stuff stuff

i went to bed last night with a conversation i couldn’t speak aloud running through my head.

my OB – or rather, my former OB, as Dave, my mother, and various medical professionals have begged me to swear that i am never, ever putting anyone through another of my “special” pregnancies – has become something of a friend. which is great and weird at the same time, likely on both sides. she was here last night with my book club, and when the conversation turned to twitter i flipped open the laptop and showed off the shiny silly wonder of social software and explained how i feel like i “know” most of the people i follow because we’ve been reading each other for years through my blog. oh yeh, i have a blog, sez me. nearly three years. and then my eyes caught on her face and i wondered if she were wondering like i’d be wondering about trust and the strange double-edge sword of professional intimacy and being a character in others’ stories, and whether there was anything in here that in a town this small she’d rather not have broadcast and the words came chirping up in my throat oh! i said nice things about you! but i swallowed them because they seemed so trite and obsequious and sometimes the elephant in the room is perhaps better left alone with the cake crumbs than spoken of, or to.

but what i wanted to say, what i went to bed still trying to give voice to in my head an hour later, was
i only started this two weeks before Oscar was born. after the bedrest was over, and almost exactly a year after that day in Room 2 when you said “i’m sorry, it IS amniotic fluid after all” and you called for the airlift and i still somehow thought everything would be okay but it wasn’t.

i started it because i’d been a mother since that day but not in a way i could speak of and i was facing down another birth and apparent, hopeful normalcy and “real” motherhood and it frightened me because i had no idea how to reconcile those selves and all the subjectivities relating to motherhood that i’d ever seen reflected in culture didn’t resonate with where i was and i figured if i could write, maybe i could reconcile the mess in my own head.

but we don’t talk that way at book club.

i don’t talk that way out loud much at all. unless i’m teaching, and even then, i stumble. verbal me and written me have different fluencies, different contexts. written me is comfortable with the language of the subject, the myriad of selves we humans portray and embody and understand ourselves to be. written me could negotiate motherhood with all its fierce love and exhaustion and bewilderment and grief and mundanity in a way that verbal me still trips over, feeling exposed and guilty if i articulate the ambivalence of parenting aloud.

the kids? oh, they’re good. baby has colic. ummm…but she’s a joy. cue smile.
i woke up this morning to the news that John Updike died yesterday, and i thought, yes. that’s it.

i feel like i’ve been watching the blogosphere – or at least this corner of it – run out of steam lately. i suspect we’ve collectively hit a place where our revelations feel like deja vu…like i could write this but so-and-so wrote in the same vein last week and hell, why bother? so many of us don’t, self-silencing because the sheer volume of what we’ve put out here has made us aware both that we’re not alone in our experiences of parenting but also that we’re, well, maybe not particularly special in our experiences of parenting. saturation.

but i also see an overall sea change in the ecosystem we release our posts to, when we do write them.

what blew me away when i belatedly discovered that i wasn’t blogging in a vacuum out here was the richness of the subjectivities mothers were exploring in their writing. like the seething mid-century suburbs of Updike’s Rabbit series, the public veneer of motherhood hid complex inner lives and a multitude of aspirations and secrets and feelings and validations. i didn’t see this version of mothering on tv, or in most of the ads and products aimed at my burgeoning belly…at best i found commodified hipster defiance without other content, at worst the same vapid recycling of mother-as-tender-selfless-fulfillment image that’d been hanging around Tide commercials since my childhood. but in blogs, i found conversation and exploration, stretching of these images, poking fun at them and at ourselves. i found moments of honesty and disillusionment and connection. i found a place to speak truths that verbal me could never say aloud…and people who would say, “i hear.”

it was no sheltered idyll, detached from a crass real…by the time i wandered into it, the blogosphere was actively trying to figure out how to make money, and new aggregator sites popped up all the time. but it was an economy that hadn’t yet figured itself out and narrowed its options. many fine writers found recompense for their words; many more found the recompense slim. pros and cons and implications of ads were discussed. comment whoring was owned up to. the subject as mother/writer/marketer became a common one, an overt one…and we were all marketing, even those of us who never ran an ad.

