Tag Archives: public transit is a blessing and a curse

The Space I’m In

We were asked to think about our writing practice in class the other day; what materials we use, what space we inhabit, and to think, too, about how to best use the spaces that are our most productive. I am used to obsessing about time but haven’t given much thought to space, until now.

Using this laptop on this table is sometimes productive. I am in our dining area, which rubs up against both our living area and our kitchen area. If no one is in either of those areas shouldered against mine, I can write quite well. The hum and thrash of the dishwasher in the kitchen is a nice, white noise. The clutter around me — the bulletin board covered in layers of KidArt, Kitchen Island and its permanent inhabitants, Pen Caddies One and Two, Catch-All Basket, Fruit Bowl, Giftcard Tin, Tissue Box — doesn’t affect me or stop me writing. I can create in disorder, even chaos, but not if there are other people around who might need something from me. Those people are all upstairs right now, getting ready for bed, so I can be here, doing this.

Plain table

Plain table

My other space for writing is my bedroom, where I excavated a corner a few years ago, and put my desk and chair. This year when I learned I’d be doing the writer’s studio, I cleaned up the desk and sorted out my drawers and got a sweet little lamp with a metal pull-chain to turn it on and off. That space is one of the best spaces for going deep and getting dirty. It’s very quiet upstairs, even though there is no door to our bedroom. The sound stops at the second floor, somehow. Physics, probably.

I have always wanted a light with a chain to pull

I have always wanted a light with a chain to pull


I write upstairs in the mornings, because it’s close to my bed, and because the quiet and privacy suits the stream of semi-consciousness that comes out at 5:30 am. When I get going it’s hard to stop, but the shower and my breakfast and the bus and work wait for me, so I have to stop.

I realized when I stopped to think about it that I rarely take the laptop upstairs to write. I prefer paper up there, maybe because I know there’s no one to look over my shoulder while I scribble. Privacy is not a real concern, as my family respects mine, generally. The kids are more interested in what I’m doing on the screen than what I’m writing on a page. The screen is all.

The problem of the laptop is not its surroundings or even its content and distractions. Those can be turned off. It’s that it’s too easy, on this machine, to type words that are pretty and admire them for that, without them having to do anything. On paper, the words are only as pretty as my handwriting. (My handwriting is not pretty.) They have to add up to something. On the screen, they can be moved around and manipulated, but pen on paper is etched. It’s in there, even when you scribble it out.

Handwritten words work harder. Point.
I have never written a blog post by hand. Counterpoint.

I write by hand on the Skytrain, too, most mornings when I get a spot to lean on so I can use my hands. Some mornings I don’t get that spot and I stand and look out the window. Some (rare) mornings I get to sit down and then I usually close my eyes and sleep/meditate. Sleepitate.

I could try writing on my phone on the Skytrain, or taking the laptop upstairs or spreading out papers and notebooks on this table. Thinking about doing those things makes me uneasy, like watching people drive on the wrong side of the road. Possibly this means I am too comfortable in my spaces and I need to shake things up.

Gonna keep sipping my ginger beer and ponder that one.

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:

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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.

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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.

lolraccoon

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.

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In No Particular Order

I saw a crow eating a dead pigeon while I was walking through downtown this afternoon.

A man walking the other direction on the sidewalk, who saw the crow eating the pigeon at the same time as me, met my eyes and we both affected a wide-eyed horror face, and then we both looked at the tour bus that was stopped for the light, but none of the tourists looked out their windows to see the bird carnage.

I continued eating my most delicious falafel sandwich as though I was a crow and my delicious falafel was my pigeon.

When I got back to the office and told my co-worker, let’s call her Laughing Elder, about the birds, she told me about once seeing an eagle steal the food of a crane and the crane losing its mind with anger.

Last night I started reading “H is for Hawk” and it is exactly as good as all the reviews say it is.

Last night I also bought two Foo Fighters albums and finally indulged my love of All Things Rock and Grohl. Yes, I just said that. You are embarrassed for me. I hate puns. Unless I am making them.

