my tragic right hip

Busting out bad joints all over the place

March 3rd, 2014

“The World is Round, People”–Cate Blanchett

While I know I am not a cultural commentator with any weight whatsoever, and I know social media has sort of ruined the art of sustained thought through 140 snarky characters, but I’m going to ramble on about some stuff, and feel free to ignore me.

First, I’m a feminist. There are no modifications to that statement, I am, and, like Caitlyn Moran, I’ll stand on a chair and shout it, if you can’t quite hear me: I AM A FEMINIST.

So, too, apparently is Cate Blanchett, and I admired her speech last night for it’s obvious stump-like quality of suggesting, broadly, that women want to see movies with other women in them. And I loved her comment, as above in the title of this post, “the world is round people,” when referring to the fact that it’s more and more apparent that there are juicier roles available to actresses that don’t involve being half-naked and chasing around after men. But here’s where the whole thing fell down for me–I find it hard, and harder still, to stomach, that Blanchett, who has played some kick-ass women in her career, was pontificating for Blue Jasmine, which contained two of the most appallingly-non-feminist, anti-women, even, characters to grace the screen in a long, long time. Woody Allen’s personal issues aside, and they are legion, celebrating the great opportunities for women from a movie that demoralizes our gender so insultingly, well, it gave me pause.

Just because there are female roles doesn’t necessarily mean that they are role models for females. I found the same thing with Gravity, which I enjoyed far, far more than I did Blue Jasmine–yes, Sally Hawkins and Cate Blanchett played the hell out of those characters, but they were not real women. They were not even approximations of real women. They were one-notes played on a sliding scale of bad decisions, and the sexism displayed in that film honestly shocked me. Never, not once, at any point in that film do either of the characters step outside of being defined by the men in their lives–they allow men to walk all over them, in multiple ways, their children are plot points, and their whole perception of the world around them is clouded by a desperation, which is seemingly of their own making.

But back to Gravity–a film celebrated for both its technical complexity and its brevity–not to mention the fact that Sandra Bullock plays an astronaut trapped in a terrifying situation (lost in space, even the thought of it freaks me out!). Why does Bullock’s character have to be “damaged” (SPOILER ALERT) because she’s lost her only child? Why does she need some emotionally cloying backstory? Does George Clooney’s character have any other reason for being in space than the fact that he’s a scientist? Why couldn’t the George Clooney character be played by a women too–at least we’d be seriously challenging some gender stereotypes there in a meaningful way.

So while Hollywood was all “whoo-hoo!” look at all these great roles for women–let’s break it down to see what kind of roles they actually were: Amy Adams plays a women who uses her sexuality for criminal purposes; she’s a grifter. Cate Blanchett plays a women whose husband cheats on her, and then Bernie Madoff’s a whole pile of people, and she can’t stand on her own two feet. I haven’t seen the film that Meryl Streep was nominated for, so I can’t comment on her character. The same goes for Judi Dench in Philomena–I haven’t seen the film, and don’t want to make assumptions (especially, again, because it’s based on a true story). And then Sandra Bullock plays an emotionally damaged scientist who is only up in space because she can’t stand life on earth.

Forgive me for insisting that great roles celebrating women actually portray women who are changing the conversation in any feasible way? Just because the character is female isn’t cause for celebration–why can’t we be pushing the boundaries a little bit further and actually have roles that are good for our gender, and not just roles because of our gender.

I’ve included an image of Julie Delpy for a very specific reason. I loved Before Midnight to distraction, and it got my vote for best adapted screenplay even though I knew it wasn’t going to win. Why? Because that character was a real woman–in almost every way. The only bone of contention I had with that script was how (SPOILER), while arguing, Ethan Hawke’s character kept referring to Delpy’s character as “crazy,” which I hate–it’s an easy way of doing away with a woman’s feelings, going back to hysteria, etc., etc., but her Celine was the most modern, well rounded (with flaws, of course) female character I’d seen on the big screen in a very, very long time. Everything she said rang true, rang authentic, and I didn’t feel like her gender was a plot point to be exploited, and nor was she emotionally manipulated for the purposes of audience enjoyment.

It’s wonderful to see the rich and varied performances of some of the greatest actresses of my generation doing such vivid work, I just wish that there was an equal veracity applied to the scripts as is applied to the conversations about the shifting nature of Hollywood. It’s not enough to be present on screen and winning awards. The words matter. The context matters. And that’s what I found so frustrating about much of what was celebrated last night.

