Thursday, December 18, 2008

another one about Swee'pea and the radio

After I picked Swee'pea up at daycare today, we went to the grocery store to pick up a few necessities. "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails came on, and I realized it might have been close to a decade since the last time I heard it. I own the cd, but "Closer" was really always a club song for me. Anyways, I cranked it and sang along, badly and loudly (except for the f-word, since Swee'pea was in the backseat). I did wonder if this would be another scary cookie monster song for him, but hoped for the best.

"Help me," goes the song at one point. "Help me. Help me get away from myself."

We parked and I just sat there, waiting for the song to end.

"Help me," called Swee'pea from the backseat.

"What do you want help with?" I asked, not catching on to the echo.

"Help me get out of the car."

Walking across the parking lot, I found myself still singing the chorus: "Help me."

Swee'pea said, "I like that song!" He giggled then sang, "Help me!"

Sunday, December 14, 2008

our Christmas elf

Yesterday we got a tree, and pulled out the box of ornaments and stuff. We decided to wait to decorate the tree until we got some more lights this morning, and left the box out. While Sugar D cooked dinner, and I dabbled on the computer, Swee'pea played quietly behind me. I turned around and saw this:

christmas elf

Friday, December 12, 2008

morning rush

By the time Swee'pea and I got in the car this morning (because we were too late to walk and I had a 9 a.m. meeting, which was at risk even with the car), I was pretty much vibrating from headache and rush and irritability. I mean, how many times does one have to ask a toddler to do something like put boots on or a toque??? I hate that I'm constantly at Swee'pea to hurry up, quick, quick, focus, just FOCUS on the task at hand, would you? and do it.

I flipped some radio channels in the car, and soon heard the first few chords from "Come as you are" by Nirvana. I turned it up and started ,yelling singing along. It was just like being 15 again, and amazingly it felt good. It felt good just to sink into rage and self-loathing without apology, to feel 16 again. I had a moment when I wondered what Swee'pea thought, unusually silent in the backseat, but I didn't really care. I mean, I was singing. Singing can't be scary, can it?

The song ended as we pulled into Swee'pea's daycare. After I turned the car off, Swee'pea said, "That music was scary.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because it sounded like Cookie Monster."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

cheap greeting cards ending soon

Just wanted to let you know that as of January 1, 2009, I'll be increasing the price of my photo art cards from $3.99 each (less if you buy packs of 12 or 24) to $4.99. So you might want to take advantage of this extremely cheap price before I do.

Also -- I'm giving something away to interested Americans over at peripheralvision.

Monday, December 08, 2008

while I'm on the subject...

I suspect yesterday's squash soup is actually quite good. But sadly, it's still too sweet for me, despite two cups of vegetable stock and several generous splashes of white wine vinegar. This sweet-savoury aversion is a REAL handicap. I think I'll just have to freeze it all and let Sugar D take it for a month of lunches. I'd donate it to the drop-in centre, but many folks thought I was nuts for enjoying the pumpkin soup so much, so I suspect sweet squash soup wouldn't go over well. Besides, how popular is someone for bringing in something they cooked but can't stand the taste of???

* * *

When I started this blog, I immediately covered it with google ads, convinced it would be the ticket to my working from home and, eventually, living for six months in South Africa and six months here, never having to experience cold again. It didn't canvas shopping bag of food), along with my thoughts:

PC Celebration Sparkling De-alcholized Wine, Blanc - I don't much care for sparkling wine with alcohol, so I doubt I'll be trying this one... maybe I should find a pregnant woman to invite over for New Years.

PC Decadent Hot Chocolate - haven't tried it yet, but it's the real stuff you add to milk.

PC Peach and Mango Salsa - Hey, there was peach and mango salsa in the box? I must have stuck it in the fridge before I realized. I probably won't like it (sweet-savoury aversion and all), but I bet Sugar D will be ALL over it...

PC Memories of Fuiji 3 Mushroom Sauce - probably won't try it because I don't really like crazy weird mushrooms and somehow this just makes me think of hoisin sauce, which I hate (see sweet-savoury aversion above).

PC Lingonberry Sauce - Sugar D had it in some yogurt. Said it mostly tasted like cranberry sauce.

PC Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels w/ Sea Salt - Yum! If you scrape off the salt crystals. Otherwise the salty flavour lingers long after the chocolatey caramel goodness.

PC Black Olive & Fig Tepanade - saving it for a party.

PC Dark Chocolate Candy Cane Bark - not bad but a little more toothpastey than I generally like my chocolate.

PC Biscuits for Cheese - Swee'pea went so cuckoo for these mixed crackers I barely got a taste in before they disappeared. Not bad. I'll probably get them for our next party so I don't end up with half-empty boxes of crackers I don't like.

PC Fruit Cake with Single Malt Whisky - I hate fruitcake but Sugar D, the resident fruitcake aficionado, said this was pretty good: moist, nice flavour, just not as dark as he would have liked.

So that's that. I kept my word, and only need to feel a little bit weird for pimping my space.

* * *

On Friday night, we moved Swee'pea's double bed away from his window, because we'd noticed a nasty cold draft coming in. I thought maybe that would reduce or shorten or maybe even eliminate??? his night-time visits to our bed. (No joy there by the way.)

The next night, as I was putting him to bed, he said, "Oh noooo! There's a draft coming in the window!"

He wasn't placated when I told him it wouldn't bother him across the room in his bed: "It's scary! The draft is scary!"

Which is when I explained that a draft is just cold air... He still talks about the draft but at least it's not scary anymore.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

squash soup

My hands are orange and sore from cutting up a huge butternut squash. It's one of those bright wintry days that look really nice from inside a cosy house, but feel like a son of a bitch when the wind blows ice crystals into your face. Everything is coated with a powdery, pristine blanket of snow, so it's almost painfully bright in our living room with the wall of window. I can barely read the computer screen.

Yesterday at the drop-in centre, we served a fantastic pumpkin soup. Gingery, garlicky, smooth but not too smooth, it was delicious. Sadly, nobody knows who donated it or where I might find the recipe. So today I am attempting a butternut squash soup with the flavours I think I tasted (onion, a bit of celery and carrot, fresh ginger and garlic, and turmeric -- I'll add a bit of cream at the end I think). It's simmering now.

Last weekend I went hunting for new recipes. We've been in a bit of a cooking funk lately -- for months, really -- and I need to find new things to cook, things that don't depend on cheese and pasta, because that gets old pretty quick when you eat it four nights a week. But I realized we have a significant handicap: there are a lot of vegetables I don't like, or that I only like rarely with specific and careful preparation (that I don't know how to do). Eggplant falls into the latter category, and all the autumn vegetables fall into the former - squash, turnip, carrots by themselves, sweet potato, rutabaga, parsnips, fennel. Oh and I don't like bizarre, slippery-feeling mushrooms either. Which writes off almost all the recipes in my cookbooks that I haven't already tried. Sugar D doesn't like brussels sprouts, and I don't think lima beans don't really count as a vegetable.

Wow, that was fast -- the squash is already cooked! Apparently, butternut squash takes longer to peel and chop than it does to cook. Regardless, it smells fantastic. Now I just need to put it in the blender, which could prove hazardous since Swee'pea is napping.

Oh crap. I just tasted it - it's way too sweet. (I also hate sweet and savoury flavour combinations - probably why I hate all those root veggies.) Anyone know how to cut the sweetness? Vinegar? Salt? Add more stock to thin it out? Help!

Which was not what I was going to ask for help with. But it will do for now. Help?

Thursday, December 04, 2008


The second anniversary of the Just Posts is coming up very soon.

It was through the Just Posts that I read something about all the women in Africa suffering from fistula, which is preventable and treatable. Yesterday one of my favourite photography blogs led me to this multimedia presentation about a hospital in Nigeria that treats women with fistula. Go watch it; it's beautiful. (Just click on multimedia when you get there.)

* * *
This anniversary is also making me reflect on how the Just Posts have changed my life. On the first Just Post, I pledged to sponsor a child through Help Lesotho and I actually set it up six months later (I know, I suck. But at least I did it, even if it was disgustingly late. And we're still doing it.)

On the first anniversary last December, I pledged to volunteer two hours a month somewhere. I decided on the Drop In Centre, and after my first morning there, I immediately decided to make it two hours a week (give or take a weekend out of town or of illness). I'm still going strong on that.

Last January, I also started selling my prints online and donating at least 50% of the proceeds to the Stephen Lewis Foundation. I've donated more than $200 now from the sale of my prints.

Last Friday I got the following message from the foundation:
It is said that the international financial turmoil will undermine the work of agencies like ours. Supposedly there’ll be no money around for charitable purposes. My colleagues and I refuse to accept that. We work from the premise that the struggle against AIDS will not be sacrificed on the altar of financial turbulence.

So we’re defying the odds. And we’re asking you to do the same. In fact, we’re asking you to do more. We’re asking you to join us in a new fundraising campaign called “TURNING THE TIDE”.

It’s our conviction that so much has been accomplished on the ground in Africa, for grandmothers and orphans and women in particular, that if we can fund every worthy proposal, we can turn the tide of the AIDS pandemic at the grassroots.

