It Was The Best of Decades; It Was The Worst of Decades

The decade ends tomorrow. I've seen the 70's, 80's, 90's, 00's all roll out. Christ, I feel old.

The 70's taught me to hate tie-dye and to love Joni Mitchell. The 80's taught me that you can't trust anyone, not even your own flesh and blood, especially not men who wield Aquanet. The 90's taught me that I can hold down whiskey, but not vodka. The 00's taught me that I was wrong about everything I'd learned up to that point.

I learned to love with everything I have this decade. I learned that I do know what I want to do with my life, and that I'm capable of it. I learned to forgive, I learned to accept blame, I learned to accept help. I learned who I am at the peak of my game and at my lowest point.

The best thing about this decade was that I lost my husband, my marriage, and most of my mind....and I got it all back, plus. If you were there for that, thank you. Thank you to each and every one of you that held me hand through it. You know who you are.

The best thing that happened to my husband this year is that his job got yanked out from underneath him, and then re-offered to him. In another country. You know when you first take on a project and you do the very best that you can with it, but the next time you have to try that same thing again, you realize that you're a bazillion times better at it the second time around than you were in the beginning? That's his career right now. His last gig, in Canada? Was fine. He was good at it. This one? He shines. He smiles when he comes home from work. He knows he's doing something right; he's not doubting himself all the time, he's confident and kicking some ass. It's pretty fucking hot, I'll admit.

The best thing that has happened this year to my oldest son was going to junior high. He gets up every morning and brushes his hair. He puts on cologne and arranges his hat just so. He tells me he thinks he looks like Chris (his godfather) when he wears his hat a certain way. He washes his face and uses astringent. He generally gives a rats ass.

The thing with this kid is that he's very cocky. He's very confident. He very much so does not give a flying fuck what you think. (I wish I was more like him.) But getting on that school bus full of strangers and getting asked out by some girl on his very first day in the biggest school he's ever seen in his life has changed him somehow. He's becoming a young man, and it's beautiful to watch.

The best thing that's happened in relation to my youngest son is that he finally hates math. See, he's the kid that will tell you that your dinner is FANTASTIC and SO GOOD and he CAN"T WAIT FOR MORE and all of that means that he will not eat one stinking bite of it, but you won't realize that because he's so busy LOVING it that you can't see him hate it with all his might. He's brilliantly manipulative that way. And when he comes home, day after day, singing the praises of math class because it's HIS FAVORITE and he's SO GOOD at it and he CAN"T WAIT FOR MORE math class, I know he's struggling. And a few weeks ago, when I asked him to practice math facts with me and he ughed at me, I asked him why he was being so crabby. He said, "Because, mawwwm, I HATE math."

And now that he is willing to let down his guard and not try to charm his way out of this, now that he can admit it, we can finally make some progress.

The best thing that's happened with the girl is that she's totally sick and she slept with her daddy last night.

She loves her daddy. She loves him a lot, but he's pretty busy most days scrambling to provide Every. Single. Thing. from Q-tips to cars for 5 people, and that takes up about 27 hours of each of his days. She doesn't see him a whole lot; none of us do. Naturally, when she's sick, it's all momma. But about two months ago, daddy lost his job and we got shipped across a country for the new one and he had just about a month during that transition time with us, at home, every single day. She remembered who her daddy is. And last night, burning with fever and restless from exhaustion, she wouldn't be anywhere but in his arms as she slept.

My family; we've made some progress.

As for me? Well, it's been a year. I'm glad it's over. We laughed, we cried, we hurled. I suppose I should figure out what the best thing that happened to me in 2009 was, huh? I don't know if I could pick just one.

  • Best internet tool in 2009: MySpace. Why? Because of MySpace, I found my long-lost brothers, that's why. Truth is, I found them in 2007, but we really found the connection again in 2009. When the last time you saw someone, you were changing their diapers/getting your diaper changed by them, it's hard to just pick up where you left of, 25 years previous. We did, finally. And it is good.

  • Best overplayed inside joke that no one gets and certainly no one thinks is funny anymore, but we do: Hey! Did you know that me and Greeblemonkey used to be neighbors?

  • Best neighbor to have find you online, if you happen to be so cursed lucky as to have your next door neighbor find you online, twice, even though you're totally anonymous: Luke In Van.

  • Best cooking blog to find that just so happens to be written by a guy who was in your wedding: Christopher Cina {dot} com Especially if you haven't really seen him since.

