It’s noon somewhere

Monday’s lunch is fire of face;

Soft snores from the other room
Might as well be an air-raid siren:
This is the Child Who Does Not Nap.
Noon is nine hours too soon,
her forehead five degrees too warm,
my worry immeasurable.

Tuesday’s lunch is full of haste;

“I don’t know how you do it,” said the woman with a nanny.
“Well, a lot of it just doesn’t get done, if you want to know the truth.”
Her smile spreads, no further north than her nose.
She didn’t want to know the truth.

Wednesday’s lunch? It tastes of crow.

The sign outside the restaurant suggests I should be lovin’ it.  I am not.
Teenagers everywhere, loud and inappropriate.
What the hell was I think–  Oh SURE.
He had to go play peek-a-boo with my kid, just to prove me wrong.

Thursday’s lunch, more joy than woe.

They wouldn’t call them juice berries if they didn’t have juice in them.
Pretty sure.

A departure from my usual “my kid said something hilarious!” and “hey lookee mah talkin’ box makes picture stories!” content, the post above was written in response to this week’s writing challenge.

Nine Decembers

snowflake_1December 1979
We were living in Webequie, Ontario. Joe Clark was Prime Minister.  Despite regular calls home to her family, who kept her apprised of all the local gossip, no one ever told my mom there’d been an election.  Which is why, to this day, she’ll slap you if you try to turn the channel during the news.


December 1982
Me to my mother:  “If I don’t get a ten-speed for Christmas, I’m going to DIE.”  My mother to me:  “Well, that’s unfortunate.”  (P.S. I got the bike.)


December 1987

I was 15.  Everything sucked, including Christmas, even if it didn’t, in which case it still did.


December 1991
I spent New Year’s Eve in Dublin, all-expenses paid, courtesy of my university debating society.  I spent the week being romanced by an American.  First and last time for everything, I suppose.


December 1998
This is the December we lived without heat in our third-floor Toronto apartment. Sometime in October my boyfriend said, “You should turn on the heat,” and I said, “No, YOU should turn on the heat,” and neither of us did, all winter long.


December 2007
Renovating our new-to-us home, we ripped out an old natural gas “fireplace” installed by the deceased husband of the previous owner.  We found out later that he’d installed it when he found out his daughter was pregnant, because “how else will Santa get into the house?”  He died before the baby’s first Christmas.


December 2013
This was the year our family decided to scale back gift-giving from “obscene” to “merely over-the-top.”  My parents’ gift to me was a cheque. And yet, when she saw the small cardboard box we’d brought containing our unwrapped gifts, my mom said, “That’s it? That’s everything?”


December 2020
I slip on some ice at the end of November; I hit my head pretty hard and the rest of the holidays are kind of a blur.


December 2034
Butter costs $10 a pound. I halve the shortbread recipe partly to economize, but also because it’s the first year the kids won’t be coming home, so who needs all those cookies? I go through the motions, hoping Easter will be better.


A departure from my usual “my kid said something hilarious!” and “hey lookee mah talkin’ box makes picture stories!” content, the post above was written in response to this week’s writing challenge: ghosts of December 23rds past.

Actually Love

rock_em_sock_emWe call our favourite café the “robot coffee shop,” because it used to have a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em  game on a low shelf, where kids could reach it, and play with it.  It’s a bit of a walk, and a bit of an expense, so I only go there when I feel like I’ve done something to deserve it, like get two kids out the door fully dressed, on time, without swearing out loud.

On our way there, we pass a man half-comforting, half-chastising a child. Not yelling, just down on his knees, small face in his hands, trying unsuccessfully to stop the tantrum, which oscillates between growling and silence: “Mom just gets a little upset this time of year. She has a lot on her plate. She’s not mad at you.”  The whole time, the child didn’t move. But for the growling, I’d have thought she was a tiny mannequin, dressed for the threatening snow.

At the café, order placed, Juno and I sit down in one of the worn leather sofas.  On the other side of long, low table is a small woman, small in all ways: her hands look like a doll’s hands, fumbling with her phone.  She’s shaking.  Eyes rimmed in red.  She’s been crying.  I distract Juno – who inherited nothing of my looks but all of my ability to sense peripheral distress – by asking her to count the glowing plastic logs in the fake fireplace.  She obliges: “11, 12 … 18, 19 … 18, 19 …” until the chanting is replaced by a curt “Mocha on the bar.”  I exhale, as grateful for the excuse as the caffeine.

I know what it’s like to cry in public.  How many months has she been trying, I wonder, projecting.  Maybe she has a family already.  Armfuls of presents under the tree, when the FedEx delivery arrives.  This would be the third pre-ordered gift she’s forgotten about.  Inside the box, the gift is already wrapped with a tag that reads: “For Molly, love Dad.”  Molly had been Mark’s mother’s name.  She wanted to name their daughter Molly and he refused.  Never gave an explanation that made any sense.

