Tag Archives: writing

Mainly Rainy with a Chance of Showers

Day 15 with no caffeine and nearly* no alcohol
*I had a glass of wine Friday night

EXCITING UPDATE:

The headache went away on day four. I don’t have to pee nearly as much as I used to, and I am much less dehydrated. I know this from the colour of my urine. Did I ever tell you guys that when we first viewed this townhouse that we’ve owned for nearly 10 years, there was a urine colour chart thumbtacked to the wall behind the downstairs toilet? It told you whether or not you were dehydrated based on the colour of your pee. Yes, there was still a bidding war for this townhouse.

COMMENTS FROM MY CO-WORKERS:

First co-worker: Wait until you get to day 15. That’s when the withdrawal really starts.

Another co-worker said: I like you better on coffee. That’s not an insult! But you seem kind of down, like too much Eeyore, not enough Tigger.
(It helps not at all that I’m the one who told her about the Tigger/Eeyore personality types several months ago. She is a Tigger, obvs.)

Another co-worker responded to my self-assessment “more low-key, in a good way” with: I can’t imagine you getting any more low-key.

What the co-workers are actually seeing is me in my natural state, without the desire to pretend to be something I’m not. All raw edges and narrow eyes. I am not pretending to be interested in a story I’ve heard a hundred times from you, co-worker, and you read that as lack of enthusiasm. You are not wrong.

DEPRIVATION IN ONE AREA MEANS GLUTTONY IN OTHERS

I’ve had to re-adjust my diet because at the beginning of the month I allowed myself to eat or drink anything OTHER than alcohol or caffeine, which is not strictly good for a body. Like pizza three days in a row or a bag of gummy bears or several helpings of doughnut. By the second week I was feeling even more tired, and bloated, and irritable as well. I re-declared my intention to not eat as much wheat or dairy, two food groups that bloat and irritate me, and to modulate my sugar intake as well, and presto the last few days have been quite enjoyable.

You really can get high on just half a doughnut, if you’re free of stimulants for a few days.

I am getting sick of herbal tea, though I got a very tasty orange Rooibos from a fancypants tea place in Yaletown. It’s a good time in history to be drinking herbal tea, if you have money.

WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS ANYWAY?

The reasoning behind DETOX CLEANSE LIVER REBOOT (SEO!) of 2016 is to make more room in my life for important things. One important thing is right up front in my face right now: writing.

In November, I applied and was accepted to the Writer’s Studio program at SFU Continuing Studies. I am in the narrative non-fiction stream. It is a part-time program in the sense that there is one class every Saturday and a workshop every two weeks on an evening, but a full time program in the sense that in between the structured parts you are meant to be writing as though it will save your life.

To make more room in my life for writing, I considered getting up earlier, but 5:20 really is my limit. I already write most days on my commute. I could probably get away with writing at work but on the other hand I like my job enough to want to actually do it. The only other time in my day is after the kids are in bed. From 7:45 until 9 pm, that’s where my time is. To make that time functional time, rather than relaxation time, though, required me to remove alcohol from the equation. Alcohol makes me sleepy. Sometimes it makes me want more alcohol, which makes me even sleepier. Often the evening ends with TV and Cheezies.

And when the evening ends like that, the morning is not all it could be. Much lolling about in bed, moaning about getting up, moving towards the coffee like a zombie. Sometimes having more than one cup. Getting sleepy again at 2 pm, moving towards home and that evening glass of wine like a zombie.

I wanted my evenings back, and I wanted my mornings to be more efficient. I wanted to not be always chasing the next thing like a donkey following a carrot on a stick. Getting rid of the false things that drive me, in a sense, seemed like a good way to reset and reconnect with what really drives me.

At Any Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unconscious-tic’ly yours, ’til tomorrow.

