Just An FYI-My Grandma Was Fierce Even Before Beyonce Made That A Thing

My grandmother is ninety-three and a half. She’s come full circle in life to the point where just as in childhood, halves matter, because halves represent a whole six months of life that you have remained on this earth. As a result of distance, I see my grandmother an average of every six months. With each passing visit, I witness the way that time becomes more precious at each end of life. In the same way that a newborn is no longer a newborn three months or even a month later, my grandmother changes with each of my trips home.

My Grandma has lived a long and wonderful life, and while a part of my heart breaks with each small loss of mobility or mental acuity, I know that no matter how little she can move or remember, my grandmother absolutely still loves me. And that’s enough. It’s enough for her to roll a ball to my son, even if she can’t recall his name; his giggles still bring her joy. We don’t need to go on walks to neighbours’ houses or drive to her favourite charities to drop off goods; talking about her endless good deeds and our past adventures suffice for now. I know that other members of my family struggle with the changes that age has brought, but I am at peace with it. Or at least I was until my father made a statement which sliced through my calm acceptance.

Throughout my life, my own mother, when speaking of her mother-in-law, my grandma, would often comment that she wanted to grow up to be Grandma, which is to say – loving, tolerant, fierce and determined. My parents divorced late in life, so my stepmother is a relatively new addition to our family. I had assumed that my stepmother would share the same admiration for my grandma as my mom. That was until I heard my father carefully explain who my grandmother was to his new partner over Christmas and I realized that my stepmother had no clue of what my grandmother was actually like.

I can’t reverse the effects of time, but I can preserve the woman I love with my words and stories. And I can share these memories, with my stepmother and my son and my newborn little nephew so that they might be as inspired by my Grandma as I am.

Above all, my grandmother is loving; if there was ever a person who deserved such a large family as ours –it’s her. Care is a part of her very being. When I was younger, my grandmother always had causes, endless causes; the women’s shelter, Meals on Wheels, her church, the youth shelter, the neighbours’ kids. My grandmother loved and wanted to help everyone in the world, and so she did, whether it was through volunteering her time or some food or money, my grandmother was there.

The world loved her back too. I remember when she was moving out of her house, listening to her neighbours talk about dropping their children off with her when they were in a pinch. Or the fact that her cleaning lady continued to clean my Grandma’s house for a decade after retiring because they had become such close friends. And all of the thank you cards from charities that lined her mantel.

More than tolerant, my grandmother was accepting. For most of my childhood, it felt like my grandmother was continually executing the wills of family members. She would stand back and watch all the family squabbles that follow a death and the division of property, then would step in and attempt to work her magic to divide things as fairly as she knew how. Good, bad or drama queen behavior, my grandmother accepted everyone.

The quality that helped my grandmother to end family disagreements was her fierceness, her habit of laying down the law in a way that made it clear that arguing with her wasn’t an option. I personally have never been on the receiving end of one of my Grandma’s quips or diatribes, but I’ve heard enough of them to have the fear instilled in me. To this day, even though many of my Grandmother’s qualities have faded and diminished with age, I do not cross Grandma, because I know with absolute certainty that there’s a stern gaze or cutting words hiding behind that nonagenarian façade.

As much as my grandmother loved people, she called it like it is. When my sister poo-pooed a suitor’s attempts at wooing her, despite it being my sister’s birthday, my grandmother looked straight at her and declared “You’re difficult”. My cousin once had the misfortune of being on the receiving end of a lecture, after he announced during a family Sunday dinner that he had gotten a job. My grandmother called him lazy and predicted that he would arrive late as always and wouldn’t keep the job. Even hearing the words secondhand from my father, in spite of the fact that they weren’t about me, I wanted to sink into the floor in shame.

I can only recall two times, that I upset my grandmother. The first was when I moved in with my boyfriend. The stony silence on the phone after I told her that my boyfriend and I shared both a bedroom and a bed still rings in my ears to this day The judgment was so profound that years later when my sister moved in with her boyfriend she jokingly thanked me for breaking that family ground with Grandma so my choice was the first and therefore the biggest disappointment.

The second time, well, to be honest, I should have known better. One of my cousins once starred in a fashion show.  I was enormously proud of my young cousin for chasing after her modeling dreams and figured that my grandmother was too. And no doubt Grandma was, however that didn’t mean that she wanted to look pictures of my little cousin Sophie jumping in a bathing suit or posing with half naked men every day. A month after I gifted my grandmother framed photos of my cousin’s modeling career, my Grandma handed the present to another cousin saying “Get rid of this”. From then on, I stuck with my tried and true Christmas and birthday gifts for her of donations to her favourite charities.

I want to hold onto the memory of my grandmother’s determination. Memories of her always contain a sense of motion, because she was always propelling one project or another forward in some way, whether it was a family dinner or harvesting flowers and vegetables from her garden, my grandmother had an agenda. I try to inject that momentum and drive into my own life. But I never feel as successful as her.

This is the woman I know, the grandmother who took care of me when I was sick, who would cut flowers to bring home to my mother, the one who I look up to. Age has filed down some of her sharper points but what I’m always struck by is the kind warmth that remains. If I live to be ninety-three and a half, I hope I am as happy to see everyone and content as my grandmother is. It’s heartening that even in the decline that comes with extreme old age, my Grandma remains someone I aspire to. But as charming and warm as she is today, I still want to remember and share her sharp-as-a-tack self.

