Showing posts from November, 2014

IN YOUR FACE, November.

When we were at Sandbanks this summer, we rotated campsites for dinner. The night it was at our campsite, I offered to walk Collette next door to her campsite with a flashlight at the end of the night since she didn't have one. We went to the comfort station together, then we got to my campsite and she said "I'll be fine getting to mine". So I turned away with the flashlight, she walked three or four steps and said "HOLY CRAP, get back over here, it's WAY too dark." I thought this was hilarious. Back at the beginning of November when I was starting NaBloPoMo, and trying to wean off my antidepressant, I felt sort of the same way - like I'd set off without a light and I'd completely forgotten how dark the dark was. So this is a most fervent and heartfelt thanks to everyone who stopped by this month and walked with me for a bit. Nicole and Hannah , the best computer friends a girl could ask for;  Mary Lynn and Julie - World Trivia Night is not


With the girls. For the girls.

Day 28

We have a landing halfway up the stairs between the main and top floors. It's covered with oldish not-great-quality builder's carpet, but it's a nice size. When I sort through the kids' clothes, or when they do, the first place discards go is down on the landing, to be sorted and apportioned properly. I make neat stacks of stuff along the wall so there's still plenty of room to walk upstairs. When Matt and I were away in Toronto one of the times we were in Toronto this fall, he talked to my mom on the phone at one point and told me that they had had no hot water, so she'd gone to shower at our house. If you have a mother anything like mine, you'll understand why this struck fear into my heart. I saw her when we got back and mentioned that the woman who cleans for us was coming that evening. She said "how can she clean?" I looked at her blankly, and then she said "what IS all that stuff on your landing?" Oh, I thought, of COURSE, she m

Day 27

I'm driving to Zarah's today. I'm not sure how the rest of NaBloPoMo is going to shake out. Eve has a dentist appointment this morning. Matt took her to her last one, and the dentist was a little concerned about a couple of baby teeth that should have fallen out already and that might require intervention if they don't soon. The notes I was given included the phrase: "Eve is encouraged to wiggle". So that was enjoyable.

Facebook Groups II: Freecycling With a Vengeance

In addition to the fun and frolic of my Moms in My Town Facebook group , I joined a Freecycling group, partly because I wanted to get rid of some stuff and liked the idea of giving it to people who specifically needed it and partly because one of my friends is an admin, so I was already seeing it and I figured I should contribute something to pay back for the entertainment value alone. The purpose of the group is supposed to be solely to keep things out of the landfill - it's been specifically stated that it's not a charity. Many people in the group, myself included, are bad at remembering this. An offered item is posted, and then people are supposed to comment that they're interested. They are not supposed to comment on why their need for the item is greater than anyone else's. Many of them do. You're allowed to give your item to whoever you want, of course - either the first person who comments, the first person who can pick it up, or by FOP, Fair Offer Price, w

Oil Changes and Attitude Adjustments

I saw this great tweet the other day: I agree. Those stereotypes are offensive and often untrue. What do you do, then, if you're a woman who is not, in fact, a terribly confident driver or a whiz at long division, sine waves and completing the square? I'm still not the stereotype - I don't weave all over the road, I don't run over things with gay abandon, I don't generally run into things (apart from that one unfortunate incident with the signpost and the back bumper, but my husband was away, I was short on sleep and it wouldn't have cracked off if it wasn't so cold, THE REPAIR MAN SAID IT, shut up). My kids know not to come to me with their math homework, but it's not because I'm too pretty or that I think numbers are dumb - math just doesn't happen to be an area I excel in. Sorry, an area in which I excel (I AM supposed to be not bad at this word business). I just accept, I guess, that I CAN drive and do math (sort of ), I just enjoy othe

Mondays on the Margins: Growing a Rainbow by Lesley Donaldson-Reid

I met Lesley briefly at Blissdom 2013 - I apologized for getting between her and someone taking her picture at the outside party and she hollered at me to get in the picture with her. Afterwards, we became Twitter friends and I started reading her blog, Real Women Drive Stick (so according to Lesley I'm a fake woman, but it's okay, I'm coping). When I learned some of the details of her son's birth, I was sort of struck by the strangeness of the fact that people can endure the most cataclysmic of events and walk around without the effects permanently stamped on their faces. Lesley is an emergency nurse and special-needs parent, and Blissdom completely lit an author fire under her, leading her to reduce her nursing hours and write and self-publish a book about her son Torran, who was a micro-preemie, born at just 26 weeks and 6 days gestation, due to oligohydramnios, a lack of amniotic fluid. Lesley and her husband Bruce were asked on more than one occasion if they wis

