Glasses, Braces, Dirty Laundry and Poop

I need new glasses. I’m painfully far-sighted, and can absolutely not focus on anything closer than 2 feet away from my face. By contrast however, I have superhero powers when it comes to faraway things. My mom always screams when I can read a street sign 3 blocks away. Like it’s a trick. And I’m not joking, she screams, it really alarms her, like I’m abnormal or something. This phenomenon is probably best dissected in a whole separate post.

I was always proud of my 20/20 vision like it was some sort of personal accomplishment. Every trip to the eye doctor, I’d hear, “Nope, perfect.” It was kind of disappointing actually, because as a kid I always really wanted glasses. I also really wanted braces, which I did get. And not just braces, but also a headgear. My best friend in grade 5 and I were thusly doubly-blessed at the same time, kind of like braces/headgear twins, and it was awesome. One time I slept over at her place and she cut my headgear off in her sleep. She’d also go downstairs and have whole conversations with her grandfather while sleepwalking that she wouldn’t remember the next day. Not her dead grandfather ghost or anything, her real-live grandfather. Still, sleeping over at her house always ensured there would be some crazy-ass story to tell the next day.

A few years ago I started having a hard time at my computer or reading a book, and the doc finally said it was time – I needed glasses. He actually said my vision was suffering from years of staring at a computer 8 hours a day at the office. And that it would correct itself if I say, moved to Hawaii for a year and didn’t look at a computer. I tried for an extended medical leave with my boss, which did not fly.

Anyway,when Lucky (our dog) was really new we had to watch her like hawks, because if we took our eyes off her for even a second, she’d seize the opportunity to get into the most trouble she possibly could in the briefest time possible. Once, I was distracted in the kitchen for about 4 minutes, and realized she wasn’t following me around. I found her wagging her tail at me so hard her whole bum was wagging, sitting on the landing. Not even the good sense to remember what she’d just done and the heck she was about to get. I went up to my room, and found my beautiful $600 prescription specs lying on the floor, splayed like there should be a chalk-drawing around them. I started whispering to myself, “They’re all right, they’re all right, they’re all right,” like a crazy person in a crazy person movie. I lifted them to my face and they sat on my nose at a 45 degree angle and so I tried to twist them back into shape, all the while sing-song whispering, “They’ll be all right, they’ll be all right,” then I noticed that one of the lenses had a puncture in them, like one of my son’s miniature soldiers had fired a miniature-soldier-like bullet through it. So fine, I was snapped out of denial and rendered them un-useable. And the dog still was butt-wagging at me, saying “Yeah! Check those out! They’re super fun.”

I don’t get what winds dogs’ clocks, as it were. She can’t get enough of dirty underwear, dirty socks, used hairbands, eyeglasses…you know, anything that smells like…body. You’ll never be able to interest her in freshly laundered stuff or brand new hair accessories. And you know what else? She’s grown out of this, but she also used to eat her poop. I know. She’d poop, then she couldn’t turn around fast enough to eat it up. I told Lisa this once, and she said, “Oh thank god! My dog’s not the only one!” Whyyyyyy are dogs so gross.

Anyway I never got new glasses right away because the 2-year period that my health plan covers eyewear for wasn’t up, so I just managed, until I found reading glasses at Costco at $17 for 3 pairs. They’re not super-duper and anti-glare and all that stuff like my old glasses, but come on. At that price, I encourage the dog to get them.

So now the 2-year period is up and I can go get a new prescription again. Have you noticed the latest trend in eyeglasses? Everyone’s walking around with those really thick black frames. I almost laughed the first time I saw someone wearing them, because they looked just like my kids, when they take the 3D glasses after going to the movies and pop the lenses out and wear the glasses TO BE FUNNY. But these people are actually serious. And EVERYBODY’s wearing them. I won’t. And mostly because with my prominent brows, my face would be just too much to look at if I wore them.

Sweet. I can now cross off “Discuss poop in a blog post” from my bucket list.


Horses and Bayonets

Last Sunday night there was a couple of hours between the time the kids got picked up by their dad and when the boyfriend was due to arrive, which coincided beautifully with a break in the torrential downpour we’d been having for days.

DAYS. The previous Thursday my company had a visitor from out of town (the southern States), who said, “You know, back home, we have rain, but it might rain a few times a day, for a few minutes at a time.” I remember places like that. Here, however, when it rains, it pours. And pours and pours and pours. Non-stop. No stopping. It can continue for days. It hardly rained at all here for months, and everything was so dusty and brown and gross that I found myself wishing for a little precipitation in spite of my genetic preference for dry, sunny weather. Anyway, I got my wish.

So it wasn’t raining. And I decided to take the dog up to the dog-friendly park for a good solid session of fetch, and tire her right out. We played and played, and when she started getting tired she kind of wandered around and played with the other dogs for a bit, so I engaged in some conversation with the other owners up there. I was talking to one guy, he’s a neighbour and has a dog almost exactly Lucky’s age so they play together a lot and now he’s like a pal of mine. Jeff. He’s from Newfoundland and I asked him if he knows my co-worker Wayne who’s also from Newfoundland. He said, “Yeah, I know Wayne!” but then he said of course he didn’t, they don’t all know each other. I’m not letting up on this, I’m sure they know each other somehow.

So anyway I was talking to Jeff the Newfie about something undoubtedly amazingly interesting and then my ear slammed into the grass. You see, I was looking at Jeff, who was kind of at my say, 3 o’clock, so I was sideways and looking back at him. And Finnegan and Luna (2 mid-sized dogs) were racing each other and coming at me at my say, 9 o’clock, and not looking where they were going, and took me right out at the knee. I went flying and slammed into the ground. First thought was, “I’m not getting back up. Uh oh uh oh uh oh.” Then I tried my leg, and was able to bend the knee and wiggle the foot so I knew it wasn’t broken but OH MY GOD it hurt so bad. Poor Jeff, he was asking me if he could help me but all I could think about was the pain and I was making sounds I’ve only ever made once before: during labour. Like I cared. The pain was that bad. Like that time I was in labour and went to the hospital after being in the shower for an hour at home and was wearing only a robe and started stripping it off in the waiting room. There are times when nothing matters but the pain, certainly not shame. So anyway I was making these monster/labour sounds then decided, I have to get up. I have to see if I’ll ever walk again. So I did, proclaiming loudly how I felt just fine and would be just fine and hobbled my whole way back home with Lucky. The pain was actually progressively worse with every step.