I feel like I should be embarrassed for loving the Foo Fighters as much as I do. Yet, they write the songs that make me pound the table and bang my head while keening to the sound of perfect harmonies, so I guess I will not apologize. Also, Dave Grohl is an excellent writer and drummer, and shouty in all the right places.

That was the first song I heard this morning on my music player on the way to work and yes, I was a little overtired and happy that it’s Friday, but it was more than that. The song in my headphones at 7 am on 8th ave waiting for the bus made me darn near euphoric. I thought I might cry, vomit, become hysterical, and pass out on the sidewalk.

(It is possible I could use a good night’s sleep.)

Things have been at a low ebb for a few weeks; the evening sportsball activities are taking their toll and Eli in particular, being of a slightly dramatic persuasion, has a tendency to complain that he is tired, has only ever been tired, and will continue to be tired until his dying breath. Which will be tired.

Wednesdays are our busiest evenings; baseball starts at 5:45-6, then Arlo does soccer at 7 at a different park, and we don’t get home and into bed (the kids that is) until at least 8:30, sometimes closer to 9. Then up for Thursday at 6:30.

Wednesday I picked up the kids at daycare at 5, as usual.

Eli: Ohhhhh I am so tired.
Me: Gosh you do sound tired.
Eli: I think I should skip baseball practice.
Me: Oh yeah?
Eli: I’m too tired. I just..I just…
Me: We’ll see.

It should be noted that wednesdays are my busiest day at work. On Wednesdays roughly 80% of my day is on my feet, and 60% of my day is talking to clients, and the rest is either going to the bathroom or taking public transit, where I am also standing. Wait, no, I sit down in the bathroom. But stand on public transit. So I was tired too. I did not want to take him to baseball. I wanted to change into sweatpants and drink wine and drool myself to sleep.

Arlo: ..and I don’t have my shin pads.
Me: Hm?
Arlo: Remember I had to have my shin pads or I couldn’t go back to soccer? And I looked for them but I didn’t find them.
Me: Did you look *everywhere*?
Arlo: I think so.
Me: (suspects not)
Arlo: ..anyway I might find them. But if I don’t, we can go shopping.
Me: Pardon?
Arlo: For black pants and a white shirt.
Me: Pardon?
Arlo: Tomorrow is the May Day assembly at school. So we need black pants and a white shirt.
Me: Not for the assembly, surely. For the actual ceremony, next week…
Arlo: My teacher said for tomorrow.
Me: (plots teacher’s demise)
Arlo: So…we can go shopping if we don’t go to soccer.

Yes. Doesn’t that sound fun? Car, mall, kid, evening. No sweat pants. No wine. No drooling. I am DELIGHTED with this counter-proposal, and yet there is SOMETHING missing. What could it be. Could it be..that if I’m not GOING OUT I don’t want to GO OUT.

On we walked, Arlo bouncing along, Eli slouching.

At home, I made them grilled cheese sandwiches and thought about it. It wasn’t a baseball game, just a practice. Was it absolutely necessary that we go? Would it injure anyone’s character? I decided no and texted the team to let them know we wouldn’t be coming. I texted one of the parents from Arlo’s class and asked about the dress clothes for the Thursday assembly. She replied yes, and lol, and ha ha. I looked for Arlo’s shin pads and did not find them. I considered that he might have hidden them, but remembered that he loves soccer. Decided to cancel soccer too. Went to the mall and bought black jeans and a white collared polo shirt and was happy that we have two incomes right now so I could just go to H&M and buy the kid clothes and not worry about it.

Arlo has the right kind of body for H&M, spaghetti-like. The clothes fit him and we moved on quickly. I got to my sweatpants, my wine, and my drool. As Arlo himself is fond of remarking, it was not the end of the world.

Plus he is cute.

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Fairness-ometer:

Eli got a cheese hat from his uncle who drives a truck and was in Wisconsin.

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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.

Shoe-gazing

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!)

