Tag Archives: my navel is awesome

Nine Secrets

1. Sometimes, at work, when I’m befuddled and feel quite moronic, I think about the nice things people said to me — not just nice, but totally over-the-top supportive and kind — when I despair-posted the other week and then I smile to myself and soldier on. I never said thank you to those people, so thank you. Your sweetness lives on in my brain heart place.

2. I channelled the real Santa and bought Arlo a ridiculous Nerf gun for Christmas. Because nothing says Christmas like a gun made to kill zombies. If foam darts could kill zombies we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, would we.

3. I was having a direct message conversation with my fabulous father-in-law the other day. We were talking about squirrels and their natural predators and he wrote, “It’s a tough world when you taste good & aren’t too bright” and I just keep seeing it at the top of my DMs in twitter and every time I see it I laugh and wonder if I could tattoo that somewhere on my person or if I should just put it on the blog and have it live forever here instead of on my skin, where it would take up rather a lot of space.

Well, now that’s done.

4. I walked into a pointy part of our banister last week and I have had a black eye for a whole week and I am really tired of people making domestic abuse jokes. I’m still participating in the conversations with people, because I know what kind of conversation they’re expecting to have and I’m too tired to crusade but I’m thinking percentage-wise at least one person who has been present for one of the many “oh did you REALLY walk into a banister?” conversations I’ve had this past week has actually been abused by a partner and that just makes me sad.

5. The other day I cried walking home from taking the kids to school because this woman was taking her grade-one-aged daughter to school and they were very late and the girl didn’t want to go and the mom was dragging her up the hill and there was crying and yelling and the daughter dropped to the snow and wouldn’t get up and I just couldn’t take it. Sometimes I just can’t take it.

6. All the clear, cold, snowy weather we were having made me a bit panicky. As Eli put it two days ago, “I wish all this snowing would just stop.” (he was cold)(I’m just a creature of habit who needs rain to survive, apparently.)(Don’t get me wrong, if I could pick what kind of weather I’d prefer to have for thirty days straight I would pick sunshine and cold over dark and rainy, but I’m USED to dark and rainy and we fears change we does.)

7. If I had to work more than two or three days a week I would be typing this from the psychiatric ward. Picking a part time job was the smartest thing I ever did.

8. It’s exactly two months until my fortieth birthday!

9. I don’t have a ninth thing but I can’t leave it at eight because I detest the number eight and the number nine is automatically more powerful.

Here is a photo to compensate.(?)

Eli, practising for his first Facebook profile picture, which will be taken at his first Kings of Leon show.

Eli, practising for his first Facebook profile picture, which will be taken at his first Kings of Leon show.

Ninety-Nine — Failer

It’s exhausting to be bad at something.

Like, really bad. So bad someone corrects you every fifteen minutes. So bad you second guess every move because you want to avoid being corrected but your second guessing turns to third guessing and then you never make the right call and end up being corrected anyway.

Friday I asked the woman at work who is training me if I had done something correctly, bracing myself for the “No you forgot X Y AND Z, AGAIN,” but instead she nodded and said, “yup,” and it was such a relief. I have been realizing that in general I am quite accustomed to being right, correct, and good at things. And this job where I am not right, correct, or good at things is taking its toll on me.

I am tough and have a lifetime of being right, correct, and good at things standing behind me to back me up. I can give myself bathroom and driving-to-work pep-talks, but the glow from them only lasts fifteen minutes at best because, well, I am bad at my job.

Can I remember the last time I failed? Let’s see. We don’t count stories rejected, because that’s part of the writer’s life. We don’t count parenthood because we can’t really know until, well ever. There are blog posts — many of them — without comments. That counts for failure in my world.

I can forgive myself all minor failures because in the greater world I feel like a success. And this is a gift; from my heritage to me. From me as a middle-class white girl whose parents stayed together and didn’t do drugs, to me.

