28 June, 2004

Home, sweet home. Where the hell's my shirt?

Well, that was five days to remember.
THURSDAY NIGHT: Three trips to drop off valuables--the last valuables to come being our cats, Streak and B.B. ("B.B" is short for "Bug Butt", because she runs around like there's one way up there. Other possible derivations: "Blonde Brain", "Beautiful Bubblehead"...well, you get the point.)
Our last move saw us cram both cats into a carrier. Streak took it stoically; B.B tried to claw my face off. So this time I took the little one in my arms for the trip over. She clung. I have divots now. Streak miaowed pathetically from her carrier and got B.B. going too...caterwauling fit to break your heart and at least one ear.
I curled up in a corner of the living room floor and started to go to sleep.
The fridge compressor came on. I peeled myself off the ceiling.
THURSDAY NIGHT, LATER: Woke up and stopped cats from killing each other.
SLIGHTLY LATER: Fridge compressor goes off. I wake up and look for the bomb crater. Went back to sleep.
FRIDAY MORNING, EARLY: Woke up and stopped cats from killing each other.
FRIDAY MORNING, LATER: Woke up and stopped cats from killing each other.
SLIGHTLY LATER: Mused to myself about throwing the fridge through the living room window.
FRIDAY MORNING, MUCH TOO FRIGGING EARLY: Alarm going off. Strongly consider using one cat to kill the other.
Awaiting the electrician, who will change the fuse box into a bunch of circuit breakers. And delivery of a futon. And the guy who's going to replace the master bedroom orange shag carpet with something considerably less tacky. And oh, yeah, our stuff.
Once the power goes off for the day, I have no clock. Time stops, then reverses out the driveway and saunters off around the block.
Where are the cats? Seventeen frantic searches around the house yield nothing. On the eighteenth I look in the drawer underneath the oven. It's decidedly furry in there. They've very temporarily stopped trying to kill each other in order to curl up together against this hostile new world. Drills are going off, sounding like ten thousand kittens being simultaneously squashed, only louder. Thuds are reverberating throughout the house like cannon fire. Oh, I pity these cats.
The stuff shows up. Not surprisingly, they've booked the wrong size truck and two trips need to be made. We're also short one mover, leaving us with two 22-year old whippersnappers who spread piss and vinegar hither and yon, but do an admirable job. I don't envy them carrying in that treadmill.
Let's try a load of wash. Hmmm. This washer's capacity is amazing: approximately nine outfits (that belong to a three-day old infant). The dryer takes, count 'em, 140 minutes to do its job.
HOMEOWNER LESSON NUMBER ONE: If the house comes with appliances, THERE'S A REASON.

SATURDAY: Up bright and early and back to the old place to clean clean clean clean clean. Then off to The Brick, who's having a convenient sale. We brought a front-load washer and dryer that cost a bit more than we wanted to spend, but will easily pay for themselves over the next two years. The washer takes half as much water, half as much energy, and half as much detergent to get your clothes twice as clean. And the dryer has a moisture sensor, so the cycle lasts only as long as it needs to. I'm impressed.
We also bought two fridges, one for upstairs and a bar fridge for the basement. No more compressor bombs.

SUNDAY: Eva's brother has kindly given us an electric lawnmower, and it's time to tackle the yards. Well, one of them; the front yard is a mix of weeds and dirt. The back yard, however, has yet to be mowed this season. So it's a jungle out there.
It's also very uneven, in the sense that the Himalayas are a chain of rolling hills.
The tree stump reveals itself within about two minutes of my turning the mower on, but much too late to avoid my hitting it. No problem: back and fill, back and fill, what the f---
It's like somebody lit the world's most prodigious fart: a huge belch of flame roars out from the underside of the mower, accompanied by a SCHMUCK!!!! noise, as if to say, you fucking SCHMUCK, you ran over the extension cord and cut it in three places!
In the sudden silence following this, my Eva storms out of the house and announces that the dryer vent has fallen off, turning the laundry room into an insta-sauna.
Off to Canadian Tire, and home with a push mower. No cord to break, no gas to fill; just walk and push.
The stripe on our Visa card has actually been observed to sweat.
"A man's home is his hassle", or so the saying goes. Still, it's nice to be here. This house is going to be a truly great place to live. Once we're unpacked and all the new furniture is together and all the appliances are up and running and the list of six million, three hundred and forty five thousand, three hundred and eighty two--no, three--things are done, I will be able to sit back, relax, and say
"Time to sell."


23 June, 2004

Excuse me while I go grow up

Well, the papers are signed, the boxes are (sort of) packed, and Ken's yawning a mile a minute: it must be almost MOVING DAY!
I was supposed to get to bed EARLY last night, as I won't tonight and I *really* won't tomorrow. But, of course, the AFI's 100 best cinematic songs were profiled on TV last night. So we got to watching and listening to that whilst packing, and once you're fifty songs into a countdown, what's another (yawn) fifty? The upshot is I didn't get "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" until after eleven. For some or most of you out there, that's normal. Not for me. Especially since I hardly slept the night before. So far today I have fallen asleep three times.
Tomorrow figures to be a fun day. The moving commences. It looks like I will be staying in the new place tomorrow night, alone but for a couple of cats...the more time we have to acclimatize our cats (9 and 13) to new surroundings, the better. Last time we moved, I honestly thought our little one was going to claw my eyes out. Oh, all the stairs they're going to have! They'll love it. They'll see.
Is that a pillow dancing across the screen?
*swat*
*zzzz*

*jerk*

I better go. There's work to be done. See you next week, dear blog: reality intrudes.

