Archive for the ‘travel’ Category


Frog

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It’s hard to write about feeling like a fraud.

(Freudian slip: I originally dictated “frog” up there instead of “fraud,” like I’m just sitting around, waiting to be kissed and recognized for what I truly am: a goddam prince. Maybe that’s a start.)

Frog, prince, frog, prince, frog … my voice-dictation software insists upon capitalizing “prince,” as though I must be writing about The Artist Formerly Known As and not some generic fairytale character/metaphor. Maybe I should take that as a sign as well. My computer, at least, thinks that I’m a sexy mofo.

But, frog. Fraud. Because I am struggling with a healthy case of imposter syndrome. And — especially because it involves writing, and blogging — I’m thinking that the best way to begin to move through is to write and blog about it.

I’m on a panel at the 2014 Mom 2.0 Summit. The panel, loosely, is on issue-based blogging and being a “true agent of change.” Which, at first glance, makes me feel like a deer caught in the headlights: what are my issues? What, really, have I changed? Is there any “truth” to my “agency”?

And then there are my co-panelists. My co-panelists are people who have worked directly with Hillary Clinton. They are people who have had Jeopardy questions written about their blogs. They are people who lobby Congress and speak to senators and found nonprofits. They are people with millions of readers and Facebook fans and Twitter followers.

And they are on a panel with me.

And yesterday morning, I got off a teleconference call with all of them as we plan for our panel, and they are all lovely, lovely women. And I’ve been to their blogs, and many of them write candidly and openly about their own vulnerabilities: their anxieties, their depression, their fraudulent feelings.

And yet my immediate response was still: Aren’t they all wondering why I’m on a panel with them?

Because I don’t feel like an agent of change. I don’t feel like a known voice in the blogosphere. I feel like I have some piddly little site with its few hundred Facebook fans and I haven’t cracked 1000 Twitter followers and barely anyone comments and so yes I put out a book but that was nearly five years ago and then I decided to stop writing my novel and how can someone as insignificant as me pretend to be a true agent of change?

And on what issue? Being a queer parent? This, too, feels fraudulent: I don’t queer parent all day; I parent. (And I barely parent all day —what with school and day care and working, sometimes it feels like I barely see my children.) And it’s hard to give myself credit for being an agent of change for something that I just do every day because the kids, well, they won’t parent themselves, now, will they? In any case, I write about so many other things — writing, cooking, my mom my mom my mom. Just being who I am, while a laudable goal, doesn’t really seem worthy of being set up as “an agent.”

God, sometimes I feel so Canadian.

I struggle with this sometimes. Usually I comfort myself by focusing on the quality of the writing. I’m here, I tell myself, because I’m a writer and this is my online notebook. I’m not here to make friends and cultivate fans — although it’s nice if and when that happens — but rather because what I need more than anything is a regular writing practice. I’m here primarily to hone this craft, to keep in shape, and only secondarily to win friends or influence people.

(Of course, that stance is also a convenient fallback when one doesn’t  I don’t win friends or influence people to the extent that one I might wish to. And as much as I don’t want to fetishize numbers and “likes” or prioritize them ahead of craft, there’s the uncomfortable possibility that — as cockily confident as I am about the quality of my own writing — I’m doing something wrong, or that I could be doing things differently or better and gaining the recognition that I truly merit deserve other people have.

You see how this is a slippery slope.)

So I got off the conference call and I lay across my bed with my forearm covering my eyes and I told all of this to Rachel, who nodded said: “Small-scale cultural work is still real, and important for social change.”

And I texted Vikki, who said, “You are there [on that panel ] for a reason. Also because you’re queer. You have a voice and create change in your own way. Remember — we still live in a time when it is radical to be out and visible as parents. It doesn’t always feel that way to us because we are desensitized to it all but to others we appear radical and brave and are a visible representation for others. We push the dialogue about families forward!”

(And she also said, in a related discussion about WTF to wear to the conference, “You have nice cleavage and know how to use it.”)

And then I updated my “About” page and added in a bunch of stuff that I actually have achieved. It’s not so shabby.

