Death may take a holiday but Influenza does not

Thursday, December 27, 2007

'Twas the evening of Christmas, and all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, except for Dawn Rouse;

The stockings were empty,the gifts all unwrapped,

The cookies were eaten, I had not yet napped;

My child finally nestled all snug in her bed,

The two hours of sleep she'd gotten finally messed with her head;

And Terrance in his skivvies, and me, feeling groovy,

Had just settled down to watch a bootleg movie,

When out in the hall there arose such a splatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Terrance was out cold, I was all by myself,

To deal with the issue that presented itself.

The moon on the breast of the newly puked vomit

Gave the lustre of pearls to the puddles upon it,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But my own puking child, covered toe to ear.

The fluid spew forth, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment she was getting quite sick.

More rapid than eagles the vomit, it came,

That I whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Lysol! now, Pinesol! now, Bleach and Windex,

On, Comet! on Downey! And Thank God I bought another box of Tide!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now clean it up! Wash away! Wash away all!"

As dry heaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

My daughter sat before the toilet and cried.

And then, in a twinkling, I knew without doubt

That my evening would be fraught with effluvia all about .

As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,

More vomit flew out of her mouth with a bound.

She was wearing new jammies, picturing Hannah Montana,

which were now all tarnished with what looked like banana;

the bundle of toys she had flung on her floor,

Now looked as if they'd been involved in a gelatinous war.

Her eyes -- how they watered!! Her forehead all sweaty!

Her PJ's were covered, blankets, rugs and Poor Bitty.

Her droll little mouth was drawn up in an "O",

making it easier forthwith from the vomit to flow;

I leapt over puddles of still steaming puke

to reach my poor daughter and give no rebuke;

While trying quite hard not to step in the yak

I murmured kind words, held her hair, rubbed her back.

And where was my husband, I hear you all wonder,

A sleeping pill he'd taken had put him quite under;

Once finished, I started a nice steamy shower,

And pre pared her toothbrush with all of my power;

I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,

And stripped down her bed, rugs, stuffed animals, towels, sheets, pillowcases, dear god, you can't believe how much stuff she actually HIT with her vomit....

My daughter I fetched from the shower with care,

and dressed her in clean clothes and braided her hair,

Her temperature I took, it was 104.

I knew that I needed to also clean the floor,

And stuffing the laundry inside of the washer,

I found the kids motrin, a bucket and water.

I knew for a fact that I would not sleep that night,

so I cleaned up the floor, separated colors and whites.

My daughter was sick, there would be no sleep for me;

And indeed there was little, between the puke and the pee.

But I heard Influenza exclaim as it drove out of sight

"Got you Bitches! Enjoy your puke filled Christmas Night!"

* and still it continues- Day Two. Maybe sleep tonight?

Clearly written by a guy

Monday, December 24, 2007

"twas the night before christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse"

It is 11:40 p.m. on Christmas eve. I have not been NOT stirring since six a.m.

Now normally - I am not a last minute kind of gal. I mail my holiday cards out the first weekend of December. I have addressed these cards in August. They were purchased the previous January.

On every other Christmas eve, I have simply waited until my spastic, over sugared kid was knocked out then hauled out the gifts. I had wrapped them days, sometimes weeks before hand. I simply needed to artfully arrange them, fluff the bows I had crafted from tinsel, and marvel at the splendor of my tree and gift wrapping and arranging.

Not this year. The cards sit in stacks - addressed, but not signed. I finished wrapping the last gift not more than ten minutes ago, and frankly I was a little aghast at the poor quality of my wrapping. There are No bows to be seen on any gifts this year.

I also had grocery shopping to do today. ACK. I thought a fight was going to break out in the dairy aisle over buttermilk - of all things. As the grocery store was out of eggnog, I went to the Second Cup ( my coffee joint) and begged a cup of eggnog from the barista. She kindly filled a cup with the nog, which I explained was going to be happily mixed with rum at the conclusion of the wrapping. I only partake of the nog once time per year. Christmas eve. And it must be mixed with rum.

And the soap. Remind me to keep my great fucking ideas to myself,can you? After proving myself to be a competent soap maker, my husband decided this afternoon that I needed to make soap for the neighbors. So there I was, at 6:30 tonight, making soap. Terrance suggested to Emily that I might like to make cookies for Santa too, at which point the lasers that shot from my eyes and set my husbands hair on fire seemed to have signaled that I was otherwise occupied.

Did I mention that my period waited until Sunday to roar back into my life?

And that Emily has decided to wake every 30 minutes and peek out to see if Santa had come yet?

I sit here - drinking my rum and eggnog pondering the truth of nobody stirring, and deciding that this poem was clearly written by a guy - for other guys. If it were written by a woman, here is what I imagine the poem to be like:

"Twas the night before Christmas,

What? No. I haven't seen the tape. I bought three rolls of tape yesterday.

and all through the house

No. I haven't made cookies. And I don't have more boxes. I gave you all the boxes I had.

Not a creature was stirring

well, except my child -who won't fall asleep. Which is terrible, because I know she is going to make a break for it at 3:30 a.m. when I have just fallen asleep...

not even a mouse.

Who am I kidding? I am going to sit down and drink this eggnog and rum because this is all starting again at 6 a.m. during which I will also be required to take pictures - while looking as if I have been on some kind of meth binge.

I raise my glass to you, fellow adults of the world, and wish you a relaxed and enjoyable holiday.

The power of one

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Hello Dawn

Thank you for your e-mail,

In regards to this matter, thank you for your comments we will no longer carry the Zoey 101 merchandise.

La Senza Girl

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2007 10:55 PM
To: Webmaster LaSenzaGirl
Subject: La Senza Girl Contact Form

Date : Wed, December 19, 2007

Name (age):
Dawn Rouse (37)

Country/Province :

Email :

Comments :
Dear La Senza Girl, I would like to know the status of your promotion of the Zoey 101 show in light of the recent announcement of the pregnancy of the 16 year old actress, Jamie Lynn Spears. I had a most uncomfortable discussion with my nine year old daughter today regarding this situation. I have purchased many La Senza Girl products for Emily - clothes, snowsuits, etc. She likes the styles, and as a mother, I am pleased that the clothes cover all of her body. Fashionable - but not too grown up. She still looks like a nine year old girl. For this reason, there are other "tween" clothing stores from which we do not purchase products/clothing. While I understand that your company does not have a personal relationship with Ms Spears, I can not stress strongly enough that a barely of-age pregnant actress does not promote the type of image or lifestyle that I wish to purchase for my child. I can only suspect that your organization feels the same way. I look forward to your response. Sincerely, Dawn Rouse

Mini Motherhood Smackdown

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dear Mama Spears,

I am not one to call the kettle black when it comes to parenting. And I held out for a long time when it came to your older kid. I mean, Britney IS an adult, and there comes a point where parents have to let their children be responsible for their own actions.

Of course, I did think it was a bit odd to dress your little girl up like a hooker school girl and strut her out in front of the world. But Hey. To each his own.

And then your oldest lost her ever-lovin mind. That string of guys? The white trash husband with the babies mama, the pantry free photographic Pap smear, the crazy BatBoy look she took one when she shaved her head?

Seriously? I suspected heavy duty post partum depression. And I thought - Where is the Women ( and I use the capital "W" here) in this girls life? Where is her Mom? Is there not one true friend who can sit down with her and say "Honey, you are fucking up your life beyond normal boundries" - one friend who isn't influenced by the fame and money? And even if it ISN'T a mom, we all have at least One of those friends, right? One who can reach into your skull and grab ahold of you - even as you insist that you are fine and don't need help.

But, I reasoned, a Parent can't be held for their adult kids messed up decisions. We do what we can, us parents, but there comes a time when we have to let our babies out into the world and we hope for the best. That the training and guidance that we have offered come out of the recesses and crevices of their brains and form a tiny voice of reason. We hope. But we can't know for sure until they are faced with the hard things, the crucial choices.

But today, Mama Spears. Today, you have pissed me off. Today I pass judgment on you - not knowing you or your situation. And why is that, Mama Spears?

Because today I had to explain to my nine year old daughter that YOUR 16 year old daughter is pregnant. Your daughter plays the lead character on a television program that mine daughter enjoys.

Can I hold your 16 year old accountable for her actions? Sort of, I suppose. I mean, I was 16 when I became sexually active too. I know that there was nothing my mother could have said to deter me from that path. However, here is the difference, Mama Spears - I went on the Pill before I became sexually active. I planned it. I went to the clinic and had an exam and was prescribed the pills. Why did I have the wherewithall to do this, you wonder? My mother. While she did not condone my sexual activity, she also had ALWAYS emphasized that being responsible - thinking about MY health and future, was the primary thing.

My mother, while unhappy, was AWARE of my changing into a young woman.

