When I was a kid in elementary school I never spoke up or offered my own opinions. I was the girl who always agreed with the popular kids to avoid any drama. In the early years of high school I rarely said anything at all – I was quietly trying to figure out who I was and what my place would be. As I became one of the senior students I was getting into a groove and I felt more comfortable with speaking my mind in select company.
When I got to college I was downright obnoxious about having my opinion heard and in university I had my good moments and some spoke up in bad and hurtful ways.
These days I am more zen about things. I write my opinion and my feelings, here and in notebooks (and on Twitter or Facebook), I think about things a lot more before deciding what I want to say and how – I frustrate my husband by sending him emails telling him things I can’t say out loud. I still have lively debates with friends and I enjoy them immensely, because I know there will be no love lost when we’re finished.
I know I have my father to thank for my ability to frame my argument, I had to back up everything, prove everything. He would never just accept even the most basic points of an argument. It was frustrating trying to make a point when I was 8, but now I see what he was doing. He never let me get away with anything.
That being said, there are things I avoid talking about because it’s not worth the argument. There are things I’m afraid to talk about here because I fear the backlash. Sometimes it’s not worth it.
And now even the most basic things are coming into question. How much do I censor myself and how much do I let fly? What do I say here for any audience that comes across it and what do I save for my journals? Do I want lively debate, or do I want a pleasant space where I can write and fear no reprisals?
Do I want to write here at all if I can’t be open about my life and my thoughts?
Which, of course, brings about the question of what I’m trying to accomplish with this blog and this website. Something I have been trying to figure out for some time. Primarily I am a writer, and this is my space to store my writing and share it with the people who know me and the people who have experiences similar to mine. I’d like to think that eventually people will come across my blog and start reading it the way I’ve starting reading the blogs of other women whose experiences struck a chord with me.
I hate Michael Ignatieff with a passion that is rare for me.
Generally I understand that people have different viewpoints and politicians have a lot of tapdancing to do, but Iggy just drives me completely up the wall.
It’s the arrogance.
I get the feeling that he only chose the Liberal Party over the Conservatives because he knew that Liberals are a better bet to be in government. He decided a few years ago that he was going to come back to Canada and become the leader of the Liberal Party and then become our Prime Minister. He was waiting patiently, but now he’s done being patient and he wants it all right now. He assumes that he would win an election no matter when it was held, despite evidence to the contrary. He tells Canadians that a Liberal majority government is best, all the while pushing us closer to a Conservative majority. It doesn’t matter that most Canadians barely know anything about him, or that he knows so little about a lot of national issues that he’s managed to put his foot in his mouth and we all get to watch him contradict himself when someone lets him know he made a mistake. (I point to the stand he took on asbestos, which he then reversed when one of his staffers told him that asbestos is still a major industry in Quebec).
It drives me crazy that he says “Let me be very clear” before double-talking his way into complete meaninglessness, and then when reporters ask the question again, he says “I have been very clear.”
Maybe what makes me most angry is that a majority of Canadians aren’t paying close enough attention to call him on it. Of course, the fact that a majority of Canadians aren’t paying attention is one of my biggest pet peeves. It seems as though a majority of Canadians also don’t understand the difference between a government and a parliament and how one is created out of the other.
I can’t blame people outside of Ottawa for not caring, not really, it’s hard to keep up with all the game-playing and bullshit, but the people who complain about the state of our politics without knowing how it all works or what’s really going on, the people who go to protests about things they clearly don’t understand (because if they understood, they wouldn’t be protesting…cough…coalition…cough), those people make me almost glad that our voter turnout is so low.
I wish there were someone out there, a level-headed person without an agenda who got media time to just call out the pundits and the politicians on their spin. I wish there were one person that I could watch without having to stop and speak to the television about the things they’re skimming over or leaving out entirely. I wish I had some role to play but I couldn’t avoid being called partisan or socialist or worse. (Please note, a socialist is not a communist is not a fascist. Socialist is also not a dirty word, neither is coalition).
I have my beliefs, and those beliefs happen to include the idea that politics should be accessible and that politicians and the media should make every effort to tell the truth, or at least as many sides to the truth as there are. It is not up to the media to decide whose voice matters, nor is it up to the Prime Minister.
