Thursday, May 31, 2007
There is no good time to break a leg, of course, but as far as he's concerned, this is about the most inappropriate time possible. He had procured a job with a friend of his who is a mason, and who was prepared to give him work all summer long for as many hours as Jamie wanted and could fit in around his recording work. And who was paying him extremely well for such work, because tradesmen, craftsmen like masons, make extremely good money for what they do. For the past couple of weeks my son has been burning the candle at both ends, hefting rock from 8 to 4 and then recording well into the night, and been happy as a clam doing so. He was really enjoying working his young muscles during the day and doing his music at night, and who needs sleep when you're 21 years old?
But now that's ground to a halt. Not sure yet how long the cast will be on. I don't even know if he knows, because he's angry and frustrated and completely unapproachable at the moment. I did manage to determine that it's his fibula he broke. The obliging tech printed off a copy of his x-ray for him and even we laypeople can clearly see a clean, diagonal break right across the bone, high up, near the back of his knee.
He broke it working for the mason this morning. Again, I don't know too many details yet, but it seems he was pushing a stone-laden wheelbarrow down a grass slope and some sort of disaster occurred. He was in considerable pain, but figured he'd pulled a muscle or something, so he drove himself home (well, it's his left leg and the car has an automatic transmission!) and took some convincing to go to the doctor. He just wanted one of my T3s, a bit of a lie-down, and figured he'd be back at work tomorrow.
I must say he received excellent and prompt health care all the way along the line. The clinic doctor correctly predicted the break, the wait at the x-ray clinic was brief, and the cast (currently a removable fiberglass one) was applied very quickly. All we ever hear are the complaints of people waiting two or three days to have broken legs attended to. Jamie didn't even wait an hour.
Anyway, one of those character-building life lessons, I suppose. We moms wish the character could be built without such setbacks, though.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Now, you might imagine the sort of nice places I could drive, places like Ambleside or up Grouse Mountain or Lonsdale Quay or Commercial Drive. Endless possibilities in this beautiful city. I went to London Drugs. Well, you know, I needed a notebook.
Indeed I bought a notebook, which cost $1.29. However, the bill I paid before exiting London Drugs was, um, a little more than that. I love London Drugs. And you can be sure I never, ever buy anything I don't want.
So that was all it took. I am now all set to get back to work. Well, I have to, don't I? I spent $141.73 at freakin' London Drugs!
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Well, he didn't go away. He stood there in my peripheral vision for at least five minutes, waving his clipboard, waving a brochure, waving his arms, doing everything to convince me that it was Extremely Urgent that I hear what he had to say. Being of the strong conviction that I have the right to not open my door to people just because they think I should, I continued ignoring him.
So he came right up to the door and pounded on it. Two or three minutes went by. He stood there. I was quite prepared to wait him out, but unfortunately Rob was not. He eventually answered the door and dealt with the fellow, far more politely than he deserved, in my opinion.
The second salesperson showed up yesterday afternoon. I was upstairs ironing and Janet came in and told me that "Terasen" was at the door wanting to see a copy of our last gas bill. I told her it was not Terasen and to send him packing. I heard her attempt to do this by advising him that her parents weren't home, and I heard him earnestly try to convince her that she was required to show him a gas bill. She pled (genuine) ignorance of the location of our gas bills. I was just about to storm down and give him many pieces of my mind when I heard Janet just quietly close the door on him. I assume he went away at some point after that. He was not there when I opened the door to get the paper this morning.
I understand that there are many companies out there frantic to be first to snatch all us newly-available gas customers away from Terasen. But surely I am not the only person for whom this sort of pushy hard-sell tactic only serves to completely turn me against the company which authorized such measures.
Friday, May 25, 2007
So anyway, busy busy with work. I'm training a new transcriber, who is fortunately brilliant and therefore easy to train (and who reads this blog -- Hi, Katie!), but it is time-consuming on top of doing my own work. Plus we've been going out to look at houses (no luck yet) and getting some stuff done around this house, and there have been a few days lately where I've felt as if I'm losing my mind.
