Monday, December 9, 2019

#MicroblogMondays: It's a wonderful movie

When I was a university student, back in the late 1970s/early 1980s, there was a film studies professor who would organize a campus showing of the Jimmy Stewart movie "It's a Wonderful Life" every year in December (with a film projector! -- VCRs were only just starting to take off at the time). It was his personal pick for the greatest movie ever made.

I actually never attended one of those campus showings, but I heard about them and read interviews with the professor about the movie. I finally saw it on television several years after I left school and got married, and in the years since then, it's become known as, if not the greatest movie ever made, then certainly a holiday classic -- and one of my own personal favourites. It's a long movie, but I love how it builds and builds to an emotional crescendo -- so that by the time George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) starts his joyful run through the snowy streets of Bedford Falls, shouting "Merry Christmas!"  to everyone he meets, I am a weeping mess. I start crying the moment he begs Clarence, his guardian angel, to help him get back to his wife and kids, right on through to the final chorus of "Auld Lang Syne."  I haven't actually sat through the entire movie in several years now, but I almost always manage to catch those last few minutes on TV, and that's enough to send me searching for the Kleenex box.

I enjoy some of the more modern Christmas movies, like "A Christmas Story" and "Elf" and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" (one year, my team at work booked the conference room, ordered in Thai food and spent an extended lunch hour watching that one -- and howling with laughter -- together).  But for me, there's nothing quite like the classics.  Beyond "It's a Wonderful Life," my favourites also include the Alastair Sim version of "A Christmas Carol" (although I love just about any version of  "A Christmas Carol")(the half-hour Disney version with Mickey Mouse as Bob Cratchit & Scrooge McDuck as Scrooge (of course) probably ranks a close second in my books, lol), the original "Miracle on 34th Street" with Maureen O'Hara & Natalie Wood, and the original version of "The Bishop's Wife" with Loretta Young, David Niven & Cary Grant.

Do you have a favourite Christmas/holiday movie? 

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

Monday, December 2, 2019

#MicroblogMondays: Annoying things & small pleasures

Annoying things: 

  • The big dump of snow we got yesterday & this morning, and the resulting slushy mess. :p  
  • People who insist on driving like maniacs on snowy, slippery roads. 
  • Having to pull our winter boots out of the closet to wear outside. 
  • Lineups in all the stores (already). 
  • Getting an email from the airline last night, advising us they've cancelled our return flight home (after spending Christmas with my family) & rebooked us on an earlier flight the same day -- but  3.5 hours earlier. Which will mean getting up & leaving my parents' house early in the morning, instead of mid-late morning, as originally planned. Did I mention that my parents live more than an hour's drive away from the airport?  And did I mention my sister & her boyfriend -- neither of them especially great at getting up early -- will be driving us??  Ugh. (We could try to rebook ourselves on a different flight, but there's not a lot available that day -- the timing is even worse for the other flights that day -- and I am sure they are already pretty full.  So we're sticking with the flights the airline assigned us, but ugh...) 

Small pleasures:

  • From dh:  Not having to shovel said big dump of snow/slushy mess (see above).  ;) 
  • Not having to leave the house during bad weather to get to work, etc. 
  • Underground parking in cold, snowy weather. 
  • Snow sticking to the tree branches -- so pretty & Christmas-y (even though I know I'll be sick of it by February...!).  
  • Trying (& liking) a new crockpot recipe last night that I found on Pinterest for easy chicken & dumplings. Perfect on a cold, snowy night! 
  • The lights on our Christmas tree. 
  • A bunch of new books delivered to my e-reader at steeply discounted prices via Cyber Monday sales. 
  • Crossing items off my gargantuan pre-Christmas to-do list. 
  • Nephew's dog curled up in my lap underneath a cozy blanket when we visited there this weekend. 
  • Holding our new little great-nephew, and seeing him wearing one of the cute little outfits we bought for him. :) 

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

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Right now

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

Reading:  I read four (5) books in November (all reviewed on this blog):
With one month to go, my Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge YTD total now stands at 45 books -- 21 more than my goal of 24 (188%).  :)  Jess challenged me in a previous comment to double my original challenge goal ( = 48 books), which would mean reading three more books by the end of December. Even if I don't get anything read between now & Christmas, I usually read a couple of books while I'm at my parents' house over the holidays, so it just might be do-able...!)

Current read(s): Deciding on the next one! 

Coming up:
  • No library book club meeting in December. Our January discussion will be about "The Alice Network" by Kate Quinn, which I read & reviewed earlier this year here. It was supposed to be discussed at our meeting LAST January (2019) -- the first meeting I was planning to attend. Alas, there was a heavy snowstorm and all library programs that evening were cancelled. :(  A few people were complaining about revisiting a book they'd read last year, but I'm glad we're finally getting another chance to talk about it!  (Which reminds me, Quinn's "The Huntress" is also in my TBR pile...!) 
  • My D.E. Stevenson group will be waiting until the New Year to begin our online discussion of "Mrs. Tim Flies Home," which I recently read & reviewed here. After that, at my suggestion :)  we're going to tackle my personal DES favourite, "The Baker's Daughter," which the group last read & discussed some 20 (!) years ago. I read & reviewed that one here back in early 2016, but may do a re-read, especially since it's one I love. :)  
(Some) recent purchases/additions to the TBR pile (that I haven't read yet):
Watching:  We didn't see any movies in the theatre in November. :( 

On television:
  • The fifth and final season of "Poldark" on PBS wrapped up with a slightly ridiculous finale episode. This season departed from the source material (the books by Winston Graham), and as a result, I found it much less satisfying... but I do still love the characters & actors. Hoping they will be able to reunite the cast in another 10 years or so to film the final 5 books in the series (which take place 10 years after the original 7 novels)!  
  • Still haven't had time to get into Season 3 of "The Crown"... hoping to watch it all before we head west for Christmas!  
  • Anyone know if "Victoria" will be returning soon?? 
Listening:  To a few episodes of the podcast "Kidless" with Ashley & Eric, who are childfree by choice. They recently had a great conversation with Katy of Chasing Creation, who is childless-not-by-choice. Check it out!

Following: Weather reports... lots of warnings/advisories. It was raining this morning, which turned to freezing rain, and is now a snowstorm. Glad to stay safe & warm at home today! 

Drinking/Eating:  For lunch:  leftover fast-fired pizza from dinner at the mall last night:  cream sauce, mozzarella, onion & garlic, spinach leaves, chicken & sausage. Yum!  For dinner:  trying a new Pinterest recipe for crockpot chicken & dumplings, using a can of cut-up Pillsbury biscuits for the dumplings. We'll see how it turns out, but it IS starting to smell good...! 

