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The problem with growing old is that your memory is no longer what it was. This morning I got an email from a company, letting me know that an order I’d completely forgotten about had just shipped. On one hand, what the fuck. Why do I forget everything, dammit.

On the other hand, SCORE! it’s already paid for and it’s all stuff I really wanted, and all of a sudden it feels like Christmas.

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Today I contributed to two radio shows in Toronto*, experienced a total solar eclipse on a beach in Tennessee, and tomorrow I’m off to see Elvis.

Somehow my life took a surprising turn but I am not complaining. I think I am still less confused than the poor bat that went hunting in the middle of the eclipse just to find itself back in full daylight a minute later.

*the francophone community is tiny, as in, we all know each other, pretty much. A facebook friend I met through the school our kids attended together saw my post about going to Nashville. She works for Radio-Canada (the French side of the Canadian broadcasting company), and she messaged me with a kind request to call the morning program in Toronto to share my experience, which I did. And then they asked if they could call me again after the eclipse and I said yes. (And then I got emails and messages from good friends who heard me on the radio, because the community really is that tiny).

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As far as I can tell, Kentucky is pretty and people are very friendly. They keep talking to us even though we understand maybe 10% of what they say. We mostly nod and look benevolently confused and vague in return.

Waiter: where are you from?
Me: Canada.
Waiter: but where exactly?
Me: Toronto.
Waiter: oh, well, you’re not too bad. Them Quebec people, I can’t understand a word they say.

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So tomorrow we’re off to NASHVILLE, because there is no way we’re going to let a total solar eclipse pass this close without doing our best to set ourselves smack in the middle of its path. 

The first and only time I saw a solar eclipse was in 1999, in France. Froglet was four months old and like every new mum I couldn’t help fretting: what if she opened her eyes and looked directly at the sun! What if this hurt her eyes! (she slept through the whole thing). It was a slightly cloudy day and yet it was amazing. I remember the feeling of awe as we watched  the enormous shadow of the moon, swift and steady, moving across the fields. I remember how the birds suddenly fell still… and when the sun came back everyone just spontaneously clapped, because DAMN but that was a great show. :D I spent the following months/years checking websites to find out when/if I could arrange to see another one, it was that incredible. So yeah, we’re doing it again, only it’s a little further this time. Tadpole is very excited, she’s been counting the days for the past few months. 

And then we’ll visit Graceland. Don’t even ask. 

ANYWAYS: this should be fun. :D I’ll post pictures if I can. 

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Every few years I am like “let’s rent a cabin in the woods and connect with Mother Nature”, forgetting in the process that I am a City Person at heart.

Me: oh look, I have a tiny spider on my hand. It looks all weird and awwwww. Oh wait, it’s only got six legs, maybe it got into a fight, poor ickle thing. Or maybe it isn’t a spider…

Husband, flatly: it’s a tick.

Me: AAAAAAH FUCK *throws tick through window of car*

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OMG I’d forgotten about the sheer amount of paperwork involved when you change jobs. Brushing up the old CV, interviews - those were the easy parts.

Now I have to gather and provide evidence that I am indeed what I claim to be; I have to fill in countless forms; and man, I am just so tired. It was all worth it, I am sure of that, but I hate this, I hate it with a passion.

(And then I remind myself of WHY I am doing this, and I keep going).

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Husband, this morning: Honey? Where is the toad? 

Me: …..SHIT.

For a lazy toad who doesn’t move much when he is in his box, Karl can be surprisingly fast and agile. He was also very determined to escape the enormous predators trying to capture him and it took us a while to corner him.

When I finally caught him he peed himself in fright (I did not enjoy the feeling of toad pee on my fingers), and that made him slippery (and very disgusting to hold). So when he kicked against my leg to escape, he slipped through my fingers and landed head first in his box. 

Can toads have a concussion? I am not sure, but I am keeping an eye on Karl today.  

