Sink or Swim

Though the limitations of our immigration process was no longer looming overhead, we struggled to wrap our brains around the idea of freedom. Now that a new year is upon us, it felt necessary to take an hour to treat our personal lives like a business and write out a five-year plan.

*What are your projections for this year?

*What do you wish to achieve in the next five years?

*What do you wish to achieve in January…what will you have hoped to achieve by June…by this time next year? 

*What are your goals and what responsibilities in making such achievements?


It’s a really interesting task in one’s marriage to touch base like that.  How are we doing? Could we be better? How can we improve? How are we spending our money? Where are we going? How are we getting there? Are we going there together? Personally, I love a list for even the most mundane of things.  I need a list if I’m going to get it all done.  Writing it down is like a commitment, a contract of sorts. And there’s nothing better than crossing something off your list.


When I was engaged, and the wedding was on the brink of cancellation, I used my love of lists to try to find an equal ground.  I said “Let’s write separate five-year plans and see how they match up”.

don and melanie

Ideas flowed from my pen; my future flowing like black ink, making my mark all over the page.  First, I’d graduate university, and then I’d get married, and then I’d go to grad school, which would ultimately satisfy the need to move to a different cityTravel to Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Asia, East Coast Canada.  I added a baby last…just as an after thought really…just because I thought it said something about me if I didn’t.  When we compared notes, my paper was brimming and his paper was non-existent because he didn’t participate in the exercise. You could cut the symbolism with a knife. All unraveled shortly thereafter, and we went our separate ways.

runaway38I used that list as a guideline, what I loved before I loved you. What was the most important thing to me? Travel.  Seeing the world was all I ever wanted.  Come to think of it, I actually wrote that list five years ago now.  I crossed quite a few things off that list. I moved to New Zealand, where I met my husband.  We moved to Australia, and saw Sydney, and the entire west coast of the continent.  We went to Indonesia for our wedding anniversary (which satisfies my Asia requirement if necessary).  When we came to Canada we started in Ontario with my best friend Evelyn and her husband and we drove to Prince Edward Island, stopping in every province along the way.  Really all that remains is grad school, Europe and a baby.

vintage_1930_s_mother_holding_baby_mother_s_day_poster-r5c686f6175594805a1e72d988d4638f9_wvw_8byvr_512 Naturally, when one has been married over three years, is over the age of thirty and looking at a five-year life plan, it’s not unreasonable to question where procreation comes into the equation.

My husband asks me outright, jutting his chin towards my papers and handwritten notes. “Where do babies fit in to this plan?”

o-VINTAGE-COUPLE-FIGHTING-FURNITURE-facebookI respond by shuffling the papers and muttering under my breath.  Where do babies land on this list…in five years I’ll be (gulp) 37.  And from what I’ve gathered, the fallopian factory gets a bit more semen selective after the age of 35.

“Don’t you want to have a baby?”

Goodness yes…later on.  I welcome it.

ah baby

Benjamin, very gentle, presses on step further.  “I mean…you’re 32 now, and if 35 is the cut-off…um…”


Welcome to my window, and it is closing.

Vintage Photos of Soldiers Kissing Their Loved Ones (1)

Alec Baldwin can become a father again at 55, but for the ladies out there, there’s only so much time before you have to look into renting uterus’ or become a science experiment in golden years gestation.  There’s a fine time line to walk in these few years of fertility.


After the mumbling and paper shuffling, Benjamin smiles.  “You didn’t really answer my question”.  I look down at my writing.  My husband tries a new angle “What would you need to do before you want a baby?”.  There’s about twenty different countries that come to mind.  I look out the window now, watching the cars pass along on the highway.

“So we need to go to Europe this year then”, he says, because I haven’t.

My lips quiver into a smile.

That would be nice.


Sometimes I feel genuinely anxious about never seeing the world. That Benjamin couldn’t leave the country made me feel terribly claustrophobic. Now that we could hit the international terminal with ease, now it brings up the issue of cost.  As we crunched the numbers over our new year budget, (yes we did the math), we realized that we could afford it, at the expense of…oh I don’t know a down payment of a house?

collage-house-suburbs-rewardyourselfLucky bastards.  Back in the day when men wore suits, women wore hats, houses were cheap and smoking was good for you. “It’s your goal. Write it down” Benjamin says.  But how does one afford that? Get a second job waiting tables three nights a week and save all of the tips for a holiday? Not bad.   Get discovered by some media mogul who pays me to travel and make witty observations? Better.  Wherever you are, generous benefactor, now would be a good time to show your face and dollah bills.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’d love to have a little baby bear with my big Benjamin Bear.

bear sweater

I love the idea of this little buddy lying between us in bed kicking chubby little legs, smiling, slobbering, giggling.  Sitting on Benjamin’s shoulders, resting comfortably on my hip while snoozing into my chest. Hearing their little voices, their opinions and thoughts. The intimacy of making a family, raising a child.  I even have baby names picked out.  Hey, I work with children, I 100% get the appeal.