Buying (besides books, lol):  Christmas presents (of course). (Time is rapidly running out, yikes!!) Baby clothes & diapers (when they're on sale), for Great-Nephew. :)

Wearing: My Christmas-themed long-sleeved waffle-weave shirts from Old Navy, around the house. :)

Wanting: To see our little great-nephew.  :) 

Enjoying: The lights of our Christmas tree, which we put up on Wednesday & decorated on Thursday.

Loving: Spending time with our new little great-nephew. (And the dog!  lol) 

Feeling:  Relieved (incredibly so), that our little great-nephew arrived safely and is doing well. Happy that it's Christmastime. :) 

Friday, November 29, 2019

"Notes to Self" by Emilie Pine

I am not sure where I first heard about "Notes to Self" by Emilie Pine, but when I saw it on the bookstore shelf, I knew it was something I had to pick up. It's a slim volume of six personal essays from a definite female/feminist perspective. I enjoy books like this that I can dip in & out of without losing track of plot or characters.

In this case, I found the book hard to put down -- but I also appreciated the ability to read one essay & then take a break to absorb what I had just read. Pine's writing is amazing, simply stunning at times, and breathtaking in its honesty.

Here's one passage (of many) that I marked with a post-it note, from the "Author's Note."  Let's just say, I can relate...! : 
There are many valid reasons why people keep difficult experiences private. Talking about them can feel like exposing a raw nerve. It can make us afraid of others' judgments. It can make us feel more, not less, alone. And so we keep quiet. But it's not just the risk of public exposure that that silences us;  our self-censorship is so often due to that disapproving inner critic, whose voice tells us that our lives are too small, or too messy, or too painful to share. I didn't want to listen to that critical, belittling voice any longer...
This passage (also from the author's note) may strike a chord with bloggers: 
Though I have written solely about my personal experience, readers have seen their own lives reflected in these pages. The emotions I kept in the dark for so long, it turns out, are not mine alone. The things we are afraid to say, the things we are ashamed of, or embarrassed by, these are not, after all, the things that isolate us. These are the things that connect us. And this realization leads me to another: In writing my life, I thought I was writing about pain. But I have also, accidentally, written about love. 
If, like me, you are childless-not-by-choice, you might like to know that Pine is "one of us," and writes movingly about her journey through infertility, miscarriage and, finally, acceptance (as well as her sister's pregnancy loss) in an essay called "The Baby Years." There's also an essay titled "Notes on Bleeding and Other Crimes" that covers menstruation, menopause and body image that had me nodding along as I turned the pages.

Other topics Pine covers in this book include her father's alcoholism, her parents' failed marriage, her wild teenage years (including eating disorders, drug abuse and rape), and workplace sexism and workaholism.

Read it. It's amazing.

Five stars.

*** *** ***

Pine also had an essay in British Vogue recently. The title alone makes me want to stand up & cheer:  "A Childless Woman Is Not A Tragic Figure."  Sample passage: 
For a long time, during what I think of as "the baby years", I felt as if I were on the sidelines, as if the centre of life were moving on without me. And all through those years, the feeling I struggled most with was failure. I felt that if I tried harder, or took more hormones, or did more tests, I could find the cure for my failure to conceive, or to hold onto a pregnancy... 
I am allergic to the idea that failure is something we have to go through in order to reach success. But I am also done with failure, with marking my body and my life as something that has failed. Because the problem with failure is not just the dead-end of it, but the shame it comes wrapped in. 
In 2017 I wrote an essay about infertility. The first draft ended with the word "barren". That word expressed how bereft I felt, and how angry, and how shamed. And it is a powerful thing to claim grief and pain as your own. But it was a terrible word, a terrible conclusion. Re-reading the essay, I decided the most feminist thing I could do would be to write myself a happy ending. And so I wrote about the great life I saw ahead for me and my partner. A life without children. It felt speculative. And it felt hopeful. And, most of all, it felt like a giant "f**k you" to the persistent expectation that a childless woman is a tragic figure.
This was book #45 that I have read in 2019 to date, bringing me to 188% (!) of my 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I have completed my challenge for the year -- currently 21 books beyond my  goal -- and I have surpassed my reading total for 2018 by 18 books.  :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

"Mrs. Tim Flies Home" by D.E. Stevenson

My D.E. Stevenson online fan group will be reading and discussing "Mrs. Tim Flies Home" together shortly, and I got a head start on the book.  :)  We've been reading all the "Mrs. Tim" books over the past two years, alternating them with other World War 2-era DES books for variety. 

"Mrs. Tim Flies Home" is the fourth and final book in the "Mrs. Tim" series, which began with "Mrs. Tim of the Regiment" (pre-war), followed by "Mrs. Tim Carries On" (set during the war) and "Mrs. Tim Gets a Job" (the immediate post-war era).

This book was first published in 1952, and was recently reissued in a new edition for the first time in many years. Like the others, it takes the form of a diary kept by Hester (Mrs. Tim) Christie, while her husband (Major Tim Christie of the British Army) is posted abroad.  Hester and Tim have been living in Kenya for the past 18 months, but Hester is longing to see their children, Bryan and Betty (now teenagers/young adults, attending boarding school & college back in England), and arranges to rent a house in the village of Old Quinings for the summer. 

Part of the fun of reading DES's books is how characters & settings from one book tend to pop up in another.  Old Quinings was the setting of our group's previous read, "Kate Hardy", and several characters from that book are present in this one too (plus there's a cameo appearance by Mr. Grace of "The Four Graces").  Several other characters we've come to know from previous Mrs. Tim books make an appearance -- including (surprise!)(NOT!)  Hester and Tim's friend Tony Morley (now a general).  That Tony carries a torch for Hester has been obvious to readers all through last three books (but not, however, to the completely oblivious Hester). Early in this volume, Tony meets up with Hester while she's on a stopover in Rome, which winds up becoming the subject of local gossip in Old Quinings -- and a potential wedge in Hester's marriage. 

This book very much reflects its time and setting.  Like most of DES's books, there's not a whole lot going on in the way of plot, but the writing is warm and wonderful, with memorable characters & witty dialogue. It's a pleasant way to spend a few hours (preferably with a cup of tea in hand).  :)  Some early passages where Hester describes life in Kenya are pretty cringeworthy from a modern, post-colonial perspective, but didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the book.

Three stars on Goodreads (it would have been 3.5, if half-stars were possible!).

(Our next group read once this one is completed will be my personal DES favourite, "The Baker's Daughter." :)  )

This was book #44 that I have read in 2019 to date, bringing me to 183% (!) of my 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I have completed my challenge for the year -- currently 20 books beyond my  goal -- and I have surpassed my reading total for 2018 by 17 books.  :)

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Not the grandma

Back in the 1990s, there was a TV series called "Dinosaurs" about a family of... dinosaurs, of course. ;)  (Created by Jim Henson of the Muppets, I think.)  The baby of the family would never call his father "Daddy," simply referring to him as "Not the Mama." (I'm pretty sure I wrote a post once that used "not the mama" in either the title or body of the post, but I'll be darned if I can find it...!)

