Monday, July 30, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Visitors

Dh, BIL, SIL & I went to see FIL on Saturday, and to extend our condolences to dh & BIL's stepsister & stepbrothers who (as I wrote earlier) lost their own father suddenly last week.

FIL was in bed the entire time we were there -- & it looks like that's where he's going to be spending most of his time now. :(  He didn't have his teeth in, which made it difficult to understand him (even if you understood Italian, which is what he's mostly speaking now), but SIL managed to get the gist of most of what he was trying to say. She, stepSIL & I propped him up with pillows and he looked more like himself then -- although he is so painfully, horribly thin. :(  He's not eating much again. But he still loves his espresso coffee. ;)  He seemed to recognize us all (he doesn't always). His breathing is good (even though his one lung is completely collapsed), his heart rate & blood pressure are normal. He even sang for us a little, which brought tears to my eyes.

Whether it's his dementia, the drugs he's been taking, or... something else... FIL has been seeing people lately who aren't actually in the room. In fact, a lot of the people he's been claiming to see (his one sister and her husband, for example) are... ummmm.... dead. He saw stepSIL's father... the night he died. BEFORE they found out he was dead.

At one point, SIL told me he was asking her who "the girl" was. "You mean (stepSIL)?" she said. No, not stepSIL. A young girl. SIL shrugged. "Maybe he's thinking of (his grandsons'/our nephews' wives)?" she said to me.

It struck me then:  he was asking about a young girl.  Say, about 20 years old, maybe??

Was it possible he was talking about his only granddaughter? MY daughter?? Who was stillborn 20 years ago, next week??  Was she there, watching over her nonno, waiting for when he could join her & nonna?

We'll never know for sure (in this life, anyway)... but it's comforting to think so. (I find it comforting, anyway...)

(I didn't say anything to SIL... but I told dh when we got home.)

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Thursday, July 26, 2018

It never rains but... :(

This watching people you love get old & sick completely sucks. :(  I guess it's the age we (& our parents) are at, but it's depressing as hell. Right now:

  • FIL likely has less than a month left, if that. And because he's been sick, I haven't been able to get home this summer to see my own aging parents, for the first time in YEARS. 
  • Not only that, stepMIL's EX-husband died suddenly two days ago! Two of her kids & a grandson live with her & FIL -- they're expecting FIL to go and here's their own dad suddenly gone first. 
  • One of my high school friends lost her mom a few weeks ago (just a few days after she'd been there to visit her) & now her dad is in the hospital. She lives in Ontario;  they live in British Columbia, and this is the fourth time she's had to travel out there last-minute since May. :(  
  • Another friend just lost her MIL unexpectedly this morning. :(  
  • AND -- we are less than two weeks away from Katie's "anniversary" (the one on the paperwork and her niche marker).  TWENTY YEARS, you guys!!  :(  
I don't know why stuff like this always happens all at once, but I wish it would stop... :( 

Monday, July 23, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Odds & ends

  • Another senseless tragedy in our city last night -- a shooting on Danforth Avenue (Greektown) that killed two young people and injured 12 others. :(  Dh grew up just a few blocks away;  he knows the area like the back of his hand, and we used to spend a lot of time there when we were first married. It's a busy, popular, vibrant neighbourhood, full of restaurants (excellent Greek food!), stores, apartment buildings & homes on the adjacent sidestreets, and on a nice summer evening, the sidewalks & restaurants would have been jam packed with people. Horrible. :( 
  •  FIL's health continues to deteriorate. :(  At the moment, he is still at home, and drugs are helping to keep the pain at bay.  He sleeps for much of the day now. He doesn't always recognize us, but he did recognize dh (and, I think, me) when we visited today. 
  • When we left FIL's house this afternoon, there was a monarch butterfly amid stepMIL's flowers in the front yard. Which, of course, made me think of Katie. Two weeks from tomorrow will be 20 (!!) years since we lost her. I don't think we'll be doing anything beyond what we usually do to mark the day, but we will definitely be in remembrance mode. 
  • We celebrated dh's cousin's birthday with her on Saturday night, and even though I only imbibed a small glass of vodka soda (a large can split three ways between me, SIL & the birthday girl) and drank lots of water all evening long, I STILL woke up feeling slightly hung over & dehydrated. My 20-something self would be both amused and horrified by my lack of midlife alcohol tolerance. ;)   
  • I just ordered my 2019 Filofax calendar insert via Amazon. I've used Filofax for more than 25 years now, and find it still works well for me.  There used to be several stores downtown where I bought the calendar inserts, but even before I lost my downtown job, many of those stores closed, and the inserts started getting harder & harder to find. I do know of one high-end stationery store, midtown, that still carries them, but this saves me having to make a special trip on the subway.  My 2019 insert should be here by mid-August. Too early?? 