ETA: Maybe we just need more people like this. He can rant better than me any day.
We’ve had multiple ultrasounds and seen her move around; We heard her heartbeat a few times; I feel her kicking me and moving around daily. For months I’ve been pregnant. Now I even look pregnant.
I’m tired and out of breath, a common cold knocks me off my feet for days, I wake up in the middle of the night with bad cramps in my legs, I have heartburn around the clock. I know that I’m pregnant.
But I still don’t entirely believe that in three months we will be coming home with a baby.
I’ve said before the birth doesn’t scare me much at all. I’m barely even thinking about it. I’ll make it through it, I have little doubt about that – or about how much I’ll doubt myself while it’s happening. It’s what comes afterwards: Having a baby, taking care of a baby, raising a child, raising a teenager, letting them go.
I’m worried about her and I’m worried about me.
What if I can’t breastfeed her? What if I can? Am I going to be able to handle all the poop and the throw-up and the spit-up? How am I going to handle not sleeping? What am I going to do when I want a break? How will we ever have a nice dinner out again? Or go to a movie?
What are we going to do when we disagree about what we’re doing? How are we even going to afford anything when we have to start paying for baby things and childcare?
I also never expected to be starting my family with my mother halfway across the country and his parents all the way across it.
My biggest fear is, and always has been, postpartum depression.
I’ve been struggling with clinical depression since high school and it has brought me to my knees on more than one occasion. I don’t know how I would handle all those symptoms while being the primary caregiver for my daughter.
I don’t know how I’m going to put someone else and their needs above my own, 100 per cent all the time.
I don’t get involved in many of these social media campaigns – Facebook activism as it’s often called, in which you join a group calling for an end to some atrocity or a ban on something and you’re done. I’d rather work on real things, behind the scenes, speak up when I feel the need, write about things and hope that I spread the word in some small way.
Alzheimer’s Disease is a whole different thing.
To me, Alzheimer’s isn’t just another cause, it’s a threat. A threat to my family and to my own well-being.
When I was a little girl, my dad used to take my sister and I to visit my Granny. Something you have to understand about my family is that my father was 13 years older than my mother – he was in his 50s when I was born – and my Granny was quite old when my Dad was born. When I was born Granny was already in her 80s and she was already suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
I hated going to visit my Granny. She was almost deaf, she and my Dad would have repetitive conversations since she couldn’t remember what they had already talked about, and I have my doubts that she ever knew who I was or how I was related to her. I don’t even know if she knew my Dad had divorced his first wife. She died when I was 8 or 9 years old.
After she died I sort of forgot about her and the disease that she had. After all, I never really knew her as a person, she was gone long before I had any consciousness of her.
And then I got to my last year of high school.
Something else it’s important to understand about my family: My parents separated when I was 3. Growing up my family as far as I was concerned was made up of my mother, my sister and my maternal grandparents. Tutu and Gramps were always around, always taking care of us and our mom. If you look back at the pictures I drew in Grade school, when I was asked to draw my family it was always a picture of the five of us. One Hallowe’en when I was in Grade 2 or 3 I decided that instead of Trick or Treating I would stay home with Tutu to hand out candy.
We took family vacations together, they took my sister and I to museums. One day Tutu took my cousin and me to the park near our house and I stepped on broken glass in bare feet – she carried me home. I was by no means a small child.
When I was 19 Gramps broke his leg and Tutu came to stay with us while he was in the hospital. It quickly became clear that something was wrong. Gramps eventually admitted that things had been right for longer than we realized. Soon Gramps was transferred to another hospital to recover and Tutu was admitted right along with him.
For three years I watched to of the most important people in my life struggle with taking care of her while she deteriorated. I grew to hate her for what she was doing to my mother. When she died in 2003 I didn’t mourn her – I already had. She hadn’t been herself for a long time.
I still have a lot of anger over this disease and the pain it caused all of us, but the anger is outmatched by the fear. I fear the day my mother starts showing signs, I fear the day I forget my husband, I don’t want to ever go through that again and I really don’t want to put anyone through it.
