Saturday, March 31, 2018

One last secret for the road

I’ve learned a lot about Asperger’s over the past six months. I’ve learned that girls with Asperger’s are masters of disguise. They watch the popular kids to see how they act in social situations and try to mimic them. It’s effective but exhausting. In learning about my son, I think I may have learned something about myself.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Nighty night

Some nights I sleep on the couch. We’re fine, but I don’t sleep well now that I’m old, and he sometimes shows off how quickly he can fall asleep with that passive-aggressive-not-quite-a-snore that drives me crazy. And I’m hot I’m cold I’m hot I’m cold. We both sleep better when I move out to the couch.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Hyrule isn't going to save itself

I feel guilt about staying home and no longer having much of an income, so I make a list every morning of things I need to do in order to feel like I’m pulling my weight. The list never includes a full hour of playing Zelda, yet somehow I’ve managed to defeat all the divine beasts.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Sorry not sorry

The guy shows up all smiley and wants me to renew my hydro contract. I tell him he'll have to come back later because my husband deals with those types of things. It’s a cringey thing to say and I silently apologize to Susan B. Anthony. I just don’t want to deal with it right now.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

White guilt

Mostly I’m satisfied to be Canadian*. But secretly, the way we treated the indigenous people who were here first fills me with shame. Like the despicable residential schools that broke a generation, or those Today’s Child ads that offered native children for adoption like puppies. They treasured this land for generations, then we came along, ruining everything.

*I've never said aboot in my life. I don't know anyone who has**.
**Except for Americans trying to sound Canadian

Monday, March 26, 2018

A new project? YAY!!

I am an excellent starter of things, and a poor finisher of things – to the point where it feels pathological, and deeply self-sabotagey. I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture, but I’ve certainly seen the same quality in some of my relatives. I wonder what might have been if I’d been better at following through.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

How a bunch of second- and third-graders brought a crime-spree to a grinding halt

Someone stole laundry off a neighbour's clothes line. He left large footprints in the snow. So of course, when we saw large footprints heading into the woods at recess, we created a secret crime-fighting gang and hurled threats and challenges across the fence at the perp. He never stole anyone's laundry again, I can assure you.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

I have never seen a ghost myself, which is deeply disappointing.

My grandmother saw ghosts. Her late father visited her the day her mother died. Her older sister, H., died of cancer while still in her 50s. H. was seen regularly by the woman who bought her house. When H.’s husband died, years later, they were seen together at the house, then they were never seen again.

Friday, March 23, 2018

What was that? I couldn't hear you.

I grew up with yellers. Here is what I know. Yellers are bullies. Yellers don’t think everyone should yell. When other people yell at them, yellers consider it a sign of disrespect. If yelling is part of your early history, you are probably a yeller too. If you work really hard, you can stifle the impulse.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Dobby - GET IN HERE!!

I work hard to keep a neat home. Too hard. Some people find it easy to keep everything in it’s place, but for me it is and always has been a lot of hard work. It feels like a failure on my part. I mean what the hell? Are house-elves a thing that everyone else has?

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

There are communists in the funhouse!!*

My mood swung violently with each cycle throughout the many years of my fertility. Unfortunately, when you are hormonally out-of-whack, your rage feels legitimate. Now, with all that over, I watch my daughter and cautiously** advise her that this isn’t something she has to just accept. There are things that can be done to minimize PMS.

*my favourite euphemism for "that time of the month" I could find online
**because she can be scary

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

How to not get pregnant through pure luck.

I was head-over-heels in love with my high-school boyfriend. Aware I was dating above my level*, I did what I had to in order to hold onto the relationship – including using the rhythm method of birth-control. I knew it was really iffy, but secretly thought a baby to seal-the-deal wasn’t the worst thing that could happen**. ***

*I had low self-esteem
**Thankfully, I never had to test this theory.

***I'm not proud of any of this

Monday, March 19, 2018

God and parties

My Catholic friends partied as hard as anyone, despite their devotion to God and such. They would often arrive late to parties on a Saturday night, always with the same excuse. They were in church, going to mass and getting it out of the way early, knowing they would be too hung-over to go Sunday morning.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Don't tell anyone, but I'm a bad mom

I hated school fundraisers. There - I’ve said it. I bought my kids’ cookies and sponsored their this-athon or that-athon myself and that was it. I remember going door-to-door as a kid, hitting-up people for cash to skate laps around the rink or whatever. The true-crime buff in me sees this practice as asking for trouble.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

I have a very specific set of skills...

I learned a year ago how quickly you can go from really liking a kid to really, really hating him when the kid in question broke my daughter’s heart and then went out of his way to twist that knife. For a long time, my secret fantasies were very dark. He didn’t fare well in them.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The story of Phyllis the dog

Phyllis died at the ripe old age of thirteen. We were all ready for it except for B., who couldn’t be comforted. “When do we get her ashes?” he asked.

