Uncomfortable Sharing

A tangled mess of hope and loss

When you find out you’re pregnant you assume that this little person is about to be, and instantly rebuild a whole vision of the future with them in it. They’ll be born right after your sons’ 6th birthday, right before your own. It will always be a manic time, but you’ll always make it work. The boys will be in school at first, then you can enjoy a summer together before they start first grade. It will be warm. You’ll be 56 when your youngest is done high school, but it will be fun the second time around. You’ll be more relaxed because of all you’ve learned in the years since you brought twin boys home.

When you find out it isn’t viable, as I did at my first ultrasound, life collapses back down to where it was but you can still see the holes. That is what you mourn. The plans to surprise your family with the news. The pile of maternity clothes, fresh from the laundry that now need to be put away. The glances at your belly, which you now know holds nothing. There will be no baby passed around at Folk Fest next summer, no need to pick up the stroller from a friend. There is nothing now but carrying on.

Hope is a peculiar form of uncertainty. The expected kind. We are supposed to face the unknown with optimism. My doctor assured me that sometimes ultrasounds are mistaken. The very few friends I told offered the same sentiments. These words were said with the best intentions, the product of a culture that accepts nothing less than a happy ending. We spend all our energy hoping for a reversal of fortune instead of gently allowing the grief to wash over us. I have learned now that we need to feel loss. To say our goodbyes to things that will inevitably leave us. We need to be angry to spur ourselves on, to change our present circumstances. We need to observe this process in each other so when our time comes it is not unfamiliar.

Instead, I remained hopeful, all too ready to believe that I was the exception. My body hoped so hard that it wouldn’t let go, stuck in a horrible limbo until a doctor gravely told me what I already knew at my second ultrasound. And then the pain came, furious and terrifying.

I had a miscarriage. Right in the waiting room of the ER, surrounded by strangers. That happened to me.

The days that followed were complicated. I learned later that my kids opened the door to a stranger and the dog got out. Had I not taught them this? Of course I hadn’t, or how to call their dad, or dial 911, because I was not expecting this. I was ashamed that I knew disaster was coming and I wasn’t prepared; at how primally out of control my body was, and how vulnerable that left me.

I felt tremendous gratitude that my safety net of friends caught us on the way down. A friend was nearby and let our dog back in, other trusted friends answered our call to take care of the boys. I was grateful for my husband’s warm hand to hold when I was cold and in the most pain I have ever felt. The nurses who kindly helped me through. I was dizzy at how easy it was to find help, to be completely immersed in it, our house filled with food and flowers, our hearts filled with kind words. I am grateful for the short period of joy I had after finding out I was pregnant at all.

Overwhelmingly, I felt relief; hope replaced with certainty. I was glad that I had not escaped this without feeling every inch of it. For some reason that was a terribly important thing, as so often life’s important bits are felt only in reflection, in the mourning of the holes left over. But I felt this as hard as I have ever felt anything.

Life is unrelenting and will not just let you stop. I had to leave my cocoon early to deal with another loss, and now I am plodding along in a haze of exhaustion, feeling raw and unhinged. I have learned in the aftermath that I am not alone at all; so many women and their partners have suffered this. Miscarriage. The word just keeps turning over in my mind, escaping my lips more often than it should. I have the distinct feeling that people don’t talk about it for a reason but I can’t stop. Something cracked open and the words just keep pouring out, like some dotty old relative droning on about the price of bread. Maybe that will heal up too, or maybe it is a permanent channel. Maybe the due date will be hard, or maybe it will pass by without notice in the mad pace of life. Things are uncertain and hopeful. I am cautious. But for now, I say, goodbye little Cheerio, I held you as long as I could.


It’s not you 2012, it’s me.

2012; you’re going away today and I have to be honest; I am not that sad to see you go. I don’t really blame you, 2012. Well, I kind of do, but I realize that you were just the wrong time in the wrong place in my life.

We had some good times, 2012. I had some great times this year with my friends, not nearly enough time with my family. You introduced me to a lot of good people, like Le Clown, Madame Weebles, The Ringmistress, on top of scores of other bloggers who feel like friends to me (like really, too numerous to mention.. I love you all!). I even got to meet some in real life, like Love and Lunchmeat and Lame Adventures. Both of those meetings were as great as I expected them to be and affirmed how much I love meeting new people. I went with you to New York for the first time, I got to hang out on the beach in PEI for a week. I watched my beautiful kids turn 3, surrounded by dinosaurs and bikers. I fulfilled my lifelong dream of keeping bees, which is something only you gave me, 2012. I will always be grateful for that.

Rockin' the freezies like a boss on my kids' birthday.

Rockin’ the freezies like a boss on my kids’ birthday.