20 June, 2004

Dad's day

Today is the day set aside for fathers. It seems so unfair, really, that we only designate one day for them, after they've given so much to us.
Like my friend Jen, who recently wrote so eloquently of her dad in her blog, I had two fathers, the one I was born to and the one who largely raised me. Like her, too, I'm no longer on good terms with one of my dads. In my case, though, it's not from a lack of respect.
My first sight of John McCallum, the man who would soon become The Man in my life, came in August 1980. I was eight years old; he had just turned 21. Some mutual friends were moving, and John was helping them. I was sent out to introduce myself. "Hello", I said, "you must be John."
His first impression was of a polite little boy. Mine was of a giant. True, he only stood 6'2", but there was something about the way he carried himself that bespoke a man of substance.
His first impression was dead wrong: I was a spoiled little brat, a sore loser, and an inveterate whiner, all of which he found out later that very day. My impression of him, though, has remained fairly constant through the years: he's been a giant influence in my life.
It was John, as I wrote in my last entry, who forced me to get out of the house and make friends. It was John who, with the patience of a saint, taught me the things any normal eight-year-old should have mastered years before. And it was John who unflinchingly coped with my excesses, my insecurities, and my general childishness, even into my teenage years.
There is simply no way that I, at 21, could have dealt with myself at eight years old. The very thought chills my blood. Yet John did it without hesitation. I'm not kidding when I say that he pretty much singlehandedly turned around a childhood that, left alone, would have ended in jail or suicide.
What do I remember of John? His was the voice of reason in my house. He would talk to me about anything, and he rarely lost his temper, no matter how many times I'd screw up. It's true that at the time, I would tune most of his gentle lectures out, but I've absorbed them subconciously nonetheless: play fair. Be respectful. Don't be lazy. Find the joy in everyday life. Think before you speak, and think twice before you act. These little lessons were never spoken so succintly, but rather modelled implicitly: John's every action was one you could at least seriously consider emulating.
My mom ran in two modes: irritatingly happy or just plain irritated. John tended to just be John. He never stopped working. "Relax" wasn't in his dictionary. But through all the work--which included, at one point, gutting a house and rebuilding it by himself from the inside out--he kept a remarkably even keel. Failure was not an option, and success was not to be boasted about. In short, John McCallum was and is a great man. Despite the fact that my relationship with the woman he married in 1981 has rotted away, it wasn't his fault.
John: I respect you.
-------------------------------------
I never felt comfortable calling John "dad", though. I tried a few times; there was even a time when I strongly considered changing my name to Ken McCallum. But in the end, I couldn't do the latter and felt supremely uncomfortable with the former. Because I *had* a dad. True, he lived five or six hours away, and true, I'd go months without seeing him, but he was there, all the same.
My father and my mother: a match made in the deepest pit of hell. How it lasted seven years is beyond me. Somebody must have broken a mirror. But I was a product of that union, so I guess it wasn't all bad.
I have very few early memories specifically of my dad. What hazy memories exist are reinforced by countless pictures in old scrapbooks. Nearly every weekend through the summer, we'd pile into our Ford Maverick, drive to Parry Sound, pitch the tent at Oastler Lake Provincial Park, and drive into town to see Grandma Breadner, my aunt Dawna and uncle Ted, the Hoburns, and, hell, most of the rest of the population. My father couldn't walk six paces without somebody saying "hi". It's still the same today. To say that Ken Breadner the Elder is a District of Parry Sound icon is to put it mildly.
Dad was downsized to part time as of '77, and my relationship with him entered a new, if predictable, phase. I'd only see him three or maybe four times a year, and he believed he had to pack a year's worth of affection (read: stuff) into maybe ten or twelve days. I can't deny this had an effect on me. I'd rarely sleep the night before going 'up north' and I would be horribly depressed every time a trip was over with. That included what to date have been my only two extended trips outside the country: to Florida in '84 and Venezuela in '86.
Only once did I ever think about running away from my London life and making 'up north' permanent. It was immediately after a huge fight with my mother when I was seventeen. Only one problem: my dad's second wife. Although she tolerated me for the brief periods I invaded her space, I believe she would have booted me out after no more than a month.
Since I got married and my mother dissolved from my life, I've begun to have a much better and more rounded relationship with my dad, thanks in no small part to his third wife, Heather. (Third time's the charm for dad: this one will stick.) And I've come to realize there really is a lot of my father in me.
Stuff I've learned from my father: live life to the fullest, so when you die, you die happy. Laugh a lot, and make others laugh with you. Extra points if you can get people to pee in their pants. Make sure that every person you meet will remember you, and try to make sure they'll smile when they do it. Help others in any way you can. Stay in touch with history: it's how you got to where you are. If you have a knee-jerk response to something, let it out: then at least you have something to edit.
Now, my father's retired from his lifelong career as a police officer, but he's still serving the community as a volunteer firefighter and as a Lion. He'll do that until they tell him to stop, I suppose, and then he'll find some other way to be of service.
I envy the years I missed with him, and I'm glad I now have the chance to make them up.
Dad--I love you.

19 June, 2004

"He Became His Stories"

I just saw a bawlfest of a movie today: Tim Burton's BIG FISH. If you can get through to the end of this without crying, folks, you're dead and you just don't know it yet.
The story here, for those who haven't seen the film, concerns a young man whose father has always told him the most preposterous stories. As the old man lays dying (and there's a story about that, too), his son learns the truth of his stories and the truth of the man. "He became his stories". A fitting epitaph for an aspiring writer like me.
It's hard to watch a movie like this without thinking of one's own family. I've been recently warned that my mother, known to all and sundry as 'the wicked witch of the south' since her snubbing of my wedding, seems poised to make contact once again. We're not sure why, and to be honest, I'm a little leery of finding out.

My mom's full of stories, too. After we married without her attendance or blessing, we went nearly three years without any contact at all. So you can imagine our shock when the story of why came out.
I've still got the letter containing this story, mostly because the accusations made in it are so unbelieveable. If I ever quoted this letter back to her now, I'd get nothing but hot denials..."how could you EVER think I would write such a thing?" Nevertheless, supposedly we poisoned her food one Thanksgiving, a full year before the wedding and ten months before she broke all contact. The food poisoning was so bad that she had to be put on a ventilator, twice, and can no longer work outside the home. Of course, it wasn't quite bad enough for her to inform us until three years and many demands later.

So this is her story, and she's so firmly convinced of its truth that she's become it. Now, I'm afraid she may actually be nearing death, most likely from something to do with the tens of thousands of cigarettes she's smoked, and after being pushed away for years, I don't know how to react to her trying to pull me back.

You have to understand that this ambivalence about my mother didn't always exist. For at least three years, it was mommy and me against the world.
She and my father divorced in '77, an affair that made THE WAR OF THE ROSES look pretty tame by comparison. Until my stepfather came along in late 1980, my mother did *everything* for me...to the point where at eight years old, I didn't know how to tie my shoes. John changed all that in a hell of a hurry. I was promptly booted outside and told to make friends. That resulted in stories of my own: baseball games played with playmates who lived three blocks over, four and a half feet straight up and just inside my skull. I'd talk to dial tones for twenty minutes. Eventually, those fictions became fact and I developed some friends.
In the meantime, in the despicable manner of most divorced parents, every attempt was made to turn me against my dad. "You're just like your father" became the worst epithet my mother could think of to hurl. (Indeed, it was one of the last things she said to me before our wedding, and I finally got the chance to give the "insult" the response it deserved: "Thank you", I said.)
I was well on into my teens before I understood that the number of sides to every story equals the number of people in the story, plus the truth. I could at last appreciate dad's side of things, made even more clear to me by my mother's actions as time went on...culminating in the wedding no-show.