  • Best blogger to find out you're sleeping with half-way through a conference that all of your peers are attending, by way of whispers and hush-hushed conversation: Busy Dad. Because even though you're devastated for, like, an entire 10 minutes, not just because a rumour like that discredits one of your most valuable friendships, but it also discredits everything you've done in the past two years to save your marriage, and no one warned you so you didn't even shave your legs that weekend, after those 10 minutes are up you get to take a really quick inventory of your life and decide what actually matters, and that's when you realize that your friendship does. As so you take your husband's advice, which was, "Fuck. Them." and you proceed as usual. And you win. And your fake internet mommy persona gets to fake internet sleep with the one of the hottest fake internet dad persona out there. Coattails, Jim...coattails. I ride them.

  • Best blogger to actually sleep with every night of a conference that all of your esteemed peers are attending, and most of them are sharing a room with you: Tanis. Especially when she mistakes you for her Boo and burrows her fluffy blond head under your chin and drools all over your nightshirt. Because nothing says, "I love and value you" like, "I find your chin-stubble to be convincingly rugged enough to allow me to mistake you for a 30 something Canadian lumberjack." Also? I've never slept so well in my damn life. That's how you know it's true love.

  • Best hour and a half I spent this year: Speaking at that conference about health and those of us whom, occasionally or not, blog about it.  Never, NEVER in my life have I been more moved by the power of what we as bloggers can do. Never have I been so touched by so many amazing women and their stories. Listening to her speak and watching her be truly brave and just being able to participate in something that, well, was an honor. Well worth the nightmare that getting the paperwork to leave Canada was.

  • Best thing I did to totally fuck up my chances of ever doing anything cool for my kids ever again: Letting them hang out at EA for a weekend and then with Tony Hawk for another one. It's going to be really ugly when they realize it's all downhill from here on out.

  • Best blog I'll ever have the honor of being associated with, even in some minuscule sort of way: Violence Unsilenced. THIS is the reason blogging matters. This is where there is change being effected and a difference is being made.

  • Best list I'm ever going to appear on, because at some point, someone is going to catch on to their mistake and I'll fade back into obscurity and go on being Greeblemonkey's Pony-Boy, which is all I ever really wanted anyway: The Babble Top 50 Mommy Bloggers. Partly because now I can say that five fucking years of doing this shit and someone finally noticed, but mostly because I've struggled so much with being labeled a Mommy Blogger. I don't think of myself as one, but you know what? I AM ONE. And I think I'm finally ok with it.

  • Best post that will keep me from shutting this blog down, no matter how many times I want to every single day: On All You Need, by ZoeyJane.

  • Best thing I was ever kind of trapped into doing, even though I knew I had to do it eventually: Tell my mother in law my blog url. I mean, I walked out of my bedroom and she said, "Good morning! So, what's your blog url?" I kind of had to give it up then, right? And you know what? I'M GLAD. I'm glad it's out. I'm glad that it's all on the table now, that I don't have some big secret hanging over my head anymore. Because seriously, do you have any idea how hard it is to keep something you do daily a secret from 95% of your family for five years? And now that she knows (everyone say Hi, Sarah!) the rest of the family is going to know and that will be the last of my super-secret-stealthy online identity. I will be public to those whom it matters most, my family. And I don't think anything will change. At least I hope it doesn't. You'll tell me if it does, right?

Here's to a new decade, a new adventure, a new me and a new you and a new us.

Mr Lady, out.

Because The Next Post Will Also Have To Do With Someone's Birth, And I Don't Care How Well One Writes A Birthday Post, An Entire Month Of Them Is Just Too Much. So We'll Talk About Bricks Instead.

Because bricks are quite handy. You can throw them at thy foes, you can trip over them, breaking your big toe and getting to use the crutches that you've always thought everyone looked so cool using, and all you have to suffer through is some armpit chaffing. Also, a broken big toe. You can deliver that crucial memo from the 14th story of your office building to the 3rd story of your office building with lightening-fast efficiency by using nothing more than a $0.002 rubber band and any old brick you find laying around. Or kill your boss. Either way, you'll be in line for a promotion.