People will say that the timing is all wrong. We say, to the devil with the timing. We’re on the cusp of bringing hope to thousands upon thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS. Please join us.
It makes sense to me that charitable organizations could be among the worst hit by the global financial downturn. And it makes even more sense to me that we not let it. (So c'mon, buy a print or a calendar? They make great gifts! Or how about just donate to a charity you believe in...)

* * *

So now what? I feel I need to mark this anniversary by doing something more. But I can't think what. Any ideas???

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Not one hour after I wrote about Swee'pea's capacity for tenderness, he punched a little girl in the face at his daycare. I don't think it could have been too hard because she didn't cry but she did lose her balance. Swee'pea was utterly unapologetic. He said he didn't want her to come to his cubby -- which, given we were at the front door, was nowhere near the poor girl.


blue eyes

This past weekend, I went out to a party. I said goodbye to you and asked for a hug and a kiss. You hugged me and presented your cheek for my kiss, then pulled away. "I want to kiss you," you said, and I consented. So you placed your hands on either side of my face, and slowly pressed your lips to my forehead. Your capacity for tenderness is a salve.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Guess what?

I have calendars for sale now. And I've committed to donating all the proceeds ($9.50 for ever calendar) to the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Read more...

so many suckers on my sacro-illiac*

Apparently I let my backbone slide.

Guess what exercises I need to do to support my sacro-illiac and prevent it from slipping out again? Kiegels.


* With apologies to Maestro Fresh Wes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ugh. I have several posts in draft, but all of them are stupid. Not that that's stopped me from publishing before, but... I don't have much to say. I put my back out Saturday morning while vacuuming of all things so I've been sitting around a lot this weekend, but not in front of the computer because that hurts. I've also been watching a whole lot of Angel.

Anyways, all this to say that peripheral vision was nominated for a Canadian Blog Award in the category of best photo/art blog. Go vote if you want. Now I'm going to try to find a massage therapist with an opening today.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


On Saturday I volunteered at the drop-in centre for the first time in a few weeks. And you know what? I was missed! The minute I got there, Lucille was all, "Where have you BEEN the last few weeks?" I felt bad that I didn't call, but I felt really good they noticed. Is that shitty? Whatever... I used to call to let them know if I was going to miss a shift, but I was never sure the message got through, and nobody seemed to notice anyways, so I sort of stopped.

Anyways, I was missed. And it felt good. The Book Guy is leaving town this week, going to BC, and he's been trying to give me back In the Skin of a Lion, which I lent him a while back. I wished him well, and gave him one of my photo cards. I hope things go better for him there than they have here.

Another man, who I haven't seen for a month or more, also commented on my absence. So I commented on his and he said he went to Scotland. I don't know whether to believe him at face value or if it's a euphemism for a hospital stay or something.

Friday, November 14, 2008

best laid plans and all that

Some days maybe it's better just to listen to your gut and stay home. I took today off and dropped Swee'pea off at daycare with the intention of taking my camera to the drop in centre. But once I dropped him off, I had cold feet. For one reason and another I haven't been to the centre in a few weeks, and I started to feel scared and self-conscious about just showing up with my camera. But since this was what I'd taken the day off to do, I made myself go. I figured I was just being silly, and once I got there I'd be fine.

On the way out my door, I had sudden misgivings. I have a brand-new winter coat. How can I go there in my brand-new winter coat? What if someone asks where or how I got it? I can't possibly admit it cost nearly $300. But it's my coat, so I wore it.

Sure enough, the first person to greet me comments first on my hair -- for once it is down and really long and big. Next he asks me about my coat - is it really made of titanium? I look to where he's pointing, and see the word on the sleeve. God, I'm such an ass where this stupid coat. I chuckle, "No, I think it's just the brand."

I end up having some really nice conversations, mostly with people I've photographed before. I ask them for more pictures, because the overcast light is soft and the sky is reflected in their eyes, but they all refuse. As I left, memory card blank, I wondered if maybe I should just quit this project. Maybe it's just not the right project for me.

So I go to the used bookstore, which had a gigantic red SALE sign on its wall yesterday. I'll feel better if I just buy more books, if I can just learn enough to feel comfortable. I pick out two books, The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard and Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir, edited by William Zinsser, whose On Writing Well I already own. I rant internally about the price of even used paperbacks on my way to the cash register. Once there, the sales dude tells me they're on sale: one is 25% off and the other is 50% off. Oh, right. The whole sale thing that brought me in in the first place. I was too busy doubting myself and feeling stupid to remember.

So I go back to the shelves. May as well take advantage. And I pick up three more titles: Homesick by Jenny Lauren, another memoir of eating disorders (I haven't yet blogged about the anthology I read a few weeks back on the same topic), Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn, a memoir by a man who met his father while working in a homeless shelter, and Eudora Welty Photographs.

So a slight change in plans. Rather than spend the day on photography, I'll spend the rest of it reading. I still have to finish Gabor Maté's In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts.


Sometimes it's the strangest, most insignificant moments when time slows down and I notice everything, all the details of the world outside of me AND the details inside. Yesterday, one of those moments happened, driving my friend's SUV. A man was waiting to cross the street, a man I've seen at the Drop In Centre. I first noticed him because he's exactly the kind of hippie-looking guy I fell for when I was younger: long brown hair, intelligent eyes, long, sharp nose, pretty full beard that somehow echoes the same sharpness and angles of his whole face. He had a black eye the first time I saw him, and he always keeps his hood up. He seems like a loner, at least in the context of the centre. He doesn't drink coffee, so I only really engage with him at meal times when I'm too busy serving everyone to chat. He's always very gracious, makes sure to thank us after he's eaten. He winked at me once, after I smiled at him, and my body responded with a teenage jolt.

Anyways, it was him waiting to cross the street. And I cringed, hoping he wouldn't recognize me in the SUV with the toddler in the back seat. I had to slow down for a pick-up truck that two young men were pushing into the traffic. The guy at the back was wearing a white tank-top and jeans, no jacket despite it being November, and he's really straining to move that beast. Whatever's in the back of the truck is covered with a tarp, lumpy from the cargo. The second guy has the driver's door open, and he's pushing while he steers. He's wearing a sweater. And these boys are working their asses off.

In this moment, I'm all adolescent uncertainty. Not sure if I should stop to make sure I don't hit the pick-up or just keep going since there are two lanes and they should be in the one I'm not. But mostly I just want to keep driving so the cute guy from the Drop In Centre doesn't see the frumpy mum I really am.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

not sure where this post is going but I'm tired of typing

This stuff makes me so angry. Especially the people who are trying to argue that it's unhealthy for a child to suck on boobs that have just been in a chlorinated pool. Showering in hot, chlorinated water for 15 minutes, your skin absorbs way more chlorine than drinking vast quantities of chlorinated water. Our breastmilk is full of crazy chemicals thanks to all the shit that just floats around. So really, I think it's just fine for a mother to choose to breastfeed in a pool (her boobs were out of the water, by the way).

Some commenters say they don't understand why the mother didn't just get out of the pool. After all, the viewing lounge is perfectly comfortable. But I know why. When you're mothering an infant, all adult conversation is precious. And if it's taking place in a pool, I sure as hell wouldn't want to leave it. After all, breastfeeding is the perfect time for good conversation, because the baby's not squawking.

But more than that stupid smoke and mirrors argument, I really, really, really hate the assholes who say things like, "Well you can't pee or poo or reproduce in the pool so why should it be ok to breastfeed?" Um, because peeing, pooing and reproducing do not FEED YOUR CHILD.

Or the assholes who say, "I'm quite certain that nobody would like it if I changed out of my bathing suit and into my street clothes on the pool deck." Yes, because changing into street clothes does not FEED YOUR CHILD.

And don't even get me started on Bill Maher's stupid masturbation comparison. It's not because breastfeeding is natural. It's because it's FEEDING YOUR CHILD. And breastfeeding is really, really fucking hard work, and any opportunity to be part of a community, each moment in a conversation with people doing the same fucking hard work, holds a mother that much closer to sanity. It was my experience that breastfeeding specifically, and motherhood more generally, pushed me to the edge of my sanity. And until our culture recognizes it for the very hard work it is, until we truly value motherhood not just pay it lip service, this stupid shit will keep happening over and over.

* * *

Last week I peed on a stick. In fact, I peed on two sticks, just to make sure. That's what happens when I have several days of intense fatigue, mild queasiness, sore boobs, and sudden queues of people asking me if I'm pregnant. (I'm not.) At first I was terrified at the prospect. But within hours I was pretty ok with it all, even a little excited at the possibility. The thing is, I think I do want a second child. But I don't want to have to decide when the right time is. So a surprise would be kind of perfect, because then you're just dealing with the reality, not creating it.

A few days after the pee-stick, it occurred to me that there will never be a perfect time for bringing another child into this world. Now that I know how hard mothering an infant really is, deciding to mother a second will probably always scare me. I'll never truly be ready for it. There will always be things I'd rather do than be nauseous for four months, have trouble breathing for four more, and then have raw nipples and sleep in milk puddles. Not to mention the fear and anxiety and general uncertainty of the whole affair.

