Friday, August 30, 2013

Creation of a Psychopath - just add dead squirrel

There were two girls, seven, maybe eight years old, on the sidewalk a couple of blocks ahead of us.  They had a stick.  They were moving something onto the road with the stick.  Having walked down the road earlier that day, I knew that the thing they were moving into the road was a dead squirrel.  See, I remembered, because I'd thought to myself upon viewing it earlier, I wish I had a bag.  I could pick the poor bugger up and take it home and bury it.  But I hadn't had a bag, so I'd left it there, dead on the side of the road.

But these little girls, done up in barrettes and braids, clad in colourful dresses, were moving this dead squirrel further onto the road.  David and I shared a look.  I ain't gonna lie.  A shudder literally went down my spine.  Why would two little girls push a dead squirrel further onto the road?  Most little girls wouldn't go near a dead animal even with a stick.  I found myself thinking, If that was two little boys, they'd be doing it to watch the squirrel get flattened by oncoming traffic.  I caught myself short.  As if a lack of empathy is a predominantly male trait.  Like only boys burn ants when they get a hold of a magnifying glass.  As if the male of the species has the market cornered on the steps to psychopathy.

The Grady Twins from Kubrick's The Shining

So we watched from a distance, as these two giggling girls pushed the squirrel carcass out and then hid behind their privacy fence.  As we passed, we could hear them tittering.  We really should have stopped.  We really should have asked what they were doing.  We really should have called them on it.  Or at least drawn the attention of any proximal adults. 

"Hey!  You!  Yeah, YOU, with the stick in your hand and pink barrettes in your hair!  What are you doing to that squirrel?"

"What squirrel?"

"The dead one, the one that we just watched you push onto the road."


This is when I should have crouched down and got eye to eye with those girls and said,  "Being cruel to animals, even dead ones, isn't cool kids.  It means that you lack empathy.  And when you lack empathy, your bladder weakens and soon, very soon, you'll not only wet the bed, but you'll pee your pants while you're awake and everyone at school will point and laugh at you and say, 'Those are the girls who did bad things to animals.'  You will be labeled as 'troubled' and spend all your time in the Principal's office and never make more than minimum wage.  Nobody will ever date you and when you are old and ill, your wheelchair will be left on the shoulder of the 401 with a sign on it that says 'HIT ME.' "

That would have only been too much if I'd actually said it out loud.  Instead, I kept my mouth shut and will have to live with the fact that Sally and Susie Psycho will continue to roam the streets.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Our daughter has gone blind!

We didn't realize for the longest time.  She was masking it so well.  She was coping.  But it became apparent this morning that my daughter has... she has... dishwasher blindness.  (sob)  Comparable to night blindness, dishwasher blindness tends to hit at a much younger age.

Early signs of dishwasher blindness seem innocuous.  Dinner ware might be left in unexpected places: the living room end tables, the backyard.  The sufferer will become adept at depositing dirty dishes in the sink. You may find the dishwasher open but not loaded; conversely, a dishwasher full of clean dishes will not be unloaded.

When a full complement of breakfast dishes are left neatly stacked on the countertop above the dishwasher, it is too late.  There is little hope for the sufferer - true dishwasher blindness will be diagnosed at this point.  Strident physical therapy can help the process, but it will be a long road to recovery.  Months, even years of conditioning may be required to help the sufferer strengthen the muscles it takes to open the dishwasher and the coordination to load dishes and cutlery into their respective places within the appliance.

You might think that you are alone, that your child or spouse is unique.  Talking about the affliction, sharing one's own experience is the only way the general populace can be educated.  Dishwasher blindness can happen to anyone at any point in their life.  Recognize the signs before its too late.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How to stop the onslaught of dementia

Wait!  It'll come to me!

Some people do Sudoku.  For others it's crosswords.  Still others, brain teasers.  All to keep their minds sharp - build their reserves against dementia.  My Dad, whose own father succumbed to Alzheimer's, has a vested interest in keeping his brain in gear.  He has a simple plan.  It all centres around The Witches of Eastwick.

If ever he's doubting his mental state, my Dad uses this movie.  It's his litmus test.  He figures that if he can name the three female stars of the movie, that he's still good to go, that the dementia hasn't set in yet. Which means, if he's having a bad brain day where words aren't coming and certain things remain on the tip of his cranium, he'll name the stars: Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon.  I guess for him, Jack Nicholson wasn't all that important to the story.  Or maybe Jack's too easy to remember - I mean, after all, he is JACK. Of the three actresses, Susan Sarandon seems to trip him up, but he always remembers, which is a good sign.

There are days when I too, worry if I will suffer from Alzheimer's, as my grandfather did.  He wasn't diagnosed until his 70s, so the fear of early onset isn't as terrifying for me.  'Course I'm in my mid 40s - my Dad will soon be 70, he jokes about keeping the wheels turning upstairs, but I know there's a part of him that's not joking so much as keeping an eye out.

When bouts of aphasia (speechlessness - sure, I can remember that word) hit me, I panic.  I use words a lot, I LOVE words - the more obscure the better.  When they don't come to me, I can feel a tide of helplessness in my gut.  I used to be able to remember everything - stupid trivial things - now when I'm searching for the word 'teapot,' most of me thinks it's just naturally being distracted from an over-scheduled life, but there is that tiny, niggling part that whispers, "What if?" 

Forgetting your keys is a normal brain fart.  Forgetting what keys DO?  Then you maybe should worry.  Me?  I put my keys in the same place in my purse every time.  I'm not giving the keys a headstart.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Where were your peeps on this one Miley?