And then the May issue of Today’s Parent arrived in the mail, with this in it:

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And then I thought about all the blogs that I read and don’t comment on, and the comments and private messages I’ve received over the years, thanking me for putting my voice out there, whether it’s about grief, or parenting, or queer parenting, or something else altogether. And I thought about the way that this blog has been an online portal to some fantastic friendships and opportunities.

And you know? It helped. But I won’t pretend to be over my imposter syndrome. What I will do is continue to process it, and figure out a way to talk about it as honestly and openly as I can without trying to hide behind false modesty or exaggerated expressions of inadequacy. Or, for that matter, adequacy. (Can one exaggerate their own adequacy? That sounds super-Canadian, too: “She has an exaggerated sense of her own adequacy.”)

(God, I love words.)

So: today I am a frog. And maybe, also a Prince/prince. And holding both of those things in the same hand requires believing in two simultaneous, if somewhat contradictory, truths:

First, the only person has any real power to transform me from one to the other is me.

And second: sometimes, I yearn to be kissed.


Home/cooking

My youngest cousin, Stephanie, got married this past weekend. My mother and her two siblings had, between them, seven children, and Steph’s was the last wedding of our generation. Rachel and I travelled to Winnipeg —no kids! Three nights in our very own hotel room! But that’s not what this post is about, lovely as our getaway was! — to join the rest of my family for what felt to me like the last hurrah, at least until all the bar and bat mitzvahs begin. In April.

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And the wedding was lovely, but I’m not going to write about the wedding right now. Instead, I’m going to write about gathering at my aunt and uncle’s house for Friday-night dinner and for leftovers on the Monday morning after the wedding. And really, I can barely write about that because I can envision only pages and pages and paragraphs and paragraphs of beef brisket and kasha and braised chicken and eggplant salad and chopped liver and grilled vegetables and breaded fish for the kids (and grownups) and challah and carrot pudding and lox and brownies and two different kinds of pie and these strange cookies my mother used to make called kufels.  And Jeanne’s cake, which you have to have grown up with to love.

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(My cousin Jill saw me taking a photograph of the cake and said, “Are you going to blog about this?”)

And of course I’m not even writing about food, even though of course it was all divine. What I’m writing about is a certain kind of home. I’m writing about the flavours that have been steeped into me since childhood, but also about gathering around the same table, posing for the same photograph on the stairs, the familiarity of the cutlery (my aunt and my mom had so much of the same tableware, the same glasses, dishes), how I know where everything is in my aunt’s kitchen. I mentioned in passing that our Bodum had broken, and it was as though saying it made it so — the 1980s Dansk French press that had been sitting on the top shelf of a cupboard in my aunt’s kitchen found its way into my carry-on bag, along with matching cups.

Rachel and I exclaimed over the pie crust, and of course that led to a discussion of the fact that there are, obviously, a dozen or so pies in my aunt’s freezer — you see where you get this from now, don’t you? — and then of course you knew there was a pie in my bag as well for the flight home, along with a Ziploc baggie full of brisket. Anything else? Anything else?

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This is how I learned to cook. More precisely, this is how I learned the philosophy of cooking I have today: big meals, planned weeks in advance, made ahead and frozen and fussed over. And by cooking, I mean life, obviously. The dishes themselves change slightly over the years; the menus evolve. But the flavours are the same.

“You don’t”/ “I don’t  … get this very much anymore,” my Auntie Sheila, my mom’s sister, and I said to each other at the door, our words overlapping, no need to define this. We know. We both know.

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The Yoga Class Incident, Part II: Karma

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For those of you who missed it, here is a small recap of Part I: Approximately eight years ago, when Rowan was an infant and slept not a whit and I was therefore certifiably insane, I threatened our donor, Rob, with grievous bodily harm (well, in truth I threatened his computer, but we all know I really meant him). I threatened this bodily harm — and I maintain that no jury would convict me — after he showed up for a visit, witnessed me and Rachel in all of our sleep-deprived, postpartum sturm und drang, and then proceeded to spend approximately 900 hours on his computer researching the best possible yoga class in the city for HIS OWN SELF to attend, narrating out loud in front of me and Rachel the pros and cons of each studio as we paced back and forth covered in vomit and drool.

