Posted by: rocketbride | July 17, 2014

lauraland, prologue

We finally made it to Missouri, and were given back an hour as a reward.

This was our longest day, and I hope the lowest point in personal relationships (nope! – ed.) This is the first road trip with my mom but not my dad since Rodin in Quebec City, and apparently our travelling styles have diverged. I’m used to setting the pace; stopping often for drinks, bathrooms, and sourcing cute local diners. In contrast, my mother’s vision for today was four wheels on the highway, her hands on the wheel. Repeated offers to share the driving were declined, leaving me to plan dinners that we didn’t have. Too bad we didn’t talk about this before we started to squabble about dinner, as in are we stopping for one?

It’s not really worth dwelling on, despite the silent stewing I did on the highway. I got a lot of knitting done, which might not have happened had we been chatting. And dinner, though late, was awesome: we ate in a small but tidy stone building off the highway, a proper barbecue joint specializing in fast, delicious food. The only unfortunate fallout was that, once I had tasted Sweetwater’s barbecue, I couldn’t bring myself to try it elsewhere.

(This is a classic example of selective memory. Later in the month I asked Scherezade if it was like this when we visited her in den Haag, and she reminded me of something I had entirely forgotten, that my mom spent that entire trip on edge because her bank card wouldn’t work and I was the only one who could access funds. Apparently I need a Mememto-style tattoo to prevent future uncomfortable trips from happening.)

Posted by: rocketbride | July 16, 2014

wonder women

Earlier this summer I finished Grant Morrison’s hymn to himself, Supergods. It was actually interesting in the parts that predate the author, and one of the things I learned about was Wonder Woman, created by a bondage-loving psychologist who dared to ask the question: what if an awesome lady fell in love with an unconscious dumb prettyboy? Unlike most of these stories, the answer is that it would be fantastic.

I bought a collection of her first appearances at the Beguiling, meticulously ordered and blessedly free of all but a tiny non-apology for all of the racist caricatures. Wonder Woman fights Nazi stereotypes, Mexican stereotypes, and Japanese stereotypes with equal vigour. And although I am in love with Wonder Woman from her star-spangled culottes to her bullet-deflecting bracelets, my heart belongs to her sidekick Etta Candy. (And I’m not alone.)

Etta is a fat, boy crazy co-ed who’s never too busy to come to Wonder Woman’s rescue. She leads a band of sassy, energetic co-eds who never question why WW would need them to hide in refrigerators or dive after emerging Nazi sailors or play band music in a parade against an evil milk corporation. She loves dudes, adventure and her girlfriends; she refuses to go anywhere without her box of candy; and she takes zero shit from WW about her weight.

And who among us hasn’t wrestled with the choice between swimming after villains and holding onto chocolate? Etta, God bless her, has the guts to say fuck it, why can’t I do both?

she’s so great!

Posted by: rocketbride | July 14, 2014

playtime

Mason & I took Maggie to Storytime today. I’m trying to do as much as I can to assuage my guilt before we leave for our Big Nerd Midwestern Roadtrip, which usually means enriching activities for Maggie, who’s more than happy to play with new toys.

We go to the same centre where I took Blake, and I can’t help but compare the two of them. Maybe the reflection is just because I didn’t space the babies the “normal” way, so instead of having the sound and the fury all at once I had eight years to catch my breath. Maybe it’s because I’m hyperalert to debunk the idea that there are inherent differences between genders. Maybe I just have too much time to think in the summer.