My next door neighbour, who is a hockey coach, saw me on my way back and said – “Uh oh. This is a classic hockey injury,” and worried it was my ACL. All I could think about was my beloved Andrei Markov. My neighbour and his wife helped me, then my boyfriend arrived and took over, and then everything was a terrific combination of painkillers, wine, ice packs and TLC.

The next morning it was no better but I found that as long as I was moving around it felt okay so I got dressed for work like usual and went in. One of my co-workers asked me what had happened, because I was limping, and I told him the story.  He said, “By the way, only YOU would still wear 3-inch heels when you’re limping.” To which I replied, “Excuse me, just because I’m injured doesn’t mean I have to be ugly!”

So I was hurt on Sunday, and after every single person I encountered asking me what had happened and following that up with giving me hell for not having seen a doctor yet, I finally went to the doctor on Tuesday afternoon. She was pretty nice. I told her how it was so weird, after getting slammed into like a brick wall, my knee wasn’t even swollen or bruised. Then my pants came off and of course it was BLACK and swollen so much it was SHINY. But it wasn’t that morning – or the previous evening or whenever was the last time I actually looked at it.

Anyway, I also have this mole/bump thing on my leg that has been there forEVER and I always forget to ask about it when I go to the doctor. As a matter of fact, just this past summer both my mom and my friend Lisa asked me about it, on separate occasions, and told me to get it looked at. Actually, Lisa pointed at it and said, “What is that, cancer?” So I finally asked about it, since my pants were off and I was at the doctor’s and everything.

She took one look and said, “Oh that, that’s a (not sure the word-probably something Latin), it’s nothing to worry about.” Me: “Oh, good, I’ve been worried about that for a while! So you’re sure it isn’t….” Her: “No, no, no, it’s fine, totally benign, it’s basically just an age spot.”


I texted Lisa while hobbling up to the x-ray place and gave her the update, including the doctor’s parting insult. When I got back to the office, she laughed and reminded me about the time about 6 years ago when I was at the Bay and getting some concealer from the Clinique lady. She asked what eye cream I used. Well, I didn’t, so I sputtered, “I don’t…I’m not…I don’t need…” and she put her hand on my arm and said, “Dear…it’s time.” Well, I still don’t use eye cream so…I don’t know WHO the joke is on, so there.

Anyway I got my x-ray, will get the results back soonish, and there may be an MRI in my future as well as physio, you know, for in my spare time. The worst part of this whole thing has been explaining how the injury happened. It takes 1111 words, apparently.

The second-worst part is taking the stairs. Bending the knee is still too hard so I have to put the bad foot down, then the good one. Taking the stairs takes about 5 times longer, and I’m reminded of when my babies were learning the stairs. And did I mention 5 levels in my townhouse? FIVE.

P.S. I called this one Horses and Bayonets because it’s one of the best things I’ve heard all year. Only reason. I know it’s misleading.

That’s it, that’s the update for now.

The Summer Olympics

I have today off work to make a 4-day long weekend with B.C. Day on Monday. The weather is spectacular and I offered to take the kids to the beach today, but they opted to stick around here and play with their neighbourhood friends, that’s cool, I still have some painting and various DIY projects to do. I’m halfway through MAKING a screen for our kitchen window. It’s stupid hard.

So of course, I’m sitting and having a Strongbow and watching some of the summer Olympics.

The summer Olympics are not my thing, okay. I’m Canadian, well, I’m Chilean, but I’ve also been Canadian for a very long time and watching sports on grass or unfrozen water has never turned my crank. But Canada is there, and it’s the Olympics, for god’s sake, so it will be on all the time until it’s over.

Right now it’s track and field, or Athletics as it’s now called for whatever reason. They’re doing high jump. I could never do that, I was good at shot-put and also the long jump, but the high jump is something I could never come close to figuring out how to clear that bar.

In fact, I was once in a private school when my family lived in Ecuador for a year when my dad was on an assignment for SNC. I think I was in grade 4. I hated that school. We all knew Spanish but the parents decided to put us in an English speaking school. It was actually a U.S. Missionary school. Jesus Christ. They were horrible, horrible people. My teacher had these enormous front teeth with a huge gap in between that transfixed me. I can’t remember learning anything that year because all I could do was stare at her and wonder how she managed with that huge gap in her teeth. I wore a retainer at the time, and they would give me this wax to put on the retainer so it wouldn’t scrape the inside of my mouth. I always thought she should use some to fill that GAP IN. I did learn one thing from her that I never forgot: she was from Missouri, and you guys, it’s actually not pronounced Mizzurry. It’s pronounced Mizzurrah. Which is ridiculous.

Anyhow that horrible woman once caught me calling another girl “spider face”. I don’t know what it means, but obviously I was a wildly creative child. I don’t remember what the other kid did to piss me off, but it seemed an appropriate name to call her. Anyhow, Mrs. Aker (from Mizzurrah) decided that merited a paddling. A PADDLING. On my BUTT. Jesus Christ. I never told my parents she did that, but I talked about it later with my older brother and it turned out he got that treatment once too. They must have really hated these heathen, Canadian-Chileans.

So it was sports day and it was time to do the goddamned high jump. Hate. Mrs. Aker was standing by one of the posts, encouraging all the kids on and pretending she was some kind of nice lady. It got to be my turn, of course I didn’t clear the bar, I knocked it clear off the posts. So as I was scowling and walking away, everyone started freaking out and I turned around.

You guys, I had knocked the bar so hard, it actually toppled one of the posts and guess what: it FELL ON MRS. AKER’S HEAD AND KNOCKED HER OUT COLD. Of course I was horrified, but mostly because all these nice Christian kids and all the holy Jesus teachers that came running to help accused me of doing it on purpose. I was creative, but not that creative. For the rest of the year, I was that horrible godless child who knocked out the paddle deliverer. No matter how much I denied it or explained that it was just an extremely fortunate coincidence. I carry the stupid guilt of knocking that woman out to this day, even though I didn’t actually intend to. I think that’s when I decided for real that the whole religion and god thing was definitely not for me, although I’m sure I hadn’t really contemplated it before that event, either.

And that’s all I have to say about the Olympics.

P.S. Mrs. Aker was totally fine. She came to quickly, no permanent damage. Although if I’d knocked her front teeth out and she got cosmetic surgery and filled that gap, she’d probably be thanking me.

