Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Joyce Hates Barbie; And Other Relativisms

I really must watch that nanny show more often and learn more gentle words to express myself. Like: Not Appropriate.

When a three year old is going home and telling her Disney loving household that "Joyce hates barbie", suddenly "hate" sounds like such a strong word. Yet, somewhere in the distant annals of my mind, I can re-hear myself uttering such incriminatingly vile and odius words to anyone resembling an adult who comes within earshot of my serene, child-lovin' abode. I can.

But how would a parent feel if her child came home saying that the movies she brings to daycare from her own home are "not appropriate"? I may as well carry around a branding iron and just sting parents as they come in the back door. Plant a big old tattoo on their forehead that says "You suck and I hate the movies you buy for your kid". hmmmm..... Nope. That seems kind of strong as well. A branding iron that says "totally unaccep-able"? hmmmm... things to market.

But I digress. Is it barbie that joyce hates? Well, mostly the way she behaves in her movies. Mean. And skinny. I hate her.

Oh, boy. Well, another reason I really can't go out and advertise myself too aggressively.

Home Anyway.
Hates Barbie.
She probably slaps your kid too,
the second you are out the door.

Besides, if I went out and advertised, that would take all the fun out of our walk to the post office. The walk that we take to get away from that pink backpack stuffed full of barbie movies.
The post office where the little old ladies with blue-ish hair peer over at us with sentimentality and sigh;

"Are they all yours?"

How crushed they would be if they only knew that not only did I not have two babies every 5.5 months for years on end, I also torture their toys.

I'm sorry barbie. Its not that I hate you exactly.
Its just that in your movies, I find you to be really inappropriate, and totally inacceptable.

And I hate that.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Okay, yup..... this one on the right; that one over a little towards the left.
Perfect! Looks like we're all gussied up for Christmas then.

Monday, November 24, 2008


(Author unknown)

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to others is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas, your dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To hope is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to do nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing.
They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.
Chained by their attitudes, they are a slave, they forfeited their freedom.

Only the person who risks can be free

Friday, November 21, 2008

Scooting Along, Then

All this melancholic navel gazing is going over like a fleet of leaden balloons.

A question for bloggers:
when you open up a brand new page for a brand, spankin' new post, do you find your eyes glazing over and staring at random parts of your computer screen, lost deep in the myriad of provocative thoughts that marinate your grey matter?

Do they ever lock on the bits at the bottom of this box where it says: Labels for this post:
e.g. scooters, vacation fall ?

Do you ever wonder how many bloggers out there are committed to eloquently expounding on the art of scootering?

Well, so do I.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

She Expounds On Her Review Of Her Own Post

The thing is; a diet plan is easier. Oh, its not easy. Just ask fifty million chocolate and scalloped potatoe craving premenstrual women whether sticking to a meal plan is effortless, and you'll probably land up with a fork in your eye.

Ah, but the apparent simplicity of being handed a Plan. A Plan is concise. It simplifies ones' restlessness. It walls it in, creates columns, tidy checkmark spaces, and a timeline for all your accomplishments. Within the formula lies the promise: when you reach your magical number, you will smell good, look good, have your hair done, have colour on your lips, and you'll finally be happy forevermore, skipping through life in your Calvin Kleins from high school.

Its not messy like the inside of your head. Or your heart.
It assumes that the cravings originate in your stomach, not your thinker, feeler, and wisher. It convinces you that you could sculpt your longings with a bowflex and some protien powder.

For anybody who has walked around with a nameless craving, the shiney advertisements of sleek, demure, peaceful looking thin women makes it pretty easy to believe that losing body bulk would have the same effect as losing mental clutter. Life would be... less cumbersome. Less lumpy. Less vulnerable?

But therein lies the rub. Its the vulnerability that needs to be fully explored. And if I knew how... if I was fairly sure that it wouldn't be a Gerry Springer "bring everyone out of the closet and have them splash their ugliness around, then send them back out into their life bruised and bleeding without offering anything helpful whatsoever" type of event..... then this is sort of what it would look like.

A safe place to go. A place of honesty where every person had an equal share of the floor. An oppurtunity to examine rather deep perceptions and fears, hopes and dreams. Sadnesses. Questions.

Its a big deal to ask someone to just rip their heart open, and then hope you've got a positive direction to go in from that new place of honesty. Its not tidy like a diet plan, all concise with numbers and charts and projections and indexes. But it is a way into the heart of the matter.

And sometimes its worth getting a little bruised along the way.

