Wednesday, May 30, 2007


You know how it is. (Well, some of you do.) You skip a few days posting, then a few more, then--whoops!--it's been a couple of weeks, and what do you do then? It's been so long since you wrote anything on your blog, your (rapidly diminishing population of) readers will surely expect something extraordinary! Or at least cohesive. Only, you can't come up with anything, on account of whatever crazy life circumstances it was that led you to skip those first few days in the first place.

And so it is with me. The end of the school year is bearing down, I'm writing report cards and putting together summer reading lists, the laundry's piling up, the bills need paying. I've got job applications in the hopper, I'm checking Craigslist every day for apartments in Vancouver or Burnaby (Available August 1 or thereabouts, 3 bedrooms, or 2 and a den, cat-friendly, not too pricey, not in a high-rise building, and ideally right near the school we want the Mermaid Girl to go to...but really, we're not picky. Honest.). We have friends of friends who will rent our house starting in September. I've got a volunteer gig at the Vancovuer library for a week in July, we've got tickets to the Folk Festival up there, and MG, has those summer camps she's all jazzed about.

Amid all that swirl of activity, it's hard to isolate one bloggable, notable moment, though they abound as they do in everyone's life once you take the time to notice them. This is the time of year when our neighborhood comes alive; it's light out until eight or nine, there are people walking around. Our neighbors put in a barbecue pit and invited us over for marshmallows. We walked down to the Mexican place for dinner last night because it was too hot to cook, and MG ran into two friends from school. Last week I had a day off and chaperoned her choir on a field trip to sing for the old Norse at the old Norse home. And the other night, bringing up the laundry from the basement, I smelled the sea on the night air.

Times like that, I think: what are we doing? How can we leave this place??

But I gave notice today at the job where I've worked for almost nine years.

Here's one reason why:

A few months ago, we went to a local circus festival. Some of MG's circus school teachers were in it, and it was in the neighborhood, and it was a swell show. There were comedians, and acrobats, and a fancy trapeze act where young women wearing fairy wings swung from hoops practically right above our heads.

We like to go to these things particularly because MG is good at circus. She can climb a rope 20 feet up in the air, hoisting herself up. She spends her recess time practicing fancy flips on the bar. It's not that I really think she's necessarily going to do it for a living, but, you know, she might want to try it, at least for a while, one day. She likes to perform, and she might actually have the energy and perseverance and confidence to make something like that work. And if she did, we'd be so proud. Proud beyond proud. And happy, that she was doing something that truly made her happy.

So there we were, and I looked at all those performers, up on the hoops, swinging and swooping, momentarily--in the manner of proud and hopeful parents--seeing MG up there. And I thought: what happens if one falls? Do they have insurance?

My guess is, probably not. So, if one falls, they're in the hole for thousands upon thousands of dollars. Unless they're insured under a spouse who works for a big company. Otherwise, they're out of luck. Lots of performers are. You hear of big benefit concerts every once in a while, for a musician--even pretty famous ones--who had a major illness and just can't cover the bills.

I looked again at that circus happening all around us, and all of a sudden I thought: oh. We're having this great time, seeing this great performance. But these people who are performing for us are subsidizing it, with their very bodies, their futures.

Not that I felt personally guilty, or that I have the money to pay for health insurance for even one of them. Or that I feared for myself; I have a job, I have insurance. And the point isn't even exactly that I want MG to be able to be a circus performer when she grows up. Not to get too dramatic about it, just seemed wrong, all of a sudden. A wrong way to set up a culture, a system, a country.

And I just all of a sudden felt that we were all swinging from a very, very shaky hoop.