Lose/Win Situations

The complex I moved into last October gets interestinger and interestinger.

We moved in October 1st, from a 2-bedroom apartment to a 3-bedroom townhouse. The apartment was like some New York City building, not in its surroundings or sophistication, but more in that neighbours really didn’t know each other. I mean, we knew our friends two floors up; my friend and her husband who bought their place after they saw mine and liked the building, and there was no avoiding getting to know the busy-body neighbour who was always spying on everyone and reminding the rules of the building whenever you bent them, causing one to believe the guy must have had secret cameras trained in every room of the building, and of course I unwillingly had no choice but to get to know the single dad down the hall, who always seemed to be in the hall at the same time I was, and when he wasn’t jawing my ear off bitching about his ex-wife he was escorting different scantily-clad ladies to and from his apartment. No judgment.

So anyway, we basically didn’t know any neighbours. Here, however, I got to know about 100 neighbours in the first week after moving in. This because we had a two-month old puppy that I had to take outside roughly every 20 minutes during the largely unsuccessful potty-training phase (that lasted roughly 6 months and is now 100% successful – time to rip out these carpets and put in floors because even though those pet cleaning products seem very convincing on their labels, they don’t work worth a crap or I’m doing something wrong), and happily, oodles and oodles of neighbours also have dogs.

So for the first couple of months, as it works in doggy-owner circles, I was not known as Veronica, but “Lucky’s Mom”. Whatever – I overlooked that no one learned my name because even though I was told everyone’s name and their dog’s name, I retained none of them. I have a serious problem retaining Anglo names. If everyone were a Francisco or Alejandro or María Cecilia, I’d know them all. I still call my neighbour Shelly, Stacey. Or maybe her name is Stacey and I call her Shelly. I’m not sure – but she never seems to care. Wait – I think her name is Sandy. So they can go ahead and keep calling me Lucky’s mom.

Anyway, everyone’s super nice, and every time I’m out, someone is also out and we chit-chat. There are like 300 houses in this complex, and the 20 or so families on my street all know the kids, the dog and me, and though it took getting used to not having the anonymity and privacy we had at the condo, I quite like this new setup and can knock on anyone’s door for a cup of sugar, as it were, just like in a Brady Bunch episode. It’s great. Our very-next door neighbours, whom we met on the very first day, even have a key to our place and they are absolutely lovely.

Okay, so it’s not all perfect (I’m sorry you guys, this isn’t what this post is even going to be about but I wanted to give some background). One of the reasons we bought this place was because of the green space behind our house. It’s perfect for the dog. All the neighbours down our stretch don’t have fenced yards, so it’s wide open. And this dog of ours needs tons of exercise daily or she bounces off walls. It’s my understanding this phase only lasts about 2 years (OMG). So recently, rather than walking the dog to the dog park (an exercise in frustration, as she’s always so super excited to GET to the park that she pulls and strains on the leash, and as a result I have to stop her every single step and make her sit like a good girl so she learns not to pull, then she gets up and pulls again, and what should be a 10 minute walk usually turns into a 20 minute walk, by the end of which I’m ready to pull my hair out (JK – I would never go that far. I love my hair. I’m like Samson).

So recently, rather than taking her to the park, I just slip out our back door and throw the ball down the stretch for her 20 or 30 times and she gets exhausted, and she is happy, and I am happy, and everyone is happy. The neighbours even come out on their balcony and watch, and we chit-chat and catch up, and everyone is happy. It’s awesome.

Until one evening last week, when my daughter took Lucky out for her exercise and one guy from the other end of the complex came out and told her how he didn’t “appreciate” us running the dog out there because Lucky, in her zeal, was tearing up the “grass”. It’s a green-space, okay. By definition, it’s surrounded by trees and is completely shaded – there’s no grass, it’s MOSS. So yeah, after a rain, when everything’s super-soft, that moss gets shredded by this pup. None of the other neighbours have ever said a word. Until this guy, who freaked my daughter out. Tough guy, giving heck to a 9-year-old.

This did not deter me. I still went out and threw the ball for the dog, wanting like mad for Grumpy Neighbour to come out and give me hell. Our one next-door neighbour, John, was out walking Lola the pug one time while I was throwing the ball and he got annoyed by the story I told him (“it’s MOSS, not GRASS, what a creep”) and he even figured out who it probably was.

Yesterday morning, at about 7am, I was out again. And lo and behold, grumpy neighbour came out, hair all wild and looking like a typical grumpy neighbour, as though he were cast in a movie.

“Excuse me, excuse me, I don’t appreciate you having your dog run out here, she’s tearing up all the grass, and I don’t appreciate it.”

Grass. Just the word I was waiting for.

“That? It’s not grass – it’s moss. The sun never hits it, grass will NEVER grow there.”

“Humph, humph, humph, well, she’s tearing it all up!” (points)

“That? That’s no one’s backyard. That’s not your backyard. It’s the open space.”

“Well…well…well…the dog’s not even supposed to be off the leash anyway!!!!!” (storms off)

Me, sing-songy, “Thanks, I’ll check with the strata about that!”

Okay – so then I went to get ready for our garage sale. I’d found out the week before that the whole complex holds an every-house garage sale every year, it’s hugely popular and people come from all over. I had some things, not many, that I wanted to get rid of, so I was excited. I started by moving the car out of the driveway and parking it across the way (sort of in front of Grumpy Bastard’s house). Then we set up our things and tons of people started coming by, we met new people, it was a beautiful day, and much fun was had by all. I even made $50 selling an old PVR. Win!!

Okay, now we’re at the beginning of my story.

It got to be about 1pm, I wasn’t being successful with selling our other things, my daughter was invited to a friend’s for lunch, and I decided to go get my son and myself a couple of Subway sandwiches. So I went across the street, hopped in the car, and took off. The complex is full of speed bumps, and over the very first one, it felt like the front of the car kind on scraped on it. Weird. Anyway.

Then I hopped onto the main road and I realized I had to really pull the wheel. I let the wheel go, and the car pulled crazily to the right. First chance I got I pulled into a parking lot (where the liquor store is) and I got out and looked at the right side. The front tire was way flatter than the rear one. I ran into the liquor store, grabbed a bottle of wine (which I meant to do anyway) and kind of rushed to the till. The lady there said, “Wow, you know what you want!” and I just told her I wanted to hurry because it looked like my tire was losing air and I wanted to get it over to the gas station to pump it up. She took one look outside, and said, “Oh, honey – you’re not driving that car anywhere. You’ll wreck your rim.” I looked outside and the tire was now completely, absolutely flat. I have never in my life had a flat tire. I wanted to cry. I didn’t know what I was going to do – I was in a hurry to get back to my kid, who was minding the store back home.

