metro mama

Friday, June 29, 2007

A Room of One's Own

For as long as there have been women writing, there have been women writing furtively, interruptedly, sporadically. Jane Austen wrote in the parlour, hiding the pages when someone entered the room. Nearly 200 years later, Jane Urquhart wrote stories on her dining room table since she was the only person in the house without a room of her own. Little has changed.

Women have a long history of putting their ambitions last. Of course these days it is encouraged to try (I say try because I wonder how many are really doing it successfully) to balance career and family, but generally only if it is economically feasible. Work where the payoff is uncertain is often considered frivolous and unnecessary. This is a whole other post I know, one I don't have the strength for right now!

To get back on topic, I could carve out a room of my own and I should. I need to buy myself a good office chair and rearrange the guest room. I need to stop writing at the dining room table, or on the sofa with the laptop burning my legs.

Where do you all write (or paint, compose, whatever)? How many of you have a room of your own? Do you want one?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I’ve been having a good week. I picked up my diploma and we celebrated last night with dinner at Terroni (great recommendation restauranter--you’re right, the funghi assoluti is fucking awesome) followed by drinks on the patio at Joy. My mom’s in town for a few days and we’re taking advantage.

I had my first graduate class today. I must say, for the first time in a long time I was quite nervous about something. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I knew I was the only one in the class new to the program (the rest of them are finishing up and they all know each other). It went well though. I spoke up more than my share. What I lack in experience I make up for in age (I was going to say maturity but that’s not necessarily the right word) and balls. Plus an acute awareness of the huge portion of the grade for participation. Anyway, I think I managed not to say anything stupid and I’m going to like the class.

I did get a big boost at school today. I picked up my final undergrad term paper. When I handed it in I was a little concerned. The paper was for my Romantics class and the prof I loved. He told us quite emphatically not to write any boring papers. So I decided to write a paper about why I found Byron funny, in the spirit of Byron: rebellious and unconventional. I dropped the f-bomb and quoted such sources as MetroDad and Monty Python. Needless to say, I was anxious to see what he thought of it, and guess what! A+. Damn that feels good. (If anyone’s interested, I’ve posted it here. Please forgive the look of the site, it's my test site.)

I made it home in time for SYTYCD. I’m finally caught up on all the episodes. I’m having a hard time choosing favourites this season, there are several I like: Hok, Sara, Dominic, Shauna, Kameron. I also like Jesse and Pasha a lot and I felt terrible for them tonight. I’m loving Wade Robson. His routine was the best tonight, and the vagabond number two weeks ago was a showstopper. What a great show. Who are your faves?


Monday, June 25, 2007

Metro Reco: The Gravedigger's Daughter

Before I get seriously into my 1001 Books challenge, I just had to allow myself couple more hot new reads, one being Joyce Carol Oates latest, The Gravedigger's Daughter.

The novel’s heroine, Rebecca, was born on the boat on the way to her America when her family fled Nazi Germany. Though a former schoolteacher, Rebecca’s father is forced to accept the only work he can get: the job of gravedigger and cemetery caretaker. Her family an object of scorn and ridicule in their small community, Rebecca suffers the consequences of her parents’ broken dreams.

Escaping her miserable childhood through marriage, Rebecca learns a new form of suffering at the hands of an abusive alcoholic husband. Determined to provide a better life for their son, the scrappy and resilient woman flees her husband and reinvents herself.

Though a little on the long side, with well fleshed-out characters, and a gripping plot, this is a perfect book to curl up with at the cottage this summer.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Is it Bad When the Number of Empties Exceed the Number of Mommy Bloggers?

I'd write more but I'm spent already. Must crawl off and die now.


Thursday, June 21, 2007


Sorry I haven’t been ‘round lately, we’re just back from a wee holiday in Kingston with my lovely in-laws. It's wonderful there, except for the dial-up (I almost slit my wrists just trying to check my email). We did lots of lazing by the lake and sleeping in. I reread Wuthering Heights for one of my fall classes. McHotty played with his new iPod I surprised him with for his birthday/fathers’ day gift (thanks for all your help Jana and Niloc! He was thrilled.) Cakes had a blast with her grandparents and is now all about the ducks (bunnies are so last week). We ate and drank like kings (I think I’ve gained five pounds) and made it to the pub once. As always I took lots of photos:


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Be Careful What You Wish For

I recently wrote about my concerns about Cakes' speech, and since then we’ve been working really hard at forcing her to use her words. We’ve already seen some improvement—when I wrote that post, she wasn’t using the word “no”. This week, a typical conversation with Cakes goes like this:

“What would you like for lunch?”

