Sunday, March 28, 2010

Goodnight, John Boy.

This blog is a petulant child. The last piece of cake. The phone that won't ring, even though it promised.

If my workload is any indicator, then the recession appears to be over – or at least, releasing the strangle hold it's had on my life since November '07. As a result, I find I have less time on my hands. Walks in the park are down to one a day. I have broken up with self pity and my online Scrabble partner. And this needy, whiny blog has taken a backseat to deadlines and opportunities.

This weekend was no exception. The little bastard was in Newfoundland wrapping up his eight or so years in "minor" hockey, and I barely had time to miss him, his toenail clippings, or his crusty boxers dropped hither and yon. I worked while he played. And while his phone calls were few and far between, his games were streamed live over the Internet. I felt his every move, every glove save, every triumph, and every disappointment. Much like the Waltons huddling around the radio – my computer became a link to the world.

Like this blog.

Just when it felt like I was totally alone – I discovered I wasn't. In fact, I was less alone than ever before. This blog gave me a voice that echoed and bounced back as someone else. I made new friends. I found old friends. I grew my business. I pissed some people off. I helped others. I used motherfucker in a sentence. Alot. I vented and roared. I shrunk my ass. I fell in love with writing again.

I'm not ready to let it go.

While 95% of blogs get abandoned, my recent detachment is not from lack of interest. I miss it. It pulls on my pant leg, wanting to be picked up when I am trying to work. But there's never enough time! Much like, after 14 years of being someone's one and only – I am having to get comfortable with my child's inevitable and natural detachment. Settling for an "I love you" in a hasty text from afar. Time has taken the little bastard from needing me constantly, to knowing I will always be there when he does.

Like this blog.

So as we flow from from minor hockey to major hockey, and from the red to the black – I ask for more time. To appreciate what I have – and to turn on this tempestuous, premenstrual, perimenopausal radio, and broadcast live from my crappy world to yours. Even if that means pouring out my guts, and my heart – once or twice a week – instead of every bloody day.

Goodnight, Mary fuckin' Ellen.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What you talkin' about? And other questions on a foggy morning.

Why was Gary Coleman at the Health Care bill signing party in Washington?

Why did Obama use 22 pens once he finally got around to signing the damn thing?

Why, all of a sudden, does Caroline Kennedy look exactly like Uncle Teddy? I'm thinking a bad St. Paddy's Day.

Why do women marry bad boys, then expect them to be faithful and drive mini vans – when their bad boy nature was what attracted them in the first place?

Why do I always forget I've eaten beets, then think I am dying the next day?

Why does Julien's bakery put that fucking irresistible, butter, chocolate, and rum-laced leftover mish mash of a Diplomat cake right at eye level? So rude.

How come an all-inclusive week in Cuba is cheaper than flying home to Toronto this weekend?

Why doesn't Tiger shut up and golf?

Why doesn't Ann Coulter just shut up?

The answer to these and other questions, like: Will I make the next cut on CBC's Canada Writes, even though I lean more toward dark than silly – and thank God it's radio because I didn't know I had to actually do stuff to win – will be answered once I get the Little Bastard on the plane to Newfoundland.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Margaree Valley of the Dolls

Never ask for directions in Cape Breton.

"You see that road there, right."

Right? As in turn right? There was a final high-rising intonation. Was that a question?

"Take that road... right, and go all the way 'til you sees the laundromat on your left, right. Then you heads west, and you keep goin' 'til you sees the sign the says the road to the pier, right. And if you sees the sign for to go to New Wadderferd, turn around, right, cuz you've gone too far."

According to the guide book, I was in the Oxycontin capital of the world, but I couldn't buy any, anywhere. What's worse was I kept going right, followed by another right until I ended up right back where I started – in the Tim Horton's parking lot, in my pyjamas, killing time until the sun came up because I was told by the little bastard not to "clomp around" so early in the morning.

So how was your March Break? Cuba, Panama, Aspen. Piss off the lot of ya. I spent five days in an ashtray of a rink parking lot lodged somewhere between the Sydney Tar Pits and the asshole of the Earth. Thank Christ it was sunny, and the little bastard's team won the Provincials, or I would have been really cranky.

And just try maintaining a healthy lifestyle on a road trip. In rural Nova Scotia. In early spring, when the scurvy is killing them off faster than the 26'er of dark rum they had with their Beep for breakfast. I asked one clerk for an apple and she looked at me like I was on fucking fire.

