To top
17 Sep

We Don’t Need Another Hero, And Certainly Not One Who Cries All The Time

Here’s my worry about going to Africa to see the Born HIV Free project in action: that I’m going to start crying the moment that I arrive, and just not stop. And that I am then going to feel guilty about crying, and that I’ll then cry about that.

I fly to Lesotho on Saturday. I was supposed to go to Napa Valley, first, to hang out with some lovely women and discuss things like life lists and dreams and pixie dust and to drink wine and be light-hearted, and for some reason, some ironic reason or some absurd reason, that – that beautiful little oasis of self-indulgence – was grounding me, was helping me keep my emotional wits about me. I don’t know why, exactly. Maybe because they are opposing poles on the same fuzzy dreamscape, whereupon I live a life in which I get to do things like spend weekends in Napa and also go and support humanitarian projects in Africa and I wanted to see them reconciled.  Because these things, these actually very real things, are, however different, nonetheless connected, inasmuch as they both have everything to do with this, this thing that I do here, on this page that you are reading.

But things changed, and I’m not going to Napa Valley first, and it hit me this afternoon as I was pushing aside the pretty dresses in my closet to see what clothes might be appropriate for visiting orphanages in Lesotho – what does one wear to visit hospitals and orphanages in Lesotho? – that I had really been relying upon the whole idea of Napa Valley – the Mighty Summit – as a buffer against the soul-rattling hugeness of the journey to Africa. Or maybe not a buffer – a transitional zone.

27 Aug

Buffy Only Fought Vampires

I like to think that I’m the sort of person who doesn’t take things for granted. I know how fortunate I am to have the life that I have; I know, too, that the terms and conditions of that life include no guarantees against frustration and sadness and pain and loss. I know, even the most difficult moments, that I have much to be grateful for, that I lead a life that is, for the most part, what the old philosophers might have called choiceworthy. I know that it is choice, largely, that defines my fortune and privilege: I am fortunate enough and privileged enough to be able to choose, to some not insignificant degree, my path and all of its little detours, to choose my pace and my direction, to choose to linger over or to pass by the myriad distractions of life, to gaze into the gloom or to seek out the sunlight. I am lucky, I know this.

It is also a characteristic of this good fortune, this privilege, that I am vulnerable to frustration and sadness (and, possibly, to depression; I’ll reflect upon this further someday) when I am forced to confront my limitations, when I look down this path or the other and see no way around a certain obstacle – some figurative bog or rock or troll-ridden bridge – and have to stop, give up, go a different way. That’s the very definition of privilege, I think – the luxury of getting pissy about being thwarted. Not that those who are less privilege don’t get frustrated at the obstacles that they are forced to confront – it’s just that, I think, the fortunate are more likely to put their hands on their hips and stamp their feet and say that shouldn’t be there, how dare that be there? and collapse to the ground in a resentful huff.

Or something like that.

12 Aug

We Are The World

When all was finally said and done, it wasn’t appearing on CNN in a tutu – nor appearing on CBC in a tutu, or posing in Central Park in a tutu, or watching as a limo slowed down on Fifth Avenue and the passenger leaned out the window and hollered – at me – hey, I saw you on TV in that tutu! – that stood out as the most memorable moment of my week last week. Which, when you think about it, is memorable in itself: I had a week in which I appeared on CNN in a tutu and that particular experience will not be recounted here because, during that particular week, stranger things happened.

Stranger things, like the prayer circle.

3 Aug

Black Flies And Dryer Lint And Dragons, Oh My

It took me a while to figure why I was crying, why I kept bursting into tears at silly, random things, like an excess of dryer lint, or a dearth of toilet paper. I had just figured it to be hormones, or a passing mood, you know, the kind that you fall into when you’ve gone too many nights with too little sleep and then you open the cupboard and there’s not enough coffee for a full pot and you slump against the counter and you cry.

It wasn’t that. I wasn’t crying about coffee.

20 Jul

Things That Are Not Radical Acts

her bad superheroI had it in mind that I was going to write about it, that thing that happened last week , that thing that was really just so horrible and awful and unpleasant – in a First World Problems! kind of way, sure, but still – that thing that left me feeling so rattled and uncertain and bad. I was going to write about how it all happened – what was said and how I cried and what more was said and how much more I cried and then how I sat, alone, in a room with no clocks, my passport seized, and freaked the hell out – and about how I wondered what it said about the State of the Momosphere in North America circa 2010 that someone could be stopped and interrogated for claiming to be a ‘mom blogger’ – not even mommy blogger! I only said mom! and blogger! – (because I am so not exaggerating when I say that I spent all that time defending the fact that I make a living writing about motherhood and that I often go to conferences – yes, even at places like Yahoo! – to discuss doing so and they reviewed my blog right there and demanded that I explain to them what the hell it was and how it earned me money and I sniffled and gurgled and mumbled stuff about ad networks and marketing and GM Canada and it was only when I pointed to a post that thanked GM Canada for sponsoring an adventure and then another one that they finally relented and let me go) (which, thanks GM!) – and! or! — DEEP BREATH — whether it even meant anything at all, and how maybe this has nothing at all to do with mommyblogging being a radical act and more to do with how there happens to be random Internet-ignorant doofuses (doofii?) working at Homeland Security! Or something! So!