Yes, you're the #1 trending thing today, and you're probably going to be getting all sorts of requests for late-night TV, so it'll blind you for a bit to how extensive all this really was.    And you'll even say that you won't lurk online and read stuff about yourself sweetie, but you will.   And a lot of it'll be nasty and hurtful and you will be devastated.

I think that there needs to be a support group.  And not just for Miley, but for ALL the child stars out there who want to bridge that gap between childhood and adult stardom but pull an Icarus and fly way too freaking close to the sun.   There are precious few who make the leap without crashing and burning.  For every Christina and Dakota who seem to have their heads on straight, there are many more Lindsays and Amandas who, I'm only guessing, are surrounded by 'yes' people and no one who actually keeps them grounded in reality.  Where are the mentors?  Where's Drew Barrymore - guiding you into the light?  I think that Meryl Streep, Jodie Foster, Tilda Swinton and Glenn Close should each get six to ten girls teetering on the edge between successful teen star and starlet given to public displays of drunken crazy and make sure they don't tank.

Miley, now might be the time to reach out to those people who tell you the truth and have your back. Your real friends and family - not the ones who smile and nod and tell you you're cool and that every idea you have is brilliant. You're only 20 years old.  You've got a whole lot more living and learning to do.  I'd love for you to still be around so I can watch you do it.

Why did I have to beat the dead horse?

WARNING: This is about MENSTRUATION and shit - well not actually shit, really just other female-centric issues that go hand in uterus with menstruation.  There will be blood. I might also talk about vaginas.

Why couldn't I have just let it fade away quietly?  After months and months of erratic menstruation, a la Jackson Pollock, I booked time with an OBGYN to suss out the situation, you know, maybe help with the massive blood loss and 'knock you out for the first 36 hours' pain.  Of course while waiting to get in to see this specialist, there was a 12 week period where I didn't have my period.     Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  That's when I should have let it be.  I should have cancelled the appointment.  I should have let Mother Nature take the reins.

But I didn't, and now I've pissed her off.  Mother Nature is getting her own back.  "Think you can outwit ME?  Chemically try to rule ME?  See how you like THIS!"  The OBGYN put me on pills.  Not THE PILL, but pills that I was supposed to take for the first 15 days of the month, to regulate things, take the edge off the crazy-ass pain and weird-ass menstruation symptoms.

The last three months (though I might not be bleeding quite as much), have given me new byproducts of the feminine mystique heretofore unexperienced in all my 45 years.   I used to cramp for the first 36 hours.  Now the cramping lasts 72 hours.  I developed back pain which had me convinced that, despite David having been fixed, I might actually be pregnant.  And clots?  Let's not go there. 

See?  You mess with Mother Nature and she'll fuck you over.  What was I thinking?  This last month?  I've now been having my period for the last 10 days - twice as long as a regular period, with none of the perks.  Although really what ARE the perks that come of having your period?  Unless you have a pregnancy scare - then the opening of those menstrual flood gates is something you kiss the freaking ground for.

I will never be so stupid again!!"

And yet, here I was, defying my body's natural inclination to stop the bleeding.  I knew I shouldn't have.  I knew, deep down, that I should have gone with my gut.  My Mom had her last period when she was 48 - what if my lady shop was closing down for business even earlier?  I mean, I'm so freaking sensitive to every other physical thing that I go through in life.  What if, by messing with my body chemistry, my period decides to stick around until I'm 60, just to spite me?  What if, by fucking with my body chemistry, I don't ever want sex again?  What if I suffer from dry Vagina the rest of my life because I decided to fuck over Mother Nature?

Wait.  Wait.  I need to calm down.   Breathe Heather.  Just breathe.  This will not be a problem.  That's totally what they invented Vagisil Intimate Lubricant for.  Sahara Vagina averted.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Is this a healthy hookup?

I have to ask.  When someone you love suddenly becomes completely enamoured with an... uh... we'll call it an appliance... to the exclusion of their other toys... Should you do something about it?  Or should you just let them have their moment and hope that they'll eventually move on and not hurt themselves in the mean time?

Minuit has hooked up with our Universal Remote.  We tried to take it away from her, but she... uh... she couldn't be dissuaded.  She actually growled and bared her teeth.  I'm hoping that it's just a phase.   Could be worse I guess.  She could be huffing catnip.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

It's wrong to threaten the Canada Revenue Agency. Right?

So you know how, when you have to go through Customs, even if you aren't smuggling anything you get all freaked out and start to wonder, "Hey!  Maybe I DO have a condom full of cocaine in my lower intestinal tract"?   Every single time we get a letter from the Canada Revenue Agency I lose my freaking mind.

David gets a letter.  I think that I actually read it before I start freaking out.  On first glance it seems like we haven't paid the crazy-ass thousands of dollars in taxes David owed last year.   And seeing as I have a distinct memory of making an online payment of crazy-ass thousands of dollars, I panic a titch.  We don't have that extra cash in our savings any more.  I know that because I'd paid bills the other day and saw how little money we had in our accounts.  My chest starts to hurt.

"What's going on?" David asks as he sees me hyperventilating as I go through his tax statements.

"I can't find it!  I CAN'T FIND IT!!!"

"Can't find what?"

"The... the... the RECEIPT!!  The... proof!!  The," I claw for the word in my brain.  "CONFIRMATION!!!  I CAN'T FIND THE CONFIRMATION!  WE'RE GOING TO GO TO JAIL!!!

"What are you talking...?"

"HAH!"  I brandish my online  confirmation.  "We DID!  We DID pay it!  See here?"  I wave the confirmation in David's face.  "See that?  We paid them ALL this money!  I'm going to call them and give them a piece of...."  I stop talking when I look at the piece of paper from the CRA again.

