Summer time girls got it going on
While the LFO song “Summertime girls” may suck “(LFO stands for Light Funky Ones, for all you music trivia fans), the arrival of summer does not. It may be 45 degrees in my apartment, but outside there is just enough of a breeze to make me so happy. It’s summer! This is the time of year I feel most like the me I define: Happy, loves water, walking outside, eating gelato, laughing, being goofy and carefree with friends, making enough money to have fun. My happiest memories are usually in summer, and I think everyone is happy generally because it’s sunny! We go on vacation in the summer, we stay up late sipping drinks in a backyard or on a pool deck for no other reason than it is summer. Even when it’s rainy it’s fun, because summer time thunderstorms are so cool to watch with all the lights off in my bedroom.
Some of my favourite things to do in the summer include: Read outside on a blanket while tanning, enjoying fresh fruits from the market, wearing my bathing suit all day and all night, going to pool parties, wearing coconut oil, noticing new freckles, going to cottages, taking road trips, wearing brightly coloured clothing, not caring about messy hair, wearing minimal makeup, buying flip flops, feeling the surprising once-in-awhile cool breezes, and oh does this list go on.
I would feel way too guilty if I complained about this heat because I can remember walking home from class in February, sheltering myself from the blowing winter winds in a bus shelter, balancing back and forth on each leg to maintain circulation, sniffling my sniffly nose and thinking, “I can’t WAIT for it to be summer!” So now that its here in full force, I will not complain that I must engage in minimal physical movement to avoid excessive sweating in my 45-degree apartment. I instead sat in a freezing cold bath reading funny summer books like the “Shopaholic” series and Cosmo magazines. I laughed at how it funny it was that a freezing cold bath felt SOOOO good. I even went for a run and enjoyed the puzzled looks of passers by who must have thought I was nuts to run. Truth was, my fast movement actually created a consistent light breeze around me.
I love feeling tired from the sun and being lazy about everything. This summer I resolve to make every day count, because summer always comes and goes way too fast. I won’t have any “nothing blah” days unless that is the goal of that day, to have a relaxing day with no schedule dedicated specifically to my own quietness.
So here’s to summer, may it be full of the stuff I love fantasizing of in mid-winter snowstorms.
100 things I Vow to do Before I Turn 50
1. Drink Dom Perignon
2. See a Broadway musical
3. Go surfing
4. Climb to the top of a mountain
5. Make a beautiful garden
6. Get backstage at a concert
7. Run a marathon
8. Kiss at the top of the Eiffel tower
9. Sell a work of art
10. Drive a convertible by the beach
11. Write a book
12. Hold a fancy high tea
13. Pose for a painting
14. Ride an elephant
15. Drive on the Autobahn
16. Ride a horse on the beach
17. Eat at a five star restaurant
18. Stay in a penthouse suite of a fancy hotel
19. Shoot a gun
20. Help solve a crime
21. Go to law school
22. Learn to play chess
23. Make a five course meal
24. Have a photo published
25. Meet a celebrity
26. Learn to eat with chopsticks
27. Do a flip on a trampoline
28. Write a movie screenplay
29. Train a dog
30. Make the best cakes
31. Eat pizza in Italy
32. Scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef in Australia
33. Go caroling
34. Hula dance
35. Ride a unicycle
36. Sail a boat
37. Get a pearl necklace to pass down as an heirloom
38. Trace family history
39. Find buried treasure
40. Give a homeless person $100
41. Christmas shop in New York City
42. Cover a story that gets national attention
43. Buy something from a high-end store
44. Have professional black and white photos taken
45. Be naked in public
46. Hand craft pottery
47. Get my teeth whitened
48. Learn how to French braid
49. Ride in a hot air balloon
50. Latin Dance
51. Randomly send someone a dozen roses
52. Be in a TV audience
53. Visit Auschwitz
54. Witness the birth of a baby or animal
55. Watch a sunrise
56. Join a jazz band
57. Buy original art
58. Visit a bayou in Louisiana
59. Join the mile high club
60. Stand under a waterfall
61. Smash a TV
62. Learn to drive standard
63. Share my diary’s contents
64. Host a family reunion
65. Sew a dress
66. Take a year off
67. Slap someone in the face
68. Smoke a Cuban cigar
69. Break a World Record
70. Try out for Jeopardy
71. Produce my own food
