Posted by: Hannah | 09/13/2016

Mad Max: Fury Road

I have a cat. A fluffy fuzzy insouciant beast who likes to fancy himself a street thug when he’s not curled up on soft blankets in the house. A long-haired squeaky-voiced sharp-clawed tiny tiger who isn’t above sneaking into the nap room so he can cuddle with sleeping toddlers.

He’s everything people love – and hate – about cats. Yes, he sleeps curled up on my feet like a weaponized hot water bottle, but he also cries piteously when he’s eaten a hole in the middle of his otherwise full food fish because OMG CAN SEE THE BOWL THAT MEANS I WILL STARVE IT IS THE END TIMES.

He’s also a murderer.

Now, spare me your lectures please about outdoor cats and songbirds. His kill ratio is easily 20:1 rodents to birds. Maybe even higher. I live next door to a restaurant. He’s welcome to eliminate as many rats, mice, and the like as he can catch. I’m fine with that, although I do wish he’d stop bringing me his leftovers after he’s eaten the choicest morsels (apparently brains and entrails are delicious, while noses, whiskers, feet and tails are garbage).

He’s especially vicious in the summer months, and before I take the kids outside to play on the deck I always take a quick peek to make sure there isn’t a biology lesson next to the Cozy Coupe.

The other day, I forgot. I sent George and Charlie out to the backyard and was pouring myself a cup of tea to take out with me. I heard them clattering down the steps to the yard, and then George started to yell.

“Stop, Charlie! Don’t go there! Don’t touch it! I have to tell Mom!… MOOOOOM!! Mom! WE HAVE A LARGE CORPSE PROBLEM OUT HERE!”

I looked wistfully at my perfect cup of tea and grabbed a paper towel. I figured it would be another mouse. Maybe a vole.

I had not figured on a full-grown hare.

lepus_americanus_5459_cropped

Cute, isn’t he? Let me tell you, when his ears are lying neatly on the ground next to him and half of his face is missing, he’s not so adorable. It was so gross. Most of it was intact, but I stared at it in horror for a few seconds before turning my attention to my pitiful single square of paper towel, realization dawning that I, like Quint, was gonna need a bigger boat.

I sternly admonished George and Charlie to stay well back. I ran into the house and wondered, not for the first time, why I don’t seem to own rubber gloves. I grabbed two grocery bags and hustled back outside.

The boys were surprisingly unfazed by Thumper’s demise. I guess, being pampered children of the post-2010 era, that they’ve never been traumatized by a viewing of Bambi. They were leaning over the stair railing to get a better look, and talking in animated tones about all the blood, and the bones all sticking out, and whether Max had broken its neck first or just bitten it until it DIED, like a zombie.

Small children are all sociopaths, I’m convinced.

I pulled one grocery bag over my hand and opened the other one. I looked around just in case there was an adult nearby who could handle it for me. There was not. I took a deep breath and waded in. I picked up the ears first, and tossed them in the bag. (Those are the EARS, I guess Max doesn’t like to eat those from behind me). I gritted my teeth, grabbed the poor thing’s hind legs, and managed to stuff it in the grocery bag. I carried it to the large green bin, held out in front of me as far as my short arms would reach in exactly the way you would carry a headless fucking rabbit in a plastic bag, and upended it while looking in the other direction.

It was an eventful few minutes, is what I’m saying.

Listening to Charlie and George tell all the parent clients about our Exciting Adventure was something else, too. They were all kind of horrified that there had been a dead rabbit in the yard. They were all impressed at Max’s hunting prowess – he’s not that big, and this was a full-grown hare. They all had the same look of disquiet as the preschoolers shared all the gory details of what they’d seen.

That night, as I was drifting off to sleep, Max jumped up on the bed like always. I had a stern chat with him about not murdering bunnies, when there are so many other gross nasty disease-carrying alternatives to satisfy his bloodlust. He blinked at me, flexed his claws just enough to hurt my feet a little bit, and basically said he’d do what he liked, thanks.

So there you have it. If I ever get another cat, I’ll be keeping her indoors right from the get-go. I’m getting too old and squeamish to deal with disposing of the bodies after my in-house serial killer goes on a spree.

 

Posted by: Hannah | 09/06/2016

course correction

I’ve forgotten how to write, on my long blog pause. It’s been a busy summer, and even now I should really be cleaning the house instead of noodling around on the computer, but it’s approximately 10000000% humidity and all I can do is sit here in an oversized t-shirt, trying not to move too much and feeling like I’m breathing through a sponge.

