Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Hunter

Behold, the majestic leopard in repose, licking his paws, silky coat glistening.

With great stealth, this fierce predator stalks his prey.

Eyes fixed, the leopard's concentration doesn't waver for an instant.

Finally he pounces!

And settles down for his bloody feast.

The Bellydancer's Apostrophe?!?


This is by far the worst culprit I've seen. It's on a dvd case for God's sake! Irrevocable! And it really makes me so so so sad...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Grandma Ruth

January 1, 1918 to October 31, 2005

If you remember, Halloween fell on a Monday last year. I was at work as usual, hefting my new belly around, mostly just trying to distract myself while I waited for a phone call telling me that my beloved Grandma Ruth had passed. I was down a few cubes from my own and heard a phone ring around 3 pm. My next door cube neighbour knew I was waiting for a phone call so I figured she'd tell me if it was my phone. But it was my phone. I didn't get to it on time and whoever it was didn't leave a message. When I got home later, there was a message from my mom with the news. Grandma Ruth hadn't even been sick for a week and already she had died. Somehow, she was dead sounds just too harsh, even after a year.

Grandma Ruth had had surgery on the Friday before to remove a blockage caused by bowel cancer. But we knew by Saturday morning that she wasn't recovering as well as she had in 2004 when she'd had the same surgery a month or two before our wedding. Then, she was determined to be at our wedding, and I know her recovery was partly due to her determination. She made it to our wedding and was right in the centre of our photos.

SD and I had visited her on the Saturday, to say whatever we felt we needed to say, just in case. We had tickets for a musical in Toronto, Umoja, that night, and figured we may as well just take the extra few hours to get up to Peterborough. I'm so glad we did. I wore my favourite maternity shirt, which made me look like I'd swallowed a pumpkin – it seemed particularly apt, somehow. I thought if I showed off my belly and we talked about the baby it would give her the strength to fight back to health.

Unfortunately, a lot had happened since her last surgery. Sadly, her husband, Grandpa Jack, who gave Swee'pea his middle name, died on January 14, 2005, and although it had seemed to me that Grandpa's memory loss had become a burden to her, she had told me that she was lonely without him. They had been married for something like 67 years. Also, right after Grandpa died, a good friend of hers at the retirement home also died, leaving her to sit with a couple of grumpy old biddies at lunch. During the short time between Grandpa's death and hers, she often talked about the negative people she had to eat lunch with but she couldn't be bothered asking to sit elsewhere.

It's such a cliché but when we walked into the hospital room, I was shocked at the pale, shrunken, weak old lady on the bed. She had all kinds of tubes running into and out of various body parts, and she looked so tired, you could see that just raising her eyelids, figuring out where she was and forming her mouth around words took enormous effort. But she was happy to see us. I saw her eyes widen in glee at the sight of my pregnant belly, much larger than the last time I saw her.

I remember feeling like she was already partway to heaven. I had a sense that she was hallucinating, maybe watching spirits fly around, or eating a picnic in the park, like the image in the painting that hung in her dining room and now is in our house. It felt like she consciously had to pull herself back to earth, to this room, to us.

When I started talking about the baby and how I could feel it move every day, I could see in her eyes that she knew she wasn't going to meet this baby. Her eyes held a distance. I still felt hope, but just in case I told her of our plans to make one of the baby's names Jack if it was a boy. We'd been keeping this a secret from our families but I thought she would want to know. When we told her, she looked at SD and said something, nodding her head emphatically. Unfortunately she had an oxygen mask over her mouth, and the pain meds and her exhaustion made her slur, so we couldn't really understand what she was saying. But she continued to repeat herself, so it was obviously important to her, and I think she was saying something along the lines of, “Jack often said he liked you,” to SD. Either that, or she was saying that she'd seen Jack often around the hospital room.

She was even more exhausted now, and pretty much asleep. We decided to go to the show in Toronto, because Grandma wouldn't have wanted us to miss it. She loved music and dancing. I remember when I was a teenager, I played my music for her, songs like Suck my Kiss by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Closer by Nine Inch Nails. And she just said enthusiastically, “I like the beat.”

* * *

When I was a kid, each summer I visited Grandma Ruth and Grandpa Jack. When I was really young, I visited with my older sister but when I was around 8, I started making the visit all by my big girl self. We got to ride the train, my mom accompanying me as far as Union Station, and my grandma would meet us there and take me the rest of the way to London.

I remember one time Grandma Ruth bought me one of those big bags of licorice for the train ride. And I ate the whole bag. It wasn't long before I was learning the licorice lesson the hard way, with my bowels cramping in the train's cramped bathroom, Grandma Ruth wondering outside if I would be able to escape the toilet long enough to get off at our stop. My brother learned the licorice lesson the hard way too, but without Grandma Ruth's help. He and his friend saved up their allowances and bought a huge amount of licorice. They tied each piece together until they had a licorice rope across the front yard, each boy on one end, and they ate until they reached the middle.

Another time, our train into Union Station was late and our connection to London was about to leave. She took my hand and pulled me at top speed through the station, and we made the train. She always had her lipstick with her, always a vibrant red, and it was on one of these train rides that she once made me believe she had a magic mirror in her wallet that I couldn't see. Later she confessed that she was just one of those special people who can put their lipstick on without a mirror. I felt special to discover that I was one of those people too. She was good at making me feel special.

Their apartment was on Wonderland Road, down the way from the Seven Dwarfs' Restaurant, which we always went to once each summer, because their friend owned it, and not far from Storybook Gardens, which we also went to every summer. Those 3 or 4 days I spent with them each summer were magic, and it really did seem like I was visiting some kind of Wonderland. The first thing we did when I arrived was go to to the grocery store to get all my favourite foods. I got Eggo waffles for breakfast, which my mom either didn't approve of or couldn't be bothered to buy. I could have had ice cream for breakfast every day if I'd wanted. And I have to say, this total indulgence really taught me to set my own limits after suffering more than one upset tummy while I was there.

My Grandma Ruth loved clothes and loved to shop. Every year, we always spent a day shopping at the Westmount Shopping Centre, which was within walking distance of their apartment. Writing that, I have just realized that that may have been my only experience of walking to a mall in my childhood (we lived in the country). Maybe that's where I formed my love of walking to shops. Anyways, my grandma had amazing stamina for shopping and I was always asking for mercy long before she was ready to stop. She bought me pretty much anything I wanted, much to my mom's horror. I remember when I was 12, I wanted a one-piece, leopard-print bathing suit, which had thigh holes cut up to the ribcage and a neckline that plunged to the belly button. And my grandma bought it for me. I think I only ended up wearing it once, as I soon realized that it wasn't very comfortable or practical. I think it rode up uncomfortably when I dove into the water. Later she bought me shirts that bared my midriff and skirts that went above my knees. Fairweathers was my favourite store then, and Sears was hers.

There was a pool at their apartment building, so we swam every day. My grandma loved to swim until she had her second stroke, and even did synchronized swimming, and she taught me some of the moves they did. She also belly danced for a while when she was younger. Though she confessed to me that she didn't like the music that much so she didn't stick with it.

I went through a time in my late teens and early twenties when I didn't want to visit Grandma and Grandpa anymore. Mostly because I'd started smoking, and I didn't want them to know about it; I knew they'd be disappointed in me. I also didn't want to deal with the nic fits. So my visits stopped and I only went with my parents for the occasional afternoon or an overnight.

In 2002, Grandma Ruth was in a car accident that left her in Intensive Care with a broken pelvis and other complications caused by her old body trying to cope with the trauma. We weren't sure if she was going to make it but she pulled through. Shortly after that, they moved to a retirement home in Peterborough so that my mom wouldn't have to drive three hours each way to care for them. I started visiting them more often then; we could combine visits to my parents, brother and grandparents. By this time, though, they were tired. They loved to see SD and I, but they didn't get out much anymore. Grandpa Jack's memory was failing and I don't think he ever really felt comfortable in the home; I don't think he could remember how to get around the building, so he was very dependent on Grandma Ruth. Knowing this, she didn't like to leave him; but she also didn't want to go out as much for herself. I think she suffered anxiety in cars after her accident (she was a passenger in the accident); she'd had two strokes before the broken pelvis, and I think she got tired a lot faster than she used to. Then in 2003 she started having intestinal complaints and because she had an incompetent doctor, it was summer 2004 before she was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Her doctor had just kept saying, “You're old. Of course you're not going to feel very well.”

