04 April 2013

Things That Are Awesome - Wave the Stick Has Moved!

Hi all - just a quick post to say that I won't be posting here anymore. I've got new digs at www.wavethestick.com* and they are much spiffier than this old thing. Once some time has passed, I'll likely be shutting this space down - but fear not, all my old ramblings are already over there too. You can bask in the joy of my archives as much as you'd like.

Please join me there - the design work of Schmutzie over at Ninjamatics is so lovely I'm actually inspired to write more.

*If that just brings you back to this page, you may need to clear your browser's cache, which sounds like a pain, but I promise it's worth it to see the new site. I promise!

12 February 2013

Things That are Hard - Letting Go of Fear and Perfectionism

Posting this here for myself, and anyone else who needs a kick to the ass and hasn't seen it yet.

"Perfectionism may look good in his shiny shoes, but he's a little bit of an asshole and no one invites him to their pool parties."
Ze Frank

13 December 2012

Things That Are True - On Not Chickening Out and Holiday Concerts

My friend Neil over at Citizen of the Month has been doing a blogger holiday concert for years - and last year I really wanted to participate and I totally chickened out. This year I'm doing it - fumble-fingered guitar playing, flat vocal bits and all. The song is "The Christians and the Pagans" by Dar Williams.

Please to enjoy!

05 November 2012

Things That Are True - I Want to Ride My Bicycle, I Want to Ride My Bike

I was sick today - managed to get His Impness to the school bus stop and return home before I revisited the contents of my digestive tract. Word to the wise: smoothie is not so smooth on the way back up.

When I'm sick is the only time I actually miss having a car.

I had, for logistical reasons, the use of HWSNBN's car all last week, and I was surprised at how much I hated it. Navigating traffic, looking for parking, having to always be aware of how much time was left on the meter. Ugh. I used to equate having a car with having freedom, but after almost a year and a half of cycling everywhere, I have to say I don't see myself ever going back. I've grown used to just locking up my bike and walking away, not worrying about it being broken into or getting towed. I've enjoyed the money I don't have to spend on parking. I like being able to take bike lanes or snake my way the through lines of cars waiting at a red light. I like feeling the wind on my face, and hearing what's going on around me. I resented the hell out of the car - despite the rain and miserable weather we had last week, I found myself wishing I was on my bike.

If I had a bell...

And HWSNBN's car has heated seats, so that's saying something.

But when I'm sick? A car seems like a really good idea. Fighting back puking on a bike is just not fun. Fighting back vomit in a car isn't fun either, but at least it feels like no one can see the ridiculous faces you're making.

This morning I made it home on my bike without breaching the confines of my digestive system by sheer force of will. You can call me Iron Jaw.

Hope tomorrow's a better day.

04 November 2012

Things That Are True - Grace in Small Things

After yesterday's bummer of a post I thought I'd do my part today to wage the battle against embitterment.

The Imp's choice of attire for a lunch out yesterday
  1. A slow, lazy day with The Imp and HWSNBN today, with nothing more pressing to do than drop off laundry and hang out in a coffee shop. It's been a while, and it felt good.
  2. Abbott Laundromat. Their inexpensive drop off service is a small luxury that basically saves our marriage every weekend.
  3. The adorable thirteen month old in the coffee shop today, who thought big-kid-Imp was all that.
  4. The Imp rising to the occasion and sharing his book and stickers with the adorable thirteen month old unprompted.
  5. Non shoutiness, and today being much better than yesterday.
Inspired by Schmutzie's Grace in Small Things. That Schmutzie is the conduit of much internety goodness.

03 November 2012

Things That Make Me Ashamed - Shouty Mom

The truth is, I haven't been liking myself very much lately.

I've been letting things slide, I've been missing opportunities, I've been slow to react, and slow to finish things, if they get finished at all. I've ignored this blog, ignored writing altogether for probably the longest stretch of my adult life. I couldn't figure out why I cringed every time I thought about sitting down to put my thoughts in order.

Then I figured some stuff out, and it's not pretty at all.

I have some baggage about being ignored; being made to feel less than.

No four year old is really great at listening. The Imp, energetic and full of questions and entranced with all the shiny things is not good at listening at all in the morning rush before school and work.

He's a great kid. He's thoughtful, and generous, and sweet. Affectionate, whip-smart, and curious. He gets excited about every little thing, and greets each day with a let's go! attitude that I often envy.

But he's not so great at listening.

And I'm not so great at being not listened to.


It happened gradually, but I started shouting at him sometimes, to get his attention. After six times of asking him to do something with no response, I'd increase the volume to let him know I meant business. It was effective for a while, then it faded into the white noise of Imp's life.

So I started shouting to get his attention a lot of the time.

Then instead of just being a question of volume, a note of frustration crept into the shouting. Then the frustration turned to resentment, and soon it felt like I was shouting all the time, angrily barking orders at Imp every time I needed him to just do something.

I became Shouty Mom.

The morning excitement in Imp's eyes was turning to resistance and resignation, and that's when I realized that I didn't like myself very much. That I hadn't liked myself very much for quite some time. I was horrified by the parent I'd become without noticing.