"What?"  What is it?"

"I think this is for this coming year.  It says 2013.  This is an Instalment Reminder.  Is Instalment actually spelled this way?  Do Americans spell it with two 'l's??


"We're supposed to pay instalments because our taxes were so high last year.  Oh God!  It says that we need to pay $6,325.00 on September 15th!!  We don't have $6,325.00!  We just gave all our credit money to the roofers!  Where are we going to find...?"  I roll my shoulders back, trying to relieve the pressure in my chest.  This is not angina, this is NOT angina.

I  frantically read over the sheet again. Your options for paying your tax by instalments are:

  1.  two payments of fucking ridiculous amounts of money that we have calculated for you.
  2.  3/4 of 2012, blah-de-fucking-blah, makes no fucking sense plus CPP and EI on this date and then 1/4 on this date.
  3.  Even more incomprehensible tax jargon that means we might have to sell our only daughter into slavery to meet the September 15th deadline. 

Three options, all of which are a lot of money and had a first payment of September 15th.  I try to catch my breath.  I look at the document again, I must be missing something.  I start again - looking from the very top of the document.

There it is at the top-top part at the top of the document - the one in big-ass bold letters:

This instalment reminder was issued to you because you MAY BE required to pay income tax by instalments in 2013.

Do you have to pay tax by instalments in 2013? 
If your net tax owing for 2013 will be $3,000 or less ($1,800 or less if you live in Quebec), you DO NOT have to pay tax by instalments in 2013, and you can disregard this reminder.

"You can disregard this reminder !!!  WE CAN DISREGARD THIS REMINDER!!!"  I slump to the floor.  "Those tax bastards!!  Those Canada Revenue Agency tax bastards!  They couldn't put this information in a box and bold it ALL?  Why wasn't the DO NOT in bold?!?  Don't they know that I spent my entire day in front of the freaking computer and my eyes don't work when I get home and finally look at personal stuff?  Don't they KNOW that??   They seem to KNOW everything else!  They made me freak out!!  Who SENDS a letter like this?"

"So we don't have to pay anything?"

"We don't have to pay ANYTHING!!  ANYTHING!!!  You know why?"  My eyes stab at David accusingly.  "You know WHY???  Because you will have not been paid for ANY self-employed work last year and all your teaching pay will have been taxed super high and the CRA will then have to give US money!"  I panted after my rant.  "Oh crap!  They're going to AUDIT us, aren't they?  They are going to fucking audit us because you had to pay taxes in the last two years because of the self-employed work... No wait!!  WAIT!!  Maybe they won't, because your employment income won't really be that much different... it'll...  it'll...  be okay... it might... just be... okay..."

"Are you done now?"

"I think so."

"We're going out for dinner tonight.  I'm going to buy you alcohol."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Why your Nana shouldn't be behind the wheel.

We lived next door to a lady named Kay.  She was in her 80s.  One of those Europeans who, although she'd been in Canada for 50 years, still had her accent - just like my own Granny.  Kay was effusive in welcoming us to the neighbourhood.  We had to learn to lock our door during the day because she'd would occasionally walk in with a coffee cake when I'd be trying to put Rissa down for a nap.

One day, Kay backed out of her driveway in her massive Crown Victoria - she basically did a reverse U-Turn as she left her driveway, rolling over the curb onto our yard, hitting the For Sale sign on our lawn, then running into our tree.  She then put the car into drive and left.  Shortly after that, she asked David to help her get into the garage.  The door to her garage was locked, you see.

"Where are your keys?" David asked.  "Did you lock them in the garage?"

"No, no, they are here," she said, handing them to him.  "But there isn't a place to put the key."

There were no keys for the door.   It was one of those doors where you have to push the handle in and turn it to lock and then do the opposite to unlock it.  Problem was, Kay didn't remember how it worked.

"It won't work!"  She tried turning the handle this way and that.  "You see?!?"

"Why do you need to get into the garage Kay?" David asked.

"I need to drive to the grocery store."

"How about I drive you to the grocery store?" David suggested.  David palmed her car keys, sneaking them into his pocket.  After driving her to the grocery store, he called her doctor.

"Thank God," said the receptionist.  "We were hoping that someone would stop her from driving."

Apparently everyone in the doctor's office knew that she wasn't safe to drive, but no one thought to do anything about it.  Makes sense I guess.  It should really be left to her neighbour to suffer the brunt of her outrage when said neighbour wouldn't return her car keys to her.  We were in suburbia - not having a car for her was like having an arm cut off.  David, however, wasn't willing to pass that sentence on to unsuspecting pedestrians.

One friend's grandfather, who had terrible cataracts, still continued to drive - using his wife in the passenger seat as his navigator.  Driving behind a tractor one day, he pulled out to pass and narrowly missed being hit by an oncoming car.  He hadn't seen it.  Nor had his wife in the passenger seat.  You see, her view had been blocked by the tractor.

My own grandfather suffered from Alzheimer's, most days he couldn't recognize me, but my Gran took him out every day driving, "so he wouldn't forget how."

I stopped by the pharmacy the other day.  The parking lot to this particular shopping area is crap.  There's a gas station that empties into a driving lane as well as an entrance off the major road.  There was an older lady pulling away from the gas station.  She was focused on me, as I approached the entrance to the parking lot.  She didn't see the car coming on her right towards the exit.  The guy in the other car honked his horn in warning - several times. She kept driving.  She looked accusingly at me as the guy leaned on his horn, now desperate to get her attention.  If she were younger, I have a sneaking suspicion that she'd have flipped me the bird for honking at her.

