Sunday, 1 January 2017

Where to Start?

It's January 1st, and Lulu Bird is napping, LB is helping her dad shovel the driveway, and I'm crippled on the couch courtesy of trying to become My Best Self in the dying hours of 2016.

'Why wait until a New Year?!' I enthusiastically wondered, 'Let's start today! Now! This very minute.'

Then I tried planking, which was a huge mistake because my abs have about the same strength as a slice of Wonderbread that's been soaking in a bowl of milk all night. 

MUSH, is what I'm saying. THEY'RE TOTALLY MUSHY.

So today my lower back is all, 'Peace out. You were asking way too much of me last night.'

So I lie here, perfect blogging opportunity, and wondering which topic to blog about? The experience of birth in Canada vs Switzerland? My alarming realisation that parents are actually STYLING their children? Not getting them dressed, I mean straight up styling them. Or how Kanye West and Kim Kardashian had some totally shitty luck after they tried to take down Taylor Swift? Like, whoa. Is Taylor Swift actually The Great and Powerful Oz? I think she might be. 

Since I will likely discuss all the above topics (except for Swift and K2--one line pretty much sums that up), how about we talk about my house some more? Because I can rap about these four walls for days. Or dayz.

One of the things that I have learned since being back is that in North America we don't just believe a choice is right for us, we pick a side. ABOUT EVERYTHING. Including to live in a residential suburb, or slum it out with the rats to live a cramped, but authentic, city existence. Quite frankly, the (disastrous) American election results weren't that shocking. Were they heartbreaking? Yes. Shocking? No. North American society is divisive across the board about everything. To me, returning, our society seems unneighbourly, unfriendly, and has a desperate need for the grandiose.

And this penchant for the grandiose comes down to something as 'simple' as a person carrying their handwoven Guatemalan wicker basket to the organic grocery store to buy nutrients for their body, to the architectural monstrosities that Ma and Pa Ingalls have built to house their family of 4; 5 if you count the dog, which everyone does.

When we were house hunting, our motherly realtor wanted us to buy something new because new is easy. It's fresh, stress-free, and low-maintenance. The vein that throbbed from her forehead every time I rejected a new house is proof enough for me that she found me challenging. And that's okay. We can still greatly admire, like, and respect people we find challenging. What really got to me, as we toured these new homes, is how many empty rooms there were. The rooms weren't empty because people were already moved out; they were empty because people could not fucking afford to furnish them, or it served no purpose. 

I can't tell you home many houses had at least one room that was always bare of all furnishings except for maybe a 1990's green love seat pushed under the window. You know, in case you wanted to zen out, fold yourself up like a pretzel, and read under the shadow of your neighbour's mansion.

The only thing going up in Kamloops these days are really stylish McMansions that are all windows, steeples, and garages. They posses very little character, very little warmth, and have very few people living in them. But these houses are *it*. We have to hold the City accountable, because the City approves the zoning applications that create these subdivisions; they approve the statutory building schemes that stipulate minimum square footage and three car garages that all people who build must conform too; they approve houses that are so close together, a fat kid would get stuck in the gap. The reason why they approve these developments void of backyards and parks is really obvious (tax dollars), but what's not so obvious to me is why people still want to build and live there. Why do you want to live in something so big?

Do you know how much cleaning that requires?

I mean, ack!

I'm not going to be an asshole and judge people for wanting to build and live in something so...same, (do-do-do, nothing assholey about that line) but my time in Switzerland definitely proved to me a family can live comfortably in something more modest. When we bought our house, Helen almost blew a gasket when she realised we were going to buy a house knowing our kids would share a bedroom. We have four bedrooms, but two are upstairs, and two are on the bottom level of the split. When the girls are old enough to despise the slimy green sludge left in their parents' wake, they will retreat to the basement I'm sure. But until then they can share a bedroom. What's wrong with sharing a bedroom? Why is every kid assumed to need their own room these days? Why are we so special we must all have our own space? Isn't that the point of family? To annoy each other so much that you can't wait until the day you break free? Am I really doing my job if I make their lives too comfortable? I mean seriously. 

But the desire to be something is a throbbing need on the surface of most North American's consciousness, and sometimes the only way to be something is to show people what you have. And nothing is easier to see than a big ass house and a Lexus. 

Oh and please, you people who live smugly downtown among your herb gardens and compost, don't think I don't see you too. Grandiosity isn't just restricted to rattling around in your empty mansion, it can also be found in the teeny tiny homes selling for $750,000 on Dominion Street. The righteous belief that because you can walk to buy the organic nutrients for your body, to your yoga studio, to your kids' French immersion school, and to your job, you have more self-awareness than the people on the hill. Your wartime bungalow and "shop local" philosophies are your tiny footprint of superiority. 

But you know what you have in common with the McMansion dwellers?

Despite living in homes that touch each other, neither of you have neighbours.

And that's the real tragedy of it all.

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