Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sunny days, everything's A-Okay...

I went to bed stressed, preoccupied.  The usual. 

But this morning felt like a giant exhalation.  Like I've holding my breath for weeks, and all of the sudden let it all out.  All kinds of goodness.  I awoke beside Girlio, as she was very cutely announcing to all who would listen that she was scared because an airplane and TWO dragons were in her bed.  And the sun was streaming in through the windows in all it's 6 a.m. glory.   We went through the usual breakfast and coffee routine and get ready for the day routine, and then headed out to the yard to be in the sunshine.  And it was so warm, and so bright, and the kids were so happy, and I got to break out a sundress and just feel the sun on my skin and listen to the peels of laughter emanating from my kids.  We decided to head for the park on bicycle, and half way there, Girlio suddenly throws her arms in the air outstretched, shouting "Hello SUN!" (which sounds even more deliciously like "Hewwo SUN!") and Boy-o picks this juncture to hop off his bike and steal me some alleyway dandelions.  Heart, meet mush.  Mush, meet heart.  Venture on to the playground, where we discover the spray park has been turned on.  And all proceed to get spectacularly wet.  (I also discover that I picked the wrong sundress to get spectacularly wet in.... sorry for the show neighbours - or you're welcome? Anyhoo...). When we had our fill of the (somewhat frightfully) cold water, we head home.  And have a picnic lunch in the backyard. 

And I looked around at my busily munching kids, felt my wet sundress quickly drying, put my bare feet on the grass, languished in the warmth and sun...

and felt happy.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Real women - blog post by Hanne Blank

The following blog post by Hanne Blank needs to go viral.  Share, share, share far and wide. :)

Fort Edmonton Park Freak Show...

I went to visit Fort Edmonton Park (heretofore referred to as FEP for brevity!) with some friends and our kiddos yesterday, I will shamefacedly admit, for the very first time.  It`s a great place for kidlets, and as it turns out, a kinda fun hang-out for me too.  In addition to having a ridiculous amount of fun riding the carousel with the tots (what is it about carousels that transports you immediately back to childhood, I wonder), I also greatly enjoyed checking out banners up representing an old-fashioned circus-act freak show. Anyways, as soon as I saw the freak show signs, I felt this nerdy little rush - they sort of transported back in time to thesis-land, in which I spent an inordinate amount of time studying public representations of otherness (in my case, the fat female body, but the hairy female body, and the gender deviant body also fit well into similar frames of analysis).   I think the transportation back in time, if that's what I'm going to call it, stems from the fact that I was quite influenced by an  essay about 'freak show fat lady' Katie Dierlan, called: "'She's so fat': Facing the Fat Lady at Coney Island's Sideshows by the Sea" in which author Sharon Mazur talks about the ways in which Dierlan, through the use of using her fatness as performance, and through monologue, both reifies and strains vigourously against stereotypes about femininity and fatness.  Mazur argues that this is ultimately achieved by making her audience feel uncomfortable, and in so doing, forcing them to think about, and potentially reassess what it is they think they know about fatness.  I won't get into to the nitty-gritty of all the theories of why that is, because the only person that would excite is me

Suffice it to say, the freak show posters got me thinking.  And I wondered if the posters at FEP could be transgressive like Dierlan's freak show act - after all, they just sit there as static depictions of 'abnormality', while Dierlan's act is a living, breathing being, interacting with and purposefully challenging an audience.  Do banners have the potential to challenge people, or do they just make folks breathe a sigh of relief that they aren't that bearded lady, that fat woman, that questionably gendered person?  I'm not really sure.  What I do know, at the risk of sounding even more of a geek-buster than usual, is that I made my friend take a picture of me underneath the Lotta Lady poster, which I adore (because 1.  really, folks, who doesn't want more lady?!, and 2. in many, many ways, I'm a lotta lady too).  And I'm also aware that I got a funny look or two while doing it.  (As in, why is that crazy chick holding her arms up in the air and grinning like a fool underneath that poster of a fat lady?).  I wonder if other folks even stop to take notice of the freak show acts at all.  What I do know is that they made me feel immediately comfortable.  At home.   

Whether other folks recognize themselves in the sideshow acts or not, those freaks, those are my people...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's more difficult than one might think

I read the Huffington Post article How To Talk to Little Girls by Lisa Bloom with some sense of, I don't know, maybe superiority?  Well, of course you don't simply tell girls how pretty they are!  Isn't this feminism 101?  Etc. etc.  And then I stopped and thought about it.  How many times a day do I tell my daughter that she is beautiful?  Do I tell my son this in equal measure?  How do I react when, inevitably, everyone else in the world opens up a conversation with my daughter by telling her how pretty she is?  Do I react at all? 

These sorts of comments, whether one tries to avoid them or not, are knee-jerk.  We all grow up in this culture where girls are prized for their beauty, and boys for their strength and smarts. We are so inundated, and it is so saturated into the cultural consciousness that we hardly notice it when it happens. 

So - yes.  It is feminism 101.  And feminism 101 is harder than one might think.

Monday, June 27, 2011

with apologies...

I am a bit on the devoid-of-original-thought side these days.  I hope to have some again real soon...

Sunday, June 26, 2011 | Definitely Not the Opera Definitely Not the Opera

My wee spot on DNTO yesterday on the topic of 'life-changing' trips. I'm at the very, very end. :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mahwiage. Mahwiage is what bwings us togetha today....

Wuv.  Twue wuv.