I said as much to the liquor store lady, and told her I had a spare tire and could probably figure out how to change it, and I needed to get back to my kid with his sub, and she started marching out of her store, and said “You have a spare? Sal will change it.” I didn’t get a chance to ask who Sal was because she was already gone.

I went out to my car, and she came out of Sergio’s Pizza a couple of doors down, with Sal, who was wiping his hands on his apron and whose bald head was gleaming with sweat from being in a blazing hot kitchen on a blazing hot day. Liquor store lady was showing him my car, and I was introducing myself and saying hi, and he busily asked where the spare was, I opened the trunk, and he grabbed everything he needed and got to work. He had the spare on there in 5 minutes flat, told me not to drive over 60 and to get the tire fixed as soon as possible, as a spare is really just a temporary solution, it’s not meant to be permanent. He even told me where to take the tire. He showed me the tire, and there was this nail with a big head on it protruding from the rubber. Liquor store lady said “Oh, honey – you got good.”  I got my wallet out to thank him and give him something for his trouble, $10 from my $50 earnings from that morning, and he absolutely refused any money. I went to shake his hand but he showed me they were covered in tire-yuck, so I just squeezed his shoulder and thanked him profusely.

I called my son and gave him the story, to which he replied, “Does this mean there’s no sub?”, and I reassured him there would be, he’d just have to wait a little longer. It took me 4 minutes to get to Kal Tire, where Sal sent me, and I walked in and told my story to Jesse behind the counter, who explained they didn’t have time right then to change the tire, but to leave it, they’d patch it and call me when it was ready. I asked him how much that would be (I’m a single mama on a tight budget – I need to know these things beforehand, if only to know if I could afford a 12-inch versus the 6-inch at Subway). He said, $30 plus HST (goddamn you, HST!!!) and I said, perfect! After all, I’d still have roughly $15 left from my morning sale.

Then Jesse came to the car to get the tire, we went to open the hatch where it was, and Jesse said, “Oh, hey! You’re a Habs fan!” – obviously from the “FAN ON BOARD” with the CH in my rear window. I asked if he was too, and he said yes, and I was temporarily distracted by this happy coincidence, and grabbed my Habs car flag from the trunk to show it to him while he retrieved the tire, and then Jesse said, “Hmmmmm. Uh oh.”

What, uh oh?? And Jesse broke the news to me that the nail was in what’s called the “side wall” and that that wasn’t good.

“What do you mean, that’s ‘not good?’ What does ‘not good’ mean?”

“Well, we might not be able to fix it.”

“What does that mean?? Don’t you just have to stick something on the inside and fix it? What if you can’t?”

“If we can’t you might need a new tire.”

My mind wildly calculated what one new tire would cost, okay, that’s way more than what I made for the PVR, and said, “Look, Jesse: You can’t give me bad news. I can’t afford a new tire, I’m on a tight budget, and I don’t want any bad news! NO BAD NEWS!” And he nodded, said he would do his best, and to leave the tire and he’d call me close to closing time so I could come get it put back on.

I drove away, calling out the window, “No bad news, Jesse!!” then made my way to Subway and got my kid the footlong and went back home and packed up our unsuccessful shop and took the dog for a hike. I decided to just enjoy my day even though I was going to have the unexpected expense of a car repair that would negate the bonus $50 we’d made that morning – in fact it was going to end up costing me more, but hey, at least it would be $50 cheaper thanks to the sale. Just look at the bright side.

It got to be 4pm, and I was back home and rehydrating after losing about 3 litres from the hike in the blazing hot sun, realized I’d have to go get the tire soon, and called Jesse. He said, “Don’t worry my dear, your tire’s next on our list, and I’ll give you a call as soon as it’s ready.” So he basically still had no news. It got to be 4:50 and I knew they closed at 5pm, so I just grabbed my cell and hopped in the car to go to Kal Tire. 5 minutes later, the phone rang and it was Jesse, telling me, “You can start making your way here, my dear,” and I said I was already on my way!

I got there and had to wait a bit while Jesse tended to another customer, wringing my hands because I just wanted to know if he’d fixed it or if I needed a new tire. He finally got to me and gave me the AMAZING news that they’d managed to fix it and I was so happy I don’t remember the rest. He took the key to the car, pulled the car into the shop, and the guys got to work putting the tire back on. Jesse came back to the counter, was giving me the spiel about keeping an eye on the tire to make sure it wasn’t losing air, and I was digging in my wallet for $40 of my $50 ($30 something + HST (goddamn you, HST!!)) and he had the invoice out, didn’t take my money, handed me the invoice, I scanned it, and the total was….$0.

I looked up at Jesse, and he said, “It’s on the house. From one Habs fan to another.” I could have leapt over the counter to hug him but instead put my open palm up, he put his up, and I smacked it with one of my signature palm-stinging hi-fives. He didn’t even wince, which is formidable since my hi-fives usually elicit an “Ow!! Why do you smack so hard?!!” (Because I hi-five the same way I shake hands or hug tight – I mean it!!!) I took off again, and Jesse said “Remember – keep an eye on it!” (which I have – it looks wonderful) and as I drove away, I reflected:

The neighbour came close to ruining my morning: Lose.

I met nice new people and made $50 during the garage sale: Win.

I got a flat tire for the first time in my life: Lose.

Sal the Angel from Sergio’s Pizza changed my tire and refused payment: Win.

Jesse told me I would probably need a new tire: Lose.

Jesse told me he was a Habs fan too: Win.

He was able to fix my tire so I didn’t have to buy a new one, AND he didn’t charge me: WIN.


Habs fans are awesome, and so are pizza chefs. For all kinds of reasons. And nice, awesome neighbours way outweigh 1 Grumpy Bastard who has nothing better to do than be perched at his window waiting to ruin a hyper puppy’s fun.

(Is anyone else wondering if Grumpy Bastard put that nail in front of my tire the one time I didn’t park in my driveway? Me too.)

P.S. I just realized I had no trouble remembering Jesse’s name! Even though it’s an Anglo name that starts with a J, which I always have particular trouble with. Must be because he’s a Habs fan.