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Saturday, July 21, 2018

"Shrewed" by Elizabeth Renzetti

I've always liked reading essay collections (whether they feature the work of one author or several) -- being able to dip in & out of the book, one chapter/essay at a time, without losing the thread of the story.

And I have long enjoyed the work of Elizabeth Renzetti , a columnist and features writer in The Globe & Mail.  

So let's just say that I was prepared to enjoy Renzetti's latest book "Shrewed:  A Wry and Closely Observed Look at the Lives of Women and Girls." And I was not disappointed. :) 

I assumed that this might be a "best of" collection of Renzetti's G&M columns, but it's actually a book of original essays on the lives of women and feminism, as seen through the lens of Renzetti's own experiences.  The topics are reflected in chapter titles such as "The Voice in Your Head is an Asshole," "The Way of the Harrasser," and "You'll Pay for Those Breasts, or the Cost of Being a Lady." As you'll gather, there's a healthy dose of humour... and the quality of the prose is wonderful. Passages like this one had me reaching for a yellow post-it note, so that I could find it and relish it again & again:
There are people who do not have an asshole in their heads, who instead have a throaty-voiced cheerleader reclining on the chaise longue of their consciousness saying, Damn, they'd be lucky to have you for that job. These people are called "men." 
(My husband begs to differ on that point.) 

And this:
I am old. Old in journalist years. Old if you count the rings on my liver. The harassment that happened to me on the street, which I've cited above,  has died down. It is one of the great benefits of age: I no longer get chased, groped, whistled at or told I'm an ungrateful bitch when I refuse to smile. Perhaps it's the glint off my fangs that scares them away. 
And this (which made me giggle):
Women's intimate apparel is a $32-billion global industry, according to The Lingerie Journal ("Lingerie News from Top to Bottom!"). There is no equivalent outlay for men's underpants, which, as we know, are bought in bulk by wives and mothers on their lunch breaks. There is no Victoria's Secret television special in which men parade down a runway in their dingy Y-fronts. 
And this:
One evening, I find myself at a parents' council meeting at my children's school. It's a particularly hairy time at work and I don't really have the hours to spare, but I am experiencing a rare phase of can-doism, so I give in to the impulse. I really should volunteer more at school, I think, in the same way I think I should take up some form of exercise before my limbs atrophy and I'm reduced to one large ambulatory texting thumb. 
I loved Renzetti's stories about her encounters with remarkable women such as Germaine Greer and Hilary Mantel, and her observations of Hillary Clinton and the 2016 U.S. election -- but most of all, I enjoyed her stories about her mother, Mildred. I think you will too.

Four stars on Goodreads. :)

This was book #14 that I've read so far in 2018, bringing me to 58% of my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I am (for the monent, anyway...!) one book ahead of schedule to meet my goal!  :)  

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

17 years of childless living

Aunties Day -- now in its 10th year! -- is this Sunday, July 22nd.  :)

Aug. 1 is International Childfree Day, recognizing those who have chosen not to have children.

World Childless Week, which raises awareness of the childless-not-by-choice community, is Sept. 10-16 this year. (Did you know there was one??)

So far, there is no one specific day devoted to those of us who consider ourselves childless vs childfree (although I believe some CNBC bloggers are looking into this) -- but from my personal perspective, today (July 18th), would be a good choice. ;)  I've written several times over the years about the Childless Living message board at iVillage (now defunct), where I first sought & found support after making the decision to end fertility treatments. (I've now tagged those posts with "iVillage Childless Living message board.") My first post to the board, a couple of weeks after my final IUI failed, was on July 18, 2001, 17 years ago today (!).  In the years since then, I have come to consider July 18th as the day when I took my first steps toward acceptance of my permanently childless future.

