Category Archives: Rants

Girls Behaving Badly


Brave

Watched Brave with the kids Saturday night.  It’s a Disney/Pixar offering about a young Scottish princess named Merida (mair-eh-duh), who, though intelligent, independent, headstrong and an accomplished archer, is still expected to be married off to the first-born son of one of the other clans of the kingdom, in accordance with tradition.

Merida doesn’t take kindly to this, and though her father admires her conviction, he still sides with Merida’s mother, the Queen, who is determined to mold her daughter into a ‘proper’ princess and see the marriage carried out.  In defiance, Merida seeks out the assistance of a local witch, who gives her a potion she assures will change Merida’s fate.  And change it, it does, though of course not in any way foreseen.

What struck me as bloody wonderful about this film was that Merida, though learning important life lessons throughout, never undergoes the distasteful transformation that is the fate of so many female characters (Disney and otherwise), which is to say, she isn’t forced to compromise her true self to attain her goals.

Watching, I couldn’t help but regard my daughter.  She overflows with a joyful glee, she dances with abandon, is extremely artistic and intelligent, a voracious reader, and possesses an uncanny ability to take a concept and transform it into a joke, or a song, or some keen witticism.  She never fails to amaze me.

That said, I’ve noticed that her particular brand of precociousness sometimes comes with a price, that emotional development does not necessarily grow at the same rate as intelligence.  My girl is the most willful little person I can ever hope to meet, and as an adversary, she packs way more punch than any adult I’ve encountered.  She rages injustices, both real and imagined.  She cries.  She yells.  She screams, occasionally.  She stomps her little feet, and she slams doors (she reminds me of me, truth be told).  And though I’ve had the occasional experience of going head to head with her, these behaviours become far more evident at school.

I suppose it stands to reason.  At our school, it’s become apparent that her kind of ‘different‘ is not equated with ‘unique’ or ‘special,’ so much as ‘troublesome’ and ‘disruptive.’  And when a child spends six hours a day, five days a week in an environment that makes it abundantly clear they do not fit somehow, conflict is bound to occur.  Though my daughter is a solid A-student, I’ve still spent three years combating those who insist that my girl needs a label (they like to imply ODD.  I say she doesn’t suffer fools well). What she needs, truly, are educators who are capable and willing to look beyond the conventional rule books and tweak their approach.  I’m not inferring the system needs to be overhauled (which is how the admin hears it), I’m talking about accepting that not all children learn in the same way, a concept established decades ago.  Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”  And Einstein posited that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  I have quoted these to school administration more than once.  And while by the end of Brave, Merida and her mother realize how change is intrinsically linked to growth, our school is evidently still sussing that one out.  Happily, with some additional resources now in place, and a little girl maturing by the minute, I have high hopes for next year.

Through this process, I have learned that in order for my daughter to become her true self, I must not only guide her, but shield her from those who would insist she become a ‘proper’ princess.  I myself have to ensure that I avoid becoming too Queen-y.  I know that at times I have attempted to quell my little tempest, to rein her in, tell her too often to act a certain way, speak in a certain way, dress in a certain way.  I am still learning about what it means to truly parent, ever seeking a balance of guidance and freedom.

Ultimately, I want to instill in my daughter the idea that anything is possible, that her kind of ‘different‘ is to be celebrated.
That her fate lies in her own hands.

Our fate lives in us. You only have to be brave enough to see it.

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Filed under Film, Rants, The Mama Goddess

If I Only Had A…Maid

MaidWeDontHave
I would wile away the hours
Nibbling bonbons and buying flowers
(A significant upgrade)
I’d be chill, I’d be happy
I’d be dressin’ really snappy
If I only had a maid… ♫

I am so fakking sick of housework these days.  I love the warm weather, but I’ll say this for the dead of winter:  it’s a lot cleaner.

In Spring, nature decides to come indoors to play.  Kids walk through the house in pool-wet and lawn-dirty feet and leave smeary footprints from the back door to the front.  There are damp towels…everywhere. Dust and other schmeg blows in to settle in corners, and it becomes impossible to have the glass-topped coffee table look remotely clear.  Flies get trapped between the sliding doors and die there, their corpses needing extrication (but not before driving me half-mad with their desperate and hopeless  pre-mortem buzzing).

The dogs begin to shed more (which is really saying somethin’), leaving blond, brown and black hair all over the leather chairs and couches, where it sticks until I wipe it off because static electricity.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck

With additional hours of light comes extended hours I am forced to look at my house As It Is, as opposed to October through April, when it looks ‘romantic’ by 4:30 p.m. because I turn the lights down low and can no longer see the dust.

