Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I was killing a bit of time at work yesterday (it was during my lunch hour! I swear!) and I had a sudden masochistic urge to see if Trevor, my first "real" boyfriend, had his profile listed on Facebook. I plugged in his name, and there he was on the second page of results.

Holding a baby.

If ever there were someone who SHOULDN'T contribute to the gene pool, that would be Trevor.

I met Trevor a month before the end of my first year at university. He was the friend of a guy my friend Jenn was seeing at the time. His main selling point was that he was interested in sleeping with me more than once -- sometimes even while sober! And that was pretty much it.

Trevor was an 18-year-old high school dropout whose mission in life was to shock and offend as many people as possible. (In retrospect, I suppose that going out with me must have figured into his grand master plan in some way.)

He enjoyed doing things like: spitting half-chewed food into my mouth while we kissed, climbing construction cranes while stoned off his gourd and terrifying the onlookers below, and "dining and dashing" from restaurants for kicks.

Yep, he was a real charmer.

"Then why did you go out with him???" you might be wondering. Did I mention he was interested in sleeping with me more than once? That made him a prince among men at that particular point in my life.

( Needless to say, it wasn't a particularly HIGH point in my life.)

Despite the neon-billboard warning signs, I decided to spend the summer with Trevor tree planting in the northern wilds of British Columbia. Why? Mostly because my family scoffed at the idea. My brother had spent the last couple of summers tree planting, and based on his stories my parents didn't believe I'd be able to endure the hard work and harsh conditions for longer than two seconds.

Well. If there's one sure-fire way to get me to do something, it's to tell me I'm not capable of it. ( Unless you're talking about brain surgery. Or pulling off a chemical experiment without breaking something or blowing something up. Those things, I cannot do.)

And so, despite my parents' misgivings, I hopped on a Greyhound and went to Prince George, where I hooked up with Trevor and the rest of our tree-planting crew -- most of whom were Alberta boys who all went to the same bible college.

Well... you can guess what they thought about the one girl on the crew who -- gasp! -- was sharing a tent with a boy who wasn't her husband!


What little respect they might have had for me plummeted once they got to know Trevor and discovered exactly what calibre of guy I was willing to share a tent with. They didn't talk to me much after that.

That made for a pretty lonely summer. Especially since Trevor decided soon after we got into the bush that he didn't really want to be my boyfriend, after all. The novelty of screwing a socially awkward university girl had apparently worn off.

Being Trevor, his break-up strategy was to repulse me so badly that I would flee back to civilization, screaming.

He started off by eating live tadpoles. He'd reach right into a muddy puddle, scoop up a handful of wriggling creatures, and pop them in his mouth -- then wait for my shrieks of disgust.

It was, indeed, a very effective way to make me stop kissing him. But it wasn't enough to get me to crawl back home to my parents.

And that's what Trevor hadn't bargained for: my stubborn refusal to admit defeat.

I soon became numb to the sight of Trevor eating tadpoles. My lack of reaction disappointed him, and so he upped the stakes. He started eating actual frogs. I turned around one day after he'd called my name and saw him stuff one into his mouth. He watched me, grinning, as one little frog leg kicked feebly between his teeth.

I heaved a long sigh. "Trevor," I said, fighting to keep my voice calm, "Please don't eat that."

And then he did.

It's amazing, the things to which one can become acclimatized over time. Like watching your boyfriend eat live frogs, for example. I soon became desensitized to it -- after all, how much worse is eating a frog than playing "frog baseball" -- smashing defenseless frogs into a million pieces with a shovel while shouting, "Batta batta batta SWING!" -- like all the bible school boys did? (Putting their God-given dominion over the natural world to good use, of course.)

Not so much worse, it turns out.

At any rate, I became increasingly bored with Trevor's amphibian-eating antics, and he became increasingly bored with me. After all, what good is a girlfriend if you can't make her yell or scream or cry?

Trevor was the one who finally ended up caving. He woke up one morning, rolled over in his sleeping bag and announced to me, "That's it -- I'm outta here."