So I made my case to Sugar D, my case of hey it's never gonna feel easy or right so let's just do away with the condoms, how about? But he's not having any of it, at least not right now. Which is sorta kinda ok with me. Maybe even a bit of a relief. For the moment, anyways.

Monday, November 10, 2008

purple roses

The coffins were in the basement. The stairs down there were carpeted with a thick underpad but the steps were narrow and steep, and I was six months pregnant. Upright coffins lined the walls, while others lay, open, on stands in the middle of the floor. There were shiny white melamine ones, which I thought were horrible, and many wooden ones, all shiny, except for an unfinished pine number that they kept a little hidden. My mom remembered her client, the one who had no family. He lived alone in an old farm house, rich from development deals, although you'd never it know it from his life or home. The executor of his estate refused to pay for a decent coffin, so the old man was buried in one of those pine coffins. Only my mom, her colleague, and the old man's neighbour attended. It was shameful, she always said. In fact, it was this very funeral director who carried out the executor's instructions, despite his own misgivings. That's how my mom met him; they ranted together about the injustice of it.

I'd never helped pick out a coffin before. It was easy to narrow it down to two, but hard to choose between them. I think we ended up with a cherry one, of a similar colour to my grandpa's old bedroom set, now in my bedroom. But I can't remember for sure.

My mom was an only child, so she could only look to her own children for help in carrying out the myriad tasks involved with burying her last parent. Her mother, my grandma Ruth. My sister and I picked out flowers for the arrangements.

Everything my grandma brought into her house was pink or purple, almost exclusively. Mauve was her very favourite colour. Yvonne, the village florist, remembered my grandma from her visits. When my sister and I came, she pulled out a bucket of the most perfect roses from the fridge with the sliding glass doors. Mauve or lilac, I don't know what the difference between them would be, except lilac sounds so much nicer, like spring instead of mauve's retirement homes. The roses were just perfect, barely open. I'd never before seen roses this colour, and haven't since either. Like they were grown just to honour my grandma's passing.

I can't remember what outfit we picked out for her. I remember having two or three options, and I remember being sad that they seemed so much more grave than the outfits she wore when I was a kid on summer vacation, before the strokes and the car accident and all her friends dying. I think we went with a lilac cardigan that had embroidered flowers in one corner. We even had to bring a bra and panties to the funeral home, which seemed somehow obscene. Although I guess when I think about it, the folks at the funeral home had already been more intimate with her body; putting on her underwear and fastening her bra would be nothing to them.

All this was just so impossibly mundane, all this dealing with the earthly. It would be so much simpler if all of her had just floated away. Except of course, we'd keep hoping, waiting for her to come back, if we didn't have the body to focus on, the body that was so obviously not her anymore.

* * *

I kept two of those roses, the ones that seemed to have been grown just for my grandma. I hung them in the basement when we got home, next to the musty old red rose from my grandpa's funeral less than a year before. I'd never dried flowers before, but I took a guess, and wrapped the stems with an elastic band, and hung them from a nail sticking out of the low rafter. I didn't know what to do with them, where to put them more permanently. I only noticed them when they tickled my hair on the way to the laundry tub.

* * *

The night before our moving day, Swee'pea was in bed. I was packing in our kitchen and Sugar D was clearing out the basement. He came upstairs to ask me what to do with those roses, and I said I'd go down to take care of them. But I never did. I forgot. If the movers didn't knock their petals flying, then surely the new owners have cleared them out. They looked like death anyways.

* * *

ANYA: (crying) I don't understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she's, (sniffling) there's just a body, and I don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead anymore. It's stupid. It's mortal and stupid. (still teary) And, and Xander's crying and not talking, and, and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever, and she'll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.

I was reminded of those abandoned roses while watching "The Body," which is one of my favourite episodes of Buffy. All that silence. And Anya's speech, that speech made me love her and her ex-demon-ness more than ever. Then, in "Forever," when Buffy has to choose a coffin, that room looked just like the basement room in my memory. I watched those episodes early in October, and I decided to write a post for my grandma on Halloween, the third anniversary of her death. But any time I've had a moment to myself in the last few weeks, I had no words left for anything. So here we are, 10 days late.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Shortly after I met Sugar D, I started having horrible gastrointestinal attacks. I'd been having gastrointestinal complaints for a couple of years already, but after I met Sugar D, sudden, intense, and long-lasting nausea joined the parade of symptoms. The attacks came on without warning. One minute I'd be fine, the next I'd feel like I was going to be horribly, violently ill. Often they occurred at restaurants, right after dinner, and I'd either be trapped in the washroom or race home in a cab. Either option was hugely embarrassing, especially if my dinner companions weren't particularly close friends.

A number of factors were at play in those attacks: poor diet, too much booze and stress, undiagnosed panic and anxiety. I've already written, at length, about how I overcame panic and anxiety. Or so I thought. On Thursday night I had another attack - the first in many, many years. Out of nowhere, I felt nauseous and shaky and terrified. I'd been talking to my mom earlier in the day and she told me how she had a stomach bug. I thought about all the people at my work who have had recent stomach bugs. I realized if I got sick that night, I'd be totally screwed because I had something important on at work the next day, something I'd been working on for months. So when I started to feel nauseous I was terrified that it was actually happening.

Once I realized how scared I was, I decided it must be panic. So I pulled out my usual bag of tricks for managing panic. Usually just recognizing it for what it is is enough, but not this time. I tried the tapping thing. I tried a happy place. I tried relaxing my muscles. I tried waiting. But nothing worked. It lasted hours - hours of nausea, shaking, trips to the toilet, sips of water, and wondering if perhaps I actually was sick. The ghosts of Wretched Past flitted in front of my eyes, all the grotty floors I've been intimate with. Finally, around 9:45 (two and a half hours after it started), I decided to take some Lorazepam. I've never actually taken it for a panic attack before, only for prevention on solo flights. But I had it, so I thought I might as well take it. It took an hour to take effect, and even then, I still felt sick, I just wasn't terrified. So it was an improvement. I slept - mostly - through the night and woke in the morning with no vomiting having taken place.

I went to work, relieved I could make it, but still the worse for wear. I felt crappy all day, and crappier once I got home in the evening. The day was a success, work-wise, as far as I could tell, but I was exhausted. I don't think panic is the only culprit for Thursday night. Given how crappy I felt the next day, physically, and how the physical crappiness has continued over the weekend, I figure it must have been a combination of exhaustion and panic (caused or ennabled by the exhaustion).

I've been working flat out for the last six weeks. From the moment I arrive at my desk until I race out to pick up Swee'pea, I'm on one long adrenaline trip of not having enough time to get everything done that needs to be done and not being able to delegate anything. So Thursday night was my wake-up call. If I don't set some boundaries at work, I'm going to end up the way I was before: feeling mildly ill all the time and violently ill sometimes, afraid to eat, afraid to be full, afraid to leave home. I know enough to know I'm not exaggerating. I thought that kind of attack would never happen again because I could control my anxiety and panic, but I took for granted the balance and wellness required for that kind of control.

So this weekend is my sick day. I've been trying to take it easy at home for the last few weeks, during my time off, but the bottom line is that 8 hours (or 9 if you count the rushed drop-offs and pick-ups at daycare) of adrenaline every day is just too much for a body to recover from - for my body anyways. I've never felt this way at work before, never been this busy before.

No more.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

SYTYCD Canada stuff

I actually do have a more serious post in the works, but first I wanted to share with you one of my favourite couples on SYTYCD Canada: Lisa and Vincent. Here are two reasons why:

And while I'm on the subject: I want to see more House on SYTYCD! AND how about a contemporary routine to "Record Body Count" by the Rheostatics? I think that would kick ass. How about more Cancon generally in the music?

If these videos break my blog for you, be patient, I'll take them down in a few days.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

public service

Well it's already been a week since I finished Buffy and I haven't returned the dvds yet. I'm just not ready to let them go. I think I may have to ask for the whole series for Christmas or something, just so I know I'll be able to watch them whenever I want (HINT, HINT, Sugar D). I think I will watch Angel, soon, and then I'll just have to watch Buffy all over again. It's that good.

For the Buffyheads who visit, you probably already knew that there's an entire field of academic inquiry dedicated to Buffy Studies. Did you know there are entire periodicals dedicated to Buffy Studies? Like Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies, which is on issue 26 and still going strong, five years AFTER the series ended. Crazy, eh?

There's even a virtual season six of Angel. And not only have I seen Spike action figures for sale, but I've seen a Spike bust AND a Spike flip lighter.

So here's where you find the season 8 comics, and the complete series on dvd is only $180 on Amazon (I saw each season for sale for $50 a season, which adds up to like $350!).

Hopefully this marks the end of my blogging about Buffy.

Friday, October 31, 2008

what do I do now?