we still are, except the market has flattened out and the meta-conversations are no longer so fresh. lately, i feel like the mass, stereotypical mainstream mommy images have re-emerged to suck up too much of the conversation, subjectivities once imposed on us taken up as self-fulfilling prophecy, especially on the commercial side of things. snide tones that once seemed refreshing or ironic now resonate with weary, petty bitchiness. the aggregator sites drip with celebrity gossip and cheap wit and outrage and clearly they succeed so this must be what we’re buying with our clicks, our comments, but the tireless self-promotion of it all feels brittle to me. our little ecosystem of multiple possibilities is more toxic, the subjectivities narrower.

and yet i’m still here, blathering on. and reading, just from a smaller pool. and still happy with blogging, for what it is. because twitter’s 140 characters don’t quite allow me the scope to say more than the kids? oh, they’re good. baby has colic. ummm…but she’s a joy. cue smile.

and if you’re still here…i’m glad. and if you’re my former OB, i promise not to write about you anymore.
if you have a blog, how would you describe its subjects, the yous that populate it?

the shortest day of the year. morning crept up late but bright, everything reflected in the mirror ball of fresh snow.

i was awake. i lay quiet, feeding one child and listening for the call of the other, wondering at the marvel of him sleeping ’til first light on this latest sunrise on the calendar, he who woke before dawn all summer long.

only stillness.

there is something in the cyclical nature of our existence, this seasonal turning of a beleaguered planet, that brings me comfort. solstice, the sun standing still. for a moment, the movement of it all is invisible to the eye, the music of the spheres silent. hibernation. all suspended. in the stillness, for me, lurks warmth and respite and the imaginary cave of wintertime that i suspect the ur-human in most of us still hearkens to, a pre-electric feast of treats and firelit shadows and long winter’s nap.

visions of sugarplums and of woods dark and deep, outside of time.

the only sound a baby suckling, a baby who may someday be an old woman, who will someday be dust while this earth keeps spinning and i felt the blink of it all, the crazy speed at which we run out our course and the dizzying smallness of us all, riding on a planet circling in the dark.

and then on dasher! on dancer! and a little voice calls from the other room and tired feet hit the ground running because the spell is broken and we are off again on the carousel of living, with promises to keep.

Originally uploaded by o&poecormier

last year he called him “Yaya.”

this year, the words trip from his mouth with more ease, and he notes the red hat and beard with an enthusiasm that takes me aback, makes me wary. “Santa!” he squealed in the grocery store last week, when we happened across a blow-up display of the jolly old elf. i wonder where this delight sprang from and for the hundredth time i simultaneously blame and thank his sitter for doing the normative work of acculturating my child whilst his father and i shrink and critique and dither. and then my brain skates off, wondering about this Santa fetish encouraged in the preschool set, this strange semi-magical, semi-materialist construction of Christmas, this incessant “what will Santa bring you?”

last time he was asked, he said he wanted a Christmas hat. he’d just taken the one in the photo off minutes before. i don’t think he gets it, what this fat man in red is supposed to represent. i don’t know if i get it either.

i was not quite five yet when i found out about Santa. a boy in my kindergarten carpool had an older brother and thus, i guess, a mainline to truth. i don’t remember any longer why i knew he was right, why i believed him and not the elaborate fabric of myth. he was a redhead, that little boy, a freckled face that popped up from the bench seat at the front of a car whose other inhabitants and details escape my memory…a spitefully gleeful freckled face that shouted “Santa’s not real! Grownups buy the presents and eat all the cookies!”

i believed him, but i thought my mother truly believed in Santa, and so to spare her feelings i said nothing, not a word, and dutifully dictated my letter to the North Pole anyway.

two Christmases later she sat me down to explain, very gently, that Santa was only the spirit of Christmas, of giving, of the gift of Jesus to the world or however those two are supposed to relate and i said, “i know” and i think we both looked at each other a little oddly and that was the year i woke up Christmas morning to the longed-for Hugo, Man of a Thousand Faces courtesy of the Sears’ Christmas Wishbook and a mother who’d been unsure if my father’s cheque would show up in time, and the ruse of Santa Claus fell into disuse in our house after that.

