Tag Archives: people are people

I Fell Asleep Writing This

This is my second day without caffeine in my body except for the negligible amounts found in the single piece of Almond Roca I consumed this afternoon. (For the sake of Science: I always drink one large cup of coffee per day and about twice a week I have a second cup later in the morning. Once or twice a month I have espresso at 4 pm) Anyway! I have this to report:


Sand in the eyeballs tired. Up since 3 am tired, even though I was fast asleep at 3 am and in fact turned out my light last night … well, I didn’t turn it out, I think Saint Aardvark did, near 9 pm. Last thing I remember I was reading. And then I was awake again at 5:20 am feeling distinctly UNRESTED.

Shouldn’t the whole point of ridding your body of stimulants and depressants be that you magically find the middle spot on the teeter totter and balance there with a half smile on your face forever? I guess not. It feels like my body wants to sleep enough to make up for all the sleep that got put off by coffee since I started drinking it at 18.


I went to work yesterday. Everything was fine until lunchtime, and then my head started to hurt. It sort of felt like I had been lightly punched in the nose. A throbbing in my forehead and eyes. Staring at my computer did not help. I made it go away with ibuprofen and then it came back this morning at about 10, so I took more ibuprofen and then it started to sort of sneak in on the right side of my eyeballs at 2 this afternoon so I took MORE ibuprofen and I think we’re cool now.


I lost track of how many times I dropped the f-bomb into a small rant delivered to my supervisor. Luckily she is amused by me. Also, luckily, she was in the mood to be obscenely angry with me about the stupid things people do. Alright! Sometimes we use empathy and sometimes we use SWEARING LOUDLY.


The slight fog that I’m inhabiting while I move around in the world seems to make me more approachable; I have had many strangers smile at me in the past two days, I think because I look dazed and confused and people feel sorry/want to take advantage of me. No one has tried, mind you. Just more friendliness and sympathetic looks in my general direction. Or maybe I’m hallucinating.

(The other thing I’m abstaining from is alcohol, which so far has been a snap because who wants to drink alcohol when they already have an eye-jabbing headache? Only a true alcoholic, I suspect, which I am not.)

In a weak moment I googled caffeine withdrawal symptoms just so I could read about the headache I was already enduring. And then I read the comments, which went from comparing caffeine to heroine (sic) to someone picking on the typo to another person arguing anything can harm you if consumed in great enough quantities, just look at water, and then another person having an actual paragraph-laden argument with that person about oh god I don’t even know but it did not make my headache better so it fails as an internet webpage of any use.

In sum: All hail ibuprofen and onward day three.

Love and Affection

Yesterday I was walking to the library after leaving Arlo at his soccer class and I passed two young teenagers, a boy and a girl, lanky and floppy, parting ways for the evening. It was possibly a first or second date, at that age and stage where “date” means “yanno, hanging out” and as the girl veered off towards her house (I presume), a goofy grin on her face, the boy said, “So thanks for, like, walking around with me or whatever…” and the girl said, “yeah, it was fun..” and they both trailed off like that, blushing, and it captured me entirely. Nostalgia and relief mingled in me; relief to not be *that* awkward, at least. But also a bit of sadness that there’s nowhere to go but down. I’ll never feel that first simple flush of boy/girl crush again. There will never be another first time.

Oh that reminds me.

And then this morning, there was a boy at the bus stop with me and when he got on the bus he found friends at the back, and when they got off, he and a girl were holding hands and that made me smile too because of course, teenagers meet up with each other on the bus before band practice. They can’t live with each other. It was comforting, that things are the same as they ever were, while still being very very different.

I have a new co-worker, who is twenty-two but delightfully old for his age; he sings Cher and Journey in the office with me, complains that his iPhone 4 is so old it doesn’t even have wifi. I love him, because he reminds me of me.

I love all the things that remind me of me. Don’t you? Love the things that remind you of you, I mean. Not me. I mean, you can love me if you want. But love yourself more.

