Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Charmin’ Carmen

And now for something completely different...

This morning my eight-year-old daughter came downstairs for breakfast wearing a “Carmen Young Annual Track Meet” t-shirt, one of the medals she won at that track meet a few years ago1 and her usual gorgeous, morning smile.

She stopped me in my tracks. It wasn’t just the darling little jack-o-lantern grin that gave me pause. You see, Carmen Young is my sister and she died ten years before my daughter was born. And today would have been her 34th birthday.

The logical/scientific part of my brain really doesn’t want to believe in religion or an afterlife. But in my heart, I know that Carmen and my other loved ones are out there, in some form, somewhere.

For me, it boils down to this: when you lose someone you love, it’s a comfort to think they still exist beyond our mortal existence. But when you lose someone so very young (Carmen was 15), you have to believe they go on. It’s the only way I can go on.

And how beautiful is it that Carmen has some cosmic connection with my daughter?

I miss Carmen every day and will for the rest of my life. She was larger than life—vivacious and pretty and smart and passionate. She knew how to find your weaknesses and drive you crazy with them—a talent she possessed from a very early age. (Like, 2? No joke!) She was dramatic and hilarious and loved her family and friends with every molecule of her being. She wanted to be special and be a star, while being just a normal girl doing regular girl stuff. She would have been a professional actress had she grown up. She would have loved my daughter beyond all things.

She loves my daughter beyond all things.

Carmen was a fighter—sweet Jeebus, was she a fighter. She fought for her life and never gave up, and she fought for other people’s lives through her advocacy of organ donation.

So when my daughter comes down in full Carmen regalia, with no clue whatsoever that it’s her never-met aunt’s birth date, I have to cry a little and smile a lot. And I know: she’s still here.

So, in honour of Carmen’s birthday, please sit down with your family this week and discuss organ donation. As she used to say, I promise someone will take good care of your gift.

And you’ll make one tough little Cape Bretoner very proud, wherever she might be...

1. Some days she wears a purple rose or peacock feather in hair, some days she wears a medal around her neck. Yesterday she went on a field trip dressed as an Lebanese immigrant.2 She’s eight. I love it.

2. Which was a bit tough to pull of with the blond hair and blue eyes, but she performed admirably.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Don’t drink and clean

Ever see that historic moment vignette about women getting the vote?1 The bit I always remember about it is not the classic “Nice women don’t want the vote” line,2 but rather when the trusty narrator says, “It did not go well for Mrs. McClung.”4

So... I decided to have a glass of wine while cleaning the kitchen yesterday.

It did not go well for Mrs. Reid.

It started out innocently enough. I waded through the stacks of dirty dishes, got the first load in the dishwasher, hosed down one busy counter and started rearranging things in the fridge. I decided to organize and replenish the juice boxes, so I grabbed the cello-wrapped pack of Five Alive from that one clean counter, jabbed a hole in the packaging, then struggled mightily to get the stupid thing open. And, when it opened, oh boy, did it open—busting apart sending juice boxes flying in every possible direction. One ambitious5 box kamikazied for the aforementioned wine, sending the glass spinning and tumbling in spectacular lawn-sprinkler-like6 fashion.

To which I responded, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? THIS is EXACTLY why I don’t clean!”

The area where the wine—spilled just doesn’t do it justice, so let’s go with—EXPLODED is the stupidest corner in our very small house of unusual spaces. It’s a catchall counter that faces the side of the fridge, which is less than a foot away. The lower cupboard’s doors had to be jerry-rigged with hinges in the middle because the space is too small to open them straight out. It’s a perfect place to put the cat’s food and water.7 However, because I can only wedge myself in there sideways, it is an absolute horror to clean. I can’t tell you how much time I spent wiping up the GD mess, because I think the part of my brain in charge of telling time was the precise part I kept poking with the idiot fudgestick.8

At any rate, it took a very long time to clean.9 So long, in fact, that I decided that I had had quite enough for one day and I gave up. That’s fair, right?

So here’s an interesting side lesson: you know how some things turn green and mouldy when they go bad? Remember how I was organizing the fridge? Well, I had taken a huge bowl of leftover macaroni out and placed it on the counter (thankfully not the crime-scene counter) and, since I had given up, there it sat. Till the next day.10 Imagine my surprise when I discovered the macaroni had, in that short time, started to ferment!

Noodle wine anyone?11


1. I'd provide a link to YouTube, but every few months our YouTube shuts down all the other open programs and freezes the computer. We forget it’s happening for about a week and have to keep rebooting, then we remember and complain bitterly for a week about it because—hey, who wants to live without YouTube, am I right? Then we accidentally fix it but can never remember how. Then a few months later, every time we click on YouTube we end up having to reboot, lather, scream, repeat...

2. Other classic lines that only fellow Canadians who watch waaaaay too much TV would appreciate:
“Patience, Jenny. Patience!” (Make sure you spit a little and rip off someone’s fig leaf.)
“Burnt...Toast... Dr. Penfield! I Smell...Burnt...Toast...!”
“The train!”
“Persons, under the law.”
“ka-NAAAAH-da,” point, point.
And, of course, “No one’s going to read a story about a man in tights, Joey! It'll never fly!” As we, once again, in typically Canadian fashion, grasp desperately to be linked with something that’s famous in America.3

3. Please note, this list was created without the assistance of YouTube OR Google. Permanently. Etched. I’m pretty sure if Dr. Penfield poked the brains of Canadians-of-a-certain-age, we wouldn’t be going on about pouring cold water on our hands but would instead start spouting these vignettes by heart.

