Tag Archives: she’s whiny when she’s sick

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.


The List

Today I was going to: attempt a long run, a full 10KM around Burnaby Lake Park. I did it quite by accident a few weeks ago and I want to do it again, with a snack in my pocket this time.

Today I was going to: finish the second draft of this story I’m working on, once and for all. It might even be a fourth draft by now. It’s taking forever. I want to set it on fire but I feel obligated to the man in the story to get it done, since he has spent nearly two years trapped in the damn thing.

Today I was going to: make granola
donate $50 to charity
tally the receipts from the month of March and move money from our savings accounts to our chequing account wrap a gift
get some groceries
go to the library
and plant some herbs in pots.

Today I:
woke up feeling like I had a cold, because I do
watched Friday Night Lights (Season One final episode, they went to State!) and ate nachos (at 9:45 in the morning)
had a long shower
tried to register for a 5K race in May but the receptionist was on her lunch break
thought about granola
went to the library
got some groceries
and some beer
and drank tea.

I realized pretty quickly this morning that my list was ambitious for someone feeling under the weather, so I let it go and told myself to have a sick day.

I haven’t had a sick day in a long time. I haven’t been sick in a while, so that’s good, but the last time I was, I went to work anyway (I wasn’t sick enough to warrant a day off, plus I only work part time and taking one of two work days off feels really pathetic) and the other days were spent doing other stuff, plowing through, keeping commitments.

Since I started working, I plan my days off carefully. I’ve had days where I lose hours to wandering in and out of stores or reading on the Internet and then it’s time to get the kids from school and I don’t feel like I had a break, even though I had a whole day. I like to avoid that feeling. It sucks. So I pace myself, no dilly dallying.

The relief I felt today, though, when I would think what is the next thing I need to do and then remember nothing, because you’re sick makes me wonder if maybe I have over structured myself, in the hope that all the structure will lead to — what, a day that can stand up by itself? I don’t know.

I felt so relieved to let myself off the hook, that same hook that I had put myself on. Relieved like a kid whose mother says he can watch until the end of the episode instead of going right to bed. Relieved like someone who has been holding her breath for too long. And now it is the end of the day and my butt hurts from sitting, but this day was good, it was OK, it was what I needed.


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-Two — The Day He Had Popcorn Chicken

Today is a Pro D day. No school for anybody. I arranged to have the day off. We stayed in our pyjamas, played some Minecraft (the kids) and wrote in our journals (me) and drank coffee (me again) and then we played Angry Birds the Physical Game where you make towers and then launch plastic birds via catapult. We listened to music and looked at books. We made a card for Arlo’s friend whose birthday party was today, and then we got ready and left the house. At TEN FIFTEEN AM. Sigh. So awesome.

The amount of time we have hasn’t changed. There are still 24 hours in a day, but something about the way the days are configured makes it feel like less. There are days when it feels like I’m hurrying all the time, days when the hours fly by. There hasn’t been a day in a long time where I looked at the clock and said, “Oh, is it ONLY X:OO?” Lately, it’s always later than I think, which leads to that sinking feeling, that “Where is it all going?” panic.

It’s all connected — seasons changing, fog rolling in, general malaise.

This week I was sick, too, so I spent three days feeling awful, two days working and feeling less awful, all those days feeling like I’d never get caught up on MY TIME MY TIME. I was sick enough that I couldn’t even make a convincing argument for doing anything. I just wanted to sit around, go to bed early, sleep longer. I still do, actually. My sinuses feel weird. I’m suspicious.

This morning, we dropped Arlo at the birthday party at a lazer tag place and then Eli and I went on to Superstore to buy Halloween candy and a few groceries. I offered to buy Eli lunch at the mall and he chose his favourite food court food: KFC popcorn chicken and fries. I had amazing fried rice and stir-fried vegetables and ginger pork. So salty. Salty enough that my eyes started to itch. Fast food, huh? Salty.

We did some walking around the mall, as I am on my annual fruitless quest for a jacket. We went into a store and the sales girl said, “Is there something in particular you are looking for?” Ordinarily I would say no thank you but the way she asked, it sounded like she really wanted to know, and since there is something in particular I am looking for, I said, “I want a jacket, but not a cropped denim jacket. And not a moto jacket. And not a parka. And I don’t need a fur-lined hood, even if it’s fake fur. And no belts. And no quilting.”

(She was very sorry she had asked. She will likely be revising her question to the standard, “Let me know if I can help you find something today.”)