I checked back in with the Internet this week and there was Outrage and Scandal and much disgusted staring at people who disgust us, their names start with D, all 19 of them, and I remembered reading once in one of my hippie books something like “Whatever you give your attention to will grow.” Do we want people who are famous for having children to be more famous? Do we want them to grow? No. Stop looking at them. What if we could all look away. Look at something else. Take the spotlight off the undeserving and look at the melting ice caps. And not the Tim Hortons kind, either.

Here are some rabbit-faced jalapenos as a palate-cleanser:


The other night I was on a coffee shop patio and a woman sat down with her small dog on her lap. She fed the dog some muffin, and tilted some water into its mouth and then she took a series of photos of herself and the dog with her cell phone. At first I was scornful but then thought better of it. Have a date with your dog. You love your dog, your dog loves you. If I had a dog I loved that fit on my lap, I would take selfies with that dog and probably post them on twitter. I take pictures on my cell phone with my children. I take pictures on my phone just of me. Just to see what I look like because sometimes mirrors can’t be trusted.


In the office we were talking about animals and a co-worker related a story about her neighbour who took home a baby raccoon whose mother was hit by a car. The neighbour’s cat adopted the baby raccoon and the raccoon grew up thinking the tabby was its mother. One day the raccoon moved out and the cat was deeply saddened, lying around mournfully for weeks.

I wonder what would happen if a cat and a raccoon stood next to each other in front of a mirror. To each, the other looks normal and relatable; small-ish and fuzzy. They have no idea they bear only a passing resemblence to each other. They have in common that they want to be friends and co-habitate and snuggle and eat cat food.


This week I’m practicing wilful acceptance of all the people I encounter. So, if you see someone aggressively accepting you on public transit, even while you quietly fart and scroll through news stories on your phone, it might be me.


Something to Lean On, A Book to Read

I’ve taken the train an hour later a few mornings this week and boy howdy do I not like it. Ugh. It feels okay and normal until the stop before downtown and then everyone gets on and then, two stops later, I try to get off and it’s like swimming against a tide of spawning salmon. I legitimately did not think I was going to get off the train today. I was behind a big guy who was also getting off and I’d put my faith in him when I saw him move towards the doors but he was blocked by several people and a cluster of doorflies and I couldn’t help myself, when I finally cleared the door and was on the platform and that much closer to work, I said in a conversational tone, just like here is some information for you people, “there is a lot of room in the middle of the train.” Walked away. Yes, if people move to the middle of the train, THEY will maybe have trouble getting off at the next stop but guess what, you guys are already downtown and everything is a ten minute walk away so suck it. You don’t even NEED to be on the train anymore, jerks. Get some fresh motherfucking air in your lungs.

And deep breath in. And climb the stairs, greet the paper guy, cross on the green light and walk for seven minutes. Breathe the clean, damp air and look at the tall, shiny buildings reflecting the sunrise or glistening with new rain. Move fast past everyone, nod at the bicyclists. Put down my things for a few hours at the office, where people are kind and happy to see me.

The reason I’ve taken the train an hour later is because SA is away so I am taking the children to daycare and rather than dropping them there as soon as the doors open at 7, I am kind and allow them to keep to their routine, instead adjusting my own. I AM A HERO, YES. They have been remarkably sane and good this week, even with all the routine changes (no Dad, more grandparents, no time for a big bowl of ice cream BEFORE dinner tonight so had to wait until AFTER dinner — that last one did lead Arlo to a ten minute sulk up in his room; life is very disappointing sometimes) and other than getting cranky at times for reasons like: I dropped my phone and it broke, and my hair is annoyingly huge, and the people on the train are oblivious to the world around them, and baseball parents are shouty and bossy, I have also been mostly sane and good.

