Proud Gaggle of Misfits

I get schooled fairly regularly by my kid. She will quiz me on various Korean pop band members names, challenge me with various lines from The Outsiders, try her best to stump me with various characters from The Walking Dead. And most recently she has fully schooled us on all of the genders and sexualities that have been given names so that those who live them don’t feel nameless.

Her teacher actually explained these all to them and like every other time, we learned something from her.

No, not the names, or even the fact that there are technically more than 2 or 3 genders.

We learned how smart and loving our daughter is. How curious she is to understand other people. How open she is to knowing and loving them anyway. How supportive she can be when she understands and connects with an idea and how strong she can be when she believes everyone has the right to be just who they are and no one else.

I’m just a little bit proud of her.

We went to the pride parade again this year with a couple of her friends. It was a beautiful day full of colour and fun and music and people just being themselves. We wandered along the parade route once the festivities had passed and just enjoyed being a part of it all. No one was worrying about what people might be saying. No one was afraid to hold the hand of the person they loved.

When we were almost home I noticed two men crossing the street. They were holding each others hands lightly until they got to the median. When they had to cross the portion of the street with cars waiting to go, they let go of each others hands. What a sad, sad thing to witness after such a glorious day. How shitty it must be for them to have come from such a wonderful day full of acceptance and freedom to be yourself only to feel the pressure of strangers in cars and pretend like you are with your bro instead of your partner.

I didn’t bring this to McK’s attention. Giggling away in the backseat, oblivious to society’s ugly heaviness happening just feet away, I was not about to change their mood, or ruin their high from such a fun outing, by pointing this out.

No, instead I will just listen to their wild and wacky conversations, I will smile as she schools her pal on japanese rock lyrics, I will allow my heart to fill with pride of another kind, I will marvel at the little woman my little girl is becoming as she grows up and learns how to be so caring and thoughtful and aware.

We left rainbow coloured footprints on the streets of downtown this Sunday.

winnipeg pride parade

The leaders of tomorrow, ready to fight the injustices of the world!

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The Distraction of Organizing Nothing

We are not a family that is booked to the hilt. We do not have something on the go every night of the week. We do not have copious amounts of gear lining the hallway or sport-specific shoes piled up at the back door.

And that is OK.

I have friends who go from one thing to the next, who have exploding calendars and much to remember, who have even recently “volunteered” to not only go to the sports, but coach them too.

That is also OK.

We all often dance along the line that borders too much and too little. But really, who is to say which is which? Too much for me might be just right for you. Too little for you might be holy crap no thanks for me. If someone looks at my world and thinks wow, how terrible, her kid is not enrolled in ANYTHING, well, I will refute that by saying maybe you should try it sometime.

McK has never been interested in many extra curricular activities. A session of ballet for four year olds which was more cute than plie-knowledge-building. A few rounds of tennis lessons after which she actually taught US how to serve. The odd art lessons which only seemed to frustrate her since all she really wanted was to just draw. And a season of tackle football (be still my heart) which was the most fun *I* have ever had watching her do anything.

All of these were good. They gave us something to plan around and work around and prepare both our week and meals around. So I one hundred percent get it. And I realize now that it is actually easier to organize yourself when there are a few things on your to-do list than when it is a blank space on the calendar.

When we have nothing at all on the go, it becomes incredibly easy to do just that. Nothing.

So I plan things that are your everyday run of the mill tasks. But I get them on the calendar. Otherwise, with the option of attacking the laundry or watching playoff game number 4, I will be couch bound at tip off.

It is very easy to be distracted by nothing.

Laundry. Groceries. Organize her t shirt drawer (yes, that is a thing). I add those to my calendar or I will succumb to the nothingness of an unplanned evening.

Don’t get me wrong. I value my nothingness. I long for it every Friday night and hold tight to it until Sunday. But having concrete tasks to accomplish when there are no extra to-do’s on the go is what motivates me to actually get stuff done. Everyone is different, every style of life planning is OK so long as it works for you, everyone has distinct levels of “things” they want to put on their calendars and different levels of acceptable nothingness.

I will organize my time to ensure the nothingness does not become so distracting that we reach the outskirts of lazy town.

When catching up on things dominates our weekends because we let our weekdays fall into the arms of nothing, we feel cheated of the days we actually hope to have not much on the go.

Don’t book your life up so much that you don’t have time to smell the roses. Just remember to schedule a few minutes on your calendar to trim the plant.

 

quotes-our-intention_14953-0

Do what you plan, plan what you do.

 

Where the Words Came From

The first thing I actually remember writing that ever earned any accolades, was a poem. The Charleswood Legion held a contest on Remembrance Day and I entered a poem and I won.

That is not to say I hadn’t written anything noteworthy prior to that, but it is my first piece that I can recall being read by people other than myself, my teachers, or my parents.

My mum showed me a little newspaper that I had made when I was much younger. It’s adorable and likely factually accurate in the way any 6 year old’s newspaper would be.

