Wednesday, July 31, 2013

20 Odd Years

Today I said good-bye to the house that has been my family's home for the last 20-odd years.  Hearing that the place had sold was excellent news, it had become a crushing financial burden and my parents were itching to get moved into their little retirement home (formerly known as 'The Dollhouse' when I resided there).

Odd, the number of memories a house can store up in the course of two decades.  I've left and returned a number of times... strange to think that I will likely never see the inside of it again.

I didn't want to move here.  Not at first.  My parents had first made noises about leaving Aurora when I was in the fifth grade and I was devastated.  Less than a year later, when they made their purchase, I had changed my tune.  I was all "Fuck yeah, let's blow this yuppie hellhole."

That spring, at eleven years old, my parents drove me out to a vacant lot in the middle of a newish subdivision in a town of not much more than 1000 people and said this would be our new home (the house that was to be built.. not the vacant lot).

20 years is a lot of memories.  After work I drove out to the house, let myself in and walked the empty rooms, thinking of the times I'd had there.

Age 12: My sister gives me a hard time about the posters on my wall.  I'd harboured a huge crush on the kid from Terminator 2, but I'm starting to get over it.  I begrudgingly let her tear down the biggest of the Eddie Furlong posters.

Age 14: My parents are out and I have friends over.  Sitting around the kitchen, smoking and gossiping, we start burning bits of paper and birthday candle in a huge glass ashtray.  Just as Jenn goes to comment about our mini-campfire the ashtray explodes, spraying coloured glass and bits of flame.  I catch hell a day later when Mom notices the varnish is missing off one of the kitchen chairs.

Age 14:  Mom works in the city, so Dad and I are home by ourselves a lot.  Some nights, he goes to the Legion for a beer, leaving me to my own devices.  This particular night, I was out on the back deck, having a cigarette, when I see him heading down the hill towards home.  Hurriedly, I ditch my smoke... and proceed to run smack into the screen door.

Age 15:  Home sick one day in March, my sister gets a call from the hospital that her Cesarean has been re-scheduled... for THAT DAY.  We freak the fuck out, take her to the hospital and by end of day, my sister is a mother and I am an aunt.

Age 16:  The house is full of noise and people.  Nicky has moved home and my best friend lives with us also.  The basement is being finished, so we're all confined to the upper floor.   Melissa does a fantastic impression of the Carlton Dance. We get the baby, Randy, to make his 'Uggie Face' and everyone laughs.  We paint a huge mural on Melissa's wall, featuring all the pop culture references of our time.  Friends sign the wall when they visit.

Age 17:  After a few frustrated attempts, I lose my virginity, on the couch while my parents are out. My mother finds condom wrappers in my room a few weeks later.  During the days following, my dad has a hard time making eye contact with me.

Age 20:  The day before my wedding, it's 30 degrees and the future ex-hub and I are trying desperately to ice a cake that is melting fast than the Wicked Witch of the West in a monsoon.  The next day, my aunt picks up a slab cake from Foodland and the three-tiered cake my sister painstakingly baked is forgotten.  I'm informed that one of the groomsmen still doesn't have a suit.  My mother and I are both freaking out nervous and my grandmother is insisting that someone get us a drink, a joint.. anything... to calm the hell down.

Age 21:  The future ex-hub and I return, tails between our legs and expecting, leave behind most of our belongings and debt-ridden return to the house on George Street.   We live in the basement for the next year.  It is Mid-spring when I wake him up in the middle of the night to tell him I'm having contractions.

Age 23:  I return once again, with one less husband and one more child, to live with my sister and her boys.  The house is full of the noise and the fun and the stress of two (and later three) women and their four children.  The day I return from the hospital, Tierney drops her week-old sister on her head.  In tears, I rush to the hospital.  While I am gone, the CAS visits, scaring my sister out of her wits, as we are still just unpacking and there are kids and boxes everywhere.

Age 25:  Sitting in the yard with my sister and one of my best friends, discussing the future and dinner plans.  It's time to part ways, while the going is good.  Living with people is hard and we are all happy to still be speaking to one another.  Later that day we stand in the street, tears in our eyes as fire trucks arrive and neighbours leave their houses to gawk at the flames that are leaping from the windows.

Age 26:  Months later, fully restored, this is once again our parents home.

Birthdays, Christmases, laughter, fights, nights watching TV, parties... So much time passed, so much of a lifetime spent.  So many people come and gone through the front door, struggling to pass each other on the narrow landing.

If I had some liquor, I suppose I'd pour a little out about now.  So long, House.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Strawman Cometh

First off, my apologies for what is probably a ridiculously unoriginal post title.  I'm not so arrogant as to assume that I simply MUST be the first one to come up with such a clever play on The Iceman Cometh.  But anyway, that is neither here nor there.

Back to this particular man o straw.  For this playing along at home, here's a little 101 level info for you:

Strawman (def): a weak or imaginary opposition (as an argument or adversary) set up only to be easily confuted.  - Merriam Webster

A few folks have posted a link to this article from Natural News claiming that an MSNBC anchor basically endorsed infanticide by stating that parents decide when their children are in fact children and go on to make this out to be part of some kind of death cult that believes it is okay to murder children up to three months in age.  They're claiming that this is part of a radical-left desire for 'Post-Birth' abortion (Hi, not actually a thing).

The quote from the article from anchor Melissa Harris-Perry reads as follows: 
When does life begin? I submit the answer depends an awful lot on the feeling of the parents. A powerful feeling -- but not science.
I clicked through to some of the sources and found a longer clip that gives some context to Harris-Perry's statement, which incidentally, seems to deal only with pregnancy and not with the question of infanticide.