I pulled up to the store.   Two of the plate glass windows at the front had been decimated.  Construction fencing had been erected around the damaged area.  I figured some local hooligans had maybe gotten bored and did the damage.  I went in to mail my packages at the Canada Post Counter - people were still sweeping up.  There were a couple of official looking guys in suits who were on their I-Phones "We need this covered Stan.  Don't tell me tomorrow, I need it today!"  As I got to the postal counter, packages in hand, I asked the gal manning the cash how her day was.

"Well, I'm better now," she said.

"That's good to hear."  I rummaged for my wallet, preparing to pay.

"It's not every day that someone decides to make their own drive-thru in a store where there isn't a drive-thru."


"A lady drove right through the window."

So, not hooligans then.  An older lady in her SUV was the culprit.  Panicked when she initially pulled onto the curb, she stepped on the gas, was propelled forward and then smashed through the windows.  No one was in front of those particular windows at the time, a fact which I'm sure will cheer her right up.

I'm not saying that ALL elderly people shouldn't be driving.  There are plenty out there who are exemplary drivers. What I'm saying is that there are some Grans, Opas, Mimaws, Dedas, Grampies and Nonnas out there, who, right now?  When they are behind the wheel?  Shouldn't be.  They're like James freaking Bond!  They have been awarded '00' status.

Sure, in Ontario, after the age of 80, you have to take a written test, and have your eyes tested, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you have to pass a practical driving test.  A study from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests  that drivers over the age of 85 have quadruple the fatal car accidents of male teenaged drivers.  Some senior driving advocates, say that this statistic is unrealistic because seniors are more frail than other drivers and do not recover from car accidents in the same way that younger victims do.

29% of the Canadian population are baby boomers.  My Dad is 69 and my Mom is 68 years old.  They, like a lot of parents, retired to their dream home.  They live 5 km from their nearest town and are dependent upon their vehicle for shopping, socializing and medical appointments.  They speak of down-sizing, not for driving reasons, but due to property maintenance.  My Mom's already scoped out the senior condos that are a walkable distance to the golf course.  She's forward thinking. 

David's Dad lives in a similar location, far removed from transit.   Thankfully, David's Mom is in a city centre that has a transit system, and they're located about a 25 minute walk from the closest mall and grocery store.  Within the last few years, all three sets of parents have altered their driving habits.  They won't drive in snowy weather and dislike driving at night.

No one likes having the difficult conversations.  "Hey Mom, what do you think about us taking away all your independence?"   But you know what?  We need to start talking about this stuff now, before there is a problem. The local pharmacy incident is going to be my conversation starter.  My parents are very practical, but I know that it'd be an incredible blow to my Dad if he could no longer drive.  This is one bullet that I don't want to bite, but I'm going to have to.  Maybe I'll never notice anything with their driving.  Maybe they'll never become those seniors who can't make a left turn.  I hope to God that's the case.  I hope to God that they give my parents a citation for perfect driving when they're in their 90s.  But if that not the case?  I have to have the balls to call them on it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Free boobs with page views...

Yes, folks, you too may purchase your very own boob juggling set
Includes 3 breasts for the true juggling experience!*

I think that I may have acquired a new audience for my blog.  Teenaged boys.  Any post that I have with the word boobs in the title ends up with ridiculously more page views.  My post, I hope that the Bloggess didn't notice my extra boobs, which I posted over a year ago, gets page views every single day.  Which makes me think that there are people out there searching for "extra boobs" and zip boom - they're getting sent to that post.  Although, when I went searching for "extra boobs," there were a lot of links to porn and not a one (at least in the first 10 pages of results) to my blog.  I really gotta get working on my ranking.

It did get me thinking that perhaps I myself am a little pre-occupied with boobs. When I went looking, I realized that 16 of my posts deal directly with boobs.  (Taming your tatas, Don't Show anyone your boobs online, My boobs aren't supposed to be there - the list goes on.) And then I was wondering if maybe I was having psychotic breaks and it was me who was doing all the boob page views.  Maybe I was spending all my time reading that post.  Although when I did a subsequent search using the word "sex" - I have 48 posts that focus on that.  I bet if I charted when I wrote those posts that they'd directly relate to whether or not I'm ovulating and getting ready for my bouts of naked wrestling with David.  That made me think I should see what other words came up.  Top words are 'Mom' (appearing in 82 posts), 'cat' (121 posts), 'Rissa' (155 posts), and 'David' (a whopping 169 posts). I'm not going to share with my Mom that she's trending below cats.

*By the by - it took me a while to find a boob juggling set that had three boobs.  Most, came in a package with two.  Unless you're doing it one-handed that ain't juggling folks.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

And that's how you displace a rib

I used to be really bendy when I was younger.  (Steady folks.) Comes of being a gymnast.  I was incredibly flexible.  (STEADY...)  Which is great when most of what you do in sport is bend in half backwards, run, skip and bounce.  Trouble is, all those extra-stretchy ligaments?  After years and years of stretching?  They get loose.  Think 1950s streewalker plied with cigarettes and mint juleps kind of loose.

I can pop a rib out of place by, say, putting on a dress.  The other day I did pop a rib putting on a dress.  I dragged it on over my head, stretched to get my right arm through... and pop!  Stabbing pain through my chest wall.  Which each frickin' breath.  My body is so screwed that I can pop a rib by tilting to the side when I blow dry my hair.

And once that rib's out?  Hard to pop it back in all by yourself.  I can't just whack myself against the wall like Detective Riggs, hoping that everything will be all hunky dory.

I pop those ribs and I'm making a call to my chiropractor who then yells at me for not coming in for a tune up sooner.  "You need to MAINTAIN!  You have to MAINTAIN your spine! How many times do I have to say this to you?!?"