I can't help but start to see a pattern here with your girls. They have become the girls that I would discourage Emily from befriending. The type of girls who have too much information, too much freedom and not enough boundaries and rules.

And your parenting book?


Stop trying to live your life through your children. Perhaps then your children would understand that a child is a responsibility to be taken seriously - and not a means to an end.

Ding! Dong!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On Monday morning, our doorbell rang.

It was a little after nine, and Terrance assumed it was our neighbor, asking for help to push him out of his driveway. I mean, who else Could it be? There was four feet of fresh snow on the ground - almost everything is closed...schools, work, mail delvery ...everything.

Nope. It's not our neighbor.

All I have to say is that there are large scale organizations which should take note of the training going on here, cause these are some seriously motivated folks.

For those of you dreaming of a white Christmas

Monday, December 17, 2007

We respectfully suggest that you kiss our frozen asses here in Montreal....

This was during the storm on Sunday. Terrance valiantly attempted to keep up with the no avail

Do you see the neighbors swing? Yeah, I don't think he will until May either.

This is the garland. Can you see it? Of course not. Damn you winter!!!

The measurement of the snow is now 4 and a half feet. You can see that the snow has come almost to the edge of the balcony.

So, brethern in warmer climes - I now officially declare you the winner.

Is that a finger in our tree?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ah yes. The promised second part of the tree story. Of course other things were happening in the field as Terrance dragged the behemoth to the edge of the field.

You see, internet friends, I occasionally attempt to be NICE. You know, give it the old college try for the benefit of my child. I stand with the farmer - Elwood - and listen to his stories of farm hardship. I smile at him and thank him for having such a lovely farm. I express how much we missed cutting down our own tree.

Now I have NO problem with grizzled old farm types. Living in Vermont and New Hampshire has familiarized me with these types of people. I usually stand there and agree that the world is going straight to hell. That farming is a losing proposition. That I recognize that he works too hard for too little money. And that the banks suck ass.

This is the moment that Elwood injects the truly gruesome and macabre into our fun family outing. He tells us of his mauling in October by his tractor. The one coming to pick us up. Emily's eyes grow wide. The other mother standing in the field with us looks horrified. But Elwood? Ignores all signals coming from his captive audience. We hear of his hospital stay. The morphine. The weeping wound. The stitches. And then - in a move I can only describe as oddly poetic, he launches into a story of his neighbor. The neighbor with the three year old daughter. Who had her in his lap as he drove the tractor this summer.

Do you see where this is going?

Cause I seriously didn't. It happened so fast.

Elwood tells two mothers and four collective children about the three year old who fell out the back window of the tractor cab and was mangled by the machinery "Never to be seen again." At which point he adds this festive gem: "And her aunt, who was working in the emergency room when they brought in the pieces - cause they brought the whole machine with them - yeah, she didn't even recognize that it was her niece she was trying to put back together..."

Now let's rejoin Terrance:

When we left the Rouse-(other last name redacted), they were (scratch that, I was) attempting to secure the B.A.T. to the roof of our car. After being assisted by two farm employees, we finally secured (somewhat) the tree. As we pulled out of the parking lot, I caught a glimpse of the two farm employees shaking their heads in a disapproving manner. I'm sure they were calculating their legal liability.

The first mile of the journey back home was trouble free. This gave me confidence that I could take the highway without fear. However, my confidence was about to be challenged. As we pulled onto the entrance ramp of the highway-Emily announce, "Daddy, I can't see the tree anymore." What! I rolled down the window to discover that the tree had shifted. While still secured, the tree had slid from the left to the right-side of the car. This was going to be a long 30km's.

I would like to say without reservation-that Montreal is a wonderful city with a wealth of natural beauty. However, ask anyone what they dislike about the city and you will hear, the roads and the drivers. Montrealer's are notoriously bad drivers. Courtesies in the forms of signaling before turning and allowing someone to merge into traffic are rarely given. Quebecer's view driving as a competitive sport. They routinely weave in/out of lanes, tailgate, run lights at 100 mph, while simultaneously smoking, drinking coffee, talking on their cell phone, flipping you the bird and cussing you out in French. Ahh yes, these are the only driver's in the world that make you long for the good old days of driving in Boston. Driving on a Montreal highway at 40 mph with your flashers on give you the feeling of being a three legged dog trying to run across a six lane highway! You might as well paint a target on your trunk and put a sign in your rear window that reads, " Hey, I from the U.S., your country sucks, that's not really French your speaking, Poutine taste like Ass!

By the grace of Xmas-we made it home. This is when the real fun began. Once we got the tree off the car -we decided to drag it into the backyard and allow everyone to eat and rest. Oh, by everyone, I mean me. Upon returning from dinner, it was decided ( again, not by me) that the tree needed to be brought inside and put up. For reference sake, our ceiling is about 15ft high, the stick next to the tree in picture 1 is 15ft high. I'm looking at this tree- it's not going to make it into the living room. After knocking everything over from the back porch to the living room- we finally try to put the tree up. Just as I thought, when we try to stand the tree-it scratches up the ceiling. I take two feet off the top, place the tree in my fancy self-watering, self-centering stand and we get the tree up. We step back to gaze upon our accomplishment and take a collective sigh of relief.

The saga is over. Not! On Sunday, I'm finally able to put the entire tree episode out of my mind. There's something to be said about the peace and serenity that comes with having a pollen infested, asthma inducing, fire hazard in your house. My peace is soon broken as Emily walks into the living room and request that we trim the tree without mommy. What, "Honey, why would we want to do that?" The crying starts. "Mommy put the decorations up outside without me. I'm going to be in school all week and won't have time to decorate the tree." I explain to Emily that we can't decorate the tree without her mother-and unless she was now attending a boarding school-she would have plenty of time to decorate the damn tree. A few moments pass and I hear Emily crying again and Dawn ordering her to her room. What the hell is it now! It appears that Em' had tried to convince her mother to decorate the tree immediately, for fear that her mother and I are so lazy that somehow it wouldn't get done. I yell into the next room, "I just want to watch the game and eat my pizza in peace, is that to much to ask?" Emily starts to cry louder as she stomps away into her room, Dawn closes our bedroom door, and I head for the kitchen to consume whatever has alcohol in it. I yell at both of them, I drink because of you two!

Terrance has failed to mention the six hours of handmade garland twisting I endured. Because plastic garland is for pussies.

Terrance Speaks!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I know many of you have oft wondered about the long suffering Terrance.

He, of the "female issues" and general squeamishness about illnesses. He, of the "I can smell cat piss everywhere". I know, internet, that you have been perplexed by his ability to stand silent as his spouse wanders off into the world of true wife confessions and bad penii pictures.

No longer. He wants to share His version of the hunt for the Killer Sapin. Which I will graciously present....with my commentary in italics. I mean, you really didn't expect me to sit here silent and let him tell this story, didja?


Dear Family and Friends,

This story recounts our adventures over the past weekend to hunt and capture this years B.A.T. (Big Ass Tree!) While I enjoy Christmas as much as the next person, I don't understand why we have to have such a BAT every year. For my wife and daughter, Christmas is somehow diminished without the addition of a mutant sized tree. In the past, we have actually cut down trees that woodland creatures were still residing in. Birds have left their nest, only to fly back and find a smoldering stomp. Still, they need a tree that can be seen from space.

So far, so good. All of these things are true - as offered in pictorial evidence above. Remember - the man grew up in Detroit and misidentified a star nose mole as a RAT.

Okay, let me set this years scene for you . The tree farm that Dawn found this year was in Ille Perrot, a small town approximately 30km west of Montreal. This means at least an hour in the car to get a damn Christmas Tree. After arriving at La Ferme Quinn, Dawn and Emily decide that the trees that were pre-cut, netted and tied were not up to their B.A.T. standards. So we boarded an open air wagon pulled by two Clydesdale Horses and headed into the woods. While this sounds like a beautiful -postcard picture thing to do, it was -9C outside. It was cold as hell!

In point of fact, Em and I didn't even look at the precut trees. We already knew without talking that these would not be up to our standards. Why drive 23 km to buy a tree that was already cut? And Yes. It WAS cold. But the pretty horses! Look at the pretty horses!!

The "Sapins de Noel" were located in the very back of the woods. The long trip to get to them seemed even longer with little kids all around you coughing in your face. This wagon trip was one big germ incubator. I have never seen so much frozen snot in my life. This combined with the repeated warning to the kids to sit down while the wagon was in motion -least they fall off and be crushed under wheels, made this trip even more enjoyable.

See the germ phobia there?

