Sunday, March 30, 2008

The truth

If you were a woman before you were a mother then you know quite a lot about doing the job already.

Be liberated, accept/expect the challenges, the buck stops with you. Remember you know your child best. This is a response to this and this


Bon Boyage

Last week I traveled across the wee Salish Sea from Vancouver to Victoria. I traveled solo with my 3 1/2 year old and my near 2 year old.

It was waaay-hey-hayyyyy outside my comfort zone. I am the queen of over-doing the luggage and homepacked snacks in triplicate. I am a TV-phobic helll-ie-copter parent and a half really. How would I survive? I couldn't even use the van? Gasp!

Thanks to the fine catering supplies available through Starbucks, yahoo Happy Planet smoothies! And Allah be praised on board Little Bear broadcasts at the perfect time it was smooth sailing for us. So what they didn't really have a meal for two days? They loved visiting Uncle Wo. It was worth it.

In fact, I would say it was all good news. I discovered how much more my kids can do when not in the straight-jacket of my normal routines. I was, to be honest, pretty proud of them. That is certainly good news for them.

My favorite part? Had to be my boy who would extend a hand and bark 'stick together!' A solemn pout making clear that he feels that the process of sticking together begins at the palm. I'm with you little man. Anywhere you go.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Where was I?

In the last week there have been some interesting near memes. I am quite interested in bio pic challenge from Mad. I'll get to that. But what has really hung about to be done is my response to the Flashback Friday, where were you?

I remember when my husband called me at work and told me Kurt Cobain had died. And I said, who is Kurt Cobain?

I could tell you about how I felt when I woke up in my friend's apartment on the morning of September 11, 2001 in Toronto about 12 hours after sending my husband off on a plane to Vancouver.

I ache when I recall the death of my callous outlook on the death of children that day in September I was two days to my due date and 186 children died in a school is Beslan.

I do think of those things. I do remember. But they are not 'the day'.

I think of that day in Vernon I stopped short. The day I heard that Heidi had been murdered. Not just her but the four children, too.

Some might say the liminal moment is lost on me. But that was my day. Heidi Challand was my age, from my hometown, a twin of a high school friend. She didn't go to school with us because she was already raising kids before I got my drivers license. She was a beautiful and kind girl. A hopeful person with four dear children. One night in 1997 12 days after the massive funeral for Princess Diana Heidi's fiance killed her. He killed her and her four children with an axe.

I remember the moment I heard. I remember the look on the face of the first person I told. The blank distance of this experience from them. The deep hollow of the experience in me. No words to connect the knowledge with feeling.

I gave up that day on the big picture. Instead I look to the small. Everyday I try to talk to my growing children about care and concern for each other. About the big and the small, measuring out child-sized morsels of patience, empathy and respect for ourselves and for others. I look ahead with profound fear of how to explain such an attack of life to my daughter and to my son. Though I thank god for my good husband I will not bask in any luck of it.

All I am saying is that's what I remember. A case of horror, and sadness, rage and disgust. A case, I fear, too few remember, acknowledge or retain if for no other reason than the too many more cases in the 10 years since.



A couple doors down from us a family of three live in the basement suite; a Mom, a young boy (maybe 7 or 8?) and a little girl (4 or 5 years.)

The kids are often out in the neighbourhood on their own. The big brother takes quite diligent care of his little sister, relative to being a child himself. The children laugh and smile a lot but from time to time a sad face pokes out the window to me and only meekly says hi, barely above a whisper.

The children's mother is never friendly. In fact at a block party last year she was openly hostile but whatever. I am not writing this to judge her, that would be a post and a half, I guess. It is a pot of feelings I don't so much want to share.

What I say today is my appreciation of what good children these two kids are. They are really quite dear. They surprise me in my bourgeois ways. I feel a small measure of shame that it is remarkable for them to be such an attractive pair despite some obvious troubles, like a mother who neglects them at times, a spare living situation and a huge pile of garbage tossed out in the yard on a regular basis.

Such good children? I guess there is part of me that thinks they deserve to be less than good in their less than good situation? Ah, well I won't analyse it to death tonight. But I will count myself lucky for a new outlook on my own family compact.