I picked out a few wonderful books last week at the library, having returned a selection of duds. I haven’t had so many duds in a while. Every book had something wrong with it, something that made me make a sneery, bad-smell face; one looked like a fluffy romance but was actually a Christian morality tale featuring estranged sisters, another looked like a readable dysfunctional family joint but was really a deeply depressing account of a fifty-something man and his relationship with his father, who in the story is deteriorating from Parkinson’s. Yikes! Too many boxes on the bingo card! I got to page thirty or so in each of the five books before throwing them back to the library pool and then I picked out several wonderful books; Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, which I’m reading before bed and is engaging and easy-readable with a few poignant and elegant turns of phrase thrown in, and We Need New Names by Noviolet Bulawayo , a raw account of a girl’s childhood in Zimbabwe and adolescence in Michigan, which I’m reading on transit and has completely consumed me for days. After those are done, there is A Buzz in the Meadow by Dave Goulson, a man who buys a farm in France and creates a bumblebee habitat. And Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. And How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran. And Transatlantic by Colum McCann.

If I can find a corner on the train to nestle into, and I can tune out the conversations, the time, and the place, I am given thirty minutes to spend reading a wonderful book. This is what makes commuting by transit great.

Well, and looking at peoples’ shoes.


The tops, or uppers I guess, of the shoes I am looking at on the train are of a woven nature that reminds me of craft kits I used to get as Christmas presents from distant relatives or friends of the family. People erred on the side of craft, as I was a quiet, only girlchild, so I received many craft kits aimed at 9-12 year olds. The one I’m thinking of was a bag of fabric bands that were meant to be woven together to make things; mats, ropes, towels, purses. There came with the kit a book of designs, and a loom.

I remember how the loops would stretch to a point and then no further, the slightly uncomfortable sound when two bands were woven tightly against each other, almost a squeak. After a few years of stretching and weaving and dismantling, the elasticity would give, just like in your underwear. I re-purposed them as hairties for Barbie’s impossible-to-handle blonde curls.

Anyway, the shoes on the lady on the train are woven with all different colours, no apparent colour scheme. Like this potholder.

They are Mary Janes, I notice after a second glance. The woman’s tanned feet are showing through the gaps in the top of the shoe. Mary Janes are my favourite style of casual flat shoe but it’s hard to find a pair that is truly comfortable, because my instep is too high and the top strap of the shoe is often tight across the top of my foot.

This phrase — high instep — insists on galling me because how does a high instep, the bottom of the foot, translate to a taller top of the foot? The bottom and the top of the foot should have no relation to one another, says my stubborn head, refusing to talk sense.

Do you ever have things that you think about sometimes that require you to manually twist your brain around to understanding them, even though they are perfectly obvious and you are fairly quick in other areas of thought? For example, I can do math in my head most of the time and carry on a conversation in French if I have to, but I have to stop every single time I want to spell the word occasional and write it several ways to see which is correct. Occasional? Occassional? Ocaaaaasional? Not that last one. I’m exaggerating. But thinking about my feet as one piece, not two, is one of my mental hurdles.

When I write it down or stop for a minute to really consider it, I can picture the human foot like a flexing chunk of earth; the arch rising and the peak rising with it. Feet undulate, that’s why we don’t just flop around like ducks. And yes I know the earth doesn’t undulate unless it’s quaking.

How did I end up with high insteps anyway? I am sure I didn’t have this problem until I was at least 30. It’s not as if I wore high heels and ruined all my foot bones. Anyway, the shoes she is wearing are the kind of Mary Jane I would choose; a stretchy band over the top of the foot so your flesh doesn’t get painfully bisected or dug into or made to bleed.

But the soles, the soles are what drew my attention in the first place, or rather the way the soles and uppers bear no relation to one another, as though I was a shoe designer for a day and refused to see that the top and the bottom of the shoe / foot should be connected in some way. The soles are those of running shoes, all crevices and soft, absorbant light rubber. But their colour! Tie-dye and acid flashback and technicolour vomit, all of which wouldn’t be so bad if not for the glaring mismatch with the fabric potholder upper part of the shoe.

In grade four? five? I had a pair of shoes I loved dearly, as they were Keds, and in fashion, but then a mean girl said it looked like someone had vomited on my shoes (they were patterned with colours) and I was reminded that I’d never be cool. So I might be overmuch sensitive to shoes that remind me of vomit and thus, of my own failings.