Well, it was inevitable really. Last night I finished Buffy. And here I am on a Friday night, not sure what to do. Do I rewatch some of the episodes I still have in my possession? Do I surf online now that I don't have to worry about spoilers? (But shit I'm handicapped for not having seen Angel. I just saw a reference to a relationship between Angel and Cordelia - WTF?!? That is SO unnatural! My eyes! My eyes! Maybe that's enough web-surfing.)

Do I catch up on all the tv I missed? Edit the photos I took in my class last night of some very kind and beautiful and tattooed models? Try to persuade Sugar D to bleach his hair and find a long black trench coat? (He said he rather fancies himself in a black trench coat but only because of The Matrix. Nothing to do with Buffy of course.) Try to start some discussion here about whether Buffy is a feminist icon? Maybe check out the reported season 8 in graphic novel format? Or find Dr. Horrible? I just don't know. It all feels so empty now.

[SPOILER ALERT if you haven't seen Buffy]

I'm still feeling kind of raw. Today at work, I had a bunch of meetings, and my mind kept wandering to the series finale and Spike, and my eyes would get all prickly and my chest would get all tight, and I'd have to drag my thoughts back to the room just so I wouldn't make an ass of myself. I just wasn't prepared for Spike dying. I accidentally read somewhere online that Spike continued his role on Angel, so I thought he was the most likely to survive. I'm still clinging to the possibility that he somehow managed to survive.

I'd been planning to take a break before tackling Angel, to recapture some of my life. Maybe even wait until Janna comes home in February (fat chance), but now I'm going to have to watch on the faint hope that Spike will show up later in the series.

Anyways, now you're all free to share your innermost thoughts about Buffy... did you like the way it ended? I think I did. I just wish Spike hadn't been all, "No you don't." And I wish Andrew had died instead of Anya -- although I did really like Andrew.

And since it's Halloween, here is our jack-o-lantern (I think Sugar D outdid himself this year), and our little trick-or-treater.




Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: the morning commute

Pictures from the walk to work-slash-Swee'pea's-daycare, a couple of weeks ago.

graffiti'd garbage



And ack! I only have five more episodes of Buffy to watch! I'm torn between wanting to see what happens next and not wanting it to end.

Monday, October 27, 2008

this is your brain on 2 1/2 years of sleep deprivation

Another shitty morning after another shitty night.

Last week at the market, I saw a woman with her newborn son. Someone asked her if he was sleeping better, and she said, "Not really. He's still waking every two hours. I guess it's just a phase he's going through." He was 10 weeks old.

And because I'm me, I had to share my truth with her, that my son woke every two hours until at least 14 months, and even now doesn't sleep through the night very often. "My son woke up every two hours for -" I started to speak, but I just couldn't go through with it. "... A very long time," I finished weakly. I laboured through Swee'pea's entire infancy believing that a good night's sleep was just around the corner. If someone had told me then that it could be years before I could depend on a four-hour stretch of sleep, I might have been in danger of doing something drastic.

* * *
The stretch of two nights in a row I last blogged about? It lasted a month. A month of being able to stretch out in sleep, of waking up on my own, a month of peace. A month without ambivalence, without constant, unfillable hunger. I was a bit disturbed that we'd done nothing differently, that it was all completely beyond my control. And I knew it was too good to be true, I knew it couldn't last. But with every good week, I thought we were that much closer to putting the sleeplessness to rest. I started to wonder how I would revise the little about me bit here, the bit that says my son is a lousy sleeper. I never imagined we'd have another whole month and a half of shitty nights. And now we're worse off than before, because now I know how good it can be, I know how good *I* can be.

Back when Swee'pea was a baby, I thought the secret to him sleeping through the night would be getting him to fall asleep on his own. That's what all the books said. But I can tell you from personal experience that that is total bullshit. Most nights he falls asleep by himself, but that doesn't stop him from waking up within a few hours and demanding to get into our bed, even if we ourselves haven't gone to bed yet. Then he'll wake up screaming to have his socks put on or taken off or to change his pyjamas, or to find his soother, or give him another soother, just to hold. Sometimes he bellows like an autocrat, "Lie on your back!" (so he can rub my belly more easily). Sometimes he screams for reasons I can't figure out.

Last night at 4:30 am, he was screaming for socks (his dad had taken them off when he changed him out his wet diaper and pyjamas), and I lost it (not the first time). I yelled at him: "Stop screaming! If you're going to scream, do it in your own bed. Mommy and daddy's bed is only for quiet indoor voices." The middle of the night is not a good time for me; I think all my night-time patience dried up with my milk. These days, however, after so many interrupted nights, the daytime isn't great either. I'm resentful and impatient, I yell at the slightest provocation and disengage at the first opportunity, running to the computer for some kind of connection, some kind of relief, but never quite finding it.

I find myself rationalizing my daytime distance the way I did when he was a baby. That he's chosen to demand my attention while sleeping and he doesn't demand it while awake. Or that it's just until I finish Buffy, then life can get back to normal. But I think Buffy is just a friendly escape.

So... please help. Give me your best advice. How can I get more uninterrupted, solitary sleep?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

in which I try and fail to channel Bea

I'm beginning to think I have a thing for vampires. I'm well into season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer now and I love Spike. (WARNING: If you haven't seen Buffy and you think you might want to, I'm pretty sure spoilers will follow.)

For the first three seasons, I crushed on Angel with an embarrassing intensity. He was so sweet and loving and tortured (except of course when he was evil), and his taut torso didn't hurt either. I was not impressed when he decided to end things for Buffy's sake. I don't much care for that kind of condescension in a romantic relationship.

When Riley first came on the scene, I thought he might make an interesting love interest for Buffy, mostly because he didn't notice her for so long and that might be appealing for her. But as soon as they got together I was bored; he was so available and needy. The part where he wants her to cry in front of him was especially annoying. If he really loved her he would have respected her needs and supported her in the way she wants supporting. I kept thinking that he had to come back, but he never did... perhaps he never will (fingers crossed).

Which brings me to Spike, my new embarrassing crush. It occurred to me this morning, as I was walking to work (yes I think about Buffy most of the time I'm not watching it - got a problem with that?), that I think I even like him better than Angel. I've always had this idea that the series would end with Angel becoming human and he and Buffy riding into the sunset. But if that happened right now, I'd totally want her to pick Spike. Compared to Angel, Spike's so multi-dimensional, he looks like a geodesic dome next to Angel's flat scrap of cardboard. (Of course I say this not having watched a single episode of Angel, so for me he's mostly been left behind by the series. Maybe it's not fair to compare them when everyone on the show has become more dimensional over the seasons.)

In season one, I was overwhelmed by the similarities with Harry Potter, except that Harry was a girl and a couple years older. From the school setting and the teachers that could be good or evil to the arch-villain conniving to return to full power and destroy the world, the similarities were remarkable. But within a few seasons I could barely remember that I'd once thought Buffy was just like Harry Potter.

In Harry Potter's world, people might be misled into believing that someone is in a different camp than they actually were, but there isn't a lot of ambiguity; people are either wholly good or wholly evil. You might argue Sirius Black was ambiguous, but that was only because of a misrepresentation. The fact remains that Sirius is all good. The only other possible ambiguous character is Mad-Eye Moonie (shit is that his name? I have a terrible memory for details I read in books!), but the ambiguity only arose because of an evil imposter.

In Buffy's world, once upon a time (like in season one), good and evil are clearly defined. Even when Angel turns evil, he's 100% evil without a shred of goodness left. By season 4, that dichotomy starts to change. We see that demons can be victimized, and humans can be evil. Buffy begins to explore her own darkness, and that first slayer seems pretty evil the first time we see her (end of season four?).

Where I'm at in the series right now, none of the main characters fall neatly into good or evil categories. In season five, Spike is capable of great love and great creepiness. He makes me more ambivalent than any other character in the show. I *should* hate him because he can be so abusive and stalker-y but even when he's at max creep factor, I still just want Buffy to love him. I melt when he looks at her all lovey-dovey, and he always comes through in the end. And he's a lot funnier than Angel.

Of course, nobody can comment on this, because anyone who's seen Buffy will be worried about giving away the future, and anyone who hasn't, well they stopped reading in the first paragraph. Plus they probably don't have a lot to say on the subject. So I'm not really sure what the point of any of this is. I guess it's just to purge some of the obsession from my brain? Thank goodness I only have another season and a half to go. Then life - and blogging - can get back to normal.

Edited to add: Aw, man! Seriously? The episode I watched RIGHT after posting this? Riley came back. And Buffy dumped Spike; she seemed pretty serious this time, different. Now I'm sad.

Wordless Wednesday: Autumn

grumpy gus



Monday, October 20, 2008


That boy whose picture I posted last time? You wouldn't know it from the picture, but he asked me to take it. He totally mugged for the camera, and I love his expressive forehead.

The first time I had my camera in the smoking area, he commented, "Nice camera." I thought, "Oh shit, he knows it's expensive. I'm busted." I said, "Thanks."

In retrospect I think he was trying to invite me to take his picture, but I didn't clue in, and I didn't want to intrude. We haven't really developed a friendship yet.

But last time I was shooting there, someone else suggested I take the boy's picture, and I said I'd love to, but I didn't want to approach him; again, I didn't want to intrude. Finally, he jerked his head at me and said, "Hey, why don't you take my picture."