In any case, Blake was a very different child. What I later recognized as introversion appeared early on: when we would sit in circles and sing familiar songs, he often bailed to investigate dusty corners. The slower-than-average processing speed was quick to present as well: if an answer was required, like we needed a new part of the bus to celebrate, he would stare mutely at the leader until another kid (or I) jumped in. His difficulty in reading social cues showed up when he played around other kids; he would gaze lovingly at older boys and girls, even though they ignored him. I often wondered if I was wasting my time, taking him to these programs when he didn’t seem to get a lot out of it.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that I had completely unrealistic expectations of his behaviour. With all of my attention focussed on my own escape act, I never noticed all the other kids making a break behind the couch, or if I did, I noticed only that their son or daughter didn’t do it as frequently as mine. I didn’t understand then that there were parents of kids like mine who had convinced themselves that they should stay home with their wandering, quiet offspring. I didn’t understand that the population in public was skewed in favour of quiet, polite kids, kids who would make their parents proud by participating appropriately when given the opportunity, while the others were discovering their backyards. This is what makes church hard for me sometimes: if we only bring the best kids out in public, every other kid starts to look abnormal by comparison, and what I think of as normal kid behaviour becomes hideously disruptive.

But if Blake was born to teach me a lesson about how to value the “difficult” kid, Maggie was born to tease me with a small amount of ideal behaviour mixed with a base of rambunctiousness. She sings and dances with the group, yes, but then she’s off to explore. She will sit and listen to a story for a few minutes before commandeering the props and telling her own story. She watches the leader and listens closely when a new element is added to a familiar routine, but once she’s learned it she’s gone.

Whenever I think about my kids, I’m always glad Blake was born first. Not because he softened me up or wore me down, but because he made me accept the idea that my kids would first be themselves, not some fantasy I had dreamed up. The love and respect and admiration I feel for him and his unique style makes me appreciate Maggie all the more: both for what she does that is like him and what she does that is more typical. Because Blake and Sage didn’t do a lot of imaginative play, I am delighted when Maggie wraps her spoon in a napkin and kisses it goodnight. And because Blake and Sage wanted to know and do everything, I know that Maggie will want the same, so I can plan what stores I can take her into, for how long before we need to go.

If she had been born first, I would have been more worried about his introversion rather than just seeing it as the baseline for my children’s personality. If she had been born first, she would have bossed him mercilessly, rather than give the benevolent indifference he bestows on his little sister. It all worked out pretty well.

reading on the couch

One of the things I love about summer vacation is the ability to immerse myself in multiple projects – housekeeping, sewing, exercise, potty training – and then throw it all away in a giddy rush when there’s something fun to do. Right now I’m in the project phase, knowing that, come Tuesday, I’ll be getting ready for a week’s furlough in the Midwest.

rocket

I only had three things to do today: go to church, mop the floor & work out with Nic. Once they were accomplished, I was able to watch soccer with Sage & Mason & a co-worker’s family. Just because I like to work out doesn’t mean that I can stay super enthusiastic throughout 2+ hours of soccer, but my afternoon was saved through the constant stream of random commentary coming from Sage. We were at a sports bar with multiple screens, and when he wasn’t cheering for soccer (2 seconds behind the action, often chanting, “oh yeah, I’m cool”) he was cheering on race cars (“go number 2!”) and the UFC matches being broadcast simultaneously (“yeah! punch that guy!”). There was another 6 year old at our table, and I was amused at how similarly the two of them acted: always looking for mischief, always reacting a few moments after everyone else. Sage is the master of the long, rambling, nonsensical monologue, and his talent is particularly hilarious played out against a sporting event. I hope he’ll be this naturally funny in another 4 years.

bonding over soccer

bonding over soccer

Posted by: rocketbride | July 12, 2014

It would have been worse if Sage had thrown up on…

1. Maggie. She would have been totally traumatized and may have added to the clean up.

2. The new yarn and yummy fabric I just bought. Washing yarn…ugh.

3. The brand new comic books we bought for a birthday party tomorrow.

4. A half-dozen fresh Gryfe’s bagels.

5. The Hip Hop Family Tree discography I just finished making for Mason, containing all 40 songs referenced in volume 1 over 4 CDs, and housed in a handmade cardboard sleeve decorated with colour prints of the comic, which took 4 trips to Staples and a gallon of mod podge to complete.

