Monday, December 3, 2012

No matter how you slice it, life beats the crap out of the alternative.

The first thing I did after the doctor called, was cry. No, wait... that was the second thing. The first thing I did after the doctor called, was solemnly swear that I would consume nothing but icing and carbohydrates and liquor until I could barely squeeze through the gates of Hell. Then I cried.

There was nothing funny about last week.

Grace and courage are two words you won't be reading in my obituary. Mine would go more like this: Cantankerous to the end, blah, blah, blah, pain-in-the-ass drama queen. Her final words were, "Fuck you, Revenue Canada."

Of course I wrote, and rewrote this scenario over and over in my head this past week after a routine mammogram detected something "suspicious". "Probably nothing" said my doctor, which were the last words I heard before the world started spinning and I fell off.

I'd always imagined myself more of a heart attack person.

Funny thing, life. The night before I got "the call",  I was tucking in to kir royales and steak frites at the Victory Arms. Over dinner, we chatted about the usual girlfriendy crap – and I mentioned  being at such a happy place in my life, and how I was planning another adventure.

Irony is a cruel bitch.

For a week, I wept and worried mostly about one thing: I did not want my child to be sad. Ever. I did not want my child to suffer in life (any more than the poor bastard already has) because of me – because of my ill-timed departure. At least before I had a chance to despise his future bride, or refuse to babysit his horrible offspring.

I also didn't want anyone to be overjoyed at my demise, which was a very distinct possibility as well.

For a week, the world was reduced to appreciating simple pleasures – like waking up. Poached eggs on toast with salt and cold butter. Hanging laundry on the line. Raking leaves. Texts from my kid. Chatting with neighbours. Hot baths. My new sheets. Sleeping with my dog's nose pressed against my cheek.

Climbing Kilimanjaro and tennis camp in Florida suddenly took a backseat to watching my apple tree blossom in the spring.

For a week, I relished over pleasures I had denied myself – like bread. Julien's Good Hearth, and sourdough from the Ginerbread Haus. I drank coffee with cream, instead of the low fat milk that makes it a bitter, gray concoction instead of something you jump out of bed for. And for a week I languished over cake. Duflett's lemon coconut from Pete's Frootique. New York style cupcakes from Sweet Janes. Carrot with cream cheese icing from the Italian Market. Waiting for a birthday seemed suddenly, ridiculous.

Thursday loomed and I could think of little else. I have watched friends die, and live graciously with cancer, and after glimpsing the overwhelming fear and sadness they must have kept tucked away for private moments – sparing others their pain – I now love and respect their stoic beauty even more.

I wore my fear like a fur coat in August, and it began to fester in my abdomen, as my stress often does. By 3am on the morning of my follow up mammogram/ultrasound I was sweating and doubled over on the kitchen floor. I was scared shitless, in pain, very angry – and determined that nothing was going to cause me to miss my 8:20am appointment.

I'd rather die first.

A roomful of women on a pinot grigio drip, is a room full of laughter and common denominators. A roomful of women in johnny shirts is also a supportive club – a club I had no intention of joining. The scent-free air was heavy with eau de fear, and I removed myself from the claustrophobic, nervous chit chat – to agonize in the hallway until my name was called. I didn't want this cross section of beautiful, brave women to assume my obvious struggle with pain had anything to do with what they were going through.

And I had no intention of going gently into the good night.

After what seemed like a lifetime, I had 5 "slammograms" on my right boob... and I didn't care. Lop 'em both off! Whatever was festering in my belly was going to kill me anyway. I left the Dickson Mammogram Department and went straight to Emergency where I basked in the warmth of Nova Scotia's healthcare system until my stress-induced bowel spasm subsided, and I was able to make my way home; humbled, beaten, and very sad.

Happy endings are a funny thing. Exactly one week from the first call, came the second call. "How are you doing?" my lovely doctor began.

"You tell me." I said.

Ten minutes later I was walking in Point Pleasant Park with my dogs, just like I do every day. The icy cold wind on my face felt fabulous. And I hadn't noticed how truly navy blue the water is at dusk. I will climb Kilimanjaro godammit! I had been given a hall pass – for now – but it was hard to be 100% happy, knowing millions of other women aren't so lucky.

So tell me, why does a woman with a needle sticking out of her breast have to wait in a crowded room until she is transported, by male ambulance attendants, to another building, to have her surgery performed? With the gazillions of dollars raised by the pink ribbon campaign, can we not, locally, do something about the fluorescent corner pen of the hospital where women are stored like cattle to await their fate!? I have no issue with the quality of medical care, but the Leave Your Dignity at the Door Lounge needs a fucking makeover.

This will be the best Christmas, ever. And with any luck, next Christmas will be the best Christmas, ever. And the one after that. And the one after that.

I'm even looking forward to fruitcake.

halifaxbroad@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Red, whities, and blue.

The red stain, slowly leaking through the big-girl electoral panties was sickening to watch.

Fortunately, I have lived through enough American elections to have faith – that west of the Honey Boo Boo belt – common sense would prevail, and redneck would give way to blue. But, who will ever forget 2000? We were living in California, and I watched in horror as Florida exposed its scraggly Bush to the world.

This was going to be a long night.

In an election where women, and families, and the gay community had so much to lose – I admit to being a bit terrified. America, lead by the Church of Moron, was an America I wouldn't want moving in next door. The Obamas, on the other hand, were good neighbours. The firefly glow of Barack's Marlboro on a late summer night was somehow, reassuring. And I would miss Michelle, puttering in her garden. Besides, how long before photos surfaced, of Mitt snorting coke off the ass of 15-year old believer?

As the evening evolved, I finally felt confident enough in Obama's numbers to shut off the television, and fall asleep, wondering what it would be like to pop in a TicTac and neck with the Commander in Chief.

But at 3:40 am, I awoke with a start and reached for the flicker. Before my eyes could adjust to the light of the television glow, I heard that beautiful voice, and burst into tears. Genuine tears. Not only did Obama win – Richard Mourdock and "legitimate rapist" Todd Akin lost. Binders full of women had kicked the Republicans to the curb!

So, this morning – there's another optimistically gun-shy Kennedy stepping up in the familial way. Boston is firing up doobies for arthritis, and sending Elizabeth Warren where no Massachusetts woman has gone before. There's an openly gay Senator. Heck, even Havenot has a Mayor we can be proud of – Mike Savage, winning handily – and the charismatic Fred standing tall in the polls, even after the hair was swept up off the campaign floor. There's a new Bond flick. And, after a year of rebuilding, White Point is kicking open its doors. Thornbloom have settled in their new Trillium location, and they're all bedazzled for the holidays. The Greek Village is going back to its cozy old location, and I've been so busy since The Little Bastard moved to Quebec, I've barely had time to miss him, or bitch about how he can still suck the life out of my bank account from two provinces over. I even used my Big Day Downtown $100 bucks for good – instead of evil – introducing a newbie to the glory that is Le Bistro Coq hollandaise, and falling in love with Inkwell Boutique. But that's another story.

Life is way too busy, but good.

Now all we have to do is get rid of the Harpers, with their constant peeking out from behind faded, balloon curtains. Steve mows the lawn in loafers, and his wife – Whatshername – well, let's just say she doesn't stroll over with a glass of pinot grigio like Michelle does. Besides, one day I saw a row of tighty whities billowing on their clothesline, and I haven't been able to look him in the eye since.

And nobody wants a neighbour like that.

halifaxbroad@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Because is the cause.

It seems, of late, I have been preoccupied with climbing things. Take for instance W. Brett Wilson at today's 7 Virtues Middle East Peace perfume launch.

But that's another story.

Even the 20-something plumber looked climbable today. Maybe it was his prognosis – that my 40-something furnace would survive another minus 30º-something winter. Or, maybe it was his working man's hands. Hands that could snake a drain without buying it dinner first.

But that's not my point.

I think I want to climb Kilimanjaro.