I’m not going to pretend that this disease is more important or more destructive that anything else out there, but I am going to use my little space here to draw a little attention to something that is very personal and very painful for me, and to draw attention to an interesting campaign http://www.1mtweets.com/ that allowed me to memorialize my Tutu as one of the millions affected by this disease.
Right now you are 13 weeks and 6 days away from being born according to the handy-dandy calculator I found online. (Of course, I expect that you will be a little late, that’s fine – Joe thinks you have a chance at being the New Year’s Baby, but we’ll see about that).
I am both eagerly anticipating and completely terrified of your arrival.
So for everything is going very well, the midwife and the ultrasound techs are always very happy with your progress. We’ve confirmed that you have two hands and two feet, your spine is all there and so is your brain. We know your heart beats at the right speed. Yesterday we even found out that you’re already sucking your thumb.
And then came the point when the techinician was trying to get a good look at your face. Your refused to turn over, even after I rolled around, and then you put your hand over your face. We had told the technician, who was a very nice lady who guided us through everything she was looking at, that you have a history of being difficult and stubborn. The last ultrasound we had you wouldn’t move at all to where they wanted you to be, and the last time the midwife tried to listen to your heartbeat we could hear you kicking the sensor.
And this stubborness and refusal to cooperate is what worries me.
It also worries me that when I talk to your grandmother about it, she laughs and says something about ‘what goes around comes around,’ or says “She’s going to be just like you,” in a less than friendly tone.
Now, as far as I know my mother generally enjoyed my childhood. I know she loves me and she’s amazed at the changes I’ve gone through and how I’ve ended up where I am. She tells me so. So, I’m not exactly sure where I went so wrong that she wished revenge on me through my own mothering experience.
Of course, while reviewing my childhood in my head, I do foresee some issues:
If you are just like me, you are likely to be occasionally overly dramatic and unlikely to ever hide your emotions (even in public); you are likely to be nervous a lot of the time and bad at speaking to or in front of people you don’t know; you will be a worrier; you will act strong be feel weak; you will question everything, especially yourself and your capabilities; you will have an obsession with office supplies, particularly pens (this won’t surprise me at all, I inherited it from my mother); you will be very bad at pretending you like people that you think are assholes; you will be a quiet, hard worker who wants to be good at everything; you will get very frustrated when something is hard for you to learn; and you will love you Daddy even though he embarasses you sometimes.
There are a few of these traits that I hope you do inherit from me, but there are most definitely some things Joe is much better at than I am, like acting friendly with people he hates or acting confident when he doesn’t feel that way. These are two things you would benefit from inheriting.
I am also excited to see what physical family traits you get. You could have red hair, but I’m assuming you will be a blue-eyed brunette since we both are. I think you’ll probably have straight hair, and I live in fear of curly hair since I’ve never had to deal with it. The Goddard and Marion noses will be fighting it out and I’m interested to see which wins. I guess I should apologize now for the state of your joints, since Joe and I both have knee problems and his ankles are in terrible shape too (you’re also pretty much guaranteed to be accident-prone – Sorry).
You will be tall, of this I have no doubt. Eventually you may be taller than me.
I think what I’m really waiting for is to see what feet you get. You could get the Forsyth feet (really long, really narrow, really difficult to fit), the Scanlon feet (really long but of normal width – the feet I was lucky enough to get, because I can walk into most stores and buy shoes), I know Joe has told me about his family’s feet (short and wide) but I don’t know if those come from his Mom or his Dad.
Overall I guess I’m excited to meet you, and excited to know you when you become a real, full-grown person with your own personality. I want to know what your passions will be and what of us you’ll reject. I’m excited about the conversations I’ll have with you and how I’ll get to watch you form your own opinion about things.
But we have a whole lot to get through before that, including breaking you of this thumb sucking habit you’ve already developed.
Today is September 11, 8 years later. I remember everything about that day and I’m writing it down so I will remember, I’m writing it down because someday my little girl will ask me where I was and what I did that day.
In September 2001 I was just starting my first semester of college. On Tuesdays we had pagination class from 9 to 11, and as we were all getting settled before class started one of the second years came in and told us they were hearing something about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. At this point they still thought it was a little propeller plane or something and that it was only an accident. She went on her way and we started class, learning about the Macs we were now using and all the keyboard shortcuts we would need to know to work efficiently in Quark.
