December 2008


Back before I became a parent I spoke to a friend of a friend who admitted to me that some evenings after a bad day she’d come home and feed her daughter Oreos while she had vodka for dinner.

I’m not one to feel cocky about my parenting skills but I thought, ok there’s a bar that I can use as some kind of standard.  As long as I can stay *above that* I’m doing alright in the parenthood department. 

And it’s worked out all right.  While I have oft-times respected the sacredness of Happy Hour whether it’s been a bad or a good day there’s always been real food on the table even if I pay someone to bring it to me.

I was thinking about this as I’ve been reading Glass Castle.  The story starts off (ok page 2 spoiler alert) with the main character at 3 lighting herself on fire because she’s cooking her own lunch at the stove. 

The people who raised her are the titans of parental slackerhood.  And I’d recommend the book, it never falls into self-pity or woe-is-me.  Mostly I loved it because it showed me a whole bunch of additional parenthood bars I’ve managed to stay above.  For example, I’ve never woken my son up and taken off in the car to move to another town to avoid creditors.  I won’t go on because I don’t want to spoil the whole book, it’s a good one.

It makes me wonder if the writer would have become the scrappy hard-working person, determined to work in her chosen profession if she’d grown up in a BMW stroller with a silver spoon in her mouth and a fist full of flash cards.  She had one crazy childhood but it didn’t stop her from becoming a great writer.  And heck, it gave her something to write about. 

The question is interesting to me because I believe that we choose the families we’re born into.  I know, that can be a weird one to swallow and trust me I should be the last one to believe this.

I am, in some ways so different from my family.  But we love each other and that’s what matters.  But what I’ve concluded on this front is that my path is to find my own path.  That would not work if I came from a family of Corilee Clones.  Actually that’s a really frightening thought.

But there are similiarities too.  My mom was a school teacher and loved it.  Someone read my tarot cards once and told me I’d be a teacher and I was like, you’ve got to be kidding I’m not hanging out in a room full of amped up children. 

But I ended up teaching yoga.  Last year my Mom took one of my classes and besides giggling through parts when she couldn’t figure out which hand should go forward in Warrior 2, she did great.  And then she had feedback about my teaching afterwards.  I was like, oh yeah, we share a profession here.  So I’m starting to notice the similiarities more these days.  I value them too.

I think that our souls plan a lot of stuff they want to experience when they decide to come to earth.  It can’t just be random, they need a certain set-up, a certain context to do the things they need to do.  So I think it makes sense that we choose our families.  Now that doesn’t always mean it’s a great situation.  But whose to judge what’s good or bad?

A calm safe suburban childhood might be perfect for me and completely stifling to you whose going to be a ground-breaking rebel.  Or that might be the perfect context for you to find your inner-rebel.  If you grew up in a punk rock family, maybe you’d get bored and become an accountant.  Make sense?  Yeah, not to me either.  Thank god you’ve got a lifetime to figure out what what you were thinking.

It bugs me when people say – oh you don’t want to bring a kid into this awful world.  So what, all kids are victims before they even start?  Somebody’s got to make this place better.  Who says it won’t be your kid who’s the next Gandhi? 

You just have to try to avoid making dinner out of Oreos.  Or who knows, maybe it’ll be a steady diet of Oreos that kickstart them into making the world a better place. 

Uh-oh, I feel an interweb confessional coming on.  Ready? I’m totally addicted to reading Twilight.  A friend lent it to me and I thought, “yeeaaahhh, teenage vampire book, righteo”. 

And yes I do talk that way to books that lay unread on my shelf, that’s part of the confession.  And then I picked it up because I figured if I got it back to her soon she’d lend me Gargoyle which I can’t wait to read.  So I started reading and, bang, I’m addicted. 

I’ve been pretty good lately about reading decent stuff.  Not the kind of stuff I mumble about when someone with more than a grade 4 education asks politely what I’ve been reading.  But I guess I’ve slipped. 

I mean sure, the main character blushes too much and I get tired of hearing about his white teeth, like OK I get it.  But it’s fun.  Also, I grew up in Vancouver so hearing about the lack of sun, non-stop rain and moss-covered everything makes me sorta homesick, you know?

And who can’t relate to the story?  Who hasn’t fallen head over heels for someone and realized there are *issues*.  Maybe it’s bad timing or someone’s got a mild addiction to something expensive.  But is that really so far away from – gee I wonder if he’ll suck my blood on the first date or wait until the third when he knows me better?  We’re all human.  Or most of us.