Beyond my personal case ;)  today is Jody Day's birthday (her 54th). :)  If you don't "know" Jody (and if you're childless not by choice, you should!), she's the founder of Gateway Women, an influential global friendship and support network for childless women. Today on her blog, she wrote:
...fifty-four has got me thinking about how different it was for me a decade ago when I turned forty-four. That was a pivotal year for me because it was the year that I realised that my childlessness was not some bad dream that I was going to wake up from on day; it was my permanent reality and I was going to be childless for the rest of my life.
She goes on to list "ten things I’ve learned in a decade of recovery from childlessness." (Have a read! & wish her a happy birthday!)

A lot has changed over the past 17 years. Today, we know that as many as one in four women born in the 1960s & 1970s will not have children (for a variety of reasons), and a growing number of us are speaking out and writing about our lives and experiences. Message boards (although they still exist) gave way to blogs -- many, many more since I started blogging almost 11 years now! -- and to online communities such as Gateway Women and Life Without Baby. So, whether you are 10 years or 17 years (or more, or less) on your journey down this road less travelled -- and especially if you are just starting out -- please know that you don't have to travel alone!

Monday, July 16, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Sisterhood is powerful

(Spoiler alert) 

Last night was the season 2 finale of  "The Handmaid's Tale" on Bravo here in Canada... I suppose now we have to wait another year until season 3...!  There were things I loved and things I disliked about the episode... things that made me cheer and things that made me curse.

I think my favourite scene, though -- the one that gave me misty eyes and a lump in my throat -- was near the end, watching June/Offred and baby Holly/Nicole's escape -- guided along the Underground Railroad, so to speak, to a rendezvous with an escape vehicle, by a well-orchestrated network of Marthas (housekeepers to the commanders & their wives) -- one brave woman after another (starting with the Waterfords' own Martha, Rita). Women helping women; women rebelling against the patriarchy. (Not all women, of course -- but even Serena, who wavers back & forth between kindness and cruelty to June, comes down on the right side for once, knowing in her heart that Gilead is no place for baby Holly/Nicole to grow up.) It gave me a glimmer of hope, at a very dark time for our world...

As the second-wave feminists used to say, "Sisterhood is powerful."  And speaking of sisterhood -- have a look at my previous post, if you haven't already, the links and the embedded video. The global sisterhood of childless-not-by-choice women has found its collective voice... hear us roar!  ;) 

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Happy birthday, Louise Brown

Forty years ago (!), I was 17 years old, working two part-time jobs for the summer (at the concession stand at the local drive-in movie theatre, and at a small antique shop owned by my mother's hairdresser), and getting ready for my last year of high school, when Louise Joy Brown, the world's first "test tube baby" was born in England on July 25, 1978. "In vitro fertilization" was quite a mouthful of unfamiliar medical terminology, and I don't remember hearing the acronym "IVF" until some time later -- but the idea that this healthy, normal little girl had been born with the help of modern medicine was really quite amazing.

Of course, I never dreamed that 20 years later, I would be considering using that same technology myself, as I confronted my lack of success in bringing a (live) baby into this world, following the stillbirth of our daughter after several years of trying to get pregnant... or that 20 years after THAT, I would be living without children (and, moreover, mostly ENJOYING my childless life!!), despite the miracles that modern medicine was supposed to be able to work for me.

In fact, I never did try IVF. As I soon discovered, it's one thing to know that "well, there's always IVF...." and quite another to actually start walking down the slippery slope of infertility treatments yourself. Months of testing turned up no one "ah-ha!" reason why I wasn't able to get (& stay) pregnant. I was in my late 30s, I had a bicornuate uterus, my husband's sperm count was on the low side -- but none of these things was necessarily an issue (or so we were assured). Rather than leaping to IVF right away, as some urged us to do (given my "advanced age"), we opted for a gradual (and hopefully less expensive) approach. We tried clomid followed by carefully timed sex for several cycles, then (after a session with an infertility counsellor and some negotiating with a reluctant dh) an agreed-upon three cycles of IUIs, using injectable drugs. (I revisited my infertility treatments here on this blog, 10 years after stopping. If you're interested in reading more about that part of my journey, you'll find it in my posts with the tag "The Treatment Diaries.")