At 10 am we took a break, and when we walked out into the hallway we found the world had changed forever.
Since I was in the print journalism program almost all my classes were held in what was called the media hallway of Loyalist College. Along the media hallway were televisions hanging on brackets, so the broadcast journalism students could watch the news or play the pieces they were producing for class. Starting that morning and for about two weeks afterwards those TVs were broadcasting CNN all day every day.
I started the break by walking over to one of those TVs, surrounded by my classmates, not knowing what had happened between the first news that a plane had hit and what I was about to see. I’m pretty sure the first tower collapsed just as I started watching. I went to the payphone down the hall and tried to call my mother. She wasn’t at her desk. All I could think was that there might be threats to Ottawa and that maybe her building was evacuated because it was one of the taller ones downtown.
And then they inexplicably and frustratingly called us back into class.
I doubt any of us learned anything in that second hour.
I didn’t have any classes between 11 and 1 and I spent those two hours watching the news and trying to reach my mother – until I finally reached my sister at home. She said Mom and her coworkers were gathered around a TV somewhere in the building and that everything was fine. Once I got off the phone with her, I called my Dad.
My Dad is a journalist, journalism professor and specializes in natural disasters. There haven’t been many times when I thought calling him would make me feel better, but that day it seemed perfectly natural that he would be the one to call. Despite being pessimistic about the whole event, the numbers likely dead and how much worse it could get, he did put things in perspective and calmed me down. He also told me that it was highly unlikely that anything would be attempted in Ottawa – not important enough.
By that time airspace across North America had been closed and the decision had been made to have fighter jets circling Toronto every hour on the hour. Those fighter jets just happened to come from CFB Trenton, about a fifteen minute drive from my school. Every hour those jets would fly overhead and startle us, and remind us.
At one o’clock we all filed in to our photo journalism classroom and sat down, waiting to be taught more things we weren’t going to remember, numb by that point. And my professor surprised my by sitting on his desk and looking out at us and asking: “Has anyone talked to you guys about what’s going on?”
I was so relieved that we would have two hours to talk to each other, to try and make some sense of things. At that point I don’t think any of us had considered what might come next. It was too scary to wonder what might come next.
When I look back at that day my actual memories are clouded a bit by what I know now. I know now that the event was precisely planned, I know that we were never in danger – my family and I. I remember that people flung themselves from the buildings thinking that falling was a better way to die than burning up, and I’m glad I wasn’t watching when they made that decision. I know that all the estimates of the number that would end up dead were wrong – some were off by tens of thousands. I know that there will always be conspiracy theorists looking for the ‘truth’ behing 9/11.
And I know that I will always flinch when this date comes around, and that I will always cry when I remember the pain of it – watching helplessly and with a total lack of understanding, thinking about those people and the decisions they had to make – try to run or accept your fate with the world watching. I will remember not knowing what was going to happen in the shadow of knowing now. And I will always think of this story and how little we can ever actually know.
I have been fascinated to learn how differently one is treated when one is clearly pregnant.
I have coworkers who are always asking me how I’m doing, how’s my health, is everything okay, how am I feeling. Which is nice, though a bit odd at times. Today I was even told that I look gorgeous – something I disagree with since I feel huge today and my skin is starting to break out (yay hormones!).
But the thing that has me feeling really good is this: This morning I got on the bus to get to work. It was standing room only and I simply can’t stand up on a hot bus for twenty to twenty-five minutes at this point. I have been fearing this moment for a while. How does one politely ask for the priority seat that they are supposed to get automatically, knowing full well that these people are unlikely to give up their seats for some stranger, pregnant or not.
I have always been a person who gets up when she sees someone coming down the bus aisle that looks like they might need a seat, but I have seen many instances of people just ignoring the elderly, disabled and pregnant – pretending that they don’t see.
And that is why I was so pleasantly surprised this morning when, after I got on the bus and walked to the priority seating and said, calmly and clearly,”Can I have a seat please?” not one, but all four of the people already seated started moving to let me sit down.
I was shocked and thankful that it was so simple.
But it brings to mind something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: What kind of world will my daughter grow up in?
