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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

MAGIC MIKE IN A HOSPITAL GOWN


You will hear a phrase often amongst parents – usually between couples, as they each try to take credit for their kid’s more likeable and impressive qualities - exclaiming their genetic contribution to their child: ‘Oh yeah, he gets (his unbelievable charm and good looks) from me.’ It’s a cross between ego driven pride and…well, it’s all ego, who are we kidding. Conversely, in some instances, there is also mild horror when you realize that like it or not, less than admirable qualities can also be passed down from generation to generation.

Then of course, there is that moment, where it dawns on you that this little person in front of you is in fact their own person, and on many levels, they are much cooler, and more clever than you could ever dream to be. And you find yourself almost envying your child, wishing that some of their youthful unblemished ‘newness’ could find its way into your own genetic code (not to mention the King's grasp of numbers. I'm freakishly hopeless).

The King has many qualities that of course I tell myself that I had as a child (and through adulthood, reality set in and kicked the sh*t out of my best qualities like rebellion, fearlessness and nonchalance) and then of course, I realize I can take credit for very little and purely have to sit back and try to adopt some of his 'je ne sais oblivious goofball', into my own life.

Yesterday was a prime example of that parental moment where I looked at my kid and realised that in many ways, he is simply, a bad ass. He went in for minor surgery (ears/adenoids) and I of course had prepared myself for epic meltdowns, tears, and nervousness abound (yes, I’m talking about me). But in true King style, after we talked about the process exhaustively, he set out to the hospital in his Justice League t-shirt, and his Lego truck with an ‘I got this' attitude that made me think twice about grabbing my Xanax tablets. By the time we got to the hospital, I could tell that he found his nurse, Atlas, pretty darn cute; he soon set up shop in his number 10 bed (for some reason he loved that his bed was numbered) and started making jokes with the anesthesiologist who taped numbing cream to his hands (where the IV line would go) telling her that it looked like crushed eggs.

I of course was pacing a fair amount, checking out to see how ‘with it’ the surgeon seemed, and was making damn sure they were labeling my child with the right name and birthdate so they didn’t remove a kidney instead. See, fearlessness, OUT the window.  By the time we were called upstairs, the King was happy to saunter into the lift barefoot in just his hospital robe like he was Hugh Hefner. When we got to the operating theater, they had warned me that some kids freak out, especially when it’s time to be put under (they like the parents there to keep things calm, then again, who the hell is going to keep the parents calm?). I had told the King that they were going to give him ‘magic potion’ and he’d go to sleep very quickly. He emitted one loud OW, when they stuck the line into his hand, then started to laugh at something the nurse said. He then looked at me and said, ‘I feel something in my throat,’ and CONK, out he went. (As an insomniac, I can tell you that I have never felt more envious of someone at that very moment). Of course as any parent can tell you, watching your kid go limp like that can weaken the knees of even for the most formidable of people. At that point the nurses asked if I was okay, as I had that look. God, why didn’t I bring the Xanax?

As I waited downstairs for the King, I of course paced like a loon as they wheeled child after child past me, each one struggling to wake up from the anesthesia, some bawling in pain, others passed out cold. When they finally wheeled him in, he was asleep in a little ball, with his stuffed animals beside him. Of course, that didn’t last long. After about 20 minutes of punch drunk, trying to come to with some crying and moaning about pain, he popped up, took up Atlas’s offer on a box of Lego and proceeded to spend the next hour singing at the top of his lungs, dancing, making jokes and building a three story garage. It got to the point where the nurses were laughing as he Magic Miked his way to the bathroom in his underwear (the kid loves to twerk, I have no idea where he got this from; okay, I have some idea), passing the other kids who were out cold in their beds (yes, I had visions of us happily cat napping for hours in a hospital bed watching movies). Then of course, his stomach woke up too and he proceeded to eat everything that wasn’t nailed down. By 1pm, there told us we were being discharged, most likely to give the others a break from the King’s singing so they could actually rest.

By the time we got home, he was on full tilt, eating, running, singing, and I started to wonder if post anesthesia is like crack for certain children, or if the surgeon was a total liar and was watching soaps instead of operating on my kid. There went my week of playing nurse to a half out of it child while I snuck away and tackled things on my to do list. Clearly nothing holds this kid down, and I can honestly say, I had nothing to do with it….then again….