Monday, November 17, 2008

She Reviews Her Own Post

Somewhere in fairly recent history, I decided that I would like to be a voice of a different sort when it comes to women and their relationships to their bodies and food. And quite frankly, I have hardly written anything on that topic for some time because it makes me so darned vulnerable. It was easier to write without fear of judgement when I had no idea who was here reading it. Some of that has changed now.... but I want to press on with authenticity and if I am to be any voice at all, it will have to be somewhat audible. It will require taking some chances, both with myself and with people around me.

Being a voice of a different sort means choosing not to reinforce the familiar female culture of berating oneself for not being thin, fit, well proportioned, primped, lean, blah, blah, blahdy-blah. So, one might wonder why a post like Constant Craving?

It is an attempt to describe the frustration of living with certain neural pathways. Certain ways of thinking that have been a part of me since the tender age of eleven. I don't begin to suggest that striving for thinness is an admirable or worthy cause; or that anyone might find happiness or an end to their neediness through that achievement.

Weight preoccupation is a side effect of a much deeper issue. It has to do with identity, anxiety, fear, security, insecurity, wants, needs, and control. The word "control" tends to get a bad wrap, but I'd like to try and explain a different perspective here. We all need to have a certain amount of control in our personal lives. One needs to feel empowered on some level to have influence on the direction of one's life, or you simply feel like you are being pulled along on some current that is going too strong or in entirely the wrong direction. Anyone who has gotten on the wrong ride at the fair will have some notion of what I'm trying to describe.

Now imagine events occuring in one's personal life that are outside of the person's arena of influence. A death. A virtual death- perhaps of a dream, a goal, or the way you always imagined and assumed that you might function in a family or marriage. Imagine your child, or children becoming ill. And not in the "flu" sense of the word, but with diagnoses that tend to sound lifelong and complex. Frightening even. Imagine illness in your wider family- the type that alters states of mind, and changes personality- redefines normality. Imagine interpersonal conflict and stress in one's core relationships.

The needs seem overwhelming.
I need to be someone's wife. And a darned good one, at that.
I need to be a mom. And think of ways to solve problems, big and small. Empower the children without pushing them out of the nest too soon.
I need from my husband.
I need from my children.
The laundry needs.
the floor.
the wallsshoesclosetspetsgaragebillsinsurancesidewalkdeckfridgecarpetbureauvanbicyclebarbeque...
I need relationships
that need to be maintained, honoured, reciprocated.
I need to make dinner that will not be disgusting.
I need to teach my children to be grateful. To not complain. But to speak their mind. Appropriately.
I need to clean this dump
the sheetspillowcasescouchcushionsfloorsidingcarseatsundiesjacketsdogstairs...

I need to be a daughter. Available, calm, attentive, non-intrusive, respectful, wise.
An in-law; an outlaw.

need.....peace, quiet, and a chance to get loud. ridiculous. serene. introspective. outwardly directed. connected to my children. community minded. individual. affirmation. self-awareness. confidence.

I see my thighs spread, even as I see the needs spread around me and crush in. And sometimes.... I give in. I relax into its familiar discomfort. The familiar battle where the dangling carrot is inscribed: just be thin. Be thin and need not. Surely I can accomplish that one thing? Surely it would make a difference?*
Surely that is what is really behind this angst?

It couldn't be the unresolves losses, and tears, and fears, and arrow-tipped words. The deaths, the dying, the hurts that are yet to come? It couldn't be the fatherless, the absentee fathers, the arguing, nit-picking fathers, the fathers my children will become?

The craving for thin occurs as predictably as the fear of being thin. The thoughts and fantasies wave wildly red as flags. Tempting. Attractive. Frightening. Distracting.

The mind of the recovered still holds its trails and highways and biways of the disordered mind and body. When semi-trailers and dump trucks and large deer push one far, far off the highway and off course, the body and mind seem to navigate back to the older, more familiar trailways. Even when one "knows better". It is still an attempt to look after oneself, to soothe and reassure, and makes sense of the insensible.

One's body feels symbolic of the state of one's mind. If aspects of my life feel out of control AND I'm not thin, then it seems to me that the wild activity and frantic nature of my hidden mind has become physical and evident to any and all around me. if I were thin; then it would still be true that life was imperfect; but at least my clothes would be loose and comfortable and that would provide me some level of reduced stress.

There are many misperceptions of women's preoccupation with their bodies. What I am hoping to describe, even a little, is that it is more complex than what meets the eye. Patronizing a woman for crying about her belly or thighs will only deepen her sense of inadequacy and drive her deeper into the shame she feels about herself.