But mostly 2012, you were a bit of a downer. Admittedly, 2011 being such an asshole didn’t help your cause. My expectations were too high for any year to come along, being as naive as I was about how house floods and insurance and all that kind of baggage that 2011 left behind. When I left 2011, I didn’t realize how much of a mess I was and that wasn’t the best way to start my relationship with you. You were a bit of a rebound, really. I was just so excited for 2011 to be over, I was ready to just jump into the next year without any forethought. That’s my fault 2012. I could have predicted you wouldn’t be the year for me, but I was blind.

But man, you made 2011 look like a goddamn saint. I mean, within the first two months of you I had been sued, accused of insurance fraud, and had to pay for a second round of renovations for my house because 2011 delivered me the worst, most malicious contractor in the world. You brought along illness and disease. You claimed our dog. Then you claimed Mr. Giraffe’s aunt. We tried to fix things by going on holidays with you, but you were just an emotional vortex, 2012. Seriously. Everyone I know who was involved with you says the same thing. Even when I tried to relax you threatened me with Superstorm Sandy, and you seriously affected some of my friends with it. I take that kind of thing personally, 2012. No holiday went unpunished this year, no weekend unsullied by your constant pressure. You even delivered the worst kind of experimental jazz at every opportunity you could, ruining a whole music genre for me, and waited until I was on my own traveling with twins to give us all a stomach virus. Way to go, 2012. I feel like you could at least clean the puke out of my van, but I just want you to go.

Anyway 2012, I know you’re moving on, and I am glad because I think we aren’t good for each other. If indeed time travel ever does become possible, please don’t call. Don’t write. Just pretend that you never happened. Don’t try to undo all the shitty things that happened this year, 2012, because we both know that would be a lie. Even if you could change how things went, you can’t change who you are, 2012. You were just full of negative energy. If things were different, I might be tempted to go back to you and I think that we both agree that our relationship is pretty toxic.

Instead, just gently let me go to 2013. I am moving forward with lowered expectations, a bit more calm. I am just going to embrace whatever 2013 brings and not try to change 2013’s ways, like I did to you. And with that I say adieu, 2012. Go fuck yourself.

I want this exact statue on my grave when I die

This will be my permanent attitude in 2013 and beyond.

And to all my readers, I hope 2013 is brilliant and kind to everyone. Happy New Year!

All existential again


My brain is such an asshole sometimes. I went to the cultural capital of the entire universe (New York City), narrowly escaped the storm of a lifetime, a major election happened, we moved our bees, and I had a traveling salesman come to my door selling art in a goddamned snowstorm. But may brain is all “we got nothing.” “No blogs up here, my friend.” Brain: you are a dick.

I made a muppet y’all. And it looked like it was being asphyxiated in my hotel room for 5 days, and my brain STILL DIDN’T WANT TO BLOG ABOUT IT.

They look like they’re dying. That is bloody comedy!


Good question. I don’t know really. When I posted about my rut a while ago, and all went fucksticks crazy on my blog for a few weeks, it felt like I was on a roll. But that’s not necessarily reality for someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, and is the mayor of peanut butter. The reality is that I spend my days stealing the kids’ Halloween candy and being sad, or at least vaguely dissatisfied. I have some reasons for this, but not nearly enough to justify the depth of it.

Cathy at Large Self posted this quote a few weeks ago that struck a nerve with me.

“If we can get to the place where we show up as our genuine selves and let each other see who we really are, the awe-inspiring ripple effect will change the world.”

—  Terrie M. Williams

This has been rolling around in my head for weeks. It was just one of those timely quotes that has embedded itself in my head and I can’t let it go. I haven’t really been my genuine self. Not that I haven’t been genuine with you all, just that I haven’t been the person that I really want to be. Or taken the time to really figure that out. And all that I really want out of life is to rock the shit out of it. I want to find a way to make those ripples, I just don’t really know how right now.

So here is my genuine self, right now:

I feel untethered. I am worried about everything. I am not feeling good about myself and where I am headed right now. I feel lonely; so unbearably, crushingly lonely (you are not the only one Creative Liar). I also feel like I am not enough for myself or for anyone around me. I know part of this is the disease of depression, but part of it is the circumstance of having let myself go.

Are you coming with me?

But these are also things that I am confident can be fixed. In a strange way, I feel like I am moving toward some unidentified future that will fulfill me. Or maybe it’s just delusion blind hope. Hell, maybe I am just drunk (thank you, Joyce Winery, your San Benito Pedregal something something is totally whateversszzzzsfzsdsdddfffffffffffffzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz).

So in the spirit of me wanting to look forward and move toward something better, look for posts in the weeks ahead about people and things that inspire me. The world is good out there, I just need to find my way into it again.

And because I don’t like being serious: FUCKBALLS.