But when my husband wants to put a finger on the calendar to estimate my readiness, I can’t offer that to him.  Yesterday, I visited with my good friend Trish and her baby Melody, who is heart-meltingly adorable.  Trish asked about our family planning future, and I articulated my best possible answer. She, like all the other mothers out there gives me a general answer.  Babies are amazing, but are all-consuming. After you’ve had a baby, you are never not a parent ever again.  So… A) There’s never a ‘good time’ to start a family B) But take your time if it’s possible.

mia-farrow-rosemarys-baby (1)

I don’t know why I feel like having babies is something that other people do.  Like for myself, it still seems way too early.  But I’m 32 now, I’m not a kid.  I’m happily married, my husband and I are gainfully employed, mentally stable and caring individuals. I’d be a perfectly loving mother, and I have that love to give. Still there’s something generally panic inducing about cranking out a little one.

rosemarys-babyFirstly…as a rather petite woman with a nearly seven-foot tall husband, I do fear the size of the offspring.  My mother has on more than one occasion confessed a similar fear…on my behalf.  Which is unnerving, seeing as she gave birth three times without so much as an aspirin, because “cave-women didn’t have painkillers and they did just fine without them”. Therefore she could paint a rather clear portrait on the realities of childbirth, therefore I’d like to go the opposite route as cave-women didn’t have painkillers…but “smoke ’em if you got ’em, is what I always say.


I mean, you can dress it up all you want, but there’s no easy, attractive or painless way to get that baby out.  I wish it were as easy as it was in my Barbie Doll era…this bitch even gets a flat stomach immediately after the baby is removed.


I think my fear of childbirth can be directly linked to Melanie’s experience in “Gone With the Wind”.  We used to watch this movie on a yearly basis in my childhood, and that bit was always perfectly terrifying.


If a baby is stuck…how do you get it out anyhow?  If someone told you they know everything about giving birth, but then at the last-minute said that they didn’t “know nothing”, and the only person that can help you secretly hates you and openly loves your husband, and the civil war is laying waste to all fine young men, keeping every capable doctor occupied.  Wouldn’t you be nervous?


Granted…my situation is not anywhere near “GWTW” territory.  The fear and doubts would subside.  Maybe what I hadn’t achieved beforehand didn’t matter.  It’s not like I’d give birth and immediately fall off a cliff.  I’d still be me, just plus one. I would love this baby.  If we had a baby we’d be perfectly happy.


But I’d like to explore the options, gamble with the numbers.  How late could I push this time back?  33, 34, 35…Gwen Stefani?  She’s 44 and fabulous and doing motherhood her own way.


Halle Berry had a baby at 47, Kate Winslet, 38.  Then again these women are also richer than God, so who knows the amount of money poured into the enterprise.  It’s like Angelina Jolie; only when you are that wealthy can you start collecting children from other countries the way I do scarves and knickknacks in far off marketplaces. And keeping them well-educated and well fed ain’t cheap either.

So if the issue is not if–but when.   How can I take my goals by the horns and get myself where I need to go?

making plans

How can I get to the point that I am pushing out this twenty-five pound baby and saying–“I did what I wanted while I wanted and I have no regrets!…also I love morphine!”


And then a new adventure could begin with our new little buddy…and we’ll take them everywhere.

Paul with baby

Listen, if I don’t have an answer for my husband or myself…then I really can’t even dream of making something up to finish this blog with a nice conclusive ribbon wrapped around in.  I think as far as all dreams go, it is pretty rare that someone knocks on your door and hands that dream to you.  You need to go out and get what you want.  With the help of carefully drawn plans, we can now set our sights on the future, have some control over our lives.  And this whole baby dilemma will feel a little less like a nightmare.


Images Courtesy of Google

Hello, Norma Jeane

My husband bought me a lovely little present.  A 1956 Rambler 500 bicycle, blue with white trim and a wire basket.  She’s a rough old girl, but she just needs a little loving, a little sprucing.

On the drive home, I think about what I would name her. I’m big on naming things.  My bicycle in Australia was Miss Daisy, my car, Cracking Rosie. In a downtown apartment I lived in my early twenties, I stuck a label above my mail box that said ‘H. Golightly’.   Any excuse to make a movie/book/music reference I guess.  What would I  call her?

She’s icy blue, and classy as hell, how about Grace Kelly?

grace kelly

But she’s also a sweetheart, maybe Doris Day?


Is there anything cuter than Audrey Hepburn?

bike audry

I love Carole Lombard, and who doesn’t want room for your dog? (I’d like to give a shout out to my good friend Harriet for this one).


