Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What's on your counter?

I spoke too soon, gleefully, of being plague-free this Valentine's day.

Tuesday night found me, 10 pm, at the pharmacy counter of the local 24 hour Shoppers Drug Mart, trying to find a way to keep Munchkin's fever down (apparently, you alternate doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen) and stocking up on popsicles, juice, and board books about princesses. Picture me in my parka, and my Sorels, and my yoga pants, eyes red, hair flattened, voice hoarse from coughing, standing next to the cute giddy couple shopping for condoms. Damn right! Look what happens to you when you don't use contraception! Ha!

(That big red bottle? Is for me and my ever-lingering flu.)

Lord almighty, even the cat has developed an ominous sneeze today. Pray for us. Or send drugs, or maybe reinforcements.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Best! Valentine's Day! Ever!

This has been the best Valentine's day in recent memory.

After an awful night of coughing and noseblowing and poor sleep, I woke up to the sound of Pynchon and Munchkin arguing: she was having a severe Mommy-mommy-mommy tantrum and he'd just banned her from TV for the day. Pynchon was feeling gross and headed back to bed for a nap--two hours later, after playing with every toy in the house, Munchkin and I woke him up.

I went to bed for a three hour nap, and Pynchon and Munchkin played with every toy in the house, again. When I awoke, Pynchon plucked the very first captured-from-the-wild grey hair out of my head. A good six inches long, and perfectly white: unequivocally, there is no disputing the forward march of age now. Sigh.

Still, there were cards and chocolates, and, really, we were all mostly in a good mood considering the amount of hacking and sneezing and moaning and sleeping being indulged in by all three of us. It was a nearly perfect day, relatively speaking.

Remember what we're comparing it to: snowstorms, buggered-up necks and frozen pipes? cancelled job interviews, pneumonia, and chemotherapy shuttle runs? Ha! Today, Pynchon and I were kind to each other, and I would marry him again in a heartbeat if I had to do it all over again. Munchkin asked me to be her Valentine so she could love me "all the year through." It's the best Valentine's day, ever. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Haircuts and economic responsibility

When you host any kind of party, you look around your house and notice things you don't usually see. For example, when you are hosting a gaggle of your mother's sisters, and your cousins, and their kids you think: oh God, they're going to report back to Mom immediately ... that Munchkin's bangs are in her eyes.

So Pynchon readied for the party by elegantly plating snacks for the kids. Me, I cut hair.

What, how do you get ready for a party?

I love cutting hair, actually. In university I cut hair for several of my friends--although, I should admit, I stuck to friends with curly hair. I mean, you've still got to cut it right, but you don't need to do such perfect cuts at the ends when it's a mass of curls. And so I also cut both my nephews' hair as well. They too have big bouffy curly heads. I'm pretty happy with how Munchkin's hair turned out: I gave her kind of a wedge-shag. But surprise: I seem to have cut out her baby curls. So the good news is that she has no hair in her eyes, for which Gramma will be grateful. The bad news is her hair doesn't seem to be curly anymore, for which Gramma will never forgive me. Oh well ...


I remember after 9/11 being shocked that we were all being asked to go to the mall: if you stop shopping, the terrorists win. How offensive and absurd, to imagine that we can save the world, and right its wrongs, by buying a bed in a bag at Linens and Things. Don't get me wrong: I like to shop. I do not, however, consider this to be a laudable trait. When I talk about 'retail therapy', I am usually rolling my eyes and feeling a bit stupid. I do it anyways, though.

So, as I'm snipping away and Pynchon is wiping up Munchkin's hair from the floor, I joked about how we were saving money in these lean times. How responsible we are! And yet, again, I'm not sure what we're supposed to do. Conflicting newspaper reports either indict us all, we in the middle class, for our 'addiction' to 'easy credit' and our creating the housing bubble by living beyond our means--or they chastise that if we begin now to hoard our money, the downturn will only get worse.

Well. I don't know what the hell to do.

Our jobs are secure, our incomes higher than most. We are very, very fortunate, in many ways. We've stopped using the credit cards, having paid them off, but we're not hoarding. In fact, we've decided to just keep on keeping on with our renos: tonight, the student painting company came by to give us an estimate on interior and exterior work. The supervisor told me how many more job applications they're receiving this year, as the student labour pool for summer is going to exceed the available jobs.

I think this might be the right thing to do for us. Stay out of debt, but spend where we can on what's important. Maybe fewer t-shirts from Old Navy, but maybe more substantive purchases of things that will last. We're watching more carefully where our money goes each month, and that's been very instructive.

What are you doing to deal with the downturn?

Do you want me to cut your hair?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Quick question, if you've got an answer ...

I'm giving a lecture tonight at the public library on personal blogging, as a means of self-expression and community building. I've been told by the organizers to expect a crowd of 10-30 women, mostly around 60 years old or so. I'm imagining they're newbies who might be interested in starting blogs.

Got any fast advice for someone interested in starting a blog?

(And by all means, keep laughing at my buffoonish day yesterday, in the post below ...)

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Buffoonery Chronicles

edit: now with a custom built LOL illustration ...
Sometimes the purpose of your life is to provide blog fodder--in this way, the worst days, the most incredibly ill-starred days, become not cosmic proof of the Great Being's disdain or your own fundamental unworthiness, but rather material, so that even in the middle of a miserable experience, a wee tiny part of it is already being redeemed, spun into some wryly funny little something to make teh Internets laugh.

I hope.