P.P.S. I forgot to mention that liquor store ladies are awesome too, even though that goes without saying!

Speaking Before Thinking Since 19 _ _

A few days ago I was taking the puppy out for her nightly exercise when this little kid, I want to say about 5 years old, fell off his bike about 20 metres away, and let out a yowl. Parents, you know the cry that is just looking for attention, and then the cry that means business. This one meant business. I looked for a couple of seconds to see if he had a grown-up around, didn’t see one, then took off to see how he was. He was really, really upset, and was still lying under his bike, so I tried to get him to tell me where it hurt. 2 seconds later his grown-up showed up, and then I saw what took her that few extra seconds – she had an infant on one hip and was holding the hand of a 2-year old. Oy. She was going to need assistance! She got him to show her his knee, and there was a big slice through his pants leg, no big, and it was bleeding underneath, might not be too big a deal. Then he kind of bent his knee and you could see he had a major, deep slice on his knee, and oh hey, there was the bone.

She told him it was time to go to the hospital to make it better, all cool and collected, and we got him and the other kids in her van while she went to call her husband, who was still at work, to get her to meet them at the hospital. And they were off.

This family lives a few doors down from my house. So again, last night I was taking the dog out, and my daughter was along for the walk. This guy a few doors down was fixing something in his front doorway, and I called out, “Hi! I’ve been wondering, how’s your boy?” and he said, “He’s great!” with a big smile. And I said, “Did he get stitches?” and he kind of looked at me for a second, and then I said, “Have I got the wrong house?” and he said, “Yeah, my son’s only 9 months old!”  So I just laughed and said, “Congratulations! And I’m glad he’s doing great!” and he said thanks, and I turned around to see if my daughter was keeping in step, and she said “Moooooom, that is SO EMBARRASSING!” which made the dad laugh, and me laugh, and I said, “Why?” but it didn’t really matter, she was just horrified that he was going to think I’m crazy now. This doesn’t matter to me in the slightest. Also, all our damn houses look alike. Could happen to anyone.

Like that time that one mom at my kid’s baseball game was pregnant with her 6th kid, and I said, “What are you, some kind of religion?!” to which she just giggled. Like seriously, was she working on having her own baseball team? I found out later that she’s a Mormon. Whatever, she’s a Mormon with a sense of humour.

Or that time my kids were acting up when we were on our way in to Costco, and I ran like Phoebe all the way to the Costco entrance, just to horrify them and shut them up. They were horrified, and everyone in the parking lot was laughing at me. Parents, this is a very effective tool. I only had to do it once, and have threatened them with it ever since.

Or that time I got my girlfriend a candle and candle holder for her birthday, and the teller was wrapping it up for me. She was having a hell of a time with the big thing of crinkly paper, so I offered, “Do you need a hand?” then realized to my horror that she really did – she had an artificial limb. She didn’t even blink however, and just said, “No thanks, I’ve got this.” Actually, I don’t think she even realized my gaffe – it’s just a saying. It’s not like I saw that she was missing a hand then made a joke about it.

Or that time that guy was just standing outside my office building holding a coffee cup and looked at me, and I pre-empted him by telling him I was sorry that I didn’t have any change. Turns out he was just a dude drinking coffee. Innocent mistake.

I haven’t always not cared what people think, it’s been a long road. And you know what gets me embarrassed? Nothing.

Actually, one thing recently made me turn beet red, but that was because I swore at this guy who jumped into my office while I was sitting with my back turned, and grabbed my arm. There’s this one guy who always does that, sneaks up on me, and I can’t stand it. So I swore at him, something about his mother, actually, then turned around and it turns out it was this whole other guy. A suit, even. A really nice guy who always stops in to say hi whenever he’s in town. I was horrified, and explained, but he was just laughing. Another guy with a sense of humour (thank GOD. That could have been career-limiting).

Aside from that, I can’t remember one time in recent memory I have been embarrassed or wondering what people must think of me. It doesn’t mean I’m ever deliberately insensitive, I do care about other people’s feelings, it’s just that sometimes I think out loud and don’t consider other people’s situations. I keep thinking I must do better at that, because I really always do want to be nice.

Anyway, I can’t think of how to end this. I’m sure I have more examples of foot-in-mouthedness, but I can’t remember any right now. And I’m sure there will be more in future. I’ll keep you posted. Actually, have you got any?

Bruins, Teachers, Allergies, Drama Queens & Birthday Presents

When you have nothing to say, be quiet.

Or, blog.

Hasn’t been anything worth noting lately, just plodding along like usual. I did run into an old colleague this week who mentioned she’d come across my blog by accident, and that she likes it, which is cool. I thought I should write but there really isn’t anything to write about. So let’s do this.