Well. There are many who would say that I've always been a little peculiar (Hi, family! Hi, Jaynut!) but thanks to my lifelong journal-keeping, I can actually pinpoint the day when I began losing my mind. It was October 14, 1995.
My daughter had had a friend sleep over the previous night. The two seven-year-olds had been rambunctious and I was ready for Stephanie to go home. So as my husband was out in the one car we owned at the time, I called her mother to come fetch her (because that's what we Boomer parents did, right? No walking allowed!) I felt a little badly about not being able to run Stephanie home myself, so I began our conversation apologizing for this and requesting a pick-up before 11, as I had to go out then. I added, "if Rob is back with the car by then", which was silly because where I wanted to go was just to a neighbour's and I didn't even need the car. In fact, I knew perfectly well Rob would not be back by 11, so already I was starting to make no sense.
Then it struck me that Brenda might think it odd that if I was heading out at 11, I couldn't just drop Stephanie off on my way, and out of my mouth came the following bizarre words: “I’d bring her home myself then but I don’t know exactly where I’m going yet. I’m waiting for word.”
I’m waiting for word?? WORD???? Word from who? Is the Lord going to speak, giving me direction (perhaps to where my brain is lying)? I don’t know where I’m GOING?
Somehow Stephanie was permitted to continue to be friends with my daughter. They are good friends to this day. I always feel as if her mother is looking at me funny, though.
Monday, May 21, 2007
My son wore a suit he already owned to the prom. He got a $10 haircut a few days before. The day of the dance, he began getting ready approximately 20 minutes before we needed to head out the door. Shower, brush the teeth, comb the hair, throw on the suit, we're outta here.
With a daughter, the process begins months ahead of time. The search for the perfect dress begins soon after Christmas. Everyone with older sisters/daughters is interviewed extensively as to where they had success shopping. Many stores are visited and dresses flouffy, dresses slinky, dresses bizarre, are all tried on. There are tears. There are photos taken with cellphones and emailed to friends. Text messaging is frenzied.
And then there is the dress she puts on, and looks at herself in the mirror, and it is …
In the mirror, the mother watches her little girl's face and knows it is the very first time she sees herself as a truly beautiful, grown-up woman. Hopefully you were wise and have not even let her put it on her body if it is out of your price range, because if you did let her and it is The Oh Dress, you will be buying it no matter what. You will insist upon it, never mind the second mortgage, because you saw that face.
But this is only the beginning. To go with the dress, there must be shoes, a purse, and bling. (Fortunately it is perfectly acceptable for the bling to be fake, as long as it is shiny and makes you feel like a princess.) All this must be located in different stores on different days.
Dresses and purses and shoes and bling, and ka-ching and ka-ching and ka-ching.
And then there is the hair, the makeup, the nails. All must be professionally done, if at all possible, and appointments must be made months ahead of time. For the hair, it is usually also necessary to have a pre-appointment so that the stylist can do a mock-up of your style of choice so that you don't look like this:
And ka-ching and ka-ching and ka-ching. My wedding was much less complicated than this. Getting ready for the Academy Awards is much less complicated than this.
On prom day, the girls are up at the crack of dawn. They have these precision-timed multiple beautifying appointments to get to, then must be home in time to carefully put The Dress on without damaging nails, hair or makeup. What has taken the boys 20 minutes to accomplish (well, plus 10 minutes for the haircut a few days earlier), has taken the girls about four months.
Not to mention that ka-ching factor. At the end of my daughter's prom, the kids were eager to move on to their adult-free after-grad activities and started gravitating to the washrooms to change into more casual clothes. The parents waited to receive the gowns and take them home. One mother looked over at me and my armful of seafoam green tulle, and asked drily, "So how much do you suppose that amortized out to per hour?"
Luckily there is an organization called the Cinderella Project, which collects gently-used grad dresses and all the peripherals you may also wish to donate, and makes them available to girls who would not otherwise be able to afford them. My daughter and her friends were all very happy to pass their gowns on and know that they would bring joy to someone else.
But not before she tried it on just one more time in front of the mirror.
I have a hair-trigger sense of humour. I will laugh, a lot, at almost anything (fortunately, including myself). I have an raucous, uninhibited guffaw that sends my husband cringing from the room.