But really?  Who has the time or the money to do maintenance on themselves?  I don't have extra cash just there, waiting to be spent on me.  After I separated my shoulder several years ago, I was supposed to have massages once a month to ensure I didn't seize up. I was really good about going... for the first year and a half.  Okay, the first year... Okay, six months...  Then I started to slack off.  I think I'm lucky now, if I get a professional massage once a year.  I go into the clinic and my massage therapist 'tsk-tsk's me.  She shakes her head and gives me the same eyes that disappointed European wives give to their spouses. 

What kind of disposable income does a gal need for spine and rib maintenance?  I'm sure that I must be able to scrape together the extra dough to be able to tweak and tune.  I don't need to be  rich.  I just need that little bit of extra cash at the end of the month.  You know... after we've paid the remaining six grand on our new roof, chipped away at our credit line debt and Visa bill, saved for our retirement and Rissa's education, shifted funds for our house insurance, bought food, paid for Rissa's dance lessons, utilities and ensured that David's salary dip (because of union and membership fees etc.) doesn't bankrupt us come January when we lose $250 every two weeks.  Oh yeah, I'm sure that after ALL that, there'll be more than enough so that I can get a... massage.  Nice to have these 1st World problems, no?  This is all they're thinking about in Egypt right now.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Right way to do Laundry

David and I are doing laundry at my parents' place. It’s such a lovely day that we decide that we’re going to hang the clothes on the line to dry. After about 5 mintues, from within the house, I hear shrieks from my female relatives.  My mother, Granny, Gran and Aunt Bea are all in the kitchen.  My Mother’s voice assaults me from across the deck.

“Heather!  What are you doing?” my mother yells to me.

“I’m hanging up the laundry.”

“You don’t hang up laundry that way!”

“Pardon me?”

“You don’t hang up laundry that way!”

“What way?”

“One sock, one towel, one t-shirt…”


“You have to hang things up in groups.”


“You have to hang things up in groups.  All the t-shirts, all the socks, all the underwear…”

“Who says?”

“It’s just the way it’s done!”


“Because it makes a nicer looking clothes line.”

“What, are the laundry police going to come out and give us a ticket?”

“Don’t you get smart!”

“All I want to know is who decided that this was the way laundry has to be dried?   I mean, does it dry faster your way?”

“You are not too old for the wooden spoon young lady!”

My mother still threatens me with the wooden spoon.  If I swear in the house, she’ll threaten.  If I’m too sarcastic, she’ll threaten.  If I make a face …  you name it, if I’m 'sassy,' she’ll bring out the spoon.  The thing is – I don’t actually remember her ever using the wooden spoon. I just remember hearing about the spoon.

Let me give you an idea about the type of person my Mom is.  She is the classiest woman I know, even when she’s leg wrestling.  My husband challenged her to a match and she kicked his ass!  She’s one of my best friends.  Not everyone has the privilege of having a friendship with their mother.  I do. Not only do I get along with her – I actually choose to spend time with her, especially when she’s singing obnoxiously at the top of her voice “I am the CHAMPION!  I AM THE CHAMPION!!”  And then doing her half-assed attempt at a fist pump.   

And you know, no matter how old I am, no matter how much knowledge I have, my Mother will always know more than I do.  Because she did it all first.  And I’ll always turn to her and ask for her advice.  Sure, the details of the advice may not be exactly what I want to hear, but I know that regardless of generation gaps and differences of opinion, a lot of these things that she tells me?  Are exactly what I need to hear.   And what’s scary?  It really does make a nicer looking clothes line.
*This piece is an excerpt from my show How to Leave Adolescence at 30 written in 1999.  As I stumbled about in our laundry room this morning - it seemed appropriate.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Does the clumsy end?

I trip.  I fall.  I run into things.  Have done since I was wee.  I could make falling up the stairs an Olympic sport.

My Mom calling the Doctor's office, "But it won't stop bleeding!!"

"I'm sorry Ma'am, unless it's mostly severed, it'll have to heal by itself."

"But there's so much blood!"

"Ma'am, unless the tongue is barely attached, we can't really do anything."


"MOOOOOOOM!!!  Heather's bleeding to death!" screams my brother Michael.


"I can't tell if she still has a leg!"


Kim Hickey's father, as I was waiting for Kim to get ready to catch the bus.  "Run into any poles lately?"

"Pardon me?"

"Kim told me that you ran into a pole yesterday at school."

"I did?"

Kim, coming out of her room,  "Heather, you ran straight into one of the support poles yesterday."  She turns me toward the hall mirror.  She lifts up my bangs off my forehead.  I am bruised.  I have no recollection of the event having occured.  This might explain why my brain, she doesn't work the way she should.


The custodian, looking at my position, shaking his head.  "How did you get there?"

"I was sliding down the railing."

"But how did your leg get there?"

"I think it slipped."

"I'm going to need a crowbar."


"Heather!  Watch out for the...!"


"Are you okay?"

Rubbing my breast bone, where I have just run into a parking meter.  "Sweet merciful...."


The triage nurse, "You're lucky you didn't break your neck."

"Usually I'm a very safe diver.  I was just trying to take my bathing suit off when I was in the water."

The nurse looks at me.

"It was going to be a very effective entrance."


"What did you do?"  David asks. 

"I gave myself the heimlich carrying this stupid chair."

"How is that even possible?"

"I was distracticated."

"How were you carrying it?"

"Like this."

"Only you."



The room turns my way.

"Sorry... sorry!  Carry on, it's okay."

"What's wrong?"

"I might just possibly have opened my ass on the metal arm of the chair.  I'm good, I'm good.  There's no blood."