  • The Bruins were eliminated from the playoffs. This is the one and only thing I was wishing for these playoffs. I’m still smarting from having them eliminate my Habs last year. My Habs were down key players and it still took the big bad 100% healthy Bruins a 7th game overtime to send the Habs packing, with an offside goal. I hate them. Now they’re golfing, and I feel like everything is right with the world once again.
  • My girl brought home a sort-of report card/update from school. I say a sort-of report card because B.C. teachers have been on a job action all year. They don’t do report cards or parent/teacher interviews, and they give assignments in class then leave the room. Why do these people want to be teachers if they don’t want to educate? They don’t like their salaries but they know they’re not going to be making heart surgeon money when they go to school for their diploma, right? Anyway. My daughter is doing all right except for that she talks too much in class. I don’t know where she gets it.
  • My allergies are killing me. I take double doses of Benadryl and it does the trick for 4 of the 6 hours they say the effect lasts. The nighttime pills are awesome.
  • I once had this really beautiful guitar that I was going to learn how to play. But then I got pregnant and couldn’t even hold it in front of me anymore. Then I got busy with being a mom. So the guitar sat there for like eleven years. I decided to take it up again. Took the guitar to the store to have it tuned and the guy said, “These strings look 10 years old!” I said, “Eleven, actually.” Who knew strings could get too old? I hate learning, I wish I was awesome instantly.
  • The puppy is finally fully potty trained so I steam cleaned my carpets. I’ve decided to install floors though. The laminate vs. hardwood debate was waged, and laminate won. Because it’s CHEAPER.
  • It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago. A Twitter friend said he sent me a birthday card. It took a long time coming, and he asked me frequently if it had arrived yet. Well, it arrived this week. And guess what, it wasn’t a card. It was this. I almost died of a heart attack. A HEART ATTACK. Thanks Doug – I can’t believe you did that.
  • I don’t know why it’s sideways.
  • The first part of my morning was spent ignoring a hyper puppy as best I could while I tried to manage a cup of coffee and reading up on hockey news. Okay, 2 cups of coffee. Puppy was indignant by the time I finally said “Go walk?”
  • I take her to the park and use the Chuckit (best invention EVER) and throw the ball like 100 metres for her for about 40 minutes. When she stops chasing at breakneck speed it’s time to go home. The whole walk to the park is spent trying to get her not to pull and lead and the whole walk back I practically have to drag her like a carcass. She carries her ball home and froths so much at the mouth she looks like a rabid beast and her gob hangs down like a Santa beard. It’s super gross.
  • The Habs haven’t announced their new GM and MONSIEUR MOLSON MY PATIENCE IS WANING.
  • Daughter finally got the treatment I was expecting she’d get from the drama queen down the street. She was so sure she’d finally found a new best friend in our new neighbourhood, and this girl’s friendship was fairly dazzling. I smelled her coming from a mile away. Very dramatic, centre of attention, centre of the freaking universe kind of kid, who takes turns choosing who to shun from the neighbourhood girls for some unimaginable slight. Daughter got the “your friendship is no longer required” bit with no reason and was heartbroken. She’s hanging out with me more now while she recovers. That kid’s dad fights all her battles for her too. I don’t get involved. I did tell my kid that she’s better off, and to be wary if she’s somehow magically allowed back in to audition for the role of best friend again. Being anointed to that other kid’s circle is too much work, there’s too much drama, and you have to walk on eggshells, and slip-ups are not allowed. No thanks.
  • This stuff is new to me, growing up with 2 brothers I mostly hung out with boys, and was never involved with girls and drama queen antics. It’s horribly boring. The Drama Llamas can kiss my butt. Kiss it!
  • It’s funny, because as an adult my best friends are all women. The best women ever. Well, my bf is also my bestie even though he’s a guy because he happens to be one of the most awesome people on the planet. The PLANET.
  • I just realized my dog’s got my attitude too. She loves people and other dogs but when a yappy little mutt tugs at the leash and tries to sic her, my dog just sits and tilts her head like “are you being serious with me right now?”, then just walks away to pursue something more pleasant. No biggie.
  • Right now I’m sitting with my feet on the table, typing on the laptop while Beethoven’s symphonies play, and the dog snoozes and dreams under my legs. I feel awfully grown up. Or like I should have on a pair of slippers like Jim Dear wore in Lady and the Tramp, and be smoking a pipe. I wish this townhouse had a fireplace.
  • Went for dinner at a friend’s last night for her hubby’s birthday. It was so nice. Sitting down after dinner having a few glasses of wine, we got to talking about all kinds of stuff. One topic was how fast my hair and fingernails grow. Apparently it’s a sign of good health, but it’s actually a pain. It’s not as fun as it sounds. Stupid bangs.
  • I wish someone in my neighbourhood could cut hair. Seems like everyone I know has a friend who comes over to their house to cut their hair. I have never been blessed that way.
  • I cut my own bangs once. ONCE. Lesson learned.
  • OK, must get up and get stuff done around here. I’m out of topics.

Until next time. Fingers crossed that the next post will be jubilation or ranting over whomever’s FINALLY hired for the GM job. Have a nice Sunday!

Sitting at the Dealers

Just pounding this out on my iPhone as I wait for the Porsche to be ready.

Not MY Porsche of course, it’s the boss’s. He asked me to take it in for him while he’s away because some lights are going off on the dash so it needed checking out.

Sure, my pleasure.

Well. It’s this big SUV so the first thing I did when I got in was adjust the seat. This fancy car is no dummy, it realized immediately that I was not the regular driver so it kept on beeping at me: “Driver 2, make your selection! Make your selection! MAKE YOUR SELECTION.” What selection?! I just wanted to adjust the seat.

So it kept on beeping at me and beeping at me so when I came to my first stop light, I saw that one of the things lit up on the dash was a BIG EXCLAMATION POINT. Of course, I say to myself, the parking brake must be on! It wouldn’t like that. So I proceed to look for the parking brake, because of course it isn’t where you’d expect, like in my Mazda, it’s right beside the gear shift, looking all like a parking brake. My eyes start scanning the dash, which has more buttons and knobs than an AIRPLANE then remembered that in one of my old cars, the parking brake was a pedal on the far left. There it was! OK, so I also remembered that to disengage it, you have to sort of quickly step down on it. Which I did. Not so quickly, because it was actually a long slow way down. OK, so now the exclamation point is RED which means that NOW that sucker’s engaged. And just FYI, you know how some cars will still let you drive when the parking brake’s on? Well, PORSCHES DON’T.

I sat through 3 green lights trying to figure out how to DISengage it, because the quick foot-tap thing wasn’t working. IT WASN’T WORKING. As I contemplated my predicament, and what an ass I looked like, I pictured my poor friend who’d offered to go with me and give me a lift back, sitting at the dealership wondering where the hell I was, and before deciding to make myself look like even further of an ass by taking out the manual to see how to DISENGAGE A PARKING BRAKE, I finally opened the door to squat down and have a look at the stupid brake, I saw a little release lever and pulled it, hoping I wasn’t opening the hood. Thank Jehosephat, it was the damned brake. I could finally leave the intersection. Also, thank you, Vancouver drivers, for not honking at me while sitting through all the green lights. They obviously took one look at me and saw that I was not qualified to be in such a complicated vehicle.

So I was on my way, the car screaming at me, Driver 2, Driver 2! You are not my usual driver, and I’m not falling for it! Make your selection, make your selection! I DON’T WANT TO SELECT ANYTHING, EXCEPT MAYBE SHUT YOUR TRAP, OR EJECT!!

The whole way to the dealership. Thank god it’s only like a 10 minute drive. I get there, my friend’s there, and I pull into the service garage, and can’t get out fast enough, and there are 3 Porsche guys waiting to take the car, and I jump out and say, “This is NOT my car, and it hates me! It’s been beeping at me the whole way here, MAKE A SELECTION! and I don’t know what it wants me to decide, and I sat through 3 green lights trying to figure out the parking brake! Aargh!” They all just looked at me and laughed, which is the effect I expected to have on total strangers by leaping out of the SUV and shouting at them like a crazy woman.