Humour is, of course, a subjective thing. Something I find funny, you may well not. Indeed, something I found so funny I just about puked with laughter one day, by the very next day I could be wondering what I was going on about.
Here are some not-that-funny things that have, in particular contexts, sent me into hysterics:
Aztecs (the car)
The word "Shoe". Also the word "Myanmar".
Once when typing really fast, I garbled the word "himself" so badly that Spellcheck asked anxiously: Did you mean "housefly"? Had I agreed to this correction, the sentence I was typing would have read, "He went to the store by housefly."
The great humourist Dave Barry once wrote a column about his unparalleled delight when he discovered the existence of a UNESCO heritage site in Alberta called Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. He claims that when he telephoned the place and the call was answered, "Head-Smashed-In, how can I help you?" he went into absolute paroxysms of joy. I totally understand this. This is one of the funniest things I have ever heard.
Getting the uncontrollable giggles is common to young girls. It's not still supposed to be a problem in menopausal women. I went to a choral concert a couple of years ago with a friend. The choir was a professional one, dressed formally in tuxes or long black skirts (whichever they preferred, one assumes). They were all thoroughly white of skin. The programme was primarily classical, but ended with a few rousing spirituals. I do not remember the name of the first one they treated us to, but I certainly do recall that it involved a lot of repetition of the word "heaven", especially in the many refrains. Except that they pronounced it the way I suppose it was written, which was "heab'n".
I cannot begin to tell you how odd and inappropriate this sounds coming from a stiff, Caucasian, Canadian classical choir. I totally lost it. I scribbled on my program "These people have NO BUSINESS saying heab'n!" and passed it to my female companion, who immediately also become hysterical. The song seemed to go on forever. Heab'n, heab'n, heab'n. The two of us were shaking and trembling and weeping. The people behind us must have thought we were spiritually moved to transports by this music. I was certainly spiritually moved to pray very, very hard that none of the subsequent spirituals would contain the word heab'n.
The most painful thing I have ever snorted out my nose when laughing was French onion chip dip. That really burned.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
1. Got up. 2. Read the paper. 3. Had a shower. 4. Worked. 5. Went to Safeway/dry cleaner/bank. 6. Worked. 7. Made dinner. 8. Watched TV. 9. Went to bed.
So now you know exactly what goes on in my life, and instead I can happily blog my little thoughts and memories.
However, I have just read over my entire blog oeuvre (no, this does not mean egg. Or ovary. dictionary.com, people), and was a bit startled to discover that three themes seem to keep cropping up. One is the subject of grownupness (don't try that one on dictionary.com), whether it be my children's or my own. The second is that children, particularly my own, are stupid. And the third is Myanmar, but that was on purpose.
My younger child turning 18 and me turning 50 occurred within a couple of weeks of each other not so many months ago and I suppose that's why the subject of grownupitude is much on my mind these days. As to the subject of children being stupid and perhaps more trouble than they're worth, of course I don't really mean that. Really. Although it has now been scientifically proven with medical brain scans of some sort that teenagers' brains actually do work differently -- that is, more stupidly -- than adult brains. But that doesn't mean I should go on and on about it.
So I promise to find some new subjects and shut up about grownupiturity and stupid children. I make no such promise about Myanmar.
And now if you'll excuse me, I must go and Step 4.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Right through my thirties, I still occasionally wondered to myself when I would truly feel grown up. I don’t remember considering this much during my forties, but on the other hand, that entire decade pretty much passed in the blink of an eye. And now at 50, I know I’ve finally given up on wondering how much maturity I may have still to gain. I’m as grown up as I’m ever going to be. When you’re little, you wonder what ancient, grandparent-type people think about. For a long time in life you always think there are wiser, more mature people than you out there. But this, what I am now? -- this is as good as it gets. This is what grown-up is.
Huh. The emperor has no clothes.
Monday, May 14, 2007
I saw my mom yesterday for Mother's Day, but didn't see much of my own kids. They're both so busy now with their own lives. And I'm not complaining about that one bit!