Should Igo for something exotic, Brigitte Bardot?


Maybe something short, a la Twiggy?

twiggy I reckon this bike is a bit feisty, if she talked maybe she’s sound like Katherine Hepburn.


I won’t commit just yet,  I think.  Riding around the parking lot, on this nearly sixty year year old bicycle, I think about when she was brand spanking new.  And all the people that owned her.  This bitch has seen some things.  And so I named her Norma Jeane.  And then the bike belonged to me, even though we had already purchased her and bought her all the way home.

mm bike

(Just a snap of me riding bikes with Audrey Hepburn.  I think the bicycle is rather slimming, don’t you?)


All Images Courtesy of Google

Fancy Meeting You Here

There’s an old joke that I’ve heard from time to time: “I ran into my ex today…then I backed up and hit him again”.  I don’t really care for that joke, because I hate the thought of hating someone like that.  Why, just yesterday, I read one of my favorite blogger’s postings, and it literally hurt my heart to read her angry essay about her cheating ex-boyfriend.  I feel for her dealing with the betrayal and anger, that’s a huge pill to swallow. But I can’t help but think–you lived with this person, were married or engaged to this person, you shared secrets under bed sheets,  you laughed, shared meals, payed bills, you once loved that person so much that it hurt…to hate that person after the love died is like hating that whole chapter in your life.  Do that enough times, hate every person that left before you did, you’ve got a lot of hate in your heart and a lot of bitter chapters in an already short life.  Of course, these things are painful, and nothing heals like time, but I’d prefer to be on friendly terms with all my ex’s.  I don’t plan to go on an Alaskan cruise with any of them, but in the off-chance you run into them on the street, I’d like to think that a hello and hug would be in order.

Still, running into an ex can be a bit of a minefield.  It is wholly dependent on your new station in life… or your place in the world compared to their place in the world.  If you’ve gained weight, recently gotten an unsightly scar, have just been fired/dumped/punted off a reality show, and he’s looking better with age and his new wife looks like she invested being young and hot…then yes, it’s a struggle.    A girlfriend of mine once told me that she saw her ex-husband  in a grocery store.  She had a moment where she recognized him, then took a step towards him, before realizing that they were divorced, and had been for quite sometime.  It’s sort of surreal, like being a kid and seeing your teacher out of the classroom. “So you don’t exist solely to teach me life lessons?”  I ran into my ex on the way to the post office.  It’s all very friendly and respectful, but there is a strange moment when you think… remember when we were a thing? And then years later, after all the dusted has settled, exchanging pleasantries by the cash register, wearing the turquoise American Apparel hoodie you pinched from him the day you moved out. Afterwards I headed to my appointment with my massage therapist.  Once on the table, she asks about my day.

“Well, I just ran into the man I almost married”.

“How was that?”

“Oh, it was nice to catch up, but I think as a rule, you’d like to be stepping off George Clooney‘s speedboat, or wearing a ballgown when you run into any of your formers”.

“I hear ya.  You always wish you looked prettier, were ten pounds thinner, and dressed smarter”.

But, then you’d never bump into them.  That’s Murphy’s Law; you could spend your whole life dressed like a fashion model, and the one day you nip out for a quick sweatpants-wearing, make-up free errand,  looking totally bland and pedestrian,  that will be the day you bump into those kinds of people.   The massage therapist’s comments about wishing you were all different kinds of things made me think about how you want to be perceived in this fleeting moment.  So, I’ve compiled a list acceptable times to run into an ex.

When looking effortlessly striking…


On a horse, amid winning a polo match:

polo player

Fresh from winning an Oscar…

audrey oscar

Being admired by millions…


…somewhere in between being a star and a princess…

grace kelly

Or just passing by, hiding behind giant sunglasses…

Jackie Kennedy Onassis

Or while casually glimpsing over your shoulder, looking impossibly young, fresh and stunning…


Furthermore, most ladies want to run into the ex with new lovers in tow…

“Oh that’s just me with Richard Burton…pissing of the Pope in Italy”…


“Have you met Paul Newman? He’s possibly the most gorgeous man ever, so that’s what I’ve been dealing with these days”…


“Oh him? That’s just Steve McQueen…no big deal”.

mcgraw mcqueen

What you don’t want–is to run into said ex–sans make up, or post stomach flu, or maybe ten minutes after you’ve given birth or had your mug shot taken…


Don’t let him see you making your sex face, out of context it just looks weird…


“Oh hey…how are you?” “Good”.  “So…Things are good?” “Oh yeah, real good” Good…I’m good too…” “Well you look good…your hair is…completely gone, which must be…cool in the summer?” “Yeah…it gets so hot when I beat the shit out of random vehicles with my umbrella”.  “Oh I’ll bet…”


You want to be bubbly, not blasted.  It’s wise not to get drunk as fuck and fall on your face, you never want you ex to see you flat out like so…

polo fall

Don’t we all have ex-husbands/wives, ex-boyfriends/girlfriends…and whether we run and hide, or march up and say hello that’s your prerogative.  But you don’t want to duck cowardly into an aisle, and have them pass you as you try to cram yourself behind a display of hemorrhoid cream or personal lubricants.  “Oh hey…I just dropped a penny back here, just trying to retrieve it….”