"No, but we got some oat cakes."

I confess to falling off the UWeight wagon rather abruptly one evening at our hotel, thanks to a fellow hockey mom, some leftover pizza and a bottle of Bleasdale Mulberry Tree Cabernet Sauvignon. But I scrambled back on, and we left Sydney with a carload of medals and happy boys – heading toward Baddeck and the other Cape Breton – the drop-dead gorgeous natural wonder that takes your breath away. Stopping to stare at the Cabot Trail clinging to the coast, I had forgotten how small one can feel surrounded by such overpowering natural beauty. You certainly don't feel that in the liquor store line-up on a Sydney Saturday night.

Pulling into the Inverary Resort in Baddeck was like going home. Years ago, I'd spent a few months in a farmhouse near Wreck Cove and my weekly trips to Baddeck were a touchstone to the outside world. Back then, I'd stock up on wine, magazines and fresh oatmeal bread from the Highwheeler Café. In March, Baddeck was pretty much a ghost town, but for the welcoming lights of the Inverary. While the boys took a swim, I strolled past the black clapboard cottages, down to the lake. I imagined coming back in the summer to play tennis and guzzle gin & tonics by the "inland sea". The Bras d' Or lakes are saltwater, but lack the multitude of creepy things this Georgian Bay swimmer can live without. If it wasn't March I would have followed the dogs in for a swim. As the light faded over the lake, I realized if industrial Cape Breton was was the evil stepsister, this part of the island was Cinderella.

The next day, I suggested a hike to Uisge Ban Falls – which is apparently Gaelic for "no fucking way". The boys were tired after all that hockey, and at 14, hiking with someone's mother sounded about as appealing as church. I also suggested we come back to the Inverary in the summer to fly fish, golf, and cycle bits of the Cabot Trail – the flat bits preferably. To that I got a resounding "ya".

Alas, the March Break is grinding to a halt. Neighbours are trickling in with annoying suntans, and enviable jet lag. I may not have a fresh stamp in my passport, but I had a relaxing, poverty-stricken good time, surrounded by genuinely nice people. And besides – Oxycontin, or no Oxycontin – watching your happy, healthy kid win – at anything – beats an all-inclusive ticket to a tropical paradise any day.


The Inverary Resort is located in Baddeck. They have great golf packages and make a wicked bowl of oatmeal.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Where there's smoke, there's ire.

My neighbours have five kids. Or maybe six. I saw someone shoveling snow in a diaper, so maybe they cranked out another one over the winter.

This past weekend, when the Havenot sky cracked open to reveal a blue, blue sky – my fertile neighbours loaded up their offspring with Captain Crunch and aired them out in the sunshine. Like headless, hyperactive, free-range chickens they ran through the neighbourhood and into my yard, swarming my house like maggots on a dead dog. It was cute for a nanosecond – then I morphed into my grandmother – practically running for a pack of Rothmans so I could burn the little peckerheads as they dashed by.

If I wanted a pack of snot-faced kids with no social graces slamming my gate and kicking the stucco off of my front doorstep I would have had sex five or six more times. When it comes to children, my motto is: quality over quantity.

My father's mantra was, "children are to be seen and not heard", so it comes as no surprise that my tolerance for children leans more toward the witch in Hansel and Gretel than Mary Poppins. Even my own child grates on my nerves.

Take for instance this past weekend, when necessity – a toe sticking out the end of a running shoe – found us facing a wall of Usain Bolt-worthy running shoes that were, after a slack-jawed moment of inaudible grunts – rejected from afar. The lack of enthusiasm was puberty raring its pimpled head. So, I did what any sane, mother-of-the-year would do. I snapped. We left the store, and without warning, I dropped the little bastard at the entrance to the nearest mall, threw him my bank card, and told him not to come home until he's 22, or has a haircut and a new pair if running shoes. Preferably a pair that lace themselves.

I also told him to walk home because I need to hear full sentences – not inaudible grunts – and "this was my life too!", and I think I added "you selfish little prick!" – just before I squealed out of the parking lot in a cloud of blue smoke – burning rubber and listening to CBC, which took away some of the impact. I should have been listening to Golden Earring or In a Gadda Da Vida for the sizable patch I left on the pavement.

And now I probably need new tires.

I spent the time alone, checking my monthly calendar, worrying I may never see him again, and wondering if my actions were a bit harsh. What if he got abducted – although at 6 feet with size-12 shoes, a lingering hockey smell, and an exposed toe – that's unlikely.