October 6th: Ruination Day

So. It’s been exactly one year since I came home expecting a nice hot bath and found my ceiling on my goddamn floor. That turned out to be the high point of the last 366 days (Leap year! One bonus extra day of misery!); at least we were giddy and insane with grief at that point. The ensuing incompetence, maliciousness, and random bad luck that followed aged and embittered us enough to fill therapists pockets for years to come. But it’s been a year. The acceptable period of grief is over. The unfortunate legal battles and insurance bullshit is not, but there comes a point where we either get sucked under by it or we move on with our lives.

But I am still sad. And unmotivated. I have terrible first world problems like hating our house. Every little detail from the reno represents some sort of loud discussion compromise or hasty decision we had to make. We keep trying to divert our attention to fun things, but you can only go to so many amusement parks before you figure out that amusement parks are creepy and contribute to malaise. My hobbies are emotional eating and insomnia. Basically, I am in a giant rut. And this time I don’t have any cow bones or a spirited little partner to help me out of it.

But the time for that is over too. I need a goddamn plan. Although I mostly feel like laying down most of the day, I am tired of feeling that way. Being the proactive beast I am, I drank a bottle of a very small quantity of wine for inspiration (and perhaps a whole lot of a teeny amount of Balvenie Double Wood.. heh, insert adolescent sex joke here) and concocted one.

A Rollergiraffe’s 7 Point Plan for the Future

1. Get a damn job. I need to use my brain again and earn some money. This is likely going to be in the industry I worked in pre-kids, without the benefit of the last four years of training, networking and general career trajectory. And I would have to go to interviews which make me sweat and self-deprecate. I am still a little traumatized from getting laid off by voicemail from my last job, and I have no filters left that will allow me to function in an office setting. I might try to give my co-workers time outs when they disagree with me. Ok, so this might not work out in a hurry.

2. Do charity work. In the absence of a paying job, I should be giving back to the community. I am pretty sure I have a lot to offer in this regard, with my environmental experience and all. Right? It doesn’t matter that the only journal I read in the last four years is US Weekly, right? People are dying for celebrity news, aren’t they? And I would need to pay for child care to do charity work which .. or I could do it in the evenings, right? After the kids go to bed and the house is somewhat restored from the garbage dump look we’ve adopted through the day? Ok, so this one’s out too for now.

3. Exact revenge on the contractor fuckstick weasel who wrecked our house and tried to ruin our lives. This one is just a fantasy. He’s already sitting on a heap of debt, both karmic and financial. And I am an adult who is able to control their emotions (totally not true except for the legal adult part). Plus, I am way too lazy to do a good job, so I’d just basically annoy him a little and then end up on Canada’s Stupidest Criminals, if such a show exists.

4. Become a domestic goddess. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Nope.

5. I am still laughing over the domestic goddess thing. Mount Washmore is so goddamn high, you guys.

6. Spend time preparing for the zombie apocalypse. I am on Love and Lunchmeat’s Zombie apocalypse team (even if I can’t figure out how to put badges on my blog. Fuckballs, I am hopeless at the internets), so I am sure this would be a worthwhile endeavor. If it’s not the zombies, it’s going to be something. Except all that canning I did totally went to waste and my shoulder is ruined from carrying twins around all day so I am not sure improving my marksmanship is really a good idea. And every time I think about the apocalypse I think about The Road, and I am not sure at this point in my life I would be the one who filled the bathtub when the loud noises were heard. My survival instinct is kind of dull right now, is what I am saying.

I was only ever good at shooting quarters anyway.

7. Have another baby. Because less sleep is totally the answer.

So obviously I have no plan. Tell me, gentle readers, have you ever been stuck in a rut before? How did you get out? Do you think I should keep my hair short? Why does Mitt Romney want to fire Big Bird? What is your favourite snack? Why isn’t anyone talking about the Higgs Boson anymore? Is it because they accidentally made themselves a big black hole? Answer any of these questions below in the comments.

P.S. If you read the Ringmistress’ blog, Laments and Lullabies, a 35 year old having a mid-life crisis will sound disturbingly familiar to you. I totally drunken plagiarized her, and then apologized, but she laughed at me and told me to post it anyway because she’s amazing that way. And lots of other ways too.


Chris Biscuits was ruminating on his blog whether his future-me would be a prat and it reminded me that future-me is my favourite Friday Night thought experiment. We ask: what are we going to be up to in 2040? And then we keep drinking beer until we get a satisfactory answer.

One of my friends periodically sends this around to remind us where we’ll be in a couple of decades.

That’s me, rockin’ the peach jumpsuit. I hope. I don’t want to be the other lady in the tights. And I definitely don’t want to be that dude.