Encased in my sweater, pretending to be a ninja, I prepare for a surprise attack on Rissa, flinging my arms open wide.


"What did you do?" asks Rissa, eyebrows raised in a near-maternal expression.

"I hit the corner of the stupid newel post!"

"Were you trying to be dramatic?"

"It was going to be funny!"


"Why are you on the floor?"

"I slipped."


"I was chasing the cat."

"In your socks?"

"It needed to be done."

"Let me get the drywall out of your arm."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Do not take me into natural light...

When did I get to be so freaking hairy?  I should be in one of those carny magazines with the caption Hirsute Heather as I wear some Victoria styled gown bustled to a steam-punk length and a fascinator to show off my spectacular facial hair.   There is something about the quality of the sun in the summer months.  It's like a night club at 2:00 a.m., when they turn the lights on and you realize that the sexy chick you've been plying with tequila sunrises all night, is actually Ernest Borgnine.

Natural light is horrifying.  I'm not big on waxing.  I shave my lower legs (shin & calf) fairly regularly and I've got one of those epilady things that rips the hair off other parts of your legs - kind of like a garburator but for leg hair - but I forget to use it.  'Cause let's face it, most people don't spend all their time thinking about  leg hair until they are out in public.  If I contort my body to get a good glimpse of the back of my legs, I might put out a rib. NOT looking is really for my own well-being.   Besides, in the safety of your own home, leg hair usually ain't so bad, but when that natural light hits you - that's when this gal of mostly Scandinavian DNA begins to resemble Zorba the Greek.  Stanley could seek out Livingstone on the backs of my thighs. Please devote a moment to visualizing miniature explorers on the back of my legs with machetes.

I heeded my mother's advice for many a year and did not shave above the knee.  The tops of my thighs were mostly blond and not terribly bothersome.  A few years back, to spice things up a bit I shaved... pretty much from the pelvis down (more on the pelvis part later).  They say it's an old wives' tale that if you shave it'll grow in darker.  I am here to tell the old wives weren't making that shit up, because my thigh hair is now no longer blond - it is black.  I'll be sitting on the beach - and I'll glance down and then have to stifle a shriek of horror and surprise.  HAIR!  As far as the eye (or least MY eye) can see.  And I'm in a freaking bathing suit, exposing it to the world at large.  That's when any sane being would just ignore it.  Noone else is going to be close enough to see it.  It's not like people are wearing science fiction "Follicular Glasses" to zoom in on the wild hair on the locals at the beach.  But there I am, shaded in my little half tent, using the nails of my thumb and first fingers as impromptu tweezers to tear out the offending hair, thereby drawing attention to the fact that I have now devolved to ape state to the entire beach front.

I did the Brazilian thing a couple of times - denuded myself of all the hair down there.  I sought out a Russian aesthetician on Yelp who was highly acclaimed, who bent me near in half to get literally where the sun didn't shine.  David, accustomed to the way women are supposed to look like from the canon of adult films, was thrilled.  (See that?  My husband is one of the millions of men in the world who have been conditioned into thinking that having access to what looks like a pre-pubescent pelvis is sexy.  Shudder.)  Me?  Not so much.  I felt like a plucked chicken and about as sexy.  Does this Brazilian make my labia look fat?  PLUS?  There was NO friction.  My body didn't know what the hell had happened to it.  AND (but wait there's more) after having had all the downtown muskrat hair ripped out, when it did come back in (after that incredibly itchy, make-you-look-like-you-have-crabs waiting period), some was missing.

In peri-menopause, I now have this downy coating of mostly (thank freaking God) blond fluff on my face.  When I'm in the bathroom, if there's natural sunlight beaming into the room - my face sort of sparkles with the blonde down - which is a good contrast against the splotchy skin discoloration that has also come upon me at this stage in my life.  Sort of looks like I've been mottled with freckles then dipped in baby chick down.  Rissa, of course, adores it.  "Your face is so soft..."  She'll play with the longer hairs (the ones you don't see until after a social event) around my jawline.  "It's like you're glowing Mummy.  You're so beautiful!"  Perspective shift.  It's then that I usually do my best to re-fucking-lax and get over myself.  That's also when I usually vow to wear sunglasses in the house so that I won't notice all this shit.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I have been worshipping a false idol...

WARNING: This post is about... ahem... grown up toys

The Hitachi Magic Wand
(insert angels' chorus)
Several years ago, David got me a present.   The cadillac of  'personal massagers.'  Variations on this design have been used in adult entertainment since the 70s.  If you've seen an adult film, you've seen  this toy in use.  It is the best 'personal massager'...   IN. THE. GALAXY. 

Sceptre-like in design - I truly feel like a queen while using it.  Surprising and adaptive, it is better than self-pleasuring,  it is like having intimate relations with another person.

You know how it is when you get any new toy.  You play with it a lot.  I played with it a lot.  Let's just say that my hands would vibrate for a good half hour after I'd had some 'relaxation time.'  You want to test out the toy's limits.  You know, for scientific purposes.

Dear Diary, today I saw the face of God 12 times.  

I love my Hitachi Magic Wand.  LOOOOOOOOOVE it.  Used it so much, I felt a little guilty.  Like I was maybe cheating on David.  I'd go to bed when David was still working and by the time he joined me I was in a sated puddle of bliss, still clutching my sceptre, my entire body vibrating.  He'd try to pry it from my hands and I'd offer my best Charleton Heston,  "FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS!!!"

