Figuring out what I wanna be when I grow up.
Oop..I AM grown up...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Feel Free To Be F*cked up--You're An Adult Now

When did I make that transition from "I hope some cute boys will smile at me on the way to class!" to "I'm so freaking tired, please, just shoot me now"???

Well let me tell you people, it will CREEP UP ON YOU.  It's called ADULTHOOD, and it's one giant suitcase full of fun! 

Let's see, in highschool everything was so melodramatic, and yet so lame.  What did I have to worry about back then?  Well, let me put my brain back into teen karen mode:

1) I tried to smile at SUPER CUTE GUY in the hall today, but he didn't even notice me, and now I'll have to wait until after French so I can try again!  My life is horrible.

2) I tried to put this cool, blonde streak in the front of my hair, but it turned out buttercup yellow.  My life is horrible.

3) that grade 13 football player will never fall in love with me.  My life is horrible.

4) I have to do my gymnastics routine for marks today, and I still don't know how to do a backwards roll.  My life is horrible.

5) I'm trying to grow out my feathered layers, but my hair is sticking out.  My life is horrible. 

Seriously.  I think 99% of my life drama centred around which cute boy wasn't yearning after me, as I was him.  Okay, I'm simplifying things a bit.  I'm sure I had some real stuff to worry about, but the stress of being all growed up just seems to trump most of it. And if you have children???  You can almost see where the new white hairs have sprung up each day.

I just got back from my yearly physical.  Because I've had the flu for the past week, I was abysmally sweaty while I was on the table, but that's neither here nor there--I simply mention it for aesthetics.  What I find funny about doctors is that they tend to see things in black and white.  I told the doc my breathing had been very congested, and I felt like crap because I had come down with the flu last Wednesday.

Dr.:  "The STOMACH flu?"  (I'm hip to the doctor lingo.  If I'd had THAT, I'd have called it 'gastroenteritis')
Me: "no, INFLUENZA."
Dr. (with slight smile): "how do you know it's influenza?"
Me: "well, I've had a fever off and on for several days, intense all over body aches at the start, bad headache, chills, and now this horrible cough."
Dr.: "well, influenza doesn't start spreading until winter.  What you probably have is a bad cold."

A bad cold.  Is that why my PANTS hurt???  I have nothing against her.  She's a great doctor, and so compassionate she makes me feel like bursting into tears whenever I'm in front of her LARGE PROBING BLUE EYES.  However, I knows the difference between a cold and something much suckier.  Plus, I've gotten this same feeling "bug" for the past...what...5, 6 years? so I know that it feels like THAT.  Also, I've always been obsessed with reading whatever medical guide I've currently had in my posession, so yeah, I know it's not just a cold.  A bad cold.  Pfft.  By the way, I don't recommend the medical guide for casual, relaxing reading.  No, wait, that's not entirely true.  I avoid all the cancer sub-sections, and stick to non-life-threatening illnesses, and tongue-related afflictions.  Black, hairy tongue, yo! Tell me that's not some interesting reading.

So, anyhow, after poking and prodding all my sweaty bits, and using that long, long q-tip (oh don't be coy.  It's all part of the process of keeping healthy-ish), while we conversed about interesting things like ovarian cysts, (this is interesting:  according to the doc, whenever a woman ovulates, she produces a small cyst on her ovary(ies), which usually goes away on its own, and I had one in my last camera-up-the-hoo-ha ultrasound, but nobody told me at that time, because apparently, it's only just MY BODY, and not something I need to or have the right to know everything about after all) I lamented once again that I am sick and tired of being fat, when I don't even do the things that the greater majority of overweight people do.  I almost never drink pop.  I don't eat sweets.  I don't buy junk food.  I go for good, brisk walks at least 3 times a week, and walk most anywhere else that isn't ridiculously far besides that, I hardly sit down all day (except for now, because blogging is muchos fun).  I have to force myself to eat during the day because I'm not interested, and what I crave now all the time is salty foods, so I occasionally succumb to some baked potato chips when I'm really climbing the walls for them. 

So, I told her my latest theory, which I probably shouldn't have mentioned, knowing that doctors--like I said--tend to see things in black and white, and if there aren't pages and pages of proof on something, well, it doesn't exist, as far as they're concerned.  I have to interject for a second and say that this is funny to me, considering "medicine" is a constantly evolving field.  Anyhow, so I unrolled my papers I had brought with me and presented...ADRENAL FATIGUE! Seriously, if you're burnt out all the time too, you should give it a read--it is me to a T.

Dr.:  "first of all, there is no such medical condition as 'adrenal fatigue,' but why do you think you have it?"

Well, I think it makes sense that if you're super stressed over time, eventually your motor's going to get a little overheated and stop running as efficiently.  THIS she agreed with.  And then she said;

"Well, you've had a lot to deal with in the past few years:
- one child on the Autism Spectrum
- a new baby right around  that same time
- you moved in the past year
- your husband had thyroid cancer

- your mother died.

You've had a LOT to deal with!"

Hey!  YEAH!  No wonder I'm so freaking tired all the time! 

Occam's Razor.  That's All I'm saying. 

Life On The Autism Spectrum - 2008

The following is a blog I wrote in my Myspace profile back in 2008.  I have to say, as an aside, that I kinda found Myspace unfulfilling after a while, because not too many people were all that interested in any serious kind of writing (not that there weren't pockets of thinkin' peeps). It felt like 50% wanted you to befriend their SUPER SUCKO band, and the other 50% wanted you to show them your t*ts.  But I digress...

Anyhow, here is how I was coping with stuff then.  We were living in surburban hell, my son was in nursery school and my daughter was just crawling, so it was a month before they were 4 and 2 respectively.  I'll do some updates in the future to see if we've evolved at all, har, har. 

At any rate, I'm posting this so that people will realise that perhaps when that kid who is too old to be having a tantrum is freaking out, he/she is not necessarily a bad kid.  And, to all the Moms out there who are dealing with a child with special needs:  you are not alone, sistas. 

January 4, 2008

Life On the Autism Spectrum

On any given day, I lie in bed until such time as my daughter is totally fed up with me, and starts hollering from her crib in her bedroom down the hall. I then drag myself up, give her a big hug, then change her diaper. In the meantime, my three year old son has already been and gone. He will have marched into the room, asked; "where's daddy?" I will tell him; "at work," and he will leave with no greetings of "good morning, mummy," and neither hugs, nor any indication that he is glad that I'm there.

As I change my daughter's diaper, and get her dressed for the day, Jack bounces against the couch, watching his usual morning cartoons. He has bounced so vigorously against the back of the couch, that our couch and love seat, which haven't even spent a year in our home, are almost completely dilapidated. I leave a sippy cup of apple juice in the fridge each night for Jack to find in the morning. My daughter is left in her crib with some toys as I get the usual fast-as-I-can bath. I brush my hair, put on my face, and get dressed. We come downstairs and I then assess whether Jack will be his usual self, or his more unbearable self that day.

Day in and day out I prepare the same packet of sugar-laden instant oatmeal; "cinnamon roll." There is no sense in buying any other flavour, as it will not be eaten. Each lunch and dinner I will carve the crust off two slices of frozen whole wheat bread. Three slices of cheddar cheese will be placed just so on the bread, so as to cover the bread as much as possible. If any of the bread has no cheese on it, it will be torn off, and left on the plate. If any crust is on the bread, it will be torn off as well. The sandwich is 'nuked' for thirty seconds, so the cheese melts enough to keep the sandwich together. If the sandwich falls apart while it's being eaten, this is a catastrophe, and there will be much screaming and panic. If a drop of liquid gets on Jack's clothes, be it water, juice or chocolate milk, said item of clothing will be immediately removed. Once, recently, I put a slice of deli ham on the cheese sandwich and Jack was outraged. The next day at lunch time, it took him a full hour to work up the nerve to eat his sandwich, even as I assured him over and over again that there was no ham this time.

