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Without deep reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people .

8 Jun

I stand in front of myself.

The mirror is no friend. It never has been. A scrawny child turned too tall and broad teenager turned adult with more bumps than roads, I’ve spent a lifetime staring away from myself. No matter how healthy I have been, how in shape, how active, I scorn my reflection. It has never been good enough.

Too tall.

Too broad.

Too fat.

Too curvy.

Too unattractive.

Too nervy.

Always something.


I have never been a little girl.

Around other women I feel awkward and oversized, my height, the sheer heft of my shoulders, the calves that never fit into those sleek black boots, the boobs which double as bird feeders and get in the way when I talk with my hands. I watch other women, they of tiny hands, thin bones, in some cases, the blessings of genetics, and I feel envy, as well as shame. Womanhood, is it not in delicacy? Is it not in the lovely flutters of fine boned hands, soft and pointed? Have they not the trappings of will, or at the very least, a slot in a lottery I lost out on, my own blood full of the tall, the thick hipped, those who will survive famine. Hearty stock. Peasants maybe.

My unease with women may stretch back to the fact that I always feel like a giant among the munchkins, and I am the problem. Rooms full of svelte and tanned, bellies that lie flat, arms that rarely jiggle. Pants that stay put.

When the world, or at least the one presented to you, is a consumptive tea party of flounce and vanity, of slimness and restraint, how does a girl look around her if it’s her ass that doesn’t fit in the party chair?


I haven’t worn a swimsuit in public for years, not openly without something over it. Does it matter if crazy gained me weight? If medications did? If stress, lack of time, the natural progression of my body? I haven’t worn one without covering since I was 14 or so, when, relatively skinny, someone still called me “lard-ass”.

Of course, I’ve also heard this in varying combinations while walking down the street minding my own business, flung from a car window like so much trash. Sure, sticks and stones. But the 10th time. Then 50th. How long until you believe it, random words from adolescent idiots? How long before the world reinforces that regardless of your actual strength and health, it’s how someone else sees your ass in those pants that matters as you walk home late at night.

If you’re lucky, someone only throws something once.


I am pleasantly surprised at the ease push ups start to come, at the smooth feel of my body as it relies on itself. I smile as muscle replaces slack in places. I make conscious decisions to eat better, to eat less.

I am however, still fat. Judging by the biological members of my family alive, I will always be fat. But does my fat dictate my health? Can the people who drive everywhere, who rarely take the stairs, but who perhaps don’t eat, or who are lucky to be blessed genetically, are they more healthy? The fat women doing biathalons-are they unhealthy? I will always be a size above, unlikely to ever slip under an 18. (I haven’t been a 14 since the summer I spent high without eating, having maybe 200 calories a day while I cycled everywhere. I still had a stomach, even then.)

But how does that determine judgement? If I recoil from a skinny woman, who to me, is far too slim, I see judgement cast at me. Yet recoil from me, and people will join you. I’m fat. I’m not welcome at the tea party. I’m disgusting and unhealthy.

I am, essentially, invisible, and yet, visibly judged. Even though you may know nothing about me, and how I live. I am your perfect whipping boy for your own vanity.


I love to run. I always have. And yet, I’ve never been able to without my lungs seizing up, and rendering me breathless, culminating once in passing out during a basketball game, legions of 13 year old girls newly trained in CPR wondering if they would get to try it out on the fat girl.

(Ironically, just writing about this makes my chest seize up in anxiety.)

I try to run. I try to run away from the body I have, because it is, quite simply, not the body the world condones, and is one it barely tolerates, no matter how fit it might be, no matter how healthy each doctor deems it against their own judgement. But I cannot run. And I am faced with raising two daughters in a world which makes weight and either or proposition, which it may not necessarily be.

I can’t run my way out of my body. But I can’t seem to run my way out of expectation or judgement either.


30 years in, 33 this year somehow, I can stand in front of a mirror, and face myself. I am imperfect. I am lumpy in places I’ve been lumpy since 14. But I am also strong.

I’m tired of letting you keep me from myself.  And it stops now.


5 May

I try to never lie.

I mean, I’m sure I lie to my kids occasionally, telling them their mouths will swell shut if they keep talking at 4am, or I might shave 10 pounds from my weight to preserve my vanity. But the big stuff? Who I am, what I look like, what it means to be in this body-I don’t lie about that stuff. What’s the point? Eventually someone will find you out, and you lose the person, as well as, presumably, your self respect.

I had recently connected with someone through my blog, or so I thought. Conversations I’d look forward to on email, the kind you sometimes only have with new people. I thought I’d made a friend.

The odd comment would be weird, but then, I’m rapidly discovering that with most people, I’M the odd nut, so I chalked it up to the awkwardness of conversation, stilted through emails, and moved on. But then I asked for a picture. I’ve been talking, on and off, to this person for months, they’ve read the blog. My life is up here, in technicolor. Seemed only fair.

I received a picture obviously pulled from a catalogue, or an ad. When I questioned it, I was basically told I was broken, with the person immediately running offline. Which makes me then question if the pictures of their children weren’t stolen off someone’s blog or some other site as well, a life crafted as a lie to make me feel comfortable.

I really don’t understand-I don’t get the lying, I don’t get the falsehood. Nor will I put up with it. I’m cautious by nature anyway, but had thought I had found a friendship, as I have found with so many of you. But something…isn’t quite right. While the antennae for wrong was triggered awhile ago, I could never quite figure out why. I wonder if I know this person, in life. 

Mostly I wonder why.

People mock me for my lack of faith in humanity. But generally speaking, humanity reinforces my cynicism with this type of behaviour. I wonder what a person gets out of this. I really do. But what is gained, in any case, aside from my anger and irritation?

So if anyone emails me, and I’m a complete snot-now you know why. People, you piss me off.

Cautious, or Crazy?

27 Apr

Sometimes this whole break up thing isn’t so bad. Somedays, I’m meeting new people, enjoying the quiet, working on projects around the house. It’s pretty cool.

Other days, I’m having discussions about how just because you’ve been chatting with someone in another country online for a few months, it doesn’t mean I trust them watching my children if they visit.

No offense, but most of you? I’ve known for years, and I still wouldn’t want you watching my children alone. I don’t necessarily know you, not really. With the exception of a few of you who are near me physically, who I’ve spent actual physical time with and trust (mostly) to not do anything foolish or crazy with my kids, I don’t trust that knowing you online means TRULY knowing you.

Yes the world has changed. Yes, I connect with others online. However-I still firmly believe that you cannot necessarily trust, 100%, someone you have never met in real life. How many times do we hear about people misrepresenting who they are online? Pretending they have dead children for sympathy-stealing photos to create families that aren’t real. How easy is it to be someone or something you aren’t online?

It’s very simple. I tend to be honest-but I’m still not exactly the person I am in reality on this site. If I chat with someone online, even for weeks, they still don’t really know me in terms of my behaviours. I may not disclose all the idiocy that makes up my day to day life. I may leave out the little bits about being on the psych ward. I may omit a number of things because they are not necessarily relevant, and lets me honest, because I don’t want them to force a preconception about me.

End of the day, our online life, the “us” online is NOT absolute or transparent. It’s a facet of us that, while close to who we truly are, is still not the entirety.

So when I’m asked if I’m ok with someone known only online for a matter of months watching my kids, someone who is young, and without children of their own, someone from a completely different continent, and then treated like I’m not “with it” cause I don’t trust my children around a stranger-I become more than a little angry.

This is not about me. This is about my children. This is about a reasonable expectation of their safety. It’s about making a judgment about safety. Could we use the break money wise? YES. I’m not looking forward to a summer of no breaks and Mr. Noodle at this rate. Do I feel comfortable with signing off, at this point, on a stranger watching my kids?

No. I don’t.

The point I can’t seem to make clear, and maybe I am in the wrong, is that online relationships are NOT 100% real. They are friendships sure, and I may feel connections to some people, but they aren’t the same as knowing someone who lives down the street from you, whose house you’ve been in, who you’ve interacted with in everyday situations.  I do not trust most people in normal life, not with my children. So trusting people who I cannot always validate in reality? Scares the ever loving shit out of me.

I was hurt by the real people in my life. I go to many lengths to ensure my children are safe, and this? Feels like I’m holding a door open to any possible scenario happening.

So the question is-am I weird to be so distrustful of online relationships? Do any of you feel that online relationships are just as, if not more so, trustworthy than “reality” relationships? While I know you cannot really know anyone if they want to hide things, I just strongly believe that it’s a LOT easier to do online, and much simpler to protect your motives behind so much technology.

21 Years

26 Apr

I’m not there but I can trace the streets with my fingers. Technology gives me tentacles, allows me to walk the streets of my home town yet again, stare at the front door I open and closed so many times, the curb I drove my brother’s bike off one dewy spring morning, into the side of a passing car. The steps I sat with friends on fiery summer nights, or with my mother on cooler fall afternoons.

The shutters are falling. The siding is grimy and stained. If houses are metaphors, this one matches my life. Full of memory, dingy at the sides, but still standing.


She’s there.