Strangely, we are in America. Which either means that you have universal health care by then (because I don’t plan on being in good shape at all) or you’ve taken us over. Or we take you over and keep your flag because it’s jazzier than ours. Or we’re on an inspiring holiday. Whatever it is, I look forward to meeting that gentleman in the snazzy top.

I even made a pinterest page to illustrate future-me, but as with most pinterest projects it is only half done and does not accurately reflect what I wanted it to. So I am going to hash it out here for you all.

Introducing Future-Rollergiraffe

Exhausted from my years of tireless land conservation activism, single-handedly reversing anthropogenic climate change, and selling jam at farmer’s markets, future me is retired and living the good life.

Look at all that frigging canning. My family never ate any of it; I should have started on the market thing already.

I wear a lot of hats in by then. If history is any lesson, it’s because I steal them from the mother of the groom at weddings, but hopefully in the future I am sensible enough to purchase them for myself.

This is nearly an exact replica of a hat I stole at a wedding. Don’t worry, I gave it back. (KCS Hats)

I am quite fond of hammocks, but I currently live in a climate where it would be suicide to use one for about 8 months of the year. The other four months it is just extremely uncomfortable. So I want to purchase this hammock, but more importantly I want to purchase the front porch it hangs on. With cabana boys.

Glorious tropical loveliness. I am ignoring the fact that there would be giant spiders everywhere. (from hammocks.com)

In the future, this cake will be presented to me on my birthday every year. By the cabana boys.

Look, it even has my name on it! (from cakewrecks.com)

Current me co-owns bees, but future me owns a whole menagerie on a biodynamic farm. No, scratch that, my biodynamic winery. On my private island. Future me really knows how to live.

This is more or less how I roll (from marineecotours.com)

And I will still get around everywhere on my Pashley, because it is the bestest bike that ever was made in the history of bikes and I will be buried with it.

I expect both me and the pashley to be a lot more banged up by then.

Future me is also pretty unapologetic about dancing in the front row at jazz festivals, has a morning writing ritual, and does yoga every day. I am pretty goddamn awesome in the future.

I should add that current me is an unemployed house wife with a basement full of expired canning. But I feel hopeful. What does your future-me look like?

You should have kids. Or don’t, or whatever, it’s really up to you.

A friend earnestly asked for my thoughts on pregnancy and childbirth recently, and I was drunk enough from crappy draft beer and was coming off a cruddy week so I was terribly cynical. I believe that I told her that it was like a grenade went off in your vag, and went on to discuss the various body fluids and such at length until she presumably left to go get her tubes tied.

I’ll let you form your own opinion about what kind of a-hole that makes me, but I am here to rectify that. Because you see it’s all fine to be cynical and self-deprecating when I am drunk and trying to be humorous, but I actually find my kids delightful. I enjoyed pregnancy and those early days even though I was crippled by anxiety and depression. I am proud of my boys and proud of myself for making it through the hard bits, and I would never want anyone to think otherwise.

So, my dear friend, this is what I would say to you if I was being honest:

There is no real apt comparison, but pregnancy and childbirth is a bit akin to the wedding before the marriage. Everything is about to change again. Use this time to find your voice, rely on your body, start discovering how you want to raise your child, building your network of trusted sources, and learn what your own limitations are. Mourn or celebrate the changes in your body. Learn to cut out the chatter of parents, relatives, friends, experts, and google.  Everyone has an opinion, and the only one that matters is yours (and maybe the opinion of a caring and competent midwife or obstetrician). While ideally you have an easy pregnancy and a joyous birth that leaves you with a euphoric start to parenthood, it may not happen as you planned it. That’s ok, mourn that too.

And once you get over that hurdle, the real work begins. Your body will be a mess for a while as it knits back together, but you’ll hardly notice because you are in the kind of sleep deprivation state normally reserved for torture tactics and vision quests. You will both love the little being (or beings!) and be drained by it’s endless need. You will feel like you are doing everything wrong during the bad phases and everything right during the good phases, but recognize that it is all a phase. Everything is a phase. Enjoy the good ones, endure the bad ones and know how much wine you can safely drink before breastfeeding if that’s how you roll.

You have to deal with the various plagues and teething and other people’s terrible kids. Your kids will like things that make you feel stabby and they will flush all your preconceived notions about parenting down the drain (literally, if they’re written on something. Everything goes in the toilet). Your efforts will be spoiled by well meaning grandparents and you’ll have to navigate the wilderness of choices over babywearing, breastfeeding, toys, tv, feeding, sleep training, daycare, preschool; the list is virtually endless. And the worst part is that you will be in charge; you will hate making decisions. But, you will also have instinct on your side and develop a keen eye for things that will work for your family.

