Her Bad Mother

Friday, August 24, 2007

Don't sweat the small stuff

When Her Bad Mother asked me to blog-sit last week while she took off in a giant RV for some good ol’ close-knit family fun I jumped at the chance, because I’ve never been asked to blog-sit before and because, hello! It’s Her Bad Mother doing the asking! I made a personal vow to do her and her kickass blog justice by writing an amazing, inspiring and totally hilarious post. I carried my laptop down to the basement, the only place that’s truly quiet in this house, set myself up with a bottle of water and some reheated pizza, opened up a fresh new Word document…

…and drew a huge blank.

I couldn’t come up with anything so instead I focused on a figurine of an old man with John Lennon glasses, crouched down reading a book. I got familiar with it, studying the look on the old man’s face, noting his strong, capable hands and the way his robe looked a lot like acid wash. Upstairs in the den Dave was hanging out with a friend and I listened to them for a while, keenly, to their laughter and their rising and falling tones. I checked my email and for new friend requests on Facebook. I checked for updated celebrity gossip and scandal and when there was none, I watched the cursor blink on the blank page. Closely.

I sat back in my chair, relaxed and opened my mind, waiting to get struck by a fabulous post idea. All I got struck with was the urge to pee.

Dave saw the frustration on my face when I appeared upstairs. “You can make fun of me if you want,” he said, a hint of sympathy in his voice. “I don’t mind.”

His friend chuckled. “The possibilities are endless,” he said, spreading his arms widely, and we all started cracking up, because it’s so true. I often write about him on my blog because he’s great fodder.

I started thinking about things I could write about: his desire to paint this really creepy looking knockoff Barbie (that turned up amidst a pile of Barbies and Barbie accessories that Dave's mom snagged at a yard sale) of Julia’s green because he thinks it would look like Salad Fingers. His far-fetched and often times ridiculous notion that he is just as handy, if not more, than Tim the Toolman Taylor; a self-proclaimed Holmes on Homes. The way he treats our home like a three bedroom, two bath clotheshorse or…the fact that he wiped up pee with Oliver’s pajama shorts on Wednesday night, something that, I’ll admit, I’m still a smidge sore over two days later.

Ding, ding…we have a winner!

See, here’s how it went down. Fresh from the tub and stark naked, Oliver had dashed into his room, then stopped abruptly and peed on the floor. As I walked past the doorway on my way to grab a rag from the linen closet I saw Dave mopping up the puddle with Oliver’s pajama shorts, which just incensed me. Sure, the rational side of me is now able to recognize that really, it’s no big deal. He wiped up Oliver’s pee with Oliver’s shorts – I can see the logic in that. But at that moment my rational side had been beaten to a pulp by my irrational side and, well, I snapped.

Why? Because he wiped up pee with shorts. Shorts. Clothing. Not with the towels earmarked for such disasters in the linen closet, but with our son’s pajama shorts. And when he bunched the shorts up with one of Oliver’s shirts and the soother that got caught under the stream and tossed them all into the hamper in the hall it was like, hello, straw. Meet camel’s back.

I went off; something about could have at least grabbed a hand towel, the bathroom’s right there and make the rest of the clothes in the hamper smell like pee, and I’m pretty sure I did a lot of glaring. He was so casual about it, asking me with the shrug of his shoulders what the big deal was, it was all going to get washed anyway. I turned around and huffed off to the laundry room, muttering obscenities under my breath as I shoved like colours in the machine. Pissed.

But dammit, I know he’s right. Of course the shorts would get washed no matter what; in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter what he used to clean it up with? When it comes to not sweating the small stuff, this is the kind of stuff not to sweat. Oliver peed and Dave cleaned it up. Simple as that, right?

I guess. ~grumble, grumble~

At the very least I need to recognize that he took the initiative and cleaned it up himself, unprovoked. ‘Cause that hardly ever happens around here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

staying up is hard to do

Hi everybody, it's motherbumper holding down the fort for Her Bad Mother today.

Since rifling through HBM's bathroom cabinets has not produced anything worthy of posting about (and she was smart enough to lock the bedroom door), I am forced to tell you one of my own stories.