Perhaps if we learned more about what possible deep questions lie beneath the apparently superficial ones, we can begin to hear one anothers' hearts? Reach out and kiss the boo-boos that no one sees? Apply a balm to the scrapes instead of slapping one another for our wants? our needs? Its a scarey place to go, and one without a million plans like the weightloss campaigns. Could we start a lose fear support group? A get real campaign?

Could we hear one another?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Constant Craving

It doesn't matter what I know is true...
and what I know is untrue...

I am Embarrassingly Morbidly Uncontainably Obese.
And I crave....

Something.... satisfying.
filling, soothing, and validating.
Strenthening, nourishing.

I want.....
My heart to know what my stomach and brain already know.

That its not about the food.
But that somehow the appetite, the reactions, anxieties. longings and fears that come up within its context hold untapped secrets.
Secretly held sadnesses, unmet undeserved needs.
needy neediness. Grotesquely excessive needs.
Shouldn't carry such needs.


Unattractive. Undesirable, embarrassing.
like a bloodsucking parasitic sponge. With teeth and a relentless appetite for more.
A forked tongue- hungry but dangerous, and quick to frighten away just what it needs to feed its endless cravings. Its ferociousness and bottomlessness sucking dry the very marrow of anything within its reach.

Ah, thinness. The skeletal, lean, sleek absence of need.

Needing less.

More. by less, more or less.
Its what I want. More less.

That would satisfy that fierce craving.

Friday, November 14, 2008

That Sneaky Little Language of Love

She slides up beside me, her fingers tracing each of mine. She traces the outline of my thumb, then tickles the fine hairs on the back of my hand before returning again to the thumb.

I resist the growing urge to shake my hand free to shudder and scratch, or leap up from the couch with a yelp. This incessant ticklish touching is like torture to me, but I must try to empathize with this child who must feel love flowing into her little soul while she fills up her tank on touch, touch, touch.

We all have our own launguages through which we hear, feel, or see love. To us, they seem obvious. The tricky part is figuring out and then delivering on other peoples' languages. It's easier for me to DO something for someone than to go out and buy a gift, because of my own way of seeing love. And although I love a good hug, a backrub, foot rub, even a decent kiss.... I sooo don't get this torturous gently tickling thing that I try to endure.

What about you? What makes sense to the way you see love?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Girl- You Ugly!

I feel compelled to ask all you lovely women to set aside December 13, 2008 for some seriously ugly partying. Yes, indeedy, the third annual ugly sweater party is upon us.

More details to follow, but for now, please run off to your calendars with an indelible marker.

Then off to your mother-in-law's closet for some shopping...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

Yes, its my birthday.
As I sit here, enjoying my delicious chocolate from Tanya, I can glance up and enjoy my newly hung politically incorrect kitchen curtains. Hung there, as a gift to myself, because I love how wrong, wrong, wrong, it is to hang curtains depicting ashtrays of cigarettes flanked by martinis, and olives in my happy little kitchen. (thanks again, Rose, for that fabulous fabric)
My gift from Brian nestles in with its coloured glass cousins. Lovely, isn't it?

I have received many, many gifts. Not one of them has been wrapped up in pretty paper, or used tape or ribbon of any kind. I don't believe a cent has been spent at any department stores. But I've gotten e-mails from more people than I deserve, and I'm not just saying that. It's true, because if there is one thing that I never deserve; its people remembering my birthday. That's because it is one of my greatest faults that I never, ever, remember anyone's birthday. Ever. And annually, I am reminded of how many other people are extraordinarily good at remembering. I so appreciate your kindnesses, and I'm sorry once again for how annually, predictably, I will let you down.
It's in every contract of every single friendship that I form.

Now, back to the wonderfulness of this day. Brian and I got one of those USB turntables that enables one to listen to old record albums, and digitally convert them so the music is stored on one's computer. RIGHT NOW, I am listening to an album of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton singing Christmas songs!! Like I explained to my baffled looking daughter: its supposed to be corny. That's the point. Nothing could make me happier than Kenny Rogers at Christmas. Well,
that, and Christmas trees and vintage bulbs....
But there is another gift that made me weep, and I mean weep on my keyboard. My friend Lory sent me a link to a YouTube that is just too wonderful.
And here it is, as a gift to you.
Now, go on and do something lovely.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Look For The Good.... Look For the Good... Look for...

The Boy In The Blue Pyjamas. A book that I found in my daughter's room, and read as an escape from the horrers of nit-picking. A children's book, and a great one. I recommend it.

