Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Grilled Cheese, Anyone?

I don’t cook. I’m not saying that I can’t cook, although others have said that. After learning about fire safety at school, Benjy came home and asked us if we test our smoke detectors. Without missing a beat, Frankie declared, “Yeah, every time Mom cooks!”

Arthur is a wonderful chef. He loves to cook. When he’s home we eat well. When he’s not, well, we go out. That’s just the way it is. We eat out a lot when Arthur goes away on business. While stuffing fries in her mouth, Benjy once said, “I love eating out. When I’m big and my husband goes away, I’m going to eat out every day, too!”

In my defense, I can make basic things that don’t involve a lot of prep work, imagination, or forethought. I could grill chicken – if someone remembered to take it out of the freezer for me. I could make tacos if someone cut everything up ahead of time. But when I come home and Kung Pow Chicken, Almond Guy Ding, and sticky rice are simmering on the stove, I ask you, where is the incentive for me to learn more?

Friday, November 26, 2004

Sure Fire Good Movies

I have noticed that, for the most part, I can bet on some good video rentals just from taking the opposite advice from my eldest sister. If she absolutely hates a movie, there’s a good chance that I’ll like it. I like movies that are well-acted, original, with interesting characters and it doesn’t matter to me if it has a happy ending – it just has to be a good ending. I'm not saying that she has no taste in movies, I'm just saying it's not the same as mine.

Here are some nuggets that I’ve been able to uncover based on her opposite advice:

  • Moulon Rouge
  • 28 Days Later
  • Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
  • Kill Bill
  • Lady Killers
  • Adaptation
  • Being John Malkovich

Sadly the opposite is not true – she often likes movies that I also like. So, if she says a movie is good, I can’t assume that it’s not. Unless it includes Steven Segal or The Rock in the cast. Then, I just have to say no.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

To Ask or Not To Ask

I have a fairly petty question:

If you go out to lunch with a co-worker, and they come up short for the bill, how long should you have to wait for them to pay you back?

I guess it's because I was brought up with good old Catholic guilt, but I figure I wouldn't leave it for more than a couple of days. It's been a week, and they've never even acknowledged that they remember they owe it.

Or should I just assume that they'll get the bill next time?

I'm such a weenie.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

My Big Fat Obnoxious Cross Dresser

A former colleague of mine recently began the process of gender reassignment. I can't imagine that this is an easy thing to do - especially for him, er her, as she's a largish programmer that works with a lot of intolerant small town guys. She has to spend the next year as a woman before she can undergo surgery.

At first I thought it was a joke, but I've had enough conversations with people from the company (and her) to realize that it's serious. Not to make light of the situation, but can you image if it was an elaborate hoax? What if she had cameras everywhere and it was some kind of reality tv series in the making? Like My Big Fat Obnoxious Transexual?

Whenever I would see reality tv series like Punk'd I used to always wonder why these people aren't more suspicious - I mean come on! A naked guy walking around in a clothing store? A beautiful, wealthy girl marrying a totally obnoxious unattractive loser? Give me a break!

But then something like this happens, and you realize that to ask them if they're filming a tv reality show would be somewhat insensitive to an already delicate situation. Live and learn.

When bad things happen to good people

Heh. Heh. Heh. My job is so boring compared to Arthur's. Things like this never happen to me. And I am eternally grateful.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Cat Mastermind

Arthur and I have a policy about toys on the main floor. If we find them, they’re ours. Arthur takes the policy more seriously than I do. If he finds the toys, he hides them in spots the kids would be hard-pressed to uncover. If I come across toys, I usually just throw them in the laundry basket of clean clothes that will be making its way up to their rooms anyway.

On the weekend, I found my 4-year old daughter’s beloved stuffed animal (an orange tabby named Maddie) under the kitchen table, along with an empty Halloween bag. I stuck Maddie in the Halloween bag and put her on the dryer. Yesterday I gave the bag, (with Maddie’s head sticking out) to my daughter and told her to put her things away.

She looked in the bag, and exclaimed. “Awww. That’s so adorable. She’s so sweet.” Then she looked at me, like a doting mother when her child has done something amazingly cute, and said “This was Maddie’s idea, wasn’t it?”

Friday, November 19, 2004

School Yard Love

Unfortunately, Frankie and P.’s relationship couldn’t pass the test of time. He reported to me last night that they were “on and off” throughout both recesses on Wednesday, but they were unable reconcile their differences. She finally called it off for good before the school bell rang that afternoon.

Sniff. I guess I can shelve my plans to help her pick out china patterns.

On a brighter note, Frankie was able to work through his five stages of grief fairly quickly, and by Thursday afternoon, he and A. were a new “item”. He wants to invite her and her friend over on Saturday. He noted, “Two girls, Mom. Two. Girls. That’s better than one.”