On the days when I can barely put a post together to publish., I reach back into the ol' memory box and think about some of the hundred - nay! - thousands of embarrassing moments I have accrued during my years on this mortal coil. One of those usually makes for an amusing post because if anyone can make a situation more embarrassing than need be, it's this lil' lady right here.

There are so many blush-worthy moments to chose from but I selected this one because it was the only one I could think of that didn't involve bodily functions or a time I'd prefer family members didn't know about.

On a scale of 0 to 10, I'd say this story ranks a three, if the zero is "get over yourself" and ten is "I wish the ground could swallow me whole".

Many years ago, I worked at a hospital in admin. Proving to be organized and motivated, I had the opportunity to set up a new day surgery ward. Wanting to make a good impression, I decided to wear a skirt instead of the usual not-quite-office casual look.

It was the dead of summer when one likes to wear light, airy cotton but the voice of many "how to get that promotion" articles, various resource counsellors, and my Mom rang in my head, reminding me that nylons are a must when donning a skirt in the office. Bare legs are too casual and in my case, potentially blinding. Which has always been a bad thing to do to co-workers on the first day.

Because of some unshakeable bad karma, early on the first day at the new position, while dressing, I punched a hole in my nylons. And as Murphy's Law would have it, I didn't have a back up pair.

Oh you should have heard all those voices in my head when that happened.

I started to panic because it's rare for me to be able to think straight in these situations. I was convinced that bare legs were going to be the downfall of my employment success. I had no alternative but to ransack the place looking for another pair.

All I could come up with was a pair of stay-ups, one size too big. But they stayed up and were the right colour (not actual photo of my legs that day, those belong to a blogger stand-in).

I made sure they would stay put by doing a little dance around the room, and felt confident because they only needed a small tweak post-boogie. Problem appeared solved.

You see where this is going don't you?

OK, so now all I had to do was run out and catch the bus and be on time for the first hour of the rest of my life (or so it seemed at the time).

The stop was one block downhill and since I was wearing nice! girly! shoes, I half ran, half slid my way to the bottom of the road. This was where I had to cross, right by a road crew who were tarring something up - logic tell me it was probably a hole.

I gingerly plucked my way across the road, avoiding the loose asphalt, arcing clear of the place where the team was working. In all my fretting, one thing I did not notice was the big spot around the workers that had been tarred earlier but didn't warrant orange cones. A large area that wasn't 100% dry.

Did I mention it was hot - a really, really hot summer morning? And it was sunny, really, really sunny.

Well I stepped on that sticky, tacky area of road and when my foot came up, it was shoe-less.

With no time to react, I stepped down with the nylon-only clad foot and immediately took another step to hop away.

Only this time, when I hopped I felt the nylon stay-up slide and slither right down my leg.

Right in front of a very attentive road crew who looked nothing like this road crew.

Engulfed in the men's laughter, I tried to act completely natural. Only stopping long enough to pry my shoe out of the soft road, I tried to pretend nothing happened. Wearing what I hope was a totally relaxed look, I tried to shove my now filthy shoe on my bare foot.

Walking with head high (but pride oh so very low) I managed to get to the bus stop and sit at the bench to collect myself. I looked back and saw my stocking half-stuck, half-flapping on the road.

Deciding it was better to remove the other one in front of already laughing road workers rather than a bus load of wackos (it was that kind of bus route), I reached down and stripped off the other leg and threw it over my shoulder into the bushes. I didn't want to risk putting it in my purse, just to have it fall out at the wrong time.

If you could have heard how hard the road guys roared when I made that toss. They looked nothing like this guy while making fun of my predicament.

After what seemed like an eternity, or at least a full two minutes, the bus arrived and I climbed on board. Never had I been so grateful to get on the bus in my life.

Moral of this story? Um... I'm not sure there is one. I guess.... always buy two pairs? when in doubt, use duct tape? always bring a locksmith kit when blogsitting?

Whatever, all I know is I haven't tried stay-ups since that day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Boarding the House

While HBM is off cavorting in an RV with Clark and Ellen Griswold, I was invited to blog sit. I think she's hoping one of her squatters will pitch in to finish off that bathroom. Although I am usually her helpful friend with the jazz hands and the chocolate, renovations aren't really my shtick. I'd rather hang with the old pirate across the street.