I like bricks. More specifically, I liked aesthetically pleasing configurations of bricks. Did you know that I once had an aptitude for and a very promising career rut carved out for me in mechanical engineering? True story. You wouldn't believe what I could do with a ruler. In fact, if I had enough balls to go digging through my storage closet that is most likely, by now, host to 3 out of 5 of Canada's most deadly spiders, also my Christmas decorations, I'd be able to find a stack of old blueprints with, like, 1990 written in the date. And drawn in pencil. *gasp* See, back in the stone ages when I was dipping my pen in the blueprint ink, people still used drafting tables and mechanical pencils and T-squares. Now there are twenty four versions of Autocad out there. I once bought Autocad for Dummies, thinking it might be fun to try my hand at it again, and I couldn't understand the acknowledgments page of the book.

You know, it's kind of messed up that the very same people who can doodle out an entire city, or an aircraft, or a satellite in their spare time can't think of a way to make the lead in mechanical pencils stronger than a dried spaghetti stick.

An then I married an Ivy League architecture major and we've been happily employed in the restaurant industry ever since. At least my wasted education was free.

But we do both find ourselves drawn to the linear. The only pictures we have hanging in our living room are of houses, or parts of them. My bathroom has a big ass schematic of the Brooklyn Bridge hanging in it. All of the furniture is square and all of the frames are level. We're sort of neurotically straight, actually. The clutter all over every square inch of our lives offsets it nicely, though.

I also find myself, on occasion, taking pictures of buildings. I'm normally a portrait sort of girl; I wouldn't take a picture of grass or water drops unless there was someone in it. Every know and then, however, I find some building that strikes my fancy and I can't help myself but shoot it. Like in Mexico, when I found a cathedral with this entrance.

The Irony Gates

I actually love the fact that there's a big, fat thumb smudge right in the middle of that picture, so shut up. There's this building that I stumbled across in Chicago this summer.


Pretty freaking cool, isn't it? There's this shot of the Chinese Gardens in downtown Vancouver, and I love it because I can't decide if it's the very essence of serene or if it's the fucking creepiest sort of "crawling out of these trees to get you" picture.

Chinese Gardens

Either way, I'll take it. My neighbor Anjou took this one in Cairo, but it's all rights reserved so if you want to see it, you'll have to click. It's totally worth it.

And this one I love, I love so much, because if there's anything I appreciate more than gorgeous detail, it's religious irony.

Thou Shall Ignore The Commandments Thou Doest Not Agree With

But holy crap is that every gorgeous. Even if it is in abject defiance of the second commandment.

Chapter Eleven

We woke that morning and held our children's hands as we danced in and out of clouds. We soared with the birds, high above the earth, basking in sunlight we'd never seen together.

We sat together later that night, away from the things of man, under the dust of the Milky Way and Sagittarius' arrow, silent and still. We fumbled around in the dark for words that would not come. We offered our oldest son, the one that brought us to that day, to the sea to be swallowed and reborn a man, and the sea accepted our gift and gave us back a child changed; eyes slightly wider, stance slightly taller, made new in our eyes and in his own.

That night, when the world went black and the house moved in time with the breaths of our sleeping family, we lay next to each other in the thick salt air of night and listened to the waves crashing against our door; calling for us, coming for us. As the moon pulled itself into the sky and brought with it a new decade in our lives together, I took your hand in mine and with a whisper wished you a happy anniversary. Under the light of that moon and the weight of those waves, we drifted into sleep and out to sea.

Chapter 11

If My Mother Tells Me To Stop Playing With My Latte, Does That Mean I Have To Make A Commitment?

I am continually in the process of deciding whether or not to out my Super Secret Alter Ego on this blog.  Like the other day, I was quoted in one of those big, people in Volgograd have heard of it, way over my reading level news sources but I can't tell you about it because A) they quoted me, not Mr Lady and B) they used the one and only boring, responsible line I'd rattled off during the most brilliantly witty 10 minutes I've ever spent on the phone.  And then today some other big-shit news broadcasting company had me in their studio to talk about the original quote. And how I danced and danced around whom I may or may not pretend to be on the internet with them.

Because I'm just not entirely comfortable with people reading this blog yet.

I mean, it's not like I mind you reading it. You're fantastic, and I love your shoes. And to you, I am a few black letters hammered out onto a white template with an astonishingly copyright-breaking background.  I'm a few pixels crammed together into a 4X6 space on the internet. I am a transgender myth.  I am no one. When you close your screen, I go away and I don't come back until you do.  And I like it that way. I like the total lack of commitment that keeping this blog brings with it. I can't let you down, you'll never be disappointed or shocked or outraged, not truly, because I don't exist.