The next thing I remember is another poem that I wrote in Grade 12 that my teacher took issue with and actually called my mum about. My mum, being the amazing author and wicked wordsmith that she is, marched down to the school and skewered that dude like a shrimp on the barbie.

Beyond that, I wrote in many an unfinished journal, left poems scattered about like leaves, and grew my fascination with books that stemmed from endless childhood summers spent competing in reading contests at the Charleswood Library.

Many moons later, when I was a nanny, I found a local parenting newspaper and decided it was lacking something. I wrote to the editor and pitched my idea. It wasn’t just parent’s that were scouring your publication for things to do with these kids. It was nannies and daycare workers and teachers. So I earned myself a lippy little column that I would now call cringe-worthy. It turned into more of a “don’t do this if you have a nanny because she’ll hate you and leave” column and was my venting place for all things parenting that I didn’t have the guts to say to the parents who had left their child in my care.

Beyond that, a few published pieces here and there and endless blogs to post my prose seemed to sum up my writing life. Random and rambling, unfocused and many times unread, the blogs were a creative outlet that had no clear direction and no clear meaning but at the time, selfishly served their purpose.

Till now. 

I still love words. I still love books. I find enough on the internet to drink in all the information I need. I read about things that I normally wouldn’t. I write about things that I normally wouldn’t. I appreciate well thought out pieces. I acknowledge beautifully written ideas. I share. And I take in.

I love the patience of written words. I love that the written word gifts people with time and the opportunity to take a moment, to think about their reply, to respond with thoughtful and useful information. I love that the written word gives you a moment to colour your thoughts, to say more than you could or ever would out loud.

And so I muddle on, piecing together thoughts, stringing together sentences that try to tell a story or prove a point or embrace an idea. That movie script, that novel, those first drafts? They may never see the light of day.

Write them anyway.

 

William Wordsworth

Or the screen!

Surprises and Getting Back Into Things

Nearly two weeks ago I surprised McK with a trip to Toronto. I had kept this trip a secret for nearly 4 months, telling next to no one about it for fear that they would trip up and let even a tiny morsel slip.

When she woke up that morning, thinking she was going to school, she was oblivious to the butterflies in my belly. I played the morning ritual out like it was any other day. Wake her up at 7 am. Drag her out of bed at 7:10. Listen to her wash her face and brush her teeth and wait for the “Can you come straighten my hair” call. I chatted with her while we fussed around in the bathroom, like it was any other day.

She sat at the island like she always does. “Juice?” “Sure.”

Then, as it by some weird stroke of magic, I just HAPPENED to remember that my friend Leslie sent us a video and hey kiddo, you should watch this.

And then I saw the confusion in her face, the furrowed brow that appears when she is trying to work something out that makes no sense to her initially. She has had it for years. A look of “I should know what’s going on but I don’t”. Suspicion. Confusion. All emotions rolled into one.

The video ended with Carter and Leslie talking about meeting us in Toronto for a concert by one of her current favourite bands, The GazettE. I asked if she’d like to do that, like to go to Toronto. She looked a little giddy and said YES. Then, because I don’t think she realized the immediacy of it all, I told her it was that day, that we were leaving in a half hour to go to the airport and no, she would not be going to school for the next three days.

More furrowed brow.

“But…I’m not ready!”

Oh yes you are. I had it all taken care of. And off we went.

It was awesome. 

It reminded me how much I loved planning things for people I care about. How much I loved going to new places. How much I loved coming home.

It was very, VERY hard getting back into the swing of things once we got back. Its been a week now and I am starting to feel like we are back into our routine. Odd how 3 days away during the week can throw you off like that. Doesn’t typically happen when you venture out over a weekend because those were days that are meant for exploring.

But disappearing for half a week when you should be at work and school? That is scrumptious. And hard to recover from.

Alas, lunches don’t make themselves, groceries don’t appear in the fridge by magic, laundry doesn’t suddenly become clean all on its own. We are back and we are gearing up again.

And yes, I am planning more stuff.

Of course I am.

Something In, Something Out

Last weekend we went to an antique store just outside of the city. It was not the typical antique store that we think of, filled to the rafters with things that look a little less like an antique and more like someones long-forgotten garage sale, where you spend most of the time searching out the hidden gem and wading through plastic-y odds and sods.

This place was different.

Bud, the owner, does his purchasing and selecting meticulously. He only buys what he would proudly want to place on his shelves. And the difference is measurable. Don’t get me wrong, the place has tons of items. But they are all there, visible, for you to pore over, run you finger across, stare at for a good long while. And they are all quality.

Bud also knows the full history of just about every single item in the joint. He knew when it was from, where it was from, what it was used for, if it still worked, when it last worked, what it needs to get it to work. He was a fountain.

It was superb.

