Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I do dumb things.

While at work today, I answered a phone call and hit myself in the face with the receiver.  The caller on the other end heard me say 'ow' as I attempted, and failed spectacularly, to maintain some air of professionalism.

On my third or fourth day of seventh grade, I was leaning forward in my chair, when it slipped out from under me.  I grabbed the desk for support.

You all know how sturdy school desks are, right?  Not very. Needless to say, I made a great first impression as 'the new kid'.

Sadly, I hadn't learned my lesson from when I was six and I nearly concussed myself after leaning too far back in my chair, becoming well acquainted with a wooden work bench.  This was back when first graders were allowed to use saws and hammers during playtime. Oh, the 80s.

At the age of 14 I smoked.  I laboured under the assumption that my parents didn't know.  They probably did.  One balmy summer's eve, I stood out on my back porch enjoying a cigarette when I spotted my dad coming down the hill to our house on the way home from the Legion.  Like the ninja I am, I tossed the butt and raced straight into the house.

And by 'house' I mean 'the screen door.'

Once at the Y, because I am a living cartoon and I have no sense of time+distance, I nearly set my shirt on fire before catapaulting myself across a room, all because I thought that 6 kilometers an hour on a treadmill seemed a reasonable speed for a beginner.

I fell under a bus once.

Just the other week, I provided my children with an excellent cautionary tale called "Why it's a bad idea to jimmy a glued-shut jar of Mod-Podge open with a paring knife," starring Mom's Mangled Index Finger.

Lastly, a headboard is no place for an antique clock.  That's all I'll say on that topic.




Sunday, November 9, 2014

Conversations with my kids: Super powers

R: if you could have any super power you wanted, what would you choose?
Me: MUTANT HEALING FACTOR. ALWAYS.
T: Laser vision.
R: I'd want to have stretch powers, so I could be lazy all the time.
Me: you'd never leave the couch?
R: right. I could just reach for stuff. I could even do my schoolwork from the couch.
T: I want laser vision.  To zap the genitals of my enemies.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A year and one week.

I guess this post has been a while coming, but quite honestly, I've been having a bloody shit-show (ahaha, see what I did there?) of a week or two.

I don't have cancer.  Hooray!

I got the colonoscopy results a week ago and I was grateful but oddly underwhelmed.  There's a couple of reasons behind this:  One, because I never did radiation or chemo or anything, I still don't really feel like a real Cancer Survivor™.  There's still this weird unreality about the whole ordeal. 

I had cancer.  I had surgery.  I didn't have cancer anymore.

Done.

Meanwhile, I found it hard to get too excited because of the uncertainty in knowing that there is always a chance of it coming back.  So I got the news and it was like "You don't have cancer," and I thought inwardly "... well, for now."

I guess I'm being overly pragmatic about the whole thing?  I feel like I *should* be super-excited and jumping for joy when in reality I'm more like "Oh.. okay.  Cool.  Want to get a pizza?"

Does that make me ungrateful?  Maybe. 

Today I drove down to Mount Sinai to meet with my surgeon about my progress. Traffic and other complications, including almost hitting a pedestrian outside the hospital, resulted in being about 25 minutes late. Thankfully, the people at the hospital know I'm coming a rather stupid distance and are understanding.

The Well-Travelled One and I waited in the world's tiniest exam room until a nervous resident came to go over my medical history.  I've gotten to the point where I can pretty much recite my entire medical history on command.  Often to strangers in grocery stores.

I was subjected to an examination of both my abdomen (not terribly invasive) and rectum (much more invasive), rolling over while trying not to fall off the exam table.

I laughed long and loud after the mildly uncomfortable rectal exam, as the resident explained that each of the hospital's residents have to take turns with each area of specialty and that he'd come to the conclusion that he was not cut out for colorectal work due to being cursed with huge fingers.

This was probably the funniest thing I heard all day.  I'm glad he didn't tell me before the exam, though.

We met with my surgeon afterwards, who was pleased with my condition.  I'm to go back in six months for a scope and possibly a CT scan.  I originally thought that I would not have to go back for a year, but truth be told, I'd rather have a six month check-up, so if anything new develops, there's a good chance of catching it early again.