Saturday, 27 June 2015

FLY THAT RAINBOW FLAG


For anyone not living under a rock, the Supreme Court rocked the United States of America this past Friday - in the best possible way - when it ruled that the Constitution guaranteed the right to same sex marriage. [Whip out those rainbow hot shorts and let's get this party started!] In short, it deemed it a liberty that could no longer be denied – when you hear it in those terms, can you believe it took this freaking long? 

Justice Kennedy went on to say, and so eloquently I may add: “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.” Furthermore, he exclaimed that the plaintiffs in this case, those that have tirelessly championed for same sex marriage, were simply seeking equal dignity in the eyes of the law. I will say that again for those in the cheap seats: 'equal dignity in the eyes of the law.'

That last sentence is a mouthful and if one looks back through history those two huge words (equal dignity…I could say them all day) are not only the fundamental catalyst for change, but it’s a marvel we still have to demand such a basic right. The suffragette movement, the civil rights movement, the feminist movement...all inspired by the same exact driving force, equal rights and dignity for all. It’s utterly shocking it has taken our country – or any for that matter – to grasp this concept and extend it to its citizens. But then again, we fight hard for ahem, positive things like guns and annihilating universal health care, why on earth would we expect a nation to grant all of its citizens equal rights.

And for most part, this past week, the rainbow flags are soaring, tears are flowing, and the widespread approval can be heard from coast to coast; even – gasp – support for this decision crossing party lines (oh M. McCain, you rock). But then of course, there are the dissenters who simply can’t grasp that we as a nation are going to progress, and I'm sure they're sitting in a shack somewhere clinging to their confederate flag, screaming, 'why god, why!' And for that matter, not only progress, but that our constitution be allowed, or is actually designed to evolve as we as a people evolve. As I simply can’t say at as eloquently as Justice Kennedy has:

“The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.”

It’s quite a beautiful sentiment, and one that I think we should all heartily reflect upon. We are a different society now than decades past (like it or lump it); we now (hopefully all) understand that love is love, no matter whom you love, and every couple should be entitled to the same rights, benefits, and stability that marriage provides. Cause in truth, there is no argument anymore that stands up against same sex unions. Not from where I’m standing. From the religious standpoint (or argument), it is far time we understand that the seed of any religion is love (and I’m not talking about organized religion which is sprung from a far more insidious thing). And whether you pray to Buddha, Allah, or Jesus, I’m pretty sure none of those three care who you love, as long as there is love in your heart. Jesus hung with lepers and prostitutes for god sakes while guzzling wine, the man (as far as I can remember back to my Catholic school days) wanted us to love - not hate and discriminate. And as far as those dissenters that say ‘marriage is sacred.’ Well, we heterosexuals have proved that it’s about as sacred as a trip to Vegas for a quickie divorce. In fact, we have treated it so poorly, that it’s a wonder why we want to keep it all to ourselves.


SO, change is here people, and it’s covered in a rainbow flag. So get on board, realize that we’re now a melting pot of a country where no matter what shape size, colour or creed, love is the only thing you should need to get a marriage license (but of course women still earn less in this proud country of ours) and for that matter, two grooms  (or two brides) can sit upon a wedding cake. If you don’t like it, don’t do it yourself, but put a sock in it, cause rights are rights. And if you want yours, then your gay neighbor is entitled to his.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

VILLAGE LIFE


I never thought I would be able to say this, especially living in a one of the biggest cities out there, but I actually know my neighbors (gasp!). Not just my immediate neighbors but many families around the neighborhood. It’s sad that this statement in this day and age surprises me, but having lived in several big cities before London, it is not something I am used to, nor expected. Not to mention, growing up, we didn't really have neighbours and I was always slightly envious of that backdoor open, ride your bikes around the hood type of existence (of course as I aged, I became more cynical and distrusting, so I've been working on this inner disparity). 

Funny enough, the way the school systems are arranged in England, you often find that most families that go to a school live close by. I mean really close by – I’m about 100 feet from the King’s school and many of the King’s friends live within the surrounding streets. It is widely known (and complained about) that school catchments, especially in the inner cities, are small and cutthroat - and sadly, they are getting smaller each day. One school a few miles away has such a small catchment that I’m starting to think families have taken up residence in the sewer system beneath the building just to get into the school.