72. Throw a pie at someone
73. Have a 25th anniversary
74. Get arrested
75. Have children
76. Own a diamond
77. Volunteer for Greenpeace
78. Grow my hair long
79. Own a swimming pool
80. Invent a cocktail
81. Make my own jam
82. Go to a ball
83. Lose pregnancy weight
84. Max out credit card
85. Rollerblade through a shopping mall at night
86. Travel on a whim
87. Pull off an elaborate prank
88. Win a contest
89. Visit the West Edmonton Mall
90. Blow something up
91. Own a really good camera
92. Swim with dolphins in their natural habitat
93. Water ski
94. Make home videos of my life
95. Stay in a bed and breakfast
96. Watch the Godfather trilogy
97. Teach ___ lessons
98. Milk a cow
99. Stand on the international date line
100. Make my own noodles
We be hot-hot-hot
In my apartment, the windows are always open. Minus thirty degrees outside? Windows open. Twenty degrees out? Windows AND doors open. I have set the thermostat as low as it goes, but our apartment is happiest when it’s hot, it seems. In the middle of winter, we’d come in and rip off our overcoats, hats and mitts as fast as possible to acclimatize to our permanently tropical habitat. Last night, in the middle of a heat wave, it reached thirty degrees outside. Inside our apartment, the needle indicated to us it was something higher than 35 degrees, because that’s as high as our thermometer goes. There were dishes to do, bags to empty and put away, but all we could do was lie on the couches with fans directly pointing our direction.
Roommate and I thought using the oven to create a meal was a bad idea. Mainly, neither of us particularly wanted to be the cook who’d have to stand in front of an oven, while living in a larger oven. We decided to go for Thai, using the excuse that it was our race weekend reward.
Upon our return, we decided to forego anything requiring movement. The thin layer of sweat covering our bodies did not need to be any thicker. So, we instead resumed our couch positions with the fans blasting us at level 4, and watched girlie teen movies. It was perfect, just like that!
I have come to accept and mildly even embrace the consistently Equator-esque temperature of our abode. I take comfort knowing I always know what to expect when I climb the stairs and open our door: heat. At first, I tried to use the mentality that our apartment was a vacation on some Caribbean island. Now, as the heat returns in full force, I would like to think I am lucky because I live in a sauna: With constant hydration of course, there are health benefits, I’m sure. Like, my skin will always be flushing itself of impurities with constant sweat. I always have a cute flush to my cheeks- no blush even needed! And my hair will be healthier because I don’t have to blast it with a blow dryer for 20 minutes: It air dries within about 10 and keeps me cool in the meantime!
I’m not sure how much more dramatic this experience will become, as it’s only the month of May, and full-scale summer humidity has not yet arrived. For now, I’ll enjoy my make-believe vacation home.
Race day come and gone
Most of yesterday felt like childhood birthday party preparations. It was a beautiful sunny day, and those days just beckon me to garden, wash the car, take a long walk: anything that has the sun hit my face and inject me with the feel-good vitamin D. However, I have no garden living in a concrete metropolis, and my mum's car didn't need washing at home. I did not want to go out for a long walk or bike ride because it was race day, and I needed to conserve energy in case I got to kilometer #4 and collapsed having expended it all earlier in the day. So, that left me with little to do but lounge around just waiting for it to be race hour. I watched people pass by my window. I drank some tea. I made myself a large olive oil, parmesan cheese and spaghetti lunch at a strategic 4 hours before race time, to allow for proper digestion and minimal run side cramps. I checked the wall clock, my wristwatch and cell phone clock tirelessly waiting for it to be race time. I called my boyfriend too early, and multiple times, to make sure he was still coming to watch. I remembered the days when I would sit on my couch in my party dress, just waiting to press "play" on my stereo, hear Sesame Street music, and allow my carefully selected guests to arrive for my party. Until they came. which was inevitably always later than the card invitation specified, albeit by one or two minutes usually, I had to sit in pure agony waiting for the highlight of the previous week to finally arrive and begin.