As he packed his bag, he explained that it wasn't ME -- it was him. He was like that guy in Freebird, he told me. He wasn't made to stay in one place with one woman for too long. And that bird, I could not change. Lord knows, he could not change.

And so he left.

At least he didn't take the tent, I thought.

The last time I saw Trevor was the following summer. For obvious reasons, I decided against tree-planting that year, choosing instead to spend the summer at my folks' place in Chilliwack, waitressing at a Greek steakhouse.

Trevor blew through town one day on his way to Vancouver with one of his stoner buddies. He found me through the phonebook (there were only six Whalens in Chilliwack at the time).

I had to work the night he called, but agreed to meet him and let him drive me to the restaurant, "for old time's sake."

He showed up in an orange VW bus. Turns out he didn't look me up simply to get some ex-girlfriend nookie. He and his pal were funding their cross-country tour by selling acid, and he wanted to know if I could hook him up with any buyers.

I told him no.

Undeterred, he asked if he and his pal could do a dine and dash in the restaurant where I worked. I turned down that request as well, even though it was clear that both Trevor and his friend were in desperate need of some decent food. But hell, it wasn't going to come out of my pocket.

That was the last time I ever saw him.

Over the years, I've morbidly wondered whatever became of Trevor. Honestly, I would have put money on him ending up in jail -- or the morgue -- by his 25th birthday.

Yet there he was on Facebook yesterday, balding and pudgy, and holding a baby.

Heaven help us all.

What a Hitchcockian way to start the day

As I was riding my bike to work, I had to duck TWICE to avoid birds that seemed bent on flying straight into my face -- with wings outspread, claws stretched toward my eyes and everything. One was a pigeon, the other a seagull.

I'm thinking maybe I should switch my perfume from Eau de Roadkill to something else, perhaps?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Quote of the day

Brought to you by Mr. Short-Term Memory...

"Where's Milo's pants go, Mommy?"

That's my boy: running around and acting crazy, having the time of his life -- then all of a sudden looking down and realizing he has no pants on.

He's more like me than I care to admit.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hugga wugga

We have a new favourite Muppets episode:

It rocks even harder than Alice Cooper singing, "School's out for summer!"

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

At the crossroads

You know those times in your life when you're approaching a huge change -- be it graduation, a new job, or marriage -- and you know you need to step up to the plate and grab that bull by the horns?

(And mangle a few metaphors while you're at it?)

This is one of those times for Rob and me.

And I swear to you, we're going to grab that bull's horns, swing ourselves over its head and land standing on its back -- then wave our mouse-eared hats with a flourish and shout "Olé!" at the top of our lungs.

Sheer brilliance

This woman is my hero:

She ALMOST persuaded me to sign up for a MySpace account, just so I could subscribe to her blog.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007


One of my good friends, Cindy, asked me why the memory of the boy who died in my swimming pool floated into my thoughts recently. (Nice metaphor, Cindy.)

Here's the answer...

I went into Milo's room one day last week after he'd awakened from his nap. There he stood in his crib, holding on to his blankie and blinking sleepily, his mussed-up hair a wild halo around his head.

I asked him if he'd had a good nap -- and he looked up at me and said, "Monster, mommy!"

"Monster?" I repeated. "Did you just have a dream of a monster?"

He shook his head, then pointed down at the space between the wall and the bottom of his crib. "Monster down there."

The boy is barely two years old and he already has a monster under his bed.

So it begins.

The good news is, thanks to his newfound-inspired addiction to the Muppet Show (we recently bought the entire first season on DVD and it still ROCKS), the monster under Milo's bed is definitely friendly.

It probably goes by the name of Sweetums and looks something like this:

Whereas the monster that lived in my closet during most of my childhood (only to be replaced by the bearded axe-murderer discussed in this previous post) looked something like this:

... And no one ever called him "Sweetums."

The appearance of Milo's new bedside companion got me thinking about the faces we see in the shadowy corners of our lives -- are they friendly or menacing? Angels or devils?