So we came away with a box full of carefully wrapped goodies and found them new homes lickety split. The replacement of old items with our new old items was fairly simple as we purchased with these spots in mind. The best part? Convincing Pat that the items we took away did NOT need to find a new home.

One in, one out.

That is the rule he has for my shoes and my bags. Well guess what? If it applies there, it applies here.

So I happily took what we removed off our own shelves to make room for our new old items and placed them in my garage sale pile.

I have no doubt we will be regular visitors to the Lamplighter. Pat peppered Bud with endless questions and I think the level of fascination and  interest from Pat was equaled by the level of enthusiasm and pride from Bud who happily answered them all.

He told us next time we should call ahead so they know we’re coming. He would put out some special things for us.

Now THAT’S service.

 

You can find Bud and all of his amazing wares at the Lamplighter, Hwy 15 (Dugald Road) just before the turnoff to Oakbank. 

Duty Calls

OBJECTION!

This girl got called for Jury Duty!

I knew my years of watching Law and Order would come in handy! They’re gonna LOVE ME!

But seriously. I’m a little torn. On one hand I’d love to participate in the judicial process and do my part to ensure guilty people get put away and innocent people do not. But on the other hand, what if it goes on for months? What if one of the other jurors is a total jerk? What if the perp is accused of something so horrid that I can’t ever stop thinking about it? What if we make a mistake?

I’m not sure what exactly gets you excused from the process. I know each lawyer has a set of qualities in mind that they are looking for in a juror and they each have the opportunity to nix a certain amount of potential jurors. Do they want the daughter of a retired city cop/detective/sergeant? I’m thinking one side might.

Do they want a parent? A woman? A woman who works? A woman with opinions? Who knows.

I’m not sure I could sit in that little box and actually keep my mouth shut for that long.

I’m not sure I could sit in that little box and not give away my feelings purely by facial expressions.

I’m not sure I could sit in that little box and not tweet my way through it.

(Does one get in trouble for that? Probably, yes.)

So we’ll see how it goes. I will write and let them know that our morning routine is such that from 4:30 am till 8, I am my daughters sole care provider and her means of transportation to school. I can ask for help with that for a few days but if this ends up being  a prolonged case, I would not want to put that on anyone. I will let them decide if that is a sufficient enough reason to leave me be.

And if not, then I will do my duty and participate in the process.

No further questions, your honour.

jury duty

Has the jury reached a verdict?

 

Have you ever been summoned for jury duty? Did you go? How was your experience? Do share in the comments!

A Little Bit Downton

Ornate wallpapers. Measured table settings. Wood features from floor to ceiling. An era when children were raised by nannies, men wore tails to dinner and ladies didn’t dare operate anything trickier than a book.

There are many things to love about that era in Britian, the 1910’s to the 1930’s…the stunning dresses, the introduction of jazz music, the elaborate decor. But also many to abhor…the attitude towards women, the ranking of human beings, the disinterest in children until a certain age, the fact that an unmarried woman is considered a failure to the family, that marrying relatives is commonplace.

Watching Downton Abbey has been a lesson in history. The invention of the telephone, the refrigerator, record players, electric mixers. How in awe these people were with each new toy, resistant to the change or otherwise. We could all take a lesson from that. We demand the release of the newest smart phone and then feel blase about the fact that it doesn’t do enough. We have lost the ability to be truly wowed.

If you have written Downton Abbey off as another British soap opera I am here to say, think again. This is no Coronation Street-style show filled with such heavy accents that I find myself having to translate English to english for my husband, where so-and-so slept with so-and-so, and this one smacked that one and oh look, she’s pregnant.

Oh wait.

Yes it is.

But it is drama on another scale. It is elegance and storytelling with amazing backdrops and plot lines. You can leave a show like Coro and come back two years later and still know what is going on. I dare say that would not be possible with a show like Downton.

And what a show from the 1910’s does as well as any other modern show, perhaps even better, is approach issues with a degree of class and indicate to us how little we have grown as a human race.

The three most recent topics broached on Downton:

Homosexuality 

Rape

Race

Part of me was surprised each was brought up as a story line, I’m not sure why. Perhaps they just seemed too modern, too controversial. And the other part of me was incredibly depressed that it was still a concern today. Slap some modern clothes on these folks and it could easily be 2016 with all that they were experiencing and sharing.

Sad really.

That in the span of 100 years we have gone from telephones only just being introduced to family homes to a phone that can change the temperature in your house from 1000 miles away. We have gone from oil fueled lanterns to lights that know how to turn on and off simply by whether or not someone is in the room. We have gone from women only being allowed to sit there, look pretty and get married, to women running countries and doing whatever they hell want.

And yet…

Law HB2.

The Ghomeshi Trials.

Donald Trump.

1916. 2016. If watching Downton Abbey has taught me anything, it is that we can do better.

And that your plate should sit one inch from the edge of the table when positioning settings for a dinner.

Downton_Abbey

The glitz and glamour of a time gone by.