Coincidentally — serendipitously? — at work I move around the files of people who have not had these gifts given to them. They were set up for failure from conception. Then, when they failed, they were berated. Their lives stacked failure upon failure like Lego bricks. Over time they have come to believe they are incompetent, incapable of anything but robbing a gas station, beating a girlfriend. Offered a chance to do something hard, to make something of themselves, with the backdrop of failure behind them, they take it, fail, do it again. Whereas I, coming from a place of reward and love, luxury and privilege, balk and tire at the first signs of difficulty. My eyes are tired. I complain. I’m so tired of being bad at this job.

I could quit. All the stress would vanish. We could go back to our old budget, our old lives. I could choose that path. I could have five luxurious days off a week again.

But I won’t.

I am lucky to be here, lucky to be me. I have a job, when many do not. I have a brain, as rusty as it is. I have supportive family, understanding kids, a car that runs.

Having been built up my whole life, I can afford to fail.

It is as important to be resilient as it is to be competent. It is good for me to fuck up, day after day, to have someone following me around checking up on me, telling me where I went wrong. It shows me how my kids must feel, sometimes. It will help me be a better parent, a better person, more forgiving and patient.

Oh it sucks. It sucks so hard to be 39 and 3/4s and be incompetent at something. Truly, panic-inducingly incompetent.

But after weekend one (the one with the kids) and weekend two (the two days where I am blessedly alone), I will start to feel like I might be ready to give it another try. I will be ready to walk into work again, strong and tall, with my many competencies to help keep me upright as I am slammed by waves of “you did this wrong” and “you put this thing here instead of there” and “don’t you remember? the ponies go in the UPPER mail slot.”

(Really. Ponies. Who knew.)

Someday I’ll look back at this and laugh. Maybe even next week? Probably not. But someday.

Ninety-Six — She’s Prone to Metaphor

Five year olds playing soccer is the most adorable and maddening thing. They get distracted by birds and trees, enjoy taking huge, dramatic tumbles, and often break into dance routines mid-game.

I remember when Arlo played two years ago, he would mostly run around huffing and puffing and feeling like he was really working hard, which he was, but he never touched the ball. And before you tell me it’s five year old soccer, they just need to be running and they’re learning important skills about teamwork, yes. I know this. But there are other five year olds who touch the ball, a lot, with their feet, and even move it from point a to point b. Sometimes? They get it in a NET, which is a GOAL and all the parents go wooooooooooh. There are a couple of boys like that on Eli’s team this year and we have played against many teams full of players who just seem to GET IT more than certain others.

At the time I chalked Arlo’s not-getting-it of soccer up to, well, Arlo. He’s a generally thoughtful kid who likes to take in his surroundings before committing to them. He enjoyed the heck out of soccer because he had friends and they were a team and he likes running. That’s like 70% of soccer right there.

At the same time, three-year-old Eli was running around kicking balls like a real ball kicker and I thought welp, he’ll really nail soccer someday I reckon.

Turns out not so far. Eli also loves that he has friends and they are a team and he LOVES running. Loves it. Would run all the time if he could. However. There is another 30% to soccer and that is moving the ball.

Watching Eli at practice yesterday I realized he moves WITH the ball. He moves AROUND the ball. He chases the ball to and fro and he knows where the ball IS at any given moment. But he doesn’t actually go up to the ball, claim it, and move it, either by kicking or dribbling. And Arlo did the same thing. They both kind of hover at the edge of the action.

I watched him and started to see some commonalities between his (and Arlo’s) approach to soccer and my approach to life, new experiences, things I am not totally confident about. I have this tendency, to start and stop things, just a bit too afraid to get right up to the ball and own it, dominate it, take it and run WITH it, not next to it or just behind it.

(It sometimes can be seen in my overuse of commas. Just break the sentence! Break it! Move on.)

I’m going to work on amplifying my inner soccer parent voice — oh yes, there is one, it tries to come out every time I watch a soccer game played by five year olds — and when I see myself hanging about the edges of the action, waiting meekly for a good moment to step in, I will tell myself to get the fucking ball already.


