And finally, here's a shot of our crazy 8 year old dressed for Halloween. She's going as a flower in a pot, but couldn't resist posing in the pot for an Anne Geddes moment. Holy Hub cut the bottom out of this plastic pot, so we just need to drill holes in the sides, affix some rope to go over her shoulders like straps, so that the flower pot will hang right over her hips. Holy Son is dressing as the Candyman. Pictures tomorrow at 11. I duct taped about 600 pieces of candy to an old denim dress coat of mine. It weighs a good six or seven lbs. So together with a bright shirt and a tall striped velvet hat, his ensemble will be complete. He's looking forward to being the ultimate chick magnet tomorrow at school. Rumour has it from a reliable source (the mother of his closest friend at school) that he already has 17 girls - ranging from grades 6 to 12 - chasing him. He's 10 years old. Oy veh. We're in trouble - ack!. Speaking of ack, I'm off to go buy liquid food color to make gak. Don't ask.
Glory be to God in the highest, in excelius dei-oh and all other assorted falsetto rejoicings.
I'll come up with something. When there's a will there's a way.
As luck would have it though, we got in and out and no one got hurt. And contrary to hubby's story that he told a co-worker who asked him how it went, he did not have to succumb to a rectal examination without vaseline. I honestly feel sorry for his co-workers, at times. They have to put up with his graphic tales for hours on end whereas I only have a couple of hours each evening and by then he's mellowed. But only somewhat.
We did, however, have to get our fingerprints done and pictures taken. So that's done. Now comes the FBI investigation. At which point all my Noam Chomsky reading and dissident blogging will soon be intensely scrutinized.
There was a time, not so very long ago, when I wouldn't have believed in Big Brother theory stuff. But then came 9/11 and had it not been for the manner in which the feds turned insular, tribal and paranoid, which in turn sent the general public to react in kind, I don't think I would be inclined to even have given any of it a second thought. Loose Change made its rounds, and even has Final Cut due out for release on 11/11/07. And now we have the Screw Loose Change bunch who set out to debunk the conspiracy theory claims of the those who insist 9/11 was an inside job.
All I know is that all international eyes have been on the US, the world's great and soon to be late superpower, for many decades now. And as a foreigner on the fringes of the inside looking further inward, I have to admit - I kinda wish they would take their biometrics screening one step further for all us ex-pats who have a sort of double vision. They should, in fact, scan our eyeballs, if only to see the US and its relationship with the world as we, the Canadians, the Brazilians, the Peruvians and the Turkish, et al, see it.
If they scanned our eyes, they would see that this US (America) and Them (subordinate others ie. non-American) paradigm is no longer a workable one for the 21st century. Not that it ever was. The shift of late from win-lose games to lose-win economic games (have you taken a look at the US dollar in relation to every other dollar, Canada's included?), means the world is starting to believe the American bully rumours in the global playground, and new power structures are emerging.
I'm talking about the bully that always seems to have enough money for guns ($2.4 trillion but who's counting?) yet falls embarrassingly short on butter. Yes, more's the pity, the pockets never seem to be deep enough to buy all the kids lunch and an updated immunization shot every now and again. In fact the CDI chart (commitment to development index) in that last link shows the US isn't even in the top 10 of rich countries. Little wonder the kids have formed other friendships and/or taken their toys and gone home to make more ~ a full 3/4 of the world's toys more, in fact. All they need do is add a bit of lead paint for embellishment, and sell them for a huge profit to all the kids.
The tides are changing and I'm not talking global warming here. Which is why I find it disheartening to learn my husband will be sitting alone is a few short months while the rest of his officemates move up a couple of floors. That equates to the entire group in charge of this particular component of customer support except for him. This may well be great news for those who had to sit near him and endure vaseline tales and all other manner of witticisms and jokes all day, but somehow I feel there's a larger fear at work.
Here's the great irony though...well over half these customers alluded to in their division name are of the overseas variety. They hail from some 145 countries. So it will soon be Office Space: Extreme Homeland Security edition. Holy Hub will not be permitted to attend meetings on this 'upper' floor. Coupled with increased restrictions from a computer info access standpoint, he now faces enormous red tape to do his job. So in the interests of so-called security, they've made his work process much more inefficient because it now takes him way longer to do his job and in fact, there are things he is no longer able to do. For them.