Well, I'm not the mama -- and I am not the grandma either.  The past few weeks have been a reminder of that in many ways.

I AM an auntie and now a great-auntie (and a very proud one at that!) -- which is pretty cool on its own merits. :)  But I know where I stand in the family pecking order, right?   Mom & Dad come first, then the grandparents. Then the aunts & uncles. And then the rest of us.

Dh & I are eager & willing to help, any way we can. (And, being retired, with a bit of extra money to spend these days, as well as time, we're ABLE to help in ways we couldn't 30 years ago, when our nephews were babies.) We LOVE any time we can spend with our nephews, and now our great-nephew. With few other obligations on our calendar, it would be very easy to be over there every day to spend time with the baby.

But we try to be careful not to intrude. (Too much.) Nobody has said anything to us about being a nuisance, mind you. (Quite the opposite:  BIL has made it clear that he expects us to show up, and often.)  It is, I will admit, self-imposed.

I remember showing up once at Cousin/Neighbour's house in our old community (a few blocks away from our house), shortly after their their first daughter arrived (more than 25 years ago now...!).  His wife's face sort of fell when she answered the door & saw us there. Clearly, she was exhausted by the demands of new parenthood, and not up to visitors, however good our intentions were. I tried not to take it personally, but the image has stuck in my memory all these years.

I recently read & reviewed the book "This Particular Happiness" by Jackie Shannon Hollis on this blog (here), and in my review, I highlighted a passage from the closing chapter that I'm still thinking about, weeks later:  
Leanne's girls turn to her for preparing advice. They'll turn to her for mothering advice. She's the one who's been through it.  
She buys baby gifts for her soon-to-be grandchildren and helps paint and set up the babies' rooms. I help some of the time. I buy gifts too. But I'm careful my gifts aren't too many, my offers to help aren't filled with my own needs... 
We first met the baby on Monday morning (as I wrote here on my blog) -- & I waited and waited to post something on social media (even though I was dying to, lol). (See my previous post on social media dilemmas!)  I was thinking, should I ask permission?  I was pretty sure the answer would be yes, but I really felt funny posting something before the parents & grandparents did.

The new mom & dad both posted about the baby's birth later on Monday -- and then Nephew's MIL (the baby's other grandmother). Then SIL finally posted something on Tuesday morning. Then SIL's niece/Nephew's cousin posted some photos from her hospital visit on Monday night -- & I thought "Screw waiting!"  lol And posted that photo of me holding him on Monday morning, and a couple of us putting up the Christmas lights outside BIL's  house on Sunday afternoon while we waited for the baby to be born.  (And then more last night & today.)

Tuesday night, we drove the new grandparents back to the hospital to see the baby again, and to bring a few things to the tired new parents. They mentioned needing some formula for when they got home -- the new mom is breastfeeding, but supplementing too. All the grandparents are still working (but we're not!) -- so BIL volunteered us to go get some, lol.  We had planned to go to the mall the next morning, but postponed the trip to the afternoon and made a morning trip to a nearby drugstore to pick up a case of formula. (Diapers were on sale, so we threw in a package of those too.)

Then we found out the kids were on their way home from the hospital! -- so we waited in the car outside the house until they arrived. We helped them unload the car and bring their stuff in (including the baby, lol -- and the formula & diapers we'd bought). The dog was in the basement & dh brought him upstairs to meet his new little brother. I grabbed my cellphone and started taking photos. It was the cutest thing to watch. We'd all been worried about his reaction -- but it was love at first sight, lol.  He greeted Older Nephew -- totally ignored poor Niece-in-Law (screw you, Mom!  lol) -- and then was all over the car seat with the baby sitting inside, or would have been, if we'd let him.  They had sent one of the baby's swaddling blankets home from the hospital with BIL & SIL on Monday night, to try to acquaint the dog with the baby's scent -- and I guess it worked!

I will admit, I was feeling guilty:  if anyone had the right to share this moment, it should be the grandparents, right?  But the grandparents couldn't be there -- so I am very glad we were able to help, and that I was there to take some photos of that moment.

We didn't stay too long. BIL told us to come over again later that night. We said no. Dh thought (& I agreed) that we should let the grandparents enjoy that first night with the baby themselves. (Also let the poor parents, & especially Niece-in-Law, get some rest...! -- WE were pretty exhausted ourselves, lol.)  We did visit on Thursday night, and again for a while last night.

*** *** ***

Of course, maybe I'm worrying about a whole lot of nothing, lol.

BIL played hooky from work briefly on Wednesday morning, dropping by the house to see his new grandson shortly after we left. He called dh & I as we were pulling into the parking lot at the mall to report that Nephew & Niece-in-Law were extremely grateful to us for the formula and other help.  Apparently Niece-in-Law said to him something along the lines of "Uncle Dh & Aunt Loribeth are the BEST!!  They're like little church mice (!), hanging around quietly in the background -- but they're always there when you need them."

Really, could we ask for a better compliment? That's exactly how we want it to be. We don't want to be pests, but we do want to be involved, and helpful.

Also: Thursday night, BIL reported to us that Niece-in-Law was musing about how most of her friends don't have kids yet (and are working during the day)... so maybe she & the baby could hang out with Uncle Dh & Aunt Loribeth and go to the mega-bookstore with them sometime?  Of course you can!!  lol  (Introduce Great-Nephew to books?  What else are great-aunties for, right?? lol)

Being closer to family -- and hoping to bond with the next generations -- was a big reason why we moved here 3+ years ago.  Moving & adjusting to a new community hasn't been a painless process -- but right now, I'm feeling like we made the right decision. :)  

Friday, November 22, 2019

Odds & ends from the childless/free community

Lots of things going on lately to share with you!
  • (Possibly a little late to be posting this one, but just in case...!) The folks at The Full Stop podcast (Michael, Sarah & Berenice) are getting ready for their next/December/Christmas/holiday season-themed episode (#8 -- already!), and they're inviting all of us to participate!  They're calling it "The Alternative ‘King and Queen’s Speech’" and inviting listeners to record a holiday message to the community THIS SUNDAY, November 24th, via a scheduled session on Zoom, or by sending them a voice recording in MP3 format.  Details on how to do this are available here. The episode will be released on or around December 15th. 
    • (If you haven't listened to The Full Stop yet, you should! The hosts are great, and they've had some wonderful guests and discussions about different aspects of childless-not-by-choice living!) 
  • Fertility Network UK recently sponsored a "More to Life" webinar for CNBCers on the subject of  "Coping with Holiday Expectations" by Jody Day of Gateway Women. The video is available for viewing on YouTube here
  • Sarah at Infertility Honesty recently spoke publicly about her CNBC experiences for the camera -- for a PBS Independent Lens video series, no less! (called "Should We Kid or Not?") -- with delightful results. See for yourself! She wrote about her experience in a recent blog post, which also includes the video & some related links. 
  • Lesley Pyne has updated her last year's Christmas survival guide in this recent post. She will be updating the post with additional resources as they become available, so check back from time to time, and feel free to let her know in the comments if you find anything helpful! 
  • Suzan Muir, an Australian CNBCer, is planning two long weekend retreats for CNBC women in Australia in early 2020:  
  • Interesting article in the New York Times last week about "The End of Babies." The title sounds a bit too alarmist (a la "Children of Men/Handmaid's Tale") for my liking, but it's a fairly thoughtful & thorough examination of declining fertility rates in the developed world, and the underlying reasons why a mismatch has developed between the number of children people SAY they want and the number they wind up having. Worth a read!  (But -- beware the comments!)
  • "To Kid or Not to Kid," a documentary by award-winning filmmaker Maxine Trump, has already premiered in New York and Los Angeles, and will be premiering later this month in Toronto. It's also going to be shown on CBC television on Nov. 30th, and I am hoping to catch it then!  According to the website, the film "aims to dispel the myth that living childfree is weird, selfish or somehow wrong. In a world where you’re threatened for speaking openly about living childfree, two women, from different decades, search for ways to support each other in making the decision to live without kids." 