And they get bigger and become little kids at a furious pace. Kids are sticky and cuddly and surprisingly strong and louder than you think at 3 am. But they are delightful. Truly. All the magic that you lose the first time you have to pay for car registration or realize that you’re on the hook when the faucet breaks comes rushing back to you when you find yourself blowing bubbles in the middle of a Tuesday. Sure, it’s bound to end in failure and tears, but very few things are as freeing as staying in that moment. They come to you when they’re happy and when they’re sad and both of those are gratifying. There is nothing more powerful than when they snuggle into you or grab your face for a big messy kiss.

My boys saved me, healed me, and helped me become a more fully realized woman in ways that I never expected. They humble me and make me eat my words often and I am frustrated every single day.  But they also make me slow down and appreciate things I had forgotten about. I feel things with more depth because I bear the weight of their emotion too. They still have all the best qualities without the cynicism that comes with age; curiosity, humor, generosity and kindness. It’s impossible not to let that rub off on you a little. And they are watching, so you become a little more mindful of your actions and hopefully a little bit of a better person.

But this is my experience and yours might be different. You are already amazing, and your kids may not have the same effect on your life as on mine. Maybe you’re up for it, and maybe you’re not. Maybe you are really looking forward to getting tapped on the forehead at 3 am or taking the little beast everywhere under the sun. Or maybe you dread the thought of touching all of someone else’s body fluids and maybe a grenade vag is enough to put you off forever. Maybe you like being untethered. That’s all cool by me. Just don’t fail to do it out of fear or because parents complain all the time because those are just the surface bits. It’s harder to talk about how crazy in love you are with your kids than playing along with the narrative that parenting is terribly hard. If you decide you want kids, don’t do it expecting happiness or exhaustion or perfection or anything at all. Do it expecting your life to be ripped wide open and to keep expanding.

And you are totally going to rock this.

Do you tip your shaman?

As I mentioned, I went to a shaman a while ago, you know, as you do when you’re in the middle of an existential crisis. Plus it had been the subject of endless debate and derision among our Friday night drinking buddies what our power animals would be ever since my friend H. went and found out she was a sandhill crane. Speculation ranged from amoeba to bald eagle, depending on whether we liked each other or not that day.

I tend to approach life in a clinical, detached way, always an observer. My first degree was in social anthropology, and I can’t tell whether my outlook on life made me choose that or whether it chose me like one of those Hogwarts stick thingies. So when my friend J decided that she wanted a trip to the shaman for her birthday I immediately said “hells yeah, let’s call Manfred the shaman” and resolved that I would remain detached and observe. But in the meantime a bunch of shit happened and I decided that I wasn’t going to be all clinical and detached about anything. I was going to believe in the shaman. This was both exhilarating and terrifying; my spirit animal could be something totally kickass like a grizzly bear. But what if what if he told me I had no soul? Or a demon following me around? Or a terrible spirit animal like a vole? Basically I think it’s terrifying to have someone describe anything about your character; I mean, it’s hard for me to even read comments to my opinions on facebook. How was I going to face the animal spirits? They probably saw me litter, or how much road rage I get, or that I am secretly too lazy to read real newspapers. They know what an asshole I am in private. Like real life Santa.

Thankfully my friend J had the same concerns, so when I arrived at her house before the shaman we shared a jittery breakfast and hardly spoke to each other. We made nervous conversation about whether we were supposed to tip him, or whether we’d have to smoke anything. We just didn’t know what we were getting into.

When I got there I chickened out and changed tactics and decided to remain skeptical. However, it’s hard to maintain skepticism when shamanism sounds so practical. Seriously.. look it up, it makes a lot of sense if you remove all the power animal language. Also, it’s especially hard to maintain skepticism when a perfect stranger describes your best friend in the exact terms that you used during your last wine fueled “you’re the best, I love you” session. We have often described our friend J as the most “live and let live” type of person that ever existed. It’s basically the only way she could possibly cope with us and we’re eternally grateful that she does, so we praise her for it often. Turns out, J is a horse and apparently that is a distinctly horse trait. Among many other things which describe J perfectly that I won’t get into because I think J might stomp her foot at me and run away from me forever if I post too much, which is another horse trait. While the shaman was detailing J’s awesome personality traits, I started to nervously laugh, which descended into hysterical panic at what he would describe the me as.

That hysterical panic is indicative of river otter energy, and turns out I was right to be afraid. While I was initially pleased that I wasn’t a vole, this soon turned to dismay. I am paraphrasing, but the shaman said that the river otter is an animal different from all other animals. Our job is to provide levity to the universe. However, most animals don’t “get” us and our river otter energy is often compromised by fed up parents who don’t know how to handle us, and are frankly probably too tired to try. We’re insatiably curious and we don’t like rules. The shaman described his river otter granddaughter as someone who always finished assignments quickly and perfectly and then spent all of her spare energy goofing around and driving her sandhill crane sister into madness with her complete disrespect for authority. She quits things when they stop being fun anymore. He said this all with an undertone of annoyance and then quickly added that his own bison spirit could be enticed to play sometimes when he was in the mood, but I am pretty sure he just said it because I was on the verge of tears. The shaman called me annoying. I am pretty sure that is not copacetic. On the plus side, it now makes sense about the time my swimming instructor called me a “natural floater”. I am a river otter, asshole, not fat.