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New Year, Fatter You! A Guide To Making This Year Your Biggest Ever

Times they are a changing. Landlines are going the way of the leather-backed sea turtle, running home at lunch to check on your home is a thing of the past thanks to the Nest, not that one would need to as working from home is becoming more popular than ever. It’s time to embrace our sedentary, potato chip filled future. As a society, it’s time to for viewpoints on health, on body shape and size to catch up with the rest of the world so everyone can commit to a bigger, better future.

Steps to a New You

  1. Throw away the gym membership

Did you even use yours anyway? I didn’t. First of all that place is waaaaay too close to my home. That niggling, guilty feeling that I got each time I drove there was further exacerbated by the twenty minutes I spent circling the lot trying to find a close parking space. Let’s all find a better use for our time and guilt.

  1. Treat chocolate as a food group

This delicious treat has been maligned. Because let’s face facts- it’s not a treat, it’s a food group. Aim for five to ten servings a day. If that sounds excessive, ease your way into the change by melting it onto your broccoli. Chocolate is like cheese, it improves every dish.

  1. Reconsider lard

If chocolate has been demonized, don’t even get me started on this yummy cooking additive. Not just for frying bacon, add it to salads, jello- anything that could use that extra kick of taste.

  1. Buy a bungalow

On the topic of exercise, stairs provide the average person an unnecessary fourteen minutes of cardio a day! Nix this roadblock to your new life change by purchasing a bungalow. Or better yet downsize to a studio condo. Nothing will prevent movement like a lack of space, and it will enable you to spend your days in bed.

  1. Travel less

Something about the prospect of sightseeing incites even the most committed of souls to walk about and take in new experiences. These types of activities will greatly impede your desired lifestyle. Cancel all plans and get a Netflix account – why go outside when the whole world is available within reach of a bowl of your favourite your broccoli-chocolate-cheese-chips?

  1. Become a shut-in

Another barrier to your new big lifestyle are friends, often in these sorts of relationships, people will do things such as shopping, otherwise known as cardio. You are building a new you; cut these toxic ties and reacquaint yourself with Ross Gellar and Chandler Bing, also coincidentally available on Netflix.

Ultimately, change is hard and takes time; don’t beat yourself up after a day of only one serving of chocolate followed by a walk with a pal. After all, in every new diet or lifestyle, there is always room for cheat days.

 

Bathing In Shame Which Is Surprisingly Similar To Bathing In Lemon Juice, Only Just Add An Invisible Force That Keeps Submerging Your Face

Suffice to say, it’s an experience that stings the eyes and pretty much everywhere else.

Let’s get down to how I took a shame bath. Flashback to Saturday night, after having lived here for six months, I have made a friend. Liv came to dinner. So I was cooking, zucchini, and porkchops and because I’m crazy and have no respect for tastebuds and complimentary flavours, there was a pot of pumpkin curry going too.

Of course Mini-Tex was having none of this, so he was on my back while I stirred, and cooked and talked with Liv. That’s when it happened; the porkchops burned. And went up like a house on fire, at which point our house started to act like it was on fire. High pitched beeping and shrill shrieks reverberated off of every surface. It seemed like the house itself was screaming. Wanting to protect my two year old son’s ears, I made a beeline for the door. And began swinging it open and closed to disperse some of the smoke. Janie covered her ears “It is so loud!” Unable to understand English over the din, she joined me outside, while Liv tried to figure out how to disable the smoke alarm.

In our brief tenure at this house, this happened once before so I knew that the smoke alarm was somehow tied to my landlord’s phone. I immediately sent her a frantic series of texts along the lines of “nothing is on fire, how do I disable the system without hacking into the wall with an axe?” Unbeknownst to me, my landlord’s phone was in her car, so she didn’t reply.

After a couple of minutes Liv managed to disable the smoke alarm (all the while stirring the remaining dishes so they didn’t burn and opening windows) and we all sat down to dinner, content to laugh about the hilarity of the situation, feeling that it was in the past. This is of course when the firetruck pulled up in front of our house with lights ablazing and a firefighter clothed entirely in his heavy firefighting getup, stepped down from the fire engine.

Embarrassment flooded my being and I wanted to sink into the ground. But before digging my way to China to escape my shame, I had to apologize to the poor men whose Saturday night I had ruined. Because let’s keep in mind that this is a small town. The likelihood that they were on call and that my poor cooking had pulled them away from THEIR family dinners was exceptionally high.

Despite the -25 temperature, I ran outside without a coat. It didn’t matter, the bubbling cauldron of humiliation that was my midsection at that moment kept me warm. “I’m sorry!” I cried “I’m so sorry! There’s no fire! You can go home, I interrupted your dinners for nothing.”

The fireman good naturedly explained that he still had to come in to fill out paperwork and that possibly I should get the security code from my landlord for the next time I was cooking the other white meat.

This was when my shame morphed from a small roiling portion of my midsection to a full on lemon juice like bath. Because the fireman walked into my house and upon hearing that Mini-Tex was excited by the whole situation, the firefighter, still with his fifty plus pounds of gear on, began to play peekaboo with my son.