The argument she's presenting here is one that I have come across in abortion debates - when does the fetus become a baby?  I've taken parts in debates where one side refers to zygotes and fetuses and clusters of cells and the other to babies and children and innocent life.  The latter may respond that they NEVER thought of their babies as just clusters of cells.

And that's totally valid.

There have been people who have described a sense of relief post-abortion, as though a burden had been lifted.

Also valid.

No one is obligated to feel sad about terminating a pregnancy.  Nor are people obligated to be nonchalant in the face of losing a wanted pregnancy, whether by miscarriage or through having to make a heart-breaking decision due to health or financial constraints.

However, Natural News turns this into a straw man argument by equating pre-term abortion with infanticide and coming to the conclusion that if you agree with one, you must agree with the latter, when they are two separate entities, and some studies have shown that in areas where abortion services are more widely available, infanticide rates drop as unwanted pregnancies are terminated well before birth.

As far as the "poll" asking people whether they'd support 'Fourth Trimester' abortion, I'm inclined to think that this is less about people approving of infanticide and more about people not having the slightest clue about pregnancy and how it works.  You can people to agree to fucked up stuff if you word it in vague and confusing ways.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Such Great Heights

Early June.

A half hour into the bush, slapping black flies and wiping away the occasional bead of sweat from my forehead.  The canopy of trees overhead does a half-decent job of filtering most of the sun's heat, keeping the forest floor relatively cool.

My calves are only just beginning to ache as I struggle to keep up.  I've never been what you would call "built for speed," and I keep my eyes mostly to the ground, watching for stumps and rocks that threaten to trip me up.  

A faint rumble in the distance becomes stronger as we make our way down the trail.  Through a break in the trees I catch glimpses of rushing water.  Stopping, I am given the option of waiting while he makes his way down the steep embankment leading to the river's edge.

I am new to this and eager to prove myself, so I start a careful descent.  The trail is narrow, barely wider than my foot, and I must walk a tight-rope down a slope blanketed in wet leaves and pine needles.

I have stood on balconies, ten stories up and laughed.  I have danced on the glass floor of the CN tower and not even blinked, even engaging in a mock jig hundreds of feet above the city sidewalk, secure in the engineering that had prevented thousands before me from plummeting to their death.

But here on this rock face I do not trust my legs.  i do not trust my feet.  The ground is slippery, the nearby branches too thin and pliable to support my weight and suddenly I am paralyzed.  My feet plant themselves to the ground and I can feel panic rising in my chest.  Tears spring to my eyes and I begin to whimper.  Every attempt to unstick my foot results in a shaking of the knees and the feeling that the ground is melting beneath me. I feel myself tipping and in my minds eye I can see my body, bleeding and broken, on the rocky outcroppings below.  I begin to shake with fear.

From below, soothing words of encouragement begin to break through my cloud of tears.  Hands reach up to steady me.  Clumsily, I lower myself to the muddy ground, feeling moisture seep through the seat of my pants as I manage to skootch my way down the remaining few feet of the rocky ledge by way of my butt, sniffling and making strained, squeaking noises, until I find myself once again on solid, flat ground, wrapped in arms that stroke my hair and whisper reassurances until the panic subsides.

"It's okay.  You're good. You've done well."


This post is in response to Studio30plus weekly writing prompt. This week's prompt is "Falling"

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Arglebargle ranty rant rant rant.

My phone has converted itself somehow to T9 typing, which is both irritating and useless.  By the time the T9 function offers up the word I am already finished typing it.  And it won't let me swear.

I love swearing. Especially when I have a shit-tastic day like today.  I also like to make up words.  But technology these days is determined to thwart my every attempt to fashion myself the love child of George Carlin and Dr. Seuss, linguistically speaking.

I decided to complain to the Well Travelled One.

"Duck this T9 bulldog."


Took my car in for work this morning.  The aforementioned man-friend and I decided to drop the car off and make the walk to the next town for work.  About a 90 minute walk, which wasn't terrible, aside from being humid as hell.  Oh, and the bugs on the trail deciding once again that I made a tasty feast. 

After getting my quote from my mechanic, and a minor coronary, I figured some creative banking would be in order, since my GST cheque had come in yesterday.  However, as I was leaving, I realized that my bank card was still in my shorts after buying gas.  So, great, I'll have to drive home to get it.

Only I don't have my bloody car.

So that's that.  Okay.  Not that it mattered, since I didn't end up paying for the repairs today ANYWAY, but I'll get to that.  My co-worker gave my a ride back to the shop, but thanks to people who think it's totally cool to call a company at five minutes to closing and ask inane, open ended questions with no answers, I was late getting out of work and didn't make it to the shop in time.  It was locked up tight, having closed at 5 and it was, at that point, about 5:10.

So S. offered me a ride to the house, which I accepted.  We were almost there when I remembered where my house key was.. 

That's right.  On my key chain.  With my car keys.  Which were locked up at the mechanic's with my car.  


So I asked if I could get a ride back to town so I could get the man-friend, who had the other key.

Needless to say, any plans we had to go out of town tonight have been shot all to hell, and I've decided not to cook dinner since I have no desire to see what myriad ways I can fuck up dinner.  Last thing I need is to burn down another house, or give both the man friend and I acute food poisoning.  The kids are away at camp, so they get to escape my reign of terror.

Lucky kids.