What if he got swarmed by the Hare Krishna's? That would solve the haircut dilemma – but he looks horrible in orange, and has stereotypical white-man rhythm, so would suck in their band. His turn on the symbols would be out of sync, and the Hare Krishna's would get all mad and return him to the mall – shoeless and bald, with egg yolk all over his forehead.

What if the last words he heard out of my mouth were drowned out by the squeal of the tires and Stuart McLean's, Vinyl Café.

So I waited. Anxiously. If and when he arrived home, we'd celebrate with a trip to Q Smokehouse and Southern BBQ on Argyle Street. We'd talk about things like respect, and hockey, and respect for salespeople – then he'd eat smoked wings, pork ribs and fries, while I'd sit there all slack jawed, grunting inaudibly about baked beans and cole slaw and my shit luck at having another delicious smokehouse open up, just when I am deep in tofu hell.

I even considered going to look for him – but I hate the mall, and with my luck he'd be standing in front of the shoe display, all stunned and pubescent, unable to make a decision because I wasn't there, hovering, saying things like "What about these? These are cute."

The good news is, he arrived home with new running shoes and a decent haircut. Maybe it was my, "this is my life too!" comment – but he seemed nicer, and spoke in full sentences for the remainder of the weekend.

As for the neighbour's kids, I'm considering an electric fence – or burning a life-size Barney in their front yard – or handing out informative colouring books with titles like: "Mommy Needs Her Tubes Tied" and "ADHD is Short for Fucking Rude" and "Your Parents Think You're Adorable. But You're Not".

Ah, the sweet, sweet smell of bitterness in the springtime.

Q Smokehouse and Southern BBQ is at 1580 Argyle St., Halifax. 407-4006

Friday, March 5, 2010

What goes around comes around. Or is it, what comes around goes around.

The President and CEO of Enwave Energy Corporation is an asshole.

Used to be, statements like that would fester inside me – eventually coming to the surface like a 100-proof boil on my ass.

But not anymore.

One year ago, yesterday – out of sheer boredom and frustration – I started this blog. Deep in a recession that had my own business gasping for breath, I was bored and depressed and frustrated. After 8 years of work arriving at my doorstep, I had nothing. My clients were suffering – many in a position where they could no longer afford the exorbitant cost of traditional print advertising. Working from home meant my wardrobe and waistline had gone to shit, and my network of colleagues had gone the way of the glossy, full-page spread. I had no business cards and no web presence. I was screwed.

Truth is, I was also bitter and heartbroken at finding myself back in Havenot, after negotiating what I believed to be a tidy escape. Moving my family and my career, back home to Toronto was simple, but for one little detail: hockey. And hockey, in our house = happiness.

Having been uprooted as a pre-teenager, I was painfully aware of the dangers when not done correctly. Finding the little bastard – as he is now lovingly known – a happy spot on a competitive hockey team was my #1 priority. Everything else would fall into place.

As it turns out, after a few hiccups, Jack tried out for, and was offered a goalie position on the Toronto Marlies. We flew up for their annual Christmas tournament and together with my brother, we sat and watched his future team battle the competition. The Marlies coach was kind, and showered my kid with Marlies paraphernalia – hats, bags, self-esteem etc. With everything perfect in his little world, I could now start making positive steps with my own.

And then came the call.

I have heard stories about crazy hockey parents – strangling coaches is one extreme – and I have personally witnessed a hockey dad high-fiveing his child when a teammate erred. What I wasn't expecting upon arrival home, was a call from the Marlie's coach. He had bad news, out of his control – Jack was no longer a Marlie. What happened while we were happily making plans, set off a ripple of circumstances that haunts me to this day.

Come over here and sit by me, while I get this out of my system.

Our excitement about moving to Toronto was crushed when the other goalie's father – who happens to be the President and CEO of Enwave Energy Corporation – threatened to pull his kid off of the team mid-season, if the coach brought on another good goalie. Sharing was not an option for his 13-year old child. This father had an incredibly bad toupée, and a form of power that went above and beyond the game, or the coach: Money. This man not only threatened to remove his son from the team – he was taking with him the money that bought the child the position in the first place.

