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We Go Well Together

One of the main reasons Dylan and I go well together is we’re both black sheep types. People tend to love or hate us, there is no middle ground. Certain members of Dylan’s family haven’t always supported him or approved of his choices. They routinely lecture, nag and criticize him, no matter how hard he works and regardless of his successes. His aunt Marjorie took a special disliking to Dylan for years and this dislike extended to myself. We’d both be criticized or ridiculed for all manner of stuff. For example, we used to be strict vegans but we also smoked. Dylan’s family considered these details to be hypocritical and ridiculous. At holiday meals, if Dylan or I asked for something to be passed to us, aunt Marjorie would say, “The vegan smokers want potatoes,” or, “Here’s your vegan smoker salt.” “We all have our flaws and imperfections,” I said. “Yours is being an extremely unforgiving, self-righteous, cold and judgmental cunt.” This comment was not received well. And, of course, I said no such thing, but maybe I should have. Maybe I should have. By the way, we no longer smoke and we are no longer vegans.

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A Perfect Five Days

This year I went to Shambhala for the first time in 3 years and it was my first time being separated from Asha for more than a few hours. Dylan’s parents flew from Ottawa to Vancouver to housesit for us, take care of the dogs and Asha. It was so exciting to finally go out and party and get amongst it again, but I almost backed out of going because I was scared I’d spend the whole time missing Asha. Also I was worried Asha would miss me so much she’d be difficult to care for and impossible company. I ended up going with Dylan and Ngoc and Dylan’s parents got to bond with their grandchild and with Feather and Daisy. Shambhala was absolutely wonderful and Asha had a great time with grandma and grandpa. She also got to spend time with uncle Max and auntie Heather and with aunt Dianne and uncle John. They took Asha everywhere, to a farm, out hiking, to the beach, to parks and the aquarium. Asha had the time of her life and I got to hang out at our favourite music festival and have fun. I missed Asha so much and never stopped thinking about her but got texted lots of pictures and details of all the fun she was having. Asha also managed to finally stop breastfeeding during this time too. I hadn’t planned on breastfeeding for so long and was struggling with weaning Asha as smoothly and naturally as I could. Being physically fully gone and separated from her for several days made achieving successfully ending nursing straightforward and easy. Everything was so well timed and it all went great. It ended up being a basically perfect five days away. I’m so grateful to have such fantastic relatives and such a wonderful family. Shambhala was magnificent and returning home was beautiful. I love Feather, Daisy and Asha with my whole heart. I love each of my girls so much and I can’t wait to go back to Shambhala again next year.

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I Didn’t Mean

Oh look I cut myself some bangs. I didn’t mean for them to be so short, I kept trimming and trimming in efforts to get them straight and this is where we landed. A little bit wack but approximately cute? Don’t answer, the question probably is rhetorical.

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I Feel Unwell

So I finally got Covid. I have all of the classic cold/fever/flu symptoms, a sore throat, sweats and chills, mucous, a cough, body aches, a headache. I feel unwell. I thought it was just your regular old cold/fever/flu, but nope, it’s Covid. What a way to finish. Asha’s been giving poor grandma grief ever since we got in, grandma, who has done everything for her this whole past week. Kids, right. You love them so much, so deeply, so achingly, so profoundly, and sometimes you just wanna shake ‘em. And fucking poor me, I feel like death. I’ve been hiding in my bed since we got in. Poor Asha’s trying to cheer me up. I love you guys. Pray for me.

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Dolly & Mr. Unicorn

Taking Dolly and Mr. Unicorn for a stroll and stopping to smell the flowers along the way. Asha thinks to smell flowers you have to blow on them and then afterwards she makes an exaggeratedly loud “Aaaaaah” sound, much like you do when you take a deep drink of something extremely thirst-quenching after you’ve been thirsty for a while. Then she says, “Mommy too” or, “That was close” or, “Where’s my tail.” Asha’s missing tail is never far from the brain and indeed seems to lead the charge of her thoughts. That and rainbow ice cream. Everything that matters.

