Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mommy in Manoa

So .... did I mention I'm in Hawaii? Right now, as I set at the fake-wood veneer 60s-era particle-board desk in the double dorm room I'm occupying to myself, I look out the window and see palm trees, sudden mountains, and, off to my left, a clutch of high-rises oriented toward the beach.


As the dorm room description might have tipped you, I'm here for work, a conference at which I'm presenting a paper on Thursday, and desperately scribbling notes of other people's thoughts between now and then. Of course, there will be beach, like today, the day alloted to wrap my head around the time change (6 hours time difference from my home) before the conference gets underway tomorrow. I have sand in my everything now, and salty crazy hair. I'll jump in the shower and meet my friends downtown for dinner. Wow.

Mimi's recipe for coping with massive westward air travel:

1. sleep and eat normally before departure
2. turn off your cell phone and hide your watch when you get on your first airplane
3. narcotize yourself completely with trashy magazines (Us Weekly) and meaty ones (Atlantic)
4. drink a lot of water and watch the crappy movie
5. try to not eat very much
6. when you get to your destination, turn on your phone to figure out the time
7. cope

I try to let the duration of the flight(s) just ... disappear by my inattention and distraction, and so instead of landing in Honolulu and thinking, "Wow, it's 3am at home" and obsessing about that, I just get in the groove of 9pm-local.

Travelling west is way easier than east. Going west, you essentially just 'stay up' really late (vis-a-vis your home time) one night and go to bed 'earlier' (vis-a-vis local time) and then you're okay. Going east is a bitch. My coping strategy for east?

1. gulp up as much sleep as you can before you fly
2. try to force yourself to sleep on your inevitable red-eye flight
3. fail
4. complain

Any questions?

"Greetings from Hawaii! Is it 3am or 9pm? Or is it 1964 and I'm an undergraduate again? Dibs on the good bed!!!"

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wordless(-ish) Wednesday

Oh yeah! So this is why I wanted to move to the new house:

I lied. There's gonna be words.

That's me, reading the Saturday Globe and Mail Style and Life section, and drinking a beer. I'm sitting on my new porch, shaded by a wall of ivy and screened in the front by cedars. Pynchon, taking the picture, is standing at about the halfway point of the porch; it extends across the whole front of our house, 22 feet of wood planks and gentle breezes. That's the baby monitor receiver on the table--Munchkin is napping. I've got my comfy Crocs on and I'm channeling my summer vibe.

It's amazing what a move of 500 feet north can bring: community and peace. All the surrounding houses have front porches, and traffic being so light, people are always sitting out there, enjoying themselves. My real estate agent strolls by daily with wife and dogs, and I move down to sit on the steps and chat. On my right, neighbour Donna and her husband are working on their garden, planting a bed of begonias--earlier, they called Munchkin over to see a butterfly. On my left, neighbour Marie has a little dog who will run up on the porch if she thinks there might be food. The little girls across the street, aged 4 and 6, call over to Munchkin and me: do we want to come and play in their yard? Sure! Directly across from us, Mike and Julie examine the masonry under their front window; Mike is nesting because Julie is having their first child in October. Her mom and she come and go, come and go, a steady stream of shopping bags into the house, and old doors and old toilets and old linoleum coming out.

The other night, I moved out on to the porch with my laptop after Munchkin went to bed. Marie and Mike and Julie were sitting on the latter's porch, laughing and chatting. I wandered across the street in my slippers and joined in: who is renovating what? the baby is a girl! is our dryer hooked up yet? It feels easy and comfortable. The street is filled with young couples and young children. Allison one door over suggests that in about ten years, the parents on the block are going to have to start staggering their vacations lest all the teens and tweens on the street start hosting big house parties. There are, though, plenty of older residents too: the activity around their houses and yards is less frenetic, their pace slower. Donna tells me that the previous owners of our house raised six children there in the 50s and 60s. Six kids!

All around us I see: children's toys, small foreign-made cars in narrow driveways, chalk drawings on the sidewalk, flower beds and the dappled shade of swaying trees. I hear: children's shrieks, birds chirping, adults laughing, the growl of a lawnmower, the shriek of a neighbour's saw, trimming boards for a new shed.

It's a storybook street: red brick and tall trees. White middle class professionals, married, with children. Property values and who's-doing-what, hiss of a beer bottle opening, roar of a barbecue. I can't believe this is me. And it's comfortable. I settle into this privilege like a birthright, entitled to a childhood like my own, of green and comfort, surrounded by people just like myself.