So yeah, if they scanned our eyes, it would be an eye-opening experience. Perhaps it's a good thing they leave it at fingerprinting, punch their clocks and call it a day.
Long story short, I'm definitely not buttering my toast with Imperial margarine today, if you catch my slant - with profuse apologies to the powers that be and any others whom I might inadvertently have offended with my tribal diatribe.
We'll make hay while the sun shines. Another day, another .96 cents US shy of one Cdn dollar. How's that for loonie?
Having a green card will definitely make things easier from a healthcare and residency perspective - we would no longer have to leave the country within 30 days if he suddenly lost his job. But having to wear an employee badge that denotes "other," sit two floors below your team in "subordination" and have to miss out on important e-mails and meetings critical to your work - these are things that would weigh on me, too. All because we bought into the grand dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness south of the 49th parallel.
Little wonder he faces north and bows to the totem poles in Stanley Park in his quietest moments, whilst rueing the day I ever covertly applied for a job in Seattle in his name, and with his resume attached.
I'm never going to joke about skydiving again.
I have always admitted, when topics invariably turned to high adventure dares and wouldyou, couldyou, shouldyou, that I have never had an urge to skydive because not only is the prospect of leaping out an aircraft to almost certain death (law of attraction + law of probabilities = me being strapped to faulty shoot) an extremely undesirable activity, but more to the point, remaining in what most insiders consider to be some of the least functional aircraft on the planet (ie. those owned or leased by skydiving outfits) seemed to me like asking for death's hand in marriage.
And a recent local tragedy confirms as much.
Every time I read of such news, I feel an overwhelming urge to want to lock my children up and never let them out to experience and live life. I fear premature death of my children above all else. It is surely the worst kind of anguish.
Samuel Johnson once noted that "to neglect at any time preparation for death, is to sleep on our post at a siege." Which is a pretty way of saying that most of us are like the sleepwalking dead. We have half-assed and meaningless communications. We forget and/or neglect to say and show I love you to those who mean the most to us. And we put up those all important someday dreams for...you guessed it, one fine day which may never come.
If you had a crystal ball premonition that you would die in six months, what would you do? Nothing? Everything? We would all do well to live life with terminal illness urgency, in six month chunks, if only because such intensity would illuminate and pervade each and every waking moment as something universally precious and miraculous.
The long and short of it is that life is short so we must seize the day and make it sweet. Yes, it's that age old carpe diem thing again. Did you know that carpe actually means to "pluck, gather, harvest," which is a much more interesting way to look at plundering and robbing the 24 hours before us. Pluck the day while she is ripe....like a robber bride in a runaway carriage. I suspect Christina may be tempted to now add this lovely little simile to her bad analogy list. But if the shoe fits, it must be your sole mate. Or something like that.
So in the spirit of running off with the day, we're stealing away tomorrow to go hibernate (translation: sloth) in a cozy cabin at a nearby State Park. We have been extremely guilty of allowing this insane school year and weekend sports schedule dictate time or lack thereof, to us. This is akin to breaking the first of terminal living commandments. " Thou shalt not let menial life schedules run your life." Easier said that done on the home and economics front. But come on, what are the kids more likely to remember - that one Thursday soccer practice or a fall mountain getaway weekend?
Speaking of remembering fall mountain getaway weekends, Holy Son was assigned the task of recalling a vivid childhood memory for his Humanities class this week. He chose an illness narrative near and dear to his temporal lobes about a time he got sick during a trip to the Lake Louise Hostel in 2002.
The funny part of the weekend was that one night when my parents were preparing dinner for me, my Mom was trying to feed me two pieces of sausages. I said to her, ‘’no’’ but she made me eat them anyways. Then I said, “I feel sick’’ but my parents didn’t believe me. Then I said, ‘’I’m going to puke’’ and my dad quickly rushed me to the bathroom. Right when we got into the bathroom, I started to blow chunks everywhere but the bad part was that no puke went into the toilet. After I blew chunks everywhere I left the room going to tell my Mom what happened and my Dad had to clean it up. My Dad said after he cleaned it up that the puke was on the ground, walls, mirror, and the sink, that I plugged with the large chunks. After throwing up I felt so energized, asking for food, running around with my head cut off and bugging my Mom to play games that were upstairs in the loft. This is a vivid memory I will never forget because of the hard
work my Dad put in to clean the bathroom and the amount of puke I sprayed all over the place. I never knew that one person could throw up so much and in short period of time. I sure felt better and now know how to spell relief, P-U-K-E.
