copy, and to read some of her suggested sources, but the notes I took are enough to remind me of how the whole book made assertions and conclusions that were disturbing and yet oddly recognizable: how men preferred to keep marriage and sexual desire separate; how men, particularly religious men, viewed lust as something shameful but excusable in themselves, and shameful and unforgivable in women; how the thought of women gaining any kind of power made men hysterically and violently afraid. Do I have to clarify that when I say "men" I don't mean "all men", but rather "a monolithic block of male people who had the power and made the laws and formed the interdependent structures of culture, religion and tradition that kept women as a gender subjugated and disenfranchised"? Perhaps it's best if I do. 

 A few days ago I read a book by an author who I've enjoyed in the past. She writes the kind of mysteries that I try to confine my mystery-reading to these days - mysteries with complex characters and intelligent, insightful writing. Most of her books are stand-alones, but as it happens, I read a book that was a sequel to this one and only then realized that there was one that took place before. For that reason, I know that the female police officer in this book and the male detective do become a couple in the subsequent book. 

In this book, the female police constable has a history of an abusive childhood and homelessness. She is working to address a systemic problem of frequent, brutal and unprosecuted gang rapes in black neighbourhoods in her area of England. She talks passionately about rape victims thinking of the rape as killing the person they were, so that a different person is left afterwards.

The male police detective treats her with unreserved hostility for their first few meetings. He says things to her like "You certainly scrub up well" and "Shut up - most women in your position would be scared shitless. How come you're not?"

Then there's this passage:  “I was still wearing high-heeled shoes, so when the hand grabbed the back of my hair I was thrown completely off balance. There was nothing to brace myself against, no way to fight back, as I was pulled down the last two steps and into the shadow beneath. A weight I hadn’t a hope of resisting pushed me forward until my face was up against the wood of my front door. I felt something cold and hard press against my neck and knew there was a knife at my throat.     ‘This is how easy it is,’ said a voice in my ear. ‘This is the last thing Geraldine felt.’     ….Taking a deep breath, I turned round slowly.     Mark Joesbury was shaking his head at me, like I was something forced into his way but far beneath his notice. In his right hand he held his car keys. It had been a key, not a knife, at my throat.     “Are you out of your fucking mind?” he said, in a voice that would have carried easily up to the street.”

So he demonstrates his concern that she's in danger of being attacked by.... attacking her. After she falls in the river while pursuing a suspect and almost dies, he drags her back to the river and forces her to go on a boat, as some kind of 'therapy'. When she says she's not comfortable and asks to go back to the car, he says, "Do I strike you as someone who gives up easily?"

Finally, in her hospital room he makes sexual advances. She tells him he's been a complete bastard and he acknowledges that he has, and says "Dana thinks I fancy you rotten and I’m taking the time-honoured male path of venting sexual frustration through unreasonable aggression.”

I don't know if I would have felt the same disbelieving squirminess reading this if I'd read it before the events of the past year or so. So here is an author that I respect, an author who spends half the book writing sensitively about the effects of rape and the related problem of an indifferent justice system, and the other half  of the book outlining a romance in which the man uses his superior physical strength against the woman, verbally abuses her, and then excuses it in the name of 'fancying her rotten'.

Something's rotten, that's for sure. There's also a scene in which the policewoman's female superior directs the man to drive her home. When the policewoman exhibits a clear reluctance to get in the car with him, instead of asking why or letting her get a cab as she suggests, her superior snaps "Oh for God's sake, he doesn't bite". So there we go - a female figure of authority delivering her neatly into a situation where she's forced to be alone with a man who's menaced her. Complicity - sometimes it's an ugly word, isn't it?

See, the thing is, I don't want to read in this manner. I don't want to view everything through a wary and defensive lens. Few people do, although rape culture apologists thing that we take some kind of self-satisfied pleasure in it. Are these the choices we have now? Either reading or listening and watching and walking and living in a state of humourless, joyless hypervigilance, or risking being the next Amanda Todd or Rehtaeh Parsons, or being her mother, or the mother of one of her rapists or tormentors? 

I don't know. Things have to change, it doesn't feel like anything can change. I don't really know what to say, I don't feel like I've said it properly, too many people aren't listening, but being silent doesn't help. We can't go on, we'll go on. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Things that Almost Never Happen when We're Not in Alberta

We hardly ever get to find Easter eggs beside Oligocene cats.



We almost never hike through badlands.




We almost never face the horror of...