January 21st, 2014

On Sarah Polley & Sitting For An Afternoon

My son went to my father’s yesterday, I dropped him off just after lunch, so he could spend the night. We had tickets for a Neutral Milk Hotel show at the Kool Haus last night (show = awesome; venue = not awesome) and my dad will drop our little guy off at daycare where I’ll pick him up after work. And I had plans for that time–I was going to write, read, rest, nap, and just unwind in a way I haven’t had a chance to do in forever. But by the time I got home, driving in some pretty icky weather, I was, well, let’s just say the only motivation I had was to drop my coat, boots and keys in the kitchen and head for the couch. Where I stayed for ALMOST FOUR STRAIGHT HOURS.

In that time, I did some work, I’m teaching the distance ed session of Publicity for Book Publishers at Ryerson this term, so it’s nice to be able to do it from home, although I do miss the classroom environment. But I also watched Sarah Polley’s amazing documentary, Stories We Tell. In a nutshell, Sarah Polley discovered, after the death of her mother, that her dad was not her biological father, and that led her to looking at how families tell stories, which culminated in her gathering hers to tell theirs.

Coming from an artistic Toronto family where her father was an actor (before finding steady work upon the birth of her two siblings), her mother an actress/casting director, and her family all involved in the business in some way or another, the context of Sarah Polley’s life seems rich with drama, literature, and words in general. It’s a personal documentary, something that’s a hybrid of many different voices–Michael Polley, the father who raised her, her biological father, her brothers and sisters, her “new” family once she uncovers her DNA–and the result is a symphony of tales that come together not so much to explore the truth but to examine the impact of loss. In as much as this documentary is about Polley finding a biological father, it’s also about the loss of her mother–and that’s what resonated so deeply with me. The dichotomy of loss/discovery plays out almost in every scene–all stemming from one simple question Polley asks at the beginning: “Can you tell the story how you remember it?” And everyone seems to remember different bits, snippets here, thoughts there–and the entire film is narrated by a wonderful piece of writing by her father, Michael Polley. How do you tell a story when the central character, Polley’s mother, has no voice–through the thoughts and memories of those closest to her. But, even then, it’ll never be the whole story, and I think that’s the point–that every honest, aching moment of truth isn’t a possibility.

So, I sat for an afternoon on Sunday before we went to see Neutral Milk Hotel, and just contemplated my own stories about my own missing mother. Realizing that while there’s no question regarding the origin of my DNA, there’s many unanswered questions when it comes to my mother. What were her disappointments? I know she must have had them. How did she manage with two kids being so small, and she being so young herself? Where would her life have taken her if it wasn’t taken from her? And I’m not a filmmaker, and for once I’d rather not even imagine. I don’t want to write my mother’s voice into a story and I don’t want to have to explain to my boy about how mommy’s mommy died–but I did, and I do, because, like all of the stories that came together, and evolved Sarah Polley into the fascinating person she has become, all of these stories have made me the person I am too. It’s just a shame that we see ourselves reflected so deeply in our children, at this moment, in the middle of that documentary, I simply wanted to see my own mother’s face smiling back at me. She had a spectacular smile.

January 3rd, 2014

In Response: “Generation X is Sick of Your Bullshit”

There have been a couple great articles in the last little while summing up the year, the usual best of movies, books, missed great culture, and blah de blah–but the two articles that got me thinking were these: 1) “The Year We Broke the Internet,” and 2) “Generation X is Sick of Your Bullshit,” which was written in response to this article on New York Magazine.

1) So, we’ve broken the internet… for once I’m thankful that a broken lede isn’t referring to the publishing industry, but to how f*#@ed up the internet has become. Referring traffic isn’t so much about driving discovery of great content anymore but damning us all to getting lost in a mess of tangled up wires masking themselves as a website. I’m one to blame–I use social media as a holding ground for all of the articles, notes, photos, thoughts, and bits and bobs of information that I’m trying to keep track of. I don’t read everything I post–I often post it to mark it to read later, because I think the header is interesting, and because I think it might be of interest to people in my circles. I’m doing it fast–scanning headlines and first paragraphs and often entire articles, and not thinking it through in some cases, but forwarding it along because that’s what you do. And every year I try to rid myself of the awful, voyeuristic celebrity gossip sites–but they’ve become an automatic response, something my fingers are doing the minute my mind becomes idle or I’m simply bored and need a distraction. I mean, do I need to know anything about Kim Kardashian? I’ve never seen an episode of her show–could care less about her rock, her fiance, her child, her thoughts on motherhood–and still, I click, and click, and click, and click. And I used to use the internet for good. Built great websites, wrote good content, and here we go again, another habit I need to slow down and look closely at–how to use the internet for good, again.