Upon reaching the tree section, the hunt for the perfect B.A.T. began. After searching for a tree for an hour, Dawn and Emily finally settled on one. While they say that they asked for my opinion, it really didn't matter what I wanted, they were going to get their BAT. So, Dawn and Emily pick the biggest tree in the woods. They do this primarily for two reasons; they generally believe that "bigger is better", they also know that I'm the one who has to fell the beast. I must admit that I didn't cut the tree this year. The farm owner fell the tree. I simply dragged it back to the wagon.

In many ways, Terrance has finally embraced his extraneous position in the choosing of the tree saga. He follows Em and I around waiting to agree with the one we decide upon. With the addition of child in my arsenal of persuasion, he simply gave up.

On past occasions Dawn and Emily would generally stand around and offer words of encouragement as I struggle to cut through the tree with a butter knife passing as a saw. That was in the past, now, they simply point at the tree, turn around and head into the warming barn for mulled cider and hot cocoa. After getting the tree back to the barn I was told that it was to large to be netted. This means that I would have to tie the tree to the roof of the car with all of the branches exposed and catching the wind as i roll down the highway at 60 mph! Would we make it! I'll let you know in part two of the Saga.

Although in years past, this MAY have been true, I can assure you that there was no warming barn in the back 40 of the tree farm. My feet had frozen, only to be re-warmed by the walking. However, here is the point in the tale when Terrance, who was guarding the tree lest some nefarious other person swoop in and claim our hard earned prize missed something special - spending time with the farmer and his tales of farm land violence - which is what Em and I were graciously doing.

Attack of the Killer Sapin

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Now, it is well known that I am not an Uber-Mom. I don't bake stuff, I don't take Mommy and Me Thai dancing classes, and god knows the few times I have visited the park the other Moms stayed FAR away from me.

Christmas, however, seems to bring out something primal in me. There are urges. And these must be listened to - for the good of the whole family.

The main urge? A ridiculously large tree. That - if possible- we must hunt and cut ourselves.

For comparison purpose, I present the tree of 2005:

Please note that we had cathedral ceilings and that this 12 footer (ok maybe closer to 15)had no problem occupying the space.

It was a lovely time, back then. We would saunter out to the tree farm in October, choose, tag and pay for our chosen tree. Get a free organic pumpkin. December would arrive and we would drive up the hill to the tree farm to retrieve our temporary member of the family. All for about 30 bucks! For a fresh, just cut balsam!

2006 arrives and we are at a loss. We now live in a city and have no idea how people procure their trees. What to do?

Go down to the florist on the corner and pick this specimen....

Now truth be told, I wasn't THAT satisfied with this tree. It wasn't fresh and the needles dropped everywhere. Plus, we paid 60 bucks for it, which Terrance was having FITS about. The damn thing Barely made it through Christmas with needles intact. Oh, and it too was big. Really big. But it has a nice shape. And it too is Balsam. But the joy of watching Terrance struggle to cut the trunk and then drag it through the snow to our car? Missing.

So THIS year, I made it my year long task to find a tree farm around Montreal. I mean, good LORD, these people pride themselves on being farmers - there has GOT to be a fresh tree farm somewhere, right?

And I did it. I found a Tree Farm about 25 minutes from our house.

WHOO- HOO!!! I get a fresh tree! My tradition continues!

Except that here, the "idea" of a tree farm is quite different from my American version of the tree farm. In fact, this is a story which will be told in the coming days - but suffice to say for NOW that the feeling of "let them grow free and wild" seems to be the overriding mantra. A live and let live philosophy, if you will

cause this is what we came back with:

I had to mercilessly hack off over two feet from the top to get it to stand up in the house. The thing is a wild beast in our house.

LOOK AT IT! You can't look away, can you?

But wait.

Look at the trunk:

Do you see the normal, human sized bookcase in the back? Do you see the massive, monster trunk in the foreground? What you can't see is the 4th tree shooting off the back. Yes. 4 trees in one.

In my defense, it didn't look as big in the field, and it was the nicest tree we found.

And the house smells really, really nice.

Now, let me go give Terrance his pain pills with the shot of bourbon.

Next up- Sex through a hole in the sheet

Friday, December 07, 2007

I felt kind of cruddy today.

As Terrance passed by the bedroom, he inquired:

"You Ok?"

"yeah", I said, "I am either ovulating or you have perforated my uterus..."

He stops and pops his head in the door.

"EWWWWWW! I don't need to know about your female Issues!"

"Good Christ - Did you just refer to ovulation as a Female issue? What next? Referring to my period in hushed tones as "lady problems"? Building me a hut so as not to infect you with my "evil humours"?"

Terrance rolls his eyes and walks away.

I yell after him "I'll get the sheet ready so you can cover me up while we're having sex so you don't offend my delicate nature and blind me with the sight of your manhood!".

Boys are so silly.

This womans work

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I was sitting in the multicultural education class I TA the other day - and we were talking about gendered issues. Not simply in education, but in life. The article we were discussing involved the higher rejection rate of female applicants to the "upper tier" colleges and universities. The problem? Women are over qualified. This leads to tougher competition among female applicants.

While this, in and of itself is not a problem - the unintended result is a problem. Young men are being accepted with lower, less stellar transcripts/academic backgrounds in order to keep the gender balance on campuses.

"Hmmm", I thought to myself. "This is intriguing."

In education, of course, we see FAR fewer men in the pool of undergraduates. Even fewer of those will choose to teach elementary school, preferring High School or Physical Education.

It may be a status thing - I know my family's reaction when I announced I wanted to teach Kindergarten was "Why are you wasting your intelligence on KINDERGARTEN! You are incredibly smart - you could do anything you wanted!"

And well, Yes. I COULD do anything I wanted. And I wanted to teach kindergarten. After all, I reasoned, wasn't this where is started? Don't we need the best and brightest teaching our youngest children?

It may be a money thing. Very few male (or female) teachers support a family on their salary alone. Almost all are part of working "families" - two incomes combining to sustain a household.

As I pondered these things in my head, the discussion was occurring around me. While these students read and understand the article, I know that for the young women in the room - their lives both professionally and personally are going to be filled with moments that they will find difficult to envision now.

If, like myself, they are smart and articulate, they will be labeled unfeminine. In one interview, I was told "off the record" that they just wished I was "warmer" - you know, not so "direct".

This is code for "You don't act like a girl and we don't like women who don't act like girls."

As a teacher, I felt guilty for asking for a raise when I earned $7.50 per hour for caring for other peoples infants. I apologized to the parents when their tuition was raised so I could have a .25 cent an hour pay raise.

As a mother, although I worked in child care and early childhood education, there existed unspoken expectations that I not take "too much" time off to care for my child if she was sick/on vacation/home for a snow day. I was expected to be at my post ready and willing to do my job.

As a writer, I am told "There are no experts and we don't pay for any writing". I take this as more code that the work of parenting, the work of "women" should be given freely, with good cheer and a happy heart. After all, aren't we all in this together? Lend a hand, help a fellow woman out! Smile while you do it, dammit!

No, I think the issue is the same shit, different day.

Raising and Educating children is not something that is valued - regardless of the bullshit rhetoric spouted by the politicians...and yes, even parents. Everyone WANTS the best schools for their children, but nobody wants to pay for it. Everybody WANTS dedicated professionals who have Master's/PhD degrees in education teaching their child - but what crazy person is going to invest that kind of money to earn 40K a year?

By extension, the work of mothers, of women is expected to be given freely and without complaint. When you point out that women are still discriminated against in the workplace in a variety of ways, you get called an "angry feminist". When you point out that the educational system is failing our girls by asking them to achieve the highest they can - AND STILL REJECTING THEM what can that mean for these future mothers, partners, wives and women?

I suspect that the cult of womanhood will tell them that there "are no experts, and no one is paid" for the work they will do.

What my Spam says about me

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I recently started looking at my Spam email. I am not sure Why exactly, except that I noticed the Spam folder had grown by 200+ in one day and was curious about the flood of offers that I was not taking full advantage of by not reading these pressing missives.

So, this is what my Spam says about me:

1. I am very Ill

Why else would William and Gilbert be so concerned about my health and their ability to be my "cureall". Apparently, they have heard that I am not "full of health". They are also concerned about my ability to locate the drugs I may need here in Canada, so want me to know that were I to "click here" I would be whisked to the virtual "pharamcy" of my choice. William, in particular, wants me to know that he cures "any desease".

My confidence is slightly diminished by his poor spelling.

2. I am Heavily in Debt

The jig is up. Leo and Armando want me to be completely debt free. They CRAVE my debt free status. I am insulting their manhood by continuing to live my heathen life of deficit spending. What do they have to do to get me to come to the other side???

3. I want better sex!!!!

There is a multi pronged approach with this (ha-ha, a pun) Walter, Jackie, Cleon, Stephen, Ralph, Reginald, Peter, Artur, Phillip, Ingvar and another Walter want me to know that they know I want better sex. The have the right drug to make me happy. However, it seems that this must be an erectile dysfuction drug known on the streets as "Vragra", "V1gr@" or "love pi11". Also, Jackie adds that "Pleasure shouldn't end fast. Proove her that you love her forever!"