I felt a little more relief at this news, but I still am not all super-duper excited. 

I'm glad. I'm grateful. But I'm not excited. 

Do you ever get to let your guard down after something like this?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Excerpts from my notebook - The ER

Came into the emergency department around 11am.  It's now going on 3:30. I have been poked full of holes by nurses trying fruitlessly to secure an IV. I need fluids.

One attempt, on my right wrist, felt as thought [sic] a red hot wire was inserted into a nerve.  My hand felt tingly and numb for several minutes after.  I screamed out in pain.  I may have said Fuck.  I'm sure I said Christ.

There is zero cellphone reception here.  I stood outside for 10 minutes trying to update {The Well-Travelled One} on what has so far taken place.

My stomach is growling.  A cinnamon bun sits on the table beside me.  I bought it in the lobby minutes before I was told not to eat or drink anything.

My mouth is dry.  I need fluids. I finished my book and now I am bored as hell.

{The Well-Travelled One} got me this notebook for my birthday.  I have been saving it, not wanting to mess it up with grocery lists and price comparisons for ceramic tile like I had done with my cheap Dollar Store red book.

A nurse just came in and hooked me up to an ECG, so now to go with my lovely set of holes and bruises from multiple IV attempts, I also get to wear the badges of medical grade adhesive.

So, I'm basically just writing to pass time until my blood work comes back and they decide what else to do with me.

I'm here because I've had a headache for the last four days, a strange feverish feeling, and the ass-bleeding has ramped up in frequency and volume over the last week.  My doctor's office takes at least three weeks to get an appointment and in three weeks, I could be dead.

I hate this body that keeps failing me at every turn.  Colitis at 18. Colon cancer at 33.  Legs that want to clot up and pool blood at every turn.

Any time conversation turns to "What kind of superpower would you want?" my answer is invariably,
"MUTANT HEALING FACTOR"
Every time.

I really have terrible handwriting.  It's gotten worse as I get older and I type more and the most writing I do is signing my name on my kids' agenda.  This is barely legible, especially since the hospital bed doesn't give a great surface to write on.  I seem to think faster than I write so there are numerous mistakes.

Going to try to sleep for a bit.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Some small justice, or, Depressingly, comment sections fail to surprise me. (TW Sexual Assault)

Source
I read a blog post this evening.  It was a post from Dennis Canning, the father of Rehteah Parsons.  You may remember her.  She killed herself two years after some guys she was drinking with raped her, took pictures and circulated them around her school and community.  One of the guys involved recently plead guilty to producing child pornography, as the who took the pictures of Rehtaeh and the catalyst to the images being disseminated

If you click on that link, just don't read the comments.

I read the comments.  I have the rage.  All of the rage, and the anger, and the bilious, spitting, horrible "fuck this world and the people in it" disgust.

Most of the comments were sympathetic.  But who in the bloody-minded hell goes onto the blog of a grieving parent, who sought justice for his daughter and was so utterly failed by the authorities involved as they basically shrugged off a gross violation, who now will share with Rehteah's mother the everlasting grief of losing a child, especially one who could have been saved if only someone, anyone, gave a flying shit... 

What vile creature tells this grieving father that he MUST forgive the boys whose callousness and cruelty cost his daughter her life?

Who tells this family that by seeking justice for these wrongs, they will be ruining a kids life? The kids involved were old enough to know what they did was wrong.  The fallout is theirs to deal with.

What kind of person quibbles over the semantics of saying that Rehtaeh's death was a result of her rape and subsequent humiliation, by pointing out that sometimes people who DON'T have something so horrendous happen to them may also commit suicide? 

If Rehtaeh had mental health issues, I'm sure they were not helped by two years of reoccurring humiliation and a lack of compassion from institutions - the police, her school - that were supposed to help, not turn a blind eye.

And who, I ask, thinks it appropriate to pull out the "Where were this girls PARENTS??" card, when I am sure that Glen Canning and Leah Parsons wonder on a daily basis what THEY could have done different.