When Grandpa Jack died, I thought she would get out more. I thought he had been holding her back. I thought this even when I was a kid. I remember once asking my mom if Grandma could come live with us when Grandpa died. As they aged, it got harder to see the indulgent loving vivacious socializers in the bent couple who seemed to live for Blue Jays' games and Lawrence Welk. Now anytime I happen to flip by Lawrence Welk, I start to cry, from all the times we drank tea and watched the show with my grandparents.

* * *

So that day in the hospital, we kissed her goodbye and we told her we loved her, and then we left. I cried all the way to Toronto, because I had a feeling that would be the last time I would see her. I was devastated at the thought that she wouldn't get to meet our little one. During the car ride though, I also realized that it would never be a good time for her to die. There would always be something I would want her to see; I would always want her in my life. And I got the sense in the hospital that she was ready to go, and who was I to want to keep her here in a failing body, missing the loved ones who'd gone before her? My brother told me after that he had asked her if she was scared, and she'd replied, “Scared of what?”

That night, with the thunderous drums and ecstatic songs of the musical, our little one kicked and prodded throughout, tattooing his own rhythm, which echoed our heartbeats, and spoke to me of the beauty of life and of the necessity of its end.

The next day Grandma Ruth started to lose her lucidity and didn't seem to have much awareness of where her physical body was. I was really glad we'd gone to visit her on Saturday because we'd talked about waiting to the next day. By Monday, my mom, her only child, felt that maybe Grandma needed some help to move on. Like she was a hot air balloon struggling to float but with one stubborn tether anchored to the ground. So she and my dad went out and bought a mini cd player and two cds of the big band music Grandma loved, to release that final tether and let her float away. She died within half an hour of them putting the music on in her hospital room.

For the rest of my pregnancy, I often had crying spells, missing Grandma Ruth, aching that she wouldn't meet this little one. But I took time to explain to the baby nestled in my womb, that my sadness had to nothing to do with him, that it was nothing to worry about, that I was just sad that he wouldn't meet his Great Grandmother. But, I said, “You still have lots of people waiting to meet you out here, who already love you, so you won't be lacking for love.”

The tears intensified in that not so delicious postpartum cocktail of one part crazy hormones, two parts severe sleep deprivation, one part miracle of life high, topped with a bit of near death labour and delivery (even if you didn't actually come near death) for colour. At times I even felt like I imagine Grandma Ruth did in the hospital room, dreamy, feeling her presence, and with a piece of me somewhere on its way to another dimension.

One of the many ladies' heads Grandma Ruth collected, which we divided among the family (this is one of ours), and the curve of a turquoise depression glass bowl she gave me years before she died. Somehow, I feel her spirit inhabits the dignity and elegance of these ladies' heads.

Grandma Ruth almost never had anything bad to say about anyone (well until she started having to eat lunch with grumpy gusses). She was an elegant woman who loved people, loved music, loved dancing, swimming, walking – anything her body could do – loved taking the train, loved nice clothes and shoes... she loved. She is remembered fondly by everyone who knew her.

It seems that autumn, especially late autumn, is a time for nostalgia, melancholy, and remembrance. It seems no accident that this is the season of the Mexican dia de los muertos, the more recent, Remembrance Day, and the more optimistic Thanksgiving. I think Her Bad Mother is onto something in her beautiful description of feeling low earlier this month:

The low of rainy days and slow melodies on trombone and falling leaves and gray sky and the earthy, musty smell of summer in decay. The low of fall, when the dark and the chill come too fast, when even the brightness of the crispest and brightest of days has a sort of stark, mournful edge. I've been feeling low, in that way. Morose.

It seems so appropriate that Grandma Ruth chose October 31 to die, on the eve of the dia de los muertos, a time of ghosts and spirits that is also a time when her loved ones can take advantage of the greying landscape and sky to be sad, but still feel warmth and cosiness against the bleakness of oncoming November.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

In Which Cinnamon Gurl Embeds Tons of Bellydancing Youtube Goodness

Well, I couldn't find a date for the Bewitching Bellydance Ball so I went with my homies, Swee'pea and Sugar Daddy. It's funny because a few women I know there were saying that they couldn't get their partners to come, but they got them to come to a party last week. I never have a hard time dragging Sugar Daddy to a belly dance show. Lemme see, he gets to watch scantily clad beautiful women do beautiful dances, which involve the beautiful shaking of their lovely booties and other assorted body parts, one bit at a time. Hmmm. Yep, I really don't get why those partners don't want to come.

Anyways, it was at the Transylvania Club in Kitchener. It was a rotten night to drive to Kitchener, rainy, cold and blustery, and Swee'pea was none too happy about it either. I had to hold his little hand all the way there or he wailed. Rather, he held my hand, rolling my fingers between his. (The drive home was worse. No amount of handholding would soothe him and he screamed the whole way as we drove through windy freezing rain type precipitation. Ugh!) As we drove, in between speculations about why Swee'pea was crying (Are you too cold? Maybe he's too hot... Maybe that adorable little lamb's costume is itchy? It didn't feel itchy when I dressed him in it but... Maybe the kiwifruit we gave him this morning upset his tummy. Maybe he's teething? That left eye tooth is SO close, it's totally bulging the gum out.) it occurred to us that maybe the Transylvania Club was actually a gothic dance club type thing. And that they wouldn't have changing facilities for Swee'pea. What were we taking him to?

When we found it eventually (both google maps and mapquest apparently made up a street name that didn't exist so it was a bit of a challenge), it was just like an Italian club but for Transylvanians. Who knew? Who knew there were enough Transylvanians in Kitchener to merit a Transylvanian Club? Of course, I guess it goes with the whole Oktoberfest thing.

Anyways, whatever was bothing Swee'pea in the car was not a problem at the show and he was a dream. He even fell asleep for the last half-hour, oblivious in the sling to the loud music and the enthusiasm of the crowd. The show was fantastic with three especially standout performances to me. First, a tribal fusion performance by Audra, a disciple of Rachel Brice, who I just discovered last week on youtube. This is Audra (not last night but at a show in Toronto last month):

I'm lovin' this tribal fusion thing, and apparently Rachel Brice is planning to do a workshop in our area in 2008. Maybe I'll have time to get in good enough shape to even learn something. Watch at least some of this compilation of youtube footage of Rachel and you'll see what I mean. This stuff is incredible.

Or check out this one of Rachel Brice's Indigo dance company:

Ok, so back to last night's show. The second highlight was Ishra's improv to Santana's Black Magic Woman. Seems she's getting a whole classic rock thing goin' on. But she was beautiful as always.

Aziza, the headliner, capped off the show with some extraordinary dancing. She has a great sense of humour, which came through again and again, and really captivated the audience. She did some moves I've never seen before, most amazing was basically a shimmy isolated in her upper abdomen. I haven't the slightest idea how she does this but it's incredible. I tried to find footage on youtube of this fluttery business but, although there's lots of Aziza, I couldn't find any of her belly shimmy. Wah.

And she doesn't just float across the stage, she zooms, like she's in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon or something. Wow. This video shows some of her sense of humour and gives you a sense of the speed she crosses a stage with, but just a hint; it's better in real life.

She also performed what she calls extreme veil, which is like poi (fire dancing) but with a veil. It was beautiful too.

Ok, so I've mentioned before that I'd love to see a belly dancer in the finals of So You Think You Can Dance. My first choice would be Ishra because I think she'd kick ass but I don't think they let Canadians on the show. So I nominate Rachel Brice. Even though she's no doubt WAY too cool to even consider something so silly, I think she'd rock the house. And she has the hot goth thing going that I think would get her some serious votes. So, Rachel, if you're out there, will you at least think about it??? You went on Regis and Kelly after all, so maybe...

* * *

And, in some blogging news, I've decided to do the NaBloPoMo. I was torn, because IzzyMom's blogging rules also spoke to me, and because I already pretty much post every day, but I want the cool picture of Yoda. So I signed up.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

More Random Notes

Edited to add just one more random note.

Municipal Politics

This morning we got a phone call with an automated message from Robert Munsch, the children's author, urging us to vote in the upcoming municipal election. You're preaching to the zealous new converts, Mr. Munsch.