For some mothers, this time of beginning to let go of their children is very difficult. I haven't found it so, perhaps because neither of mine has actually left my house yet. I mourn the end of their childhoods for reasons to do with nostalgia, but I sure don't regret the passing of my days as their supervisor. You see, although all my life I had wanted to be Queen of the World, I found that sovereignity is, in fact, extremely tiresome when undertaken on a full-time basis. When your children are babies, you are essentially queen of their worlds. You continue to hold dominion for some years thereafter, although once they hit two or so they become intractably argumentative subjects. It turns out that it’s exhausting having subjects in a constant state of being too stupid to know what to do if you don’t tell them.
So I was quite happy to relinquish control in gradual stages as my progeny passed through adolescence and cheered and danced the day the younger one reached 18 and I was no longer the boss of anyone but myself again.
But yes, of course I miss dozens of chubby-armed hugs each day. I miss sloppy cheek kisses so deliciously wet I had to create a need to save them for later. “Ooh, that was a good one!” I’d exclaim to a delighted wee child as I rubbed saliva off my face, closed it into my fist, and slipped my hand into a pocket. “I need to keep that one!”
One of my dearest memories in life is of being at Long Beach the summer my kids were about seven and nine years old. I had gone for a long walk down the sand on my own after supper, and as I was approaching our end of the beach on my return trip, the sun beginning to set over the ocean, I saw two little figures running towards me. These soon distinguished themselves as my sweet babies, galloping as fast as they could, arms open, beaming gap-toothed grins on their faces, calling out, “We came to find you, Mommy!” Shortly thereafter, we crashed together in one big embrace.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
When you are preparing to have your first child, you believe you are ready. You want this child; you're the right age; you have a stable home, you've read all the parenting books. You're ready.
Except that you're not. Certainly, if a grenade has ever gone off in your hoo-hoo, you can be somewhat prepared for labour and delivery, but nothing can possibly prepare you for when they first place that baby -- your baby -- in your arms and a nuclear device detonates in your soul. BOOM. They call it bonding, as in you're in more or less involuntary bondage to this critter for the rest of your days.
At one moment, after your infant has shrieked non-stop for about eleventy-zillion hours, you are frantically looking up Gypsies* in the Yellow Pages hoping to find a band of the baby-purchasing variety in your neighbourhood. The next minute you have snatched up that soggy, stinky, snot-nosed bundle in your arms, weeping because he's so perfect and you're so lucky he's yours.
Previously, the phrase "I'd walk through fire for you, baby" is the sort of cheesy thing an inebriated boyfriend might say to you. The instant you become a mother, it's an absolute fact of life. Fire, anvils falling from the sky, unexpected trips to Myanmar. Whatever it takes, you will do it without question if that's what your child requires.
It's a weird, weird gig. And of course we would trade it for no other. Congratulations and condolences to all who share it with me.
* If this offends you as a slur on the fine Romany people, then just pretend I wrote White Slavers instead, okay? Does your mother know you complain this much?
Saturday, May 12, 2007
A friend and I (hi, Karen!) were on the phone the other day having a good old rant about Kids These Days. It's difficult to rant too much on the subject, of course, because we're the parents of Kids These Days (depending on how you define kids, of course. Most of my peers have grown children but not yet grandchildren). And of course, we were talking about Everybody Else's Kids, anyway, not our own. We are a little nonplussed, in retrospect, by some of the choices we Baby Boomers made in raising our kids, but luckily most of them have turned out just fine despite us.
Back in The Day, we children had no rights and were treated in some ways like little animals. However, we were also credited with at least the same level of native instinct as is found in the rest of the animal kingdom, and that's something we overprotective Boomer parents may not have considered.
When I was six years old, I was invited for the first time to the home of a friend outside of my own neighbourhood. One day towards the end of Grade 1, my classmate Cheryl K invited me to visit her house after school. This was a big deal. She didn't live near me at all! But I followed her home, and phoned my mother when I got there, and she agreed that I could stay and play awhile. She said I should tell Cheryl's mommy to send me home by 4:30.
No, I would not be driven home or picked up by a parent. Despite the fact that Cheryl lived on a street I'd never been on before, on the far side of our school's catchment area, this six-year-old child would be sent out the door, pointed in the right direction, and expected to find her way home. Which of course I did.