Monday, November 18, 2019

#MicroblogMondays: Introducing...

I am very, very proud to introduce you to our first great-nephew, E., first child for Older Nephew & his wife. :)

He was born last night (two days past his due date) around 9:30 p.m. by Caesarean section, weighing 7.5 lbs. Dh & I dog-sat :)  while BIL & SIL (the grandparents) went to the hospital for the delivery. We went to see him ourselves this morning. He is, of course, absolutely gorgeous, and looks just like his daddy & his uncle (our two nephews) did when they were born. I will admit that I started sobbing when the other proud grandmother (Nephew's MIL) came out of the room into the hallway with him and placed him in my arms. He was just so beautiful. :)  And of course, there was a lot of pent-up anxiety and emotion, waiting for his arrival.

I'll never be a grandma myself, and yes, that makes me sad sometimes -- but being a great-aunt sure is pretty special too. :)

His hand looks outsized in this photo, particularly in those mitts. :)  He does have lovely long fingers & toes. :)

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

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Odds & ends

  • No baby yet... :(  
  • We were at BIL's house tonight... the mom & dad-in-waiting (who also live there) were out, but their hospital bags were packed and waiting in the living room near the door. One bag for baby, one for mom, one for dad, and two for snacks, water, etc.  I laughed and told BIL they have almost as much luggage for a day or two in the hospital as we take for a two-week vacation to see my parents. (Okay, I was joking. Kind of.) 
  • Last week -- at 39 weeks pregnant! -- niece-in-law -- a talented artist who has a fine arts degree -- decided the baby's room needed a mural. She painted a cartoon version of their miniature dachshund to stand guard over the baby's crib. It's priceless. She posted a photo of it on social media & I crack up every time I look at it. 
  • I am SOOOOOOOO tired of the barrage of constant outrage on social media -- and I'm not even thinking about all the Trump-related stuff coming from south of the border. (I have a cousin in Scotland who posts all kinds of stuff about Scottish independence & Brexit, just to add an international flavour...!) What's been going on here in Canada has been MORE than enough, thank you (not). I thought things would calm down after our federal election in mid-October -- but that just segued into "Wexit" talk. Then last week Don Cherry got fired -- and then a talk show host on "The Social" (think "The View," "The Talk," etc.) shot off her mouth about hockey players, thus enraging the not insignificant number of people in this country who have either played hockey or been a hockey parent (not very smart...!)(she later apologized).  Someone speculated on Twitter that this is all being fuelled by bots with a vested interest in keeping things stirred up. I think there might be something to that. (I get outraged about certain things too, but I (usually) don't post about it. :p )
  • New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently wrote about Britain's efforts to tackle loneliness & social isolation -- something those of us without children are particularly susceptible to, especially as we age. "When I met [Baroness Barran, Britain's current minister for loneliness] I suspected that the minister of loneliness portfolio was a bit of a gimmick. In fact, I’m now persuaded that it’s a model for other countries," he says. 
  • Y'all know that November is not my favourite month ;) (albeit the last few Novembers, since I retired, have not been quite so bad).  I found myself nodding as I read Margaret Renkl's  beautiful, meditative "Ode to a Dark Season" in the New York Times recently. "At 58, I feel the throb of time more acutely with every passing autumn," she writes. (Being 58 myself, that line in particular really resonated...!)
  • Y'all also know that I love me anything that Dr. Jen Gunter writes (my review of "The Vagina Bible" here), and she has a fabulous piece in the New York Times on "The Ongoing Trauma of Prematurity," where she not only lends her professional perspective, but also her personal perspective as the mother of triplets -- one born & died at 22.5 weeks and the other two at 26 weeks, now 16 years old with ongoing medical issues and disabilities. Sample quotes: 
When we focus only on prematurity survivors, we erase that experience, for the parent and the child. Even 16 years later, at some point almost every day I think of Aidan. What I remember most vividly about his brief life is the volume of paperwork required to document three or four minutes of existence, and the pain of calling around for a mortuary... 
Unless we start taking about the realities of prematurity and stop sanitizing the experience with tidy summaries like most babies do “well,” nothing will change.

Friday, November 15, 2019

"Me" by Elton John

I posted this book cover on Facebook
with the caption: "Saw the movie... Went to
the concert.. Now reading the book.  Did NOT buy
the T-shirt... Those suckers were $65 each!!" 
When I think about the music that forms the soundtrack of my life, Elton John makes up a big part of it.  He was the biggest rock star in the world when I was growing up in the 1970s, and he & his music have continued to be part of my life in the almost 50 (!) years since then. I was 9 when "Your Song" became a huge hit (albeit my first exposure to it was a 14-year-old Donny Osmond singing it to an audience of screaming girls on the "Osmonds Live" LP, lol). "Daniel" was on a K-Tel record of hits that was played endlessly at the skating rink I frequented (also another Elton song, "Bad Side of the Moon," as sung by Canadian band April Wine). My Grade 8 classmates acted out "Crocodile Rock" as a Language Arts project.  And oh, the angst of watching the boys I liked slow dancing with other girls at our junior high dances to "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" or "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"...!

Later, as an adult, I was thrilled (after years of listening to Van Morrison warbling about his "Brown-Eyed Girl") that Elton wrote a song called "Blue Eyes." ;)  (Apparently it was written for his boyfriend of the time, lol.)  And I challenge anyone going through infertility to listen to "Blessed" and not feel like it was written just for us. 

(I could go on & on, but you get the drift.)

Having seen "Rocketman" earlier this year and attended one of his farewell tour concerts last month, I was happy to snap up a copy of Elton's memoir, "Me," the day it came out (but had to postpone reading it in order to get my various book club selections read first).