In a related story, our lawn sign supporting our chosen mayoral candidate has disappeared from our yard, along with most of our neighbours'. I strongly suspect the old couple on the corner who still have their sign up for the conservative incumbent.


Speaking of neighbours, I am a total nosey parker. Sugar Daddy hates going for walks with me at dusk because I always take advantage of that time after people have turned on their lights but before they've closed their curtains to check out their wall colours and light fixtures, and whatever else I can see. It's terrible. I've nearly run into lamp posts I'm such a rubber necker.

Anyways this morning a neighbour I haven't seen before came outside to shake a small rug, and he had the one of the biggest mullets I've seen since Billy Ray Cyrus, although he couldn't hold a candle to Michael Bolton. God, I'm such a raging snob.

In other neighbourly news, our next door neighbour just bought a Toyota Matrix. And then there were three. We bought a Toyota Matrix in April when we discovered that Swee'pea would grow into a bigger, still rear facing seat, which would not fit in our poor little 20-year-old Jetta. Also, because our poor little 20-year-old Jetta, which I always meant to give a name but never did, was not very reliable. So we bought a Matrix, mostly because it's Sugar Daddy's favourite movie and we didn't discover any annoying little tics when we rented one for a weekend out of town when the PLTYOJ broke down. Our neighbours across the street bought a Matrix just over a year ago when their other car got totalled. Here a Matrix, there a Matrix, Everywhere a Matrix Matrix.

Our other next-door-neighbours are not as nice as the one with the Matrix. They have two very angry teenagers, who bellow at their parents and honk their horns on Sunday mornings. I know teenagers are angry by their very nature, but these two are Angry; the rage emanates from them like radioactivity and, yes, it scares me a little. And I'm not generally scared by teenagers. Anyways, they have a little Jack Russell and sometimes I see them when we're out for walks. And since Swee'pea was born they're much chattier. So yesterday I saw the woman and her dog while walking, and she exclaimed over how big Swee'pea is getting, and how cute he is, yadda yadda yadda. Then she tilts her head and looks coyly at me: "So, any plans for another one?" Wink wink nudge nudge.

Now, I don't have a lot of boundaries or issues with privacy, but I don't care to discuss this subject with peopple I'm barely acquainted with and don't particularly like. So I evaded the question, figuring she'd get the hint, and said, "Well, we'll just have to see..." And she looked all confused... but it was actually a very honest answer, because we haven't decided yet.

Don't Eat and Blog

I just flipped my fork and got pumpkin cheesecake square goodness all over the keyboard. I had to take a minute to lick up the big bits. I got the square at our local whole grain, organic, make-every-delicious-thing-they-sell-from-scratch-and-onsite bakery, which was crazy busy. They have new menu items every day, which they post on blackboards. It used to be when an item sold out, they just wiped it out. But now they've started putting a sold sticker on the item, which doesn't obscure the description at all, so I spent considerable time grieving for what yummy goodness was not going to meet my tummy today. Wah. But they had the pumpkin cheesecake squares still so it was all good.

Google Searches

When you find out what searches have brought people to your blog, do you ever want to reach out across the Internet and give them a hug or point them to information that might help? Over the last day or two, two searches have made me feel like doing this. Yesterday, someone came to my blog searching for "no amniotic fluid left." Obviously since the woman (I assume it's a woman 'cause Sugar Daddy has never done any research related to pregnancy or birth online... well, or at the library) has time to google, she's not in surgery, which is where I was when we discovered there was no fluid left. I don't think it's a good thing at all to discover when you're pregnant. So, I'll send her good baby wellness thoughts and hope for the best.

The other search was a couple of days ago. Her (again with the assumptions; see above) search was Help! I'm GBS positive. This was an issue that tormented me in the last few weeks of my pregnancy. So in case she searches again here's my experience and some of what I found out online. I won't go into the elementary stuff can you get that from a regular google search. But I discovered quite a bit of research that suggests that IV antibiotics in labour for GBS positive women wasn't alwas the best option. Though GBS infections went down in those cases, sometimes other life-threatening antibiotic-resistant infections went up. Also, there was some anecdotal evidence that the midwives' favourite induction technique, stretch and sweeps, seemed to increase neonatal infections. In the end, I decided not to do the stretch and sweep; I had my massage therapist massage some pressure point around my ankles and I went into labour with 12 hours. We decided to take the iv antibiotics. I had always been clear that if my water broke first, or I had any other risk factors, I would take the antibiotics. And not only did my water break very early in labour but I had meconium in it, another risk factor. And since I ended up with a fever during labour, and then a c-section, I was glad I got the antibiotics so early. And I never got a yeast infection, and neither did Swee'pea.

And a few people have found my blog looking for stuff about Al Purdy. This makes me happy. Happy that people are still looking for stuff about him, and happy that they can read the article that never got published.

It even partly makes up for the '"armpit rash" tight clothes' search that I'm in the top 10 results for.

Mr. Darcy Spammer

This is for Bubandpie... the other day we got spam from one Jamal Marin with the following text:

"i do, i do like him," she replied, with tears in her eyes, "i love him. indeed he has no improperdarcy mentioned his letter. "did it," said he, "did it soon make you think better of me? did you,
I keep wondering with spam like this, what purpose does it serve?!? There are no links to click on, no invitations to buy stock or confirm our banking/credit details...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Flashback Friday: All 80s Retro Night

Oops! Edited to add the rest of her post. Sorry, Mad Hatter!

I am so pleased to present the first ever guest blogger on Write About Here. So to introduce the fair Mad Hatter, what better way than to spread the love once more. I first discovered Mad Hatter when I did a search for accidental attachment parents, and I liked her blog immediately. She's a wonderful writer with a great librarian sense of humour that makes me feel smart because I even get some of her literary allusions, but not so smart as to get all of them. Her posts are always finely crafted, from the title to the last word. Since that discovery, I have learned that she is passionate, not just as a mother, but as a citizen and as a woman. Without further ado, I give you the Mad Hatter.

I became a feminist when I was 21, a half a lifetime ago. I was in my third year of an undergraduate degree at the University of Western Ontario majoring in English, and I must admit that my early feminist politics were more textual than sexual. During that year, I became aware of just how little of the literature I was studying was produced by women. This was the
great age of canon revision in the academy. Feminists, race scholars, working class scholars and others were just beginning to call into question the assumptions behind “great literature” and just how such assumptions excluded a vast range of exceptional artistic voices. Gilbert and Gubar had published Shakespeare’s Sisters and The Madwoman in the Attic not long before. To be a young woman on campus at that time was to notice this slip between literary theory and institutional practice and to be impatient for change. Most of the courses I took were definitely
behind the times.

Not to mention the fact that in three years of an Arts degree I had only encountered one—yes one—female professor. There was a male Canadian Literature professor in the department who wore a tie with a pig on it that carried the slogan “male chauvinist pig”; he seldom included women on his syllabus. This was Canadian literature in the mid-1980s and he included no women: no Atwood, no Laurence, no P. K. Page, no nothin’. Go figure. There was another professor of Modernism who referred to T.S. Eliot as “the real Eliot” in a deliberate sneer at the great 19th-century woman fiction writer, George Eliot. Change was on the breeze and it left many an old boy with his hackles up.

As I became aware of this reality in the academy, I started noticing it everywhere I looked. CFNY, the hip Toronto radio station at the time, had a play-list that was almost all male artists and bands. Any end-of-the year, top whatever, music countdowns seemed to exclude women altogether. This was happening in the age of Patti Smith, Chrissy Hynde, Deborah Harry, Siouxsie Sioux, Exene Cervenka, and the Go Gos. Once again, go figure. I noticed that it cost me 5 times as much to get my hair cut as it did for my male friends. My clothes were more expensive, more restrictive, and more sexualized. Movie stars were usually men or sexualized women. The rich ones were all men; Julia Roberts had not come along to put women actors into any kind of colossal income bracket. At the time, Fatal Attraction was playing in movie theatres. Men beware women. Women beware women.

In retrospect, it seems to me that my early feminism was “consumer feminism”. I saw discrimination in all cultural and consumer products. At this age I desperately wanted to see my life and my experience as a woman reflected in pop culture and so I approached cultural revision with a missionary zeal. I made all-women mixed tapes. I wore men’s clothing. I only attended foreign films at the rep cinema. I read the classics of the women’s literary tradition. (Ya, I know there are problems with this philosophy but I was very young at the time.)