In my mind, in my frosty memory, it’s April 1989 again, and she’s laying in the front room, her blue room, on the hospital bed my parents procured from somewhere, her body wasted and yet bloated. She had come home the week before, her doctors forcing her hand, blunt with words “We can’t help you. You are dying. Give up.”

It was not in my mother’s nature to give up on anything. And so her last wish was not denied, to die at home, to spend her last days in the home she built with her lover, her husband, the one she brought her children home to, my first home. Her beautiful sitting room, strewn with the chaos of death-the drugs, the gauze, the tiny cans of near food in vanilla. The pale sky of carpet she laboured over choosing became compressed and dirtier by feet, vomit, life.

I watched her final days there, much as her sister and my father tried to shield me. I saw my mother naked for the first and only time there, flailing and seizing on her bed as her, the woman I knew, finally left me. Some of me expired with her, sailing towards a sky, cloudy.  A crack in a lifetime, the line in the sand of before and after.

I stare at the house I grew up in. The house she died in. The house I ran away from, feet pounding on distance and action-had I the ability to sprout wings I would have, and flown straight into the sun. Even my dreams rarely brought the solace of her, and slowly I have forgotten her voice, her touch, what it meant to be her, to be my mother.

But her ghost still echoes, across these years. Sunlight around her like a halo, possesses my memory. Her distant smile, haunted somehow, wistful.  The heft of her, the sense of solidity, security, like a vault I could land in. Years I never got to know, stories she never told me-all hover like fireflies over a night field in that house, beautiful and untouchable.

It’s been 21 years. I am not a small girl any longer, rigid in my strength, weak behind those doors. I have been alive for longer than she was with me, only pieces of her left to remind me, whisper gently that I have a mother, that she loves me, and she misses me more dearly than I can imagine.

I love her still, and that house, and that yard, all the places our hands and feet touched, even silent on that burgundy couch lazy Saturdays, watching movies as the rain poured. She’s in that house, her breath trapped in the corners, behind the blue wallpaper, inside the steel stairs.

And she’s in me, forever.

She’s home.

I’m sorry, is The Mother’s Act trying to help women? My bad…

22 May

Once upon a time, everything was wrong. I knew it. I couldn’t bring myself to where I needed to be. So I lived with it, we worked around it, we did what we could, the people in my life, me. But when there’s a fuzz in your brain you can never quite shake, you can’t see through it. You can feel the wrong vibrating through your life, but you can’t quite settle it.

Even if you talk to a doctor, even when I sat down and said, please, I want to die, I can’t hold it in, they saw nothing. The next time I’d be fine, and bouncy and wonderful and life was grand and they saw nothing. So I carried on, with the wrong still buzzing, believing I was doing what I could do.

But then pregnancy, and pregnancy again, and there was a slight snap that let loose the dogs of crazy, and I slipped slowly into the vibration, becoming consumed, becoming someone I wasn’t, someone who I can’t recognize today.

They didn’t see it. They didn’t watch for it, they didn’t ask. My urine was more compelling than my mental state, even after the first time, even after being through it, after asking for help. Nothing. No one. They watched me crying, sobbing in a fetal position 3 hours after birth and did nothing. I should have been happy, shouldn’t I?

More and more foolishness comes out on the Mother’s Act. More lies, more blatant bullshit (prozac in a baby’s eyes? Really? People BELIEVE this crap!?!?) more obstacles to providing women with nurses and doctors who pay attention to their emotional state, who stop and ask them if they’re ok, who take a moment to look them in the eyes and tell them it’s ok to admit if maybe it’s not all puppies and rainbows.

Honesty. Caring. Compassion. Research to prevent post partum mood disorders.

I read a story like this one, where a mother kills her son. And I read how the family felt “she did not express the typical love of a mother for her child.” And how nothing had been done before that. How the mother said she killed him because “she did not want him to grow up with no one caring about him, the same way that she had grown up where nobody had cared about her.” She then walked the streets of her city.

If she never reacted properly to her son, why would no one ever see, or be told, or help? How long? From birth? Could this have been stopped, years before? This mother, who now waits to be tried, who wants now to die, who felt this was the only way, could she have been helped by something as simple as a doctor noticing, at some time, what was going on?

As a Canadian who has suffered a bad case of PPD, I’ve been watching the Mother’s Act hopefully, and wondering if we can implement something similar in Canada. Something that would extend a hand when it’s needed, not forcing or demanding, but merely being a support when it’s so desperately needed. Education for doctors and nurses to recognize the signs.

I’ve also been watching the backlash, the ridiculous claim from out of nowhere that this is basically an excuse for “big pharma” (I’m so tired of that term) to drug everyone into insensibility, make oodles of money, and giggle maniacally in their lairs. Because it’s hard to believe that anyone, even a senator who is paid to represent the constituents, or a mother who lost her daughter, might only want things to change for mothers. Because nothing can ever happen on a broad scale without some sort of conspiracy attached.

It’s disgusting, and infuriating, especially when coming from other mothers. I didn’t take anything when I was suffering-I went through therapy, and was eventually diagnosed, nearly 2 years later, as bipolar. Which I should have been diagnosed as years before. I elected to start treatment with medication, and did my research on each until we found one that corrected the imbalance in my brain, and allowed me to function, NOT exceed, but merely FUNCTION at the same level as everyone else.

I CHOSE my path. I still see a doctor, sometimes more, sometimes less. I take my medication because for me, talk therapy isn’t the only answer. But I refused anti-depressants twice, and was merely told that they were available, if I needed or wanted them. As with many women I know, I didn’t want them.

But some women might. And women should have the choice, since free will, after all, is a bitch.

There are lives to be saved here, women’s lives, children. By simple screening, questions, a kind word, someone paying attention. And yet we constantly see blowhards screaming their agenda, which is not so much about women but about their misguided attempts to protect. We see people who have never ever even given BIRTH, who decide, based on their vast experience, that this bill must be evil evil evil.

We have hundreds, maybe thousands of women, every day, suffering in silence, suffering in from of medical staff as I did, who get no help at all.

We are a compassionate people, aren’t we?


So I went to read the bill again. Looking for the “feed me Risperdal” clause.


(1) Basic research concerning the etiology and causes of the conditions.


(2) Epidemiological studies to address the frequency and natural history of the conditions and the differences among racial and ethnic groups with respect to the conditions.

 Again, research, especially about incidence, good. 

(3) The development of improved screening and diagnostic techniques.


(4) Clinical research for the development and evaluation of new treatments.


(5) Information and education programs for health care professionals and the public, which may include a coordinated national campaign to increase the awareness and knowledge of postpartum conditions. Activities under such a national campaign may– 

Gee, educating the public? Kirstie, are you listening?

 (B) focus on–

(i) raising awareness about screening;

     (ii) educating new mothers and their families about postpartum conditions to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment; and

    You mean, let people know what it might feel like so they can educate themselves? NO!


    (iii) ensuring that such education includes complete information concerning postpartum conditions, including its symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources.

    And education means providing ALL options and alternatives to the woman, so SHE can make a decision like a big girl wearing big girl pants? How progressive!



Frankly, I don’t see it. While I take medication, and it has literally saved my life, I don’t like pills either. I hate taking them. I’ve declined many medications because I don’t want it in my body. I would never support something that mandated medication. And this doesn’t. Unless there’s some super special secret page that only Amy whatshedrinking can see with all her friends. This is about education, and providing women with the tools they MIGHT need to help them get a handle on things.

Maybe I am insane, but I fail to see how this infringes on freedom, goes against the constitution, or any of the many things it’s been accused of doing.

It’s trying to help. People who have been there are trying to help. What’s really in it for those trying to prevent that help? Dollars for Scientology perhaps, more money for “natural” remedies that might also poison you? Is this just another way for some women to convince you that you aren’t a real woman if you haven’t “toughed it out” if you suffered true post partum, and not just baby blues?

I’m not proud. I deeply desired to give away my daughter at birth. To harm her and end my life. Many things too painful to write down. I recovered with therapy, with the help of a very aware lactation consultant who called at the right time. What I felt wasn’t natural or normal, and it took me a year to connect to her, despite fighting for therapy and assistance.

Now imagine the woman without an advocate.

That’s who you’re destroying here.

A child is a curly dimpled lunatic.

11 Mar

The clamouring starts before I’m even out of bed.

“Mommy, can you get me breakfast? Mommy, can you help me with my panties? Mommy, I don’t want THIS bowl, I want THAT bowl! Mommy, Jayden says that you don’t like me. Mommy, open the sock bin? Mommy, where’s my hat? Mommy, I can’t find Cheer Bear….”

If verbal assault could be explosive diarrhea, my children are official biological weapons.

Since I’ve been home, a lucky win fall for my daughters, the requests and needs and desires have been incessant, and I feel like I’m constantly being poked and prodded by a pack of wild monkeys searching for nits, the howling growing when I deny the T.V, the computer or more food. It’s almost as if they can’t believe their luck, and need to suck every inch of blood from my body until I’m just a husk a pod person comes out of.

I need to go back to work. I enjoy the time, but I’d enjoy it a LOT more if there weren’t kids under foot and I still didn’t need to get up most days to take Vivian to school. I have another job lined up, waiting to hear about one I want better, but DAMN, I am NOT suited to this stay at home thing.