I couldn’t look away from this lady’s feet until it was time to get off the train.

( these are not them but wow.)

( these are closer but imagine the sole with more disco.)

(the longer I look at images of “woven fabric upper mary jane running shoe” the more entranced I am. Get me off this train!)

My Cervix is On Time

I went to the doctor today. I have a doctor but I don’t go to him often. Oh, he’s nice enough. About my age. Very friendly, good manner, no weirdo bullshit like with the guy who would only take us on as patients if we had no chronic illnesses, or the Botox Doctor whose receptionist (and the good doc herself) couldn’t smile properly because of the Botox and whose solution to my whatever-the-problem-was (I don’t remember, this was in the early 00s) was surprisingly NOT Botox but birth control pills, or the most recent family doctor who told me an IUD wasn’t a very reliable form of birth control and also gave my baby a sticker to play with, which he almost swallowed, while she gave him a flu shot, or the one before that who was ancient and wonderful but mostly ancient and was forced to retire.

You can see, maybe, why I prefer walk-in clinics? On the other hand, a GP gives you a nice sense of continuity. You have a file, and a level of trust. I chose this one because a) he didn’t seem crazy b) he was taking new patients and c) he refers people wildly. As in, if you go to him, he doesn’t try to talk you out of or solve your problem. He refers you to someone else who can deal with it. I went to him a year ago for my nausea; he sent me for an abdominal ultrasound. I went today because I needed a pap and also I wanted a referral for some blood tests to see if I’m low on iron because my last several periods have been like a veritable Niagara Falls of blood.

Walk-in clinic doctors are always trying to talk you out of what you want; the referral, the antibiotics. They have to, because they see so many patients. They don’t trust people. I get it. But I know when I’m really sick and when I need something. This is how I manage my own health care. My doctor listened carefully to my complaints, told me I am probably NOT in perimenopause (however, I do believe him to be incorrect and I did shut him down by telling him how early my mother menopaused hi doctor I have the Internet as well!) and then wrote me a requisition for blood tests. Thanks and goodbye.

But before I could get that piece of paper:

First I had to make an appointment, a week ago. Today at noon was the first appointment I could get, so I took it. Now, this doctor is late. He is troublingly, chronically late. He’s not late because he Takes His Time, the way the ancient, now retired doctor was. He is just late. Maybe he is a superhero and is always in phone booths, putting his khakis back on?

The first time I went to see him, my appointment was for 10 am and I waited an hour. The second time, I made a very early appointment on purpose. I had the second appointment of the day, at 9:15. I still waited until nearly 10:30. Why? Because he didn’t show up to the office until 10 am. (stuck in a phone booth? Khakis needed cleaning? Sore spot on his pinky toe?)

So with today’s 12:00 appointment, I was genuinely worried I would not be back in my neighbourhood to pick my kids up from school at 2:55. Being canny, I called the office at 11:45 and asked what time I should show up for my noon appointment. The receptionist said, hmm, hmmm, come in at 12:40?

I showed up at 12:45. I sat in the reception area listening to I’ll be Home For Christmas Do They Know it’s Christmastime Santa Claus is Coming to Town until 1:25. I also got to overhear a great conversation between some random woman and the bank of receptionists re: the random woman’s attempt to visit Las Vegas over the weekend and how Customs held her for four hours because she’d had a DUI THIRTY YEARS AGO AND SHE PAID THE FINE. Also they wanted to know about her association with some disease clinic which was PRIVATE INFORMATION THAT WAS NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS

…apparently our business though? Now, anyway.

I went in the exam room and took off my pants and sat on the edge of the exam table for a while longer, simply having a WONDERFUL Christmastime, before Dr. Superhero came in. Not sure what time that was, but when I got back to my car it was 1:53. Home by 2:15, eating lunch by 2:20, out the door at 2:45 to pick kids up from school, my pesto breath crystalizing in the cold air.