The movie was billed as a "musical fantasy" and it was interesting to read the book & figure out what was fact & what was cinematic embellishment. (No, he didn't stalk offstage at Madison Square Gardens & head straight to rehab in costume... although he did go to rehab & kicked drugs and alcohol after 16 years of abuse. Yes, his parents really were that awful.)

This book was frank, moving, insightful, witty, gossipy, occasionally catty -- and frequently hilarious. (I was reading it in bed & woke up dh -- I was trying not to laugh out loud, but I was shaking so much with suppressed laughter, I woke him up anyway, lol.) As one of my girlfriends (who also read the book) commented, "What a life he has had!" 

(ALI note: Elton's sons Zachary & Elijah were conceived using donor eggs and sperm from both him and his husband David -- they don't know which one of them is the biological parent -- and carried by a surrogate.).

If you're not an Elton John fan, or a fan of celebrity memoirs generally, you might not be quite as enthralled with this book as I was... but I absolutely loved it. It was SUCH a great read. I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.

This was book #43 that I have read in 2019 to date, bringing me to 179% (!) of my 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I have completed my challenge for the year -- currently 19 books beyond my  goal -- and I have surpassed my reading total for 2018 by 16 books.  :)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Found it! :)

I haven't posted a photo of my Christmas card choice on this blog for several years now... mainly because (a) I've used photo cards the past several years (there were some good ones taken of me & dh at the nephews' weddings, all dressed up) and (b) I've had trouble finding one that says "Katie" (to me, anyway). 

But I didn't have a photo I wanted to use this year, so I had to start looking for an actual card. And I finally found one that fits the bill...!

May I present... Christmas Card 2019:

(Note the three little birds in the Christmas tree -- i.e., one for me, one for dh and one for Katie.)

Now for our great-nephew to FINALLY arrive (official due date tomorrow!)(Katie's was today, 21 years ago...), and I can fill in the details on the accompanying letter, and start getting them ready to send...!

Monday, November 11, 2019

#MicroblogMonday: Waiting

Still no baby (great-nephew)... 

(And that's about as "micro" a post as you're ever likely to get from me!  lol) 

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

Friday, November 8, 2019

"The Home for Unwanted Girls" by Joanna Goodman

"Another tragic one??" one of the women at the last meeting of my library book club commented, as we flipped through our copies of the next month's selection.


Most of our book club's picks over the past year have dealt with some pretty heavy (even depressing) material.  "The Home for Unwanted Girls" by Joanna Goodman fits this description. It could be categorized as an ALI (adoption/loss/infertility) read, in part -- adoption, grief and loss (including pregnancy loss) are among its themes. It is also based on a true and shameful chapter in Quebecois/Canadian history -- one I knew nothing about before reading this book.

The title of Hugh MacLennan's 1945 novel, "Two Solitudes,"  has become a metaphor for the historically troubled relationship between English and French Canadians, and their social and cultural isolation from each other.  This tension forms the backdrop for "The Home for Unwanted Girls." The story is set in 1950s Quebec, which was ruled, iron hand in iron hand, by longtime Premier Maurice Duplessis and the Catholic church.

Our heroine, Maggie Hughes, is the oldest daughter of a mixed marriage between her French-Catholic mother and Anglo-Protestant father. As a teenager, she raises the ire of her parents when she falls in love with Gabriel Phenix -- a poor French boy who lives and works on the neighbouring farm -- and then becomes pregnant.  Maggie is ordered to never see Gabriel again.  When their daughter Elodie is born, the baby is whisked away to be adopted, and Maggie is told to forget about her.

But she can't. She and Gabriel marry other people, but Maggie never gives up hope that she will find her daughter someday. Meanwhile, Elodie grows up in a church-run orphanage, hoping that someday her mother will come to find her. The story shifts back & forth between Maggie & Elodie's stories.

I knew about some of the abuses that have been uncovered in church-run institutions, but I'd never heard of the particular brand of horror that little Elodie endures. Because of a new law that provides more funding to psychiatric hospitals than to orphanages, Quebec's orphanages are converted into psychiatric hospitals -- a move that enriches both the provincial government and the Catholic church. Elodie and thousands of other young "orphans" are declared mentally ill. Their education abruptly ends, and they are forced to help the nuns care for the other residents.

This is one of those books I'm not sure I would have picked up without the book club.  It was sad and sometimes downright grim, detailing the abuse these children suffered. There were a couple of subplots (one involving Maggie's father and Gabriel's sister, and another involving Maggie's uncle) that felt superfluous & didn't really contribute much to the book overall.  But it did keep me turning the pages (particularly once Elodie's story started unfolding) to find out what happened next and how it would all turn out. I shed tears in the final few chapters.

Three (3) stars on Goodreads -- 3.5, if I could assign half-stars.

*** *** ***

Sample ALI-related passage (marked with a post-it note):  Maggie -- who recently had her third miscarriage, post-Elodie -- is having coffee with her old school friend, Audrey, currently pregnant with her third child.
"Listen," [Audrey] says, "Before we get into things, how are you coping, Mags?"  
Maggie tips her head. "Coping?"  
"I know you're having a hell of a time getting pregnant," Audrey says, her voice turning sympathetic. She lowers her voice and whispers, "The miscarriages."  
Maggie flicks her ashes into the ashtray. "Where did you hear that?" she asks.  
"Oh, you know Dunham," she says. "Violet, I think."  
"I've had a tubal washing," Maggie tells her. "The prognosis is good."  
Audrey is obviously rooting for Maggie to get on the baby bandwagon. People seem to have so much invested in a married woman getting pregnant within the accepted timeline. It troubles them when it doesn't happen, as though some universally agreed upon contract has been tampered with or disturbed. Maggie can actually feel the unspoken championing of her success at fertility, the simultaneous panic if she were to fail. (pp. 163-164) 
This was book #42 that I have read in 2019 to date, bringing me to 175% (!) of my 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I have completed my challenge for the year -- currently 18 books beyond my  goal -- and I have surpassed my reading total for 2018 by 15 books.  :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

"This Particular Happiness" by Jackie Shannon Hollis

As Gateway Women founder Jody Day has said, "the room called childlessness has many doors." Some (like me) are childless because of infertility &/or pregnancy loss.  Some women never find the right man to have babies with before their fertile years are over.

And some are what blogger Sue Fagalde Lick calls "Childless by Marriage." They marry a man who doesn't want children. Perhaps their husband initially said yes to kids, but changed his mind after the marriage. Perhaps he already has children from another relationship(s), and doesn't want any more. Perhaps the woman didn't think she wanted wanted children either, but changed her mind. In these cases, a decision must be made: whether to stay in the marriage (which is often otherwise good), or leave and try to find another partner to try to have a child with while still fertile.

"This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story" by Jackie Shannon Hollis is a memoir that falls into the "childless by marriage" category.  Jackie's husband Bill was clear from the beginning of their relationship that he did not want children. Jackie didn't think she wanted children either -- until the day she held her newborn niece and was suddenly overcome with a raging case of baby fever.