I’m tired of cleaning, especially since no one else seems capable of keeping it that way. I don’t have it in me to constantly run behind everyone, or scrub the bathroom sink for the 5th time in a week. Reading is difficult since children, mine especially, have this irritating habit of talking. I really don’t have the capacity for games or experiments or anything arty. It’s just more mess. Winter has turned into that strange crunchy/slushy winter-spring hybrid, which means going outside is cold and sucky and boring.

I’m going a little nutty. I’m trying to just get away for a little while, since I also know I screwing with the patterns my husband has had for months, but this is a small city and there’s only so much to do. I’ve pretty much settled on spending a few hours at Starbucks or Timothy’s every day to read and maybe write if I’m up to the fierce outlet competition that ensues. Plus, it’s fun watching all the horrid 80’s hair on women far too old to pull it off. The odd poncho I saw today was also a nice touch.

Don’t even get me started on the hugging and the kissing and the cuddling. As people who have met me can attest, I am NOT a hugger, even if I adore you. Not a fan of touching-more a fan of the 3 foot personal space bubble. My kids are ALL up in my shit. I’m touched out in that regard. I don’t know if I can hack it anymore.

I LIKED leaving for the day, and coming back, happy to see my family. I could interact, pee without someone staring through the key hole, eat all my food, all by myself. Now, I’m so bloody lonely for human contact, for adult human contact that I’m being actively nice to strangers. Not just my usual good deed blather, but starting conversations and enjoying them.

This just won’t do. It just won’t.

Look, I love my kids. I do, with every fibre of my being but dear FSM I just cannot get them away from me, even at night. It’s all MOMMOMOMOMOMOMOMOMOM!!!!!, always with the inflection at the end like I’m some strange german word. But I just couldn’t do this forever. Rosalyn won’t stop peeing the bed no matter how many times she pees before hand, Vivian has nightmares nearly every night, and both of them only want ME. Santa could walk in with a pony and all of the Care Bears and no one would care since it’s not me.

SAHP’s-how the hell do you do this? How do you carve out anything for yourself without feeling guilty? These kids are relentless, like the black death….

We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are – that is the fact.

10 Mar

Today the sky was a vicious blue, and the air was still. Nothing moved for a moment as I stood at an icy corner, waiting. A pause in a season, to catch it’s sense of self perhaps, shake March a little, like a snowglobe. Winter and spring fighting for their places.

It’s that blue that breaks the tempo after a long winter-the blue that reminds you that all things change, all things come around, nothing, ever, lasts forever.

“…developed a cancer growth in the large intestinal track. The doctor successfully removed a piece of the intestine that had the growth, so all should be well soon.”

In the mail, a letter from my sorta step-grandmother-the woman married to my blood grandfather. The letter came inside a birthday card for Rosalyn, attached to a check. “Don’t worry” it says.

My adoptive mother died of cancer.

My biological grandmother died of cancer.

My biological grandfather has cancer.

Yeah, I’m not worried. Not one bit. Not me, who muttered “well, at least I’m probably in HIS will.”

I’d slap myself for being so crass if it would make a difference.

Thing is, I don’t know how to feel. This man is my family-his blood runs in my veins, my face, briefly, resembles his, the shy smile, the height. I’m his granddaughter-his first born granddaughter, and I can smell the guilt from him a mile away. I’d like to believe it’s not guilt, but love, or at least like. But I’d also like to believe I’ll have a pony and a beach house someday.

He and my grandmother were truly the only people in my biological family who seemed to truly care, who unlike my birth mother, didn’t just throw money in my face to try and fix some perceived slight, 20 years old. My grandparents were the only ones who seemed to truly want to help, to know me. They were the only ones I cared to know, the only two in a large family seemingly disinterested in material’s or money in the bank. The only two who didn’t seem wrapped up in themselves.

My grandmother died, fast, of cancer rocketing through her body. I was 7 months pregnant with Vivian the last time I spoke to her, excited to be carrying their first grandchild, excited to give them that. She told me about everyone else’s problems, told me how proud she was of my half-sister.

She left out the part about the cancer eating her from the inside. She lived 3 weeks past the day Vivian was born. She never knew her name. They told me later that she didn’t want to upset me.

I didn’t cry-what was there to cry for? A body that is technically like mine, DNA I could mimic, follow home? But nothing beyond that point-nothing to say, nothing in common, our lives so very different for only being 40 minutes apart while I grew up.

40 minutes. That’s all that separates a life from another.

My grandmother was one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. But I didn’t know her, and I didn’t feel entitled to grief.

I was not included on the death announcement, still just another hidden secret to be ashamed of.

So to see, on paper, the words that could likely turn into him dying, I just wish I had never looked. I unfriended my half-sister on Facebook since the last time I spoke to her she was, frankly, a bit of a bitch, and how do you explain anything to a 21 year old with a single vision? You don’t.

This man is the last link I have to a family that never wanted me, and has never even tried to fill in the blanks for me, never tried to be there. My birth mother has come and gone at will, rejecting me, pushing away. Occasionally an aunt sends a gift, a letter, then nothing. I sit here wondering if this is what family feels like, and if it is, why anyone bothers? I have more family in my father than I have in that entire group of people.

If my grandfather dies, when he dies, It will bring home how close I am to being an orphan, a story I could avoid telling myself for years. I thought finding my birth family would help me close the holes in my heart, help me move on with life.

It’s done nothing but wound me slowly since the day it happened. The farther I get away from it, the more I wish I had never, ever looked.

All I ever wanted was a family to love me, a normal family that wasn’t broken or strained or lying to itself. Meeting these people at 19 was a lesson well learned, one that continues even now.

When the least they could do to you was everything, then the most they could do to you suddenly held no terror.

26 Feb

Most mornings, rain or shine, I walk Vivian the kilometre to her school, trudging with half shut eyes through ice and slush. Most of this isn’t just walking-it’s tugging, cajoling, threatening and bribing for speed. We walk so slowly that sometimes I swear we’re going backwards in time. You’d never know that she loves school.

Winter in a schoolyard is a magnificent thing. Snowbanks to climb, to slide down, to jump in and off. Snow, simple, intricate snow becomes so many places or things. After the last snowstorm, I smiled, thinking of all the joyous voices I’d hear, running and playing on those hills.

We walk onto the schoolyard, and all the kindergartners are restrained to one, sterile area, trapped even, pacing in many cases, the length of the “play area” they’re allowed. I walk past a group who have started sliding on their bottoms down a tiny, foot high snowbank. Immediately a “teacher” rushes over, and micromanages them to the point that it’s just not fun anymore, and they scatter.

I stand with my mouth open, confused and sad.


While I don’t trust people necessarily, I firmly believe in independent children. I believe in bruises incurred falling down on the driveway, small cuts after wandering around in the woods, skinned knees after tipping over your bike. The possibility of danger, the thirst of fear. I believe children should have these simple things, and I don’t mean it in that old foggie, uphill both ways kinda way.

What do we lose when we take a person’s sense of adventure? When we remove the potential for harm, for consequence? What core part of our being is affected when we minimize the world down to things you can touch, and things you can’t? We’ve evolved chasing fricken mammoths after all.

I think back to the playground “equipment” we had when I was Vivian’s age. This rickety, rusty metal spinning merry go round type thing, some metal bars that ripped the skin from your hands, a yard. In the front of the school was this huge wooden climber, complete with a long, wide metal slide. It was likely 12-15 feet high.  I remember vividly the time a classmate jumped off the top, completely missed the snowbank, and shattered his elbow. No one ever did something that dumb again.

Some kid got his tongue stuck to the fence one cold morning, the little brother of a friend. The blood mark stayed forever it seemed, and in my head, I can see, exactly where this happened. I rode a bike into a moving car once, skidded under a parked one another, tearing up one side of my body impressively.

Sure, these are stupid acts, the acts of children. But they’re more than that.

They are lessons. Mistakes let us determine the right path, on our own, or damn close. Watching Jeremy screaming and crying as hot water and blood poured down his front, we all learned in a much more lasting way, why you never EVER stick your tongue to anything metal, no matter what anyone says. Healing from road rash, I learned to pay attention to whether the bike has pedal brakes or hand brakes BEFORE trying to make the corner that fast. I also learned to better anticipate events, plan a little better (snort. that lasted) PAY ATTENTION!!! as my mother was always yelling.

The point is that I began to come to my own conclusions, learn my own lessons, and actually take them with me. As opposed to every time an adult told me something. I was one of those kids, who just HAD to do whatever she was told was bad.

Yes, I’ve stuck my fingers in a light socket. Literally. It’s not that bad to be honest.

I never wanted to listen, and take some one’s word for it. I needed to prove it. And then learn the lesson that in some things, my father wasn’t lying.

The problem with the cocoon, and managing every single second of a child’s life, telling them how and where to play, what’s safe, what they can eat, what they can wear, is that you might turn around in 15 years and have an adult living in your basement who is COMPLETELY incapable of anything resembling acting like a mature human. Because you’ve done all the acting for them. They might not have the courage to fly the coop because they’ve never truly spread their wings.