Five Things I Learned Today

1. The place I have always referred to as “Langley” (a suburb I dunno, 40 minutes East of Vancouver on the highway? On a Sunday?) is plural. I saw a sign today on the Skytrain that said something about funding transit to “Surrey and The Langleys.” This is one of those municipal things that no one really needed to consult me about, being as I live not in Langley, but I still somehow feel unsettled. How did I not know there are mutiple Langleys? So I looked it up and it sounds like there is a Township of Langley (formerly Fort Langley) and the City of Langely (much bigger). Well let’s support them both, I say! Because everyone should have access to public transit. Significant access. Not just a bus now and then.

2. My co-worker, the hummingbird one, informed me there is an amusement park in Pennsylvania called Hershey Park. She and her husband are going there for a week. Because of the chocolate. And the roller coasters.

3. I bought a nice little (relative term) pair of black flats the other day. Finally, some black flats to wear to the office. How happy I was. Today I wore them and it turns out my feet are spoiled for shoes with support. My legs, hips, all the etceteras, sore. I am adding them to the drawer of shoes I have at work that I only wear in the office and couldn’t possibly wear during my commute, because of all the standing and walking.

Yes, I have a desk drawer that contains five pairs of shoes. Another drawer full of crackers. My overhead shelf is full of scarves and gummy candy. I would say I have achieved office worker status.

4. These three dudes, in old jeans and work boots on the train home today told each other — and the rest of us! — in increasingly boisterous and loutish language and at very high volume how much money they were making, how much EI they were collecting, and what they were getting from [some guy] under the table. One man’s insistence that he still had to pay his $1,000 a month in child support so he wasn’t exactly rolling in dough fell on deaf ears as the other two bragged louder and louder about their amazing cashflow. Then they decided to get off the train for a smoke and called two friends who lived near the station (Morgan the Whoregan and another guy who was referred to as “you scar-faced fuck”, quite affectionately) to meet them on the street for a smoke. Then they went away.

5. I am reading a book that at first reminded me of my own fiction writing, in a good way. This was pleasing. Then the book started to annoy me and I realized it also reminded me of my own fiction writing in a bad way. Not so pleasing. So I have learned that while reading great books is bad for your self-esteem but good for your writing skills because you want to up your game, reading not-great books is good for your self-esteem and also good for your writing skills because you want to write better than that and also correct the obvious errors your alternate-universe-writer-self has been making.

New

I have ten minutes before it’s time for Saint Aardvark and I to continue watching LOST the series, for the second time. It is a semi-rare overlap of interests for us, LOST, and a welcome chance for us to watch the same television at the same time. Left to my own devices I’ll watch Friday Night Lights or The Killing or for a while there, Nashville, but he’s not into those shows, and I’m not into Noah or Ye Old Timey Black & White Picture Show* or SpaceJunk.*

*Not real titles.

It’s Sunday, March 1st. Can a month come in like a lion or lamb but not in a weather way, just in a what-kind-of-day-is-this-holy-hell way? Weather-wise it was bright and sunny and cold this morning, turning to colder and cloudy this afternoon, and now it’s drizzling in a very chilly fashion.

Other-wise, it was a fine morning with a lot of lounging around, then some chores (laundry for me; taking down garbage and recycling and EWWWW COMPOST for the children) while SA got the grocery list fulfiled at Superstore. Then we all went to Costco because it has been months since we went to Costco. Months! I haven’t gone so long between Costco trips in I don’t know how long. This, of course, is because I am working at a full time job and even though I walk past a Costco every day on my way to and from work, I rarely stop to purchase items because how does one carry a flat of Nanaimo bars and toilet paper on one’s back on the skytrain at rush hour? When you figure it out, let me know.

I did go to the Costco near my work on my birthday, as it turned out, because I was at work and had no lunch and my co-worker reminded me I could get a hot dog at Costco, so that was my big 4-1 treat. Hot dog and iced tea.

No, it was fine. I had something delicious later, I think. I don’t remember.

Anyway, the last time before THAT was in November. I remember specifically because I decided it would be my last Costco trip until after Christmas. Who likes Costco at Christmas, raise your hand!