my childrens’ parents are faithless, their closest cousins Jewish.  they will never experience full immersion in Christmas a religious holiday.  Oscar goes to the church nursery most Sundays with his Nannie, and the lesson of “different people believe different things,” is what i hope he takes out of it all in the long run…because i have nothing more certain to offer, for myself. we have an advent calendar, but mostly for the chocolate and to try to help him understand that holidays change with the seasons and Hallowe’en is, alas, over until next year.

and yet we decorate our tree and we will celebrate Christmas in our own way, where what is holy is the quiet of the dark season and the time with family and maybe all the bounty of food and treats and holiday baking, and Santa will elbow his jolly way in there no matter what we do and maybe the baby Jesus too and all i can hope is that some of it is magic for the children somewhere along the way and that, at least, we give them to believe in.

whatever your belief system, if you are in the English-speaking world, how do you explain this inescapable, hegemonic holiday to your kids? what do you think they make of it?

i woke up this morning to a deafening crash and crunching sound.

it was not, actually, the cry of my beloved country falling down around my ears, though times are mad up here and unprecedented parliamentary nuttiness is most definitely afoot.  the clamour was, rather, the house across the street being flattened – chewed up and shredded by an enormous claw.  big chunks of roof and wall were being torn to pieces…family entertainment right at our window!  we pressed ourselves to the glass to watch.

Oscar peered out at the destruction and exclaimed, oooh!  a big mess!

(the parallels to our national political state are, admittedly, irresistable.)


i’ve never had a ringside seat for demolition before.  it’s violent, a little sickening.  fascinating, because the private is so suddenly exposed, made visible…but sad too.  the little house was a postwar relic.  when we moved in three+ years ago, the inhabitants had frequent ‘guests’ who stayed all of about five minutes and used the back door.  either dealers, we figured, or very popular people…but they never brought a casserole by so we never really got to know.  for the past year or more the place has been abandoned.  watching the linoleum layers clinging like rainbow skin to the detritus of the walls, i wondered about the hands that built the house, about the hopes that once must have been housed under its roof.

and i began to sing Tom Waits’ The House Where Nobody Lives, aloud, to Oscar.  i wanted to be very clear with him that the little house was somehow different from ours, that the big claw wasn’t coming for our walls anytime soon.

good thing he doesn’t follow politics.

side note: the fact that i began above with the words “i woke up” means, in case you missed it, that i slept.  as did the bambino.  and the rest of the household.  thanks to you all for the hardcore love…i’m not sure if any of you managed to put a hex on colic or what’s going on, but i am in a better mental state today than i have been in awhile and i think a lot of it (beyond the blessed, blessed sleep) was the release of getting out that toxic stuff, knowing i’d been heard.

just for today – to steal outrageously from Mad and the other clever tweets out there – i’m okay if the Governor General doesn’t prorogue my life ’til January.  (and if you’re not in Canada and thus the word “prorogue” means no more to you than it did to me last week, see how edifying blog reading can be?)

we were dancing.

Posey and i, on our first day to ourselves in more than a week, both of us slightly flu-impaired and grumpy but mercifully alone, the house ours, our day free from doctor’s appointments and toddlers and other civil company. she’d been kvetching in her swing, so i picked her up, grabbed the ancient cassette tape Oscar had unearthed from god knows where at breakfast time, thanked fortune that we still possess an equally ancient stereo, and plunked the sucker in. and there we were, sliding across the hardwood of the den, her a whimpering ball in my arms, me a grimly determined picture of festive joy. i was inaugurating my infant into tradition and holiday cheer; Paul Revere riding the dark days of Canadian November, shouting the holidays are coming! the holidays are coming!

we were dancing to the Boney M Christmas classic Feliz Navidad.

i’m not entirely sure how Boney M became a Christmas classic for the rest of the world…i guess catchy kitsch goes a long way for a post-sincerity generation that prefers traditions leavened with irony. but for me, personally, Feliz Navidad became a centrepiece of all that is warm and fuzzy and delightful about the holidays the very first time i ever heard my college roommate sing it aloud.