Day 23

I don't feel good. I woke up yesterday with seized neck and upper back muscles. So I took some painkillers and then I felt nauseous. Today my back is a little better but I'm still kind of nauseous, and I'm afraid to take anything for my back OR for the nausea. And now I feel like the week-end has slipped away in this haze of pain and sickness and I didn't leave the house and I'm sort of sad and worried and icky. On Friday the kids had a P.D. Day and Angus went to a movie with two baseball friends. He called at around four and asked if I would pick them up and drive them all home. I could have told them to take the bus. But I wasn't doing anything especially important, and my dad would have done it for me at the same age. The two other boys are funny and quick-witted, and Matt calls them Team Shit-Disturbers but I find them sweet. They both thanked me multiple times for the ride and one said "it's so sad now how it gets dark so early", and I wante

A Sense of Insignificance

Standing under the stars.... bowing to the weight of great literature..... Nah. World Trivia Night. "Pieces of information of little importance or value." Except when you're trying to remember enough of them to be able to tell fifty other tables to SUCK IT. Or justify your seat at the table, and immoderate candy consumption. Imagine my shock and horror at realizing that there was NO LITERATURE CATEGORY this year. In fact, the one question that I knew that no one else did was the next three words (the category was The Next Three Words) in Iggy Azalea's Fancy , and THAT was because I'd googled them for Eve and Marielle on the rooftop patio at East Side Mario's after drama camp. I had to wake Eve up and tell her when I got home. I also got the Robbie Burns question, thanks to my friend Dave who has a Robbie Burns party every January, complete with the Address to the Haggis , and the Lascaux Caves question, thanks to a mean lesbian French professor in grad

Last Book Fair Post - Promise

You know how it can be really hard to do simple tasks when someone is watching you? Twice yesterday I had to look through the picture book racks for a Splat the Cat or Hot Rod Hamster book with a little boy shouting NO, NOT Hot Rod Hamster Wacky Whatever Race, Hot Rod Hamster MONSTER TRUCK MANIA, or NO, NOT Splat the Cat What was That, Splat the Cat MAKES DAD GLAD. Why, I whimpered, why on earth don't we keep all the Splat the Fucking Cat books together? Because some are picture books and some are Early Reader books (taller, skinnier, pre-chapter books) was the sensible answer, but when you have little Charlie breathing down your neck it doesn't help that much. And the math. I am perfectly able to perform simple arithmetic, EXCEPT when someone is standing on the other side of the counter watching me. Then my brain suddenly comes to a hard stop while trying to make 10.00 and 7.00 and 8.00 and 11.50 come out to a reasonable sum. It doesn't help when a student's father s

Day 20

Eve and I are home from the book fair and tired. We had an interview with her teacher who I already loved. She said Eve obviously doesn't face any academic difficulties, so she thinks they should focus on preparing for middle school and high school by working on the challenges of things like group work dynamics and subjects that Eve finds less engaging, like geography (poor kid has a little dead spot in her brain just like mine, where mapping skills should be). Then she said Eve was awesome, which, duh, but always nice to hear. Then we went back to the book fair. It was crazy busy and crowded and I had to go out in the hallway every time somebody used debit or credit again and fighting through the throngs of people wearing winter coats made me claustrophobic and panicky,  but most people were awesome and we made a metric fuckton of money for the school library and by the end of the evening everything was hilarious and math stopped working in the library for a few minutes around

Wordless Wednesday: Book Fair Day 2


Surly Tuesday: I'll Complain About the Snow if I Bloody Well Feel Like It

To everyone on Facebook saying "quit whining about the snow, it happens every year, you should be ready for it by now" - FUCK OFF. Unless you're someone I know and like, because I haven't bothered to go back and check who actually said it. If I know and like you - sod off (I'm sufficiently fired up that you still get some kind of expletive containing an 'off' directed at you, but we're still friends). A lot of things happen every year. We get colds. We get stomach bugs. I get seasonal depression. I have a snow brush in my car that has the head on the wrong way - perpendicular to the handle instead of parallel, like a toothbrush, which means that it's been designed by some disciple of Satan to pull snow down on me instead of brushing it away anywhere useful, WHY WOULD ANYONE EVEN MAKE THIS KIND OF SNOW BRUSH AND OFFER IT FOR SALE??? I claim my right to complain about all of these in a timely and spirited fashion (just ask my husband, the hapless b

Book Fair Day One

1) I thought of Nicole every time I said "the posters are five dollars each." 2) I thought "there's no way they sent us enough Frozen posters." 3) I told one grade six girl that the pointers were (also) five dollars each and she exclaimed "OH F..." and I gasped and she finished "OH FIVE, I only have FOUR, bummer!" That was exciting. 4) One little boy came back up the counter, clasping his Pokemon book and his Ninjago book, looked at me and the librarian and said 'You guys are the BEST'.  5) I only screwed up simple addition once. Maybe twice. 6) I ranted (probably for the dozenth time) that all the erasers should be the same price, and whoever added a .50 to ANY price should be shot. Or relieved of their position at Scholastic. Or made to work the book fair without a calculator. Don't even get me started on the 1.25 highlighters. 7) There are no cake pop erasers this year so we haven't had to tell an

Panic at the Movie Theatre!

