Thursday, August 28, 2008

Corporate camouflage

Today I clicked with one of my coworkers. She has been sitting in front of my pod for weeks now, but only today did we start to chat with the rhythm and candor of two people connected. For me, this wonderful connection with people I work with is a dangerous thing.

I feel like my professional image is just a thin veneer smoothed over my true self. I liken it to those art projects we did as children; the ones where you coloured determinedly with crayons till the whole page was brilliant and bright. Then you cover the whole picture with black paint and wait till it's dry to drag a popsicle stick through it and thereby reveal a sampling of the glorious colours beneath. That, in a nutshell, is me at work: Camouflaged by corporate complacency with just a peek into the wild vibrancy below.

Now I just have to be careful to keep my popsicle stick dragging to a creative minimum so those colours don't become too obnoxious against the pale grey cubicle backdrop.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Barefoot dreaming

I seem to be numb to the idea of a career these days. My time with stay-at-home-mum friends has made me resent sitting in an office for most of my life. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful that I have a very supportive, challenging, well-paying job with great benefits. It's just that I don't really want it. I'd rather be scraping by and having to sew my own clothes and grow my own food than be able to afford the latest technology and frivolous items.

I have a new manager here. She's a firecracker this one. She's only been here for a few months and already she's lit a fire under the whole department. We're leading major projects, overhauling procedures and analyzing our motives while we complete our regular tasks. It's one of those strange paradoxes where the work simultaneously motivates and drains me. I'm a high achiever by nature, so I like a good challenge. But I feel like my heart isn't truly in it. My heart sits at home, waiting for me to return.

Lately, questions on whether we're going to expand our family have been circling around. I've told my husband and anyone who's asked that I simply don't want to have any more kids unless I can stay home with them. Being a full-time working mum is a freaking hard job! And I find the more time I spend away from my heartsong, the more resentful I become that I can't do what I feel like I was meant to do - be a full time mama. I come home and scour the internet looking for business ideas and ways that I could supplement our income enough that I could give up work and still pay the bills. Meanwhile, Adam is working his tail off as he builds his company. He's hoping that if all goes well and the stars and planets align, by next year we could be a one income family. Just the remote promise of it makes me itch for the day.

I find so much pleasure in the little things at home: Cuddling with Hayden on the couch and reading his favourite books; Putting sheets on the bed that are fresh and crisp from the wind and sun; Picking fresh veggies from our yard with Hayden (his specialties are unripe beans and tomatoes with the juices sucked out); Having a tidy house and dinner simmering when Adam gets home from work - all of these things make me feel so whole. I want to feel that every hour of every day! I'm a total throwback to the women's movement. I would like nothing better than to be barefoot and pregnant and watching over the homestead. I should have been born in the 50's...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Yummy mummy hits the town

My monthly mad moment was magnificent! Since we moved down from Ottawa, I make a point to team up with my sister every month for a mad night out! We shed our mummy skins and relive our carefree days of youth by dancing our butts off and staying out till the wee hours of the night. Last Saturday was just such an occasion.

We left home (me to a tearful goodbye from my heartsong, just to make the guilt sting a little more) around 4:00 and drove to Toronto to join one of my favourite people on this planet - my best friend Phil. The night started with a trip to a local pub where the drink menu reflected the colour of the gay district. Specialities included Purple Princess, Fire Island F*ck, Pussy Galore, Fat Frog, and something about a Whore. Ang loved it so much she actually stole the menu to bring to Dan. (*gasp* what a rebel!)

After dinner we headed back to Phil's for some wine and to wait for our final player. There was much fun with tutu's, tiaras, spongebob undies, crowns and glow sticks. Once everyone was appropriately oiled up, we hit the street to give Ang the full Church Street tour!

Our first stop was Woody's, a gay boy bar where they play soft core porn movies on about a dozen scattered TVs. We laughed as some of the old creepy guys just sat and stared at the boys on screen, oblivious to everything around them. After just a drink, we giggled out the door and headed across the street to Crews Tango. This is where we brought Ang the first time she came out and she LOVED it. It has great music, a good mix of people and cheap booze. It's also kind of dirty, really hot and always packed. We stayed for an hour or so before continuing on the path of debauchery.