I refuse to believe I am the only one in the shaman’s 26 year practice to take photos, but apparently it’s true. Must be the weird river otter in me. This is him extracting energy from J. It took him like half an hour to clear all the anger out of me.

So anyway… I am a misunderstood river otter. Now what? I’ll tell you what; I have ordered every piece of river otter art I can find on Etsy, that’s what. What else are you going to do with the knowledge of your spirit animal?

Also: my friend I. gave me some assurance that at least I wasn’t a sea otter, because sea otters are notorious rapists. So there’s that.

Lowering Holiday Expectations: A Timeline of the Plague of Easter 2012

We got flooded at Thanksgiving last year and then we had bronchitis and other family disasters at Christmas time. We’ve endured a lot of complicated living situations and crud, so I figured a really fun Easter might turn things around. I was prepared; I had the eggs, the Easter baskets, enough chocolate to put us all in a diabetic coma, adorable Easter cards made and photos taken. I talked the kids into being excited about the Easter bunny, or at least remembering that there is something called an Easter bunny, which they only understood in a vague way. This was going to be the best motherfucking Easter ever. (just like the best motherfucking Christmas ever.. sigh, I should have known).

Everything looking promising

Then on Wednesday night just as I was drifting off to sleep, early for once after weeks of being an idiot watching episodes of Mad Men all night long (I heart me some Don Draper), I heard the sound that strikes fear in the heart of every parent; the violent hack of stomach contents being ejected all over a bed. If you ever wondered what sleep deprivation sounded like, it’s all summed up in that distinct cough. Immediately you know that you’re going to be tending to the poor soul who just heaved his supper all over the bed and producing laundry at an exponential rate for an unknown quantity of time. If you have multiple kids you might hold on to the faint hope that you can keep them quarantined but deep down you know it’s only a matter of time before the second one falls.

Things went downhill for us leading up to Easter weekend. I couldn’t force enough fluids into Patient Zero and the vomiting would not end. Stupidly, I maintained a high level of optimism that things would turn around and Easter would be resurrected (see what I just did there?).  It was not to be.

Good Friday

Expected: Trip to the farmer’s market for ingredients for gourmet Easter dinner! Loads of time with Daddy! Out with some friends for birthday drinks!

Reality: Good Friday started with the haunting memory of being in an ER waiting room with about a thousand other vomiting 3 year olds. It’s not something I will soon forget. Patient Zero spent about 11 minutes awake all day and had to be force-fed pedialyte. I did make it to the farmer’s market where I was served chilaquiles heaping with salsa verde that resembled the impending mess that I was about to discover in my children’s diapers for the next several days. I never want to go to the farmer’s market again. We had now spent 3 days trapped in the bedroom in the vain attempt to ensure that the second kid remains healthy and Easter is saved.  I have watched Monsters Inc. eleven thousand times.

Chilaquiles: A visceral foreshadowing of impending doom


Expected: Easter egg decorating! Basket hiding! Getting hot cross buns! Idyllic walks in the park talking about bunnies!

Reality: All is looking good on our quarantine attempts in the AM. Patient Zero is starting to turn around, and the second child is careening  around being a flying dragon with no volume control. And then just like that the second child morphs into Patient A by vomiting all over Grandma and Grandpa. Chaos ensues where I force Daddy half rinsed out of the shower to bathe vomity Patient A and myself for good measure. Daddy is mildly resentful for the rest of the day.

Patient Zero (in green shirt) maintained this exact pose for the next 5 hours

I experience the classic control freak dilemma; allow Daddy to do the shopping for Easter dinner or take care of ailing children? I send Daddy off for Easter lilies and ham, knowing that he has never purchased either and that all dreams of a gourmet meal will be dashed by whatever is cheapest at Safeway. Daddy returns with non-Easter lilies and a deli ham. Mommy decorates eggs on her own, resignedly dunking them in colours foregoing the sparkly gorgeous madness she envisioned. Patient Zero takes a mild interest in eggs and dictates colours to put the egg into for a few minutes, resulting in inevitable brown egg.  Eventually we all retreat to bed and wait for the vomiting to stop. It doesn’t.