It was at that moment that I melted and became a puddle of mortified goo, as this man, who was missing his dinner because of my mistake, made himself the hightlight of my son’s month.

After a couple more short questions and giving the fireman the proper spelling of my name, he and his firetruck left, with the lights still blazing. Mini-Tex spent the rest of the night talking about the firetruck that was in our front yard. And later, when he woke up that night and the next morning, his first words were “firetruck”.

That whole story would be awful enough, but the thing is, it’s a small town, so the story won’t end there. It will be relived when I see that kind man in the grocery store. He’ll give Mini-Tex an extra specal wave at the parade next week when he recognizes him. And because God loves a good laugh, most likely I’ll meet that kind firefighter at my work. And thanks to my impossible to spell and unique last name, he’ll remember me and likely ask whether I’m planning porkchops for dinner. And I’ll bathe in shame all over again.

But in the grand scheme of things, it’s a good shame bath to have. Splashing metaphorical lemon juice in ones eyes because you’re so mortfied that someone was so kind when you were so stupid-it’s a good problem to have. That’s small town life for you though.

This post is dedicated to Liv, who insisted that I take a brief shame shower and retell the story at work.

Names have been changed to protect the identities of those who didn’t allow the curry to burn.

 

This Pig is My Father, Which Is Less Shocking Than The Part In Star Wars When Luke Loses His Hand Which Was SUPER Shocking To My 12 Year Old Self

When I was thirteen and Diana was eleven, our family was supposed to go on a trip to Europe. Two days before we were supposed to leave, my mother was playing basketball with my sister in the driveway. Despite having spent her life up until that point being a vaguely doughy nerd whose greatest athletic achievement was doing a thirty minute exercise video once a week , my mother decided that she was going to channel Michael Jordan and leaped to make a jump shot. She missed of course. And she also landed funny, snapping her left Achilles tendon in two.

My mother spent the next six weeks in a hip to toe cast while Diana, my father and me traipsed about Europe. It was the first time in our lives that our Dad had been responsible for us for any significant length of time.

While my Dad has a healthy respect for rules, ultimately his favourite go-to was “What did you mother say?” because when push came to toy begging, extra cookie wanting, may I stay up until midnight shove, my mother was the bad cop, the last stop, the enforcer of all the household regulations.

There’s nothing quite like a teen and a tween being given carte blanche to demand their wildest fantasies in a foreign country. My Dad’s greatest desire is for his family to be happy, so if that means that his children eat only apricots from the local produce stand for every meal three days straight, well bring on the diarrhea, because gosh darn it his girls are happy.

And we were. The only time I heard “No” that trip was when I told a snooty Parisian waiter that I wanted Nutella pizza for dinner and the man replied “Absolutely not. That is a dessert, you must choose something else.”

For two weeks my sister and I ate what we wanted. We ran wild through French cities. We swung our umbrellas and danced with them open on the crowded British tube. On the airplane we sang the same song over and over for forty minutes straight, no doubt annoying the hell out of every other passenger around us save for my father who smiled and recorded the event for posterity sake.

And then we visited Harrods. Renowned for being posh and having everything, crossing the threshold into the store’s hallowed entranceway; my father recounted the story of a man walking into Harrod’s asking to buy an elephant. The salesman, without missing a beat, replied coolly, “African or white Sir?”

My Dad wanted us to have a souvenir from this iconic store. We wandered around, looking at all the expensive wares. Recognizing how expensive the merchandise was, my sister and I ceased our umbrella swinging dance. Had I asked for a pair of 300 dollar bejeweled shoes, my father would have bought them- so long as I assured him that I would be endlessly happy with them. As it was, my sister and I were in essence, still children, which is how my father got away with not dropping a fortune that day. My sister chose a battery powered gerbil that you could place in a plastic ball that would then roll all around the room. I chose and obnoxiously loud toy pig which walked and oinked.

That afternoon we drove from London to Brighton. My sister and I were unimpressed with Brighton- we found it dirty. To this day, I remember my description of the hotel’s décor: 70’s psychedelic vomit. Despite my rudeness, my Dad laughed because we all found the brown carpet and wall paper dated.

There was one bright spot to the working class town- the pier with carnival games and rides which transported one back to the turn of the century as you walked along the aged boards with the bright, large light bulbs strung above the walkways. Diana and I begged to go on the rides. Ever the people pleaser, my Dad purchased a string of tickets. We elected to go into the scariest ride, an idea that wouldn’t have flown had my mother been there- she was absolutely opposed to any suggestion of violence. The gory exterior alone inspired fear in my young teenage heart.

The three of us wouldn’t fit in one cart so Diana, always the braver of the two of us, gallantly offered to ride alone. The doors to the ride opened and in front of us was a torture scene. This was absolutely not a children’s ride. “Close your eyes!” my sister shrieked at me, knowing my tendency to have nightmares. My hands flew up to my face, shielding my mind and my eyes from the terror all around.

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I kid you not, it was like being a horrified extra in the “Saw” movies. (Photo Credit : dreadcentral.com)

My Dad’s arm pulled me close, I felt badly for Diana who was all alone while I cowered against Dad. At one point I worked up some courage and peaked through my fingers only to see a person covered in blood and knives flashing above them. I screamed and squeezed my eyes shut again.

