9.26.2007

Good Things

Edited again, because this is a really, really auspicious week. Happy.

Her wonderful news.

And her wonderful news.

And her wonderful news.

And now her wonderful news.

And this video.

And this video.

And this wee ragamuffin:




edited to add:

A Very Good Thing

In response to all the bullsh*t being spewed about nursing mothers needing to cover up, and in solidarity with all those who realize the power of the boob - and our voices - I'll link to an old post that for me, says it all.

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9.24.2007

What the hell am I supposed to do now?

I’m ready to write, but how do I do it? How am I supposed to just jump back into the written word; be irreverent, be interesting, be entertaining, be meaningful, as if nothing has happened – as if my father’s death does not loom like a shadow. And it’s a mean shadow. It’s a shadow that leaves me alone much of the time, allowing me to hug and smile and laugh and take my daughter apple picking and share in my friend’s enjoyment over her new furniture. And then, when I’m not paying attention, it punches me in the stomach, doubling me over in pain and tears and grief. And the crafty bastard makes sure that I didn’t see it coming.

I don’t cry in the hours that I sit awake at night, or when people offer me condolences. I don’t cry when I am talking about my dad, or attending to the business that death leaves behind. I didn’t cry once in the 4 days following his death, when my house was busy with family and friends filling in the spaces and silences. But then Chris will remind me of his goofy laugh. Or Bee will open her little photo album and point and happily declare, ‘Bee and Big Guy!’ Or the new Bruce Springsteen song will come on the radio, and I will remind myself to tell my dad about his new album. And then remind myself that I can’t.

It is the natural order of things, I know this. But my dad was young. He had just turned 65. My brother is 24 and my sister is 22 and I had my dad for almost 10 years longer than they did, so how must they be feeling?

How do I write a post about the freaking most adorable things that Bee is saying lately? (Will you do me a favourite, Mummy? Look, Mummy, a helpicopter!) Or about what sex is like when you’re 33 weeks pregnant and plagued with heartburn? How do I let life back in without declaring constantly that yes, right now I’m smiling, but there is a shadow lurking, and it knows how to take me down?



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9.13.2007

Hi everyone--it’s metro mama here. Kgirl probably won’t have a chance to post for a few days and didn’t want you to worry.

As you know, her dad’s been very sick for some time, and I’m saddened to tell you, he passed away last night.

Kgirl’s doing as well as can be expected. She’s wrapping herself up in that beautiful little family of hers, keeping things as routine as possible for Bee’s sake. I stopped by this afternoon and her BFF was there. She has chocolate, and, as always, her strong spirit.

What she does not have right now, unfortunately, is a working computer. It refused to start up yesterday, and hasn’t recovered since. What timing. I suspect there are some lovely words of comfort from her bloggy friends waiting in her inbox—she’s hoping to get to them soon.

In the meantime, she’s having visitation this weekend at her place. If you want to stop by, after 3 pm is best (Bee naps from 1-3 and you don’t need to be reminded about the sanctity of a child’s naptime).

Kgirl, when you’re able to read this, know we are all thinking about you with love and sympathy.

Julie

9.10.2007

Testing, Testing

So, while the rest of you were watching Britney crash and burn perform on the MVA’s last night, I was engaged in something a little more, well, um…

I’m a total nerd. I was participating in Test the Nation: Watch Your Language, a 2-hour language and grammar test on CBC.

Not only was I watching and participating, but I also had the official score card for home use. And I had my pen, and I made Chris put Bee to sleep so that I wouldn’t miss any of it. How could I resist? I’m a writer and copy editor by trade and choice, and this kind of thing seriously turns me on. (Although Chris debates whether it is the challenge, or the fact that it probably isn’t a challenge and will easily award me positive reinforcement, that actually turns me on.)

Anyway, this isn’t about my tragic need to do well and be called smart. It’s about my tragic need to win.

So here I am, scorecard and pen poised and at the ready (balanced between my second helping of chicken pot pie, because winning makes me hungry), sussing out my studio audience competition, comprised of 7 groups – ad writers, word gamers, English teachers, fraternity and sorority members, comedians, romance novelists and celebrities. And by celebrities, I mean Canadian celebrities that were not a-list enough to be attending the MVA’s or TIFF or some local bocce ball tourney, so they were available for a national grammar test. So yeah, I recognized two of them.