When my entourage and I finally got ourselves ready (mum, sister, boyfriend, best fried/masseus), we walked over to the park whee the race was to begin and end. I had wet my hair and put it up to help combat the incredible and surprising heat, so water dripped down my top half. I felt silly, but the coolness was welcome. Best friend performed some funny massage techniques to warm my muscles, the involved jiggling my fatty bits and chopping down my legs with her hands. I'm sure that helped me look professional. With five minutes to start I joined the mass crowd of runners (6,000 in my race) and scanned the spectators for my own fan club, without success. I didn't have much time because soon we were off. I was quickly overwhelmed by the wonder of it all. This was the highlight of all my previous training. It was here, I was running, and I was confidant I could do it, which is what this was really all about. We rounded the city streets, passing thousands of smiling, cheering spectators. There were even water and Gatorade stations along the way, and I simply could not pass up the chance to run by, grab a cup and splash water down my head. Oh yes, I was truly a professional runner.
I did not make my goal time, but about halfway through the run, I came to terms with this. I was only slightly over, anyway. When I saw the finish line about 200 meters away, I turned on "Bombs Over Baghdad" on my trusty iPod, and booted it full speed towards the finish. That moment, that final burst of everything I'd been working for, chest heaving, legs widely spread sprinting to cross that finish line, was a feeling I couldn't have imagined. I'm not sure I could adequately describe how proud and satisfied and joyful I felt, so I will only say I highly recommend it. I have run my first race and finished proud. I am not disappointed because I couldn't have done better. I'm not sure I've ever truly felt that before.
Operation: Race Weekend
I remember the downtown scene this time last year very clearly. Skinny people filled the healthy, swanky restaurants, the grocery stores seemed to be empty of anything organic and it was time wasted to look for bottled water. Booking a massage? It was impossible!
It was race weekend. I was affected by temporary frustration caused by road closures, but was otherwise removed from the whole process. Running ridiculous distances? For fun? Why? Are you being graded on it?
I have gone through bouts of motivation in my life where I have run for about 10 minutes before coughing up a lung and resolving to walk the rest of the way. That was never fun. There were also my rugby training days of throat burning, heavy-chest, heaving breathing running, which also was not fun.
I have always laughed at the packs of joggers who wear identical Running Room windbreakers as they inhaled and exhaled in unison down the city streets. Who volunteers to do that? Is this part of a parole program?
In March, I resolved to find something meaningful to do with my lunch break, as I was to have one every weekday with my full-time job until fall classes resumed. I started running on the treadmill in my building’s gym, or at least run-walking, resolving to get beyond the coughing up my lungs stage. I did! Then I wanted to see if I could run two miles (3.2k), which I did. I developed some more small goals for myself and conquered them all. So I took the plunge, with some motivation from my running roommate, and signed up for my first race ever during this year’s marathon weekend.
“Which one are you running? The half?” “No…” “Oh, the 10?” “Uh, no...” Five kilometers. “I’ll pick something easy, and if I decide to go for ten k, I’ll switch as we get closer to race day,” I thought. Well, five is challenge enough for me, who never ran before ever. (I decided my high school track days don’t count because I was a 100 meter-dash sprinter, which isn’t really running).
Last weekend, I ran 4k in 17 minutes, and it felt so easy and FUN! This week, I reached my final goal and actually found myself in what had previously sounded like a myth to me. It is called the “running zone” by most, and it is a weird, transcendental feeling where your legs keep moving and your lungs keep breathing, and you just don’t stop running. It actually is kind of calming, and liberating. It made me smile.
I went to pick up my race kit yesterday in the big tent of converging pro runners from here, from Kenya, Russia, you name it. I felt a bit sheepish being the only person in the 5k line at that particular time of day, beside the longer 10k line and the longer still half and full marathon lines. (Which means a staggering 21k and 42 k race—yikes!) My free T-Shirt says “5k!” in big green letters, which I excitedly wore to bed last night.
All the skinny people were converged under one roof. At first I was intimidated by all the pro runners converged around me. The race weekend here is pretty big, with healthy people runner events and dinners. After beating the mentality that, “They are runners and I am not,” I actually felt proud to realize that I belonged. I am a runner. I am one of those people I used to scoff at. Running IS fun.