Part II — in which karma is a bitch — picks up over at LesFam today. Please go forth and read! Namaste.

photo credit: lululemon athletica via photopin cc


Shame and self-promotion

Self-promotion in the blogosphere is a tricky one.

I mean, a personal blog is pretty much by definition self-promotion: hey, look at me, writing a website all about me, with a side of me! You have to have, I suppose, a certain amount of healthy self-regard to put yourself out there to blog at all. Which I suppose I do. Still, I find myself a bit squeamish sometimes when it comes to calling attention to stuff I’ve published or participated in elsewhere. My brain explains gently to me that you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog unless you actually want to — it’s not as though Isaac is holding a Nerf gun to your head or anything (if only because we won’t buy him one). So I’m just going to go out there and suggest that maybe you might be interested in the following:

First, speaking of personal bloggers and self-promotion, I am going to the epicentre of that universe in a scant week and a half: yes, I’ll be at BlogHer 13 in Chicago, and I will be doing a Writing Lab panel with none other than the lovely and talented Deborah from Peaches and Coconuts. Our topic? Excellent question: it is, (ahem) “Finish That Manuscript!”

I proposed this panel way back when because she and I (and Vikki, who has since been diverted to a different panel to talk about storytelling TRAITOR) were both in the throes of completing manuscripts: her a memoir and me a novel (my voice-recognition software just heard “me a novel” as “mean and awful” and now I am trying not to think of that as Freudian). I thought that if we actually put it out there that we were doing a panel on the very subject, we might just finish our goddamn manuscripts. And … I have not. But I am close, so much closer than I was — more than two-thirds of the way through the third draft and it goes fairly quickly and maybe, just maybe, by the time I touch down at O’Hare Airport…. In any case, we’re not there to stand on high and talk about how we write a novel a year or anything. We’ll be there to brainstorm strategies for finishing with anyone who cares to join us at the Writing Lab on Friday, July 26 from 10:30 AM to noon, and again on Saturday the 27th, from 2:30 to 4 PM. Come!

Oh, and the also lovely and talented Mary Bowers (who has a laugh-out-loud funny essay in my anthology, natch) is doing a different Writing Lab panel on memoir. So you are set. SET.

Second, here’s my latest post at Today’sParent.com, in which I detail our first (yes, first: I will be camping again this summer) camping trip of the season, and what we brought back with us.

Finally, back in May, I went out to Los Angeles to do some work with the parenting website Kids in the House. We shot about a dozen videos on topics ranging from donor parents and queer relationships to sleep and keeping creative as a parent — and those videos, featuring me, are now up on the site.

I will freely admit that I hate watching myself on video. Or maybe hate is too strong a word, but at the very least I dread it and feel kind squeamish when I do it. My brain comes up with all kinds of THOUGHTS: You look weird, you sound weird, wow do you talk a lot with your hands, what’s with those Frances McDormand–like dimples on either side of your mouth (not that Frances McDormand isn’t hot, but maybe that’s a sign that you’re tense…), your hair is flat, and who are you to be an expert on parenting or anything else for that matter. Et cetera. Nice, BRAIN.

 

But. The truth of the matter is that the KITH people have done a great job at consolidating the work of a lot of parenting experts and have created a really rich source for information on so many different aspects of what it means to have children. The truth of the matter is also that they treated me really well and that I think they maybe made me look and foundhalfway decent (by the way,those are false eyelashes, which I find fascinating), and that I was and am really quite chuffed and pleased to be asked to work with them — and spending some time in Los Angeles was a huge bonus. So go, if you are inclined. Watch. And I will do my best to ignore my brain when it goes all off on its own stuff.

See you in Chicago!