[Undecipherable tirade]

“Would you like chicken?”


“Would you like tofu?”

“No!” [vigorous head shaking]

“Would you like carrots?”

“Please please crackers!”

“How about some pasta?” [note of desperation]

“Buddy, please please crackers!”


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Those Things You Do

There are so many sweet things you do that make you such a wonderful father and husband.

Cakes exclaims, in her loud demanding tone, thirty times a day, “daddy!” to which you reply every time in that same soft patient voice, “yes Cakes?”

You had to work again this weekend. Before you left, you made me a huge bowl of tabouleh and offered to make a pasta salad too. You also gassed up the car and stocked up the beer.

You support me in my dreams and ambitions that are, thus far, not making us any money.

You know Cakes just as well as I do, and you can look after her just as well as I can. I trust you one hundred percent when you’re with her.

When you put Cakes to bed you read I Can Read With My Eyes Shut not once, but twice. Not only do you do that, you also look through the photo albums and let her run around naked for a while. You’re never in a rush.

When we go to bed at night, you can’t walk by Cakes room without looking in on her, though we don’t hear a peep and we know she’s fast asleep.

I see the adoration in her eyes when she looks at you and I’m so happy you’re her father.

Happy Fathers’ Day, McHotty. You’re the best. We love you.


Friday, June 15, 2007

Still Time to Win!

Just a reminder, the super-fantastic contest at MBT ends tonight at midnight. There’s still time to tell us how blogging empowers you--the winner will win a free registration to BlogHer! There’s a runner-up prize too! Find the deets here.

How does blogging empower me, you ask? I’ll tell you. Before I became a mother I worked for a really fun, dynamic music company where I considered most of my colleagues my friends. We ate lunch together every day and talked about everything: movies, books, childhood experiences, sex, philosophy, reality TV (OK, lots of talk about reality TV). The point is, I spent a lot of time talking to people, debating, learning, listening, and, occasionally, waving my arms in the air, ranting.

Since I quit my job to stay at home with Cakes, I have much less opportunity to converse with interesting, intelligent people in person (yes, Cakes is interesting and intelligent but she doesn’t talk back much). Sure, I meet lots of them at the park, but it is rare to really have a conversation with one of them. It is continuously interrupted, cut short, or distracted. It’s not enough.

In the blogosphere, I can compose my thoughts at my leisure (often more successfully than in person actually—-I’m not that articulate in person). I can engage whenever I like, with fabulous, brilliant, experienced, thoughtful, compassionate, courageous men and women. And for that, I’m most thankful. It keeps me going.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Metro Reco: On Chesil Beach

Now that my reading time is mostly limited to naps and the little amount of time between dinner and bed, I really appreciate short books, like Ian McEwan’s latest novel (novella?), On Chesil Beach. Though short, the book packs a powerful punch.

Set in England in 1962 on the cusp of the sexual revolution, a young married couple, Florence and Edward, commence their honeymoon in Dorset, each with very different expectations. Much of the narrative takes place during that fateful night as the innocent couple try to reconcile their needs with the expectations placed upon them.

Beautifully written, thoughtful and redolent of the uncertainty of youth, this is a lovely, two-nap read.

Ian McEwan is the author of two short story collections and ten novels including Amsterdam for which he won the Booker prize in 1998.

I have three copies to give away! Please email me at metro[underscore]mama[at]hotmail[dot]com (sorry, Canadian mailing addresses only).


Tuesday, June 12, 2007


· We had a lovely afternoon at Riverdale Farm today with petite gourmand and lulu. What a great place. Will do a post on it soon for MBT.

· Cakes is really asserting her independence lately. Her latest trick is to prevent me from holding her hand when we’re outside. Her tactic is to break away and hold her own hand as she struts along. Pretty brilliant actually, don’t you think?

· I think Cakes has OCD: she can’t go by a gate without closing it; she berates McHotty for not putting his shoes away; she gets mad if you leave the screen door open. I’m not complaining.

· What is it about toddlers and crackers? Whenever Cakes catches sight of a cracker she has a fucking fit until she gets one. And god forbid you find yourself at the park with only three crackers left and six vultures circling!

· Anyone else have way too many email addresses? I have six now. Stupid.

· Is anyone else facebooking a little too much?

· I can see the Luminato lights from my bed (it’s nice having something to look at when I can’t sleep). The last couple of nights the CN tower is changing colour and blinking. Is this a permanent thing or part of Luminato? It’s pretty cool actually.