2) I loved this article so much:

But that’s okay. Generation X is used to being ignored, stuffed between two much larger, much more vocal, demographics. But whatever! Generation X is self-sufficient. It was a latchkey child. Its parents were too busy fulfilling their own personal ambitions to notice any of its trophies-which were admittedly few and far between because they were only awarded for victories, not participation.

But the one thing that struck me about the reply-rant, was the whole, “the first generation not to do better than their parents” refrain. And it’s got me thinking about how we qualify doing “better,” and what it means to be a parent, and the kinds of things that occupy your mind when you’re waiting for the TTC in sub-sub-zero weather. Because, while I’m certainly not monetarily doing better than my parents at my age, I don’t judge my life’s success in that way–my mother had two children by the time she was 24, wanted to go to university but didn’t, and spent her life doing menial jobs–sometimes two or three of them at a time (both she and my father worked all the time). Yes, they did a great job paying off their mortgage but my mother didn’t even have a chance to enjoy any of the benefits of her hard work–her car accident stopping her life short at thirty-four. She sacrificed her freedom, in a sense, so that I could have mine–two degrees, dancing around for while until I hit my own career path, not settling down until I was in my mid-twenties, and not having my own baby until I was much older, and while we haven’t got our house paid off, we lived the hell out of our years before we had kids. My mother was saving it up for later–a later she never got to experience. So, I guess I’m saying that it’s all relative. Money isn’t the guiding focus of our life as it was for my parents–in a sense. It’s not that I want to have an ‘artistic’ life or have been driving to be ‘different,’–but I always knew I didn’t want to live in Mississauga where I grew up (not that being one zip code away in Toronto is all that), that I wanted to travel, meet people, experience things in a way that was only made possible because my mother worked so hard to throw me out into the world and into the person I became. So, I don’t want the “glory” like the kids in the other article, and I’m not so pissed like the Sick of the Bullshit article, but it did get me thinking about what I’ll be leaving for my kid, and how hard I’m working now that it really matters, and one day I might get my house paid off, but I will always love the Beastie Boys, and be thankful my mother got knocked up when she did.

December 30th, 2013

New Year’s Revolutions – 2014

I’m a little terrified to revisit my New Year’s Revolutions from last year, and I am sure that I did not succeed in making any changes. Except, that when I look them over–I actually managed small changes where I never thought possible. I never made it to the gym. But I am finding small ways to be more active. I rode my bike far more this summer. I’m walking more than I was a year ago, just to and from the subway, but it’s something. I’m not sure I did well with being more patient, but that’s an ongoing struggle. I certainly failed on the blogging part, but I did manage to read over 60 books this year, which is certainly more than last year. We have had an epic year for change–we’re in a big boy bed, we’re migrating out of all kinds of baby habits (pulling and tugging in some areas, ahem, toilet training, the bane of my parenting existence)–and I found time for myself. Let me repeat that–I found time for myself. The all-encompassing, suffocating parenting feelings are still there sometimes, mainly on the weekends when I’ve spent 48 straight hours with my son because he refuses to sleep in his own bed, but we’re all a little bit older, a little bit wiser. We’ve discovered the joys of an afternoon playdate. We can let our boy roam around the house unsupervised to an extent because he’s mainly playing and not actively engaged in activities that could wholly injure him. And so, here we go, for 2014–here are my Revolutions.

1. Start. Finish.

I’m revisiting this revolution from last year because it’s important to me. I managed a large-scale writing project this year, a rough draft of a novel, and it felt terrific. Like so many of these things, it may never see the light of day, but I proved to myself I could do it, and that was a feat in and of itself. The other amazing part to finishing the bits and pieces you start is that of feeling of accomplishment. The place where your life is controlled, in some extent, by you–and it’s empowering.