her name was Andrea.  she had a decent voice…good pitch, clear tone.  her voice carried above the rest of us.  and somewhere in the middle of an impromptu drunken exam-time singalong, we all trailed off and cocked our heads, eyebrows raised.  because Andrea wasn’t singing Feliz Navidad as she bounced earnestly in time to the marimbas.  Andrea was singing at least no one died.

i don’t claim to speak Spanish, but i knew that was a pretty Eeyore-esque take on the spirit of the season, however accidental.  and i loved it.

sometimes i’m a bit of a Grinch when it comes to the holidays.  i don’t like the commercialism and the pressure to spend, i’m not religious, i find putting up the tree a daunting chore.  and yet, there’s something about the darkness and the snow and the lights and the forced family time – tense though it often is – that i value, that i hearken to.  even at eighteen, i got that “at least no one died…i wanna wish you a Merry Christmas!” was the ultimate in frank and honest Christmas caroling.  so in the years when we are lucky enough to gather without new faces missing from the tables – because with three sets of grandparents and four separate belief traditions in our immediate families there’s always more than one table for us at the holidays – i sing me some Boney M and grin and bear it all, with the help of the seasonal chocolate boxes.

that’s what i was reminding myself of yesterday, holding this longed-for daughter, safely here despite colic, despite a rough run with all of us sick and tired.   a year ago, had i been able to look ahead and see us, the four of us, with our extended family still well and present in our lives, i would’ve thought, how lucky.

i had just soared into full vocal flight when the elderly creaky tape gave up the ghost.  it died, in the middle of At Least No One Died.   the voices slowed alarmingly, and deepened, the old sound of stretching plastic strangely familiar and yet from another world, a lost time.  then it snapped.

i was crestfallen.  we were dancing.  i was cheering myself up.  i was introducing my daughter to one of the primary Christmas carols.  i was being resilient, dammit, after a rotten couple of weeks.  and then my heirloom tape…gone to Jesus.  cruel, cruel world.

i tweeted my sorrow, noting that the holidays were now ruined before they even began.  Josephine and i trudged upstairs, and i moped about, whistling lamentations that sounded like Boney M, the Funeral Version.  she fed, and was just gearing up for one of her wailing sessions when i thought i heard footsteps on the stairs.  Dave.

he had read my tweet, left work, run to the record store and purchased me a fine new CD version of Boney M Christmas, replete with disco cover art and snowflakes.  then driven it home, all with twenty-five minutes flat.  no gift of the Magi was ever so kind, so thoughtful…especially when you consider that he’s now doomed himself to a steady diet of Boney M over the next four weeks.

i think i already got all i wanted for Christmas, this year.

Originally uploaded by o&poecormier

when i was twelve and suffering the exquisite torture that is eighth grade, i wanted to be Boy George for Hallowe’en. i had never wanted anything so badly, with such angst and investment.

i found a baggy men’s shirt at the thrift store and safety-pinned patches to it. i had flowy pants and poorboy gloves. i hoarded all the bandanas in the house, and found a plastic porkpie hat somewhere that i convinced someone to lend me. i knew all the words to every Culture Club song ever written. i could taste it, that costume, the cool. i saw myself triumphant, transformed into someone larger than life, someone other than ordinary, weird little me. but i had one problem.

my hair was a whole inch long. and wigs were not something sold at the dollar store in 1984…at least not where i lived. wigs were expensive, blue-tinged old-lady hair replicas sold at upstanding proprietors. Boy George’s be-ribboned braids could not be copied by any wig i could get my hands on.

we lived with my grandmother that year, my mother and i, in an old, tall yellow house with slanted ceilings and sharp corners. we had cupcakes every Hallowe’en, the three of us, in that Formica kitchen…whether we were living there or not, it was my grandmother’s neighbourhood i trick or treated in. when i came down the stairs that year, all made up and swishy and awash in colour, long black-brown braids twisted with yarn poking out of my bandanas and swinging ’round my shoulders, my mother clapped and my grandmother beamed and when my mother asked, bewildered, “where did you get the hair?” my grandmother and i smiled at each other.

because it was her hair, my grandmother’s, a glossy braid that had hung to her waist when she was twelve. cut while WWI was still raging in Europe, it had lain coiled in a cedar chest for almost seven decades, peeked at but undisturbed.