It was only when I started my Master’s degree at Queen’s University in 1988 that I really began to see issues beyond my own insular academic and entertainment world. In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada’s therapeutic abortion law as unconstitutional. A short while later a young woman in Quebec, Chantale Daigle, was taken to court by an ex-boyfriend who tried to prevent her from having an abortion. Reproductive freedom became a heated, mainstream issue. Rallies were common across Canada and I found myself staunchly on the side of choice. My feminism was now one of the body politic—the body as a battle ground for autonomy and control.

During this same period trouble was brewing at Queen's. There were a number of sexual assaults on campus and for the first time ever I was afraid to walk alone at night. I had uncomfortable sexual experiences with men I had chosen to escort me-nothing too untoward but uncomfortable nonetheless. I began attending "Take Back the Night" marches.

In the fall of 1989, the university launched a "No means No" date rape awareness campaign. Date rape was a relatively new concept at the time. At Queen's, residence culture was crass and strong; a number of young men in one of the residences started mocking this campaign by posting signs in their windows: windows that faced an all-women residence; signs that carried
slogans like "No Means Kick Her in the Teeth" or "No Means Tie Her Up." When the university failed to hand down disciplinary charges to the men involved, a group of strong-willed young women on campus donned scarves to protect their identity and staged a sit-in of the University President's Office. The story made national headlines. Queen's tried to cover up the mess rather than deal with it. Feminist politics were now front and centre on this now confrontational and polarized campus.

I can say now that I have been a feminist for 20 years but in doing so I don't want to make it sound as if I have always known who I was and what was right or wrong about the world around me. I didn't know then and I still don't know. I like to think I am always evolving but I am sure there have been patches of regression along the way. When I look back now on this turbulent time, I realize that in these years what I was really doing was growing up. I was learning who I was as an individual and as a woman. I was testing out ideology and I was trying to find a way to make the world a better place and to make it a place that was a better reflection of who I was trying to become. Sure, I was short-sighted and narrow-minded in many of my beliefs but wasn't I doing exactly what one is supposed to do in university? I was growing up and trying to learn something important in the process.

And then, in the midst of all this, it was December 6, 1989 and the world changed. Forever. I have written about the Montreal massacre on my own blog but I still don't feel as if I have said what I need to say. Perhaps I never will.

In December 1989, I had just turned 24. I was a female student, a feminist, attending a sexist institution 2.5 hours down the road from l'Ecole Polytechnique. According to the terminology in the suicide note Marc Lepine pinned to his body, I was the kind of woman he intended to shoot. Most of the women he did shoot were younger than me. These particular women didn't matter to him. Most didn't even self-identify as feminists but they were like me in one key way: they simply wanted to grow up and learn something important along the way. They wanted careers and the respect of their peers. They likely wanted life partners and some if not all would have gone on to be mothers. All of them were looking forward to the end of term and a chance to be with their families over the holidays.

Marc Lepine killed 14 innocent, intelligent, vibrant, well-loved women. He also killed something deep in the soul of just about every university-educated woman my age (and many more besides). He made us afraid. He made us realize that just by being who we were, we could be objects of hate, targets for his assault rifle. He cried out in his own pain but, to this day, I refuse to believe his pain was simply that of a lunatic. His misogyny was rooted in our culture, a culture where everywhere you turn (then and now) women are seen to be less. They can still rise to token positions of power but they are not given credit for being the best: not the best literature, not the best pop stars (unless they are also unbridled sex symbols), not the best politicians, not the best in business, and not the most influential on the world stage. If they want to write about the experience of motherhood -- a topic that we all know is worthy of unending intelligent and emotional analysis, they are relegated to the style section of the national newspaper. Yes, this culture still has its systems that relegate women to the margins. A lot has changed since the 1980s but I'm still standing here looking for the voices of brilliant women outside codified spaces for discourse. And I am still having to lobby for choice.

I promised myself I would end this post with a sense of hope even though I still come up against a brick wall of despair each time I remember this period in my life. When I blogged about it back home, I built my post around the metaphor of Pandora's box. The one thing remaining in the box is, of course, hope. In that post, the hope that I had was for my daughter. In this post, I am going to shift that onus back onto myself. If I am going to raise a confident daughter with a critical mind bent on changing this world to make it better, then I need to show her that I have not and will not be defeated by all the injustices I have seen.

I need to keep my voice. I need to say, "Marc Lepine, you cannot win for I am strong, I am a feminist and our numbers our legion and our faces are as bright and myriad as a kaleidoscope. We will shine light. We will not be darkened. You cannot shoot out the lights."

Each week will feature a story that has something to do with being or becoming a woman or feminist. This series will continue until I run out of stories. Guest bloggers are welcome if you have a story you want to tell; or feel free to link to your own story in the comments.

Alas No New Grey's Anatomy Last Night

But there were two reruns, including the one with my favourite line from Callie, "This is high school with scalpels."

And can I just say that I don't find McDreamy remotely dreamy. He clearly has his head up his ass and he is not that intriguing, flawed but still irresistable character for me. That's becoming more and more Karev's department.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Today's laugh

Now I understand the purpose of a camera in your cell phone, especially since I figured out how to get the picture out of my cell phone. This made me laugh:

And, although it's extremely difficult to see in this photo (Sorry!), another example of the restauranteur's apostrophe (there is a tiny mark between the o and the s in Taco's. Trust me):

23 Things

I think the thing I love most about blogging is the lists. I don't even have to try to make seques or otherwise link all these random thoughts together, or flesh them out when I'm feeling lazy.

Things I don't like:
  1. sneezing in the shower
  2. food touching, unless it's curry, turkey dinner or bacon and eggs, except I don't eat bacon anymore. Worst culprit, lasagne and salad in a cafeteria.
  3. when Sugar Daddy takes the hand soap for his shower, to avoid the Herculean task of getting a new bar from the cupboard. Especially when I get up in the middle of the night to pee and can't find the hand soap.
  4. blue eyeshadow -- even though I saw Sarah Jessica Parker sporting gobs of it on Regis and Kelly yesterday like it was 1986. She's old enough to know better.
  5. dropping a shitload at the grocery store only to discover at home that you've missed essentials like garlic and potatoes.
  6. making belly dance costumes; worse, having to search for just the right item to complete the costume with only 2 weeks to go before I have to appear onstage in the costume.
  7. spam, even if it's from ninjaman nrs.
  8. that Swee'pea looks like a little coke baby because there is one nail I haven't been able to clip in a long time, and it just happens to be his left pinky
  9. when Swee'pea's granny visits and spends the whole time telling him to, "Speak! I wanna hear you speak! Can you say Granny? How about mama or dada? Speak! I wanna hear you talk!" Jeez, just give the kid a break.
  10. last week's exchange on ER when Abby goes to a mums' group and is told off for carrying him in a baby bjorn type thing, to which she replies, "Well I'm a doctor..." Like that can prepare you for motherhood. When the rude woman isn't impressed by that, Abby starts going on about how slings are only used as fashion accessories.
  11. that the hardest thing about the ab exercises in my belly dance class is the electric twinges in my upper back. Which is not to say that my abs are strong, but that my back is SOOOOO knotted from hefting Swee'pea around.
  12. waking up more often than Swee'pea; related to insomnia while he sleeps. Where is the justice??
Pleasant Surprise:
  1. I know that everyone loves to hate the government and the bureaucratic red tape it can wrap you in and the automated telephone hoops it can make you jump through but I have to give it credit. Remember how I applied online for Swee'pea's birth certificate last week? Well, it said it would process the request within 15 business days, and they did it within three. That birth certificate was purolated to our door Monday at noon.
Things I've been thinking about vis a vis our trip to South Africa:
  1. Will my former butt sucking habit rear its ugly head? I've quit smoking a few times over the years. But I have a real weakness for warm days on patios with cold beer and a cigarette. Last time we went to SA, we both totally succumbed and started smoking again. It didn't help that several of Sugar Daddy's family smoke, so butts were easily accessible until we gave up the charade and started buying our own packs. I really really don't want to be a smoking mother. But I still have moments of intense nostalgia for that heady combination. No Smoking!
  2. Waxing philosophical: just before our last trip, I tried a bikini wax for the first time. I thought it would be a good solution to the problem of those itchy red bumps caused by shaving, but no. Waxing gave me itchy red bumps too (trust me, it didn't make for a fun plane ride). Plus, the woman who did it was a bit weird. Not only did she get just a little too close for comfort on the lookout for renegade hairs, but she kept going on about how much she loves doing Brazilians. "Wanna a Brazilian?" "Er, no." "You just wait," she said, "you'll be back in no time begging for a Brazilian."