But before I left his office, I noticed he’d left my file open on his computer so I sneaked a look. Our visit was accurately documented (“left-shifted uterus”?) but for one thing: UNREMARKABLE CERVIX he’d typed. Well I never! I think he’d feel differently if he’d ever seen my older son’s head. Sir! My cervix understands the meaning of a clock, at least. When it’s go-time, my cervix SHOWS UP and DILATES.


On Staying in Your Lane

I have a car commute to work and back; about 25 minutes to get there and 35 minutes to get back in the afternoon, give or take fifteen minutes of local hijinkery on the home side. Like all semi-regular commuters, I know the ins and outs; when to get in the left lane to avoid having to merge at the last minute, when to get into the right to avoid those pesky left-hand-turners who hold up traffic. (Is there anything better than knowing a route so well you can navigate it like you’re playing a video game, shaving two whole minutes off your travel time? THERE IS SOMETIMES NOTHING BETTER THAN THIS.)

I go against rush hour traffic, which, next to the benefits and pay, is the best thing about my job. It puts a solid check in the PLUS column when you are always seeing people lined up, not moving, going the other way, and you’re doing 100 km in a 60 zone*. It’s a pathetic sort of winning, but it’s winning.

*It totally does not need to be a 60 zone.

Last Friday I was driving along, in the left lane because it was left-lane-time, a number of cars around me. Suddenly, a Jetta in the right lane went sweeervvve into my lane, in front of me. Not just a “whoops forgot to signal” move but a “I don’t even see other drivers because I am THE BEST!” move. I nearly hit it. I made a face at that Jetta and said,”You are VERY LUCKY I did not hit you.” I scolded it with my face.

At the next light, the guy driving the Jetta looked in his sideview mirror at me. He was kind of smirking or maybe smiling in an apologetic way. Hard to tell. I decided I would not give him the pleasure of my anger.

So, instead of following too close, glaring at him, and wishing him ill, I gave him lots of space and smiled.

I’ve been practising doing this, smiling at people when I want to kill them.

And not the sharky, I-will-eat-you smile, either. A real smile.

It works. Or, it worked in this situation. Maybe because it was Friday and I am very relaxed about work now that I don’t have to care any more, or because the sun was out and my parents had the kids so I didn’t have to worry. Maybe it worked because I was in a good space, or maybe it worked because I gave myself the space and then put myself in it, refusing to get into that guy’s space and be manipulated by his bad behaviour.

I stayed in my own lane.

Eventually he was gone, and I went back to my sweating and singing along to the radio.

This may seem obvious to some of you, but it is a reminder — much needed, repeatedly — that not everyone thinks the way I do, that I can only control my own reactions and behaviour, that I am only responsible for getting me from point a) to point b), and that I can do that by staying. in. my. mother.effing.lane.

Don’t swerve around and get up in peoples’ grills. Don’t shake your fist at them at the stoplight. Don’t waste time wondering why they are doing that cockamamie thing, because it’s none of your business. It works for the road, the Internet, conversations with strangers and acquaintances. It works for swimming laps! Stay in your lane.

Next to “I may not be a great CMA* but I’m a kickass human being,” “Stay in your lane” may be the best simple motto I’ve come up with in 2014.

Months to go yet, though. Months to go.

*that’s my job title


Here, in my lane, I am sticking to my fifteen minutes a day, which I’d been doing after dinner anyway so the kids being all up in my face, all over this place all day doesn’t change my schedule any. I would like to add a bit more time during the day and it seems likely that we will implement Summer Quiet Time (no stickers. Just do it.) in the afternoons. The children can and will read quietly and independently and I think fifteen minutes is not too much to ask.

Those of you who requested stickers, your stickers are in the mail.

Dog Friday

I had the day off today. I also had Monday and Wednesday off but somehow having Friday off makes things more festive. When I got up this morning, the sun was rising SUN! SUN! and SA walked the kids to school because he always does that on Fridays and I stayed in my pjs five more minutes before going for a great run. In the sun.

