Irreverent Mama

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bold the ones you've done..

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink (all six of them...)
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said 'I love you' and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby's diaper (hundreds, I'm sure. It's not very exotic.)
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne (Ugh. I hate champagne.)
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment (does a job interview count as "worst possible"? I didn't get the job...)
27. Had a food fight (ah, university...)
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger (Hey, Ian A. Colquhoun of Toronto. Remember me??)
30. Had a snowball fight (dozens)
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster (barf)
35. Hit a home run (in grade two)
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer (My ex and my son are geeks...)
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was shit faced (ugh. it was not noble.)
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach (Naked. Heh)
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland (No, but I'd like to.)
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan (No, but I'd like to.)
55. Milked a cow - well, if expressing my own milk counts. Lord knows I FELT like a cow then...
56. Alphabetized your cds (yes, and my spices, too. Should I be embarrassed?)
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain. (Made love in the rain.)
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River (Where the hell is the Snake River??)
82. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Had a one-night stand
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror.
96. Raised children.
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Created and named your own constellation of stars
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived.
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone's heart (Apparently. I think he was exaggerating, since he was head over heels with in love with his "soulmate" two months later!)
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states (If this means I've visited more foreign countries than I have US states. Which is easy, because US states are in a foreign country, for me. This thing must've been written by an American...)
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Petted a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes (Saw the movie. Does that count?)
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146: Dyed your hair
147: Been a DJ
148: Shaved your head
149: Caused a car accident
150: Saved someone's life

Labels: , ,

Friday, March 23, 2007

Teens. Value their privacy, they do. Don't want adults, parents in particular, knowing the ins and outs of their private lives.

For the most part, I don't want to. I remember the soap opera that is high school, and I don't miss it. I have no interest in plunging back into that seething slough of hormones and angst, not even vicariously. Bad enough when they bring their seething slough of hormones and angst home.

Still, a parent does get curious as to what the kids are up to... And I'll always know. Always. It's not that the kids are so open and honest with me. It's not a mystical connection. It's not that I have a mother's second sight, ESP, nor even eyes in the back of my head.

Nope. My secret? My kids never pick up after themselves.

I can tell at a glance what they had for their afternoon snack. (Orange juice, bagel with cheese, banana.) I know where they shop. I know how much junk food they eat. I know about teacher interviews they'd rather I didn't. Because they leave the evidence everywhere. On the counter, on the couch, on the floor of the front hall. While I despair of their slovenly ways (and blame my lack of strict training in their early years), I'd miss all this insight if they became suddenly tidy.

My son (almost 18) has a girlfriend. Lovely girl. They've been together four months or so. So, being a responsible parent, I casually remind the boy young man of our safe sex talks, and further remind the boy young man where the condoms are kept. (In a cosmetics bag on a shelf by the bathroom door, refilled without counting. He knows this.)

"Don't worry, mom. I know where they are, but we haven't gotten there yet."

Do I believe him? Not really. It's possible, but, given how they spend any private moment so thoroughly entwined, not likely. But it's his business. As long as he's using the damned condoms!

My kids are responsible for their own laundry. The girl on Tuesday, the boy on Thursday. Thus, if I decide to pick up a few items from one room or another to make up a full load when I do my laundry, they know I'm doing them a favour. It's a good system. I scoop up a pair of the boy's jeans and a couple of t-shirts and boxers. (From the floor, of course. Why dirty a perfectly nice laundry basket?)

An hour later, there at the bottom of the drum, under the wet darkness of the laundry I'm hauling out, I catch a glimmer of something white and shiny. Oooo, look! A tidy little condom-packet. Not one of the dark foil packs from the cosmetic bag on the shelf by the bathroom. White plastic, and - ugh - banana-flavoured. Definitely not one of the house stock. Guess he doesn't believe me when I say we don't count them. Hell, I wouldn't believe me, either.

But now I know.

Labels: ,

Friday, March 16, 2007

Save the Date!!

Save the Date? Sorta like "Save the Whales"? No?

What's with the "save the date" cards? And "Save the Date" announcements? There are even "Save the Date" fridge magnets, fer cryin' out loud. When did they start? They certainly didn't have them the last time I got married.

But I am indeed getting married , and weddings require invitations, and invitations, so I'm given to understand, are to be preceded by "Save the Date" cards. Sheesh.

When I agreed to get married, ten years after the initial proposal, I wanted a teeny tiny eentsy beentsy little minimalist ceremony, perhaps followed by a Big Party a while later. But my sweetie? He wanted a wedding.

We went round the loop. Church or not? Flowers, wedding party, favours, photographer? In town or out? Indoors or out? Live music, taped music, no music at all? Do we invite family, family and friends, just friends? If family, how far out do we cast the net?

And every time, I'd hit the wall of my complete and utter resistance to a Wedding.