The making of the brown egg

Easter Sunday

Expected: Brunch! Egg hunt! Thrilled laughs over Easter baskets, bubbles, chocolate for breakfast! Joyfully slaving over a gourmet dinner that my whole family will gather around and relish!

Reality: Bodily fluids, mess, laundry, pre-cooked ham, hot cross buns with that weird gummy dough on the top instead of glistening fresh farmer’s market ones, sleeping on the couch with a diaper perilously aimed at my lap, tears. Patient A curls himself around the bucket of Easter eggs and refuses to let go of his “DIYASAUR EGGS” without tears and flailing, so we let a whole bucket of hard boiled eggs spoil with the body heat of a fevered toddler.

Patient A and his diyasaur eggs

Patient Zero gets into the spirit of things and refuses to remove his bunny ears despite there being no evidence that Easter is happening. Neither child can summon up the effort to look for their Easter basket which is fine because I have now raided most of the candy from them. We all eat in front of the TV with half filled plates because the sheer amount of body fluids expelled has ruined everyone’s appetite. Watching a dude called Bubba win at golf, which was probably the worst part of the weekend.

Patient Zero refusing removal of bunny ears at any time

Easter Monday

Expectation: Kids in daycare! Daddy and Mommy having Ferris Bueller’s day off! Happy family reunion at the end of the day with two relaxed and happy parents and two happy and tired children!

Reality: We’ve given up. No one has been outside in days except to schlep over to the pharmacy and perhaps for emergency coffee. There is a mountain of laundry we may never recover from. As 11 am approaches we have a moment of silence for the spa treatments that were supposed to happen and finally resign any hope of adorable excited shrieking children. We eat all the leftover ham and cake. It doesn’t make anyone feel better.

Perilous lack of layers separating me and Patient A, but I give up

But you know, at least we endured our crap-tastic Easter as a family. And I managed it entirely booze free and without yelling at anyone except fate, which makes it a personal best for me on the holiday front. This is actually the best Easter I have ever achieved.

I am about to get all existential on y’all. Bear with me.

I haven’t blogged in a while because, well, because my life fell apart for a bit there. It’s not quite back on track yet, but we’re getting there. I’ll do a little haiku for you to catch up:

My house flooded and

We got a contractor who

Was fucking awful

Awful doesn’t really do it justice, but I can’t really talk about it until the lawsuits go away. Seriously. Anyway, in the midst of everything we are also coping with a lot of family stuff and our dog died and our insurance company was convinced (by our contractor; he’s a fucking gem of a human being) that we were ripping them off, etc. etc. etc. And I moved back in with my parents at the age of 34 with my 2 kids and that just really isn’t uplifting for anyone at any age.

I have always suffered from anxiety. Crippling, panic attack inducing, heart racing, insomnia, life force stealing anxiety. It’s a cruel self-perpetuating mental health problem that will always plague me. Add  in the kind of crazy we’ve been experiencing the last 6 months and basically I got into a rabbit hole that I never thought I would get out of. The scariest part of it was that I was so worn out and exhausted that I wasn’t even anxious anymore after a while; I would just mentally shut down whenever any tiny amount of conflict arose (eleventy bajillion times a day). That’s called burnout and adrenal fatigue, bitches, and it ain’t good.

Fortunately for me, one of my best friends had this type of break down already, right down to having her house flood too. It was watching her be open to everything from counselling to shamanism fuelled with a lot of wine in between stops that gave me a road map to recovery. Now that she is finally better and I am at my worst I can look to her as a beacon of hope that one day I’ll be ok too. That’s what friends are for; making road maps with spirit animals on the sign posts.

The big key is to stop struggling. Once I just accepted that all these fuckstick crazy things were just happening to me and I could only deal with the things I had energy for it got easier. And then I started to take control. I started to go to a counsellor and I stopped second guessing all the decisions I was making. I stopped letting people drain my energy and started taking more naps.

And mostly, I just repeat:

I am here. Right now.

I am here… I am not in a bunch of different places at once dividing my energy for diminishing returns. I am here, devoting my energy to what I am able to do. I deserve happiness, love and respect. And because I am here, I have a responsibility to dole those things out to others around me. I am present and available for those who need me and for myself. Because I am here, I am capable of dealing with my present circumstances and influencing my future.

Right now… there is a whole bunch of things I will change when I finish that goddamn time machine, but until then I can’t do anything about the past. Crazy and random things have happened to us and will continue to happen, but I can’t speculate about what they will be. I am strong and capable of dealing with whatever comes my way so there is no point in worrying.

When my mind starts to wander to thoughts of toxic waste, cancer, death and dismemberment on an hourly basis I just remind myself that “I am here. Right now.” It calms me to remember that in this very moment I am healthy, I have two healthy happy kids who are ok, and therefore everything is fine.