So I did, with enthusiasm.

* * *

On Saturday at the Drop In Centre, I showed T. his pictures. I recounted his comments over at my other blog, but here's something I didn't say there. I told him that eventually I'd like to have enough pictures to make an exhibition or a book, and when I asked him if that would be cool with him he said, "Yeah, that's fine. It's like you're doing a family tree, like you're looking into your history."

I didn't know what to make of that. Maybe that is what I'm doing?

* * *

Another man always wears his headphones and sunglasses, like he'd rather not have any sensory input from this place. Apparently there is a no sunglasses rule at the Drop In Centre. I didn't know. But this man was finally coaxed out of his sunglasses, and his eyes were beautiful and alien. For months I've only known him with shades and headphones, and underneath he has brown eyes. He seems much friendlier with the shades.

He said something to me that I didn't quite hear. Something like, "You can tell you work up at the university." When I indicated I hadn't heard, he asked, "Do you ever go to the university?"

I said, "I went there back when I went to school there."

He asked me what I studied and I replied English.

He didn't say anything and walked away, having finished with the milk and sugar for his tea. I wondered if he studied there too, or what he thought of me. I've been getting more comfortable, letting big words come out of my mouth with more frequency. I suppose that's what he was getting at.

I've decided that it's ok for me to be rich. As long as I'm grateful and acknowledge the extreme good fortune I've had my entire life. If being poor isn't something to be ashamed of then surely being rich isn't either?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I went shooting at the Drop In Centre again, if you're interested... no obligation to click of course. If you are interested in this stuff, you might want to subscribe to my other blog, because I post more often than I link to from here. Mind you, I have been noticing a snafu on bloglines with my feeds there so it might not help... oh well.

As a teaser, here is a pic I didn't post over there because I didn't process it until today. I love it.


Monday, October 13, 2008


or, why I'm not voting conservative


Eight conservative signs in front of a four-car garage. Can you get any more excessive?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

we interrupt this hissy quit

Well, I'm coming out of my hissy quit (thanks for the perfect term, Mad) just to say this:

If you are not watching So You Think You Can Dance Canada, you should be. Even if you're not Canadian (although I have no idea how you'll find it...).

Tonight was the first night I wasn't aching to watch Buffy, or scheming how to fit in a little Buffy around the commercials or skipping other tv shows altogether. I suspect I have the sudden appearance of a 14-year-old sister of Buffy's to thank for that. I mean seriously? You didn't think we'd notice that we'd never seen her in the house before??? (Don't give me any spoilers -- I've only watched the first two eps of season 5.)

But back to SYTYCD Canada. Already, I don't want anyone to get eliminated, which has never happened to me in any of the four US seasons. The Canadian version is better than the American for a few others reasons. We got to the know the top 20 in the auditions, all 20 of them. I picked out Arassay, Bre, Dario and Nico as must makes from their very first auditions, whereas in the States, you often don't even see the first auditions of the top 20. And there were barely any assholes auditioning. AND there are several 29-year-olds competing. I'm quite certain there was barely anybody in the US competitions over 25. And French Canadians -- you can't get those in the States!

I have not felt this patriotic since I was probably 10. I mean, not only are the top 20 dancers all AWESOME, but the choreographers are awesome too. The contemporary piece tonight that Lisa and Vincent danced? Could rival ANYTHING from Mia Michaels. Who knew Canada had such a raging dance industry? I read somewhere that the Toronto auditions brought our more dancers than any city in the US. When you consider the fact that the US has ten times the population we do, it's incredible to even be in the same ballpark of absolute numbers, never mind hitting bigger ones.

So, if you're not watching, why the hell not? And if you are, who are your faves? Mine are Dario, Nico, Allie and Arassay.

Doh! [slaps forehead] I just realized that I could have VOTED last night! The most important benefit of the whole Canadian thing!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

it's not you it's me

I think I'm going to take a break from blogging here for a bit, focus on some other endeavours. In the meantime, I finally found a way to share this slideshow I made with you. The song is "Encountering the Crippled Elephant" by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

wordless wednesday

youmoving, shaking

my interpretation of "Moving, Shaking" by the Great Lake Swimmers.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A coworker called me kind today. I don't think anyone has ever called me kind, certainly not at work. Neurotic, confident, warm, smart, assertive, annoying -- sure. But kind? It's unprecedented. And really nice.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

the deal

OZ: We should figure out what kinda deal this is. I mean, is it a-a gathering, a shindig or a hootenanny?

CORDELIA: What's the difference?

OZ: Well, a gathering is brie, mellow song stylings; shindig, dip, less mellow song stylings, perhaps a large amount of malt beverage; and hootenanny, well, it's chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny.

XANDER: Well, I hate brie.

Yesterday we had a party. I'm still trying to figure out what kind of a deal it was. I mean, we had brie (which I actually don't really like but lots of other people do) and the song stylings were relatively mellow, but we also had several 2-year-olds so it was chock full of hoot. And there were definitely a few malt beverages.

It was a last-minute affair; I just decided to have a party on Friday when I saw the nice forecast for yesterday. If we'd had more notice I would have invited some bloggy peeps.

All summer long, my goal was to have a housewarming party before the end of September so we could enjoy the yard. This house really felt like a party house, like Burt Reynolds's house in Boogie Nights. But the issues we've had since we got possession kind of put a damper on my party visions, and I started to wonder why I wanted to have a party so badly anyways. I mean, who needs a party when you have seven seasons of Buffy to watch?

Unfortunately, the party segregated early on. None of my old friends have children, and the new friends do so they split along old/childless:new/childful lines. Which meant that I couldn't really catch up with the old friends OR get to know the new folks. After a while, the only old friends I have with kids showed up and provided a bit of a bridge between the groups. I felt all angsty about it last night after everyone left, but maybe that's just always how the host feels? Like they didn't get a chance to visit with everyone? And maybe people just have a good time anyways. That's the view I'm choosing to take.

As usual when I'm in the room, Myers Briggs came up. And you know what? They were almost ALL idealists (NFs) like me. Idealists are pretty thin on the ground at my work -- I only know of one, who is of course great to work with. No wonder I feel a bit out of place there. But discovering all the idealists I invited to the party made me realize that perhaps it's not so much that I need to make new friends, as that I have to reconnect with old friends.

The evening wound up pretty early in party terms, which was just fine with me. [Spoiler alert for potential Buffy watchers.] Earlier in the day it suddenly struck me that Buffy and Angel can never really be together again, now that they know what will happen if he ever experiences true happiness. How awful is that?!? Anyways, after everyone left and Swee'pea settled into bed, I popped my latest Buffy dvd in. It skipped so much I gave up on it. I'd rather wait until my new friend at work can give me her copies on Monday than miss any crucial scenes that involve Angel. Yes, I know I have a problem.

Friday, September 19, 2008


On the way to work and daycare is a mansion. It’s newer but blocky and traditional, with a grand estate-esque stretch of grass around it. I’ve been meaning to take a picture of it for the last few days because its manicured lawn features no less than four signs (two large and two small) in support of our local Conservative candidate, all lined up in front of its attached, four-car garage. Somehow that image just says it all…

Anyways, this morning when we walked by there were a bunch of trucks parked in front of it and large men in jeans and black t-shirts going in and out of them: a film crew. Amid all that activity sat one lonely figure in a folding chair next to the sidewalk, hunched against the September chill and looking decidedly like Not a Morning Person. He was dressed all in black, and his hoodie was pulled low revealing only dark sunglasses and a reddish goatee, individual hair glinting in the morning sun like dew-covered blades of grass.

Yesterday our house was so cold, I finally relented and turned on the heat. It stank and made me sneeze but it was preferable to the kind of cold I’m pretty sure that dude experienced this morning. I’m really starting to hate our house, but I hate the idea of selling and moving again even more. And the location is growing on me with every walk to and from work. I’m shocked that door to door to door only takes about 10 minutes longer than it did with the car at the other daycare.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

if you've ever thought about buying my work

Now may be a good time, especially for you lucky Americans.

Imagekind has a great new promotion until September 23, 2008: 20 percent off all custom frames. It also just so happens that all my images get free ground shipping in the US until the end of September, so now is a GREAT time for Americans to buy my stuff. Sadly, since my galleries at peripheral vision aren't working, you'll have to browse my images over at my Imagekind galleries.

To take advantage, type promo code FALL2008 in the promotion box at checkout. This from Imagekind: "Promotion expires September 23, 2008 at 10pm PDT and cannot be combined with any other promotion code. Limit one order per person. Promotion code must be used at time of checkout to apply. Your order must be placed during the promotional period to qualify for this special pricing offer. Discount promo applies to custom frames only."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Yesterday was Swee’pea’s first day at the new daycare. When he woke up, he looked out the window and announced, “The sun’s up! I’m going to my NEW school!” And that’s pretty much how the day continued. No tears when we said goodbye, no breakdown when I picked him up – in fact, he didn’t want to leave. He was most pleased to get to wear his new indoor shoes with yellow dump trucks (NOT big tractors – our friend already made that mistake and was promptly corrected). This morning, our separation was once again a non-event.