I haven't lived like this for years, not since my own childhood, really and it's at once comfortable and strange, this new person I'm becoming, or this self I'm returning to. But I like it so far: this orientation of interest outward, out toward the street and the neighbours rather than inward and private, toward a fenced yard. Maybe we're connecting into a community that already seems so privileged, so homogeneous ... but it feels like something important, this knowing everyone's names, a hello and friendly wave, some other mom's hand brushing hair from Munchkin's face even as I straigthen the wheel on an tricycle for some other mom's child.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


My Munchkin is two. Our Munchkin. Talking sentences full of "I want to go swimming" and "Mama stop the car and help you put the sandals on your ponies" and "Auntie Soo-see give you a kiss-o!" Asking to watch TV, demanding to wear a skirt, trying to put on her own shoes, her own pants, her own pyjamas. Still wanting her bottle and to hold my hand to come down the stairs: "I hold the railing! And your hand!" Two. A full head of curly hair, and round cheeks for smooching. Round belly and smelly feet. Two arms tights around my neck and a kiss on the lips.


She carries the empty gift bags around the house, "going shopping wif Mom!" and sits at the dining room table, trying to get a tiny pink plastic cowboy hat on a tiny pink plastic pony: "I figured it out! I figured it out!" and "It's very beautiful!"

We had a party, a couple of family members, a couple of friends, a couple of kids and cousins. A wading pool, a sunny day, a green lawn, a barbecue. Frozen watermelon cubes and cherry tomatoes dipped in ranch dressing. A chocolate cake.

A tricycle.

A moment: As Pynchon and I busied ourselves with the new barbecue, Munchkin ran up behind me, and threw her arms around my leg. "Hug, Mama," she asked, "Down here, give you a hug on your chest." And so I bent down, unwrapping her from my thigh and folding her into my arms, chest to chest. Our little girl. Two.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Six Random Things

Kyla tagged me for this, WEEKS ago, but I moved and had no internet and then went away, and ... you know, life.

Here's the meme:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
5. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
6. Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

1. I'm in the Starbucks near to daycare, and as I look up from reading a story online about the smartphone market, the founder and head guy at RIM--you know, that makes Blackberry phones--is standing next to me waiting for his cup of coffee. Hope he didn't see that 23% of smartphones will likely be Linux-driven by 2013.

2. Munchkin has been saying weird stuff: in the car on Sunday, she told me that "[Munchkin] is using the deer carcass." Yes, I confirmed with her. And she's been saying it a lot. I'm going to assume it's something from a book. Gulp.

3. In the past month, I have been carded TWICE at booze retail outlets, once at the Beer Store in a nearby town, as we were picking up a six pack of Alberta-brewed Big Rock Traditional for a barbecue. Then, about a week after that, when I popped into the giant LCBO near to my house to stock up on our house red, carded again! Dudes, I'm 35. I was wearing the same lime green sweater both times ... hold on, I'll find a photo. I wear it a LOT.

(this is October 2005--I'm about eight weeks pregnant, and making a face because everyone is drinking wine except me at Thanksgiving dinner)

4. Here are some appliances that are in my house but not functioning, because they need to be hooked up or retrofitted or replaced: furnace, stove, air conditioner, dishwasher, hot water tank, Munchkin's (new) ceiling fan. It's like camping, but in a giant, brick, expensive tent, in the middle of the city.

5. I'm reading a book called The Dirt on Clean, by Katherine Ashenberg--I expected to really like it, but I'm 50 pages in and getting annoyed. The text of the book is all blinged out with visual hoo-ha that you usually only see in magazines: pull quotes, side bar text, big shaded boxes with trivia lists in them, illustrations embedded willy-nilly. I like my magazines flashy, sure, but I like my books text-heavy and linear. I'm distracted and bothered to have to interrupt my reading of the main text to look at all the stuff all over the page above, under, and around the main text. Does the publisher think the book is just not interesting enough to merit reading in the old-fashioned way? Or am I over-reacting?

6. Evil, evil credit cards: we got the cheque for the profit on the old house yesterday, and last night, Pynchon and I ceremoniously paid off the credit card debt we dragged here from our Alberta student days, and lovingly nurtured through several moves and a wedding and a new baby and various financial derailments: card A? a little more than $12K (about 3K of that, I must say, was from this move, and another 2K is from my work). Card B? a little less than $9K. How did that happen to us? Never again. And it's paid.

Who am I going to link to? Patti, Cloud, Dawn, Cheryl, Naomicatgirl, and ManagerMom, because I don't know them very well, and how better than through random-fact memes?

Random fact 7: now that we have internet and I'm actually home, I discover that I have over 300 unread posts in my Bloglines. So I'm going to close my eyes, mark all as read, and start over. Forgive me if I missed something big: I'll try to catch up. I've missed this, by the way ...