At dinner the same sandwich will be served, along with a tiny portion of our dinner in a separate container. The food we're eating will not be touched the whole meal, but because progress must be made achingly slowly, I force myself  to show no signs of anger or frustration, but instead must smile and tell Jack that he did a good job eating his dinner. Oh, but we don't call it "dinner" these days, we call it "lunch." Dinner is a word associated with horrible food and coercion to eat it. Lunch is a relaxed time with cheese sandwiches, yogurt, and chocolate milk. Sometimes I can make hot dogs, and I buy the beef variety as this is the only way Jack will eat beef. I used to make mini breakfast sausages, but my husband bought maple and brown sugar sausages for change a few months ago, and Jack will no longer touch a breakfast sausage.

Jack will eat no meat, no vegetables, no raw fruit other than an apple, no rice and no pasta. I give him a multivitamin every day, and hope this helps. I believe what I have read in my learning travels is that twenty five percent of children who have a behavioral
problem also have eating issues. At various points during the day, my daughter Ella, is allowed to crawl around the house with me in tow, as babies require a lot of space to learn how to get around. Jack is a control freak, and finds this very stressful. He follows relentlessly behind, snatching everything she picks up out of her hand, fretting
that she is "touching the tv," fretting that she is touching anything he owns, and just being generally stressed that she is on the move in HIS home. Ella, at the young age of ten months, can already immediately tell when Jack is in one of his relentless pest moods. All he has to do is stick his smiling face in front of her, and she screeches in frustration.

There are stacks and stacks of paper around the house with various themes of drawings. None of these are made by my son. The current theme is "The Beatles," but drawings must be near-to-exact reproductions of cd covers, or pages from books. Recently, when neither my husband nor I could draw the "bass guitar" Paul McCartney was holding to suit Jack's needs, he became so angry he banged his head on the floor a few times.

Every day Jack and I talk about guitars—part of his obsession. Paul plays the bass guitar. George plays the electric guitar. On and on, over and over again. I could go on, but I think the idea is clear enough. My son Jack, back in August, was diagnosed as having "Autism Spectrum Disorder."

I find this all very confusing, despite all the reading I have done. Jack is a puzzle because he doesn't fit in completely to any one category of Autism; whether it is Asperger's Syndrome, or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Certainly he doesn't exhibit traits of classic Autism. He doesn't flap his hands, or twirl his fingers. He makes eye contact. He tries to engage other children and people socially. Sometimes he doesn't seem to have any problems at all, and I feel guilty. I feel guilty that I took him to the pediatrician in the first place. I feel guilty that I had
this label attached to him. But then, he has his bad days, and I know that he is not like most of the children in his nursery school class, and when he's having a melt-down, I don't want his teachers to conclude that he is bad.

I find the whole Autism spectrum confusing. When I picture it, in my mind I see this great colour wheel, and a sign on it that says; "YOU ARE HERE."

It encompasses such a broad range of human behavior that is largely considered to be normal. It doesn't help when my own family doctor disdains the whole idea of Jack being anywhere on the Autism Spectrum. The world is made up of all different kinds of people, she told me. So what if he has no imagination (more specifically no imaginative
play)—he'll be a corporate banker one day.

I finally took my concerns to the doctor though when Jack was two anda half. There were two reasons: the first was that I could no longer take his behavior. His tantrums and general fits of temper were more than I could bear. Mostly though, it was because of my Mom. Medically inclined, and just generally more knowledgeable, having had twice as many children, she saw some signs that alarmed her. For instance, Jack never answered his name, after repeated attempts to catch his attention. I just figured he was engrossed in the tv show he was watching, that he wasn't paying attention. She could never understand why I insisted he just didn't seem to love me. All babies love their mothers, she insisted. Also, he never played with toys in the conventional way, i.e.; he never pushed a truck and said "vroom, vroom."

Instead, he arranged collections of objects into lines. Great long lines would stretch across our living room, and if they were altered this caused great distress. I was charmed: "he's going to be an artist!" I thought, admiring these lines. Turns out this was not so.

Yes, any child will line up toys at some time or another, but we have bins and boxes of toys that Jack does not play with because he has never known how. He also will not draw or colour while at home, aside from a few scribbles. It upsets him that the orderly picture of icons and logos he wants to reproduce from the backs of cd's and dvd's can't be reproduced properly with a child's skills. This makes for long days.

We saw a pediatrician though in the summer, and on her recommendation we have him in nursery school three mornings a week. He also has a resource teacher, which the community provides for free. He has made enormous progress in his social skills, and because he's Jack, his natural charm has brought him a long way with many people. He will paint and do most of the crafts at school, and he's even willing to sit for boring "circle time" most days. He has stopped hitting classmates, and his teachers after I coached him for weeks: "if somebody does something mean to you, or if somebody makes you angry, then you say 'Don't do that please!'" And what do you know—it

Everything rolls along quite nicely until Jack gets another cold, and misses a day of school, or his father is home for a week, upsetting his routine and creating intolerable chaos in his life. I often think that as far as Jack is concerned, it's one step forward, two steps back. Is that progress? Sometimes I wonder. I am, of course, still reasoning through a lot of things, and still looking for answers. And yes, there are all kinds of people in this world. I just want mine to be happy.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hockey Players Are FREAKING HOT

Rick Vaive (image source)

Seriously--google some other photos of Rick in hockey gear--he was HOT. 

OH, Rick Vaive, how I loved you when I was...10?  Yeah, probably around that time...maybe even until I was 13.  Anyhoo, I was into watching hockey for a brief period of time with my Dad when I was a kid.  Dad and Poppa (my paternal grandfather) would turn the TV up SUPER LOUD during the hockey games, and Dad would actually say the odd, rare swear word.  Funny about the loud TV too, because every time my brother and I turned it up a bit too loud, Dad would turn it down and tell us:  "exercise your ears." 

The team we routed for was the idiot's choice:  Toronto Maple Leafs.  Okay, if you're reading this and you're a fan, that's FINE, but at some point you have to get angry and wonder how they can continue to keep making so much money, and continue to keep playing such LOUSY HOCKEY.  And let us not mention the exorbitant price tag for a ticket to watch them SUCK.  That's all I'm going to rant about hockey, because ultimately, the only time I'm interested in hockey is when team Canada is playing.  I am NOT a sports girl.  Sports = yucky.  If you would like to learn more about Rick Vaive, you can click here
I have to interject for a moment to say that I still have this FLU that I started coming down with 4 days ago, AND I have a fever tonight, AND I'm tired of having DIZZY EYEBALLS, and I'm coughing like crazy, and the ONLY THING I WANT IN THE WHOLE WORLD right now for some reason is a giant bag of red licorice.  Sigh.

On Thursday my little guy had his first school trip this year, and EVER, to go skating!  I was told that parents were more than welcome to come along, because they need as many hands as possible to help lace up skates for the kids.  In the city where I live now, they have done away with all the other smaller skating rinks, in favour of one giant MEGA SKATE COMPLEX.  Kind of exciting, even if it is standing on land where a company once existed that made a whole smorgasbord of chemicals.  Oh, but don't worry, they just didn't dig too deep to build the arena.  ANYHOO...

I arrived before the primary grades got there and that's when I started to realise that a) I myself haven't been skating since I was 18, and b) Jack has NEVER BEEN SKATING.  He's never even had a pair of skates.  Holy Motherly Panic!  So, with my wimpy girl fingers, I did a half a$$ed job of tightening Jack's skates, as well as the skates of a little girl who did not look excited, and who informed me that she is scared of skating.  Geez kid, what--are you ME at age 7?  This is to say that I have never been a sports kid (ie; I sucked at them), but I have to admit, I always liked skating. 