· There are now TWO dirty, dirty ladies over at Hot and Bothered. Check it out!

· There are few things cuter than a toddler trying to blow bubbles, are there!


Monday, June 11, 2007

Summer Just Got a Whole Lot Busier

Edited to add: I still have a copy of Fahrenheit Twins up for grabs! Email me at

As you know, I just finally finished my undergrad and was looking forward to having a leisurely summer before starting the MA in September. I was on the waiting list for a course that is completely up my alley, but was not too disappointed about not getting in.

So, guess what. I had coffee last week with a friend who’s already in the program who happened to mention she had just dropped the course. Against my better judgement I made enquiries and as “luck” would have it, I’m in. This is really good news. It will be a big help to get a jump on the program and it will just mean next summer will be lighter (and might allow us to begin project #2 a little sooner). Plus it looks like a fabulous course—it’s a study of short stories centred around Alice Munro’s Runaway as well as stories by Poe, de Maupassant, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Joyce, Lawrence, Hemingway, Mansfield, O’Connor, Borges, Olsen, Carver, Atwood and a few others. It should be a pleasure.

But I just need to get used to the idea of a 25-page research paper due in August when I was planning to be drinking beer by the lake. Sigh.


McHotty returned home yesterday after 5 days on a major exercise (he’s on a heavy urban search and rescue team). Was I ever glad to see him. How the fack do people parent solo? It’s exhausting.

I made him a nice dinner of rainbow trout and lots of veggies (the poor man had to eat army rations all week). I had leftover Indian two nights, and pizza two nights.

Cakes punished him a little but they’re best buds again. I think they’re going to head to the park later so I can deal with this messy house.


Happy happy 30th to my wonderful, beautiful sisters. I got lucky the day in-laws were handed out!


Friday, June 08, 2007

Use Your Words

For months I’ve had concerns about Cakes’ speech. I’ve been sweeping them aside, saying she’s just busy doing other thing (her gross motor skills are incredible) and not wanting to be a hyper-vigilant worrywart who’s constantly comparing her child to other children her age (it’s so hard not to do this, isn’t it!) I’ve had the number to call for an assessment for weeks, but have been putting it off, but Mrs. Chicky inspired me to finally make the call.

She is talking, though not nearly as much as her peers. She doesn’t say a lot of common words, like no or mommy (she calls me buddy) and rarely uses pronouns, descriptive words, or phrases. She babbles a lot, but little is understandable.

My doctor wasn’t concerned and suggested we take a few months and try to encourage her by forcing her to ask for things instead of instantly responding to her gestures (we always know what she wants, so she rarely has to ask). But I didn’t want to wait that long—-and it’s a good thing I finally did make the call: the waitlist for an assessment is 6 months. Isn’t that pathetic? In Mass, Mrs. Chicky is having a team visit her home within two weeks of the phone call!

Though I honestly believe she’s just a late talker, I want to rule out the possibility of a problem--looks like it will take six months to do so.

Will keep you posted.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Metro Reco: The Fahrenheit Twins

The short story is my favourite form, and I’m always looking for new authors who write them (I also think it the most difficult genre in which to write). So, I was very happy to discover Michel Faber. His latest collection, The Fahrenheit Twins is stark, brutal, brilliant and highly original.

In “The Eyes of the Soul”, an ingenious invention makes life a lot more beautiful for a single mother trapped in a tough urban neighbourhood.

In “Serious Swimmers”, a recovering heroin addict reconnects with her son and is left “blasted open and infused” by a maternal instinct she didn’t know she possessed.

I can barely write about “The Smallness of the Action”, a chilling story about a woman with undiagnosed PPD (I recommend you skip this one if you have any extra hormones in your system right now).

In “Finesse”, the lives of a surgeon’s family depend on her successful operation on a ruthless dictator.

The collection of stories examines society’s outcasts: the mentally ill, addicted, physically deformed, murderous. From how the world sees them to how they see themselves, Faber is bold and bewitching.

Michel Faber lives in the Scottish Highlands. He has written five previous books and has won several short story awards.

I have copies for the first three to email me at


Cake or Death

I've missed Heather Mallick since she left the Globe and Mail. I can't bring myself to buy Chatelaine, so I was making do without her fine, trenchant writing until I saw her new book, Cake or Death: The Excruciating Choices of Everyday Life.

The book, a collection of original essays, covers a wide range of topics, from why women are more interesting than men, to why you should love to pay taxes. The essays are witty, brash and astute.