2. Breathe.

I did bits and bobs of yoga. Went to acupuncture once. Listened to a bunch of meditation audio books. Read about meditation. Tried to sit still. Put my legs up the wall a whole bunch. Listened to hours and hours and hours of classical music. And, still, it just wasn’t enough. The integral part for me to stay healthy is to keep calm. And, I need to do it without medication. Without terrible food. Without it taking too much time because I have so little of it. The easiest way? Taking a deep breath. Way way way down into bottom, as far down as it can go, kind of breath. As much and as often as possible.

3. Write.

I can do it here. I can do it there. I can do it anywhere. And I found a groove in the latter part of the year that I want to continue. I have so many ideas. And finding a place for them that’s out of my head, well, that’s the goal.

4. Work.

Over the last twelve months, so many things have changed. Work is busier than ever because of our new structure, but I have a wonderful team. I’m teaching again, which was both rewarding and extremely hard last summer, and looking forward to it. The upcoming year will most likely prove, again, to be the most difficult but also the most rewarding of my career. I’m invigorated by work these days. It’s taken almost a decade of working in publishing to arrive at this point–the perfect marriage of job description + my particular skill set + the right company + great opportunities. Now I just have to continue to work hard, to try and be a good manager, and to prove to the naysayers that our industry hasn’t got a cold, isn’t on death’s door, but is alive, vibrant and innovative.

5. Make Dinner.

Whether it’s me cooking on the weekends or my husband throughout the week, I want to make more dinners, have our boy explore more food (because he’s effectively stopped eating anything except about three dishes), and use what we buy by having it end up in our belly’s instead of the green bin.

6. Stay Organized.

Somehow, in the fury of my daily life, my organizational skills have collapsed. I need a better system. I’ve been using a great app on my iPad called “Wunderlist,” and it’s terrific. But it’s not the same as being organized from the core up. My drawers are a mess. My closet even worse. Being disorganized is expensive, as I’ve discovered, but over the last few months, I’m slowly working to climb out of a crazy hole somewhat of my own making–and if I can start the way I mean to finish, setting my clothes out the night before, bringing my lunch, and keeping track of all of our lives, I think my messy mind might improve.

7. Read.

One year I’d like to read 100 books in a year. It’s funny, because clawing out time for reading means giving up other activities, mainly watching television or putting myself into an internet coma. Two changes that I find impossible to make. I find it implausible to even suggest a life without television and movies (and why would you want to?), but I could spend less time watching the crappy stuff that fills up the hours, and get to bed earlier a couple nights a week so I can read. More short stories. More small press publications. More poetry. More. More. More. More words.

8. Sustain.

What do we really need to be successful in this life? For me, it’s thinking a lot about the experiences I want to have with my family. The parts of the world I want to see, and how I want to see them. For there to be a world for my boy, we need to live within our own boundaries. What does that mean? Cutting down on the stuff. Working with what you have. Making. Gardening. Baking. Fixing. Reusing. Recycling. We are familiar with these concepts. And we take it seriously. But like saving money. Even 10% more can be accomplished. And that’s what I’m looking to do–cut 10% out of my life, reduce it in every way possible. I’m going to think more concretely about this over the next day or two with more thoughts on exactly how.

9. Moments.

In this picture, there are so many ways that I can take it apart–I’m still so chubby, my roots are growing in rapidly, my glasses are old and crooked, my skin is dry, and flaking in bits–but that’s not at all what I was thinking at the moment it was taken. In that instant, after flying downhill with my boy on a sled, I was blissfully, stupidly, happy. And those are the moments that I know are important. We all need more moments like this–where we’re free for a split second of everything else in our lives except joy. Having them can’t be planned per se but they can be recognized and celebrated by not being so hard on ourselves. Therein lies my goal: to not be so hard on myself.

10. Take Pictures.

This one is self-explanatory. And will, hopefully, not be the only Revolution I manage over 2014.


November 26th, 2013

The Goldfinch

Right now I wish that Goodreads would let me give half stars–it’s really a 3.5 kind of novel. Parts of this epic tale by Donna Tartt contain some truly, truly exceptional writing, intuitive observations, and a keen eye for the failings of the human spirit. But parts are bloated, even a little overwritten with a tendency to restate, sometimes within the self-same sentence, a previous observation–and this made me batty.