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Me: good morning, Karl!
Karl: *sulks*
Froglet: He's... not that active, is he.
Me: Do Fargo and Mr Gibbs eat crickets, too? (Note: Fargo and Mr Gibbs are chameleons, they belong to Froglet's friends Alex and Emma)
Froglet: Fargo does. Mr Gibbs only eats worms.
Me: he doesn't like crickets?
Froglet: he's really slow, he can't catch them. So Emma only feeds him Really Slow Worms.
Me: LOL
Froglet: yeah - last time we tried to feed him crickets, a cricket JUMPED on Mr Gibbs and scared the shit out of him. Literally. Like, he shat himself out of fright.
Me: Am I a bad person if this makes me laugh?
Froglet: and he was so traumatized he fell off his branch. So, yeah, no crickets for Mr Gibbs.
Me: indeed.
Karl: *tries to jump into water bowl, fails, spills water everywhere*
Me: and yet this guy manages crickets somehow.
Froglet: *gloomily* we don't know that. They may have escaped. We may have to catch and kill the crickets ourselves. That's what Emma had to do after Mr Gibbs failed to hunt them down.
Me: this is giving me a whole new appreciation for cats.
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Karl has eaten four out of the five crickets, or so we hope because at this point we only see one cricket in the bin; it’s currently sitting on Karl’s butt, having the time of its life and enjoying the scenery. 

Whoever thought that a toad would make a good pet should have adopted a rock instead. 

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Karl has not eaten his crickets. RUN KARL RUN. EAT YOUR CRICKETS DAMMIT.

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We are currently toad-sitting for a friend of a friend (long story) and much as I love frogs and all things amphibian, I don’t think I ever want a toad of my own. 

The toad arrived two days ago in a tall lidless plastic container, complete with special blue drops to put in his water and a box of live crickets to feed him (eeeek). We placed the bin in one of the few rooms that can be completely isolated from the cats, i.e. the “plant room”. 

The toad’s name is Karl. Karl is not very bright. 

This morning I found my calico cat, Josephine-the-cranky, sitting in front of the glass door that leads to the plant room and watching intently. Oh no, I thought. But then I thought, of course not, the bin is WAY too tall, she probably just… smelled something. Yes, that’s it: she’s smelling the toad. But then I saw her entire body stiffen and I thought, this can’t be right. So I went to have a look.

Sure enough, Karl was out and about and hoping merrily. Oh no, I thought.

Have you ever tried to catch a panicked toad? Well, let me just tell you that I’ve developed a whole new level of appreciation for Neville Longbottom. It took three people and several tries to get Karl back in his box. It didn’t help that we all ran after the toad but nobody really wanted to touch him. Karl inadvertently hoped onto my foot at some point and I instinctively shrieked and pulled my foot back (listen, he’s a big toad and I thought Froglet had him cornered, I did not expect him to land on my bare foot with a wet splat). 

Eventually, EVENTUALLY, we got Karl back into the bin, where he sat sulking in a corner. We shook a few crickets into the bin to cheer him up, but NOPE, Karl sulked and ignored the crickets. The crickets climbed on him. He remained unfazed. Froglet tried to catch a cricket with tweezers to feed it to Karl, but she only managed to scare it off and it fled straight to Karl, who ignored it. 

Karl’s really not that bright - we’re starting to believe that he’s scared of his own food. 

As a last resort we threw a blanket over the great lidless plastic bin, which now contains one depressed-looking toad and several hyperactive crickets, and we’re hoping for the best. I’ll check in on Karl and the crickets later today. 

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At some point last night I went to bed, because today I HAVE A SCHOOL OUTING with 46 kids (and I am so not ready for this, because I am running on very little sleep). This left Froglet (who is on vacation by now) and Husband (who had a work phone call scheduled at 3 am anyways, because Japanese client and time zones).

When I woke up this morning I found that the house was intact and nothing was missing (hurrah!).

I did, however, notice that there are a few leftovers from the party, including:
- chips.
- so. Many. Chips.
- all the pop (but the bottle of rye on the kitchen counter is completely empty, happy digestion, dude)
- one X box, next to our TV.
- two pairs of lovely nude dress shoes (no, Husband, not Froglet’s. Also, in case you hadn’t noticed, our daughter only has two feet, not four).
- one iPhone charger
- one extremely good looking young man (still awake and fully clothed, yay).

Apparently we’re good hosts because we had the elegance of disappearing after ordering the pizza. And Froglet is super happy, so there is that.

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Me, a week ago: so where’s prom, do you know? And the after-prom?

Froglet: I’ll find out.

Me, two days ago: so do you know where prom is now?

Froglet: yeah, it’s at Fancy-Place-Next-Door. 

Me: wow, that’s super close! You could walk there - well, not in those heels, obviously, but still. And the after-prom?

Froglet *fidgets*: didn’t dad tell you? 

Me: tell me what?

Froglet: It’s here. We’re hosting it. 