6. In the air vent, like in my sister-in-law’s car.

It’s probably for the best that he only hurled on the seat, the floor, a cloth bag containing a new (but now unreturnable) picture frame, two dolls, an old battered book of Ontario road maps, and a brand new sewing pattern for a Maggie dress. The pattern pieces were basically unscathed, although transcribing the info off the befouled envelope was fairly harrowing. The envelope is in a better place now, by which I mean my garbage can.

Posted by: rocketbride | July 8, 2014

new hair!

My hair turned teal today in what is becoming a summer ritual along with taking on crazy amounts of projects, working out a lot and recommitting to FlyLady. Why teal? Because green is basically the only colour I haven’t tried, and I’m not really into it as a haircolour, so…teal. I match my living room and the wallet I made this week. I am essentially extending my brand.

teal for 2014

rocket

In other summer ritual news, I made it to the Island within the first week of vacation, a first for me. My department at Bat Masterson started doing this a few years ago, and it’s nice to roll in a visit with people I might not see for months, and kids I only see in photos throughout the school year. Unfortunately we were only able to take Maggie, as Sage was out of town and I didn’t feel like disturbing Blake in the middle of his trip to the Boytown, as I was the one who argued for longer visits that reduce the amount of painful transitions. And while I’ve certainly no qualms about taking Maggie on her own to the island, she ended up being a little left behind in the general rush of the day. I felt bad for her: she was the youngest, the least able to reach out for ride partners, and to top it all off she spent the afternoon huddling in our arms, ill. At least she and I were able to get some good rides in on our own (Antique Cars FTW!) and despite heavy resistance from my department head on the subject of the Swans, when Maggie & I took off to ride them alone, we were treated to the sight of a mama duck bringing out a shaky line of ducklings to swim alongside our ride.

(When I proposed the swans as a ride, she complained about how slow and boring and hot it was. I looked at her in disbelief. That’s the whole point of the swans! After the cheerful nausea of the rotating Bears, they had me at slow.)

It was probably just as well that Maggie was sick and we had to stay with her instead of adventuring after lunch. I consider myself a bit of an old hand at Centre Island, and the fact that our group expeditions never venture as far as Franklin Gardens, let alone Far Enough Farm or the beach was making me a little antsy. Maggie’s clinginess took the wind out of my sails so that I had to be content watching the other little ones race around in the splash pad.

(Pictures to come.)

Posted by: rocketbride | July 1, 2014

in rainbows

First of all:

i came up with this idea 13 years ago. i still think it's funny.

i came up with this idea 13 years ago. i still think it’s funny.


Happy Canada Day

rocket

I like change. I know it isn’t always obvious, especially not when I’m next to my free-wheeling brother, for whom change is the only constant (as it was for at least 2 of my mother’s 5 brothers). I suppose I should qualify it by saying that I like change on my own terms. I grow long fingernails with little effort, but I refuse to keep them at a steady length: when they get in the way of typing I ruthlessly cut them to the quick. When I’m ready to cut my hair, it all comes off. My dresses are ridiculously old-fashioned feminine, when I’m not wearing frayed cut-offs and band t-shirts with uncombed hair. I love summer, right up until the first whiff of fall.

And although the first weeks of summer can be a non-stop stress-fest as I adjust to life as a full-time mum, I like the fact that my working year stops cold, with no trailing off. Classes give way to intense exams, hours of marking lead to frantic cleaning of rooms and desks, finished off by an emotional end of the year that makes me glad for a few days off from my beloved Bat Masterson family. (This year we will be reuniting at Centre Island tomorrow, proving that we can’t even spend a week apart. Lame.)

When I’m not grading essays, calculating marks, counselling last-minute Larrys who want to give me a bunch of missing work on the last day (or possibly dropping it off at my house during the summer), I’m trying not to cry at the prospect of the inevitable departures. Some of my co-workers are squeezed out by the brutal economics of employment and seniority; others move up to new schools, increased responsibilities, board-wide positions, headships, vice-principal-ships; still others retire or go back to school. The partings are always heavy, and I’m often busting my ass to finish a farewell project at the same time.