Three days ago I hit critical mass. After a particularly difficult morning, I cracked. I just could not stand the idea of starting one more day fighting with The Imp about all the minutiae of our daily routine; breakfast, getting dressed, picking up his toys, getting his for-the-love-of-all-things-holy shoes on so we could just get out the door.

I could not, as a human being, spend that much time frustrated, angry, and living my life at top volume.

So I stopped.

And it's been hard. Not the stopping shouting, that's the easy part. It's a relief, to turn the volume down, to dial back the anger, to just get really quiet. I've kept my demeanor calm, my tone reasonable, and my voice low. Instead of shouting, I speak quietly enough that Imp has to get close to me to hear what I'm asking him to do.

The hard part?

(I'm ashamed, deeply ashamed, to admit this.)

The Imp's gotten used to the shouting. The Imp doesn't know how to deal with the not shouting.

The shouting is awful, but it's been consistent enough that it's comfortable for him, even if it's all kinds of wrong.

(I've been on the receiving end in an abusive relationship. The echoes of that here are enough to make my fingers shake as I type this.)

Because the dysfunction (temporary, it hasn't been going on that long, and I'm self aware enough to have caught it, for which I am eternally grateful) is what he knows, this sudden change to quiet, even-toned, non-shouting Mommy is discomfiting for The Imp.

He's flailing, striking blindly, lashing out at me to try and provoke the reaction he's accustomed to. It's been awful, seeing him escalate and escalate really bad behaviour because he wants me to shout at him. He's even asked me to shout at him. I've been handling it - we've been handling it - by limiting attention to inappropriate behaviour (make sure he's safe but ignore the outbursts) and lavishing attention on him when he's well behaved. Today there was a lot of progress, and I'm as proud of that as I am ashamed of why it was needed.

I've been crying a lot. A lot.

But I haven't been shouting.

01 November 2012

Things That are Random - Thursday in November Edition

My poor, neglected blog.

Seems fitting somehow that the last time I posted was in New York. Like everyone else, the last two days I've been able to think of little else. Like everyone else, I loved New York. I reveled in the cliche of being enchanted with the city. I made little mental tick marks on the list in my head of New York experiences that I just happened upon. Ride in a yellow cab. Tick. Come around a corner and see the sunlight glinting off the top of the Chrysler building. Tick. Subway trip. Tick tick tick.

The thing about New York is that even if you've never been there, you can't help but feel like you already know it, a little. An ersatz version, surely, but the city figures as a central character in so many books, movies, and tv shows, that we all have a shared experience of the city - even those of us who have never been there. It feels familiar, the landmarks comforting.

A little souvenir of New York I brought home for The Imp

I loved sitting in Bryant Park people watching. I loved walking around Chelsea and the Garment District, Soho, the Village. I loved observing the private moments that happen in public in a city that large - like the woman in midtown changing out of her sensible flats into killer heels on the sidewalk just before squaring her shoulders and stepping through the doors of her office tower, or the business man shrinking away from the vocal shoe shine guy calling him out loudly on the state of his footwear. "No corner office for you!"

I loved it when I finally figured out that what I thought were raindrops beginning to fall were actually dripping air conditioners in windows above me as I walked through the August heat. I loved the casual disregard New Yorkers had for traffic signals. The only people waiting at lights to cross are tourists. After a couple of days, I too sauntered across the street in the face of oncoming traffic just as blase as the next guy, secretly thrilled with the notion that a fellow tourist might mistake me for a New Yorker.

I am an urban traveler. I love getting lost in crowds, I love the encounters with the unexpected. I love the energy; it feeds me. Camping or a cruise would be my worst nightmare. Getting lost in New York? Perfect.

Which is good, since I got lost a lot.

We wandered around, my traveling companions and I. We emerged, blinking, into the sunlight from the subway tunnels and I managed to pick the wrong direction every. single. time. Gwen and Sandi were ridiculously good sports about all the doubling back we had to do. I'm not sure why they kept following me after the 17th or 18th time I went confidently off in the entirely wrong direction, but we stumbled on a couple of great little restaurants that way, so I think they've mostly forgiven me.

Theory: once you've gotten a taste of New York, you get home and start saving money to go back. I know I am.


I don't have anything to add to the common discourse about the devastation in New York. It's not possible to look at photos of destruction and loss and feel nothing. I can't pretend to know the city; I only spent a week wandering its neighbourhoods.

It just feels closer than it once did, is all.

The thing about social media in general, and twitter in particular, is that it vaporizes distance. Geography becomes merely a descriptor when I can chat in real time with a woman hunkered down in her apartment in midtown Manhattan in the middle of the worst storm to hit New York in living memory. I was worried about her situation as I saw more and more shocking photos flitting by in my twitter stream. She was concerned about me as she saw news of earthquakes in British Columbia fly by in hers.


I can't get this song out of my head.

"We are calling for help tonight on a thin phone line
As usual we're having ourselves one hell of a time
And the planes keep flying over our heads
No matter how loud we shout
Hey, hey, hey, hey
And we keep waving and waving our arms in the air but we're all tired out
I heard somebody say today's the day
Big old hurricane she's blowing our way
Knocking over the buildings
Killing all the lights
Open your eyes boy, we made it through the night"

Being on twitter, the night of the storm, felt like we were all sitting together in the dark holding hands.