Thing is (why does there always seem to be a 'thing')...  I think I might have uh, drowned my... man in the boat.  The Magic Wand is a powerful toy.  I can only use the low speed.  The high speed would have me clawing the ceiling fan, screaming hysterically.  But here's the sad but truthful news folks: physical pleasure with the Magic Wand, though SPECTACULAR, has meant that physical pleasure without it, is harder to attain.  The lady bits get over-stimulated, making it harder to achieve the big bang sans regal sceptre.  The same way that watching porn for guys gives them unrealistic stimuli, thereby making the sexual act more difficult to enjoy with an actual live partner, so too does the Magic Wand accustom a lady's lady bits to expect a level of stimulation that is nigh on impossible to achieve with regular body parts.  Basically, I've been screwed.  Figuratively and literally.

So please, I beg, heed my warning ladies.  Though you will want to spend all your time with your new toy - DON'T.  If you use it as your 'go-to' for too long - your body will begin to shut down.  Give the sceptre a rest - spend some hands-on time instead - your lady bits will thank you for it.  And even better, it won't take your partner 45 minutes to get you anywhere close to blast-off, which means that you'd still have time to watch another episode of something on Netflix.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Immaculate conception is back!

I woke up in back labour the other day.  I was a titch surprised being as I hadn't realized I was pregnant.  I was having slight discomfort through the night, in that half-awake/half-asleep state where you're pretty certain that you're dreaming it all.  But then as you really wake up, you realize that the 'something's not quite right' feeling that you'd be grappling with throughout the night?  Is actually back labour.  Even more baffling?  The fact that you haven't been pregnant in 8 years.

I might have gotten a little growly as I left sleep behind.  "What the FUCK is going on?  This is not freaking possible!!!"

David gave me a "Huh...?  Wha...?"  Then pat-patted me on my low back - whereupon I may have screamed a bit - then we were both pretty awake.

"I'm up!  I'm up!" says David.

"I'm having back labour!!"

His eyes got really wide.

"Did you forget to tell me something?"  He feels my flat stomach.

My stomach is also cramping.  I wince as I roll onto my side and leave the bed.  I walk at the pace of an elderly tortoise to get to the bathroom.  Then it all becomes clear.

"It's okay!"  I yell.  "I'm just bleeding to death!"

Turns out, as I make my way through peri-menopause, I'm experiencing ALL the symptoms associated with menstruating.  I have never had back cramps - not once - not even in labour with my two pregnancies, but on this particular morning, with this period I get all the bells and whistles.  I mean, what the hell, right?  Sure, throw me a curve.  Migraines with my cycle - nope!  Not until the last time around.  Bring it on you bastards!  If this is a menstrual throw-down I'm fighting back!!

I'm on these freaky pills to try to regulate my wonky cycle - my cycle is still only at the 3 week mark - but I am getting all these new symptoms - so that's a plus, right?  So I've decided that I'm abandoning the medical system now.  I've given it a shot for the last three months - my periods are actually WORSE than when I started.  So, no thanks.  I'll stop with the pills, deal with the inconsistency and then perhaps I won't wake up thinking that immaculate conception is back.  Before I went on the pills, I hadn't had my period in three months - I was okay with that.  This period renaissance?  Not so much.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Living breathing ad for sunscreen.

Edith Vonnegut's Sunblock

I can burn after 2.5 minutes of sun exposure. This is not hyperbole.  The sun in 2013 is different than when I was a kid.  Sure I used to burn if I went completely without sunblock, but it wasn't in 2.5 minutes, I can tell you that.  I lived in California for two years in the early 80s and came back a nice deep... beige.  I ain't a tanner.  I'm a gal who really needs to have the baby sunblock (SPF 50 or higher) slathered all over my person.

Last weekend we entered a sand castle competition in our small provincial town.  We liberally sprayed sunblock 50 all over each other.  David rubbed my back,  I rubbed his back and then Rissa's in turn.  We were good to go.  We gathered our sand gear and trundled down to the beach.  We had a plan.  We were going to sculpt The Mad Hatter's Beach Party .  We would have Alice, the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit and the Dormouse all kicking back at the beach enjoying the rays.  If we had extra time (HAH!) we would add Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum and the Cheshire Cat, although everyone knows they were never at the original tea party, and if we ran into a true Alice in Wonderland aficionado we'd be laughed off the beach.

We were outclassed this year.  Turns out in the couple of years since we last competed, people upped their game.  Gone were the cheesy sand castles, there were sculptures of Easter Island and Chinese dragons and trains coming out of tunnels.  And although our sculpture turned out serviceably, compared to these "Family Category" prize winners we were a little half-assed.  People would walk by and had NO CLUE what we were sculpting.

"Is it a crocodile?"

NO, it's not a freaking crocodile!  Does a crocodile have long ears and carry a pocket watch?

The White Rabbit in Repose

The White Rabbit, Mad Hatter reclining upon beach ball
Alice sunbathing

"Oh, look, they're having a Mexican Fiesta!" said one genius.  I swear to God.  Not siesta, but fiesta.  Not to mention that the Mad Hatter's hat looks nothing like a freaking sombrero.     

Ummmmm, helloooooo?  A sombrero has a wide brim?

Okay, I'll be the first to admit that Alice and the Dormouse were a little low profile, and the Dormouse did kind of look a little more like a cat... but there was one family who knew that it was the Dormouse and seemed horrified when we said that other passers-by thought it was a cat.  "Of course it's the Dormouse - a cat wasn't at the Tea Party.  This sculpture is brilliant!"  (That's the point when we praised all deities that we hadn't had the time to add the other Alice characters to the beach party.  It would have been terrible to disappoint our fans.)  After two soul-debilitating collapses on the base of the sculpture, we managed to get the White Rabbit and Mad Hatter back to a semblance of character completion and felt that we had at least finished the task at hand.