When the aliens appear, will they be benevolent teachers or ruthless overlords holding well-worn copies of "To Serve Man" in their tentacled grasp?

All this basically translates to how we apprehend the unknown -- in the world at large, in the people we encounter in our daily lives, and most especially within ourselves.

For too many years, I saw demons wherever I looked.

I mistrusted the motives of others. I expected the worst-case scenario to be the logical conclusion to any situation. Strangers were potential enemies. Pointed looks and whispered conversations were always about me -- and they were always insulting (but laser-accurate, of course).

It wasn't until I hit my 30s that I finally came to like myself for who I am, as opposed to despising myself for not being who I thought I should be. (And not to go all hippy on your ass or anything, but I give full props to yoga for my mental paradigm shift.)

Lo and behold, the universe became a friendlier place -- shadows, strangers, and all.

Now, I know Milo is going to encounter evil in this world. I'm not sure I would keep him sheltered him from it, even if I could. After all, how will he learn to overcome adversity if he never encounters it?

But if he's lucky -- and I desperately hope he is -- the monster lurking in the dark corners of his life will always be "Sweetums."

How about you? What monsters are hiding in the shadowy regions of your life? And are they friendly or sinister?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Life sucks when...

While at work, you feel yourself becoming inescapably, gut-wrenchingly ill, but you can't leave because there's really important work that must be completed by deadline -- so you stick it out, get it all done between all the messy and embarrassing visits to the bathroom -- until finally you're able to leave, so you get on your bike and pedal home oh-so-slowly because you have absolutely NO energy and you don't want to precipitate another visit to the bathroom (especially when there AREN'T any bathrooms en route) -- and when you finally get home, you rush into the bathroom without saying hello to your child or your husband, who you're sure is going to act as your knight in shining armor and take care of all the supper and putting-kid-to-bed details so you can collapse on to the bed and writhe around in fetal position -- anything, anything, to make the horrible feeling go away --

And then before you're even finished in the bathroom, your knight in shining armor bangs on the door and says, "You got to get out of there! I'm about to be sick!"

Apparently we both ate the same piece of bad fish.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

If I were REALLY rude, I'd make some sort of nasty reference to a "c*m shot"

For anyone who's ever lived in Japan, this will make perfect sense. Because when insane people enjoy insane things, it's perfectly logical, right?

Click here to discover what I'm talking about: Mayo margaritas???

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


When I was 10 years old, my family moved from Deep Cove to Chilliwack.

One of the things that made this move bearable for me was the fact that our new home had an in-ground pool. Sure, I was moving away from the forest and the ocean and the mountains -- not to mention my friends.

But hey! At least we were getting a nice pool.

A few weeks after we moved to our new home, my mom brought my brother and me to the local pool supply store to pick up some pool-cleaning chemicals. The man who worked there was obviously familiar with all the pool owners in the small town that was now our home, and since he'd never seen us before, he asked us where we lived.

My mom told him the name of our street. Grimacing, he responded, "Oh yeah -- the old Buchanan place. Where the kid drowned."

Turns out a group of neighbourhood kids had been playing hide-and-go-seek the year before, and one of them -- a three-year-old boy -- had crawled under the fence into what was soon to become our backyard, then had slipped and fallen into our pool, only to become trapped beneath its vinyl cover.

Just the kind of story you REALLY want to hear about your new home.

We were pretty freaked out... But not enough to stop swimming in our pool.

As I floated lazily in my innertube, or swam from one end to the other without taking a breath, the little dead boy would sometimes surface in my thoughts. I'd stare through the pool's clear depths and wonder how he must have felt in his last moments -- whether he'd known what was happening, if he'd screamed, and if so, if anyone had heard him.

Then I'd scramble out of the water and rub myself down so hard with a towel, I'd leave carpet burns on my skin.

Still, I'd thought the creepiness of it all was something I could deal with -- something that lent a certain gothic charm to an otherwise normal suburban home.