Despite having only seen approximately three seconds of the ride, my legs wobbled as we exited the ride car. Diana, my Dad and I explored the pier a little longer, and then headed back to the hotel. In all of the excitement of the day, Diana and I had forgotten about our new toys.

My eyes burned with the lateness of the hour but my face smiled with delight as we watched Diana’s gerbil roam around the brown carpet and wedge itself briefly under the bed. My pig’s loud “oinks” cut through the silence of the hotel night. I remember the joy of that moment, watching these toys with my Dad and sister after a day of “Yes”.20171007_120058

To me, this pig is my father; it represents all of the times he agreed just for the sake of my and my sister’s happiness.

Are You Stranger Than An Unwashed Hippie? It’s like the game “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader” but for the internet.

I’m approaching my fifth blogiversary. With that milestone has come the realization that, I don’t really need the stats. That is not to say I don’t need readers- I do! I really do! And I thank you all for being here. But I’m not really attached to numbers or your origins although it is cool when people from Uruguay read my work because I don’t know anything about Uruguay.

Same thing goes for the search terms becausse for the most part, I notice that people end up reading “My 60,000 Dollar Cat Scratch” because they were searching “60,000 dollar kitchen”. I’m not entirely sure how the Google machine works, but to all of you who were mistakenly led here under the guise of discussions of jewel encrusted countertops- my apologies, you’ve come to the wrong place.

However, this past week a somewhat surprising search term caught my eye.

“unwashed pussy”

Now I’m not 100% certain on this one but I’m fairly sure that whoever this is wasn’t looking for dirty cats. Sir, you’re barking up the wrong internet tree. Not only is this not that kind of site- I actually once spent hours washing a dream cat in the post entitled “I Really Need A New Hobby Aside From Cleaning Dead Animals For Hours On A Saturday Night“. I suggest you try again with the Google machine.

With that somewhat alarming and unusual intro, I thought we’d look at some of the terms people have searched to find their way here. It will be a reflection of what this blog is and isn’t about. I’m not sure whether it will make me question myself or the random bottom dwellers of the internet. Kind of like when my travel blogger friend wrote about avoiding prostitution in Thailand and her blog saw a huge spike in visits because of all the people using her post to try and find a prostitute in Thailand.

“being an extra in a porno”

This person got exactly what they were searching for. I totally had an unplanned cameo in an impromptu porno in the woods three years ago. I’d say this particular batch of weirdness is my fault but for serious, it was an evening hike. Ok, not really, I was drinking in the woods but the part where I was reading comic books was totally innocent.

In case you’d like to read more about my brush with greatness? Awkwardness? The wilderness? The link is here.

 

“buttbabies.com”

Once again, this weird search term – totally on me. I’ve written about buttbabies. The .com part is a bit off putting though. Was this reader looking for pictures of butt babies? Or information about butt babies?

You can read about my take on butt babies here.

 

The search term “baby cage” gets my site a surprising amount of traffic. This makes me question whether there other other former baby cage residents like myself who are feeling nostalgic about their caged days are searching this or whether it’s people who genuinely want to cage babies like some sort of chicken farm kind of deal.

If you would like to read about my fabulous baby cage memories click here.

“big cotton granny panties”

At one point in time, about 30% of my blogs content was vaguely underpants related. I’m not sure how this happened, it certainly wasn’t intentional. It’s been a couple of years since that point so I’d estimate only about 10% of my blog’s content is about underwear. So again- this weird search term landing people at my blog is my fault. There search term “grandma bought me underoos” would also fall under this category.

“Charlize Theron feet”

Again a bizarre search term, but once again, also my fault that the Google machine led said person here. I frequently ask my cousin to Photoshop my feet so they look more like Charlize Theron’s.

 

Readers, I’m going to level with you here; I started this post with the hopes of showing how strange and perverted some people who use the Google are and instead am realizing that I’m actually the weirdo/posssible pervert who writes about underpants and unintentionally walks into live action adult films while wishing that my tootsies looked more like Charlize Theron’s.

 

We’re going to keep going with this experiment because I’m hoping that it will prove that the internet is full of people stranger than myself. I think at this point everyone needs to cross their fingers for me.

“chubby milfs bruised”

Ok, let’s all breathe a collective sigh of relief. I’m definitely not the strangest person in the internet house.

“jenny grumbles”

Haven’t written about that one. Best of luck on your search though. It would seem things are looking up for me on this experiment.

“ever wanted to freeze to death? come to our table”

Jackpot! Now that is an odd search term

“naked men being vaccinated”

And we’re back to square one. I totally witnessed something exactly like this and wrote about it in “Taking Shots With Half Naked Men In Public”– this guy just started stripping in the middle of a flu vaccine clinic. Which is why we should all ignore Jenny McCarthy and vaccinate our children, because where else are you going to get a free show? But back to the whole search term business- this weirdness once again is on me.

Ok, I think we can accept that the Google machine works and that this experiement has failed horribly, it would seem that I am the strangest person on the interweb. The search terms “awkward beard”, “power ranger valentine heart” and “vintage granny panties” all rightfully led readers here. It would seem that I am more random and in general underpants obsessed than the internet.