Dormouse and Alice

All in all, it was a grand day at the beach.  5 glorious hours in the beautifully balmy, sunny outdoors.  We were exhausted, but felt like we had truly accomplished, if not sand magnificence, then at the very least sand adequacy.  It wasn't until we got back home and got rid of all the sand and grit that we realized something.  We realized the true power of sunblock.  Turns out, David had forgotten to rub in the sunblock on a couple of spots on my back.  Just around the shoulder blades.  I was wondering why I was feeling a little achy and nauseated...  we soon discovered that where there hadn't been sunblock, I (Heather the fish-belly white),  had spent 5 hours in direct sunlight.  You can see the blistering beginning in the reddest patch.  I'm sending a letter to the sunblock company to commend them on saving the rest of my body from the same fate.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Naked in the mirror after 40

If I'm going to get screwed, I'd like to be in on it.  I'm not generally a passive participant.  I don't just lie back and think of the Queen.  If I'm getting well and truly screwed I want to enjoy it.  I want to scream operatically with release when it gets really good.

Naked in front of the mirror, on Saturday morning, I came to the stark realization that I had been royally screwed and I had no recollection of it ever having happened.  It was like I'd been given GHB when I was 12 and woke up when I was 45.

The first time a doctor told me I needed to lose weight was when I was 12.  I was 5 foot 4 inches and weighed a whopping 120 lbs.  Which is pretty much what you're supposed to weigh when you're 5' 4" tall.  A little less or a little more, but I was definitely in the general area.   I had boobs and hips and I'd already begun to hate them. If I didn't have THESE nobody would bother me.  At the age of 14, I was put on an extra cardio routine to meet my rec coaches' expectations of a gymnast's proper body type.  I wasn't even  a competitive gymnast.  I went to the gym twice a week, my big trick was a back walkover on the balance beam.

In my late teens and early 20s, I wouldn't ever rest my full weight on someone's lap, believing that my considerable heft would cut off their circulation.  I was too round, too fleshy.  I look back at pictures from my early 20s and I was neither.  I looked healthy.  Yeah, I had curves, (see boobs and hips from above), but I was by no means fat.    And yet, at that time, even without a full-on eating disorder, I didn't see my body as something healthy or attractive.

I didn't dip my toes into bulimia until my mid 20s.  I wasn't a card-carrying member - I was more the binge until I felt sick and then throw up to get rid of the nausea kind of bulimic.  Probably only happened about a dozen times, she types dismissively.  But it still happened.  Because I despaired when saw my armpit pudge or my inner thigh fat.

Many women spend much of their early lives (pretty much until they partner up) worried about how they look.  The mating dance is very important.  We buff, we preen, we diet - usually to attract a mate.  (Rarely, in my youth, was I the focus of my efforts.   I am wearing this to look good for me.  I am becoming healthy for me.  It takes a loooooong time before women do things for ourselves.  Some women never do it.  We tend to be so blind to our own wants and needs and even physical appearance that we never emerge from our personal cocoon and spread our wings for ourselves.) 

I hate to say it, but most women are all about snagging the mate.  We are, after all, still mammals, even if our 'higher minded' intellect would prefer not to recognize it. When I was younger, EVERY SINGLE SPRING my body wanted to meet the biological imperative of mating.  Really a lot.  A whole bunch.  And then when I was on the cusp of peri-menopause, I morphed into a 17 year old boy with a sex drive that would rival Casanova's.  Gotta use ALL these eggs up before they go bad!  

Even though society is shifting, that marital urgency is still present.  We'd love to think that we in North America have moved beyond that - but 'partnering up' is still a big freaking deal.   But what happens after you've snagged that mate?  What happens when most of your life has been spent wanting to be seen as attractive to potential partners, what happens after that?  Do you just wake up one morning and not worry about it?  For that first year after Rissa was born - I was not a sexual being.  I was revelling in motherhood.  I really didn't care.  I was too exhausted to care.  It's only now, when I look at photographic and video evidence of that year that I find myself completely horrified.  What had happened to me?  Why was I dressed in sweat pants and baggy shirts?  Did I have no clue that dressing in larger clothes to camouflage baby weight just doesn't work?  I hated myself for caring.  My psyche probably should have shifted - except it hadn't.  Because I'd been conditioned for almost 2 decades to worry about how I looked.  And apparently you can just let that shit go or at least I couldn't.

And even though now, at the age of 45, I'm probably the most fit that I've ever been, I still worry about the extra 20 lbs that I should lose to be at my 'healthy' weight.  I look at my boobs in the mirror - noticing that the left one is slightly lower than the right one - I do my 'mock hunchback' to make them even.  My thighs, my strong and flexible thighs with their extra stores of fat at the top, would probably ensure my survival if my plane went down in the Arctic, but I don't care about that.  I CARE that when I wear stockings, I have  freaking huge bulgy divots in my thighs.  Sadly, it appears that I haven't evolved. Society doesn't tell us how to evolve from sex object to madonna.  In the new millennium, youth is where it's at.  You're not allowed to look 40 when you're 40.  You're not allowed to have lines on your face - smile lines are crow's feet.  Now you have to be a MILF - you have to be vital and sexy and desirable.  WHY?!?  My Mom didn't have to be a MILF.  Until last weekend, she didn't even know what a MILF was.  Thing was, my Mom still got dressed up, made an effort, was still sexy without even really working at it.  Why did it seem so difficult for me to do the same thing?

33 years.  From the age of 12 until now.  I have spent 33 years worried about how I look.  I have focused on what is deemed attractive, to the detriment of health and emotional well being. I have been brain washed by the beauty, fashion and media industries... and by... me.   I think that it's time to snap out of it.  Don't you?