Thursday, December 30, 2010

Am I dead already?

I'm watching one of my favourite movies, American Beauty, and wondering how we let our passions quietly slip away.  I love my 30s and being an adult.  I love eating ice cream for breakfast and not answering the telephone and choosing my surroundings.  I love my husband and daughter and my quiet suburban life.

Yet life used to be so visceral, intensely painful and pleasurable, and somehow over the last decade those rich colours have drained away.  Nicole and I have talked about the importance of not losing your identity after having kids, but maybe "the fire inside dies and expires at 30" per Eminem, kids or not.  I'd still like to feel the bass pulsating in my chest while spinning with the crowd under club lights.  Am I the only one?

Writing this blog has got the ink burning through my veins again, and tomorrow I'll dust off my piano keyboard and let my fingers stumble across the keys, until the notes flow under my hands like they did before I let them get away.  And I'll dance in my living room with S. and sing and dream.  I'll leave the pot and naked weight-lifting to Lester Burnham.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Fun with hair

Sixth grade. Flip bangs were smokin' hot back then - you curled a fringe forward, and then curled a fringe backward and teased it up high before shellacking the whole thing with Aqua-Net.

I hadn't started reading Cosmo yet, so I had no idea how to control my manic hair.  Still, I felt sure that if I could just cut my bangs properly, I'd be magically transformed...from a frizzy-haired dirt-eyed tan urchin...into a beautiful blonde blue-eyed pasty-white princess Becky!!  Yay!!

So I captured a section of crazed hair and got it soaking wet.  I stretched it as tightly as I could down to my nose, and carefully cut straight across at eyebrow-level.  Then I grabbed a Bop magazine, put on some Tiffany and waited for the miracle to unfold.

A half hour later, I felt a breeze across my forehead and skipped over to my mirror to put the finishing touches on my creation.

W.T.F.  Where the hell is Becky?

Problem #1:  My hair is still brown.
Problem #2:  My skin is still tan.
Problem #3:  My eyes are still the colour of soil.          

Fortunately no one is likely to notice these unattractive features, because all their attention will be focused on the 1-inch curled fringe skittering across the top of my forehead.

In an attempt to fix this God-forsaken mess with a curling iron, I then accidentally burned "Conair" into my naked forehead, a la Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed.

Ahhhh, sweet memories. At least there was no hair dye involved, unlike that time in university.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Here's a saying for you: "Mommy and Daddy are the stupidest people ever"

I'm supposed to be refreshing my memory on IFRS and advanced consolidation accounting in preparation for my return to work, but the cute baby onesies on ebay began calling to me.  My screen shopping fun was rudely interrupted when I discovered the following sassy sayings available to emblazon across your tiny offspring:

"I tore my mommy a new one" with barbed wire graphic underneath
"Hung like a 6-year old"

Really?  Really???

And I still can't find the damn spider.

Spiders, onions, and other nefarious things

I'd love to be sleeping right now, but I've entered that wretched land of high anxiety known as "the spider watch."  This miserable state of affairs occurs when I've had the heartbeat-skipping jolt of suddenly seeing a spider in my vicinity, and then not being able to find it after my shrieks have brought a suitable spider assassin (usually J.) to my side.  Over the years, I've trained myself to go to sleep if the spider is on the other side of whatever square footage I'm in.  But tonight it is right outside the master bedroom door, hiding in a crevice of the blinds.  No sane person could be expected to sleep in these conditions.

Unfortunately, seeing a spider at all tends to trigger a post-traumatic spider stress disorder episode, thanks to some very disturbing incidents in my past.  The earliest one I remember is when I was eight years old.  I had a light pink jewelry box with red hearts on it and a beautiful ballerina in a tutu on top, who danced when you wound a little key on the side.  One early morning I climbed down from my bunk bed and discovered a spider lurking in its web, which it had stretched between my lamp and jewelry box.  After some screaming, my dad came and killed it...or so it seemed.  I climbed back up in my bunk bed, crawled back under the covers and lay on my stomach reading a book.

Suddenly the words near the bottom of the page seemed to move.  I looked down to see the spider run across the page FROM THE BOTTOM TO THE TOP WHICH MEANS IT WAS IN THE BED WITH ME.  Somehow I arrived outside my bedroom door within the next two seconds without any broken bones, but with my bladder twitching in terror.