Tomorrow is the big day. I half expect the other 5k competitors to be recovering over-eaters and seniors whose only option is to run 5k. But I am excited, I have set my time goal, and I can’t wait to finish it, knowing I gave it my all. I am actually excited to be out of breath, sweating and pink-faced after sprinting the last leg of the run.
I’ll let you know how it goes! Unless the obese people and seniors all pass me and I end up being the last pathetic wannabe runner to cross the finish line when it’s dark out. (Then I will delete this post and never speak of it again)
Luckily, mum, sister, boyfriend and best friend will be at the end to cheer me on. I’m even getting a massage after from best friend who has just finished studying massage therapy! Wish me luck, but more importantly, give it a try!
I have been struck by the kissing my sick boyfriend plague and find myself out of commission. My apologies, except to you, boyfriend. Curse you. ;)
Dance on Air
In the weeks leading up to last Christmas, I heard from everyone (read: family, friends, family friends, roommate, etc) how amazing my Christmas gift from the boyfriend was. I should be so excited, everyone said. “You will love it!”
It. OK, so it’s a thing. I’m a pretty easy person to please, so this could mean anything. We’d added a “no jewelry” clause to the list of gift qualifications between us, so I knew it wasn’t that. He knows buying clothes is risky because I’m difficult to size up. Neither of us have a ton of money, so I couldn’t let my imagination go too far out the window.
Nobody would tell me. I even tried to milk my 11-year-old sister, but even she wouldn’t budge when faced with bribes.
Christmas Eve arrived, and after dinner and family gift exchange with his mom’s side of the family, it was our turn. It was about midnight when we finally returned to his house. His mum was drunk out of her tree, his Dad’s eyes were getting droopy and his brother weakly feigned interest. As I took the lid off the box and read the piece of paper as fast as I could, I burst out laughing.
I’m not sure that was the immediate reaction he was looking for. Everyone else looked over, also confused by my reaction. Once I realized all eyes were on me, I contained my giggles and gave him a goodwill hug for his goodwill gesture. Inside the box was a gift certificate for fancy ballroom dance lessons to take … together!
I had always complained about the movements he made on the dance floor he hopelessly called dancing. I think one night we had even fought about it. It had come to the point where I would go out dancing with my girls and not even wonder if he would join me.
But he sucked up his pride (or what was left of it after I girlfriend-ly destroyed his dancing self esteem) and courageously ventured into the land of low cut shirts (on men!), quick-quick-slow with two left feet.
We have since made it to private lessons with an adorable and hilarious dance instructor about once a week. Which, in itself, is a feat considering his work schedule. [He typically has two weeknights off a week, and that’s it—can you believe it?] We can now foxtrot, tango, waltz, swing, mambo, meringue, rumba and cha cha the basics with relative ease.
We laughed ourselves through most lessons and probably insulted the world of dance with our goofy interpretations, additions and facial expressions. We have even gone out dancing together—and left laughing, not fighting! Nice!
It’s nice to remember these things now and again and remind myself that although he’s got a little bit of grumpy old man in him sometimes, he’s still a very spontaneous, fun and hilarious addition to my life.
Entitlement versus expectation
I made myself laugh yesterday about a lesson I learned in entitlement and expectation. Back home in the suburbs, if there was loud, booming bass music coming from a neighbour’s house, you could bet that when 11 o’clock at night rolled around and the noise by-law rules kicked in, the police would be called to ask the noise-infringing neighbours to pipe down. If a backyard barbeque occupied a neighbours’ patio on a bright, sunny Saturday afternoon, the sounds of laughter and glasses clinking would fill the air, only to annoy the neighbour who wished for peace and quiet as she suntanned. If a less fortunate person decided to rummage through one’s garbage as it sat at the end of the driveway, awaiting garbage truck pickup the following day, the police would most certainly be called. Why? Because in the suburbs, people feel they are entitled to quiet sleep, relaxing afternoons spent sunbathing and the homeless are certainly fear inducing.