Love Fest or Ode to a Blogger:

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, get me a bandwagon 'cause I'm jumping on the lovefest. The blogger I'm writing about hasn't been having the greatest time lately. She's been sick, and so tired she's discovered that toothpaste and hand soap are not interchangeable, and neither is milk and orange juice on cereal. Things I love about this blogger:
  1. She also has a child who doesn't sleep through the night or in the crib. I feel a special kinship with these parents.
  2. She was among the first people to comment on my blog, and her first comment even said, "Glad I found you." I was so chuffed, I emailed that comment to Sugar Daddy at work in my excitement.
  3. She's uber cool, with all her hip slang, and funny to boot. When she commented on my blog, it was totally like the popular girl just said hi to me in the hall.
  4. I share 15 of her 100 things. Because I'm a geek, I even took note of the numbers: 4, 8, 9, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 56, 90 (except she forwards us spam: like from Nigeria seeking a bank account for millions of dollars, and spammy investment recommendations with titles like "All Capitalists -- BreakingInfo!" and incomprehensible text. I'm totally not shitting you), 92, 93, 94, 95.
  5. She writes liner notes for albums. Again with the uber cool.
  6. She was a deadhead. I wasn't a deadhead but I was friends with lots of deadheads and I like their music.
  7. She had a herd of pumpkin zombies in her yard last Halloween.
  8. So here's to penelopeto. Can't wait 'til your next post.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


It occurred to me last night that as Swee'pea approaches his 9-month birthday, he approaches a more significant milestone. Soon he will have lived outside of the womb for as long as or longer than he was inside it. I remember when he was just a couple of months old, Sugar Daddy and I talking about the whole holding him while he sleeps thing and how he made his preferences quite clear. And SD observed that even though we'd been holding him in our arms for 2 or 3 whole months, he still had a longer history of being cradled in the womb.

Today Swee'pea has been in our airy world for 37 weeks 1 day. Officially, he was in the womb for 40 weeks 3 days, but there is that whole 2 weeks they count before any identifiable Swee'pea cells actually existed. So let's say he was in there for 38 weeks 3 days.

I have to say that time seems to have sped up since he made his way to the outside world. I remember when I was pregnant, the weeks crawled by, especially the weeks in the first trimester, the weeks before I could feel his reassuring movement every day. I found out I was pregnant at 4 weeks, or 2 weeks after conception. Which is a really long time to wait. During those early weeks I tracked his development online, and I worried. The number of amazing things that have to happen to make this whole baby is mind boggling and scary as hell to consider all the things that could not quite happen. I was keenly aware that the most critical development happens in the first trimester, and that life inside me felt SO vulnerable and fragile. The milestones were carved in my mind and I waited impatiently for them to pass: reduced risk of miscarriage at 12, 15 and 20 weeks; legally viable at 24 weeks; better chance of survival at 28 weeks; even better at 34; term at 37.

In those early weeks, I thought if we could just get past those milestones, I could stop worrying. That once I could hold my healthy baby in my arms, I could stop worrying. Of course, now I know that I will never stop worrying, that it is the yoke of parents everywhere to worry about their children.

Looking back, I loved being pregnant, once I could start to feel him move every day. I loved the companionship, I loved being my own walking affirmation of life at the two funerals I had to attend. I loved putting my hand on his bum, and I loved the way I looked. Except that I know I definitely didn't love the nausea in New Orleans at 8 weeks, when we couldn't find a single place that served a decent vegetarian dish (most didn't even serve any vegetarian dish, decent or otherwise), and I didn't love the rib pain that plagued me for the last few months. (You know how most newborns' limbs curl up in the position they were in in the womb? Well, Swee'pea's didn't curl. He'd apparently kept them straight, braced against the bottom of my ribcage.)

I guess I should say that I love the memory of being pregnant. At the time I thought it was the hardest thing ever: coping with the aches and pains of a body stretched to its limit, coping with the pressure of knowing that everything I chose to consume was also consumed by Swee'pea, trying to keep up with a body changing way too fast to keep up with. Now I know that that was the easiest part of my emerging motherhood.

Anyways, back to the milestone. I see on babycenter.com that separation anxiety hits its peak around 9 months. It seems so fitting that as Swee'pea crosses the equation of time in/time out, he becomes more aware of his status as his own separate being, a momentous and scary realization. Thinking about his history in the womb, even if he can't remember it consciously, and that he is only just beginning to understand that he and I are separate, makes me feel good about the choices we have made, that he has made us make, to hold him as much as he wants and to invite him into our warm bed.

Last night when I was contemplating Swee'pea's upcoming in/out milestone, I also started considering my development as a mother. Now, when his soother falls on the floor, I may wipe it off before I put it back in. I don't ache with anxiety every time he cries. I put him to my breast without a trace of resentment or ambivalence, knowing that the time left in this part of our relationship is short. But all this brought me to a question: when did I fully become a mother? Was I mother when I was pregnant? Was I a mother when, at 5 weeks pregnant, all my symptoms disappeared and I felt sure those precious few cells had died? Would I have still been a mother if those cells had died? Was I a mother when I laid on that table, after he was pulled from my body covered in shit, and ignored the silence? Or was it when I held him for the first time and finally stopped shaking? I really don't know.

What are your thoughts on when a mother becomes a mother? Any good links to other mothers' thoughts?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


So, I was just checking out tripping the life unbalanced and reading about things that creep her out and reading the comments about what creeps other people out, when I came across the word dingleberry. Specifically, Marla from hello josephine finds it creepy to discover a dingleberry on your partner while having sex. I've never encountered this word before so I had to google it. Ewwww. Thank you Marla and Urban Dictionary for totally giving me the heebeejeebies. Oh God, but those definitions nearly woke Swee'pea up with my shaking laughter.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Finger in Every Frittata

Today Swee'pea and I went to the grocery store. I couldn't procrastinate any longer since I used up the last of Swee'pea's cereal at breakfast. We went to the big box style grocery store on the edge of town, rather than our usual one. I do this occasionally because they have a better selection of organic produce for Swee'pea. I've only gone there a handful of times so it's still disorienting, because although the same company owns both stores, they've set them up completely differently.

Some observations:
  • why do they put the specialty or deli cheeses on the completely other side of the store from the common or garden cheese in the dairy section? In as cavernous a store as this one, you can end up walking an extra half a kilometre at least if you forget.
  • why don't they have strategically placed mirrors at the ends of the aisles to prevent shopping cart carnage? You know, the kind of mirrors you see in factories where people drive fork lifts? Twice someone nearly careened into us after turning a corner at speed... this may not be such a big deal to other people but when your cart is also carrying your BABY, it matters!
  • I'd heard of white asparagus before but today I actually got a pretty good look at it, and who would seriously want to eat that??? Never mind that it probably has less than half the nutrients of green asparagus, but they look like some archaic, albino, eyeless snake that just got pulled out of a completely lightless cave... seriously creepy.
  • Not only am I obsessed with efficiency while driving but also while waiting in line at the grocery store and stacking my groceries onto the conveyor belt. Luckily Swee'pea keeps me company so I'm not so neurotic about constantly watching all the lines and jumping ship as soon as I think one could be going slightly faster than mine or have slightly fewer items ahead of them. So today I could put all my neurotic energy into making sure I used every available inch of space on the conveyor as soon as it became available. It's like tetris.
  • I saw my former manager using the self-serve checkout.
  • The cashier was really good at bagging the groceries. She kept all the diary items together (unlike the store), all the cans together, and all the produce together, even putting the heavy uncrushable cauliflower and broccoli at the bottom, and the light, crushable produce like spinach and jalapenos on top.
  • A very nice young man (god, I'm so old) helped us get our groceries to the car. I noticed his hair was styled in what I believe is called a fauxhawk. Or at least that's what the hairdresser at First Choice called it when she gave Sugar Daddy one against his will last summer. Poor Sugar Daddy said no thanks a number of times, but apparently that just wasn't enough protest for her to pay attention. And I couldn't help but notice that every single male dancer in the top 20 on So You Think You Can Dance had one... wazzup widdat? Oh - except Ben. Ben didn't have a fauxhawk.
  • It all seemed great until we got to the car and I discovered our honking great big ATV of a BROKEN stroller taking up most of the trunk. Oh yeah, I put it there instead of letting it fill our front hall and block our front door, because why have a BROKEN stroller taking up space in your house. Yes, much better to have it taking up space in your car. You can see the logic that has resulted in our house being overrun with clutter. Luckily, the nice young man managed to slot the grocery bags around the stroller, also like tetris.
  • Altogether, a much more successful trip than last time.
  • When I got home, I discovered that someone found my blog while searching for "zooper stroller falling apart broken." Yep, they came to the right place for that. I'm even ranked #2 for that search. Glad to know we're not alone.
  • After I checked my stats, I started making a frittata and roasted potatoes while Sugar Daddy did the dishes and Swee'pea played in his exersaucer. I sliced into my thumb while slicing up some onion. Just before I cut myself, I was watching my knife move, thinking, "Boy I hope Sugar Daddy is watching my slicing technique because he'd be impressed. Yep, what great technique I learned from Jamie Oliver."
  • Sugar Daddy made me wash the cut and get a bandaid. When I came back into the kitchen, I checked the onion for blood (there was none), and Sugar Daddy replied with some relief, "Oh, so there's no finger in the frittata."