Now, the safety issue is another matter. An obsession with child abduction, despite this being less likely than our child being hit by lighting, or even being hit by an anvil falling from the sky, was a defining feature of the Boomer parents when our children were small. It was primarily for this reason that we drove them everywhere. But even though I actually bucked this trend and made my children walk the ten minutes to school (uphill through the snow both ways), I did only start doing this when they were about eight years old, and I'm awfully afraid that it was because I thought that prior to that, they might get lost. Or unable to grasp the concept that cars travel on streets and are bigger and faster than people. Or distracted by shiny objects. I don't know. Why did I think my children were so stupid??
Anyway, back to the Cheryl story. We still have a bathing suit picture to explain.
After I called home, we went in search of Cheryl's mother, who inexplicably was not in the kitchen, which was where my mother lived. This was a first hint that foreign families might do things differently from us, but worse was to come. We headed out into the back yard on this sunny June day, and there was Mrs. K, reclining on a chaise, wearing a two-piece bathing suit.
I gaped at her and went puce with embarrassment for poor Cheryl. This was wrong on so many levels I was barely able to take it in. Firstly, mothers -- i.e. old ladies -- did not wear two-piece bathing suits. (Cheryl's mom was very likely still in her twenties.) My own mother's bathing costume was a substantial garment of the sort favoured by substantial women, although my mom was not overweight at the time. It was gathered and ruched and smocked the way they did to impart a sense of stretchiness before Lycra. There was a lot of fabric involved. I seldom saw this garment because my mother was a respectable woman who wouldn't dream of lolling about nearly nude when one's friends might drop by. Or any other time, either. Had I had any concept of the word "prostitute" at the time, that's what I was thinking of Cheryl's mother.
Secondly, the indolence of it appalled my pre-women's liberation little soul. My mother was never seen to be lying around, even fully clad. She was always busy doing mother things. Why was Mrs. K not? Would there be any dinner in the K house that evening? Would anyone's hair get washed? Would there be clean pajamas? Was there any toilet paper on the rolls? What if I fell down and cut my knee? Could a two-piece-bathing-suit-wearing hussy possibly know anything about putting Band Aids on? It was a frightening and disorienting scenario. I was quite happy to leave Cheryl's home at 4:30 and return to where things were done right. I felt exactly as I might feel today if I were coming home from Afghanistan or Myanmar. (I love the word Myanmar. I'll use it any chance I get.)
Well, off to clean up the kitchen, because Kids These Days think that plates just osmose through the counter into the dishwasher. Hey…maybe they are stupid!
Friday, May 11, 2007
This is an actual, genuine, unPhotoshopped picture of me at my place of employment when I was in my early twenties. (For what it's worth, I'm seated in the chair, second from the left.) This, then, is what we will be missing in the brave new world of virtual offices.
If I believed in reincarnation -- and I'm not entirely sure I don't -- then in the 17th century I was likely French grammarian Dominique Bonhours. This venerable gentleman proved on his deathbed that a grammarian's work is never done when he turned to those gathered loyally around him and whispered: "I am about to -- or I am going to -- die; either expression is used."
Grammar Moses is quite aware that she has totally set herself up for eagle-eyed readers to find solecisms in her blog. (If you don't know what solecism means, you've got no business trying to correct Grammar's grammar.) But be aware that even though "I meant to do that" is the standard excuse of embarrassed six-year-olds, I likely really did intend the things you may be flagging as errors. It's called stylistic choice and it's what makes casual writing sound different from formal writing. That said, of course Grammar is human and possibly even fallible. So have at me; it will be fun!
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
In our house when I was growing up in the fifties and sixties, going to the bathroom was referred to as going toidy. When you went toidy, you went tinkles and/or plops. (Plops were also known as a big job.) I don't know whether my mother totally invented these charming onomatopoeic terms herself or what, but I eventually discovered that no one else I knew used them. When I was in the hospital as a little girl, a nurse brought me a bedpan on one occasion and on returning later to collect it, asked, "Did you pee?" I was flummoxed by this question. I heard it as "pea", which to me was a small, round, green vegetable, and I had no idea what she meant. I have recently read a memoir by one of my favourite authors, Bill Bryson, who was born in 1951, and was amazed to find that in his family in Iowa, they "went toity". Clearly my mother was not, as she had always claimed, from Toronto, but secretly in a witness protection program from Iowa. I knew there was something funny about that woman! (Love ya, Ma! Carrying on your weirdness genes as happily as if I were sane!)
