Wednesday, August 27, 2008

And The Beats Go On...

Met with Dr. Thomas this morning at 8:45 am (well, more like 9:30) for a meet n' greet and to measure Lidia's vitals at Week 21, and of course, another chance to hear the twins' heartbeats, which I think if broadcast from orbiting satellites, would resolve centuries-old conflicts within seconds. Straight-talkin' Dr. Thomas gave us the low-down on the "listeria" scare (those reading this in the future, or having recently crawled out from under a rock, have been spared the current hysteria over tainted meat from the once-trusted Canadian institution Maple Leaf Foods), and was impressed with the numbers on the recent anatomy scans. "You have beautiful babies", she assured us. Hear that, guys? Already breaking hearts with the ladies. A successful medical practitioner, too--a habit both of you would do well to keep up into adult life.

Lidia sez the boyos are kicking around in there like a couple of Brazilian soccer players, reacting to her voice, music, the cats' purrs, and the ambience of our oh-so-trendy neighborhood, but personally, it's because they find my arcane pop culture references and cheap puns hys-terical!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

No News Is Good News, Sure, But A Call Wouldn't Have Hurt...

Checked back with Dr. Grotell this morning to see if my three-months of daily vitamin B-12 doses did its Osmosis Jones magic on my red blood cell count. After a miserable 75 minute wait at the lab--standing in a crowded hallway so jam-packed that I could barely hold my cellphone in front of my face to place Tetris--I finally saw a technician who did my blood work in about 30 whole seconds. Excuse me, but what's the definition of "third world" these days, exactly?

"No news is good news" is my doc's motto, so now that a week has gone by without a followup call, I'll assume I'll live to see peace in the Middle East, a man on Mars, or at the very least, one or both of the boys attempt to wear their diaper as a hat.

Unless of course, the receptionist was sick that day and...

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Other Side Of The Booth: An Adventure In Minor Celebrity

I've been attending the annual Fan Expo at the Metro Convention Centre for about eight years straight, although certainly, I'm no stranger to comic book conventions, most of which have been modest meet-n-greets between local merchants and fans. But this event has exploded into an overstuffed pageant of PR and hoopla spanning film, television, video games, role-playing, and somewhere in the midst of the madness, the very thing that spawned the event in the first place.

Ordinarily, I dutifully attend to get a few photos or books signed, pick up some discounted trades and a cool t-shirt or two, and muster up some inspiration to finally pursue a career in a medium I've long-loved and fantasized working within, but for various reasons--most of them fear-based--never took the plunge. It's been hard enough to make a living in the thankless trenches of film and television--why pursue misery when I've got a full plate, thankyouverymuch?

This year was different. Thanks to my association with Bootcamp Comics, spearheaded by noted Marvel and DC artist/writer Ty Templeton, one of my many still-unrealized dreams became a bit more possible, as I was enlisted to work the Mr. Comics booth (right next to the Hoverboy Museum, and kitty corner to the heavy-hitters at Marvel) promoting our upcoming anthology. It was a soft launch as I pretty much expected, as I sketched for hours on a time for fans who were a little reluctant to approach--let alone embrace--new talent but seemed appreciative of the free sketches (which were pretty damned good if I can blow my own horn for a minute) all the same.

It was definitely odd, though, to have complete strangers ask me for autographs and even take my photo, even though I'm not even at footnote status at this point in my burgeoning comics career. Still, who knows? This year's unknown is next year's breakthrough overnight success, right? I sure hope so, because sketching for free is fun, but you know what's better? Getting paid for it!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Once And Future Grandparents

When I say my folks are great grandparents, I don't mean nephew and niece are far too young for such shenanigans (or is that "tomfoolery"? Never could figure out "horseplay") , and that fact that I've waited until my near-mid-40s to sire children pretty much secures that deal...although according to what I've read--or, at least, the PowerPoint show my financial advisor shows me to get me to put more money into my retirement fund--we're all going to live a lot longer than previous generations, so who knows what's possible in this crazy world?

With my nephew and niece, my mother and father have eschewed the comforts of "middle age" and indulged in nausea-inducing carnival rides, endured many a dubious film (such as the perennial holiday classics "Digimon" and "Sweet Sea", certainly the finest rip-off "The Little Mermaid" ever produced), and braved every possible element with outdoor skating, tobogganing, paddle boats, and white-water rafting. So there's no excuse for me sitting these things out when I'm their age. Greeeeeeeeeeat--thanks for sentencing me to the horrors of "The Drop Zone" when I'm 55.

Since renouncing apartment living for our humble little townhouse in the fashionable King West Village, we've hosted a visit from my mother and father every August, which affords me the chance to explore the city as a tourist-in-my-own-backyard, since I work nearby and rarely venture out of the neighbourhood other than to attend the Toronto International Film Festival and hit the malls each Christmas shopping season. Through the eyes of visitors, Toronto The Dull is a pretty cool place...hell, even the transit runs on time when they're here...

Having endured the big power blackout a few summers back, almost any new drama pales in comparison. But this week, my mom somehow ended up a cat wrangler and risked tooth and claw, as our neighbour's bratty cat "Merlin" decided to burrow into our hedges and wouldn't budge. While I fetched Pounce Treats for a bribe, my mom somehow grabbed hold of this pint-sized panther to the relief of the panicked babysitter who was in charge of making sure he didn't get out. Reputations were saved, cats fed--without injury to my mother, thankfully, who's a lot braver than I am--and as result, we've gained a regular visitor who's taken quite an interest in our adorable Maggie.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Licensed To Ill

Today's my birthday--yeah, thanks--and if it wasn't bad enough that I had to deal with the fact that I've now outlived Elvis Presley, I had to get my driver's license renewed, complete with updated photo. I dunno why--I haven't changed much since the last one (or so I keep telling myself)...but such is the law and despite my subversive world view I believe in being a law-abiding citizen. The last thing my youngsters need is their dad in the big house because he forgot to renew a sticker before he sped off to an all-night Shoppers in search of spare Huggies.