I know! How fucked up is that? I schlepped the Inca Trail, lost 3 toenails, and swore I'd never sleep in a tent or shit quinoa out my ass at 100 mph whilst hanging on to a tree. Ever. Again. Waking up at 3am to race the last 6km to catch the sunrise on Machu Picchu. I hated it.

I loved it.

The Peruvian sky at 4am. The Southern Cross. Dazzling – like the Christmas tree lights – just before you toddle off to bed – broke, drunk, and exhausted, allowing Santa time to work the room.

To quote Cousin Sarah, when I asked her to be my wing man on Africa's highest peak. "Climbing Kilimanjaro involves the two things I hate most : Walking. And vomiting."

Vomiting is a symptom of Acute Mountain Sickness. More common at 19,341 feet than on a lounge chair at a Caribbean all-inclusive. The success rate for reaching the summit is around 60%, although most adventure travel brochures crank it up to between 80-95%. The last time I entertained conquering Africa's tallest bitch, coincided with Martina Navratilova's failed attempt to ace Uhuru Peak – which prompted the Little Bastard to say, "Mom, if that she-man can't do it, you haven't got a chance".

But toenails grow back.

And the world is full of naysayers. If I listened to them, I wouldn't be who I am. There would be no Little Bastard. There is always someone willing to piss on your Corn Flakes. And there's a little voice in my own head saying "the Cayman Islands are nice." But as much as Kilimanjaro scares me to death – I have a few friends fighting cancer right now. If they can face that miserable C-word with courage and grace – who am I to let a mound of earth, diarrhea, and oxygen deprivation stop me? In a twisted way, I am more afraid of NOT climbing the stupid thing.

My cause is because.

Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" has a scratchy, woolen underlayer of death and regret. "Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain [...] said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai 'Ngaje Ngai', the House of God. Close to the western summit there is a dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude."

I don't think it was a leopard. I think it was a cougar. And it wasn't seeking anything. It was just looking at the stars.

halifaxbroad@gmail.com

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Private parts.

Census Canada Twat: Okay, let's get started. How many people live at your current residence?

Me: Three, including two dogs, and not including the Little Bastard, who moved to Quebec.

Census Canada Twa: The Little Bastard?

Me: Long story. Worst roommate EVER. Move on...

CC Twat:  So... one?

Me: One what?

CC Twat: How many people live at your current residence?

Me: You do the math.

Twat: Are you employed?

Me: That depends.

Twat: That depends on what?

Me: That depends on how you define sitting alone humped over a computer all day, fuckin' around with people.

Twat: Who is your employer?

Me: Some bitch who underpays.

Twat: I'm sorry?

Me: Don't be sorry. The perks are fabulous. Just look at this place! And the dog farts under my chair.

Twat: What kind of work do you do?

Me: Advertising

Twat: What do you make?

Me: Not enough.

Twat: No. What kind of advertising do you make?

Me: Ads, silly.

Twat: Where do you work?

Me: Here, in this chair. Above the dog.

Twat: Where is here?

Me: Here, in this chair. In my office.

Twat: Where is your office?

Me: Here.

Twat: So do you work out of the home?

Me: Huh?

Twat: DO you work outside of the home?

Me: I mow the lawn.

Twat: So you work at home? Are you a housewife?

Me: Didn't we just establish that I work at making ads, not fucking pot roast?

Twat: How many hours a week do you work?

Me: That depends.

Twat: So, on average, would you say you work 20 hours a week?

Me: I would not.

Twat: So, on average, would you say you work about 40 hours a week?

Me: Warmer...

Twat: Do you have any aboriginal blood that you are aware of?

Me: Whoa! Where is that coming from?

Twat: I'm sorry?

Me: Don't be sorry, no one is holding a gun to your head making you ask these stupid questions that cost taxpayers a goddamned fortune, when kids can't even make art and eat yummy white glue at school because of cutbacks.

Twat: Let's continue... Do you have any aboriginal blood that you are aware of?

Me: Only when I drink gin.

Twat: I'm sorry? Do you have any aboriginal blood that you are aware of?

Me: My mom does have really brown eyes and apparently could run really fucking fast barefoot when she was a kid. And she smokes. So there could have been some teepee tipping down the road, if you know what I mean.

Twat: So you do have aboriginal blood that you are aware of? Is that a yes?

Me: Only when I drink gin.

Twat: Is that a yes?

Me: Or tequila. Oh, and egg nog. That shit makes me want to burn your fucking holiday wagon.

Twat: Okay... I think that's it.

Me: Wait, I was just starting to have fun!

Twat: Someone will call you in the next five months to confirm how many hours you are working at that time.

Me: They never call when they say they will, don't ya find that? Especially after you sleep with them.

Twat: I'm sorry?

Me: Don't be sorry. And, hey, keep in touch. Maybe call back in a month or two, will ya?  Late at night. Even dinner time is fine. Hell, call me on a weekend like the good ol days. I may get lonely.

Census Canada: Goodbye.

I am sure the poor woman hired to chase me to take the mandatory Census of Canada survey is a sweet soul, but she asked for it. And $500 or three months in jail for refusal to expose my privates seemed a little harsh.

I am back.

halifaxbroad@gmail.com

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Here's to you, Mr. Robinson.

If ever there was a shit-eating grin it belonged to Gary Robinson. And because, over the years, there was occasionally spillover – from his birthday, on to mine – I always wake up on May 31st and remember to say, "Happy Birthday, Gary Robinson".

Shortly after my parent's marital shit hit the fan, my brother and I found ourselves living miles from our comfort zone, in the ski resort area of Collingwood, north of Toronto. Gary was one of the "city" kids, or "skiers" – a group of supervision-free teenagers, displaced for one reason or another, to our respective shag-carpeted ski chalets north of Toronto.

There was Stephen Rawn. And John Laughlin. The Sterio kids. And Reggie Margesson. The Bryce boys I remember fondly because Andy, the eldest (now a Priest) used to climb through my bedroom window. And then there was Michael Moore, who came to live with us shortly after the Toronto School Board strike, and never went home. I love Michael Moore.

Together, we rode Mrs. Dawson's school bus – the stereotypical bright yellow tube of hormones that would pick us up from Blue Mountain and Georgian Peaks – hang a serious left to pick up a few country kids on gravel roads overlooking the Bay – before looping back toward Georgian Bay Secondary School, where we would quite often eat a muffin, then hitchhike back home to go skiing.

But that's another story.

Gary and I were just pals. Gang members of a Club drawn together by place and time. Besides, he would never be interested in a tomboy like me. Like a sister, I think he took me to dances so he could ditch me and go after someone a little more "fun". I haven't seen Gary in years, and I hope he is okay. Last time I saw him was at a funeral – and it was a funeral held at a bar – so it was a fitting place to bump into someone like Gary, who always enjoyed a beverage or two.

I tried to find him on Facebook just now. Apparently there are thousands of Gary Robinsons in the world – but none of them appear to be mine. Anyway, the Gary I know wouldn't be sitting at a computer desk, reaching out for cyber friends. Unless he'd changed. Alot. If there was a Laughbook, I bet could find him. Gary had a 1940's gangster's laugh. More of a rolling, sinister, chuckle – and as you can see from the above photo (if you can get past the glare on my forehead and that centre part and hey, note how fucking perky I was) – his laugh was always accompanied by a grin.

A wonderful, shit-eating grin.

Gary and I share this birthday season with Inkwell Boutique on Market Street. In these days of hasty emails and text messaging, maybe it's time to slow down, and catch up with old friends the old-fashioned way: Drunk dialing at 2am. Or write them a letter on Inkwell's custom letterpress stationery. This unique little shop is celebrating their first year of business, this Saturday from noon until 6. They are promising cupcakes, and who doesn't appreciate a good cupcake.

If you happen to bump into Gary today, tell him I said Happy Birthday.