That said, I loved Tartt’s first novel, The Secret History, with abandon. Thoroughly enjoyed her second, The Little Friend, but got lost in the beginning of this book, almost to its detriment. The novel opens with a terrorist bomb blowing up in one of the biggest galleries in New York. Theo, having been suspended with school, is there with his art-loving, advertising-working mother, before a meeting at his school, his deadbeat father having been out of the picture for a while. The plot device-ness of the attack concerned me, but it was necessary in order for Theo to come into possession of the novel’s namesake, a Dutch master’s painting, “The Goldfinch.” And it’s within this framework–what happens to him as a result of the painting, where his life goes, what decisions he makes, that form the bulk of the action in the book.

Almost immediately, there’s Charles Ryder-esque quality to Theo–he’s the centre of the story but not necessarily the most interesting person in the book. Especially when Boris arrives on the scene. He’s an incredible character, amazing, actually, who flits in and out of the book at exactly the right moments like he’s in a movie. The book is Dickensian in all the right places, and despite its length and heft moves at lightning speed. The only thing I was really missing was a keen and wholly believable emotional core–but, in the end, the heart of the book is one boy’s tragedy and the depths that it pulls his life in a direction that can’t seem to be reversed. And for that, Tartt had my heart, and that’s all you can really ask of a novel, isn’t it?

October 10th, 2013

And Then the World Went By…

It’s been so long, I don’t even know where to start. I just know I need to, start, that is. There’s an element to my personality, a constant communicator, I think, with myself, that gets lost when I don’t have a moment to catch up, to document, to brave the introspection that comes with what blogging represents in my life. In a way, it’s my journal–as it is with many writers, and I have sentences whirling around my head at all times, with nary a place for them to go these days because by the time I wrestle the pen out of my son’s hands, find a piece of paper that doesn’t have scribbles on it already, and sit down to write, he’s climbed up the stairs by the banister or something equally dangerous, and by then the thought is lost anyway.

We spent about a week in Winnipeg visiting friends and it was very nice to get away. There’s something truly wonderful about taking a break from your everyday life. Spending time in a place that is not familiar to you. And when you pause, even more ideas come floating into your brain. Yes, we could sell our house completely and move to Winnipeg. Yes, we could make a change that drastic if we really decided we needed to. Yes, wouldn’t it be nice to just take a jet plane somewhere so completely away that you honestly get a break?

But what am I saying?

The value of routine for my life is unquestionable. I need the stability. Stemming from living through tragedy in my childhood, that I have a house I have lived in for almost ten years, with no plans to leave, makes me feel strong. Knowing I’ve been with my RRHB now for almost fifteen years holds something together. I’m not saying the last few years have been easy. They haven’t. I’m not saying that we have a perfect union. We don’t. But I am entitled to take comfort in the fact that fifteen is a lot of years.

I have seen both of my doctors in the last little while, the SFDD and the kidney doctor, and the disease has been stable now for a year. Our boy is turning three. I got a promotion at work, and my job is very interesting at the moment. We are climbing out of a debt-hole so huge I never thought it would be possible to fill in the dirt/debt, but we’re slowly getting somewhere. The thing is–when you make a big list, and when you see your life in the big picture, it’s actually a picture, and not just a snapshot, a slippery moment when everything feels overwhelming. Progress isn’t always huge leaps and bounds. Things are better than I could imagine them to be–now if only I could control the day-to-day.

That’s next.

September 30th, 2013

And, Here We Go Again

I can’t believe it’s September. And so much has changed this summer–my RRBB has grown into a RRB (rocknroll boy). We have made it through sickness, health, cottage, home, single vacations, family vacations, new jobs, changed old jobs, other jobs, and then some. I’m going to do it point form because I want to track some of the things that happened over the summer but can’t write a missive:

1. My RRB had a rough few weeks where he was diagnosed with pneumonia, strep throat and a sinus infection. He was so ill we were at the family doctor three times, and Sick Kids twice. He bounced back after a few weeks but it really knocked the stuffing out of him. The night his fever bounced to 104 had me terrified. He missed two weeks of school, and I missed countless hours of work. There’s nothing like a sick child to put your life in perspective. I have never held him so tight. He was so brave at the hospital when they were running tests and putting in I.V.’s. My boy is magic.