Okay - so the blog title is an homage to Peter Falk of The Princess Bride and yes, also Columbo, fame. (R.I.P. Peter). 

But really, I want to talk about marriage.  Of the gays.  Actually - really I want to let other people talk about marriage and the gays, because I haven't had enough coffee yet to be even remotely coherent.    So - the things I have to say are this:  1.  New York legalized gay marriage.  Woot Woot!  2.  The folks who warn that this will only be a success for queer rights if it does not require ALL queers to marry to have their relationships recognized and acknowledged are absolutely right.  See this very well written article in the NY Times for more clever elaboration than I am capable of at this hour. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Two Conversations I never Thought I'd have

With Boy-o: 
"No honey, you can't yell at your sister because she stepped 'very rudely' in front of your invisible friend."

With Girlio (while staring in dismay at a rather, erm, shitty bedspread, sheets and child):
"It's not that I don't appreciate the initiative sweetie, but next time you have a poopy diaper, Mama needs to help you change it, okay?" 

And a good, good morning to all of you...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Moving the Movement: A Multigenerational Ideal of Revolutionary Work | Left Turn - Notes from the Global Intifada

Oh my, my. Please check out this article by Cynthia Oka when you get the chance. It is a look at how lefty politics and political organizing has failed to recognize the importance of radical mothering work. It's good. Good good.

Moving the Movement: A Multigenerational Ideal of Revolutionary Work Left Turn - Notes from the Global Intifada

Youth with Asberger's not allowed to emigrate to Canada?

Check out the link, and sign petition if you are so inclined.  It says a lot about who gets to be seen as 'of value'... and it makes me furious.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Justice for Aboriginal Peoples -- It's time

we'll have a gay old time....

This morning, post shower, I was having an excruciatingly tough time getting Boy-o dressed.  In the, I-know- you're-talking-to-me-Mama,-but-I'm-pretending-you-don't-exist-while-playing-guitar-in-my-snappy-Diego- underwear sort of way.  And just as my frustration was about to peak, Boy-o looks up at me and says: "But Mama!  Remember when we went to the Pride Parade at City Hall and there were people in their underwear?  In the middle of the day?  Well, that's what I want to do."

And I couldn't for the life of me argue with that logic.  Diego underwear it is.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Nighttime visitors and musical beds

It's been awhile since my wife and I slept together. And no, before you go getting all weirded out on me, I am not referring to our sex life. I'm talkin' sleeping arrangements. Girlio, who as you likely know already, is a conscientious objector to all things involving sleep, wakes almost every night around 11 pm to midnight. And when one of her pyjamaed parents go to settle her, we swear to ourselves that we will settle her and then return to our own damn bed, with our own damn wife, which is where we damn well belong. And then we end up falling asleep. (What can I say? Morning comes crazy-early at our house!).  But that doesn't mean that the lone parent in the grown-up bed sleeps alone. No Sirree. No loneliness for us. Because most nights of late, another nocturnal visitor by the name of Boy-o thumps down the hall and sleepily climbs into bed moving around around he finds and curls into his waiting parent, murmurs something along the lines of 'I love you, Mama' and promptly passes out again.

Now - these near-consistent events are immensely frustrating and sort of lovely all at the same time. Let's be clear that I miss spending the whole night in bed with my partner. A lot. A lot a lot. But it's difficult not to melt a little when you go to settle Girlio and she whispers beseechingly 'cuddle Mama? Pweese?'. Similarly, when one is treated to a super sweet nighttime cuddle from Boy-o, who in the daytime is wayyyyy too busy to stop for a hug, cuddle or even a term of endearment, it can feel a bit lucky, even as you feel frustrated by your lack of time and grown-up space.

So - I know I belong in my own damn bed, with my own damn wife, with my own damn grown-up nighttime sanctuary, goddamn it.

But this sleep business, it's finite. And damn, those little buggers are cute.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A repost: Why Celebrity Soundbytes Make Me Cranky (From May 19, 2010)

I recently read this little article about Julia Roberts on MSNBC, who has been named People Mag's most beautiful person of the year (or whatever that bullshit accolade is properly titled). It said:

In an interview with the New York Times, the 44-year-old Pretty Woman star – who is married to cameraman Danny Moder with whom she has twins Hazel and Phinnaeus, five, and son Henry, two-and-a-half – revealed that she loves her home life.

She said: "We are happy as clams. I am fulfilled by my own life on an hourly basis.”

She added: "Every little moment is amazing if you let yourself access it. I learn that all the time from my kids; children are so filled with wonder. My youngest son woke up at 5am the other morning and said to me, 'It's a beautiful day, Mamma!' What's more precious than that?"

I know that this little fluff article is meant to make us love Julia even more. I mean, she loves her homelife, right? But it kinda just makes me want to punch her in the face. Every moment is amazing if you let yourself access it? You are fulfilled by your own life on an hourly basis? Really? Hourly? It must be nice to have time to reflect on your own life on a hourly basis. It must be especially nice to have time to reflect on your own life on an hourly basis and then have the added bonus of pleasantly discovering that you are, in fact, as happy as a clam.

