Famous Last Words

16 12 2008

“Well, that’s about as easy as a root canal can get!” she chirped. “It might be a little tender for a day or two, but after that you’ll be good to go.” Right. A week later, the only place I was “good to go” was straight back down to the dentist’s office to clobber the chirpy sadistic liar who turned my mildly sensitive front tooth into a constantly throbbing, aching, bitch-inducing hunk of torture.

And that, my friends, is the underlying reason why I’ve been M.I.A from this blog for a while. It also seems that when my evil little bird of a dentist blocked up my tooth’s root with gutta percha (see, at least I learned new words – fancy dentist words – while I was away) she also blocked up my creativity. Pain has a way of doing that. As does sleep deprivation, caused by the aforementioned relentless toothache, as well as the relentless restlessness of one Baby Squiggles who is having tooth issues of her own. Add on to that, a creative crisis triggered by no less than three of my potential writing projects falling through in the span of a week, and a serious bout of hypochondria triggered by the fact that I am a serious hypochondriac. And not in the cutesy way, like “Hee hee hee, I keep forgetting to wear a bra and underwear! I must have Alzheimer’s! I’m such a hypochondriac!” No. Like, in the past two weeks I’ve convinced myself that I might have ALS, a pituitary tumour, throat cancer, a heart infection,  a heart attack, sepsis, strokes, antibiotic resistant strep, hypochondria, and an infected failed root canal that’s going to require seriously invasive surgery and a $3000 dental implant right before Christmas. Before I’ve made enough money and gotten enough published to qualify for a PWAC membership and insurance plan. That, my friends, is a whole lot of reasons to let my husband take over this blog for a while.

But pituitary tumour or not, I’m back! Before I get back to my usual rantings and ravings, here are some Blister family highlights from my hiatus, a couple of snippets that have yet to be erased from my memory by the raging case of amnesia I think I’m coming down with:

Baby Squiggles and the Sibs study

A few weeks back, I took Squiggles to the 12 month visit for the siblings autism research study. And as crazy as I might be sometimes, it’s nice to know that I’m not completely crazy all the time. It has been confirmed that Squiggles is, at the very least, weird. How weird, we do not know. But weird enough that they video taped her little leg-paddling-bum-scootching mode of transportation, did some cognitive assessments far beyond what you’d normally try with a one year-old, and brought the study’s lead doctor in to see Baby Squiggles in all her baffling developmental glory, and meet with me because I’m just so damn interesting. Apparently, we hypochondriacs are very observant, and we know a lot of medical jargon, which makes us fun for doctors to talk to.

The School Holiday Concert

I don’t know what was the most fun about Neener and Roo’s Holiday concert: Me, my mother, Neener and Roo, all dolled up standing in a massive line-up outside for 15 minutes, waiting for The School to open the doors so we could get out of the chilly night wind, drop the kids in their classroom, and claim our two-tickets-alloted-per-family seats; or the rousing performance of ‘So This Is Christmas” that opened the show. Because you know, nothing says holiday celebration like an a capella  rendition of the most depressing Christmas song ever written, sung by a bunch of tone deaf kids in the key of guilt flat; or the grade six band, who, god love them, really thought they were playing a song. In actuality, they were being used by The School administration as part of an evil plot to confuse and disorient the crowd with so much random honking and tooting that no parent would be able to hold their video camera still, and would thus be forced to shell out $25 for a dvd copy from The School. But for real, the finest moment – hands down the best part of the entire concert – came when, of all 371 kids in that school, one little angelic-faced girl on her way off the stage suddenly darted to the mic, put it three milimeters away from her mouth, and shouted “But nobody could do that!” Unbeknownst to her, Roo singled-handedly delivered a lot of people from the mind-numbing monotony of Holiday concert hell with that classicly cryptic little line.

There. Now we’re all caught up. Finally, I’d like to thank my Mr. for stepping into the blogging breech when he was needed. Like you, I have an endless appreciation for him, and his remarkable talent for melding dumbass observations with smartass wit. And thank you, readers, for giving him such a friendly yet appropriately tepid welcome. I’m sure you realize that if you’d been all giddy and swooney over every word he wrote, I might have gotten all  sulky and huffy and said “Fine! Screw you guys! Way to kick me in the sore teeth when I’m down! It’s all fun and games now, but you’ll be sorry when he starts writing about the proper way to test for oil or latex paint, or starts posting his illustrations of how to replace divots on a golf course! Drawn on a Magna-doodle!” Lucky for us all, it didn’t come to that. And as long as I can keep this potentially life-threatening case of what I suspect is carpal tunnel syndrome at bay, it never will.