 

 


On my own

I dreamed on Sunday evening that I had mistakenly sent out two sets of e-mail invitations to Isaac’s sixth birthday party: one inviting a group of kids over from 11 AM to one, the other inviting a bunch of kids from one to 2:30 PM.

Of course, in my dream I had actually completely forgotten about both birthday parties until I arrived at my house (an entirely different house than my actual one, by the way: some kind of rambling Gothic mansion that we had just moved to, so why not throw a dream housewarming party at the same time as the dream birthday parties? What a totally great idea!) and found it populated with a dozen rangy children and their judgmental parents. I had nothing to feed any of them except for some raw pizza dough, and nothing to entertain them with, so they just bounced around the Gothic mansion as its rooms continued to unfold and expand like we were in some video game. At one point in the dream, I hid in the pantry. I kept trying to dream-text Rachel, asking her to please get home already and help me out, but of course I couldn’t make the keyboard work properly, or couldn’t finish typing a message before being waylaid by another crisis in miniature, another wave of tiny guests, and so of course she never got the message.

All of which is by way of saying that I am solo parenting this week.

I am pleased to report that things have gone much more smoothly than my subconscious may have led me to believe. In fact, it’s been fairly easy-going. Rachel left on Sunday and returns on Saturday and in between the two what with school and soccer and playdates and the like I’ve barely seen my children. And when I have, they’re nothing I can’t handle on my own — it’s the usual joys and bumps, the getting dinner on the table and cycling through laundry and reading. I’m even managing to relax a bit, to talk myself down from the OMG! SOLO! PARENTING! MODE! I can sometimes get into, wherein I feel that unless I have premade five lunches and neatly lined up five casserole dinners in the freezer and laid out all the clothes and baked fresh croissants for breakfast each morning THEN WE WILL ALL DIE of the JUST! ONE! MAMA! Like it’s some kind of disease, instead of actually just fine with a few more or different details to consider, a little less sleep.

Like it’s not something that millions of women (not to mention a sizable number of men) —and I salute you all — do every single day. Get over it, Goldberg.

“Do you miss me?” Rachel asked me from the phone in her hotel room this morning. “It doesn’t sound like you miss me.”

And it’s not that I don’t miss her, it’s just that doing this stuff on my own, fitting in my work around the extra days of early school pickups and soccer practice and dinner-making and bedtime routines (and, of course, Angelina Jolie — on Tuesday I did eight CBC syndicated interviews in a row, commenting on the BRCA1 genetic mutation and what it was like to get tested for it. Eight rounds, five minutes apart, of going through that story, like some kind of emotional boot camp.), means moving from one thing to the next in a way that demands that I focus only on the present moment.

“It’s not that I don’t miss you, exactly,” I told her. Is it just that there’s not much space to miss her, to account for what’s not here when there’s already so much here to account for.

Two more sleeps, and she’ll be home. And I will be happy to see her when she gets here.


Contraband

I feel as though I’m neglecting this blog this week — probably the net result of my jaunt to LA (more on that anon, but the short version here is that it was fantastic, and not just because I made it to the reading(!), which was populated by a group of uniformly excellent writers). Yes, Los Angeles, and also the necessity of Writing All the Other Things. Including but not limited to my third draft, which has been quietly humming along. I have finished a really intense readthrough and am now attempting beginning the process of actually revising. As Yoda says, there is no try, there is only writing with a timer sitting next to you until it beeps. Or until your eyes bleed, whichever comes first.

Of course, this kind of work requires its own amount of healthy procrastination. Today, that involved clearing off the top of my wardrobe. Here is a photograph of all the long, pointy objects I found there, objects I have confiscated from small boys over the past few years and secreted way up high. They’re all back up there now — I’m no fool. Well, unless you count that part about trying to write writing a novel.

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Tempting fate

Second time's the charm.

Second time’s the charm.

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Look, I’m just going to write this post and fling it out there to the powers that be to do what they feel best with my karma.