Everything about the new daycare is better than the old one, not just its location. The teachers just seem so much more enthusiastic and focused. As soon as we walked in, his teacher asked for a hug immediately, and Swee’pea obliged, which is highly unusual. But it occurred to me afterward, that it was a great thing for his teacher to do. It sends a clear message to Swee’pea, that she is someone he can attach to, and doing it while Sugar D and I were still there, also tells him that it’s not a competitive attachment (please forgive the psychobabble: I’ve been reading Hold Onto Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté).

When I went to pick him up yesterday, his other teacher immediately started raving about what a great day he had, how cute he is, how laid-back he is, how chatty he is, how he even participated in circle time and started to show some interest in the other kids. The teachers just seem more satisfied and engaged. Another bonus is that some of the teachers do private babysitting at people’s homes – date night here I come!

I also like that they mandate parental involvement so you can build some community. I’ve already recognized several of the kids in his class as belonging to people I already know and often work with directly, and it’s allowed me to reconnect with two friends I’ve lost touch a bit with. And I haven’t even mentioned the morning walk across campus, by the grazing horses and cow barns… I hate to jinx us, but so far so good with the transition. What a relief.

On the Buffy front, I’m in trouble. I just discovered I’m running a marathon, not a sprint as I’d previously thought. My video store only has three seasons, so I assumed that’s all the seasons there were. I did think it was a bit strange that it developed SUCH a following in only three seasons, but I figured it was just one of those things, like the Caramilk secret. I figured I could finish the series in another couple of weeks, and then my obsession would relax and I could get back to normal life. But this morning I was told there are, in fact, SEVEN seasons. Now I have months ahead of me, and Amazing Race, Survivor, Grey’s Anatomy, House AND SYTYCD Canada (has anyone else been watching? The calibre of dancers makes me proud to be a canuck – but that’s for another post). There’s no way I can juggle Buffy with all those shows, not to mention two upcoming photography workshops, and that miniscule task called motherhood (and partnership for that matter but that always seems to be an afterthought these days).

On top of that, my latest disc started skipping and finally crapped right out last night. My video store is the only store in town that carries Buffy and they don’t have a buffer to try to fix the disc. A coworker of mine has a friend who owns the whole collection on dvd, and she’s going to bring me the disc in question tomorrow – but what about tonight??? I must watch Buffy every night! I’m getting twitchy just typing this… Fingers crossed I can get my hands on some more Buffy before I get into the really serious withdrawal symptoms.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

step AWAY from the Buffy

I'm devastated. (I'm assuming I'm the last person on earth to watch Buffy but if you haven't seen it AND you're thinking about maybe watching it one day - SPOILER ALERT.)

I've been watching Buffy pretty obsessively, two, sometimes three episodes every night. The thing that keeps me starting a new episode, even when I'm so tired my eyes are watering, is - I'm ashamed to admit - primarily Angel. He had me at hello. Those deep longing gazes from delicious brown eyes, the tortured soul (Oh, I am SUCH a sucker for a tortured soul)... I think I fell for him as badly as Buffy did.

When he was about to go away to take the Judge's arm off to the ends of the earth, I was all, quick, have sex! You don't know when you might have the chance again! And then he gave her the cladagh ring (after I went to Scotland that became my number one teenage fantasy, a boy giving me a cladagh ring to match the one he was already wearing, heart pointed inward), and then he jumped in the water after her... I cried for a good chunk of that episode, I'm not sure why exactly. I'm thinking it had something to do with the unrelenting rain and spiders seeking shelter and just generally feeling trapped (and yes I feel stupid for whining about a little rain when Hurricane Ike just flooded Texas and Louisiana).

And then Angel lost his soul and I really lost it. Not so much that he turned bad, I kind of thought that might happen, but that it was because he experienced true happiness? With Buffy? The irony gets me even now.

It's ridiculous. It's like all I can think about, wondering if it's at all possible that Angel might have his soul restored. Knowing that he got his own spin-off series, and that Morrigan thought it was funny, I'm trying to figure out which would be more entertaining: totally evil heartless vampire or vampire with a conscious? At this point, I'm just holding onto the hope that since his soul was retrievable once for the gypsy, it's still out there somewhere, whole. Right?

In the meantime, there is Oz. And really, he's got a lot more personality than Angel.

I've been playing my wallow music on repeat for days now (so I know it's not just Angel): Great Lake Swimmers are my new favourites ("Moving Shaking" is SO haunting) but since I only have a few songs by them I've been forced to branch out. Now it's Cold Play. What's your favourite wallow music?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Real Estate Lesson Number One:

Every house is a money pit, not just the cheap ones. So if you thought you could afford a more expensive house because you wouldn't have to fund costly renovations and repairs, think again.

* * *

The young guy who cleaned my ducts last week came back today with experts, to see if there was anything more they could do to eliminate the no-good, horrible, very bad mouldy smell. I was suddenly struck by how very good-looking the Duct Guy was. Sure, I'd noticed last week that I was cracking nervous jokes and he was laughing heartily at them, but he's really good-looking, complete with five o'clock shadow, not-too-coifed fauxhawk, and bright blue eyes. I couldn't look at him today. And all I could think about was how I couldn't look at him -- of course that's a much easier topic to contemplate than the FUCKING HUGE STINKY LEMON of a house we've just saddled ourselves with.

* * *

When we first looked at this house, its lack of a basement was a serious hurdle for me. But then I went back to our (old) basement -- nearly dirt floored, damp and smelly itself -- and realized that having no basement could actually be a selling point. As we sorted through all our stuff in the basement, all the stuff we'd forgotten we had, stuff that got damaged by the damp, completely obsolete stuff, as we swept the gobs of cobwebs down and I nearly died sneezing, the one thing that kept us going was the fact that we would never again have to deal with such unpleasantness.

WRONG. Now we just have to deal with it in our living space. And we have to figure out something soon, because it's getting colder and the stench is fucking awful when the furnace is on.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


"I fell for the American dream, female version, hook, line, and sinker. I, as many young women do, honest-to-god believed that once I Just Lost a Few Pounds, somehow I would suddenly be a New You, I would have Ken-doll men chasing my thin legs down with bouquets of flowers on the street, I would become rich and famous and glamorous and lose my freckles and become blond and five foot ten. I would wear cool quasi-intellectual glasses and a man's oxford shirt in a sunny New York flat and sip coffee and say Mmmm and fold my paper neatly and He would come up behind me and look at me with an adoring gaze. I would swing sexily into my red coupe, and the wind would blow through my hair as I drove into some great big city, stepping off the elevator and striding (with a feminine but authoritative step) into my office where everyone would be impressed with my every feminine but authoritative word. In the evenings I would go home and make magical gourmet meals and eat three bites, and He would look at me in the candlelight and I would be a superwoman 1980s goddess, yes indeed. As soon as I left my hometown and lost a few pounds."

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a book at my local used bookstore. I didn't know I was looking for it, but it pulled me in so thoroughly, I finished it in a weekend. It was called Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher. Partly it hooked me in a train wreck kind of way: I couldn't look away from its horror. But also, if I'm honest with myself, I identified with a lot of what Hornbacher said. I've never had an eating disorder, but I think most women in North America have disordered eating and fucked-up body images. Hornbacher is an extreme example, but she makes it pretty clear that, as a culture, we're pretty obsessed with thin.

When I was at the peak of my illness and anxiety, I didn't eat much. At one point I was down to only a very few 'safe' foods that I could eat - foods that wouldn't make me sick. I could only eat in strictly prescribed situations and times, mostly at home. Although I wasn't motivated by weight loss, I did lose weight. I got angry when people congratulated my weight loss, because, intellectually, it wasn't something to congratulate -- I was sick. But I secretly enjoyed being thin. I enjoyed that when I laid on my side, I couldn't let my knees touch each other because they were so bony. I enjoyed my jutting hip bones. And I remember times when hunger pangs meant power, they were good - they meant I had nothing in my stomach to piss out my ass, that I would be safe for a little longer. Hornbacher also enjoyed the emergence of her skeleton and the power that she wrought over her body, the power she felt in hunger.

* * *

"And when you decide you are tired of being alone with your sickness, you go out seeking women friends, people who you believe can show you by example how to eat, how to live -- and you find that by and large most women are obsessed with their weight.

It's a little discouraging."

* * *

"Now that I think of it, most of the women I worked with talked about diet and weight."

* * *

The cafeteria at my work offers several varieties of yogurt for sale. However, they are ALL zero-percent fat, the kind with ingredient lists the size of the container, all those ingredients to make up for the fat. I prefer my yogurt with more fat and fewer ingredients.

* * *

"Women use their obsession with weight and food as a point of connection with one another, a commonality even between strangers. Instead of talking about why we use food and weight control as a means of handling emotional stress, we talk ad nauseum about the fact that we don't like our bodies. When you decide not to do that, you begin to notice how constant that talk is."