We had lovely crisp fallish weather for the long weekend, so this return to Satan’s Unwashed Armpit feels especially unfair.

The kids are still not back in school. One more day at home, and we’ve basically agreed to retreat to our corners until it’s over. As long as they aren’t trashing the house too badly, I’m not forcing them to hang around in the dayhome. We did so many activities this summer that I honestly don’t feel like I’m failing for not continuing to enrich their every moment right up until they climb aboard the bus on Thursday.

I know that come the first week of June I’ll be craving the end of the school grind again, but for now I’m just needing to get back to my routine. Between a very busy summer in the dayhome, Harry’s baseball, actually having a social life outside of the computer… well, all of that was interesting, but it means that my house is really in what my Nanny would have called “a state”. Winter is so long, and dark, and summer is so short, that I just couldn’t make myself stay in and wash the floors when the sun was shining.

Not only that, but the compliment in the dayhome has changed a lot since school let out. Daisy aged out and I added two kids under two, so now I have my own three boys (11, 8, and 4.5); a 3 year old boy, a 2 year old girl & a 20 month old boy who split one space between them, and a 14 month old boy. I am always busy. There is no downtime anymore, and my couple of peaceful hours every afternoon have gone right out the window. It’s fine, and with Daisy’s mom no longer causing me rage or sadness on a weekly basis I enjoy my job more than I have in a long time, but it does mean that I’m once again needing to recalibrate.

Harry’s baseball season only wrapped up on Saturday night. His team played in the U11 Provincial Championships and acquitted themselves well… after a regular season record of 4 – 14, they fought hard and lost three close games. It was a tough season, and there were a lot of issues with the parents & coaches that made it even tougher for us as a family, but we are both so proud of how Harry handled himself. He kept his chin up. He did whatever was asked of him. His whole approach to the game improved by leaps & bounds, and even though the coaches didn’t seem to recognize it, we saw it, and we couldn’t be more pleased. This winter he’ll be doing a skills clinic every Sunday, and next summer we’ll be moving him to a different league in town, with more kids and (we hope) fewer politics.

As for me… well. I got out and did more things this summer than I have in years. After a long dark time of depression and anxiety ruling my life, I am slowly coming back to myself. I’ve really been pushing myself to say yes to things, instead of no. It’s having an effect. I still have my bad days – like when I have a complete sobbing door-slamming meltdown because I can’t find a dress to wear to a wedding – but then I have good days too, like when I ask for help, find a dress, and then go to a wedding full of strangers BY MYSELF. I still sometimes need to huddle on the couch and not be touched or talked to, but the days of bitter despair are fewer all the time, and when I do have a spiral downwards I recognize it for what it is and am able to claw my way back up.

Talk to me in February, but right now, I’m OK – even if my house is kind of a mess.

(I just went looking for a messy house image to insert here, and I take it all back. My house is not that bad at all, as it turns out. Some people should just burn the freaking thing down and start again).

 

 

 

Posted by: Hannah | 06/07/2016

i am Lisa Simpson

In case you don’t know me in real life, this is a pretty accurate representation:

 

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t crave approval. I live for hearing “good job!” or “nicely done!” or the ever-elusive “perfect! I wouldn’t change a thing!”

It’s actually really hard to need that external validation all the time. I’m so paralyzed at the thought of not doing something right that it can be really difficult for me to complete necessary tasks. This has been a challenge since I was a young child; I still remember being almost two weeks late handing in a book report, because I was so daunted by my desire to get a perfect mark that I couldn’t start the work. (When I finally did hand it in, the teacher wrote “99%” at the top, crossed it out in red, and wrote “-15% for lateness”. I’m sure she thought it would be motivating. Instead, 30 years later, I’m still upset about it.)

Now I’m 38 years old, I have a university degree, and I’m literate, numerate, and I still cling to the Oxford comma with both hands.

And I am always waiting for An Authority Figure to grade my work.

Which brings me to today, and the passport office.

We are taking the boys to Orlando this winter. We’re going to Disney World and Universal Studios (for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, natch). It’s a bigger, crazier, more over-the-top trip than we’ve ever done with them, and I’m equal parts excited and terrified. Even though we aren’t leaving for more than six months, I’m already in full-on preparation & planning mode, as if there will be An Authority Figure with a Checklist standing at the gates to the Magic Kingdom and dispensing rewards for people who planned better than everyone else.

