Tag Archives: blogging

Scraping off the Frost

We have been cold and frosty and foggy of late; fog so thick you can see it swirling in the light, when the light makes it through. Frost so frosty it piles up in your mitten like snow and then you throw it up in the air and pretend it’s real snow, at least my kids do, deprived of real snow as they are.

I guess it’s called hoar frost, the frost so thick it looks like snow and confuses us every day when we look out the window? Yeah, hoar frost.

The name hoar comes from an Old English adjective that means “showing signs of old age”; in this context it refers to the frost that makes trees and bushes look like white hair.

Henceforth shall refer to my own head as ‘hoary’ without a blink of regret.

This morning I was running in the park and there was a wee, dead mouse on the path. We were running a brief distance this morning, not the full 10 km park loop, because we haven’t run the park look together (there are two of us, I am not speaking of myself in the plural) since early November and we are out of shape, or so we thought until we got going. We ran 24 minutes into the park and then turned around and went back, so I saw the wee, dead mouse twice, and the second time I was expecting him — actually expecting him to be gone, since the park is home to many hungry creatures that might like mouse for breakfast — so I spotted him quickly and then even noticed as I ran over, as in stepped over, him that his whiskers were entirely white with frost. Poor wee mouse in the middle of the path, intact, with frosted whiskers.

Tonight Saint Aardvark is starting an ambitious project to watch all the movies he has acquired over the years (Hint: THEY ARE MANY) and to blog about each of them. Tonight’s film is BLACK RAGE on VHS tape. There is one black man and one ‘albino’ black man and a lot of white men, some dubious music and a lot of running around.

My own ambitious project is to abstain from alcohol and caffeine for the next month, starting tomorrow. I would have started on January 1st but I still had delicious wine left over from New Year’s Eve because on New Year’s Eve I went to sleep at 10 pm after falling asleep on the couch watching Fast Five, one of the Fast and Furious movies. It even had The Rock in it and who doesn’t love The Rock and still I slumbered on the couch until prompted to leave it. Anyway, now all the wine is gone and the coffee is off limits and I got the idea to do booze AND coffee from David at Raptitude who speaks highly of the experience, so I will let you know how it goes. *drains glass*. Possibly even tomorrow.

At Any Time

Oh it is so hard to sit down here with nothing to say, no point to make, but it’s the ritual or, more accurately, routine of it I’m after. Not the content (obviously, she said, self-deprecatingly) but the being here. Morning is too crowded already, evenings are a slow slide to sweet sleep, the skytrain/bus, as entertaining and beautiful as it can be, is no place to type on a laptop. I do write in my notebook, though, yes, now I have made it so anyone can recognize me on transit because I haven’t seen another human writing in a notebook. Yet. I could draft posts on my phone but I don’t want to draft posts on my phone. Ah, I don’t want to draft anything at all. I want to be creative and I want to write and I want to stop talking about it just do it so that’s what this is. This is just doing it.

Let’s take blogging back and make it back into a boring hobby that no one pays attention to, a place to practice turning over buckets of sand. PERFECT.

I am in the middle of cooking dinner; a mixture of wild and brown and japonica rice, stir fried steak strips, and vegetables. The meat is marinating. The rice is cooking. My lips burn a little with the dust of habanero and lime-flavoured tortilla chips. The happy birthday banner we hung up yesterday is dangling from the ceiling like this: Happy Bi
rthd
ay
It was my father’s birthday on Saturday. There are a lot of birthdays at this time of year. A lot of fathers. Well, two. Plus several aunts, a few friends. My co-worker’s niece and then her mother. Happy birthday, all you March babies. Happy blossoms and tiny green buds on trees and allergies, to those who celebrate allergies.

In a month it will be Eli’s birthday and he would like a Pokemon themed party. Can someone make that happen, please? Thaaank you.