While I applaud Jackie on the sentiment and agree that it shouldn't end "fast"...let's be honest. Forever is a mighty long time and I got shit to do, Jackie.

4. I am lacking in computer software.

Aidan, Ingebord, Phillip, and Kristopher have what I need. Which is OEM software. And look, they've uploaded it for me. How kind.

5. I have alot of money laying around that needs to be invested.

Why else would Morton, Lavonne, Jessie,Francine, Alexis, Stan, Imelda, Bret,DeeDee and Misty be in such a tither about Nanotechnology? Perhaps they should get with the "V1agr@" folks. Sounds like their product could do well in the other market. It isn't the size but the motion of the ocean, right?

6. I have a Penis.

April wants me to know that I shouldn't be so critical of my lack of penis. With her Penis enlarge patch, I can have the penis of my dreams. She is very concerned about my self esteem. VERY VERY CONCERNED.

7. My Income could be higher!

These folks must not have access to the Investor folks. Qyeyn, Latita and Frank all have ways for me to vastly improve my earning potential. Most of which involve Ebay, or other "New, Unknown, Exciting and HUGE income profession." Well, shit. What am I going to school for? Dude. If I had known about this in high school, I would have saved all this money I spent in college! Wait, does this involve my dressing up as a zoo keeper and giving spankings?

8. I am interested in a "specialized" type of Porn.

Most of which involves
a. Busty Granny's
b. Blonde Transexuals
c. People posing on the toilet
d. Deep throat, specifically Asian women
e. Amateur Teens
f. Anal sex

Really? Wow. There are some fetishes that I have no idea about. Geesh. I need to get out more.

9. I have friends who are waiting to hear from me....Desperately.

Like Brandy and Mui. In the body of their email, I begin to believe that they may be alien geniuses.... I mean, check out these phrases:

"diskette and graduated a a some, believe accurately a scythe snooty a for barely."
"A cargo tornado they are pour grits polar to atom! but Most laughs. suit to dolphin sandwich are prime"
"a stovepipe heart snack remember prime .and grand Indeed,"
"cough the The tornado mating to living dances hydrant. to money a a the a a are conquers. accurately The love judge the toward Indeed, beyond."

Wow. Like an acid trip without the time committment.

10. I'm not sure what these folks need, but it is clearly Something.

Perhaps they are being held captive by Osama, and this is the only way for them to communicate to the outside world.

Jessica seems to be telling a terrifying story about Fred freezing to death...

"warning, dropped into the snow and begged Fred to go on without him. He sound in the room behind her, trying to tell her somethingto warn binder twine served as hinges on the doors and also as latches.herand it was in vain that she tried to shake off their influence.
bath ham a higher order of We collar must find a cave." Already we sculptural could see the blazing green eyes of man than we had as yet seen, source other than Ahm,
was all right, he declared, warm and comfortable, and wanted to rest.Once or twice she caught a glimpse of a black shadow over her shoulder,They gave as a reason for sticking the new part against their ownjust a reflecting vanishing glimpse, and when she turned hastily round
beef the Neanderthal herald the hungry carnivora. I seized a brand dialectal from the fire and  
calorie soya bean man.

Youll freeze to death Fred cried. Thats the beginning of it.there was nothing there, but the voices, mocking and gibbering, wereirregularly that they intended to use the alcoves for verandahslouder than ever. "

If you know where Jessica and Fred are, send help.

And the Mysterious "95" sent me a very existential email that was full of Question Marks. As if to ask..."What is the meaning of life, Dawn. Please tell us."

I don't know the meaning, but I got a shit load of snow to shovel in order to get out of the house tomorrow. And my annoying husband is coming to bed.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Dear Montreal Drivers,

Living and Driving with you for the past year and a half has been a truly edifying experience.

I no longer expect blinkers to be used for example. I am also ever alert to the threat of attack by bus, the veering of a large diesel powered vehicle sharply into the left hand side of my car. Additionally, I understand that Stop signs are "suggestions" and can not be relied upon to actually stop a car coming from an opposite direction.

Let me preface this next statement by saying that I am not one of THOSE Americans. No, sir. I am not a flag waver, or a crazy "love it or leave it" kind of gal. You will note, in fact, that I left it in July of 2006. I am a relaxed and easy going person.

However, you are collectively in sore need of some American etiquette regarding Gas Stations. I have never seen such chaos at filling stations as here in Montreal. It is a Freaking free for all. Pulling in at all angles, parking and leaving your vehicle in front of - say the AIR PUMP - allowing no one else to fill their tires. Upon your very slow return, you look at me as if I have done a wrong unto you by WANTING to fill my tires.

And can we pick ONE entrance and ONE exit to the gas station? Please? Pretty Please? When the entire entrance and or exit is 15 inches (yeah, I know - I don't understand the damn metric system) it makes it difficult to both enter AND exit by the same conduit.

I know that to suggest this is sacrosanct. I know.

But you could take a lesson in how to behave in gas stations from your neighbors to the south.

I will happily acquiesce your cultural superiority in many, many things. Croissants - Maple products and combining maple into things I had no idea could be combined with maple - tasty meat pies - pates - and wine.

However, if there is one thing we know, it is how to fill up our giant, gas guzzling, Kyoto hating SUV's.


American Sophist in Canada

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I really should not be let out of the house unattended. Part of the issue is that I so rarely interact with people who do not intimately know and love me that I forget – while basking in their love and understanding of my undeniably quirky way of looking at life – that the things I say, the things I laugh at, the things I just think and allow to tumble out of my mouth with no filter to sift out the odder and nonsensical meanings – those things may just not be socially acceptable.

It is as if I am Jaberwocky, come to life.

A meaning unto myself, ascribed characteristics and qualities that I do not define – but absorb, per the viewer.

Here are a few of the latest samples:

“Old Yeller? He had rabies! Of course they had to shoot him!”

“Will you be paying for a single pet cremation? I didn't. It was like an extra 300 bucks. I was 24. 300 bucks was a lot of drinking – so I think I have most of my own pet, but it's possible that other pets are mixed in there too.”

“My cat – the one whose ashes I have in my closet...Yeah, he looks down at me and laughs everyday when he sees the devil spawn I produced.”

I have rendered my new colleagues speechless. And perhaps offended. And often a bit horrified.

Oh, and attempted jokes about my Computer's “Slave name” of “dawn's computer” versus DF32G72 bring NO laughs in Canada. Especially when paired with an explanation of the whole rejection of “last names” as a part of the Black Muslim experience. Really kills the joke.


A few months have passed and while my new colleagues seem to be tolerating me a bit better, I still have the uniquely Un-Canadian ability to step over the line of propriety. They are a wholly polite people.

When being teased about being American, an episode of Rick Mercer was discussed. For non-Canadians, Rick Mercer is the Northern equivalent of Jon Stewart. He produced a television special a few years ago designed to make Americans look ridiculous - something we hardly need assistance with on a good day. There are copious shots of Americans signing petitions to stop the "Canadian tradition of setting their elderly on ice drifts and sending them out to sea", or congratulating Canada for getting the 24 hour clock. It IS funny, in a "Dear God, Americans know almost nothing about what goes on right next to them" kind of way.

So, after they were all done laughing at the silly Americans, one hearty fellow asked,
"Well Dawn, I suppose you must think the same kinds of things about Canadians"

and I responded - deadpan and serious, "Actually we don't think about them at all" - which wasn't meant to be as funny as it ended up being.

Herpes is a volkswagon right? The love bug?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Overhead today in the Graduate Students Lounge:

Anon student 1: "And then I thought I had the CLAP!"

Anon student 2: "What? Did you say the Clap?"

Anon student 1: "Yeah, the CLAP."

Anon student 3: "What is that? Is that some disease?"

Anon student 2: "Is it like chlamydia or something?"

Anon student 1: "Yeah, I think it is like chlamydia...or something like that..."

I sipped my drink and rolled my eyes and thought it was a sad, sad day when graduate students didn't know what a good old fashioned STD was.

I waited then for the discussion on crabs - and how delicious they were with butter.

Lice ain't nice

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Two weeks ago Friday, we went to lovely party.

There was wine and Wii and children running about. There was laughing and hummus and delicious cupcakes.

All good and wonderful things.

On Monday morning, I was in the office while the host of that party received a phone call from the school of his children.

He, not being a native English or French speaker, turned to the office after he hung up with the school.

"Is your daughter OK?", I asked solicitously.

"She has fleas?", he stated - somewhat puzzled.

I stared at him. My teacher instinct kicked in. "Lice?", I offered. "She has lice?"