In fact, I have fond memories of skating.  I liked coming to the arena with my Dad, who would lace my skates up good and tight.  If I told him my ankles were drooping inward, he'd lace up my skates SO tightly, there was no way those ankles would wobble.  In winter Dad would sometimes flood our large back yard and make a rink.  We even skated on the super thick ice on top of our above-ground swimming pool one year.  So, skating was fun. 

But, I do have to rant about those heinous white figure skates we girls had to wear instead of the nice, roomy, blocky boys' skates, all you boys got to wear.  Those things always felt pinchy and tight, and your feet were frozen in about 10 minutes.

So, Jack stood up in his skates, and almost fell over.  The kid could barely stand in them, much less walk in them.  By the time we sashayed over to the ice, I was in a wimp-panic about him getting on something SLIPPERY.  "Don't fall on your teeth!!!"  I told him, and, "Fall on your bum!  FALL ON YOUR BUUUUUM!"  And you know, he wasn't great, and he never let go of the rail, but he loved it.  He loved falling.  He loved pretending to fall. He loved pretending to fall while shouting; "whoa!  Whoa!  WHOOOOAAAA!!"  He thought it was hilarious when other kids flopped out.  He hammed for the little girls.  When he fell, he nimbly leapt back onto his feet.  In the last two minutes of skate time, he had the courage to inch along about 30 feet away from me.  When he got off the ice, suddenly he was able to walk with his skates on and not hold my arm or wobble at all. 

What I liked about the trip to the rink was the feeling of nostalgia.  I like the smell of an arena, I like what seems to be the "Canadian" feel of being in a building that houses all those rinks.  I thought it was cool watching the guy cleaning one rink gliding around in his zamboni.  But best of all was the rink I passed by first thing that morning, before the school kids arrived.  There were a couple of guys skating around.  In full hockey equipment. 


I don't know what it is, but there has always been something about a guy zipping around the ice with the hockey shirt, and the pads and the helmet--a guy who can skate really well.  Sometimes as a young teenager, I'd come to see local hockey games at the arena with my dad, and totally swoon over the hockey players:  all sweaty, and horking spit endlessly and foul-mouthed.  Hee hee!  That is, until they got showered and back into their regular clothes.  Yawn.  Then I'd lose all interest. 

Keep the helmet on boys.  It's hot

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Pity Party Has Been Legendary


People, I am not stoic.  No, not even a little bit.  I am a massive wimp.  A weiner.  An emotional weakling. 

I have the flu! 

I get the freaking flu every year, and yet every year I sneer at the flu shot.  Who's the idiot then?  I do not like feeling sick (who does). I am REALLY terrified of barfing.  So yesterday I was completely achey--everything hurt.  My pants felt like they were made out of steel wool.  They hurt my legs!  I also was awake from 3 till 6 feeling nauseous.
The horror!  And my hair?!?  Why is it that as soon as one becomes sick, the hair becomes HORRIBLE??? 

In the morning I came THIS close to hurling, but did not, only through sheer force of will.  Then I broke out into this monstrous sweat and no longer felt nauseous.  So, all in all, good times.  Now I just feel a little bit like trampled crap.  Probably the lowest moment was when I was flattened in my bed crying because my Mummy is no longer around to  make me chicken soup.  Yes, I told you I'm a suck.  I have no idea how I'd deal with a major illness. 

Anyhow, I shall return when I feel better.  Have  a good weekend, and get your damn flu shot! 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Tired Gourmet - Yummy Nummy Chocolate Rummy Spice Loaf

okay, let's try it...

holy freaking good!

why are there pics of me eating this cake...

yes, i've done it again.  I am a genius.

Yummy Nummy Chocolate Rummy Spice Loaf
What a ridiculous name for a cake.  I agree.  Catchy though, no?

You know what The Man likes?  Get your head out of the gutter, we're talking about baked goods here.  The Man is INSANE for a combination involving all those spice-cakey spices (ie; cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc) and chocolate.  He thinks it's right on.  He also loves any baked good in a loaf form. I could take chocolate chip cookie dough, bake it in a loaf pan...he'd be happy.  I could probably make a pumpkin pie -- in a loaf pan...he'd be happy. I don't know what it is about the loaf pan, or that combo of cinnamon and chocolate.  Me?  I like cheddar cheese melted all over pretty much everything, but like I said, we're talking about cakes. 

So, for The Man's birthday this year, he wanted some sort of loaf, and not a cake.  Also, I was very tired and supa dupa grouchy on his birthday (aren't I a gem?) and wasn't loving the idea of all the extra dishes baking creates.  PLUS, I didn't feel like making anything too complicated, which involved using my brain.  ALSO, it's moving closer to winter, and I was craving something warm, and festive-ish.  So, lazy plus loaf plus warm plus festive equals one INCREDIBLY YUMMY LAZY BOOZY CAKE!  HOORAY!  I had just made the Christmas cake not too long beforehand, so I still had that dark liquor quality on the brain. 

Remember:  you're lazy, I'm lazy, and together we can make a fantastic loaf--a loaf so great it is worthy of being brought to peoples' homes when all those exhausting holiday parties start rolling. 


Okay, so you've got a large bowl, a two-cup measuring cup, and a greased loaf pan, right?  Oh, and a separate mug or microwave safe container for melting butter. 

Prep Time:
  I didn't time it.  I was tired and grouchy.  Let me know how long it takes you. 
Serves:  several people, or only a few once you taste it and realise how moist and irresistable it is.

* Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Dry Ingredients for Large Bowl:1) 1 cup cake & pastry flour (don't whine, just buy a bag.  You can store it in the freezer)
2) 1/4 cup oats (not the ones that take 10 minutes to cook)
3) 1/2 cup brown sugar (not packed)

4) 2 tsp baking powder
(tip:  I usually use a small sifter when adding baking powder or baking soda--those surprise lumps in your quick breads are GROSS)

5) 1/2 tsp salt
6) 1/4 tsp nutmeg
7) 1 tsp cinnamon
8) pinch cloves (literally, pinch some of the ground stuff between your finger & thumb)
9) 1 cup chocolate chips

Combine it all together.

In your measuring cup:1) 1/2 cup molasses

2) 1/2 cup spiced rum (regular rum is fine too)
3) 1 egg

4) 1 tsp vanilla
*5) 1/2 cup melted butter, in a separate mug or other microwave-safe container

mix all wet ingredients, except butter, together loosely in your measuring cup (I never stir the egg up too much, but enough so it's 'broken')

Make a well in centre of dry ingredients.  Add moist ingredients.  Add melted butter.  Fork together quickly till just blended.  Pour into your greased loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until loaf has slightly separated from sides of pan, and a knife/toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in pan before removing to a plate or wire rack. 

Even I couldn't stop eating this crazy little loaf, and I think the spice/chocolate combo usually is overrated.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

And on a Tuesday,

When every day is the same,

the roads, familiar, always seem to have the same number of cars; variations of which are only dependent upon the time of day. Perhaps even the people in the cars are the same as before, but we never stop to find out who we are. The sky, like a rolled-down backdrop for the scene, changes, but gets broken down into concrete categories: “sunny,” “cloudy.”  But, does anyone really notice that some days the sky is a tremulous blue grey, and some days it is dazzling with large white clouds, and some days it is dark as coal, and other days it’s almost white? The drive is the same. All the bumps and grooves are more or less familiar, but only to that deep, sleepy part of my mind, which seems to drive by feel, rather than sight, when I’m still sleepy with a coffee in my hand. The same people surround me, more or less, but sometimes they wear different clothes. A blur of children run, laugh, jump, arrange toys and cut paper. Back into the car: music on the radio, automatic pilot guides us home. The lunches are like other lunches. The sandwiches are the same. Chocolate syrup is stirred into cold milk. The day will move along. Push, pull, wait, go, eat, drink, think, sleep.