And so I keep typing. Truth is, I'm still not anywhere near used to the fact that anyone but the 10 people who've always read it do. I try to not look at my stats, because I just don't need that sort of reality in my fake plastic life. I like to pretend that I'm still talking to myself, and that I am the only one listening, and that way I can just say whatever the hell I want and laugh at myself next year for being so obtuse and no one is the wiser.

But you are the wiser, aren't you? You are there, you do read this piece of crap blog and you listen and you laugh at me tomorrow, because it doesn't take you a year to see what a screw-up I am. The question is, do I want my mother in law to be the wiser? The answer is hell no. Do I want my constant daily companions, my friends and neighbors, to know all of this, this other side of me that is firmly lodged in the realm of misperception? I don't know the answer to that.

A few weeks ago, one of my neighbors got me trah-rashed and got my blog url out of me.  He is an actual, real, respectable and published author and hasn't really said whether or not he's skeeved out of his skin over my blog just yet.  He did say that you know your way around a sentence, Mr. Lady, and I think it's fairly safe to say that I've never, ever been so flattered in my whole life and also, it's so veryvery wrong that I found that statement to be ohmygodso hot. It's a character flaw; I'm working on it.

A few days ago, one of my other neighbors found me on twitter. I don't know if he was looking or not, but somehow he found me. And it turns out, he'd read my blog before he was my neighbor, he just didn't put two and two together until the whole Great Twitter Debacle of 2009. We saw each other out front yesterday, and for a fleeting moment his alter-ego saw my alter-ego and those alter-egos looked at each other like you look at the guy the morning after and wonder, "Um, name? Name, dammit, name. Also, where the fuck is my bra?"

But you know what? It was over right then, and we were back to normal. Luke and Shannon, chasing their kids, watching them play Sonic the Hedgehog together, talking about sunburns and popsicles and crap.  The world did not end. The universe did not open up and swallow me whole. My neighbors don't think any less of me, that they're admitting, and I am not quite as mortified as I'd imagined I'd be when this all started to come out.

Because I know it's going to come out eventually. I'm not an idiot. Well, not totally.

There's no reason I don't want my mother in law to read this blog. I think she might actually enjoy it, once she got over the fact that I've lied to her for five years about how I know this person or where I met that person or why I keep scuffling off to conferences when, last time she checked, stay at home moms didn't host nation-wide conferences for each other. Though they should.

My husband has told his best friend, his boss, his boss' boss, his boss, the bartender and his old girlfriend who is, in her own right, a very big deal on the internet.  And most all of them will still look me in the eye on occasion. I, however, am having a hard time reciprocating.

I'm pretty sure my own mother has already found this blog. I can't be certain, but the odds are really high. I know my little brother has found it, though he's never mentioned it to me, but he's not mentioned anything to me in 17 years, so I can't fault him too much for not delurking.  And you know what? I stopped caring. I stopped going out of my way to hide from them a few months ago, and if they read it, they read it. If it hurts my mother, well, quid pro quo, bitch. I'm still fairly certain that I don't want my father and step-mother reading it, not just yet, but I've only got so long on that one because my older brother is quite literally Mr Lady's biggest fan and he Will Not Stop linking my shit on Facebook. Hi, Karen and Ed! Really, don't read the archives. You'll disown me. Oh, wait....

I worry about my children. That is probably the most hypocritical thing I'll ever say, seeings as how I have this penchant for plastering their sweet, innocent faces all over the internet, but it's true, and maybe because of that. I could tell you my last name and my real location and that probably wouldn't affect me too much, but then I'm telling you their last names and real locations and that certainly does affect the shizznit out of them. They don't have a blog, they didn't ask for this, and is it really in my right to hand them over to the internet that way?

Or is that the world's greatest excuse for being a big fat chicken shit who likes to hide behind avatars?

Because the truth of the matter is that, while Mr Lady is loud and assertive and unabashed, Shannon is quiet and cripplingly shy and demure and she really, really enjoys her privacy. Hell, it took her three years to tell her spouse she had a blog, at all. And they, she and I, we? Are two completely different people. Fortunately, I'm just crazy enough to be able to compartmentalize these two facets of my existence and play one roll when need be, then switch back to the other personality when it's time. Systemic childhood abuse? Blogger Prep School.