We complain that kids are far too wrapped up in themselves and their things-what else do they have if we’ve taken exhilaration from them? They have what, new cell phones and fucking left? If you take the thrill from life, what’s left to it? If you destroy the chance to hurtle down a snowy hill on a rickety piece of wood doing close to 10kms an hour, if you keep your children from feeling the snow in their face, the sun on their neck as they laugh as much from fear as from joy, are they even still human? What are they? Who are we raising then?

We truly have so little to fear now, that we create boogeyman. I know people who see the world outside as riddled with scary men in the bushes, who can’t imagine leaving their children where they might get a bruise or stumble a little. We cover everything with helmets and protective gear, leaving me thinking wistfully of long bike rides on Sunday afternoons, the silky August wind in my hair, bathed in the sun as the world felt so open and fantastic.

What will freedom be for our children?


I pick Viv up, the sun warming the snow, melt water trickling down the roads. She sprints immediately for the giant snow hills, those which are verboten during the day and taunt her. Her friends join her. I stand with their mother and watch as they slide, with absolutely no regard for their safety, down the hill, bouncing and jolting, avoiding pointy parts the next time.

“They’re still bendy at this age” I laugh with their mother, and she nods, and we just watch, the joyous cries of youth filling the air between us, around us.

That laughter sounds long into the night in my ears.

Oh, darling, let your body in, let it tie you in, in comfort.

16 Feb

 Diane E. Levin and Jean Kilbourne’s So Sexy So Soon seeks to address this very type of childhood experience: a complete lack of awareness about sex and reproduction coupled with a media-fed understanding of sexiness – that is, as one young girl in the book explains, getting boys to chase you and try to kiss you – that revolves around emulating TV characters and buying as many products as possible.

There’s a great book review of So Sexy So Soon at Feministe-please, go read.

But it got me to thinking.

How much time can we, as parents and mothers, spend blaming the media, the western world, capitalism, Walmart, etc, before we also realize the true impact we have on our daughters?

I firmly believe in openness, to the point of irritation I imagine. Vivian telling me that “that place” feels good when she touches it-that filled me with pride. Pride that she was able to say this to me with no fear or pretense, and that she took such obvious joy in herself. Pride that I’m starting to create a woman who isn’t afraid of herself, knows where all the proper things are, and just exists in this manner.

Because I disagree that this is fully the fault of what Mattel is selling this season, or that sitcoms have taken things too far. I disagree that it’s those damn music videos, or those stars that kids want to emulate. Not fully.

Cues are taken from parents.

How many of us were raised in a don’t ask, don’t tell sort of environment, where the most sex education you received was 2 weeks in Grade 5, and maybe a book left covertly on a counter top by your mother? How many women can’t bring themselves to call a vulva a vulva, or even know that their vagina is only on the inside? How many women can’t bring themselves to orgasm, or help their partner to do so? How many women blush at the thought of talking about all of this? How many of us learned, early on from our parents, that our hands can be dirtied so easily?

When I was Vivian’s age, I liked to rock on a specific doll-I remember, it was a pink stuffy with one of those plastic kewpie doll faces on it. It made me feel good-happy, in touch with myself, like a sun rising, so I wanted to tell my mother. I showed her.

She didn’t hit me. Instead, she looked completely horrified, and I never saw that doll again. Standing in the hallway, my mother stared at me, and held her hand out. I handed it over, cried, and stumbled back to my room, confused.

Later, a few years perhaps, when my neighbour molested me, I remember feeling like I had no control over my body, that it never belonged to me, and I should submit. I could never tell my mother-it would be my fault. I would be punished, and would still not know what was mine in terms of my body. For years I dreamed of being abused by conveyor lines of robots, people. Just my lying there, at the whim of others.

It was my mother’s responsibility to teach my about my body, about myself. It was her responsibility to teach me that there is no shame in acknowledging my humanity in this way, in embracing my sexuality, even at that young of an age.

Make no mistake-we are sexual creatures the day we are born. Which is why as parents we need to step it up right off the bat, in the most normal way, as if explaining how to make bread or why you have an elbow. Blaming media and society for one’s child wanting to dress like a Bratz doll or a 13 year old knocking up a girl-it’s a cop out. It’s easy to say “The school never taught it!” or that “Miley Cyrus made her dress that way!” and turn the other way.

Much more difficult to raise your children with appropriate sexual values and mores, to have those conversations that at times, are less than easy.

Being sexual is part of who we are-and it always has been. We now treat even into mid-twenties like teenagers, so why is it so strange that a seven year old starts to act as they might? Why is starting the mating dance at 12 so odd? What if, biologically, that’s where the drive can start for some. I began menstruating about then-if I can bear children, if I am considered a woman, physically, why can’t society, or parents be bothered to?

I may not necessarily agree with a pre-teen acting out in any way sexually-but I’m raising my daughters with the knowledge to make responsible choices, when appropriate. Will I always win? No, not with two daughters. But I refuse to use the cop-out that the world around me has more bearing on how my daughters come to their womanhood than I do.

It took me years to come to grips with my sexuality, having children being the last nail in that particular coffin. I don’t want that for them. Our bodies are wonderful, beautiful things, and by telling our daughters on what’s bad, and horrible and not allowed because they’re too young/not ready/just can’t only serves to increase the need and make it more attractive.

Refusing to speak to your children out of embarrassment, or fear-to me, that’s worse than all the Bratz dolls and belly tops. Because our parents are our guides, for good or ill. And we do ourselves a grave disservice by leaving our daughters out to dry.

When a man wants to murder a tiger, it’s called sport; when the tiger wants to murder him it’s called ferocity.

15 Feb

 I open CNN to a poll:

“Do you think people with a history of mental illness should be allowed to buy guns?”

  1. Yes

  2. Yes, with tighter restrictions

  3. No

Guess which answer is at 85%.

I don’t deny, at any point, that the mentally ill can be unstable and downright dangerous. We can be, if not managed  by therapy, drugs and hard work.

I become incensed at the idea that we should be controlled with restrictions, a grand database in the sky tracking us, telling some 18 year old in Walmart if I’m allowed to own a gun, letting them know that I’m the crazy, run away! The very idea that anyone with ANY mental illness history (which frankly, is a LOT of people) can’t even touch a firearm because of that ILLNESS is disturbing.

I, like hundreds of thousands of other people, have a mental disorder that can rear up, much like cancer can come of remission, if we don’t take our medication. Because I have bipolar, is it ok to discriminate? What if I only had anxiety? What if I only had depression that was cyclical, dependant on the season?

At what point are the mentally ill truly people?

I read people talking about how “Octo-Mom’s” uterus isn’t up for anyone else’s discussion-despite the fact that she’s impacting 14 children, 2 parents and herself. We should leave her alone, not discriminate, she might be “sick in the head.”

Are we all going to pop out multiple children because we’re mentally ill? No more than we’re all going to pick up a semi-automatic weapon and start killing people. However, people will make that blanket statement, assuming that none of us should ever have a chance to touch a gun, perhaps drive a vehicle, own a house.

And again, soon, that we shouldn’t have any children at all?

It’s easy to climb on a horse, point a finger and say THOSE people shouldn’t be allowed. Much easier than say, supporting mental health initiatives, demanding that mental disease be portrayed truthfully, or pushing their local and federal governments for more funding for care and support.

Taking the gun away is inadequate at best. Supporting the person, treating the sickness, giving them a safe place to land when the chaos does occur-these are solutions. Assisted living for some individuals, out-patient treatment, increased numbers of doctors so we can receive REAL care.

Money is better spent on helping the mentally ill be the best people they can be, than reducing us to caricatures and limiting our lives.

It’s not the guns I care about. At the end of the day, I don’t see why people need guns in the first place, or why they need automatic weapons. But it’s not about that-it’s about how rights can be scrapped away from a group of people in the name of “safety”, and everyone will fall in line.

There’s an exception to every rule. “Normal” people kill people with guns ALL THE FREAKING TIME and yet no one says, in any seriousness, “Stop selling guns, period.”

Fuck, that’s unamerican, right?

The mentally ill, who live in some sort of vacuum, don’t get leeway, don’t get sympathy, they get judged.

It scares me because one it starts, where does it end? And does it end with us? What if statistically, white males 18-24 who like black pants and smoke Player’s are the ones doing the shooting? Will we take away a right? Will we lock them up?

Will we make a problem where one doesn’t exist?

We will spend money on fantasy, and yet not on treatment and everyday living.

You don’t have to be mentally ill to think that’s completely fucking crazy.


No red flags. My ASS.

Liking the Saw movies is not a flag. Someone who:

stopped taking an antidepression medication for obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety three weeks before the shooting

THAT is a flag. Dropping your medication off suddenly can trigger events that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. Wearing a fucking dog collar is strange, not a red flag. Emails to friends that are out of character-flags.

This assumption that he couldn’t possibly function normally because he was crazy, that he lived “a double life”-THIS is what keeps people swimming in the crazy. People will think the worst regardless. People will think our love for horror or black humor means that we’re monsters anyway.

People hurt. Instead of being given help, they’re called “strange” and “weird” and isolated further.

The red flag is life.