So here we are. I'm thirty two years old. I had to resort to a chainsaw to cut the apron-strings, but they're most certainly cut. (Ken solves his problems with a chainsaw...and he never has the same problem twice.) And my mother just might be sick. Or dying.

Some very uncharitable thoughts go through my head at that notion. There's a character in Stephen King's THE STAND, a character with whose teenage years I strongly identify. His mother, who has ignored him for years, dies in a pandemic that's sweeping the world. He wonders why he's not grieving. After all, he says, and I'm paraphrasing, 'you drink lemonade, you have to urinate...your mother dies, you have to grieve.' Of course, a couple of minutes later he dissolves into a blubbering mess: "I want my MOMMY!
There's a goodly part of me that wants to do the Jewish thing and scream "I have no mother!" to the high heavens. There's another part of me--the mother-voice that once made up my conscience--who rants and raves at the very thought. And somewhere in between those very uncomfortable places is the truth.

This story continues...


18 June, 2004

More political stuff...

I used to be *heavily* addicted to Usenet.
Today, there are many people who don't know what that is, despite the fact it still exists. Usenet is a collection of newsgroups covering every imaginable topic. You can post articles, and people all over the world can read them. Kind of like a blog. *smile*
Anyway, a search on my name turns up 1310 posts. That would have been over a period of two or three years at most.
Oh, it's so much fun to rediscover stuff you wrote ten or twelve years ago. There are things there I don't even remember writing. Who knew that at one point I was a baseball fanatic?
Anyway, this post came up...it stems from a debate on Canadian culture and government. I found myself nodding vigorously several times. So here it is:


Actually, Canadians _do_ have culture, and I'm not just talking about
Quebec.
Supposedly, the key point in the elusive identification of a Canadian has
to do with apathy. Well, not entirely...we care about many things, and we
hold strong opinions on EVERYTHING...but the general character trait
denies translation of these opinions into collective action.

For instance, there are many places in the world where a man with the
popularity figures of Brian Mulroney wouldn't be left to his own devices
so long, let alone elected to another term. The way you hear people
talking about government in general, you'd think they were going to go out
and bomb a government building tomorrow. (Of course, most complaints may
be valid, but on the whole they are not well thought out; rarely is a
viable solution offered.)
Has it happened yet? Well, yes, actually, in Midland last month.
Once.

I think a lot of this "bitch bitch bitch bitch--ah, hey, who really cares,
eh?" attitude has something to do with the isolation of government from
the governed here. We tend to view government as remote gods/demons who
giveth and taketh away at will, for no reason at all. (And maybe they do.)
Media has something to do with it too, I'll warrant.
Look at income tax. It took me 20 minutes to do my taxes this year.
Granted, I am only a student and they weren't complex, but look at how H&R
Block etc has intimidated people into thinking taxes are impossible. For
God's sake, they involve addition, subtraction, and multiplication. I
learned how to do these by grade four. I knew how to look at tables even
earlier.
Just one minor, not-entirely-irrelevant example.

Welfare. It just kind of filters down to you. Legal system. No real
control over it. And so on. It gets so that you can live your life and
deny governement exists. Why not? You never see them--you just see their
actions from a great distance. You lose your job to free trade. It just
kind of filters down to you from on high. No control.

What we need is accountable, accessible government. The MPP for Oxford
County, Ontario, has distributed a balance sheet to interested
constituents, showing government expenditures and budgets. He has invited
them to make whatever changes they feel are necessary on the sheets and
return them to him.

Great idea--in theory. The problem is, we all know he won't actually look
at them, and if he does, he won't do anything about it, and if he does,
our ideas will somehow die on the way up into the rarefied air where the
government actually does things...

Show me how much government wants to serve the people, and I'll show you
how much I really care about it...


16 June, 2004

The not-so-great debate

This morning, all chipper as usual, I asked my colleagues at Price Chopper if they had watched the political debate last night. Responses varied from "no" to "you're kidding, right?" (Actually, one person admitted to having watched the debate, but she said she's voting for Jack Layton, so now I'm wondering if *I* saw the debate last night.)
Look, these political debates are stupid. They degenerate within minutes into a verbal free-for-all, and anything of substance dissolves in nattering chatter. None of the politicians actually listen to each other: it's so much easier to argue with men made of straw.
Let's take, for example, Stephen Harper's views on abortion and same-sex marriage. He doesn't like either. But repeatedly last night, he said that he was willing to talk to Canadians, listen to Canadians, and put these issues before Parliament as free votes. At one point he firmly stated he would not pass legislation limiting "a woman's right to choose". But both Martin and Layton continued to act as if Harper strangles abortion doctors in his spare time, and, yikes, he strangles them twice if they're gay.
Tiresome. Really tiresome.
What we need in this country is reformed political debate. I have two suggestions:

1) Formalize the debate. This would mean opening statement, assertion, rebuttal, re-rebuttal, and closing statement. It would mean everybody else keeps silent while each leader has his or her say. Hell, we might actually hear something sensible.

---or---

2) Eliminate these debates entirely and replace them with simple question and answer sessions. The leaders need not even be in the same room. I don't want to hear about the sins of the past; I want to hear about the plans for the future.

I've rewritten Martin's and Harper's opening statements to reflect the kind of thing I mean.
I've ignored Layton, and I'll tell you why. I agree with the NDP on many social issues. But I have such strong antipathy towards their views on fiscal and foreign policy that I find myself unable to assume an NDP personality. Say it with me now: "Let's increase taxes on large corporations, so that they can leave Canada and take all their stinking jobs with them. Then we can all collect pogey in peace". See? It leaves the tang of manure in the mouth. Which reminds me: what's with Jack Layton's perpetual shiteating grin? *Creepy*!
I've also ignored Duceppe. Actually, he impressed me last night, and if I lived in Quebec, he'd probably get my vote. The man looks as though he drove to the debate in a hearse, but he knows his facts and he's quite astute even in his second language. That said, the party he represents wants to tear my country apart, and I have a wee little problem with that.