The book spans Jackie's life, from childhood to the present, going back & forth in time to tell her story. It's about coming to terms with childlessness. It's about relationships -- with friends and family members, as well as partners -- and about building a satisfying and fulfilling life -- even when that life doesn't go exactly the way we had hoped or planned. 

My own route/door to that room called childlessness was very different from Jackie's, but there were many things in this book I could relate to. Jackie is just a few years older than me -- we grew up in the same era, and absorbed similar attitudes about what women's lives could be like. While I never lived on a farm, I could relate to Jackie's upbringing in a small, rural community. |We are both very proud aunties -- albeit dh & I have just two nephews, versus Bill & Jackie's 40+!! nieces & nephews together (including inlaws & "greats").

I could relate to this passage (which I marked with a sticky note), in which Jackie hosts a baby shower for Bill's unmarried 20-year-old niece:
"I can't wait to hold her," Christy said when she announced the baby would be a girl. "I love babies. I've always loved babies."  
"So have I," I thought. But her strong desire to have a child overpowered any worries that might stop her. Worries about not being with the father, or what she would need to care for a baby, or how she could afford it. This stunned me. How different we were. I'd always had reasons and worries to balance my wanting. 
I could also relate to Jackie's struggles with trying to win and keep her family's approval (particularly her mother's). I did not have as many boyfriends as Jackie did in her youth ;) but I recognized something of myself in her yearning for love and acceptance. I winced when I read about how she hung around her ex-boyfriend's apartment, begging him to explain why he didn't want to be with her anymore. (I'm embarrassed to recall that when my pre-dh college boyfriend broke up with me, I went through a period when I would just show up at his apartment -- "I just happened to be in the neighbourhood..." (often he wasn't home and his bemused roommates had to deal with me) -- and lurk around the building on campus where he had classes, hoping to run into him.) 

And (potential spoiler alert) I had to put the book down for a while after reading about the death of Bill's cousin's 19-year-old daughter in a car accident -- just a few days after one of my best friends from high school lost her 28-year-old daughter in a very similar accident. Wow. That one hit a little too close to home.

As I await the arrival of our first great-nephew, this struck a chord with me (from the closing chapter):
Leanne's girls turn to her for preparing advice. They'll turn to her for mothering advice. She's the one who's been through it.  
She buys baby gifts for her soon-to-be grandchildren and helps paint and set up the babies' rooms. I help some of the time. I buy gifts too. But I'm careful my gifts aren't too many, my offers to help aren't filled with my own needs... 
Wanting something deeply leaves traces, grooves for regret to grab hold of, even when the wanting is gone. 
I loved the closing chapter, and Jackie's reflections on being childless in her 50s.  Excerpt:
Women who are grandmothers say, "It's the best. You have no idea." I don't think they mean it literally. They forget that I truly have no idea what it's like to be a grandmother, and I never will. They're caught up in their own joy. I try to stay caught up in mine. 
They say, "I get all the fun of having the grandkids and none of the drudgery." This part I know. It's the joy I've had all along...
This book was beautifully and honestly written.  It's a moving portrait of coming to terms with a childless life. Overall, it's a great read.

Five stars on Goodreads.

We will be discussing this book later this month -- with the author participating -- in Gateway Women's private online community. (GW founder Jody Day wrote the book's foreword.)

This was book #41 that I have read in 2019 to date, bringing me to 171% (!) of my 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I have completed my challenge for the year -- currently 17 books beyond my  goal -- and I have surpassed my reading total for 2018 by 14 books.  :)

Monday, November 4, 2019

#MicroblogMondays: Odds & ends

  • No baby (great-nephew) yet. (Official due date: Nov. 15th.) Dh & I are already fielding calls & texts from extended family members about him, along with requests to be kept in the loop about his arrival...!  Trying to stay calm & positive and not let my Dead Baby Mama nerves get the best of me... 
  • Still feeling gutted for my high school friend over the death of her 28-year-old daughter after a car accident last week.  The funeral/celebration of life will be later this week. It's a little too far for me to attend, but I'm comforted knowing she will be surrounded by many members of her large extended family as well as friends. I will be there in spirit. 
  • I am waaayyyy behind on my blog reading & commenting, but wanted to share this piece about Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month... soooooooo true!! 
  • The sky is clearing and the sun is shining right now. November is sooooooo much easier to endure when the sun shines!  :)  
  • I wish I could think of something more original than an odds & ends post for #MM...! (But it's better than nothing, lol.) 
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Saturday, November 2, 2019

"The Brink of Being" by Julia Bueno

I have read a lot of books & memoirs about pregnancy loss since my daughter was stillborn 21 years ago. "The Brink of Being: Talking about Miscarriage" by Julia Bueno ranks among the very best. It deserves to be widely read, not only by those who have experienced loss, but those around them, including family members & friends as well as medical professionals, human resources experts and others. 

Bueno uses the experience of her own miscarriages (including twin girls), as well as those of composite patients from her psychotherapy practice (specializing in infertility & loss issues), to explore various aspects of this often misunderstood loss.  (I tend to be slightly leery of the use of "composite" figures in books, but these were so well drawn with such compelling and believable stories that after a while I forgot they were composites.) 

"I then stepped back out into the world as a woman who had just had a miscarriage," Bueno writes in the introduction. "This was a world that would struggle to understand both the physical process that I had been through and the agonizing nature of my everlasting grief. A world that didn't want to know the details of what had happened, let alone remember them;  a world that didn't know if I was a mother or David a father or whether my two babies had been born or whether they had actually died. This world was poorly equipped to support me -- and the countless other women and couples I soon discovered who were also reeling in their own versions of such pain."

The book explores "the potentially profound relationship that can come into being with a barely conceived or even unconceived baby, which lays the foundations for profound grief when a pregnancy ends."  It examines the differences -- and similarities -- between early and later losses, and "the gruelling nature of repeated miscarriage." Bueno also addresses the impact miscarriage has on partners and other family members, and how we choose to dispose of (cremate/bury/etc.), and remember, these tiny beings (in a chapter titled "Efforts to Remember, Pressure to Forget").

In addition to personal stories, there is a blend of research and statistics, as well as examples of how different cultures deal with the subject of miscarriage and other pregnancy losses, and advances in developing medical protocols and support structures to help those affected. (Bueno is British, and most of her information is U.K.-centric, but she also includes information from the U.S., Australia and other countries.)  "Although I acknowledge how far we have come, I also want to show you how much further we can, and must, go," she writes in the introduction. 

This was a lovely, warm, compassionate book about a rather un-lovely subject.  Five stars on Goodreads.