There is definitely more laundry this time of year.  Aforementioned towels, plus bathing suits, shorts and jeans, t-shirts galore because no kid of mine is ever going to get through an entire Jumbo Freezie without slopping the melted bit all down their fronts.  Before I had kids, I would look down my nose at parent friends of mine who left overflowing baskets of clean laundry in the living room.  “How lazy!” I would think to myself,  “How hard can it be to put away?”  and “When I am a parent, my family will always have a wellspring of pristine clothes to choose from!” Well, a note to those as yet-childless, judgemental bitches: it is ridiculously hard to keep it up when you’re doing it all the fucking time for a houseful of people who (yes, I’m about to say something über-motherish) HAVE NEVER UNDERSTOOD HOW THE CLEAN CLOTHES GET INTO THEIR ROOMS.

This is not a GIF. This is footage. From my house.

Phew.  That was nice.  It felt good to get it out.  Really, really good.

A natural consequence to perpetual circuit cleaning is that while the other three are well put-out, I myself never get out of the clothes I clean in.  I have a closetful of lovely cotton sundresses that have yet to see the light of day this season.  But you see, even IF I had somewhere to wear them, even IF I took a shower, even IF I shaved my legs, I’d still have to iron them (the clothes, not the legs) beforehand, I mean, they’ve spent the past almost-year being shoved aside for cooler-weather clothes and are as wrinkly as Donatella Versace’s tuchus (and I wouldn’t be caught wearing that out in public).  And that’s just more work.  So.

If I had a maid, I would have her (yes, I assume it’s going to be a her, ditch Women’s Studies comments for now) do all sorts of things outside the norm.  Windows?  Don’t care, leave ’em.  Countertops?  Nah, I do those myself several times a day.  Water the plants?  You’re not taking away something I actually like doing.  Run the dishwasher?  Uh, nope, not paying you to press buttons.  Some of  the jobs that have occurred to me in the last 24 hours:

Hangers:  Go through my entire closet and make sure none of them are overlapping.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Paperwork:  Once a month, gather random papers from wherever you may find them in the house and shred them.  This includes bills.  I will never notice.
Bath products:  Once a month, go under the sinks of all washrooms and toss half of what you find there (exception: TP).  I will never notice.
Fridge:  Once a month, pull out the crispers and clean whatever nastiness you find behind/under there.  Most of it you’ll have to use your fingernail to scrape off.  I never want to deal with that shite again.
Rooms:  For God’s sake, capture and kill the dust rhinos under the bed.  My vacuum won’t do it, by the way, technically speaking, the sucker-part angles too much when you get the wand-part that low to the ground.  So you’ll likely have to lie on your stomach on the floor and get some Swiffer-y something-or-other to manage.  Or spray yourself with Pledge and git under there, yourself, and roll about, I don’t care.
Stickers:  This is a kind of I Spy exercise.  My children randomly place stickers around the house (including but not limited to: Superheroes, My Little Pony, dollar-store miscellany, Christmas, Easter, Hallowe’en and Valentine’s Day) with no visible pattern.  Grab yourself a bottle of Goo Gone and make ’em disappear.  I’ll deal with the tears afterward.

That’s all I got for now, though I’ll be adding as I come up with other stuff.

What would YOU have your maid do? (Those able to answer “Well, I usually have her…” need not apply.)

And for those wondering what I really think, this is the kind of maid I’d want, and I’d never have her do any of the grody things listed above, because I would love her far too much:

Sniff! I love you, Aibileen!

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Filed under Ephemera, Rants, The Mama Goddess

Dear Daniel, I’m Busted

GHP
Ma Lanois, how do you do?
Mon nom est Erin Lee, mon ami
I come from west of Toronto
Mon nom est Erin Lee, mon ami ♫

The first year I attended the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic, it was because our cousin Mandy called and said, “Ray Lamontagne is going to be in your area!  I’m driving the kids down for it!  Can we stay at your place?!”  Mandy lives in New Brunswick, and, as you can tell, is a HUGE Ray Lamontagne fan.  So she came on down, three kids in tow.  My buddy Holly (Buddy Holly?) drove in from London, and we all spent a glorious, sun-soaked day at beautiful Christie Lake Conservation Area, just northwest of Hamilton.