Family soundbytes from celebrity moms tend to drive me mad. Why? Because they make it sound all beautiful and effortless and charming and delightful. Except of course, they neglect to mention the aid of their nannies and housekeepers and personal trainers and drivers and poolboys. When you have these things, I suppose it's a little bit easier to feel chill and reflective and fulfilled by one's own life on an hourly basis, given that most of their hours aren't actually filled with the shit-work of parenting and house-hold maintenance. I, too, would love to focus constantly on the beauty and magic and child-like wonder displayed by my children at 5 a.m. (and 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m. because there's a lotta kiddie wonder at my house in the night). But unlike Julia Roberts, I don't have anyone to hand them off to so that I can take a sweet-ass nap later (or go to a private yoga class to meditate, say perhaps on the hourly delights offered up by my life).

J-Lo, after the birth of twins Max and Emme, wanted us all to know she gets up to do her babies nighttime feedings herself. As if we are supposed to connect with this sentiment by thinking: Hey J-Lo - ME TOO! Gee, maybe you are just 'Jenny from the Block!'.

Christina Aguilera would like us all to know that motherhood has, in fact, made her sexier. I cannot even muster up the energy to respond to this wee tidbit of information.

And another article in this month's People Magazine about the lovely (and yes, I'm sure she is actually lovely) Julia has Ocean's Eleven (etc.) producer Jerry Weintrub waxing poetic about Roberts' mothering prowess: "She's not a diva. She's not afraid to get into an SUV and drive with the kids in the backseat." I have two things to say about this. First of all - anyone who has ever driven with screaming children in the backseat of their car will tell you that you should be afraid of getting into a moving vehicle with children, particularly one's own. Texting while driving has got nothing on driving with kids in the danger department. Second of all - do we really need to congratulate celebrities for, like, driving their own children places? Is this the standard of "good" mothering that they're being held up to? If so - I'm here to tell ya that I am a fucking amazing parent! The best. I drive my kids places and get up with them in the night myself ALL THE TIME!

These are only a tiny sampling of the crap about mothering spewed by celebs and churned out by every magazine and media outlet under the sun. I'm also sure much of these soundbytes are largely taken out of context. But they still make me hella cranky (as you may have already ascertained). And the, "golly gosh, I'm just a regular (but extremely zen-like and fulfilled) person with millions of dollars and a butler" routine just doesn't fly with me. Just once I'd like to hear one of them say... "you know - this parenting gig is great but it's bloody hard. I don't know how people who have to do their own dishes/drive their own car/clean their own pool/etc. etc. do it." Or something along those lines. Then maybe I'd be a bit more willing to be forgiving of their soundbytes, contextual or not.

And Julia - if you're out there, still wondering what could be more precious than being awoken at 5 a.m. by a wonder-struck child, I'm here to tell ya: It would be even more precious if the little bugger waited until 6 a.m to tell you it was a beautiful day. Really. It would. And if he waited until 7 a.m., it would be sweeter still. But at 8 a.m. - it would be fucking profound.

Friday, June 17, 2011

a parenting photo memory

I stumbled across this photo this morning, while flipping through old pictures with Girlio.  Ahhhhh memory lane.  Not so much in a good way.  This photo occured after the worst day of parenting I have ever had.  It was around month three of constant, all day (and sometimes all night) intense toddler tantrumming, while simultaneously caring for a new-ish baby who refused steadfastly to sleep.  And by day's end, I was just broken.  Exhausted.  Emotionally spent.  Utterly convinced that this gig was too fucking hard.  L found me after finally settling down  the kids to bed, crying on the kitchen floor, having not had the energy to actually make it to a chair or couch.  And she quietly openned a bottle of wine and poured.  A couple of bottles of wine and ice cream straight from the container later, we still hadn't moved from the kitchen floor.   But we had somehow moved through tears into laughter, replenishing our energy to move on past the day, and onto the next.  And of course, things did get better and easier and more manageable. 

So I'm posting this picture as a reminder that there's always the kitchen floor, a coupla bottles of wine and some ice cream right outta the container to help get you through the tough spots. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sporty I ain't

Another confession to go down in the annals of my bad motherliness. I am a terrible sporting parent. I don't mean that I'm a terrible sport. I'm a great sport in general, as the expression goes. But I hate being a sporting parent. A soccer mom, if you will (although this season, it was t-ball for us). Everytime the sport night rolls around, I find myself praying for rain. I don't like shouting the 'rah rahs' and the 'way to hustles' - It just doesn't come naturally to me. (Though I'm happy to do encouraging in a more one on one way after the game - I'm not a total asshole). I don't like standing around trying to chit-chat with the other parents, who are mostly trying to avoid the queers or figure out why Oliver's mom keeps bringing her 'sister' to all the games, and/or talk about sporty stuff

And I just don't like the team-ness of teams. I'm just not a team player. In my time as a student in Gender Studies, I can tell you with unequivocal surity that I would have rather slit my wrists in a bathtub full of gin (as a friend of mine used to be fond of saying) than get stuck doing some shitty kind of groupwork assignment. Unfortunately for me, I was a student in Gender Studies, and they really liked that hold hands and do team work shite. Digressing.

It's not that I don't understand the value of team sports. The comaraderie. The learning new skills. The exercise. The love of 'the game'. How to lose with grace (ostensibly). How to pick dandelions for your mama in centre field. All very important skill building efforts that I highly support (especially that last one). I guess I'm just really glad that I have a partner that actually enjoys the sportiness in life. Who played all kinds of sports as a kid/teenager/adult and loved them all. The team-ness. The cheering. She immediately learns the names of all teammates and uses them regularly in lovely and encouraging ways. An excellent sport parent. The best.