And then today, on a Tuesday, a sudden fluttering noise in the car, as we’re adjusting belts, and I say; “what is that?” when it can only be one thing: a bird. A bird has flown into the car, and for one mili-moment it is caught, and in panic, just as I am in panic. Then it pauses on the door frame and we can see one another. I can only imagine how scared it must be.

Gently, I say; “go on…” And then it is gone.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Buncha Songs I Lurv

Okay, this is the last of the lists.  We've looked at karen's Top 20 Most Loathed Songs Of All Time, and 10 Songs I'm Ashamed to Admit I Like.  Basically, that was still 2 lists of BAD music, and since I was asked about what music I actually do like, I figured I'd better finish this off with songs that I've always loved, or never gotten sick of, or are by some of my favourite artists.  Enough blabbing, here's my list:

* Linger by The Cranberries

I love the way this song builds, and the unmistakable yearning we've all felt at one time or another

* Don't Leave Me This Way by Thelma Houston

If you've ever been on a booze-up with me, you'll know that invariably at some point, I
WILL be belting this out.  Dang, I even get excited hearing it on youtube here, but the kids are in bed, so I'd better stop listening to it, lest I morph into the Disco queen

* All I Want Is You by U2

Fabulous song--needs to be played at ear-bleeding volume for some reason, so you can hear Bono passionately shouting YOOOOOOOOU, ALL I WANT IS YOOOOOOU.  Makes the hairs on my arms stand up. 

* Story of Love by Voice Of America

Let's see how many of my alternative 80's/new wave loving friends remember this obscure song.  These guys apparently vanished into thin air after this, because I can not find a damn thing about them on the net.  Weird.  LURV this song. 

* Time Has Got Nothing To Do With It by Peter Murphy

I don't know what it is about Peter Murphy, but I dig him.  His voice is just saturated with that super cheesy "80's" sound, but I still like him.  I never get tired of this song.  Probably only my sister might listen to the whole thing, but it just builds and builds.  I seem to have a thing for songs that start off quietly and then keep on building, like "linger," and "all I want is you." 
Love these lyrics though:

the clock cannot be turned
with remorseful yearn

time has nothing to do with it

* Pié Jésu - Andrew Lloyd Webber

Okay, personally, I close my eyes and don't read the religious lyrics, because I'm CRUSTY LIKE THAT--sorry my Christian friends, you know how I iz.  Anyhow, I'm amazed at the beauty of human voices sometimes.  When that kid sings that last high note of "Requiem" at the end, it sometimes brings tears to my eyes.  There, I'm done being sappy. 

* O Mio Babbino Caro as sung by Montserrat Caballé

Another song that's so beautiful it's almost painful!  Oh the melodrama:  if her father won't let her be with the man she loves, she'll throw herself off the bridge into the Arno river!  I love opera, and secretly wish sometimes I could have been a famous opera singer.  Sigh. 

* Amsterdam by Coldplay

One of my favourite bands, and one of my very favourite songs, not just by Coldplay, but, well, ever.  I can even play it on my tiny electric piano! 

* Beautiful by Akon ft. Colby O'Donis and Kardianl Offishall

Say what you will!  I friggin' love this song, and I've played it a zillion times, and still love it.  Weird. 

* If You're Going to San Francisco by Scott McKenzie

Oh I secretly wish I'd been a hippie; unfettered, free--I'd hop on that rainbow bus and drive off on a whim with no real destination, but surrounded by the love of other, er, high people around me.  There is something about the 60's, and something about songs like this that seem to capture that hippie movement vibe that makes my stomach flip right over with nostalgia for an era I never lived.  Also, I'd be old now, and beyond all the push-and-pull worries, yearnings and lamentations of letting go of my youth a little at a time.  Oop...did I just think that or type it out...enh, whatevs. 

* Words of Love by Mama Cass

boy, can I belt this one out.  I love you Mama Cass!  Sniff! 

* America by Simon & Garfunkle

"let us be lovers, we'll marry our fortunes together..."

this song is so full of that hopeful, ambitious feeling of youth, and innocent dreams that will eventually be SQUASHED UNDER THE CYNICAL BOOT OF ADULTHOOD, I could just go lie down in bed and waa-waa about it till Tuesday if I really thought about it too much.  Paul Simon is one hell of a poet. 

* The Obvious Child by Paul Simon

Completely stirring.  Just listen to the lyrics.

* Don't Leave Me On My Own by Chris Isaak

(couldn't find a decent version on youtube, so if you're dying to hear it, here's a snippet from another site, just scroll down to play sample, but you've probably already said EW, and you won't)

Okay, I'm a wicked huge Chris Isaak fan.  No, I don't have his face as my desktop wallpaper or anything, and no, I don't have a t-shirt or anything like that, but I have more cd's, in my collection, by him than any other artist.  But, DON'T SAY HE'S 'COUNTRY.'  No, that would just be mean.  Say "rockabilly" instead.  Anyhoo, if he sang this song into my ear, I'd melt.  Done.  The end.  No more karen.

* I've Been Loving You Too Long by Otis Redding

This was something of a toss-up between this song and "These Arms Of Mine" that we all know from Dirty Dancing. I FREAKING LOVE OTIS. I defy anyone to name another singer with more soul. Oh the passion and yearning in that man's voice. karen plus whisky plus Otis equals a legendary combination. Don't panic, I don't run for the bottle every time the song comes on. Sheesh.

* More Than This by Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music

Always loved it. I also dig the version by 10,000 Maniacs.
I could feel at the time, there was no way of knowing

falling leaves in the night, who can say where they're blowing
as free as the wind, hopefully learning
why the sea on the tide, has no way of turning*

Forever Live And Die by OMD

One day after about two years, I found my OMD cd wedged down beside the front passenger seat of my car.  Yay!  I was so happy.  Don't watch the video, just listen to the song.

* Every Day is Like Sunday by Morrissey

This was the group that formed most of the soundtrack of my glum, square peg, teenaged years.  I think my Mother once described The Smiths' tape I was listening to as "morose."  Ha, perfect for a teenager, no?  Still, it brings back memories of wandering by foot endlessly because there was no place to go, or sitting in a dark corner of someone's basement feeling that life is darker than it really is, or of friends with Smiths lyrics posted in their lockers.  Morrissey feels like an old friend somehow.

* Our Lips Are Sealed by the Go-Go's

Why did The Bangles get more airplay?  The Go-Go's, in my opinion, were waaaay better.

* 500 Miles by Peter Paul and Mary

Thanks to an alcohol-laden indiscretion, The Man's musical family from England try to rope me into singing this whenever they're here for a visit and a party's going on.  When I lived far enough away from my family in suburban hell for 9 years, I'd sing this song and have a huge pity party.  True story!

I love Peter Paul and Mary.  I even saw them in concert, nerd that I am.

* Air That I Breathe by The Hollies

When my sibs and I were kids, my parents would sometimes pull out this great disco/70's star hits compilation RECORD and play it on our giant, cabinet-style record player.  I can still imagine the pops and crackles that should accompany this song. 
My little guy Jack LOVES the Hollies.  He found them himself on youtube.  Crazy kid.  This one NEEDS to be played loud. 

* Hey Jude by The Beatles

I can't help it.  I get caught up in the optimism of this song.  It's a good one to help pick yourself up every day and try again.

Darling Je Vous Aime Beaucoup by Nat King Cole

I love Nat King Cole.  This is one of my favourite songs he sings.  It's sweet and romantic, with that soap-bar innocence much of the music of that era had.

Immenso by Andréa Bocelli

Okay, I'm guessing this song is about the vast and 'immense' beauty of the world.  No, don't run away from the cheese, embrace it and listen to how wonderful his voice is, and the soaring musical score running along with it. 