Since moving downtown, I have had to keep my windows open all the time, even through winter, in order for cooling air to somewhat effectively circulate. I wake up to the sounds of the construction crew building a new condo next door, beginning at around 7 a.m. Sirens, loud trucks, singing drunkards, backfiring cars and barking dogs have become the natural soundtrack that seeps in my windowpanes. Something is wrong if the neighbours don’t have music playing on Saturday night. If I want to sunbathe I have to trek it to the nearest park and be prepared for the peering eyes of the public or else climb on to the rooftop where there is no grass, no shade and certainly no comfortable spot to rest my sun-kissed head. And I have to admit, the first time a homeless person went through my trash, my first reaction was not fear or entitlement, it was, “Well, I don’t need it anymore.”
I laughed yesterday because the music blowing into my bedroom from the blues bar around the block was a lesson in cooperation. Nobody needs the stress of entitlement. Is my life really any worse for having neighbours who love music? If I really need to sleep, I can learn to accept the inevitable, rather than be a cop-calling ratter. I am really not entitled to peaceful living or privacy. It is a luxury that I can be happy with when it comes along, but by no means should I expect it. It’s much easier to go with the flow and be nice to neighbours and homeless people than to let their habits bother you. It’s way too selfish to think they must adapt to you when one person can be more accepting of every else. It’s much easier, and you might even become friends with people.
No fuzzy bunny contest
The other day I met a friend from high school at the bus station and we happened to be going to the same place. Naturally, we spoke most of the way, catching up on each other’s lives and making connections between common friends. But I found myself doing that thing where I ask, “Pardon”, she repeated, and I still could not understand or hear what she was saying. So, to avoid asking her to repeat what she said again, I nodded my head and offered the conversation-neutral, “mmm-hmmm.”
I avoid asking people to repeat things more than once because a) I feel that unless it is a key piece of information, the effort is not worth it and b) the underlying energy and enthusiasm that accompanied the unheard quip is lost with each repetition.
She has always spoken somewhat mumbly, and with a uniform expression on her face. This makes it hard to decipher whether what she has just said is a good or bad thing; without facial clues or proper enunciation, her addition t the conversation has been lost.
Similarly, I have received messages on my voicemail that are spoken so quickly or from a mouth so far from the telephone receiver, that gathering the who, why and phone number is a veritable hearing exercise.
My public service announcement is this: If what you are saying is worth someone’s hearing, the onus is on you to ensure the words are communicated clearly. If I can’t understand you, I’m not going to benefit from what you’re saying. I can’t react to it or offer my own quips in return. And I will likely make fun of you afterwards for wasting my time with your incoherent babbling.
I don’t mean to come off as a grade school grammar teacher, but there is some merit in your obligatory public speaking exercises of before. Unless you are speaking with your best friend who is a trained interpreter of your mumbles and grunts that are supposed to form words, your listener will not understand you. And really, if you’re going to take the effort to exhale and express the thoughts that are already using your energy to zip through your cerebellum at rates faster than we can imagine, then occupying the strongest muscle of the body (the tongue) in conjunction with your lips, vocal chords and facial muscles to say them, you may as well get it right.
They will not grow old as we that grow old
Yesterday the first Canadian female combat soldier was killed in Afghanistan. Captain Nichola Goddard was on the front lines leading her group of four to five men when she died on the field. She is the 16th soldier killed since the Canadian military entered Operations in Afghanistan.
I really felt the story yesterday. As her death was broken on the news, I watched with a former military school classmate and friend of hers. Before the fallen soldier’s identity was confirmed, my colleague was visually anxious, as there are only a few women combat captains in Afghanistan, most of whom she knew. Once her family had been informed, her story broke, and anecdotes of her life became her obituary.
Today, the newspapers carry stories of person e-mails she sent to her sister and new husband at home here. She’d been married in December, and entered the military at first as a way to pay for school, and then as a continuation of the pride she felt defending her country. Her fellow soldiers say she was well respected on the battlefield where her gender never factored into the group dynamic. When she relayed messages over the radio from the front line, her voice was described as being calm and soothing like a radio night show host. Lonely soldiers in a far away sand land were soothed by her voice and radiating confidence. A CTV reporter stationed in Afghanistan said her white smile was welcoming, and often the first thing you noticed about her. My colleague confirmed Capt Goddard really was the honest, easy-to-like person the news described.