And I am going to the shaman too. I’ll let you know what my spirit animal is, unless it’s something terrible like a vole. In which case I’ll just make up something rad like a pronghorn antelope, although they seem to thrive off of large contiguous areas of native prairie which is disappearing at a rapid rate, and thinking about that makes me anxious so maybe I’ll pick something more adaptable. I’ll get back to you.

25 things you didn’t know about me

  1. Yes, I read US Weekly, which was the inspiration for this list. I guess that’s #1, although anyone who has been to my house has seen thousands of back issues laying around so it’s really not a secret.
  2. I don’t like cheese, except for goat cheese. I tolerate some other forms of cheese. It’s grody.
  3. I really want to own a taco stand. But I live in a place where there’s a kajillion months of winter, so I probably never will. I also want to own a breakfast place, but I don’t get out of bed before 10 so breakfast would have to be at 2 pm, so there you have it. Ambition killed by laziness.
  4. I love being on the road. My favourite trip is down the pacific coast highway, but I would love to just get an RV and drive all over the place. However, I have a deep fear of getting into a car accident, so I tend not to go anywhere at all.
  5. I have a scar on my chin from when I was trying to get my papier mache parrot from Earls to school for our Brazilian booth at our school’s world expo day in jr. high. My mom wouldn’t drive me, so I had to try and balance it on my bike. Being the least physically adept person in the universe, I managed to let it slip and the tail went into the spokes and I went over the handlebars. I was rescued by a cute boy I liked, but unfortunately I was also right in front of my grandma’s house, so I had to go there to get cleaned up.
  6. I want to be a luddite. I am pretty close; I treat my cell phone with a huge amount of disdain and I refuse to learn how to work remotes. I do love my laptop, but I try to not be at it all day. I am happiest when I can totally disengage from all forms of media and technology. The fact that I have a blog fills me with self-loathing.
  7. I have a deep desire to stab someone with an epi-pen.
  8. If I was president of the US, the first thing I would end is corn subsidies.
  9. My middle finger on my right hand has been injured 3 times. Once by slicing it on an ice auger that my dad was sharpening on the kitchen table. Once getting caught in a chain on a tire swing and once playing volleyball. It’s crooked and has a scar on it.
  10. I spend a lot more time than I should worrying. I am a certified google hypochondriac. Intellectually I know that worrying is unproductive, but it makes me feel more in control to worry. I am the person you want near you in a crisis, because I have already calculated everything that could go wrong in a situation and what I can do about it.
  11. Facebook makes me jealous of everyone else’s life.
  12. Random strangers tend to confide in me. If I wasn’t so emotionally unbalanced myself, I think I’d make a great therapist.
  13. I am superstitious. I briefly considered not having a #13 ,but I realize that is just a fallacy.
  14. I have an incredibly short attention span. It has taken me 3 days to come up with this list so far. Every hobby I start gets abandoned within minutes of my first setback or failure.
  15. My perfect life would be one where friends drop in all the time to enjoy my domesticity. I have this vision of me whisking around the kitchen preparing my home grown vegetables and fresh pies while my pals sit at my kitchen table having coffee and my kids zip around. I realize that it is not 1950, and even if it was, that this version of life is totally unrealistic.
  16. I love the early morning, but I am not a morning person at all. I wish I was. Sleep almost always wins me over.
  17. Although I live well within driving distance of them, and most people I know adore them, I think the mountains are bullshit. I am a prairie girl.
  18. I can’t drive standard for the same reason I can’t play most sports or dance or anything that would involve thinking and moving at the same time.  I am too clumsy.. my brain just doesn’t operate that way.
  19. I watch Steel Magnolias every single time I see it on TV, and every single time Sally Fields makes me cry. It’s the only sentimental moment I have when watching movies. I HATE tv and move romance.
  20. I think the 24 hr news cycle, fueled by competition for advertising is the worst thing to ever happen to society. It totally wrecks public discourse. Twitter and similar phenomena are a close second. I don’t care which Starbucks you are at.
  21. The thought of having to negotiate or cold call people to sell things terrifies me. Yesterday a door-to-door meat salesman came to my front door and I think that would have to be the worst job ever.
  22. I have a lot of secret single behaviour… like snacking on weird combinations of food after everyone goes to bed. The other night I ate an entire can of herring and washed it down with orange juice. Then I ate 1/2 lb of concord grapes.
  23. I am really, really, really bad with money, but I am obsessive about shopping around for major items to dicker for the best price. I feel really guilty making major purchases, like the dining room table I am procrastinating about right now.
  24. I am secretly envious of people who are so comfortable with themselves that they can give their kids stupid names, be superfans of some sports team, get orgiastic over every holiday and just generally gung ho enjoy every aspect of their life unapologetically.
  25. I lose my keys EVERY DAY.