I have a different perspective these days on my own children's disobedience and impertinence. I am grateful they have the luxury of their odd, idiotic or even foul behaviours. I know at times I shout like I was shouted at but I also know that it is rare. I know that they never shrink from me and I draw a goodly bit of pleasure that they can even tell me when I make a mistake I should have known full well. It is an eerie thing that I feel my little neighbours likely don't have this experience in their catalogue of existence. Their smiles smoothing over some distress.

I know my kids are no more perfect than these kids. Therefore I find that everyday I am managing to forgive myself a little more, and my mother-neighbour too. As the independence of my growing offspring asserts itself and their vessel-nature vanishes into a force of adventure I carefully apportion the modest influence I have. Will I be ready, will I move forward will I choose rightly? Will they be good children or no? Seems a fresh gamble but they know they have my faith if nothing else. I guess I'm just a sucker. But, what you gonna do?

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Somewhat Derivative and Entirely Tenuous

I am a bit of a techie. I took to email in 1988 and wrote my first website in good ole html circa 1998. Now looking into Web 2.0 in 2008 simultaneous with a 2.0 outlook on my own life I have noticed a subconscious renewal of a sympathetic view of technology. I have revived my passion for what I call bibliodiversity and my thorough disdain, in equal measures, for those who either oversell technology or fear-monger misshapen luddite decrees. Fear not the machine, I think we'll agree.

This week I had the pleasure to recommend the excellent blog WhyMommy? on an open line show.

Yes. I have been an openline caller. -- eye roll.
And I am parent blogger -- double eye roll.

So shoot me. (But it was on CBC radio, so was I not somewhat dignified?)

The pointy bit
The topic was a new online resource for Breast Cancer Survivors from the Breast Cancer Foundation. When I made my comments I had a bit of an out-of-occupation experience. The panel and host were very interested in my comments about WhyMommy's blog, how it tells a story, where it educates, how it seemed a part of WhyMommy's healing and that it sustained a mixed audience of cancer patients and (for lack of a better word) civilians. Their Breast Cancer Map is collaborative but in-house capital 'P' Product. The host questioned if the sort of content the blog offered might someday be included in the Foundation resource.

Sigh. Why oh why -- must be always compete to include?

This is such a drone. A constant battery in the aging information age of the limitlessness of possibilities and the pedantic 'solutions'. Each technology vehicle must aspire to be all things to all people??? Well it can't.

As a librarian I have argued and debated the issues of the one true way for the the false idols of 'the Internet' and 'computers' and 'technology' for years ad nauseum. My response to these important experts was, roughly, as follows. "I am really thrilled to hear about this new resource. But I wouldn't expect it to do the sort of things that the blog does. I mean, I understand that the information that each item emits intersects but that is the limit. We really benefit from institutions generating one kind of online community and individuals generating another and the only work need be done is to draw the linkages. It would not seem important to me (read, it would seem detrimental) that institutes ever take responsibility for creating a setting for such personal dialogues."

In making these comments I was at once at ease and then suddenly uncomfortable with my own position. I realized quickly how far it went to a case of eating my words. You see it was a lightning bolt of dialogue liberties. Literally, for years I have preached the same philosophy about, again for lack of better words, "surviving technology. My philosophy = let's not reinvent the wheel. I have done this not fully appreciating a commitment it made to my own thinking and actions.

In this sad little information age we live in, that need still meet its own age of reason, we parrot the endlessness of possibilities and so often fail to create anything out of option paralysis. I think of Cancer Foundation IT staffers cringing at the thought of including 'social software' in their institutional communication tool. Ah, the liability of information delivery. How could we include this without any functions for fact checking? How would we choose who to include or exclude? It is truly a nightmare from the corporate view. We constantly have this problem in schools. But -- this is my paradigm shift -- but why should we care? If we really do nothing more than what I advocated -- nothing more than link maybe we will more fully embrace the tolerance for difference and disagreement the wealth of connectivity engenders. We might rise above the possibilities and acutally be productive!!!! I guess I rode along back in the debates last summer about brand affiliations online and did sneer. I thought of it only one way when really it has as many levels as the latest releases for Wii.