I felt, because of this connection through my colleague, that the story had really happened to real people, at least in a way I could grasp. Yesterday afternoon, her mother, father, siblings and new husband had received phone calls saying their hero, the woman who meant so much to them, was killed, never to be again. In spite of the upbeat e-mails they received from her promising to be home in August after this adventure finished, her body is now to come home much earlier. They will have to celebrate next Christmas, her birthday, and what was to be her first wedding anniversary without her. Those thoughts make me sad. While we are capable of feeling such immense love for someone, as her family felt for her, we are also capable of feeling polar opposite grief and sadness. I think what’s important is that the news media, through which we all get our information about national events like this, has painted her not as a poor girl deserving of out pity for dying in a war-torn land, but as a hero. We can understand her decision to fight, her connection to loved ones at home and her reason for smiling into the military camera without feeling sorry for her. This is not a point to re-ignite debate over why the military is there, nor a chance to use her as an example. This is a chance to honour the risk soldiers face in the line of work they choose, and how their deaths in the line of duty make them heroes.
"Sugar, we're going down swinging"
I heard on the 24-hour news channel about a volcanic eruption in Indonesia and of rising floodwaters in New England. I always feel a bit detached about natural disasters without being there myself to pick up on the urgent vibes and anxiety that get passed around. That being said, I know I am not fit to assess the inhabitants’ decisions without being confronted with those same realities myself. What to leave? What to take?
It must be hard to leave behind the dishes you got for your wedding and the table where you’ve bonded over food with loved ones. If your livelihood is the goat farm out back, how can you turn away, at the risk of never returning, losing it all?
Some observers on the news criticized people for ignoring warnings and refusing to evacuate. Is it because there is something poetic about “going down with the ship”? Were you waiting for a more justified excuse to end it than the everyday ho hum provided? Were you too stubborn to heed the advise of educated meteorologists, and of people who have survived disasters and tragedies before?
It makes me sad to see that some people stay. They just stay, even though volcanic magma heads towards their hiding places. Slow like honey, maybe it won’t ever reach you? Is there something Darwinian about your decision? “I am too weak to continue, therefore I will make this choice and be removed from the gene pool.”
Would the king of the world’s beasts simply accept defeat? Ignore the nature of adrenaline and succumb to disaster?
I know I’m not in New England or Indonesia, but I much prefer hearing the stories of people who get themselves out, take responsibility for themselves and families and make the decision to fight to survive. It’s heartbreaking when their bodies are found frozen in the moment when they were trying to escape. I feel that, at least.
But for those who stay? Who don’t even try? I wouldn’t want to be in the foxhole with you. I’d much prefer the fighters who feel it’s always worth it to try.
Living La Vita Libra
I think I came with something of an October child recipe. It wasn’t a cookie cutter of who I would be, or an unwritten book with only so many pages. But I definitely feel I came here with a few ingredients I’ll never get rid of.
I’m not one to check the astrology section religiously, and I certainly don’t make decisions based on what it forecasts. But when I fill out a “who are you “(figuratively or literally) I definitely fit into what an October child is meant to be.
I seek balance in almost every aspect of my life. I will never work so much I have no personal life. I will never be over the top or understated. I will be opinionated, but not obnoxious, etc. etc. I know August and February children who also seek balance, but I really feel that balance is what my life is: an entire balancing act, though the work comes naturally with my birthday. I am drawn to the arts and enjoy creative expression. I am strong-willed, independent and at times, even introverted (secretly). I am not OK with being a wallflower, but revel in being a big, bright colourful flower not to be missed.
When I was born, my parents had a birth chart written up for their oldest child. It measured the star patterns in space the day I was born and calculated, based on those patterns, what I would be like and what life I’d steer towards. I remember reading it as I grew up, seeing what strengths and weaknesses I was prone to, what life moments to anticipate. There were entries in my birth chart I remember thinking would be impossible to come true, but of course they did. Reading about a “large family rift that would divide during my late teens” seemed bogus at 13, but turned out painfully true at 17. It felt a little like being exposed by a psychic when I was surprised by things, but comforting like hearing from a good friend who knew so much about me. Some may say I was an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy, that I read who I was as I grew up and became that person. I know better. I know that while my environment nurtured me into what I am, my nature was responsible for who I am. Maybe you all have different experiences and interpretations for yourself. But I know I am an October child of a November and a February child. I am parts of them fused together with some new ingredients to be me.