* Hungry Like The Wolf by Duran Duran

I would be remiss if I did not include one song from my favourite, favourite band of my early teen years.  My room was covered with Duran posters.  I even tried to tape a huge one to the ceiling, but no amount of tape would keep that thing up there.  I can still hear the great "sssshhhhWAP" noise as the thing unpeeled itself and fell to the floor.  Once my brother came along with a black pen, to one small poster, and coloured the pupils of each band member in, and I noticed IMMEDIATELY.  THAT'S how much of a fan I was.  I saw their newly beady eyes right away. 

something to ponder:  how did Simon not die after that kid squeezed the water out of the sponge into his mouth??? You KNOW that's not boiled water.

* One Day by The Verve (already in a previous post--sneaky, huh! Just scroll down to find the video if you like)

This was another toss up between this song and "Lucky Man". Some of the songs on this album were fantastic, and some sucked large, but still, isn't the lead singer one sexy stick?

* Don't You Forget About Me by Simple Minds

Ah, the defining song from my favourite movie The Breakfast Club.  What I heard was that Simple Minds didn't write this song, and they hated it, but performed it anyway.  Funny too, because it was their biggest hit. 

*** I will Give You Everything by The Skydiggers
The Skydiggers are a vastly underrated Canadian band, in my opinion--and at the top of my favourite band list, with a select few others.  This is probably my FAVOURITE SONG OF ALL with it's haunting beauty and mesmerizing chant-like quality.  NOW, LISTEN TO THE WHOLE SONG. 
And now back to our regularly scheduled program of tedium and whining.  Hooray!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

10 Songs I'm Ashamed to Admit I Like

Oh the shame!  Oh the bad music!  There's really no particular order to these songs, so I'll just lay em' down, and leave it to you to judge me. 

1) Where's The Love by Hanson

YEAH!!!  I'm loving it again even as I'm playing it.  Oh Hanson, I don't care if you were little boys when you wrote this song, and I don't care that The Man was once heard to say that the lead Hanson singer looked "like a chick."  No, I don't care about any of that.  You were such talented little kids!  Okay, maybe I'm a little bit ashamed, especially as I remember chugging on down the street with your tape playing in my WALKMAN

2) You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban

Well, here's your nice, typical, greeting card inspiration set to music.  Waa, I don't care.  Even if everyone else is gagging, Josh, you raise ME UP to walk on stormy seas. I am strong, when I am on your shoulders (but YOUR knees are probably buckling). Whatever that means...

3) Safety Dance by Men Without Hats

The song is terrible, the video is kind of retarded, and the guy's voice is completely ridiculous.  That being said, LET'S DANCE! 

4) A New Day Has Come by Celine Dion

Sigh.  I'm going to get hammered for this one.  Okay, whatever.  I still like to belt it out when I'm all alone in my car. 

5) Hélène by Roch Voisine

Some nice syrup from my Canadian boyfriend, Roch Voisine.  No, don't listen to them Roch.  Don't let them call you "cheesy."  Je t'aime Roch!  Je t'aime!

6) Addicted by Enriqué Iglesias

I have to confess something:  I love Enriqué.  I wish I had all  his cd's.  I don't care what you say!  I don't care that he sounds like he's whining/crying in most of his songs.  I even loved him when he had that hideous mole on his face.  Enriqué, you had me at Bailamos

7) 7 O'Clock by London Quireboys

Every time The Man hears me either play, or even just mention this song, he shakes his head in pure disbelief.  Whatevs, like the Quireboys say, it's 7:00, time for the par-tay.  This makes good sense too, because I'm usually pretty tired by 10.

8) No, I'm too ashamed to admit this one.

okay, I'll try.  Sigh.

8) Somebody to Love by Justin Bieber

What can I say--I have this strange weakness for dance music.  I love dance music.  I love crappy dance-themed movies.  I love to dance.  This song is catchy.  Yes, the Bieb probably only comes up to my hoots, and it'll be a whole new ball o'wax when his voice changes.  All I can do is apologize. 

9) Somewhere sung by Barbra Streisand

Show tunes, anyone?  No?  No?  Hmph.  Still, doesn't this song just GET YA RIGHT HERE???  Come on, sing it with me: there's a place for MEEEE, somewhere a place for MEEE, peace and QUIET and open air!  WAAAAIT FOR MEEEE, SOMEWHERE!!!"  Seriously, I need to go to that place.  You know I do. 

Yes, I like dance music.  I also like belting out show tunes. 

10) Rump Shaker by Wreckx-n-effect

If the song isn't bad enough, check out the nickname of whoever posted it on youtube.  Sigh.  Oh come on, like you don't lurv some nice, sexist, degrading-to-women type music?  Oh, you don't?  Yeah, er, me neither. 

Okay, you can all settle down now.  You've all had a good laugh, I'm sure, but now it's time to FESS UP and tell me your dark secret songs! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

karen's Top 20 Most Loathed Songs Of All Time

Okay, I guess first of all, before I begin, I have to say that this list is my own personal opinion, blah, blah, and it's just in fun (mostly fun, that is--some of these acts/songs are true offenders to MUSIC), and if there's a song on my list and you like it, there's no sense waa-waa-ing about it because EVERYBODY'S DIFFERENT, and we're all entitled to our own opinions. 
That being said, I listen to music quite often, and a lot of different music at that.  So today I started thinking about music that sometimes makes me want to run screaming from the radio, music that makes me nauseous, and music that makes me want to go out and pound something, just because I was stuck listening to it. 

20) Snow Bird by Anne Murray

oh my lord, I'd forgotten just how much listening to this song felt like drilling a hole through my head.  Poor Anne--she seems like a lovely  person, but there was something about her smooth, buttery voice that made me run yech-ing from the radio every freaking time.

19) Born In The  U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen

By the time The Boss is finished pounding it into everyone's heads that he was, indeed, born in the United States, I feel like squeezing something until it pops.  I also can't help wondering that his vocal chords never exploded out his neck while singing this.  Patriotism is one thing, but spritzing my face with spit while veins bulge out of you is another matter entirely. 

18) Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden

Hate the song. HATE the video.  Whenever I've been trapped listening to this, it feels like my life is being sucked away, millimeter my millimeter, because it's so slow, and tedious, and whenever Chris Cornell really starts wailing it out, I feel like fingernails are scratching my mental chalk board.  Yeah, I know my sister is probably sad about this entry, and all I say to her is SAVE IT!  har har

17) Lemon by U2

While listening to this, I can't help making the same face as I do when I'm trapped in an aisle at Wal of Evil after yet another shopper has "let one go." 
I defy anyone to prove to me that U2 didn't kinda sorta essentially suck after "The Joshua Tree."  I'm being wishy-washy about admitting to them sucking, because I want to like them.  I really do.   

16) ANYTHING by Billy Talent (no, that's not the name of the song.  I truly mean ANYTHING they've put out)

Yes, yes, this is unequivocal proof that I'm progressing well to "old and uncool" territory, but I don't care--that guy's voice is insanely bad. 

15) Crocodile Rock by Elton John

I only have one thing to say, in a nasal, obnoxious squeal:  "LAAAAAAAA, LA LA LA LA LAAAAAA, LA LA LA LA LAAAAAAAA, LA LA LA LA LAAAAAAA!!!!  I could almost pull a muscle with the speed I need to change the radio station for this one. 

14) Raise a Little Hell by Trooper

The Classic Rock lover's 'anthem.'  Or is that "Free Bird?"..and how come Free Bird isn't on this list??? should be.   Anyhow, perhaps if I ever get some wild urge to smoke a dube and clap my hands OVER my head, I'll give it a full listen. 