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A Traitor in the Gender Wars

14 12 2008

Read the last few posts and you’ll notice something missing. That’s right, a vagina. Mrs. Blister, our family’s head writer and CEV (Chief Executive Vagina), has been on sabbatical in the world of pain and it has been left to me, our family’s one and only NVM (Non Vagina’ed Member) to fill in.

As is customary for NVs, (AKA men), when put under pressure, we make jokes. Don’t ask me why but when we men don’t know whether to laugh or cry, we always laugh. Or fart.

(In this gender bending age, it’s nice to know there’s one reliable method of determining someone’s sexual identity: watch how they react to a difficult situation. Any attempt at humour strongly suggests the presence of a Y chromosome.)

So here I am, making jokes. Laughing. Farting. Doing what we men are supposed to do. So what does it mean when I find myself fighting back tears over a sad story in the morning paper? Why is a lump growing in my throat as I watch appeals for African relief flash across our TV screen? Where are the jokes? Where are the farts? Are they gone forever?

No. But after a decade of immersion in the world of women, things are changing. For those of you who don’t know, I’m surrounded by women. My wife is one. My three daughters are too. Our cat, our fish, and our minivan* are also all female. My only true friend I’ve kept since my grade school years is female. In my pre-homemaker life, I worked in a store otherwise completely staffed by women and serviced by an army of sales reps who, despite working in a male-dominated industry, somehow all happened to be women.

What does it all mean? I don’t know. But I do think I’ve gained something. I’m not always sensitive, but I’m more sensitive. I’m not always thoughtful, but I’m more thoughtful. I don’t always see our children’s bad behavior as an invitation to discipline. More and more, I see an invitation to nurture.

And that’s why I’m a traitor. If there is a gender war, I’m on your side ladies. Somehow, slowly, you are wearing away at my insensitive, thoughtless, smart-ass and replacing it with “feelings”. I’m so grateful. What’s left is a better father. I can see it in my children. I can see how much happier and more comfortable they are when I’m “feeling” it. And it’s enough to make me cry.

                        * If you are crazy, like us, and you give your vehicles names, you’ll know how this is possible. Our 2005 Pontiac Montana’s name? Patricia Dishwasher. Don’t ask me why, it just is.

 

ps Happy Birthday Mom! (Another great woman in my life.) I love you!





The One Correct Way to Wash Dishes

12 12 2008

(Author’s note: Our favorite blogger, Mrs. Blister, is on the mend. Until she gives me her trademark “get your sweaty, shaking hands off my blog” look, I, Mr. Blister, am filling in. So, if you like what you read here, don’t tell her. You know writers and their egos.)

 

Brace yourself Dear Reader. Today I bestow upon you instructions that, used wisely, will change your life forever. Some of you may consider it a duty to humanity to forward a link to this gift of knowledge to everyone you know. You would be right.

The following techniques were developed using my personal life philosophy of “Constructive Laziness”, which is quite different from “Traditional Laziness”, my personal life philosophy from 1994 to 2002.

Constructive Laziness (or CL) essentially harnesses the inner desire to do nothing, also known as Traditional Laziness (TL), in order to make a task as easy as possible. The result is a spirit resigned to its destiny of a lifetime of unwanted effort (like washing dishes), but excited by the possibility of getting the job done with a lot less work.

THE ONE CORRECT WAY TO WASH DISHES

(unless you have a dish washing “machine”, in which case, just fill the thing with dishes and soap, turn it on, and go f**k yourself)

LESSON #1: SORT

The most important step to make dish washing easy is to sort them out as soon as possible. Plates with plates, cups in cups, all the silverware gathered together.

Keep them sorted as they go from sink, to drying rack, to cupboard. This one principle will mean more dishes can soak at once, more dishes can fit into the drying rack at once, and putting them away becomes infinitely faster. Nothing on God’s Green Earth (in the context of washing dishes) feels better than grabbing a handful of spoons and dropping them all at once into their ubiquitous little plastic moulded home. This experience makes the typical method of grabbing a handful of mixed utensils and putting them in place one at a time seem like fork-in-the-eye insanity.

 

LESSON #2: SOAK

Just like a weekly bath, soaking dishes will really help loosen all of the dried-on food, resulting in less effort scrubbing. (And less chaffing, in the case of the weekly bath.)

The key to a correct soak is timing. Scrub too soon and you’re wasting effort. Scrub too late and you’ve lost the warm water and bubbles to a sink of cold, slimy swamp water. Also, avoid soaking wooden things like cutting boards for very long. Especially overnight. Especially with other much scummier dishes. Especially if you don’t want your cutting board to smell like day old water-logged lasagna. (Trust me, you don’t.)