I just finished a great book called California by Edan Lepucki. I recognized the writer’s name, possibly from The Millions or somewhere else on the Internet, otherwise I wouldn’t have picked it up, as this book was not my kind of book. It is a future-story, set in the wilds of a de-urbanized California/America. But it is a character-driven future story, which IS my kind of book. Once I dug into it, I enjoyed it a great deal. Although the end felt a little rushed, but to be fair, I was rushing through the last chapter, trying to finish the book before we had to return it to the library. I was keeping Eli company in the dentist’s waiting room while he waited for his turn, my nose buried in this book, but he kept talking to me. I offered to read it aloud. Four pages was all he needed, then he politely told me I didn’t have to read it aloud anymore.

At my job I get to talk to people using a microphone several times a week. I have to constantly remind myself not to hum when I am paused between sentences. You don’t realize how much you hum until you have a microphone under your face. I’ve developed quite a humming habit in the past few years as solitary child-minder. Time to curb it.

Unconscious-tic’ly yours, ’til tomorrow.

Shaking Off the Anaconda

I looked in my drafts folder today and there were 46, forty-six drafts. I read through a few of them and they were dated, yes, but not horrible. Why did I never post them? Why indeed. I think when I finish writing something I feel as though I should let it sit a bit before posting but when I let it sit, I inevitably do not go back and look at it again for months or years.

There was one about pop music and Miley Cyrus, one about peanut allergies, one about how I was so ready to be done stay-at-home parenting. All of it still true and relatively relevant except I mentioned Ke$ha in the post about Miley and now I realize I have not heard from Ke$ha in quite some time. I mean, I never HEAR from her. I don’t get texts from her or anything. We don’t SNAPCHAT. But on the radio.

The children are so into pop music and this is fine and great. I heard Arlo singing along to Shake it Off the other day and he knows all the words and also can hit all the notes because he is eight years old and has the same vocal range as Taylor Swift so it’s pretty cute. I have a soft spot in my heart for Shake it Off. It’s like a self-help book in a pop song. I respond to it. That’s why it’s the only song I’m linking to in this post.

Tonight at dinner we heard a new pop song called Anaconda by Nicki Minaj, a song about, uh, a misguided relationship, maybe? Anyway it contains many samples from Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-Lot. The children — not just mine, but many children, the same ones who were crowing “I’m Sexy and I know it” a few years ago — have been wandering around singing “My anaconda don’t want none / unless you got buns hon” and I needed to know they understood what they were talking about.

I tried to shake it off but they are boys, someday to be men, who ought to know. Besides, Arlo told me today he wants to be a famous rapper when he grows up, so the more info he has, the better. And so, we had the following conversation, after the last chords of Anaconda had faded from our ears.

Me: So that song samples another song, you know that right?
Arlo: Yeah, the one about Oh My God, Lookit Her Butt (incidentally, the original Baby Got Back says “oh my GOD lookit her butt” but the sample in Anaconda is “oh my GOSH lookit her butt” and this odd censory gesture is to laugh, truly)
Me: Right, so some people like to look at other peoples’ butts. They’re attracted to them. Some people like butts, some people like other peoples’ faces, some people like to look at long hair or short hair…
A: Hmm
Me: Sir Mix-A-Lot really likes butts. Right? He starts the song with I LIKE BIG BUTTS AND I CANNOT LIE
A: Right
Me: And then he goes on and on about how butts are great and sometimes they’re bouncy and sometimes they’re squishy or whatever.
A: Yeah
Me: And then he says “my anaconda don’t want none unless you’ve got buns, hon.”
A: Yeah
Me: What do you think that means?
A: His..anaconda doesn’t want anything unless it’s got a big butt?
Me: Righhht…and…
A: ??
Me: Do you think he has a pet snake? That eats people? (ed note: this would be a good horror sort of twist on the song maybe?)
A: No ha ha ha ha
Me: So what’s the anaconda?
A: ??
Me: Can you think of a body part that a man has that’s like a snake?
A: *blinks twice* Oh! His penis!
Me: Right.
A: *laughs hysterically*
Me: Yes.
A: *laughing*
Me: So it’s a metaphor. One thing means another thing
A: Rigggght

And tomorrow at school should be awesome for everyone who knows my son.