4. Or Mrs. MacPhail. Or whichever important change-making Canadian woman was featured in this one.

5. Malicious?

6. You know—the three-pronged twirly one. Maximum lawn-soaking coverage. Perfect.

7.  In a related story, Snowdrop has been a little stumbly-Jack lately. Hope she doesn’t get the DTs when she finishes this wine-soaked batch of kibble.

8. Anyone have Dr. Penfield’s number?

9. When hubby and daughter returned from their several-hour-sojourn-out-to-give-mommy-a-chance-to-clean adventure, they’re like, “WTF? Why is it still a mess here? What have you been doing?!?” Sniff, sniff. “Oh nevermind. Obviously you needed to get hammered instead. Lush.”

10. I know, you’re shocked.

11. Note to self—no cleaning!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Enough already!

As I was fishing socks out of the kitty litter, it hit me: I really need to get my shit together.1

There’s a delicately teetering balance in my life. Most days it works out just fine. Slide out a jenga block or two and, sure, the structure looks precarious, but it’s still solid. Then someone comes along and removes that piece—you know, the bottom end piece—and I’m suddenly overtaken by a thousand blocks of wood.3 And because I’m so disorganized, I can’t find the plastic guide-y thing to help me rebuild my tower.

It might start when my friend calls to ask if her daughter can hang at our place before walking to school with us. I might say, “Sure—I’ll clear a path to the living room. She’s up to date on her tetanus shots, right?” I’m only partially joking.4 She might laugh.6

It might start when I realize I’m late to pick up my daughter after school and I must, therefore, change out of my pyjamas,7 so I might run upstairs and grab my jeans off the floor,8 run back downstairs and snatch my keys and coat, and then I might reach down for my scarf, which might have fallen to the floor,9 which might unleash a cloud of dust and cat hair, which might prompt a huge MF sneeze, which, if you’ve been following this blog at all, can only mean one thing: time to change my jeans.10 I might then rush downstairs and try to liberate the pair-two jeans from the piles atop the jerry-rigged laundry shelves, on the floor under which11 I, in all my infinite wisdom, might have placed my three kitty litter boxes.12

What the fuck did I think was going to happen?

I’m guessing we all have these days when everything seems so out of control that you end up spending 95% of your time whining about about what a mess everything is, or about not being able to get anything done, or about not being able to find anything amongst the detritus of your life, which has somehow exploded in such a spectacular fashion that it’s left socks and underwear in the cat pooper.

And that, my friends, is what spurs me into action: it’s not the cat poop, or sneeze pee, or the biohazard in the kitchen sink, or the need for a tetanus booster. No, it’s me whining incessantly about how out of control everything is. Eventually I will get sick of it and say ENOUGH ALREADY! Time to stop whining and get moving—unearth the child and pet, create a clean environment, put those clothes away, update that to do list14 and ACT.

I was tired of listening to my own pathetic excuses, so this was the day I vowed to GET THINGS DONE.

So that’s what I did.

Errr... well, actually, what I did was write this blog post.

Hmmm. Never mind.


Wish me luck!

1. I mean that figuratively—yes, I had dropped laundry in the kitty litter, but, miracle of miracles, I had actually scooped the kitty poop just prior to the sock incident. Small victories.2

2. But still—ewww.

3. Lazy writing alert! I feel the need to point out again that this a metaphor—not because I doubt your intelligence, but because I doubt my ability to pull off said metaphors.

4. True: I need to literally clear a path from the back door to the living room. Oddly, kids seem to take this in stride. Joke: Tetanus query. Most kids get tetanus shots at some point that are good for about 10 years, so we’re safe till they’re, like, 15. It still elicits a laugh though, so I keep it in my repertoire. However, I stopped making jokes about allergies to dust and cat hair/dander because, well, it’s not a joke here. As you will soon see.5

5. Foreshadowing. Just sayin'.

6. Homer knows.

7. Frigg off—I work at home. What would you wear?

8. I shift between two pairs of jeans, wearing one pair till they get to the point where they walk themselves to the laundry room. This pair, while on the floor, had still not made the laundry dash and could thus be considered the “clean” pair. Everything being relative and all.

9. I know, you’re shocked.

10. ‘Cause we’re not talking a few drops of pee here. It was like one of those fem hy commercials, without the blue dye. Or the fem hy. Which, really, could have made this whole post irrelevant.

11. With apologies to Winston Churchill.

12.  I only have one cat, but whenever we go away and have friends looking after her, I put out three litterboxes so my kitty-sitters don’t have to change the litter while we’re gone and Snowdrop doesn’t have to claw her way into the crawl space to find a fresh place to take a poo. Hey—I may be a slob, but I’m a considerate slob. I just haven’t gotten around to consolidating the boxes since our recent trip,13 so my laundry-dropping target range is still vast.

13. I know, you’re shocked.

14. My to do list requires it’s own dedicated blog.15

15. Hell, my to do list requires its own bloody postal code.