Oft expectation fails, and most oft where most it promises; and oft it hits where hope is coldest; and despair most sits.

11 Feb

In an attempt to soothe my aching head over my impending unemployment, I did some shopping on the weekend. (Most was needed stuff, and not for me. Sigh)

I picked up some cheap books-the bookstore having a 4 for 10$ sale, which makes it a “who cares if it sucks” sale.

One book in particular caught my eye, “A Year and a Day“, by Leslie Pietrzyk. It’s the story of a 15 year old girl whose mother kills herself, parking her car in the path of an oncoming train.

And oh, it makes me cry on the bus almost every morning so far.

I’ve searched for books on motherloss that would really hit the right tone, and for the most part, they don’t. They try to hard, they don’t understand the little missing pieces, or the fact that the larger hurt is underscored by the silences death brings. This book…it brings us to them. Tearing the house apart searching for recipes-I’ve done that myself, searching high and low for that crumbling Five Roses cookbook my mother had when first married, marked by flour and grease and her fingers. I never found it.

The anger. The lashing out in strange ways, at friends, at those who profess to care but have problems (seemingly) less than your own. The repentance. The confusion. The utter inability to process something as simple as Christmas. Having to be the adult. Having to not say what you want to say, wanting to scream at the top of your lungs,

“She’s DEAD! Not lost, not passed away. GONE.”

The vestiges of my former self, my younger, more fragile doppelganger, they live in this book. My memories came alive reading this, tears spring unbidden at the repeated “I’m fine.” through the book, the mirror of my adolescence, the constant refrain of “I’m ok, I’m fine” when all I wanted to do was fall into the arms of the speaker.

Alice, the girl in this book, she can’t fall either, the hurt in her heart far stronger than the need for comfort. The dry distance between her needs and wants, and the crippling prison grief becomes, especially at so young an age. Her need to comfort, and almost protect the pregnant 16 year old Paula, her helplessness. Her scorn for the one person she lets in, the one person who allows her to mimic her mother, Joe Fry. Her sweet pleasure in his gift of an acorn for her pocket, as she fiddles.

I could have been Alice. Well, except for the part where her dead mother speaks to her.

There’s a part where her brother has ran to Boston, and returned, and he’s talking about how he thought he saw her in a crowd, but realized it wasn’t her, and that this, THIS was when he knew she really wasn’t coming home.

I’ve seen my mother, in faces, side profiles, coats. And realized that despite not remembering her, not much at all, her face was imprinted on me, her movements. She’s never coming back either.

Seeing this written, truly seeing it as I have, it’s a blessing. It’s recognition.

It’s like home.


Yes, I am losing my job.

Some of it’s performance. Some of it’s having a poor manager, some is the needs of the business are outstripping my abilities. There’s a lot to it, most of which I don’t wish to get into publicly. I will say that as someone who has been with a company for over 8 years, it hurts. It hurts how this company treats tenured employees, and seems to consider tenure and accomplishment meaningless unless you’re an ass kisser.

I was once passionate about my job-loved it, loved that I helped action change for millions of customers. But in the last few years, that was smothered, as my job became more about making things “look good” than about actual change for Joe customer on the street. Things changed, my manager changed, and I no longer felt part of any team. Just another sucker doing shit work for a paycheck.

It hurts. I’ve been so proud keeping a job for this long, many years of it unmedicated, and succeeding that way. It’s almost like things only went south once I started achieving some measure of stability. Go figure. But I’ll never be uber organized, I’ll never be perfect, especially under pressure. I recognize these things in me, and realize that now, this isn’t the place for me, and at least for the time being, I need a job where I can just enjoy helping someone, a job which doesn’t find me working on the weekend and after “work” on a regular basis.

I don’t want that, and I never really did.

So I’m kinda scared, but kinda excited as well. I’m getting a reasonable severance, so I can’t complain, and they’re keeping me on till the bonus payout so I can get whatever payout is owed. So they aren’t completely inhuman. Having to sit through conversations about helping report automation learn the reports I was producing-that sucks. Hard. It’s like everything you worked for is taken away so easily.

I never truly felt like I was my job, and I’m glad of that. I’m happy, sated almost, to be done with this job, the constant panic and rush, never feeling like I had time or opportunity to truly do what I felt my job was. Excuses maybe, perceptions. But only hearing the bad stuff from a boss for months does this to you. Wears you down until you ARE that bad employee.

So we’re moving on. I hope to find something simple for now, easy, no stress. I’d love to take a month or two off, but I’d rather have a laptop. If I have an easy job again, I might start writing again. Reading Piertrzyk’s book has made me realize that I really do want to write that memoir of my childhood, even if I never do a damn thing with it.

Losing my job is making me realize all the things I want to do, things that are so much bigger than pulling data for someone.


This morning, walking to school, Vivian tried in vain to climb a snow-hill I promised her she could climb the day before. She tried and tried, and I grew irritated, knowing I was missing my bus. Finally I had to drag her off the snow hill and push her forward.

“You NEVER keep your promises to me!” she screamed. “You promised!”

Promises are funny things. They change when you least expect it.


8 Feb



In the air, this sweet break from the cold, rivulets down the road with winter dissolving, floats forever ago, a place disappeared, a land where the nights were long, crisp journey’s into another world, where time lasted and spun it’s magic around my ears. This air, reminds me of the warmth in our kitchen, the images of my mother’s hands across my back, on my head, in the sink, dishes clanging as I sat, underfoot, studying the patterns there. This air, it marries us across the years, the me then, the me now, handfasted, tied with thread and IV lines.

This air, it burns my eyes.


Taking advantage of a state of hypomania lasting more than 30 minutes (and explaining away my need for sleeping pills last night) I rip apart the bedroom, old clothes sorted out into a garbage bag, magazines on to the porch, to give away, to save for that day all trash is allowed, anything, maybe even the monkey’s on your back. I shift the bookshelves, notice the “unread” pile has grown to 20 or more books, smile. See my lonely photo album, the only evidence that I had a childhood, somehow tucked under the cat’s sofa, ragged and old.

Rosalyn, who has been “helping me” by laying on the futon and rolling around with Bride Barbie, sees the album and is drawn, as all children seem to be, by these frozen moments trapped. 

“That’s me!” she screams at the baby pictures. I find myself correcting her, but not really, so entwined we seem, so much the same, the air between us thin and enraptured, time meaningless. She sees me in full ballet regalia, the hated tutu, the flower hat my mother made that I wasn’t allowed to wear in the recital.

“I want to look like that Mummy.” she mutters, staring intently, eyes boring through the photo. Her grandmother deserved this child, she who loves pink and Barbie and babies and ballet, everything my mother wanted and wished for in a daughter, none of which she got. My mother deserved this granddaughter, who would have made her so proud, so happy, so fulfilled in all the ways I never could. Rosalyn deserved my mother, deserves her still, to embrace her in the ways I cannot, and possibly never should.


I turn, find the one lonely shot of my mother and I, the only picture I have of her holding me, the only one where she’s smiling, where her face isn’t forced for the camera’s or fighting back the pain I know she suffered. She’s gorgeous-my mother was beautiful and I try to show Rosalyn, try to make her understand how lovely and perfect my mother was when I was her age, how I must have crowed “You’re the bestest mumy EVER!” to her in the mornings but I just can’t find the words, all gummed up like marshmallows in my throat and it won’t make any sense, not now.

Possibly not ever. How do you explain an absence to someone who’s never felt it? What’s the point is deciphering that which will never be?

My mother was who she was, and all the things she wasn’t and never would be. She loved me. Maybe I only have one picture and it’s fading and cracking but she’s sitting as I sit now and holding me as I hold my girls and I know, without doubt, her heart glowed for me and shone in the darkness that were her last days.

She loved me. That I can tell Ros. That makes sense.


I point to another shot, curled up in that hideous chair from so long ago, pointed at the television. Shot taken while I was in the grip of the nightly news I imagine, legs pulled under, wearing only underpants, despite my hair being neatly pinned back.

“Ros, who is that?”

She knows it’s me, but waits, looking into my eyes.

“I hated them too, see? No pants. Hated pants.”

“Like me!” she sings, grinning.

“Like you Honey Bear. Just like you.”

The air shimmers, and I can taste the air in that room, liver and onions perhaps, my mother’s ribs, a Sunday dinner of hamburgers, chips and illicit soda. It’s warm and secure and snug around my shoulders like one of those granny square afghans you find in the thrift stores now and again, the work wasted on the receiver, or maybe dead. We’re there together, Ros and I, but it’s her little legs on that chair, my hands holding the warm milky tea and buffing my nails before bed. We’ve merged and danced into each other, my childhood, my memories becoming hers, settling in to a quiet corner where in 10 or 20 years she’ll find herself telling a story about a little girl in a room full of amber light and love and they’ll never be able to tell what’s mine and what’s hers or where it’s all gone.

They’ll never know for sure.


It breaks my heart to never know my mother. I’ll stare at her eyes in photographs, thinking I’ll know the secret if I look at her long enough, that somehow, I’ll absorb enough of her to really know my mother, for her to mean something more than the sum of her loss.

