Thursday, December 29, 2011

Name Game Changer

2011, where have you gone?

You know, it was a big year. The Dude and I spent it being engaged, planning a wedding (Well, I planned the wedding) and we had showers thrown for us. We moved downstairs to a bigger and better apartment, planted our first garden, and finally got some more grownup furniture. We adopted Sprinkles and Bea and they've really brightened up our lives. We had our wedding, which was obviously the highlight of the year, and over all I'd say the year was pretty damn good.

We also got more Christmas cards than ever before. I think probably we were fresh in people's minds due to the invitations and thank you cards, all containing our current address. Funny thing, I got many adressed to Mrs. Dude, and Mrs. Dude Duderson. My own name completely obliterated by his. Ah, such is life. I haven't changed my name, nor will I, but I have to accept that this information will be slow in making its way to people and many won't retain it in their memories. I get that even in the modern age, it's still less common to keep your name.

Facebook, though, is handy. My name appears correctly there and that will help, I'm sure. My email will also show up with my correct name, so as I email people, it will reinforce the knowledge. My family also seem quietly pleased I've kept my name. Probably they had already figured I would, as they all posed their question, "Are you keeping your name?" as opposed to, "Are you changing it?"

My own mother hyphenated her name back in the early '80s, when it was definitely rarer to do so. After my parents split up, she went back to her maiden name and still had to endure people calling her Mrs. Berri from people who knew her through my brother or I. I could see it bugged her, but she never made a federal case out of it. When you choose what's right for you and that happens to go against social convention, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches with some grace.

I sometimes wonder about children. Again, I think we're going to be planning for parenthood, but until we're 100% onboard with it, I'm not thinking so concretely. But everyone will expect them to be Dudes, not Berris. I'd love to pass on my name. I love the idea of daughters being Berris and sons being Dudes. Why not?

Well, I know why not. Everyone we know will give us grief. Well, no, not everyone. All our friends would understand if we made this choice. But I think our families would be perplexed. And people on the outside would assume a child with my last name would not biologically belong to the Dude. And if we had one of each, we'd appear as a blended family and have to field questions and assumptions all the time. So what would be right for me as a mother would be so socially unconventional it might not even be worth my while for all the hassle it would cause.

The Dude sometimes likes to joke with people that he's taken my last name instead, and it actually shocks people. Rather than chuckling or asking, "Oh, really?" he gets a, "What?!" So deeply ingrained is it that a man's identity belongs to him and a woman's is tied to her family, and the family she belongs to is her husband's.

I wish we lived in a world that respected choice a little more. We can legally make any family name changes we wish. But that doesn't mean the greater world out there will be supportive or understanding. So as it is, keeping my own name may be as far as I go.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Christmas, she has come and gone, as has my whirlwind tour to my hometown. Unlike being a child and experiencing the pull of two separate families due to a family breakup, being an adult married to another child of divorce means more families to see.

My mother's family dissipated after the back-to-back deaths of my Grammy and mother. My aunt Debby kept things up as best as possible, however my Poppie moved to another town and she had to throw in the towel. Now she's in Vancouver with her husband, my cousins followed suit and Poppie passed away.

This depressing series of events has thus lessened my holiday visiting obligations, but I miss them all. I'd gladly make the time to see them and share in the festivities again, if I could. They were never an obligation in the true sense of the word. They were always a joy.

My father's family is in full swing. People are marrying, procreating. Christmas dinner swelled to 24 people, even with my aunt Mary & co. absent. I really cherish these holiday get-togethers. I love my family. They're the sort of people that even if you're not a blood relative, you belong. Warm, basically.

My aunt, the one who hosts it each year with my uncle, worries about it expanding beyond their means. And it's a reasonable concern. New in-laws, new children, all needing seats and a spot at the table. Everyone's always welcome, but sadly as people move or make their own families and stop coming, it's likely to be the only way the dinner will be sustainable.