On and On, Around and Around

I almost wrote this blog post on my phone, using the free wi-fi available at the ball park, while Eli practiced baseball and Arlo practiced hockey with a tennis ball (ALL THE SPORTS AT ONCE PLEASE) but people talked to me so I listened to them and then it would have been awkward to pull out the phone again. Plus I have fat, fat thumbs that do not do well with today’s smart phones; my old phone had a little punchy-in keyboard and that was great but the touch screen, I am not used to it. It is not used to me. I watch teenagers text on public transit and their thumbs move like hummingbirds and their mistakes autocorrect — or don’t — and they don’t even stop to read over what they’re writing, they just hit send and apologize later.

On Saturday night SA and I went to see the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra perform Mozart’s Requiem and on our way home on the skytrain we met up with a few hundred people who had been to see Def Leppard. A lot of them were very young. A significant number were older than me. I know from my high school facebook friends that many people my age also attended the Def Leppard show. Armageddonit.

The Symphony was splendid. I sat listening, thinking of better words to use than awesome. Fantastic. A delight. An older woman sat next to me. She was there with friends, but they had seats together and she was visiting from out of town so she bought a ticket on her own. She was from Montreal and she had never seen the Requiem performed. At the end she stood and applauded and shouted Bravo! and then leaned down to ask me what I’d thought. Wonderful, I said. It was. A symphony is one of those things that you take for granted until you are staring at it, bathing in it, wondering how on earth anyone ever thought of Music Composition or Symphony Orchestras. Seriously. It could be so, so horrible, but it isn’t, it’s amazing.

Three days earlier I saw Neko Case perform at the Vogue theatre and she was sublime. Her voice is like warm honey. Sometimes it turns and there is a knife blade, but before you can really process that you heard a knife blade, she’s back to honey. She has magnificient, red hair and she wore tights with skeleton bones printed on them. If I could switch places with her, Freaky Friday style, I totally would.

*closes eyes* *opens eyes*

Nope, still me.

Yesterday it was ALL THE CELEBRATIONS for Eli’s birthday, which is today. Today he is seven. But yesterday he was six and 90/100ths and we had a birthday party at the movie theatre. Three friends fell ill over the weekend with a mysterious feverish virus, and in retrospect that’s probably a good thing because six boys in a movie theatre was enough and nine might have killed me. The party was not Pokemon themed, although I did put Pokemon cards in the loot bags; there is a store at a mall that sells ‘grab bags’ — 20 cards for two dollars, and one of them might be rare. Eli also received a lot of Pokemon cards as gifts, and the sharp intakes of breath around the table when he opened the blah blah blah blah something or other E.X FULL ART! was something to behold. How to shut up a room of 6-7 year olds: put a giant shiny card in front of them. Magic.

Eli also received some money as a gift and when asked what he would do with the money he replied, I will buy more Pokemon. When asked what he would do if everyone he knew stopped playing with Pokemon, he shrugged in his inimitable way, and replied, I will put them away and wait until they’re popular again.

Smart for seven. Maybe too smart. Age of reason: achieved.

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(then-ish)

“One nice picture. Come on.”

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(now-ish)

Bee Firmly Fixed in Bonnet

It started out OK, this day, but the list of things — stupid things — that were irritating me just collected and collected like a layer of dust until it was impossible to see the road ahead of me, so dusty was my windshield.

How Dusty My Windshield: Collected Stories.

A list, in no particular order, of the stupid things that somehow were impossibly irritating today:

— The smell of flatulence in a certain area of the office and before you suggest it was me, it wasn’t. I even, at one point, considered that I MIGHT be farting, that maybe my sphincter is LOOSE and farts are escaping my person without me noticing? And then I thought no, that is ridiculous, you would also then be pooping in your own shoes, surely, it is merely that someone in this office, or possibly everyone, needs to eat less junk food and get outside for a walk.

— This dude on the skytrain this morning had a baseball cap that said something stupid. I know. I don’t even remember what it was but it pissed me off.