Anyway, no matter what Layton says, this race is between Martin and Harper. To wit:


PAUL MARTIN, LIBERALS:

Good evening, Canadians.
Before I say anything else, let me say this: I'm sorry.
I'm sorry that the sponsorship scandal happened under my watch. Yes, I knew about it, but I didn't have any idea of its sheer magnitude. It started out as a way to keep Quebec in Canada and it just spiralled out of control.
I'm sorry.
But I'm not going to stand here and let 'sorry' be enough. My first day in office, I cancelled the sponsorship program, and within a week I had initiated inquiries on several fronts. Those enquiries are ongoing. Should I lose this election, my final act as Prime Minister will be to ensire they continue, so that Canadians know the truth.
I think most Canadians are aware by now of the division within my own party concerning how best (and who best) to run this country. It has been my goal for years now to become Prime Minister, not for personal gain or prestige, but because I have many ideas on how to revitalize Canada. I want to put the past eleven years behind us and concentrate on where we are...and where we're going.
I believe in working with the provinces to improve accessibility to health care for all Canadians. I will invest money in home care, pharmacare, and daycare. Yes, I know you've heard this before, Canadians. What you don't know is that the last time the Liberal Party made these promises, they were contingent on the provinces providing equal funding. The provinces decided they could not afford to do so. So this time, we will fund these programs ourselves.
I believe that Canada has a noble role in the world as peace-keepers and nation-builders, and I will restore funding and morale to our military so that they can better serve Canada and the world. I believe in a strong Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and I will uphold it. I believe in fiscal responsibilty, and keeping the books balanced. These are things I believe.
Finally, I know it's time for a change in Ottawa. I know that many Canadians feel this just as strongly as I do. I ask you, tonight, to consider our new Liberal Party as the best agent to effect that change.

STEPHEN HARPER, CONSERVATIVES:

Tonight, Canadians, I am under attack.
I'm under attack because I have said in the past that I don't like abortion. I'm under attack because I have expressed discomfort with the idea of same-sex marriage. I'm under attack, and have been since before this election campaign began, for things I believe.
Now, let me make you a promise. I know you don't want to hear about political promises--we've all heard far too many--but I want to make this one anyway, because it means more to me than my views on abortion or marriage for gays and lesbians.
I will uphold democracy.
Do you hear that, Canadians?
I will uphold democracy.
Paul Martin believes that it is his duty as Prime Minister to block any private member's bill that does not reflect 'Canadian' values. (By which he means "Liberal" values.) I won't do that. I see Parliament as the place for healthy debate on policy issues. I do not think that unelected judges should have the power to form social policy in this country.
But I will listen to Canadians and I will respect what I'm hearing. And while I'm doing that, I will work to reform Parliament so that it is more accountable to you, the electorate. I will institute spending controls that have been lacking for years. This will free up money to invest in health care, to replace our decrepit military equipment, and it will also allow modest tax relief for our overtaxed families. Don't think it can't be done. There are billions of dollars available. All it takes is a shifting of priorities.
Let's kill the long-gun registry. For one thing, it's redundant. There's been a gun registry in Canada since the 1930s. For another, we were all told it would cost two million dollars to implement. It's now over a billion dollars and counting. But most importantly, it has not saved one single life. Indeed, gun crime in our major cities is sharply up.
So let's take the money that would have been spent on the wasteful gun registry, and instead use it to hire and train more police officers. Do you know how many constables can be hired for $1 billion? Over ten thousand.
See, that's just one example of where the money's hiding. There are dozens of other places. And if you elect a Conservative government, we promise to do our best to find them. After all, it's your money.
--------------------------------------
And that would be a jumping off point for a real debate.

Just a thought...

12 June, 2004

Slow down, you move too fast...

I've been a Toronto Sun reader for almost as long as I could read. No, I don't look at the pictures--not even the one that used to grace (?) page three and now resides somewhere near the back...the one of the half-naked sapling with the navel stud "who loves dancing, shopping, and anal sex". In fact, I rarely read the news articles, which are often sensationalistic, sloppy, and riddled with typos. No, the appeal of the Toronto Sun, for me, resides below all that. For one thing, they don't censor their opinion writers, like most papers do: you'll often find two writers feuding with each other in print, which is both entertaining and edifying. For another, its sports coverage is among the best on the continent, and miles ahead of any of the other Toronto dailies'. And for a third, the Sunday Sun in particular is always a cornucopia of diversion, with a huge, compulsively readable entertainment section, at least three quizzes that are weekly staples in this household, and a number of very good lifestyle columnists.
That said, I've taken to reading the Saturday edition of the Toronto Star each week. Once a week is about all I can stand: they lean so far left they nearly fall over under the weight of their pomposity. Somebody high in the Star's pecking order has established an inviolable rule that some Minority or Social Cause of choice *must* appear on the front page each and every day. If a shopping mall blows up, they'll write that story from a black (sorry: African-Canadian) wheelchair-bound lesbian homeless person's point of view. Any article that portrays conservative (either fiscal *or* social) policies in anything remotely approaching a positive way must be offset by pages of Liberal propaganda, so that its inclusion might conceivably be explained as an oversight.
But...there's some good writing in the Star. Long, meaty articles that have the power to make me forget I'm reading a paper which once criticized Mike Harris in its FOOD section.
Today, the topic was childhood, or rather, its disappearance. Apparantly, many kids now have to be *taught* what to do on a playground.
Now, many who know me might think that I fell into that category myself, as a kid. Not so. While it is true that books were my usual playground, I played quite a few games all through my childhood. Most of them I stunk at, true: but I excelled in a few and even created one: "bockey", a hybrid basketball-hockey that actually became something of a fad around London.
This article got me to thinking about the last time I saw a street hockey game. When the hell was that? I don't remember. It's been years.
My first really close friend was named Tim. It's been nearly twenty years since I last saw him, but I remember scads of detail. The usual stuff you'd expect Ken Breadner to remember: his street address (341 Stephen Street), his mother's weird habit of running the fireplace on sweltering July days, his family's TRS-80 Model I computer, his incredibly cute (and incredibly snotty) sister. But so much more: the snow forts we used to build; his ability to name any bird that caught his eye; a raisin fight we got into one night, the remains of which were still being discovered three years later. We had a lot of fun.
One thing I remember very clearly about Tim was that he was *always* busy. It seemed like every year, there were at least two more extra-curricular activities, until his days rivalled those of corporate CEOs' for sheer stress. I recall thinking that Tim was going to burn out before he hit 30. He repeatedly told me he *liked* all this activity, and he was certainly good at just about everything he did, but I sometimes thought I could see a different truth in his eyes. Help, they said. Help me, I'm in childhood prison here.
Today, there are millions of Tims, male and female, all of them tried early and convicted of the heinous crime of being children. At the first sign of unstructured play, their parents bound and shackled them into a brutal regime of ballet, piano, karate, chess club, debating team, football, Brownies, Irish dancing...the list is endless. If parents could find a way to fit all of that in one day and still have time for six hours of homework, you bet your teenage ulcer they'd do it.
All this play looks a lot like work, doesn't it? Work, you know, the very thing most adults claim to hate? Why in the hell are we inflicting it on our children? Do we honestly believe that making kids embody the worst behaviour of adults will ensure adult success?
---------------------
6:30 a.m. We're heading for work, doing the speed limit as we proceed through a school zone. Car after car whizzes past us, and we can't help wondering: if everybody's in such a God-damned hurry, why didn't they leave the house a couple of minutes earlier? Can they really be *that* eager to get to the office? Boy, they must *love* their jobs.
Our society is obsessed with speed. In my grocery store, the fastest-growing segment is frozen prepared dinners. A cursory examination of the ingredients on any one of these things will baffle a chemist. But you can cook them from frozen in only nine seconds!
Supposedly, nobody has time to cook any more. Meet Nobody: Eva Breadner. Not only does she cook, she can cook anything and cook it well. Her knowledge of food preparation techniques is encyclopaedic. She taught herself how to make chocolates, and her chocolates have netted us a small fortune. Until low-carb bread came on the scene, she was routinely baking her own recipe of same. You get the point: I may be biased, but only because familiarity breeds contentment.
Well, people say. You two don't have kids yet. You'll see.
You don't know my wife.
If anything, kids are going to make us slow down even more, so as to really savour each moment. We won't be thrust into the rat race, because even when you win the rat race, you're still a rat. We'll be living our own bucolic, pastoral life right here in the city, on our own schedule. Our kids will pursue anything they're interested in, but they won't be straight-jacketed by our expectations for them, because we have none. We have no ego invested in our children becoming NHL superstars or surgeons or corporate lawyers. Our kids will be kids. If that means they while away a day staring up at the clouds, well, that's where dreams live. It's a pity so many parents have forgotten that.