After Christmas we got by without Costco, until recently when the coffee stores in our basement started to look a little scarce, so today was the day. We had to go.

At the checkout, with our $250 worth of goods, SA’s debit card failed, and then so did mine because they draw from our joint bank account. The cards expired, as it turns out, on February 28th, and someone at the bank dropped the ball and forgot to mail out the new cards. Whoops!

“You can pay Mastercard,” said the helpful cashier with the diamond Chanel earrings — I couldn’t look away from those earrings.
“Nope. Visa?” I said.
“Nope. Personal cheque?” she countered.
“Nope,” I answered.

After some conferring, we decided I’d go home and get a cheque, then come back, which would be cutting time close; I had my writer’s group — via transit, downtown — to get to for 2:00 pm, and the kids had their weekly sketching class at 1:00 pm. It was noon. Then one of the customer service people came over and said, “You can sign up for a Mastercard right now, if you want,” which is usually the kind of thing I say no to at stores, but in this case, well, we needed all that coffee, so there we were, applying and being approved for Costco Mastercards WHILE WE WAITED.

“Thank you for being patient,” I said to the kids.
“That’s okay,” said Arlo. “I am hoping you’ll buy me an ice cream afterward.”

But I didn’t. Instead, I made him go to art class, despite his heartfelt protestations that he doesn’t have enough time to do anything. I agree.

I hitched a ride to Metrotown and then hopped on a train, which sat at the station for fifteen minutes due to a broken train at another station. The doors of the train stayed open, so people kept getting on, and getting on, and getting on. I told myself I was lucky I’d got on when I did; I got a seat, after all, and if you have to wait for fifteen minutes on an immobile train, at least be sitting.

The novelty of the skytrain has almost worn off for me now that I take it every day. But I never do get a seat, so the seat novelty was still, well, novel.

Eventually we left, probably due to the old guy sitting in front of me who kept horking up loogies and sniffing loudly and then muttering “what’s the problem.” After I got off I tossed my whole body into the vat of boiling water they keep at every skytrain station*, to get the people germs off, and then went to a very happy and productive writing group meeting.

*theoretical

Upon my return home, I found the family already watching Arlo’s choice for movie night, The Guardians of the Galaxy, a film which made no sense whatsoever. I don’t think I’m exaggerating. No sense. I had read reviews that said as much but you know, sometimes the Internet is uneccesarily cruel? Not in this case.

All the more reason to cleanse the cinematographical palate with the greatness that is LOST. And a toast to March second, may it be slightly more reasonable than the first.

Whimsical Adulthood

Woke up and wrote for an hour. Working on a story. For maybe the second time in my life, I have started with a title and have written five pages of story five different ways and none of it seems to be the right fit for the title. Titles are tyranny!

Closed the notebook and decided I need to be more whimsical.

Woodbridge Meadow Whimsy - geograph.org.uk - 934787

Took the kids to school. Discussed briefly with neighbour kid’s dad how neighbour kid going to daycare during his formative years means he is used to walking blindly out into streets without first looking both ways because he was always with a pack. I had not considered this as a cause for neighbour kid’s inability to cross the street nor as a possible detrimental side effect of daycare. Still not sure it’s a real cause & effect situation. Neighbour kid also takes forty minutes to walk three blocks.

Came home. Was entertained by various municipal election articles and websites. If a candidate uses too many exclamation marks and capital letters, they both please and sadden me. I like to watch kooky people unfold in the world, but I also am sad they have no one to tell them to just use one exclamation mark. And to make their platform more elaborate than just “bring SMILES to the PEOPLE.”