"Yeah, thats it - Lice"

My head began to itch. Instantaneously. In fact, I suspect some of you are itching simply READING this.

Then, I recalled my impossibly curly haired child rolling on the floor with his long blonde straight haired child. The same long blonde straight hair child who spent quite a bit of time in my lap as we giggled and watched her brother and Emily play Wii.

Then I thought about my spouse. With his dreadlocks. And his natural hypochondria.

Oh, Shit.

I offered to check his daughter at the office. I have expertise in this area. Years of teaching and living in child care centers makes you a savvy lice spotter. I have calmed many a parent down as I showed them what they were looking for, what to do, what to use, how to comb the eggs out. Reassuring them that it was not do to a dirty home or dirty child - quite the opposite, in fact. Lice LOVE nice clean heads - best real estate around, and WHO doesn't want to build their home on the best real estate available?

Sure enough - there they were. In full, lice-esque glory. Doing their lice thing.

And theres me. Staying calm. Trying not to itch my head. Trying to think of how I am going to break this news to my husband who is perpetually coming up with new diseases what he is sure he has. Trying to figure out a way to let him KNOW ( since I have my late class and won't be home until 7:30 or 8) but not make him lose his shit and begin some kind of bleaching extravaganza.

In hindsight, I shouldn't have left the message on his cell phone. But oh well.

The good news? We seem to have been spared.

The bad news? Terrance keeps checking my hair. Because he doesn't know what he is looking for, he spends the whole time making dire air sucking in noises as he pulls out lint and other NOT LICE stuff from my hair. And let me tell you - nothing makes you randomly itch your head than the suggestion that you Could have lice.

In fact, you are all scratching right now - admit it.

That's Good! That's Bad!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

* Getting your period after waiting for two months - knowing that you aren't pregnant (cause the tests keep saying no AND that would indicate a massive failure of a vasectomy). Hurrah! Ugh! The massive cramping!

* Finally figuring out one of your paying gigs is Up and missing (in advance), deeply, the dollars it brought it each month. Hoping someone is going to hire you for your witty caustic observations. Realizing that most likely won't happen.

* Not having to cook Thanksgiving dinner cause you live in Canada. Figuring out how to bribe your kid about not having a traditional American Thanksgiving cause you live in Canada and have to go to work tomorrow ( and she has school).

* Referring to the Brownie leader as "Brown Eye", instead of "Brown Owl". Hoping Scary Brownie leader never catches you, or she will most likely smack you with her cane.

* Living with La Chatte who has your sorry meat puppet ass in her zombie cat eye cross hairs.

It's the Aliens Fault, apparently

Monday, November 19, 2007

Can someone explain the holiday significance of the alien trapped in an electric tower, surrounded by sawblades?

Furthermore, this was the beginning of the float for the War and Child Amputees, which made it all the more puzzling.

Americans! Be on the lookout for this new "blame" strategy - It was the Aliens who TOOK the WMD's.

Fear of Failing

Saturday, November 17, 2007

This time of year makes me feel a bit twitchy, I think.

I go from being agitated to bored to hyper anxious, in the span of a few minutes.

Now, what some of you do know and all of you are about to learn is that I have a stupendous fear of failure.

"Oh Dawn", I hear you say, "We ALL have a fear of failure! That's normal."

Well, imaginary internet audience, I agree. In fact, as a human species we tend to use this to our advantage. We move forward. A little fear keeps us on our toes.

That's not what I am talking about. Tonight, as the fear creeps up on me, my heart starts to pound. I begin to wish for an Ativan which will disconnect the fight or flight response which is beginning to flood my brain.

My ability to be avoidant when confronted with Fear can be legendary. Just ask my PhD adviser, as she tries to get me to commit to meeting with her. I drop off the proverbial radar. I become the invisible lady.

Or, I stuff it so deeply in my subconscious that I cope with it through dreams for YEARS following the event.

I referenced in an earlier posting that I have been lucidly dreaming as of late. Where I KNOW I am dreaming, and yet I choose to continue with the storyline, albeit in a more controlled fashion. I am not a dream analyst or even a dream Anal-rapist, like Tobias Fucke (Analyst and Therapist) but I do know that the things I have been doing in these dreams are different.

In 2001, I was fired. More precisely, because my employer didn't have legitimate means for terminating me, they "eliminated my position" . Of course, I was the Director of the Child Care for a Housing Authority in Southern New Hampshire.

To say that this event scarred me is a little under stating the enormity of it.

In August 2001, I called for treatment of my post-partum depression. Emily was three and my depression had grown so deep that I wasn't sure that I could ever climb out. It was during this time that I started fearing talking to the staff at the center. I feared everything. I couldn't cope with decision making about anything, let alone budgetary matters. And the budget, at that point, was in shambles.

I got my work evaluation in August of 2001. It was very positive - as the copies I kept tell me.

In September 2001, I entered therapy. I started medication for my depression. I started taking days off,as my therapy would leave me exhausted and we were in a heavy ( twice a week) schedule until I stabilized.

I told my Assistant Director about the situation, but I was loathe to tell my Executive Director. Meetings with him felt tenuous since he had once lay into me in the office of the child care - asking my book keeper and secretary to offer their criticisms of me then and there. It was demoralizing and brutal. When I look back into my personal journal entries of the time, I was devastated. I was a new Mom of a fussy infant. I was running a child care with 30 plus staff and 120 children. My husband had quit his job to start his own business the month before I delivered Emily, so I had to go back to work at 11 weeks post partum, as I was carrying the health insurance for the whole family.

I approached my Asst Director in October, 2001 about me dropping to four days a week for the upcoming year. I wanted her buy in before we presented this to the Executive Director. It would help some of the budget issues, as I would take a cut in pay - and give me time to heal myself.

We went to him together. The Asst Director and I sat with my proposal. I would go to four days a week. I needed a more flexible schedule for awhile, but I remained committed to the child care. I just needed time.

Later on, he emailed me. He asked me to tell him what was really going on. I made, in hindsight, a fatal error. I was so relieved that my plan seemed to be working, I admitted that I had started Prozac, and needed some time to get myself on an even keel. He quickly responded that he understood and that everything would be fine.

So stupid of me to believe that.

Later that month, I got sick. Super, super sick. While my brain was starting to re-boot and regain normalcy, my body had given up the ghost. What started as strep throat, moved into my ears and sinuses..then into my lungs. Pneumonia. And Shingles.

The day I made it into my doctors office from work ( as I was already on antibiotics for the strep and ear infections), I was at a stunning 70% oxygen saturation. I was an odd grayish color. I mentioned that I came from work, right?

I was out - as demanded by my doctor - for a month. Not shockingly, I had that time and much more in accrued sick time. As a person who had invested her entire entity into her work persona, I NEVER missed work. Never.

When I got back to my desk, it was after Thanksgiving. On my chair was a letter stamped confidential. In the letter, aside from telling me that the organization was "eliminating" my job as Director, were not-so veiled threats that I should resign so a positive recommendation for any future employment would be insured. If I recall correctly, I think there were some other things about me being a lousy employee and a bad manager.

I always wondered how much my admission of being on Prozac factored into the decision. It was also much later that I began to wonder about my Assistant Directors role in this bloodless coup. She, who I had defended countless times in meetings with this same Executive Director, may well have been hand in hand with the ousting of me. He liked to threaten to get rid of her when he was feeling like he needed to punish me.

I was at my weakest point. I allowed myself to be vulnerable. Actually, I had no choice, as my body had made the decision for me. I was the wounded antelope. After I finished crying, I just gave my resignation. I folded.

From then on, whenever I felt insecure or upset I would dream of the child care. I would dream of sneaking in through the back door. I would encounter people that I did not know, although I would insist that I was the Director of this place. I would wander lost and scared and angry through this dream child care center. I would wake from these dreams feeling the same way. Scared. Angry. Lost. Reliving my failure over and over.

In the last weeks, I have dreamed of the child care. These dreams are different, however. In these dreams, I am opening drawers in my former office. Drawers that are sealed with packing tape in my dream. I am opening them, stripping off the tape and sorting things out. I am giving things away in my dreams. I am emptying these drawers and saying goodbye to the people that I still recognize. The people I don't recognize I no longer chase after them insisting that I am the Director of this place.

I am still sorting these dreams out. I am still sorting through my feelings of failure - feelings which have kept me in relationships with old boyfriends, or old work places and old bosses far too long. Feelings which keep me running from PhD advisers. Feelings which make me hold onto past successes so tightly that I can miss new successes waiting for me.

Ira Glass, Bitches!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

WHAT? No comments on the Wild Fuck Reserve being worn by a European Nation's youth?
Can I no longer shock you people? Do I need to show up with one boob hanging out of a tube top, talking about how I am carrying Vlad the Impalers love child?