I find a lot to agree with Mallick about: the satisfaction to be gleaned from clean, well-ordered home, made so by your own two hands; a love for privacy and Paris; an appreciation for Atwood, Munro, good cheese and Côtes du Rhône; and, of course, her far-to-the-left views.

I think she’s a little harsh on the Americans (her diatribes against Bush are obviously an exception), but I do love someone who speaks her mind. And that she does.



I belong to a group that helps out neighbours in time of need (meals for family with new baby, etc). As you know, I’m a terrible cook but I do have two casseroles I make, plus I can usually hit up McH to help out with potlucks and things.

As luck would have it, I need to make a meal on Monday and McH won’t be able to help. Plus, the family doesn’t eat dairy, and both my casseroles have cheese in them. Any suggestions for me? Preferably something they don’t have to heat in case the weather is hot?


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

How to Buy a Little Blogging Time

Excuse me, I’m trying to work here!

I saw Away From Her last night and I must say I was a little disappointed. I was anxious to see it because it’s adapted from a short story ("The Bear Came Over the Mountain") by my favourite living writer, Alice Munro. Plus, I love Sarah Polley, who adapted it and directed.

I’m not sure exactly why I didn’t like it. For one, it was not subtle. The Canadiana was a little heavy handed (references to Ondaatje, Alistair Macleod, Neil Young, snark about American blockbusters—did I miss any?) Also, it was slightly saccharine (was it necessary to repeat the line, “you could have forsaken me”).

On the positive side, Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie are incredible as Grant and Fiona. I did like the film’s attention to the sexuality of mature adults (something you don’t see often). It was a decent film, I think I just expected too much.

Munro hasn’t said much about it (as far as I’m aware). Did anyone hear anything about her reaction to the film?

We finally saw An Inconvenient Truth the other night. I was blown away. It is highly effective. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly recommend that you do.


Monday, June 04, 2007

So Many Books

I love lists, and the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list is a dandy one. I read a lot lately, but there were about five years when I worked in IT and read nothing but boring text books. So though a have a good grounding in the classics, and have read of lot of recent fiction, there’s a lot I haven’t read. This list, though light on Canlit, has some great selections of contemporary fiction. Baby’s Got Books made a handy dandy spreadsheet to keep track of how many you’ve read (check it out!) Inspired by Ragdoll, I’m challenging myself to boost my number--I’m currently at 101 and my goal is to hit 120 by the end of the year and I’ll blog about what I’m reading.

The latest notch on my belt, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote is the chilling reconstruction of the brutal murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas in 1959. Adeptly written, empathetic and insightful, Capote recounts the murders, investigation, trial and execution of the murderers, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith. By the way, the film Capote, is a very interesting look at the author, taking place during the writing of In Cold Blood.

Last week I had coffee with a friend who is the MA program this year. I was hoping to get some pointers for next year, but she freaked me out a little about how much work it is. This morning I narrowed down the courses I want to do and dropped their reading lists into a spreadsheet. For two of the courses alone, there are 44 titles! It didn’t look so bad in paragraph format. So I’m going to cross-reference the 1001 list with this list and kill two birds with one stone. I’ll start reading these books now, and have a head start for fall. As soon as I finish the new Joyce Carol Oates. Oh, and the Ian McEwan.

I'm also getting a head start on my research hours this summmer. They've kindly been giving me assignments I can do online.

Needless to say, I’m not getting much writing done. I did, however, finish and submit one short story. Have to start somewhere, right!

Less reading, more rock ‘n’ roll!

Oh, and I still have one more book to give away at MBT! And I'll be giving away more books here, later this week.


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Two Recos: Bang Crunch and God is Not Great

Bang Crunch

Neil Smith’s collection of short stories, Bang Crunch, is a smart, unflinching look at humanity, including life, death, loss, solace and beauty.

The book starts off with a bang (heh), with the powerful "Isolettes". A mother watches over her daughter, born at 24-weeks, in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, trying unsuccessfully to feel the love she’s expected to feel. In "B9ers" a man trying to understand his body’s betrayal starts a support group for victims of benign tumours (how harmless is benign?!) In the title story, written in the second person, a young girl with a rare disease, Fred Hoyle Syndrome, ages a month a day.

Original and whimsical, the stories hold your attention for their duration. Don’t rush through it though—set the book aside between the tales while you ponder what you’ve just read.

Neil Smith lives in Montreal; Bang Crunch is his first book.


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