This was book #40 that I have read in 2019 to date, bringing me to 167% (!) of my 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I have completed my challenge for the year -- currently 16 books beyond my  goal -- and I have surpassed my reading total for 2018 by 13 books.  :)

Friday, November 1, 2019

Right now

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

Reading:  6 (!) books in October (including 4 while visiting my parents)(all but one reviewed during October on this blog):
Current read(s):
Coming up:
  • The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman (which seems to have an ALI-related plot -- to be discussed at my November library book club meeting).  
My Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge YTD total now stands at 40 books -- 16 more than my goal of 24 (167%).  :)

(Some) recent purchases/additions to the TBR pile (that I haven't read yet):  (Ahhh, fall book release season...!  ;)  ) 
Watching:  We saw one movie in-theatre in October:  "Western Stars," a sort of a companion piece to Bruce Springsteen's album of the same name. Bruce performs the entire album (with a bonus track at the end: Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy"!), backed up by a 30-piece band/orchestra in the loft of a 100-year-old barn on his property in New Jersey. The songs are interspersed with scenes from the American West with voice-overs by Bruce explaining the stories and inspiration behind each song. Dh leaned over to me at one point and whispered, "He makes you fall in love with him all over again."  ;)  Bruce never disappoints!

On television:  
  • I'm continuing to watch the final season (#5) of Poldark on PBS (slightly annoyed at the deviations from the books this season -- but I do love the characters & actors...). 
  • The Battle of the Blades finale was on CBC TV last night (a uniquely Canadian reality competition, which pairs hockey players -- both male & female -- with figure skaters, skating for their favourite charities). The final result was voted on by Canadian viewers... and as I suspected, Sheldon Kennedy & Kaitlyn Weaver won over my favourites, Ekaterina Gordeeva & Bruno Gervais. I liked Sheldon & Kaitlyn too -- they had great chemistry, skated some great routines, and I loved how Sheldon was clearly game to try anything. (The guy is 50 years old!)  He's a national hero, not only because of hockey but because of how he went public with the story of how he (& others) were abused by his junior hockey coach, and became an advocate for victims of abuse & bullying (check out the barebones story on his Wikipedia profile). I just felt Ekaterina & Bruno were the clearly superior team, technically. Oh well! It was fun watching! 
Listening:  Not enough lately... I have a huge backlog of podcasts on my Google Play & Spotify apps! 

Following:  Continuing to follow the unfolding impeachment drama in the U.S.

Drinking/Eating: Leftover Halloween candy, lol.  This was the fourth Halloween that we've lived here, and we've never had any trick or treaters visit us -- although dh insists on buying some Halloween candy anyway, "just in case"... ;)  Maybe next year our little great-nephew will come??

Buying (besides books, lol):  Restocked some of my Sephora staples recently -- which include Benefit Browvo! eyebrow primer/conditionerL'Occitane foot cream, and Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment. Expensive, but sooooo good...! 

Wearing: Back to long jeans, socks & shoes, and (around the house) long yoga pants, long-sleeved T-shirts & sweatshirts, socks and even slippers on some days when the floors are particularly cold.  (I was very glad I brought my winter jacket with me to Manitoba when I was there for Thanksgiving to visit my parents!)  

Trying:  Not to let the gloom of November envelop me this year, as it sometimes does (albeit not to the same extent it once did). 

Wanting:  Some magic answers to appear to my genealogy questions, lol.

CelebratingI got tickets to "Hamilton"!!

Loving: My family. So much.

Waiting impatiently: For the arrival of our first great-nephew, very soon!  Feeling: Excited -- but also very anxious (given my own reproductive history & the parallel timelines between this pregnancy & my own, 21 years ago..).... 

Also feeling:  Devastated by the precariousness of life. :(   I posted a few days ago about the 28-year-old daughter of a high school friend who was in serious condition in the hospital following a car accident.  Sadly, she took a turn for the worse, and her parents and husband made the difficult decision to remove life support. She died just before noon today. I am devastated for my friend, who has endured several other sad losses in her family over the past few years too (albeit none quite like  this). I never met her daughter, but from the photos I've seen, she looked so much like her mother. She says "Hug your kids. Tell them you love them every time you say goodbye."

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Blogoversary #12!

Twelve years!  Today is the TWELFTH anniversary of the day I started this blog, back in 2007!

It's hard to come up with an original "blogoversary" post after 12 years of writing them, lol -- although I have been doing some reflecting lately on how the blogging world has changed, and some of the points I drafted a while back seem suitable for a blogoversary post.

When I started writing here, blogs were mostly personal things. Most bloggers then didn't worry about "monetizing" or "branding" or creating "platforms" or gaining followers. Not that there is anything wrong with this approach... it's just not "me."

As I've said before, I started this blog for two main reasons:  I wanted to add my perspective on childless/free living after infertility & loss to the very few such blogs that existed at the time (Pamela's blog Coming2Terms being one, and one of the very, VERY few from that time that has lasted, albeit in somewhat different form)(Coming2Terms eventually morphed into Silent Sorority).  And I wanted to take part in Stirrup Queen Mel's book club. :)  If you find my posts helpful &/or relatable, if you get something out of what you read here, that's great -- it makes me really happy. :)  But that's not why (or at least the only or primary reason why) I started blogging, and continue to blog.

Social media was in its infancy back then (& basically meant Facebook). These days, it seems most/many bloggers (those who are still blogging!) promote their blogs via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or some combination thereof.  I've toyed with the idea of starting social media accounts for my blog, but decided against it.  It seems like a lot of work, and I have trouble enough keeping up with my personal accounts as it is...! (Or maybe I'm just lazy, lol.)

That said, having only personal accounts sometimes puts me in a bit of a weird/awkward position. I follow a lot of ALI-related blogs/bloggers/sites on social media -- and sometimes I get requests from them wanting to follow me back. If I have had some personal interaction with you (through comments, emails, etc.), I will probably say yes -- but if I don't really "know" you, I'm a little more reluctant to grant access. My personal accounts are generally just that, personal... I don't post a lot of ALI-related stuff there. If you're following me on social media with the expectation that I'll be providing the same kind of content there as I do here on my blog, you might be disappointed.

Anyway.  Blogging, social media & me may have a slightly uneasy co-existence (lol), but I am glad I'm still here, and that there are now so many, many more places people can go to find support for a life without children. Perhaps still not enough -- and perhaps the attitudes of the fortunately fertile have not changed enough for our liking. But I've seen a LOT of progress over the past 12 years, and I'm looking forward to seeing even more in the future. :)

Blogging stats, 12 years later:

Number of years blogging: 12

Published posts (including this one): 1,574

Average # of posts per year: 132 (up from an average of 128 last year!)

Average # of posts per month: 11
(So far in calendar year 2019, I've published 141 posts -- a minimum of 10 and as many as 19 in one month.)

Published comments: Unfortunately, Blogger only seem to be showing 1000 comments these days?? Nevertheless, I am grateful to all of you who comment!

