EVERY DAY IS WEDNESDAY Living a Life Less Ordinary

The Past and the Future

January 28

It’s been many months since I’ve blogged, worked on my book series, etc. Not my intention. But perhaps those three words sum up 2014  better than any others. It was a year that saw more heartbreak and bad luck than most in recent memory. Over the course of those twelve months, I closed my press after fifteen years, I nearly died and I had falling outs with people I never imagined having falling outs with. That said, it was also a year that gave me one of the greatest gifts ever: a healthy, beautiful, endlessly curious baby girl. But as with all periods that put one through the ringer mentally, emotionally and/or physically, at least for me anyway, I found myself looking inwards, wanting to find some semblance of sanity in the new world order before looking outward again. So blogging was not a priority, nor was writing, nor were many of the other things that used to make up my day-to-day existence, and that was fine (and arguably even needed) for a while but the time is coming to make a comeback. Put bluntly: I’ve made as much peace with 2014 as I’m ever going to make and now it’s time to move on and get back into the saddle. So… Hello! I missed you all.

Welcome to Toronto Living

June 20

We’re not stuck in condo-land, as the people in this Toronto Life article are, but we rent a small two bedroom apartment with a lower level nook/alcove/den, which is the part of the house that’s being converted into Tiny Human’s nursery. It’s cool in that we can’t fill up our parts of the house or hers with needless junk, but it’s also hard to explain to our families who are spread out around the country why we really don’t need and/or want an excessive amount of baby stuff.

Some Brief Thoughts on the Provincial Election

June 13

The husband and I predicted a liberal minority, so the actual result proved a bit unexpected. While I don’t quite trust the liberals, I’m willing to see what they can do with this newish leader and a majority mandate. Better than the corporate tax cuts guy anyway, because everyone pretty much gets it that trickle down economics never ever trickle down (mostly because if there’s no increased demand for product from consumers, there’s no demand for more jobs to make those products).

That said, there are other things about this election result that make me feel proud. Namely, that we are the first province/state in North America to democratically elect a gay, female leader. I love that this is the place/time/world that Tiny Human will be born into. Unlike myself, who had to wait until I was 17 years old to see a woman brought in as an unelected interim leader (Kim Campbell, 19th Prime Minister of Canada), Tiny Human will be born into a society where a woman (and one with a same-sex spouse, no less) has won a powerful office in this country. She’ll grow up knowing it’s entirely possible, because it’s already been done. And that’s kind of amazing to think about. It really drives home the fact that, in many ways, the world really will be a different place for her. A more inclusive place.

So, while my feelings are mixed overall, I can’t help but rejoice a little. These steps forward in equality are pretty monumental ones.

A Boob is a Boob is a Boob is a Natural Thing

June 12

There’s a photo floating around the internet right now of a young, black woman breastfeeding her baby at her college graduation. When I first saw it, it wasn’t the boob that drew my attention, not in the least. My immediate thought was: how the hell did she do it? You see, everyone’s been telling me that I’ll be utterly useless to the world for at least the first three months to a year after Tiny Human is born. Yet, here’s this woman – this utterly remarkable woman – who completed her college degree with an infant. I found renewed hope.

It was only after I started reading the comments on some of the news articles discussing the picture that I realized how many people found the partially bared breast to be a really big deal. “Disgusting!” some decried. “Who wants to see a stretched-out, low-hanging boob?” complained others. “The baby had no right to be there in the first place,” wrote others still. “Cover that up!” “Classless!” “She should have put it in a bottle.” “She should have hired a sitter or had her mom to watch the kid.” The comments went on and on. And they made me sad.

It’s never been a question to the husband and I if I would breastfeed. If Tiny Human and I can make it work, it’s happening, period. It’ll save the expense of formula and give her exactly what she needs to get her start in life. Of course, I’m hoping that she’ll also accept the bottle, so I can pump and have a bit of freedom when necessary, but I understand that each baby is different and we’ll have to see what kind of eater she is when she arrives. And I guess that’s what depresses me about all these breastfeeding comments: each baby is different. I’ve known babies who never took to the bottle; I’ve also known babies who refuse to eat when a blanket or shawl is draped over their head (and I can hardly blame ’em, would you like to consume your meals beneath a sheet?). And no, you can’t just let a baby go hungry until it decides to feed the way you want it to, as some of those thread posters suggest – there are ramifications for that, among them clogged milk ducts, reduced milk supply, engorgement and leaking for mom, and a screaming, hungry, unhappy infant for everyone else. Babies can not rationalize or understand, those are just two of the reasons they are so supremely reliant on us.

Now, just for a second, let’s get into the aesthetics portion of this argument. There are lots of unnatural things that people do to their bodies, which they proceed to show off in public, that perhaps I’d rather not see, but it’s still their right to do them. Just like it a new mother’s right to feed her child. If you are so offended by a milk-bloated, stretch-marked boob, may I make a couple suggestions? One – turn away; there are lots of other interesting things out in the world to look at. Two – never knock up your wife or girlfriend, because pregnancy comes with a whole host of physical changes. Most of them rather unattractive and unpleasant. (Ankle-less Hobbit feet, among them.)