Ahh yes, it's all fun and games until someone loses their dinner. Anyways, we're very excited about the getaway, how ever brief it will prove to be, and hope to be able to finally get to Leavenworth for a daytrip. I vaguely recall that Holy Hubby and drove through the Cascades enroute to Seattle 15 years ago and being amazed by the scenery but my memory is sketchy.
If I had six months to live, the bulk of those six months would be spent in various mountainous regions. We four Schmidt of no fixed and permanent address heart mountains. It's why we identify so acutely with mountain literature and lore, it's why hubby is a climber (albeit lapsed climber), and it's why we've sought out so many mountain holidays in our travels. From the Canadian Rockies to the Swiss Alps to Milford Sound to the Karakorum, Himalayas and Hindu Kush ranges, there ain't no mountain high enough in our books that aptly measures how much mountains fuel our collective souls.
It's enough to make me want to break into song a la Julie Andrews with acute laryngitis. Climb ev'ry mountain, ford every stream. I so adore the Sound of Music, the bestest, most wonderful movie of all-time. If I had six months to live, I would loudly and lewdly sing Sound of Music songs in public more often, and I would take leisurely boat rides on alpine lakes, even, err especially if it meant being harmoniously sandwiched in das boat with seven Von Trapp kidlets.
Did you hear about that guy, Dufus, who, rumour has it, moonlights as the switchboard operator for the elite School for the Gifted? Is moxie a genetic trait, I wonder?
We have a thing going - it started right around our first anniversary - where I ask him what he wants for dinner and he replies Beef Wellington. Fast forward eighteen years and yes Virginia, still no beef wellington. I finally 'fessed up to him that I've never prepared his much-coveted dinner because I'm planning to do so on the day he kicks the divine bucket. Someday, I promise. He ever so pragmatically noted that we may not necessarily have advanced notice for this auspicious occasion. There he'd be in his final unsuspecting moments, flashbacking through life and reflecting on all those missed Beef Wellington moments, before flash forwarding through the tunnel. And his final query would be, where's the beef?
Perhaps all good cows go to heaven.
Speaking of dead cows, we did our annual gajillion things we're thankful for tradition during Thanksgiving (Cdn) dinner on Monday. We all write out a bunch of things on little slips of paper, chuck them in a basket and then pass the basket during dinner so we can each take turns reading them aloud. One of the funniest was Holy Hubby's "I'm thankful for dead cow." We were all speechless for a second - it was a very mooving moment.
Anyhoo, back to the laughtrack. I was considering surprising Holy Daughter with tickets to the upcoming Hannah Montana concert, which coincides with the week of her birthday, but it's reputedly sold out. Further thoughts on that here. Anyways, been there, done that, lived to blog about it last year. The things we do for love.
Like this dog, for instance. Isn't that sweet? Most of us might think so. But this apparently isn't, or so claims Facebook. It's laughable actually, that something so fundamentally natural has been deemed so culturally objectionable.
Anyways, those are my stories this wet Seattle Wednesday and I'm schticking to them. It's time to go carpe some fruit off this day's branch.
The innocent can never last,
Wake me up when September ends.
Billy Joe Armstrong, GREEN DAY
And as usual, it wasn't my schedule that made it so. One of these days, I vow, I really am going to get a life of my own. I had one once. It was nice.
Should they ever consider reviving that old game show, This is Your Life, I just know with absolute certainty that I would not make a good contestant. They would run the reel of my current life, but I would be too busy either trying to perfect the facial expression from The Scream for TiVo replay effect, or too hellbent on finessing my upstream backstroke on dat big ole river, 'da Nile, to acknowledge the biographical nod to moi.