and then i’d raped it. with her express permission, her blessing, i’d plundered that thick plait, torn it to pieces, tarted it up with rags and elastics and ribbons to make a Hallowe’en costume. a costume of Boy freaking George. a costume of which no pictures even exist, because the camera was broken most of that year. and the hair – that beautiful braid – when untangled at the end of the evening was ruined, brittle as it was after all those years, impossible to return to its coil. i tried. my grandmother said, gently, “don’t worry.”

i felt beautiful, and interesting, and magical in that costume. i doubt half the people who saw me had any clue who i was. i doubt my grandmother would have recognized the real Boy George if he’d waltzed into her living room that night. but i felt like royalty, inheritance tumbling over one eye in the signature kiss curl as i winked floridly to every candy-giver and minced my way off into the October night.

a part of me still feels shame about what i did to that braid…that artifact, that piece of history. and a part of me thinks my grandmother was wise as shit, and sends up a “thank you” and a smile every Hallowe’en, as i eat my ritual cupcake.

Oscar wanted to wear the same Hallowe’en costume – an elephant – that he wore last year.

i figured, great. it’s cute, it’s warm, it still sorta fits him, it saves me buying (erm…or making, but really, we’re talking buying here) a new one. what does he know the difference?

dandy. until i went to take him to the same sitter’s as last year…in the same costume. and i went to put up his photo here on the site…in the same costume. and a little voice at the back of my head shrills, what kind of mother puts her kid in the same costume two years in a row?!?!

damn. more costume guilt. how about the fact that i borrowed a costume for Posey, failed to take her anywhere much at all in it, and didn’t even get a decent picture.


but we had fun. :) and Posey smiled today, even if no photographic evidence exists outside my memory. happy Halllowe’en, everyone. may the candy be plentiful and the spooking be sweet…and may i suggest a cupcake or two?

today is Posey’s due date. it’s also my mom’s 60th birthday.

in my first pregnancy, with Finn, my due date was a source of excitement and mystery. the 4th of August, proclaimed the calendar – or maybe the 3rd, but the 4th was Dave’s mom’s birthday and so we went with that, thinking how fortuitous, how cool – and it never so much as occurred to me that i might deliver anytime before August rolled around in all its grand and bloated swelter.

but when August did roll in that year, we were three months bereaved…shell-shocked still, hurting, trying to put together some semblance of a life. i don’t remember if we ever managed to send Dave’s mom a card for her birthday that year.

when i got pregnant with Oscar a short while later, i barely noted his due date. instead i counted the weeks until viability, the days until we passed the points at which leaking had begun or the airlift had happened…and the 26+1 mark at which Finn had been born. i burned into my brain the date at which we’d clear the 28w hurdle, after which so much goes so much better. that was all i was bold enough to ask for.

but then time had her sweet, merciful dulling way with me and when i got pregnant again last fall, due at the end of June, i was fool enough to imagine a baby born on my grandmother’s birthday, the 20th…a full-term, 39ish-week baby. instead, on a Friday in late November, the day Dave turned 33, the u/s technician turned her face away from us as she spun the empty screen in our direction.

so on the morning of my 36th birthday this past January, when i woke up jet-lagged and bleary and faintly nauseous at a bizarre and ungodly hour in a hotel in England, and quietly and with hammering hopeful, fearful heart peed on a plastic stick i’d brought with me because i am at all times prepared, i didn’t dare shout out to the sleeping Dave dude! i’m pregnant! due on my mom’s birthday! i didn’t want to think too much about due dates, then…just wanted to get through that day, and the next, without blood. i only casually mentioned the congruence of dates to my mother much later, but with the caveat we’re really just trying to get safely to August. and she nodded. she knew.

but today my mom is sixty and her granddaughter is 23 days old and a whopping 7 pounds, 2 ounces and there will be cake and i am grateful, humbled by this happy ending, this coda to my pregnancy and to the whole journey of pregnancy in general, for me. we end with cake, not tears. and my mom is celebrating her seventh decade by getting her first computer so i’m bringing the blog out of the closet as a way of introducing her to this fascinating network that is teh internets (note to mom: intentional spelling mistake) so…wish her a happy birthday if you have a minute.