Me *falls over*

I think I’m fairly ready. I have finger food of various kinds, mineral water (LOTS of water) and pop; we’re not legally allowed to serve them booze, but apparently if they bring their own booze we’re good, so the kids have dropped off their booze (a lot of booze). They’re gone now, and I am on standby to pick them up and drive them to our place after the official prom is over (which is literally 5 minutes away by car).

Me, to Froglet: Ok, so we have food…

Froglet: don’t leave it on the table though, I need it for the beer pong…

Me: the what? 

Froglet: it’s a, a thing. 

Me: Froglet, I really want your friends to have a memorable after-prom but I’d rather “memorable” didn’t mean being chased around by a crazy frog-lady with a broom.

Froglet *throws arms around me* You’re the best mommy. The best. 

We mommies live for those moments. <3 

WISH ME LUCK! 

(For friends who know me on DW, I’ll post an access-locked picture if you want to have a look :) ) 

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When I was in my late teens, we discovered that my dad was very, very sick. He’d smoked pretty much all his life, as he’d had TB as a young man and word in the sanatarium was that “people who’d had TB never had cancer, here, have a cigarette.” That was the logic behind it, I kid you not. Turns out he never developed cancer, but there are other ways to die from smoking. Towards the end of his life, my dad had about half a (mostly fibrous) lung left to breathe with. We had an oxygen extractor at home and were told that, considering the state of his lungs, the flu was now his worst, most lethal enemy. 

He survived his first flu but it was a close call, and it was a very, very dark time in our family’s life. He was in the hospital in intensive care for several months and it was touch and go for a long time. I was still living with my parents at that time. I visited my dad in the hospital a lot but it was complicated - we had to change into sterile clothes when we visited him, he couldn’t talk at all at first, we had to help him eat and it was TERRIFYING because of the tracheotomy tube and the respirator - rice in particular gave me cold sweats, because what if a few grains of rice slid down his windpipe and ended in his lungs? 

I’d grown up in a house filled with laughter and talk and music, and all of a sudden I came home to an empty house every night after school. It was hard for my mother as well, but we’d always had a complicated relationship (to say the least) and one evening we had an enormous fight. As a result of this, she went three days without speaking to me. Now, I don’t remember what the fight was about (it was probably something minor, we were both on edge all the time), but I do remember my mother walking in and not even saying hello to me. I remember the crushing loneliness. (I also remember my own pigheadedness, make no mistake - I was no angel, it’s not like I tried to talk to her and she didn’t reply. I gave as good as I got.) 

I was very very lonely., so I started doing my homework in front of the TV downstairs every night, just to hear voices in the background. Now, this was back in the mi-80s, and in France, we had exactly three different channels to choose from. I picked the least boring one and just let it play through the evening. 

And this is how I started watching Santa Barbara (the soap). I’d never watched a soap opera in my life, had no idea how the genre worked, but it was soothing that stuff happened ALL THE TIME and all these people had astonishingly busy lives when mine was filled only with dark and silence and hospitals. For a while, I watched the show religiously every evening. My favorite character at the time - the one I identified the most with - was the daughter of the house, Young and Pure and Goodhearted and trying to be happy. She was played by a lovely actress who put all her energy into making this character real (and it wasn’t easy): Robin Wright. 

I kept my eyes on Robin Wright as her career soared and she became recognized as a Serious Actress. I was thoroughly thrilled to find out she was in Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman isn’t my usual cup of tea - I have a hard time with superheroes in general - but I make a point of taking my daughters to see movies with strong, interesting female characters. And that’s a good thing, because otherwise I wouldn’t have watched the movie last night and I really enjoyed it.   

But then of course because I knew NOTHING about Wonder Woman prior to watching the movie, I did not anticipate Antiope’s fate. I was watching the fight on the beach gleefully, happily munching on popcorn. My popcorn-filled hand was half an inch away from my open mouth when Antiope got shot. And then my mouth made a sad, astonished “o” and my fingers opened in shock. 

I spent the rest of the evening fishing pieces of popcorn out of my bra.  

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It's done. I got to sing at Koerner Hall, in front of a packed audience. It wasn't exactly great - I have a million thoughts and many mixed feelings about the entire experience and I need to sift through them a bit before I post about them....

...but we sounded great on Viva la Vida. And I really enjoyed singing this.

I'll have a look through Tadpole's other videos and post something else when/if I can - possibly Life on Mars with Hawskley Workman as a soloist, because that was pretty cool.
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Dear my kid’s best friend’s mother, 

Shut up. Shut THE FUCK up. 