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Off to the Beach

This bathing suit is the only other bathing suit Asha will wear after her baby shark swimsuit which is her favourite. When Asha first saw the mermaid bathing suit she was excited but immediately asked where was the tail. I guess on one of her shows Asha’s learned that mermaids have tails. She said, “Where’s my tail?” When I explained to her that it was just a swimsuit and that there was no tail, Asha cried. Then, in Hawaii, Asha wore her mermaid swimsuit with pride, assured as she was, for some reason, that she would find her mermaid tail at the beach or in the water. I’d say, “Off to the beach!” and Asha’d say, “Find my tail!” I didn’t have the heart to tell Asha that she probably wouldn’t find her tail there, but it was just nice to have her happy and not complaining and looking forward to something. Later, Asha still had her missing mermaid tail on the brain. She looked for it all around the place where we stayed and said, “No, not under bed!” and, “No, not under stool!” and “No, not under chair!” So precious and I was glad that Asha was happy searching for the tail instead of being upset to learn that it wasn’t there.

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Can’t Win Them All

Hawaii was so much fun and it’s good to be back. The dogs lost their minds with excitement when we got in. Asha is still crazy jet lagged, these pictures show what state she was in as late as noon on Tuesday. I had to get her ready for school all while she was basically unconscious. She was probably fast asleep all afternoon at school, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn she spent the day slumped over in the corner or sprawled on the floor asleep. Asha sleeps as hard as she rages when she’s awake, which is to say deeply, seriously and a lot. On Wednesday the jet lag was worse, poor girl woke up, threw up, passed out again, threw up again, it wasn’t a great start. I thought about keeping Asha home from school but she had already missed so many days while we were away in Hawaii, we didn’t get back until late Monday evening, there are parent-teacher Zoom conference calls Thursday and Friday, so Asha only had two days of school this week and I didn’t want her to miss a whole second week. I asked Asha if she wanted to stay home and sleep or go to school and Asha said, “Go school.” And so we took her to school and I guess she spent the day sleeping. When I went to pick her up, Asha exited the building like a zombie, hand in hand with the teacher’s aid, looking glum and confused. I was concerned. The teacher’s aide said I should monitor her as she could barely stay awake. I said it was the jet lag. Guess I should have just kept the girl home after all. Can’t win them all. Yesterday at 1 PM we had our first parent-teacher Zoom call. I was dying to know what the teachers would say about Asha and I was not let down. They told us hilarious things Asha did in class and we had a good laugh. As expected, Asha pretty much ignores her classmates and hangs with the teachers all day. They are both Asian women so Asha says, “Mommy sister” and calls them both Auntie.

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Go Sandbox

The first few days in Hawaii Asha kept wanting to go home. She said, “Go home” repeatedly and then cried when it didn’t happen. She even got all strapped into her stroller and sat in it for about an hour waiting for me to stroll her home. We flew the girl halfway across the world to somewhere new and beautiful and all she wanted was to be home. There is a pool and Asha doesn’t want to swim as the water’s too cold. Instead she likes to circle the pool crouching alongside it and “do laundry.” Doing laundry consists of taking the yellow fly swatter and flicking the water forward. There is a green fly swatter that Asha gives to me and says, “Mommy too.” And so I “do laundry” as well and flick water with Asha. Karina gave us water guns that work like syringes and Asha loves when I squirt the water far and high. There are plastic parts in different colours and shapes for making sculptures in the sand. Asha gathered them all up and said, “Go sandbox.” Asha calls the beach sandbox. We’re a ten minute walk from the ocean and using Google Maps I was able to figure out how to get us there. Asha was in heaven but appeared more thoughtful than exuberant. She was wary of the ocean, intimidated by its largeness and the size and strength of the waves. Eventually she took my hand and edged us closer and closer until we stood in the water about knee deep for her. The waves came crashing in, the bigger ones got Asha excited and she’d joyfully squeal whenever the waves crashed high and hard. The waves crashing in was Asha’s favourite part. Then we gazed at the ocean horizon in silence seated close together and afterward I tried and failed to make Asha a sandcastle. The next day the first thing Asha said was, “Go sandbox.” After our beach visits Asha says, “Bye bye waves, bye bye ocean, bye bye sandbox” when it’s time to leave. Yesterday Asha walked around with her Hello Kitty backpack on, strapped herself in the stroller and waited for me to take her to school. She said, “Go school,” cried when I didn’t take her and then, still strapped in the stroller, she fell asleep. Poor thing just wants to get back to normal life and isn’t at a point yet where she likes vacations.