Of course, people warned me about stretch marks when I got knocked up. “Stomach and thighs,” they said. Thirty-three weeks in, my stomach and thighs still look great, my left boob (and hilariously only my left boob) not so much. It got all marked up early in the Tiny Human-building game and, for a while, I was very self-conscious about it (even though the only person who ever gets a good look at it is the hubby). I even said I probably wouldn’t mind it as much if the stretching had at least been symmetrical, but pregnancy is weird and what you get is not what someone else might get. You see, I was afraid that my husband would be like these message-board idiots, all icked out by the loss of my previously flawless skin, but he wasn’t. He was simply happy we were having a baby and if these were the things that came part and parcel with it, then so be it. I know I’ve said this before, but my husband is an amazing man. Shortly after we had that conversation, I dubbed that breast “Frankenboob” and it’s been a running joke ever since – after all, if you can’t beat the crappy parts of life, you might as well laugh at them. My Frankenboob reminds me that all-too-soon these puppies will be much more than mere sex objects, they’ll be providers of nourishment, as nature intended them to be. So dudes, if you can’t handle stretch marks on your lady, remember to keep it bagged.

But back to breastfeeding. I’m personally a bit modest. I don’t care what other people do (in fact, I encourage them to do whatever works for them and their baby), but I’m not exactly a whip-it-out kind of girl myself. That said, I’ll become one if that’s what Tiny Human needs me to be, because breastfeeding is ultimately about her and making sure her nutritional needs are met on a schedule that works for her. I dread the stares, the comments, the dirty looks, etc., more than probably anything else, because I’m not sure how, in that very hormonal time of my life, I’ll react to them. Will I chew someone’s head off or will I burst into tears? She’s not even out of the womb yet and all the Mama Bear instincts are already there. I want Tiny Human to get the best start in life she can, and to hell with everyone else’s comfort levels, especially if they happen to fall deeply on the side of prudish. I also don’t think new mothers should be prisoners in their homes if their babies don’t immediately take to the bottle (and pump). I think they should be able to continue to live and achieve, just like our young college graduate who prompted this rant, if they are able to. Motherhood, after all, is not an ending, but rather the beginning of a new leg of life’s journey, and I suspect it will be hard enough without being forced to handle all kinds of strangers’ baggage.

And, just for the record, if anyone ever tells me that I should go into the washroom to feed Tiny Human, you can bet your ass I’m going to suggest that they start eating their lunches on the toilet too.

So Much Wrong Here

June 6

There is so much wrong with this dismissive, judgmental article about people’s reading tastes/habits that it’s hard to know where to start, so it’s time for a list!

1) A good story is a good story, regardless if it is written for a child, a teenager or an adult; powerful themes/narratives transcend age/demographics.

2) The quick and blunt dismissal of genre fiction as “trashy” is woefully misguided (as someone who ekes out a living intelligently writing about and investigating horror, this makes me want to sit this journalist down and give ’em a literary lesson or two).

3) Books take us on adventures: sometimes they take us back in time to our younger, more naive years; sometimes they take us to places in the world (or on other worlds) we have no chance of ever experiencing; sometimes they guide us through tragedies and traumas we may never have to face first-hand. By limiting the scope of what we read, we are limiting our experiences and our ability to think/perceive/imagine things outside of our immediate reality, gender, age, creed, etc.

4) We should honestly be happy (and celebrate the fact) that some people still love books.

5) As an adult, it’s not particular mature to put down other adults’ interests and tastes. That’s petty grade school playground stuff.

If I Was Stupid Rich…

February 28

A few weeks ago, while we were having our Valentine’s Day dinner, my husband asked me what I would do with my money if I was extremely wealthy. I said, after buying a modest house and modest car and setting enough aside that I could live comfortably off the interest for the rest of my life (so I could write fiction full time), I’d participate heavily in charitable actions. But not by actually giving money to charities, instead I’d keep my eye out for news stories like this one, where society has either let someone down or a family has stumbled upon a patch of insurmountable bad luck and I would anonymously give them the money that would once again improve their quality of life. As I explained, that would be a million times more meaningful to me than some stupid $10,000 handbag or a lot of the other dumb things the tremendously rich waste their money on.


Everything You Know Is Wrong

February 8

I can’t remember the exact day that I realized that most of what I’d been taught about life and the world was a lie, but I do remember feeling incredibly betrayed. The thing was, it was no one’s fault. We’d all bought into it. We’d all drunk the Kool-Aid. The things we thought we knew had been conditioned in us since childhood, by the media, by society, by all those who believed this stuff before us. And there I was some thirty-some years later, angry that it was all crap – made to sell products, made to tell us how to live, made to keep the corporate consumerism machine churning onwards and onwards.

And yet it wasn’t what I wanted. And it wasn’t making me happy. Why should we care about keeping up with the Joneses instead of treading our own way through the landscape of life?

I made a decision to live differently that day. To consume less, to buy less, to create more. To reduce, reuse and recycle wherever possible. To put my credit cards on ice. To not buy into the hype machine and to weigh all my decisions based on the values that were important to me and mine. To reduce my negative impact on the planet. To eat less processed foods. The list goes on and on.

At first my husband looked at me funny, but he didn’t stop me. And I didn’t ask him to join me in this endeavour. The realization that I had come to was one that had to be arrived at organically. A year or two later he got there himself. I don’t know if it was from watching me and watching my happiness increase, or simply realizing that there was a better way. But soon I saw him making many of the sorts of changes I had and we became a team in this, just as we are in every other part of our lives. And things were good, and getting better.

Then late last year, we found out that we were pregnant (and that this time around it looked like it was finally going to stick). And suddenly this adventure we were on became bigger than ourselves. This inspired even more thinking and even more assessing of our lifestyle and the things we’d like to teach our little one someday. Healthy things. Things that will enrich his or her life and help him or her enrich the community and the world. Things that will hopefully spare them from their own “everything I was told was wrong” realization thirty years down the road.

And that’s why I’ve begun this blog. As a place to collect and explore my thoughts (I’ve talked my friends’ ears off enough about this all at this point). And as a way to chronicle our journey, both the successes and failures. So welcome aboard. It’s going to be a strange ride.