and tell me…all of you, whether your pregnancies were full-term or cut short, whether you’ve lost or gone over and delivered beautiful, healthy babies…did you note your due dates as they passed? do you think of them? what’s your relationship to this semi-arbitrary spot on the calendar?

for the past nine days, Oscar & Dave & i have been home together, just the three of us.  the sitter’s on vacation, as is Dave, and i’m home anyway, so it’s a last gasp at summer for us as a family, and a last chance – knock wood – to do stuff as a threesome.

it’s been a bit on the rainy side, and mindless wandering around the local timewarp that is The Mall is morbidly depressing, so we haven’t necessarily filled our time with as many outings as we’d imagined.  wild ridebut amidst the walks and the swims at the park, we checked out a couple of local attractions and brunched and had tea and took O for his inaugural bumper car ride with Daddy.  big fun.

everywhere we went there were kids’ menus.  and christ in a handbag, no wonder our culture has an epidemic of childhood obesity.

truth is, the amusement park probably hasn’t changed its menu in forty years: hotdog, hamburger, or deep-fried chicken bits, all with a side of fries or onion rings and pop.  not health food, but as an occasional treat, no biggie.  especially if a kid only gets out for a treat a few times in a summer.

but everywhere has menus like this, these days, at least where we are.  and when on holidays, one can be everywhere – eating out – more than a few times in a summer.  i have apparently been living in a bucket, happily oblivious to the contents of these craptastic wonders, because i haven’t had a child old enough to be interested in eating from them until now.  but suddenly Oscar has reached an age where he’s noticing that other kids aren’t eating the yogurt or dish of cottage cheese dragged from mommy’s bag; where pilfering dad’s toast & eggs at the diner is not entirely a sufficient meal unto itself.

and it seems that the rite of passage of having his own plate means he can now choose from a wide array of white-flour-based, deep-fried, nitrate- and preservative-saturated foods.  in quantities that would suffice for most adults. oh, independence.

i’m really not a sprout Nazi, or anything.  my kid likes Elmo crackers, and eats cupcakes now and then.  but for the most part we do try to make sure his diet has more nutrients in it than unpronounceable additives. we just don’t buy white bread or white pasta.  the store-brand organic breakfast cereals around here now cost less than the brand-name non-organic Raisin Bran or Shreddies, and we made fudgesicles this summer out of chocolate soy milk.  if Oscar liked hamburgers – he’s gone off meat, our little Smith’s fan – i’d happily serve them to him.  but seriously?  with fries and pop?  when he’s two?  even when he’s ten, i’d really like him to have a few more alternate options.  healthy choices shouldn’t be something that magically appear with puberty.

to me, when McDonald’s appears to have the healthiest kids’ menu in town – because you can at least get apple slices and juice with your white-bread-wrapped grilled cheese – there’s something kinda weird about that.

i know, first-time parent naiveté.  i do get that a few meals out is not going to destroy my child’s health or digestive tract, and that with some kids, getting them to eat anything at all is a huge success.  we’re lucky that way – O turns up his nose at a lot of things, especially vegetables, but would live on tomatoes and avocadoes if we let him.  that’s just how it turned out.  but he also had his very first non-soy hot dog only last week, so the options he’s been given do have something to do with the tastes he’s developed.  is it just where we happen to live – in one of Canada’s fattest provinces – that circumscribes the kids’ menu options to such blatantly and exclusively unhealthy fare?  is it just me who thinks this kinda sucks?  or do most kids between four and twelve in North America live on a steady diet of processed snacks and sugar and hotdogs?  seriously?

shine the light for me, people.  am i fighting a losing battle on this one?  when you eat out – if you eat out – what do your kids eat?  what’s your philosophy regarding kids and diet?

dear readers…

do you notice dates?  ascribe signficance to them?  see numbers dancing in front of your eyes like mad Rockettes?  subscribe, on some superstitious, instinctual level, to old adages about children born on particular days of the week?