I know I would. 

I would bet Vegas odds that the jackass anon who made THAT comment probably lied to their parents at some point in their life.  Probably drank before they were legal age as well.

There but for the grace of something, go you, anon.

I'm a parent of two girls on the cusp of adolescence.  If this was one of my children it would take everything in me not to want to track down these kids and tear them apart with my bare hands.

I cannot fathom what a bitter victory this guilty plea must seem.  Small consolation for a family that will never have their daughter back. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Age, Relatively Speaking

Age, like time, moves in a dimension of which we are only subtly aware. A shiver down your spine.

My grandmothers, at 62, were so much older than my mother is at 62.  62, to a child, seems a ridiculously high number of years to live.

They've lived 20 years and more since then.

My mother at 34, was so much older at 34 than I am now.  34 was impossibly grown up.  At 34, my parents, for all appearances to my childhood self, really had their shit together. At 34, I am still not sure I qualify as an adult.

My daughter, at 13, is younger than I was at 13.

Or so it would seem. It may be a generation of coddled youth, or it may be my parental desire to keep her a baby forever.

I only have vague recollections of my great-grandmothers (the two who lived to see my birth), as they died while I was still basically a baby.  My grandmothers have already lived to see at least one great grand-child to adulthood may still live long enough to see the others grow up, too.

To my children, their great-grandmothers will never be a faint, fuzzy outline in a memory formed by a toddler's mind.

(My grandfather's never lived to see their great-grandchildren.  Neither did their mothers.)

Time's passage reminds me of my age. That's about the only thing that does.

My kids think I am old.  I almost have them fooled into thinking I'm a grown up.

It amuses me how gradually the alternative rock stations become oldies stations.

They just kept playing the same songs, twenty years later.

Source

Friday, September 19, 2014

Parenting is hard work.

Parenting is hard work.

It does not get easier, it just gets different.  As the years pass, the physical becomes the emotional.

Raising infants is profoundly physical.  The carrying, the lifting, the walking, wearing grooves in the floor countless nights pacing back and forth, bouncing and rocking.  Always moving.  Pushing strollers, carrying car seats and playpens and diaper bags.

Dropping into bed at night with aching muscles.  Sleeping, but only half-sleeping.  Laying rigid so as not to not roll onto the baby during the night.  Waking up sore from the effort.

Raising toddlers holds many of the same physical challenges, but here the mental agility becomes more of a necessity.  Chasing little bodies with seemingly boundless energy, until that energy runs out.  Then carrying dead weight as they crash and sleep hard as only children can.  Upstairs, out of cars, desperate not to wake them too soon.

Parenting toddlers means being able to read every facial expression and grimace in anticipation of bathroom runs. It means mental calculus - How much sleep during the day will keep a toddler up half the night? How much liquid before bed will mean laundry in the morning?

Raising toddlers means anticipating every move. Being constantly ready to leap across a room to remove errant objects from hands and mouths, or to scoop up sturdy little bodies when they come too close to stairs or roads or fireplaces.

Raising toddlers means having the mental agility to foresee hazards before they present themselves and the physical agility to remove the hazards unforeseen.

Raising school-age children gives the body a break. Finally.  School-age children sleep through the night.

The mind gets a break.  Kind of.  Maybe.

...

That's a lie.  Raising school-age children means remembering schedules, helping with homework.  Be here at this time.  Calculating costs.

School means time to honing your analytical skills.  Analyzing the nuance behind the word 'fine', or the word 'nothing' in response to 'How was your day?' or 'What are you doing up there?'

Analyzing teachers, friends, other parents.  Questioning your own influence on your child, be it from a quantitative ("How much influence do I even have, when TV and film and popular music exists?") or  qualitative ("Is this the example I want to set?") standpoint.

Adolescence ups critical thinking and analytical skills even further.  It's a gold-medal worthy performance of mental gymnastics, walking the thin line between offering a guiding hand and dragging headlong into your own idea of what they should be shaping up to be.  The realization that their hopes, their dreams, their values may differ wildly from your own.