Cause I can. I am not afraid to totally GO there....

Here is another entry into the

"Youth of today are all going to hell in a hand basket"
"Why I am becoming that cranky old woman who mutters about todays youth all going to hell in a hand basket"

Lecture in class on Monday night - I am giving a co-lecture on GRAPHIC NOVELS!!! How fucking cool is that? Graphic Novels, People!! The Sandman, Stardust, Batman: Dark Knight Returns, Maus, Persepholis......

My colleague reads a quote from Ira Glass. She intros the piece and says "You know Ira Glass? This American Life?"

Nothing. Not one flicker of interest.

Although I outed myself as a blog writer to these same students that night as a Blogger and later, when I watched the stats meter, I could see all of them hitting the sites from class. If you are still reading, I say STOP and read your book for class. You don't want me to bring Vlad to class.

Someone needs a new translator

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A work colleague of mine recently went back to his European country of origin for a holiday.

He was shopping for clothing for his children in a chi-chi boutique when he came across this logo, emblazoned on the clothing.

Aside from the bear looking as if he is experiencing anal rape AND calling your mother a whore, this can only serve as a warning to not wear the logos of things you can't read.....

Mackin ain't easy

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sunday night, 12:30 a.m.

Dawn and Terrance, laying in bed in the dark - back to back, having just watched SuperBad...

Dawn: You know Fancypants called her baby McLovin on her blog. It is such an awesome nickname that I wonder if she'll be able to stop once he's born.

Terrance: It was an awesome name.

Dawn: Yeah. It would have ruined it kind of if he had a first name (in the movie)...

Terrance: Unless it was Mick

Dawn: Mick McLovin.....Yeah thats good

Terrance: Or Mack'n McLovin

(Dawn hears this as black slang Mack'n - as in pimpin', which we all know ain't easy)

Dawn: I suppose they could call him Mackin McLovin. I think that might be a Scottish name.

Terrance: That's what I just said.

Dawn: No you didn't. You said "Mack'n"

Terrance: Yes, I said Mack-in.

Dawn: That isn't what I said. I mean M-A-C-K-I-N, as in a Scottish name. YOU said "Mack'n" in the black colloquial manner meaning pimping.

Terrance: No I did not. I said Mackin as in the Scottish name. I was not using a Black colloquial phrase.

Dawn: Yes you were! You are even SAYING it different now.

Terrance: Dawn - of course I know what I meant, and I meant the Scottish derivative.
I would KNOW if I meant the black colloquial slang.

Dawn: I can't believe we are having a heated discussion about McLovin (breaking up into hysterical laughter)

Terrance: Do you plan on laughing like that all night?

Dawn: (giggling) I hope the cat jumps on your head just as you fall asleep.

Desperately Seeking Smart Alecks

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Seeking: Smart ass people who enjoy mocking others. Successful applicants will not be easily offended, have no issue with seeing nudity, and revel in passing snarky judgment.

Format is loose - come as you are, or use a pseudonym, your choice. Commitment is loose too, the more the merrier, I say.

Apply within at


Echo and Narcissus

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Over the past year, my blogging has been stripped down to the bare bones.

Of course, one could look at my collection of bloggy bloggedness and think...This is bare bones? She IS crazy.

No, no. I mean here. Baleful. This is my blog home. The place I can come home, take off my very pretty heels. Put on my comfy jammies and just be me. This is the home where I know where everything is, hidden in the cupboards. Even that old tin of dusty saffron, way in the back, or the mysterious jar of mint jelly. And honestly...why do I have this many cans of broth? Is there an impending broth shortage?

For a little while, I felt what other bloggers have described. I started to write for other people. I dressed up my home. I put out the special hand towels in the bathroom. I served some fancy dishes. Not because I liked them, but because OTHERS seemed to like th em and I wanted to be liked. I, like Harvey Fierstein, just want to be loved. Is that so wrooooooonnnnnng?

No, it isn't wrong - but it isn't really me.

I had a rage yesterday. This rage sent me into the bathtub for a long soak. I covered my face in mud and lay in the steaming water trying to filter through the different levels of anger and disappointment that moved through my body in rapid electrical shocks.

Part of this rage is figuring out my place in this world - this odd, ethereal blog world. Let me be clear - this isn't a rage at any one person - but within myself. There are things that I have left undone - goodbyes to former friends that I have let go unsaid, or simply faded away into the nothingness of the internet. That is easier for me, certainly. I, who sneak out of parties when I can not take the social aspect anymore. I like lack of fuss. I like quiet endings. I am a very low maintenance friend.

However, those endings do not tend to be soul satisfying. This had led to my dreaming as of late. Dreaming in which the landscapes which have dominated my dreams for years are subtlety changing. This is very disconcerting, as it is like walking into your bathroom and finding all of your toiletries gone. These places have a purpose and the purpose has changed and you are trying to piece it all together through a foggy filter of dreaming.

Do I sound a little crazy?

Sigh. Sadly, I am not. I am the most lucid I have been in two long years.

The dreams tell me that I am moving on. Literally. I am packing things up in dream worlds that I have occupied for over ten years. I am announcing to the people who live in those places that I am leaving. I am not sneaking out. This is , of course, scary. And liberating. It means I will be able to tell those stories soon and that my telling will be as objective as I can be. Maybe even funny.

And here, in this waking blog world I am saying goodbye to the people to whom I failed to say good bye. This might seem silly as they no longer walk by here on their way to work, but it needs to be done. I will miss you, friend. I enjoyed our time together. I liked the person I knew at the time I knew that person. I accept that it is not you, and it is not me. We did not fail at anything. There is no blame to be assigned. The friendship lived its life for the season it was meant to live. You made me laugh - maybe more, but that the beauty of the shared emotion is enough. I release you from your obligations, and me from any of mine.

And that includes any of you lingering here for any other reason but choice and enjoyment. You don't have to stay, and I am grateful if you do, but I am no longer writing for anyone else. I am turning off the comments for this blog, as I know myself and I will be tempted to see who is visiting and who is commenting and who, who, who.....

No, I write for me.

This is how my voice will come back to me.

Random pieces of information- Take 2

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Good advice no one ever told me:

Halloween isn't fun when you are the person carving the pumpkin, buying the candy and enduring the constant pleas of "How much longer until we can trick or treat?"

If you are in your 20's, STD free and unattached - and are of the inclination - you should have protected sex with whomever you chose. Really. I look at these young beautiful women and think about how much time I worried about my "reputation", et al. What the hell was I saving myself for?

Don't bother to fake an orgasm - I mean, honestly. It does nothing for you, and gives your partner zero feedback. If they are doing something that isn't working for you, speak up. In fact, don't fake anything.

TB's adds: Go naked more often, which I agree with whole heartedly

Buy and wear the pretty underwear. For yourself.

Get massages.

Young men in their 20's are idiots. I also look at them and am astounded that anyone finds them charming or attractive. I certainly do not. (I qualify this by saying that they are "cute", certainly. However, having watched them close up for two years now, and seeing these lovely young women look at them adoringly....Sigh. Kind of makes me want to shake them. The same feeling I had when I saw pre-kids, pre-crazy Brit and K-fed, and I wanted to grab her and say "NO!!!!!")If you are in love with one of these men, know that they will not change (see Lisa's Comment). What you see is what you get later on. But with Hair growing out of odd places.

There may come a moment when you think "My partner actually understands me!" and you will be grateful. This moment, of course, may pass. It will come back again, you just can't know when.

Other peoples babies are very cute. Your baby will be the most work/worry/lack of sleep/joy you never imagined. Proceed with caution.

There is nothing more pleasurable than laying in bed in the sunshine. Adding coffee ups the pleasure even more.

Parking in a city engenders a certain ruthless attitude.

Eat what you want.

Reading graphic novels as an adult is really fun.

Spending money on music is never wasted. Yes, you may regret some of the CD's in hindsight (Yes Slow Jams CD I am talking about you)

Drink the wine you like.

You will come to enjoy the joy of someone else cooking for you. When your parent did it, I mean - it was no big deal. If you have had to do it for yourself, you will be wildly grateful for a nice bowl of soup made by someone else.

There will come a day when you weigh - heavily - the two to three days of being hungover for the one evening of drunken debauchery.

Hit me with your wisdom, my loves.

Right next to the Spock cafeteria

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Overheard today as I was walking out of the Multicultural Class:

"Yeah Dude. I'm gonna head over to the Shatner Building and hang out for awhile."

Yes - there is a William Shatner building - a McGill alumnus....

Wriggling off the Hook

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Long before I was a parent, I was an Early Childhood Professional. Some may know this profession as “child care”, or “daycare” – but I stuck with term Early Childhood Professional. After all, I had racked up quite a series of student loans to get that Bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont, and by golly, I was going to work it.

