Sunday, September 29, 2013

Embossed Carbuncle

I hate when hotels book me and my field partner(s) into adjacent rooms. There is a good reason we're getting separate rooms, thank you: we just spent all day together and we would like a wee bit of separation for a few hours so we can do it all over again tomorrow - and the next day, and the next - without coming to despise one another in very short order. As for the adjacent rooms thing, well, I'd like to spare this individual even the dulcet tones of my personal activities/functions (and vice versa) in the off-hours.

* * *
1:08am: Awakened by the echoing thunder of urination in the hotel echo chamber-slash-bathroom next door. 
1:23am: Wakeful state maintained by sounds of tossing and turning. Field partner appears to have insomnia.
1:25am: Also gas.
4:40am: Thank gawd, I think she's asleep again. Just in time for us to get up and go back to work.

* * *
I just don't get it. It's almost as if the average hotel employee has never done field work before or something.


If you have the sort of livelihood that doesn't include field work you might not be aware that there is a certain amount of insult in suggesting that someone has never done field work - amongst folks who do or have done it, anyway. What kind of insult? Well, it's sortof like Shakespearean slander: tough to put a finger on exactly. It hints at a dearth of common sense; implies a modicum of insulation from reality; excludes the target from an esoteric clique of which you, naturally, are an elite member; and smacks of an inability to comprehend the untamed majesty that is a field person. So rude, eh?

I also make this snap judgement about people who don't seem to cope well with children. Here, in a nutshell, is what field work is about: you get together a shit-ton of gear and snacks, stuff it all in an enormous vehicle, and pray for the best. There's also a ton of paperwork, safety gear, and poop schedule management, plus you're tired, grumpy and drinking a lot of coffee. Sound familiar? That's because it's exactly the same as having children. Here's a free tip: Never mind paying down your mortgage or whatever the hell it is you think is going to make you "ready" to exert your reproductive potential. If you have done field work, you are as ready as you'll ever be.

Bonus Tip: Serve or consume the exact same meals at the exact same times every day. Never be surprised by an ill-timed BM again.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

XXXIV Olympiad

Mr. Neighbour stopped by the other evening, towing Neighbour Baby (now a toddler) along with one hand and wielding an enormous, rusty Allen wrench with the other. (I later learned that these sorts of things are used for performing mechanical-type actions on vehicles, but in my present state of ignorance immediately started crafting an excuse about why I couldn't help him assemble his oversize Ikea furniture; fortunately, he interrupted my thoughts before anything to that effect came out of my mouth.)

"Hi. We found this in the bushes between the yards. Is it yours?"
(Whew!) "Um, nope."
"Okay, just thought I'd check before I tossed it out. I wouldn't want the boys getting hold of it."
"Yeah, good thinking."

Small Fry ambled over and, in his sweet little Mickey Mouse voice, chirped, "Hey, that's mine, Mommy!"
Mr. Neighbour and I exchanged a glance. "Er, it is?"
"Yep. I use it for smashing the driveway."

Let's just say that one more time for effect: I use it for smashing the driveway. Wrong on so many levels in itself, but gets even worse on closer inspection: turns out Small Fry stole the wrench from the other-side-neighbour's driveway ("It was just sitting there for a weally long time. Dey weren't using it or anything."), smashed stealthily away at the driveway when he sensed the coast was clear, and hid the evidence in the shrubbery when it wasn't.

"Smash!" said Neighbour Baby.

And, apparently, employed Neighbour Baby as an accomplice.

I thought all along the (now approximately two-metre square) broken area at the toe of our driveway had been disintegrating naturally due to wear and tear. I thought "shoddy workmanship." After a recent Margaret Atwood binge, heck, I even thought about asphalt-eating microbes. I thought pretty much everything but Small Fry and a stolen Allen wrench. The child is five. Imagine the dedication this took. If Neighbour Baby hadn't turned him in, he probably would have gone all Shawshank Redemption on me and tunneled his way completely out.

I had been thinking of getting Small Fry into music lessons one day soon, but it is now clear to me that he doesn't need to get any smarter - what he needs is to get way more tired. And this needs to happen in some way that will not make me even more tired than I already am, because I'm obviously not on the ball here as it is. He needs... swimming lessons. Lots of them. Every bloody day, either forever or until he moves out, whichever comes first.
I used to look at elite athletes with a certain amount of awe; all I can think of now is what a pain in the ass they must have been when they were kids.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


DH and I were chatting about something the other day - don't recall what exactly - and he misheard something I said as, "I've been arrested once."

Now, two things here before I carry on with the story: first, I have never been arrested; and second, this is the same fellow who found it wildly arousing when I accidentally stole a package of sewing needles from Wal-Mart. The look on his face when he heard I had not only been involved in petty theft but actually arrested for something implied that I had just stumbled on the best thing for marital relations since the Horney Crisp. Jackpot!

Unfortunately, I had to ruin the mood by confessing that I hadn't been arrested, only misunderstood. DH and I have known each other for about 12 years; surely he should realize by now that there's no way I could have kept something that exciting under wraps that long. In fact, I've often considered that perhaps being a leeetle more enigmatic might be a good... BAHAHA. Just kidding. But it did get me thinking that a sweet way to keep things fresh in a relationship would be to save up a few whopper secrets from your life and dole them out, one at a time, every 5-10 years or so. If you're lucky, your significant other will be surprised and happy - heck, maybe even turned on! - by your revelations. If you're less lucky maybe you'll find yourself suddenly alone again, in which case you get to start the fun over with someone new. Wins all around!

Hey, I'll tell you all a little secret - ready? Sometimes we let the Fries watch cartoons online. (Turned on yet? No? Dang.) See, the thing is, I haven't owned a television in over ten years. I think there are a lot of benefits to not having a boob tube kicking around but recently I've realized that there are some benefits to the ol' rectangular babysitter too - namely the opportunity to lie in for an hour on weekend mornings - so we've taken to shooing the kids off to go veg on the couch with a laptop while we stay in bed. It's been fricking marvelous. First we got Small Fry hooked up with every episode, ever, of the Ninja Turtles (there were an astonishing number of them - I was only familiar with the original "heroes in a half-shell" version); now he's on to X-Men. In addition to the excitement of sleeping in, it's also been fun to hear how Small Fry assigns superhero cartoon identities to his humble family members. He's quick enough to realize that I'm obviously Donatello (in some later version of the Ninja Turtles theme song, "the brains of the bunch" - natch), but seems a little confused by X-Men: he thinks he is Nightcrawler, when clearly I'm the coolest person in the family and should naturally have been awarded the role. ('Sides, who else but a mom could put a prehensile tail to best use? Duh.) We've been bickering about this for a couple of weekends now:

"I'm Nightcrawler and Nightcrawler only walks on his toes, see Mommy, like dis!"
"Um, I'm way better at walking on my toes than you are so I'm totally Nightcrawler."

I think I won that one, don't you? Must be 'cause I'm the brains of the bunch.