Thursday, July 14, 2011

The End

Tonight a huge chapter in my life comes to a close. The final movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, comes out at 12:01 AM. I will be at a 12:05 AM show with my friend. My first, and last, midnight showing of a Harry Potter movie is sure to be memorable, to say the least. And mere hours from the moment when that beautiful, jagged lightning bolt of a screentitle will appear before me, I find myself thinking about my literary journey with the books and how it was so different from my cinematic experience.

I discovered the Harry Potter series for myself in 2000. I had just graduated from university and was working at my local public library branch as a shelver, and despite my ever-expanding interests, I eschewed Harry for a long time before I condescended to read it. "It can't be THAT good," I said to myself. Naturally, once I expressed interest in finally reading it, Ms. Rowling decided then would be a great time to publish the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This renewed the public's interest in the series, making it nigh impossible to get one's hands on the first three books for at least several months... in English.

I came across the first three books in French, in an astoundingly proper translation: those French from France, they sure know what they're doing. Since I hadn't read anything in French for leisure in about ten years, it took substantially longer to read, as I had to have a dictionary on hand when doing so. But I slogged through for weeks, where normally I'd have finished tearing through them in a few hours. The story was amazing, otherwise I would have given up after a few chapters.

When I finally got my hands on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (in English) after being #350 on a holds list, there was some initial confusion with regards to names and spells and such - Severus Snape is Severus Rogue in French; Hogwarts is "Poudlard" - but the book represented such a turning point in the series, and also a change in my appreciation for it, that I started raving about it to everyone I knew. (My mother famously repeated to me, "They can't be THAT good," then bought all four through a book club offer, read them all in a week, then called me up begging me to tell her when the next one was coming out.)

Around the time that GoF was slated to come out, rumors were swirling about Hollywood starting a movie series based on the books. I remember when it was confirmed and Vanity Fair ran an umpteen-page exposé with so many beautiful photos that for the first time since elementary school I bought a magazine and tore pages out of it to put star photos on my walls. Harry was perfect! Quidditch uniforms looked awesome! SNAPE!!! Oh my god, they picked Alan Rickman. Never in the history of cinema has an actor been so perfectly cast.

Of course, I saw each movie the day it came out, and bought each subsequent book in advance. I re-read Order of the Phoenix so many times I could find you a particular passage within ten seconds. I even drew a crappy-looking storyboard for what I wanted the last 150 pages of the book to look like in a movie. (I then showed it to my husband, who said, "Okay, so Harry is looking through a telescope, then there's a gorilla --" "That's Hagrid!" "Okay, so a gorilla is coming out of a house and a midget --" "That's Umbridge!" "... is shooting laser beams at it. It looks pissed off and then someone shoots lasers at a man wearing a tepee --" "That's McGonagle!" You get the idea.)

I cried for hours when I read the end of Half-Blood Prince. I cried so hard while reading it the first time I had to reread it the next day because I could make no sense of the end. I left my mother a tearful voicemail telling her not to read it because it was so sad and J.K. Rowling was a bitch for writing it.

Then came the final book. My husband, by now being wise to my personal seclusion at these times, chose to go sailing for the weekend, knowing I would be completely ignoring him until I had read the book, reread choice scenes, and then started discussing them with him without him ever having read the books. Ever. (He is constantly reminding me that I'm forever reading passages aloud to him and he's seen all the movies, so he doesn't have to read the books.)

It was sad. But in that sometimes peculiar way of grief, it didn't hit me until later. I was reading the book for the third time on the bus on my way home from work on day, several weeks later, and this particular scene near the end of the book hit me. The tears started pouring down my face, and me with no tissue. I made the people around me nervous, I fear.