I went in to the office and told them I was leaving it and would be back on Friday. I also explained why it was there and the guy said, “It might be simple, let’s have a look, we might be able to give it back to you right away.” So I go back out to my friend’s car to tell her about my trip to the dealers and that I might not need a ride back to the office, with my hair whipping around all over the place because Vancouver chose those 2 minutes to have a tornado.

I go back in, and the guy says its just a tire pressure thing and I can take the car in 30 minutes. OMG, I don’t have the boss’s credit card on me and there’s no way I can afford a Porsche service fee! The guy’s all, “Ummm I wasn’t even going to charge you because it’s too easy.” SWEET. So I go back into the tornado to tell Lisa she made the trip for nothing, then go into the waiting room to stare at this space age coffee maker (can Porsche EVER DO SOMETHING SIMPLY I JUST WANT COFFEE) and this nice fellow came over and made my coffee for me because I can’t fool Porsche, they know I’m not qualified to even be there, and then the car was ready and it didn’t beep at me the whole drive back and everything was once again right with the world.

Anyhoo, that was my morning, just in case you were wondering.

Blogging from the iPhone. Crazy. Twenty years ago, when I was eight (I wasn’t eight) I could never have imagined such a concept.

Se Habla Español

That’s the title, because there’s a little españoling in this post. Because I’m looking for stuff to write about. Only the second post of the year and we’re more than halfway through Q1!!

  • So, I’ve started teaching conversational Spanish. Kind of fell into it. There are a lot of people who’ve asked me to teach them Spanish, and I’ve always said no, because I’d spend the whole class saying “Ay dios mío!” and slapping them upside the head. I only have patience for children. Okay – let me back up.
  • A couple of years ago, upon being encouraged by my employer for the 6 years before that to get any education or development that I chose, I finally said “maybe I can get a translation certification”. They were down. And so I set about that. But good god, I had no time to go to school or anything like that (hellooooo single motherhood) – and it turns out you just have to take a test. So I took one. And I failed. BUT the good news from the test takers was that of everyone who failed, I had the highest score. This was a comfort to me, okay. It’s not that I can’t translate, I just didn’t understand what the expectations were – these guys wanted a complete literal translation, which I thought made it sound too awkward, so I made it sound nice in the translation. Big no no. Live and learn.
  • Boss was amused that I’d failed, told me to keep trying, and that he’d pay for it again. So I signed up again. And then forgot I had. Let me back up.
  • So, I had tickets to a hockey game. The free kind. In a corporate suite. With open bar. And I hadn’t paid for the test myself, and I’d failed the first time after feeling that I’d done so well, so I didn’t exactly have my hopes up. So anyway, I woke up on the Saturday morning with the “axe head” (as we say in Chile – I’ll add that to the vocab list for my students) – generally preferring death to the hangover. Then my iPhone bee-bee-beeped a little reminder at me and I almost smashed it to smithereens. Wait. THE TEST. TODAY. NAY, NOT JUST TODAY…IN TWO HOURS. Ay dios mío!!!
  • So fine. I can do this. I went to the test-taking place, smelling “like an ambulance” (as we say in Chile) (lexicon list!), barely managing my 28 pounds of dictionaries/thesauruses (thesauri?) and plopped myself into the chair. There was about 30 of us in the room. Everyone was taking different tests, different languages. I felt sorry for the fellow at my table, because I’m telling you, there’s a strong possibility that I was still inebriated.
  • This isn’t turning into the best advertisement for my fledgling little business. Look, I passed fair and square, okay.
  • That’s right. I PASSED. I took the damn test, flew through it, checked it, remembered I had to literally translate so it sounded unnatural, and that stuff I learned the last time. And was the first one out of the room. On account of I thought I might hurl and I was also really worried for my poor table partner. There’s no way I smelled good. I hate test rooms, too. Badly. And I decided to just not tell anyone about the test. Had no expectation of passing and just decided to put the whole translation certification thing behind me. Then get home and eat a really greasy meal. Pronto.
  • I was out at lunch with a friend 6 weeks later. Had the spinach salad at the Cactus Club. They know how to make a salad. Of course, I also had a side of fries. Because OF COURSE. I always ask for a “fun dip” with fries. I think that time they gave me truffle oil mayo. RECOMMEND. I digress.
  • Again, news received thanks to my iPhone. I passed. He knew the whole story. We spent the next 10 minutes non-stop laughing our asses off.
  • No seriously – I’m a good translator. Hire me, you won’t be sorry.
  • Anyway, a couple of months ago, the translating head contact guy told me he’d been contacted by a couple who wanted, specifically, a Chilean national to teach them conversational Spanish for a few months before they moved to Chile. He put them in touch with me. I was all “qué?” and he was all “arriba!” so I did it.
  • There’s isn’t much to it. They’re already at a good level of comprehension so basically we sit and talk for 2 hours. I finally, finally, FINALLY found a job that PAYS. ME. TO TALK.
  • It’s not a real job mind you, my real jobs of kids and office continue to be my thing, but I’ve translated a few things (professionally, for once), taught a few classes, and have more classes lined up after these students. And I really love it. So you never know.
  • There was no real reason for this post to be in bullet form. But I’m not reformatting now.
  • What’s a good company name for me? For real. Suggestions welcome.
  • Oh, btw…the Habs have lost 2 in a row. But hey. We can go 17-4 for the rest of the season, no crees?? Keep the dream alive! Ha ha ha! Ha ha! *sob*

Hasta la próxima, baby!

**I’m actually  a really good  translator **

The Year in Review

I was going to do a kind of “year in review” post to end 2011, kind of like the annual letter I sent for Christmas to friends and family – and then realized I don’t have to, because I’d basically just be repeating everything I blogged about this year.

So instead, here’s our annual family photo, and the puppy, who refused to sit for a group shot, and links to some of my stories of 2011, if you’re interested.

With my wish for you and yours: May 2012 kick 2011’s ASS.

Happy New Year!