Husbands. Even though they are often stupid, and would make great German soldiers in the '40's. They mean well, and they are helpful and well meaning and that counts for something. Humility goes a really long way too. And the ability to say "you're right" once in a while.

Dogs. I love to hate them, but my doggy makes me laugh, and that's good.
And thank God for small miracles. Shadow has decided that she LOVES snow. She now incessantly scratches at the door to get let out, and doesn't poo poo on the floor any more.

Temperatures below freezing. It kills the little bastards. (lice, not dog poo)

Daughters who nit-pick.
About the important stuff. Like nits.

My glasses from Zenni Optical (

gin. Okay, so I'm grasping at straws. No, really. I am grasping at straws because I asked Brian for a straw so I could sip while the daughter picks the nits.

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Day In The Lice

I was just feeling sorry for myself this morning, after sleeping on a crunchy, garbage bag enshrouded pillow, and mourning the heaviness of my favourite quilt which was freezing out on the deck. I walked past my olive oiled kids heads resting on their crunchy pillows and down the stairs to the bags and bags and bags of linens that I had laundred yesterday.

Straight to the coffee machine.

Stepped in animal by-product (stupid dog is a big suck. She doesn't like getting her poor princess feet cold on the snow and ice and prefers shitting in the house.) well, boo-frikkin'-hoo. I got enough problems of my own, thank you very much. Kitchen has been converted to a lice busting headquarters, thanks to the bright fluorescent light. (anybody e-mailing me and saying something cute about never eating at my house again- shut up. Invite me to your house for dinner then.)

It snowed overnight. Fifty million quiltsandjacketsandpillowsandstuffiesandsheetsandshirtsandpantsandragsandtowels are iced to the surface of the deck outside the back door. The porch is insulated with clear yard bags filled with de-contaminated product.

Better start the washing machine and dryer up for the day.
And run the vacuum.
And go strip the beds.
The kids will be up soon, and it will be time to go through their hair.
Better cancel Sam's carpool to kindergarten.
And Micah's haircut appointment.
And guitar lessons.

No tapas to look forward to tonight.

but then, you know what? My mommy phoned. And she was so sweet to me, and even offered to help me with laundry, which of course I said no to. The woman is 82, and she's not going to be driving through an ice storm to help her perfectly able bodied daughter to wash some stupid linens.

And then Cheri came. We had coffee and fudge. The very same Cheri who came to my house yesterday and picked nits out of my noggin.

And then a few hours later I got a delivery of Ruth's super special, top of the line cinnamon buns. These are not just any ordinary cinnamon buns. These are Ruthies- the kind of cinnamon buns that could have melted the cold war in five minutes flat if they had just sat down and given it a chance.

AND there was a deposit to our bank account that meant I could pay something, which always makes me feel happy.

And when Brian came home, he brought the mail. Which contained a package for me.

And I love them all.
Want the website? Then get over here and do your fair share of delousing.
I may have lice. I may have four children with lice. But I have awesome, awesome glasses that look amazing with or without lice.

So much for feeling sorry for myself.... Now you're all going to wish that you were me!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

November 5

For the last number of weeks, I have felt like I don't have the space to let my mind go and just write. Partly because of a brief depression that I mentioned a few posts back, which I think was triggered by something of an intensely personal nature from my past. It seems as though I have developed a form of self-consciousness on this blog. Probably because I no longer feel anonymous; which isn't a bad thing- just an observation.

So, I'll just go ahead and be random.

My parents are celebrating their 58th wedding anniversary on this day. That's nothing to sneeze at. Of course, in their regular understated way, they did mention that they might go to Joey's Only for a fancy celebratory meal. They've always been ridiculously reasonable, which is only one of the things that I so love about them. They don't give one another silly gifts just to mark an occasion, but they certainly do give other types of gifts that are wondrous to behold. My mama is so committed to my dad. She treats him with dignity and respect, without adopting a "doormat" personality- she's not afraid to speak her mind, or to confide in others when she needs support. But she does so while retaining dad's dignity and standing by him through thick and thin, pre- and post-stroke. And my dad has always had a deep sort of wisdom. I often wished he had been more verbal, and directly taught me things as I was growing up, but at least I was able to observe some of his wisdom in his actions. He never made his daughters feel less intelligent than his sons. (although he sure should have taught us more about the farm and vehicles. We did grow up in the 60's and 70's, and the roles were pretty straight-laced). Still, as his girls turned into women, no one was more proud than my dad when his girls graduated from their career path of choice and landed respectable jobs.

