WINNING! (But With Less Tiger Blood)

By noon today, I had pretty much won.

I figured out how to make the fake pockets on my shirt lay flat, without the aid of an iron, or safety pins.

I formulated a plan to (legally) get human remains across an international border.

I got the woman in the public washroom stall next to me to stop having her TMI phone conversation, without saying a single word.

This life thing? Yeah, I’ve clearly got this all figured out.

(I should probably get an advice column. It’s the next logical step.)

Conversations With a 7 Year Old (Temporary) Only Child

I .

“Mom, what’s a bachelor party?”

“It’s a party that men have before their wedding, one last night to go out and get crazy before they’re married.”

“Do they take their girlfriends?”

“No, it’s usually just their guy friends.”

“That’s no fair that girls don’t get a party!”

“Oh no, if girls want to, they can have a bachelorette party. Same idea, just all girls.”

“No boys?”

“Nope.”

“So you just go out with your own kind? All girls or all guys?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

(2 minutes of silence)

“Mom, I think those parties are really smart.”

“How come?”

“I think it’s a good idea to go out one last night, and figure out for sure if you’re gay or not.”

(More silence,while I try to unravel where that went off the rails.)

II.

“How was daycare today?”

(Big sigh) “Pretty much torture.”

“Oh, really? Which was worse? The jumpy castle, or the mini-golf? How dare those sadists put you though this? This clearly contravenes the United Nations Convention Against Torture! HAS ANYONE CALLED THE UN??!???”

“Mom, do you ever get tired of your own drama?”

III.

(We tried to go to a movie. Their Internet was borked, so no credit cards, the cash confused the hell out of the teenage cashiers, and the theatre’s Fro Yo stand was down. Screw that. We improvised by hitting Marble Slab instead.)

“What do you want, kiddo?”

“Chocolate. Large. With peanut butter cups and smarties and sprinkles and peppermint patties.”

“Sounds messy…..”

(Fixes me with the iciest, most laser-like glare on which I have ever been on the receiving end.)

Good.”

(Turns back to detachedly supervising the mix-in process.)

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“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” ― Groucho Marx

My daughter is an angel, with the black soul of a Capital C Capitalist.

She is sweet and scattered and lovely. Until money enters the picture. At which point, she acquires a drive and ferocity that leaves me…..unsettled.

One of my favorite “30 Rock” quotes encapsulates it eloquently:

30 rock

(Change the him to her, and that about sums it up.)

Baby Girl wants to have a garage sale.  She has been ruthlessly going through her possessions, culling them, giving no regard to sentimentality, every single item in her room representing potential profit.  (And when you’re seven and cute, it’s ALL profit, because you didn’t pay for any of that shit.)

We do happen to have an overabundance of crap, these days.  So I’m on board with the scheme.

I’m actually kind of pumped to try to sell some stuff.  The electric lawnmower whose cord frustrated me one too many times.  The glittery hooker heels I wore twice (for a total of 40 minutes).  The microwave I got from my grandparents for high school graduation.

My thoughts drifted over to the bookshelf.  And unleashed a shitstorm of conflict.

I looked at the shelves.  Do I really need these things anymore? It seemed ridiculous, to get rid of this collection I’d spent years amassing.  And at the same time, I got downright giddy from the potential freedom.

I called my sister, to get a second opinion.

“No!  Like, ALL of your books?”

“Yeah, maybe, I don’t know.”

“But…hey, wait, don’t sell my Christopher Moore book.  You still have it.”

“Which one?  No I don’t.”

“‘A Dirty Job’.  Your ex-boyfriend borrowed it.”

“I gave that back.  I know I did.  Oh, shit, there it is.  OK, I promise I won’t sell that.”

“Ok.  Then hey, do whatever you want.”

 

I was clearly on my own here.

 

The points and counter-points started to line up immediately.

Point:  What if I want to read these again?

Counter Point:  I won’t.  I never have less than a half-dozen new books in the hopper, waiting to be read.  The likelihood is extremely damn low that I’m going to go back and re-read them.  The only book I have ever re-read more than twice (5 times, to be exact), was “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving.  And I’ve NEVER OWNED IT.  It’s been from the library every time.

 

Point:  I love them.  I started asking for books as gifts (as opposed to toys) from an extremely early age.  I love the way they smell, feel, look.  One of my favorite, shame-soaked geeky pleasures is to denude my bookshelves, then organize them alphabetically, chronologically, by color, by size, and then some unholy, algorithmic combination of those factors that only I can make sense of.  They make me feel rich in an obscured way that money never could.