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God Only Knows

We were a full half hour early for our doctor appointment so I thought we might kill the time by browsing in the pharmacy next door. Then I remembered that Asha is obsessed with shopping and now that we made the mistake of entering it would be difficult to get her to leave. Regardless I did some casual browsing while Asha beelined with hectic purposefulness toward all manner of possible items to purchase. I was gazing at some concealers and foundations and musing about make up and when I looked to see what Asha was doing I saw her standing before me wild and intense clutching as many items from the shop as her little arms could handle. She had items that were plucked from the shelves as randomly as she was very purposeful in choosing and finding. I hid a smile wondering what she was thinking clutching all that stuff, like what does a 2 year old desperately need to buy from a pharmacy. Asha presented me with some of the items, I made like I was blown away and then discreetly placed the thing on some shelf somewhere. Next thing you know, Asha scooped up a magazine rack and was using it as a shopping basket. She went marching around the shop making loud figuring and considering sounds before tossing items confidently into the magazine rack. At the counter I motioned to the clerk to play along and act like we were gonna buy whatever stuff Asha had in her “basket” when of course we wouldn’t buy any of it. I got a concealer and a couple nice pairs of false eyelashes. When I made ready for us to leave, Asha threw the predictable tantrum and fought with all her might. Finally I bought her a pack of gummy worms and that chilled her out a bit. That girl sure loves to go shopping. She shops with great energy and enthusiasm and is as wanton as she is selective. The girl loves to shop, especially when she doesn’t have any money and when there’s nothing she needs. God only knows where she got it from.

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Audition

Auditioning some new eyebrows. Think these ones are keepers. They’re the right size and shape and positioned and weighted well. Let me tell you it’s not easy creating and maintaining eyebrows that are right for you. It’s taken me my whole life. Ever since I made the adolescent error of shaving off my real eyebrows. Ever since I’ve had to draw the damn things in and this can take time. Sometimes one side is better than the other, sometimes they just don’t work out no matter how hard or carefully you try, sometimes they need constant maintenance and fixing throughout the day, sometimes hats or the bangs from wigs wipe them right off. This is an ongoing story, this perpetual struggle of eyebrows. When I look at pictures of some of my past work, when I was younger and far less astute, I’m embarrassed, taken aback, aghast. Like who let me leave the house looking like that. It’s like, guys, what the fuck. Makes me wonder who the hell I thought I was back then, and who the hell my friends were. Motherfuckers supposed to have my back, seeing as I was clearly incompetent and incapable of assessing things properly for my own self. I guess live and learn, right. Christ.

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Ready, Steady, Go

Last day of school before spring break. Ironically Asha is probably going to be so upset that there won’t be school for the rest of the month. I foresee a lot of trips to the pool and the park and the library. Asha will probably demand to go to school every day and I’m going to have to explain to her that school is over for a little while. Asha will rant and rave and cry until I take her someplace else that suffices to delight. My sweet school loving baby. My marvelous rambunctious angel girl. Ready, steady, go!

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Keep on Rockin’