Today is the sun after all the rain. It hasn’t really been raining. This has been a metaphor.

Anyway, as they were leaving for school, I pointed out to Eli that his stuffed dog, Shortbread, was on the kitchen floor, having been removed from the school backpack. Shortbread goes back and forth to school a lot. He stayed there for a week, in the Pet Hospital in kindergarten, but he seems to be fine now.

“Is Shortbread going to school?” I asked. “Or is he staying home with me.”
Eli thought about it.
“With you,” he said. “You can take care of him. And Black Eyed* too.”
“OK,” I said.
“Don’t forget to feed them,” Eli said, glaring at me.
“And what about when they have to poop?” I asked.
“They don’t..do that,” he said.


The first thing I did was take a picture of the dogs and me. Because the camera was right there. Aren’t they just the cutest?


*Black Eyed might actually be called “Mini No Name**” but I don’t remember exactly.
** because Eli has a stuffed BEAR called No Name, you see.

Then it was time for me to go for a run. I debated taking the dogs but decided I didn’t want the weight. So I kissed them goodbye. I figured they’d be okay for an hour.


Wooooeeee it was a good run. I am slowly building up stamina to a 40 minute run. Today I ran more than walked, and that is better than Wednesday. The streets were not too icy and my lungs quickly got used to the cold air. My hands warmed up at exactly fourteen minutes in. Weird.


The dogs were glad to see me. This is my pink running shirt that was five dollars in the bargain bin. My joke to the neighbours I see when I come home from running is, I run until my face matches my shirt, and then I’m done.

I had a shower, but the dogs stayed downstairs. Then I had a snack. They didn’t want any. I needed a bit of food because the next thing we did was GO TO COSTCO!


Well, first we checked our storage room to see if we needed coffee. We did.


They had never been to Costco so they weren’t that excited, but they were happy to be in the car. They like the car.


Shortbread fell asleep in the car, just like Eli always does, but Black Eyed stayed awake the whole time and seemed to enjoy the music on the radio.


Costco was busy, no duh. Friday afternoon. I parked far away and hiked in.

Yeah, I had a list, but we also had to look at other stuff, like the kid-sized recliner


and the Kobo.


The dogs really liked riding in my purse in the cart, and I think I liked it too because being without children but with stuffed animals makes you Kind of Crazy. Throw in the fact that you’re photographing the animals, and people get out of your way at Costco. Just the way I like it.


After some dithering, the dogs got bored and started to act up so I knew it was time to leave.



Last stop was at Safeway and the liquor store, because it’s Friday! Friday at the Safeway/liquor store parking lot is almost as crazy as Costco, so we parked far away again. Exercise is good for you! It’s a sunny day!


At Safeway I bought milk and bananas. At the self-checkout, the clerk came over and said,

“You’ve got a dog in your purse.”
“I have two!” I said, and dug out Black Eyed.
“Oh that’s so cute,” she said.

She did not seem to think it was odd, which was odd.

“They’re my son’s,” I said. “When he left for school he asked me to watch them..”
“So cute!” she said again. “My husband still has his stuffed bear from when he was a kid. And I still have my stuffed Santa.”
“Wow,” I said.
“The Santa was the only thing I saved from a house fire when I was two,” she said. “Everyone but my brother survived. He was two years older than me. But my parents and my seven brothers and sisters survived. And the Santa.”
“Wow,” I said again. I couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“My husband bought me a big Santa just like the little one, she said. So I have an old one and a new one.”

It’s great, the things people will tell you.

We went on to the liquor store.


Black Eyed allowed as how he has seen me drink a lot of Fat Tug and maybe I should buy some. I had my usual debate over nice, hoppy beer? or nice full red wine? Decided on beer.

The man ahead of me at the liquor store told the cashier and me a story about hitch-hiking through Alberta when he was fifteen, hair down to his butt, old ladies throwing eggs at him from car windows and yelling at him to get out of their town, because he was a dirty hippy.

I liked the story because of him, the young hippy, and because of the awesome old ladies throwing eggs, however misguided they might or might not have been.

