Sunday, January 31, 2010


We went to the house today, to insulate a wall. Progress since the last time I was there? Invisible. We started tearing boards off the exterior bedroom wall to expose the studs. Then we were going to stuff insulation and put the boards back on.

Why wasn't the house insulated when it was built?

Because it's 80 years old, and insulation was a foreign word - they slapped layers of newspaper and, later, wallpaper over the cracks to keep out the wind.

We worked from the ground up, right to left. Man would pry off one end of the board, and I'd move to the left prying it off each stud until the whole thing was free. The first couple were especially bad. They were about knee-level, and I'm especially uncomfortable bending and kneeling right now. We were about seven and a half minutes into the job before I started feeling glum. Hopeless! The job is hopeless! We have bare studs for walls and sawdust-covered floors and roughed-in rafters, and BABY IS TEN WEEKS AWAY! I didn't say anything, because the more I panic the more Man worries, so I kept hammering away (by now I was in charge ot getting the nails out of the wood while Man insulated), feeling the despair well up, afraid of opening my mouth and afraid of tears starting to roll.

I felt angry and helpless and frustrated.... and then all of a sudden I didn't. I stopped thinking about it. It wasn't a concious decision, but I stopped dwelling on the enormous task ahead, and the looming Baby-imposed deadline, and soon we had the wall back together and the sawdust swept and we were out the door, arriving at the apartment to steaming chili in the crock pot and a loaf of sourdough bread as accompaniment.

If I can keep The Crazy at bay just a few more weeks, we'll start seeing major progress by way of walls and gyprock and paint and light fixtures... I can't wait.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Oh to get a full night's sleep

Baby is not even born yet, and I'm already lamenting my lack of sleep! This does not bode well.

I recognize now that sleep is VITAL to keeping my hysterical episodes under control. I know, I know - Duh! right? But understanding this simple concept on my own terms is a giant step forward for me in my continued battle with keeping The Crazy under control.

MEANWHILE, I'm 10 weeks and 4 days to D-day, and our house? Our house looks a little something like this:

I wish I were joking.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The count is on: Five weeks, five days till quitting time

I've started telling people I'm leaving work at the end of February. I began with my boss, (who wrote an editorial from the delivery room hours after giving birth to her youngest child). She said "Tell your doctor to come talk to me. I was here one day and delivering my babies the next." Mostly she was joking. I explained that I'm no good to her at 50% capacity anyway, so it's just as well that I leave before I totally burn out. I do hope this puts the rush on her to GET SOMEBODY HIRED ALREADY - we are already short one hand, and this baby is coming whether there's a full staff on deck or not.

Then I told my mother. "What, already?" Mildly accusing. I told her something's got to give, and the only thing that can give is work. I think she heard the panic through the telephone line, because that was all she had to say about that.

I told my aunt. That went well.

I believe having a set date is important. Everything else in my life right now is so uncertain. Of three major changes coming in the next three months - leaving work, moving house and having a baby - I don't know when any of them are going to happen. They're all inevitable, but that doesn't make preparing for them any easier. I can only hope they happen in that order!

So my last day on the job will be March 2: That equals six more newspapers. I can handle six more papers. I survived the last six. No reason to think I won't get through the next half a dozen.

March 2 also happens to be exactly two years less a day since I started in this job. (Ha! Like a jail term!)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Home De-construction

Man and his brother were supposed to be re-wiring our house today.

It’s a 500-square foot saltbox a mere 20 feet from water’s edge. It’s old, and we went in to it knowing it needed more than a facelift – we’re talking tummy-tuck, lipo and bum job. 

We peeled eight layers of wallpaper from two layers of wallboard. We tore up carpet. We tore down walls. I made mini scale models of our furniture to rearrange on paper floor plans as a way to ease my nesting instinct as I count down the days until D-Day: 11 weeks, 6 days and counting.

But today, there was going to be progress! There was going to be wires and boxes and maybe even a wall or two framed out!

Then I made the mistake of calling from work, just to say hello.

Me: “Hi, Honey! How are things going?”
Him: “Good.”
Me: “What are you working on?”
Him: “Redesigning. We’ve noticed a few structural problems.”
Me: “…Tell me more.”
Him: “The ceiling beams between the sink and the bathroom are unsupported. There’s nothing keeping them up.”
Me: “…”
Him: “So we’re going to have to put a header in there.”
Me: “Okay…”
Him: “And the floor of the bedroom is pretty bouncy. We’re going to move the stairs. It will give us more space for the bedroom and family room upstairs.”
Me: “Okay.”
Him: “And it will make the living room… cozier.”
Me: “There’s a lovely house for sale in the next town…”

Apparently this “minor” change of plans will only set us back two days. I wish I believed him. Man’s brother likes to think things through a LOT. I suspect I’ll be getting the second, third and forth revision of our floor plans by the time I get home.

Did I mention it's deadline day and half our office is out for funerals and family obligations?

I really shouldn't have called.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Exercise: An exercise in avoiding the mirror (Alternative title: I get enough exercise just trying to get my damn swim suit on, thank you very much!)

I went swimming last night. I haven't been in a pool for ages - over a year, at least! I've swam in ponds and rivers (no oceans - far, far too cold). Needless to say, my swimsuit didn't exactly fit. I'm talking leg holes stretched up so far belly fat was escaping, and arm holes stretched so taut I had more sideboob on display than Bai Ling. It was not pretty. I ended up wearing the halter tank-top from my cutest two-piece ever, the one that USED TO hide my jelly-covered abs and show off my (formerly) lean back. It was Magic Suit - all my flaws gone in one swift woosh of black fabric! Last night, the top didn't quite cover my belly, so all my flaming read stretchmarks were on display if I wasn't careful. On the bright side, did I ever fill out the cups!