Today for the first time in her life Asha actually sat through me reading an entire book to her. She didn’t interrupt. She didn’t shove the book away. She didn’t shout for her iPhone or for her baby bottle or to go swimming. She didn’t try to forcefully turn the pages to skip to other pages or to fasttrack directly to the end. She didn’t keep randomly pointing at some detail on some page and insistently describe just one specific item. Instead, she paid calm and quiet attention. She showed continued interest. And then at the end, she said, “Huh.” Adding, “Yeahhhh” softly and approvingly. She looked at me with a kind of absentminded satisfaction and grinned. The book that managed to capture all of Asha’s attention for the entirety of the story was All By Myself by Mercer Mayer. Catherine, you killed it with that birthday purchase. Asha is loving the other book you got her too, The Best Word Book Ever by Richard Scarry. In that one, she keeps heroically pointing at and announcing the part where it says, “I is for Ice Cream.” I’m stoked. Finally, Asha’s interested in books again, to compete with the abiding allegiance she has to her iPhone, iPads and TV. My baby is growing up. I’m about to watch the grand finale of Drag Race UK versus the World and now that Lemon, Jimbo and Pangina are gone, I barely care who wins. This might be the blandest Top 4 in the history of the show. I guess I’m rooting for Baga Chipz. I’ll probably stop watching the entire franchise if Blu Hydrangea is crowned. At very least I’ll be extremely displeased. I never thought I could so actively dislike a queen. When I picked up Asha from preschool, the teacher’s young assistant approached me looking hassled and harassed. She alerted me to a giant goose egg on Asha’s forehead. Said Asha wouldn’t stop running around and this was the result. Then she said, “And she had a big green booger. Just so you know.” “Oh,” I said. I translated this to mean your child is sick and should probably not have come to school today. She should probably stay home tomorrow too. Gonna suck since Asha loves going to school so much. This morning she sat in her stroller a full hour and a half early all ready to go. Every time I passed by, she would alternate with saying, “Are you ready?” and, “LET’S GO.” I had to strap her in wearing her puffy white unicorn coat and just leave her sitting there in the chair in the sunshine in the backyard while I got us ready, even though school wouldn’t start for another two hours. Tomorrow if Asha misses school I’ll have to entertain her elsewise. Probably the park, the pool and the library, and it’s going to be catastrophic to get her to leave each place. Happy International Women’s Day, everyone. Keep on rockin’ in the free world. All my love to my baby, and to all you bad, bad bitches.

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Such Beautiful Days

Monday morning Asha was ready for school hours before it was time to go and it was very hard to distract her until it was finally time to leave. About halfway there though I remembered someone mentioning a long weekend so school was probably cancelled. I hoped it wasn’t because Asha was so excited. As we got closer, it was very empty and quiet everywhere and all the shops were closed. I had to tell Asha there wouldn’t be any school. Asha was devastated to the point of being inconsolable. She took a run at the gate thinking her little body would be forceful enough to break it open. I promised Asha all the things she loves in place of going to school but Asha would hear of nothing. She kept saying, “Asha school.” I eventually was able to cheer her up by taking her swimming. At the pool Asha was exuberant. She wanted to go down the slide about a million times. She kept going back and forth excitedly between the hot tub and the pool. Afterward of course I couldn’t get her to go. I only succeeded by promising Asha ice cream and a trip to the library. When we go to the library though we have the same problem as with swimming, Asha is so hyped to be there she doesn’t want to leave. Still, it’s great Asha loves things now that don’t involve a screen. It was Family Day on Monday, that’s why everything was closed. Ironic that I didn’t remember Family Day considering how obsessed I am with family. Ironic as well that Dylan was too busy working to join us. Once Asha went to bed however we took a zombie break. We’re deep into a Korean zombie series called 𝘈𝘭𝘭 𝘰𝘧 𝘜𝘴 𝘈𝘳𝘦 𝘋𝘦𝘢𝘥. It’s ridiculous and fun and we love it. Such beautiful days we’ve been having, cold and clear and bright. Asha is happy and excited. Monday she was sad there wasn’t school so yesterday and today she went charging in like Usain Bolt. Everyone was impressed. The girl is obsessed. Far cry from those first few days when we took her and she’d be panicking and distraught. Now she wants to go to school all the time. Pictured is Asha in the stroller coming home from the park. I got the sweet smiles by tickling her. Asha loves to be tickled. Tickling is high on the list of things that Asha likes.

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Enjoying This Moment

The nice thing about all the rain here is Asha gets to showcase her weather appropriate rainwear. Also Asha loves going to school now, in the morning she follows me around the house gathering her things and mine, handing each item to me so that I can get us both ready and put everything on. As such, we’re always ready for school way too early and once there, Asha is the first in line to enter. She says, “Asha school” and brims with shyness and excitement. She is only momentarily sad when she sees me leaving, but now she dutifully enters without having a breakdown and calling out for me dejectedly. Then three hours later when I get her, Asha is the first in line to leave. When she sees me, she smiles with all her might, says, “Mommy!” and comes running into my arms. I will never stop enjoying this moment. I hold Asha tight and close and ask her how her day was. Asha says, “Hi, mommy!” and she is radiant. Sometimes the love I feel for Asha, how deeply I cherish her, it’s almost too much for my heart. The terrible twos are terrible mostly because they’re too sweet and too beautiful. The love l feel is so all consuming that it hurts, and happiness and sadness become indistinguishable. In this way love and pain are the same, because you can’t have a rainbow without rain.