Long story short:  All three cycles failed miserably. Two weeks after the last one -- three years after the loss of our daughter -- I began having debilitating, terrifying anxiety attacks. (I thought I was having a heart attack at first.)  Physically, mentally, emotionally, I was wreck. Financially, we'd already spent more than $10,000, just pursuing the "cheaper" (??) route -- and we knew one cycle of IVF would likely eat up at least another $10,000 of our hard-earned savings. (And this was almost 20 years ago... the price tags today would no doubt be higher.)

Part of me wanted to try to push dh into agreeing to try at least one cycle of IVF -- because it was THERE, right??  But when I looked at how much doing "mere" IUIs had affected us (and not in a good way), and honestly evaluated our likely chances of success with IVF, I knew I just couldn't do this any longer. We were done. I continued to hope for a "miracle baby" for some time after that, but by my mid-40s, I knew it was not going to happen. And so we began the long, slow process of rebuilding our life together, and trying to figure out what life without children -- the life, and the children, we'd always assumed we'd have -- was going to look like.

I am happy that IVF exists. I am happy that Louise Brown is celebrating her 40th birthday with her own children (born without the use of reproductive technologies) & that she's managed to live a healthy, normal life (well, as normal as things get when you've had to carry the label "first test tube baby" all your life...).  I am happy that something like 8 million more IVF babies have been born in the years since then, fulfilling so many more couples' dreams of having a family. I'm happy that it's worked for some of you who are reading this.

But I am sad that many, many more millions of couples have walked away from IVF & ARTs without the baby they'd dreamed of.  (Not to mention the number of couples who never get the chance to even try IVF/ARTs, because they simply can't afford it.) This is the not-so-good news story that so often gets lost in conversations about infertility.  IVF works about 30% of the time, on average (the odds are better if you're younger, and worse as you get older). Now, 30% might sound like not-too-bad odds, when you're desperate for a baby (it sounded pretty good to me) -- until you consider the flip side:  that 70% of the time -- 70%!!! -- it doesn't work.  That's a pretty sobering statistic. I remember thinking, as I contemplated doing IVF at age 40 -- when the odds of success were well under 10% -- that I would probably have better luck taking my money and spending it on the roulette wheel in Las Vegas.

There's a huge number of couples out there who have faced this heartbreak. Once they've made the difficult decision not to continue with IVF (or not to do it in the first place), their only other options are to try using a surrogate (something that was still very much on the fringes, when I was doing treatment, and subject to a number of restrictions here in Canada), adopt (another whole kettle of fish...!) or continue to live without the children they wanted. Some people will try surrogacy or adoption, of course.  But given the expenses and emotional upheavals involved (especially if you've already been shelling out upwards of five figures or more on IVF & other infertility treatments, and stressing out over them), it's pretty obvious that many couples choose to simply fade quietly into the woodwork, lick their wounds and try to get on with their lives as best they can. By and large, their stories (still -- after 40 years of IVF) remain untold, their pain unrecognized.

I am sad that there is (still) so very little support available, both professional and personal, for people who wind up living without the children they wanted.  We are a large and growing segment of the population (even larger, when you add in those who have actively chosen to be childfree);  it would be nice if the world around us reflected that reality a little more often. As I have often said, I don't want pity. But it would sure be nice to have a little acknowledgement and respect for what we've been through and the difficult road we've been travelling. (That said -- there is certainly much more support available than when I left treatment, 17 years ago this summer, and when I started blogging about these issues, more than 10 years ago now.  Our numbers and our strength are growing, and becoming harder to ignore...!)

I'm also sad that, 40 years on, there is still far too much about assisted reproductive technologies that's unknown or unsupported.  It's astonishing that there have been no long-term studies of the effects of IVF, both on the women undergoing the procedure, and the children conceived though it. Moreover, ARTs have become a multi-billion dollar business -- one where oversight and regulation is often lacking. As a result, there  have been some unsettling stories about questionable clinic practices and unsatisfactory patient experiences. Clinics are happy to take your money while you're doing treatment, but the decision to stop generally ends that relationship pretty quickly. Few clinics offer counselling services for their patients, both during treatment and after it ends.