I can’t stop you from making your child, YOUR CHILD, unwelcome in your house, but you FUCKING don’t decide how I feel about her staying at my place. Don’t you DARE accuse her of being an imposition on us. Don’t you DARE tell her that she’s being “unfair to us by staying here”. I really don’t get why you’re going out of your way to try and make her feel unwelcome in this world - what are you hoping to achieve? What purpose does your spite serve?

You don’t get to decide how I feel, or if she’s welcome to stay under my roof or not. *I* get to to that, and she *IS* welcome here anytime. 

Not shut the fuck up and leave her alone. 

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I’ve tried to take a picture that would do my post-apocalyptic croissant justice (or convey the horror I felt when I unpacked it and immediately thought “Cthulhu is risen”), but I failed abysmally and now there is only one way out.

I shall dunk the Beast in coffee and eat it. Mmmmmm.

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About a year ago, as I was telling a friend about all the fun I had with my vocal ensemble, she replied, “Oh I can imagine! I wanted to join this rock choir but too bad, there was a waiting list, ahahahaha”

… and then my old East-German instincts kicked in. 

See, when I was a kid and we’d go visit my grandma in East Germany, this would happen all the time: we’d pass a lineup and we’d just walk over and join it. Sometimes we didn’t even know what we were lining up for, but it didn’t really matter: if we didn’t need it, we certainly knew someone who would. So she said “waiting list” and I immediately thought, “I better get my name in now in case I ever want to join them, because this might take a while”. 

Two days later I got an email for an audition. I panicked and asked a friend what I should do, she was all YOU GOT NOTHING TO LOSE! DO IT!, and long story short, I ended up joining a second choir and I now have 36 songs to memorize because I have two different concerts coming up in the next two weeks. Thirty-six, that’s right - half in English, half in French. I calculated the other night that I’d just had a full 20 hours of rehearsals over a period of one week, not counting the individual memorization/practice time at home, and of course I also work full time.

My brain has decided to take over the memorizing and is now kicking into high gear. It goes like this:

Brain, at 2 am: sweet dreams are made of thiiiiiis

Me: I WOULD KNOW IF I WERE ABLE TO SLEEP. I ONLY DREAM WHEN I SLEEP. SHUT THE FUCK UP AND LET ME SLEEP.

Brain *piously*: Who am IIIIIIIIII to disagreeeeeeeee

Me *buries head in pillow* 

Me *reads a post about @thebibliosphere‘s demon rose*

Brain *bayayaaaas its way into Seal’s kiss from a rose*: IIIIIIII’VE BEEEEEEN KISSED BY A ROSE ON THE GREY

Me *aloud to myself*: not this rose, you complete arse.

Husband: huh? 

Brain, in the middle of the night: IS THERE LIFE ON MAAAAAAAARS?

Me: can we wonder about that some other time? Please? 

My nights, guys. My nights. I just want them back. 

Also, I now miss the sweet olden times when my English wasn’t good enough to understand the actual lyrics of songs, or when I just didn’t care (I can still tune out the meaning of words in English and just listen to the music of the language, something I cannot easily do with French or German). I used to love the Smiths, for instance, and now I have to LEARN lyrics like 

“if a ten ton truck 

kills the both of us, 

dying by your side 

well the pleasure, the privilege is mine”

Seriously, dude? Seriously? Wouldn’t you rather, oh I don’t know, have ice cream with your sweetheart? Or something?

Please, brain, leave me alone, because there’s a fire starting in my heart, reaching a fever pitch and oh I am so fucked…. 

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I got so many compliments for my hair (not to mention I suddenly and unexpectedly became “the cool teacher”). Truth be told, I suspect my hair stylist wanted to play it soft when I had it done the first time, in case I liked the idea of having blue hair more than the actual result, so I was a bit underwhelmed by the result of my first teal streak adventure. I like this one much better! 

My favorite moment today was early this morning when the bell rang: as I was walking out with a colleague to meet my class, the autistic kid in grade four made a beeline for us, parked himself in front of me and said with heartfelt conviction “your hair is beautiful ma’am” before striding off. Thank you kiddo, you made my day. 

I have officially appointed Froglet as my Streak Master. She is very proud. 

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“The colour is almost entirely gone from your teal streak, mom, let me do a subtle touch up”

AKA the day sick!mum allowed enthusiastic!child uncontrolled access to her hair, AKA my child and I may not have the same definition of “subtle”

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