Some fave images
I love a good photo, so here are some of my recent faves.
"Put three grains of sand inside a vast cathedral, and the cathedral will be more closely packed with sand than space is with stars." -- Sir James Jean
Woah! And taking a line from, "Contact" starring Jodie Foster, "If there's no life out there somewhere, it'd be an awful waste of space..."
A Virtual Reality- and not the Jamiroquai song
I have to confess—if ever we are ever hanging out, in a group or one on one, and any box that plays games is pulled out and plugged into the television, I will stand with my arms at my sides, head cocked to the right a little, with a blank look on my face.
Growing up, my parents would not let my brother and I play Nintendo. All I can remember them replying when I whined, “But, whyyyyyy” was something like, “Because there are other things you can do, and it’s too expensive.” True, Nintendo was expensive. But when “all my friends” (read: some people in my class) had one and knew how to play I just had to be part of it. At one point, there was a Nintendo-themed cartoon on Saturday mornings with Mario, Luigi, and the rest of the perky, animated gang. I would take the batteries out of the remote and use it as a pretend game console. Seriously. I pretended I was “playing” the cartoon.
One day I got a Nintendo Gameboy from my parents. It came with Tetris, but I also got another game with it, something that had to do with a pink bubble character. I first decided to master Tetris. I took my Gameboy everywhere to play Tetris. I can remember sitting on my front porch in the summer days thumbing the cross-shaped and two circular red buttons. I tried the other game a few times, but I had thrown out the instructions and grew frustrated when I couldn’t figure it out on my own.
Fast forward to today. My Gameboy sits in a box in my mom’s basement with Tetris still inside it. A used Playstation also sits connected to the TV in her basement that my brother borrowed from someone when his jaw was broken that I have never touched.
My boyfriend and his brother were practically raised with video games. He has tried to teach me some of his favourite online games that deal with enchanted forests and Lord of the Rings-looking creatures. It was fairly basic to learn, but I could have been more interested watching a plant grow. He argues it’s because I don’t use my imagination to enjoy it. I argue that after living a non-video game life, I much prefer interacting with real people and engaging in activities that develop my mind and make me happy.
“But you love reading fiction, they aren’t real characters,” he says.
“Yes, but I like being taken away to a fictional world and injecting my own feelings and experiences while reading in the sun or on the bus.”
I can see the similarities between what he likes about online/video games and my affection for fiction, but all must embrace that I am and not and never will be a fan of the virtual.
But hey, if someone finds it makes them particularly happy, then hold on and embrace it. But if you come out of this summer with a pasty complexion, a permanent butt mark on your couch, “gamer thumbs” and no memories to show but those between you and a screen, then shame on you for not finding the beauty in what is real.
Smell ya later!
The lilac bushes are in full bloom along the Rideau Canal, which significantly improved my running experience this afternoon. I could see the purple bursts coming up ahead, so I picked up the pace and got ready for a big inhale to take in as much of the lilac scent as I could. They reminded me of my grama’s house, because she had lilacs in her backyard that became the marker for third base when we played baseball.
Lately I’ve been thinking about how much fun it is to have smell flashbacks. Sometimes they come in nanosecond bursts: You, for some reason, are taken back to a distant memory for a split second because of some passing smell in the air. Maybe it was the smell making its way around the world or through time as air circulates the earth. (I used to think it was so cool that I was essentially inhaling the same air that Leo Di Caprio had once inhaled and exhaled to reach me).
Just yesterday I had a smell flashback to the patio kitchen in my hotel in Jamaica, which evoked happy memories of beautiful scenery, fulfilling nourishment and having fun with my brother and sisters and dad.
The other day something triggered my brain to bring my imagination to one of my best friend’s kitchens. Specifically, the memory was of getting ready to go out and not wanting to do the dishes until tomorrow.
It’s a cheap thrill, but a way for me to be assured that my memory is still in tact, and that I am not in too much danger of growing old and forgetting the wonderful memories that make me whole. I think that is a genuine worry. We’ve all seen grandparents memories’ falter, or feeling lost ourselves when we realize there are elements of our childhood we no longer can remember.