I was going to write something about all that. But now I’m not.

7 Jul

A Hysterical Pregnancy Is A Wish That A Desperate Uterus Makes

Last week, in a fit of confusion and something that tasted a little bit like desperation salted with hope, I wrote what follows. I didn’t publish it, of course, because even though I tend to be pretty confessional in this space, I am, at the end of the day, loathe to post anything that makes me look insane, or idiotic, or both:

I am convinced that I am pregnant. The thing is, I can’t possibly be pregnant. You see how this could be confusing.

I can’t be pregnant because my husband had a vasectomy. Sure, there have been cases where vasectomies have failed, but those are extremely rare. So rare, that when you google ‘vasectomy failure rates’ you come across eleventeen thousand variations on jokes with the punchline vasectomy failure — or did the postman ring twice, *nudge-nudge-wink-wink*?? Also, I’m old, at least within the context of fertility. Late maternal age and all that. Which is one of the reasons why we had the vasectomy, which involves snippage of the internal man parts, which is why it’s a pretty good bet, contraception-wise. So I can’t be pregnant.

But that’s not stopping me from feeling like I am.

5 May

Songs Of Innocence And Experience, Redux

This – the post below – is something that I wrote a few years ago, when I was still in the first joyous and anxious flush of new motherhood. It’s one of my very favourite posts, although one that has gotten buried in the sands of WordPress, and time. It’s also a post that I’ve been thinking about a lot, not least because of my sister’s ongoing struggle with the prospect of saying goodbye to her son (a struggle that extends to all of us), but also because of my father’s passing, and my keen awareness, in the long process of letting him go, of how difficult he found it to let me and my sister (and, in a completely different context, my mother) go, of how difficult he found it to let anything go. And then, last night, I saw a film (about which I will write more at length, once I can do so without crying) that touched all these nerves, and more, and reminded me that what I thought was a unique experience of motherhood is, in fact, an experience of parenthood, one that fathers share no less for being fathers. And that, perhaps, it is an experience of love generally – of the necessity of giving love air to breathe, of the inextricability of loss from love, of the impossibility of holding on to those we love too tightly – of the undesirability of holding on too tightly – of the inevitability of goodbye. So I am revisiting it here. I am not sure, yet, what I have learned from revisiting it. Other than, maybe, that I need to meditate more upon the cruelty and beauty and necessity of letting go.


One of the most difficult things about pregnancy, for me, was that it forced me to confront myself as a biological creature. It forced me to experience myself as a body, as a being put entirely into the service of nature. My every wakeful – and not so wakeful – moment was spent in a state of hyper-consciousness about my physicality: I was nurturing a life, and that life depended upon my physical being, and no force of intellect or imagination could alter or facilitate or intercede in that dependency. And as a person who had spent all of her conscious years in her head – and someone who was well-trained in a school of philosophical thought that emphasizes the absolute primacy of mind over body, reason over appetite and base sense – this was very, very hard for me.

So I was anxious – anxious beyond measure – about birth and new motherhood, which I perceived as a broadening and deepening of this experience. I didn’t fear it, exactly: I wanted the experience. Every fibre of my physical being strained toward this experience, and demanded that my mind follow – this, in itself, was disconcerting. The thing of it was, rather, that I doubted my ability to stay the course: how would I ever, ever find my way through this dense thicket, this overwhelming jungle, without maps, without books, without the compass of my intellect? How would I survive, if I had only the thrum of my senses to guide me?

30 Apr

I Shaved My Legs For This

So I spent yesterday being a grown up, which is not to say that I am not a grown up every day, just that I usually don’t feel like one until I put on a bra and clothing that is not made of lycra/spandex and venture out into the world without a diaper bag to talk to other real live grown ups about things not related to the relative merits of Dora versus Angelina Ballerina, the difficulty of finding good babysitters, and the high cost of yoga pants these days. Which is not to say that those aren’t, in certain very important respects, grown-up subjects, but, also, they’re not.