I was raised to think about the people around me. Joe thinks the same way, and it’s one of the reasons we like each other, and also one of the reasons we get so frustrated daily. Before I do things – tilt my seat back on an airplane, turn up my music – I think about whether it will effect the people in the vicinity. Every day I watch as the people around me don’t take the people around them into consideration, and it makes me angry. Every time I drive somewhere, I see one of the other drivers on the road make a decision that could put someone’s life at risk because they feel that their arrival at their destination, or their phone conversation is more important than the faceless people in the other cars who can’t possibly be as important as they are. Every time I go to the mall, I see people who feel they are somehow too good to stand in line, or decide that they are creating a new line – and people who wait in line and abuse the sales staff for being so busy, no matter how efficient they are.
When we took our train trip to Toronto a couple of weeks ago I was amazed by the people who thought that their conversations were more important than other people’s quiet, that their cell phones were too important to go on vibrate (it rings once, they forgot, it rings four times, they’re thoughtless), and their video games and movies were more important than everyone else’s peace. I also had a woman’s head basically in my lap almost the whole way to Toronto.
I try to be a kind person most of the time. I try to look at the bigger picture, and be patient and understanding. I plan to raise my daughter to be as kind and patient and understanding – maybe more, because lord knows I could do better in some situations. But if the rest of the world is going the other direction, where will that leave her?
I don’t want her exposed to ridicule or mistreated or simply because she didn’t put herself first. I don’t want her to lose out on opportunities because she can’t be aggressive enough and everyone else is looking out for number one. I don’t know how to reach a balance for her.
This morning my husband and I awoke to find that we’ve both had our accounts on Twitter suspended. I have no idea why this has happened to me, and certainly no idea why it would happen to both of us at exactly the same time (we have figured out that the accounts were suspended as of about 2 o’clock this morning).
When I logged in this morning I got a bright red message on my home page telling me about the suspension with a link to see ‘Suspended Accounts’ for more information. What concerns me most is that on my home page I can see that my followers and following have been reduced to zero. I spent a very long time finding all the people I follow and I don’t want to lose any of them.
I filled in the request form explaining what was happening (a badly layed-out form which also asked me how I was feeling – I put ‘angry’). Immediately upon submitting the form I got an email from Twitter support explaining that my account had been suspended and outlining the several reasons they suspend accounts. For the record, I haven’t been spamming anyone, as far as I know I have never been blocked by anyone, let alone a large number of people, I don’t link to spammers or phishing sites, and so on, and so on.
The support email provided no real information and no real support. In fact, this completely unhelpful email was also Twitter declaring the issue closed and said I could reply to the email if I thought it was still a mistake. I do think it’s still a mistake and I replied with a polite but annoyed message saying as much – and immediately got another email from them in reply, saying that the email couldn’t be delivered because I was responding to a request that was now closed.
So I submitted another request, and another email and now things actually seem to be underway. I am looking forward to hearing an explanation for all this, though I doubt we ever will.
Joe and I both originally assumed this was a glitch, much like the complete breakdown of Twitter a few weeks ago, but when we did a little looking around it seemed as though we were the only ones of the people we know experiencing this particular glitch. And that’s what really bothers me. It’s just me and it’s just him and it feels as though we, personally, are under attack. When I think about it, it’s completely ridiculous. We don’t have enemies that I know of, and certainly not mutual enemies. And if we did have enemies I’m not sure why the focus would be getting us off Twitter.
Above and beyond the problems I’m having with Twitter support, I am getting more and more frustrated because twitter has become a very important resource for me. The people I follow are not just friends, people I find funny and interesting, and fellow knitters, they are reporters and politicians and people that keep me informed. Twitter has become an extremely important part of my job. There are a lot of things I find out about on Twitter before I find them anywhere else, and because my Twitter feed is made up of such short messages that it’s much easier to get through than my blog reader. My jobs carries many distractions with it, and anything I can read and understand quickly is a huge help.
Having a resource like this taken away with no explanation for no discernible reason and no real help with the problem (I’m still getting the message they’re working on it, and I’ve also heard these appeals can take days, and I have no guarantee of what state my account will be in if and when I get it re-instated), is increasing my frustration as the day wears on.
As I said to a coworker this morning – if it weren’t Beatles day, I would be hysterical by now.