Eli is super helpful as a shopper’s assistant because he knows I hate fake pockets. He went through all the jackets and tested them out.

“FAKE POCKETS,” he announced whenever he found some. “HOW LAME IS THAT.”

He got a few laughs and I could browse unmolested. Wins all over.

I realized as we walked that I hadn’t hung out with Eli at the mall (or anywhere, really) in a very long time. We used to go all the time, on the days he wasn’t in preschool, or on sick days. Just walking around like all the other people who need a place to walk around inside. Standing in the toy aisle, looking at toys. It’s been months since I hung out in a toy aisle.

(The toys haven’t changed much.)

As we made our way back to the car to go pick up Arlo, I noticed Eli still had the paper bag the popcorn chicken had been in.

“Should we look for a garbage can?” I asked.

“No, I’m keeping it,” he said. “It’s my precious memory of the day I had popcorn chicken.”

(awwww, right? Awww.)

More to the point, it was evidence to show his brother.

“What? You had POPCORN CHICKEN?” Arlo sputtered.


“Well…I guess I did get to play lazer tag and eat pizza and cheezies and cake.”

I didn’t have to say a word. They are self-parenting. It feels like I’ve done enough work for now. I plan to drink tea and lounge on the couch resting my eyes and sinuses for the rest of the day.


I feel like a zamboni is parked on my sinuses. They don’t hurt but they feel heavy; I can breathe but my nose feels dry and angry, and I can’t keep my eyes open. This morning I thought maybe it was the dropping barometric pressure. Forecast has been calling for rain and then moving the call for rain forward a day at a time for a week now. That sentence made little to no sense. Anyway, now it’s been a day and I think I might have the start of a cold.

I haven’t had a cold in so long! Like, since we had the flu in late February, I haven’t been sick. I feel like this is a record of some kind. I will have to turn the little shingle on my “74 days since the last cold virus” sign. OK yes, I had nausea from the end of January until early June*, but I haven’t had a cold in forever.

I’ll let you know how this all turns out, don’t worry. But now I have to go moan on the couch for a while.

* the nausea has mostly cleared up but I’m still going for the ultrasound in July because if you get an appointment for an ultrasound two months after you call, you go for it. I always welcome an opportunity to see inside my body.


I have a mole on my chin. One day, many (probably twenty) years ago, it grew one hair, which I plucked when it was long enough to pluck. A few months later, I noticed it was back and pulled it again. Eventually there were two hairs together, then four. A cluster! I remember the day I pulled one of the hairs out and was thrilled to realize it was silver. Silver chin hairs! I like silver hairs.

It has recently come to my attention that my chin hairs are growing at an increased rate of speed. It used to be months between pluckings and now it is weeks. Possibly I have plucked more than once in two weeks. I don’t know what this means and I don’t really want to know. I do enough late-night googling as it is.

When I get right up close and look at my chin hairs to pluck them–the lovely pressure and strain of the hair coming out of its follicle is so satisfying–I see other hairs on my face. A few of the other moles grow hairs as well. There is a place on my neck, just under the jawline, where a hair grows quite inobtrusively for [x amount of time] until one day it is long enough to curl up over my chin. Hi. I’m your neck hair. I am what stands between you and a career as a supermodel. What is it doing that whole time I don’t see it, I wonder. I have looked for it before and not found it. It’s only found when it’s exactly the right length to be found, at which point I dutifully yank it and marvel at its length. How does something get that long without me noticing.


When I came to parenting, I was not a physical nurturer. I cared about people, but not enough to go out of my way and sacrifice my own comfort for theirs. Dirty, sick, grouchy people, those are not my people. Sad, anguished, angry people, I am good with those. I will be your emotional rescue. I do not want to clean up your vomit. I would rather listen to you talk about your ex-whoever for a week than clean up your vomit.

The thing about parenting is: against the limits of your own comfort level, nurturing is how you pass the day. Like any skill, the more you do it, the better you get.

I remember the tragedy of the first snotty nose, the first shoulder barf, the first moaning, feverish face against mine, coughing in my nostrils, me thinking, “OH GOD I CAN’T MOVE AWAY BECAUSE SO PRECIOUS BUT I SO WANT TO MOVE AWAY DON’T COUGH ON ME SICK BABY.” They were all these walls I had to climb and get over, this “taking care of people” “whether you want to, or not” thing. Not to roll over and put a pillow on my head when I hear someone crying in the hallway, but to get out of bed and deal with it.