Tell him, I hope he's happy. Tell him, I am sorry I don't get "home" very often. Tell him, I regret losing touch. Tell him, I hope he has plenty to chuckle about, and healthy kids (and a healthy liver) and good friends who love him. Still.

halifaxbroad@gmail.com

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Raising lovely little bastards.

I watched and chuckled this week, as a navy-blazered father smugly taught his children that doing what is right, is not as important as getting something for nothing. That lying and condescension and bullying are funny, and that money and appearances and a free ride, are more important than integrity, respect, kindness, or hard work.

Oh well, fuck them.

This week, I also had the privilege of lending a hand to two teenagers whose parents have taught them to "give more than they take" from this life. The 'give more than you take' message is also the mantra my Little Bastard has been hearing since he could reach for the last cookie.

Laura Hebb and Grant Millier aren't spending the summer sailing, or sitting in the basement playing Xbox. In a few short months, the Halifax neighbours will be embarking upon a “Journey for a Lifetime” with Coalition For Kids International. As ambassadors for Canada, Laura and Grant will travel to some of the shittiest areas of Poland to grant wishes to underprivileged and terminally-ill children.

Let me repeat: Grant wishes to terminally ill children in Poland.

I don't have alot of spare time to wax on about how great these kids are, but my laundry list of things to do before I go on a completely selfish adventure of my own, is nothing compared to getting these kids on the road to what already appears to be quality lives.

So let's cough up, shall we!? Laura and Grant need to contribute $3900 bucks each for the Foundation, and it's easy to help. Trust me when I say, you are not funding a European holiday for these two! Even the smallest donation will make YOU feel better.

And it's not even about you.

Click on the sentence below:

I want to help raise amazing kids and not assholes, because the world has enough assholes already.

Please be sure and enter Laura Hebb and Grant Millier's names in the JFAL Participant area so they can assign your donation to these special kids.

Wow, I feel better already... and I earned the right (tongue in cheek of course) to call Laura and Grant's incredibly warm, funny, and selfless mothers the honorary "Douchebags of the Day."

Thank you.

halifaxbroad@gmail.com

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May day.

The Little Bastard has been watching back to back episodes of Mayday, which can only mean one thing: We're going on an airplane.

It took 3 Lorazepams and a gin and tonic to get him on our flight to Peru last year, and that was just for me. The kid is a nervous flyer  – who isn't? But he also loathes my idea of a so-called vacation.

Unlike many people content with a swim-up bar and seven days of all-inclusive Caribbean bliss – I prefer a bit of an adventure with my umbrella drink. If I am going to get traveller's diarrhea, I want it to be memorable – for instance – outside my tent, in the middle of the Urubamba. Finding the Southern Cross is easy when the nearest softly-lit washroom is 2 days away, by donkey. My child on the other hand, prefers 5 stars, 800 thread count sheets, a toilet, and tickets to a professional sporting event.

To thine own self be true.

Since writing the above sentence, I drove the Little Bastard to school and witnessed a cyclist being struck by a car. The cyclist had an apparent death wish – no helmet, and he was wearing headphones. The driver was elderly, and hopefully wearing adult diapers, as she likely shat herself when the blue haired asshole landed on her windshield like a bug. The kid was okay, and the old gal will likely lose her license – but my point is – life can change in an instant.

Why sit around a pool, when you can dive in?

Take for instance, Halifax Investment Advisor, Bernard Miles. To him, a bull market means running his ass off, down the streets of Pamplona – inbred bovines in hot pursuit. Bernard's idea of a holiday is participating in July's annual Festival of San Fermín's running of the bulls. According to him, "What guy doesn't have a bit of an inner Hemingway?" Too many of them, I say.

Bernard doesn't invest any of my money, because I am spending it – but if I had two nickels to rub together, I'd give it to someone who is wise, and knows how to live. Like Bernard. My child will inherit a big fat sense of adventure – hopefully not for a while – although I admit to a recent obsession with The Big C – in real life – and on television. Watching Laura Linney dealing with her destiny is not only brilliantly funny – it leaves me in tears. Screw RRSPs and tucking money into a 401K. This is it.

So, off we go, in 13 days. Plenty of time for my clients to load me up with work, on the off chance I fall off a cliff or get run over by a drunk Croat. And, while this next adventure is what I call "soft" compared to last year's schlep to Machu Picchu – it does involve 6 flights, 3 days of 'Anne Frank goes to a coffeeshop' in Amsterdam, and 7 days of biking the Dalmatian Islands. The fact that we'll have our own washroom onboard a yacht, means this next adventure is my attempt at striking a happy balance.

If you're feeling somewhat under appreciated and in need of an adventure – call Maritime Travel, or consider joining this weekend's Merlot Militia in Annapolis Royal. The old HMCS Cornwallis military base has gone through a bit of a renaissance since closing its doors back in 1994. Today, as the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre, this multi-functional property – nicely situated on the Annapolis Basin – is host to a series of Boot Camps. I use the term Boot Camps loosely, as this first 2-day retreat is designed for those whose idea of a push up is a demi-cup underwire bra. To enlist, or to design your own Boot Camp, call 1-888-830-4466.

Not content to sit around eating bonbons all day, Annapolis Royal is where explorer Samuel de Champlain wound up, on his scurvy-riddled search for beaver. As we all likely will, Champlain eventually stroked out – shitting his pants one final time – leaving his relatives to bicker over his estate.

My bet is, Champlain left this world with a smile, no regrets, and some fucking incredible stories.

Happy May Day, May Day.

halifaxbroad@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

No relation.

Nothing like being elbow to elbow with my boy, eating ribs, and watching the game. I was so happy.

"Mom, why don't you sit over there?" The Little Bastard said, pointing his saucy finger at the chair across from him.

"Because then I can't see the TV... and this way we can watch the game together." I said, scooching further into the bench seat without taking my eyes off the screen. "OH NO! ... I hope they don't hurt Crosby's head!" I said, tucking into my chicken.

"Mom, Crosby's in the box already. It's hard to get hurt in the box." said the Little Bastard with a mouthful of fries.

"I know. I am just worried about his head. I think he has a soft head." I continued, taking a bite of coleslaw.

"AAAAH!" I screamed, moments later, as a puck went flying by the Philadelphia goalie. I'd seen him interviewed recently, and the poor schmuck appears to have a severe learning disability, or a permanent head injury. "I hate it when they score on the goalie."

"Mom, who else would they score on?" the Little Bastard said, looking over at the next table to see if they'd been as offended as he was by my outburst. "And, I thought you were cheering for Pittsburgh."

His tone was beginning to get on my nerves. If I wasn't knee deep in pork, I'd have stuck my elbow in his rack of ribs.

"I am cheering for Pittsburgh, I just hate seeing goalies get scored on." I said. "It's a goalie mom thing."

"That was a good goal" he said. "It wasn't the goalie's fault."

"If the puck goes past the goalie... it's the goalie's fault" I said. "Although you probably blame me, if a puck goes past you." I said laughing. "That's why I sit in the parking lot."

"Mom, there's no way the goalie could have had that shot. It was amazing." He said, defending the position he is all too familiar with.

"His poor mother. I wonder if she's watching?" I said, taking a slurp of my lemonade. "What time would in be in Russia? I wonder if she chugged vodka when she was pregnant, and that's why he's so stupid? They likely wouldn't have pre-natal vitamins in a country where you have to line up to buy toilet paper."

"What are you talking about?" My dining companion said, his Q Smokehouse Bad Attitude BBQ sauce rubbing off on his disposition.

"Baryshnikov... the stupid Philadelphia goalie." I said knowingly. "I'm just wondering if his mother..."

"You mean Bryzgalov?" The Little Bastard interrupted, correcting me. And he was using that tone again.

"Ya, whatever... I'm just saying, I wonder if he has fetal alcohol syndrome or something – although, I think your eyes are either side of your head – like a fish – when you have fetal alcohol syndrome. Like that fish... is it a grouper? Remember – we saw one at the Plantetarium in Monterey – and Baryshnikov's eyes are practically on top of each other they're so close together."