Today, project Grace / Dignity / Buffoonery-Diminution went off the rails again. It wasn't so much that the insomnia hit or that we all got up 45 minutes late or that I skipped my shower. That all turned out pretty much okay. I still look fairly professional and I don't think I smell bad; Pynchon dropped me off at work on time; Munchkin was happy.

When I got into my office, I slipped into my high heels and felt pretty good. I had 20 minutes to spare before a graduate workshop I was leading with a colleague. I had a coffee in hand, and notes prepared. It was movie day in my undergrad class and project day in my night class. Little did I know this moment--put on shoes, take sip of coffee, reflect smugly on preparedness--was to be the high point of my day. I would have enjoyed it more.

1. Cosmic Buffoonery 1: one student showed up for the workshop, 15 minutes late. He seemed to feel sorry for us. Presenters outnumber attendees. This poor showing was a double blow, as I am the organizer of the series. Niiiiice. Okay, a triple blow: my real teaching doesn't start on Monday until 2:30--but it goes until 9pm, so now I had set myself up for a 12 hour day on campus, coming in 5 hours early for very little purpose.

Ha. Ha-ha. Ha.

2. Cosmic Buffoonery 2: now that I had five hours to kill before class, I retreated to my office to work on my prep. But my peace was not to last. You see, they are reroofing the building now (and for the coming four months!) and this seems to involve a lot of tar. I should know: they've set up the huge tar boiling and pumping machine directly below my second-floor office window. Hooray! I can barely see out the window for the smoke and I spend a good deal of time meditating on the question of whether the smell or the noise is worse: it smells like, well, burning tar. It sounds like the inside of an airplane at takeoff. I think my headache might be attributable, really, to either cause so this is merely a mental exercise I use to ensure my cognitive capacity is not yet irreparably compromised. Every now and again, they hoist something from the ground (boards, buckets, roofing paper) up to the roof, and it swings and veers in my peripheral vision before banging against the window.

I would complain about it, but the alternative is likely that the roofers will simply sheet over my window with plywood, and then it will be, in addition to loud and smelly, dark.

(Is this a little bit funny? I'm trying ...)

3. Cosmic Buffoonery 3: the good news is that class-time finally came, and I got to leave my smelly, noisy office. The bad news is that the class is across the hall from said office, and just as smelly/noisy. The worse news is that a weekend melt had revealed structural weaknesses in the re-roofing that resulted in, um, FLOODING. The carpet was squishy, the multimedia console was covered in plastic garbage bags duct-taped to the cabinet, and there were giant recycling bins scattered willy-nilly around the room, half-filled with brackish water and chunks of fallen, disintegrated acoustical tile. More tiles bowed dangerously and the tables were mud-splashed. There was a shop-vac on the dais. You know, where I stand when I teach.

(you can't see it, but on the whiteboard it says: "Podium Equipment Can't Be Used Electrical Hazzard [sic]")

4. Cosmic bu ...

Well, that's enough, right? Our super-competent admin team in English found me a new room and while we lost 20 minutes of class time, we did get to see most of the clips from the movies I special-ordered weeks ago from A/V.

Poor Pychon, two buildings over on the same campus as me, and on my office speed-dial, has been treated to many cranky updates. I guess I didn't make it sound quite funny enough because he has been answering the phone with increasing (and understandable) wariness. But it's funny, right! Ha, ha!

I'm in the library now, on a dinner break before my next class: away from the noise and the smells and the mold-sprouting carpets and electrocution-hazard instructor consoles. Peace and quiet and a ...

Wait. Seriously, some really angry guy just walked through the café screaming obscenities on his way down to the basement. There is what sounds like kicking and what is definitely yelling. Maybe he's just mad about the roofing fiasco too, but as the café goes quiet and people start to titter nervously and look around? Maybe I'll just take my chances in my office.

Ha. Ha ha ha. (No really, please laugh. I don't want to be just complaining all the time.)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Happy Birthday, to me

It was my birthday last week: I'm 36 (yes, Beck, you may be surprised all over again: I'm still one year younger than you.) We had a tremendously big party, I wore a tiara; there were chicken wings, there was bourbon. It was the best of times ... it ... was ...

Hey. Wait a minute. I've got nothing to complain about.

[unless you count getting REALLY WINDED in front of everyone while blowing out candles]

My friend L, possessor of the ears into which I pour such bitterisms as "I forget how to have fun," and "We have no friends," and "I go to bed before the bars even open," and assorted such self-pity, grabbed my arm and leaned in close to make herself heard over the mid-party din: "Look!" she said "You have all kinds of friends! What a wonderful party."

I do. And it was. More than 30 people came, the most our house has ever held, by a long shot. They admired the woodwork. They brought thoughtful gifts. They laughed and teased and ate cake. I snuck them, two by two, up the back stairs for the 'secret tour' while Munchkin slept at the front of the house. It turns out not only that we have friends, but that we have groups of friends--professor friends, friends from Pynchon's office, local friends from bygone days and contexts, faraway friends who have moved near in new circumstances, neighbourhood friends from both our addresses.

[The morning after recycling bin]

Recently, I gave the finger to 2008 and hoped that 2009 would bring happier days, an end to complaining and panic at long last. So far, so good. We have wonderful friends, willing to come out in a blistering snowstorm. We have the financial wherewithal to put together a big bash, to hire a bartender. We work together so well as a family that childcare and party planning were so seamlessly coordinated. We have a big house, with plenty of room to share. Our hearts are open and our smiles, finally, extend all across our faces, from chins to tiaras, erasing our worry lines in a fit of laughing.

2009--and 36--is going to be awesome.

[I mean, there's plenty of cake, cards, and goofy grins, right?]