11 June, 2004

Red-letter day

If history is any guide, I'll be having a memorable day today. To know why, you'd have to step into this here contraption. It merely *looks* like a Whirling Vortex of Death, but it's really my little memory machine. C'mon, let's go....*whoosh*

1989

I'm seventeen years old, and I'm in love.
At least, I call it that. I'm sure that's what it is. But that love is, tragically, unrequited; the girl (I'll call her Janet, it's one of her three middle names) wants to be "just friends"...oh, the pain of that little two-word phrase. "Just friends" means I have to listen to the endless litany of crushes she has, most of them on guys not worth half a booger (or half one of *my* boogers, in my humble estimation and if you catch the drift of my thoughts here.) "Just friends" means that I actually need to *console* her whenever the object of her affections treats her like a turd. This last happens quite often, confirming the low opinion I have of these braid-dead hunks. (Hunks, alas; Ken, you little puny stick-figure nerd, you don't stand a chance...*sigh* *moan* *little lost forlorn teenage tear*
It's been nearly two years of frustration...3.68 eternities, in Teenage Time. My interest in other women is inversely proportional to Janet's perceived interest in me, which means one innocent smile on her part and all thought of other girls shoots from my mind as if on wheels.
What's more, Janet's moving at the end of this school year, to a city on the dark side of Neptune, a day's drive from here. We found out about this almost a month ago: her family's getting transferred. NEWSFLASH: SUN BEING EXTINGUISHED IN THREE WEEKS, ALL LIFE TO END. What do you do when every morning the newspaper in your mind has that same headline, counting down? Not much you can do--you just muddle along and hope that when the sun finally snuffs it, you go quick.

Sunday, June 11th, 7:50 p.m.

The phone rings.
Janet. Cool. She, like, almost *never* calls me.
"Ken, I'm lonely. Wanna go for a walk?"
Hmmm, now which of six thousand answers should I give to *that* one? Yes? Hell, yes? Is a bear Catholic? Does the Pope shit in the woods?
After checking with my parents and assuring them I'll be home before full dark (man, I am one *whipped* teenager), I set out from my house and meet her about two blocks down. She's wearing a Mickey Mouse T-shirt that I, with my infatuated teenage eyes, think she's simply adorable in. We walk to the school, and I ask if she wants to go sit on the bleachers. "No," she says, "there's people over there".

Right there, my heart chooses that time to start up a little dialogue with my brain. "Okay", says the heart, I've been beating now for, oh, aeons, and I've *never* heard anything like that, much less from *her*, so I think I'll just stop beating here for a while, how's that?"
To which my brain says "..."
"Hey, brain, you hearin' me?"
"..."
"Oh, damn it, Brain's gone into total meltdown, I guess I've gotta pick up the slack...Hey, Face, smile! Look calm! Walk normally! Shit, BREATHE!"

Subsequent events are the stuff of which only love-sick teens can empathize. The funny thing is, I never so much as kissed Janet, not once. We walked through the woods that abutted the school grounds, to a clearing, where I sat down and she immediately laid her head across my lap and looked up at the moon through the dusk. There was a lot of energy in the air, some of it emanating from me, some--I'm sure of it--from her. I thought about kissing her and found, to my surprise, that I couldn't do it...not because I didn't want to, but because we both seemed to be on hair triggers. Once *that* path opened up, I was going to walk it to the end.

You can lay your head back on the ground
Let your hair spill all around me
Offer up your best defense:
This is the end of the innocence

--Don Henley, "The End of the Innocence"

After a time that was *much* too short, we got up and walked, hand-in-hand and then arm-in-arm, back home. And that was the end of my day. She moved, on schedule. Later that summer, I got mail from her proposing marriage. To my adult mind, it sounds almost corny: "Save me the aisle. Let me do the honours of being your one and only". It rocked my teenage mind on its heels. I wrote back, saying I loved her and would gladly marry her in time, but she should concentrate on school for now. Knowing, of course, that somebody else would probably come along...for both of us. He did--Janet's married now, with a kid who'd be eight or so. And she did...three shes, actually, a little procession, each one a step up and now I'm at the pinnacle, three and a half years married and happier than I could have imagined in 1989.
Haven't talked to Janet for years. I think about her sometimes, though. You never forget your first love, even if you've got your best love.

Speaking of best love...

Here, step back in here, I've got another tale to tell.