I taught almost all ages at various points in my career. My calling, however, lie with Infants and Toddlers. I kept coming back to this age group. I loved them. I was fabulous with them.

Now, working with a group of 8 to 12 children ages 6 weeks through 18 months could be challenging. I won’t lie. I have been shit and vomited upon in the most clever and unique ways. I have cleaned things from children’s orifices and plucked beans from ears and nostrils. I have administered Ipecac and then held the bucket as the toddler puked her everlasting guts up. I even once rode shotgun to the ER with a bleeding toddler on my lap; from the head wound he acquired after climbing up something unclimbable and dislodging something immoveable.

I watched other people become parents.

While it isn’t widely known, there are actual developmental stages of parenting. Each parent moves through the stages, with each child. If you have a 4 year old and a newborn? Two stages, at the same time. Of course, as we know about children, each parent goes through their development differently.

But here is the secret that I am going to share with you. Closer…..Come here, I want to whisper it to you…

99.99% of the parents were doing fine. Really.

I watched hundreds of couples parent. With almost no exceptions, they were doing fine. Yes, I know what they worried about. I know that they worried that I was judging them, and sometimes I was, for I did not know their pain. I know that they worried that their child would never walk, or never give up the binky, or never eat solid foods, or never win the Nobel peace prize. I watched them compare and contrast their child with the others in the room. I watched them try to bait me into telling them that their child was more or less advanced than someone else’s child. I watched their joy at new teeth, and their exhaustion and pain with teething. The joy of a child becoming a walker, with the pain of the child becoming a walker! The joy of the acquisition of language, then the pain of the incessant “no.”

I watched them develop from insecure parents who weren’t sure about how much their child should eat, to confident parents wrangling toddlers from classroom to car. I watched the cycle start again when they feared their child would never learn to use the toilet, to the confident 4 year old displaying the rudimentary lines of a name.

Of course, as soon as I became a parent, I forgot all of this knowledge. I worried, I obsessed, I fretted. I second-guessed myself constantly. Everything that had worked for other people’s babies didn’t work for my own child. My husband looked at me as the expert. My staff at the child care looked at me as the expert. I was the deer in the headlights. I was the empress with no clothes. I was screwed.

Here, come closer again. I want to make sure you hear this………

Everything is Fine. Your child is who they are. You can not change or modify their basic personality. Nothing you do – sort of serious abusive actions- will damage them. They will succeed at some things and fail at others of their own accord.

No product will make your baby smarter. That is all a load of bullshit. The only thing that affects children is experiences. We are the sum of our experiences. It is how our brains form. Good child care is not damaging your child. They are increasing their experience base. We are social creatures. Children crave other children. Even when they cry and cling to you, they start playing about 5 minutes later. I assure you. Its like the jump that you know you need to take, but are scared to do it. Sometimes the Mama bird has to give the baby bird a nudge.

Parents who are happy are better parents. If that means working, then work. If that means staying home, then stay home. If that means doing part time child care and part time home, then do that. None of the children that I cared for – some now in their mid teens- have stood up, pointed at their parents and yelled “If only you’d not put me in child care – I’d be an Olympic gymnast/best selling author today!.”

People who make parents feel guilty for their choices are self-absorbed assholes. Usually politicians. Or they are trying to sell you a product. Or very insecure other women…who want to have some perverse “motherhood smack down” with you. You know, the Uber-Moms.

Guilt and insecurity are big business. We have swallowed the entire hook, and it is no wonder that it is ripping our guts out.

Now. Stop right here. I want you to think about your happiest childhood moment. Were you outside, playing with friends? Were you alone watching ants or picking dandelions? Or was it learning French with your mother at “Speaking French the Parisian Mommy way” three times a week? No? How about “Baby Physics and Me” classes?

Yeah, I thought so. Me too.

From Ellen Galinsky’s 6 stages of Parenthood:

(Galinsky, 1987)

1 - The Image-Making Stage

During pregnancy, parents "form and re-form images" of the upcoming birth and the changes they anticipate. This is a period of preparation.

2 - The Nurturing Stage

Parents compare image and actual experience during the time from baby's birth to toddler's first use of the word "no" (about age 18 to 24 months). This is a period of attachment and also of questioning. Parents may question their priorities and also how they spend their time.

3 - The Authority Stage

When the child is between 2 years and 4 - 5 years, parents decide "what kind of authority to be." This is a period of developing and setting rules, as well as enforcing them.

4 - The Interpretive Stage

Stretching from the child's preschool years to her approach to adolescence, this stage has the task of interpretation. In this period, parents interpret their own self-concepts as well as their children's. Parents also are concerned with interpreting the world to their children.

5 - The Interdependent Stage

During the child's teen years, families re-visit some of the issues of the Authority Stage, but find new solutions to them as parents form "a new relationship with their almost-adult child."

6 - The Departure Stage

When children leave home, parents evaluate not just their offspring's leave-taking but also the whole of their parenting experience.

Can you pash that dish of oppression?

Monday, October 08, 2007

It is no secret that my politics are.....quite left. I AM that left wing bleeding heart liberal that gets demonized in the press. The fact that my spouse is a bit more left than I am makes for an interesting parenting experience.

Now, aside from the lack of godliness in the home ( which I am sure indicates a lack of "values" or whatever the hell else won the republicans the last election)- there is a decided "anti-establishment" theme to many of the books in our home. Look, there is the Marx reader ( my husband's), See there Alfie Kohn's books on the failings of the American educational system, Behold "Lies my Teacher Told Me" on my bedside. Our child had no regular alphabet in her room - she was looking at the "Alternative Alphabet" - featuring "P is for Peace and Y is for Yoga". You get the point.

So when our daughter comes home from public school with a cut and color Columbus day ship and asks us if we are going to have a Columbus day feast to honor Columbus - you get two dumbfounded adults scrambling for a response.

Terrance's response: "Daddy isn't into Columbus. I don't do Columbus day."

Oh, very helpful. Thanks ever so much. That was quite illuminating.

I bring out the children's book "Encounter" by Jane Yolen- which we read, and re-read at this time of year. Being an early childhood person, I tend not to answer my daughter's questions with the same cut and dry responses my husband uses. I want to engage her thought process and get her to think critically. Terrance thinks that this is a bullshit approach.

So we talk about what the experience of the Native People's must have been like. That discovery isn't the same when you discover something that belongs to someone else. It would be like me walking into her room and "discovering" her Playmobil house and claiming it as my own. Not very heroic.

"That's stealing.", she says.
"Yes it is, honey. That's why daddy and I are uncomfortable with Columbus Day. He may have been very adventurous to sail over the ocean to find and see new things- but he was very unkind to the people he found living there already."

And Emily - as always - absorbs this information to the best of her ability. And says

"Can I stay up late and eat popcorn?"

Fight the power, honey, fight the power.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

My apologies, friends, for being absent - both in writing and reading your blogs. I have been grading papers for the past week, and I forget that this seemingly straightforward task can take on monumental proportions...

Tonight I am awake.

Maybe it is the moon. Or hormones. Or something I haven't considered yet.

But I am awake, and grading papers. Since I am awake, I might as well be doing something useful and this is good. It is quiet and I can attend to these papers.

These papers are taking on lives of their own for me. As I read them, I am absorbing bits of other peoples stories. Life stories. Things they may have never considered before are revealed to me, laying bare on the page. I see in their words the blueprints of future experiences - which may or may not come to pass. They are young. They are old. They know everything and nothing. Some already understand things about life that their peers will never understand. In others I can see a path of least resistance already forming, the water trickling through their young souls forming crevices.

Some are defiant. They will prove everyone wrong. Their parents. Their friends. Themselves.

Others are disturbed. Why did no one tell them about the world outside of their family and towns? How can they be responsible for everything? The world is too big and they are too small.

A few are hostile. They are the victims. They are the ones being made to feel uncomfortable. Stereotypes are kinda true, aren't they?

In some, I see a glimmer. Their consciousness has expanded to allow for possibilities of conversation and understanding. A discussion about who we are as is defined by the choices we make. The ones we make with purpose and intent. That those decisions - the scary and often painful ones? Build our foundations. The realization that reflection on those decisions - even the ones we didn't make, or wish we had done differently - the ability to reflect already sets you apart from many others.

They're everywhere

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

If only everyone thought this way

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Said by a six year old girl to me, in response to the information that we had moved from the United States:

"United States? I don't know what that is. Is it like a really, really tall building?"

Beautiful dreamer

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

This was a piece I wrote in January of 2006. It has sat, completed, in my draft blog file for quite a while. I think I am ready to share it now.

I have had a series of very odd dreams the past three nights. People I have long forgotten, or consciously banished, have been strolling through my subconscious waving at me.