We’ll deal with the grammar another day.

Strawberries

A note on Summer Writing Club: if you are joining and you want stickers, email me torturedpotato@gmail.com (or dm on twitter @torturedpotato) your address and I will send you incentivizing stickers IN THE MAIL to put on your calendar for every week you complete.

Also, my 15 minutes a day will not necessarily be here on the blog, I just seem to be on a bit of a roll at the moment. I COMMIT TO NOTHING I REMEMBER LAST YEAR.

***

This afternoon I once again took the kids across the street to the middle school to practise their scooter skills. Yesterday I was looking after an additional child so I felt like I should pay attention, but today it was just my two. I brought my notebook because watching children scooter is only interesting the first four times. Yay you popped a wheelie, yay you squatted down real low and scraped your toes on the cement, yay kids yay.

After I’d written roughly one paragraph in my notebook, I noticed the scooter noise had stopped and I had their full attention. (It’s good to know this is a way to get the full attention of children.)

“What are you writing?” Eli said. “I know, a story,” he added, “but what’s it about?”

He does this a lot, answers his own questions in a rush to have the right answer.

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“Actually,” I said, “it’s not a story. It’s just some thoughts about strawberries.”

“What about them?”

“About how they smell so much like strawberries,” I said. “And how I wonder if there are people who don’t know what real, fresh strawberries in season smell like, if they only know about the artificial strawberry smell, like, um,…”

“..Strawberry Shortcake dolls…” Arlo suggested.

I make them sniff my Strawberry Shortcake doll every time it turns up in the toybox at my parents’ house, and each time, I marvel this has smelled vaguely like strawberry scent for THIRTY YEARS you guys.

“Right.”

“…or erasers?” Arlo said.

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“Yes. Maybe there are older people who only know what real strawberries smell like, because Strawberry Shortcake dolls aren’t something they’ve ever seen. And maybe there are lots of younger people who compare the smell of real strawberries to strawberry candy and to them, the strawberries smell wrong.”

“I like candy,” Eli said. “Can you read me some of your writing?”

“No,” I said. “It’s not really ready to read out loud. It’s kind of like a journal.”

“OK,” he said, then, “hey watch this,” and scootered away.

IMG_6091

This Summer Vacation Has Headlines AND Details

Summer Vacation, Two Weeks Early

We were all holding out hope that the teachers and government would come to an agreement over the weekend, but then we heard nothing all weekend and well, the Monday news was: No deal, strike NOT averted, it’s the other guy’s fault, Summer Vacation HAS BEGUN. START YOUR ENGINES.

I’m not going to comment further on the labour dispute because I feel like it’s hopeless and I’m sick of listening to bafflegabbing spokespeople say empty, political things and nothing changing ever. Let’s go to the beach.

No, wait, it’s kind of showery, so instead I went to the dentist and the kids played at my parents’ house and then we came home and Eli had a friend over and everyone scootered for ages and then we had burgers for dinner.

Here’s a Recipe

I made my own burger buns because I didn’t want to interrupt the scootering to go to the grocery store. Pace yourself, stay-at-home-mom! Don’t do it all in one day! Groceries will wait until tomorrow.

I used this recipe . If you make these buns, know that my child with the sweet tooth declared them “too sweet” and just ate the burger. Cut the sugar accordingly. Otherwise, they were delicious and ever so easy and way more fun than going to Safeway at 4:45 pm with two children of any age or designation.

Co-operative Play Without Injury!

Here is what children can demonstrate if you deny them cool toys and fun adventures:

This morning, Arlo found some swim googles and put them on his eyes backwards, so they were pressing into the eyeball. Then he instructed Eli to lead him around the house in a strange sort of trust game that I thought was going to go terribly wrong at any moment, but it did not! Then, Arlo removed the goggles and blinked his weird, squished-up eyes and said, “Everything is animated!” Then of course Eli wanted to do it too so they reversed the roles. They played this game for a good twenty minutes. And no one got pushed down the stairs! There is hope for all humanity.