* * *

I work in a woman-dominated field. Most of the women I work with are either dieting or actively managing their weight. Most of the time I don't participate, but occasionally I'm drawn into discussions. And several times various women have indicated an assumption that I must want to lose weight, that I'm struggling. Often the assumptions remain unspoken but they hang in the air, in a moment of silence, or a pointed question about my wedding photo - when did you get married? (When were you last thin?)

Yes, I'd like to lose some weight, I'd like for my body to become familiar again. But my self-worth isn't tied up in it. And I resent that others assume it is. And I'm just as willing to just accept my new(ish) shape as I am to try to change it. Frankly, diets scare me.

* * *

"When a study was done on a group of young, healthy men whose daily caloric intake was cut to just under a thousand calories, they began to: stash food surreptitiously, talk about food constantly, chew gum and mints perpetually, read recipes for dishes they couldn't make. As the study went on, they were frequently caught digging through garbage cans, sneaking into the hospital kitchen to binge. They began to purge, and -- interestingly enough -- they became incredibly worried about their weight, the shape of their bodies, and began to diet. They worried about getting dirty, got disgusted with their own biological functions, and didn't want to touch food anymore."

* * *

In university I once wrote a paper for Women's Studies comparing eating disorders and plastic surgery with female circumcision in other cultures. I got a lousy grade but I still stand by the comparison. A woman I know recently asked me if I noticed a difference in her skin. I looked closely, but couldn't really see any difference, or at least not one I felt comfortable noting. She confessed that she'd gotten a chemical peel and it really, really hurt, but she couldn't see a difference. And if there wasn't any difference, she definitely wouldn't do it again because it was so painful.

I reacted all wrong. I felt so badly for her, for how awful it must feel to hate your body so much that you would choose to corrode your face just to reduce your pores and look younger. But I didn't convey my compassion very well... instead I ranted about how that is self mutilation, how nobody seems to realize how violent plastic surgery is. How you don't solve body image problems by changing your body, how that just pulls you in further, pulls you into more and more extreme acts against your body.

I think the only thing she learned from the conversation was to never again tell me about any treatments she gets. About a week later, I did notice her skin seemed smoother, and again a few weeks after that. I guess it's working for her.

* * *

"Starving is the feminine thing to do these days, the way swooning was in Victorian times. In the 1920s, women smoked with long cigarette holders and flashed their toothpick legs. In the 1950s, women blushed and said tee-hee. In the 1960s, women swayed, eyes closed, with a silly smile on their faces. My generation and the last one feign disinterest in food. We are "too busy to eat, "too stressed" to eat. Not eating, in some ways, signifies that you have a life so full, that your busy-ness is so important, that food would be an imposition on your precious time. We claim a loss of appetite, a most-sacred aphysicality, superwomen who have conquered the feminine realm of the mind. And yet, this maxim is hardly new. A lady will eat like a bird. A lady will look like a bird, fragile boned and powerful when in flight, lifting weightless into the air."

* * *

In high school, one of my best friends was anorexic. She grew fur over her cheeks and arms while the hair on her head fell out in clumps and left bald patches. Her eyes were sunken and hungry-looking; she watched us eat like some kind of predator but I mostly only saw her eat apples. She ate them down to nothing but seeds and a stem.

I remember a girl in my chemistry class commenting that she wished she could be as thin as my friend. My telling her how sick my friend actually was didn't seem to revise her opinion. And, much as I never admitted it, there was a small part of me that, separate from worrying her heart would just quit, kind of admired how good her Guess jeans looked on her skinny arse.

* * *

"This is one of the terrible, banal truths of eating disorders: when a woman is thin in this culture, she proves her worth, in a way that no great accomplishment, no stellar career, nothing at all can match. We believe she has done what centuries of a collective unconscious insist that no woman can do -- control herself. A woman who can control herself is almost as good as a man. A thin woman can Have It All."

* All italicized text is from Wasted.

Friday, September 05, 2008

on vampires and cable guys

Wow, has it really been more than a week since I last posted? I've been trying to work on a thinky post, but as usual it's not really coming together. In the meantime, since we haven't had cable (I'm at home waiting for the cable guy as I type - a week and a half after the last appointment that the cable guy ducked out on me), I finally rented the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I'm totally getting sucked in. I've only finished six episodes, but I'm lovin' it, especially Angel.


So Mommy C has tagged me for a meme. Yippee! It's been forever since I've been tagged and I love myself a good meme. This one's a challenge though. Six unspectacular quirks. First off, after two years of blogging, I think I've already put all my quirks out there. Second, it seems to me that all quirks, especially mine, are spectacular by their very definition. But really, I just don't think I have any quirks left to mine. So instead, I will give you six unspectacular things about the new house.

1) The duct cleaner is currently cleaning our ducts, and there is a lot of poo in them. Mouse droppings, which I knew about, but also something much larger. I fear raccoons have been inhabiting the six-inch space between the concrete pad and the floor. Ok, that one's actually kind of spectacular in a horrible, horrible way. I'm trying to not think about it.

2) The dishwasher is great. We've never had a dishwasher before, and I can't tell you how warm the evenings of its grunting and swishing make me feel. Oh the warm and loving sound of dishes being washed that don't require hands, either mine or Sugar D's.

3) The driveway. Unlike our neighbours, we don't have a garage. We do, however, have a double-width driveway, and with our friend's car, it is SUCH a luxury to be able to fit both cars in the driveway. Not only do they fit, but I don't get scratched or soaked by the neighbour's shrub that never gets trimmed.

4) The den. I love having a separate room for the tv, so we have to go out of our way to watch it. (Of course, it helps not to have any cable, so we'll see how we do on this once cable is installed.)

5) The light is pretty spectacular, and I can see I'm going to have lots of fun with my camera.






6) Ok so I was starting to get panicky that there was only a half-hour left of the cable guy's appointment and maybe the phone had run while I was out meeting the duct cleaner or the time I peed and forgot to take the phone with me (as opposed to the time I peed and TOOK the phone with me). So I called Rogers to find out what was up. Guess what?!? Apparently the hooked up the cable a few days ago. Apparently they don't ACTUALLY need you to be there when they do it. What if I hadn't called? When were they planning to tell me that everything was a go? On the plus side, they're giving us free PVR rental for a year to make up for all the hassle. Wanna know how I got it? I said, "I know you're personally not responsible for this but your company's customer service TOTALLY sucks and it makes me want to just switch to Bell. Their service probably sucks too, but I bet they would at least call to cancel a fucking appointment."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

just when I thought suburban alienation was a cliche not worth exploring...

Yesterday, my motivation to continue unpacking never returned. I guess I needed to rest a bit after all the craziness.

In the afternoon, I decided to explore my new neighbourhood, and I took my camera.

I wanted to photograph some of the differences between this neighbourhood and the one we left. The one we left was the original working class neighbourhood, where most of the houses were about 100 years old on very narrow lots. This one is not precisely a suburb, since it's so central, but it's definitely 50s suburban: huge lots, almost entirely bungalows. It wasn't until I got home and saw all the photos that I realized the number one difference: built-on garages.





garbage can




I saw barely anyone walking. A few people worked in their yards, but more than anything was a ubiquitous twitching of front curtains and heads peeking through windows only to withdraw as soon as I tried to look friendly or determine for sure what that movement was.

The most twitching by far occurred at the last house of the above series. The little old lady who lives there even came out and asked me suspiciously what I was doing. She was hard of hearing and I had to repeat myself quite a few times. "I like your house. I took some pictures."

"But what are you going to DO with them?!?"

"I'm just an artist..."

"Who are you?!?"

"I just moved into the neighbourhood. My name is Cinnamon Gurl. I live over on ___ street."

So we chatted, but her suspicion never really left her.

My first stop had actually been the United church that I once thought was heinously ugly in its modernity, but which now I quite like.

church and cart

Behind it in the parking lot were a few sheds and an institutional-looking building behind it. As I shot, a few kids rode through the background on the bikes, so I shot a bit longer (you can just make out one of them - the white speck between the sheds). They noticed me immediately, so I smiled and waved, then turned around. The shot wasn't really working.

parking lot

Halfway across the lot, one of the kids called out, "What do you want?" I wasn't sure they were talking to me, so I turned around, gestured questioningly to myself and said, "Me?" They said nothing and turned around.

Later, they caught up to me. "Excuse me," one of them said. "We were just wondering why you were taking pictures of us."

"I'm just an artist," I said. (I've never called myself an artist before but it seemed like it would make for fewer questions than photographer.)

"Oh, sorry" they said, like I had some horrible affliction.

This neighbourhood is so suspicious! In my old neighbourhood, people asked what I was shooting, but it was out of curiosity, not to uncover my nefarious plot to harm them in some way. The whole rest of the day I felt like this is a horrible neighbourhood, and I don't belong here. What the hell were we thinking?!?

school's out 2

I also discovered that the institutional building behind the church was an abandoned school. It's so sad that they're doing away with the small local schools and bussing kids to mega-schools.

school's out

My town is in the midst of a by-election, which makes it a good time to get a sense of the neighbourhood. As much as I'm trying to curb my judgments, I still judge people by their politics. My old neighbourhood was full of NDP and green party signs. They were everywhere, with only a single liberal sign on my street.