"Mom... you mean the AQUARIUM in Monterey? And you saw BRYZGALOV on TSN for like, 30 seconds." He said. "The guy's amazing. Maybe he just doesn't like answering STUPID questions." He said, with a look only a teenager can give.

"What are you talking about?" I said, starting to get pissed off.

"What are YOU talking about?!" He said.

"Did you see where Ovechkin is dating one of the pretty Russian tennis players. What is it with Russia – you're either really beautiful, or butt ugly. There's no middle of the road when it comes to Russians." I said, glancing at the screen. "OH MY GOD! When did Phillie score again? How did it get to be 4-2? Poor Sidney... although, I bet his mother will be happy to have him back home early." I continued. "Phillie have always been a bunch of goons. I remember, growing up, there was this guy named Dave Schultz – only they called him "The Hammer" – Dave the Hammer Schultz. No relation of course. I remember watching those games with my Dad. I used to get called "The Hammer" at school. Between "The Hammer" and Sergeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes, and the family with the daschund named Schultzie that moved in next door to us in New Jersey – Jesus, my last name was a curse. No one attractive ever has my last name..."

With that, the Little Bastard wandered away to fill up his fountain pop, leaving me alone, wishing I'd ordered the lemonade with two shots of Jack Daniels, instead of fucking Splenda.

When he returned, I did a recap of the game: "The Phillie guy with the bad hair just accused the other guy of pulling his hair – but who could really blame him? I'd pull it too. He looks ridiculous with that hair. Is that a playoff thing like those cheesey moustaches poor Sidney tries to grow? He must get hot under his helmet. I think boys look so much better all clean cut looking – like Sidney. I hope you never have to try and grow a moustache, although I don't seem to have much trouble. Anyway he was complaining to the ref – but I think he's going to the box anyway."

"Mom, are you done?" The Little Bastard said. "Let's go, so we're home for the 2nd period."

"But you have a whole shitload of fries. Have some pecan pie, so I can have a bite." I said, pointing at the basket of handcut fries lying close enough for me to smell the greasy goodness.

"I ordered those as backup." He said. "Because you always eat my fries."

"I do not." I said.

"You do so!" he corrected me, "Which is why I ordered those."

"Well that's just a waste... you know I'm not eating carbs." I said.

"He looked at me like I was a moron, then he laughed, and said, "You ate an entire thing of microwave popcorn this weekend... those are carbs! Drink up, let's go."

"I think it's a flounder." I said, tossing my napkins on the table.

"What?" he said, getting up from the table – exasperation and Bad Attitude BBQ sauce, all over his face.

"The fish with the eyes on both sides of its head." I said matter of factly. "I think its a flounder, not a grouper."

We stepped out onto the street, and I put my arm through his. "That was delicious, wasn't it?" I said. "And fun. I'm waaaay too full. I really have to take up that challenge from those Evolve Fitness guys. They won't know what hit them when I roll in. It's fun to watch a game with you. Way more fun than watching it alone."

"I love you." I said, moments later, looking up at my beautiful boy.

"I know." The Little Bastard said, with a resounding sigh.

We approached the car, and I thought how lucky I was to have a boy. I can't imagine what we'd ever talk about if I had a girl.

halifaxbroad@gmail.com

Friday, April 13, 2012

There's no place like Home.

Raise your hand if you had any of the following growing up:

Personal trainer.
Semi-personal trainer.
Sport psychologist.
Sport physiotherapist.
Math tutor.
Chemistry tutor.
Nutrition coach.
Orthodontist.
Goaltending coach.
Tennis teacher.
Golf instructor.
Driving instructor.
Agent or "family advisor".

I don't know about you, but I had a pair of sneakers and loosey-Grey Goosey parental instructions to 'make my way home when the street lights come on'.

My family ski days meant escaping the warm, Marlboro Light confines of the station wagon, for the exhaust fumes of the ski hill parking lot – watching as my parents sped away as fast as they could. No helmet. No ski coach. Just a twenty dollar bill – Andrew Jackson – curled up in tip of my mittens.

Learning how to swim wasn't a multi-layered, badge winning affair. It involved being tossed into the deep end of the pool by my father – who, by the way – went golfing every Saturday morning, and never taught me, or my brother, how to swing a club.

What happened to those good ol' days?

This week, the Little Bastard called an emergency session with his math tutor, the evening before a test he would most likely fail anyway. This, after confessing his inability to listen to his teacher even after she'd moved him away from his friends, up to the front of the class. He suggested Ritalin. I suggested a whack on the back of the head.

Paying $30 bucks to a tutor, so he can fail a math test makes me grit my unstraightened teeth. Forking over another $10 so he can sip a venti latte whilst doing so, makes me want to shoot myself in the foot. Meeting the tutor for this emergency session also meant another hour of me waiting, while my child becomes a "well-rounded person" at my expense.

I don't remember my parents sitting around waiting for me to do anything except move out.

Besides, we had already stopped for a bite at one of those seedy strip mall restaurants – so this was looking like a $100 evening. Time hadn't been good to this establishment either, and I have never wanted to shower so immediately after dining anywhere – ever. Nevertheless, after asking for the table to be wiped, and sitting on my coat for fear of getting an STD – I choked back some haddock and a spinach salad.

The Little Bastard had a belly full of wings when I dumped him at Starbucks. And I had an hour to kill.

Pondering my options – given my location, and the impending darkness – I decided to hit Homesense – the graveyard of interior embellishments no one really needs. I only shop with purpose, and I currently have a client in need of a few rugs. You never know what you may find in the decorating dumping ground if you have time, patience, and someone else's money on your credit card.

By my calculation, I had roughly 15 minutes before the store started flicking their lights for last call. I headed toward the rugs at the back of the store, but got sidetracked – first by a display of hideous outdoor pillows – followed by a sudden, debilitating stomach cramp that may, or may not have been brought on by bad taste. The cramp passed, but returned with gusto in the fake flower aisle. A giant, rusty ceiling fan began whirling in my bowels, as I stood helpless between the plastic ferns and the door.

Did I have time to go home? I reached for my phone to check the time – my fight or flight response kicking in as I tried to ignore the tsunami pushing its way painfully through my colon. But no phone. And no luck ignoring the pan-fried haddock beating its way downstream.

At that precise moment, it dawned on me. I was about to shit my pants. In Homesense.

Biting my lower lip, my mind went toward the exit, but my gut headed to the back of the store. Surely a place flogging fluffy white towels and toilet brush holders had a washroom. If it was locked, I was screwed.

Sure enough, after dashing back and forth in full survival mode, I spotted a matching set of His and Hers washroom doors, and pushed through one of them – my ass making contact with the porcelain just in the nick of time. Fearing splashback, and sweating like I was in labour, I took off my coat and settled in, praying no one would feel the urge to share the premises, at least until tomorrow.

Or the next day.

My first thought was relief, followed by awareness: a lack of toilet paper, and nothing to read. You'd think there'd be decorating magazines in a home decor store washroom – but given what was currently happening down south in my rec room, I wasn't about to complain. Instead, I started to laugh. I laughed because at least this was a night out. I laughed, and wished I had my phone, but there likely wouldn't be reception, and the sound effects would be horrific. And, who would I call? I sat and held my head, and giggled, while nature ran its course. I looked at my feet: Converse sandals and Smartwool socks. What does that say? I examined my sad looking fingernails, and remembered this was Red Tent weekend. Maybe I should spring for a ticket – to be charitable and social – and get a manicure while I was at it. Red Tent is the annual fundraiser in support of The Marguerite Centre – a refuge for women recovering from addictions and abuse and loose bowels. (I made the last one up.) Then my feet fell asleep, and I wondered what the hell time it was, and how long had I been in here? I wasn't in any shape to be leaving just yet, but it had to be nigh on closing time.