But I digress.

So, ok, let’s get started! Spelling is the first subject, so I’m pumped. After all, I did make it all the way to provincials in the great Spelling Bee of ’86.

Question #1:
How do you spell the name of this flower:

a) chrysanthenum
b) chrasanthemum
c) chrysanthemum
d) chrysanthamum

Fuck.

Ok, so I get one wrong. No biggie. I can still get, like 99%, and be smarter than all but 1% of Canada (and I’ll have you know, we’re quite the nation of bright people).

The rest of the spelling test goes pretty well, until I get asked to spell this measure of time:

a) milenium
b) milennium
c) millennium
d) millenium

Oh crap. C looked right, until I saw D. One L? Two N’s? Two L’s and two N’s? Ah! Ah! Time is running out… okay, D it is.

Crap. Chris will later make fun of me for not knowing how to spell the name of the most influential spacecraft of all time (that would be the Millennium Falcon, of course), and I will owe him a ½ hour back rub, because even after I get the results of the test, I still can’t remember how to spell fucking millennium.

Anyway, I totally breeze right through the next category, Language Terms – c’mon with questions like:

What is the name for words like buzz, thud, clang and hiss?

a) Homonym
b) Synonym
c) Onomatopoeia
d) Homophobe

how could I do poorly? I even knew how to spell ‘onomatopoeia.’ (Hey, it’s no chrysanthemum). I also leave all the boomers in the dust as I ace the next section, Modern English, comprised of questions about ‘Teen Speak’ and texting (What does BRB stand for?), and am feeling very confident as we move into the next category, Everyday Mistakes. Happily, I don’t make any, and get all the questions right, except for one stupid trick question, and I bet you won’t get it right, either:

People who get what’s coming to them get their…

a) Just desserts
b) Just deserts
c) Justy zerts
d) Justazerts

Clearly we are looking to not fall into the desserts/deserts trap, right? Well, heh, heh, I am a copy editor, y’know, so, A.

Excuse me? It’s freakin’ what? Oh, so sorry that I did not know that in this instance, the word ‘deserts’ is derived from the ancient English form of ‘deserve,’ and therefore only has one S.

Whatever.

Plurals! Goody! I can do plurals! (And I don’t find it funny at all when the question, What is Toronto’s Hockey Team Called, comes up, and some joker in the audience yells, The Losers! Not. Funny. At. All.)

I get a perfect score on the next few categories (Euphemisms. Pfft. The Arts. Yawn. Nursery Rhymes. I could answer these in my sleep…), and then the Made in Canada section begins. This is where our national pride, and not just grammatical skillz are on the line. This is where we must step up and represent the mighty beaver. The Great White North…

Bismarks, Jambusters and Burlington Buns are all names for what?

Someone from Winnipeg is called…

In Newfoundland, a ‘vamp’ refers to…

In Saskatchewan, a ‘bunny hug’ is a…

In Thunder Bay, a ‘shag’ is a…

Seriously? This is supposed to represent my knowledge of Canada? Where are the questions about the extra ‘U?’ Where are the questions about Tim Horton or eavestroughs or The Tragically Hip or Laura Secord or Aero bars? This is getting ridiculous. My score is getting weaker with every query on regional minutiae they throw at me. Stupid CBC!

Deep breath. I think I can still achieve at least 80%, as long as the next category is something that I know a thing or two about, since obviously I know nothing about my country.

And the final category is… Word Origins. Hmmm. We’ll see how this goes. The ‘Just Deserts’ debacle kind of leaves me a bit worried about this one.

And worried I should be.

Which word is not originally a Native Canadian word?

Which word originally meant leisure?

What does Coquitlam mean?

(btw – it means STINKING WITH FISH. Gee, how did I not know that?)

So, I end the test on a not-so-glorious (or dignified if you’re from Coquitlam) note, and it is time to add up the score. I don’t cheat. Not one little bitty ‘oh, that’s what I meant to say,’ change. Nope. Totally honest.

Ok, so, here we go… carry the four…. and that would give me…

74%.

What? WHAT?