  1. That time I went to the Habs game in Vancity (and we WON)
  2. Charlie Sheen is cuckoo, we watched American Idol (and vowed to never again after that country-singing carrot-topped kid won), and other general happenings
  3. That time I blogged about Max Pacioretty – incidentally the most-read post on the blog EVER (that also resulted in Max following me on Twitter; I apologize for all the stupid tweets, Max) (and can you believe he’s still following)
  4. A follow-up on Pacioretty, shopping at Costco, and not really an update
  5. How the Habs make me crazy, and I love them anyway. Sure to be a recurring topic.
  6. That time I met Strombo (STROMBO, YO), got flowers on my birthday, and told the world that my daughter used to shoplift.
  7. That time the Habs got kicked out of the playoffs by the Bruins. If THIS becomes a recurring theme, just shoot me now.
  8. That time I was pissed off about North American politics.
  9. That time I thought I was really seriously sick and it turned out I was only a little sick. That was a good day.
  10. That time my son and I hung out, just the two of us
  11. That time the sickening notion of the Bruins winning the cup was close to becoming a reality
  12. Saying goodbye to my Dad.
  13. Selling the condo.
  14. Coffee is serious!
  15. How’s it going?
  16. Back to school and finally selling the condo and buying the townhouse.
  17. People who aren’t punctual piss me off.
  18. The weekend from hell. Or, that time we moved. Also, broken arms and puppy training.
  19. General update on nothing in particular
  20. Thoughts on the coaching/language controversy in Montreal

Which brings us to today. Also adding a picture of just the kids, because I really love it.

P.S. the Habs are on a one game winning streak!! YEEEEAHHHH BABY!

Nothing in Particular

It’s been six weeks since I blogged. That’s my longest silence ever, I think. You’re welcome.

So, I had some time on my hands and a few thoughts running through my brain, so this is not so much an update as a…bunch of little topics. Let’s go.

  • We moved six weeks ago yesterday. Check my last post for a refresher on the weekend from hell. It will also take you probably a whole weekend to read, if you even finish it. It’s kind of a bummer. So we moved from a 2 bedroom condo to a 3 bedroom townhouse with a basement. Or rec room, or whatever. I don’t know what to call it. The basement’s a walk-out, so it’s not subterranean or anything. Anyway, I had to furnish a bunch of extra rooms. What’s a single mama on a tight budget to do? For the last six weeks, our living room has been sitting empty, except for a TV and a single seater couch. Part of the reason we got a bigger place was for space, and privacy. The kids are getting big, and they needed their own rooms, and I thought, wow, a basement-rec room-whatever space would be so awesome for them too, they can just hang down there and do their own thing, like all the kids are doing. Didn’t exactly go according to plan. I think all the togetherness occasioned by our previous tight quarters stuck. After dinner, and cleaning, I’d plop onto the the little couch and my two kids would squeeze right in with me. Good thing we’re all reasonably narrow-hipped. But we finally got a couch yesterday. The only one who’s bummed about it is our puppy, who enjoyed having the extra space to race around in.
  • The puppy. She’s insane, and growing at an alarming rate. I don’t take the time to take too many pictures, but I try. Anyway I just looked at the pictures of when we got her at the end of September. She must be part Dane. She’s enormous. She works hard to try to get into as much puppy trouble as she possibly can, but I watch her like a hawk, and every time she tries, I shut her down. She’s a terrific listener. Actually, she’s a terrific listener when I talk to her. Seriously, it’s on Dog Whisperer levels. I’d brag about it except for that I happen to be the only one she listens to. We’re working on that. I wish Cesar Millan would do an all-puppy episode. I’d give him loads to talk about. She is a Lab, and does look exactly like Marley, but she’s actually pretty terrific, especially considering she’s only 3 months old. I’ll cut her some slack. The trouble she does get into when I’m distracted is nothing like the nightmares I’ve heard from other Lab owners. Like, eating of the furniture and dry-wall and such. The worst she’s done so far is go into the recycling and chewed up a milk bottle cap.
  • That’s the first time I’ve used the term “and such”. I can’t pull it off.
  • I got a traffic ticket. A real one. Broke my 2-year streak, even. I was highly offended. When the cop brought me back my ticket, I felt like telling him, “Listen, you must be a rookie. If you’d bothered to check your computer, I’m sure a memo on me would have been in there. I only get warnings, see. I get pulled over, get a little lecture, and then a warning. Could have saved you some time.” But I didn’t. He seemed cranky.
  • There’s this movie that came out a little while ago with Sarah Jessica Parker, called “How Does She Do It?” or something like that. All about this wife with a job and kids and everything. This is a subject that mightily pisses me off. I’m not looking for a hero cookie or anything, but when someone with a husband and job and kids gets lauded for “doing it all,” I want to scream from the rooftops, “I’ll tell you how she does it, she’s got a husband!! If you have another adult in the house picking up even 1% of the duties, it’s EASY!! Don’t go wondering ‘how can she do it??’ She can because it’s easy. You want difficult? I’ll show you DIFFICULT!!” I doubt I’ll watch that movie.
  • I hate how these bullets are all squished together. Line spacing is a very big deal to me. I hate how I don’t know how to use WordPress right.
  • The Habs won yesterday. It was awesome. They’ve been winning in OT, even. Sweet. I do hate when Carey sits the night out, because I love him and when he doesn’t play it feels like I’m not really watching the Habs. But the backup goalie played pretty great. Gomez sucked, though. Of course.
  • My daughter had a birthday, and invited 3 girls over for  a sleepover. She has this one new friend that fancies herself cleverer than grownups. The morning after she concocted this story for my daughter to tell, about how they had to go up to my room to get a book that this girl wanted to go borrow. They went up, and closed the door. I knew exactly what this kid had my daughter doing: finding where I’d hidden her birthday present. But you have to get up pretty goddamned early to fool this Mom, who wrote the goddamned book on how to trick parents. I’m keeping my eye on that friend. Trouble. Takes one to know one.
  • I finally got around to watching the Alec Baldwin SNL episode on PVR. Has he lost weight?
  • Work has been insane, but we just put to bed one of our bigger annual projects, and the rest of the year looks to be relatively smooth sailing. I loooooove when mid-November rolls around.
  • When I start to talk about work, you know it’s time to end the blog post. I kept it to less than 1,000 words this time. You’re welcome, again.
  • Oh, wait: that reminds me. The kids went to their dad’s place this afternoon, and I was helping my daughter get some double knots undone from her shoes. She said, “I love you.” I was still concentrating on her laces, got them undone, and said, “you’re welcome.” It was funny. She just called, and I said, “I love you,” and she said, “you’re welcome”. It might be our new thing.
  • Okay, 1,082 words. Word count just refreshed.
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