So I'm happy that there's a new movement afoot -- led in part by Pamela of Silent Sorority -- to bringing greater transparency and accountability to the repro-tech industry, so that individuals considering treatment, as well as policymakers, can make better, more well-informed decisions. Visit ReproTech Truths to learn more.

A couple of good recent articles about IVF at 40:
*** *** ***

Earlier this month, a group of seven childless-not-by-choice bloggers & advocates -- including yours truly -- got together via Zoom to discuss the 40th anniversary of IVF and the impact it's had on our lives -- even though it didn't result in the baby(s) we hoped for. Those taking part (besides me) included:
They will all be sharing the video of our conversation, along with their further thoughts, on their blogs/sites over the next few days (& I will add the specific post links as they become available), so check them all out! (Berenice Smith of Walk in our Shoes was unable to join us as scheduled, but produced her own video addendum to our conversation, which you can see here.)

I've been interviewed once before on an audio-only podcast ("The Bitter Infertiles," along with Pamela, Cristy & Mo, five (FIVE??!) years ago), but this was my first venture into video (gulp).  Most of these women are far more experienced and articulate in speaking publicly about these issues than I am (there's a reason why I chose to specialize in print versus broadcast journalism at school....!), but we had a blast talking to each other (some of us "met" for the very first time that day) and discussing these subjects that are very near & dear to our individual and collective hearts. In fact, we had so much fun putting this video together that no sooner did Jody hit the "off" button on the recorder than we started talking about doing it again! Stay tuned....!

Meanwhile, here's the result of our online thoughts about 40 years of IVF and what we hope to see happen in the future. (You can also watch it on Vimeo, here.)  Enjoy!! And please let me/us know what you think!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

JOMO: The joy of missing out (and a case in point...!)

You know something is a "thing" when not just one but two articles about it land in your blog reader on the same morning:

Most us by now have heard of "FOMO" -- Fear of Missing Out. Apparently it's especially prevalent among people who are attached to their smartphones. ;) defines it as "anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website."

"FOMO" has now given way to "JOMO" -- the Joy of Missing Out. Essentially, it's the opposite of FOMO.  Says the Urban Dictionary:  "You’re enjoying what you’re doing in the here and now and not on social media broadcasting or seeing what everybody else is doing." The NYT article (above) says, "JOMO is about disconnecting, opting out and being O.K. just where you are."

Sometimes, those of us who don't have the children we wanted watch our siblings, friends and relatives with envy, as they bustle around, busy with their growing families.  We find ourselves mourning everything we are missing out on (or think we are missing out on): smiles, hugs and sloppy kisses from little ones; shopping for adorable tiny clothes; first steps and first words; introducing kids to the things we loved as children;  graduations, weddings, grandchildren... the list is endless, and exhausting.

It's sometimes easy to forget there are lots of other things we've missed out on that wouldn't necessarily be delightful to deal with: diaper rash, colic, teething, tantrums, finding (and paying for!) quality daycare (and, later, college!); teenaged angst, drugs & alcohol abuse...

Case in point:  this morning -- the same morning those articles on JOMO appeared in my blog reader -- dh & I decided to head to a large outlet mall near where we live. Unbeknown to us, the Build-A-Bear store there had a promotion on: "Pay Your Age" to build one of their customized stuffed animals. I didn't know about it until I ran into dh as I left a store early in our visit (he walks laps around the mall while I shop. "Wait till you see this!" he told me.

The mall is designed as an oval/rectangle -- and the lineup stretched almost 1/4 of the way around it.  I heard one woman mention an estimated waiting time of FOUR HOURS (dh heard SEVEN). And of course, kids, parents & strollers were everywhere else in the mall too (this being July = no school/prime vacation time). It was an unbelievable sight, and of course, the noise was semi-deafening. (I didn't realize this was a global event until I got home and started seeing some news stories and social media posts from other cities about's one from a Canadian network, and here's one from the BBC.)  Had we known this was going on, there is just no way we would have gone to the mall today. As it was, let's just say it was a much shorter visit than usual!!