2. I started a new job this summer teaching at Ryerson. My course, “Publicity for Book Publishers,” meant less time for, well, my life, because it took up most lunches in terms of planning, and then all of Thursday nights until the beginning of August. Here’s what I learned about myself. I love the “teaching” part of teaching, the lecturing, the examining issues, the discussions–but I am TERRIBLE at administration. I have always prided myself on being organized, but after handing back assignments and forgetting to write down the grades, I knew I had to pay better attention to the details. Overall, it was an incredibly rewarding experience. My students were smart, the university offers excellent post-grad course work for publishing students, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

3. We spent every moment we could at the cottage. And it was packed with friends, family, visitors, cousins, kids, swimming, chasing, running after the RRB, and generally collapsing into bed at night feeling like we squeezed the most of out the summer. It’s my favourite place in the world.

4. I stopped reading. I don’t know what it was–a combination of exhaustion from my part-time job, being a mom, and working full-time. A dissatisfaction from anything that I picked up, but I could not finish a book this summer to save my life. I don’t know if I ever did actually finish anything that I started over the summer unless it was specifically work related or Laura Lippman’s new novel. I might be back on track now. At least I’m managing to get through some words… but who knows. I’ve never, in my life, not been able to read.

5. My boy has developed a sense of humour. He’s taken to walking around the house with various toys in his pants saying, “I’ve got a surprise for you mommy!” And then cracking up. And then I crack up because he really doesn’t understand why it’s so funny that he’s walking around shouting about surprises in his pants.

6. My garden was a bit of a disaster, yet again. I’ve now paid a professional to fix it, and it looks much better at the front of our house.

7. I got a promotion at work and the focus of my job is changing. It’s exciting, but terrifying.

August 11th, 2013

Just a Thought. Just One.

I keep meaning to create a new post. To say something witty. To purport something wise. And then… silence.


Tricks of the Save

One of the hardest parts about money management, for me, is finding space in what I consider to be an already stretched and stressed situation. We, like many Canadian families, are working hard to get out of debt. It’s an ever-constant battle to go from paycheque to paycheque, then try to get ahead on top of that when you’ve got a small child in daycare, and the added pressure of working hard to keep one parent at home. There simply isn’t enough money. And then, because it’s so practical, you decide that you need a vacation. The easiest thing would be to jack your credit back up, just say flapjack it, and go… Or not. Coming to terms with having to pay more later would stress me out and end up voiding the whole point of a vacation.

Not this summer, but next, we’ve been planning a trip to Disney World. We all know the pitfalls, the insanity, the cliches, but my sister-in-law really wants to go, and our two families travel exceptionally well together. Plus, my son adores his cousins, and he’ll have way more fun with them there, then if we went on our own, just the three of us. We’re planning on spending a couple of days right in the park, and then a couple more on the outskirts, maybe cramming in some other fun spots–hoping not to completely overwhelm the kids along the way.

Florida in the summer might be exhaustive, but it’s actually a really good thing for us because it gives us a good year, and then some, to save. If you’re like me and find it hard to squeeze additional, “look-ahead,” money into your already tight budget, I find I have to trick myself into saving. The number one rule that I have is that we don’t touch emergency savings (that I’m just trying to build back up now after some legitimate emergencies).

Trick #1: Use the Chatelaine Example

A few months ago, Chatelaine had a great idea for extra savings–start with $1.00 the first week, and add a dollar for every week of the year. At the most you’ll be setting aside in one week is $52.oo, but at the end of a year, it’ll compound to over $1000.00. I’ve been doing this for 14 weeks so far, and it’s starting to add up.

Trick #2: Change in the Change Jar

It’s the oldest trick in the book–not spending your change (especially loonies and toonies). At the end of the day, empty your pockets into a gigantic jar or piggy bank (sealed, locked, away from prying hands), and it’s out of sight/out of mind. Check in every once in a while to roll it up and stash it in the bank in a super-hard-to-get-at bank account, and consider this your spending money.

Trick #3: Right off the Top

The easiest advice is to tuck the money away before you even spend it. The day your paycheque drops into your account, set up an automatic withdrawal, and shorten your budget by the amount. If you can only afford a few dollars, start with a few dollars. It just means you’ve got that much longer to go until you have your vacation stash. The reward will come in the form of a super stress-free holiday because you won’t actually have to pinch your pennies upon your return home.