* * *
A few housekeeping items:

This weekend I went looking for the floppy disk I used in my last semester of uni. I didn't find it but I did find a letter I wrote to Dave during one of our knock-down drag-out nearly-break-up fights about making a commitment. The letter was dated just over a year before our wedding. At the end of it: "I drew a rune, hoping for clarity ["Should I stay or should I go now?"]. As usual, it only confused me." I drew Inguz, and these were notes I made:
  • fertility, new beginnings
  • embodies the need to share, the yearning to be desired
  • preparation for change
  • requires completion
  • may involve getting out of a rut or relationship
  • from closed chrysalis to opened state

Tonight we moved the vcr to the top of the tv so that Swee'pea will stop trying to pull it on top of his head. We also moved the videos, including the wet video head cleaner. Which reminded me of the time my mother-in-law caught sight of it. She asked Sugar Daddy, "Is that some kind of porn?" (I cringe at the google searches that will lead people here now.)

The Last 40 Years

There were three great articles in the Toronto Star this weekend about feminism, where we are and where we've been. If you haven't already been there, check them out: first, second, what we've learned in 40 years, and third, what we still have to learn.

Oh - and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the articles... comment or link to your own blog? I haven't had a chance to read it all and I have to go out now, but I will share my thoughts as soon as they are available...

No More Baby Bibliophile

For the last few weeks, Swee'pea has been obsessively chewing any books, especially board books, he can get his teeth into. On Friday night, we discovered that this may not be the most benign passtime for him and it may be time for us to set some limits.

In other news, our flights are booked to South Africa in January and Swee'pea will definitely celebrate his first birthday there. As you can see, he is already deciding what exciting things he wants to do while we're there.

I'm kind of pleased that this trip is the result of Swee'pea telling us he wanted to go.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Photo Essay: Why a long, hot soak in my Victoria clawfoot tub is not as relaxing as it sounds

Exhibit A: Not only two kinds of shitty old wall coverings, but they even occur on the same wall.

Exhibit B: Shitty electrician did a shitty job installing the extractor fan and took 8 shitty months to do it. I made sure to take a few additional shitty months to pay for the shitty job until he shittily threatened to "take [shitty] legal action." (Please don't comment on the grunge around the intake holes... please! I already know we're slobs.)

Exhibit C: Same shitty electrician did equally shitty job installing new shitty outlet. (Actually, it's unfair to call the outlet shitty. It's done a fine job. It's just the hole it was plugged into that's shitty.)

Exhibit D: Former owners apparently used shitty latex paint to 'freshen up' the bathroom before selling it to us. That's ok, we made the latex paint mistake on our kitchen cupboards just before we moved in.

Here is a close-up:

Exhibit E: Some kind of stain coming through the shitty latex paint as a result of the moisture that the shitty extractor fan doesn't seem to extract.

And I am just NOT going to post photos of our bathroom floor on the Internet. I do have some pride. Just trust me: there isn't much variation on this theme.

God, we are so bourgeois. (Further evidence of our bourgeoisie: the cords plugged into the shitty outlet are for our electric toothbrushes. What have we come to?!?)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sign Language

This made my day last week, except that it was so small:

And this awkward sign is just kinda weird:

Say that ten times fast...

Upon discussion, Sugar and I decided that it would be awkward to word it any other way though... "Park Parking Only" wouldn't be much clearer, nor would "Parking for the Park" or "Only Park for the Park." Seems to me the powers that be should consider just letting anybody park there. I mean, really, how would they know if you're actually in the park?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Burn Baby Burn

Cool. I just got tagged for the first time. Before this, I just picked memes I wanted to do and did them. Funnily enough, reading Bubandpie's, I started out thinking this might be kind of fun to do, but as I continued, I thought, no, it would just repeat most of what Bubandpie has said, especially the sleeping super powers. But since Bubandpie tagged me, I guess I will just need to go to the extra effort required not to repeat her. Oh, and I had to have extensive discussions with Sugar Daddy, because I so many answers have been just outside of my mental reach.

1. You can flip a switch that will wipe any band or musical artist out of existence. Which one will it be?

Pussy Cat Dolls. Every time I see them on Ellen (and the number of times that has happened clearly indicates that sometimes Ellen is led by her crotch in deciding who to have on her show) they make me growl. And then I end up with that song that shall not be named doing the broken record thing in my head. Arrrggghhh!

2. You have the opportunity to sleep with the movie celebrity of your choice. We are talking no-strings-attached sex and it can only happen once. Who is the lucky celebrity of your choice?

It's really too bad that this is narrowed to movies. My memory is failing... tv I could do... But since it has to be a movie star, I guess maybe Heath Ledger. I don't think I've seen any of his movies but I did see an interview with him and when asked what the best thing that came out of making Brokeback Mountain was, he said his two favourite girls entering his life: his wife and then their 3-month-old daughter. That answer and his accent make him yummy in my opinion.

3. You have the opportunity to sleep with the music-celebrity of your choice. Who do you pick?

When I was 14, I would have chosen Vanilla Ice, but luckily I've seen the light since then. Mind you, it's been a long time since I've really paid attention to the sexiness (or lack thereof) of the musicians I listen to. Upon reflection though, I choose Lenny Kravitz.

Yeah, I don't think I need to explain this one.

4. Now that you’ve slept with two different people in a row, you seem to be having an excellent day because you just came across a hundred-dollar bill on the sidewalk. Holy shit, a hundred bucks! How are you gonna spend it?

These. Well, they're actually more than $100 but I'd chip in the extra. Or a cheap stroller to replace our freakin' expensive broken one. Arrrgh.

5. You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you gonna go?

Well, since we're already going to South Africa in January (Whoopee!), my second choice would be Italy I think. Or Namibia... ooh, or Turkey... Ok, I'll stop. Let's just stick with Italy.

6. Upon arrival to the aforementioned location, you get off the plane and discover another hundred-dollar bill. Shit! Now that you are in the new location, what are you gonna do?

Well, after I do what Bubandpie did, I'd buy some venetian glass. I doubt $100 would get me one of those but I could probably at least get some glass jewellry or beads.

7. The Angel of Death has descended upon you. Fortunately, the Angel of Death is pretty cool and in a good mood, and it offers you a half-hour to do whatever you want before you bite it. Whatcha gonna do in that half-hour?

Ah, hello?!? Sleep with Lenny Kravitz and Heath Ledger, of course. Actually, maybe I'd do something that I'd be too scared to do without knowing I was gonna die soon anyways... something like hanging on one those swingy, cable thingies through the canopy of a rainforest?

8. You accidentally eat some radioactive vegetables. They were good, and what’s even cooler is that they endow you with the super-power of your choice! What’s it gonna be?

Well, since Bubandpie already took sleeping, I think maybe I would like to be able to make other people, especially babies, sleep for any length of time and location I choose.

9. You can re-live any point of time in your life. The time-span can only be a half-hour, though. What half-hour of your past would you like to experience again?