An UNINTERPRETED TRAIL!!! (Just imagine! You see a squirrel or a tuft of grass - but WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!)


We almost never climb the inside of a T-Rex...


...and have a picture taken inside its mouth.


We hardly ever stand on a hoodoo.


We almost never pull up to a Buffalo Jump and find my sister-in-law nearly hanging off the snow ledge that sits many many metres above the valley below...


...in order to rescue her son's boot which was trapped in the deep snow on the ledge. (Eve's teacher emailed me the day after we got back and said Eve had been entertaining them all with stories about our trip. When she came home she said she had to yell to be heard over their laughter. I said, what did you tell them about, the airplane? She said, cheerfully, "that, and Timothy almost falling off the cliff!")


We almost never get a picture of, as my brother-in-law calls it 'all the available sizes of human'.


And we almost never pass a car that's stopped on the road facing us with someone's arm waving out the window and say "what the heck is she doing?.......oh".




Monday, April 8, 2013

Mondays on the Margins: Parenting Illustrated With Crappy Pictures by Amber Dusick OR I TOTALLY Knew Her When

I met Amber Dusick (virtually) when she was still Wood Mouse. I think I met her through this other Amber, and sometimes on my blog I would get double Amber comments. That was cool.

Sometimes Amber Dusick makes stuff. I have a little house that she made.


That's cool too.

Then she made something else. A funny blog post with hastily-drawn pictures. And people really, really liked that blog post. And then I was suddenly in that position where someone you sort of know gets really famous really quickly, and you'd hate them if they weren't so freaking nice and talented and richly deserving of all of it.

And then she emailed me and said I was on her "send a book to this awesome person" list and ASKED if she could send me a copy of her book to review. Objectively, of course.

So now that I've made this all about ME..... you really need to read this book. And then share it with all your friends who are parents. Buy it for a baby shower gift. Pass it around at playgroup. Leave it on your coffee table. Because Amber just freaking gets it, you know? How having kids is kind of like inviting a nuclear weapon to blow up your life. Sure, the nuclear weapon is frequently charming, endearing, adorable and quite entertaining, but it still makes your days and nights a smoking crater of confusion and sleeplessness.

And damned if her simple line drawings don't make her devastatingly true assessment of parenting funnier by an inestimable factor. In fact, I'm a little afraid to even try having someone read me a post without being able to see the pictures because I have a sneaking suspicion it might not be funny AT ALL (this is a complete lie, I don't really suspect that at all, but there's something about the pictures - the wiggly single curl on Crappy Baby's head, the kids' curiously alien eyes, the way food and Lego and bodily fluids are all reduced to representative smudges). Occasionally she illustrates other people's blog posts and really hits it out of the park.

She just strikes the exact right note for me - how kids are hilarious and wonderful, but how it can really suck trying to get them to sleep, or eat, or not embarrass you half to death in front of perfect strangers. In the book, there's more writing to connect the pictures, and some of the anecdotes are longer. The one where they go on vacation and everyone gets diarrhea on the plane and then the last picture is of the whole family peeing (in little yellow dotted lines) on the side of the road and getting caught in another car's headlights brought me to my knees.

Amber is a hilarious writer and crappy-picture-maker and a genuinely nice person. I'm buying extra copies of the book because it feels like cheating that I got this one for free. My kids have also enthusiastically endorsed the book. So has Mayim Bialik - it's right there on the front cover - but my kids are brilliant AND in favour of vaccines, so...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Getting There

So we were flying to Calgary on Thursday. There was no connecting flight, so we were flying to Toronto first. Everything was going swimmingly - we got to the airport, got a primo parking place, checked our bags, got boarding passes, went through security, hung out in the lounge for a bit and then went down to the gate. As soon as we got to the gate, they started boarding us - we didn't even have to sit down. Matt said that was like winning airport bingo.

We got on the plane. It was quick, of course. Just as we were touching down in Toronto, Eve said "this is my best flying day ever!"

We shushed her. But it was too late.



As we were boarding a flight to Calgary, we walked past a young man in a wheelchair who looked kind of out of it. After we sat down in our seats - in aisle 17 - we saw the young man being helped up the airplane aisle by a flight attendant. When I say 'helped' up the aisle, she wasn't just holding his arm - she was holding him from behind and almost carrying him. To aisle 16. I thought it was a little weird, but beyond feeling bad for him for having to fly while being unwell, I didn't think much of it. She got him into the middle seat and a woman who was presumably his mother sat in the aisle seat. She proceeded to put down her table tray and unload a buttload of prescription pill bottles onto it. When the woman who had the window seat arrived, the mother seemed annoyed that her son had to stand up to let the woman by and muttered something about him having had surgery. The kids and I were directly behind their seats and my husband was across the aisle. We exchanged glances.