So dear readers, I apologize, the internet is 40% smut. Initially when I began this search term experiment, I thought it would show that my blog was a part of the classier 60% but it would seem it is not.

If you would like proof that 10% of my website is devoted to writing about underpants here  are a selection of posts to prove it.

 

Vintage Underpants the Great Untapped Resource

The Recipe For An Awesome Summer: Me and Grandpa’s Underpants

Ridiculous Debates and Secondhand Underpants

Atomic Wedgies and Packing Fails

Clothing Is Overrated Especially In Church

 

 

 

Oprah Says- Bedtime Stories For Trendy Soccer Moms and Upper Middle Class Yuppies Seeking Enlightenment

Although my son’s favourite book is currently “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, occasionally he’ll pick up some of my or husband’s reading material. While bike repair manuals hold no interest for him, the latest Oprah magazine was a winner. I thought I’d share some of the story with you.

Oprah Says

Oprah says ride on a dog sled in ten thousand dollar ball gowns- they help you steer.

Oprah says listen to her podcast because she has a direct line to God. Or money.

Oprah says live in a Volkswagen van to be true to yourself.

Oprah says shoveling snow is good for you. Even though she’s never done it.

Oprah says to wear hats to the beach. But not sun protective ones, santa hats because they’re Pintrest worthy and make good “Look at how fabulous our family’s life is” Christmas cards.

Oprah says hugging dogs in two hundred dollar faux fur hats increases your life span.

Oprah says that coffee tastes best when it’s consumed from a cup that looks like it was purchased at a garage sale for 25 cents but actually costs 50 times that.

Oprah says to wear flannel, plaid pyjamas so you can look like a sleepy lumberjack.

Oprah says that scarves which resemble stuffed, coloured garbage bags are stylish. We have to believe her, she’s Oprah.

Oprah says that wearing pyjamas as clothes is acceptable now. We need to thank Oprah. Or college students, one of the two.

Oprah says to wash in goat cheese so you’ll look like Taylor Swift.

Oprah says to ignore all of her demands to buy gifts and instead make presents for loved ones. Out of thoughts. Oprah believes in you. You can do this.

Oprah says to eat strawberries. But only in cake form.

Oprah says to hug dogs again. We all should show dogs more love.

The End

 

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About Your Lover

If you’re North American, which the vast majority of my readers are, you know to whom I’m referring. Or rather, I should say to what. Let’s talk about your and all of North America’s torrid affair with the car.

Like many a star crossed lover, all of us are blind to our dear one’s faults. Specifically, your car’s habit of draining your bank account. Now before you go on about the amazing mileage your hybrid/Civic/motor home gets, let me be clear- fuel is just one piece to that expensive gold plated puzzle.

Jeff Yeager, a dyed in the wool cheapskate and an avid cyclist estimates that every kilometer driven costs a person between fifty cents to a dollar over the life of their car. The average person drives around 20,000 kilometers a year, which by Jeff’s calculations means that you are spending at least ten grand on your beloved every year. Makes your spouse’s request for that fancy pants new television seem reasonable doesn’t it?

Now before you throw up your arms and recommend Mr. Yeager move to the backwoods with all the other crazies, hear me out. While I’ve gone car free, ultimately I found the experience too limiting once my son came on the scene, so I purchased a van, so I’m just as curious if Jeff Yeager is correct as his calculation is based on the notion that people buy a new car every six years. Let’s walk through the math together shall we?

I purchased the van for $35, 880. My previous truck I drove into the ground. My GMC Jimmy was old enough to vote when I finally retired it at my mechanic’s behest. The odometer read over 400,000 kilometers. I had planned to take my truck out for its first legal drink at 19 years of age, it didn’t make it quite that long but it was close. For the purposes of this calculation, we’ll assume that most people aren’t aiming for their Ford to pony up to the barkeep for a state sanctioned brewski. According to the Fiscal Times, the average person keeps a car for 11.5 years. To me, this seems short so we’ll choose lucky number 13.

My driving record is the squeakiest of squeaky clean records, partially because I drive slowly but mostly because I don’t actually drive, making it difficult to get into accidents. Thus my insurance is relatively low, coming in at around $1,350 a year. Multiply that by 13 years (17,550) and already between the purchase price of the vehicle and insurance, we’re at a total of 53,430- I haven’t even driven the darn thing yet!

But before inserting the key in the ignition, don’t forget, the government needs in on some of that fiscal action so add in 50 each year for plate and or license renewal. Total 54,080.

Ok, time to drive this bad boy. Tragically cars don’t run on unicorn farts and cotton candy, so we’ll need to purchase gasoline. Let’s conservatively say you fill up twice a month. That mileage you mentioned before really adds up huh? With an extra fill up a couple times a year for those long holiday car trips. So fifty-five dollars twice a month, multiplied by twelve months with a couple fill ups throw in on top, multiplied by sixteen years that’s … that’s…. $21, 120. Sweet Jesus! And I thought the car was expensive! Clearly gasoline’s costs aren’t limited to the environment.

All of that is with my nice math and conservative estimates. Because if 20,000 kilometers a year is actually divided by your car’s mileage; let’s be generous and say that your vehicle gets 650 kilometers to the tank. (At the end of its life, my truck got a sad 300.) The average yearly mileage, divided by 650 then further divided by twelve, the tanks of gas per month actually equals 2.564, which doesn’t seem like that much more than twice a month but comes out to $27,076; a difference of $5,956! I could go on a cruise for that kind of money!