I am so not embracing that this current lot, which looks suspiciously like a parkade, is my life. You see, I truly suck at this stay-at-home-mom schtick. I suspect that's why I have never identified myself with the SAHM crowd, with the noted exception of the multi-tasking bloggers, who, for the most part, don't really appear to either.
Anthropologically speaking, I really do admire mainstream stay-at-home moms ~ if I may be so bold as to lump a bunch of colours into one pile of laundry without fear of risking a tie-dye mess. They (the happy, happy, joy, joy SAHMs) are an amazing species of animal. These moms are eternally grateful and for the most part, utterly content with their maternal identity. By and large, they adore staying home with the kids, cooking meals, doing laundry, working on their crafts, and arranging playdates with other moms. They feel momentary existential angst like all the rest of us (although some of us feel it chronically), but they wouldn't have it any other way.
I on the other hand, harbour unrealistic fantasies about getting headhunted by Universal Jobshop Inc., for the exalted and most coveted position of Queen of the Universe. Said position would naturally pay a stupidly, ridiculous salary, thus, affording us the luxury of being able to hire a whiz bang live-in nanny who would then cook, clean, run errands and most importantly, run the kids all over hell's half acre after school, all the while allowing me to set about running the universe in royal fashion.
If there was a mommy confessional, I admit that I would need to repent for this unbridled absentee parenting ambition of mine first.
In the larger scheme of parental confessions, I suppose this is a rather innocuous admission. After all, I have never been majorly tempted to cut a deal with dingos to steal my babies. (Thank God for that big body of water called the Pacific that separated me from such temptations). And here's another shocker. I vacationed with hubby and the kids last winter at a luxe Mexican resort and we (the parental units) never once considered leaving the kids in the room alone. The same considerations cannot be said of the kids, however, who fairly begged us to do so.
But, OK so back in the day, I'll admit....I did kinda sorta used to put my kids on remote control at the playground next door while I toiled away in my office loft with work or school; keeping only one lazy eye fixed on them through the upstairs window. And I do admit to having drank the odd glass of wine or Baja Tango in my coffee cup with another neighborhood mom at the same playground, whilst summarily ignoring my/our respective children who played, fought and bickered during those penultimate minutes after school leading up to witching hour. It was practical, happy parenting at its best and I just know Christie Mellor would have been so proud of me. This happened a time or two dozen but we reveled in knowing that we were very chic alor suburban moms, thanks to the advent of Desperate Housewives circa 2005. We were somewhere between George Thorogood first drink temptations and three martini desperation.
Anyways, enough about me and my so-called life that I used to have. September was not about me, except insofar as it had me running with scissors. Seriously, I had scissors in the car at one point. Don't ask.
On one memorable afternoon/evening, I ran between a Brownie meeting, two conflicting soccer practices, an Irish dance class, and a boy scout meeting. Welcome to my nightmare, whispered Alice the Coop'ed up Housewife. It was a cb radio moment. Breaker, breaker 1-9, WTF, over.
The kids, mind you, are having the time of their lives.
Holy Son thrives on being busy. He's positively Pavlovian when it comes to going from one activity to the next. Bring it on, bring it on, might well be his mantra. If ever there was an image that defined the quintessential spirit of my son, it would be that retro Norman Rockwell pic of the kid hanging out of the family car window in abject excitement, waiting with bated nacho cheese breath for the next big adventure on the roadtrip of life.
Holy Daughter is taking it all in stride too. Maybe too much. She has become a quick change artiste extradordinaire. She can strip from soccer gear to Irish dance wear in the course of six blocks.
I now understand that checkbox on the school district registration form that asks applicants to identify if they live in a house, in a car or on the street. No schmidt, schmerlock, it really says that. When I first saw it, I had no context whatsoever for understanding how such home displacement could possibly be so in this high falutin' bubble of suburbia we happen to find ourselves residing in. But I get it now. We actually do live in the car. Next time I have to fill out that form, I will check that box: (c) We live in a minivan.
It's quite true. Just ask Holy Hubby. He mumbles and grumbles no less than 3 times a month when faced with the daunting task of unloading the plethora of coats, clothes, shoes, food, sports gear, books, blankets, toys and garbage that tend to take up semi-permanent residence in our vehicle.
