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.