Being a very tightly controlled external person has meant that I have always had vivid and specific dreams. Some will tell you that they can't remember anything they dream. I almost always remember - down to the transitions between dreams.

I get out alot of aggression in these dreams. I scream. I yell, I tackle people. I beat them up. They were much worse before I started therapy many years ago. You don't need to be Freud to figure out why that was. Those were the years of the nightmares. Being pursued, always by the shadow man, who - if he caught me brought terrible things. Much worse than death. The shadow thing hasn't shown up in many many years. But my father showed up last night. I woke up panicked and startled this morning.

I assume that my father was the shadow man for the many years I dreamed of that archetype. My flight in the face of that unknown evil was understandable. As I got older and began to name - out loud- my experiences with my father, the Shadow man disappeared. I had robbed it of it's anonymity. He had a face. That face was my father.

My recovery has come in fits and starts. I do some work, I rest. I do some more work, I rest. As all of you who have been in therapy know, the evolution of understanding is not a straight path. There is no pre-defined time limit to unlocking the reasons you do the things you do. As much as the HMO's would like to say that Depression can be fixed in 12 visits, it isn't true. As much as the pharmaceutical companies would like you to believe that their drug will fix you, that also isn't true. Prozac has helped me tremendously in straightening out my lousy brain chemistry, but Prozac has never resolved any of my family issues. That was done all on my own, with very patient therapists.

In writing about my brother last week, I was inviting some of these memories to come out of their closets and play in my subconscious. I believe that I did this knowing that the wave would come and wash over me within the next few days. It has.

Today I have recalled a couple of very specific incidents. I write these down as a way to exercise them from the silence of my mind. I have only spoken of them in therapy a couple of times. In my determination to never be seen as a victim, I rarely allow these to come to the surface. In my determination to be a professional, a mother, a wife and a woman who has her shit together, I have rarely allowed time for these memories. It is clear from my dreams the past several days that they demand to be heard.

It must have been 1973 or maybe 1974. I can't recall if my brother was born or not, but I do know that we were living in a Trailer in Ohio. I was picking up the pasta my father had cooked ( plain just butter) with my fingers and eating them. Hardly something that a 3 or 4 year old would not be expected to do. My father warned me. He said "stop eating like an animal". He left the kitchen. I promptly started eating with my fingers again. He returned and caught me eating with my fingers. He said "If you're going to eat like an animal, you can eat with the animals." He dumped out the dog food from the bowls on the floor and put my pasta in the dog's bowl. He stood over me and demanded that I eat like a dog. I did it. I was afraid.

He later shot these dogs in the winter because they were howling at night. After warning my mother to do something about those dogs before he did something about them, he ran outside and shot them both with his shotgun. My mother called the police who said that he had a right to do that if he wanted. She had to clean up the bodies and the blood before I discovered them.

The next memory is from 1979 or so. My mother had left my father but he had my brother and I for 4 to 6 weeks in the summer. I suspect he did not want to see us so much as give my mother the proverbial finger. He was in the Marines and he was also dealing a great deal of a variety of drugs. He left us home alone every day while he went to work. I was 9, Donnie was 5.

One night, he woke us up and told me that he had to go see a friend. We had to come with him. He bundled our sleepy selves into his car and drove. I fell back to sleep. When we got to wherever we were going, he woke us both up and had us stand together, holding hands. He walked with us in front of him. He walked us into this apartment and introduced us as his kids. The man in the apartment lifted the top off of the coffee table and displayed a dazzling assortment of drugs. I recall the colors. My father purchased his goods and walked us back out into the car. Many years later, as I pieced this memory together, I realized that my father had used my brother and I as a human shield. He was afraid the guy was going to rob him.

I do not tell these stories to gain a sympathetic response. I do not tell these stories to be told how strong I am, or how I survived things which - for many - may be unsurvivable.


I tell these stories because they are mine to tell and because when I do the invisible power that the memory of my father can still exert dissipates like glittery fog. It is in the telling of these bits and pieces of my childhood that I regain ownership and control of who I am today. That this is one more band-aid I don't need and can let that skin breathe out in the light.

Too much time on our hands

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I walk into the living room, minutes ago. I look at the television. I look at my husband sitting on the couch

Dawn to Terrance:

"You know how I know you're gay? You're watching The Lake House by yourself."

and walk out.


Monday, September 10, 2007

If, from my first moments with my parents, I learned to read and react to the adults in my life, it was in the schools I attended that I hones these skills. As the child of a Marine, we moved frequently. By the time I was in fourth grade, I had attended eight schools.

Being the new kid – almost constantly – was both deeply unsettling and oddly predictable. I would arrive at some point in the school year. I would be introduced to the class. I would watch. I would observe and conform to the rituals of the school in which I was now living. I would gauge the reaction to me and decide how much to reveal of who I was, how smart I was ( or wasn't) , how girls acted in this school. I watched to see what I needed to become in order to fit in the best way I could.

While every classroom had certain givens – desks, chalkboards, teachers desk – it was the world of my new peers which was unpredictable. In fact, I recall few of the actual children. Names and faces occasionally float through my memories, but I can tell you the lay out of almost every classroom from memory. I attached, as became my custom, to the physical layout of an area.

When we moved to Vermont, I was in 4th grade. My parents had separated and my mother moved us to a small city far away from anyone she knew. I stood in the front of the room, in my school dress. I was introduced and my voice came out – a slow, Southern drawl – which took my classmates completely by surprise. This was not a land where little girls wore dresses to school and had Southern accents. This was a school where little girls wore jeans and sneakers and played kickball in the yard.

Being in the same school for a full year for the first time in my life, it didn't take them long to figure out that I was smart. Smarter than I generally let on. I began to test out of reading groups like crazy. Until I realized that this was not helping my place in the group. Little New girls did not come in and take over other peoples pre-set places in groups. I was continually reminded by my peers that I was the new girl. I learned to shade and shadow my actions in order to not draw additional attention to myself.

Flash forward to my pre-adult life, I found myself working with children. Not with intention, to be sure. I wasn't sure that I even Liked kids, let alone making work with them my vocation. I had to volunteer for the end of my high school honor society requirements. I chose the local parent child center, where they needed a volunteer to assist with the teaching of a parent class during the evenings. Most adults in the class were court ordered to attend this class either due to child protection issues or divorce proceedings. The adults were in their own room, and the children were in another. The “lessons” mirrored one another in the two groups.

I was to help with the young children. So I did what I did best. I sat down on the floor and watched. I didn't tell them what to do. I didn't sit in a chair above them. I sat down on the ground and simply observed. This led to the most curious thing.... Children, who had experienced various abuses and neglect, began to crawl into my lap. Quiet. Still.

I didn't lean in to hug them. I stayed still. The wildest little boy in the group proceeded to attach himself to me, crawling into my lap, and to the surprise of all involved....Fell asleep. It was as if a puma had walked out of the forest, sat in my lap and curled up.

What became clearer as the weeks went on was that there was something about me that these young children found consistent. Safe. Trustworthy. This allowed me to observe them more closely, and tuck my observations into conversations with the teacher leading the class. Observations about motivations or the actions of children which would take the teacher by surprise. I mean – who was I? 17? A Volunteer?

Later, after I acquiesced to Education as my career, I found that I retained that ability to stay still and observe. I found that this made me good teacher who quickly could read the mood of my classroom as well as see behind the words of the parents as they talked with me. For I was an old hand at hearing the meaning behind the words being said. Sensing the subtle differences between anger or fear.

I learned that I didn't have to entertain a child. I didn't have to impress a parent with my book knowledge. If I simply observed the child...made myself available to the child on the terms of the child, while still not relinquishing the aura of being a safe and capable adult, then the child would melt into me much like that first three year old boy. I learned that showing a parent that I KNEW their child – in intimate ways like knowing what Hannah did ( rub the back of her head) when she was tired, or how James needed to have a private reminder in his ear when it was time for him to use the bathroom - proved my knowledge and caring in ways that I could never vocalize.

Of course teaching with people who did not observe children as closely... I found it odd. I mean, didn't they know how much easier it would all be if they just watched? Didn't they understand that their lesson planning would be solved – I mean – the children were telling you what they wanted, how they learned best. To patently choose to ignore the depth of information being provided by the children seemed ....Silly.

So, to bring these two pieces to my research, I believe that these are reasons why I became a teacher of young children. Not for romantic ideation's of “Teacher” - but because I understood the position of young children. The duality of power and powerlessness implicit in childhood. I was the watcher – because I had no choice. It was the only way I could navigate the waters of my life. However, this skill made me an astute and powerful observer of young children. It also made me aware that there is much more than adults may be cognizant of in the inner lives of their children. I believe that they understand and process social events on a higher level perhaps then previously considered. I know that I did.
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