Inspirational Claptrap

Tonight I met my good friend at the coffee shop and we were talking about library summer reading club, where you read 50 books over the summer, take your little passbook thing to the library and get a sticker, and at the end of summer you get a medal? With Oprah (a poster of Oprah, technically) regarding us with the benevolence of a thousand angels, we decided we would form summer writing club, where the rules are:

Write 15 minutes a day
For 50 days
Get yourself a medal, or just steal your kid’s old Summer Reading Club medal.

You can join if you want. Fifty days. Fifteen minutes a day. Summer Writing Club.

Flux

Have I written this post before? Probably. If you’ve read it before, go look at the calming manatee. Come back tomorrow.

Maybe I’ll put that disclaimer everywhere.

Things are afoot. Arlo is turning 8. I am stopping working earlier than planned, on July 11th. Saint Aardvark is switching to a new job, around July 11th. School might already be out for summer, or it might not, because of ongoing strife between our government and our teachers.

Arlo hopes it is not; Eli hopes it is. I am hoping it is not because I wouldn’t mind a day off before September.

I signed up to participate in a study that trains women between 18-60 to run half marathons and does a biomechanical analysis of them before and after the training. I bought two pairs of running shoes. First, I bought two pairs of running shoes for $180 and then I went across the road and found a running shoe sale and bought two pairs of running shoes for $80 and took the other ones back across the road for a full refund.

I’ve decided I will not work full time at a government job. I need a career I believe in and want to do. I plan to use my unexpected two months of not-working to figure out what kind of work I ought to do. I still write every day. I plan to keep doing this.

I planted things this year and they are sort of growing. The lavender plant has one flower. My neighbour’s lavender plant has many flowers. The spinach is wee, but the bean plants are hardy. The rosebush had eight flowers. Spinach is supposed to be easy and roses are supposed to be hard and I exert the same amount of effort for everything.

Tomorrow I am getting a root canal.

My digestive system is behaving like a tornado during an apocalypse. (This is unrelated to the root canal. I’ve had one before, it was fine.)

Arlo has recently discovered bicycles and how great they are. He had no interest, only wanted to scooter, then my parents gave him a big bike two weeks ago and now he’s bike-mad. Driving home from their house today he said “I’m going to count all the bikes on the road!” There weren’t any. He was very disappointed.

I read a book of essays called The Empathy Exams and I can’t recommend it enough. The title essay is here and I Loved It So Much I looked the book up at the library, then placed a hold on it (the book had been ordered but was not yet at the library) and then rabidly ran up to get and read it and then renewed it and was a mixture of happy and sad feelings when it turned out I *could* renew it because no one else had requested it. People should request it.

Today was Father’s Day and holidays like this on social media make me tired. So much congratulating, so many people who are sad, so many hurt feelings vibrating through the world like soundwaves. Happy X Day becomes Happy X Day to those who celebrate and to those who don’t, you are loved, and to those who have only XY please know we consider you and to those with Y instead of X we acknowledge you and

Can we just say, whenever we feel like it: dear world full of people, you are doing great things? Yes. We can. Dear world full of people, I appreciate you and your feet that walk every day even when they are tired. I appreciate the brains of people who invent things and those that market those invented things. I love the hearts of the compassionate and the hearts of the bereft. Group hug, world. Goodnight, world.

One Hundred – Ways to Be Better

The past several days have been challenging. Eli was sick so he stayed home from school on Friday, which meant I stayed home from work with him. He rested and played video games and watched TV and I read the Internet, which made me angry and grumpy.