I haven't read Deathly Hallows nearly as many times as the other books, but I know this movie is going to hurt. The last one didn't end where I expected it to, but it seems as good a spot as any. I'm preparing my purse as I write this, stuffing it full of tissues and mentally calculating how much caffeine I need to consume in order to stay alert until 3:30 AM, the time at which I roughly expect to get home tonight (tomorrow?). I'm bringing a pen, to write the previews on the back of my ticket as I've done for the last 16 years of movie-going. I'd like to bring my awesome camera, because I'm sure people will be in costume and it will be beautiful and loud and fun, but I'm scared it will be confiscated. Maybe the smaller one, assuming my husband remembers to bring it home. I'm bringing my rarely-used inhaler, just in case I'm sobbing so hard I have trouble breathing. (Hey, it's not inconceivable.)

It won't be the last time I watch a Harry Potter movie in the theatre - I plan to bring my husband with me to another showing later, since he's staying home with our (teething) infant son tonight. But it's the last time I'll get to experience opening night madness for what has been the most emotionally gut-wrenching movie series of my life.

Oh, why didn't I order that Ravenclaw scarf ages ago...

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Allergy Rant

Okay. I don't really complain a lot about my dairy allergy. I've had it my entire life. I was taught to read the ingredient labels on everything; I substitute butter for oil, and cow milk for soy milk, and cheese for, well, air. And I constantly joke about how I wouldn't be as svelte as I am (er, was) if I wasn't allergic to dairy, because for SURE I'd be eating more junk food than I already do.

In this day and age, where it seems everyone and his dog has some kind of food sensitivity, many more food establishments are aware of this and are more than accommodating when presented with a customer with a food allergy. Leave it off, or cook it with oil is the general rule of thumb with a dairy allergy.

But some things are pretty much no-brainers, y'know? Like, if I order a hamburger, why did I get a cheeseburger? Why didn't I say, "No cheese", like I do when ordering pasta or a sub? Because I ASKED FOR A HAMBURGER, NOT A CHEESEBURGER!

Why did I not realize I'd been given a cheeseburger until I took several bites of it? Maybe I wasn't paying attention. But then again, I shouldn't have to. It's a freaking burger. It's one of two type they sell: with cheese, or without. You only need to specify the cheese part if you want cheese. I should not have to specify that I want no cheese on my hamburger. Otherwise I'd just say, "Cheeseburger". "Hamburger" is the default setting, people!

So now I've downed nearly a liter of grapefruit juice and sucked/chewed on two English mints, to chase down the Benadryl I had to take to make the itchy throat (not to mention panic) go away. Benadryl always knocks me on my ass, so at least I'll sleep well tonight. So will Henry, once I feed him before going to bed. And as a result, so will my husband. I'm happy that Benadryl is one of those safe drugs a breastfeeding woman can take.

Meanwhile, I've been waiting 40 minutes for my replacement hamburger... So now I've got an itchy throat, I'm getting tired, I'm getting an anger headache, and I'm still hungry. This is going to be a fun night...

Thursday, June 23, 2011


A few months ago, I discovered the awesomeness of Allie Brosh, creator of Hyperbole and a Half. I read most of her blog in a day, and nearly wet myself laughing about a dozen times. Her simultaneously self-effacing and self-aggrandizing style of writing is a lot of fun to read. One of my favourite posts is called "I AM THE CHAMPION!!!", wherein she describes various random situations that make her feel like she has 'won', such as holding her breath for a whole minute, finding a matching pair of socks (double win if it's under a minute), or, my personal favourite:

"If I pick up a deck of cards and yell "clubs!" and then draw a card and it isn't a club - I don't win, but I will yell "clubs!" again and keep picking cards until I pick the right suit and then I win." - Allie Brosh

So, lovely Allie who will probably never read this, here's my own list of things that make ME a champion.

If I look at the clock and it is a series of consecutive numbers (such as 12:34), or the start of the Fibonacci sequence (11:23) - I win. I also get to make a wish.

If I can change my son's clothes and get a bib on him before he spits up - I win. (I don't win that often, sadly.)

If I'm loading the dishwasher and I can make every item fit so that there is nothing left in the sink - I win.

If I can sing along to a song I haven't heard in years on the radio and remember all the words and note variations with no hesitation - I win. ('No Rain' by Blind Melon springs immediately to mind.)