I pictured myself locked inside Homesense, and I started to laugh again. I envisioned giving myself a much-needed sponge bath with rose scented soap from the scented soap section. I imagined drying myself off with 100% supima cotton towels, and wrapping myself in a child's twin sheet like a toga. I'd make a comfy bed out of goose down duvets and leopard skin dog beds, and I'd feather my nest with sateen percale 8000-thread count Egyptian cotton. An array of hideous throw pillows and a bedside lamp from the lighting section would make my temporary home worthy of HGTV. Finally, I'd shake up a mocktail with some stale margarita mix from the kitchen section, and drink it from a plastic patio glass. If only I could Jack Bauer my way into Best Buy and borrow a Plasma TV, I'd be all set.

Every woman deserves a safe place to call home.

But I had to pick up my boy.

Fearful of drawing further attention to myself, or the bathroom makeover I'd performed in stall number two – I somehow managed to get myself up and out of the store – gracefully – without cramping up, or breaking into another laughing fit. I zig-zagged my way out, slowly, casually – past picture frames, dog-eared cookbooks, and naked backyard statuettes – straight into the parking lot. I felt like a shoplifter who'd dropped their pilfered load.

Moments later, I pulled in to Starbucks to see the Little Bastard close his books, and fork a fistful of cash over to his tutor. He jumped in the car and asked me where I'd been – and I started to howl. I didn't even apologize for being late, as I attempted to recreate my Homesense adventure. He didn't find my story nearly as hysterical as I did – but I guess you had to be there. In fact, the Little Bastard was having such a good time watching me crack up, I decided to do it more often.

I babbled and laughed all the way home – making absolutely no sense, whatsoever.

halifaxbroad@gmail.com

Red Tent is the primary fundraiser event for The Marguerite Centre, and it's happening Sunday, April 15. Tickets are still available by clicking here. Please spring for one, even if you don't go, or try your luck at the Silent Auction by emailing Linda at alexanderleonard@ns.sympatico.ca.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The break up.

It's not you it's me.

We don't laugh the way we used to.

I think we should see other people.

Can we still be friends?

The break up was inevitable. Two people thrown together by circumstance, clinging together for survival through thick and thin. Although, had that been us on the Titanic – you would have jumped in the lifeboat first – and I would have let you. I have always loved you Jack, more than life itself.

But, who am I kidding? It was bound to get monotonous. After all, this has been the longest relationship I have ever been in. And let's face it – I haven't been the easiest person to live with – so hat's off to you for sticking around. Mind you, I've been the sole breadwinner while you flitted through life, blowing my hard-earned money like a horny salesman in Vegas.

But my love was unconditional.

So what finally pushed us over the edge? Was it the vacuum of nothingness created by a sudden excess of free time. Or was it simply, The Clash of the Titans?

I do recall it went something like this:

"I really want to go to a movie, but Sam has to work, and no one else can go." He said, flopping down on the couch.

"I'll go!" I said, excitedly, already tucking into my mental bucket of large popcorn, double layered with real butter. I haven't had a carb since January, and I was already drooling. "I haven't seen a movie in ages!"

And that's when it happened.

"That's okay. I'll just play Xbox." The Little Bastard said, reaching between the cushions for the controller.

The unsinkable hit the iceberg.

"So... you'd rather NOT go to a movie, than go to a movie with me?" I asked, intercepting the invisible beam that travels from the sofa to the Xbox. "Is that what you're saying?"

The Little Bastard looked at me, then he tried to look around me.

"Listen, Scooby Doo... do you have any idea how many brain cells I have destroyed over the past 16 years, sitting though your stupid movies?" I asked, point blank.

And out it came.

"Do you think I actually liked Flubber? Because, remember when you were all cute, and covered with red dye from an $11 box of Skittles, and you said, 'Mom, wasn't that funny?' Well, I lied. I hated every stupid second of Flubber!"

I was just getting started.

"I hated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Fockers. Cody Banks. Snakes on a Plane. Clifford's Really Big Stupid Movie. Thunderbirds. Daddy Stupid Daycare. Fat Albert!" They were beginning to flow like fake topping on a kiddie pack. "I bit my tongue all the way through Eddie Murphy screwing up Doctor Dolittle? How stupid do they think children are!? Big Momma's House?!"

"That wasn't Eddie Murphy" he said. "That was Martin Lawrence."

"Who cares?!" I screamed. "I sat, no I tried to sit through Rugrats Go Wild – completely sober – and practically had a breakdown pacing back and forth in front of the concession stand." I was beginning to sweat. "No one... not even I have to pee 14 times during a 90-minute movie!"

I wasn't done yet.

"The Santa Clause. Spy Kids 3D. Oh! And what about MVP: Most Valuable Primate? A hockey playing monkey? You loved that piece of shit!" I hollered at the now stone-faced seed of Chucky. "I don't remember that little cinematic gem walking away with any Academy Awards."

But the night was still young.

"I sat through fucking Pokémon for fuck's sake. Pokémon: The Longest Most Plotless Movie EVER! I sat through that Japanime retaliation for Hiroshima desperately trying to make eye contact with other parents, with hopes of sliding out to the parking lot to drop acid. And let's not forget The Rescue Heroes. Baby Genuises. Inspector Gadget!" I spat.

And I wasn't finished.

"Alvin and the Chipmunks! Kung Fu Panda! Snow Dogs! Air Bud! Digimon! Mr. Popper's Penguins! Thomas the Stupid Gay Fucking Tank Engine! And what about that insipid waste of film with the stupid metal giant." I crescendoed. "I only went to that piece of drivel, because you said Vin Diesel was in it. And it was animated!!!" I said, waving my arms around.

"Iron Giant." he muttered.

"You owe me a movie, you ungrateful little shit!"

I was exhausted, and quite frankly I couldn't drag any more film titles out of my suppressed emotional data base.

Or so I thought.

Just then, a flashback to a place in time more horrific than childbirth, suddenly reeled its ugly and enormous breech head – and with my last dying breath – I screamed, "SPONGE BOB FUCKING SQUAREPANTS!"

And with that, I left the room.

I fell to my knees in the living room, and went about building a fire – crumpling up old newspapers and last semester's chemistry notes. I caught a glimpse of Movie Times in The Chronicle Herald and reached for the Bic lighter.

"Want me to do that?" The Little Bastard had come a grovelling. "Need me to carry up some more wood or anything?"

"No, I'm good." I said, forever stubborn.

"Mom, if you really want to go to a movie, let's go." He surrendered.

"Okay." I said, meekly. "Maybe there's something we both want to see."

"Wrath of the Titans starts in half an hour." He said. "It's a sequel."

I just stared at the smoking kindling.

"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is playing at the Oxford." I said. "Lots of leg room in the balcony. You like fishing."

And with a whoosh my fire ignited, breaking the awkward silence that had fallen over the room.

"You know what, I don't really feel like popcorn. Let's just stay in." I said, tossing in a log.

And with that, the final sparks of a beautiful relationship flew up the chimney – and I faced up to something I'd known for a really long time.

The little boy who used to spill his $7 dollar Mountain Dew reaching his chubby, buttery hand over to find mine – in the dark, during the scary parts – had drifted away. Soon, it would be Home Alone 5.

Time to find my own lifeboat.

halifaxbroad@gmail.com

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Life is a bowl of cherry.

"Here, sweetheart." I'd say, handing the sweaty Little Bastard the bottle of Nyquil. "Take a couple of swigs."

He was always so compliant and cute when he was sick.

"Now go back to sleep." I'd whisper, plodding back to bed, counting how many hours of shut-eye I'd get 'til his meds wore off.

I had to laugh when I saw the IWK's new commercial for Poison Awareness Week. Two bored-as-shit mothers, driving home the message that a kitchen spoon is not an ideal tool for measuring children's medicine.

Who used a spoon?