13) We're Here For A Good Time by Trooper

"We're here for a good time, not a long time.  So have a good time, the sun can't shine every day." 
No sh*t.  Funny how this song isn't helping matters. 

I could smack a whole room full of people as they be-bop to this song and not get tired--that's how much homicidal energy Trooper fills me with.  Oh, and kudos to the Troop for being a double offender on my list. 

12) Hangin Tough by New Kids On The Block

Seriously, watch this clip for a few seconds, and hang your head in shame if you actually liked this song, or this fabricated horror of a boy band.  Funny thing is, when I brought up the topic of songs I truly hate to my sister, this was the first one that popped into HER mind. 

11) Strokin' by Clarence Carter

Ugh.  Ugh.  Seriously.  Ugh.  Here's a sad story:  years ago when this song was popular, and sometimes it would rear its ugly head at weddings, my dad would always leap up to dance to it.  He thought it was so 'catchy.'  I had to tell him that the song is actually fairly filthy.  "Oooh..." Dad said with wide eyes.

10)  Another Day in Paradise by Phil Collins

Ponder this:  is Phil Collins the blandest artist in music history? 
And here's another question:  how can you get a valid, thought provoking message about poverty out to the world when your song is so plodding and boring it could put the listener in a coma? 

9) Old Time Rock And Roll by Bob Seger

When this song starts playing at a wedding reception, I want to flip my dinner table over.  And then just leave.  Seriously, is there actually anyone in the whole world who isn't completely sick of it?  Actually, this song is the ultimate calling card of the LOUSY DJ--that and anything by Jive Bunny.

8) Love Potion #9 by The Searchers

I just hate this song:  the overplayedness (yeah, I just made that word, I don't care if it's not a real one), the preposterous lyrics.  Yes, yes, I know a whole bunch of "gimmick songs" were popular for a while, but this one is just so, so stupid. 

7) California Gurls by Katie Perry

Poor Katie Perry--so pretty and yet she gets on my nerves LARGE.  Perhaps it's the airheaded comments she's made about Lily Allen and Lady Gaga, or perhaps it's the way she uses cheap titillation to sell herself, but turns around and burbles about how she's a Jesus-lovin-gal, or perhaps it's because she's a symbol of sorts about what is so wrong with pop music nowadays (ie; FABRICATION), but this song makes me feel true ugliness deep down inside when I hear it.  Don't get me wrong, I loves me some vapid dance music at times, but sometimes I become so completely nauseated by these duh-duh-push-up-bra-a$$ shorts-girls' anthems that it makes me feel this overwhelming need to hit the streets wearing a large billboard reading:


6) Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division

Yes, I heard it too:  the collective gasp of 80's Alternative music lovers everywhere.  Well I love 80's Alternative too, and this SUCKS!!!  That guy's voice?  It SUCKS THE LIFE RIGHT OUT OF ME.  Seriously, listen to how the music is TRUCKING along in frenetic synthesizer glory, and then this guy rolls over and yawns out some waaa-waaa about how love, love will tear us apart.  Does anyone care????  It's brutal!

5) Dr. Feelgood by Motley Crue (I refuse to put the 'umlauts' over the 'u'.  That's pure 80's rock gayness)

Okay, probably this is a bit mean, because these guys already have one huge negative against them, and that is that they were part of the great 80's Cheese Metal collective.  So, it's easy pickin's for any bands from this genre.  If you like 80's cheese metal, that's fine.  I too can even be found grooving to Ratt when it comes on the radio, so I'm cool with that.  I think what drives me up the wall with this song is the chorus.  How many syllables can you cram into each line without it being completely ridiculous?!?

He's the one they call Dr. Feelgood
He's the one that makes ya feel alright
If you're not singing along with them on those two lines there, you won't quite realise how crammed it is.  Yes, it must be the chorus.  The chorus is what makes me crazy.

4) ANYTHING  (sorry, I couldn't even pick a song.  That would entail hearing a few seconds of it)  by Bon Jovi
Oh my lord.  Reach into the Bon Jovi basket with your eyes closed and pick a title.  Any title will do.  I long ago gave them the distinction of being the 'greatest offenders in music history.'

3) Suck My Kiss by The Red Hot Chili Peppers

I can't think of anything more unsavory sounding which would make me want to do anything but suck his kiss.  It may be one of the most obnoxious songs ever.  Ever.  

2) I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack

It burns!!!  It buuuurrrrrrns!!!!!  Make it stop! 

Somebody spun the Wheel O Clichés, jotted a whole bunch down and a song was born.  This is exactly the kind of terrible song that gets attached to a power point video filled with images of fuzzy baby kitties, children holding hands with old people, and unicorns standing beside sparkling streams, and then gets forwarded to the rest of us as some sort of punishment message reminding us that every day is precious.  



I just coughed up a hairball I think.  But, is the découpage wall plaque sentiment what's killing me, or is it that SUPER SACCHARINE VOICE?? 

Let us never speak of this song again.

1) Me So Horny by Two Live Crew

I'm at a loss.  Okay, I'll try: oh, it's so horrid, me hate it forever. 

Well, there were some other sucky songs that didn't quite make it onto the list, but that was enough bad music for one night.  I'd like to give honourable mention to the following:

* Destiny's Child
* Jessica Simpson
* Alexisonfire
* Our Lady Peace

oh, the list could go on and on, and would more than likely also include The Backstreet Boys and N'Sync. 

My sister and I decided on another somewhat controversial nominee:  David Bowie.  Yes, I know you're all shocked and in disbelief, but my sis summed it up:  "Everybody thinks they like David Bowie because he's weird and interesting, but actually he sucks!"  Then I sang "put on your red shoes and dance the blues" in a very passable Bowie voice, and we laughed and laughed. 

Okay, I'm sure nodoby will agree with my entire list, but now it's time to turn it over to YOU!  I'd LOVE to hear some songs that you just hate! 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

While The Man Is Away...

While The Man is away on a small business trip, I promise to:

*NOT shave my legs the entire time he's gone

(image source:

*wear next to no makeup, and have that crap washed off as soon as the kids go to bed

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* eat sandwiches and raw veggies nearly every night for dinner

* sleep in the MIDDLE of the bed in STAR FISH position

* have no TV or Music player on when the kids are both at school


(image source:

* Not be bitter just because he's at Disney world and I'm HERE, after all, he's WORKING, it's not like it's a super fun vacation, but then again, he'll be eating some nice meals, and I'm sure there'll be at least a little bit of time to enjoy some of the attractions, but still, why should I complain when I can go to THE PARK, because I love going to the park.  Even though I've been to THE PARK 5000 times since the kids came into my life, who could ever get sick of THE PARK??? 


Friday, November 12, 2010

Introspection Friday

Friday 12 November 2010 Pictures, Images and Photos
The man just stirred molasses into his otherwise black coffee.  Hmm...ponder that..

It's Friday, and that means I feel a certain "lightness" of being, which is funny because really, it's just another week day.  However, years of programming have made Friday seem like the happiest days of the week; a day filled with anticipation and a certain winding-down from the usual drudgery. 

This morning, as the sun shone through the fog, I walked Jack to school.  When the bell rang, I plugged my ipod into my head, turned the opposite direction and started walking.  As I was going along downhill, I thought; "damn it, I feel like running.  Yeah, I'm going to RUN!" 

Has anyone else noticed that as you move into your adult life, you've sort of forgotten how to run?  Running used to be so effortless and painless as a kid.  There was a certain litheness of limb that is just gone, or actually has to be re-learned, if you gave it up for a long period of time.  I found this out after I'd had Jack.  When I started taking him for walks in the stroller, I wanted to run every now and again, but my recently snapped-back joints felt clunky and awkward and my feet slapped the pavement more like I was wearing flippers than running shoes.  This was a bit surprising, and a tad distressing, so I worked toward being able to run again. 