It’s actually good for me to work because at work there is no internet, only live people and live people as represented by their files, so I am not tempted to judge (mostly). It is so much easier to judge on the Internet. Sometimes it feels like that’s what it’s for. Pictures! LIKE OR NOT LIKE. Music! LIKE OR NOT LIKE. Blog posts, articles, opinions, dinosaur dioramas set up after dark while children are sleeping to make the children think the dinosaurs have come to life in the night. LIKE? NOT LIKE? Santa. Thanksgiving. American politics. Canadian politics. Feminism. Assholes. People being mean to assholes, making them also assholes. LIKE. NOT LIKE.

Picture the beginning of time. (Note: this is not the Genesis version of the beginning of time. This is the Time Before Assholes.) There is only one asshole in this world. People just move around him/her. One day another person treats the original asshole (OA) how he thinks OA should be treated, making him also an asshole (AAA). Now there are two assholes, which is not triple A at ALL. If you scale this and everyone tells two friends like the shampoo commercial, we are in a world overrun with assholes who just wanted to tell THAT asshole what an asshole he was being.

But if that guys had just walked around that first, original asshole, we’d all be fine right now. As it is, we’re all in danger of becoming the asshole. Not to say you can’t go back. We all do assholish things, but wouldn’t it be better just to avoid the whole thing.

Anyway, that was my plan by the end of the day Friday.

Yesterday was a comedy of errors sort of day, the summary of which is: I spent almost all day inside with two children who were bored of me, each other, and the inside of the house. It culminated in me sending them to separate rooms at 5 pm and instructing them not to come out until they heard their father come home from his many comedy-of-error-like errands.

This morning I woke up with the best of intentions but something about the way Arlo accompanied me at the grocery store talking incessantly about iPhones and caramel popcorn and can we get Frutopia WHY NOT WHY DON”T YOU EVER BUY ME ANYTHING I WANT while I was trying to find vanilla yogurt that was in between 0-10% fat and didn’t have 30g of sugar per half cup and I don’t even LIKE yogurt but it’s the only thing Eli eats some days, something about that just made me get crankier and be the asshole in the room again. Yes, I was the jerk in the yogurt aisle tearing a strip off her kid because this basket is full of things you like and I don’t so don’t say I never buy you anything and also when’s the last time you ate a vegetable, that’s right, never, so just shut up about caramel popcorn. Eat a head of broccoli and I will buy caramel popcorn. I’M WAITING RIGHT HERE FOR YOU TO EAT BROCCOLI.

STILL WAITING. GOT MY CAPS ON, SON.

However, there was a truck parking over two spaces in the parking lot of the grocery store and I did not slash his tires or leave a passive-aggressive note on the windshield. I made attempts to give him/her the benefit of the doubt, plus there are lots of parking spots at Superstore, and walked away.

Sunday count:
Asshole brain: 4. Non-asshole brain: 1.

It’s hard not being an asshole. I am going to keep trying. Also I will never type the word asshole on this blog again, I promise.

Ninety-Four

If you say you will write one hundred posts in one hundred days, that’s a Thing. It’s a goal. A Goal.

If you then proceed to drag out the hundred posts over more than a hundred days, it’s just a blog.

So, this is just a blog, like any other. Sorry. It’s not special. There is no gimmick or knack. I am still posting! Until I get to 100! But, well, so what.

It’s not even special to me. Really. Man it’s like the second time you try heroin*. Never as good as the first.

* I have never tried heroin.

I loved my first blog. I didn’t love the name of it necessarily, as years went on and it made less and less sense to anyone, but I loved that it was this great cave in the Internet where I could sit and pull my knees to my chest and just feel warm and safe. I loved that I started it as a bored unemployed person with an itchy chin, no dependants, and a lot of free time, and ended it in a suburb, with two small kids and a lot more grey hair.

There’s something special about something that sees you through so much transition and doesn’t so much as blink. Not that it could blink, being a blog.

MY BLOG WAS MY BEST FRIEND AND YOU CAN’T REPLACE THAT, MAN.

No, that’s not quite it.