Maybe praying for rain on sport days makes me a bit of a shitty mama. I can pony up to that. It's selfish. (Sorry buddy). But I'm not sorry that I'm a crappy sport parent. It's just not my thing. I'll happily drive to theatre lessons and chat with the theatre parents. Or singing lessons. Guitar? Swimming even. Or chess. Or remedial math. Whatever.

Just not the sports, please. Anything but that.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Straight white dudes writing a queer girls online?

I often find myself writing in posts, with some incredulity, the phrase "you can't make this shit up."  But apparently, you can.  You really, really can!

Awhile back, I shared a link on facebook about a lesbian woman in Syria who wrote a blog by the name of A Gay Girl in Damascus who had been snatched by local authorities.  Campaigns were starting to put pressure on the Syrian government to release her.  Later that afternoon, questions were beginning to arise about the veracity of the information coming through about blogger Amina Arraf, and by the next morning, a white dude by the name of Tom MacMaster came forward and admitted that he'd been posing as a lesbian to write the blog, and that Arraf had never existed. 

Brian Spears wrote an awesome piece in response to the news of this event over at Jezebel, called "A Note To My Fellow White Males Regarding A Gay Girl In Damascus," and it is spot on

Then, fast on the heels of the Gay Girl In Damascus debacle, it turns out that "Paula Brooks", the editor of a website called Lez Get Real is in fact an old white retired construction worker named Bill Graber. The Washington Post writes that Graber says he started the site because of struggles experienced by close lesbian pals.  But I have to note the the very first subheading under the website happens to be "sex and erotica".  (Hey - maybe his close lezzie pals were, like, super hot.   Anyhoo...).  What do I know?  Maybe the guy's a swell, class act.  Um, except for that whole appropriation of lezzie voice and experience bit.... 

And I guess I just have to say - I don't get it.  Was it that the sexting as a lezzie was just too good to pass up?  Because you can't tell me that these guys really thought they'd be taken more seriously by appropriating the voice (or their definition of a voice) of a lesbian...  It's just...Odd.  Capital O Odd.  Creepy Odd.  Really.

Anyhoo - just, you know, in case anyone was worried - I'm not a actually a dude, pretending to be a depressed, harried, overly-analytic, potentially self-indulgent, and certainly existentially challenged lezzie mama.  That's all real, baby. ;)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Girlio turns two

Dear Girlio,

It is shocking to think my baby is turning two tomorrow. Wherever has the time gone?  Your dimply cheeks and baby fat has slowly been disappearing before my eyes, and in its place has been left this tall, running-wildly-through-the-world, gorgeous and defiant toddler. 

To say that you are ridiculously cute would be quite an understatement.  Every grown-up you know is wrapped around your little finger, vying for a cuddle, which are are astounding good at, and which you really make people work for!  I think especially because you don't give 'em out to just anyone, people are always thrilled to earn one of your full-bodied Girlio hugs. 

You are a little impish ball of energy, often seen running by with your own particular pony-like trot.  The house is often filled to the brim with your laughter, which is one of the most gleeful, joy inducing sounds I've ever heard.  You are constantly chattering and so unbelievably articulate and aware and bright (Sigh - it's possible that you're smarter than your parents already).  You amazed us by uttering your first sentence at 18 months ("Kitty off the table!" you shouted, all bossy and brazen).  And since then, the sentences have just kept spilling out of you.  It is such an incredible privilege to watch you grow and change and learn like this. 
You love books, puzzles, painting (particularly yourself!), jumping, anything barefooted, streaking around naked, running, (and like your brother before you) anything death defying.  I'll never forgot when at 22 months of age, you informed me resolutely:  "Girlio BIGGER.  Girlio SKATEBOARD!"  You'll give me a heart attack, the two of you!  You also have an enormous heart, and love all creatures big and small.  Particularly puppies.  (Ahem, Mommy!) But I think your greatest love is reserved for your big brother, whom you follow through the world with just as much fearless abandon as him.  The utter joy you feel when he relents and plays with you is evident all over your body, and the adoration in the way you say his name is so so sweet.
You are a bundle of passion, and everything you do, you DO with vigour.  (I have no idea where you get this from?!)  When you are pissed off, look out!  You are a little tornado of mad.  And then, when the storm clouds clear, you'll grin through tears and state emphatically, and a bit ridiculously, "I'm just so happy!" 

And you still despise sleeping.  I've never met a kid who hated sleep more!  When you do finally fall asleep, it's almost always with a concerted frown on your face, often with one hand out, as if to convey even in sleep, your proufnd displeasure with the situation.  Though I really really (I mean really!) wish you'd sleep, one really does have to admire the depth of your tenacity.

Sweet girl, here you are at two, caught in this really strange place between seeming so big and so small at the same time.  Still a little bit baby, and stretching towards 'big girl' as fast as your chubby legs will carry you.  And I am torn, standing in that place of bittersweetness, of wanting to hold you in the here and now of the last moments of babyness and wanting to watch you dive in and grow and explore in the world. 

But as I waffle, one thing is clear.  My life, and our family, is so blessed to have you in it. 

Happy birthday, sweet wild child. 



Sunday, June 12, 2011

God bless television

That's right. I said it. I'll be letting my overtired, overdone children watch as much television as they like today. Twelve hours if they need it. Because we've had a wild and wonderful (and boozy... Okay, maybe that's just me) coupla days. And we're all tired (and hungover...Okay, maybe that's just me). Anyways, as I was saying. God bless television.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, June 11, 2011

my little birds

This morning, I was roused at an ungodly hour to a set of chubby nearly two year old hands squishing my face right up to hers and whispering into my cheek: "I got you, Mama!", and one four and a half year old jumping up and down wildly on my bed,  looking out the window and shouting about needing to help his invisible friend, who was stuck up in our tree and unable to get down herself. 