— Whenever I take an escalator I think about a tweet I saw once; this person said “one thing that really bugs me is when people stand rather than walk on an escalator.” Now I do not give a shit what you do on the escalator as long as you keep right if you’re standing and walk left if you’re walking. But what the hell is wrong with standing on an escalator? It’s a MOVING STAIRCASE. If you want to WALK, take the STAIRS. I think about this tweet almost every time I take an escalator. I imagine that people who walk on the escalator are judging me, and then I get mad about them judging me.

Guess what, they are not judging me. Also can we take a real minute to appreciate my hypocricy, in taking someone’s stupid annoyed statement and making my own annoyed statement about how annoying it is.

Thanks.

— Also transit related: when people line up for the bus and then slowly shift forward in the line, even though the bus has not yet arrived. Holy shit. I am about to start swinging a baseball bat at the bus stop, people. If the bus is not at the stop, you don’t need to keep moving. Just stay put. Why are you moving? Do you think moving will make the bus come sooner? It will not come sooner. It’s the same as people in cars who are at stop lights and they can SEE that the cross-light is nowhere near ready to change but they still inch up, up, up, until their dumb car noses are in the intersection and for what? Two seconds of lead time? You don’t even GET that lead time in the bus line up because you get on right after the person in front of you and right before the person behind you. So I stand still. The person in front of me can inch, I will not inch. Today the person behind me was nearly licking my earlobes, so close to me was she, because when the person in front of me moved up an inch, the person behind me did too. I WILL NOT MOVE.

— The lady in front of me in the bus line up was wearing tights of the panty-hose variety, not the footless tights that are like exercise pants variety, and I could see the dimples in her butt cheeks and I did not want to see that.

— There was this kid on the bus who wanted to hold a bouquet of dandelions and his mom said no, your hands are too dirty and he was whining like whoa about this so I had to put on my headphones. YOUR HANDS ARE TOO DIRTY TO HOLD DANDELIONS THE MOST PRISTINE FLOWER IN ALL THE LAND AND ALSO RARE, WHAT? Sorry little dude, I feel you, but your voice is like a knife on a wine glass.

— This stupid computer program at work that makes me do extra clicking and is full of bugs and no one cares. It’s like an addled co-worker that you have to check up on all the time, to make sure it’s not breaking or losing things. Which is pretty much the OPPOSITE of a good computer program, can I just say.

— My music player was on shuffle and it kept playing PJ Harvey and the Pixies, as though it knew I needed to be pushed into a dark, cranky space and then forced to explode my way out. So I turned it off.

I left the headphones on, though, because of the dandelion kid & etc.

Yeah I think that about covers it.

If you have any irrational irritations feel free to share. No irritation too small, that’s my motto. Even the tiniest chafe can make a blister. Etc.

I Am The Taco

Some weeks are productive and you squeeze out every last minute like a delicious lime over your taco and some weeks are more like you are the taco: easily broken, vaguely tasty, sort of cold, soaking in lime juice, about to be eaten. It’s raining and I have a cold and the train is too full and people breathe too much and I want to embrace humanity but I don’t.

Related to my last post about days off, here is a great article about how to do it properly:

How to Take a Day Off . Ahh. Are we all relaxed now?

Related to nothing much at all, except that squirrels! are great! here is today’s XKCD cartoon, which you probably already saw because everyone but me reads it on the regular. However, when directed, I do greatly enjoy it. I just forget.

Today at daycare Eli gave away all his Pokemon cards — except two — and then regretted it.

We were driving behind a vehicle a few weeks ago and it advertised YOUNIQUE PRODUCTS (collective groan) and I kept forgetting to look it up on the Internet, but then I did. It’s makeup. Direct marketing makeup. Younique.

It’s you, only ‘niqu-er! No?

What else? That’s it. This taco is done. Here is a photo from Ye Olden Tymes, aka February.

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To Do: Day Off Edition

1. Sleep in. If you’re me, sleep in two hours because you went to bed two hours later than usual, with a net gain of 0 hours. Still, it feels good to get up AFTER the sun for once. Not that the sun is out. It’s raining. Because SPRING!