The GHP is the brainchild of Daniel Lanois (and put on by producer Jean-Paul Gauthier), who wanted to promote awareness of local farmers and farming.  Lanois was quoted in 2011, saying “I’m going public for my love of Ontario tomatoes in August.”  The event, held on September 1st, 2011, was a smashing success.  Twelve hours of live music, including performances by Gord Downie, Emmylou Harris, Sarah Harmer, Rocco Deluca, headliner Lamontagne and Lanois himself.  The park was overflowing with local farmers selling the fruits of their labors (yes, including vegetables), the food vendors were amazing (big slice of watermelon or a plate of udon noodles, anyone?), the artisans varied and original.  Over 6,000 people attended.

Year Two: I was chomping at the bit by Spring 2012 to get my tickets, this time attending with my friend Lesley.  We arrived in decent time,  got our camping chairs set up, slapped GHP temporary tattoos on our arms, grabbed a cold Steamwhistle each and happily settled in.  The lineup that year was equally impressive; regulars Lanois, Harris, Downie and Harmer were joined by guitarist Jesse Cook, powerhouse Brady L. Blade, Sr. and the Hallelujah Train, and headliner Feist.  Great music, great farmers, great food, great artisans.

Great price.

Tickets for the 3rd annual Greenbelt Harvest Picnic have now been on sale for a week.  This year’s lineup sees the return of Lanois protégé Rocco Deluca and includes veterans Lanois and Harris, with celebrated Canadian Neil Young to headline.

Ticket price for adults: $129.50 plus whatever fees the fee people put on it. Just so your brain doesn’t start to hurt, that is an 86.3% increase from years one and two.

Oh, but hold up…that $129.50 is just the Early Bird ticket price, to be applied only to the first 1,000 tickets sold.  As of June 8th, they’ve already surpassed that number, and so the rest of y’all will be paying $149.50 (plus whatever fees the fee people put on it).  That, my friends, is a whopping 115.1% increase since 2012.

Er…whatthefuck, Daniel?!

I know that these events cost some serious coin to put on, I do.  But let’s just look at the reason this whole thing began:  to boost recognition of local, non-GMO farmers.  Who’s your demographic?  If the answer is: people who can  afford, without checking their bank balances, to shop for everything on their grocery list at Goodness Me, then I guess the GHP is on the right track.  But seriously, folks – if we take an attendance of 6,000 (which is a low guess, based on 2011 numbers), with a thousand tickets at $129.50 (let’s say, 145.00, including fees) is $145,000.00.  Add another 5,000 at $149.50 (let’s say 169.00, including fees), and you have $845,000.

That’s $990,000 in ticket prices alone, never mind $10 parking for all vehicles (and there are a LOT of vehicles, one does not simply saunter over to Christie Lake), plus all the musician merch, GBP swag, beer, food, impulse art & jewellery purchases and veggie hoarding.

What am I missing, Daniel?

I want to be there, I do.  From the first, I had dedicated myself to seeing the show each and every year.  But this as-yet unexplained hike is insane. I would love to hear the justification for it.  Do you want this kind of event to be available solely to those with disposable income?  Or do you sincerely want to turn everyone’s attention to the issue at hand?

Humbly, I await your reply.

GHPErin

The author, in happier times.

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Filed under Music, Rants

Bully For You!

FarkusCry, cry for me crybaby! Cry!

BULLY (n.)
1530s, originally “sweetheart,” applied to either sex, from Dutch ‘boel,’ “lover; brother,” probably a diminutive of Middle Dutch ‘broeder’ meaning “brother.”

We’ve come a long way, baby.  Just not in the right direction.

This weekend, my daughter was the victim of bullying.  I’m not talking about your garden-variety meanness here; the kid in question called her a fucking bitch, fuck face, told her she was a ‘ho,‘ proceeded to hit her with a stick and then pushed her into a tree.  This all happened at the end of my street.

He’s eight years old.  And in her class at school.

I have mixed feelings about the situation.  I have a very headstrong daughter, and when he continued to call her names, she continually went back to tell him to stop, though the older girls she was with asked her repeatedly to just come along with them.  I spoke to my girl about this, and told her that her friends had been correct; they should have either come straight to me at the onset or found another known adult to help them.  As it turns out, another parent who lives closer to the end of the crescent had heard the commotion and went out to investigate.  Witnessing the abuse, she approached the group of boys and berated them for their behaviour.  Emma’s attacker ran off, but the others stayed.  One of the boys, frightened by this unknown adult, called his parents, who arrived within a few minutes.