So I have all of this swirling around in my head this morning at butt-fuck o'clock this morning and I swing into Starbucks so I can, well, exist, and I put the orange mocha frappuccino they hand me into the cup-holder and lo and behold, this is what glared back at me the entire drive home:

Anne Morriss Just Kicked My Ass

That says:
The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to the rest of your life.

And then is says it again in French. I got bitch slapped in two different languages, for the lowlow price of $4.95 + GST, PST, and the carbon tax, and I'm still not quite awake yet.

But I am in the Wall Street Journal and on CBC's radio show and webpage. And that's as close to this closet door as I'm able to come today. Now please excuse me; I have to go throw up.

In The Springtime of His Voodoo

Five Star Friday I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar when I met him.

It was winter and I was 20.  It was his first day at some terrible restaurant that I'd been working at for a year or two. He was in the solarium going over new hire paperwork or something when I walked in the room.  There were at least 10 other people in that room, but I can't remember even one of them.  At that moment, he was the only person on the planet.  I remember the shirt he was wearing, the necklace he had on and which side his hair parted to.  I walked into the room, my uterus lept of of me and lunged at him, I rolled that bitch up, shoved her back in and kept walking right out of the room.

I don't know that he even saw me that day.  I don't know that he knew my name for months after that, but that was the day I knew that someday, I was going to be a mother.  Not kidding.

It was spring and I was 21 when I first properly met him.  He was enchanting.  He was smarter than anyone I'd ever met, funny, so very very drunk, and he loved his momma.  He'd been an architecture major and I'd been a mechanical engineering major.  In a high school.  Whatever; it counts in my world.  He liked punk and I liked rock.  He drank Newcastle and I drank Tuaca.  He was a competitive swimmer with a body like a rock and I was an anorexic with a body like a bendy straw.  He had a girlfriend and I had a fiance.  So that was that.

Until the day came when I didn't have a fiance anymore and he didn't have a girlfriend anymore.

Turns out, my pheromones agreed with his pheromones and I was more or less pregnant at first sight.  What can I say?  The man makes eggs shoot out of me.  Our reproductive systems realized they were in love way before the rest of us did, and before we knew it we'd made this:


It also turned out that golf is the best fertility drug ever manufactured by The Scottish and twice following this:

Golf suits him.  Overly.

We ended up with this and this.


We had many, many years when the only thing we managed to do right was make babies.  We had a lot of tears and a lot of hurt and a lot of misery but in the end, we knew that we did one thing absolutely flawlessly.  We didn't mean to have any of these kids, we didn't mean to get married, we didn't mean to meet, we didn't mean to live in Colorado, we didn't mean to do almost everything we've done since 1995 but we did it all and we made it work and even when it was abysmal, we had this thing, this one amazingly beautiful aspect to our lives together.

We made this.  Together.  Just the two of us.  By accident.  Those three people make me believe in fate.  They make me think that maybe he chose me, and they chose us, that maybe it wasn't an accident but that we were supposed to have them, that we needed them, that they were a gift the likes of which we didn't deserve and never expected.

And today we ended the whole thing.

Today we woke up with the possibility of another perfectly beautiful surprise.  We woke up with the possibility of more toes to nibble and more necks to sniff and more fingers to count.  We woke up with the possibility of being parents again.  

Tonight we go to sleep knowing that we will never again hold a flashlight to my stomach so a baby will grab at the light from the inside.  We'll go to sleep knowing that we'll never walk our fingers across my stomach while a baby punches our fingertips.  We know that we'll never crank up The Sex Pistols into a pair of headphones, wrap them around my stomach, and teach a baby that Sid Vicious means ni-night time.  (Totally worked, by the way, and no one had to listen to Mozart for 3/4 of a year.)  Tonight we know we'll never watch another VHS tape with a video of a needle going into my uterus and a little baby girl's hand reaching out to grab it in the darkness. Tonight we know that we will never again hold a 7 pound person covered in blood and goop who looks like a feral lizard and smells like, well, blood and goop and feral lizards and think that we're seeing pure, unadulterated, heavenly beauty.  Tonight we know that there will be no more first smiles or steps or hugs or words or boo boos or spaghetti dinners.  Tonight we go to bed knowing that we laid that boy, who cast a spell on me 14 years ago, out on a table, did really awful things to his brother Darrell and his other brother Darrell and forced-quit the greatest thing we've ever done, the thing that spring and chemistry and destiny made sure that we would do.

So this is how fertility dies....with frozen peas.