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Seizure Mode

I had a major coughing fit in the Uber on my way to the dentist the poor driver was terrified. The more I tried to stifle the cough the harder and more I coughed. I wanted to reassure the driver and yell, “Don’t worry, I don’t have Covid!” but I was coughing too hard to be able to say a thing. I clamped my hand on top of my mask on top of my mouth and tried my best to stop coughing. My body went into seizure mode, my eyes watered, and my nose ran. It probably looked very bad and it probably sounded even worse than that. I was praying for it all to end but it took forever for me to finally stop coughing. “Is this OK,” the driver asked me sadly when we arrived at the dental office. Yes,” I said, but my voice came out as a croak. Dude was so not stoked. Poor guy. And poor me, I’m probably going to get my first zero star rating as a passenger. Me and my anxiety coughs. I chose the wrong day to try to quit taking anxiety meds. I even had lingering coughs and body tremors during my dental appointment and had to stifle more coughing in the Uber ride home. Bodies man, they sure can betray you, and they seem to like to do so at the worst times. God fucking damn. Good thing I wasn’t a Jew hiding in an attic in Nazi Germany, I would’ve given our hiding spot away at once and ruined shit for everyone. They’d put SHIT RUINER on my gravestone.

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A Good Adventure

Off to spend a week with grandma and grandpa for the holidays. Asha is so stoked. She loves a good adventure. She went racing all over the airport and it was next to impossible to keep her still. If we don’t keep an eye on her at all times, that girl would get snatched for sure. Asha was ecstatic to be on a plane, but then she cried actual bloody murder when she discovered she could no longer watch Cry Baby Magic Tears. “Oh no cry baby’s broken!” went the refrain. She made this lamentation on repeat. These words usually are the first thing Asha utters each morning when she wakes. But sometimes she jolts when I approach, looks slowly and sleepily around, grins widely upon seeing me and says, “Good morning, mommy!” That sweet happy greeting is everything. Then I hold and hug her tight, pat her back and I say, “I love you, sweet baby. I love you so much.” And Asha sighs and presses her head down onto my shoulder and snug up against my neck and I hold and hug her for a while. That first hug sets the tone for the whole day.

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Preschool Soon

I brought Asha to the preschool that she’ll be attending in early January in the new year and she was so excited. She did that bizarre bended knee with short quick dragging sneaky steps thing that she does when she’s keyed up and giddy. We were there to drop off a cheque for the registration fee and to pay the first and last month’s deposit. The kids were just finishing class and one of the teachers told them all to say hi to Asha so they gathered around and said, “Hi Asha!” and Asha smiled so big. This bodes well for when school will begin, Asha enjoyed being there so much that she didn’t want to leave. She struggled and cried and I had to slowly coax her outside. I’m excited for when school starts, but I’m dreading dropping her off on that first day. Apparently, it’s a hard drop-off, no lingering allowed, I am worried Asha will cry and say, “Where mama,” on repeat the whole time, but I also think she’ll adjust quickly and enjoy herself and be happy. At least I hope. Also, she’s supposed to be mostly potty trained by then, so I really have my work cut out for me. I have to potty train this kid in like two weeks. Lord have mercy.

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Suicide Disease

Tooth pain is one of the leading causes of suicide and I completely understand why. There’s a condition known colloquially as “Suicide Disease” which can present itself as chronic dental pain. I feel terrible for anyone who can’t afford to get what dental procedures they require, or the medication needed to manage the pain. For my part, the pain medication itself is barely helping, and every few hours, the pain reasserts itself almost worse than before. It’s been about a week and the pain I feel is severe. It’s difficult to do anything, including eating and sleeping. It hurts to eat, it hurts just to open my mouth. I wake through the night from pain, take more pain pills, hold ice against my face and feel sorry for myself. I’m supposed to take pain medication every six hours as needed, but I’ve been taking it every three hours, because the pain comes back sooner than six, and it’s a lot, almost too much. I’m not suicidal, but if this pain persists, and if the pain medication is insufficient to manage it, then I can see how suicide might seem to be the best option. Again, I am not suicidal, but I can understand how people dealing with chronic dental pain end up choosing to die.

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