Let’s all pretend we’re going to take the bus to work once a week and make the kids walk to school so we can choose the first number for fuel. What’s our total now? $75,200? Geez Louise, that’s a sizeable down payment on a house.

Repairs. I’m assuming all of you don’t like to incur the wrath of your mechanic, so you probably change your oil a couple of times a year. Since we were chintzes with fueling up, I’ll have us change our oil 3.5 times a year (don’t tell my husband or my mechanic). So if we patronize one of those quickie oil places that brings us to $77,475. Phew, that wasn’t too bad. Bring on the broken alternators.

According to the Globe and Mail, after a car is seven years old, a person can bank on spending $1,100 on repairs annually. Before then, it’s lower, but not much. This leaves our final total at $ 84,400. Yeesh.

Taking that total and dividing it by 260,000 which is the projected distance after 13 years, each kilometer costs 32 cents per kilometer driven. So while not quite the fifty cents to a dollar per kilometer cost proposed by my favourite cheapskate, car ownership is by no means cheap, for you or the environment.

$84,000 over the course of your car’s life or 0.32 cents per kilometer and those are with conservative estimates. How are you feeling about your demanding and costly lover now? Imagine how your life would look if instead of working to pay for your car, you invested that time in your kids. How would you feel physically if you walked most places? What type of model would you be within your community if you biked everywhere?

A reality of living in a rural area is that car ownership isn’t optional. Car use however, is. The odometers on mine and my husband’s bikes read 1300 and 600 kilometers respectively. According to our calculations above that translates to just over $600 dollars in savings.  I didn’t even mention the effect on my husband’s pant size – it’s shrinking. Also that doesn’t account for the carbon emissions saved. This is what we’ve accomplished in six months; imagine the impact and the total after a couple of years. Just some food for thought.

Random Tiny Strangers’ Sharts And Other Revolting Revelations In My Life

Mini-Tex is approaching the two year mark. Which means potty training. Only not actually because we’re spending the next six months bouncing around the country and the one thing that’s crazier than trying to potty train a small person is trying to do it on the run. At some point, likely during a summer, ideally before he’s twelve, we will attempt to potty train Mini-Tex. At this juncture however, we are going to be content just having a potty.

Or at least we would have been if we had a potty. As it was, this morning we didn’t. This isn’t a problem for most people because they

A) Live in a place where they need more than just their fingers and toes to count their neighours.

B) Live in a place where the only store isn’t the “Super Val e Mart”

C) They’re not insistent on buying all children’s goods second hand.

As it is, I live in a place that makes Dog River from Corner Gas look big. We are F  A   R from everything. We are two hours away from a large pharmacy let alone a children’s store, and we are four hours away from a major centre where second hand children’s stores are found.

As luck would have it, Tex was traveling on an overnight jaunt to the big smoke for work. On his last trip, he secured not one, not two but, three pairs of dinosaur pyjamas. An article of clothing our son had been begging for for the past six months or so. Tragically, I forgot to ask my husband to pick up a potty.

Thus today, when Tex was all set to travel back home and just sent a cursory “So do we need anything from the city?” text to me, expecting to hear crickets in return, I jumped on my phone. “Yes” I hastily replied “A potty”.

Ironically, one of my favourite character traits in Tex is his desire for everything to be spotless. While I am perfectly happy to wallow in my own personal gime, I would prefer that my living quarters are relatively clean. Tex cleans items and places that it would never occur to me to clean- ever. For example, the cup holder in the car. To me, it’s a spot that just becomes progressively stickier over the course of your car’s life. My view of a microwave is that it’s something you use and slop stuff on, until you move houses at which point, you receive a shiny new microwave to splatter with spaghetti sauce. And as for under the couch? Well I’m small, so not only is there no need to move said heavy couch, but it’s also verging on impossible, so the dust bunnies can procreate, colonize and form their own society there as far as I’m concerned.

Tex, on the other hand is a completely different story. When we first met, he was horrified by the shortness of my showers. At one point, he asked whether he could wash me, and it wasn’t in a sexy way (for the record I said “No”- Tex scrubs his skin like he’s Cinderella and removing every iota of dirt is his only shot at attending the ball). My pans, which were thoroughly abused and not well scrubbed in their previous existence with just me, have a new lease on life. And our car receives a twice yearly detailing that would probably cost hundreds if done professionally.

This was the man I sent to choose a second hand potty.

Now I should state, as grimy as  I am, I have limits. And I also keep the well being and personal tastes of other’s in mind. Hence, when I donate an item to Goodwill or what not, I will wash it thoroughly first. And if I don’t feel I’m up to the task of washing it, I’ll kindly ask Tex. Meaning that, if I were to donate a potty, it would be clean. That said, upon buying a used children’s potty, I would immediately scrub it (or let’s be honest ask Tex to scrub it) regardless of the state it was in.

Anyways so away Tex goes to the second hand children’s store. “What kind of potty?” he asks me. “A boy potty” I type back, hoping for something with either cars, fire engines or dinosaurs on it, Mini-Tex’s three interests at the moment. Tex shoots me a photo back “It’s Elmo, all the other ones are for bigger kids to sit on the toilet.” “Awesome” I reply.