Counter Point:  I hate lifting them.  I am going to want to move.  Fairly soon.  Books are fucking heavy.  I do not care to move those hefty bastards again.

 

pile-of-books-225x300(image from here)

 

Point:  I love, intensely, the memories surrounding the ones that were gifts.  Books that came from friends who thought they’d found the perfect gift for me.  Presents from my sister who has always had such similar (therefore, excellent) taste in fiction.  Books I got from an ex-husband, that were bright spots in a not so bright time.

Counter Point:  There are some not so awesome memories attached to a lot of them.  The books that were with me when I was at my worst, my most depressed, my lowest.  And sometimes looking at them, just seeing a title, can take me back in an instant.  Why put myself through that, unnecessarily?

 

Point:  I cared about what was on my bookshelf.  Books were a great conversation starter when someone came over.  And a great way of testing the waters, seeing if a person was “My Kind of Person”.

Counter Point:  The last time I moved, my bookcase got relegated to a corner of the bedroom.  No coolness points can be doled out when no one else can see them.  And dragging someone into the boudoir to look at my books would be a wee bit….contrived? Desperate?  Suspicious?  Counter-productive?

 

 

So yeah, I don’t know what to do.  Thoughts?

And there will come a day….

…when you are standing at your kitchen sink, hand washing some dishes that you could have put into the dishwasher, but the light plastic containers fly around in there so badly that its pretty much not worth it. As you lightly scrub at the assorted ziploc containers, absently noting that the number of lids does not match the number of containers, (and why is that, and where in the fuck do they all end UP anyway?) you will think that this might be a good time to open and rinse the new set of containers you got from your ex-husband.

………………..

He handed them to you the other day, in his living room. He jumped up from a conversation saying, “Hey, that reminds me, I bought you a ‘present’!” He comes back with a new set of Rubbermaid containers. A couple of weeks ago, your daughter overheard you bemoaning the fact that all the containers you use to pack lunches were suddenly gone, and she completely threw her beloved Daddy under the bus, saying they were all at his house. And yes, after 3 years of sharing your children, a lot of objects have traveled between houses, some staying in the home from which they did not originate. Obscuring boundaries, lines of demarcation you thought were very important to establish.

The need to erect these borders even informed your choice of boyfriend, after the split. The man you chose to be with post-break up did not like one bit of the time you spent with your ex-husband. Publicly, he would congratulate you on what a great job you and the ex were doing, being amicable. But what bothered him, what inflamed his insecurities, was the undeniable inkling that it wasn’t a “job” for you and your ex to be amicable. But amiability just served to confuse, and at first you welcomed the voice that silently whispered to you to stay away from your ex, that he was bad, and the only way to move on was to cut him off completely,like a tumour.

You knew that wasn’t right, though. This ex of yours, who you grew up with, went through emotional distances with, had given up hating and resenting, and just felt a mixture of understanding and forgiveness and occasional disinterest and overall like for, you needed to be able to experience all of that.

That boyfriend didn’t last.

And as you sat there with your “present” in your lap, laughing, saying you hope the ex knows you don’t actually think he stole your containers, and he assures you he doesn’t, just saw them on sale and thought you could probably use them is all, you look over at The Boyfriend. The one who gets it, got it from the start. He understood completely the crazy,complex place your ex holds in your life. The father of your children, an old friend, a guy with whom you and your boyfriend will go on what are essentially double dates with him and his extremely quality girlfriend because you are all awesome and all like each other quite a little bit.

………………..

The containers are rolling around in the sink and you find yourself grinning. At all the good in your life, how this is not how you planned it, how 3 years and change post marital break up, you still have a sense of whiplash at how much things went off track. And how delicious a place “off track” really is. The Boyfriend comes up behind you, wraps his arms around your waist, you have about 5 seconds to enjoy it before a kid NEEDS something.

It’s beautiful.

And your only regret is that you couldn’t have shown this to yourself 3 years ago. Seeing this would have made things so much easier. You know it might not, probably won’t, always be like this.

And you know you appreciate it even more for the soap-bubble fragility of it all.

Innies vs. Outies (Not a Belly Button Story)

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The city in which I live has a fair number of traffic circles.

They’ve fallen out of favor in several parts of the world. Too tough to navigate. (I did a brief stint temp-ing at the city’s transportation department. Those guys have a gigantic hard-on for traffic circles. Love ‘em. Think every intersection should be one. Scary stuff.)

For the uninitiated, this is how it works.