(Not that I wanted to join the lineup...! -- but I kept thinking how discriminatory this was against adults, and particularly those of us without kids:  What if *I* wanted to build a bear for myself?  (This may sound ridiculous -- it's for kids, right?? I've never been to the store myself -- but I remember a couple of bereaved parents from our support group who went & built themselves angel bears after the loss of their babies. They were adorable. Expensive, but adorable.)  Would I be charged $57, vs $2 for the toddler at the table next to me building the same thing??)(According to this article, the fee for adults was capped at $29.)

Yes, there are things we're missing out on... but as today showed, missing out is not always a bad thing. ;)

A couple of other articles about JOMO that I found:

Scene from the mall earlier today...!  

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Odds & ends

  • I am typing this on my brand new laptop! As I wrote a while back, my 8-year-old Toshiba laptop has been crashing with increasingly alarming frequency.  I asked my sister's boyfriend K. to keep an eye out for a good deal on a new one, and last weekend, my sister sent me the links to two models on sale at Best Buy.  Dh & I went there on Monday & picked one out. It happened to cost just $50 more than I paid for my previous laptop, 8 years ago...! I've spent the past few afternoons/evenings on the phone & on screen with K., setting it up, transferring over programs & files from my old laptop, etc.  I still have a few more things on my to-do list, but am happy to have my new toy mostly operational! ;)  
    • The new laptop will take a little getting used to. For one thing, it runs on Windows 10 (my old laptop uses Windows 7). 
    • It is a "slim" laptop and weighs considerably less than my old one -- just 4.4 pounds (much to dh's relief, since he usually winds up carrying it when we travel...!). 
    • The power cord outlet is on the left side of the laptop;  it's on the right on my old model. 
    • My old laptop had ports on both sides;  on the new one, they're all on the left. 
    • The new one doesn't have a CD/DVD player (although I didn't really use that feature much on the old one anyway). 
    • The keyboard includes a number pad on the right side, which my old laptop does not have (but the computer I used at work did, so I am somewhat used to that).  
    • The "delete" key on my old laptop is in the upper right-hand corner of the keyboard. On my new laptop, that particular key happens to be the power (on/off) button. (Just guess how I figured THAT one out...!)
  • I've been sad that the odds of me getting "home" to visit my family this summer are not that great, because of FIL's failing health. But -- I had said to my parents that maybe we might come for (Canadian) Thanksgiving (in early October), and that's increasingly looking like it might happen. I was dreaming of/drooling over my mom's turkey, gravy & stuffing anyway... and then my sister called me with an additional reason to come home then: Paul McCartney. He is NOT scheduled to do a show in Toronto on his upcoming tour (yet), but he IS appearing in Winnipeg in late September -- and my sister managed to snag a pair of tickets.  She has already seen Paul twice;  I haven't, nor have I been to a rock concert since Bruce Springsteen in about 1992. Given that the man recently turned 76 years old (!), how many more opportunities am I going to get to see one of the two remaining Beatles??  This will be the most expensive concert ticket I've ever paid for ($300, when you factor in taxes, fees, etc. -- plus my airfare!), but I think it will be well worth the price. :)  And in the event that I'm not able to go (because of FIL or other reasons), she should have no problem getting someone else to take the extra ticket. 
  • Louise Brown -- the first "test tube" (IVF) baby -- will celebrate her 40th birthday later this month. And a group of childless-not-by-choice bloggers & activists (including yours truly) have something special in the works to mark the occasion. More to come on this soon!  :) 

Monday, July 9, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: 33

This past Friday was our 33rd (!) wedding anniversary. :)  We started the day by (what else??) visiting the local megabookstore in the early afternoon -- a more typical "us" thing to do, I cannot imagine. ;)

Later in the afternoon, we parked our car near the recently opened nearby subway station and took the 45-minute ride downtown. Dh could care less if he ever set foot in downtown Toronto again (even though he was born & raised there, & worked there for almost 30 years) -- but I miss being there sometimes (the shopping! the museums! the restaurants! the architecture! the cultural events -- etc. etc.) -- and I was happy to be back in familiar territory. The previous week had been one scorchingly hot & humid day after another -- but happily, the day of our anniversary was just pleasantly warm (23C), breezy & humidity-free. :)  We had a nice dinner, strolled around a bit, did some people watching, listened to a free outdoor concert -- and then headed to the beautiful old Royal Alexandra Theatre to see an all-Canadian cast in the hit musical "Come From Away." 