Eve and I just got home from the movies ( Big Hero 6 ). We went with three of her friends and three of mine, with a not-exact breakdown of parent-to-related child ratio, which isn't really important so I'm not even sure why I just tried to figure out a way to describe it. We were all roughly in the middle of the theatre, the four girls in front of the three adult women and one adult male. Photo by Carlos Garcia |Campillo We got there pretty early because a couple of weeks ago I took Eve and her friend from next door to see The Book of Life and the theatre was super short-staffed and we didn't get into the movie until two minutes before the movie started which stresses me the fuck out and there were almost no seats left, which was okay except some douchey couple dragged their five little girls in fifteen minutes after the movie started, bustled up to the top row where we were and started calling out asking people to move so their kids could sit down, then left and sat

Re-post: Book Review: Autism's False Prophets by Paul A. Offit, M.D.

I reviewed this way back in 2009. I wish I could say, five years later, that this kind of evidence-based research has made a bigger difference. If more people would read a book or two instead of getting their science from flaky movie stars and "shocking" Facebook postings.... This   is a really well-written, timely, important book. And just thinking about it makes me tired, and sad and angry. Thinking about trying to write this review makes me tired. Because this book is well-written, timely and important, and it's completely preaching to the choir. It's not going to convince anyone who isn't already convinced, or leaning that way. The book itself contains the argument that explains why this is the case. I'm sure Paul Offit understands that he is preaching to the choir with this book, which makes it brave of him to have written it. Some people think that brave ones are the doctors and experts who say that mercury in vaccines or vaccines themselves have ca

Day 14

I really have nothing. My general existential ickiness isn't following the curve I was trying to bend it into. I did work out today, which is a small victory since I really felt like just sitting - which reminds me of an article I just read on how we should be making our kids move more and moving ourselves more other than just in small bursts of activity that we pay for, and I agreed with everything about the article except its title, which was "Sitting is Still Killing Our Kids", and that is so needlessly inflammatory and sensationalized and click-baitey it almost negates the good stuff in the article for me. I'm so sick of things being titled "Number Four Will Blow Your Mind!" and "Six Suppers Containing Spinach That Your Kids Will Devour!" and Some Really Clever Third Thing I Can't Think Of! You don't know my mind. You don't know my kids. Can we cut down on the titular hyperbole a tad? I just opened my email and Etsy sent me a Nove

Surly Thursday: Microscopic Version

You know when small stuff bugs you, and it's small, so the fact that it bugs you also kind of bugs you? Crabtree and Evelyn has discontinued my very favouritest body lotion in the whole entire world. I can't use stuff that's too greasy or I just end up needing to wash it off - I can't even go near body butter just because of the name - and I can't use stuff that's too strongly scented because it gives me a headache, but I like a faint pleasant scent. This lotion was perfect - soothing but not gloppy, with a really nice light scent. The salesperson at the C&E said a bunch of people had been asking for it and it was always extremely popular, which makes the whole thing perplexing as well as annoying. I bought this  instead, and it's okay, but slightly heavier, and the scent is nice enough but kind of disappears as soon as I walk out of the bathroom, plus Eve hates lemons so I keep thinking I'm going to be repulsive to her while wearing it. And yes,

Wordless Wednesday: Balance



It's funny, reading this post from 2010, because I was in the middle of solo parenting and NaBloPoMo then as I am now. It's sad, because Grandpa was alive then, and he's not now. I like to think he's drinking scotch and raising hell in some place that looks just like his sprawling, riotously-blooming backyard garden, sitting in a brightly painted Muskoka chair under a giant maple tree.

Mondays on the Margins. More or Less.