September was not so much about running around, however, as it was about adjusting to two hours a night of homework, now that Holy Son is a middle schooler. He has done admirably, considering he never used to get assigned homework as a 5th grader - apparently they were smart enough, and didn't need any. Or my own personal theory? His teacher was too old and lazy to assign anything that might require additional marking.
So really, it's a good thing we don't have a life because every free evening moment (apart from nit-picking my kid's hair - it's my new OCD pasttime - the lice are long gone but I can't seem to stop - look for me soon on Maury Povich)...anyhoo, every spare minute is now consumed with ensuring he's completed his next day assignments and projects. If this keeps up, I will soon be sporting a bumper sticker that says, "I am an Honor Student at my Son's School." As much as I once vowed never to do that, I'm re-thinking my logic. Especially if I can survive 7 years of this 7 core subject curriculum times two. Think how smart a mother I'll become.
He's managed to stay on top of everything plus maintain about a 3.5 GPA thus far, with the noted exception of his cello practice. He's supposed to be playing the cello at home two hours a week but we haven't been able to tolerate err, I mean, assist him with squeezing regular practice time in as of yet. I have also managed to come up with a good effort bribe whenever he properly discerns his their/there homophones. We keep the Easy button handy so he can hit it each time he gets it right or done (not quite a bell but close enough) and I've also begun teaching him how to polka so that we can do a celebratory dance when the mood strikes him to have a kinesthetic battery re-charge. Once a Puke (Polish/Ukrainian), always a Puke. So depending on the night, the neighbors are often afforded a not-so-rare glimpse of our mother/son polka. Who needs scissors when you can bellow out Weird Al music on demand, I always say.
He loves the school and feels über comfortable there ~ and after visiting it on curriculum night recently, I have to admit, we're pretty tickled with it, too. The kids are doing 7th grade humanities and will maintain advanced level coursework from here on in (not to be visually confused with heroin - ours is a drug-free school district, dontcha know), because they only take seven core subjects (humanities, int'l. studies, music, phys ed, math, science and German or French) and no options, so thus, are able to fast track things a bit.
They (the institutional types) continually remind us how fortunate these kids are to have won the lottery so to speak (which is literally how they are placed there), and to be earning an education at a school that looks and acts like a small private school (approx 70 students per grade from Grades 6-12) and perhaps more importantly, ranks within the top 99.95% of all public high schools, based on their impressive ranking on the Newsweek list of who's who schools. It's PTA ideology at it's best, because of course, the prouder and more tickled we are, the more dollars we'll contribute. Or so they hope.
I can see why Holy Son seems to have grown up so fast in the past month. To be a sixth grader strolling the halls with high schoolers who will actually talk to you is pretty cool stuff. To be a relatively tall (5', 2") bottle blonde and handsome 10 year old who gets fawned over by a bevvy of girls is even cooler yet. And to be a sixth grader in possession of his very own, brand-new Razr phone with a neon green silicone cell cover....well, that's pricelessly cool.
Yes, we finally made good on our summer school threat/promise/bribe and got him his cell phone yesterday. He thinks, make that knows he's totally stylin' now. We've been lending him Holy Hub's phone the past month and have found it to be an essential mode of communication after school, because I never know from day to day whether I'll be picking him up or letting him ride the bus home. He knows how to work the phone way better than I do. I just learned how to use speed dial on my phone yesterday. I'm such a dinosaur.
But at least I'm an 80's dinosaur. I'm still exhuberantly happy about this pop culture nod to the 80s lately. I wish we could freeze time. I'm so grooving on the headband hair, black tights & leggings, high boots and long tunic fashion look, and my new near black hair. I was accused of looking goth this morning. Tee hee.
And I wear my new houndstoothy/plaid designer Ukrainian boots everywhere now, much to the complete horror of my family, who curiously, seldom walk with me or even acknowledge my presence anymore when we're in a store. I'm like this strange lady who they only pretend to know for a moment at the checkstand, and only then because it's financially prudent for them to do so.Holy Hub tolerates the look but only because I know he's secretly plotting a way to begin wearing Hush Puppies again. You see, for 20 years, his boxed pair of brown suede Hush Puppies in the closet were a source of great amusement for me. They were in mint condition but, of course, horribly geeky. He would always threaten to wear them. Meanwhile I was busy planting cheese in the closet, praying for a mice infestation. Alas, they somehow accidentally, on purpose got misplaced in a move. And then they ended up coming back in fashion and they're now worth a fortune, more's the pity, or so I noticed the last time I strolled through Nordie's shoe department.