And even more sadly, if the Dude and I become parents, I see us being two more who drop out of the dinner, as travelling hours on the highway in the winter in a rental car to zoom about every family we need to see with an infant or toddler is not my idea of a happy Christmas.

So we must make the most of the years we have left. Though although I want to have children, I don't think we're 100% decided on it.

As for the Dude's family, his father and stepmom will likely be spending future Christmases up here, where more of the grandchildren are. But who knows for certain. They're snowbirds and go to Arizona for the winter to bask in the dry heat. I think of them in February when I trudge through the slush.

The Dude's mom stays put in her small village home outside of the city we grew up in. It's charming. She'll likely always be available for a Christmas visit. We've spent the last two Christmas eve's at her place.

People have asked us about making holiday traditions as a couple. Truth be told, it's too early. Our lives, well, we haven't picked a solid direction for the two of us to go in yet. I don't know what will be best for us. I just know that the current status quo is probably on borrowed time. Sometimes growing up is a bummer.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


The other day I went to The Clay Room in the Danforth on my day off and I spent hours there painting ceramics. One is a teapot that'll go to my mother-in-law, who we'll be spending Christmas eve with, and the others were a set of coffee mugs for the Dude and I, which I envision us sipping out of together on lazy Sundays.

Not this Sunday, though. That be Christmas. And holy gods in the trees, how is this possible? I feel like more and more my life is speeding up and time is moving faster than I'm actually aging. But no. I'm 29. In less than a year I'll be 30 and to be honest, I'm not where I thought I'd be.

Not that I'm in a bad place. But when you choose to live in Toronto and will not move, this almost necessarily means entering into real estate is a scarier and more difficult venture than in other towns and cities. I mean, you can buy a real dive with two bedrooms in a crummy neighbourhood in this city for $300,000. Awesome. So yeah, we're not going to be in the market for home ownership for a couple years.

Then there's parenthood. I don't really have the luxury of surplus time anymore. I don't want to wait till I'm 35 only to discover I have fertility issues that can no longer be easily resolved due to advanced age. Being cheated out of motherhood would break my heart. Now is the time I have to start planning the real deal. I have to save monies (On top of home down payment monies) for a year's worth of mat leave.

I also want to do some creative projects. I've been getting my feet wet, but I can't be passive about this. I don't want to get older and older with no finished works.

Sometimes when I see 21-year-olds I get envious. Just seeing all the potential and little responsibility and all the years of easygoing times ahead makes me wistful. Not that I'd go back, but I did have fun and my mid 20s were in particular very enjoyable. I remember my boss at my internship when I was 21 telling me, "The world is your oyster." Little cliche statements like that start ringing a lot more true when you look back and analyze the choices you made. I think I did okay. But I could do a lot more.

Something about turning 29 has putting something of a fire under my ass. I really feel like I need to be... more.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


I've started work on my aunt's book. I've gotten three pages done, and I'm aiming for 12. My drawing style has always been cute and childlike, cartoony really. So this is something that is working out nicely for me. It feels good to draw again. It's like riding a bike, I guess.

Though I'm shaky. I used to have a much more fluid hand. I'd sometimes draw a person without having any idea what they were going to look like and make the decision on the spot as my pen moved across the page. Now I'm more unsure and less confident.

So strange what being young can do for your ability to learn. I mean, it's not strange. It's science. Your brain isn't fully developed yet. The things you learn as a kid have the benefit of neurons going crazy and making new connections to help you along the way. When I draw now it's like I can still feel the connections my hands and brain made together as a child, but it's weaker.

Learning to draw as an adult, or even as a teenager I think leaves you somewhat disadvantaged. Not that you're out of luck, but that you have to work harder. But that's the same in many things, like music or dance. Certain things you learn as a kid you sort of hardwire into your brain and body and you can draw on it later without strain. Though I'm a little rusty, and despite not having been at the drawing board for years, I can still watch my hands do, more or less, what they know how to do. It's very encouraging.