Good morning, world :)


Futility: spending what seems like an entire morning cleaning the kitchen and not being able tell in the slightest.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, June 10, 2011

This old body and doctor's office indignities (mom warning - there is discussion of sex in this blog)

Okay, so nobody likes going for a physical.  It's not really so much fun, what with getting weighed, naked, pap-smeared, boob-grabbed, whathaveyou.   But what makes the physical even worse, above and beyond the indignities one suffers whilst there, is the 'idle' chit chat that occurs during these indignities.  This is the thing I hate the very most.  I think I have mentioned elsewhere that the time my doc loves to have the 'let's talk about losing weight' discussion whence between my fat thighs wearing a miner's lamp.  Mmmhmmm.  Which is super fun.  Because being bodily judged while also naked is, you know, all kinds of awesome.  Anyhoooo.  I'm like so over it.  And then on top of all of this, there's the ever-more embarassing things you have to bring up at the doctor's office, which seem to get more FUN each year.  Topping this year's list was: achey feet and the fact that my new happy pills are causing some disturbances in ye olde sex life (sorry mom).  Which is to say, they do not allow me to hit the ball outta the park, so to speak.  No home runs.  Which is, perhaps a bit funnily, depressing.  (And yes, I know this is probably TMI.  But I also know I'm not the only one this happens to, so I'm talking about it.  If it weirds you out, look away :)

Yesterday, I miraculously did not get the 'fat talk.'  Possibly because I've lost some weight, but more likely because I got the resident instead of my regular doc. 

But here's the fun chit chat that did occur...

*a conversation (more like explanation, because I wasn't actually talking) about why we lose breast density (aka get saggy boobs) whilst doing my breast exam (

** "You're not quite 50 yet, so we won't hit you with too much bloodwork.  In a few years, there'll be much more!"  I'm 36.  Would you say a 14 year old is 'a few years' old?  There's nothing wrong with being 50.  Fifty is the new 40, or so I'm told.  But I'm 36.  And 36 is not actually the new 50.

*** Getting a new happy pill prescription to deal with my 'sexual dysfunction.'  To which I wanted to splutter "I function!  I function just fine!  I function great!  Your fucking happy pills don't function!  I FUNCTION!'  A brief spot of insight into how guys who need Viagra must feel.  Sexual dysfunction.  Jeezuz.

**** a discussion about how the balls of my feet are sore because my mom has bunions, so I likely will as well, in about ten years time or so.  So I ought to consider orthotics or at least stop wearing my pretty shoes.  SAY WHAT????  (I don't f@cking think so.  I may someday soon just be getting to the point where I can actually afford some of the pretty shoes I covet.  Seriously.  I've spent the bulk of my life, flat assed broke and covetting pretty shoes.  And now that I have a glimpse of someday in the future when I might be able to shoe shop?  No foot pain will deter this.  Burning hot knives stabbing right through my feet will not deter this.  Alrighty?).  And how come none of the women on Sex and The City got bunions, anyways?  Bunions?  Growl. 

I'm so not ready for this aging bit.

And I'm so glad I don't have to go back until next year.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's the end of the world as we know it....

Okay.  It's not actually the end of the world as we know it.  It's really just the end of the year as we know it.  But my Boy-o and I are not feeling fine. 

Boy-o's Junior Kindergarten year is coming to an end tomorrow.  The last day of friends, his classroom morning 'home' for the last several months, and his beloved teacher (who I think is, after Diego of course, his first love) will all be a thing of the past as of tomorrow afternoon.  Now, transitions are always hard for Boy-o.  But this one is hitting particularly hard.  For the last several days, he has been prone to bouts of inexplicable teary/grumpy/tiredness, and today he said to me, after one of several spontaneous combustions:  "I just think I need to go to Junior Kindergarten again.  I don't want to leave!  My days will NEVER have any fun AGAIN!"  And my heart broke a little for him.  Because transitions are hard for anybody, but especially so for him.  And he is especially fond of his school grown-ups.  And leaving is a particular trigger.  Tomorrow will be hard, hard, hard for my big-hearted kiddo.

And why does my world feel like it's ending?  It's not of course.  But I seem to be greeting the end of the school year with a growing sense of constriction winding its way around my body.  It's not that I don't want to have Boy-o home with me.  That isn't the issue at all.  Boy-o is fantastic and generally all kinds of fun.  The issue for me becomes that I lose my way out.  My place to go.  Since September, from Monday to Thursday, I've loaded up three kids into the car (this bit, I won't miss, I must confess), schlepped them across town to school, and then had the relative freedom to explore, hangout, have coffee with friends whilst only chasing one child, write during Girlio's carnap.  Moreover I had a purpose, a place to go, to be, a reason to leave the house.  It's sounds pathetic.  I get that.  It feels pathetic to write it down.  But all of the sudden, my clear route out of the house seems murkier and muddier and less defined.   Wahhhhhh!