The next day, after Mark left to take Emma to daycare, she retrieved it from under the bed and threw the whole thing on the fire, which they’d made specially that morning.  A treat for the last day of school.  Toasted marshmallows for breakfast.  Pity the teacher.  The fire leapt and sparked and she made a mental note to pack Christmas wrap as fire starter, next time she went camping.  The plastic melted; the smoke was thick, dark and acrid, burning her throat, stinging her eyes.

What’s done cannot be undone.

A departure from my usual “my kid said something hilarious!” and “hey lookee mah talkin’ box makes picture stories!” content, the post above was written in response to this week’s writing challenge: collecting detail

Earnest vs. Ernest

Just over a year ago, I had a semi-awful day and wrote all about it: Five things I hated today.

It was one of my typically wordy whinging posts, which made it perfect for this week’s writing challenge, Papa says get economical.

SWEDEN - 1990: Ernest Hemingway, Nobel Laureate in LiteratureIt’s been more than a year since I last read Hemingway, so I have no real sense of whether I’ve self-edited in an appropriate style, and I know that the changes I made were much broader than what the challenge calls for (detail, meet window).  It was a fun exercise, though, and entertaining enough that I rewrote the entire post.

Let me know which version you prefer!

At time of writing it is only 5:30 p.m.

Still plenty of time for items six through 10 to show up on my doorstep.

Night falls; the day remains.

1. People who wait to take your parking spot.
I hate these people.  We had one stalking our spot at the zoo today. Admittedly, we had a really incredible spot, thanks to the (imaginary) kid who threw a temper tantrum so egregious that his caregivers followed through on their “I don’t care if we’ve only been here for half an hour, if you don’t knock it off we will leave RIGHT NOW,” threat.  In other words, as close as you can get without authorization.  It was a peach of a spot.  Too bad those bum biters had to wait for me to pack up the kids, sort through our gear, fold up the stroller … and clear my voicemail, email and Facebook queue while they waited.  In retrospect, they shut their car off so as to avoid idling.  I should have let it go at voicemail and email.

I hate them. One wanted our parking spot at the zoo. It was a good spot. A family departed early, perhaps, leaving us the good spot, and a short walk. I lingered on leaving, to my regret.

2. Sunscreen.
Okay, so I don’t hate sunscreen — I am, in fact, profoundly grateful for its existence ever since that time when I was 16 and I stayed up all night making out with a (as it turned out, married) man on a beach in Japan, and ended up looking something like this.  In case you’re curious, the sun does set at night in Japan — he was just that hot (a har har).  No, what I hate is that I need it, that my kids need it, that anyone needs it.  I am by nature heliophobic and it’s God’s own wonder why I’m not already safely ensconced in one of our coastal cities, blessed as they are with a damp and moldy, near-daily hug of fog.  Having to wear sunscreen makes going outside feel like a bother, and staying inside with two mobile children like the precursor to a suicide pact.  So I wear it.  But I hate it.

I appreciate sunscreen. It reminds me of misspent youth. I do not like its necessity; fog is preferred. While annoying, sunscreen is better than death. Compromise.

3. Ruffles Sour Cream ‘N Bacon chips.
I am convinced that their deliciousness is tied exclusively to their salinity.  They could be rebranded as Sour Cream ‘N Saltlick without stepping afoul of Health Canada labelling laws.  I hate that they are so delicious I ate the entire bag — save for, literally, one handful that P managed to liberate — and I hate that I spent $2.99 plus tax on a bottle of water at the zoo because the combination of sun, mild breeze and gut full of SC’NBS made me feel like Lot’s wife after a good looky-loo.

Salty snacks are best. No warning needed. Gluttony begets profligation.  I am salt incarnate.

4. That I committed to five hates.
When only four things have really pissed me off so far.

Anger deficit.

5. Rubber gloves with holes in them.
I suppose I could just hate doing dishes, but really — that’s too easy. What I hate is when your rubber gloves, which  you must wear because you are delicate flower with little orchid fingers too sensitive for the harsh elutriative power of Sunlight OXI Action (TM), get a pinhole in them, which through continued use grows to a sizeable wound.  I hate that, because then a small amount of stagnant water eventually accumulates at the injured site, where it sets up Camp Stank, and you spend a good half hour of your life obsessively sniffing your left thumb and wondering just what the hell is that smell, anyway?  And I hate that these gloves died not because of a defect, but just sheer overuse, and I hate that these gloves, while expensive, are at the very same time irrefutably cheap.

I dislike manual labour. Tools are needed, but their failure leaves a bad smell. Hatred compounded by expense.

Vote for your favourite below, and view more examples of self-editing here.

If you think I’m talking about you here, yeah, you’re probably right.

If you think I’m talking about you here, yeah, you’re probably right.