Some of you may recall that day last July I spent holed up in Pearson airport, pacing the departures gates and watching the hours tick by until there was no way I was going to make my reading at Bluestockings Bookstore and Activist Center. I had been so excited, so optimistic. I’d written a cheery, optimistic, post about my excitement: my second reading at Bluestockings and how lucky was I to be part of an event launching Audrey Bilger and Michele Kort’s anthology Here Come the Brides: Reflections on Lesbian Love and Marriage.

I never made the reading. My flight was seven hours’ delayed, and I showed up, gutted, just as the last folding chair had been folded, the last few audience members straggling out.

But. Maybe there are things such as second chances, and if there are, I’m cautiously optimistic that I may get one. Here’s the deal: Here Come the Brides has been – obviously! — nominated for a 2013 Lambda Literary Award. There’s going to be a reading for West Coast nominees at the West Hollywood Public Library this coming Saturday, April 27, from 3 to 4:30 PM. And, through a series of fortunate coincidences, I’m going to be there, making up in some small way for my Bluestockings debacle by reading from my essay in the anthology.

So. Karma cooperating, I will fly in the day before and hopefully show up in plenty of time for what is, for me at least,  a long-overdue event. If any Angelenos (that’s what you’re called, right?) are reading this — come! It’s free! And say hi!

(Karma: cooperate. Or I’m putting you in a serious timeout.)


It’s the destination, okay?

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“It’s the journey, not the destination.”

How many times have you heard those words as a parent? A lot, I bet. If you’re anything like me, I bet that you’ve muttered those words to yourself as you tried to get a toddler to go just about anywhere. I bet you’ve “journey-not-destinationed” yourself through homework or toilet training or the grocery store or sleeping through the night or any number of child-related milestones.

But you know? Sometimes, Zen as it is, that little “journey not destination” mantra can get, well, a wee bit onerous. Sometimes, having someone chirp at you that, “Oh, ha ha, you should just enjoy what’s happening right at this very moment because life with kids is all about the journey, not the destination” can make you feel like punching that person in the throat. It’s tantamount to saying that if you were just a better parent, a better person, you would truly embrace, say, your toddler’s insistence upon stopping to drop pebbles down every single sewer grating on the way home from daycare, thus turning a 10-minute walk into a 90-minute odyssey.

Because here’s the thing: sometimes, no matter how wonderful a person or a parent you are, it’s about the destination. Sometimes, sure, it’s important to be here now. But sometimes, you just want to get there, already. Fast. And with as little screaming as possible.

Nowhere is this more true than on road trips with children.

So, let’s debunk this whole myth of “journey not destination,” shall we? Let’s put to rest once and for all that we are somehow lesser as parents if we feel on occasion that the less time spent in moving vehicles with our children the better. Let’s stop judging ourselves and each other by the degree to which we look forward to and enjoy strapping small, high-energy beings into five-point harnesses and hurtling off into traffic for hours. Because while there while there are undoubtedly lots of excellent things about road trips, there are also lots of rather tedious things.

Sure, there will be moments of pure beauty. You will see a pair of deer standing for a split second at the side of the road and your four-year-old will say, “Mommy, that deer looked right at me!” And you will say, “Yes, she did, honey.”

You will stop at a perfect beach for a picnic lunch and spend an hour skipping stones with your children, and one of them will lean back into your lap and look up at the sky and point out how that cloud looks just like a rabbit. Eating a Chihuahua.

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You will prepare a cooler filled with fruit and vegetables and healthy snacks and your children will eat all of those fruits and vegetables and healthy snacks without complaining and you will sail right on by the fast-food chains, drinking tea out of your reusable travel mug, feeling smug virtuous.

You will bring E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web on CD and your entire family will listen, entranced, to the entire story, and you will weep together at its ending.

You will bring a big pile of your own pillows and stack them between your children so that they cannot easily hit each other, and they will make little nests with those pillows and both fall asleep at the exact same time. And while they sleep, you will drive as fast and as far as possible, all the while talking to the other adult in the car and listening to — squee! — your own music on low.