Honeybunny bugs me fiercely.  Like, “maybe you’d like to read *this* book, oh no wait, there are no teenage vampires in it”.  But don’t think he gets off scott-free.  I throw back, “how’s the Gormenghast Trilogy going, it must break your arm it’s so thick, they just can’t fit that much boring into a skinny book.”

Yesterday I got an update from my friend.  She tells me she’s reading all 500 pages of Gargoyle aloud to her Hot New Man & Soul Mate.  She says it’s not going well, they keep getting distracted.  I guess by the 11:00 news, or the cat or something.  Whatever it is, I’m not seeing it anytime soon.  I could always continue the Twilight series.

Anyhoo, I’m stepping away from the PC to read, in the meantime I’ll elevate this blog posting with a poem from a blog post I found today.

Archaic Torso of Apollo, a Translation for Bored Children.
After Rilke, by Catherine J. Coan

eyeball ripening
in the head

candle in the chest

in and of
and in itself
and of it

did you know
you didn’t know

loins
smile

don’t think of buttcrack
here you mustn’t think of it

think of the shoulders
or a waterfall

you see
a cat and a star
and an unframed frame
and here is the thing

don’t think buttcrack
otherwise you’ll never
beget what he meant

no snickering
this is a museum

the statues have no arms
because they fell off
from strangling stupid kids like you

do you want to be a serious poet or what

I just spent a really long time looking at the photos on Robin Schwartz’s site.  I love the series of her daughter with the animals.  That little girl is one old soul….

When Angus started watching Charlie Brown’s Christmas show as his top request I knew he’d develop an affinity for Linus because Gussie is a blankie kinda guy too.  Whether you’re interested or not, he’ll explain to you that his blankie is his friend and lives in his bed and misses him when he’s not home. 

He’ll also explain that his blankie is yellow with blue stars.  And it does still look yellow to the naked eye, mostly after a washing.

He came into the kitchen Saturday morning and said, “Mom, there’s a boy on the Charlie Brown Christmas show who has a blankie too!  It’s a blue blankie.”

I’m like, “hey that’s great”

He said, “the boy’s name is *Minus*”

I’m like, “um, are you sure it’s not *Linus*?”

He’s like, “No Mom!  It’s *MINUS*”

And then last night he talked about him again and called him “Pinus”. 

I’m getting the feeling we’re going to run through all the consonants in the alphabet.  That’s cool, there’s enough time in the Christmas season to do that.  And it’s keeping me laughing, that’s pretty important.

 

If you’re anything like me the pasta withdrawl when you’re detoxing is a whole withdrawl within a withdrawl because it’s the hardest thing to live without.  The good news is you can fake it.  The weird news is that it means eating squash, but really, it’s a decent fake.  Anything that’s the right shape and color and covered in butter and garlic and has gotta be close enough, right?  I know, the glass of wine and garlic bread would really complete the picture.  Oh well, instead you’re healthy and beautiful.

Here’s how to do it:

If you’re a squash newbie – go to the produce section where they hang out (usually with the potatoes and onions and stuff).  Spaghetti squashes are not the squat warty green ones, or the light brown pear-shaped ones (those are butternut, my fave).  They’re the big oval yellow ones.  Adopt it and bring it home.

With a big chef’s knife hack your squash lengthwise in two and scoop out the guts and seeds with a spoon.  Find a flat-bottomed microwave-friendly dish it will fit cut-side down in.  Add an inch of water.  As the wise popcorn bags tell you, all microwaves’ wattage vary  so I usually start with 10 minutes.  You want the inside of the oven to be steamy when it’s done, so add more time if needed.  Let your squash sit in the microwave for another 10 minutes to thoroughly steam.

If you don’t use a microwave oven, set your oven-oven to 350 degrees and put the squash in for a 30-45 minutes to get it going.

Take your squash out of the pan with an oven mitt.  It will be hot and wet and steamy so be careful.  I’ve used a tea towel and advise it.  Silicon mitts and potholders are great for this part.  Put your squash bottom-down on a plate and with a fork, run the tines lengthwise down the inside of the squash and your spaghetti will be freed from it’s squash prison.

If your squash was big you might still have some uncooked spaghettis inside.  Just add more water if needed and put it back in the microwave for another 5-8 to cook the rest.

Toss your spaghetti with butter, squished garlic, lots of salt and pepper and your favourite herbs like oregano, basil and thyme. 

Alternatively chop up some fresh ripe tomatoes and throw them in a bowl minus the seeds with a slosh of olive oil, salt and pepper, herbs, and garlic.  Let it sit and mingle while you steam your squash.  Toss it with your spaghetti when it’s done.