We can't, and shouldn't, care about every affiliation anymore. (this from a cataloguing librarian and media copyright specialist?) We can't read into the image of McDonalds Southwest Salad on the sidebar quite the same as we might a few years back. Don't we want to attempt the possibilities of linkages without arbitrating each one? To keep arbitration a requirement will only go to our continued desire for 'all the possibilities' and, as I've said, continue to obliterate actual creation. Even though it might not be for me I can't quite sneer the same way today I did yesterday.

I am glad to see the link for the WhyMommy blog near the Cancer Foundations' site on nothing more than my say so. What a crazy idea that defies my hitherto held standards of inclusion. Hypocrisy and I remain, I suppose, intimate strangers.

And there is my big egghead post for Easter. Or what my daughter, in a perfect metaphor, calls the Humpty-dumpty holiday; if that isn't an understatement and a half. My sweet Lord.

Signed, Stephen Fry

ps.. yes I could have edited that but come on, it's just the Internet.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

At Home

If I look at my peer group about 70% are staying at home. I live in sort of the last affordable family neighbourhood there WAS (past tense) in Vancouver so I am lucky. But for some reason I largely credit bloggers for supporting my decision to spend more time at home? Odd? I dunno.

It seem clear to me that if I didn't know:
L. and Alpha D and if I hadn't heard the cheesefairy say she would do it I might have never gone for it. Thank God I have Crunchy showing me through the screen and in real life that it can be done. If I didn't know Sarah of the Goon Squad, or if I had overlooked Dutch's input at sweet|salty that argued spending time with your kids isn't about adequate maternity/paternity leaves but rather about choices.

It reminds me of that scene in the book Rainbabies when the Moon spirit awards the old people a baby of their own because they had forgone riches to protect the rainbabies, among other things.

I really feel sometimes that the mirage of financial security as a precursor to parenting is ass backwards. I am still addicted to the notion even tho' I feel very little drive for it in the face of the priceless and proportionless existence I have with my two little people.

I do thank you all -- at home or not -- for opening your homes, families, hearts and experiences to the Internet and to me. I do love it. Helps me find my way.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Where's my bonus?

I find that at this particular moment very worst part of being a parent is, surprisingly, the lack of performance indicators.

The rudderless drone of activity my life represents is relentlessly taxing. I bristle at every demand from outsiders for me to do a little something more because to do so seems to imply in my internal dialogue their presumption that I am not busy.

Why can I not demonstrate the free timelessness of it all?
Will I prove my worth or success with potty training?
I have no credible measure of my ability to achieve nutritional goals?
When will I be sure my discipline and development expectations are in order?

Please someone, a performance review. It would nice for someone to care enough; but not too much.

I know it is not just me. I critique all those chronicled moments of babyhood. I recognize among bloggers the rudiments of a dissertation filled with welcome skepticism of the milestone of babyhood as a weapon that undermines the value of actual parenting. The burr of unrecognized performance indicators borne of a disdain for their pointless substitutes.

My hates list for the moment, said pointless substitutes:
Growth charts
Sleep theory books
Preschool, Public school, private school, home school
Nanny, v. Daycare v. At home parent
Bus passes and/or bike seats and/or with versus bike trailers
Birth order
Arranging my life through email, usually more than 6 emails at a time
Bullying at the playground
Learning to talk
... do you know what I mean?

Maybe don't mind me? I am sick as a dog. My nanny a no show. I still have no kitchen. My van* is in the shop. The naps are freakishly challenging. The drywall with be sanded today -- what is the point in vacuuming.. hack wheeze.

Where's my bonus?

* In the spirit of reciprocity? soul-matedness? or enabling? I hit the van last week. Doesn't p-man feel a whole lot better?

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Where am I?

Sorry to be such an itinerant correspondent.

Sorry. I have been keeping things from you.

I do have a new appreciation for all those brilliantly frank, forward and philosophical bloggers out there. I am not so much up to it. Totally uncharacteristic of our breed sometimes I fail to chronicle.