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Wade whimsies 4o06” by Snowmanradio at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Innotata using CommonsHelper.(Original text : Own work). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Went to the mall to return some pants. Tried on running shoes and nearly bought a pair but couldn’t commit. After I bought the pair in the spring that ended up hurting my feet but it was too late to take them back, and buying the two pairs I used to train for the race, but which are worn out, I am shoe-shy. I don’t want to buy the wrong shoe. I really want two more pairs of the kind that are worn out but they’re done now. Done. Bought some tights instead, and a new Sport Bra because those are easy. No they are. I’m flat chested.

Right! Whimsical! Was starving so I went to the food court at the mall and walked around until I found something that cost less than $5.25, which was all I had in cash. Ended up eating a breakfast combo at Tim Hortons. The hashbrown was hard as a rock. The sandwich was chilly. The tea was hot.

While I was waiting for my food, a woman walked past me and said, “I like your hairdo.” I thanked her.

To be more whimsical I sat on the opposite side of the food court, by the windows, in one of the red pleather seats. A collection of old men in sensible shoes and old man hats played cards at a round table. Next to them, a collection of old women ate noodles and chattered. I ate my bad food and sipped my tea and started a sixth version of the story whose title I am trying to do justice. (TYRANNY)

361px-Curious_Figure_part2_Tom_Otterness_Beelden_aan_Zee_Den_Haag

Curious Figure part2 Tom Otterness Beelden aan Zee Den Haag” by BrbblOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Home to get Saint Aardvark so we could go vote. The municipal election is ten days away but on that day we will be in Seattle having a very small vacation so we voted today. Everyone at the voting place was very friendly and helpful. The woman voting next to me mentioned that neither of the pens worked, then the whatever-you-call-him-guy-who-works-there (invigilator?) asked her if she’d taken the cap off the pen and she said no.

I got a sticker and put it on my notebook, and SA did the same with his sticker on his notebook. We’re so alike.

Up the street we wandered to the grocery store where I’d heard we could get flu shots at the pharmacy. As we don’t have convenient family docotrs, every year we get our flu shots somewhere new. Two years ago I got mine at Safeway and it hurt like a sonofabitch. Last year I went to London Drugs and it was marvelous, I barely felt a thing. I swore I would never go anywhere else for a flu shot and yet, here I was at Save On Foods, with a small, rushed pharmacist who made the smallest pretence at assessing how I was doing before jabbing that needle into my poor muscle so hard I nearly kicked him in the face.

I thought at first that I just had much bigger muscles than last year, but SA claimed his also hurt like whoa so next year, for real, no grocery store pharmacist flu shots. N.O.

After the flu shot, it was time for the notary! The first notary we went to was..not in the office. He is the only notary who works in the office, it is named after him, yet his office was open and his receptionist was there to tell people he wasn’t there, at his office, so that was confusing, but she gave us a list of other notaries in Uptown New Westminster and there were a number of them. In fact one could do a comparison of notaries to hair cuttery establishments in New Westminster and it would probably come up even I think. So we found another notary right across the street and went to see him.

We needed him to notarize the letter that authorizes me to take the children across the border next week because SA won’t be with me because he’ll already BE in Seattle you see and maybe this is overkill but the kids have different last names and I remember once my Peruvian co-worker trying to take her kids on vacation to Peru without her husband and she nearly missed the plane because she didn’t have a letter from her partner saying it was OK to take the three kids to Peru.

I had forgotten we’d explained all this to the kids the other day so I was surprised when I mentioned the notary to Eli on our walk home from school and he said, “Oh to sign the letter proving you’re not a kidnapper, right?” Right.

Then back to school to get the kids, then home, then back out to get Arlo from his friend’s house, then home, then dinner and perusing the Toys R Us Christmas catalogue where I made the children spit out their dinner with laughter as I pointed to the doll called Baby All Gone and said, “Oh that’s the toy where you bring it home and then it disappears!”

Eli made me laugh when he saw the Disney Princess Lego castle and said, “Really? Now, Lego you’ve gone too far.”

Whimsy to close out the day.