In fact, I'm thinking of inviting him over to my 'hood to mess with the neighbours.

I could have used a colourful pirate last night when my door bell rang. The sound of that sing-songy chime usually means someone is selling something or asking for a donation, and I am wholly incapable of saying no. I have been known to dive for cover to the floor and pretend no one is home. But if I open the door, I am a goner.

Last night was a little different.

On my front steps, was a well-coiffed man in his 30's with better eyebrows than I could ever aspire to. He stood there demure and friendly, in his carefully pressed shirt and argyle vest (yes vest), and introduced himself as a fellow resident of our street.

We live in a very gentrified, trendy, smallish neighbourhood in the center of the city.

The perimeter is surrounded by an eclectic and culturally diverse mix of restaurants and neighbours. We also border the city's largest subsidized housing complex and live along side daily reminders of the poverty, homelessness and significant urban challenges that Toronto faces. At the very end of our street, where our pristine 'hood ends and the city begins, sit two boarding houses screaming for a coat of paint. They are always full, sometimes noisy, and often spill onto the porch and out to the sidewalk. In a city with a serious lack of affordable housing, it is a much needed option for those who stay there.

My visitor lives at that end of our street and nearish the boarding houses. He is not a fan. He is so not a fan that he's been talking to city councilors about getting the rooming houses' license revoked. He's now going door-to-door and charming the neighbours into signing a petition to support his quest. And he's done well. There were pages and pages of willing names.

But I am not always as easy as I look. Heh.

I wanted to understand why he wanted to shut down the houses. I mean, I knew why. I just needed to hear him say it. Would he really tell me it was to preserve his property value? He was quick to point out that he "wasn't exactly against rooming houses per se". He just didn't like these particular ones because they were full of "crack dealers" and "prostitutes". I was enjoying his verbal waltz and wanted to see where he'd take it so I probed further. Did he want to get the rooming houses closed down or just the resident profile "cleaned up"? Well, of course, he simply wanted "what was best for the community".

Whose community? His community or the community of people who called this boarding house their home?

When I told him I worked in a social services organization and was sensitive to the challenges that those residents faced, he changed his tune. His waltz effortlessly transformed to a smooth tango. He offered stories of frightening interactions. He asked if I was a mother. He asked if I owned my home or rented. And, sure, I'll concede as a home owner and as a mother, it would be in my best interest to have this boarding house boarded up.

But what about the other sides of who I am? Do they take a back seat? Should they take a back seat in favour of protecting my child from "crack dealers" and "prostitutes"? Because my prolific visitor was right. That is the vocational demographic of the address in question.

Each person in that house has a story that led them there. Each one has a right to that roof regardless of their "crack dealer" or "prostitute" label. Keeping "them" out of sight may make life tidier, but is it something I should sign up for?

He chose his words carefully and finished off with a grand cha-cha-cha before offering me his clipboard to sign the petition. His clipboard filled with names of all my neighbours who cared about their children and who understood the importance of property value. Their names all neatly autographed in support of our community.

I stood there with his pen and looked him softly in the eye. And I wondered, what would you do, lovely internets? Seriously. What would you have done? As a parent, are we obliged to scrub clean every inch of our child's environment regardless of who else it affects?


When she is not squatting at Her Bad Mother's 'hood, Sandra messes with the neighbours at her own blog. She also joins HBM at BlogHers Act Canada, where yesterday we got nekkid to announce the results of the enviro-vote. Check it out.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Wherein I Do National Lampoon One Better

Six weeks ago, there was this:

Now, there is this:

Which, despite its incompleteness, it still a vast improvement over buckets, and so not to be disdained:

Still, it is not enough to prevent us from moving into this for a nine-day (ahem) holiday:

We leave tomorrow, and will set off across southern Ontario and on into New York state, where we will comport ourselves like retirees and hang out in Wal-Mart parking lots and play mah-jongg at picnic tables and drink wine out of boxes. Am packing the knee-length shorts with elasticized waistbands and Tilley hats as we speak.

I'll be checking in every couple of days with the sordid details of RV livin', but in the meantime there'll be some squatters here to keep the place looking lived in. So long as they don't need full lavatory facilities, they'll be fine. And there may, in fact, be a party or two.

Just don't have too much fun without me.