I am, of late, a bit sad.

It is my predicament of work - lost job. Not work -- Qu'est-ce que c'est nanny?? Mostly the former. I have been actively looking for work for a couple months now and no bites. I had one interview that I was highly qualified for and they concluded they would leave the job vacant???

What are these jobs dying out? (Technical Services department heads, for the librarians in the crowd)

Aside from that I have trooped out some lackadaisical applications to seek fresh pasture but they are not interviewing me. It is painful for me. I run about trying to put in applications and do renovation shopping while someone else plays in the sunshine with my kids. Now having a nanny is one thing when you are at work but otherwise?? As my husband, at great personal risk, noted I am not really enjoying my time with the children in this scenario. Duh. I make the sandwiches, do the laundry and then hide from my children 3 days a week only coming back on 'shift' at 4pm. It is humiliating, and that's not the half of said humiliation.

I can't get arrested in this town. My mind keeps raging. When I get notes from my former coworkers they are laden with terms like awesomeness, smartest, funniest, goddess and sage. When I write an application I get ... silence.

I am deep in a professional disconnect spewing into identity crisis.

And, I can't blame my family. Or can I? It is true I have had moments when I figure Hirshman was right. Two babies are a career killer. I am too far gone and I better just start mastering my hot dog day techniques and suck it up. That would be sad wouldn't it?

There is another very mad part of me that gets quite riled up at what I perceive to be professional snobbery. My most recent work was with our Metro School Board, I managed a $1 million+ budget, served 108 locations, led a service group of about 150 people and administered a database with more items than some city libraries. But I am hayseed it seems since I worked K to 12? I didn't work with other professional librarians I worked with, gasp, teacher-librarians. So I guess my work wasn't important or challenging???? You know being a teacher is sooo easy, yada yada. I'll tell you I never did the overtime when I worked in public libraries or even for the newspaper reference library. I know that all sounds arrogant. So let's kick in the self-loathing to make me sadder.

I do not mean a moments disrespect to public service library staff. I suppose they have a right to think that if I haven't worked a regular ref desk in 5 years my license should be revoked? Give me a break I have been in this business 16 years. Somebody tell me whither the labour shortage. It makes sense I'll never get a job again; rinse lather repeat.

I have got to admit something today. If I think critically I guess am used to things coming pretty easy. That seems to be changing. Count me near the head of line in loathing all things supermom. I never felt I could have it all. But this less than having anything at all is a lot more painful than I could have imagined.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Umm... I'm Sorry?

Poor Elliott Ness, erm, Spitzer. Some say that behind that massive jaw, those beady eyes, and Julian forehead there lies a ho-loving hypocrite who may have spent public funds to "meet" with "models." Now he has had to resign or be subject to impeachment proceedings. He has given up the gubernatorial seat to his second-in-command who, with any luck, has a history of molesting livestock. More public humiliation on the public's dime!

With all the electionating going on south of the border this is a season of announcements and pronouncements. I hope it is also a season of accountability. Not the dispassionate sort which I ought properly crave, but the blind retribution doled ought by the self-interested types in the paid media. With any luck the people who reach for positions of power shall have their gnarled and furry little mitts smacked down courtesy of some past indiscretion. Or present. I don't care. If you present yourself as some kind of action hero you'd better have a life somewhat consistent with your image, or you deserve a good kick in the nuts.

There is no shortage of examples, delicious examples, of the pride before the fall. Be it an anti-gay preacher, high on meth, swapping semen with some hustler, or some other example which eludes me at the moment. Mmm, like a presidential candidate, or president (no link necessary), or preacher, who has a malfunctioning trouser fly. Like that.

I am pleased to announce I have not been involved in any car accidents since Saturday. A day at a time... Associated with the regular level of embarrassment of being the negligent party in this auto-auto accident is the humiliation of once being (or at least thinking I was) a good driver. Fast. Efficient. Safe under any influence. So here I am, free of influence for a number of years, driving around the lower mainland like Hotrod. Talk about taking flight on one's own petard. Embarrassment plus, with wings!

