Words that Aren’t, But Ought to Be (Part I)

As of quite recently, I have a fiancée. (I absolutely DID have to let spell check take that for me. No clue how to spell it, most of the time. I start adding e’s and c’s till it’s just a sad marital status jumble.)
When I started seeing him 3 years ago, I didn’t know how to refer to him. “This is my…..” and then trail off. Boyfriend was accurate, I suppose. But boyfriends are for teenagers.

And what were my alternatives?

“Special friend”  That one made me picture a 50 year old divorcee in the 70’s, rocking a caftan, turquoise rings on every finger, telling the girls about him at our weekly bridge game. (Or maybe I was just daydreaming about Mrs. Roper. Again.)


“My old man” I thought that one made me sound like a biker. Plus, he’s 7 years younger than I am, so it was WILDLY inaccurate.

“Sex monkey” OK, so I totally used that one whenever I possibly could. Mildly shocking when used at the grocery store, teeth grindingly uncomfortable when used at parent teacher interviews.

“Partner” sounded like we were either an established gay couple, or we practice law together. Either of which would be AWESOME, but aren’t true.

So on top of the whole getting-to-marry-my-best-friend thing, the engagement gave me an awesome gift. I finally had a word to describe him that other people would recognize.

But here’s the thing. I got what I thought I wanted. And it wasn’t.

I am still in search of a word that captures ” I love him more than I’ve ever loved anything, and he makes me laugh and I hang out with him every chance I get and we have a house together and we parent together and we will be hanging out together regardless of legal status as long as this whole thing remains cool.”

For now, I will try to embrace fiancée.

(Even if I do see it in my head as Feyonce….)



Dispatches from the Backyard

1. Re: weeds. Some of those plants are actually quite beautiful. Some were hard to reach. Two things can be true. Either way, there’s still quite a lot of them out there.

2. If you’re ever looking for the world’s longest live version of the Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited”, it is on Songza, in the “80’s Wedding” playlist. Thanks to the last pair of earbuds in the world without a skip button, without whom I never would have found this gem.

3. Mad apologies to the next door neighbour, whose name I can never remember. I am terribly sorry you looking over the fence coincided perfectly with Lionel Richie’s appearance on the aforementioned playlist. I could not have predicted that “All Night Long” would have hit me in the previously undiscovered Get Yo Groove On spot in my brain, or that you would subsequently be confronted with a dose of salsa dance/soccer mom shuffle realness. My bad. 

Hi. I missed you.

Things that have happened since we last talked:

1. I learned that where I used to put two spaces after a period, the Youngs are now using one. I learned this was a way that people could look at my resume and tell I was over a certain age. I felt hella empowered knowing that.

2. I found spreadable Brie. It’s not quite the same, but you know, it fills the gap.

3. We went on our first family vacation to somewhere warm. Loved, loved, loved. Reaffirmed my need to be a Professional Money Haver, to make this a habit.

4. I got engaged. It was a surprise. A beautiful, holy crap, eyes wide surprise.

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?”


“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.)


“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?”


(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.)


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


“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.