You do it every day and you don’t notice that you’re getting better at it until you are doing it without thinking. It gradually gets less hard, then easy, then subconscious.

After a nice, calm holiday season, we spent half of January ill with something or other, something else in February and the past week in the house with the ‘flu. Arlo (and later, Eli) was weak and feverish and coughing and I turned into robot mom: here’s a tissue, here’s medicine, here’s the TV remote, here’s a book, here’s more tissues. With little of the old panic or dread, I gave myself fully to caregiving, became The Mom Who Cares.

Every day. In the house. With sick children.

And I know that people do worse, do more, do more with worse. Other than the whole no-school thing, I didn’t even notice that a week had passed until the first morning we walked Arlo to school and the air felt like a beautiful salve against my skin. Being outside and walking down the street was such a gift and I realized that I hadn’t had that gift in so long.

Was this why my head had ached all week, why I had felt as though I might be getting sick but maybe not after all, why I was so tired, despite not doing anything. Because I hadn’t been..outside? Because no, I hadn’t done anything, except look after other people for a week, with the occasional break to stare at the Internet, waiting patiently for it to yield something wonderful or even just less annoying because everything was annoying and no, it wasn’t me, it was everyone and everything else. In the world. Everywhere.

I was surprised to realize I had forgotten about myself. In a way it’s good to know that I can step up and nurture if needed. In another way it’s scary that I could morph so quickly into someone for whom self-care becomes news. If I was a nurse I would be the chain-smoking, tequila-drinking kind. The pill-popping kind who is fine, fine, until she isn’t. What happened?


My chin hairs are invisible, until they are not. They appear, as if by magic, under my fingers as I write with my right hand or read things. They grow quietly and appear fully fledged when they are ready, a surprise, though not an unwelcome one.

That Time I Gave Up Coffee

A long time ago I drank a lot of coffee. Well, a long LONG time ago I didn’t drink any coffee. But then I started, got out of control, and sometimes drank six cups a day. I wasn’t even a nurse or grad student. I was just someone who worked in retail and socialized at coffee shops and stayed up too late.

I gave it up, and then slowly started again. My average coffee consumption is one large cup, occasionally two, per day. Except when I was pregnant the first time, when coffee made me nauseated so I drank tea. (When I was pregnant the second time there was no way on this earth I would get from home to daycare to work to daycare to home without coffee, so that’s why Eli is crazy, because he was cooked in a caffeinated, stressed-out soup.)

One or two cups of coffee a day doesn’t feel like an addiction. A habit, yes. A nice, friendly habit. Something you do because it’s pleasant and you enjoy it, not because you have to.

As Saint Aardvark is fond of saying, “That turns out not to be the case.”

Over the weekend, our house had The Barfs. Really it was only Arlo who barfed, but we were watching ourselves and Eli closely because DOOMPANICNOROVIRUS has been in the news for months now and part of me was excited because we could get the Norovirus over with already and get on with our lives, but part of me–most of me–was NOT excited because I hate barf. Barf is not my speciality. And before you say “it’s not anyone’s specialty, you lunatic,” let me add, there are people for whom it is no big deal. I have met those people. I am in awe of them. Though many of them freak out at the thought of green snot in a child’s nose, so: parenting. It’s a buffet of things you may or may not hate!

True to our history with The Barfs, Eli didn’t get sick, SA waited until last, Arlo improved drastically within 24 hours and within that same 24 hours, I started to feel queasy. This is my thing. Two years ago it had me frantically googling queasy NOT PREGNANT Gastroenteritis NOT FLU cancer but now I know, it’s just how I get stomach viruses. I feel like I might barf for some period of time (the longest was two weeks. TWO WEEKS OF FEELING QUEASY NOT PREGNANT) and then one day I wake up and don’t feel that way anymore.

So on Sunday, that queasy, might-barf feeling in my throat, I cancelled all the plans because of course this was the weekend we had all the plans, drank a pot of ginger tea, got into bed, held all my calls, read stuff, and napped. And lo! Rest cures the wicked and on Monday I felt much better, which was handy because Arlo still felt bad and SA was on his last legs.

Yet! Yesterday I decided to not drink my morning cup of coffee, because when I have my queasy-times, a cup of coffee generally sets them off again. I had some weak tea and a lot of water. I got through the whole day yesterday without coffee, which to me said “Hey, maybe you could give up coffee! Or not? Your choice!”

This morning I woke up with a headache that felt like Tom Waits in a metal shed recording a new album based on the moral collapse of North America.