*whoosh*

1999

I'm 27 years old, and I've been through the wars.
Said wars always start with my own carelessness/stupidity/reckless disregard, and always end with me standing on the sidelines, asking "which way did she go?"
Just got through a long war of attrition, actually, with lesson learned: if you *ever* betray somebody, better to just break it off immediately, 'cause brother, there ain't *no* way you can still be friends afterwards, and you sure as *hell* can't start the relationship over fresh. No matter how many times you apologize, no matter how you show you've come to your senses, you'll forever be tarred with the cheater's brush. So kill the relationship after you have an affair. Better yet, don't have an affair, you feckin' idiot.
Back in February, relationship kaput, job yanked out from underneath me, my prospects looking increasingly bleak, I applied for a position at a market research company. Market research (he hastened to tell you) is *not* telemarketing, although the people on the other end of the phone seem to think it bears a striking resemblance. The interview was among the more interesting I ever in my life: my prospective boss, Eva, and I spent more time talking about Stephen King than we did the job at hand. Needless to say, I got the job.
I'm not very good at it. Like most jobs, the people you work with are the only reason you get out of bed at all most days. Among these people (pretty high on the list, if I'm being honest)is Eva herself. She's that rare combination of street-smart and book-smart, and she's a study in opposites. I'm slowly discovering I could spend a lifetime learning about her, and enjoying every minute of it.
But she's my boss, so best tread lightly.
In May, we went on what I thought of then as an 'excursion' and now recognize as a date. We went to Costco, K-W Used Books, and a movie. [2004 Ken intrudes: that's funny, it's exactly the kind of date we still have now!] The movie was The Matrix, something I had seen before by myself and thought 'this is exactly the kind of movie Eva would enjoy.'

Things are progressing nicely.

Friday, June 11th

Well, for the ninth year in a row, nobody's going to call me up and ask if I want to go for a walk. And for maybe the first year since Janet *did*, that'll be the last thought I spare for June 11th, 1989 all day.

I'll draw a curtain of privacy around the details of this date. Suffice it to say it lasted overnight. The thing that most enthralls me, though, isn't anything remotely carnal: it's that Eva and I can talk about *anything*. There's nothing taboo. Already I can't imagine anything interesting happening to me that I wouldn't want to tell her right away. We actually talked about getting married, sometime in October of next year. It's not like I proposed, or she did. Nobody asked--we just sort of told each other.
Isn't that odd? Well, it would be, with anyone else. With Eva, mapping out the future is an exercise in pointing out the inevitable.

This is different from any 'love' I've been in before. That's because for the first time, I'm happy with myself, not looking for somebody to "complete" me. Instead, I'm looking to share in the "completeness" of life.

Oh, what a feeling....what a..

*whoosssssssssssh*

2004

House coming, kids coming, happy wife, happy life...can it get any better than this?







08 June, 2004

"Mommy, Geoffrey's feeding Gravol to the cat!"

Why is it that every time I read anything about kids, they're doing something awful? Really, do you have any idea just how enticing the prospect of having kids in your life becomes when all you ever read is "Daaaad! Britney put a peanut butter sandwich in the DVD player!"? or "Mommy! Mike's punching me in the face!" or "Hey, what'd happen if we flushed an entire roll of toilet paper down the toilet?"
Parenting magazines are full of this stuff. So are general-interest magazines like Macleans. Kids = Chaos. As a man who abhors Chaos and wants it to stay far, far away from him, the acceptance of this theory (it seems to have pulled slightly ahead of gravity in the credibility department) is most unsettling, almost panic-inducing.
I brought this up in a moment of uncertainty a couple of months back and unwittingly startled and upset my beloved. She said something along the lines of 'if you care about "things" so much, you need to look at whether you really want kids at all.'
Well, I've thought about it. I want both. If possible. I mean, I lived without a DVD player for the first thirty-one years of my life, and flooded rooms can be dried out. "Things" aren't so important to me that I'd go crazy without them.
We've spent the last four years of our life gathering up 'stuff' because (a) we had the money to do it and (b) once the house and kids arrive, we won't have the money to do it any more. So it stands to reason that anything substantial broken is likely to *stay* broken for some time. I can live with that. I really can.
It's the uncertainty that bothers me, I think, more than the remote control hurled through the TV screen or the baseball through the window or Coke spilled on my electronic piano or...or...or...The fact my mind can effortlessly spew out dozens of potential items to be broken (hell, anything you can look at, a kid can probably find some way to break), it just rankles. It's 'what's next? Any of the above? Something I'd never even considered? What if it *has* to be replaced? You can't live with a soccer-ball sized hole in your living room bay window, and said window costs four figures. Where's that money come from? And what's to stop it from happening again?'...you see, my mind just runs roughshod over reason.

I will be the first to admit that I have led a sheltered life. Eva's referred to me as 'Bubble Boy' more than once. The thing is, it's comfortable in here. I wake up every morning and I have a pretty good idea of how my day's going to turn out. I'm rarely surprised, almost never unpleasantly so. One of the things I have to teach myself is that having kids is much better than having a sense of stability.

Of course, you hope to raise your kids so they don't turn into hoodlums. But nobody seems to know exactly how this is done, short of straight-jacketing them. My childhood might as well have been spent in a straight-jacket, and I still found ways of destroying things, mostly, in my case, out of sheer clumsiness, but occasionally out of spite. And I didn't even have siblings, which seem to lend a whole new dimension to your family life: instead of simple vandalism, you have to deal with assault causing bodily harm...in some cases, it edges very close to attempted murder. (My wife loves to regale me with the tale of how she and her brother once chased each other around the block armed with butcher knives. They never caught each other, but whoosh, away goes the imagination again, posing that dreadful 'what if?' question.) She tells this tale in a matter-of-fact way, as if I could look out my window any time and see *hordes* of people, all armed with butcher knives, chasing each other around the block, and she seems bewildered and a trifle annoyed by my continuing insistence that This Is Really Scary Behaviour.
See, in my only-child way, I simply can not imagine hating somebody enough to pick up a knife and chase him with it. Yet according to her, this is pretty much normal, certainly nothing to be afraid of.
A brave new world, that has such children in it.

Anyway, it would be nice to see media portrayals of kids (and teenagers--for God's sake, don't get me started on the reported exploits of teenagers in the last three months!) that don't cause my stomach to tie itself up in knots. Civilized behaviour. Random acts of kindness. I'm quite sure these things happen--can I just see some sign of them, please?

05 June, 2004

Throw, throw, throw your vote...