Of course, any shame I feel on account of my own errors in judgment (of distance) pales in comparison to that of Mr. Spitzer. I'm not saying this married man was having the odd poke with really expensive hookers while living the life of Elliott Ness. I don't know what the facts are. I was not in the room. But assuming, just for the sake of argument, that this crime fighting dude of long standing was out there fucking in contravention of penal and marital standards, maybe using public cash to pay for his indiscreet liaisons, it may take more than a "some time" to regain the trust of his family. Or the public to whom he presented himself in a certain way. Natch.

I don't know how I would feel about having our premier run afoul of someone's criminal code. Amused? We all have our weaknesses. For some it is parallel parking in front of their houses. For others, it is "meeting" prostitutes in hotel rooms. Let's be fair to Mr. Spitzer: he was probably there to tell that girl she needed to be saved, that she'd been led astray by bad men... and he was bad. Very bad... (This furore would, of course, never happen in France. The indignity there would be paying for "meeting" with "models".)

This is not to say I am entirely without sympathy for this man. Although he has brought this reckoning upon himself he is still largely human and therefore weak and deserving of compassion. He is also, I now suspect, kind of stupid. He could have had any number of unusual desires and he could have, should have, kept them at home but he chose to take his kink out of doors and engage in what remains an illegal activity.

p-man out.


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Saturday Aimless

It has been over two weeks since Mo changed the masthead to include my fake name and in recognition of this kindness I now see fit to type this, my first post. Thank you very much.

In my defence, I was at work, weekends, evenings, and the like. Apparently many lawyers do this all the time. Who knew? I am reconsidering my decision to leave house painting behind. Except that's harder.

We went to a wedding today, a friend I have not seen for over two years when last I played with the band with which I was at one time familiar enough to refer to as "the band". I don't know the protocol in these situations, but when the wedding invitation arrived, the prospect of a free meal was more than I could resist. To hell with decency. I know I didn't call, but I want roast beeef!

We left the kids with my dad and his wife and went to a Lutheran church on Holy Hill. Funny pastor, lovely ceremony. I was tearful at one point. Chili fart or homily, I am not saying which.

I was tearful this morning too as I drove home in a rush, completely disorganised, and ran into a car while parking. Not only did I fail to mirror effective parallel parking behaviour to my son, I failed to keep a stiff upper lip as I drove to connect with Mo on the return trip. On the bad side, I have caused a fair bit of damage to Mo's van. On the bright side, there was nobody in the car I hit and the victim of my driving crime, who also witnessed the accident, does not want to get ICBC involved.*

My mood improved when I attended a local barber and, for $10, got a ten minute haircut. I look like a standard poodle on acid. Or what a standard poodle looks like, when the viewer is on acid. And the poodle. Everyone is on acid. My hair, my hair is so high the Grateful Dead sounds good. Try a strand.

Then the wedding, boo hoo hoo, beauty, love, and so on then home to exchange sets of grandparents for the evening shift which was the reception at which my old band is now playing the many songs I grew to despise deeply. The bride's dad, an older Germanic type, gave speech so lucid, thoughtful, and beautiful I wanted him to adopt me so I could marry Mo all over again. Most of the speeches were similar to his - leading with laughter, following with tears, and a chaser of something meaningful, or lovely, or life-affirming. Fuck me, I felt all emotional in spite of myself. It was awful. What a great time. I like weddings.


* I hit my car.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Washed Out

Here are some random items

1. I look at Jessica Alba's pregnancy and do feel self-promotion is a part of it. Still, I am sincerely happy for her that she will not wait to have kids for all the artificial and -- now in my case -- silly reasons I did.

2. The best song to lull kids to sleep with in the car I believe to be the original work Jimmie by Diana Krall. I wonder if her twins like it.

3. I desparately did not want to have another weekly Wednesday post but my posting is in trouble. In the past 10 days I have spent a significant amount of time seriously considering the deep and facetted meaning of the Eency Weency Spider for that is just how I feel.

Have a nice day. And if you want to read a real post -- look here.

ps... Kitchen renovation underway.. what say ye -- ceramic tile floor or wood?