Come to think of it, I wonder if more "moms" would relate to this, because during pregnancy, the joints become more elastic, and start to stretch out, so a baby can be accommodated by that pelvic region, and then eventually be squeezed out.  So, after having the baby, not only do the joints feel a little, well, more weird, there is a certain portion of time whereby most new moms do not necessarily get the chance to get out there and really exercise. 

I believe women are supposed to wait 6 weeks, post partum, before they even get into any serious exercise anyway.  And then, if you have a second child, typically the "older" sibling is young enough that they are neither able nor interested in going for a POWER WALK with Mummy and baby.  Unless you have a double stroller, chances are you're not going for walks and runs, unless you're one of those naturally energetic FREAK MOMS, who does aerobics while the kids are having naps, instead of falling head first into a cup of coffee, or your own bed, like the rest of us.  No wait, that's not entirely accurate--even though I was dead tired, when the kids would be napping, I would be relaxing, but NOT sleeping.  Sleeping felt like a total waste of precious, precious free time.  But, I digress. 

When Ella was a year old or so, I got a double stroller, second-hand, from a woman selling it online. It cost me $35 and it made me so happy, I can't even tell you.  Suddenly I had freedom again.  I could put baby Ella and little boy Jack into that stroller and go for LONG walks along the various paths.  That second-hand stroller was a prized posession. It was FREEDOM

Bear with me people, I'm in that lazy, peaceful hormonal phase, whereby I'm about as sexless as a houseplant, but the brain whirls and whirls. 

SO, on my walk this morning, I decided I was going to run.  I sprinted down the sidewalk, and it felt a little crazy, like my legs were going to pinwheel faster than my body could catch up, but I could do it, and it felt exhilerating.  Then I resumed my walking pace just in time for a car to pull up along beside me.  I pulled my ipod out of my head, and the woman inside the car (one of the school moms), said;

"hi, it's 'Random Acts of Kindness Day,' and you looked like you're in a hurry, so I was just wondering would you like a ride?"
I sheepishly thanked her and explained that I was just trying to get some exercise.  She smiled and went on her way, and I carried on, but that kind gesture nearly finished me. I may be all crusty on the outside, but I'm one giant melted marshmallow on the inside. 

I tried to explain this to The Man, and the sentiment therein, but he's IRREVERANT to the end, and just laughed at the idea that the one time I decide to run, somebody thinks I was in a hurry.  Okay, okay, I had to laugh too--what, I don't look like I LIKE exercise???  Etc, etc.  Also, I couldn't help wondering after, how I looked as I flung myself down the street.  Apparently not like an athlete...

chuckle, chuckle...

This brought me to my next thought:  my old "it's not me, it's THEM" argument.  In Surburban Hell, people were more stand-offish.  It's true.  Maybe this is the syndrome of densely populated areas.  In order to cope with a chaotic environment, don't you have to block out some of the visual/noise chaos to a certain extent?  If you can never truly get some "alone time," does that mean you simply create it by virtue of pretending that person right next to you isn't there?  Hm, perhaps. 

So, in my old neighbourhood, as I'd be walking down the path, hardly anyone would acknowlege the person walking past.  When I was at the park, I could be standing side by side with another parent, and we would not talk to each other.  I became fed up with this attitude after a while and thought eff it, if they're not going to be friendly, why should I?  Then, when little Jack came along, and he was different from other kids, I would see other mothers cringeing away from us with disapproval and disgust.  So, I started to think f*ck them, and stopped trying to engage other mothers. 

What differences did he have?  Well, as a couple of examples, if he liked the way a kid said something, he'd mimic them.  Kids hate this, even from a very young age.  Or, if he thought a kid was great, little toddler Jack would hug them.  First of all, at a certain stage of development, little kids become aware that everyone other than their family are "strangers," and hugging random people is verboten.  Jack would keep trying to hug them, or maybe he'd roar with delight in their face, or whatever, and that would be that--I'd see the wall of stone come up over the other mom's eyes, and she'd be whisking her child away from us monsters.  That's the way it is, sadly. 

When Jack started junior kindergarten in Suburbia, his good looks and fun personality quickly attracted another little boy, who was in senior kindergarten.  This little boy wanted to walk home with Jack.  And then, one day, following the other mom and her son, I grabbed Jack's hand after school, and crossed in the middle of the road, and not at the crosswalk.  This was different.  This was out of the normal routine.  Little Jack lost it.  He screamed, he wailed and cried, and tried to pull away from me to run back to the other side of the road.  When we got to the opposite side, he was still so completely distraught that he was beside himself.  I noticed the other boy's mom try to be sympathetic for a moment, but then she assumed that same protective posture, and she and her boy walked off ahead, not waiting for us, as I tried in vain to reason with and calm Jack down. 

So, I stopped trying to be friendly to the other moms.  I was far too protective of my own little guy, and I would not suffer their prejudices and preconceived, close-minded notions (incidentally, for whatever reason, I can spot a child with behavioural/cognitive problems from a MILE away now, so if you see a kid totally having a freak-out fest, never just assume that they're simply being 'bad'). 

I put up walls around myself.  They're the snobby ones, I concluded.  They're the ones who are jerks.  I'm not even interested in getting to know anyone.  And then someone tries to employ a random act of kindness.  And then there's the lady at the grocery store who offered to let me go ahead of her.  And then there's the guy turning right at the lights, who backed his truck up so I could use the crosswalk.  I guess what I need to remember is that some of the time, it's not them, it's me

It's good to reevaluate every now and again.  We've all been the people who've been judged, but sometimes we also do plenty of judging. 

Enh, but this is Friday. I've just had two leisurely cups of coffee.  I've been typing away peacefully in this sunny pantry.  That sprint has left me with an awareness of my own muscles, but at the same time I feel great, more peaceful.  Sometimes everything's okay. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day, 1990

20 years ago, when I was 18, my senior English Writing class and I travelled the short distance to our local branch of the Canadian Legion.  We each were "assigned" to a veteran of the second world war, who we were to interview, and then compose an account of that interview.  This was to be done in time for Remembrance Day.  The Canadian Legion that year hosted some Remembrance Day-themed literary contests.  I believe I took third place for my account of the man I interviewed, and I won 1st prize for senior poetry. 

That trip to the legion left a big impression on me, and I can still picture the quirky old man I interviewed.  He has since passed away, and I'll keep his last name out of this to protect his family's privacy.  Here's my little teenage essay, which I happily just located from a folder of highschool writings, down the basement. 

Jack W. - A Canadian Veteran
I must admit, I didn't quite know what to expect when I walked into the Canadian Legion.  My 'job' was to interview a vet from the Second World War.  What did I know about the war?  I knew 560 000 Canadians were in the conflict but I had no idea what it must have been like to be 18 and heading off to war.  Jack W. knows what it was like; he was 21 when he went off to war.

Jack sat down before me.  He told me, "smoke em' if you got em'."  I didn't smoke but I told him I didn't mind if he did.  He seemed taken aback; "I'll damn well smoke if I want to smoke!"  Okay, I figured I had better let him take it from there.

Jack W., Sergeant of the Lake Superior Regiment, was an army man.  He had tried to get into the airforce but they wouldn't take him.  He left for overseas in August of 1934, landing in Scotland that same month.  He trained there then went to the South Coast of England.  A lot of training time was spent in Brighton and on the Salisbury Plane which is "very flat, very wet, and very cold." Jack remembers his first action in Normandy.  They were in an apple orchard.  The Germans had dug themselves in behind the trees.  "The first carrier to be knocked out was in our regiment...A shell hit the carrier and took the back wheel off...2 of my men were wounded and 1 was killed...shrapnel took one man's arm off at the elbow--I remember this very clearly."