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But for all those times, and more, there will also be the times where the kids are too busy scratching at each other in the backseat to notice the scenery and when you go out of your way to visit the World’s Biggest Nickel they will refuse to get out of the car. They will eat only ice cream and deep-fried things for days on end and insist on listening to Diary of a Wimpy Kid or One Direction on repeat. They will clamour for electronic devices and grunt and not look up as you point out, say, the Grand Canyon. They will insist that they don’t need to pee during the rest stop and then have to pee the moment you pull onto the open freeway. The baby will scream unremittingly for the last half-hour of the day’s travels and then fall asleep as you pull into your hotel parking lot. And not one bit at night.

These things — and more — will happen. They are part of road trips. And no matter how good a parent or a person you are, there is no earthly reason you should enjoy those moments. During those moments, your job is to grit your teeth, stick on One Direction and toss your emergency stash of chocolate and the backseat, and drive as fast and as far as possible. Because you’ll get there eventually. I promise.

This post is part of BlogHer’s Family Fun on Four Wheels editorial series, made possible by Mazda CX-9.


What I did on my …

The thing about blogging is that when you miss a week or two it’s hard to figure out how to ease your way back in. We’ve been gone for 16 days, arrived home late Sunday night.

(We weren’t supposed to arrive home “late” Sunday night, but that’s what happens when circumstances that are all largely within your control collude so that you miss your first scheduled flight and end up on the 8:10 PM version thereof, oddly grateful that the stern woman behind the desk at the airline finally agreed to waive the $600 change fee when you whined and complained and begged and cajoled the way you might if you were, say, eight years old and your parents had just taken away all your screen time for the day for making some poor behavioural choices. That’s what happens — and thank God for the near-to-the-airport friends on whom we descended after a volley of desperate texting to hang out for our newly unscheduled afternoon, and who fed us dinner and plied us with chocolate and tea and Manhattans, and set up our kids in front of their television. All in all an entirely pleasant way to spend an afternoon, other circumstances aside.)

But. We arrived home late Sunday night after 16 days away, in Toronto and in Florida, and it feels somehow disingenuous to jump right in to the present moment and gloss over those days, as though I am supposed to provide a “what I did on my winter vacation” summary for you all. At the same time, the idea of providing such a summary — not that anyone has asked me to — seems as tedious and unappealing as I imagine it must be for the many schoolchildren being asked to perform that precise task right now.

Memory is a funny thing — what did we do and did we have a good time? We did so many things: played tourist in Toronto with visits to the CN Tower, Casa Loma, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Science Centre. We saw movies, visited with friends and family, had Christmas dinner with my cousin and her family at Lee Garden on Spadina (“Was it worth the wait?” I later asked my kids about the trade-off of standing in line for an hour versus the food — oh god the food — and the camaraderie. “Yes,” said Rowan, unequivocally. Isaac, who nearly fell asleep in Rachel’s lap after copious bowls of wonton soup, was less sure: “I like the restaurant where you get your food right away,” he said, in reference to the buffet his grandparents took them to in Florida, where there were hotdogs and matzah ball soup and shrimp and ice cream for the taking, no lineup required.) (Also: “Were we this terrible?” I asked my cousin, as our collective five children shoved and pinched and bickered and kicked at each other on the sidewalk as we waited. “We were worse,” she assured me. And I think she might’ve been right.)

(Also: Of course, my children, like countless generations of children before them and countless generations of children to come, laughed and laughed at the name “Spadina.” “Like vagina, Mom,” Isaac told me, “like, on a girl’s body!” Just, you know, in case I might not have known where to look.)

In Florida, we played by the pool and mini-golfed and built sand castles. My dad took Rowan to the driving range and both kids picked up tennis racquets for the first time. We saw different sets of cousins, met new babies and new boyfriends, saw old friends and new movies. We ate ice cream and went to the zoo and played solitaire and Pokémon (some things you don’t get a break from) and took advantage of grandparental babysitting and generally managed quite well, even in the absence of the notable breaks provided by school and day care.

This list is not exhaustive.

