Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Meeting Dr. Thomas

Today's return to Mt. Sinai went much better--that is, I arrived on time (thanks to Co-Op Cabs) at least. Lidia and I had a 10:30 appointment to meet Dr. Jacqueline Thomas, MD--our official OBGYN/caretaker who will be looking after us until the youngsters arrive. Of course, given the state of the Ontario medical system, and the fact that Dr. Thomas had to be called away for an undisclosed emergency, we sat for nearly two hours in the waiting area.

The wait was worth it, though, as Dr. Thomas turns out to be friendly, funny, and frank. What's more: she's thrilled with "our numbers"--a euphemism for the battery of tests to which Lidia must be subjected to rule out a variety of potential "difficulties"--and suggested that Lidia cancel her scheduled amniocentesis(which, among other things, increases the risk of miscarriage).

She also declared that there's no way our babies are going to wait until January (specifically, the revised delivery date of January 4th, 2009, according to the friendly nurse who first saw us and worked it all out with some unusual, Nostradamus-y, wheel-y chart/thing) to bound out onto the world stage, and that we should plan for a much earlier arrival.

Our next appointment with Dr. Thomas is July 30. And our next look at the youngsters is August 15th, four days before my birthday!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Peas In A Pod: Week 11

And here they are: Baby "A" and Baby "B", who really know how to work the lens at any resolution. Always one with the film references, I can't help but think they're starting to look like little star children from "2001"--think of what they could tell us! Lidia said that "B" is revealing him/her self to be the bratty one--restless and wiggling about, while "A" slept soundly (ultra-soundly? Rimshot!) Something tells me we'd better start getting our rest now...

"Can't Get There From Here" (Continuing the REM theme...)

Today we were supposed to meet up for our first appointment at the Lawrence And Frances Bloomberg Department Of Obstetrics And Gynecology (or, the "LAFBDOOAG" to the kids) in the Ontario Power Generation Building at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Got that? The marble-mouthed address should have been an omen of the ordeal it was going to take me to get there. Rather than hail a cab like any sensible human being would in downtown Toronto on a weekday afternoon, I decided to entrust my journey to "the better way" (thanks to Nilesh's Metropass) and of course, the TTC screwed me, true to form. Figuring I'd get to the intersection of University and College early enough to grab something at Tim's or from the street vendors, I left about 50 minutes before the appointment from my workplace at King/Bathurst, trusty Jazz HD cam and iPod in tow.

One HOUR later, I arrived at the clinic. It took fifteen minutes for a streetcar to come, almost as long to travel a straight line to the St. Andrew subway station, and about as long again for a train to arrive and lurch along the northbound line to the Queens' Park subway station. Breathless and in a panic, I finally met up with Lidia in the waiting room on the third floor, only to find out that the ultrasound appointment wouldn't happen until 3:30 PM, almost two hours later than we were told. Of course, I had to get back to work--there's no way I could disappear for more than three hours and not be missed, and left heartbroken that I had to miss this latest chance--only our third--to see the babies again.
I'll spare everyone a rant about the TTC--everyone knows it's a woefully inefficient, corrupt, and contemptible organization that just plain sucks on the best of days. What in the name of hell was I thinking? I've lived here almost 25 years now--I must've been punch-drunk on all this newfound sunshine, and won't make that mistake again.
(For what it's worth: I walked back to work from Mt. Sinai. Total travel time: 25 minutes, including a stop for a spicy Italian sausage...)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Grand Day Out

We were away last weekend, so today it was time to do the responsible thing and resume the house-hunt. Two listings for the College Street area came up--a primo location for sure--and since it was a beautiful sunny day, we took a stroll to Little Italy to check 'em out.
Both were, simply, dumps--laughably overpriced and each a House Of Usher in vast need of repair for various reasons (at least one realtor was honest, alerting us on the specs sheet to termite infestation and ancient wiring that wouldn't be insured!). I think my first basement apartment in Scarborough was safer...

More than a tad discouraged, we were able to chuck the domestic dolldrums soon enough with a stroll around the Queen West 'hood to check out the local oddities like the anime shop The Magic Pony, and the latest renderings from Banksys-in-training. I dunno, the more I think about, the more I feel this is all happening too fast with too much at stake and perhaps we should stay here a bit longer. There's so much to offer kids in terms of stimulation, recreation, access to health services...but there'll be other places, I'm sure...

We capped off the day with an evening jaunt to the Yonge/Dundas area for dinner (once again, we weren't able to get into Baton Rouge, where we last dined about two years ago, but not for lack of trying) and to check out Scottish comedian and late-night talk show host Craig Ferguson at Massey Hall. That's me doodling on the table at the new Jack Astors in the "Toronto Life Building", which right now is a massive AMC, a Future Shop, and arid food court. I doodled my favorite subjects, of course: Maggie and Minnie.

One of the waiters liked my sketch of "The Hulk" so much that he darted off to fetch me a green crayon when I found my table didn't have one. Now that's service...

Despite the fact that I know of almost no one--other than myself--who watches his show (he's on right after David Letterman), the venue was packed top to bottom. We scored decent seats on the first balcony, just a few rows back. Ferguson was energetic, topical, and above all, hilarious.

Will our infinks retain any memory of a boisterous, foul-mouthed Scotsman? Hopefully, their little barely-formed ears are still ringing after R.E.M., although I'm not sure a preference for Ferguson or even Billy Connelly over, say, The Wiggles would necessarily be a bad thing, either...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Real Estate & Reality

Cripes, we're not even back 24 hours and already, the phone's ringing off the hook and the emails are collapsing the ISP server with the zero-to-sixty resurrection of the house-hunt rigamarole.