 

LESSON #3: PUT THE TOWEL DOWN

 As my mother-in-law says, “Let God dry the dishes.” 

The only time dish towels are used correctly while washing dishes is to lay it down on the counter beside the drying rack so you can put dishes on it to dry because the drying rack can’t hold everything. The only other time dish towels are used correctly is not in the kitchen and has nothing to do with dishes, wink, wink. As my wife says, “If you can’t find a dish towel, look in the bedroom.”

 

There you have it Dear Reader. Although this list is not exhaustive, it was exhausting. Please feel free to add tips of your own in the comment section. If they are good, I will erase your comment and edit this blog post to incorporate your ideas into mine. I’m just like Sylar from the greatest TV show ever, Heroes. Except I’m killing comments on a blog, not people. And I’m stealing their domestic advice, not their super powers. And I wear glasses to drive and watch TV which I don’t think he does. Other than that, we’re exactly the same.





This is A Call

10 12 2008

When Mrs. Blister is sober ready, she’ll tell you all about the Christmas Holiday Concert we attended yesterday. I was going to tell you myself but The Boss vetoed me to keep the best story ideas for herself we agreed it was best left to her.

I will, however, put my life on the line to say this: Opening a Christmas Holiday Concert with a tone-deaf choir droning singing several unaccompanied verses of “So This is Christmas” unleashes a fierce internal debate about the merits of murder vs suicide vs murder/suicide doesn’t get the crowd as energized as you may think.

Anyway… After re-reading my last post, it seems I may have opened my big fat mouth about things I really don’t know suggested that I have some domestic wisdom to share. Also, I asked you to comment on my posts so that I don’t curl up into a ball of booze soaked self loathing know someone out there cares.

Well, you didn’t comment (Moms excluded) and I’m petty and insecure eager to engage you, the reader, so I’ll make a list of some of my ideas, and you goddamn better well post a comment to tell me which ones you want me to elaborate on.

1. “The Art of Complaining for Fun and Profit”

2. “There’s Only One Correct Way to Wash Dishes”

3. “Don’t Try to Tell Your Wife She Doesn’t Know How to Wash Dishes”

4.  “Waste Management: 6 Different Garbage Bags to Freedom”

5. “Sweep it up Now, or Pull it Out of the Baby’s Mouth Later”

Now, just in case there’s nothing on this list that piques your interest, you may also post a comment about: how I inspire you to do great things, or how I inspire you to do fewer bad things, or how much you miss Mrs. Blister. You may also ask me a question and I will twist your words and make fun of you strive to answer it.





Back by Popular Demand

8 12 2008

Good morning Dear Reader, my name is Mr. Blister and I will be your substitute blogger.

 

Most of you (hopefully) are wondering, “What happened to the saintly narrator of life in the Blisterdome, the irrepressible Mrs. Blister?” Well, she’s a little repressed. Which isn’t the same as depressed, mind you. Oh no. She is currently being repressed by teeth. Stupid, useless teeth. Between her easy-breezy root canal which resulted in 3 days (and counting) of facial throbbing and Squiggles’ front top teeth threatening to burst forth from her gums which resulted in 6 days (and counting) of near sleeplessness for Squiggles and her walking, talking soother Mrs. Blister, the torch of attempted humour has been passed humourlessly into my shaking, sweaty hands. 

I know, I know. This blog isn’t all about trying to make funnies about our life and times. Mrs. Blister has set a high standard not only for levity, but poignancy. Plus, she makes us laugh and cry.

In any event, I think I’ll take what time I have with you Dear Reader, to impart some of the valuable knowledge I have gleaned from my harrowing adventures as a homemaker. 

Most of you (probably) are wondering “But Mr. Blister, didn’t you already know everything before you switched from bread winner to bread baker?” Well, I thought so too! Turns out there were a few aspects of life I hadn’t quite mastered…

Needless to say, after 6 months on the job, I am now a qualified expert on everything domestic.

So, Dear Reader, feel free to make notes, pass my ideas off as your own to impress your friends, and don’t forget to comment on every one of my posts or else my extremely fragile ego will be hollowed out with a drill and filled with rubber cement…figuratively speaking of course.