End of the year growing pains:  not just for kids.

weight loss and fat positivity

Awhile back, I posted a bit of a rant (I know, this is all kinds of shocking) about people's reactions to my weight loss (and maybe a little bit about my own discomfort with said weight loss and what it means about my own fat politics and positivity and identity and such.)  At any rate, a friend of mine reposted this fantastic blog post about similar issues and it is just BEGGING to me read.  Really.  Begging.  But don't take my word for it...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

living in our hearts

A few months ago:

Death. The big D. The topic no one wants to think about, let alone explain to a 4 year old, and yet, there I was, trying to sound all soothingly nonchalant and do just that.  Boy-o was asking again, as he does periodically, about where Kali (our furbaby that we lost to cancer last year) was.  I responded again, that Kali died, and that it's okay to miss her and be sad about it.  But that we can also feel happy about Kali's life with us, and that she will always be with us 'in our hearts'. 

Previously, this explanation had sufficed, and off he would go, seemingly satisfied.  Not this time.  "But what does death mean?  Where do we go?  Are you going to die?  Is Gramma going to die?  She's older than 60!  Am I going to die?"   And under this barrage of kiddie questions, I do what any unprepared parent would.  I totally panic.  My inner dialogue likely ran something like this: "Death is freaky shit.  Do not fuck your kid up."  I always thought this conversation would happen, you know, later.  And I could talk about all these different beliefs about what happens after you die.  But I'm pretty sure that Boy-o isn't ready for heaven/reincarnation/the circle of life/nothingness conversation just yet.   So I stumble through as best I can.  It sounded something like this: "Yes buddy, everyone has to die.  Even Mama, and Gramma, and even you.  But hopefully you won't have to worry about it for a long, long time.  And even when I die, I'll always be with you in your heart.  And if you died, I'd always keep you with me in my heart.  That way we will always be together."  And I feel sort of satisfied with this answer, thinking it's sort of vague and reassuring.  Until Boy-o litearlly dissolves in a puddle of sobs before my eyes.  And when he can finally say something, he manages through tears to ask: "I'm going to be in your heart forever?"  And I concur.  To which he starts wailing afresh: "BUT IS IT DARK IN THERE?!"  Oh Christ.  Good job, Mama.  Four year olds = the most literal creatures on the face of the planet.  Swell.  I need a fucking manual.  I really do.

And back in the present day:

The kids and I are off to take our other cat Jezebel (and yes Grampa, I still remember that Jezebel 'wasn't a nice woman') to the vet to check out a large and steadily growing lump.  I am all too aware that it could easily be cancer, and that we will again have some tough decisions to make about our furbaby.  And that Boy-o may again be thrown into the kiddie turmoil of wrestling with death. 

And I still don't have any better answers for him.

Does anyone know of any fantastic four-year old appropriate books about dying?


Monday, June 6, 2011

Rihanna shoots back...

So it would seem as though Ms. Rihanna is in the centre of a shitstorm (but I warn you here - when you read the above linked article, the comments section may just make you lose all faith in humanity and any gains feminism may have made for women.  Consider yourself warned). Anyways, Rihanna
just released a song/video (viewable in above link) in which her character is sexually assaulted, and the proceeds to shoot (and kill) her attacker. This has been met with, well, furor.  As in, How could Rihanna encourage violence in this way?  Shocking!, sort of furor.  It is, if memory serves, the same sort of bull-shitty crappola that occured when the Dixie Chicks came out with their anthem "Goodbye Earl,"  which I have, on occassion, been known to belt out.  We don't like it when women talk about fighting back.  So what's that all about?  (I'm pretty sure no one yelled and screamed when Aerosmith came out with "Janie's Got Gun".  So apparently men can sing about it.  Curious, no?). 

While I remain pretty opposed to things like gun violence of all kinds, it begs mentioning (as many of my lovely friends have) that we live in a media culture which is literally saturated in imagery containing violence and brutality toward women. (Moreover, our culture at large is filled with real instances of violence against women that we grow increasingly desensitized to).  No one bats an eyelash when high end shoe designers sell their shoes with the image of a murdered woman's lower half (and saucy shoes, natch) hanging out of a dumpster. That's cool, cause like, they're really nice shoes.   It's not at all unusual for models to be depicted as dead to advertise all sorts of merchandise.   In another vein, it somehow makes sense to us to market video games in which sexually assaulting or beating up sex workers, as though this should be, you know, entertaining.  No biggie.  Similarly, in the music world, there are many, many (did I mention many?!) songs about murdering women.   Classics.  Think Neil Young's "Down By The River"... This link:, will in fact take you to a playlist of thirty songs (note that it's a highly incomplete list, I can think of lots more) where you can listen to a bunch of them all at once, if you have the stomach for it. 

I've heard a number of statistics for what percentage of incarcerated women (for violence related offenses) are there for hurting or killing their abuser.  I'm just going to go out on a limb here and say that it's, you know, a lot.  As a friend pointed out on facecrack (she also posted the playlist of woman killin' tunes - thanks Heather!), I don't think anyone can say that this video isn't relevant to women's realities.

Whether you believe that Rihanna's video is empowering for women, or a problematic encouragement of violence (or something else entirely), I think we are all very, very remiss if we allow this discussion to take place with blinders to the aforementioned culture we live in, which is clearly extremely tolerant of violence against women.  And if this media shitstorm is any indication, clearly much less tolerant of the idea of women fighting back. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Shoulda, woulda, coulda

I'm a lousy housekeeper, which I think has already been well-documented here. I hate it. It hates me. Also - I'm lazy. And do I tend to wait until the house is oppressing me to do anything about it. And yesterday, because I couldn't stand it anymore, I spent 3/4 hour scouring the kitchen and listening to Motown (the latter of which I find it next to impossible to be grumpy whilst listening to) while the children seemingly happily played in the living room. This last bit should have been a warning to me. But apparently I missed that warning sign while feeling self-satisfied with my sort-of togetherness.