I have these lovely new markers at my disposal. I'm unpracticed in them, but one thing I learned as a kid and as a teenager as I dove into new mediums: confidence is half the battle. If you have an artistic ability, you can figure it out as you go. The lessons learned from one medium will translate in some way to another, if you have the courage to try. Having faith it'll work out goes far.

I want 2012 to be a year of artistic revival for me. I want to reopen that part of myself I let go dormant. Art school sort of quieted me. I actually learned a significant amount of things and it was valuable, but it shut me down. Eight years later, I'm feeling ready to try again. Less about making a living, more about personal fulfillment. I can be an artist as a person; I don't have to be an artist as a profession. What I do to pay the bills need not be what defines who I am.

Lovely thought.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Quel Dommage

One day I'll develop the sleep a normal person enjoys.

Who am I kidding? No, I won't.

Last night I had a lovely time at a joint birthday for friends, who are a married couple the Dude and I know and love. It was meat, cheese, wine and an amazing dance game on the X-Box that the Dude did surprisingly well in. Me, not so much, but I burned some calories, which alleviated my guilt in eating a quarter wheel of brie. Plus it was amazing fun. I love my friends.

We got home late and were in bed by 2:00 and I never was able to fall asleep, despite being tired. My moon time started and woke me up around 5:00 with aching cramps. I had to make several unrelated-to-moontime trips to the bathroom. Sprinkles caught me up around 6:00 and by 8:00, I had no choice but to go upstairs and feed her and Bea. I went back to bed and sweat under the covers and that woke me up, too. Now it's noon, I've been officially up since... I'm not sure, and I feel mentally disconnected.

I have a manicure/pedicure appointment soon, which will be nice. But then the Dude and I are going to the Eaton Centre because we both need shoes/boots. And that won't be nice. It's a Sunday a couple weeks before Christmas at the largest mall downtown Toronto. We're talking zoo central. But I have no winter boots. My only pair, which were three or four years old, developed holes in them by the end of their second winter. I kept wearing them and avoided puddles.

Some women love new shoes. I... don't. I look at every new pair as something new and pinchy that will hurt my feet and scrape skin off my toes or heels. My feet are also 1/2 a size different from each other, so finding a comfy and attractive pair I can afford, which fits both feet properly is a pain the ass. So I hang onto footwear as much as humanly possibly, mostly until they disintegrate off of my feet. And that's what happened to the boots. The soles broke off the front and were catching on escalators. And I looked like a hobo in them.

So before the snow comes, I must get a new pair. And I have to venture out there into the hell that is Christmas shopping season. Quel dommage.

Maybe a movie would be good after all this. My aunt called me to leave me a message telling me that the child in Hugo reminded her of me very much. Call me narcissistic, but now I'm intrigued.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Non-Finisher

I don't finish things. I'm a creative type of person who just doesn't, for whatever reason, finish my projects. I drive myself crazy, and it's a short drive.

My graphic novel sits untouched. But frankly, I just can't. Not till I'm older and certain parties are, well, not around to read it. I also feel a little unresolved in my youth. I mean, it's not over and perhaps I need more aged perspective to really tell the story properly. In any case, I feel paralyzed over it and so it remained untouched for a long time.

I've started many novels I've not completed. I get these flashes of productive artistry that fade quickly and leave me with chapters of a tale that goes nowhere.

I did complete a series of abstract drawings several years ago. And that was a pleasurable thing. It's not as though they were displayed anywhere, but they were a collection of feelings and emotions expressed simply during a period of change in my life.

I've catalogued the materials I need to get started on my aunt's project. I'll either order them direct or buy them in the store this week. This will be something I finish, if only because I've got someone I love depending on me to do it.

I need to channel my energy better this year. There are many sides to life and my personal life is rather under control. My creative life needs attention. I want to make 2012 count for something. It's my last year in my 20s and I would like to use it wisely.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Well, I'm 29. The countdown is now on for the big 'ol age of 30. I'm honestly almost 30 years old now and it's kind of crazy.