In 58 years, dad and mom have learned about all sorts of things. They've watched their children pass through all sorts of wonderful and horrible things. They've sat through eight weddings, one funeral, several hundred Christmas concerts, and numerous graduations. They endured the agony of eight kids learning how to drive, and six of them totalling at least one of dad's cars.

They've shared a life for 58 years. I think that's going to be a rare occurance in my generation.

I'm incredibly fortunate to still have a mom and a dad. Who still live independently, love each other, insist on mowing their own lawn, tilling their own garden, keeping their own house, doing their own shopping, their own laundry, hosting Christmas and Thanksgiving and everything in between. Besides that, mom is continuing to drive them around even after an unfortunate accident last winter that found them hanging upside down in the ditch, dangling from their seatbelts.

They are not wimpy people, my parents. They have donated countless work hours to MCC. I'd like to see the line-up of people who have eaten or slept under blankets thanks to their volunteer hours. They learned and grew through their children's victories and challenges, instead of getting older and quieter and more set in their ways. They've witnessed many cultural shifts and historical shifts in their lifespans of 80+ years.

Many times my manic life busys up all my time with its urgency. Then I am stopped short with the realisation that I still have my parents. And I don't want to take that for granted, or wish that I had made the trip to their city more frequently. I won't make any resolutions, or make myself feel guilty, or tell you something inspired about some pretend effortlessness to our relationships.

But on November the fifth, I'll take some time to pencil a little of who my parents are, just as a small way to celebrate their first 58 years.

Besides, I'm not into fancy seafood restaurants like they are.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Dear Tidy Lady Whose Child Sleeps At My House

A debriefing is in order.

I understand that your need for childcare is dire. So desparate in fact, that it was necessary to employ that crazy lady down the street- the one with the periodic puppy, the three MIA, presumed dead hamsters lost in the ductwork of the house swaying dangerously over its legal weight limit due to her penchant for cast-off clutter.

That being said; there is a certain rhythmn to the mayhem that is her main floor. Its eclecticism holds a certain charm that causes deep cravings for dark roast and thick, warm slices of pumpkin loaf. Its surfaces are forgiving, bohemian, Comfortable.

But somehow, with the increased pressure of gravitational force, things slide steadily into disrepair. I find it prudent to explain this to you now, even though the information would have stood you in good stead prior to your unfortunate trip up the stairway into the quagmire that is my upper level.

First and foremost- the stairs are crooked by design. We paid a lot of good money to an architect to get those calculations done properly in order for those stairs to look the way they do.
And the railing? The one that I primed four years ago? Well, I happen to like that design that occured quite by accident- sort of a sponge-paint, art-deco, pseudo-designer type of look. White, with scratch marks. Uh- Huh. It offsets the wall beautifully- the wall that got patched with wall putty four years ago. Yup, four years ago it was practically ready to paint, and if you glance over to the door leading into my artist studio, you'll see lovely colour samples of potential colours that are by now entirely out of circulation. Lovely colours, those.

You'll likely be so charmed by the architectural wonder of the stairs and the bold paint designs of the bannister and wall that you'll miss the special effects when you arrive on the second level. A lovely carpet, repurposed from a friends' living room and cut to size for the boys room with the aid of a steak knife. A plush delight for tired feet is that carpet; but not so wondrous as the carpet yet to come in the adjoining bedroom. Utterly stained. Bits and strips of cast-off carpet grace the bedroom in which your cherub nappeth.

Well, that's what you might have mistakenly believed. But it is not so.
This is a special carpet, inlaid with special motifs not easily interpreted to the inexperienced eye. What to the novice appears to be stains from spills are really the costly work of a commissioned artist. What appear to be (steak knife shaped) seams are really not. They're something way fancier than that. Something so fancy and hoity toity that words just now escape me.

So, when you scoop up your beloved from where she naps, and you crinkle your nose at the disgrace that is our carpet and unpainted, but be-sampled walls, as yourself whether you have interpreted it all entirely correctly.

Is this the home of an unbalanced, shifty-staired, hamster losing au pair? Or has your child just been ushered into the local, under appreciated louvre? Perhaps it is time to reevaluate your prior conclusion that the need for childcare had reached drastic and reckless levels of desperation, and instead be awed by the oppurtunities that your loved one will surely enjoy in this wellspring of creativity and raw , partially painted beauty.

Yes, tidy lady. Perhaps there are lessons in home decor that are yet to be learned in this mastery that is your local daycare.

And with that, I thank you most sincerely for your time.