Our next stop was the scourge of the gay district: Zippers. I consider this the bar that the boys head to if they can't seem to pick up anywhere else. It's filled with the weird, the stinky and the downright crazy. It also has it's fair share of sugar daddies (which is why our fourth party likes it so much)! We literally walked in, looked around and walked right back out again! lol

On the way back down Church St, we stopped in at a tiny little bistro that doubles as a nightclub after hours. It was clean, trendy, expensive and pretty empty. Again, we stayed only for a drink before moving on. But not before a random girl approached Ang and took a self-portrait of the two of them.

Our last stop of the night was Slack Alice: a cool little club that caters more to the ladies. It's clean, open and not as hot as most of the others (we women don't tend to enjoy sweaty bodies as much as the gay boys do). The music was awesome and they even had one of the staff standing on the bar doing bongo drum solos with the music. She was amazing and it was a really cool addition to the night. We danced, we laughed, we pretty much closed down the bar. At 2:30, we all stumbled home, exhausted from the frivolity. And this is where things got weird.

Our fourth party declared that he was going to drive home.

Now, I'm really, REALLY against driving under the influence. I've watched too many lives be torn apart from the effects of drunk driving. And so, I argued with him, telling him that nothing was going to happen between 2:30 and 7am that he couldn't sleep it off a bit on the couch. His response was that he had driven in much worse conditions than he was in now, at which time I told him that just made him an a$$hole.

It got to the point that I was actually wrestling him for his keys. And as I tried to snag the keys from his pocket, his demeanor changed. It went from a passive refusal to a tick of rage. I sensed that I might be in a bit of danger - it was time Phil tried to talk some sense into him. I told him that if he drove home, I'd write him off as a friend and went into the other room.

As I lay in bed, I could hear them arguing in the other room. It got heated and Phil wasn't holding anything back. Then suddenly, all was silent and I heard the front door close. When I went to investigate, Phil had passed out sitting up on the couch, apparently in mid-argument. Our fourth was nowhere to be seen. I immediately went to grab my cell phone to call the cops (I don't mess around with this crap) and realised that I didn't know what kind of car he was driving, the license plate number, or even the direction he was heading. So I said a prayer that he wouldn't hurt anyone and fell into a fitful sleep.

I scanned the news the next day, hoping to not see any police reports of drunk driving accidents. There were none and by all accounts, it appears that he made it home without hurting anyone. But my perception of this guy is forever changed. I don't care if you have no regard for your own safety - that's your prerogative. But if you disregard the lives of everyone else on the road - that's where I step in. Sadly, I don't think I'll be hanging out with this particular friend any more. I'm pretty hard with my morals and personal ethics.

So although the night ended on a sour note, the evening itself was fantastic. Going out with my sister just makes me love her more and want to spend more time with her. I get to see that wild side of Ang that she doesn't show very often - and I adore it! And being with Phil is like a shot of sunshine, giggles and rainbows - I love that boy. The three of us together make for a strange but perfectly fitting trio on our wild nights out.

I can't wait until next time! I'm thinking we're going to help Phil find his very own Brokeback romance at our local country bar! Stay tuned for the next tantalizing tale!

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Poppas

I think that Hayden is an incredibly lucky little boy. Not only does he have two loving, emotionally stable parents, he also has four grandparents and four great-grandparents. Everyone lives within an hour's drive from us (save for one set of great grandparents in BC) and they are all involved in his life. Everyone is still married and in relatively good health. That seems like a prize-worthy thing in these times.

My parents and Adam's folks both adore Hayden and take every opportunity they can to see him. (I sometimes think of my mum as a panther, crouched and silently waiting to pounce on an opportunity to visit.) They smother him in love and are much more lenient then they were when Adam and I were growing up - these are a grandparent's unspoken spoiling right according to my father-in-law.

In response to this love, Hayden refers to all four grandparents as the poppas. There is no differentiating between genders, families or the fact that they have all chosen different grandparent names (Gran and Poppa for my folks and Gram and Grampa for Adam's). He can say these words, but when he sees any of them or makes reference to them, they are Poppa. I think it's hilarious and quite telling that he considers them all with the same attachment by using this standard moniker.