He and I walked to the parking lot together. He said, “It’s like Willie Nelson said, ‘if I’d known I’d live so long, I’d’a taken better care of myself.'”

I laughed.

“Now, where’s my car,” he said. “That’s the problem with being an old hippy, you can’t remember where your car is…”
“I can’t help you with that,” I said.
“Have a good weekend,” he said.
“You too.”

Happy to be home, the dogs fell on the Costco-sized bag of Munchie Mix and fell asleep there, waiting patiently for Eli to come home from school.


School pick up ensued, then playdates with friends, then dinner. It is cold and clear tonight, and I’m getting my hair cut tomorrow and all’s well that ends well.

(Notes from Eli after viewing: i love your story! thank you for posting that story!)
(Notes from Arlo: your story is great and I really liked the pictures!)

Thanks guys. Best kids ever. Also, turns out Black Eyed is actually named Super No Name.

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.


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-Eight — Free Association

Let’s do this, post number ninety-eight!

If I was ninety-eight years old right now, it would be the year 2072 and exactly three months until my ninety-ninth birthday! I might have grandchildren, or great grandchildren.

A girl I used to be friends with in grade two started having her children while she was just out of high school and is now going to be a grandmother. She is forty-one. I’m not sure if this makes me feel old or young. Mostly just grateful to be me.

There is a woman in our neighbourhood — she is somewhere between forty-one and one hundred years old — who stands at the pedestrian-controlled crossing by the Safeway, pressing the button. She sometimes crosses when the light changes, but then she stands on the other side and presses the button to change the light again. She also chats with people while they wait for the light to change. I’ve never seen her anywhere but standing next to the pole with the button, anxiously watching traffic. She’s really concerned about traffic.

In the past few months the cycle on the lights has grown longer. It used to be one of those corners where as soon as you pressed the button, the light would change, but now it can take five minutes. If you’re driving, sometimes longer. You have to back up and go forward, trying to trigger the sensor that changes the light. Or maybe there’s no sensor and it’s just the entertainment for the people who live in the new apartment building across the street.

The new apartment building promised us street-level shops but so far all I see is a paper sign declaring DENTAL OFFICE OPENING SOON and a People’s Drug Mart. The Drug Mart used to be in the location where the apartments now are (it used to be a strip mall) and when the apartments were being built, the Drug Mart moved a couple of blocks away, to a terrible location on the other side of a very busy road. Now they are moving back. The last iteration of the Drug Mart didn’t have much except drugs. I am hoping the new iteration will have something good like lip gloss.

For the other street-level shops I am hoping for a coffee shop that is not Starbucks (there are already two of those just a block away) and a book store. If you’re going to hope, hope; that’s what I say.

There should be more book stores open near drug stores. After all, where are you going to go while you wait for your prescription to be filled? What else would be nice? A taco place. A tattoo parlour. A consignment clothing store that has the perfect jacket.

I may, this Fall/Winter, cave and buy a puffy down jacket with a fur collar. Why fight against the current?

Yesterday we drove very far to Harrison Mills, or near it, to see spawning salmon and feasting eagles. We saw a lot of both. There is an annual Eagle Festival based around the time when all the salmon come to spawn and die and the eagles arrive to eat their faces off. The festival is next week but we’re busy next week and this past weekend was a long weekend because of Remembrance Day. We were all in various stages of various sicknesses, it being mid-November, so a long car ride to a giant outdoor observatory with very few other people was exactly what the doctor ordered.

I’m not sure what the kids thought of the concept of swimming for miles and miles and miles and miles to lay your eggs and then die and then be eaten by eagles. Arlo did say, “It’s too bad they have to die,” and I said, “well, if they didn’t, the eagles wouldn’t have as much to eat,” and then we sang the circle of life together and drove home.

Actually if the salmon never showed up, the eagles would still have plenty to eat in the way of little dogs that live in the fancy gated housing development that’s built right on the river front / observatory. Why you would spend a bunch of money to build your dream country-woods house and then have a purse dog / eagle bait that you have to walk every day is way beyond me but maybe it will make sense when I’m retired.