I've been in a weird reading place lately. My sweet spot is usually to have one fiction and one non-fiction book on the go, I try to alternate between genres and not go too long without a "broccoli book" (something that's good for me, that I usually end up enjoying more than I think I will), and when I'm in a rut I read short stories. But my focus is all over the place, and even while reading I find my mind wandering, and when I get into bed I can't decide what to pick up, and it scares me. Being a reader is such a huge part of my identity, and if depression or anxiety or getting-older hormones are disrupting that, well, that's not cool. One thing I have to watch is over-using the library. I know, that sounds stupid doesn't it? But I splurged on three or four books that I really wanted to read at the beginning of the summer and I've only read one because of this habit I have of going to the library to pick up holds and then panic-grabbing two or

Facebook Groups: Oh, the Humanity

I belong to two groups on Facebook - a "Moms in Your Area" group which I don't recall joining, I was just suddenly in it, and an "Ottawa Freecycle" group which one of my friends administrates, so it kept showing up in my feed and I asked her to add me so I could get rid of some clutter. I say "I try not to judge" a lot. It's not strictly true. I try not to judge too harshly. I try not to judge out loud too much. I try not to judge based on things that people can't help. These groups do not make that task easier. Although there are many reasonable inquiries on the first timeline - which gymnastics program is better for young children, request for hair stylist recommendation, has anybody tried the new Italian restaurant - there are also frequent indications that many of the moms in my area are of a venal, sub-intelligent, parsimonious type. First there are the "Let me Google that for you" questions: what time does Wal-Mart open?

Day 8

I'm going out with a group of friends to a comedy club for my friend Janet's birthday tonight. I'm having vexatious, near-paralyzing intrusive thoughts, and my hair, in the run-up to my haircut appointment this week, is nearing Medusa-like proportions. Basically, I'm a mess from the neck up. I'm hoping to laugh my troubles away tonight, and/or soak them off in a hot tub , with an option on burying them under an extremely jury-rigged coconut raspberry layer cake. See you tomorrow.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost. A Lot of Them Are, Though, Actually Lost.

Steph - one of my best friends who lives in my computer - said she thought it was brave that I post about depression. It was a nice thing to say, but I don't feel like it's brave. Maybe if it was twenty or thirty years ago, or if I had a job that I was afraid would be affected. Maybe if I'd ever talked about it and been met with anything but sympathy and understanding (well, I did work with one woman who regularly said of one customer - "she's crazy - I think she's on Prozac or something", but she was more clueless than anything). I feel braver (because I'm more ashamed) admitting that yesterday I said I would take my mom to the new outlet mall in Kanata, and instead of looking up where it was before we went, which I could SO EASILY have done, I relied on my GPS, which was stupid since it was a new address. I have no sense of direction, but with routine and a GPS I've been able to fake my way into being a much more confident driver than I used t

She's in Awe of Me. Clearly.

Wednesday (yesterday) was Take Our Kids to Work Day. Matt was planning to take Angus until he realized that he was going to be in Japan. He arranged for a colleague who is also a family friend to take him instead. Then his best friend's mother mentioned that she could take him to the General Hospital where she works. He really, really wanted to do this (because he wanted to see the operating room and get lectured on health and wellness, you understand, not because he'd be spending the day with his friend), but he was worried that it wasn't polite to withdraw from the other committment. We were discussing this at the dinner table and Matt said he thought it was fine for Angus to go to the hospital, we would thank the other person and let them off the hook. Then Eve said "...or he could just stay home with Mom and fold laundry - I KNOW THAT'S NOT ALL YOU DO, I REALIZED IT WAS REALLY OFFENSIVE AS SOON AS I SAID IT PLEASE DON'T TAKE MY FOOD AWAY." Then

Voice Lessons

Today's prompt on the BlogHer NaBloPoMo site is: "Do you feel you have found your voice on your blog? What techniques have you tried to develop your voice in your writing? What are some characteristics of your personality in your writing?" "Voice shape" by Jacob Whittaker Answer to first question: Hell yes. I've said it over and over again. When I tried to write short stories, I couldn't develop a credible character. I started writing a cheesy mystery romance novel once. My husband read the first few chapters and said: "She's you." I said "She is not!" He said "she's in graduate school for comparative literature and she's of Polish descent." I said "shut up, she has different coloured hair and she's plucky and confident." He said "isn't this other character just your Irony Professor?" I said "I hate you."  I wrote two short stories in six years that I thought w

Tuesday on the Margins: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

What? To make NaBloPoMo you have to crack a few eggs. Or something. This book has been floating around on my radar for a while. I'm very conscious that when I label a book post "Books 2012" or "Books 2014", this means the year I've READ the book, not the year the book was published. There are a variety of reasons I often don't read books the minute they emerge. The economic one, obviously - hardcover books are expensive, and unless it's an author I ferociously adore I don't buy hardcovers, and library queues are insanely long for new releases. There's also a touch of reverse snobbery, of which I'm not proud - I don't like reading something just because a bunch of people 'in the know' profess that it's the Next Big Thing. Then I experience this panicky backlash, where it suddenly feels like everyone in the world has read the damned thing except me, and I have to hustle to be able to offer any kind of valid opinion. It