I know this is disgustingly sweet, but I think I would want to relive part of my wedding. I think it would actually be walking down the grassy 'aisle,' seeing all the people who were there for the sole purpose of wishing us well and welcoming us into our families, seeing Sugar Daddy looking pretty damn pleased with himself and me, then going through the ceremony and being pleasantly surprised with the wonderful words and rituals we had chosen for the ceremony months before.

Only this time, I would put the ring on his left ring finger, instead of jamming it near-permanently on his right.

10. Rufus appears out of nowhere with a time-traveling phone booth. You can go anytime in the PAST. What time are you traveling to and what are you going to do when you get there?

I think I would want to be a young adult in the early seventies, carefree, riding the rising disco wave. I don't think I have the temperament to be a cokehead but I could sure enjoy drunken revelry and disco inferno dancing. I think I would like the phone booth to also remove my pragmatism because I doubt it would have much place in the seventies.

11. You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?

The horrible horrible horrible food poisoning incident of 1998, which began as I finished a big bag of Doritos and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, a movie which could induce vomiting all on its own in some individuals. It was years before I could so much as look at the cover of this movie at my local video store without feeling intense nausea. I will spare you the details, but I will say that I lost so much fluid from my body that I literally did not pee for two days afterwards.

You could probably argue that most bad experiences in your life ended up providing worthwhile lessons and/or perspectives. But not this one, not food poisoning. I don't even know what the offending food was...

12. You got kicked out of the country for being a time-traveling heathen who sleeps with celebrities and has super-powers. But check out this cool shit… you can move to anywhere else in the world! Bitchin’! What country are you going to live in now?

This one's a no brainer: South Africa, more specifically Cape Town.

13. The constant absorption of magical moonbeams mixed with the radioactive vegetables you consumed earlier has given you the ability to resurrect the dead famous-person of your choice. So which celebrity will you bring back to life?

Kurt Cobain... because I still can't believe he's finished making music.

14. What’s your theme song?

Again, Bubandpie got a good one with Tubthumping... so instead I pick:

"Disco Inferno" by The Tramps. And I know why the caged bird sings -- I mean why the song is called disco inferno: because it's like 12 minutes long and if you request it at a dance club, like I did, and the dj is nice/desperate enough to play it, you too will burn baby burn.

Sorry, I think I got a bit carried away with the photos. But it was fun. Thanks Bubandpie.

Oh - and does this mean I get to tag someone else? If so, I tag penelopto and Mad Hatter. Though it may not be exactly Mad Hatter's thing, I'd love to see what she comes up with.

Hair Apparent

Yes, this is the Flashback Friday: Feminist Edition but I couldn't resist using that title. I am hesitant to post this, because who wants to read about puberty and body hair? But then I think about how many commercials are on tv involving various forms of hair removal and wonder if maybe my hesitation is just a hangover from puberty and a reluctance to revisit that horrible awkwardness and insecurity. So here it is, and please let me know if I've overshared.

Puberty was a painful time for me; I believe it's when I began to perfect my skills in denial. When I saw hairs appear under my arm, I thought if I ignored them, no one would notice. This strategy worked until the first time I went swimming, when my friend noticed immediately. I'd actually managed to forget about them until she pointed them out. So I decided to trim them with scissors; I didn't want to use a razor because the thought scared me, it would be admitting that I had hair to shave, and because everyone knew that as soon as you started shaving you'd develop thick black stubble, no matter what colour the original hair was. I can't remember when I actually started shaving my armpits, but I remember the first time I shaved my legs.

In grade 8, we all wore cut-off jean shorts for gym class, and all the girls tried to avoid getting sweaty. Darlene Gillan, who was Popular (yes with a capital P) and had a fantastic upswish of bangs that I was totally jealous of (my hair was frizzy and never went in any direction I wanted it to); well actually half of her bangs were curled up and half came down over her forehead in the way that all the Popular girls did their hair in 1989. Anyways, for some reason she had started to speak to me occasionally. Maybe it was because I had a special way of pissing off our teacher, Mr. Smith, that would make him turn red and bellow for me to go out in the hall with just a twitch of one eyebrow. So one day I was sitting next to her in gym class and somehow the conversation turned to shaving legs. She looked at my hairy limbs in shock, and was all like, “You mean, you don't shave your legs?!?” And I was all like, “Well, I thought maybe it wasn't a big deal since the hairs are blonde but whatever...”

That day I went home and shaved my legs, with a razor and everything. There was about an hour between when I got home and when my mom got home so I did it then. For some reason I really didn't want my mom to know. Unfortunately I cut myself on that rough bit of skin above the heel, the place around the same level as your ankle. And my mom, who was a friggin' detective and had eyes like a hawk, noticed the cut and asked what it was from. And I was all like, “Oh, you know, the cat scratched it.” Trying to be nonchalant but failing misrably. And she was all like, “Really. That's funny because it doesn't look like a cat scratch.” Busted. I went into a long and involved story about how I was stepping over the cat when he scratched me, blah blah blah, but she wasn't buying it. The bottom line is I was mortified to be singled out for something as gauche as not shaving my legs and then doubly mortified to have my mom discover that I was *shudder* becoming a woman.


Each week, I will tell a story that has something to do with being or becoming a woman or feminist. This series will continue until I run out of stories. Guest bloggers are welcome if you have a story you want to tell; or feel free to link to your own story in the comments. Next week, I'm hoping Mad Hatter will share a story... Mad Hatter: will you please?

Fave Grey's Anatomy quote from last night

I really enjoyed last night's episode. I loved the stuff about Bailey and ambivalence in motherhood. And there was a lot to choose from for favourite quote. Last week, I had a hard time coming up with anything. I've narrowed down this week's selection to two:

Alex: [If I had millions of dollars] "I'd buy the Bahamas. Or at least A Bahama."


Callie to McSteamy: "You were sexier when you weren't talking."

* * *

Unfortunately, insomnia appears to be becoming a habit for me. Yesterday, as you can see from my post, I discovered youtube, and watched many videos of belly dancing. So when I went to bed and closed my eyes, I just kept seeing belly dancing hips, jangling coins on hip scarves, and graceful hands; or I was dancing myself (in my head, obviously).

Thursday, October 19, 2006

That Boy Can Move!

This past weekend, my friends in Invoke-Tress danced at a show in Toronto featuring Tito, a male belly dancer. I had thought that a male belly dancer would be silly or a bit gay, since the dance form has always been for and about women. Though I missed his show, I have just found some videos of him on youtube, and he is just a master! That boy can move! Here is a taste... if you have little ones sleeping near you, turn down your volume first.

Apparently at the show in Toronto, he danced on a tabla drum and went up and down the aisles, ON THE DRUM! Here is an example of him dancing on a drum.

And I forgot to mention that I too will be dancing at the Mish Mash Belly Bash.

and another thing

Well, actually a few another things...

Swee'pea bit my breast yesterday. He wasn't even nursing when he did it. He was upset and I knew he was tired but I thought he might also be hungry so I offered him the breast. And he bit it. The pain jolted through me and it took me a second to realize what had happened, like when I accidentally touched an electric fence in my youth.

Last night, Swee'pea had hysterics when Sugar Daddy kept repeating, "SpongeBob SquarePants." I tried to make him laugh doing the same thing but it didn't work. It has to be Sugar Daddy.

And, Em from three times three has posted travel tips for how to survive a crazy long flight with kids, especially for me. She's had three kids in three different countries so she should know. Thanks!!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

blip in blogging => productivity

Wow, I can get a lot done when I don't write on my blog. Today was amazingly productive, but also kind of dizzying, and now I can't sleep. Some highlights:
  1. called the public health about travel immunizations, especially for Swee'pea;
  2. made an appointment for Swee'pea's 9-month check-up and made sure a note was put in his file to discuss timing of 12-month immunizations since we will likely be in SA for his first birthday (how cool is that?)
  3. applied online for Swee'pea's birth certificate in preparation in applying for a passport
  4. walked downtown and picked up applications for passports for all three of us (ours will expire shortly after we return so I think we probably need them updated before we go
  5. discovered on above walk that the stroller (a Zooper Boogie) is missing an essential bolt and is falling apart; it's been leaning hard to the right and the frame has started looking warped for the last week or so; we made it home in one piece.
  6. drove to two (!) fabric stores looking for a veil for choreography we will be performing in June
  7. stopped by two (!) camera shops to learn about digital SLRs in preparation for my big 3-0 birthday party
  8. washed the dishes (twice!) and cooked dinner
  9. went to belly dance, almost on time
Ok, so that was boring but I'm awfully proud of myself. In more interesting news, mark your calendars if you'll be in the Guelph area on November 11. It's the fourth annual Mish Mash Belly Bash, Ishra's fusion belly dance show. It's always great with lots of beautiful dancers and usually at least one singer too. Ishra has told me that she will be dancing a double-veil (very difficult!) jazz fusion to Led Zepellin. It's the at the Cooperators Hall at the River Run Centre. Tickets are $25 and available at the River Run Box Office.