A friend and I were discussing some jackassery we’d witnessed in traffic circles of yore. Talk turned to our respective ways of tackling the Circle.

She stays in the outside lane. That way, she feels like she has more control of the situation, can watch for cars making a last minute dart out of the inside lane, predict, mitigate.

I am an inside lane person. The inside lane has the right of way. So no matter what, I’m in the right.

(Another friend says she just closes her eyes and goes as fast as she can to get the hell through.)

We decided the traffic circle is a fairly accurate personality test.

I play a defensive game. I make sure the rules are in my favor, and then go.

The friend takes control and assumes others will screw up and is READY.

(And the close eyes-go fast friend? Well…)

So how about you? Are you an inside lane, stay safe, wear the rules like a badge person? Or an outside lane, take charge person? What’s your deal?

“No, THAT’S Love.”

I have begun to tire of winter.

It is no longer charming, or a lead up to Christmas. It is cold and stupid and irrelevant, now.

So today, I thought of summer.

This past summer, we took a lovely trip to a lovely mountain town. On our last lovely morning there, we ate breakfast on a restaurant patio.

It was a quiet Sunday morning. So the sound of skateboard wheels was fairly jarring. A longboard passed by. A longboard with two riders. Both guys. The guy on the back had no choice but to wrap his arms around the guy on the front. They looked happy.

We stared at them as they rolled by.

“That? Is love” he said.

He saw I was done my bacon. He asked if I wanted his.

“Now THAT,” I said “is love.”

Lines.

What is it about line-ups that perplexes us so?

You would think that Canadians would be pretty kick-ass line citizens.  We are polite and friendly to a fault.  And we live in a quasi-socialist country, so we really don’t have any expectation of fast and/or efficient service.  This combination should, technically, make us really model citizens of lines.

Yeah, not so much.

I’m at the post office today.  There’s no good time to go to the post office.  I always encounter a line, no matter what.  And this time does not seem to be an exception.  It’s at least 14 deep, snaking down an aisle of the drug store that houses the post office,  when I get there.  And it’s not moving.

There is a gathering of people near the line.  They are milling about in all directions, distracted by everything around them.  I don’t want to step on any toes (literally or metaphorically), so I have to start politely inquiring which of these people might actually make up the line proper.  I think maybe that question will alert them to their non-linear behavior (maybe shame them, mildly?).  No.  No it doesn’t.  I get 2 blank looks and a “YEAH?!?!”

So that’s the kind of line it’s gonna be.  Ok.  Game face on.

One of them wanders clear out of the aisle, engrossed in the many varieties of bottled water nearby.  I resist the urge to inquire whether he came to drink or buy stamps, goddammit, because you can’t do both.  You just can’t.  He comes back to his “spot” which appears to be a 6 foot circle near-ish the line, and he is totally cool to share it with whoever wanders into it, completely ignoring the Code of the Line Up.

And then someone lines up behind me.

He’s not real good at personal space.  He parks himself so close to me that I can’t shift my torso without being bumped by him.

This bothers him not.

He uses this down time on-line to connect with someone on the other end of his cell phone.  Loudly.  Like, LOUDLY.

And he’s standing so close (actually, not standing.  Doing more of a mild jig/crump/rain-dance) that I can not only hear his side of things, but every word the person on the phone is saying.  They seem to be in some sort of Vapidness Deathmatch.  And they’re both winning.

The fuckery reaches its apex when the person on the other end of his call decides to put the cat on the phone.  THE GOD DAMN CAT.  (It should have come as no surprise that this improved the conversation.  Greatly.  I had to bite my tongue, so as not to yell “Please don’t go!” when the cat drifted off and was replaced by its owner.  Who detailed all the adorable things the cat had done today.  Including the super-cute poop it took in her shoe.)

One final bump to the back of the head proves to be my straw.

I make the universal sound of disgust (ok, I can’t actually spell it, I think the closest you can come is “gggcccahh!”, and it relies on all my German ancestry to get it out with the right degree of guttural oomph).  Sadly, it has no effect.

I am forced to go Full Mom on this asshole.

Shoulders square.  Eyes burning holes.  “EXCUSE ME?  CAN YOU PLEASE STOP THAT?”

He is mildly surprised.  Apparently, our “touching” relationship has affected me more deeply.  He looks like he had no idea I was there.

I let my self-righteous indignation wrap me like a nice, protective blanket for the remainder of my stay in the post office line.

And find comfort in the idea that maybe, tonight?  It would be THIS guy’s turn to get his shoe pooped in.