Would She

The day my mother died, well, the night before really, I was talking to her nurse. The nurse commented that she was so glad I had arrived in time and asked if I had a nice flight.

Now, on the face of it, in 2014, it was not crazy to ask if I had a nice flight. I spent a lot of time on planes. But Edmonton, it was home. I hadn’t been flying. By stroke of goodness, I was in Edmonton the day I got the call that my mum lay dying. I came to the hospital from my office, just across the river.

My mother had told this nurse, told everyone, that her daughter was a partner in a major law firm in Toronto.

That was the person my mother wanted me to be. That was what would have made her proud. To her dying day I don’t think she forgave me for not going to law school. I wasn’t the daughter she wanted in oh so many ways.

I was accepted to an MBA program today. I had a discussion about promotion today. It was a good day.

It’s ok that I wasn’t the daughter my mum wanted. I’m the kind of person I want to be. That feels like enough for today.

Posted in The language of families | 1 Comment

But do I miss it?

I was on a plane for the first time in 8 months on Friday. I went to Vancouver to meet a new baby. (He was adorable and is now well swathed in wool). I saw former colleagues, now friends. Family.

I planned on seeing the Sea Otters at the Vancouver Aquarium and having sushi. I did not do either.

I saw people I loved. Everyone asked if I miss the travel.

I miss it now that I no longer have status. I miss the ability to sit in a quiet lounge with a glass of wine and some food and I miss getting on the plane first and not having to fight disorganized people. I miss putting myself on the standby list and knowing that I will get on the plane, even if they have to upgrade me to business class.

I miss the ability to plan fun meals in multiple cities.

And then I think of the quiet joys of home. Cooking soup and bread. Buying vegetables on a Sunday and cooking them on a Wednesday. Curling up to Mr. Spit.

It’s been a big change. On the whole of it, I miss parts and I love parts. Not so bad.

Posted in Feats of Wonder | Leave a comment

Jumping Up and Down in Rage

I have a lead foot. Well, it’s not really lead. I feel like maybe I should start there. I don’t have an aluminium foot, barely on the pedal, but it’s not really lead. It’s probably more like stainless steel.

I go maybe 10-12 kms over the speed limit. And yes, before you say it, that is speeding.

Might I point out that often enough I’m going with the flow of traffic? If I’m speeding, so is everyone else and I’m not sure that it’s safe or wise to not be going with the flow of traffic. A couple of times a year I’m going with the flow of traffic – more or less – and I don’t even notice. At least, until the envelope from the city arrives. With my ticket.

The ticket is invariably for 11 or 12 Kilometres over the speed limit, which is, as I admitted above, speeding. But again, in my defence, it’s the same speed everyone else is doing. More to the point, my city says that they are doing this to improve my safety . . .  and the stats are sketchy on that point.

Broadly speaking, at known photo radar locations, speed tends to decrease over time, as more and more of us pay attention to the speedometer (and not the flow of traffic or the other drivers). This doesn’t necessarily mean that safety increases or that collision rates go down.

Which takes me to my point. Well, my intermediary point at any rate. The reality is that photo radar is a cash cow for the city and they are charging me for going with the flow. And I suppose fair ball to them, I ought to be an upstanding citizen who pays more attention to her speedometer and does not go with the flow. I ought to be this sort of person in the same way that I really ought to like cauliflower and I ought to meditate a bit more and I should really pay attention to my fibre consumption. I should do these things because I am an adult.

I suppose the genius in being an adult is that you can decide what you are actually going to  focus on, which is, for me, things like running and having healthy relationships and going to bed a decent hour. I get a few speeding tickets a year. I’m sanguine about the whole thing.

But, as I stood with the ticket in my hand and for a moment, – a brief but glorious moment, I thought it was actually Mr. Spit’s ticket. I was not the culpable one. I did not waste the family finances and was not an irresponsible and perfidious adult. Heaven’s no.

A quick trip to the calendar put paid to that notion, I was indeed driving the car that day and my oh so helpful partner could tell me exactly where I had been and where I was coming from. He also pointed out that he sees them in that spot . . . often.

I may, just possibly, have done a bit of jumping up and down in sheer frustration. So close at being able to blame someone else.

I’m still going to get speeding tickets. I might want to be less blame-ish about it.