The chances of getting cough syrup – or that banana flavoured crap – from the bottle, into the snot-encrusted mouth of a wheezy toddler was hard enough at 2 am. The oral syringe the pharmacist gave you is long gone – so why then risk pouring elixir that cost more than a bottle of Drambuie, onto a wobbly spoon, in the pitch dark – splashing it down the front of their pyjamas, so they wake up all sticky, covered with red dye, dog hair, and pillow feathers?

My system was better: A half swig was a teaspoon. A double-fisted swig with no spillage – was a tablespoon.

In the morning, the Little Bastard would rush in – pupils still a bit dilated – but rested. We'd both be breathing easier after a good night's sleep.

The IWK's Child Safety Link for Morons website has several tips that make me wonder how the Little Bastard survived childhood at all. In preparation for Poison Awareness Week (March 20 to 26) here's what I learned:

1. Be as accurate as possible when giving your children medication.

I think this means to make sure they are your children, and not the neighbour's kid. Because if they truly meant for you to read the instructions, they would make it larger than 2pt type. (And how would two-fingers of scotch translate into milliliters?) Rule of thumb is to double it. Kids are designed to throw up for a reason.

2. Be sure to record when, and how much medicine a child has been given each time, so as to prevent double-dosing.

Because you have nothing better to do than keep a fucking diary. Generally, when the kid starts to whine and demand food – or stops looking all glassy eyed – it's time to top him up.

3. Child-resistant packaging does not mean “child proof”.

True. Which is why I always had to get my child to open it.

4. Take care not to refer to medicine as “candy.”

Children are gullible, but not totally stupid. Although, it does taste like candy. Are they implying you should add to the sick child's misery, instead of sugar coating things a bit? And if your kid is so stunned that he really can't tell the difference between cough syrup and a gummy worm, I think you have more to worry about than poison control – like for instance – coming up with the tuition for Bridgeway Academy.

Oh and here's my favourite:

5. When visitors come to your home, keep their purses, bags and coats out of your child's reach.

I don't know about you, but when visitors come to our house, they are called 'friends' and they take their poisons out of their purses, bags, and coats – and place them within reach. Then, they ask the child to "scoot into the kitchen and grab the corkscrew with the pointy bits, and run back quickly, so mommy doesn't have to get up".

6. Keep emergency numbers, such as the IWK Regional Poison Centre number, near the phone.

Near the phone? Do they mean the cordless phone that hasn't been seen in days? Or the rotary dial phone mounted on the wall next to the 1972 calendar. And, aren't we supposed to call 911? Or do we call for a pizza and hope the doughy crust soaks up some of the over pour?

It really is good to know our Capital Health marketing dollars are going to such good use – considering the average wait at the IWK Children's Hospital is about two days. Unless of course, your kid has a corkscrew lodged in his eye – in which case, you jump the queue.

I have such fond parenting memories. Like the time I ran over the Little Bastard's foot when I dropped him off at the Grammar School. I didn't even know what had happened, until I picked him up later in the day. Seems the cough medicine I'd been double fisting all night contained codeine, and maybe I shouldn't have been operating heavy machinery after all.

But it tasted like cherries.

halifaxbroad@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Black like whatshisname.

The Little Bastard has a spare period this semester – or as he constantly reminds me, since dinosaurs no longer roam the Earth – it is called a "free".

A revolving "free" to a 16-year old means: being picked up early on Mondays, sleeping in Tuesdays, long lunches on Wednesdays... and so on. "Free" means I am just settling in to work and he is back home, or he is calling to be picked up for lunch, or he is texting because he is bored, or worse – he is home early – flopping on the couch and demanding snacks like a pissy toddler. I keep reminding him that a "free" is designed for catching up on reading – or God forbid – studying. Free for him, means less freedom for me. Less sparedom.

Last week, I had the pleasure of rousing him from his "free" sleep-in, by standing at his bedside waving a snow shovel. I was wearing pyjamas and the look that says: "Don't fuck with me." He is very familiar with that look – so out he went, half asleep – to help our sweet little neighbour Marg with her sidewalk. I went back to work, and after a half-hour or so, he arrived at the back door.

"What took you so long?" I said.

"I am Mr. Shelby's* new coloured man." the Little Bastard said with a smile.

"What?" I replied, making a face.

He dropped his soggy layers on the floor and said, "Mr. Shelby said his 'coloured man' usually takes the bus to come and shovel, so until the transit strike's over, he asked if I could shovel his walk."

The only saving grace was Jack's air quotes on the words "coloured man". Phew.

"Did he really say, "coloured man?" I asked... wincing.

"Yep" he said, chuckling, "what's for breakfast, Mammy?"

Today is Leap Day – a gimme for dreary ol' February – and time for the Gregorian calendar to catch up with the sun, or something like that. It also tacks on an extra day to Black History Month. Or African-American history month. Whatever. Time for the Mr. Shelbys of the world to catch up and recognize that Michelle Obama isn't just planting watermelons in the White House garden.

In addition to his "free", The Little Bastard is required to take one history course to fulfill his high school diploma. He chose Canadian History over Mi'kmaq Studies, Gaelic Studies, or African Canadian Studies. In a school that sadly, appears to be socioeconomically and racially divided – I would think that African Canadian studies should be mandatory.

But it isn't.

And dinosaurs still roam the Earth – because old-school thinkers like Mr. Shelby are still one chorus of "Wade in the Water" away from growing cotton in the backyard.

Respectfully, and because it is not his nature, the Little Bastard didn't say anything to Mr. Shelby. Nothing along the lines of, "Does the 'coloured man' have a name?" Or, "How bout that Asian NHL player... who woulda thought those rice pickers could skate, huh, Mr. Shelby?", all the while whistling a few bars of "Jump down, spin around, pick a bale of cotton." (Ironically, a song we were taught in kindergarten, growing up in the States.)

I think I would have poked the hooded hornet's nest a bit.

So, while it is too late to change the train of thought (definitely not the Underground Railroad) embedded in our elders – I find it sad there hasn't been one mention of Black History month in The Little Bastard's classrooms. One would think that February, with an extra day, would be a good time for discussing Uncle Tom's Cabin, or Beloved, or what's happening out in the hallway. Is that too much of a leap?

And I have to believe, that underneath his crusty racist exterior – Mr. Shelby is a kind man – he just doesn't see anything politically incorrect or malicious about calling his longtime employee "my coloured man". Although, personally – I think the word "my" is perhaps even more dangerous than the word "coloured."

So, The Little Bastard has a new taste of freedom – and he likes it. Flaunt Salon have a new line of self-tanner that works with your DNA, instead of dyeing your skin Halloween orange. If, like me, you are shackled to your desk for March break – relax, and get Jenny to apply a sun-kissed St. Tropez tan evenly and smoothly. Or, purchase a kit and self-tan your lily white ass 'til the cows come home.

I'm thinkin' maybe I'll pick some up – and if the transit strike looms on – I'll apply for a job down the block – enlightening sidewalks, one shovel load at a time.

halifaxbroad@gmail.com

*Names have been changed to protect the ignorant, er, innocent.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Curds in my way.

I just dumped a mish mash of broccoli and cauliflower down the garburator. Tonight, I'd rather not eat, than eat that nursing home shit.

It's been two weeks since I've had a carb, a chunk o' cheese, or a cocktail... and I'm cranky as all get out. I've got carpal tunnel from chopping lettuce, and I've stewed enough rhubarb to put Grandma Walton to shame. I've lost 605 pounds so far, but 600 of that was a nasty client posing as a monkey on my back.

Tomorrow is my second "check-in" pep talk – and hopefully I've lost something besides my sense of humour and my joy of living.

I won't lie. These past two weeks have been torture. 64 ounces of water a day in – means 64 ounces of water out. I am so sick of salad I could puke, and the mere sight of someone sipping wine on television has rocking back and forth like a lunatic. I even licked a potato chip before placing it back in the Little Bastard's bowl.