The three girls ran back to my house to tell me what had happened.  I immediately took them back to the park and had them play on the climber while I went over to find out what I could.  By the time I arrived, however, three parents from my street were standing in the park facing off with the one child’s parents. I approached the group, and after a few minutes of listening to the adults shout at each other, I interrupted and said to the mother, “Hello.  My name is Erin.  I’m the mother of the girl who was bullied here today, and I’m hoping we can talk.” At which point I reached out my hand to shake hers.

I got this:

https://i0.wp.com/media.tumblr.com/c0569ea4b1d95d1133a9d9c861572681/tumblr_inline_mh80k8gxaJ1qz4rgp.gif

Not gonna happen.

 

She was really on a tear, and extraordinarily defensive.  I understand that no parent wants to hear that their child might not be the angel they believe them to be, however even after listening to the adult and several kids who had witnessed it, she steadfastly refused to believe her child had been involved.  I told her, calmly, that I had three girls who backed up each others’ accounts, to which she responded, “So where is the girl?  Where is the girl this happened to?  Is she here?”  I replied that yes, my daughter was present, however there were a few things I wanted to clarify as adults beforehand, and I had instructed her to play on the climber.  I said, “You have to understand that my eight-year-old is distressed right now, and it would upset her if she were to be asked to come and speak to an angry adult she doesn’t know.”  To which she responded, “Why do you make it sound like her age is important?  My son is eight, too, so what? I keep hearing these stories from everyone else.  I want to talk to her, now!”

Ahem.  Let me pause, here.  My policy when in the midst of an emotional power keg is to transform into a Zen Master.  I speak calmly, quietly and unexcitedly.  I smile sincerely.  I employ body language that allows the other person to understand I’m truly listening to them.  However, at this point, when the woman repeatedly referred to my recently-traumatized daughter as ‘she’ and ‘her’ and ‘the girl,’ and for some reason believed I would actually make my kid face off with a raving, batshit-crazy adult, I realized I wasn’t in the least interested in continuing the conversation.  Fortuitously, she was distracted by a baited comment from someone else, and I moved away.

https://i1.wp.com/media.tumblr.com/tumblr_likqjslKzm1qdrdd0.gif

Buh-bye!

Over the next few minutes I spoke to the remaining kids and got their side of the story.  They admitted there was bad language, though they weren’t in agreement as to whether or not my daughter was hit with a stick.  They asserted my daughter continually went back and engaged the boy, until she was called away by her older playmates.

This morning before school began, I had a meeting with the school principal to apprise him of the situation.  He agreed that he would speak to the teacher, and ensure that at no time of day would my daughter and the boy be left alone without adult supervision.  He will be speaking to one of the girls my daughter was with, who, as a school lunch monitor, has apparently witnessed the boy bullying Em and others in the past.  He will get the names of the other boys who were present.  He will take the boy to a different classroom for lunchtimes (when no teacher is present).  He will be calling the boy’s parents.  All these things I agree with, but I have to say I’m still concerned with potential run-ins on the playground and in our neighborhood.  What to do other than reiterate to my girl that in the event she cannot avoid this boy and he bullies her again, she needs to either a) walk away, b) run away c) run away and get an adult, pronto?

I have this inkling that 30+ years ago, this would have been handled differently.  I’m quite sure the school wouldn’t have become involved, and that I’d be speaking directly to the boy’s parents.  Thing is, in this world of BureaucracySpeak, I find myself out of my element, because my common sense reaction is no longer necessarily the most efficacious route to resolution.

What would YOU do?

https://i1.wp.com/media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m60y2stKnf1r64g7r.gif

Dunno.

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Filed under Health and Wellness, Nostalgia, Rants, The Mama Goddess, Uncategorized

Suburban Soul Fillin’

Envy

“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.”
― Harold G. Coffin

Recently I have been exploring the differences between envy and jealousy.  I was always pretty clear on the latter, but have found more than one meaning of the former.

One says that envy consists of “a feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by and in conjunction with desire for the possessions or qualities of another.”  Okay.  Got it.  However, the second maintains that envy is “best defined as a resentful emotion that “occurs when a person lacks another’s (perceived) superior quality, achievement or possession and wishes that the other lacked it.”

Now, see, all this time, I’ve avoided using the word jealousy,  because it alludes to a fear of personal loss.  I used envy instead, because in most cases, I simply coveted some thing or quality possessed by someone else.  That said, I don’t recall ever crossing the line and wishing the other person didn’t have it…just that I wanted it, too.