My suspicions are confirmed. He’s like his father. When I say that in his single days, Arthur was experienced, I mean that he was experienced by a large population of females.

I now see that we should be counting down the time to the condom talk in months rather than years.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

A band aid on a sucking chest wound

A short segment on Tuesday’s CBC news about the return of Band Aid (this time for the people of Sudan) articulated the grey swirl of thought that’s been bumping around in my head for years: we can’t treat the third world like a stray dog that we feed when we see it wallowing in the rain. One of the leaders of the Pan African movement hit the nail on the head when he said “How can we be a partner in globalization when we produce what we do not consume and consume what we do not produce? The Western world slaps us in the face with one hand and then offers us a handkerchief to wipe our tears with the other.” (I’ve tried to find a link to the exact quote, but of course I can’t find it).

I think what Band Aid is doing is great, in fact I get teary-eyed whenever I think about it. But the fact of the matter is that we (the Western nations) exploit third world countries for labor and resources, turn a blind eye to their poverty, are sporadic at best in our peace keeping efforts, and truly do our best to avoid thinking about their sorry state of affairs.

It’s wonderful that there are private organizations that are trying to help African nations help themselves, but these efforts should be coming from our governments, and the corporations that utilize their resources. Moreover, the governments of these countries should be held accountable by the UN for their barbaric treatment of their citizens. What gets global attention and what doesn’t appears to be at the mercy of the media and whether or not the nation is question is part of the Western world’s global strategy. For every Rwanda or Congo atrocity that we hear about, 10 more go unreported. And any aide or peacekeeping efforts are sporadic at best, mostly due to how hamstringed the UN is in its policies.

What do we do? Tough question. We’re so immune to their suffering now, that it’s hard to imagine anything we are capable of doing helping. But you have to agree that it’s fundamentally wrong that these human beings are starving, wallowing in poverty, and being subjected to brutal violence while we’re wondering how we’re going to be able to afford to upgrade to the 2005 Ford Freestyle. So I ask, what do we do?

And don’t tell me that it’s not our problem – because that’s how things stay the same or get worse. People change things, the nebulous “they” don’t.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Happy Birthday to Poo!

Every evening before dinner we can hear the happy sound of "Happy Birthday to You" being sung by our children through powder room door. No, it's not their birthdays (well, I guess twice a year it's one of theirs, but that's not the point), and no, they're not serenading their poo (at least I hope not).

Rather, this has been our most successful campaign to get our children to wash their hands for the requisite amount of time. They now cleanse their hands for as long as it takes them to sing Happy Birthday twice. They insert the name of a different person in the appropriate place holder every night (last night it was Uncle Bob), and they think it's hilarious.

Monday, November 15, 2004


"Is this a milestone birthday?" I asked my co-worker this morning.

"Naw. Just another notch in the long, slow grind of the thirties," he replied.

Thanks for the chuckle, R.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Hope Springs Eternal

While sitting in the waiting room of my daughter's dance class, I thumbed through home decorating magazines. I absolutely love them. They're so full of potential. They give me hope that I could have a house with a fully decorated and organized laundry room, French antiques in the foyer, a room specifically designed for gift wrapping, and a living room whose central focus is not the television.

Sadly, this is not my life. And every time I read these magazines (and it's often), I begin to realize how many people don't have children. Clearly, these homes cannot be inhabited by whirlwind furniture destroyers. I do not, and could not own, an antique, pointy-edged mahogany coffee table. I have a highly-scratched veneer jobbie that opens at the top (so I can throw all our mess in it when company comes over), purchased along with my groceries at the local Zehrs. My ultra suede couch was purchased, not because it looks like suede, but because it repels purple popsicle stains. When company comes over, I have to scrub the toothpaste spit off the bathroom mirror and close the kids' bedroom doors.

But the magazines give me hope. Hope that someday (we'll be paroled in 14 years) I might be able to have furniture that is coaster-worthy. Ah, to dream!

Friday, November 12, 2004

Rumor Has It

We happened to rent A Mighty Wind last night. Very funny. I love Bob Balaban's character. In fact, I have liked just about everything this guy does.

When he played NBC executive Russell Dalrymple (based on Warren Littlefield) on Seinfeld many moons ago, friends had told me that he was, in fact an NBC executive that liked to appear in sitcoms and dabbled in movies. Of course, I shouldn't have believed them, but I did. Now I realize that this misconception was born from the fact that Balaban played Warren Littlefield in The Late Shift. Funny how urban legends begin.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

This is not happening to me

"No, Mom. We're not dating, we're just boyfriend and girlfriend." Frankie insisted.

"Which means you're dating." I replied.

"We don't go anywhere and we don't talk to each other. We're just boyfriend and girlfriend." he explains.