This may be why I ran only once in the month of June. After my race on the first, it seemed like I blinked and it was July. I was sick for a few weeks, yes. School finished, yes. We have a new farmer’s market job, yes. Still, I can’t believe that it took me this long to break the 1k barrier. My body, however, was ready to remind me in every laboured breath and the heavy feeling of Doom that settled in my spirit and legs. Holy Christ, did it suck. The only thing that sucks more is the prospect of giving up the easy affirmation of my running friends, so it looks like I’ve got another date with Doom in a few days.
rocket

Maggie is not reacting well to the changes brought on by two parents suddenly at home all the time. She’s a girl who loves her routines, and loves her Grandparents even more; this is less a vacation than a grounding for her. In a spectacularly foolish move, I made things worse by getting my dad to convert her crib to a little bed yesterday. She celebrated by refusing to nap. Awesome.

She might not be napping in any case; we spent Saturday hanging around the market and Sunday at the Pride Parade, then Monday my dad took her out for a late lunch. She may think that naps have been called off for summer.
rocket

Speaking of the Pride Parade…

Not a lot to say. I wish I had gone when I was younger; it seems ridiculous that I’m nearly 40 for my first. Maggie is considerably farther ahead of the game.

happy world pride 2014

We cheered, sweated and danced for a few hours before retreating back to Yorkdale for dinner. Maggie showed more enthusiasm for the subway train than the parade, but maybe she needs a year to get used to the idea of a big, hot, sparkly parade where people squirt her with water pistols and her love of rainbows is reflected in almost every other person in the immediate vicinity.

pride!

  1. Drue dropping science. Because jazz is great and all, but right now I’m pretty obsessed with Hip Hop Family Tree, and I could do with some more rap!
  2. Being so close to the band, yet having tonnes of room to dance because most people were just standing around for no good reason.
  3. One of the most entertaining & crowd-pleasing members was a Alex, tap dancer. An excellent tap dancer, who led the crowd in a Hora during Talk Dirty, which I nearly missed because I was too mesmerized with the stage to notice a giant circle dance right behind me. And there was a tap-torchy-r&b duet to “Bad Romance” that I wanted to put in an envelope and mail to Borgie.
  4. Scott’s bouncing ragtime hands. How does he know where he is?
  5. Having a front row seat to two different vamps: Robyn the ice vamp and Andromeda the soul vamp, and having them close enough to smile at me once in awhile.
  6. Steve Sweat and the gino chains, flirting with me (just once, but that’s good enough!)
  7. Drue returning to the roots of the MC: announcing, hyping, singing, and greeting us all enthusiastically after the show
  8. Allan the drummer doing a solo that ventured into deep jazz territory, like Coltraine or Mingus, before switching into “Valerie”
  9. They were so surprised by the reaction after the show, so bowled over by the crowd waiting to meet them, and they didn’t have a pen between them.
  10. Robyn making sure we had an opportunity for a picture with her, even though we didn’t have a camera
  11. Not being sure about buying a second album, but being totally won over by the whole thing, including the Saturday morning slow jams which I had hereto avoided as a gimmick and will now be following just as avidly because…Powerpuff Girls!
  12. The band complimenting us on our wedding clothes. And when I told Robyn we almost didn’t do it because we were tired and it wasn’t an Arcade Fire show or anything, I liked that she didn’t blink, as if she believed that all Canadians considered it their duty to dress formally in and around AF
  13. wedding clothes and bathroom selfies

    wedding clothes and bathroom selfies

  14. Bumping into Scherezade on Dundas West because Mason suddenly needed the bathroom, and taking her to Queen West where we should have bumped into her but would have missed her entirely because she would have still been on the bus.
  15. They were so small! Rhythm section, brass and Drew were regular height, but I was eye-to-eye with Scott and I towered over the girls and the dancer. As Mariko Tamaki said of Margaret Atwood, they were squirrel-sized, and I just wanted to take them home in my pocket.

my very own terrible photo of the squirrel-sized margaret atwood.

my very own terrible photo of the squirrel-sized margaret atwood.