A lot of the blogs I read talk about women’s issues and a lot of them have spent some time lately focusing on the some of the new TV shows coming out that have a focus on fat. Specifically fat ladies. I have read a lot about Drop Dead Diva and More to Love, though I’ve never seen either.
Most recently I was reading a couple of posts over at glamour.com, one about ‘fatism‘ and one about the picture of a ‘normal’ woman that they printed in the most recent issue. (I have some thoughts about that, but they’ve been expressed by other, more well-read people, so I’ll leave that alone.
On the shows about fat women, I have a few thoughts.
More to Love reminded me almost immediately of something that I noticed a few years ago. At some point when I was younger, I think before my teens, I started noticing something on TV and I couldn’t understand it. I would watch a variety of shows – Full House, The Cosby Show, Designing Women, Family Matters – and it occurred to me that all the white people were with the white people and the black people were with the black people and the two shall never meet. Every so often someone of a different race would show up on one of these shows (like Steve Urkel’s guest appearance on Full House or Adam Sandler’s short lived role as one of Theo’s friends on the Cosby Show), but they were never there for long.
As I got older I started paying more attention and slowly the races were allowed to mix as friends, but I noted that they were never allowed to date, and I couldn’t figure out why.
I’m noticing the same trend with fat people on television. On More to Love you have a bunch of plus-sized women fighting to get a plus-sized guy. The message they say they’re sending us is that fat women deserve love too. The message I’m getting is that TV execs finally realized that they had this whole market of people they weren’t yet humiliating, and that on TV, like still goes with like.
Now that I know I’m having a little girl (or will likely be having a little girl), I’m starting to think about the things I’ve lived through and everything that’s changed since I was a kid (and everything that hasn’t).
I’m already thinking about the music we’re going to play for her and the things we’re going to expose her to (I imagine there will be Saturday nights on daddy’s lap watching hockey and I know I’m going to take her swimming as soon as we’re allowed to so she can get the hang of the pool.
And I’m thinking about all the books that I read that helped me along and which of those I will pass along to her. I want her to devour books and I want to try and pass on the ones that I still love today.
The books I remember most from my pre-teen/teenage years were Paula Danziger’s. I read them all and loved them dearly, but when I take a moment to think about it, that may be because a lot of her characters had divorced parents or parents who were going through divorce. My parents were divorced and it helped to read about how other girls had gotten through it. Also the fact that her girls quite often had issues because of all the things they’d been through. I also appreciated Danziger because unlike Judy Blume, her characters didn’t always get their period in the middle of the book and weren’t necessarily overjoyed about it when they did. I loved Judy Blume but I hated that. I never understood what was thrilling about menstruation.
But, my little girl will have to read some Blume too. I think it’s a requirement of growing up female, there might even be laws. My choices would be Just As Long As We’re Together and Staring Sally J. Freedman as Herself.
I’m fairly certain that by the time she’s a teenager she will have already read the Fudge books (or had them read to her). I love the Fudge books.
I would also recommend the Anastasia Krupnik series by Lois Lowry. I will buy her Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach and The BFG. She will fall in love with Ramona Quimby the same way I did. She will have countless Robert Munsch books and hopefully the books on tape that are ten times better than the books themselves.
Of course, I want to get my hands on as much Gordon Korman as possible, specifically the Bruno and Boots series, though my favourite of his is Losing Joe’s Place.
I have no doubt that she will have her own library growing up, including the Anne of Green Gables series that I’m assuming will be a gift from her grandmother Christmas by Christmas – that’s how I got them all.
We’ll probably have to throw some Babysitters’ Club and Nancy Drew in there as well. I read them voraciously until I slowly started realizing that they’re all written by formula. I imagine that she will identify with Mary-Anne much like I did, because I picture her with brown hair and glasses just like me.
And I have told Joe that he will finally be forced to read the Harry Potter series when our daughter gets wrapped up in them, as I am sure she will, and I will do my best not to ruin it for her.
My real problem, I think, is the in-between books. I know what little kids love to read, and I know what older girls are interested in and what I can steer her towards, but I don’t know what to do with them when they are between picture books and real chapter books.
What were your favourite books as a kid? What do your young adults love to read?