Posted in Marriage, Ministry of Funny Walks | Leave a comment

An Agnostic’s Lent

A friend tells this hilarious story about a meeting where one of his female staff announced that she was giving up chocolate and coffee for lent. He asked if she was also going to give up the affair she was having with one of his staff. (He meant that part to be only in his head). He got a meeting with HR.

We might say that she didn’t quite understand the true theological concerns of lent.

I spent enough time as a youth pastor and, well, as an Anglican that I do understand the theological concerns of lent. Agnostic me thinks that giving something up for lent makes me a more mindful person. It makes me live a bit more in the now.

I gave up social media for lent this year. Not so much to experience a sense of denial, but because I had a vague sense that it was making me  . . . unhappy. In ways that I could not define, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram were sapping me. I deleted them from my phone. I didn’t tell anyone. I just quietly went away to think about it.

I didn’t really miss social media. I missed people. Nothing much changed for the first two weeks. I had some more time for reading. I spent some time each night thinking about various life issues. Change happened about week 3. I got a bit happier. Mr. Spit made a joke at a time when it would have normally annoyed me, and I consciously chose to respond with wit and not annoyance. Half way through lent, I found myself feeling lighter. Joking more. Having fun. Connecting with real things.

The observant of you will notice that Easter was a week and a half ago. On Easter morning I added Instagram and Facebook back on my phone. Facebook lasted until noon before I deleted it again. Instagram stayed. I’ve taken the week and a half to figure out why.

My Instagram is real stuff and people. It’s not curated. It’s HerewegoaJen’s smiling babies Fivestick’s smiling children and meals you have prepared and Phil Plait’s goats and Lindi Ortega’s cats and finished knitting projects. It’s not arty or fancy. It doesn’t make a social point. It’s not marketing. It’s just every day life. It feels a lot like someone sent me a text with a picture.  “Share this cool thing with me”. If there’s a sniff of the hipster, of the need to curate, earnest use of hash tags, the constant one upmanship, I’m happy to unfollow you.

As it turns out, every day life makes me happy.

I didn’t give up social media to edit my life. I didn’t give it up to make a social or political statement. I gave it up because I didn’t think it was making me happy. It doesn’t. It makes me thin and stretched and frazzled. It doesn’t connect me with you. It’s not every day life for me.

So, if you were wondering where I’ve been on social media, now you know.

Posted in irrelevant reverence, Learning Life, Living Deliberately | Leave a comment

The Confidence of a Mediocre White Man

On Wednesday I was drinking scotch in the middle of the afternoon.

(Thank beneficent deities I have the sort of career where this is ok. Thank the Scots for making the good stuff and thank the Irish for bottling the mostly ok stuff we were drinking on Wednesday)

Gratitude aside, I arsed up on Wednesday. Sort of. I keep going back to it, trying to figure out how it happened. I was asked a question in the middle of a presentation and somehow the question threw me. It was:

  • Worded a bit strangely and asked in a slightly combative manner
  • Referred to data I had not looked at in 2 weeks. Indeed, I have my head buried in another set of numbers entirely.
  • I hadn’t expected problems with this presentation.
  • I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in about 2 weeks and I’m a bit off.

What I should have done is take a few moments and stop and think. Instead for some reason, I absolutely panicked. Was the data wrong? Was everything I was saying wrong? Was I am incompetent idiot batting above her paygrade? Was this the moment when everyone found out that all I should have ever been allowed to do was sweep the floors and make coffee and I have been fooling everyone for all these years.

It’s called Imposter Syndrome.

Post a few ounces of Irish scotch, I headed into another meeting where I was capable and confident and I have heard nothing from anyone about my arse up. Indeed, they are handing me another pile of work.

I was having lunch with Kuri and she told me about this moment, this tshirt she bought.



It’s Sarah Hagi’s quote and they made, briefly, tshirts.

Which I want. Because that’s my new litmus test.

Posted in Feminism, Flying with Warthog Air | 5 Comments

That’s A Bit

Mr. Spit is home for the week and he’s done a bit of clean up in the basement. Including clearing out paint cans.

It may just be that we have done a bit of painting in the 11 years we have lived here.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

What are we Saving Again?

Some of it is perception, and I freely acknowledge that.

Just this morning, Mr. Spit was driving me into the office (He’s on vacation) and I was blasé about the speed of traffic and he was going nuts. Perception is everything.