The show is about 9/11 (!), and the airline passengers who found themselves stranded for several days in & around Gander, Newfoundland, where the locals opened their homes and their hearts. In a world where kindness and generosity currently (sadly) seem in very short supply, the message of this show could not be more uplifting -- and welcome. Go see it, if you have the chance!!

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

He & me at 33. :)  

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Mom's the word. (Again.)

Normally, I enjoy Jill Filipovic 's writing. I follow her on social media, and her book, The H-Spot, is in my gargantuan to-read pile. But the language used in a recent article she wrote for CNN raised my childless/free hackles.

"Trump's worst enemy: Middle-aged moms,"  the headline reads. Any article that lauds "moms" (or anyone standing in opposition to the Orange One, lol) is going to pique my attention ;)  and the subject matter is interesting and noteworthy: how women are organizing and leading the protests against the Trump administration (in particular/most recently, its cruel immigration policies).

What bothered me was how the terms "moms" and "women" are used interchangeably in the article, particularly at the beginning. 

The lead pargraph:
Middle-aged women have never been treated as an exciting or newsworthy political force. In contrast, young, single women make for sexy stories or examples of nanny-state selfishness. Disaffected working-class white men are treated like the backbone of the country and the true Americans. And the press looks toward young people generally to take the temperature of the country's political future.
Mothers, however, are presented as "soccer mom" voting blocs (or alternately, "hockey moms" or "security moms") -- not as movers and shakers running for office, staffing winning campaigns and even taking to the streets in protest. 
("Security moms"?? -- that's a new one...)  You see the shift there from "middle-aged women" to "mothers"? 
It's not that women in their 40s, 50s and 60s haven't been active; it's that they've been invisible.
Annnnndddd now we're back to "women" again.  Hey, if middle-aged MOMS are supposedly invisible, try try being a middle-aged woman without children...!

The assumption one would draw from these first few lines -- the impression being reinforced here -- is that all middle-aged women are moms. If you're reading this blog, you KNOW that's simply not so:  all moms are women, sure, but not all women (middle-aged or otherwise) are moms. (From here on in, thankfully, the article focuses on "women" instead of "moms.") 

I much preferred Michelle Goldberg's similar piece in the New York Times, "Women Might Save America Yet."

(Let's hope so...!) 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Bye bye, Alan...

(BCR fans may recognize the allusion in the title to their hit "Bye Bye Baby," a remake of the classic Four Seasons song.)  ;)  

Alan Longmuir died yesterday. The name probably means nothing to most of you out there, but for me, he was part of one of my most integral teenage experiences: the 2-3 years of my life that revolved around the Bay City Rollers. As when David Cassidy died last November, a little piece of my youth, and my heart, died along with him.

Alan wasn't the most prominent member of the group, nor my personal favourite (that would be Stuart "Woody" Wood ;) ) (interestingly, nothing I've read indicates that Woody & his wife have children...) but he was part of the group, nevertheless, and was in fact its founder. Alan started the Rollers (then called The Saxons) with his younger brother Derek in the 1960s. He left the group in 1976, just as their fame was peaking (he was gone by the time I saw the Rollers in August that year -- my very first concert! -- FORTY-TWO YEARS AGO!! -- replaced by a 17-year-old Irish boy named Ian Mitchell). I understand he didn't get along with their tyrant of a manager, and he was having difficulty dealing with the stresses of fame. He was 28 years old -- five years older than the next-oldest Roller, Eric Faulkner -- and at the time, 28 seemed positively ancient to 15-year-old me & my friends. :)  Even now, I see fans commenting on social media, "He was SEVENTY??!!"  -- like most of us aren't in our 50s now ourselves, lol. ;)

I've written about my Rollermania days a few times here on the blog, including last summer, when I found some relics of those days in the closet at my mother's house -- things I'd once dreamed of showing my daughter. Ah, youth.

Les McKeown was the Rollers' frontman, but on the rare occasions that Alan sang lead, it was a delight. Here for your viewing & listening pleasure, in all their '70s glory, the Bay City Rollers with Alan singing lead on "Rock & Roll Honeymoon."  (I was humming this song constantly during the week of my nephew's wedding this spring.)