Being okay with being imperfect.  That's a big one.

Shoring up your foundations for those days when you are the worst human being alive, when you know nothing.  The days when you are the only thing standing between this human being whom you have loved with the very depths of your soul, whom you may have even made from your very flesh - the days when you are the only thing standing between this being and their happiness, and for this you are cursed, you are spat upon.

Gathering strength for the days when you question every decision, every indulgence, every harsh word, every "Yes," every "No" you've made as a parent.

Parenting is the exhaustion of constantly feeling like your heart will burst at any moment with immense love, and break with the knowledge that for all your desire to protect them and save them, that one day you'll let them go and have to hope that you've taught them what they need to survive.




Sunday, September 14, 2014

Things that bother me that I should probably get over, already. Part 1.

Back in 1993, I was in grade 8.  As part of our music curriculum we were to form groups and perform a lip sync to the song of our choice (pending approval by the music teacher whose name escapes me).

My friends and I approached this nameless entity, who may have vaguely resembled Rhys Darby if memory serves, with great excitement and proposed our intention to lip sync to "(I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles" by the Proclaimers, which to this day is probably the most innocuous song ever performed by twins with unintelligible Scottish accents.

We were denied permission to perform this tune, because the teacher in question felt the lyrics "When I  get drunk, I'm gonna be the one who gets drunk next to you" was wholly inappropriate for a group of thirteen year olds to perform.

We were utterly devastated.  Okay, maybe not devastated, but we were most certainly indignant.  Even  more so when we watched the other performances, which included a rendition of Nirvana's "Lithium"

Oh, yeah.  References to getting drunk are too inappropriate, but 13-year-olds singing the line "I'm so horny" is hunky-fucking-dory.

This, my friends, is why every so often, I am reminded of this incident and how it resulted in the grave injustice of having to lip-synch "Boot Scootin' Boogie" in front of my grade 8 class.  Which, I may add, also includes references to alcohol, thus making me question exactly what that nameless grade 8 music teacher had against a couple of homely Scots who apparently lacked a decent mode of transportation.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Food banks, nutrition, Kraft Dinner and the social safety net

I've been seeing a few posts going around about an Ottawa area food bank, the Parkdale Food Centre, and their recent policy change wherein they are refusing certain items of food they deem unhealthy... Namely that Canadian lunch staple, Kraft Dinner.

I have a few thoughts on this:

- KD is, yes, pretty much chemical glop.  Delicious, delicious chemical glop. Mmmm.

- KD has the capability of being mixed with meats and veggies to create a more filling and nutritious meal.  It is also easy to cook and easy to store, which is important for people who lack cooking facilities or safe places to store food.

- With the exception of around Christmas and Thanksgiving, food banks in Ontario are generally understocked and screaming for donations.

- Some people who donate food are assholes and will use food drives as an opportunity to unload their expired and or plain nasty stuff.

- Food banks do need to be able to offer more healthy options such as fresh fruits and vegetables, milk.  Money donations help them do this by offering grocery vouchers that can be redeemed at local grocery stores, or by allowing the food bank to stock these items daily.

I think a big point is being missed in a lot of the debate about this policy.  From my perspective, it is reasonable to encourage the donation of healthier options, but it is kind of arrogant and patronizing to refuse items (barring items that are expired or opened).  Healthy food is needed, but so is comfort food.  So is the occasional treat.  

But the thing nobody commenting on this story seems to be touching on is that food banks are supposed to be an emergency measure, a stop-gap.  If we have people relying on food banks to the point where it is becoming nutritionally detrimental, then that is a BIG problem and in most cases not the fault of the people having to rely on the food banks.   It's a symptom of a system that is not doing what it can to look out for its more vulnerable members.. the elderly, the disabled, families having to work at minimum wage, both single-parent and two-parent. 

If these people who rely on ODSP or CPP or a fair minimum wage do not have enough to even feed themselves on a regular basis, then that's a sign of a much bigger problem than a few boxes of Kraft Dinner.




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