Before the flight left, three separate flight attendants came to speak to the woman. They asked her what kind of surgery he had had - abdominal - and how long ago - she never said anything more precise than 'a few days ago'. They expressed surprise and concern at the fact that the reservations people had apparently not been informed about his condition and asked several times if his doctors had cleared him to fly. There was a bit of a language barrier, but she kept saying yes, yes, he was fine to fly and "he's okay, he's okay".

I did not have a good feeling about this.

Before takeoff, the woman kept dropping pill bottles and asking people around her to look under their seats for them. Shortly after takeoff, the woman at the window seat was moved to another seat to she wouldn't be blocked in by the sick man. Flight attendants kept walking up and down the aisle shooting looks at the pair which ranged from worried to angry. Finally, a male flight attendant came and told the woman that the man wasn't looking very well and that he was going to see if there was a doctor on board. She kept saying "he's okay, he's okay" and finally he said, very firmly, "I don't think he is. And we're at thirty-five-thousand feet."

There was a doctor on board. He came back and asked the woman the same questions that had already been asked, and then looked at the medication. He said "okay, Valium. How much of this did you give him?" She said "six". He said "Six milligrams? No, this is ten milligram strength. Wait, HOW many did you give him?"

She said "six."

He said "You gave him SIXTY MILLIGRAMS of Valium?"

Then he said that one of those pills was enough to keep someone asleep for twenty-four hours, and that sixty milligrams could stop someone from breathing. Then he told her to keep him awake.

Because, sure. Nothing easier than giving someone sixty milligrams of fucking Valium and then keeping them awake for a four-hour flight.

I couldn't not hear any of this. The kids were mostly watching movies or playing on their ipods, while asking me the occasional question because I looked worried. When the guy started roaring at his mother for yelling him awake, they got a little more frowny - even though we all sympathized, because geez, if someone dosed me with horse tranquillizer and then wouldn't let me sleep I'd be cranky too. When he actually DID stop breathing and they started slapping him across the face to get him to breathe again, they became fairly perturbed. Then they removed him to the back galley of the plane and shortly informed us that we would be flying back to Toronto to get medical attention for the man.

On his last trip back from California, Matt's suitcase got lost. Not delayed or misplaced - lost lost. Like, it's never getting found lost. He said that was a first for him in all his many flights. This was another one.

So we flew back to Toronto - and man, it feels horrible to be going backwards. But they were fairly fast and efficient at refueling the plane while the medical personnel got on and took the man off - he was semi-conscious - and they got two new flight attendants really quickly, and they kept us informed, which is the most important thing to my mind - I get stabbiest when no one will tell me what's going on. At one point the announcement said "the two new flight attendants have just arrived and are being briefed. As soon as that's done, we'll.... make another announcement."

So our travelling day was a few hours longer, but my kids were really good. ALL the kids on the plane were really good. I saw one woman who was pregnant and traveling with a toddler and felt like hugging her. Another little girl came down the aisle, whacked me happily on the leg a few times, demanded to be picked up and then tried to pull off Angus's braces. And after we got back airborne, they gave us free pretzels AND cookies, so I guess they really WERE grateful for our patience.

As we were getting off the plane in Calgary, Eve said "well I can't imagine a worse flight than THAT one."

We shushed her. I hope we were in time.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hello lovely people

So, we flew away.

We had some adventures, we hugged some people, we saw some stuff, we had some laughs.

Right now I am in love with being home. I love my bed, in my bedroom, which is attached to a bathroom that only I use. Right now I'm just enjoying being able to walk around with bottles of liquid - more than 80 millilitres if I feel like it - from room to room or floor to floor or ANY DAMN WHERE I PLEASE. And scissors. I love scissors. And being able to get a drink of water should the whim strike me.

But I miss the people.

And four days of Angus having no access to video games was kind of nice. He's smart! And funny! Who knew? Well I did, but it was nice to have it re-confirmed.


I will tell you some stories about some things that happened. Such as why Eve gets the spirit award. And why my family will be polling members of our future flights on their recent medical experiences.

Tomorrow.