If I can remember something blast-your-laughter-out funny that my husband has said, which I am allowed to repeat (oh my god, the things I can't tell you guys), and I get the same hysterical reaction from you that he got from me - I win. He wins too, even though he gets all embarrassed about it and insists that I take the win. So then I double win. Ha!

If I have a piece of string long enough to make a cat's cradle, I can do the "Bridge" and then undo it over and over. I especially win if I can do it without looking at it.

I have a bad habit of leaving cups everywhere, usually partly full of some water or juice. If I walk into a room and find a drinkable cup of the very thing I was wanting to drink - I win.

If I'm talking about Harry Potter (or any other book with which I am intimately familiar), and someone says, "I don't remember that part," so I run to the bookshelf and pull out the book to find what we're talking about, and I find the passage in less than 30 seconds - I win.

When it's September 19th, it's Talk Like A Pirate Day (not to mention the birthday of Hermione Granger, a fellow - if fictional - Virgo) - so I win. So does everyone else, because talking like a pirate is awesome.

If I am wearing a white shirt and can manage to eat either curry or spaghetti without getting sauce on my shirt - I win. (Okay, who am I kidding? I never win at that one.)

This last one takes some explaining. There are two light switches for the main lights in the basement: one at the top of the stairs, behind the door we always keep open, and one at the bottom. In order for the lights to be off, both switches need to be in the same direction, either both up or both down. My husband flicks the upstairs switch then he goes downstairs. I prefer to go downstairs then turn on the lights, because I hate having to reach behind the open door to flick the upstairs switch. If I go downstairs and I have to flick the switch down to turn the lights on, and as a result flick the switch up to turn off the lights when go back upstairs - I win!

When I recently told my husband that his flicking of the upstairs switch annoys the hell out of me and always has, because it messes up the going down-flick down/going up-flick up method I prefer (this after five years of living in this house), he looked at me strangely and said, "I didn't know this about you." A pause. "You're insane."

What sort of things do YOU win at?

Monday, May 30, 2011

IS it a laugh?

Our son Henry is 14 weeks old today (read: just over 3 months), and although he's been smiling for several weeks now, I've been trying my damnedest to get him to laugh. I'm sure an innocent bystander who didn't know that I have a baby would think I was crazy with all my antics.

The other day I was walking around Rideau Centre, alone, with Henry in the stroller. He was looking around like mad - so many new things! - and I passed American Apparel, on the second floor. I looked up and saw a male mannequin dressed, I kid you not, in a neon pink wife-beater and tiny gold running shorts. I was in a just okay mood at the time, but this sent the endorphins skyrocketing. I completely lost my shit and started laughing hysterically in the middle of the mall. I even pointed at the mannequin, and described it to Henry as my walk slowed to a crawl. Then I noticed people staring at me so I wiped away my tears of hilarity and kept walking.

The point of the story is that Henry saw me laughing and started smiling like mad. He opened his mouth really wide and made a little huffing noise. I tried to get him to do it again, but alas, the moment had passed.

Parents (or those who know babies), I ask you: is it a laugh?

In my opinion, sadly, no. To me a laugh has to have audible tone, not just be a breathing, huffy noise. Which has not stopped me from trying to get him to duplicate the phenomenon. No, this is just the beginning, ladies and gentlemen.

I've tried dancing like a crazy person (or, to be honest, like a friend of mine who is not afraid to dance like a crazy person for her kids), I've tried blowing short raspberries in his face (moderate success), I've tried tickling (zero success with that so far), I've tried laughing at his farts to see if he'll think they're funny too (nope, he just gets red in the face and/or bug-eyed), and I've tried making faces, but that just scares him. I think I might have to try knock-knock jokes or channeling Eddie Izzard or something next.

So... yeah.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Clutter clearing my body and my closet

So while I've spent the past few weeks carefully crafting the telling of the birth of my son (I'm still not ready, literally or emotionally, to post it), my body, especially my belly, has very slowly been trying to get back to its pre-baby form.