I ran into the bathroom and sat down to pee. As I relaxed, I thought I felt something tickle my butt and convinced myself I was just being skittish.  But no!  When I stood up and turned around to flush, there was the spider sitting on the toilet seat.  I am not making this up.

O.M.G.  It has just occurred to me that when I glance down while typing this, the spider could be sneaking out of the blinds and creeping across the floor toward me.  No more stories tonight.  Maybe tomorrow if the spider doesn't kill me in my sleep, assuming I can sleep at all.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

I thought the body beating was during labour, not after

A large part of why I didn't want to have kids (until my biological clock started rattling my brain with its gonging) was fear of labour.  I have as much interest in the "birth experience" as I do in being tarred, feathered, and dragged naked through town in a studded barrel pulled by spooked horses, like they did in medieval times.  The invention of epidurals is an excellent reason all by itself to be thankful for living in 2010, not 1810. 

Heaven smiled on me and granted me a scheduled c-section after S. stubbornly lodged herself in a breech position for the whole second half of my pregnancy.  I've heard c-section horror stories, but a week after my c-section, I had to restrain myself from doing cartwheels in the living room (well my fat ass also slowed me down, but the energy level was there).  I thought I'd managed to skip through the whole experience with no more than a few ibuprofens, tralalala.

Except for the breast-feeding.  I'm not going to get into the gory (literally) details, other than to say the experience has been like dropping my poor defenceless mammary glands into a piranha-infested section of the Amazon river.  Thank God S. won't nurse anymore, so she's getting expressed breast milk to everyone's great relief.  Enough said about that.

So I thought the pain was over, not counting the blinding sleep deprivation headaches.  But today S. entertained herself with the following maneuvers:

-rammed her little finger right up my nostril a la Danny Glover in Pure Luck
-while telling a particularly loud babble, whipped her entire arm across my mouth and nose, leaving me with a nice imprint of my teeth on the inside of my lips
-educated herself about how tears are made by attempting to dig out my eyeball

As I was trying to see through my blurred vision where S. was planning to strike next, she reached up and helped accelerate that post-partum hair loss.  Happily perched on my lap with a clump of my hair clutched in her tiny fist, she began to babble again with great joy, chortling away.

It's a good thing she's so cute and those bonding hormones have kicked in, because masochism and me aren't a natural fit.  Pretty shoes aside.


Even though we've been married for six years, J. and I still celebrate our dating anniversary.  We dated for almost 10 years before getting married, so it still feels like a day worth celebrating.  We went out for a steak dinner and I brought this great book I found recently, called "If...(Questions for the Game of Life)".  It's a book of questions that provoke interesting conversation, which sadly is in very short supply (in general, not between us specifically).

One of the questions was "If you could be one article of clothing, what would you be, and who would you want to belong to?"  Maybe Charles and Camilla were reading this book when the infamous tampon comment was made, not that I consider feminine hygiene products to be clothing per se.

So the question is: "If you could "unknow" one thing you know, what would it be?"  For me it was the horror of slowly realizing that magic doesn't exist.  I was a very imaginative child and for a long time really believed that I went somewhere else in my (lucid) dreams.  Some of the joy of life slipped away forever when I discovered The Princess Bride was a satire and The Neverending Story was just a movie.

When I Belong

Tonight J. and I went to a lantern light tour at a heritage village.  We went to different historic houses and heard about English and German Christmas traditions in 1914, went on a horse-drawn wagon ride, and sang Christmas carols in an old church.  Standing beside a wood stove in the candlelight, I wondered how many people feel they don't belong in their time.  I've always enjoyed history and my highest mark ever was in an Ancient Civilizations course - it just felt like the teacher told interesting stories all term and then asked us to repeat them on the exam.

But as much as I enjoy learning about other places and times, I only want to visit.  They're not home.  If I had been born centuries ago, I wouldn't be able to see the beauty of the world clearly, because there was no LASIK and my eyesight was approaching legal blindness before I had the surgery.  I wouldn't be able to express myself or use my intellect the way I can now, because women weren't considered people.