But you can’t know the dead. You can’t know the people they were-you can only wave to the people you want them to be, the people you think they were once, before everything happened. I can stare at her face, the before face, the one before the chemo and the radiation and the pain, the pain of knowledge, the pain of leaving, the pain of facing your life ending, a plane crashing into so many lives. I can’t know that. I’ll never know that in the ways that kept her up at night or guarded her eyes as the days grew closer.

I will never know my mother. She will be that perfect garden in a picture, all beauty and tragedy, curves and angles, youth and hope. She will be annectodal memories for my daughters, the one we cannot hurt, the one who lives forever in our hearts and fingertips and the glittering spring leaves in the broad maple behind the house.

The one that got away.


She was happy once, that I can convince myself of, even when I stare at a face yellowed by treatment, frightened by what might come, and yet absolutely resolute in her ability to ignore what will be. Hope via ignorance. How very catholic of her.


She was happy once. God fucking dammit, she was happy, and alive and beautiful and she was my mother. Sometimes the air arches back and around, like today, and I imagine her, young, like I am, newly blessed with children, just breathing in the air, glad to be alive, remembering when she was young, and all the stories she’d some day tell.

She was happy there.


29 Jan

It’s pension day and I’m grocery shopping. My brain, leaking from my shoes, battered by this new onset of crippling depression and angry, neglected to think through my visit.

Annoyed and buggy slammed, cornered in the soup aisle, I make it to the long line at the cash, where lots of stories about Michelle telling Oprah to “Back off!” lie, where breathlessly is asked “Where are the twins!!!”, an article obviously written by childless folk who don’t understand that new babies in a house full of kids get.sick.period.

No sign of my usual cooking magazines however. Pout.

The people ahead of me, a mother daughter combo it appears, split their order in two. One, a variety of items, the usual suspects in a grocery cart-milk, bread, fruit. The other, the older, the one tightly clutching her money in her hand, only has specifics. Ground beef, medium. Stew Beef. Sausage. Cheap cuts that go far.

And about 20 .79 cent pot pies.

She’s rung through, and carefully counts out even pennies from her wallet, putting a much smaller number of bills back in. It doesn’t look like much, and I’d wager it’s going to need to last her all month.

It doesn’t look like much at all. I glance down at my buggy, thinking still of all the things I didn’t buy because we don’t need them, or just plain can’t afford them, still irritated by how I’m likely blowing through 4 times her monthly food budget for 2 weeks at my house.

Mine suddenly looks like too much, even though I know it’s not that much at all. Even though I know the treats are few, the protein limited, the produce sparse this time of year.

It’s really not much at all.


I read the studies. I read the books. I know the story-eat well, be well. Be kind to the wee chicks and piggies. Be a good consumer, study those labels, choose fair labour, hormone free, organic, local food.

On the eve of losing my current job, it amuses me that this kind of “choice” is one that is privileged. Choice is given only to those able to afford 5.39 for a dozen eggs for 25.00 for a broiler chicken. Choice is for people ready, able and willing to spend the extra on those local organic potatoes. Choice is only for those will the dollars to back their conscience up.

I’ve spent years running from my lower class upbringing. Running from casseroles and ground beef, running from begging my Dad for some money for a few groceries, bread, cereal. I thought I had finally found a comfort zone, finally begun to move into middle class territory. Perhaps take a trip, fix the house. Be solidly reliable and avoid HFCS.

It was obviously a lie. Now I face the spectre of meat pies and frozen corn yet again. Now I face the knowledge that I’m eating crap but can’t avoid it because I cannot afford it. I’ll face the lecturing of spaces where people can afford all the gadgets, all the things, the cars the phones the toys, I’ll face the reproaching of those who can’t understand how I can’t afford to feed my children only the best. How I can possibly stomach eating that apples, possibly covered in something.

Worse still, it will all be veiled in “help” and “suggestion”. It’s never aimed at chastising the lower class since, well, we all know the lower class doesn’t exist online. Being online in the first place-that’s privilege! Reading those posts, those studies, it’ means you’re literate, and you MUST not be lower class! How could you be?!

But there will be smiles and cupcakes and panda bears. It won’t be meant meanly. Just to educate.

I’ve been tired for awhile of the sanctimony connected to food, to class. I’ve done it myself, and it’s wrong, as I’ll quickly realize while lying awake recounting the deeds of the day. As I grow closer to lower class, to the fear of a buggy filled more with junk than with health, I feel it more. How dare I!

I don’t like things. I don’t like stuff. We don’t own a car, most of our larger belongings are old, and wear out before we replace them. Surrounded by a world, even online, of MORE MORE MORE!!!! stuff but then at the same time MORE MORE MORE!!! “healthy” foods, I feel bereft, I feel cheap and I feel like I shouldn’t be here.  Like the voices of those who must, even unwillingly, open and use that casserole book, who can only afford the free run eggs occasionally, that they aren’t heard, aren’t spoken, and can’t be, because the privilege of new cars and homes, optimal food choices, even if bought on borrowed time and dollars, they speak louder than I ever could.

I know better they’d say. I’m smart (but not educated-can’t quote that B.A. I never finished after my name) I read and I know the difference between the bleached white and the whole wheat flour, I know the difference between buying local and buying from Chile. I know better.

The implication that class done gone made me smarter, or would, is what only deepens my frustration. Because I may never rise above where we are financially.

But does it matter, at the end of the day? The money in your pocket, the food in your hand, the car that you drive, does it REALLY make it as you as day to day life might make it seem?


It’s one of the last grocery trips on paychecks from this job, the buggy is interspersed with fair trade grapes, Canataloupe from Guatemala, local bread, chips from who knows where. I can be choosy, still. I can make decisions based on conscience, to a degree.

But the pot pies….they loom. Along with a healthy dose of shame.

Dear Sir who searched for “My wife thinks I’m a total fucking asshole”

16 Jan

Now that things are back to normalish, the search hits are less “smother twitter mother” and more like “how to die quickly” or “biting my truant pen”.

Or “my wife is a  bitch” or my personal favorite “fucking bitch wife”

Gentleman, can we have a little chat here?

When a woman, specifically your wife, is being “a bitch”, it’s not scour the internet for other men who feel the same way and might reinforce your masculine idea time. It’s sit the fuck down, talk and LISTEN to your wife time. A woman doesn’t just wake up one day and decide to be a jerk-generally speaking, they’re led down that particular garden path by bad behaviour, by being ignored, minimized, ridiculed, or just generally made to feel like shit by you, the fucking jackass husband.

Yeah, you. I’m talking specifically to YOU. When is the last time you randomly did something special for her? No, don’t start prattling on about how she never does stuff for you-she does, and it’s called CLEAN NOT ITCHY TIGHTY WHITIES. When’s the last time you poured her a bath? Rubbed her back? Had a coffee with her and just talked like you did before, 5 or 10 or 20 years ago. When is the last time you told her she’s a good lover? When’s the last time you brought flowers or made a card or a cake just cause.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume never. Because women, and people in general, they want to be wooed. They want to know occasionally “I matter. I’m wanted. I’m needed.”  They need to know that you see them, as a person-not just as sex, or as a mother, or a meal ticket. But as a flesh and blood woman who wants nothing more than to see the man they fell in love with once again.

So many of us fall out of love for the simplest and stupidest of reasons. Because we can’t find it in ourselves to stop and simply be kind and good to each other, to stem the tide of anger and sadness with a little love, compassion and care.

Is she fuckin bitch wife? I doubt it. But if she is, perhaps it’s time YOU took a long hard look in the mirror and figure out what, if anything, you’re bringing to the partnership.

Because frankly, if you’re wasting your time searching for what you came here for, you’re obviously not doing the right things at home.

“We have met the enemy and it is us.”

12 Jan

When I started Grade Nine,  all knees and elbows and lady parts I didn’t know what to do with, when I was 13 or maybe 14, I don’t remember, I walked into the yard of that new school, I screwed up my courage getting off that bus, walked towards the door and heard those words.

“You look like a boy. You dyke.”

Hardly anything to be terrified by. I was big, I was different, I was obviously uncomfortable in my skin. She jumped all over that. Her words were made scary by the look in her eyes. Feral. A 19 year old bullying a 14 year old-she’d have to be like a rabid dog.

She went away. And I learned not to give a shit.


I haven’t been bullied in a very long time. I’m not much for other people, and generally, if I don’t respect you, you can’t hurt me.

That is, until I done did a stupid, and suddenly it was ok the smear me against the wall over and over and over again.

Ever cringed when you open a link? Ever sat stupefied, reading about how you’ve sent “a band of vengeful followers” to do…something-my bidding I guess? Ever sat back and thought, well now, all I did was write something dumb-I didn’t make signs and write songs so every one would see-why am I the bad guy? Why do I keep reading things saying that my ability to be a parent should be questioned, that since I’m bipolar, everyone knows I’m going to abuse my children, it’s proven by studies!

I’ve had to stomach the internet’s version of the big, blind, mulleted, closeted lesbian bully. And it sucks ASS.