I don’t know what this space is all about yet. But then, making friends takes a long time. Once you know someone and love them, you look back at all that friend-making and polite dancing about you did and laugh because now you’ve talked about taboo thing and have gone to another level of friendship and can’t even remember when you thought she maybe looked boring or snooty.

This place will go to that place someday. And we’ll forget all this awkwardness ever happened.

Here's me in eighth grade. Awkward proof that all awkwardness is forgettable.

Here’s me in eighth grade. Awkward proof that all awkwardness is forgettable.

Eighty-Four — A Small Vacation Before the Work Starts

This is how it happens: at first you pledge to write every day and then you do. Then you give yourself weekends off, because that just seems reasonable. Then you take the occasional weekday too, because the kids are sick or you’re on holiday. Or both. Often both.

You begin to write less than you don’t write.

Then the pendulum swings back. Or you find it, give a big push, grunt and pull a muscle in your shoulder to get that bad boy swinging again, because I need to get to 100 posts. I pledged it! I will not break my pledge!

***

Since my last blog post I accepted a part time job that starts relatively immediately. It was supposed to start today but there was some paperwork missing so I am waiting to hear when it starts. I will work two days a week and a third day every other week. It is pretty much the most perfect schedule I could hope for. I’ll be working for my old employer, for whom I have not worked in six years, but in a different department, which means I am fulfilling my obligation of returning to work after taking a maternity leave pay top-up. The pay is great, the work is..

..the work is not great. It is fine. It is administrative assistant work. I can do it. It’s not hard. But it’s not great.

It’s not a calling or anything.

But I have to do something, and of all the somethings I’m qualified to do, within the constraints of my old employer to whom I owe either time or money, this is the best thing.

No really, I am happy. Though with happiness due to change in status quo comes stress. They are two sides of the same bagel. They come in the door holding hands and smiling.

Saint Aardvark is modifying his schedule to help take the kids to school and back. My mother will help out one of the days. I am hiring a babysitter type person to look after the third day. I have new corduroy pants. I already try to get up early, although as the days grow shorter, darker and rainier, this is harder. Pitter pat, pitter pat, the rain falls on the roof and the duvet is warm and I can still hear the phantom cat purring. It is hard to get out of bed at six o’clock. BUT I WILL DO IT. Soon.

Right now I am having some tea, listening to Radio Paradise, and smelling the banana chocolate chip muffins I just took out of the oven. In half an hour I will fetch the children from school. I hope they’re happier than they were when they went in this morning.

Correction: Eli is as happy as a songbird full of fresh bugs. He loves school. He loves soccer. He loves his friends. He loves playdates. He loves recess. I ran into his teacher at the grocery store the other day and she described him as “such a happy little guy” which was quite a head-scratcher for me but then I realized he is. He is happy. Everything is in place for him.

The other child, the previously happiest child ever, is suffering beneath the weight of the world this week. He stays up late reading and the mornings are hard. This morning he slept in until eight o’clock and then insisted he was not going to school because it was too dark and cold and wet and he was too tired. He sounded like an adult. And no, a mental health day is not the worst thing in the world when you’re seven, but also, soon I will lose 50% of my time my time and I really am selfish. I am. He had two sick days — actual sick days — last week and that threw my whole tentative new schedule into a spin.

In the immortal words of my old first year professor, Allan, a man who had lips like a Muppet and a pocket full of change that he jingled while he lectured, life is flux. (Not fucked as Sarah and I used to write it in our notes where we should have been, well, note-taking.) Flux. Life is flux and we can ride the waves smiling.

Sixty-Two — Things You Could Look At

God no, not sixty-two things you could look at. Five, I think.

From Schmutzie: A Love Letter to the Gentle People of the Internet: Please Don’t Go

From Sarah Selecky, about writing and blogging and self-criticism: Is it Good or Bad?

From Vice: The Ghost Rapes of Bolivia (that one is disturbing and horrible, and important)

From Prism Magazine: Writing prompts: How to Beat a Cliche and / or You Named Your Pony What?

And there is this:

Boom.