"Oh." I reply.

Then he hits me with it. "What colour do you think our kids will be?"

At 33, I am not old enough to be having this conversation with my son.

"Is this something you need to worry about right now?" I ask with trepidation, "If I recall correctly, you are only nine."

"MOM!" he complains, turning pink in the face, "I'm just asking a question. Because P. is black and I'm white."

"Hypothetically, you're children would be a colour in between you and your, ahem, girlfriend." I replied.

Excuse me. I have to go stick my head in the oven now.

Found this in my inbox this morning:

Hello MINI enthusiast,

We've devised a short experiment to find out what makes you tick.

So please turn up your speakers, (or put on your headphones if you're at work) and follow this link to begin the treacherous road trip into your mind:


Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Good Night, John Boy

I don't know about you, but when the electricity goes down in our neighbourhood, I get kind of excited. Last summer when everyone on the eastern seaboard lost their lights, there was just a cool buzz going on. Everyone sat on their porches, had a drink and kicked back. People were outside for a change, talking, interacting, and basically, just living.

I think it has something to do with the fact that when you lose power, you have to put away your crazy everyday life and go into survival mode. You have to actually live a real life for a few hours. I felt the same way last week when we lost power for an hour. We lit candles, and huddled around the kitchen table playing board games.

Mind you, I'm sure I wouldn't have felt that way if I was part of the ice storms that hit Nova Scotia and Quebec in the past - knocking out their power for weeks. But in little doses, I find it very exciting and fun to have to resort to interacting with family and friends and putting my everyday life aside.

In fact, Arthur and I both agree that we're going to institute a night once a month where we're "electricity-free". I think we'll leave the furnace on, but no one can use the lights, the power outlets, or anything like that. We'll have to do things by candlelight and make our own fun. I'm really looking forward to it. How crazy is that?


Look's like Wheelson got hacked. Hope you are able to put things right soon, buddy. That sucks so amazingly. Too bad hackers are bent on destruction instead of making the world a nicer place. Good luck, Wheelson. I''m thinking of you today.


Monday, November 08, 2004

Ahhh. The Hummer H2. It has all the pretension without any sophistication.

"I just want to be normal." Ha!

So, Frankie Mouse had his first introduction to church via a 2-hour Pentecostal service last night.

It was time for his friend to go home, but M. didn’t want his fun with Frankie to end. So, M. asked him to come to church with him. Frankie made few pretensions about his disinterest in the whole thing, but M. wore him down with talk of treats and a special kid’s class. I could tell Frankie didn’t want to go, and I gave him an out with the discussion of too much homework, but Frankie either didn’t get the insinuation, or didn’t want to hurt M.’s feelings. In the end, he reluctantly agreed. It was a good learning experience for him, I think.

When M.’s parents dropped him off, Frankie went on about what a great time he’d had, until I shut the door. Then he looked at me the way only 9-year old boys can, and shrugged. “I didn’t want to hurt M.’s feelings. It was ok, but it wasn’t awesome. I don’t want to be a Christian, though – I just want to be normal.”

I have to laugh. Frankie thinks Atheism is the norm*. I guess, why wouldn’t he? It’s what he’s always known. And, while most of his friends’ families aren’t atheists, they’re not reading scripture at the dinner table. Among his friends, no one wears their religion on their sleeves. This is not the norm in our town, though. We live in a small community with a rather large, self-righteous, and evangelical Dutch Christian Reform population so I’m constantly amazed at my children’s relative immunity to religious influence up to this point.

I don’t mind them learning about Christianity or any other religion or culture for that matter – I think it’s important, especially when you live in middle-white suburbia, which is, quite frankly, devoid of any real culture. We used to live in a predominantly Indian and Pakistani neighbourhood, and that was great, both in terms of opening our eyes to other cultures and religions, as well as bountiful gastric delights.

We’re attempting to raise tolerant children with a moral ethic that isn’t tied to religious beliefs. To date, we’ve been relatively successful, although this “I just want to be normal” business might say otherwise. I think kids are innately tolerant, and it’s only through interference that they become close-minded.

If they want to choose a religion when they’re older, I have no strong conviction against it – I just don’t want it to be because they were born into it and were never taught that there were other doctrines of thought out there. Certainly some type of God is as plausible as anything else, even if I don’t believe in it personally.

*Frankie and I checked out some stats in his world religions book, and if you include Atheists with Agnostics, and Secular or Non-Religious folks, it’s the 4th largest population, behind Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. There’s apparently more atheists than Buddhists or Jews, though, which I found surprising. I guess the world really is going to hell in a hand basket.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

What Fresh Hell is This?