Page views (tracked since May 2010):  almost 806,000

Followers (on Blogger):  149

Past blogoversary posts here.

First blog post ever here! :) 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

More odds & ends

  • Bracing myself for the onslaught of Halloween photos tomorrow...!  I enjoy them to a point, until it gets overwhelming.  We're not expecting any trick-or-treaters at our condo (haven't had any in the three previous Halloweens that we've lived here), but we did buy some chocolate, just in case... ;) 
  • Something else is happening tomorrow that I'll be posting about -- any guesses as to what that might be??  ;)  
  • Thank you to Turia for pointing me to this lovely first-person piece about stillbirth in The Guardian. 
  • I went to my library book club meeting on Monday night, for the first time since the end of June. I had checked the library website & saw the book for this month's discussion was "Never Let Me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro (reviewed here).  I already had it in my collection, so I didn't bother to go to the library to check out a copy for the book club;  I simply showed up at the meeting, ready to discuss the book. What a surprise, then, to learn we were in fact discussing a completely different book!  Fortunately, it was one I'd already read -- one of the best books I'd read that year -- and was happy to discuss in a group setting: "Educated" by Tara Westover (reviewed here).  
  • Just finished off another book (#40 so far this year!).  I'll be posting a review sometime in the next few days. 
  • The 28-year-old daughter of a high school friend (am I really old enough to have a 28-year-old daughter? (let alone the 21-year-old daughter I was supposed to have) -- yes, I am...) was in a serious car accident a few days ago. She is in stable but serious condition at the hospital & will be undergoing several surgeries over the next while. Please keep her, her husband & her parents in your thoughts & prayers. :( 

Monday, October 28, 2019

#MicroblogMondays: Score!!

Getting tickets for the upcoming Toronto visit of the touring company of "Hamilton" was an exercise in nerves and patience. I'm just very glad I didn't have to take my blood pressure during the process...! 

First dibs on the tickets went to Mirvish company season ticket subscribers. I know some people who bought season tickets well over a year ago, specifically so they'd be guaranteed their preferred seats again for THIS year, and thus guaranteed access to "Hamilton" tickets. I love live theatre, but season tickets (and I like to get good seats when I go to the theatre, if I can) are pretty expensive, and obviously some productions interest me more than others.

So I passed on that, but got my name on the Mirvish email list. A block of tickets specifically for list subscribers went on sale this past weekend (American Express cardholders got their shot at the tickets on Sunday, and sales to the general public began today) and, as per the emailed instructions, I double-checked my log-in and account information in advance, and then checked into the virtual waiting room before 10 a.m. on Saturday.  When 10 a.m. rolled around, we were all randomly placed into a virtual queue, waiting our turn for the chance to buy tickets (limit of 4 per person).

At 10 a.m., I was #5382 in line, with an estimated wait time of more than an hour. (I posted a screen shot on social media... dh's cousin's daughter told me I was 20,000 ahead of her!! Yikes!  I felt a little less sorry for myself after that...!) I figured I had time to take a shower, so I did (cellphone close at hand!). An hour later, the line ahead of me was down to 3,300 people... and my ETA was just under an hour. I started to feel hopeful.

My turn finally came up around the 1.5 hour mark -- which was really not that bad, I thought. Each page I clicked on loaded soooooooo slowly, though... I only had 20 minutes to choose my dates & seats, and then 10 minutes to arrange payment. I just had to grit my teeth and wait and resist the urge to click & reclick or (suicide!!) try to reload the page.

The available dates on the first page that loaded were all in February... and most had a red or yellow light beside them (no tickets/limited availability).  My understanding was that the best availability would be later in the run (April/May).... so I clicked on page 6 (the last one listed) to load to see where that would take me. It brought up some dates in May (toward the end of the run), and I chose a matinee performance with a "green light" beside it ( = good seats still available).  I was NOT going to pay top price ($499 per seat!!) but I did get tickets (still pricey, but somewhat more reasonable) in the first row of the balcony/mezzanine, left-hand side of the stage. *Should* be pretty good. :)  I breathed a deep sigh of relief as I finally printed off my confirmation screen and shared the "I scored #Hamilton tickets" meme on my Instagram & Facebook, lol. (Personally, I think it should have said something more like "I survived the Hamilton tickets purchase process," lol.)

Later, scanning Twitter & the news headlines, I realized that I'd been pretty lucky (for once in my life in buying tickets!)... lots of people reporting that the site crashed or loaded so slowly that they timed out & had to go to the back of the line and start all over again. (Dh's cousin's daughter, who was 20,000 in line behind me, did get tickets, after 5 hours waiting for her turn to come up.)  The block of available tickets for email list subscribers sold out before the 12-hour allotted window closed.

Maybe the best part? Our tickets are for a certain weekend in May. Mother's Day weekend, to be exact. Happy Mother's/Voldemort Day weekend to me!! lol  ;)

Have you seen "Hamilton"? (Do you care??  lol)

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

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Odds & ends

  • Our federal election is FINALLY over. I wouldn't say our politics are quite as toxic as the U.S. -- yet -- but they're certainly headed in that direction, and this campaign was one of the nastiest I can remember, with personal attacks and misinformation drowning out even nominally substantial policy discussions. I used to love elections;  these days, I can't wait for them to end. (Six weeks is PLENTY long enough;  I don't know how the Americans do it!!)  
    • The fallout from this one has been nasty as well, with disgruntled friends and relatives -- who do NOT share my American friends' fondness for Justin Trudeau, lol -- posting such loathsome stuff on Facebook & the like that I've been seriously considering taking a break from social media until things settle down.  
    • I rarely post anything overtly political on social media, but on the weekend before the election, I shared what I thought was an even-handed & helpful article from the Globe & Mail that outlined the platforms of all the political parties on my Facebook feed. Within minutes, I was subjected to a diatribe in the comments about Justin Trudeau -- and when I pointed out that the article was about the various party platforms and not JT specifically, I got blasted again. :p (And this is why I rarely post anything political on social media...!)  
  • (On a happier note) I spent a lovely afternoon yesterday at the nearby art gallery where I hold a membership, viewing the exhibits (including a new exhibit of Maud Lewis's work), enjoying the beautiful fall colours and having a delicious (albeit slightly pricey) lunch in the cafe with two of my former work colleagues/friends (coincidentally, also both childless/free).  I don't often get to spend time with girlfriends these days, nevermind in such a lovely setting, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. :) 
  • My reading progress has stalled since I got back from my trip west to see my family. Library book club meeting is Monday night, and I'll be picking up our next selection then... maybe that will be the kickstart I need to get back in the groove! 
  • "Hamilton" tickets go on pre-sale online to email list subscribers on Saturday morning (that's me!)... dh is "meh" about going (although I am sure he will love it if I get the opportunity to drag him there...!)... wish me luck!  
  • I found myself nodding over this New York Times piece on "The Lasting Trauma of Infertility." You probably will too!