When my husband got me a bag full of junk food as a Mother's Day gift (among other things, don't worry, he's not an idiot), it was because I'd spent the two days before that loudly announcing my ephemeral cravings for chips, cookies, nachos and salsa. But the morning of Mother's Day I resolved that I would give up junk food for a while and actively pursue abdominal firmness.

Then this windfall of sugar and salt fell into my lap, literally.

I would like to think that I scarfed all of that junk food - to wit, a bag of chips, a bag of nachos (I had help with that, though), a box of Oreos, a Coke and a grape Crush - in two days not because I am a disgusting pig, but because I'm in a hurry to begin my new diet without temptation. It looks horrifying when you read it, and it's even more horrifying when I think about what I've put into my body.

Yesterday I spent a few hours systematically going through my pre-pregnancy clothes, ruthlessly - though sometimes wistfully - sorting them as, "it fits", "it will hopefully fit soon", and "Jay-zus, my boobs are too big for this." It is the latter pile that really frustrated me, as it included one of my favorite dresses, nearly all of my lingerie, and about half of my shirts. I also threw out about half of my underwear (will never fit me again), three of my bras (too old and waaay too small), some stockings with runs in them, and socks with holes. I've now got an overflowing bag of gently used clothes that I'm going to first offer to my future sister-in-law, and then to Value Village.

While my shirt pile is much smaller than it was before, it leaves room for new, well-fitting shirts to come into my life. I learned long ago not to get too hung up on the number on the tag (for a while I used to remove the tags on my clothes, and then conveniently forget what size I was), so new pants will be in order too, to accommodate my post-baby saggy belly.

Sod's law says as soon as I buy pants that fit me properly, I'll probably lose the weight and belly fat that requires they be larger than normal, and then I'll need to get all new pants again, but I'm okay with that.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's official - I'm sick of being pregnant.

This past weekend I had a baby shower thrown in my honor, which was attended by friends and family both in person and via Skype, and was totally awesome. I'm incredibly grateful that so many people were able to come and a bit humbled by how generous people were.

Cleaning the house in preparation for the baby shower, though, made me realize that I am ready for this baby to arrive. I had a rather ridiculously-caused meltdown the day before the shower. Let's just say that our house does not lack for Mr. Clean Magic Erasers anymore, and my husband knows that I make the decisions now about when to throw them out.

To continue with my list of things I can't wait to be able to do after the child is born, I offer the following seemingly innocent activities:
  • eat spicy food without getting heartburn
  • see the underside of my belly without a mirror
  • have non-itchy stretch marks (seems I may have PUPPPS, hooray for me)
  • get in and out of the car without myriad gasps and grunts
  • shave my legs
  • sleep with only one pillow, i.e. the one beneath my head
  • sleep on my back! or my right side!
  • play Dance Dance Revolution (I think this may be my post-partum weight loss tool)
  • eat sushi more than once a month

I'm sure there are more, but naturally baby brain has removed the memory of those wishes. *sigh*

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Do-Again List

Many people seem to have some sort of stereotype of a pregnant women in their head. Either she's a whiny shrew or she's so cheerful it makes you want to scream. I like to think I've struck a healthy balance between the two this pregnancy. If someone asks how I'm feeling, as a nitpicky Virgo I almost automatically mention the "bad" things first, like how my back is hurting or how tired I am. But I don't go on and on about it, and I'm just as quick to point out when Jellyfish is kicking or how I can gleefully state that, at 34 weeks, I still don't have stretch marks.