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If you’re the kids, claim all week that on the day off you will sleep in. Then get up 20 minutes later than usual. Technically, yes, sleeping in. Practically speaking, no.

2. Have a leisurely breakfast eaten in courses: the yogurt course. The hashbrown course. The strawberry smoothie course. The cereal course. The other yogurt course. Actually that’s just Arlo, whose body might possibly be planning to grow a foot in the next two weeks.

3. Take a long shower with no rushing.

4. Wear a comfortable bra. No pinchy or binding bras on a day off.

5. Consider wearing tights all day but decide on weekend jeans. Because it’s the weekend! At work we wear jeans on our non-client-related days but the jeans still need to be, you know, nice-ish jeans. Not faded, comfortable jeans. Those are weekend jeans now.

6. Pin back the sides of my lengthening hair and end up with bangs? Apparently?

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7. Take two hours to leave the house because I keep getting distracted by the Internet, which doesn’t exist at work and which I’m too tired to catch up on after work. Looking at the Internet is like watching TV after being without one for twenty years. *Stare*. There is so much internet.

8. Go out for a brief errand and buy the on-sale chips. I have lots of chips but these are the best and they’re on sale. Feel very laying-in-stock-like-an-adult about this.

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9. Treat the children to lunch at a fast food restaurant and watch cricket on the television while they consume, respectively, a Shamrock Shake, and a Cadbury’s Easter Creme Egg McFlurry (BARF).

10. Listen to the sound of cars swooshing over rain-soaked streets. Putter. Colour. Do laundry.

11. Listen to Arlo and his friend, who have not played together in a coon’s age, work together on a Perler Bead design for a solid hour, while they discuss life, the universe, basketball, life’s ambitions, their favourite pop songs, what it was like in Waikiki (where the friend went for some of Spring Break), and other issues relevant to the 8-9 year old set. Delight in their sedate, cooperative friendship.

12. Hear Uptown Funk on the radio three times. Do not mind one bit.

13. Have no plan for dinner and have lots of time to ponder and get creative with what I’ve got around the house.

14. Have some gin.

15. Enjoy that I am having gin instead of smelling the wet feet and jackets of strangers on public transit. Pine fresh gin, it’s what’s for .. nearly-dinner.

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16. Wish the Internet a Happy Friday.

A Minute of My Time

1. If you’re handing me a sample of food, you can take a minute of my time.
1 a. Unless it’s yogurt. I have no time for yogurt. Not a minute. Not a second.

2. I won’t take the free paper from you, but I will say good morning, and no thank you, and sing Jesus Christ Post to myself in your honour every day because your outstretched arms remind me of crucifixion.

3. You’re on the phone and you want to talk about how I can give you money for something. I am not interested in giving you money, or listening to you.
3 a. My computer doesn’t run Windows.
3 b. I stopped doing phone surveys a long time ago.
3 c. I am not the deadbeat who owes you and your client money, even though my name is similar to his.

4. I will tell you what time it is. I will give you directions, if I can. I will take a picture of you and your friends holding up your fingers, flashing peace signs. I will help you cross the street if you are a person who needs help crossing the street. I will take your arm and lead you to the bus stop if you can’t see. I have a minute of my time for these things.

5. I do not want to talk about children who need sponsorship, the planet’s woes, or how I can send relief to war-torn countries by giving you my credit card number. Not because I don’t care about these things. I care deeply. But I want to get where I am going and you are standing between me and my destination.

The giving part of my brain is actually quite large — maybe the size of Texas in a brain the size of America — but when you ask me for things when I’m on my way somewhere, especially on my way home from work, that giving part of my brain is inaccessible. The more you try to appeal to it, with your cocked head and persuasive stories, your pleading voice, the less likely — in fact, the less able — I am to change my mind.

Your utterly worthwhile charities support people in need, which people I would gladly give a minute of my time to, were they the ones standing in front of me. But it’s not them between me and my train home, it’s you. It’s you I have to stare past and ignore, day after day, or I’m afraid I will start hating you and the giving part of my brain will shrink and then I’ll be less compassionate than I am now.

I’m sorry. Not today.