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.


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.

Ninety-Three — Grateful

Yesterday I took the boys to a Rock And Gem Show in nearby Port Moody. They went bananas for all the pretty rocks and gems. Eli scored a teeeny tiny emerald and Arlo convinced me to lend him enough money to buy a very hardcore necklace with a sword and skull pendant.

“What kind of gem is this?” he asked the woman whose booth it was.
“Oh that’s just glass, honey,” she said, “but the sword is real pewter.”

We came home with cloth “grab bags” full of polished and unpolished stones for two dollars each and the joy of the grab bag came back to me with a whoomp, like a strong gust of wind. I used to buy grab bags for two dollars at Shopper’s Drug Mart when I was a kid. They were paper bags with random cosmetics in them and it was so exciting to pull the staples out of the top of the bag, unfold it, and see the surprise.

This morning, Arlo informed me he wanted to go to the beach with a hammer and safety glasses so he could look for gold. What could I say — the sun was shining and it was a warm day. We grabbed our hammer and an old pair of sunglasses of mine and drove across the bridge to the beach at Port Royal in Queensborough. I had never been there but had heard it was a Best Kept Secret of the City so a quick google found me all the information I needed.

The kids smashed rocks and splashed around in the Fraser River. A big dog — husky, malamute? — came down to the beach and dug himself a hole almost his own size. He smelled something good down there. Every time his minder tried to fill in the hole with sand, he gave her a dirty look and recommenced digging. His fat, white paws were a flurry.

He never did find what he was looking for. #sadbono

Clusters of ducks swam by, using the river current to their advantage, looking like they were swimming on fast forward.

A flock of geese flew overhead. It was blindingly sunny and warm. My sinuses felt clear. I felt rested, finally, after days of feeling tired.

Today I’m grateful for space and time. Time to make space: ridding our house of bags of old clothes, overdue library books, overflowing compost. Time to make food that is delicious and time to wash up after myself so there is more space on the kitchen counter and I don’t feel like I’m drowning in pots and pans. Time to make space on my bookshelf for five new library books, to dig out all the many blue spiral bound notebooks I’ve been collecting and take them upstairs so that when I look at the shelf, I only see the story revisions I’m working on right now. Space to find time to work. Time to stretch and put the spaces back between my vertebrae so I feel long and loose, not hunched and achy.

Time and space, sunshine and clear sinuses. I don’t ask for much.

Eighty-Five — Ten Minutes

I have a spooky relationship with time. For example, in my fledgling meditation practise, I sit with my eyes closed for ten minutes. (This is a workable amount of time for me, so I picked it.) I try to focus, breathe, clear the mind, etc, this part is not interesting. What is interesting is that when I open my eyes, exactly ten minutes has passed. Close eyes at 6:27? Open eyes at 6:37. Recently I started trying to add a few minutes to the practise time and I can totally do this too. If I say to myself that I will open my eyes again at thirteen minutes, thirteen minutes is what passes.

Is this a marketable skill? Not sure.

Lately I find it helpful to do things in ten minute intervals. The thing about having SIX HOURS OF FREE TIME is that it’s like when you walk out of jail into a WalMart. Or some more poetic simile. Like finding a lake of cold, clean water at the edge of a desert. Without the limits of a small person saying pay attention to me or I will riot, I have only my own limits. Resetting those limits has been a job, I tell you. If I check twitter, an hour goes by. If I start washing dishes, before you know it I’ve reorganized the frying pans and an hour has gone by. We’re down to four hours, people. You see how this goes. Things that should take an hour: eating lunch. Going for a run. Yoga practise plus shower. Things that should not: replying to one e-mail. Tweeting. Catching up on peoples’ lives on facebook.