While determined, I am missing my rituals. My five o'clock slab of That Dutchman's Farm gouda. My drive-thru green tea lattés. Weekend bacon. Pan-fried anything. And the Little Bastard's leftovers. I miss Yum Fancy Granola. I miss Monday night Shake 'n' Bake in front of the TV. I miss almonds, and cold butter on Julien's baguettes. I miss crunch. I miss Malbec. I miss fucking TicTacs. I miss corn – and I never eat corn.

I miss me.

So why the high-protien, low-fun health kick? It's not like I'm the next candidate for the Biggest Loser or anything. But February is Heart & Stroke month, and both of my parents suffered heart attacks – one, more fatal than the other. Mind you, they both smoked like Turks – but heart disease and stroke and teenagers, are the number one killer of women – so I'm screwed. And if that isn't enough – my pants are tight – and not in that "nice ass" kind of way. Plus, the good folks at Maritime Travel have us off on another adventure – only this time – instead of trekking with no oxygen or pillows, we're biking. And biking = biking shorts. And I don't want to look like two harbour seals are dry humping in my pants, as I zig zag up a Croatian hillside.

So I will soldier on – chopping and purging and peeing – dreaming of popcorn with layered butter, and scooping just one nightcap of ice cream, all the while, ignoring rave reviews for Dartmouth's new, ill-timed Cheese Curds Gourmet Burgers + Poutinerie.

Julia Child said, "The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook.” The grand dame of all-things butter died at 91 – soft as a wedge of gooey Camembert – hopefully clutching a croissant to her defiantly-clogged arteries, while duck fat rolled down her beautiful, smiling face.

Julia also said, “Life itself is the proper binge.”

And I want to be around to binge, and bitch, and bike... for a long, long time.

halifaxbroad@gmail.com


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Single-ply.


Single. Mother.

Are there two words – aside from maybe "child molester", or "scooch down" (or the male equivalent: "bend over") – that cause society as a whole to cringe, pity, judge, or just rubber neck for a glimpse of gore – before cranking the radio and driving on?

I recall being in a meeting where marketing demographics were being discussed. Over the course of debate, someone suggested "single mothers" were the scourge threatening to bring down the economy – and definitely not their target market.

All eyes fell upon me, followed by the usual bumblings like – "oh, I wasn't talking about you... I was referring to stereotypical single mothers... you know... uneducated women, who keep having kids and leeching on the system". Or something along those lines.

Truth is – utter "single mother" and too many people conjure up the image of a crack whore with a kid on each hip, living off government assistance in a trailer down by the river. A chain-smoking victim of hard luck and poor judgement. A lazy leper who doesn't have the gumption to change her spots.

On the other hand – single "parents" and widows get a steady flow of casseroles, home baking, and more than a modicum of respect. Single dads are adorable, like blind puppies. Fuck, even divorcées are a respectable, hot commodity – likely because they're anxious for some good times, and maybe a little revenge sex on the side.

Single mothers – not so much. We made our bed.

Now, add self-employed to the single-mother mix – and you have a lethal cocktail that sends bankers, mortgage brokers, fashionistas, and dinner party hosts diving for cover.

And before I go any further – don't get me wrong – I'm not asking for pity, and I wouldn't have done this any other way. I left several well-paying jobs because I felt I had to choose between being a good mother, or being a good employee. Sadly, it is nearly impossible to do both extremely well when you're flying solo, and I didn't want someone else raising my child. Something had to give – and in my particular case – it wasn't going to be my one crack at motherhood. So I became my own boss.

Last week, I had a taste of what it's like to be a "stereotypical" single mother when we ran out of furnace oil. We ran out of home heating oil, at precisely the same moment we ran out of money. Cheques that were supposedly "in the mail" never arrived – and stupidly, instead of topping up the tank – I'd made a chunky payment to the Little Bastard's hockey team account – because I was too proud not to.

For three days in sub-zero weather, we relied on a tiny space heater and one electric baseboard at the back of the house. For three days, I watched for the mailman like a long lost lover. For three days, I sent out invoice reminders – and in one case – I'd simply had enough disrespect, and started a motion toward small claims court. For three days, we walked around in so many layers, we were one Zamboni away from a rink. And for three days – my kid never complained once. After all, here is a child who was forced to wear pants he'd grow into – three sizes too big with 8 inch cuffs – until he was old enough to protest. He knew I was embarrassed, and angry, and feeling like a failure. Best not kick the hungry dog.

For three days, I had a taste of what it must be like to be that kind of single mother. Making sure your kid's tummy is full first. Curling up and watching a movie together because it would be fun (and easier to stay warm). Wiping your ass with three squares of single-ply toilet paper instead of a fistful of Cottonelle. All the while – thinking of a way out.

I can tell you that it's really hard to be proud, and creative, and happy, and a good mother – when all you can think about is money. Or the lack thereof.

Of course, cheques eventually filtered in, and my bank account went from famine to feast, as it does from time to time. I filled the oil tank part way. A few bills got paid. My self-esteem dropped by for a visit. And the fridge got stocked. My shoulders relaxed a bit, and I called Discount Fuels to thank them for making a special, late afternoon delivery. We even went out for dinner – a nice treat after three days of humble pie.

So maybe I don't have a steady pay cheque, or a partner who brings home the bacon and assures me that everything will be alright. And I don't have RRSPs, or any hopes of ever retiring. But I do have a chosen career path that I love (most days), appreciative long-time clients, and an amazing kid who has grown up to be a brave, kind, funny, resilient, and compassionate man.

And as a single mother – I can take full credit for that.

halifaxbroad@gmail.com

* A friend originally told me to take this post down because it made me sound pathetic and depressed, so I did. But I just reread it and I must be pathetic, because it was how I was feeling... so up it does again. May 7, 2012

**Read John DeMont's Herald feature on busy single mom and business owner Julia Rivard. Hats off to her (especially for having the strength to do P9OX at 11 pm when I can barely get a load out of the dryer at 7:30) but her mommy guilt meter must be set differently then mine!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The buddy system.

Anyone with shares in Robert Mondavi, or the Pinot Grigio crop of 2005 should be rejoicing after last week's gathering of comfortably-heeled Havenot hens.

The fact that I showed up at such an event was totally out of character – having always preferred hangin' with "the guys" and swiggin' from a bottle of Chateau Crude de Noncommittal – a lively blend with hints of mischief and an undertone of reckless abandon. The fact that I was one of the last to leave, was no surprise.

By choice, I don't get out much – so when I peck my way out of coop, it's like Lesbian Bipolar Prison Break. And wading into that particular sea of familiar X chromosomes was rather pleasant. Like swimming though your own pee in a freezing cold lake.

Of course, there were snacks. Dim lighting. Cocktail napkins with cheeky jokes on them. Guest towels. And it was fun to hoist a glass with women I rarely see outside of the grocery store, the rink, or driving by – screeching at their own kids from behind the wheel of a minivan. And while we may not hang out or chat on a regular basis – we all have age, professions, and motherhood in common. Juggling acts that often go unappreciated except among peers. And by the looks of things, we can all guzzle our share of "mommy juice" when handed a hall pass.

What really struck me about the group as a whole was – they were all beautiful. Fit. Sexy. Funny. Wise. They also all had a voice – independent thinkers who hadn't been assimilated into their partners' personalities. (That voice was loud! Once the wine started flowing you could barely hear yourself speak.) And for the most part, they all seem pretty happy – even the ones battling sore hips, cancer, ill parents, divorce, and/or asshole teenagers – all the usual shit life throws under your bus.

Eyes look better with a few crinkly laugh lines.

I was particularly interested in seeing two of the party goers. Both women had recently transformed their eating habits, and their bodies – and I was anxious to see if they'd stuck with it. In truth, part of me was hoping to see them all puffed up like Adele, scarfing back cheese balls like Henry the VIII.

Like me.

Fact is, they were both radiant, goddammit. And as I stood there in my 'good sweats' admiring their cute clothes – I knew it was time to stop blaming my age, my schedule, genetics, and my recently diagnosed hypoactive thyroid – and get back on the horse of fucking misery, and ride.