I'm so pleased that Hayden will grow up feeling the love of family around him. I have to admit that when I was a young girl, I envied the relationship my peers had with their grandparents. Baking cookies, learning how to knit and sew, figuring out how to thread a wiggly worm on to a hook, these were the things you learned from your grandparents. My maternal grandparents lived in England and I met them only a handful of times in my life (my paternal grandparents passed away before I was born). My grandfather passed away when I was a teen and I never felt that I knew him. When I turned 21, my mum took me to England to celebrate. I was able to meet my Gran and connect with her as an adult. It was a bittersweet time as I realized that the two of us would have been fast friends but never had the chance. We laughed so much together and the three of us (my mum, my Gran and I) seemed to be cut from the same cloth. When she passed away a few years ago, I mourned her loss not just for the person she was, but also for who she represented: my only living grandparent and the only one I ever had a real relationship with.

Part of the reason we moved from Ottawa after Hayden was born addressed this loss. By picking up roots and replanting them closer to our families, Hayden would have a whole other generation to draw experience, knowledge and love from. He would know his grandparents - all of them. And they would know him and be able to play an active role in his life. This move was the gift of family. I can only hope that one day Hayden looks back on his life and realizes what a precious gift that is.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The glass is half-full

The best things to happen to me this week:
  1. You guys were right - Hayden simply needs more time to wake up in the mornings. Since I started getting him up earlier and easing him into his day with quiet nursies, he's a new man. No more raging tantrums (although the typical toddler ones are still abundant!). Thank you all for being my experts! Who needs those stupid parenting books - I've got the blogosphere!
  2. Someone found my blog this week by searching for "Pregnancy farts!" Too freaking funny.
  3. My garden has started giving me some delicious cherry tomatoes. Enough to make a good sized salad with. They're my absolute favourite kind of tomato; I just love the burst of summer flavour when you bite into them.
  4. I cut Hayden's hair....and did a terrible job of it! He has gorgeous strawberry blond curls, so I just wanted to trim around his ears and neck, keeping the top natural. Even though daddy did a good job of distracting him with his favourite book, I managed to make some pretty obvious mistakes (though I did manage to cut only hair and not skin)! Luckily, the curls cover up the worst of it and he's too young to care. Maybe by the time he's aware of how he looks, I'll have perfected my scissor skills.
  5. I watched Big Daddy the other day and (unfortunately?) saw a lot of myself in Adam Sandler's character. When he let Julian wear crazy things like a sieve helmet and cape to school, I was totally on board. Letting him choose his own name (Frankenstein) was brilliant. And giving him the "invisible sunglasses" is something I could totally see myself doing. Although in contrast, I won't be teaching Hayden how to suck a loogie or take out rollerbladers with sticks!
  6. I made a berry crisp for my in-laws on Sunday and my mother-in-law told my husband it was the best crisp she's ever had. I consider this a high compliment coming from her as she's an amazing baker and even used to make all the bread for her family of six . Given that until Hayden was born, I never baked (a throw back to my own lovely mum), I figure I must be a fast learner! Who knows, maybe one of these days I'll even be able to make a cake that isn't lopsided!
  7. This weekend I'm heading to Toronto with my beautiful sister to visit one of my very best friends. The combination of the three of us and Phil's wild friend, Mattie, somehow creates this vortex of insanity. Every time we get together the fun never ends and we laugh so hard our faces hurt the next day. I can't wait!

And so to all my loyal blog readers, let's keep this ball of happiness rolling. Tell me the best thing(s) to happen to you this week!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sugar and spice

One week ago today, my beautiful niece made her dramatic arrival into the world. My little brother and his wife endured 12 hours of labour and three intense hours of pushing before this little girl was guided into the world with some giant salad tongs.

Seeing my brother become a daddy was such a wonderfully bizarre experience: Watching him support and encourage his wife through labour with loving devotion; seeing the utter relief and the explosion of stress releasing tears once the baby arrived safely. It's a side of him that I rarely get to see but it's one that makes me love him on a whole new realm whenever I get a peek.

I've been to visit the new family twice since they went from a couple to a trio. The absolute ease that they seem to be handling new parenthood has blown me away. My own first week of motherhood seemed to be filled with endless tears (both mine and Hayden's) and so many fumblings and unknowns. In contrast, my brother and sister-in-law have fallen into an easy rhythm and silently take over from each other when needed.