It reminded me of the old days, of dressing up for Big Rude Jake gigs or being surrounded by the spectacle of a Friendly Rich concert. It was glorious and I’m up way too late tonight trying to get it all down.

Posted by: rocketbride | June 3, 2014

women’s run completed

Now that I’m into my second year of entering races, I sometimes feel like I can’t be surprised (except by my own ingenuity in finding a public bathroom along a race route). One of the greatest thing about starting running classes again this winter was that I got in with a great group of women who want to race with me. Getting into running, I backlashed from the constant group management of ATS; running was supposed to be my lone wolf sport. And for the most part I can take or leave the social aspect of running: I enjoy the motivation of a group, but I can run by myself.

So it’s been humbling to discover how much better I feel running in a group. Even if we don’t do the race together, at least I get a ride with people who are as jittery as myself, and who don’t need to be entertained during the run (Wiener Town, I’m looking in your direction). When it’s over high-fives abound, I don’t have to share my snacks, and I’m around people who are just as red-faced as I. There is, dare I say it, sisterhood. It’s a good thing.

lisa, sandra, tammy, me, emily and alex: successful racers at the oakville run for women 2014

lisa, sandra, tammy, me, emily and alex: successful racers at the oakville run for women 2014


Not only was I humbled by these fast women, these ladies with whom I run down the sun, but I was also humbled by the response to my fundraising letter. I don’t often fundraise for myself, because I don’t want to tire out my friends with all the races and appeals. I almost didn’t make it this time, either – only a last-minute thought got my message composed and out to my people.

The responses were overwhelming. Women who pledged support even though I may not connect with them for weeks on end. Men silently throwing money in the pot. Other women telling me heartbreaking stories of their own suffering, pain they were trying to hold back from destroying their families. Two of my uncles donated lavishly. St. Stephen tossed in money from Japan, commanding me to deliver a PB (sadly I did not). Amelie donated race winnings from a race she had completed on the same day as mine. It’s been two days since I crossed the finish line, and people are still coming up to me to talk about my depression, and their stories.

It’s enough to make my shrivelled black misanthropic heart grow three sizes. And it reminds me that I have never for a single moment ran alone.

Posted by: rocketbride | May 30, 2014

women’s mental health

The following was composed for an email that I sent to my co-workers and a few members of my family. It also appeared as a post on Facebook. If you are on those networks, please don’t think I’m bombarding you with funding requests; I’m trying to get the word out and the fundraising is less important to me than sharing why I think this issue is important to me.

This Sunday I’m running 10k in Oakville. I do that from time to time. What’s different is that this time, I’m fundraising to directly support women’s mental health through the Halton Healthcare Services – Mental Health Program.

Many of you will know that I suffered from my first serious depression in my first year of teaching. I am still alive thanks to a combination of supportive family, supportive work environment and medical professionals who did not hesitate to get me into a combination of drug and talk therapy. I was able to discontinue that medication when I became pregnant with my son Blake less than a year later.

Ever since then, I have been very careful to seek support in all aspects of my life. I run for my mental and physical health. I take a different, lighter prescription on a daily basis. I read books and try to practice Cognitive Behavior Therapy in my daily life. I have a very supportive husband, who can recognize when I might need some extra help, often before I recognize it myself.

Lots of women don’t have this support. Lots of women isolate themselves until they end up hospitalized. Having visited three different friends on mental wards, I can tell you straight out that it’s not fun.

So if you like, and if you have a few dollars going spare, please click on the link below and toss a few bucks in the direction of Halton Healthcare Services. Even if you don’t, I’ll be thinking of you as I run, because many of you form the reason why I’m still alive today, to run for other women.

was i supposed to be dressed like a bee?

was i supposed to be dressed like a bee?

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