Needless to say, my reaction was reflex at its finest; Tell the dad to fuck off and go. Sadly, it doesn't work like that in the Greater Toronto Hockey League. I told the coach I didn't want my kid playing for a team that would tolerate that kind of asshole behaviour anyway. I told him I thought he (the coach) was a better man. Then I hung up and slipped into a depression that lasted until one year ago yesterday.

A great deal has happened since I pounded out that very first blog.

I learned why I kept journal after journal as a child – I love to write.

I learned that you are never too old, or too stupid to try new things. Like Twittering. Facebook. Roller coasters. Forgiveness. Horseback riding. Or Bubble tea.

I learned that most people are kind and generous and supportive. Without faithful readers, I would have been cut from the first round of Marketing's Most Creative competition. Instead, I won.

I learned that James Ingram is an amazing photographer, but you've got to love your self first.

I learned that Sock it to Ya! on Spring Garden is the first store in Canada to carry the Spanx bathing suit line, and that in a Spanx one-piece, fat has nowhere to go but up.

I learned that I was protein light and red wine heavy. And I needed help from U Weight.

I learned that letting it all out and speaking from the heart (and the bowels) made me feel better.

And I learned that I am not alone, even though it still feels like it some days.

Finally, I learned that money can buy seat on a hockey bench, and a kick-ass, fat-sucking bathing suit – but money cannot buy happiness. The Toronto Bantam AAA Marlies lost in the semi-finals this week. Screw forgiveness. That news made my bitter, Germanic, shadenfraude self, feel like a million bucks.

Most important – so stay the fuck with me – I learned that helping others feels good, and makes what I do seem somehow... worthwhile. Thank you for supporting the many small businesses I support on this blog.

Happy Anniversary Halifax Broad. Where the hell do we go from here?

Sock it to Ya! is at 5495 Spring Garden Road or 429-SOCK.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't give a rat's ass.

The inscription reads:
Merry first Christmas from your first doctor.
Dr. Mike

The book: The Cat in the Hat. The reason: the young Dr. Mike had just spent 26 hours with his face between my legs awaiting the arrival of what he called, " the biggest baby he ever delivered!!"

The biggest baby he ever delivered entered the world 5 days early – read between the lines here, no time for bikini wax – and straight into the arms of the most ill-prepared mother since the so-called virgin.

What I did manage to do before I spat out the little bastard was: put up a small Christmas tree, and waddle into Baby Gap to purchase a striped cotton hat and matching onesie – hence "the hat". The hat was placed on the little bastard just after they wiped the goo off of his enormously pointed head.

The Cat in the Hat. Get it. Stay with me. Thus beginning our library of the dumbest fucking literature since the Old Testament – children's books.

There were very few children's books I could get through without slamming them shut and making up a story of my own. Take for instance, Love You for Fucking Ever, by Robert Munsch. Does a child really need to fall asleep with visions of himself cradling a gin and piss-soaked old woman in a see-through nightie?

Together, we read Richard Scarry's acid-induced Busytown classic, Cars and Trucks and Things that Go, over and over and over. My attempts to skip pages were outsmarted by little bastard's chubby hand slapping down and flipping back the page to where the pig family are driving the pickle car. Had I given birth to a complete moron?

And then there's Dr. Seuss. I hated Dr. Seuss more than Sesame Street and Barney combined. The incessant rhyming, the creepy characters that would show up when Sally and her brother were home alone because mommy was turning tricks on Mulberry Street.

Woozles (Canada's Oldest Children's Bookstore) on Birmingham Street have all the boring kiddie classics, plus the occasional ripper, like Walter the Farting Dog. They also have a medicated, er, dedicated and helpful staff who – suppressing the childhood incident involving Uncle Boozie and his Goodnight Moons tuck-in – pretend to like the stuff.

Dr. Seuss, a.k.a. Theodor Geisel would have been 106 today. Geisel's mother, a bakery worker, was 6 feet tall, 200 pounds and of German descent. Geisel probably peed the bed listening to her foreshadowing tales of bread ovens and gingerbread men. But, Happy Birthday anyway.

Oddly enough, The Cat in the Hat was written because Dr. Seuss thought the much-loved, Dick and Jane Have ADHD primers were insanely boring. My theory is, his books were the ultimate revenge. Yes they were. Yes they were. According to Geisel's widow, Dr. Seuss didn't even like kids, claiming, "He was slightly afraid of the little bastards."

Okay, so I embellished her quote a bit, but it makes for a better story.
If you do not like it.
Not one little bit.
I don't care a little.
In fact, I don't give a shit.