Rest in peace, Alan, and thanks for the great memories.

Monday, July 2, 2018

MicroblogMondays: "The Handmaid's Tale, Episode 11: Holly"

After watching each episode of "The Handmaid's Tale," I like to Google reviews to see what the critics had to say, and whether they picked up on the same things I did (or saw something that I didn't). (It also gives me a chance to wind down a little before heading off to bed!): 

This paragraph from Vulture's review of Season 2, Episode 11 (which I watched last night) had me silently fist-pumping (so as not to wake up dh, lol): 
[Fred & Serena's] argument is the grand unburdening of the anger and resentment that’s been brewing in their relationship for years. And underneath it all has been Serena’s desire for a baby. It’s a sharp indictment of our parent-centric society, of the idea that successful adulthood necessarily includes parenting. Despite her prominence, her beauty, and her wealth, Serena actively abandoned her intellectual freedom — and helped oppress an entire nation’s worth of other women and dissenters — for the promise of a child.
Also: Did anyone else clue in that the voice on Radio Free America that Offred/June heard in the car was Oprah??

Did you watch? What did you think? 

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Right now (Canada Day edition)

Right now... (an occasional meme, alternating from time to time with "The Current")

Reading: Between books right now. Year-to-date, I've finished 13 books (out of my Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge goal of 24 books). Halfway there at the halfway point of 2018!! 

Recent purchase: The Race to Save the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport. 

Watching: The Handmaid's Tale," which continues to be gripping, extremely well done television. Just a few more episodes to go in season 2...!  (Episode 11 of 13 tonight!)  

On the big screen, we've recently seen (& enjoyed) "Ocean's 8" and "The Incredibles 2." 

Listening:  To a podcast by Civilla Morgan, who runs a site called Childless Not By Choice, interviewing Gateway Women's Jody Day. Listen here! 

Following:  Tweets & stories from the staff of the Capital-Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, where five staff members were murdered this past week by a nut with a gun & a grudge. :(   And yet, they are still publishing a damn paper. :)  Journalists have been my heroes since the days of Woodward & Bernstein (maybe even earlier). The Capital-Gazette survivors show why journalists are still my heroes. :)  (NOT the "enemy of the people," as some people (cough cough) would have you believe... :p ) 

Drinking/Eating:  Dinner tonight: baked chicken breasts with peas & rice. Drinking lots of water this weekend, as we're in the middle of a heat wave...! 

Wearing: As I've gotten older, I've felt more self-conscious about wearing shorts in public in the summertime (although I wear them constantly around the house). I tend to wear capris instead. But I've been making an exception this weekend...!!  (Current temps: 34C & 43C humidex -- that's 93F & 109F.  And it was even hotter yesterday!)  

Trying:  To get better about meal planning. I found a cheap little magnetic dry-erase board (sticks to the refrigerator) with seven boxes on it, one for each day of the week. Not every slot gets a dinner plan written into it at the beginning of the week (although Fridays are usually lentils and Saturdays we usually eat out) -- but we're at least trying to be a little more pro-active in thinking about it, so that it doesn't get to be 4 p.m. and we're staring blankly at each other saying, "So, what do you want to do about dinner?"  (How about you? -- any meal planners out there? Any tips to share?) 

Buying (besides books, lol):  A cute new foldable/crushable straw sunhat from Zara, in anticipation of our trip to the beach this weekend (that didn't happen -- thank goodness!)  I'm not very good about wearing hats or remembering to put on sunscreen when I'm outside for more than a few minutes, but am trying to develop some better habits as I age. ;)  

Wanting:  Would a break from the extreme heat & humidity be asking too much?? 

Loving:  (Despite the current heat wave) Being able to go outside in shorts or capris & sandals -- no jacket, boots, gloves, hat, scarf, etc., required!! YAY!! 

Debating: Whether to head home for a week or so to visit my parents by myself later this summer (late July or August), without dh (who understandably does not want to leave his father right now). Or wait & maybe go for (Canadian) Thanksgiving (in October). 

Anticipating:  Our wedding anniversary this coming week -- we have tickets to see an all-Canadian production of "Come From Away" downtown!

Feeling:  Extremely proud & thankful to be a Canadian... albeit a little depressed over the general state of the world right now... :(