I haven’t said much. I’ve kept it, mostly, here, conversations with friends online, my head. I’ve thought about how no one seems to understand that a visit from CAS isn’t something to trifle with in the best of times, how they don’t get that fear, the fear the comes with knowing that 90% of the people you talk to think that because you’re mentally ill, you’re hazardous, and should perhaps be labelled as such. I’ve thought about context, and how no one seems to have any, cherry picking posts to illustrate their points, and refusing to look at the obvious joy I hold for my children.

I’ve thought about how I’ve been quiet through most of this, and taken it. How I’ve strived to be the better person, strived to silent the mob because no one believes all of a story anyway.

It didn’t matter.

I’ve read that I “got what was coming to me”

I’m sure I would have appreciated that if I had to spend the next month fighting to get my children back.

I’ve been called a “princess”

Because no one could be bothered to directly contact me before notifying hundreds of people.

I’ve read that I need counselling, that I’m destroying my daughter’s self worth.

Because my parenting can be judged based on what I write here, the place I let loose the dogs of my head.

I’ve read I did it all for traffic.

On a site without ad revenue, with an author who has turned down numerous chances to increase traffic.

Because I’m bipolar. Because I’m bipolar. Because I’m bipolar.

You get it yet? I can’t be trusted, because I’m bipolar. This only happened, because I’m bipolar. I must be questioned, my children protected, because I’m bipolar.

Someone got excited, and i could have lost my children. But I had it coming, right? I should pay for having the nerve to open my mouth without a smiley face or something just as inane attached to it.

The past week or so has felt like being attacked by invisible ghosts-opening my email could become this perilous foray into what people thought was wrong with me. Following a link to make sure nothing even worse was said left me unable to eat for the majority of 3 or 4 days. I’ve had the specter of that Grade Nine bully hanging over me, again because I’ve put something out there. I’ve opened myself up-I’ve hung the grand flag of weird.

I’ve admitted a mistake. I’ve admitted I am not perfect. I have not lied, backpaddled, or whined that the world isn’t fair. I’ve taken my lumps, and am now dealing with the fact that my name is slandered across the internet as some sort of cautionary tale for the mom-set, if I’m not being condescended to as a “mommy blog”. I’m being pointed to as a “what if”-remember the pregnant girl in the neighbourhood and one of your parents would wag a finger and tell you NO! Yeah, I’m that giant fricken belly.

I’m not a monster. I’m not a frivolous “mom” bouncing around making muffins and watching Oprah. I’m not out to eat my children, in fact I know I’m a DAMN good mother, and no amount of someone calling the police will change that certainty. I am a frail, tired human being somedays, just like you are. Difference being, I’m willing to admit it, and sometimes, my honesty gets the better of me. I spent years never saying anything meaningful to anyone, and I never want to live that way again.

And the judgement. Sigh….why can’t we all be the types of mother’s we are-be it happy bouncy muffin moms or moms like me, who despite roadblocks, love and parent their children fiercely, even if it’s a little differently. Why do we fight against each other, assume one side knows better? Why do I judge you sometimes, because you maybe don’t have the same problems, or any it seems.

Seems is apparently the word that got a LOT of us in trouble, and will continue to do so. It seemed like I was dangerous. It seemed like someone just wanted attention. It seems like I have minions. It seems like I don’t appreciate that someone cared.

Seems we all have something to learn.

Influenza at 3.74

8 Jan

She comes running from her room to see me, her cheeks ruddy with sick, eyes heavy and dark lidded.

“Mummy, it huwts. My tummy.”

Her tiny hand rests on her belly, almost like mine did, years past, cradling the heaviness of her head in the last months of utter safety. I remember her there, taut, like a spring, ready yet patient.


She looks up at me, the sleep tattooed to her lips. I know this feeling-the drawn pain in your bones, the disconcerting ache in the pit of your stomach, the helplessness of a body that’s decided last night’s ham and swiss isn’t your friend.

I remember, and know, but for her, for her 3, almost 4 body, it’s new, raw, and she’s terrified by the force inside.

She sits with me, her warm ball of muscle and obstinate will leaning into me, merged with me, silk from the top of her hair fluttering in my nose as I brush my lips, minute to minute, against her forehead.

Hummingbirds. I want the hear the Hummingbuwrds.” The Boston Burr on her tongue still hasn’t left, and it flicks my heart each time.

She helps, placing the CD gently inside, waiting for the sounds she’s grown to love. She presses back against me, heating my skin, causing my own jellied insides to stir.

We sit inside this moment, perfect, like crystal figures. Her sister understands this flu, the need to clamber among me that Rosalyn has today.

Later, I’ll let her sit up with me, watching Firefly. I’ll watch her methodically stack the videos, moving them off the floor, nothing like the daughter who the night before, coughed and let loose the dogs of her stomach, all over me, my bed, the blankets. The daughter who stood up panic stricken, crying “change my sheets!” until I reminded her that they were my sheets, and it was perfectly, utterly, all right.

Later I’ll be happy for the battle of hugs and kisses at bed time, because it means she’s better, and my heart can let go of that autolurch it does, the kick of worry that even a simple case of the flu can bring. That constant fear, that something, anything might take her away from me.

Her cheek is smooth against mine when I give her that last buggie-rug and hug on her lip, cooling now, not so fired, clay cooled. I hold her hand in mine for a moment, marvel at how they’re just like mine.

Watch what you twitter, big sister is watching.

4 Jan


ETA: comments are NOT closed because I’m cowardly. They are closed on THIS POST ONLY because what needed to be said, ON BOTH SIDES, is said. Nor am I deleting comments.

Those of you who KNOW ME know the relationship I have with my daughters. You know the relationships you have with your children. Loving, frustrated, awed, annoyed, angry, blissful.

Tonight, as always, my evil mini-me did her “not going to sleep without one last hug” routine.

Tonight, as always, I yelled, threatened and cajoled her back into bed.

Tonight, as I’ve done in the past, as other parents have done in many ways, I asked if it was ok to smother her.

Which, if you know me, or anyone with my sense of black humor, is a joke born of frustration, annoyance, and yes, LOVE.

Tonight this woman (link removed because enough is enough), who I foolishly followed on Twitter, who likely doesn’t even know me, had someone in LA call the cops.


I just had to prove that my fucking daughter was all right because some “person” who has never met me, barely exchanged any words with me, couldn’t stop for a minute and think, gee, perhaps she’s like many other mothers, annoyed at bedtime. She couldn’t stop and think, hmmm, an email might suffice.

Oh no, not our saviour. Only the cops will do. Only the cops at 11pm, where I had to open the fucking door to their room as they SLEPT to prove I hadn’t harmed them.

Is this home grown parenting advice? Is this the ultimate end of social networking, the virtual version of the snoopy fucking irritating neighbour?

While I’m really FUCKING glad this wasn’t a friend, there’s no more networking for me. Apparently, my brand of humour and venting isn’t suitable for all audiences, who might be better served searching for child abuses in her OWN neighbourhood, instead of ruining my fucking evening as I sit here enraged that a fucking stranger had the gall.

So lesson learned ladies. Don’t do any venting in public. Don’t network. Don’t show anything LESS than perfect bliss and 400 tweets about contests and fucking blow it out your ass nothing. Because someone, somewhere might call the police on you and you’ll be sitting there in your pajamas watching a cop waste his fucking time, and know it.

Thank you lady, for wasting my fucking tax dollars. If you’ll excuse me, I think they’re still raping and murdering the transgendered in Tennessee if you’re REALLY wanting to protect someone.

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. “

24 Nov

When I was small, time flowed like golden syrup. Leaves hung in their buds for ages, full to bursting, seams dripping with the sugars of life. A summer breeze lingered, its sweat beading on your skin under a dark sun, heavy in the sheltered sky. I dreamed in my backyard, underneath the slyly growing birch tree, my initials carved with Joey’s with bottlecaps dredged from the gravel drive beside my dirty white house, low slung porch on the rear. I dreamed of my future, of my singular answer to the question everyone asked with that terrible smirk on their face.

“What will you be when you grow up little girl?”

I had as many answers as pebbles in that driveway. On Tuesday, under the maple hiding from the rain, I would be an artist, my fingers catching minutes and transferring them, chastised to the page. On Saturday, digging earthworms from beneath the wild strawberries, I would be a paleontologist, my world rooted in one millions of years old, pale scratchings against the earth, dusty with hope. Maybe an inventor, standing on my front porch on gray April morning, trying to invent wipers for my glasses, or a removable film. Perhaps a teacher as I stood in front of my cuddle friends, Papa Smurf, Lion, Garfield, Holy Hobbie, my ragged chalkboard stapled to the wall behind my door.

My world was a flower spiraling open then, a multitude of paths leading outward, into a glorious center, a future I couldn’t see but could stand warm in, the reflected moments shining back at me. I would be something-I would be the person I could best be, and nothing would stop me.

Life it seems, has different ideas.


I never finished school. I never settled on any one thing that I wanted to do. I didn’t have the perseverance to write every day. I’m not that good an artist. I couldn’t sit through the biology, the sciences, the math (oy the math) to do anything remotely like digging up a dinosaur. I surfed through my life on charm, wit and a perverse lust for knowledge-so long as you’re enraptured with learning, you’ll never look stupid and useless.