Trick #4: Buy Your Tickets Early, Shop for the Bargains, Do Your Research

I know this isn’t necessarily related to how to save, but it’s more how to spend your money smartly. You’ll have more to splurge if you’ve done your homework (Butter Beer at Harry Potter’s theme park is expensive, I hear) and found a deal on airline tickets, hotel stays, and other such necessities. Start early. Make lots of notes. Use the internet to your advantage.

All in all, sometimes it’s hard to get started saving. To keep putting it off, to ignore the sage advice to “pay yourself first,” to dig a deeper hole because you need time away… But as someone who used to travel now and pay later, and pay, and pay, and pay, I’m much happier knowing that next summer we’ll be away with Mickey and his crew, and won’t come home to a pile of bills I’ll have absolutely no idea how we’ll pay.

May 29th, 2013

The New Normal

This picture has been sitting here, awaiting a post, for weeks. That’s the pace of my life at the moment–frantic. We were just lamenting this in the office the other day, a co-worker and I, how we missed

[And that's where I started and left this post for a few more weeks.]

The inevitable pace of my life is such that I can’t seem to string two consistent thoughts together–they’re all in a jumble, each jumping up and down for attention, until my head feels like a pinball machine on speed.

[And here we pause again to get some work done. To have a meeting. To set up some meetings].

The whole point of this post, when I imagined it in my mind, was to talk about the new normal. My RRHB coined this phrase for me–and it’s been reverberating ever since. I’ve been deeply saddened, and having a lot of trouble coping with, the changes in my body/health post-pregnancy + delivery. The bits about the disease have been well worn on these pages, but I kept holding out hope that at some point, my body would rebound. But it hasn’t. For all intents and purposes, and this is happy, happy news–the disease is in remission. My bloodwork is stable for the first time in three years. My body is functioning. My body has a new normal. Getting used to living from such a depleted place takes some getting used to. At first, there’s the decided lack of energy (my kidneys not making enough red blood cells). Then, there’s the bloat and grossness from the meds (baby weight is now just “weight.”). There’s the rough eating habits that go along with not having enough energy (sugar, terrible, sugar). And this all equates the new normal, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m simply mad at myself. And this anger seems to be seeping into all kinds of parts of my life like a fog.

I like to think of myself as a problem solver. I can take a situation and sort it out. I can deal with just about anything, but lately, maybe I’m not quite sure how to deal with the new normal. Perhaps I have aged a century in a couple of years? Perhaps I really need to focus on the few things that I can control, and suss out some Oprah-esque platitudes, when I feel better, I’ll do better (with the diet).

It doesn’t help that we’re so busy these days that time moves at warp speed. When I’m home, my RRHB is working or running errands. When my RRHB is home, I’m doing the same. We are cramming our lives into the edges, and it’s tough–I am not going to lie, I miss lazy Sundays of watching movies (that are not Cars, it’s a great film, but I’ve now seen it 1,000 times), of reading a book in one fell swoop, of taking a long, leisurely walk with my child safely strapped into a stroller (and not complaining about it because, well, he couldn’t). My darling boy races along and we race after him. He’s charged and amped up, gloriously chatty, and deliciously energetic. This is coupled with readily exhausted, super-tantrum prone, and fiercely guarding his onslaught toward independence. He rode a bike the other day. A bike. He’s 2.5 years old. He’ll climb anything. Jump off of anything. Run into anything. He could solve our renewable energy sources if there was a way to project him into the power grid. He’s beyond amazing but with the new normal, I’ll never catch up. I only hope he never notices.

I’ve got a part-time job these days. I’m teaching publishing (publicity in particular) at Ryerson, and I’m finding that truly inspiring. It’s summer hours now, so the Fridays where we’re not going to the cottage, I can stay an hour or two later at work and write. I’ve got 30k words of a new project that’s fun. Oh, the places we are going these days. I just wish I could stop raging against the dying of the light in terms of the Wegener’s and accept my new normal. But it’s not in my nature. I’ve never met an immovable object I didn’t want to move–I’ve never accepted limitations before. I don’t know where to start. I wish I could regenerate like my perennials–have parts of my body pop up unannounced in my garden, and I’ll lovingly tend to them. There are ways. I know there are. I just need to figure out how to get there.

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about me

Girl with titanium hip will rock. Girl with titanium hip will write. Girl with titanium hip will read. Girl with titanium hip will battle crazy-ass disease called Wegener's Granulomatosis. Now stuff that in your spelling bee!

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deanna [dot] mcfadden [at] gmail [dot] com

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