i appear to.  particularly when childbirth is looming.  given my history this makes me shrink in shame, as i realize that the day and date of my child’s birth is, generally speaking, hardly of massive significance.  i’m sure i’ll come to like whatever date she comes on, because it will be hers, and all that marvellous rational truthiness.  sure.  but i have nonetheless come to the uncomfortable conclusion that i am a closet flake, and possibly some kind of subconscious but full-blown proverbial nut.  i have dates flit through my mind so many times a day that i am considering getting a turban and stitching paper stars to it, hiring myself out as a swami.  feel free to contact me if you would like my completely ungrounded but very heartfelt opinions about auspicious dates looming over the next, oh, three or four or five weeks or so…i will be happy to consult the litter box for signs in the turds, and whatnot.

see…much as i wanted to make it to September with this pregnancy, to try to get as close as possible to a healthy term infant…i’ve never been totally keen on a September baby.  late September, dandy, if i could get there…but the first part of the month?  mixed feelings.  this is not my good sense talking.  i know many fine people who were September babies…half the people in our families, quite literally, have early to mid-September birthdays.  that’s part of the problem.  we’re stuffed full of Virgos ’round these parts, and Virgos have many honourable qualities…among them tidiness, a virtue above all others.  also, i’m aware that just in the unlikely case astrology isn’t simply an interesting personality assessment tool but my child’s total future sewn up and written in her stars, moon sign and rising sign still mean more than the actual sun sign under which one is born.  see?  i’m almost an informed flake.  but for some reason i can’t quite put my finger on, i’m still not super thrilled about the idea of my child sharing a birthday with most of the noble Virgos to whom we are related or befriended.  i’m also not wild about her coming on any of the defunct wedding anniversaries and significant death anniversaries that occur in our small, immediate circle during early-mid September…nor do i especially like dates with a 5 in them…thus leaving about four separate days between the first of September and the twentieth on which i’d be happy to see her arrive.  or at least of which the inner crazy swami Bonnie – whom i cannot seem to shut up – would approve.

i just found out that for two of these dates, my OB will be off work, having surgery herself.  as i want her there for the delivery more than i actually want to assuage my bizarre obsessions, those dates are now added to the long list of Dates On Which I Will Keep Legs Crossed.

as of this afternoon, my OB’s scheduled my cerclage removal for one of the others…which just happened to bethe date she’s on hospital duty that week.  We’re doing the removal there, at L&D, in case the loss of the stitch sends me straight into labour.  removal has been set, folks, for September 10th.

which would be gorgeous, close to 37 weeks, even the 10/09/08 birthdate utterly cool if you follow the Canadian and European day/month/year system…but, um, it’s a Wednesday, folks.

and the old rhyme says, Wednesday’s child is full of woe.

seriously, full of woe?  how can i set my hopes on a birthdate that will doom my offspring to being full of woe?  i mean, Tuesday is “full of grace, Friday’s “loving and giving”…how the heck did poor Wednesday get stuck being full of woe?  i have been holding my breath all Wednesday long for months, now.  it would feel like bad parenthood, almost, to wish my child into the world on a Wednesday with that kind of prognosis.

damn, it’s not easy being crazy.

(and the 11th and 12th are already crossed off the calendar as taken…so, if Saturday the 13th doesn’t work, i may just have to try keeping that poor old cervix closed until well into Libra.)


what day of the week were you born?  your kids?  do any of these signification systems – be they planets, rhymes, or other superstitions – surrounding birth weigh on your mind?  are Wednesday’s children really full of more than their fair share of woe?  should i forget about the birth entirely and go check myself into a pink padded cell?

all quiet on the cervical front, friends.  this evening’s literary reading at ye local library was uninterrupted by the waters of Babylon.  i even laughed without peeing myself…banner day.

have i ever mentioned that i live two doors from the Dairy Queen?  and that i have something of an, erm, sugar fetish?  i came home from the reading with a fervent hankering for a chocolate-covered-cherry blizzard.  they’re my all-time favourite, my True Patriot Love…and the fact that DQ took them off the menu a couple of decades ago does not daunt me, people.  i know what i like: ice cream, cherry mix, cone dip.  lots of cone dip.  i have – with the help of slightly embarrassed minion Dave, who loathes ordering anything special or altered or ‘on the side’ but was nonetheless man enough to procure my fix when bedrest prevented me from doing so – been personally training the local DQ ice cream jockeys over the past few years to prepare this wondrous concoction of deliciousness.  tonight i got the boy who’s really good: he puts a little extra cone dip in there, oh fine pimply charmer, and never scoops the extra off the top.  some days, i think Dave & i should adopt him.