There are a zillion remarkable little quirks in living languages that can make you ponder. These crop up all the time for people trying to learn to speak English. Things like you get in a car but on a bus. Why is that? Nothing to do with the relative size of the vehicle, because you’d get in a truck, no matter how huge it was. Or contemplate, if you will, because this is our subject today, the phrase go to the bathroom. The sentence “I need to go to the bathroom” is very commonly heard in North America. Its meaning is obvious and the sentence makes sense to anyone who speaks English. However, the phrase go to the bathroom has come to mean the actual act of elimination. At least, it has come to mean that to native English speakers, in particular North American English speakers.
Any of us who heard the sentence “He went to the bathroom in his pants” would know that meant he had made a mess of one sort or another and would require a change of trousers. Many of us might consider the wording just a bit silly and would be more likely to specify “He wet/peed/pooped/shit his pants”, but we wouldn’t think twice about what it meant. To a non-native speaker, however, it’s a bit of a puzzle. Why specify what clothing the fellow was wearing when he needed a visit to the toilet? It’s as if the sentence needs more to make sense. “He went to the bathroom in his pants as he was not comfortable in the pink dress”, say.
Years ago, I was watching one of those reality shows on TV called A Baby Story. (I was sick, okay? I had a fever. I had no idea how to change the channel.) The baby was duly born and the proud father went out to the waiting room to tell the new grandparents about it. One thing he said has stuck with me. “He’s so cute,” Daddy gushed. “He went to the bathroom as soon as he was born.” Now, again, as native speakers we know what he means, though we recognize it as being a little farther down the road of ridiculous euphemism. To a non-native speaker, it would be a truly bewildering statement. But I’m sure I’m not the only local who got a mental image of this infant jumping out of the doctor’s hands and trotting off down the hall, thinking to itself, “Thank God! I’ve been holding it for nine months! Where’s the john?”
Well, thanks for joining me in potty world today. Hope it's been as much fun for you as it has for me! Now, excuse me while I go see a man about a dog…
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
(What a long parenthetical aside!)
So, since I've been gone I have learned absolutely nothing about how to blog better. I still don't know how to download pictures. I don't know how to make links.
I have learned that the office I work for is shortly to become pretty much completely virtual; that is, I will pick up and return the work I do via computer. This is a good thing in that I will save gas money commuting (although it really wasn't very far). It is a bad thing in that it is something else I have to learn how to do on my computer, one more thing to go completely wrong through absolutely no fault of my own.
A few weeks ago, my computer deleted Word. Just that one program; everything else peacefully remained. I did not ask it to do that. I in no way wished it to do that. I am quite certain I did not inadvertently simultaneously click a combination of keys that would cause the computer to believe I wanted Word deleted. It just did it because a nasty, poopy-headed poltergeist lives inside it.
When I went to reinstall Word, it toyed with me. At first it pretended it would do it, and then suddenly it refused, told me it wasn't in the mood and left me engorged with frustrated hope. Hope-teasing, poopy-headed poltergeist.
Then, as I was sitting there fuming over this, it suddenly began deleting everything else, one program after another. Poof, poof, poof. Gone, gone, gone, until finally even Windows was gone and I was left with an empty shell of nothingness.
I made great haste to fetch my techie 21-year-old son, who thus far has always been able to fix everything the computer poltergeist throws at me. He took one look at this situation, however, went very pale, and told me I was on my own.
Anyway, before I start perseverating here, I'm out of amusing anthropomorphical metaphors, so the end of the story is simply that a Geek Squad person came and slew the poltergeist -- at least for now -- and retrieved all my stuff and was my best friend o day.
So I'm back, maybe. I don't know how often I'll blog, but from time to time I'll have something to say or feel particularly witty (if only in my own imagination) and I'll appear again.