However despite this, in any given area, you can have up to four or five schools to choose from (in varying degrees of quality of course) that are mere minutes away from one another. That of course has its pros and cons – the pros being, at least you have a choice (if you’re lucky enough to fall in the catchments for all of them) and the cons, often kids that grow up together, end up at different schools. In the King’s case, many of his friends from his nursery, although they live mere minutes from us, ended up at different schools depending on which catchments they fell in. For those of you not in the know in terms of the UK public school system (that is American public, here public is essentially private. Confused yet?) when your child is of school age, you apply for six schools in your area, list the one that you want the most at the top (pray like hell) and depending on how far you live from the school (determined by how the crow flies, essentially), determines if you will get a place. There are a few more factors that determine your place: siblings, special needs, etc., but that is the process in a nutshell.

In the States, it is basically done by your zip code (post code), and the net is much bigger so you don’t find yourself trying to find a flat/house that sits on the sodding roof of the school. When we were applying for schools here in the UK, we were also simultaneously looking for a flat (to of course be smack next to the schools we liked). My husband would send me out with a circled map of the neighbourhood.  Flats within the circle: good. Flats out of the circle: even if it had double-glazed windows and a walk in closet (as if, haaaaa), it was bad. When we found our current house, and saw how close it was to the school, before the estate agent opened the door, my husband and I had already decided that even if the house had a rotting corpse in it, we were taking it (cause you know, you can dispose of a corpse. No biggie).

As much as I complained that that the UK system was ludicrous and who the heck could find a place to live within such a small radius, once the King started school, I began to see some of the benefits. In short, each area surrounded by a school starts to feel a bit like a village, and you soon realize that you recognize half of the neighborhood – which is bad when you are running to the shop pre-coffee with bed head trying not to be seen.  On the plus side, play dates are so easy as you’re RIGHT THERE, the school run is a piece of cake, and now, I not only know my neighbours, but with many of them, we’re on a, ‘can I borrow a cup of sugar,’ basis. My neighbor two doors down (who is one of my best friends that also moved into the hood to get into a school) not only do we babysit for one another, but we’re constantly borrowing things (they also greatly appreciate my husband's affinity for baking as they get brownies and the like dropped at the door on a weekly basis), keeping an eye on each other’s houses, and can let the kids play out front like it is 1920s suburbia. Her 18 month old is so familiar with us at this point that I often find him peering through our letter box seeing if we're home. Which years ago would've sent me dialling the police and nailing the door shut, but now, well, hey, it's village life. And in a big daunting city like London, befriending one's neighbours, well it feels pretty darn nice, especially for us cynical types. 


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

WHO ARE YOU, WHO WHO, WHO WHO


It astounds me that in this day and age, people are still not able to be who they truly are; or shall I say, people still fear being who they are due to the overwhelming repercussions that befall them, either mental or physical. As we know, in some countries, the repercussions are 1,000 stones at your head, so this is no laughing matter.

Recently - unless you’ve been on sabbatical in the outback - the famed athlete Bruce Jenner has just revealed himself, or shall I say, herself, to have transitioned into a woman. This transition has not only been widely publicized (Caitlyn, her new name, has just got the cover of Vanity Fair and she looks pretty damn impressive, if I do say so myself), but the entire process will be documented, as nothing is done behind closed doors anymore, on a reality show….You know where I stand on reality shows (for those of you that don’t, I hate them), but for once, I support Caitlyn’s journey purely for the exposure it will bring to the transgender community and how it will challenge those myopic folks out there that can’t handle change or progress. (It’s a comin’, so you better figure out how to deal with it). And of course hopefully it will finally demonstrate that whether it’s Bruce, or Caitlyn, she is just a human being trying to live a life that is filled with truth and contentment – whether that comes from a Louboutin or a javelin. 

In terms of Bruce Jenner’s path, it is very similar to any other person living in the silent shadows; he always felt like he was someone else deep inside, but fear and shame kept him from living as (her) true self. That mere statement depresses me to no end, simply thinking of all the people out there who share those feelings. Can you imagine (and perhaps you can all too well) not only growing up with the usual adolescent insecurities and doubts that plague us in our youth, but throwing in the added onus of not feeling like you can truly be who you are? I don’t know about you, but as a teenager, I had no sodding clue who I was, but I knew that my biggest challenge in identifying that was myself. There was no one intimidating me, or threatening me, or hating me due to my sexual preference or sartorial choices. Of course, I was also stubborn, and rebellious, so if I wanted to wear a Megadeth T-shirt with a prairie skirt, I did so. But that’s a far cry from being utterly compelled to steal my father’s suits and wear them to school (actually not a great example as I did wear my dad’s suits with a pair of heels from time to time and rocked it, if I do say so myself).

