That’s When the Hornet Stung Me

Summer’s here, and I’m on annual leave. Kids are out of school, and when my wife isn’t bashing away at the keyboard upstairs, we’re finding lots of time for other good things. Picking blackberries, riding bicycles, eating/making hummous that makes your bread look like a slice of watermelon. Reading Tragically Hip think pieces (including my own).

Hummous that makes your bread look like a slice of watermelon

Hummous that makes your bread look like a slice of watermelon.

It’s also a good time to reflect on summers past, and share a few stories. The one I’m sharing here was inspired by my wife’s blog from a few weeks ago about a wasp trapped in her office; she melds it with a memory of a wasp from her childhood, full of danger and suspense and blessed maternal rescue. I’m biased, of course (reader, I married her), but I think the writing is exceptional.

One afternoon, I sat on the swing, kicking my sandaled feet, and a wasp settled between the straps. I froze. I couldn’t swat it away because I had to hold on to the chains of the swing. I tried to kick, very gently, to dislodge it. The wasp crawled over the strap and down along my foot. Then it crawled onto the bottom of my foot, its tiny feet and buzzing wings moving between my sandal and my skin.

Sometimes, speech is impossible, but I must have said something because my little brother ran for Mum. I gripped the swing’s chains tightly. The wasp explored. No wind moved the leaves above my head. Everything stopped. Except for those tiny, tickly feet.

-Katie Munnik, “Wasp”

I have felt those tiny, tickly feet. Continue reading

Dive in Me

I’m writing today, as many others are, on the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. For many around my age (34), it was a significant moment–one of those nodes you trace your appreciation of life through. I even planned to write a novel in which a young chap of… oh, let’s say 14 had just awakened to “good” music through Nirvana only to realise as his enthusiasm rises that this icon has killed himself. Then I read Nick Hornby’s About a Boy and decided I needed a different dramatic arc.

But it’s true: I owe my love of good music to Nirvana. And Aerosmith, to be honest. Pearl Jam captured my soul and my passion, but it wouldn’t have happened without “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Before that, I had been a techno-hip-hop enthusiast, following my dedication to DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Anything with electric guitars was obviously heavy metal, i.e., music my brother liked, and therefore worthy of rejection tout court. (Oddly, Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet evaded such classification, but that could be because of my Aunt Barb. Or maybe I liked the thought of one small patch of common ground between me and my brother.) I was the first in the family to have a CD player, and the first CD I got to go with it was X-Tendamix Dance Mix ’92, a lively compilation from our friends at MuchMusic. I would go crazy, dumb-dancing in the corner at school dances while all the other kids lined up, boys on one side of the gym, girls on the other, and met in the middle song by song to hold their rigid hands against the appropriate waist or shoulder, bobbing back and forth like zombie buoys in an ocean of crappy music. Continue reading

The Sensual Pleasures of Lego

Lego creationsLego’s been on my mind. Not that I’ve gone to see the movie, nor have I any desire to. But the attendant buzz has led to other cultural comment, which I’m always happy to absorb (as a journalist, sociologically minded person, and grad student looking for ways to avoid writing my thesis).

What I’ve seen and what has interested me about Lego revolves around two issues: gender and creativity. Both of these lapse into a nostalgic pattern, so that the way it was is better than the way it is, and that this wonderful thing has been broken by an increasingly shallow and/or destructive society. I kind of don’t disagree with that in principle, but it’s sometimes a little too easy to give in to such whinging, and I’m glad I have young kids in the house to give me a kick in the angst from time to time. Continue reading