Then one day, my sweetie speaks soothingly to the back of my head, the front of my head being firmly buried under my depairing arms, "You know, the legal part of the wedding takes maybe 90 seconds to perform." He should know. In his former life, he performed several hundred. I perk up.

"Ninety seconds?"

"Thirty, if you sign the forms ahead of time."

"So we could have a two-minute wedding?"

He could see the hope dawning in my eyes.


"And that would be okay with you?" Because this wedding thing, it's always been his baby.

"Oh, love, I'd marry you any way you want. You know that."

He would, too. I know that. He'd have done it with no wedding at all, just me, him, the witnesses and a nameless officiant if I'd insisted, but knowing the importance of some public ceremony to him, I hadn't managed to bring myself to do that.

"A two-minute wedding is enough of a wedding for you? Really?"

Yes, really. So we're planning our wedding. Two hours of food and party, two minutes of ceremony. And I am actively enthused. My minimalist inclinations do keep bumping up against his traditional tendencies, though.

We work out the guest list.

"Okay," I smile. "That was easier that I feared. And I think I have everyone's email address, even!"

"E-mail? We're not doing invitations?"

"Invitations? Like, engraved and with reply cards?"

Blink, blink.

Our heads together, we scope out possible venues on my laptop.

He: "This place is lovely."

Me: "It's an hour out of town, though."

He: "How about this?"

Me: "It's awfully frou-frou."


I define frou-frou.

"Aren't wedding supposed to be a little frou-frou?"

"Not mine."

Blink, blink.

We find it, the perfect place. In our neighbourhood, with a room just the right size, cozy, warm, friendly. The staff know us. The cost is right.

It's a pub. An Irish pub. Our guests can toast us with Guinness.

"Will you want to decorate?" Hope the pub-lady asks.



Blink, blink.

She looks between the two of us. "Maybe something on the tables, some low, decorative item." I gesture a small dome shape with my two hands. "Maybe something to match on knee-wall by the stage, to bring it together." I'm good at one-the-spot compromise. He nods.

Hope the pub-lady wanders into the back with our file. We peruse the room again. Wooden floorboards, wide, worn, and creaking comfortably beneath our feet. Tiny stage set in an alcove on one wall, perfect for the trio who'll be performing. Deep red seating, dark wood chairs, tables, benches. The light streaming through the windows along one wall make it cozy, not gloomy.

We glance up. They're always here, so we'd not noticed them before. Ringing the room at the top of the walls are rows and rows of jaunty beer pennants. Guinness, Keith's, Corona, Kilkenney. Red, green and black, gold. Squares, rectangles, shields. Flutter, waver, flap.

We share a glance. We speak, simultaneously.

"They've got to go."

A marriage made in heaven. Even without a "Save the Date" card.


Monday, March 05, 2007

I've been homeschooling Bekah for a few months now. She was homeschooled till grade four, went to school for four years, and decided to take a breather from the pressure cooker that is middle school before beginning high school next year.

She's enjoying her space. She's taking a couple of (grade nine!) courses by correspondence, she's improved her flute no end with her terrific new teacher. She's taking a college-sponsored ASL course, just for fun. She's spending time drawing, reading, writing, thinking. In short, she's getting a good education.

She misses being with other kids, though. It's an issue for homeschooled kids. The parent has to take particular pains to ensure they mix with other children. She does have friends in the neighbourhood, of course, but sadly, they're shut up in school all day. So, what to do? Well, seek out the local homeschooling group, and see if anyone out there is interested in getting together.

We've met a few. Most were nice, but the kids just didn't connect. (Though in one case, the other mother and I hit it off so well we're going out for coffee next week.)

And then we had the meeting last Saturday. Mother and son were to come to our home for a couple of hours. They arrive (half an hour late). First impressions weren't stellar: mom has long gray hair parted in the middle and straggling down beside her face until it faded away, dispirited, in the general area of her shoulders. Son - who is thirteen, remember - sports a very stylish bowl cut. He's got lovely hair, thick and shiny, and, unlike the picture in that link, covering his ears - but, but, but... it's in a bowl cut! Okay for four-year-olds, but...

I mentally scold myself. How petty I am! I remind myself that I'm all about living as you see fit, not worrying about arbitrary and ridiculous dictates of 'cool'.

Okay. So we shall overlook the JK styling on the teenage boy.

The rest of the visit is largely boring, punctuated by the following little nuggets:

- He and mom had asked before they arrived whether we had pets, and were delighted to know we had a hamster. When they arrived, they wanted to see her right away. As soon as the boots had been removed and coats hung, we all proceed immediately to the kitchen. Where they haul out their camera and start taking pictures of the hamster. (Maybe it's just me... Does this strike you as just a teeny bit odd?)