My good friend Jen just wrote an entry that shows I'm not the only one wondering which way to vote. Actually, I knew that before: polls show 49% of people could change their minds before election day, which strikes me as a *very* high number.
Elections are about the future of the country. That's probably, in a nutshell, why so many young people don't vote: the future, to most teens, is an abstract concept at best. I've always had a well-developed sense of consequence, driven into me by my mother when I was very young ("don't climb that tree, you'll fall out and break your neck!") and it's not hard to imagine a mother-voice chastising me even now: "Don't vote NDP, you'll bankrupt the country, they think money grows on trees, how could you even *think* of voting for them, we raised you better than that, go to your room!" Okay, she never *said* that, but she could have.
Until I was a teenager and a Reform Party sign went up on our lawn, I'd had no clue as to how my parents voted. In hindsight, of course, it's obvious: a more Leave-It-To-Beaver couple *might* exist, but it's hard to imagine. (My stepfather actually *dragged me out* of a showing of a PG movie once because he was so offended.)
I've always voted Reform/Alliance ("and the sins of the mother were visited upon the child") without much thought to their social policies. My reason for voting Reform was knee-jerk: I absolutely *despised* Jean Chretien. (And yes, I always have supported large planks of the Reform/Alliance platform, with its fiscal prudence and emphasis on law and order.) Of course, as we all know, the existence of two right-wing alternatives to the Liberals split the vote three elections running, and Chretien lingered like a bad fart, a real couch-scorcher.
Now there's finally one clear-cut alternative and I'm hesitating to endorse it. Try a little irony, it's good for your blood.
Health care seems to be the biggest issue this time out. People recognize that our health care system is creaking ominously underfoot, but so far the only solution the parties have (ALL of them!) is to prop it up with billion-dollar bills.
It's the kiss of death in Canadian politics to even muse aloud about two-tier health care. Even to say something as innocent (and accurate!) as 'you know, folks, thirty percent of our health care system is *already* private"...well, you've just touched the political third rail and you're going to jitterbug all the way to oblivion.
What I find truly disturbing are these champions of public health care like our Premier, Dalton "Pants Ablaze" McGuinty. He's delisted services like eye exams, chiropractic, and physiotherapy from our public health insurance. Which means he's privatized them--you now have to pay out of your own pocket. But if you want an MRI, you can't pay to jump the queue...that'd be two-tier medicine!
I'm still waiting for a truly innovative approach to health care, one that doesn't involve hospital administrators making $400K a year. I don't see one in this election.
Anyway, I've digressed. This is a great country we live in. I am all for most of the 'Canadian values' that Paul Martin is always going on about. I don't hate Americans, like some of Chretien's cabinet openly did, but I place a high value on the fact I'm not a Yank. It's my Canadian pride that's making it hard to decide on a party to vote for...we've had eleven years of catastrophic government and it's time to reverse it. But how?


04 June, 2004

Who to vote for?

Yesterday, Stephen Harper said that, if he won the election he would pass a law declaring marriage to be between a man and a woman, and he'd allow a free vote in Parliament on abortion and capital punishment both.

This from a man whose platform (until yesterday) I had very few reservations about. Now I don't know what to think.

We'll tackle these things one at a time.

GAY MARRIAGE

Judging from the rhetoric I've heard on a radio call-in show today, Harper's earned himself a lot of support around here, coming out against same-sex unions. There was a truly frightening creature on the air, claiming that 'the gay lifestyle' is anti-life. When the moderator asked him why he felt that way, he said that 'two men piggybacking all day and all night can't produce a child, and neither can two women doing whatever it is that gets them sexually turned on'.
As a married straight man who has had some fertility issues, I'm deeply offended on SO many levels when I hear ugly claptrap like this.
1) Marriage, whatever the fundycostals have to say about it, has nothing whatsoever to do with kids. I don't recall getting a kid handed to me when I exchanged vows with my wife. And while those vows included being the 'father of our children' because we *do* want kids (hence the adoption plans), the traditional marriage vows make no mention of children at all.
How many thousands of couples choose not to have children? Does that make their marriage any less valid? Of course not.
2) I'll come right out and say it: there *is* a "gay lifestyle", practised by some homosexuals, that caters to the worst stereotypes that straights have of them. BUT...the majority of gay people don't fit that lifestyle pattern at all. Since July of last year, over sixty thousand same-sex unions have happened world wide, almost half of them less than an hour's drive from me. Many of them are between couples who have been married in all but name for years, in some cases decades.
3) I defy any straight couple to tell me how their marriage has been affected in any way by these same-sex unions. Mine hasn't. My marriage was a contract between me, my wife, and our God...and nobody else. If your marriage hinges on a couple of lesbians tying the knot next door, buddy, you have problems no marriage counsellor in the world can fix.
4) Person after person on the radio today spoke about the need to "protect" kids from gays. (One wonders how many of them are Catholic.) My gay friends and relatives will have access to our children. I'll make sure of it. And you can damn me to hell all you want, but it won't make a difference.

ABORTION

Being a man, I have no real right to *have* an opinion on this issue. But since that hasn't stopped a lot of other man from expounding ad nauseam, here goes:
I don't believe in abortion as a contraceptive device. I believe in men and women taking responsibility for their sexual activities and any children that may result therefrom. I also don't accept third-trimester abortion, on the grounds that the child can, in most cases, thrive outside the womb, and there are millions of couples out there looking to adopt, like us. BUT: I certainly don't think life begins at conception. Otherwise there'd be manslaughter charges pending from every miscarriage, which is just preposterous. A fetus fits the classic definition of a parasite, right down to its sickening the host organism. At any rate, I believe women own their bodies, and taking that right away is tantamount to declaring them unpersons.

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

See, here I toe the Conservative line for criminals who have no hope of rehabilitation. And I tend to think that most murderers fall into that category. Certainly the Paul Bernardos of the world do. I firmly believe that those few sick souls who derive pleasure from killing others should be expunged. There seems to me no point in keeping them around for years, at immense cost, to sit and gloat in their cells. So tried and convicted serial killers, spree killers and cop-killers would get the noose in my world.

So we have three social issues here. On one of them, I agree wholeheartedly with Harper's position. On another, I'll agree to the proposed free vote in the Commons, since I know the outcome of that vote will be one I agree with. On the third, I strongly, vehemently disagree with his view.
That said, I'd love to see him *try* to repeal gay marriage. The Supreme Court would have none of it. And what of the thousands of gay couples already married? Would their marriages be annulled? I should think they'd have something to say about that.

I support the Conservative fiscal platform above that of the Liberals (and far above that of the NDP). Also, there's the issue of integrity, and the sad fact that the Liberals, governing for eleven years, have pissed all theirs away. It's time for a change, and the only party having any hope of unseating Martin and his cronies harbours reactionary views on social policy.
I just don't know how to vote here.

02 June, 2004

From the mailbox today...

ATTENTION!

OK you whining, panty-waisted, pathetic Maggots,
it's time for a little refresher course on exactly
why we Americans occasionally have to fight wars.
See if you can tear yourself away from your "reality"
TV and Starbucks for a minute, pull your head out
of your flabby ass - and LISTEN UP!!