This is all blather until I put it in some kind of context.  I should do that, now.

In this past year and a half, my self-esteem has taken a severe beating, for the most part self-inflicted.  Due to a back injury, I was unable to work out and had to abandon a career path with a strong physical component.  That was the one part I wasn’t responsible for.  Then I got depressed.  I mean, really depressed.  The kind of depression that allows you to only be productive enough to piggle your toenails all day, drink too much and slop together a meagre meal for the fam.  I stopped writing.  My hair got stringy.  Yoga pants became an essential part of the uniform.  And thus began a vicious cycle.

In the meanwhile, though, life was toodling merrily along without my input or presence.  Solipsistic Erin was first amazed, then quickly crestfallen.  How can  So-And-So still write so well?  How can So-And-So be so clean all the time?  How can  So-And-So avoid drinking for a whole month?  How can So-And-So be going on vacay?  How can  So-And-So go jogging, eat Paleo, talk professionally, meet cool people, get a job, be out in the world so confidently?

I really got envious of So-And-So, lemme tellya.

Thing is, I never wanted  So-And-So to lose what she or he had to start with, I just found myself fantasizing about how lovely it would be to have those things/qualities, too.  Lord knows I had intentions toward getting ’em, but I’ve been hearing bad things about intentions and now avoid them when at all possible…like corn oil or Nestlé products.

One of the only rays of sunshine in being a directionless, unemployable SAHM is that you’re available to yak to other like-situationed pals during they day, because hey, no job.  One friend of mine in particular has been trying to find his groove for years.   Our circumstances are quite different, however our mutual feelings about the whole mess bear a striking resemblance.  Generally we commiserate and hate on the world for a bit, however this morning we really got into the guts of it.  After indulging each others’ need to rant, he sent me this:

I for one have learned something about myself since 2002:

Number one:  you must be honest with yourself.  Life altering self-initiated changes don’t make a lot of sense when you know deep down that you’re denying yourself the opportunity be happy;  it almost always ends in tears and regret.

Number two: position yourself to include all the things that you really enjoy.  Denying yourself these opportunities will leave you unhappy and second-guessing your decisions.  Surround yourself with what fills your soul.

Though I had come to these conclusions myself at one time or another, I think I must have thrown them in a drawer somewhere, or on top of a bookshelf, because when I went looking for them, I found them all dusty and giving off a kind of mildewy smell.  Dusted them, sprayed them with Lysol, and now they’re looking – if not totally shiny and new – definitely passable.

So I’m back here, for better or worse, and have picked up an old W.P. Kinsella I haven’t read in a while.  Not a bad start.  In any case, today it fills my soul.

Matisse woman-reading

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Filed under Books, Ephemera, Health and Wellness, Rants

Elegy for a Love Song

Sweethearts

Heading out to meet a friend at the pub last eve, I flipped through radio stations looking for something decent to warble.  Paused when I heard the words

There she was just a-walkin’ down the street/
Singin’ do-wah diddy-diddy dum diddy-do

I don’t know why I didn’t hit the scan button immediately; classic rock tends to suck.  Not that it doesn’t have its gems, but I’ve heard the songs so many frakking times I’m sick of them…and I don’t care how many of my high school friends on Facebook know it.

Then it got to the lines

We walked on, walked on/To my door, my door
We walked on to my door/Then we kissed a little more
I knew we were falling in love
Yes I did, and so I told her all the things I’d been dreamin’ of

So, let me get this straight…they met, they walked, they talked, they kissed a bit, they fell in love. Hm.

Cut to 48 years later: modern-day R&B.  Rhianna, the Stockholm Syndrome poster girl bringing back the sexy of domestic abuse, sings “Nobody’s Business” with Chris Brown, the same boy who painted her face purple with his dashboard in 2009:

I’ma give you all my affection/Every touch becomes infectious
Let’s make out in this Lexus

C-l-a-s-s-y!