Ok, I have a huge nerd confession to make, but 74% was a very rare sighting in my academic career. Didn’t happen. At least, not often, and not in university where I was in an honours program and had to maintain at least 80%. So 74% is bad enough, but to have 74% in ENGLISH? I’m not humiliated, or worried that the freakin’ ad writers beat my score; I’m just kind of angry. Because let’s face it - those stupid Made in Canada questions? Garbage. And the word origins category?

This blows. No, this stinks like fish.

Forget it. I’m omitting the last two categories. They shouldn’t have been in there. They didn’t have anything to do with anything, and I’M THE GRADE 6 REGIONAL SPELLING CHAMPION! HELLO!

Get rid of those two. Now the test is out of a score of 50, and I get…

90%

That is better. That is a better indication of the kind of scholar I am.

The creative kind.

Now, let’s see what Britney’s up to. I know I’m smarter than her.


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9.05.2007

Transitions

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying
.

Lots of people have been writing about the rotation of the seasons and what it means to them – the exchanging of sandals for sweaters; beach bags for backpacks; feverish heat for falling leaves.

If, in my past, I have looked at the burgeoning autumn that way, the same certainly cannot be said of summer’s end this year. Perhaps the only thing I share with the mood of the season’s change of previous years is the sweet melancholy that seems to accompany it.

This year – this unique, special year, I am seeing things differently. The transitions in my life – in my body, in my world – are no more significant than the wonder of nature readying herself for a long hibernation, but in my life – in my world, in my body – they have never been greater.

And, as in nature, the transitions have begun slowly - not imperceptible, but certainly nothing to disrupt the usual flow of our lives. Like the leaves, working hard to siphon the last of the chlorophyll-rich sunshine out of the sky and into their veins, we have certainly been grasping at summer’s last offerings of warm days and welcomed breezes, spending as much time as possible outdoors, with friends and family. Our barbeque and patio furniture are being egged on to the finish line. Their showing will be impressive.

But the transitions are growing more noticeable. Growing in importance, they are undeniably marking steps in a march, gentle but persistent, that leads to an inevitable conclusion. Conclusions.

The most obvious, analogous example is of course, my growing belly. My growing baby. But we’re not quite there yet.

First we must get used to life without Bee’s nanny, who, due to circumstances with the family we shared her with, spent her last day with us on Friday. This means getting used to Chris caring for Bee during the day and tagging out when I come home from work so that he can go and work the evening shift at his company. We’re lucky that this was an option for us, and Bee and her father will enjoy the special time they spend together, the most since she was born.

But I’m going to miss Bee’s nanny, and so will she. And I’m going to miss my husband, who I will high-5 as I enter the house that he is exiting. I will miss us being a family of three, together for dinner and bedtime and books and snuggles, while the time for us to be a family of three runs down. I know we can do it; I know we’ll be ok doing it, even if it means that I can’t tag off bedtimes when my feet are swelling or my patience is thinning; even if it means that Chris will be blurry-eyed at 7 am and delirious at midnight. It’s not for long.

It’s for eight weeks. Eight weeks, and then I begin my maternity leave. Eight weeks and then the big transition – bigger than Halloween or a November blizzard or hearing the first cozy crackle of burning logs in the fireplace.

Eight weeks and then we simply wait for the arrival of a new person in our lives. A new person that will emerge from my body into our lives. A new person that will bring more change, more joy, more love, more hope than I will ever think it is possible for a new person to bring. I don’t know who this new person will be, and yet she already means so much to me.

This baby, growing inside of me. Growing stronger. Getting ready to take her first breath.

And another transition. Inevitable, unavoidable, its time of metamorphosis unknown, but growing closer with every day.

I cannot fool myself into not thinking about the universal irony, the cosmic balance that will result in the birth of my daughter and the death of my father.

As my baby grows stronger, my father becomes weaker. As she moves towards taking her first breath, my father moves towards his last. It’s a cliché, it sounds impersonal, it’s dramatic, but it’s true. I know that as I adjust to life with a new baby, I will, at some time surrounding that miraculous transition, also be adjusting to life without my father.

My hope, of course, is that I am able to tell my father about the birth of his third granddaughter. That he is able to at least see a picture of her, hear her precious mewls over the phone.

But like the advancing autumn, the days are unpredictable. As the leaves grow pale and the temperature drops, as the evening’s robes descend ever longer, I will simply hold on to the last of the sun’s warm rays, and hope that they will shine on us again tomorrow.


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