(picture of Iraqis being humiliated at Abu Ghraib)


THIS is not "torture" or an "atrocity".
This is the kind of thing frat boys, sorority girls,
and academy cadets do to newcomers.

(another one, quite sickening, really)

A little fun at someone else's expense.

Certainly no reason to wring your hands or get
your panties in a wad. Got that Kennedy?

(graphic photos of that American that was beheaded)

THIS IS an atrocity!

(9/11 famous photo)

So Was This!!!

WHICH PART DON'T YOU GET?

Islam a peaceful religion???

Millions of these sons-of-bitches are plotting as we speak to
destroy our country and our way of life any way they can.
Some of them are here among us now. They don't want
to convert you and don't want to rule you. You are a vile
infestation of Allah's paradise. They don't give a shit how
"progressive" you are, how peace-loving you are, or how
much you sympathize with their cause. They want you dead,
and think it is God's will for them to do it. And you think
Bush and Ashcroft are your worst enemies?
John Kerry thinks if he gives them a hug or listens to with
them, then they'll like us... and you agree? You dumb ass!

If they manage to get their hands on a nuke, chemical agents,
or even some anthrax - you will wish to God we had hunted
them down and killed THEM while we had the chance.
Stop bitchin' about your Goddamn Health Care, Social
Security, Gas prices, and your measly 6% unemployment rate...
and start worrying about you, your family's, and your friends'
asses. How many more Americans must be beheaded before
you stop blaming Bush for all your troubles - and grow some
balls for a change.

You've fallen asleep AGAIN, maggots!
And you may not get another chance!

NOW GET OFF YOUR SORRY ASS - and pass this on
to any and every person you give-a-damn about... if you
ever gave a damn about anything.

DISMISSED
------------------------------------------------------
Well, now, that put me in my place, eh?
Erm--not really.
Whoever initiated this incendiary e-bomb has given short shrift to the facts.

Okay, first of all, let me get this very clearly stated right up front: acts of terrorism are wrong. Completely, utterly and without exception.

Now. I will grant you that a war has been declared, by al-Qaeda and its spinoff groups, against the West. As such, in my view, the United States and all Western democracies have a right--and a duty--to confront this threat.
But I missed the part where it says that gives Bush the right to invade Iraq, a country that--while odious to a great many of its citizens--posed no threat to the United States. And I don't see the word 'oil' up there anywhere, though God knows the Bushies do.
I'll freely admit I supported Bush, at first, on the grounds that Saddam Hussein needed killing. I would have preferred this be done quickly and quietly, of course. But given that all of his surrounding henchmen *also* needed to be eliminated, a limited war seemed the only solution.
I know the U.N. was clamoring for another chance to tell Saddam to 'stop it, now, really, sir, we've almost had enough of these resolutions and if you keep ignoring us, we'll have to pass another resolution to the effect that if you don't stop it right this...decade...we'll go round and round the mulberry bush.' I don't blame the U.S. for proceeding unilaterally (or not quite; there was, after all, a large 'coalition of the willing'.
My opinion turned, and that right quickly, when I noted America's first priority upon entering Iraq. Was it restoring electricity and safe water supplies for its citizens? Nope. Was it securing the priceless archaeological treasures that have accrued to Iraq over the millennia? Nope! It was oil, black gold, Texas tea.
And once they got there and killed all the baddies, did they get the hell out and let Iraq run its government? Nope. Still there, and every *day* they're there, somebody or a few somebodies gets killed.
The supreme irony is that al-Qaeda and Iraq had nothing to do with each other. Nothing. There's not one concrete link between the two. In fact, there was no al-Qaeda style terrorism in Iraq at all...UNTIL THE UNITED STATES INVITED IT THERE by its actions since it invaded.
Take Abu Ghraib. The humiliation these Iraqis suffered was a fate worse than death, according to the Muslim code of honour. You just *know* there are terrorists justifying future attacks because of Abu Ghraib.
Which brings up another point. The terrorists had no problem justifying their attacks in the first place. Why is that, exactly? Again, I'm not saying they're right, far from it. But they *think* they're right, and they think they *have* the right. The United States would do well to find out just why that is.
I'm not saying that the hard core terrorists are to be appeased. Appeasement never works. We tried it with Hitler for years. But their point of view does need to be considered. And it would be a mistake to dismiss them as a bunch of lunatics. Because *they* think they're eminently sane, thank you very much, and quite a few people in the Middle East agree with them.
Of course, it may be too late. The United States, in going after Iraq instead concentrating on finding bin Laden and his Afghani associates, committed a grave error. Grabbing oil was another. Torturing prisoners was a third. One hopes that world affairs isn't like baseball.




01 June, 2004

Domesticity, our version thereof

Twenty three days to go until the BIG MOVE. And we're packed.
Well, one room is.
Okay, one wall of that room.
It's almost packed. Really.
But there's lots of time, right?
To all of you out there with kids, read this and weep: I'm currently sitting here, in the bedroom, and my lovely wife is asprawl on the bed behind me, reading. Blessed silence prevails. And that's utterly normal around here for this time of evening. The only thing different is that she's studying insurance law. (Wait, maybe she's asleep...nope, not yet. They haven't exactly gone out of their way to make this textbook exciting, according to her. Maybe they oughta get John Grisham to try his hand at textbook writing.)
I've said here before that I'm not a night person. What I am is a lark of the most chipper and irritating variety. After a shower (which is my version of a couple of cups of coffee), I'm bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, out cruising for worms.
This contrasts with my wife, who will tell you that the early worm *deserves* the bird. We've worked out a routine in the morning that minimizes the amount of time we have to be in the same room. I'll be listening to the six a.m. news (because hey, twelve whole hours has gone by since I *last* saw the news, and damn it, something must have happened!) Sometimes I will hear something that I just *know* Eva would find interesting, and without thinking, I will sprint to the other end of the house and blurt it out, earning, more often that not, a "that's nice, dear." Translated from the Eva, that means "unless you're telling me that I can go back to bed, shut the hell up."
In the evenings, the process reverses itself and I become the snarky one. Is it bedtime yet, I wonder. No? When will it be bedtime? Soon? How soon? And God help you if it *was* bedtime half an hour ago, because I'm being kept up against my will.
Both of us work hard at our jobs. Mental stress is a fact of life for Eva, and my job can often be physically demanding. When we get home the last thing we want to do is more work. Which is why one wall of one room is almost packed.
And, let's face it, the desire to keep this place clean rests comfortably to the left of zero. I know that with pride of ownership, we'll be a lot more interested in Mr. Sparkle.
Twenty three days and counting...