None of us has traveled outside the country in years. The last time was spring of 2011, when Michael went to Vegas for a long weekend. Every other trip has been between here and Toronto, usually by car. We haven’t needed passports, and so we haven’t bothered to get them. I haven’t had one since 2007, and I’ve never had one in my married name. Any time we mused about getting them – usually so we could think about taking the route through the US to drive to Ontario – we figured out the price tag and agreed it wasn’t necessary.

All of this meant that two months ago, I went to the post office and picked up five passport applications.

I brought them home and moved them from place to place in my kitchen for at least a week (might have been more like two). I worried about something getting spilled on them. I fretted about what was inside those bland envelopes. Every few days Michael said “we should apply for those passports” and I’d blow him off, because how do you explain sure, application forms are right over there, at least I assume what’s in the envelopes, I’m too scared to look.

Finally one night I got up the courage. I got two new pens. I made a cup of tea. I sat down at the dining room table, took a few deep breaths, and opened one of the envelopes.

First up: birth certificates. I had mine of course, and Michael’s. We had Harry’s long form certificate. We had a short form for Ron, and nothing for George. (Third children always get shafted). I grumbled, opened up my computer, and started the process of ordering George’s from Vital Statistics. As I waited for the page to load, I looked again at the birth certificate requirements… and realized I needed to order a long form for Ron, too. The short form only has the child’s registration number, date of birth, and full name – not the names of the parents. More grumbling. I placed the order for two birth certificates, only having a mild panic as soon as I clicked “submit” when I became convinced that I’d somehow gotten George’s birth year wrong.

The screen told me it would take ten business days to process my order, so the kids’ applications ground to a halt.

OK. Fine. Swallowed another mouthful of tea, moved on to the adult applications. Miraculously, I had everything for Michael’s. Things were looking up! I started mine, and realized I needed our marriage certificate. Not the fancy piece of paper they give you at the ceremony, which is apparently just for show and not a legally-binding document. No, I needed to order the official certificate from… guess where… Vital Statistics.

Much grumbling and cursing, 45 minutes, and $120 later, I had nothing to show for my efforts but a thumping headache. I called it quits for the night.

It was a full three weeks later when the certificates finally arrived.

There followed another week or so of ignoring the applications before it finally got silly. Our preferred guarantor, my sister (who wishes to be called “Hermione” on the blog, so there you go – she’s Hermione now) is leaving the country for three months – we HAD to get it done. It was getting embarrassing.

This weekend we finally filled them out. I was a wreck. I double-checked everybody’s phone numbers. I talked to myself. I printed in neat block capitals. When I accidentally missed a digit in George’s birth certificate registration number, I freaked out until I realized I’d left enough space to squeeze it in. I sweated and cursed and yelled and reminded myself to weigh and measure the children.

Then Hermione came to fill out her part, and since she’s just like me she did all the same things. Block caps. Muttering. Pausing after minor mistakes (“I wrote a lowercase ‘e’! NOOOOO!”) to take some deep breaths. I spent that half hour obsessively examining the passport photos and wondering if they’d get rejected because Harry looks like a juvenile delinquent.

This morning we gathered everything up and went to the passport office. I had to parallel park. I am not good at parallel parking. I did it – not perfectly, though, Michael had to fix it after we had a meter. Then when we were walking toward the building, there was no exterior signage indicating “Passport Office”, so I had a momentary panic about that. While sitting in the waiting area, I noticed a measuring tape fastened to the wall. OH MY GOD I FORGOT TO WEIGH AND MEASURE THE KIDS WHAT THE FUCK WHY DID I FORGET THAT FUUUUUUUUUUUCK. Michael looked at me, perplexed, and said “can’t you just estimate? They’re all going to be taller and heavier by the time we travel, anyway.”

Damn reasonable husbands.

We got to the counter in due time and I handed everything over. My hands were shaking. I apologized for bringing five applications at once. I said “please tell me if I’ve forgotten anything” and “are the pictures OK?” and “I can’t believe I forgot to sign that spot, I’m so sorry!”

Bless his patient heart, the passport clerk either has anxiety himself or is close to someone who does, because he was absolutely lovely. He put me at ease. He praised how neatly and correctly I’ll filled everything out. He thanked me for having all the correct supporting documentation. He practically gave me a gold star, and it sounds very silly, I suppose, but he took something that was a scary thing I was dreading and turned it into a victory for me. The passports will be in the mail no later than June 21st, and I was fairly skipping when we left.

Now, to just spend two weeks worrying that Canada Post will lose the passports!

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