Memory is such a funny thing: What did we do and we have a good time? We sat around the swimming pool late one afternoon in Florida, after some glorious outing or other that had been bracketed by children who resisted going and then resisted leaving (this is an ongoing theme, apparently…). And we were feeling, perhaps, tired. Put upon. The kids were being loud, making fart jokes and living on the razor’s edge between torment and pleasure in each other’s company. We were trying to let them be kids take to the extent that we could, always cognizant of the few other people around the pool with us — in this case, a man and a woman who must’ve been in their 70s, give or take.

Having anyone watch you as you parent can be stressful, but having people my parents’ age watch me parent is its own kind of stressful. You know? You know. But these people were fine, were lovely. The man in particular watched my kids and their antics with a grin on his face.

“You’re lucky,” he said to me and Rachel in passing.

And we both paused for a moment, and then, just like that, we were. Lucky.

The man went back to his condo after a while, and his wife packed up her towel shortly afterwards. And I debated with myself for half a second before getting up to speak with her before she disappeared.

“I just wanted to ask you to thank your husband for what he said to us,” I told her. “You know when you have those days or moments when maybe you’re not feeling so lucky? And then you realize you are?”

She smiled at me, quite seriously. “I’ll tell him,” she told me.

And then she asked The Question: “So, whose is whose?”

And I said, “Oh, they’re both ours. We’re partners, and they’re our kids.”

“Oh!” The smile that broke across her face was dazzling, wiping away any trace of seriousness. “That’s wonderful!

And, in that moment, it was.

 

 


To do

I’m back. I haven’t spent more than four consecutive nights in the same bed since July 21, a feat of bed-hopping I don’t think I have matched since, perhaps, fourth-year university  (joking!) the summer I travelled around Europe in 1993 with my friend Julie.

(Coincidently, in this recent spate of bed-hopping, I spent two nights on Julie’s pull-out couch in the lovely borough of Queens, New York, where I slept quite well. Julie, however, did not, poor thing: her 15-month-old daughter, it seems, has some very strong ideas about exactly when and where she will and won’t sleep, and it seems that the hours between 2 and 4 AM are currently designated Not Sleeping Time.)

But. Now. I am home, from journeys that took me from Thunder Bay to Toronto and back again, to Bushwick, Brooklyn, and then Queens and then South Orange, New Jersey, and then the Manhattan Hilton and BlogHer ‘12 and then back to South Orange, and then Toronto (and another not-sleeping toddler), and then Thunder Bay to wash my clothes and pick up my family and then to a tent in the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park and home, and then to Duluth, Minnesota, and then to the Wisconsin Dells (oh Lord, the Wisconsin Dells — where Vegas meets water. And a vengeful God. And Republicans. And bumper stickers that say things like “I don’t believe the liberal media.”) and then Minneapolis and then Duluth again and then home, where I intend to stay put for a good long time if I have any say in the matter.

Because, frankly, I have things to do.

Chief of which is to make a to-do list.

I am a list maker. I like lists. I need lists. I feel unmoored without one, purposeless. I need to know that there’s a place where I can record every single task, books to read, movies to watch, blog posts and pitches to write, client jobs, phone calls to make, things to renovate. I scribble things down on scrap paper, cross them off, add new pieces of paper, consolidate the items onto fresh sheets, clip the lot together on the clipboard I’ve had since I was 13. This last spate of travel ended Saturday night with me furiously scribbling items onto four different sheets of paper, collating things I had typed into my phone, going through old to-do lists, X-ing out outdated or done items, running through the house with a toothbrush in my mouth to add just one more thing. And then one more.

(Do I count as the liberal media? Just wondering.)

The idea is that I will eventually dictate the entire list into a Word document and print it out, and there it will be: a blueprint of my life, the plan, perfect, just like in Getting Things Done. In reality, it rarely if ever works that way, and I end up with my various scraps of paper, written with different pens, half outdated, never completed. And while I continue to hold on to the fantasy of the finished to-do list, the ordered life, I may also be starting to let go of it, the idea that I can capture it all in one place, that for even one brief shining moment I will know what it is I have to do with this one perfect life, line item by line item until I am done.

(How do you to do?)