For bottoms, I chose a pair of black bikini briefs - nothing fancy, but the only swimsuit bottoms that didn't demand to constrict my thighs any further. They sat underneath my baby belly. I can only home my boobs were enough of a distraction.

I've read good things about maternity swimsuits - though I have yet to even see one in person. I am doubtful I'll find one in my neck of the woods, maternity shopping being limited to one rack of jeans and size extra-small tops (for real) at Wal-Mart. I will try on some big suits tonight, but I want that comfy pouch thing to keep my belly all snug. (Last night, the water would make my top ride up, so anyone with goggle on (read: EVERYONE) could see my belly doing its wobbly thing.)

At the pool, I was acting way more pregnant that usual - putting my hands on my belly, gingerly getting in and out of the water and trying to stick my belly out in a more pregnant manner. I'm not going to pretend it was easy to walk on deck twice my usual size wearing a suit that could only be described as "too small." I only hope the crowd got the "I'm PREGNANT, not FAT!" memo.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

That thing you do

Year-in-review (thanks to Aunt Becky)

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Bought a house. Got pregnant, and experienced all the wonders/terrors of the first 6 months of pregnancy. Told my parents they're going to be first-time grandparents. Told my boyfriend's parents that I'm having their first grandchild.Visited China. Played golf. 

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Didn't make any, didn't keep any, haven't made any to keep.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
A baby, a new(er) car, a lack of procrastination

6. What countries did you visit?

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why:
August 4: the day I found out I was pregnant.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Buying a house. Not going completely crazy, though sometimes I felt thisclose.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Remembering my failures makes me cringe. I know I have dozens. Cooking fails, keeping-in-touch-with-friends fails, newspaper fails. Only one threatened a lawsuit.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Hello, Heiny flu!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My house.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My mechanic's, for keeping my car on the road.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
My own, in the thralls of hormonal brain fogs

14. Where did most of your money go?
Airfare and living expenses

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
China! Having a Baby! My friend's band's CD! (Listed chronologically, not in order of excitement)

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
Yeesh. I listened to a whole lot of Neil Young, Josh Ritter and David Francey. Hard to pick.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? Fatter (Pregnanter?)
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Camping, hiking, canoeing and being outside.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Stressing about money; FREAKING OUT.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Spent it with family, eating.

21.Name one random thing that people would be surprised to know about you.
I really don't like dogs. Or cats. Or pets in general.(Also, it's the Internet! The Internet is not surprised by anything!)

22. Did you fall in love in 2009?

23. How many one-night stands?

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Two and a Half Men and Jeopardy.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

26. What was the best book you read?
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
That I'm not very talented.

28. What did you want and get?
A house.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Slumdog Millionnaire. It's possible that's the only movie I saw.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Visited Man's family and friends in the great Out West. Had sex. Drank Perrier.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Immeasurably!? Hmm, curing cancer. Eliminating AIDS and world hunger and poverty.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Does it fit? Does it have a hole it it? Is the hole really that noticeable?

34. What kept you sane?
Long walks on the beach Hugs and Baby kicks.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
 I have a total crush on the backup goalie for the local hockey team. And I don't even like hockey. Much.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Oh my. Afghan detainees, the many failures of child protection services, The inquiry into Robert Dziekanski's death and the RCMP officers' attitudes, how slowly the cogs of government do turn.

37. Whom did you miss?
My friends overseas and far away.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
My obstetrician! Is that weird?

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:
Having a baby and moving house is a Very Big Deal. You are allowed to FREAK OUT more than occasionally.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Tonight will be fine
Will be fine
Will be fine
For a while
-Leonard Cohen, Tonight will be fine

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Taking stock of my profession

This has been on my mind all week. The first Canadian journalist killed in Afghanistan. 34 years old. A wonderful researcher and writer.

There have been other journalists killed, in other parts of the world. Each time I read those headlines, I think how lucky I am to work in a small corner of the country, where the most dangerous story I've covered was... hmmm, actually I have to think about that.

Community reporting, in a docile, democratic country isn't much of a risk. Michelle Lang and I are about as far apart on the journalism spectrum as vanilla and rocky road ice cream - both ice cream, but one has many more bumps and hurdles along the way.

I spent several hours on Sunday night reading the tributes to Michelle from her colleagues and friends, and the Calgary Herald did a fine job of celebrating her work and mourning her death.

Tonight, when I went to grab that link to their Jan. 2 editorial, it was already buried on the website. Because though her colleagues no doubt are still in shock, the rest of the country will not stand still while they tend to their hearts. The news keeps coming.

And bravo to them, her colleagues, for keeping up the news torch and turning out the latest headlines on the prime minister, the Olympic flame and air travel security.

In that small respect, all journalists are alike. When faced with terrible, lousy news - stupid news like four more soldiers killed in Afghanistan and young bodies found in the ashes of burnt homes (sometimes twice in one week), news that makes my insides boil with the sheer waste and tragedy of it all - we only have a few moments to process it before updating our newscasts and websites with the latest info. And when that story is done, you know what? We turn back to our desks and write another story, about food banks or potholes or the federal budget. Because deadline is looming and the press has to roll. We must be bred with some sort of immunity to depth of feeling.

And that's why Michelle Lang has been on my mind so much this week - she won't get another coup of a good story, the thrill of a great quote or the delicious feeling of breaking news before anyone else. Her death has made me think about the reporter rat-race that I live every day. Life is so fleeting. How can racing for deadlines be worth it?