I thought that was the end of it. But oh no, Tex arrives home, and cleans the living daylights out of the Elmo potty with bleach until it sparkles even brighter than when it came off the factory conveyor belt. Then Tex, who loves putting batteries into items almost as much as he loves cleaning, demonstrates the piece de resistance. With the juice from two double As, the tiny potty makes flushing sounds.

“You did so great” I said, hugging my husband tight, “I’m sure this was the best one there.” “Well” confesses Tex “there were other boy ones but they had little kid sharts all down the sides.” He didn’t need to say anymore, I tried to suppress a grin picturing my husband eyeballing random tiny stranger sharts on Lightning McQueen potties.

I have a really nice husband. In the grand scheme of gross, awkward shopping trips, I think this one even tops the time that my Dad had to pick up a year’s supply of birth control for my sister. After calling all around the city, he found a store with a large enough supply. Upon entering, the cashier yelled out “Hey it’s the Yasmin guy!” Embarrassing, but not quite as bad as having to pick between plastic seats coated in the sharts of toddlers.

 

This post is dedicated to my mother, who told me not to put up something nice about her even though it’s her sixtieth birthday today. Mom likes to joke that my husband has OCD. Only she doesn’t think that it’s a joke, to which I respond “Our cereal isn’t alphabetized”. That’s totally a criterion from the DSM IV, I am totally up on all things psychology. Also I don’t think people with OCD marry dirt squirrels like me and certainly not dirt squirrels with sweaty runner moms. Happy Birthday Mom, your nice post is forth coming.

 

Tips on Surviving Existential Barfights

I’ve written through a lot. I’ve written while moving across the country. I’ve while caring for a newborn full time. Heck I’ve even written while going to school full time, working part time and traveling on the side. But this, this new full time working mom gig? It’s an ass kicker.

Every.

Single.

Day.

And I totally have endless respect for all the moms out there who do this day in day out. However three months in, I can tell you conclusively, without a doubt that this is not for me.

Even if I were to get past the whole “missing my baby like a phantom limb” syndrome aspect. I would still hate it. For one reason; I like being a bee.

That last sentence makes zero sense. Which is fine, because I personally make zero sense. To the point that it’s become a running joke among those who live with me. But also because I am actually too mentally exhausted to make sense. Which would also be fine, however I’m too mentally pooped to be funny as well.

That is not fine. Funny is a part of who I am. One of my favourite characters ever in literature is this lesbian, hermit poet who lives in a two room shack on an island without indoor heating or plumbing. If she was a real person, I’d want to be her friend. She wouldn’t want to be mine, but that’s fine, that’s just Kit. Anyways, in the book “Spiral Garden”, Kit says “A lot of writing poems is me sitting on my porch under a blanket drinking instant coffee and plotting how to steal [her next door neighbour] Gerald’s gnomes.”

That line captures my creative process perfectly. Most of my best work comes from me just sitting, thinking and enjoying my existence. Also stirring up trouble but not the gnome stealing kind- my neighbours only have ornamental owls. As a working mom, any extra time you have goes towards quality time with your child. It helps assuage both the phantom limb syndrome and the crippling guilt that you are in fact missing out on every important moment of their childhood.

So there goes my funny. But even worse, being a working mom means that the time that you aren’t spending at work being a responsible bill paying adult, you are at home, again being a responsible child care providing, dinner making adult. There is very little to no time left for; breaking and entering into nunneries, robbing drug dealers, or running into every social or organized engagement a hot, sweaty, baby wearing mess– essentially my bread and butter in terms of stories.

So I’ve decided to claw all of that back. Because this is a society that quite literally doesn’t respect or value bees, or their way of life. There’s an erronous perception that bees are perpetually busy, in motion, always foraging, building, breeding, and raising other bees. But in fact, bees spend a lot of their life quietly resting. And live longer, healthier lives because of it.

So in January, I’m leaving my job, and returning home to be my son’s mom again. It’s the first in my set of steps to regain a sense of balance in a world that so desires busyness. The second step, and this will undoubtedly generate hatemail and backlash from my family, is chucking my smartphone. I’ll still have a cell phone, but not one that can tell me the weather or the ingredients to butter chicken. I’m going to call the two years with my Samsung a failed experiment in a test of human will power. I’ve long felt that the internet robs us of our solitude. I’ve decided to take mine back forcefully.

So I guess the best way to avoid existential barfights where life beats you up badly and steals all your free time, is to avoid them. Sorry, I probably should have lead with that rather than forcing you to peruse 700 ish self indulgent words. The Great Unwashed and her funny shall return in 2018. Until then I invite you to enjoy such hits as “My bitter complaints against car makers” and “Thoughts About Instant Soup? Could They Actually Be As Boring As Imagined? SPOILER! They are!”

This post is dedicated to Tristina from CracTPot; your words “I’ve never regretted writing” both inspire and incite me to continue writing.

 

 

This Truly Isn’t Actually A Post. Please Stop Reading Here. It’s An Email. Who Puts Emails On Their Blog? The Same Jerks Whose Titles Are Five Sentences Long Probably. Also, Who Wants To Play “Stuffed Confetti Duck Hunt” With Me?