I like to make myself delicious lunches and sometimes that means half an hour of preparation and half an hour to eat. That’s an hour well-spent. Yesterday I had tomato soup — homemade, leftover from the other night — with a red chili chopped up in it and stale tortilla chips sprinkled over top and then cheese on top of the tortilla chips. It was so delicious. It only took ten minutes to make but forty five minutes to eat because it was both hot and spicy. I burned my tongue and wept and blew my nose and felt quite cleansed and like a new person by the time the bowl was empty.

I set the stove timer for ten minutes and washed all the dishes I could find. When the time was up, I set it again and spent ten minutes online ordering hot lunch for the kids for the next four months. When that time was up, I wrote for ten minutes. When that time was up I had tea. Only forty minutes had passed and so much had been accomplished.

Why I can meditate for ten minutes exactly but not wash dishes for ten minutes exactly is a mystery I will try to solve another day.

Eighty — Show Your Work

With all this free time staring me in the face, I have to be ever diligent and defend against Time Waste. I could drop the kids at school, come home and just sit clicking links on the ol’ Internet for six hours. But I must instead seize every moment of each day, because who knows when another illness will befall us and I’ll lose my time again.

See, I am already calling it MY TIME. With all MY TIME I came up with a great (horrible) statement this morning: It’s easy to be happy as a stay-at-home parent. Just keep the kids out of the house. I get so much done. I am so relaxed. I am happy to see them at the end of the day. And at the beginning of the day.

Why did I have children if I didn’t want to, you know, HAVE children? Well, I did spend five solid years with them. You’d need a break too, imaginary childless critic who is wondering about my motives.

I am also facing a possible return to work in the next *handwave* months, so in theory this lovely time off is but a vacation from my old life, not a real new life and as such I intend to enjoy it, not settle into it and have it become more drudgery and routine. Excitement! Verve! That is what I am talking about.

This morning I was running along a trail at Burnaby Lake Regional Park. My feet fell on the cushioned dirt path, sometimes on slugs, sometimes not on slugs. I had been listening to music but then I listened to the park instead; it’s full of birds and frogs and apparently bears though I did not see any, and that was more pleasant.

As I put one foot in front of the other over and over again for half an hour, I thought about how with kids we don’t really see the work that goes into their growth and development. It starts when they begin to exist without our knowledge and carries on pretty much forever? Babies go crazy and make no sense and then figure out how to talk and in retrospect we get it — baby goes crazy? Baby is making a developmental leap — but it’s still hard to see ahead of time.

It still surprises me when my kids make a leap or suddenly start doing something they haven’t done before. When I see them over here and they used to be over there it feels like they sprouted wings and flew to this new place. But really, the steps were all there. They built the steps and put them in place and followed them. Who knows how long ago that was, how long they’ve been working toward this goal in their own, precious, weird way. It only looks like magic.

From inside me, someone who is trying to figure out what to do with her life and accomplish much with what she’s been given, it feels more like I built the steps and put them in place and am slowly trudging along and holy cow it totally did NOT look this far when I started. How am I not there* yet? And yet, when I do arrive, perhaps to someone else it will look like I just sprouted wings and flew.

* the meditation book would say there is no there and you are here and I acknowledge this but I mean more in a goal-achieving sort of sense, not a self-achieving sense. I have achieved self.**

** or have I? ***

*** yes. For the most part.

Sixty-Eight — My Body’s Nobody’s Body But Mine

My body used to make sense. I would get hungry and give it food, nothing too fussy, occasional cravings, and then I would digest the food and then I would excrete the food. I would go to sleep when I was tired and wake up when I was still tired because you can never get enough sleep, but that’s normal, right? Alarm clocks: scourge of our natural time rhythms.

Once a month my period would come. Once a year I would get a cold or something worse like a sinus infection but it would go away.

This was before kids. Kids changed my body, of course. Growing a human being in your body and then birthing it can wreak a bit of havoc on systems digestive, reproductive, endocrine and others I am not familiar enough with to list here. There was the usual post-partum stuff; hair shedding and period cycle getting weird and never sleeping and wanting to yell at everyone. All of that resolved a few months (nearly a year actually) after I weaned Eli and I was..back to normal. Or so I thought.