Sadly, society has always sent the message that if you’re a boy, you pick up a toy car, whack on a baseball cap and you remain a boy. And don’t get me started on the messages they send to little girls – grab you’re pink tutus and dollies ladies, and prepare to suck at math and become a good cook. SOD that. I of course happily let the King play the princess when he was little if he felt like it and push a pink pram around the park; I figured I might as well start him off early in understanding the (smarter) sex and that defined (and constrictive) gender roles were just a societal construct. I figured whomever was inside that little body of his, it was up to him to express it….Turns out it was a truck wielding, cheese guzzling, high energy maniac, but hey. 

Yes, we are years behind a free society where people can do, wear and sleep with whomever they want to without receiving any backlash. As we know there are still many (many) cultures where being gay – let alone transgendered – will result in one’s death. But, I am hoping and praying that the more Caitlyn's we put on magazine covers, the more the world will see, that our bodies are mere decorative shells if you will. And what is on the inside of this shell is not only tantamount, but it is undeniable. No matter how hard one – or society – tries to pigeonhole, suppress, or ignore a certain faction, the louder they are going to scream (wow, does that apply to so many situations around the planet right now).  

So Caitlyn, I applaud you. Strap on the highest pair of heels you can find and strut your feminine stuff; oh, and now that you're a woman, expect to be paid less, objectified, and talked down to, but hey, we women are a strong breed and can handle what life throws at us. Here's to the sisterhood. 

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

NICE BUTT BEARD


This story will make you appreciate the clean-shaven face in such profound ways, that the mere sight of the five o’clock shadow on your partner’s mug will send you running for the hills. Before I launch in, let it be said, I’ve never been a beard person. [God, that statement needs some clarification]. I don’t like facial hair or overly hirsute individuals, and I have never been a fan of the facial fluff in any form really – except of course Magnum PI’s mustache…on Magnum, I could tolerate it. For the most part I’ve found them itchy, irritating to my skin (of course when I come into contact with said hairy person) and not that pleasing to look at. That’s me of course; I know there are many out there that are partial to a good beard. Ahem.

Of course at the moment beards are all the rage. Just take a wander into the East End of London and there are more beards on skinny trouser hipsters than there are coffee shops. I’m not kidding, it’s literally become a fashion statement up there with designer glasses, wing tips and tight short sleeve button shirts.  Which of course leads me to our little tale of horror when it comes to what is actually living in some people’s beards. Oh yeah, baby, that fluff of hair has visitors.

A handful of (brave) men in the U.S allowed their beards to be swabbed by an investigative reporter (don't you just love investigative journalism. Such an art form) from a local affiliate and had the results tested to see what was growing in their little facial forest. The microbiologist doing the test was not surprised to see a fair amount of 'normal' bacteria living in there (ew, gross); but the ultimate shock came in the form of, wait for it…. fecal matter. Yes, you read that correctly. Good ol’ fecal matter was found to be present in many of the men’s beards that were tested. OMG, vile. Apparently, it’s a type of fecal bacteria that won’t necessarily make you sick, but as he said, if it was found in the city’s water system, he would shut it down for disinfecting. And I don't know about you, but any time I even hear the word fecal, harmful or not, I don't want it anywhere near me. 

His advice for hirsute men (aside from, cut the damn thing off!), wash your hands, stop touching your face, and for god sakes, put the toilet seat down before flushing (do you know the kind of stuff that can fly right on out of there and swirl around the room from a mere flush?!) Of course stories like these merely give me more incentive to (beg) politely ask my partner never ever to grow a beard (and considering he is brown and looks like he could be from a variety of middle eastern countries, a beard on my husband would definitely mean he’s never getting into America without a full cavity search. Let’s just be honest).

So next time your partner or your Uncle Al leans in for a kiss hello with his big Grizzly Adams fluff face, maybe hand him a facial wipe first, or insist on a handshake until that fecal trap is fully showered.  

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