It’s like the end of “Annie Hall”, which is a small montage of them running into each other with new partners, and having lunch and laughing over old times, mixed with flashbacks of them meeting and falling in love.  And in the last shot, standing in the street, they shake hands and go their separate ways.  Rather, she walks away first, and he watches her go before he turns and walks in the opposite direction with this thought in his head:  “It was great seeing Annie again…I realized what a terrific person she was and how much fun it was just knowing her”.  The love story happened.  And then it ended.  But there’s no bitterness or anger, no regret or vengeance.  Just gratitude.  And it’s always nice to say hello.


All Images Courtesy of Google

Walk of Shame

When I heard the news on the radio, I kind of…couldn’t believe my ears.  I was at work, and between the sounds of machinery, it just didn’t make sense.  On the next hour, I heard it again.  Did they just say slut walk?

Oh yes.  Slut Walk.

How exciting it must be for the announcers to drop a ‘slut’ bomb amid reports of accidents, uprisings, sports and weather.  And so, once home, I research Slut Walk.  This is the moment I stop typing, and rub my eyes as if I can’t believe them.

Slut Walk 2

This is me with mixed feelings.

I get the concept.  I appreciate the sentiment.  I would not participate.


Or maybe…because I am emphatically for women’s rights; and because I also resent this accusatory rape culture, I could partake but wear a bitching muu-muu, or a 1920’s bathing suit.  Can I be a slut but still wear a turtleneck?

This protect march was conceived in Toronto, in 2011, and there have been subsequent events all around the globe. Organizers suggested that women dress in regular clothes to represent the everyday woman suffering abuse in an average life.  But then people showed up dressed like sluts.  And this strange, slutty revolution came from a single comment.  Constable Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto Police officer, while speaking at a safety forum, recommended  that women err on the side of caution and”avoid dressing like sluts”.  Okay, so while he could have found a gentler way to suggest that, it’s not the worst idea ever.  There are bedrooms and beaches, nightclubs and stages where skin is welcomed in abundance.  School, the office, the bank…not so much.  Call me crazy, I don’t want to see that space where the tops of your thighs meet, but with frayed denim framing it.  At the local–twenty people strong–march, one TWELVE-YEAR-OLD girl said she was marching because she thought it was unfair that she couldn’t wear short-shorts to school. Uh…I think you are missing the point of the march, which is that our bodies belong to ourselves, and no person has the right to handle without consent.  No matter what you’re dressed like.  But what is it that we are fighting for? Daisy Dukes?


And I hear the message loud and clear.  But I don’t want to clobbered over the head with it. And I get that the word slut is being re-appropriated in the same way Kanye West and Jay-Z did in a song that the Grammy nomination list had to list as “________ in Paris“.  It’s only okay if we say it.  But why say it at all.  There’s something about this concept that tastes like vinegar.  And as I write about it, I have to question why this is so unsavory to me… and why it feels embarrassing to purse my lips at the notion.  Am I a prude? The police officer, who must rue the day he made that remark–has probably seen a few victimized women in his time. He may have seen common denominators, I don’t know his story.  But I reckon there were some sensitivity training in that man’s future.

The thesis of the march comes from an empowering place.  And hey, I am all for choice.  It is your body, do with it what you will.  And I believe hand on heart, that there is no such thing as ‘legitimate rape’.   We are living in a blame-victim culture, and I appreciate the anger, the clenched fists of feisty feminists that are sick to death of violence and abuse.  I’m one of those women.   But I also believe that rape has about as much to do with sex, as Lindsay Lohan has to do with sobriety.   I also think it wouldn’t kill anyone to throw a cardigan on and leave a little bit to the imagination.  I mean, Grace Kelly was one of the biggest sluts ever, and she was classy as hell.

grace kelly
And again, it’s not about how you clothe your body–it’s about the right to safety, support and sympathy.  Everyone deserves that.  There’s no need to be ashamed, hold those slutty heads high.  And I’ll be here in my giant poncho, championing your cause.

I’d really love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

1348391186-slut-walk-london-2012-march-in-london_1471192I’m not really sure what this means.  Like…I’m not a piece of meat…unless I was wearing meat?  Help me out.

slutwalk1All Images Courtesy of Google