So now I am the proud owner of a sparkly clean kitchen AND an ottoman and chair that have been 'artified' with swirls of brown (mostly washable) marker.

Enter reason #657 why I am, and will steadfastly remain, a shitty housekeeper.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

A Repost from: Parenting is Political

Parenting is Political: Today's guest blogger, Prabhakar Ragde, is a profe...:

Prabhakar Ragde, the above linked guest blogger over at Parenting is Political, is a professor of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. In the 1990s, he and his wife made a decision to keep the sex of their children on the down low.  An interesting post :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

AFA Boycotting Home Depot Because Gays Are Caught "In The Clasp of Satan"

Let's support our local Home Depots, peeps. They know the queer's love their home renos ;) ANd they don't seem to mind our being caught in the clasp of Satan, either.

A Repost from Hook and Eye: A conferencing we go!

Hook and Eye: A conferencing we go!:  This is a repost from the multi-authored fab feminists in academia blog called Hook and Eye

I'm not sure I've ever read another blog post with more unbridled envy :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Old Milwaukee - "Don't Be That Guy..."

So - Old Milwaukee Beer has a really awful billboard (masquerading as, 'hey look at us, we're all retro cool') circulating across the country.  I haven't yet seen it in Old Redneckville, but to be honest, I'm generally too busy dolling out snacks, breaking up backseat fisticuffs and trying very hard not to crash my car to notice billboards much these days. 

For realz.

Now if ever there was a need for a sister billboard, immediately adjacent, with an image of the "Don't Be That Guy" campaign, this is it folks.  GROSS.

Please send a message and tell this company "Don't be that guy". 

You can file a complaint on - the company in question/questionable company is Pabst Brewing Company.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Some thoughts on our new queer-ish kid lit

So - on a trip to Greenwood Books the other day - I found and bought two queer-ish kiddie books. The first is My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis (2011), a mom of a dress loving little dude who subsequently became an activist and educator on her son's behalf, and The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith (2010).

I love the intent behind My Princess Boy, that sharing the experiences of her son will bring about greater understanding for dress-wearing, bling-lovin' boys. It's written for a young audience, and is a good way to introduce the topic to the preschooler set. The illustrations by Suzanne DeSimone, are gorgeous and really help to connect Princess Boy to the audience. I say all of the aforementioned with a few caveats though. But - and there is a but here - I really wish we could have the conversation about boys rockin frocks without calling frocks and pretty things "girl clothes". If the goal is to disrupt the limiting conceptualizations of boy/girl, then invoking them seems counter intuitive to me, even it is probably the simplest way to explain things to the kid set. Though the author does speak of her own love support for her Princess Boy, it does seem as though there is an emphasis on the 'normal' males in Princess Boy's life.  She notes that Princess Boy loves his brother, who "plays baseball and soccer" and who is depicted in a baseball uniform (3). She notes that Princess Boy "loves his dad" and how "[h]is dad tells him how pretty he looks in a dress" (5). (No similar declarations of love for his mom or other female characters are included). And I have to wonder if the focus on maleness is a way to normalize the role models in Princess Boy's life.  In this way, no one is to blame for the child breaking gender barriers, it's just a child being their 'authentic self' (which of course it is, with or without the sort of witting or unwitting setting up of familial 'innocence').  All caveats aside though, the project of My Princess Boy is laudible, especially since there are so few books of its kind for this age group in particular.  And the messages about the painful realities of being different, of familial love and acceptance are important ones. I love the character Princess Boy, and I love his mama for having the immense mama-love and gutsiness it took to write this book for her boy and for all the rest of us.  I hope against hope that this book flies off the shelves and into the hands of waiting teachers, parents, preschoolers and early schoolers too. I know I'm looking forward to reading it to my own sometimes dress-rocking, bling lovin' Boy-o.

I love The Great Big Book of Famillies. I think it's one of the best family books I"ve come across yet. Hoffman begins by explaining that "Once upon a time most families in books looked like this:" with a corresponding pictorial of the traditional heterosexual, white, upper middle class, nuclear suburban family, "But in real-life, families come in all shapes and sizes" (1). This book may not be uber exciting to kids (except possibly to me) but I love the way it matter-of-factly explores all kinds of different family formations (queer, grandparented, adopted, fostered, single-parented). It is multi-racial and multi-ethnic throughout. The illustrations by Ros Aquith (whose work you've probably seen either in the Guardian or the oodles of other kids books she's illustrated) add additional layers of depth to the text, such as where she depicts a stay-at-home dad with a working mom heading off to work next to the text: "In some families everyone has a job. In others, only one person goes out to work" (11). And what I really love about this book if that it is one of the first pieces of kids literature that I've found which tackles class issues throughout. In the section about different kinds of homes, for instance, it mentioned that "some people can't find anywhere to live at all" (8). Similarly, in the section addressing holidays, Hoffman explains "Not all families can afford a holiday. But most people get some time off from work. even a weekend at home can be a little holiday" (13). And I also really loved how this book addresses boys who rock the frocks! In the clothes section, there is a boy wearing a tu-tu. And it's just presented as the way some folks dress. The beauty of this book is that queer families or single famlies or poor families (or boys in tut-tus) are explored well outside of the standard it's okay to be different dialogue (that makes me more than a little batty). Because ALL families are different. Simple, matter-of-fact, there you go. Me likey. A lot. This one should be a standard classroom fixture and it's definitely getting a coveted space on our family bookshelf!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

R & R

Forgive me, it's been a few days since my last confession... erm, I mean blog (of substance, at any rate). I've been busy having R & R. By this, I don't actually mean rest & relaxation (because, as you may have already surmised, that's not how we roll around here.) No, I've been surviving on running -an old stand by- and reading - a renewed passion. (And between you, me and the lamppost, the antidepressants probably aren't hurting either).