I developed a headache that lasted three weeks. I started to get terrible PMS. I never had PMS before but I started having PMS that made me feel downright medicatable, but only for three days a month. Then there was the feeling-like-I’m-going-to-vomit-nope-not-vomiting thing, which I had years ago, and last year, and this year, and which went away two months ago and came back this week, and now I’m thinking well, that’s just part of me I guess. I’m nauseous. I eat candied ginger for breakfast. Hardcore.

Sometime last year the depressive PMS turned into weird-sleep PMS. In the five or so nights before my period starts, I sleep like crap — hot and cold and restless. I prefer this to the depressive sort of PMS but still.

My hair is half white and half not-white and the white hairs stand up all over my head in this sort of halo formation. That’s a polite way of putting it that also makes me sound angelic, which I am not. This is a perfectly reasonable thing for my hair to do, incidentally, so I hesitate to list it here because I do understand it, but I also think it helps paint a picture.

Emotionally I feel great! Physically I feel like one of those one-man bands with all the instruments playing a different song.

Oh, and my wrist hurts. Carpal tunnel from all the writing by hand and night-time fist-clenching.

Today I ate some fresh pineapple and all I want is pineapple now. I’m afraid I’ll turn into a toddler; nothing but fresh pineapple and then no more fresh pineapple ever. I just cut up my first fresh pineapple and ate a piece before stashing it in a container in the fridge. The flavour is still at the back of my throat; acid and sweet. It was just the right fleshy texture. Maybe a fresh pineapple a day will cure me of all this weirdness.

Or, more likely, it’s that I’ve been over-exposed to Spongebob Squarepants. (he lives in a pineapple under the sea, you know.) Time for a cleanse.

Sixty-Six — A Rough and Tumble Alcoholic with A Heart of Gold, That’s Me

Ginger* asks: If you could be a TV character in real life, who would you be?

My first thought was Dominic DaVinci from DaVinci’s Inquest. I couldn’t quite figure out why, so I thought about some other characters, among them The Littlest Hobo, Amber from Parenthood, and Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company, but I’m going to stick with my first thought. They say your first thought is your best thought.

DaVinci’s Inquest was a Canadian drama that I loved for several years ( imdb says 1998 – 2005 and I believe them). I don’t know if any Americans have ever seen it. The character of Dominic DaVinci, a coroner in Vancouver, investigated deaths in the city and uncovered compelling stories about the dead people, along with their causes of death. Often there was a mystery, but not always. It followed a lot of real-life storylines like the tragedy of the missing and murdered women here in BC, (except I think in the show, the murders were solved faster than in real life.) DaVinci was a recovering alcoholic, a divorced father of one teenage girl, and he had this manner about him; it was love and realism and hubris in one grizzled, grey, Italian-Canadian package. He was smart and sarcastic and compassionate and flawed. The show was incredibly well-written.

He brooked no bullshit. It’s a trait I admire.

* (anyone can participate in Ginger’s Bring Back the Words weekly prompts. This means you! They are fun and informative! Check it out.)

Fifty-Eight — Repetition is Comedy. Or Not.

I went looking for something in my old blog last night and found a post I wrote three years ago on the same topic as a post I wrote just a few weeks ago. This unsettled me. It felt like I might be a boring old show pony with only three tricks. Neigh! It can’t be avoided, though, the concept of repetition, since I like to worry things until there is only the smallest chunk of bone left. I’ve apologized to my biographers several times in the past few years about how repetitive my journals are.

In other news, this evening 5 asked us to play some screamy music so I put on a System of a Down song he used to run around the house to last year. I followed it up with Ministry. I also took some video, and this is that. As you can see, Arlo got a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book from the library today. Also he’s not such a huge fan of screamy music.