Dear Sula,

Ugh, just when I think I understand how the internet works- it turns out that I know nothing. Technology is unfair. Thank you for the lesson on Blind Carbon Copy. I’m now questioning everything that I thought I knew about email. I should probably just throw in the towel and get myself a carrier pigeon.

So I was thinking about life, our friendship and Sly Nyguyen. Because as “I Heart Huckbees” taught us, everything is a blanket. And even big movie stars sometimes screw up and act in seriously bizarre movies with no plot.

Anyways, so life. I’m reading David Sedaris’ biography and I’ve come to a number of conclusions the most important.

  1. My life is boring; I have no drug addictions, dependences and am a part of no minority groups. My strife is not strife. In fact, my life is so easy that it doesn’t even fall under first world problems.

(Aside- there is a convention of RVs going on outside my window. I wasn’t invited. Probably because I’m dull and putting people to sleep at the wheel would result in lots of casualties when giant RVs are involved.)

The worst thing that happened to me this week was I couldn’t find a matching sock because it was still in the hamper- so not strife. No one wants to read the book “The Sock that Wasn’t Missing”.
(Another aside, there are men preparing for a football game outside my front window. Possibly this is why there are collection of RVs? They’ve been out there all day and will be out there all night it looks like, presumably watching said football game that they are preparing for.

I cannot even fathom a sport that I would love so much that I’d spend all day in the sun marching up and down a field for it. Let’s invent a sport that you and I both can love. The sport would have to be outdoorsy and a little dangerous to suit you but at the same time whimsical and ridiculous, so I’d like it too.

Oh I know! Stuffed confetti duck hunt! It will be like skeet shooting but instead of  ceramic plates, which can’t be reused and are therefore not environmentally friendly, we’ll use plush ducks (fake obviously so as not to attract the ire of the silly PETA people and made from secondhand dog toys so as to meet my hippie ideals) filled with colourful seeds. So a person throws the ducks in the air, and then they explode wildflower seeds everywhere so gardens bloom afterwards. We’ll call it Quack Boom Rainbow. Or Quack Quack Boom? Quack Quack Colour?

This is what my life has come to. No longer am I out stealing stolen goods from under privileged youth, instead, my life is so perfect and dull that I’m reduced to brainstorming names for imaginary games that I invented.

Ooooh. What if instead of ducks, we shot plush raccoons? Because some people like ducks whereas raccoons, well they’re just the jerks who tip over your garbage cans and randomly move into your garage like unwelcome anarchists staging a protest about string cheese. And then you can’t get rid of them ever. I would love to shoot a polyester, confetti-filled raccoon. )

I can’t even remember what my point was. Also I’m pretty sure that the above paragraphs are an abuse of parenthesis.

Wait, I remember now- my life is dull, and I don’t have goals. David Sedaris had goals. Important goals, like staying sober and entering pieces into art shows or writing plays.

I don’t really have anything like that. I mean a couple of years ago, when my life was in ruins, I was all “These are my goals- I am getting my act together!” And I did. But I have a house, and a husband, and a son, and a job now. If I was to make a life list it would read something like this.

  1. Lose five pounds.
  2. Spend time with people who are not my husband.

Actually scratch that second one, it would read “Hang out with people who don’t live with you.” Because our au pair meets the criteria of the second goal and I’ve become super lazy, to the point that I don’t hang out with people who aren’t in my kitchen and my first goal could be accomplished with ease if I stopped treating chocolate cake like a food group. Did I mention how lazy I’ve become?

So from this line of thinking came my realization that we’ve entered the tweaking part of our lives. Not the “I’m hopped up on meth and tweaking” part but more the fine tuning portion of our lives. Ideally, we’re not just jumping up and randomly moving across the country for any old reason. Instead, changes, important changes, like reducing one’s daily intake of Black Forest cake are now the goals we achieve over time.

That was a really roundabout way of saying I now recognize that I haven’t been putting enough effort into being a friend to people that aren’t sitting on the couch next to me.

I was recalling when I first moved across the country and we had our weekly  girl chats. We’d sit there for an hour or so and it was OUR TIME. And it was awesome. However we’re about two years, a baby and an international border away from that point. Hence, an hour may not be an option. But what about fifteen minutes? Like fifteen dedicated minutes where I don’t have a baby saying “nursing, nursing” over and over, and you don’t have a hunky boyfriend asking you where to put the werewolf spleen for canning (or whatever beast is in season that month).

Because I don’t want to be lumped in with your former best friend Sly Nyguyen and not only because I’m certain I can’t fit into her tiny, pole-dancing shorts as a result of my recent obsession with a chocolate pudding cake. But mostly because you’re my friend and I value your words and the time we spend together, in whatever form it takes; in person, on the phone,  over Skype etc.

That’s my idea.

Also this may become a post. Because I had two hours of writing time set aside today and I used it talking to Gordy, vacuuming the obscure parts of the house that are difficult to cover with a baby on my back and writing this email. Technically I could stay up late and pen a post but did I mention how lazy I’ve become?

Miss you.

Love you,

Don’t lump me with those pole dancing ladies, it will be too awkward what with the fact that I stopped fitting into my sports bras over well two years ago.

Unwashed