It's been awhile since I've been able to really read. (Like, a long while).  With all my faculties and teeth and brain firmly sunk in. I'm not sure why that is, particularly given I've always been a fairly voracious reader, but wonder if maybe my not being able to pick up books has been one small symptom of feeling and being disconnected.   And also, not having any brain left at the end of the day - but that probably goes without saying.

Anyways - lately I've become a bit of a reading machine. And to that end, I've just finished reading, and holy fucking loving, Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions. A huge, big love developing for Anne Lamott. Big. The biggest. Like when she says things like this:  "I tell my writing students to get into the habit of calling one another, because writing is such a lonely business, and if you're not careful, you can trip off into this Edgar Allen Poe feeling of otherness. Turns out that motherhood is much the same" (97), and I find myself wondering "How I have not read this before?"  (What with being all Edgar Allen Poe-y myself and all).   Had a lot of those moments reading this book.  Especially since, this is like the mother of all mommy memoirs, really.

Anyhow - Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year of Life, is, you know, like a journal of the first year of her son Sam's life.  And though realize that it's wholly trite and also self-centred, I feel like she is speaking directly to me.  (Probably why this baby is a bestseller, hmmm?  Anyhoo).  We are incredibly different. She is a single mama, me partnered. She is straight, I am queer.  She's a recovering addict, I'm not. She's into religion.  Me - not so much.  She's broker than broke - I'm less broke (but it's still a bit of a squeaker).  She's a writer, I'm a.... (I guess that's the proverbial question, isn't it?).  And still,across our differences her journey feels achingly familar and comfortable.  Turns out that Anne Lamott and I speak the same mothering language (okay - hers is probably much prettier).  But we share a very dark sense of humour, a profound sense of frustration with the state of the world, peaks and valleys of pretty high anxiety and near-ridiculous amounts of self-doubt.

Lamott really manages to capture the massive push-pull of emotions involved in the mothering project, like when she declares resolutely: "I'm not even remotely well enough to be a mother.  That's what the problem is.  Also, I think I don't like babies" (114), and then later announces "[h]e's so goddamn beautiful it breaks my heart" (196).   And that's it right there in a nutshell, isn't it?  It's all that.  And more. 

And then there's the massive impact of self-doubt and beating up one ones' self that occurs after various levels of mothering 'failures' (the kind I fall prey to daily and then proceed to beat myself to a pulp before proclaiming that I beat myself up too much and should really stop and be more kind to myself.... well, you know how it is.  I think this kind of self-flagellation can be a particularly persistent issue for those of us who have a bit of the, you know, crazy.  Lamott does too:  "I'm trying to be extremely gentle and forgiving with myself today, having decided while I nursed Sam at dawn this morning that I'm probably just as good a mother as the next repressed, obsessive-compulsive paranoiac" (95).  Um yeah.  What she said.  Also, it seems to me as though the process and results of being a stay at home mama has, for me, been a bit like having a massive crush on someone who doesn't know you're alive (I've had a lot of those in my time, so you'll have to just trust me there). Remarkably the same, actually. You know, at least in your moments of better resolve, that you might be a fairly decent specimen of humanity, reasonably cute and reasonably smart. And you hold onto this belief for as long as you can. But the longer you aren't noticed, or the frequency with which you have "I carried a watermelon" moments -something I have also had a great deal of experience with - (get thee to a TV to watch Dirty Dancing if you do not know what I mean here), the less and less you are able to believe in your own worth.   The same holds true for parenting.  You can hold onto the belief that you are a reasonably good parent who is contributing both to your child and the world, but the longer you're stuck doing this invisible loving sort of work, the more you do or say things you regret, the more difficult it gets to hold onto that belief.  Self-doubt.  It's a biggie.

And then, just when I think I couldn't connect more - she somehow manages to tap right into where I am.  Now.  As the mama of a two and four year old.   Apparently, some folks hit this wall earlier than me:
The slow pace and all this rumination wear me down and bore me and make me desperately want a hit of something, of anything.  Adrenaline, say, or a man to fantasize about or have drama with, or some big professional pressure, like a deadline I'm just barely able to make.  I want to check out.  I do not want to be in the here and now with God and myself and all that shit. . . . I want to learn to live in the now, I want to learn to breathe my way into it and hang out there more and more and experience life in all it's richness and realness.  But I want to do it later, like maybe sometime early next week.  Right now, I'd like a rush.  173
Of course, I read this bit and think something along the lines of  "SHAZAAAM!" or whatever people say when they really connect to a sentiment with some extra oooomph.   It's so funny how much less alone you feel when a total stranger can articulate clearly a moment in time you are experiencing.   For the most part, this book felt like a marker of where I've moved through, but some places, like this one, felt all kinds of fresh in the 'right here and now' way. 

I cannot recommend this read enough.  I loved the voice.  I loved the honesty and fearlessness.  It should be given out in hospitals and by adoption agencies.  For real.

Okay - off to my next read...