Wondering about a man's perspective, I asked J. if he would have liked to live in a different time.  He said no, because all you would know of the world was the little piece in front of you.  We can reach out and touch everyone and everything with the click of a button now, and that's why I love living in 2010.  That and stilettos. air-conditioning. trampolines. zip-lining. toilets. watching the clouds below me in a 747 and in a powered glider. singing til daddy took the t-bird away with the wind in my hair driving down the highway. voting. ambulances. owning my house and land. not cooking/sewing/cleaning. birth control. movies. pictures of my daughter's childhood beyond my fuzzy memory. and so much more...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Free will

I was just reading one of Rachel's blog posts on evil, which is a topic I had tucked away over the last decade, because I couldn't reconcile my thoughts about it.  Since I've had S., I've been thinking about it more and more.  When I hold her and kiss her soft fuzzy cheek, I truly can't fathom how anyone could hurt a baby.

I believe in capital punishment, although I have serious reservations about its use, given the number of wrongly convicted people in prison today.  I believe some people are just "bent", in the words of C.S. Lewis, and we should eliminate them with no remorse, as one would shoot a rabid dog.  Although it doesn't feel as viscerally satisfying, life in prison is likely a crueler punishment than immediate death, so perhaps justice is served in our system after all, at least for those who were accurately convicted.

Where I really struggle is with God.  I read an article in 1996 about a terrible crime committed against a Christian family and it shook my faith to the core.  Why didn't God protect this family?  But that implies that only Christians deserve protection, which doesn't feel right.  The greater question is one so many have wrestled with through the centuries: why does God allow evil to exist at all?  How can a pure being tolerate the existence of such a vicious race?

The answer I've always been given is that evil exists so we may have free will, and that free will matters because God wants us to choose to love him or her (I actually think God may be gender-less and the "Him" may be a patriarchal construct, but that's a different post).  But what kind of deity considers atrocities like the rape of babies and torture of bystanders an acceptable trade-off in order to be loved?  Maybe we should be focusing not on proof of the existence of God, but contemplating what his/her existence and toleration of us suggests about his/her nature. 

Are our hands raised in worship not covered in the blood of innocents?

"Our granddaughter started making these when she was 3 years old!"

I'm not exactly known for my stellar cooking/baking skills and have never cared.  When I was 12, my mom attempted to teach me how to cook and after many tears, stomped feet and a mashed-potato-splattered kitchen, Mom lost her patience and released me from the cooking lessons, with the following warning: "I don't want to hear you say when you're 30 that your mother never taught you how to cook!".  Well, here we are, and this is not my mother's fault.

Now that S.'s here, I've realized that I'm going to have to reach a minimum standard of competency in domestic matters, whether I like it or not.  With this in mind, I decided to try a "Christmas mice" recipe at Jen's cookie exchange last night.  I found it on-line and it was described as very simple (see post title) and the prep time was only 25 minutes for 2 dozen.  Here's what they looked like on-line and the recipe:

Line a cookie sheet with waxed or parchment paper.

Rinse the maraschino
cherries, drain thoroughly, and let dry on paper towels, turning often. The cherries must be completely dry or the chocolate will seize and get crumbly.

Gently melt
chocolate, butter, and paraffin in a double boiler until smooth, stirring often to prevent burning. Once melted, turn off heat, but leave in the double-boiler on the burner.

Dip dry cherries in melted
chocolate to completely cover up to the stem. Place on lined cookie sheet. Immediately press on chocolate chip, flat side to the front of the dipped cherry, to form a head.

chocolate is still warm, wedge two sliced almonds between chocolate chip and cherry to form ears. Let cool.

Use a toothpick to dab beady red eyes on either side of the
chocolate chip with the red gel icing.

Refrigerate to firmly set

On the way to Jen's, I realized I needed to pick up a few more ingredients at Bulk Barn.  Forty-five minutes and $65 later, I began to wonder if this recipe was going to be as easy as promised.

Two hours and 10 mice later, it was clear I don't yet have the baking skills of a toddler.  But I am available as live entertainment at any baking or cooking events!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


After much mocking, I've begun shopping at Wal-Mart.  I can stand the shoving and poor grammar for only an hour or so, but I get some great deals in that time.  Yesterday I brought a full cart of Christmas decorations to the checkout.  As the 17-year old cashier picked up my poinsettia to scan it, she fished something white and shiny out of the pot, and asked "Is this yours?".  I had been staring off into space, trying to find my far-away happy place, and couldn't see what she was waving at me.  Apparently it was a candy wrapper, which the cashier then accused me of eating (the candy, not the wrapper) without paying for it.  Who would buy $200 worth of Christmas decorations and assorted household items, but not pay for their $0.50 candy?  Oh Wal-Mart...