But knowing the rhythm of someone’s life in the 14th Century or that Ron Jeremy is a trained pianist or having pity for Catherine of Aragon-these aren’t skills you can transfer to the real world. These are bits of useless knowledge, gathered up like oregano just a little short for the pot. A love of learning doesn’t translate to much.

I had a talk with my boss today, who was frank and said she couldn’t trust my work. She’s right. She can’t. My attention to detail, a monkey on my back since, shit, when did they start judging school work? it has been worse since August. Something died on that gurney in the ER 3 months ago, someone died. Since that day, I haven’t been who I was, and my ability to really focus in on my work has been sparse at best. So she put it to me-is the job, as it stands now, too much for me?

I couldn’t respond at first. Nothing in my life has prepared me to have to say “Yes, I can’t do this. Yes, I am weak and lazy and unfit.” I’ve never had to ask someone to take work away, generally being the yes girl. But I haven’t been her since August, maybe even before that. I’ve been overwhelmed, and stressed and terribly unhappy.

She was blunt-the job is only going to get bigger, and what parts do I want, do I really want to do. The answer I didn’t give was “None-I want a new job.” but I know what things I’d like to keep, and what I’d like to be rid of. But what got me was that I heard, for the first time, what was really being said.

“You are too ill to do this job.”

It wasn’t implied to be mean, or to belittle. It was more to let me know that it was ok to back down. It was ok to be tired and stressed and sick of it. That it was ok to acknowledge my illness and handle it, instead of ramping myself up to such a state that someone would have to send King Kong up after me. While she was saying it with her ass in mind, I heard a message for me-to take this chance, and slow down, sit back.

I had such dreams for my life as a child-but they never included an illness that seems to worsen each year, and attempt to destroy me. In my world, you never get fired, you never quit because something is hard. You stick it out. You make the best of it. You deal with it, suck it up princess.

This has not served me well. Sure, 8 years employment for a bipolar is great. But I’m tired of sucking it up, of working twice as hard just to look like I’m doing the minimum. I’m tired of fucking around to avoid tasks I can’t stand. I’m tired of being pressured to be someone I’m not. I’m quite done with doing a job I’ve never planned for, never daydreamed about under maples.

I’m pondering now, what will work. I know she’s right-I’m not suitable for most of the job, not now. But other parts of it? I am.


Sometimes, riding the bus home, I see a new baby, a nervous new mother, shielding the child in a sling or carrier, her hand behind a head. I begin to dream about being the woman standing there to catch that baby, handing that slippery package to hands and a breast, the blood of new life running between my fingers as tears of joy run ragged edges down faces around me. I dream of guiding the bereft through their loss, holding still fingers in mine. I dream of the babies I’ll bring into this world, how they’ll turn to children, to women and men, to mothers and fathers, the circle turning and turning.

I still dream. Of life.

“When you choose your friends, don’t be short-changed by choosing personality over character.”

5 Nov

Her eyes have darkened and she stomps her feet a lot.

She dawdles, and she defies. She yells and she bosses and she hits.

She runs to my arms, and pushes me away.

The circles grow under her eyes, clouded over with the not telling of something that hurts.

This pain-this helpless, questioning wonder-this I wasn’t expecting for a few more years at the very least.


This week my daughter, my bubbly, vivacious happy go lucky girl seems to have been trapped in with a bully.

She’s friends with the little dude, or at least, we thought so. They’d run around the school yard together. Even the teacher thought it strange that something was up-they were inseparable.

But a cloud started to hover over her head this week, and only got worse. As I dragged her out of a store, something I have never had to do, I wondered what was going on. Growing up and attitude couldn’t be the whole problem, could it?

Last night she had a bad night, was left to cry herself to sleep. In the morning, the hateful sad look on her face told me it wasn’t normal. Something, something was wrong.

We talked, and she mentioned this boy was hitting, punching, pushing. When she told, he said it was someone else, and nothing was done.

She’s been carrying this all week.

She’s assertive, but she’s never encountered someone who is gleefully MEAN to her. She’s never had to deal with another child not wanting to hang out-at worst, she’s had someone not want to play with her. It’s like her control was suddenly thrown out the window.

The teacher had no idea, and reassured her that she was there, and listening. We have been reassuring her we’re here, and that a friend doesn’t hurt, doesn’t make you feel bad, and for good measure, if telling the teacher doesn’t work and it gets worse, aim for the jewels.

I will not let my daughter be a victim. I will not let her learn this role.

Learning to sit and take it in a way led to me not being able to tell anyone when I was being molested. I should be able to tell someone-that was the message ground into me. Not that it would be the other person who would be punished-I would need to find my solution. The teacher didn’t mention anything about talking to the other child-I’m sure she’ll keep an eye out, but my concerns are legion.

He started out as a nice friend, or so it seemed. They’d mess around, play fighting from what I understand. But now it’s escalated into her losing sleep and being upset. What’s going on with this kid, to make mine such a mess? Will someone keep an eye out, or will my daughter again have to be the one to say “Make him stop” instead of someone watching him and stopping him before it’s an issue.

I have seen that haunted look. I have had that haunted look, held in pictures, the shadows under my eyes, the secrets trapped. I never, ever want to see it on her face again.

It might be nothing. It might be resolved, h might have just become a little drunk on having a nice friend who didn’t always fight back.

But as someone else said to me, I might turn around and see that he’s taught her to throw rocks at cats.


We tell her it’s wrong. It’s not nice. It’s not a friend.

She is confused, I see it writ large on her face, the pain of having to give up a friend, the confusion, the knowing only good people who love you for 5 years and then suddenly duplicity and meanness out of spite she is surrounded by. I try to explain that she should take care of her, not care what others think, not truly.

She stares at me, and I wonder how much longer she’ll believe me.

“Perseverance is the most overrated of traits, if it is unaccompanied by talent; beating your head against a wall is more likely to produce a concussion in the head than a hole in the wall. “

29 Oct

When did we stop eating?

Or rather, when did we stop eating for the sake of eating, for the wet juice of a warm peach down our throat? For the subtle play of a good marinara on our tongue? for the sweet taste of fresh baked warm bread and creamy butter? When did we stop eating to savour the moment, and the food?

I can remember, clearly, shucking corn as a child on the step of our back porch, mere hours after plucking it from the corn field of a family friend, in the heat of late summer. The kernels were a lovely creamy yellow, and the silk flew in the air around me, picked up by warm wind. Later, as I bit into a cob, covered in margarine, salt, pepper, that day seemed so perfect. From field to plate to mouth, an explosion of taste and memory in my mouth, covering my tongue. Perfection.

I can remember the Swiss Bakery down the street from my house, the nicest, kindest people you’d ever meet, friends of my parents, who would hand me soft warm cookies when we entered the bakery, of even better, the odd time, a silky, flaky Napoleon would be gently pressed into my hands, the cream like a blanket under the pastry, the sugary smells wafting. Such a rare and wonderful treat.

I now sit in an office where most of the women, and a rather disturbing number of men talk constantly about calories, weight ins, all the stuff they can’t eat, slam the doors on someone offering a piece of pizza. The obsessive single mindedness of it all-when we were teenagers, we were full of music, books, movies, other people. What changes that we get full up on NOT eating? How do we gain satisfaction from losing a pound, or looking increasingly anorexic? Where’s the enjoyment in only drinking coffee all day?

Where did we go wrong? When did we stop eating for enjoyment, for sustenance, and begin looking at everything with points in our eyes? Why can’t we look at a fabulous bowl of pasta, of a nice thick piece of rye bread with a growl in our belly instead of a “ugh-can’t eat that?”


You are meant to eat. Your body wants food. Confusing your body with crazy chemicals that make people like me ill doesn’t help. Thinking you can pull a fast one with the fat-your body has evolved to desire specific things-it knows better. Thinking that fake sugar will be as good or better than sugar-why? Why are chemicals preferable to a few calories?

Why do we sacrifice so much for so little? For a body we’ll never be happy with anyway? Why is it so hard to do what’s easier-ACCEPT OURSELVES.

I make no secret of the fact that I’m a fatty. I believe in HAES (Health At Every Size). I believe that exercise, and normal eating is more important that only eating 3 carrot sticks a day. I believe that loving who and what we are is much more meaningful than being able to not eat friend foods for months at a time. I believe that remembering how to desire the cold snap of a cucumber or the rich love of a chocolate cupcake is vastly more important than fitting into a size 10 pant for a few weeks.

I believe that standing and looking at ourselves, and saying ‘YES” means more than any weight loss ever could.

I’ve had two children. My body had never been a temple I had been comfortable with-skinny or chubby, But after creating, growing, protecting and birthing two magical little people, my body took on a whole new dimension. It had meaning. This belly that’s so distraught, with it’s stretch marks and dis colorings-it makes a place where life grew, and began. These arms, losing their definition through misuse and just general busyness-they’ve held infants growing into toddlers growing into children. These hips, so broad and strong, they’ve pushed new life into our horrid and wonderful world, I have felt their movements, bringing life to create and pushing it out into the light.

My body means more than my pant size. My body is a beautiful, awe worthy thing. My body deserves fresh summer corn and cupcakes. My body deserves the pleasure of just eating for itself.

As does yours.