I see in my brother a whole new respect for his wife. He talks about her with undiluted pride and praises her openly for everything from managing a long labour to successfully nursing and balancing the various needs of a newborn. I think for many couples, having a baby for the first time can sometimes be a dividing experience. As you try to figure out your role in your child's life you can often struggle to determine your place in the world as a parent, spouse, housekeeper, milking cow and the child of your own parents. It's a confusing and overwhelming time to say the least. But these two have certainly surprised me by taking that discovery journey together, hand in hand.

I'm not sure if she knows it yet, but little Ella Rose is one lucky little girl. Congratulations Lisa and Ben. She's beautiful. And you've both taken a huge but confident step in the long road of life.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A cuppa morning rage

A morning person he is not. Most mornings Hayden wakes with a cry and then needs a good 20 minutes of nursing before he’s ready to face any sort of activity. Usually, after his nursies, he will quietly play and pad around upstairs while we both prepare for the day. But now….oh my.

He’s begun to have what I can only describe as fits of rage. If you ask him to do anything that he doesn’t want to (change his bum, get dressed, brush his teeth), he collapses on the floor and screams, wails and goes completely stiff. He refuses to be picked up, doesn’t want you to even touch him. If I pick him up anyways, he will thrash in my arms and repeatedly hit me until I put him back down and he can bury his face into the floor. There is absolutely no reasoning with him or calming him when he gets into this state. And it’s an instant thing. Like an angry switch has been flicked to full power.

These fits usually last about ten minutes and only end when he’s where he wants to be and has exhausted himself. It seems nothing we do shortens them or stops them. When he’s done, he wants to cuddle me and the switch is just as abruptly flicked back.

I’ve never seen this kind of behaviour in a baby before. Never seen a child who could go from one extreme to the other in such a short time and for such random reasons. I have to admit it sort of frightens me. He never lashes out at others during his fits (unless we interfere with him), but he’s so very angry. Does anyone have any suggestions? Any similar experiences? Why is my baby so full of anger?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Creeker crash at Chick's

I was so happy with my last post that I've had a bit of writer's block for the past week. It's like I set a bar for myself and now can't think of anything that would match it! But now I've relented to the fact that a blog strike is benefiting no one and I have to get over myself. Back to mediocre writing it is.


Last night I hosted a party dubbed "Creeker crash at Chicks" for some very special people. Back in my dubious teenage years, I spent two semesters of High School enrolled in an outdoor education program called The Bronte Creek Project. This amazing program takes a select few teenagers from various high schools and quietly transforms their lives. As we learned and then shared the Earthkeepers curriculum with elementary children, we learned how to work as a community. We cooked together, cleaned together, slept together, went on week long adventure camping trips and gradually became a cohesive functional group (no small task for a bunch of hot-headed, hormone-driven kids). This unique learning experience gave me a new respect for the planet we live on and left me with some pretty special friendships.

They were my Creeker Crew, and last night, some of that crew gathered at Big Blue for dinner. Seeing these girls again (some with gorgeous families in tow) was such a blast from the past. It felt as if no time had passed since I saw them last and we slipped into easy conversation as the children laughed and monkeyed around in the yard. These friends have all grown and all have amazing life stories that fill the gap that lies between our visits. What struck me was the odd feeling that they had changed so much and yet fundamentally, they were the same people I had taught with 15 years ago.

I always find it funny when you get together with people from your past. It's like going to a reunion. Most people are quick to posture and boast about their achievements, wealth and accolades. They don their most expensive clothes, squish themselves into girdles and carefully apply makeup to cover any signs of aging. What's refreshing about my creeker crowd is that there's none of this false face attitude. When everyone showed up, I was wearing my big ugly gardening hat and some old shorts with Hayden boogeys smeared across the thigh. Never once did I worry about how my appearance would jade their perceptions of who I am now. This crowd is more likely to examine your eyes and soul than your bling.

As we told stories of our highs and lows, our triumphs and troubles, the years just melted away. I was transported back to those nights around the fireplace in the main cabin when the whole world was just stretched before us. Strangely, as we waved everyone off at the end of the night, I felt full of the same feelings of optimism and harmony that coloured my world back at BCP. I think maybe a little bit of Earthkeeper magic had been conjured up last night. Em would be proud!