Just up Bathurst and off College--near Kensington Market--there's a very nice townhouse on the market that more or less replicates what we're living in now, with an extra bedroom, larger dining room, sweet back patio, and much-needed storage space. It's not perfect--the paint job and hardwood floors need a little polish, and the parking spot's outdoors--but we can certainly see ourselves living there with minimal fuss.

But somehow, in less than 24 hours, we're supposed to come up with a bid, clear time from our work schedules for a pricey house inspection ($400!), and show up with a down payment "good-will-offering" in the form of a bank draft for 5% of the price of the home. Riiiiight--let me just scoot across the road to Top Variety and hit up their "Lazercash" ATM for $20 grand! (someone coulda mentioned this at some point during our marathon conversations about various ancillary topics. I'm surprised we're expecting to show up with an envelope of cash, like we're buying a used car off of Kijiji...).

After an evening of more telephone ping-ponging than the climax of "Fail Safe", Lidia and I agreed that this hysteria was all just too much, too soon, and resigned ourselves to losing the property. It's early in the game...we've really just stuck our toes in...and despite the current state of the housing market, we'll remain steadfast in our conviction (delusion?) that there'll be other prospects of equal-or-better features.

Worst case scenario: if times run out and this isn't sorted out by the fall, we'll stay in our current residence for another year and do this all again next summer, toddlers in tow...after all, this is all for them!

Babies' First Concert: REM

We had to speed back to the city from Pembroke today, in order to make it in time to catch Athens, GA's favorite sons, R.E.M., live in concert to promote their "return-to-form" album, "Accelerate". Best of all, Modest Mouse opened (along with a fine young band named "The National") and brought along its newest member, the legendary Johnny Marr of "The Smiths", on guitar. It was our first time back at the Molson Amphitheatre since the Weezer/Pixies double bill in 2005.
The show kicked off with a barnstorming "These Days" from "Life's Rich Pageant", which was somehow appropriate, considering it was almost 22 years ago that I saw the band at Massey Hall to promote that then-new album (their fourth) for the modest sum of $14 (which was a lot of cash to a starving York University Fine Arts major at the time).

Despite a typically (for Toronto, this summer) relentless downpour, we were under the roof so we stayed dry (and an atypically sedate crowd for the Amphitheatre--no flying beer cups) and were later afforded a view of a splendid rainbow that was one of the most vibrant we've seen since our trip back from The Highlights Tour in Costa Rica back in 2006.

I wonder if the youngsters--now just forming (and according to Lidia, about the size of her lipstick tube)--will retain any memories of Mike Mills' throbbing baselines or the audience sing-a-long to the encore of "The One I Love"? There are worse things in this world if we'd end up having to play anything from "Automatic For The People" to sooth the infants to sleep...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Road Trip

It's a route we could each probably drive with our eyes closed, which now that I think of it, might be the perfect antidote to combat its unnerving but admittedly-scenic tediousness: the 401 east to Highway 37 at Belleville, then exit to 7 for a brief jaunt to 41, all the way to my folks' house in Pembroke, Ontario, deep in the heart of The Ottawa Valley.

After nearly two decades of cursing the 'shawa bottleneck, the steady onslaught of 18-wheelers that allow me to experience the frissons of Spielberg's "Duel", and obliviot Durham County rubberneckers (people, it's just a guy with a flat...and CAA's probably got it covered...), I still get white-knuckled at the steering wheel as I must snake along the narrow roads of Land O' Lakes country, have yet to figure out the mystery behind the existence of the curiously tiny town of Khartum (you can nearly throw a stone from one end of the city limits to the other), and always silently correct the signage at Cobourg trumpeting "The World's Biggest Apple" (it is, of course, a "replica" of an apple--and I suspect possibly not the world's largest...but I digress). But with twin iPods fully-loaded with cool stuff and choice classics, warmer-than-usual temps (30 degrees C--whew), and sparse traffic, 'twas an enjoyable endeavour indeed-y.
Lidia, I'm sure, was elated that I took the wheel for the entire trip (although it might have been because my pasty white thighs were glued to the melting car seat), instead of the usual switcheroo at Tweed (where the fire hydrants are whimsically painted--pirates, soldiers, and dalmations, oh my!--with the one in front of the Tim Horton's notably sporting the colours of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Funny, this far north, you'd think it'd be the Sens...).

Ordinarily, we confined this 5-6 hour sojourn to Canada Day (and, sometimes, Simcoe Day), but this time we had to manufacture a long weekend as my cousin Ashton--now, amazingly, 24 years young--was tying the knot on the afternoon of Saturday, June 4, 2008 at 3PM.
It was great to see Ash again, whom I bounced on my knee when he was just a toddler, and did my best to corrupt during his childhood and teen years with my insidious influences. Plus, his sisters Kayla and Melanie, as well as my folks, grandmother, sister and her family (whew)--I believe this was my nephew and niece's first encounter with "The Bird Dance". Despite having few spare hours, I managed to pick up a cheapie HD camcorder at Canadian Tire, and ran into a high school pal, although not necessarily in that order...

We left early Sunday morning to speed to ensure making it back on time for the R.E.M. concert at the Molson Amphitheatre. Pity the ride back on the flip side didn't even out my sunburn--as of this writing, I'm still baked lobster red on the left only--just like Richard Dreyfuss in "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind" (and that's two Spielberg references in a single email...).