Diet time.

Looking back, I haven't been on a "program" since January 2010. At that time, I did it as a joke – to give me something to bitch about – and to prove it couldn't be done. Boy, was I wrong. With the help of Halifax fitness and nutrition guru, Glenn Faltenhine of Healthy Halifax, I not only managed to lose a chunk of me – I actually enjoyed it. High protein, low carbs, and no booze. No cheesies. No picking fries off the Little Bastard's plate. No chunks of cheese on salty crackers. No carrot cake. No booze... did I mention that?

My apologies to anyone with shares in Argentinian Malbec crops.

So here I go again – only this time I have a buddy. A like-minded hen who's also lost her strut. We have a proven-succesful program, a goal, and a mandatory weekly weigh-in and all the humiliation that goes with that.

Hey, maybe I'll head down to Thornbloom's Annual White Sale and pick up some incentives... like some sexy new bedding. Or a salad bowl.

What have I got to lose?

halifaxbroad@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

And the winner is... not to say we aren't all winners.

First of all, thank you to all the losers.

As usual, a most undeserving person with a healthy bank account won the trip to Boston – but the good news is: Mary Ryan of Halifax is the lucky winner of the $50 Flaunt Salon gift certificate – and no one is more deserving, and in need of a trip to the salon than Mary Ryan.

Wait, that didn't come out right.

What I meant to say is, Mary, you look great, and a trip to the spa will only enhance that inner beauty of yours – not that you don't have any outer beauty – I'm just sayin', who doesn't step out of a salon feeling like a new person, or at least half the person you used to be in high school? And by that I don't mean those 40 or so extra lbs you carted around after that incident in Grade Ten. For some of us, those high school years were rough (and drug induced) but Mary, I hear you were a real babe back in the day – Christ, I heard you dated the entire football team, or was it basketball? No... come to think of it, it must have been the hockey team, what with you wanting to hide that skin thing under a heavy parka. Nevermind Mary, I heard you rocked it, so if you don't mind me askin', "what the hell happened?" I mean, well, not that you aren't a picture of perfection now, because that cruel prick Father Time has been pretty good to you considering... oh, fuck it.

Enjoy Flaunt Mary.

Thank you to everyone who supported The Little Bastard.

halifaxbroad@gmail.com

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Run along and be active honey, Mommy will sell your shit.

Cookie dough. Chocolate covered almonds. Lobsters. Entertainment coupon books. And my favourite – the "Glass Turkey" – a laundry hamper full of Triple Sec that parents dragged out of their liquor cabinets.

Ya, I'm talking fundraising, and the psychotic and cyclical exchange of money that goes from parent to parent, in doorways, offices, and rink parking lots. Like crack dealers, we lurk in alleyways waiting for someone who may need a fix, or an entire freezer full of shitty fruit pies – all with hopes of keeping our kids off the streets.

Swim teams. Girls' Choir. Band trips. Dance. Volleyball. Baseball. Football. T-ball. Can we all not agree to just pay for our own kids and stop the incestuous, labour-intensive insanity?

Take for instance, the best marketing idea ever – spending $80 bucks on gas, driving around delivering frozen cookie dough for a $100 profit. And let's not forget bottle drives. An entire weekend spent rummaging through pissy blue bags like a homeless person, searching for a ten cent bottle deposit refund. By the end of it, you're so tired and pissed off, you fill up your own blue bag – ready for next Saturday when the girls' basketball team comes a knockin' all the way from Cole Harbour.

Oh! And another thing. The Little Bastards do absolutely nothing. Shovel snow? Rake leaves? Bag groceries? Nooooooo... they're too busy jerking off and texting and dryland training and being actively involved in the sports that have sucked any chance of parents ever owning a single solitary RRSP, let alone a decent coat to stave off hypothermia in a fume-filled rink built in 19fucking69.

Over the years, I've eaten caseloads of anaphylactic almonds, flogged fair trade coffee beans, nibbled on frozen cookies, and sold enough raffle tickets (that I had to design) on trips that no one I know ever seems to win – and quite frankly I'm sick of it.

This morning, I experienced exactly how the seal hunter feels as he wields the club high up over his adorable prey. I bounced the Ziploc baggie full of unsold tickets at the sleeping giant's head and screamed, "Wake up and go sell some bloody tickets, I just got an email saying the $800 is due tomorrow and I am NOT paying for them."

I remember the first time I enrolled the Little Bastard in Timbits. After purchasing all the gear, (that I had no clue how to put on) and while sweating like a pig in pyjamas in a filthy dressing room at 6am – I then wrote several cheques to the Halifax Hawks, figuring the $600 or so bucks was astronomical – but worth it, because he was happy – and so much for me thinking hockey was cheaper than skiing – but, what the heck, this wasn't going to stick, and we'd be back on the ski slopes before that roll of tape was gone.

Imagine my surprise at the first Timbits parents' meeting – after the fair and equal playing time bullshit speech was over – when the annual budget was passed around. I figured it was a typo when I saw the bottom line: $18,000. Of course, I also thought the Coach was joking when he listed off "away" tournaments, extra ice time, dryland, the end-of-year party, and the first of many hideous track suits and jackets you were forced to buy in order to stave off the sheer humiliation of your kid being the only one on the team NOT wearing a black and red monkey suit with his name and number on it. (I have at least 12 of them in various sizes for sale, if anyone is interested.) But, $18,000? The Little Bastard could barely skate, and spent the early morning ice time licking his snot.

And, so here I am – a decade or so later, still on my knees, too old and tired to offer sexual favours, begging for mercy because the parents voted to sell $800 dollars worth of tickets on a trip to see the Celtics and the Bruins (minus Brad Marchand, that naughty and kinda sexy local dirty boy) instead of putting in the time and effort of hosting an auction, where you feel obligated to buy shit you couldn't give away at a garage sale, but you can at least drink too much and overbid on the very items you had to grovel and get donated from clients and local businesses.

Hey, I work at home, and the only people I see, are the other hockey parents flogging the same damn tickets. Besides – in a gallant effort – I pulled up to Donny Reardon's house to sell tickets last week, and ended up buying $20 bucks worth of raffle tickets from his kid. Fuck that.

So here's the deal:

You buy the Little Bastard's tickets and I'll enter your name in a draw for a $50 gift certificate to Flaunt Salon that you can use toward a fabulous cut and blow, or a massage, or a pedicure, or gentlemen... you can get your back waxed.

Tickets are 1 for $10, or 5 for $20 and the draw is Saturday! It's so easy to purchase... use the handy PayPal button to the right, do an email transfer, or mail the Little Bastard a cheque. (Details below). There are two prizes. The grand prize is a trip to Boston to see Celtics vs Memphis and Bruins vs Penguins (or you can take $1000 bucks and stay home). Second prize is $400, which reminds me, I have to bring $20 bucks to the rink to chip in for that. I think there's a third prize, but that escapes me.

As for kids getting involved and learning a life lesson, all I can say is the best ever sales person was the young, clipboard-toting Mr. Nathan Clarke. Our future Prime Minister rolled into my backyard this summer after hearing the blender going from blocks away. There we were, neighbours, knee deep in birthday margaritas and willing targets for Nathan's enthusiastic sales pitch. Only problem was, no one remembered purchasing anything until Nathan arrived weeks later with a shitload of pies. Or was it cookie dough? I do remember writing a cheque to a lacrosse team. Or was it baseball?

Nevermind.

It is all for a good cause, and as they say, "cheaper than bail."

halifaxbroad@gmail.com

If you don't want to do the Paypal thing you can:
A: Email money through the Interac button your your online banking site to broad@eastlink.ca
B. Mail, or drop off a cheque made out to Jack Flinn, 1589 Preston Street, Halifax B3H3T9
Just let me know it's coming and your contact info so we, okay, I, can write up your tickets because the draw is this Saturday.
Thank you.