Now, I don’t deny there have always been songs intimating, er…intimacy.  Hanky-panky in verse has been alive and kicking since forever.  But the presentation used to be different…

Wake Up Little Susie, Everly Brothers:
We’ve both been sound asleep, wake up, little Susie, and weep
The movie’s over, it’s four o’clock, and we’re in trouble deep


Afternoon Delight, Starland Vocal Band:
Thinkin’ of you’s workin’ up my appetite
looking forward to a little afternoon delight
Rubbin’ sticks and stones together makes the sparks ignite
and the thought of rubbin’ you is getting so exciting

A Little Bit More, Dr. Hook:
When your body’s had enough of me/And I’m layin’ flat out on the floor
When you think I’ve loved you all I can/I’m gonna love you a little bit more

and my personal fave,

I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl, Nina Simone:
I want a little sugar in my bowl/I want a little sweetness down in my soul
I could stand some lovin’/Oh so bad/feel so lonely and I feel so sad

But do you see the difference between those, and Ray J singing:

Then we take it to the bed, then we take it to the floor
Then we chill for a second, then I hit that a** some more

…?

As I continued to think about it, I found myself lamenting the formerly clever and creative depiction of romance in music.  I know the desire for it still exists, otherwise Etta James’ At Last wouldn’t have remained a number-one wedding dance song fifty-two years after its first recording.  But since that time, what happened to the writers? I mean, Taylor Swift and all of her clones aside? (I’ma not talking about rainbow-hued teen crushes here, I’ma talking about da grown-ups.)

Does the fact we have a dearth of songs about adult relationships that don’t use f*** or a** or references to tapping, banging, boning or booty indicate that culturally, the Love Song is dead, or, at the very least relegated solely to the sphere of insipid, candy-coated, nausea-inducing Top 40 songs for tweens and Twilight Moms?

What do YOU think?  Has the Intelligent Romantic Lyric gone the way of the dodo?

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Filed under Music, Rants

What’s Your Life?

More Kool-Aid?
~I’d LOVE some!

So you’re at that interminable suburban dinner party, staring at the faux ficus and wondering why in the hell you agreed to come.

A beaming Yogazon approaches, spritzer in hand, oblivious to your feck-off-and-go-talk-to-someone-else body language.  She introduces herself (Kim/Kelly/Sharon/Julie) and launches right off with the most reviled question of all time;

“So what do YOU do?”

Me? I’m a photographer!

I’ve hated this question since I had a ‘real’ job, which has been almost a decade now, but even more so since being an SAHM.  What’s the appropriate response?  “I specialize in handmade creative play clay, non-organic PBJ sandwich construction, agenda note-checking, language acquisition and organization of various lessons, including water safety, body movement and artistic expression in various mediums”?  Sure.  But as I glance nervously at my shoes, it comes out sounding more like, “I stay at home with my kids.”  Guilty, awkward grimace.

Fer der kerds lurnches! Derp.

Why is our society so determined to identify and classify each other by our work occupations?  I mean, if you’re a studly Robert Kincaid type, getting sent all over the world taking breathtaking pictures for National Geographic and poking lonely Italian farm wives, then great.  If you quit your job driving a school bus to pursue your dream of building tree houses out of non-toxic, reclaimed materials for inner-city playgrounds, awesome!  You’re the monk that sold his Ferrari?  Let’s yak!  If it’s your passion, feel free to regale the crowd.  But for the majority of us, the response to the question only tells the other person what we do from 9-5.  And what happens during that eight hours, m’dear, is usually hardly enough to  define us.  Taxonomy=Fail.

A number of years ago, when I had two very young chitlins at home and was looking for any way to 1) get the hell away from them for any period of time and 2) start reshaping my body into something a little less Danny DeVitoesque, I decided to take up Aikido.  Aikido is a non-aggressive martial art which teaches how to wind down one’s opponent, using their energy against them…which is, as you can imagine, a pretty dope skill for a harried mother to possess.

One day I got paired up with a brown belt.  She gave off a kind of Mary Hartman vibe, but she was a real bruiser.  When it was time to take a break, we grabbed our water and sat down on the mat together.

Mousy housewife you say?
I’ll kick yer ass!

“What’s your life?” she asked.

I was flummoxed.  No one had ever asked me that before and truth be told, I didn’t understand what she meant at first.  Then it dawned on me; she wanted to know what my real life was, who I loved, what I loved to do, what I’d love to do sometime in the future, and she didn’t give a flying fuckadoo whether I was the CEO or cleaned the CEO’s office by day.  My eyes poured forth amber lovelight.

As the years have passed, I’ve heard the question posed a gadgillion more times, give or take a googol.  I still twitch a little when I hear it, but I understand that it’s just another one of those lowest-common-denominator phrases people say to each other, like the obligatory “how are you?” or “how was your weekend?” or “how long you think ’til the Biebs asks Selena to borrow her Louboutins?”

Me, I want us to share the important stuff, what we love.  What’s your life?

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