Another year wiser

20 11 2008

Yesterday, I celebrated my birthday. I won’t say which birthday, since I’ve been craftily running a misinformation campaign on that for, oh, about 20 years now. The first ten years consisted of adding a few years to the real number, but in recent years, I’ve adopted a slightly different strategy. You may hear the number “32”  bandied about by such unreliable sources as my mother, whose memory is clearly failing, my husband ,who is in obvious denial about his cradle-robberdom, and my children, who are foul mouthed little liars. Anyway, my age is irrelevant. What really matters is that I’ve had some memorable birthdays, and when I reflect back on them, many have taught me a valuable lesson that I carry with me to this day. Here is a brief retrospective of birthdays-gone-by, and some of the wisdom I’ve extracted from my 18-35 odd years on this planet:

The Beginning: The day I was born, I was already 3 weeks late. My mother’s due date was Halloween. When labour induction failed and my mother and I started showing signs of distress, somebody finally realized that something was wrong. Damn placenta was blocking my exit. I was yanked out via an emergency c-section just in the nick of time. From my mother’s regular re-telling of the harrowing story of my birth and her grueling recovery, I learned two very important things: First, that I am a very, very lucky individual. And second, that a great deal of guilt can be leveraged once your child realizes that you almost died giving birth to them.

My 4th Birthday: A massive snow storm. A storm so bad that no one could make it to my party. I proclaimed that to be “The Worst Birthday Ever.” The lesson? You can’t control the weather, not even on your birthday. But you can control your definition of worst.

My 6th Birthday: My first party with my new school friends. Dozens of them. My new best friend gave me a Strawberry Shortcake doll but after all the gifts were opened, decided that she wanted to keep the cute little scented Custard the cat figurine that came with it. When her mom came to pick her up, I watched tearfully as she walked out the door with a party loot bag and the best part of a present that was supposed to be for me. That taught me that sometimes your friends do things that piss you off, but they are still your friends. She gave my Custard the cat back. Eventually.

My 16th Birthday: My then-boyfriend, a 6 foot 3, 115 pound 18 year old with a black studded leather jacket and a mega-mullet, whom I had proclaimed “The Best Boyfriend Ever”, got caught cheating on me with his ex. The lesson I gleaned was that I could not control what other people did. Not even on my birthday. But I could control my definition of the word best.

My 17th Birthday: A misunderstanding morphed into an argument with a girl I thought was my friend. She chased me out of the mall and threatened to beat me with a baseball bat. Which showed me that sometimes your friends do things that frighten the hell out of you, and those people are not really your friends at all.

My 19th Birthday: I did not set foot in a bar or a liquor store until the day I turned 19 because I was terrified of getting ID’d. On my 19th birthday, identification in hand, I did both. And no one asked me to prove how old I was. On one hand, I kicked myself. On the other hand, I was glad I never had to do the ol’ “Oh I forgot my I.D, I’ll be right back” underage booze-buyer dash. The lesson? Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry. And I am younger than I look.

My 21st Birthday: Well, not technically on the day of my birth, but that year, my birthday provided the excuse my friends and I needed to party recklessly for an entire week. On day three of my birthday bender, I met a guy. Six feet tall, on the skinny side, twinkling green eyes, and a black Motorolla pager. I consumed an ample amount of liquid courage, introduced myself to him, and told my friends that very night that I was going to marry that guy some day. And I did. From that I learned that sometimes it pays to take a chance. And I am smarter than I look.

My 30th Birthday: My sweet Mr. threw me a fantastic party. I was surrounded by amazing people, and surprised by the poetic abilities of my friends, who all wrote poems to commemorate the occasion. We stuffed ourselves with every flavour martini under the sun, and stuffed the kids with a heinous amount of Little Mermaid birthday cake. I woke up at 3 am with a bad case of martini-induced barfies. Roo woke up at 3:15 am with a bad case of blue-icing induced barfies, and I spent the rest of the night ignoring my own rolling stomach and pounding head to tend to my sick child. That birthday taught me to expect the unexpected. And to always keep a barfie bowl or two handy.

My 31st Birthday: Enormously pregnant with baby Squiggles, I was lucky I could walk, let alone celebrate. Eating gave me heartburn. Laughing made me pee in my pants. Sleep was a figment of my hormone-addled imagination. Desperate to get that baby on the move, I drank some castor oil. The only thing that moved was the take-out chinese food I had for my birthday dinner. I learned, yet again, how little control I have over the world. How there are some things that just can not be rushed. And how to engrave  guilt-inducing details into my mind. Details that will later be used to make my kids realize how wonderful I am because of what I went through to bring them into the world.