The fact is, eventually, I'm going to have to start driving more, even though I utterly hate it--I loathe driving so much, in fact, that even in the videogame "Grand Theft Auto", I have my character take cabs to his assorted criminal activities...

So I wandered up to the vehicle bureau on College Street with my mother and father, and, incredibly, I was in-and-out in about five minutes. Thought about getting some vanity plates while I was waiting (and thought I may have hallucinated the price--$500!?)...any suggestions for a father-to-be? PRD PAPA? BG DDDY? DADDYO? GEEK DAD (I like that one...although PASS ME might be more appropriate to the poor citizens of this province...)

Happy B-Day For A Dad-2-B

It's another sweltering, rainy August, so you know what that means: the TIFF ticket selection rigamarole gets increasingly more byzantine and frustrating, the Fan Expo caps the month, and your humble narrator celebrates a birthday. Ordinarily, I'd say "dreads", but this year, it feels different, so my 44th toast was to accelerating the clock, instead of wishing it would slow down. There'll be so much to do once the boys are here, I can't wait to get started. But I'll conserve my energy for now--I'm gonna need it--so here I am on the patio of the nearby Foggy Dew with Lidia, my mother, and father, on a rare day where we weren't attacked by wasps or accosted by beggars while seated perilously close to our colourful downtown sidewalks. Next year, we'll see if I'm still smiling--I'm sure I will be, even if it's on the inside...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Week 19: And They're--

Today we reached Week 19, and had our most significant ultrasound to date at the usual joint (the Bloomberg something-something-clinic in the Ontario Hydro Building at University and College, etc. etc.). The test results revealed the growing infinks to be "normal" across the board, after thorough examinations that read like a crash course in Gray's Anatomy (or, "Drawing The Human Body" by Giovanni Civardi, an essential reference I highly recommend to all serious artists). I'll cut right to the chase this time, because the suspense is surely killing everyone and the bookies are no doubt eager to collect. Let's first give a major shout-out to my coworker Vera Heim, who called it based upon the heart-rates (147 and 149):

They're TWO BOYS!

Lawdy Miss Clawdy, am I going to have mucho f-u-n for the foreseeable future!

Monday, August 11, 2008

A pregnancy milestone reached

Yes, things are changing. As my pregnancy becomes more apparent, the rest of the world seems to be catching up. Today I reached a very important milestone.

Today I was offered a seat on the subway.

Heading home at an already too-late 6:15 pm, I was huddled by the door, as usual, trying to ignore the crowd around me and patiently wait for Bathurst station, where I get off to take the streetcar home. At Spadina (one stop before) I felt a tap on my shoulder. "You can have that seat if you want," said a woman, pointing to the middle seat of a set of 3 along the side of the car. I would have had to fight my way through five people to get to it. I said it was OK, I'm off at the next stop. But just the fact that she noticed me, and offered the seat, was very sweet.

Yes, I am showing. Now everybody knows.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Aquabellies! or, who knew it was so hard to exercise in the water?

Anyone who knows me knows I'm not much of a workout freak. Exercise comes to me in fits and starts and rarely becomes habit. But that doesn't mean I won't give it a shot once in a while.

My workplace offers a free yoga class twice a week, but I rarely have the time during the day to attend. So, when one of the regular waitresses at our watering hole, The Foggy Dew, visited with her brand new daughter and found out I was pregnant, she suggested I try looking up Baby and Me Fitness, which offers pre and post natal exercise classes. She had taken Aquabellies and loved it, and since swimming is one of the few physical activities I really love -- cycling being the other -- I investigated and quickly joined up.

So Thursday after work I headed to the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (JCC) at Bloor and Spadina for my first class. We chatted about our plans for maternity leave for about a half hour, then to change for class. After wrestling with the cheapo combination lock I bought from Shoppers Drug Mart I managed to stow my stuff and slip into the JCC's lovely, warm saltwater pool. Cool, I thought as I jumped around to some sort of mix that turned "Hot In Herre" into "Hollaback Girl", with about 20 other women at various stages of pregnancy.

But what seemed like a fun romp soon turned into a real workout, as various flotation devices served as additional resistance. Somehow, kicking and holding a flutterboard in front of you seemed so much easier when I was seven years old.

My favourites, though, were the water weights. Not real weights; they were shaped like little dumbbells, and outside of the water they were light as air (being made of styrofoam and all). But get them under the surface, with a hyper instructor telling you to push down, and suddenly it feels like you're bench pressing 50 pounds. In the end, I think my arms and shoulders got more of a workout than my legs and tummy.

Oh well, one down, nine more to go...

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Some urgent news from home this evening: while I was working on an art project this afternoon--instead of sitting outside and enjoying the sun on a rare rain-free day like any other normal human being--I noticed on my Facebook "status" list that my niece, visiting her grandparents/my folks up north, mentioned that she was "visiting Nanny in the hospital". Immediately, panic flooded in--my grandmother was in the hospital and I didn't know about it?!

Turns out she'd been feeling ill the previous evening and once my mother took her to the hospital, she found out she'd suffered a minor heart attack. I spoke with her today and she's not terribly happy to be stuck in ICU on nitro and and IV. And it's not over yet: she'll be shuttled off to Ottawa for some tests and perhaps a bit of surgery, but thankfully, everything seems to be on the mend. This is her first serious health scare I'm aware of--Nanny's an amazing 85 but you'd never know it--so I guess she's entitled to one. With our two youngsters on the way, she's got even more motivation to stick around--someone's gotta knit all those booties and nobody does it better...