I also may be looking for a date to see Haft Vadi's Bewitching Bellydance Ball on October 28 in Kitchener. I'm hoping Sugar Daddy will hang out with Swee'pea and let me out on the town... tickets are $20 for that show.

And finally, via billets-doux, a webcam at a waterhole in South Africa. It looks a lot like the waterhole at Addo National Park, which we visited in 2005. This afternoon when I watched, nothing was happening in sight of the camera but the birds were singing and one in particular, a bit like a mourning dove or a pigeon but with a song unlike any I've heard in Canada, totally transported me back to the rondavel we stayed in at a great B&B outside the park (this is the very one we stayed in).

This morning, I also got obsessed with trying to capture the total cuteness of Swee'pea's chubby little toes. These are my favourites:

Vanity Plates, Vanity Cars?

Is it me, or is there a disproportionate number of PT Cruisers with personalized licensed plates?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Fog Blog

Ah yes, blog karma, also known as pride comes before a fall, or never say that things are finally ok with your little one(s) without knocking on wood. After yesterday's, "I've accepted that I have a wakeful baby," and "I like sleeping with him," last night was awful. Swee'pea woke up about 8 kazillion times. I thought the first part of the night was awful when he woke up like 4 or 5 times before midnight. But it got worse. It got so he would cry or whimper, fall asleep again, cry again about 30 seconds later, thrash around, go still, cry again about a minute later, etc.

I nearly lost it around 3 am when I woke up hoping it was morning so that we could give up on this crazy charade. I got up and went to the bathroom because I needed some space, then decided to come downstairs and check my stats, and get a drink of water. I went back to bed, where Swee'pea was somewhat peaceful and tried to squeeze myself onto the last 5 inches of bed without disturbing him. He woke up again, though, and decided to start practicing his latest favourite sounds: the lip smacking I taught him yesterday (boy am I sorry now), and various 'words' starting with b, alternately bellowed with great force (and volume) or whispered as a puff of air:

"BOUWAH, bois, bah bah, BWAAAY, bowah, bah, bois, pa pa..."

When I wasn't trying to comfort him, I was clinging to the edge of the bed, which is luckily just a mattress on the floor so we don't need to worry about Swee'pea rolling out. Now I realize it serves a more important purpose: I don't need to worry so much about me falling out either.

When I did manage to fall asleep, my dreams were troubled. In one, I was with my family, trying to retrieve all of my niece's and nephew's toys from an old house with basically no roof, very little floor, and a whole lot of mould, spiders, spiderwebs and even snakes, where my mom had cleverly stashed them for safe keeping while their house was renovated or something. My brother was frustrated and yelling; I was trying to avoid the creepy-crawlies; everyone else was rushing around trying not to fall through a hole. In another dream, Sugar Daddy was very upset to discover that he was losing his hair; he had the same amount of hair as Swee'pea does now and it was still falling out; tiny hairs covered his shirt. There was another troubled dream too but I can't remember it now; I think it was something to do with walking past a bunch of snakes, small pale quick ones and enormous sleeping constrictors.

So yeah, it was a long night, and I felt like I was a smurf on a hike to Gargamel's or Big Nose's or wherever they were going when all the young smurfs (smurves?) continually ask, "Are we there yet Papa Smurf?" How about now? "Are we there yet Papa Smurf?" "How much longer, Papa Smurf?" I have no idea why Swee'pea was waking up so much (maybe it's teeth?). But judging from the bluish shadows under his eyes, I don't think he enjoyed himself either. And although Sugar Daddy was acting like he slept right through all this, apparently he didn't, as he mostly just growled around the kitchen this morning until he left for work. When I said, "Hey Grumpy Gus, I didn't ask for last night. It's not my fault." He said, "I'm not doing this to punish you. It's just that last night was fuckin' awful and I feel like shit." And he left.

* * *

When we got up, we entered a new dimension: the Cheerios dimension, where our floors are littered with them; whole and dry, broken and soggy, ground to dust underfoot, crushed to mush and stuck to our shoes, socks or bare feet. Yes, we gave Swee'pea Cheerios for the first time this morning. He picked them up but I don't think he ever actually got any into his mouth. Mostly he picked them up in his fist and dropped them into his lap where they rolled onto the floor. Occasionally, I took pity and put one in his mouth for him. Then he would looked faintly perplexed, brow furrowed and nostrils flared as he tentatively mouthed it until it dissolved and he swallowed it. Through my sleep-deprived fog, I could see that it was actually quite cute. When he 'chewed' the Cheerio, his mouth made soft little smacking sounds like I would imagine a fish would make if fish could survive in air and we could hear their mouths opening and closing.

Monday, October 16, 2006

In the Denist's Chair

Today I went to the dentist. The dental hygienist told me:
  • to floss more (big surprise -- I get that every time)
  • night feedings can cause tooth decay once babies have teeth (Swee'pea has 2 teeth)
  • I'm supposed to be brushing Swee'pea's teeth already
I discovered something else for the first time. When you are getting your teeth cleaned you are at the complete mercy of the hygienist. She can subject you to all kinds of verbal torment (to say nothing of the other oral torments). Usually the hygienist chats away about something we may have in common. Typically I enjoy the one-sided chat, or at least I don't mind it, and even contribute my own thoughts here and there when the sharp instruments are removed from my mouth. But not today. Today I was subjected to the thoughts of one [relatively ignorant] mother on how to deal with sleep issues. Which is funny [peculiar not ha ha] because although I have been obsessed with these sleep issues and solving them in the past, I am no longer. I accept that I have a wakeful baby with an intensely curious, sociable and cheerful nature who cannot bear to be left out. I accept that it will likely be years before he sleeps through the night, and probably longer than that before I do. So now we're just in survival mode, or as Bubandpie calls it, "do whatever makes life easier now and let later worry about itself." If you wanted to get all new-agey about it, you could also call it In the Moment Parenting.

When I told the hygienist that Swee'pea is a very wakeful baby and that he sleeps with us and therefore has free access to the tooth-rotting, all-night milk bar, she assumed that it was making me miserable. What I would have said if she hadn't been wielding sharp implements in my mouth follows.

She said, "Don't worry, it gets better." (I'm actually just fine with the way things are. We've figured out how to make things work for our family.)

And "Have you read any books?" (Oh, honey, I think I've just about read them all.)

"Because I read one book and decided not to read any others because I really needed a clear head." (That's a clear head??)

"The one book I read that worked for me was The Baby Whisperer." (I hated that book. It made me feel guilty for our in the moment parenting philosophy, and the author's not even a parent. I won't link to the Amazon page for the book, because in my opinion it is a Bad Book.)

"Have you tried putting him in the crib?" (Yes, we did for months and it was making us all miserable. We've been much happier since we stopped trying.)

"Have you tried lately? You could try again." (No thanks.)

"I have a friend who slept with her son until he was about a year, then she started putting him in the crib. So your son will probably sleep in the crib then." (I actually like sleeping with him. I know that around 4 months I was desperate to get him to sleep in the crib, but I like sleeping with him now. I think we may do it until he's ready for a toddler bed.)

She said more annoying stuff while she poked and prodded my gums but this is just getting boring. I think I may be developing a fear of dentists now.

Oh yeah - and in the spirit of In the Moment Parenting, we may be able to put something in the boy's mouth and make some actions resembling brushing his teeth, but we will definitely not be giving up those night feedings yet. I mean, those teeth aren't even permanent. How important can they be?

* * *

In other news, I'm starting to get more excited about our upcoming trip to South Africa. We already almost have our flights booked. While looking for accommodation I found this unfortunate wording:
... lovely sunny lounge and Victorian fireplace, quaint dining alcove and well-fitted kitchenette oozes old world charm with modern conveniences...
I have an old house. I know how old world charm can ooze. And I don't think I want that on vacation.