- He does not want to hold the hamster when Bekah offers it to him. "I don't know it yet." Um, and how will you get to know it if you don't introduce yourself? He'll just takes a few more pictures, instead. Oh. Maybe he plans to pet them when he gets home?

- They take pictures at random intervals. Never one of myself or Bekah, thank god, but odd things. I came down from the bathroom and caught mom snapping pics out a window that overlooks the drive. The section of the drive that houses a couple of bicycles, the garbage tins, and the gates to our back yard and our neighbour's. (???)

- He was gung-ho to show Bekah a slide-show he'd made of some computer images he'd created. They sat side by side on the couch with Bekah's DVD player (he didn't know there were such things as portable DVD players) as elevator music drifted around the room for four minutes. Later, I discovered that the show was eight pictures, repeated over and over to the background of the elevator music. Eight pictures. In the same order. To elevator music. For four minutes.

- He was also gung-ho to play our piano, because he's been playing for a while now, and he's pretty good. No, he doesn't take lessons. He listens to music, tries to reproduce it, and then "makes it better". In fact, he has a composition he's working on. Would we like to hear it?

- He plays piano like a dying elephant, blundering woodenly about a couple of octaves of the keyboard, deafening all within a 3-metre radius.

- Ours is an electric piano, so I showed him how he could record his composition. He was fascinated by this, and replayed his auditory assault half a dozen times. At full volume. (Does the boy have a hearing problem?)

- And no, he wasn't interested in hearing me play the piano (not that I offered), nor in hearing Bekah play her flute. His mother suggested he might like to listen. No, not today, thanks.

- He admitted that he didn't much like sharing. Mom chortled affectionately at this.

- When the kids said they were hungry, I handed each of them a banana. He looked at his and stuttered, "How do I...?" I looked at him, blank. How does he what? His mother explained, "He's never started one." HE'S THIRTEEN FUCKING YEARS OLD AND HE CAN'T PEEL A BANANA!!!

- Thankfully, he likes the same computer game that is one of Bekah's favourites at the moment, so we were able to survive the last hour of the visit by allowing them computer time. Leaving me with Mom.

- Mom, who bemoaned the changes in the ghastly suburb where they live. "We might have to move out to the country. It's getting so big and busy. It used to be so suburban." Oh. Suburban as a good thing. How... suburban.

- They had to leave by four, because it was Saturday, and she didn't want to drive "after dark with all the drunks". Because lord only knows we city folk are notorious for hammering back the booze at five in the afternoon so as to drive home drunk for dinner...

- The next day, I got an email from mom, thanking me for the visit, and asking if we would please erase his 'composition' from our piano. It's a work in progress, see, and so... (Here's a thought, you nut job: I'll erase his gawdawful noises if you erase all those pictures you took without asking in my house.)

These people are the poster family for "The Risks and Disadvantages of Homeschooling".

He couldn't peel a banana.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, March 01, 2007

"You'll be surprised."

That's what people told me when I was going through my divorce. "You can hardly wait for this to be over, but when it's over and the dust has settled, you'll be surprised at what you'll miss."

These were well-meaning people, trying to prepare me for the post-divorce life that they were afraid would only let me down, not being the unmitigated, unceasing bliss I was anticipating.

They were well-meaning, so I didn't swear. I didn't laugh in their faces. I didn't even roll my eyes. I might have sneered, just a wee bit.

This was not a celebrity-style, marry-on-a-whim, divorce because you don't like the way he chews his Cheerios. We'd been together twelve years, we'd produced three kids. I was committed to the death-do-us-part, otherwise I would have left at least six years previous. Did the marriage counselling. Changed some habits.

But when the divorce finally - finally! - happened, what would I miss?

- running short of money, having to scrimp on groceries because the man spent $800, or a thousand, or $1200 that month on... what? (Not drugs. Gambling? His girlfriend? Buying rounds for the entire office? I never did find out.) Just gone, frittered away, vanished forever...

- the fact that my husband had a girlfriend? Who would phone him at our home whenever I was out. (How do I know? I bugged the phone. Heh. Rather exciting and nasty, that, except their conversations were booooorrrring. So very, very boring.)

- being sneered at whenever I spoke, or have him simply walk out of the room mid-sentence?

- being thumped around? the black eyes? the bruises in less conspicuous spots?

- waking with a start of fear when he came in at 3 in the morning. Would he slip quietly into bed? Would he be in a foul mood and wake me to start a fight? Would he (and this would be the least attractive option) want sex?

Or maybe I'd miss the dirty socks left laying about the bedroom, the toilet seat left up, the newspapers strewn all over the living room and the used kleenex on every seat in the house? Or his terrible driving and the weekly speeding and/or parking tickets? His barking at the children?

Yes. So much to miss. How can people say such drivel? It's been 12 or so years, and all I feel when I consider the marriage that was, is relief.

Heady with relief, I am.

Labels: ,