And then -- at the beginning of the summer I turned 12 -- I made the mistake of watching Friday the 13th.

You know... the pre-Jason original, the one with the psycho-killer mom who murders a bunch of innocent people in revenge for her son's death by DROWNING years before?

Yep. Didn't relate too much to THAT particular tale.

All of a sudden I began to take notice of the little dead boy's family (because yes, they did still live just a few houses down the street).

His older brother was just eight years old -- by the looks of it, still too small to go about stabbing people in their sleep. The mother was pleasant enough, and seemed far too busy chasing around her toddler daughter to entertain thoughts of bloody revenge.

But the father... He was big and seldom smiled. And he had a beard.

The facial hair clinched it. The man was a psycho killer, and he was out to murder my family.

That whole summer, I was afraid to stay in the house by myself. Every creak was a footstep, every breath of wind was the satisfied sigh of the hunter closing in for the kill.

(Of course, my pre-teen addiction to Stephen King novels didn't help.)

I tried to share my fears with my family, but they pooh-poohed my concerns and told me I was just imagining things. Which I was, of course. Logically, I understood that.

But logic didn't stop me from bolting out the front door whenever I heard the slightest unexplained noise coming from some other part of the house.

Even now, I can feel how my heart used to pound as I stood at the foot of our driveway and stared at our house, willing myself to believe there wasn't an angry bearded man with an axe hiding in the downstairs bathroom.

Eventually, I grew out of my fear. Grade seven finally began, I started spending more time with friends, and the inexplicable noises that had struck such terror into my heart fell mysteriously silent.

Then -- during the great ice storm of 1985 -- the pool's pipes cracked and broke. My parents never bothered to fix them. The pool fell into disrepair, eventually becoming home to countless frogs whose midnight croaking prevented my parents from sleeping.

Years later, while I was away at university, my parents decided to fill the pool with dirt and give it a proper burial. If you were to visit their house now, you'd never guess a killer pool lay concealed beneath the grass in their backyard.

Just like the pool, the terror it once spawned is still buried in my mind, lurking beneath the fertile soil of my imagination.

Except now that I'm a mother, it's not MY death that has the power to terrify me.

It's Milo's.

And suddenly, I feel a strange sense of sympathy for Mrs. Voorhees. Because the lengths I'd go to in order to protect my son from harm?

They don't bear thinking about.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

How does he KNOW?

So I was having a dream in which a certain handsome dark-haired pirate and I were in a hotel room in some kind of Disneyland/Las Vegas-like holiday locale, and a bunch of other people were in the room with us, and we REALLY REALLY wanted them to leave so we could start getting friendly with each other -- but the others wouldn't leave, they just kept yammering about all the places they wanted to visit, food they wanted to eat, shows they wanted to see, and they wouldn't take our pointed hints indicating that we wanted them to get the fuck OUT of there and leave us alone already.

And then, when they DID finally saunter out of the room, each lingering over one last long drawn-out goodbye, and the handsome dark-haired pirate and I were finally able to close the door and fall into each other's arms --

-- a voice called out to me from the room next door: "MOMMY! Get up! Milo awake!"

Sigh. Even in my dreams, we can't get lucky. I'm pretty sure that boy is angling to be an only child.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Do you ever get the feeling that a huge wave of upheaval is about to crash down on your head and sweep you away to alien shores?

I can't shake the sensation that I'm gearing up to do a WHOLE LOT of dog paddling some time in the all-too-frighteningly-near future...

Because Meg told me to

In response to Meg Fowler's latest call to action. Never shall that woman be called "listless"...

1. What is your favorite word?


2. What is your least favorite word?

Fug or fugly

3. What turns you on?

Pirates, duh.

4. What turns you off?

Unrelenting tentativeness

5. What sound or noise do you love?

Milo's dinosaur roar: "Rah!" (It's identical to his monster roar, his lion roar, his bear roar, his alligator roar -- you get the picture.)

6. What sound or noise do you hate?

Fork on a plate -- pure torture

7. What is your favorite curse word?

I have to CHOOSE? Fuck that!