I'm also digging that the music continues to stay in retro mode these days, too. It kills me. Depeche Mode is all the rage again, as is every 80s post-punk band that still has living members. My current fave-ola is Shiny Toy Guns. The kids and I crank that all the time and it makes feel like I am young again. The best thing about Sunday mornings here in Seattle, besides sleeping in, is Ressurection Flashback Sunday. I love hearing the underground bands, like Joy Division, who were mein zeitgeist (not to mention a major impetus for my wasted, sonic youth), and my secret listening refuge while my friends were busy banging heads to Judas Priest. Joy Division only ever hit the alt-rock university stations but you may or may not recognize them as New Order, minus Ian Curtis. Many bands owe giant nods to Joy Division, most notably U2, who continue to pay tribute to them in concert three decades later.
Which is why it's such a shame (and no surprise) that I'm deaf right now. My right ear has completely plugged up and I'm thinking I might need to host an ear candling home party. Wouldn't that be wick? :)
OK so poetic waxing aside, I do sort of wish a friend, Roman or countryman would lend me their ear - minus hair sticking out of it though - as I've been feeling rather like Mrs. Potatohead with only one auditory orifice. I didn't notice how bad it was until I went to the Seahawks/Bengals game a couple of weeks ago and ended up having to scam earplugs from the firstaid station adjacent to our seats. Holy loud stadium, batman - no wonder Qwest Field has been rated the loudest in the NFL. My ears were ringing so bad from all the yelling that I wasn't sure I'd even be able to stick it out the whole game. Good thing we did though because the Hawks ended up pulling through in the bitter end.
Perhaps that's why God gave us two ears. Spending $250 to go see a doctor and get it flushed out seems, well, a huge waste of money. So I'm off to the drug store to get an earwax kit. This is the same drug store that has been tracking my lice shampoo purchases so I may have to wear my boots, some shades, my son's purple scout kerchief over my goth hair, and an overcoat. Thanks to Hollie, we're trying the tea tree oil route with shampooing. So far so good, but I could still swear I'm finding nits in the kid's hair.
But at least it's so cold around here now that the giant spiders have disappeared. And I haven't seen Mr. Mole or the yappy beagles for awhile. The only critter hanging around is Spud, our guinea pig, who is now the size of a large swine, most likely on account of the fact that he is being fed the daily equivalent of Canada's annual agricultural exports to China. He is only slightly more Pavlovian than Holy Son, in that when the fridge door opens, Spud will immediately let out a series of high-pitched squeals and squeaks until we finally relent and feed him some produce scraps.
In other news, the next phase of our immigration fun is upon us. We are scheduled to go have our green card pictures taken and get fingerprinted in a couple of weeks. I think it would be so cool to draw an outline of a maple leaf on my index finger. Just to see the look on fingerprint dude's face. Cheap thrills.
And since they've already cashed out cheques, I'm guessing that my work permit authorization will be just around the corner as well. Which means I need to get off my fanny and find a job so we can keep up with all the other DITKies. A four or five hour a day schtick that is super close to home, pays amazingly well, provides awesome health benefits, permits me summers off, has a lenient footwear policy, and allows me to not even have to think about the job in the off hours. Hmmm, does such a job exist? If so, I'm going to put the beagles on the beat to sniff it out.
I also need to sniff out some birthday party ideas. I have two weeks to come up with a theme and I'm stuck. We were thinking of doing a space lounge idea for Holy Daughter and I've always wanted to do an Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter Tea Party slash unbirthday affair, and have everyone exchange silly gifts. And I thought of doing a fall carnival but that would feel way too much like work. So I dunno. I may combine elements of both and have a Wild & Crazy 8s bash. I'll drink blueberry tea, wear my earplugs and my rubber boots and perchance I'll even play some polka tunes and let Holy Son practice the cello.
Like I said, I need a life.