“Oh no, oh hell, oh what have I got now, is it ‘flu it can’t be ‘flu I got the shot, oh oh oh” I thought, or attempted to think. I came downstairs, drank a big cup of coffee and somewhere halfway through that cup of coffee felt quite suddenly as though I could conquer small countries if only the prime minister would give me the go-ahead and some money to hire an army and I had the inclination to conquer small countries. Not only that, but I could go for a run, come back, make healthy food, force the kids to eat it, write a novel, publish that novel, go on a book tour, get a master’s degree in country-conquering

you get the idea. I went into the kitchen, dancing, singing, “coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee COFFFEEEEE!” and so I think it’s safe to say that no amount of coffee is a safe amount and I am clearly an addict. And that I should probably never try cocaine.

I Will Try To Keep This Amusing

My head is clogged and my mood is foul. We had a long day inside with conflicting emotions and agendas. At one point I actually told my kids off for being mean to me when I was sick. Mature! They just stared at me.

But listen, long ago this morning I had hope for this day. The children were watching their morning tv program. I was listening to my music player because this year I got wise to the fact that I don’t need to be subjected to the theme song and then very terrible dialogue of whatever show they are watching. Just in time, as recently it has been rather a lot of Power Rangers and that, friends, is some bullshit.

I was writing in my morning journal so I didn’t need anything distracting like morning radio. I put my music player on shuffle and I heard a few songs that were pretty good. Suddenly I got the one-two shot of snap-out-of-it: OK Go’s This Too Shall Pass and then Mr. Blue Sky by the Electric Light Orchestra.

This Too Shall Pass has been one of my parenting anthems since the day I took a fretful and refusing to nap baby or toddler Fresco for a walk in the orange stroller, the only place he would fall asleep during the day. I listened to the whole OK Go album over and over again, but stuck on that song because it made me weep because yes. When the morning comes. There is sadness, and there is hope through the sadness, and you can’t keep letting it get you down.

And then, there is Mr. Blue Sky, this wild, 1970s extravaganza of sound and jauntiness and whenever I hear it I just want to stand up and snap my fingers. Yes, even when I have four millions pounds of snot in my head preventing me from breathing. Especially this morning, because the sun was unexpectedly shining and the world was bright.

The video adds an especial level of wonder, because of the clothing and that hair. My god! Imagine cleaning the bathtub drains of ELO!

Now it is the end of my day and I have moved through many moods, including shouty metal and accusatory hip hop,to arrive at a sort of Morrissey/Radiohead place, where everything is repetitive and gun-metal coloured. Hey. There is always tomorrow.

Five Things* I Would Do With Unlimited Money (*That I can Think of Right Now)

1. Pay my taxes so other people could have roads and whatnot. And give freely to good causes. But not the ones that sell my information to other charities, resulting in my receiving tonnes of crappy admail that I then return to sender or recycle or shred in a fit of pique. Those good causes I would purchase with my unlimited money and then hire someone with a brain to run properly.

2. I like our house a lot and I like its relatively small footprint but I would love an adventure yard full of mysterious trees and dark corners and friendly squirrels and a fence so I could open the door, say ‘go play’ and then shut the door after the children left. And they wouldn’t complain because: adventure yard!

3. Every year in October we would re-locate to a sunny, warm climate and we would stay there until cold/flu/strep throat/bronchitis/vomiting/Hand Foot Mouth/general malaise/sinusitis season is goddamn over. It would be like those books when rich people in England got consumption and went to Spain to recover. I want to lie on the beach in Spain right now. I want to eat olives and drink thick red wine and not feel like crap.

Yes, this whole “five things” is just an excuse for me to complain about how I feel like crap. I have been sick forEVER and no amount of vitamins, soup, garlic, sleep, hot water and lemon, decongestant, nasal irrigation, steaming, fruit eating or ibuprofen has yet cured me and I am MAD about it also. Very mad. Today we found out that Trombone has strep throat. My throat also hurts. I keep waking up and expecting to feel better and feeling worse in new and different ways. On Thursday morning I woke up and my scar was inflamed. I have a scar where I had a cyst removed in August and the scar wasn’t pretty to start with and now it’s glowing red for some reason. Is it a sign? A glowing red sign that is saying “figure out a way to have unlimited money so you can have all your blood replaced”? Maybe.

4. I would have all my blood replaced. Maybe annually.

5. I would buy a chip factory.

What would you do with unlimited money?