Jack spent most of his time in France.  "The German Army stripped France of anything they wanted."  Jack's job was to go up along the left flank of France with his men and clear as many seaports as they could.  I asked him if he could remember his best experience during the war.  A wry smile came to his face and he said bluntly, "My best experience?  yeah, one day we got lucky and knocked off a German paymaster.  We were pretty rich boys for a while.  We got about 700 000 francs."

Jack told me of a few things he saw and learned during the war; " don't carry much with you--just what you figure you're going to need...anything you could hear, you were safe.  Anything you couldn't hear--they were the ones that got you."  He saw towns where Jewish people had lived, their towns obliterated.  He saw no Jewish people though.

On May 5th of 1945 the war was over; Jack remembers finding out:  "...we were up in Varel Germany.  We just pulled into this farmyard and we got shelled pretty heavy--the Germans were still pretty active...I was called to an orders group...I radioed to artillery and was called back...when I got back everyone was jumping up and down..."

Jack stayed until November of that year in Holland.  After this, they started shipping the men out to England to come home.

But what about Jack himself?  How has the war affected him?  He tells me all of this bluntly like it has affected him little but his hands shake lightly and his eyes mist slightly when he tells me how he lost 4 good friends.  He tells me that sometimes "he wished the hell he hadn't gone!", but still with pride he tells me he would go again.  He tells me of the medals he wears; the Victory medal, the Canada Volunteers medal with Class (Class if you served in Britain for 18 months), the Defence of Great Britain medal, the France and Germany star and of course, the 1939-1945 star.

I agree with Jack when he says that they don't teach enough about the war.  Too many people like Jack are being forgotten, their stories never to be told.  Jack and all other people who served in the war deserve our recognition, deserve to be heard, to have their stories told.  I wonder if Jack would agree with me when I say that he is a brave man.  He'd probably tell me that it wasn't bravery that brought him into the war, it was just something he felt he had to do.

Before I left that day, Jack pinned a poppy on my jacket.  He told me; "Don't lose it because if I see you on the street and you don't have it, I'll charge you a buck and a half for it!"  You need not worry Jack, because I won't lose the poppy and I won't ever forget. 

(me, in grey, interviewing Jack, who gave me the picture:  "this is to show you weren't playing hooky!")

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Make Your Own Damn Lunch

Yesterday the power of the force was strong within me--the B*TCH force, that is.  (It should also be noted, that since Sunday, I've had a near constant soundtrack running in my head thanks to that new Mumford And Sons cd I bought. Seriously, it's playing right now, and it's great, but if you're a person like me who has a zillion things highwaying around in your head PLUS a constantly playing song, it gets a tad tiring). 

Speaking of other non-sequitar things, the ongoing "issue" my family and I are dealing with, or, my brother and I specifically, is that my Mother's headstone STILL hasn't arrived.  At the end of September, a lady from the funeral home called my Dad and told him it would be arrive in about two weeks.  October has come and gone.  No stone.  We called a few times, but the only guy who handles the stones, has been either busy, sick, or "out at the moment."  Let's call him "Fred" for the sake of this little story.  FRED is also the funeral director.  Okay, let's bear in mind that Fred has the ironic good fortune of being extremely busy; aging population, recession-proof death business, etc, etc.  I see all the new "arrivals" all the time in the section of the cemetary where my Mom is buried (and I picture a big, shiny, retail-worthy sign:  New Arrivals EVERY WEEK!)

Rewind back to the summer when my brother and I  were in his office to choose a stone--the next step after burying our Mother.  That in itself was a surreal experience.  Fred had this nice basket filled with different coloured samples of stone, and my bro and I would say things like; "yeah, that's nice," or "no, I don't really like that one," or "oo, that dark stone and light base would look good together."  Bah, ridiculousness.  So, when we got there, Fred looked at us with all seriousness and said; "Now, we need to set a date for the interment of your mother."   P and I looked at each other..."er...ah...we did that?"  If you're Canadian, you may have the tendency of being so retardedly polite that you add that "question mark" onto the end of what you say in situations like these so as not to make THE OTHER GUY FEEL BAD.  Fred was properly flustered. 
Last week, when I phoned, Fred was out, and I was told by the other funeral guy on the line (who I pictured as tall, bony, bald, bow-tied and looming for whatever reason...sorry, dude), said he wished he could help me with info on the whereabouts of the stone, but "that's Fred's baby."  That's Fred's BABY.  Does anybody else feel a touch of hysteria shoot through them when they read this??? 

So this morning I phoned, and Fred was unavailable, but they took all my information, including my name and phone number, and who the stone is for, and I was assured he would contact me.  And he did! 
Fred:  "hello, may I speak to Barb please."
Me:  "uh, who?"
Fred:  "Barbara?"
Me:  "who were you looking for?!?"
Fred:  "Barbara Somethingorother??"
Me:  "that's my mother.  You're probably looking for karen."
Fred:  "oh geez!  Oh my goodness, I'm sorry.  Yes.  I apologise.  I was looking at this information about the stone I have here." 


The runaraound continues.  The stone is ready, but the monument company's been having problems, bullsh*t, bullsh*t, bullsh*t, it should be coming on the next delivery.  Thanks for bearing with "us." 

Yesterday, I had taken my daughter to one of those government run "Early Years" places:  you know, an open space filled with toys that your child hasn't played with to death, so they can play and play and play, while you sit and rub, and rub, and rub your face, and yawn until your jaw cracks and the tears squirt out of your eyes?  I usually go with my sister, which is great fun, because we can laugh about stupid things like bygone days of overly abundant breast milk production, and the trials of dealing with the little people from the age of  1 1/2 to 3. 

I had a hell of a time coaxing Ella to leave, but finally managed to, so I could race home to make her lunch, and lunch for her brother before I had to pick him up to bring him home for his lunch break.  Ella insisted she wanted an egg salad sandwich for lunch.  Was she SURE?  I asked.  Uh huh!  Egg salad?  I asked.  "Yes, I LOOOOOVE egg salad!" 

Well, I barely had time by this point, but I raced like an idiot to mash up that filling, which was delicious if I do say so myself.  Ella came by to watch me spread it on the bread.  "Mmmm!" she said with enthusiasm.  Then she took a bite.

Ella:  "hcccck...hhhcccckkk...hhhccck..." (that sound like when you're trying to uck a hair or a popcorn kernel from the back of your throat).
Me:  "what's the matter?"
Ella:  "hccck...BLEH!  BLEH!"
Me:  "WHAT'S WRONG?!?  You don't like the sandwich?"
Ella: "I HATE egg salad!"

It's pointless to try to remember the slew of words that became my tapestry of rage just then, but I no longer had any time, and had to race off to school to get Jack.

The Man came into the kitchen as I was getting my coat on, chuckled, and said; "why does egg salad have to smell so disgusting?"
The Man:  ".... "

Jack skipped out of school with no coat ON, and no coat in his hand.  It was cold outside, and the kid has a cold.  I told him to go back in the school and get his coat. He tried to sputter out a protest, but turned back to go to his locker.

Me:  "always a battle. Why does it always have to be a battle?"
Mom standing beside me:  "that's a battle?  You haven't seen 'nothin'!  That wasn't a battle!  That was complacent!" 
Me:  "wait for it."

Jack comes flying out of the school with pure rage:  "I HATE YOU!"  I feel the peripheral vision of many other moms on me, but try to remain calm.  Ah, the balmy love of the ASD-influenced child...

So then I get the kid home, having ranted in the car the whole way at him. He took one look at his 1/2 of a cheese sandwich (he was off peanut butter for about five days, and I had no clue what to make for lunch), and burst into tears, then ran screaming and sputtering away from the offending object.

There was much freaking, ranting, hyperbole and spitting (probably all from me), and then I remembered:  oh yeah, it's The Man's birthday today. 

Poor husband.  Happy Birthday anyway. 

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