Here, there are virtually no signs. I guess these people are just apathetic. Either that or they have a bizarre need for privacy -- who KNOWS what people could do if they knew which party you supported! Especially in this day and age with the whole Internet thingie. Of the signs that are here, most of them are liberal and conservative, with the odd renegade NDP and green party sign.

I'm still really torn myself. I love the NDP candidate as an individual, but the thought of being the first riding to elect a green party MP is pretty tempting.

campaign headquarters

campaign headquarters-7

campaign headquarters-5

(those campaign shots were all from a few weeks ago)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

almost back in the land of the living

I'm sitting in our new house, boxes still all over, Death Cab for Cutie on the speakers, and I'm not sure what to do. Swee'pea's in daycare and Sugar D's back to work. There is lots of cleaning and unpacking to do, but we took care of the high priority rooms yesterday (kitchen and bath), Swee'pea's room we did Monday.

I really just want to vent, but I have no real-life friends outside of work, and I'm not at work.


Dear Rogers,

Just a thought, but when a customer moves to a different house, you might want to consider NOT depending on the phone to find out whether the customer is at the new house at the agreed-upon time for the cable hook-up. You might want to try, oh I don't know, KNOCKING? on the door? before deciding that the customer hasn't shown. Because sometimes Bell fucks up too and the phone may not be working. The dead air that comes after you dial the number? That's a pretty good indication that something may be a bit off with the phone rather than the customers not being at the house.

We were here! Waiting! For all three hours of the stupid three-hour window you force customers to hang around waiting for a hook-up.

If you do insist on depending on the fickle phone lines, you may just want to keep a few appointments open every day, just for the people who took two fucking weeks off work for this g-d move (why did we want to do this again?!?) and who may not want to wait a further two weeks just to have to leave work for ANOTHER 3-hour window of sitting at home waiting for the cable guy.

The thing is, you never know what other shit your customers may be dealing with during a move, things like -- hypothetically of course -- dangerous electricals that the home inspector didn't catch, mould, an automobile accident and an insurance company that made a "small mistake" when they didn't include the driver and part-owner of the car on the policy (woops), a mistake they're fixing but which is taking a long time to fix since the driver was out of the country for a week right before the move. Oh - and maybe a broken phone line, which got fixed but apparently the maintenance package they hosed the customer for doesn't come into effect for 15 days so they have to wait to get the broken JACK fixed. You never know if your unwillingness to knock on a door might be the straw on the poor camel's back and might cause ordinarily reasonable people to yell at your poor customer service reps at 7:30 in the morning. Of course, the 20-minute hold time didn't help either.

Next time, please just knock?



For Swee'pea, the move has been effortless, as Mad predicted. We had to stop at the old house for a few things after we picked up Swee'pea, and he yelled, "No! New house!" He stayed in the car and had no interested in seeing the old house. Bedtimes aren't quite so smooth and he's cried a few times in the night, but mostly he's slept in his own bed. He loves it here. It helps that when my parents babysat on the weekend, they spent most of it here, my dad fixing stuff and my mom cleaning a bit in between Swee'pea chases, so he's totally familiar. I love my parents.

Over the summer, I met two different women at the park who have boys almost exactly the same age as Swee'pea and who live in our new neighbourhood. They gave me their addresses and I'm wondering if a drop-in would be ok? I got the sense that they were kind of desperate to make friends nearby with young kids, since mostly the neighbourhood is full of old fogeys. But we didn't exchange numbers... what do you think? Should I wait until I have Swee'pea with me? Or should I go alone? I'd like some real-life friends...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

closing ceremony

I'm always a bit sad when the Olympics close, especially the most recent few. For whatever reason, we've had something momentous going on during each of the last three Olympics. In 2004, we got married about a week after the Opening Ceremonies, and we spent our honeymoon in a house in Tobermory. We'd brought our bikes and big plans for hiking and biking the Bruce Trail, but we only did that a few times before we succumbed to the allure of the Olympics. After weeks of wedding preparations, we needed some veg-out time, and we took it.

In 2006, the Winter Opening Ceremonies were playing on the little tv in our hospital room, as we packed up wee Swee'pea into a sleeper that was way too big for him (now impossibly small!). We needed the nurse's help to figure out how to put him into the carseat without breaking him. Once home, the Olympics kept me company through the long night feedings, and it was so nice to have good tv to focus my bleary eyes on. The Closing Ceremonies meant 3 am infomercials, before, finally - at six weeks - I just brought Swee'pea into bed with us and nursed him lying down forever more. "Move over, Sugar D," I said in the middle of one night. "He's comin' in!"

This past June, or maybe it was May, I commented to a coworker that although the last two Olympics had coincided with major life changes, this games would be uneventful, because clearly we didn't have anything significant on the horizon. Now, the Closing Ceremonies coincide with our last full day at this house.

I feel like I should take a moment to thank this house for its shelter, to honour the memories it now holds in its walls and floors. But I don't have the mental space, what with all the logistical details darting around my mind, all these things to remember. Don't forget the stuff in the shed, or the little castle slide in the backyard, or the tools in the basement. I'll have to label the pieces that are staying, and the furniture that's going with the rooms they're going to. I worry I'll regret not taking a moment to say goodbye.

I was 8 years old when I read Black Beauty. My sister gave me a beautiful, leather-bound edition with gorgeous illustrations for Christmas. And immediately I was riveted. But that book sort of broke me. I had to put the book down at one point for more than a week because every time I picked it up, I started sobbing uncontrollably again. It was in the middle of the scene when the old cavalry horse is left riderless in the battlefield, terrified and bewildered in the midst of such carnage. I empathized so strongly with what he must have felt, not having any instructions on how to get out of that chaos alive.

Other scenes from the book made me cry almost as hard, and they always involved horses being taken away from their friends without knowing in advance they were leaving. The saddest thing for me was not moving away or losing friends, but not having the chance to say a proper goodbye, not knowing that the last time you saw them was the last time you would ever see them. It's what makes me the most sad about death, the possibility that you may not get to say goodbye to the people you love.

Later in my life, break-ups that bothered me the same way, because you never knew that the last time you kissed or made love was going to be the last time ever. Or at least that's how it was with all of my previous relationships. I always wished for a do-over, just once, to know enough to savour it in the moment, this last taste of tenderness before it all goes to shit.

And I'm more than a little torn about tomorrow. The movers are coming while Swee'pea is in daycare and we'll no longer have access to the house after we pick him up. We've told him about the new house and he's excited to stay there, but I don't think he really gets it. And I doubt he'll really get it until it's too late to say goodbye. On the one hand, I don't want to put my stuff on him, but I don't want to screw him up the other way either.

I had a panic attack last night. It's been years since I had one. I've had a few panicky starts, but I've always been able to manage it and get the panic under control. Last night, I couldn't. It felt just like the spells I used to have nine years ago, back before I knew they were panic attacks. I thought I had some bizarre disease that, without warning, made me suddenly nauseous and shaky and increased my pulse till it was pounding in my ears.

I was worrying about some stuff in the new house, worried it will lead us to financial ruin (which I've never actually worried about before, strangely). (The new place smells mildewy in the front hall and dining room despite dehumidifying and airing out - and without a basement, we have no way to investigate the situation. I have one of two visions flitting around: 1) we all get sick and die from mould or 2) we lose all our money tearing the house apart to find the mould and sink into financial ruin. Please don't comment on this bit - we have a tiered action plan.)

I was thinking about how deeply Black Beauty affected me. I was trying to sort out how best to help Swee'pea through this transition, whether to keep him out of the movers' hair as originally planned or let him witness the physical process of moving homes to help facilitate the emotional process. But mostly I was utterly exhausted and unable to sleep. My muscles were all tense and I started to feel some gastrointestinal twinges. Then I felt like I was going to vomit. Or my head was going to explode with all the worries darting around. The intense fear made me suspect panic over food poisoning, so I did the things that usual help me resist emerging panic. But it didn't work. I just felt sick and scared and alone, and Sugar D was still packing the kitchen downstairs (yay West coast jet lag!) and I didn't feel like I could manage the stairs to get the company I needed. So I laid on the bathroom floor for a while until I felt well enough to go downstairs, then dozed in front of the Olympics, with occasionally screeches of packing tape behind me in the kitchen.

When we went upstairs, I realized that it was shortly after I read Black Beauty that any time I was overtired, I would become convinced that our barn was going to burn down in the night. I imagined the horses panicked and squealing in the barn all choking black and angry red and the vision was so clear I just knew I was having a premonition. I felt I had to stay awake so I could save the horses. I remember the first time my parents told me they would stay awake so I could sleep, and I was only a little angry to discover in the morning they had gone to bed after all, but not really because the barn was still standing, not a streak of charcoal anywhere. Last night, it struck me that those late night fearfests were probably my first panic attacks, or at least a precursor.

And I don't know where this post is going. Is it a treatise on panic and anxiety? A plea for advice on what to do with Swee'pea? A musing on goodbye and the Olympics? I really have no idea... except I have to keep packing.