I think most people kind of feel a little odd about it. I thought I was a grownup when I turned 18, and then really thought I was a grownup when I turned 20. But I knew, really deep down, that it was 30 that was going to signal a sort of adulthood that would be concrete and finite. If you don't have your shit together by then, it starts to suggest something about you just ain't right.

And by "having your shit together", it could mean a variety of things. For example, if you haven't completed a college program or university degree or apprenticeship and are still taking various programs and classes that you ultimately drop out because you can't figure out what you want to be when you grow up, even though you are a grownup, and you're not holding any sort of a job and you're 30, people might start to think you're a fuck up. If you're 23, not so much.

If you have no savings of any kind and are in debt from unnecessary commercial nonsense with nothing to show for it and you have no vehicle or real estate to call your own and likely won't for some time due only to wild irresponsibility and you can't afford to live even in a crummy location without a roommate and you're 30, people might think you're a fuck up. If you're 25, not so much.

Of course, if you have completed your education, you're probably in debt from that if nothing else. And buying a house is ridiculously difficult in big cities where the costs are nauseating and not in proportion to the average couple's income. Hence why being considered a real grownup in the 20s isn't so realistic. My generation wasn't really set up to succeed in the early 20s, what with the obscene tuition hikes, lack of good available jobs, and such.

For the baby boomers, and those born thereabouts, being in your 20s was a time of being a real adult. You graduated high school and you could find a good job with your diploma and stay there. Or you could go to university, paid for from your summer job, graduate without debt into a booming economy, find a good job and stay there. You could afford to get married, buy a house (and banks only looked at the husband's income, and houses were so affordable that this was not a hindrance in the long run, though grossly unfair, but that's another story) and start a family all well before you turned 30.

Now? Forget it. The economy is lousy, education puts you in debt, houses are no being sold for two years worth of one person's yearly income. They're going for five years worth of two people's yearly incomes, or at least here in Toronto they are. So being a proper adult at 25 is pretty much not happening. Maybe in 1975 that was possible, but not now.

Which makes coming of age at 30 all the more insane feeling. It's a delayed adulthood from the early 20s to 30 on the nose, but economy or no economy, 30 is grownup town, whether you like it or not. And your brain knows it. Bodily, you are an adult, both physically and mentally. Your brain has fully developed by the time you're 25 (the frontal lobe is the last step in completion), and unsurprisingly, that's when the average person really starts to think about the future.

So, hello, 29. And a more distant wave to 30, which I'll be seeing soon. I feel moderately ready.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Painting Teapots

This evening I painted a ceramic teapot with my friends for my birthday (A couple days early). I have this thing for cows for some reason. I'm not sure why, but I think cartoon cows are just the cutest. So I painted cows on my teapot.

It was nice to be creative and actually make something. Growing up, art was something that provided me countless hours of entertainment, and eventually came to define me. I was the class artist, I did an animation program and I took art every year. I went to an arts program in college and that's where it all fell apart for me. I realized I couldn't become a commercial artist and I backed down. Looking back, I shouldn't have given up. I could have become a decent graphic designer, I think.

But being the lesser artist in a room full of talents, in a program with many such rooms, I got discouraged and quit. There's creating art for pleasure, and there's honing your skill for monetary gain. That's something language is for me. I create transcripts every day, accurate and grammatically sound. But art? Somehow it was too personal for me to get too technical about it on the terms of an institution. And I wasn't good enough, flat out. Compared to the general population, I have talent. Compared to artists at large, I'm nothing special, and thus not going to make money off art.

My aunt wants me to illustrate her children's book, and I intend to do it. But first I need to get new supplies. I've let things go so much that I haven't even got the materials I need anymore. Maybe this coming year will be a artful one for me. Perhaps I'll get back in touch with my artistic side. It's in there somewhere.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...