I lied. “They don’t let you keep the ashes.” 

“Kyle’s dog died last month,” he said. “They kept the ashes.” Then he walked away in disgust.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Are you there God? It's me, Sabine

By grade five I found it unbearable that I didn’t yet have my period, so I started faking it. “I’m gonna ask Mr. B. if I can stay in for recess because of cramps,” I said, womanlyish. Janice stole my thunder and ran to him. “I have cramps,” she said. “Can I stay in at recess?”

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Secret Identities

One of K.’s friends is gender-queer. Another is pansexual. I need to consult a dictionary after I meet them, but I couldn’t imagine better friends for her, and I’m so glad they can proudly be who they are. I didn’t know anyone who was openly gay in school. I know half-a-dozen who have come out since.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

My neighbour

She was the adopted youngest child in a loveless family. At eight we were besties. By twelve she was moving in different circles. At sixteen she was kicked out of school for calling in a bomb threat. At nineteen she disappeared forever. She is considered a runaway. No-one looked. I hope she ran away.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Secret Room

I listen to a podcast, The Secret Room. People reveal their secrets. Some are small, funny. Others are darker. This morning I listened as a woman revealed her abusive childhood. The roomful of women who held her down to perform female genital mutilation. How she stole her passport and escaped to the UK. Here’s to strong women.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Previous Lives

Years ago, I visited Mount Rushmore with my grandparents. We were invited past the barricades to admire the still-under-construction faces. Earlier still, we lived near a swamp. I looked out the window and watched my mother and aunt in matching fur coats. My mother says we never lived near a swamp, never went to Mount Rushmore.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Strong Women

Like clockwork, the self-congratulatory womens day posts appear each year (two specifically). Here’s to strong women – may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them. Except you weren’t strong women in high school, were you? You were mean girls. May you one day acknowledge the girls you knocked down rather than raise up.

Friday, March 9, 2018

My Secret Identity

My first paid publication was a cheesy Womans World romance years ago. I was thrilled when I my Nanowrimo novel was published and delighted when it was optioned for a movie a few years later. But nothing felt quite like that first cheque from the WW magazine short story. My friend JK says she understands completely.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Secrets and Lies #8

My dad’s dad took off and started a new family without bothering to divorce my grandmother, then left family #2, never to be heard from again. In total he had five sons and two daughters. The nursing-home staff where he died thought he was a sweet old man, and couldn’t understand why his family never visited.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Secrets and lies #7 - My secret obsession.

It’s embarrassing, but I’m hooked on true crime. Dateline, documentaries, dozens of podcasts. (Did Adnan do it? I don’t think he did). I blame my grandmother, who kept stacks of cheesy, murdery detective magazines that I poured through whenever we would visit. My daughter tweeted she only listens to podcasts about murder. It may be genetic.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Secrets and Lies #6 - Goalie of my dreams

In 1977 I had a burning crush on Mike Palmateer. I huddled in a phone booth with a friend* who dialed zero, and affected an unconvincing British accent. “Oh, hello, I seem to have lost the phone number of my dear friend Michael Palmateer in Toronto. Can you find it for me?” Didn’t work.

*let's call her Susan...

Monday, March 5, 2018

Secrets and Lies #5: My secret lack of grandmotherly feelings.

I had serious baby-fever 25 years ago. When my kids were born, I couldn’t believe I was so lucky. Now my friends are all posting pictures of beautiful grandchildren. Here’s the secret – I don’t want them. Yearning for grandchildren hasn’t happened to me. I just don’t want to worry about any little people for a while.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Secrets and Lies #4 - I'll try anything!

I am chronically tired. Somehow I lost the knack for getting a good night’s sleep and so when I Google a non-medical sleep suggestion, I’ll try it. Most recently I found information that a cold shower one hour before bed will help. I’m 2 nights in, and have had 2 nights of good sleep. Probably coincidence.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Secrets and Lies #3: Health class from a six-year-old

Out on a grocery shopping excursion, my six year old son enlightened his four year old sister on the use of maxipads. Whenever a lady sneezes, she pees a little bit. When we got home, I straightened her out. The lie was not telling her that the older ladies become, the more correct her brother becomes.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Lies that little boys tell

As a little boy, B. would lie, as all little boys are prone to doing. But he had a tell. His eyes would grow wide, his mouth would struggle not to smirk, and he’d eventually cover his face with his hands and stare at the ground. Don’t lie, we told him. You’re really bad at it.

Thursday, March 1, 2018


There was a tiny piece in the back of the local paper 20 years ago. A man was arrested after touching a little girl who was selling lemonade. I called the police. You have to believe her, I said. He’s been doing that to little girls for at least 30 years. We know, the officer said.

Catching up day 3

May 21, 2018 My grandparents were the first people I knew to own a microwave oven. Theirs was brown*, had a tiny wind...