I hope not.

In terms of my own life cycle, I am glad that after spawning I have a few years to carry on living before I am consumed by death. Hooray for being human, not fish. It’s the way to go.

Ninety-Five — Conversations

This morning I walked the kids to school and then dropped by the office to fill out a volunteer form so I could accompany Eli’s kindergarten class to the grocery store for a field trip. The office secretary was giving out late slips and it was lovely to hear her greet each late child by name. There is a sadness inherent in chronic tardiness, isn’t there? Then I get over that sadness. It’s elementary school, not a Canadian dysfunctional novel. All is probably well.

One girl came in and the secretary said she looked tired.
“Oh yes,” the girl said. “I was up until ONE AM.”
“My,” said the secretary.
“I have so many things on the weekends,” said the girl. “Dance, soccer, Bulgarian school…”

Her eyes were wide. She didn’t look tired to me. I wasn’t buying it. Some kids like having lots of activities. Some kids can’t tell time. Some kids just like people to feel sorry for them.

The walk to the grocery store was illuminating. The little girl walking in front of me told me all about her visiting grandparents, her younger sibling, and that she was sick actually. Right then. Today.

“I am so sick,” she said.
“Oh that’s too bad,” I said. To be polite, I asked, “Do you have a cough, or a stuffy nose?”
“I’m just sick sick sick,” she went on. “But still I have to come to school. And now [sibling A] and [sibling B] will get sick.”
“The more kids you have in your house, the sicker everyone will be,” I agreed.

We left it at that.

The grocery store field trip was a nutrition teaching expedition. Nutritionists took the children in two groups through the store and explained the Canada Food Guide and its rainbow of suggested food servings.

Mostly the kids were fascinated by the demonstration glass of milk. They all tapped it and marvelled that you could turn it over and nothing happened. It didn’t spill. MAGIC.

In the cereal aisle the children sat on the floor and learned how much fibre is needed in a serving of cereal to make it healthy (5g or more) and how much sugar (7g or less). A man who was going to shop down that aisle stopped short and asked me what was going on. He had a baguette tucked under his arm.

“They’re a kindergarten class,” I said, “learning about how to eat good food.”
“In the CEREAL aisle?” he scoffed.
“Um, yeah, they’re talking about breakfast,” I said.
“Sure, I get it,” he said and walked away.

You get it? What? Big Froot Loop rides again? Innocent children being brainwashed into thinking breakfast cereal might be an option as a food item? Way to stick it to The Man, baguette-eater.

Some days uptown New Westminster just has a lot more going on. Today was one of those days. Each corner of 6th & 6th had a strange looking person standing on it, someone grey-faced or slouching, someone with a hand shoved at a strange angle inside a jacket pocket. Someone with slightly outside-the-lines lipstick. A woman with a toddler-aged grandchild in a stroller was cooing, “Some-one is all poooopy..” while she waited for the light to change. A man with an artificial-looking beard asked me for change.

In the Most Depressing Mall in the Universe, where I went to buy lip balm at the drug store, a man followed me down the hall from the bathroom, his feet sounding alarmingly quick behind me. He wanted to ask how tall I was.

“Five foot ten,” I said. “Goodbye.”

Later, the kids had a friend over and they watched a video on youtube. Then another, and another. It was “American Girl,” at some point, a new pop song. I watched them closely as they watched, and I heard the following conversation:

(after a closeup of the three women in the video from behind)

“The camera just totally zoomed in on their BUTTS! Why did it DO that?”
“I don’t know.”
“Hey, that’s a nice car.”
“I like that guy’s tattoo. That’s really cool.”
“I think it’s a Mustang…”
“Hey she’s stealing his car!”
“She’s totally stealing it!”
“I don’t want to watch this anymore.”

I heard this song by J. Roddy Walston and the Business in the car this evening and had to wait until it was done to turn off the engine. This love is subject to revision.