all that to say…this will be a short post.  i need to go make love to my ice cream.  and then write some more, because we have to read tomorrow night, at the closing dinner.  and in the company i’m keeping, my meandering little rambles i feel so proud of here suddenly sound like the braying of donkeys.

oh well.  one cannot learn if one does not shame oneself, i always say. ;)

i leave you with a challenge, or a favour, really, should you choose to accept it.   the story opener below is an exercise we did today, a one-off written from a brief news clipping.  i’d love feedback.  first person to guess the backstory or what the news story was actually about will be allowed to share my next Blizzard.  a little.  first person to tell me how to end the damn thing will win my undying affection and…um…uh…something nice.  i know!  DQ boy! he doesn’t look engaged, or anything…so, uh, as long as you promise to move here so i don’t have to let him go, a talented young mail-order ice cream boy can be yours for just a little bit of closure.

He couldn’t say he hadn’t been warned.

Gordon normally ate oat bran for breakfast. Seven days a week, whether the girls were there or not. Oat bran – no sugar – soy milk, coffee. After his run, before his shower. At nearly fifty, it is work to stay trim, regular, ship-shape.

He generally pays little attention to whether the girls eat breakfast – he refuses to keep crap cereals in the house, though they are welcome to oat bran or toast or fruit as they desire, and he suspects the elder of throwing up most of what she eats anyway – so when the school counsellor had caught him in the midst of a meeting Friday afternoon – an important meeting, a single-malt meeting – and mentioned pancakes, it had thrown him off, led him to assume that the conversation was a prank, a charade.

“I don’t eat pancakes,” he’d said, flatly, into the phone, grimacing towards his Scotch partner with a look he’d hoped was both authoritative and blameless.

“Sir…Mr. Herbert…” The voice on the other end of the line had sounded awfully young. Gordon  had grown irritated. Stupid joke. Maybe his youngest had pissed off some of the in-crowd at school? Fourteen year-old girls can be such bitches.

“Thank you for your time.” His voice had been curt, final, all Father-Knows-Best as he’d hung up, making it clear that he did not appreciate the interruption, the incursion of drama into the realm of his dignity. But when he’d flipped the phone over just to check the number, the display had read “Wilmington Charter School.”

Gordon’s run Saturday morning had taken him down towards the stream in the park. He’d noticed the faint tinge of yellow in the leaves, there, amongst the stately old trees that dappled the path with leaf-filtered light. “Odd,” he’d thought. “That’s early.” The leaves seldom fall until well into November.

When he’d gotten back to the house and found both girls up and in the kitchen, his thoughts were identical. This was odd. This was early, for a Saturday. He smiled at them, vague and solicitous. Julia, sprawled on the couch by the breakfast bar using his laptop, waved back sleepily. Tess had her back to him. She was…making pancakes.

“Hey, dad.”

“Hey, hon.” Gordon was aware, for a moment, that he sounded unusually hearty. He approached her, suddenly tense, like an animal wary of a trap. A part of his brain reeled, scrambled to recall yesterday’s phone conversation. Another part of it scanned the countertop for his coffee.

“I don’t eat pancakes,” Gordon said flatly, for the second time in less than twenty-four hours. He picked up his coffee cup and stared at his youngest child, willing her to look him in the eye.

Tess raised her eyes to his. The flecks of gold mirroring his own caught the morning light. She looked younger without all the usual makeup. She laughed.

“Who said they were for you, piggie?” she teased. She poked at him, digging where his belly used to be before all the running. For a second, her father remembered her, small and round and still in diapers, the two of them playing piggies with her tiny, stubby toes, oinking in abandonment.

“Make me a few,” he grinned at her, surprised by himself. But his smile was like steel, a challenge.

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