Now, I hold all of these little lessons in my heart and mind. Looking around at my family, my friends, my life, I know I am extraordinarily lucky, and I try to appreciate each day for what it is because tomorrow is promised to no one. The snow swirling to the ground, and the atrocities swirling through the news don’t rattle me because I know I can’t control anything beyond my own perspective. I have no time for the bullshit of people who are decitful or mean, and I have all the time in the world for the people I love. I take chances only when I know what I’m risking and what I stand to gain. Otherwise I play it safe, take my time, and make the best of what I’ve got.  And last night, as I celebrated with family and friends and food and drink, I listened to the smart little voice inside that said “Go easy on the appletinis, and take the barfie bowl upstairs and leave it on Neener’s bed.” If my age-related misinformation campaign is successful, I may not be getting any older. But I am getting wiser. At least, that’s how I felt at 3 a.m. when I awoke to the words “Mommy, I need to barf.”





Halloweenies

2 11 2008

The first knock on the door came at about 6:15, in the midst of our getting-ready extravaganza. To say we were excited might be an understatement: we were downright giddy. These were our first trick-or-treaters. Ever. See, up until this year, we lived in an apartment. Above a store. On a super busy street. In Toronto. If anyone had knocked on our door on Halloween night, we would have assumed it was a disoriented crackhead, and ignored it. Or possibly called the cops. No one in their right mind would knock on that door on Halloween night. But here in our cozy little duplex in our cozy little neighbourhood in this cozy little city, we knew we’d have costumed kiddies knocking on our door on Halloween night. My sweet Mr. went to the door, bowl of treats in hand. A couple of fairy princesses and a witch? A fluffy maned lion toddling alongside his big brother, Batman? The terrifying trio of Dracula, a werewolf and Frankenstein? How about two pre-teen boys with gigantic treat bags and no costumes. And they just stood there on our step in their hoodies, sneakers and ridiculously baggy pants, talking about Nintendo games and waiting for Mr. to give them some junk. Apparently, they were dressed up as adolescent jerks. Mr. informed them that if they could not be bothered with costumes, the least they could do was say the magic words. They mumbled ‘trick-or-treat’, got a chocolate bar, and left without so much as a  thank-you.

But the grand disappointment of our first ever trick-or-treaters did nothing to dull the excitement in our house. When Neener and Roo realized that Halloween was really happening, they went ballistic. There are few sights more entertaining than seeing a tiger and a funky punky fairy princess pouncing and prancing and practically vibrating at the thought of knocking on doors and getting free candy. Except, perhaps, the sight of  a thirty-one year old punk pixie queen, pouting and preening and practically vibrating at the thought of teasing her hair like it’s 1989 and wearing enough make-up to choke a rhino. Far more glamorous than the enormously pregnant, orange garbage-bag pumpkin I dressed up as last year. At 6:30, Neener, Roo and I, along with my brother (who insisted on escorting us just in case any hooligans tried to steal our candy) and his girlfriend (who adores my kids as much as they adore her) left Mr. and Squiggles to handle what would surely be a barrage of creatively costumed pre-teen candy beggars, and we hit the streets.

After the first house, I had to lay down a rule: say trick or treat, but don’t scream it at the top of your lungs. Roo. At house number two I had to lay down a second rule: You’re not allowed to say “Excuse me, I don’t like chips. Do you have anything else?” six times in a row, at progressively greater volume and intensity, to little old deaf ladies who are only giving out chips. Neener. But, I did not have to repeat the one from last year that made me feel like a broken record because I had to say it at every single house we went to: don’t push past the person at the door and waltz right into their living room. Roo. And don’t ask if you can come in and see what the rest of their house looks like. Neener. We merrily traipsed up and down a couple of streets, and it was not long before the bags were too heavy for the kids to carry without tripping over sidewalks or falling downstairs. My brother graciously offered to help by both carrying the bags, and inhaling a few bags of chips to lighten the load. After about 45 minutes, Neener announced that she had enough candy and wanted to go home. No sooner were the words out of her mouth when my phone rang. It was Mr. He was out of candy, and wanted to know when we would be home. So, we made our way back to our house, making a few more stops along the way to bolster the treat supply. Less than an hour from the time we left, we were dumping treat bags out onto the table and sorting through an indecent amount of junkfood. We promptly removed all the bad stuff – tootsie rolls, lollipops, and anything that looked like it might have the melamine-y goodness of dollarstore candy – and put them in our bowl to pawn off on the next batch of shoddily costumed punk-assed pre-teens who knocked on our door. Then, we declared it All You Can Stomach Halloween Junk Food Extravaganza for the next 30 minutes. The tiger tore into the Smarties. The funky punky fairy princess hit the gummy candies. Mr. Blister, my bro and his girlfriend inhaled some more chips. And the punk pixie queen mixed herself a drink to wash down the Wunderbars. A body-polluting good time was had by all.