Sigh. I was going to write a post about how poorly my professional life seems to be going at the moment, but even I find that topic boring and self-indulgent. Instead, I'm going to share some of my novel - mid-stream as it is, inspired by recent work-related events.
This bit is about 1/3 of the way through the novel. A neurotic, unhappy project manager in an unethical, male-dominated software company has had a very bad day at work. With any luck, I won't have to tell you that it's supposed to be funny. My working title is "What Fresh Hell is This?" inspired by the intrepid Dorothy Parker.

"Stupid jerk," I mutter to myself before I even realize that I'm still rolling this mess around in my mind, turning it over and over, and poking at it in all the really tender spots. Just stop thinking about it. Go to your Zen place. But it's too late. A whole new indignation washes over me and I feel sorry for myself all over again. I can feel my emotions welling up, starting just below my esophagus, climbing up my throat and puffing up my nose. Now my eyes are all teary and I'm choking on my self-pity. I feel the need to sit and have a good cry in the middle of downtown traffic. A therapeutic, self-indulgent bawl in front of traveling strangers.

What in particular is making you so upset? I ask myself. I stop and think about it a moment. I sigh. I don't really feel like trying to figure that out - better just to stop crying. It works every time! I let out a last whimper and resign myself to grabbing some control. "I know you so well!" I say to myself. That makes me smile. There. That's better. I am composed and in control. I am not a product of my emotions.

I collect myself and continue driving. I think about my day with Maddie tomorrow. We shall do all things Girl and be pink-clad divas. We will go shopping for new outfits, have lunch at Blue Ginger, and buy (and eat) expensive, extravagant chocolate using her father's credit card. If there is time, we will have a manicure. Last, despite her father's trepidations, we will get our ears pierced. I am secretly relieved that I'll have someone to go with, especially Maddie. If it hurts, I won't be able to cry in front of her.

"Who the fuck does he fucking think he is, that spoiled, arrogant asshole?" Oh dear. I've caught myself thinking about it again.

What in particular is making you unable to let it go? I ask. But I know that its not going to work this time. And I don't really want it to work. If I want to cry, goddamn it, I'm going to cry.

"Because they're all assholes!" I shout out loud to no one in particular. "And maybe I suck too! "

Excuse me? I'm sorry, where did that come from?

Too late. I'm all phlegmy and weepy again. I'm relishing it now. I wipe my nose on the back of my sleeve. "That's right." I whimper, "Maybe some of this is my fault. I'm undependable and not proactive."

I'm really sobbing now. I know I'm half right. I am so incredibly unsuited for this job. I don't even like it. But they're the ones who promoted me. They're the ones who believed in me. How could they just throw everything at me and expect me to catch it all? Maybe it's a test. And I'm failing. Utterly, utterly failing.

Well, they'd all really miss me if I was suddenly hit by a large truck because I can't see where I'm driving through the tears, or I keeled over from a stress-induced heart attack! Or, or, my plane crashes down in the middle of Lake Michigan while I'm flying to clean up failed project in Chicago. I'm on a roll now. My nose is all snotty and I'm finding it difficult to swallow.

And then they'd all come to my funeral and they'd feel really bad. Hmmm. I wonder who would come? My mom, of course. And Arthur. And my sisters, and their husbands. And my cousins. And maybe my university pals. Maybe my neighbors. And the programmers. Hmmm. Probably. And everyone from work. And if I died on a Monday, they'd have to have the funeral on a weekday so they'd have to close the place down so everyone could come. Thousands of dollars in lost productivity just because they couldn't treat me with a little dignity and respect. That makes me smile. Now that I've figured out my guilt-inducing revenge plot, all is right with the world.

Now, if I could just make them feel bad without actually dying, that would work out much better for me.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


In the house next door is the ultra right-wing Bible-thumping doofus who's made it through life by riding his father's coat tails and making shady deals with shady types. He doesn't take care of his lawn, and he doesn't care how what he does on his property affects the rest of the block. Of the entire block, only a couple of houses actually like him (and they're assholes too).

We thought he was moving out and that a new guy was moving in. He wasn't the perfect neighbour by any stretch - way more protectionist, but at least we could trust and respect him. He'd take care of his lawn and make sure the people he lives with get the things they need - like an education and healthcare when they need it.

Looks like the deal isn't going to go through and we're going to be stuck with this asshole of a neighbour for 4 more years. It could be worse though - at least I don't have to live there with him. God help the people that do.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

More Gmail Invites

Good grief. I'm not really feeling like part of an exclusive club anymore. Google's been throwing me invites like they're gross little leftover halloween candy corns. Anybody need a Gmail account? I've got 6 and, sniff, no friends that want one.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Lotsa Treats!

It’s official. We served 220 Trick-or-Treaters last night. Whew.

FYI: I’m working many, many hours this week, so you likely won’t hear from me till later this month.