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August 1

Today was my final day off without children until school starts sometime in the fall. It is now four-ish PM. At five I will go across the street to pick up the kids, who have been enjoying a water and sun-soaked day at the daycare. I saw them earlier, as I snuck home from my hair appointment, they were frolicking in the grass, shirts off, while one of the daycare workers sprayed a hose in the air.

Yes, it is hot here. Super hot. So hot. I am not complaining because it is beautiful to feel the sun on your skin and the ache of the burn on the backs of your knees where the sunscreen sweated off and the trickle of sweat that starts in the middle of your head and slowly makes its way under your t-shirt, through your bra and all the way down to your butt crack, where it meets a friend and they conspire to make you look like you peed in your pants, giggling all the while the way sweat does.

Whoops, got away from myself there.

One of the things I’ve been doing this summer is running. I am doing this half-marathon training which makes me go running four times a week, roughly double my previous running time/distance/etc. There is no wimping out because there is a group and I am a people pleaser.

Actually I go even without the group. The running is wonderful. I love it. I am happier on the days I run than I am on the days I do not run.

Also, there have been consequences.

Consequence 1: I am faster and have better stamina!
Consequence 2: New calf muscles, I am getting those.
Consequence 3: I am always sweating. All the time. Always. I start sweating when I put on my clothes, I sweat some more when I run and then I sweat for an hour afterwards and then it’s thirty degrees celsius in my house so I sweat until the next day, while applying ice packs to my various pulse points. Sweat sweat sweaty McSweatserson.

You know what is bullshit when you are hot and sweaty and exercising a lot? ANYTHING EXTRA TO CARRY AROUND. My shorts are lightweight. My tank top is made of wicking whatever. My shoes weigh an ounce or something. The heaviest thing I am carrying is my FUCKING LONG ASS HAIR. (actually it might be my feet, but.)

Oh hi I am super happy about how I look and feel right now, can you tell?

Oh hi I am super happy about how I look and feel right now, can you tell?

So today I got it cut. Ahhhhhhhh haircut. Major, huge haircut. The kind of haircut where you run it under a tap and then shake it and get on with your life. I am a happy happy person. I was going to cut it all, shave it up the back and leave a little poof ball on top like a demented giant poodle, but my lovely hair stylist convinced me to leave it a little wild around the top because my hair likes to be wild. Fine. Okay.

HEY now I am jaunty and smiling!

HEY now I am jaunty and smiling!

I also bought one of those belts with the water bottles to put around my waist for the longer runs. We are currently a third of the way through the half-marathon training and summer shows no signs of stopping in its tracks and raining on me so I require a hydration solution.

Top tip: water belts can be purchased at a discount at Winners. I saw these FuelBelts at … oh somewhere, for $50 and at Winners they were $25. (but they were in the MEN’s department. Don’t stop looking if you don’t see them in the women’s department.) Second top tip: you can get decent quality exercise clothing — technical stuff — at Value Village. Sniff before you buy, wash in hot, and then proceed to soak it with your sweaty sweat and make it your own.

Budget conscious running tips from a 40 year old woman who sweats a lot. There must be a market for this. Yeah. Well, happy August, anyway! Here is a picture of Eli picking raspberries and making his best ham-like face.

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And, because if Arlo was reading this (and he will be, someday) he would say, “Why isn’t there a picture of ME?” I add a picture of Arlo looking like a very short seventeen year old. There. It’s fair. *wipes brow*

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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

HOW IS SUMMER WRITING CLUB GOING?

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.

Strawberries

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

“What about them?”

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

“..Strawberry Shortcake dolls…” Arlo suggested.

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

“Right.”

“…or erasers?” Arlo said.

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

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

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

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

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This Summer Vacation Has Headlines AND Details

Summer Vacation, Two Weeks Early

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

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

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

Here’s a Recipe

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

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

Co-operative Play Without Injury!

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

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

Inspirational Claptrap

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

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

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

Flux

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

Maybe I’ll put that disclaimer everywhere.

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

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow I am getting a root canal.

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

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

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

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

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