That being said, I've begun to compile my mental list of things I can't wait to be able do again. It's not intended to be an angry, ranty list, bitching about the activities that now escape me for various reasons; rather more of a wistful, oh-it'll-be-nice list.
  • putting on footwear without gasping or using special tools
  • reaching the back of a cabinet or the end of a counter
  • holding my bladder like a normal human being
  • while we're on the topic, not feeling the urge to pee every time I change position
  • being able to fasten the front of my coat (I estimate I will lose this ability within two weeks)
  • swing quickly in and out of bed
  • rolling over in two seconds instead of two minutes
  • eat a large meal and not feel like I'm going to explode
  • carry/push heavy objects
  • have a choice between more than three pairs of pants and six tops
  • drink alcohol or caffeine without censorious glares from my husband

Naturally, of course, there will be another mental list compiling in about two months, one that's a little bit snarkier and more emotional, of the I-wish-I-could-still-do-this variety. It will likely include such items as:

  • sleeping longer than two hours at a time
  • showering more than twice a week
  • talking to someone besides the baby about something other other than baby poop...

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

So when does this nesting thing start again?

I've begun about a dozen blog posts about my pregnancy so far, and have, as you may have noticed, posted about two of them. Procrastination is my strong suit, let me tell you.

Here's the update so far: I'm almost 33 weeks along (due around February 24th, give or take), my midwives say I'm healthy and so is the baby - who is head down now and likely to stay that way, huzzah - and I'm aiming for having a water birth at home, which makes my husband very anxious.

Overall throughout the pregnancy, I've been trying to eat better, exercise, and do everything A Good Mom Should Do. I've avoided over-the-counter medications as much as I've been able (so far I've had a couple of Reactines for fall allergies, a Benadryl for a food reaction, and two ibuprofen for shoulder/back pain), I've taken prenatal yoga classes - though keeping up with the exercises has been spotty at best - and painted the nursery with low- and no-VOC paint.

I've avoided lifting heavy things, and when I do I bend at the knees. I use a shoehorn to put on my boots instead of failing miserably at reaching my feet. I sleep with a pillow between my knees and one supporting my growing belly. I get my husband to slather my belly with cheap lotion and so far, no stretch marks as far as we can tell, though I may be developing linea nigra very faintly below my navel.

Jellyfish, as we've been calling the little one, is very active. I was actually able to distinguish a limb moving last week; I suspect it was an arm. It was the oddest thing to see. The baby moves quite a bit when I'm resting, i.e. at the computer, but is gradually moving around regardless of my activities. Although it doesn't really hurt most of the time, it gets really quite uncomfortable when Jelly decides to park its keister (or its feet, I can't really tell yet), right below my ribcage. Firm but gentle pressure on the hardened bit eventually makes it sink back down into a more comfortable area, but more often than not it just moves back after a few minutes. Oh, well.

Due to my increasing abdominal girth, my centre of gravity has shifted and my back hurts more often. While I have had the good fortune to not have really gained any weight in my legs or derrière, when pants fit well there they have now become too tight around my pelvis, with elastic maternity waistbands squishing my bladder. When the elastic fits well over my belly, the pants are extremely baggy from the hips down and I constantly have to hike them up. I guess I should be grateful that I'll have less adipose tissue to try to eliminate post-natally, but it's hard to feel grateful when you pull up your waistband for the 17th time in an hour.

I'm not quite at the, "I'm sick of being pregnant" phase, but I think I'm getting close. I've scheduled a pregnancy massage for the end of the month, at a hotel/spa recommended by a friend, and I can't wait. It feels amazing when my husband rubs my sore back, but that's usually only for a few minutes before I roll over or we fall asleep or whatever. This will be one hour of bliss, if my friend's experience is any indication.

So I keep waiting for this "nesting" rage to happen. It seems to have come in spurts over the past months: I HAD to finish painting the nursery, I HAD to get more baby clothes from Value Village, I HAD to clean our bathroom at 11 PM the other night. I keep expecting to wake up in the middle of the night and have a sudden urge (and pre-pregnancy flexibility) to ninja through all the crap in our house and get rid of it.

Something I've realized about myself is that when I'm happy, I'm a slob. I only seem to clean if I'm in a bad mood, because then I can angrily clean the shit out of something and feel like I'm working out my frustrations on the sundry scum of my life. (Yes, I was in a bad mood when I cleaned our bathroom the other night, in case you were wondering.)

But I still have about 7 weeks left, give or take, so I suppose like the rest of the things happening to my body, I'll just have to wait for it.