I seem to have been more aware of the light lasting longer into the evenings this year. I was more aware of the light in the morning, of watching the sun rise in the mornings.

This year I didn’t want or need daylight savings time. I didn’t want that awful feeling yesterday where I thought I had more time and would look at the clock and realize that I didn’t. From waking up late (well, 9 am that felt like 8 am and would have been 8 am were it not for lunacy), to eating dinner at 4:30, because  I was hungry. It’s all off balance and out of kilter. It’s just perception. It’s just an hour on the clock.

I just didn’t want to save that damn hour. I wanted to spend that hour, thank you very much.

I can, from time to time, be quite funny about the foolish, inane and asinine stuff of life.  Daylight Savings time is this and by rights I should be able to mange to bring the funny.

And maybe I will. When someone gives me that hour they decided to save from me.

Posted in It's an Ordinary Day | Leave a comment

Faint and Few

A few nights ago I was at the gym and while I was signing in, the receptionist asked what I did for a living. She explained that she was looking for a new career and she didn’t know what she wanted to do.

In her early 20s, betwixt and between, I made a few suggestions that might have helped me at her age and told her that I had been similarly confused but found my way.

In times past, before becoming the cheerful agnostic, I would have prayed for her over the next few days. Not that she would find God or Jesus or anything like that, but so that she might have some care and concern around her as she found her way. 20 is hard. It’s confusing and scary and filled with big things.

I would have said that God was awake when I was asleep. Praying didn’t obligate him to do anything, but God was awake and all I could do was pray that she found her way because that felt a bit more proactive and engaged than a generic “well, I hope it works out ok for you”.

I told Whytelash that I missed praying and she asked why I couldn’t just pray to the universe.

There was a contract of sorts (if you want fancy theology language for $1,000 Alex, it was a covenant) between God and I. I upheld the rules as best I could, did what I could, went to church and tried to be a good follower. He had to listen to me and be awake when I supplicated. He didn’t have to agree, he didn’t have to do anything, but he had to listen. He was an entity of sorts and he had to listen.

The universe?

I don’t think it owes me anything.

My prayers aren’t much. In truth they never were. They aren’t selfish, at least not any more than anyone else.

They are profoundly human. Born out of my limitations. Often birthed in my wishes for others. They are small and faint and few.

But they matter.

And I do not know what to do with them.

Posted in The Cheerful Agnostic | 1 Comment


It’s hard to believe this blog is 8.

But it is.

Actually it turned 8 on the 7th of March.

I write here less now. I write a few other places (Like Drunk Fashion), but this place and you still matter.

And I am thankful that I have this place.

Posted in Interruption. | 1 Comment

Letting Go

The City of Edmonton has approved backyard chicken coops. If you are me, this is of interest because you have this image of yourself:

Wearing a long skirt (that I don’t own), a gauzy cotton blouse (that I also don’t own), a big straw hat (I’d have to buy that) with bare feet (phew, doesn’t involve a trip to the store) I was going to be the woman with the blue and white striped ceramic bowl (Which I would have to buy), taking care of her chickens. I am also 4 inches taller, about 40 pounds skinnier and my hair is pulled back in a perfectly smooth braid.

My chickens are cute and fluffy and they don’t require much maintenance at all. I stroll in the backyard in my earth mother outfit and I collect eggs and pick lettuce and peas from my garden and it is always sunny.


I spent twenty minutes googling chickens and coops and thinking about this life. Well, this day dream.

I am not an earth mother. I wear make up and perfume and I cannot fathom a circumstance in which I would not wear a bra.

For years really this was my dream. If I could just get to a point where I was like all of the other wives at church -If I could wear long skirts and grow organic food and have 10 children, with an ever present smile of my face and a plate of healthy cookies at the ready –

If –

I’m not that woman. I’m short and I live in jeans and a cardigan and I work too much and I love high heeled shoes and I talk about politics and wear red nail polish. I am not plain and simple. I do not possess a quiet and gentle spirit.

We talked about the chickens at dinner last night. We talked about them and we joked and Mr. Spit and I agreed – that’s not who we are. Mostly we talked about the last time we talked about getting chickens, which was when I was pregnant with Gabriel.

I’m not getting chickens and that’s ok. It’s not who I am.

I might have been her, if Gabe stayed. Maybe. Possibly.

But he didn’t.

And I’m not.

Posted in Baby Loss, It's an Ordinary Day | 1 Comment