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?


9. What profession would you not like to do?

Brain surgeon

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

"Took you long enough!"

Monday, August 06, 2007

I wish he weren't so darned ambivalent

The question: "Hey Milo, do you want a drink of this water?"

The answer:

Inscrutable as stone, that boy...

Sunday, August 05, 2007

My work here is done

Milo just walked into the living room -- legs stiff, arms outstretched, and head jerking from side to side -- intoning, "Monster boy! Monster booooy!"

I feel like I've accomplished all I ever could have hoped for as a parent.

To hammer the point home, here's Milo's latest all-time-favorite YouTube video:

That's my boy...

Friday, August 03, 2007

Nature's bidet

It happens every time.

We come to Rob's folks' place on a hot summer day and eagerly await the receding tide, so we can go play on the sandbar behind their house.

We gather up our sand toys and head down to the beach, gingerly picking our way through the seaweed-covered rocks until we reach the rippled sand.

And then it happens -- I step close to a seemingly innocuous quarter-sized hole in the sand, and a giant three-foot spurt of water shoots from the hole, straight up into the leg of my shorts.

I shriek and take another step -- and a second fountain squirts up the other leg of my shorts.

Geoducks: the perverts of the bivalve world.

Yoga and hangovers don't mix

On Wednesday night, I went out for dinner with my good friends from university, Liz and Tracy.

It all started out very civilized, with white wine and scintillating conversation about the joy of owning really cute shoes and how hard it is to find a hairdresser who really knows how to cut good layers.

But at some point in the evening I think we started to believe we were still in university, 15 years younger than we actually are. And before we knew it, we'd polished off a couple bottles of wine, several pints of beer, several more glasses of wines, and a few mojitos just to spice things up.

The last hour (or two?) of the evening is a complete blur.

I don't remember getting home. I think there may have been a cab involved -- although I could have been piggy-backed home by a hunchback and still be none the wiser.

All I know is that when I woke up yesterday morning, there was a trail of clothing leading from the bathroom at the back of the house all the way to the door of my bedroom.

And I was still drunk.

Staying home from work wasn't an option -- I had an article to write for the weekly newsletter, and its deadline was set in stone. So I somehow managed to stumble my way to the Skytrain and get to the office (only half an hour late). Then I did something I haven't done for YEARS -- I tried to soak up the remains of my alcohol buzz with a greasy, greasy breakfast from A&W.

And then I tried to write.

Do you know hard it is to write coherently when your head feels like it's home to a swarm of angry bees?

When lunchtime rolled around, I decided to take a break from my drunken writer's block hell and clear my brain by taking part in the weekly yoga class I'd signed up for. (It's pretty sweet -- a yoga instructor actually comes to our office and does the class right there.)

Well. You know how they say that yoga helps rid your body of all the toxins and negative energy blockages in your body? After the previous night's debauchery, my body was apparently in serious need of some purging.

Halfway through the class, in the middle of "downward-facing dog," the nausea surfaced with a vengeance. I was able to make it to the end of class -- barely -- but as soon as we'd all said "namaaste" to each other, I couldn't get out of there fast enough. I stumbled as quickly as I could to the four-stall public bathroom -- and then gaped in horror as one of my coworkers insisted on coming into the bathroom WITH ME.

And so -- with no other options available to me -- I surrendered all dignity and puked up every last morsel of my greasy, greasy breakfast, as my coworker listened on in horror.

(The sound of a flushing toilet can only drown out so much...)

She was kind enough to offer me a cracker afterwards, which I declined. I didn't have the strength to tell her that I was a. not dying, b. the author of my own misery, and c. actually feeling better now that I no longer had a belly full of toxic fast food.

However, I'm pretty sure that when I return to work on Tuesday, fully half the women there are going to think I'm pregnant.

Nope, ladies. Not pregnant. Just stupid.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Oh yeah

Right now I'm wondering, at what point in the evening did I forget I HAD TO WORK TODAY???