If only smell flashbacks were never ruined by the ungodly body odour of the person next to me.
Any travel is a reminder of where you come from. It gives the traveler a chance to define what makes him or her from their designated home in comparison with the inhabitants of the traveled land.
I remember when I went to Jamaica, I defined myself as Canadian by my politeness, in contrast to an obnoxious couple that never said please or thank you to the obviously peeved and over-worked hotel workers. I took pride in my “eh”, especially in contrast to a “huh.”
When traveling domestically, I have defined myself as a city girl. I don’t do well with the frizz my hair gets from coastal weather, but I love being in the ocean because it is a treat. I define myself as politically aware living in the capital, as compared to people in cottage country whose connection to politics is what little they may see on TV. I’m hesitant to categorize myself, because I’m aware that I’m always changing. But it really is a help to be exposed to different people from different places and decide what makes a person what they are.
Happy Cinco de Mayo from Halifax!
I am lucky enough to be in Halifax this weekend – get this—for free! I am out here for work and I have been put up in a lovely suite overlooking the ocean. It also was a free upgrade so that means I receive free breakfast in my room in the mornings. Mmm! It was forecast to be a cloudy rainy weekend, but so far outside it is sunny with a nice ocean breeze. I walked around a bit this morning and mapped out a running route. I’m going to die—it’s so hilly here! I first plan on reading up on the sunroof for a bit before my run so I have time to digest my lunch.
But wait—didn’t I say I as here on work? Yes! I did! Tonight I have a flag show and musical gala to attend. Tomorrow morning I have to go to a new interfaith church opening and then I’m f-r-e-e the rest of the day to enjoy my free time here in Halifax. Then Sunday morning I have a few events to cover before going to buy some wine and flying home. It sure is tough having my job, I tell ya.
I just thought I’d keep you posted, but it’s much too nice for me to stay inside on the computer any longer.
I hope you all enjoy your own weekends!
All I Wanna do is Have Some Fun
Today’s things that made me laugh were:
1. A coworker who made a corny joke when we passed each other in the cubicle aisles. He then giggled, and that made me laugh because I’m happy I have funny coworkers and not boring dull ones.
2. I saw another coworker in the shopping center and, I suppose ignoring or forgetting the hundreds of other mall-goers, made the most ridiculous funny face as a way to say hi to me. I laughed because it was actually out of character for him and because there were so many people around and this face was for me, goofy as it was.
3. This ritual I go through every day when I pass this one salon that emits these horribly pungent fumes that I’m pretty sure is the smell of intense plastic melting under a blowtorch. I feel like inhaling it will give me cancer or make me lose all control and seize on the shopping centre floors so every day when I see it coming up I take in a really deep breath and then let it out soooo slllooowwwlllyyy when I walk by it. I can’t hold my breath because then my nose will be tempted to inhale and it too will succumb to the cancer fumes. It makes me laugh that I do this every day because if anyone around me knew it, they’d laugh at me.
4. The commissionaire woman I call the pass Nazi because out of all the desk people she’s the only one to single me out and make sure I’m wearing my building pass high on my chest. At first it bugged me, because I don’t want to pin my pass to my shirt and make holes so I attach it to the bottom (Like, you know I work here, I’m no terrorist, chill). Now it makes me laugh because it’s like a standoff where I approach the turnstile, she sees me and we stare at each other daring the other to defy our ways. One day I even asked her if it was just me who gets her lovely reminders. Since then she only stares. I laughed today because I think I won.
Throughout my day, there are usually little things like this that make me laugh, but today I actually laughed out loud to myself, so I thought that was noteworthy.
Hanging by a Moment
I was visiting Rich after work yesterday, so I found myself on a half-hour bus ride back into suburbia. The bus was full of suit-wearing cubicle-ites, but unlike myself, they shut their eyes and slept most of the way. I plugged in my iPod earphones and spotted rabbits, groundhogs and cats in the passing scenery like a real life Where’s Waldo. I was really feeling the music yesterday, and enjoyed being taken in by the melodies and lyrics of slow songs.
I didn’t time how long it took to get there, because it didn’t really matter. Once I was there, we enjoyed lying down, breathing slow and looking at each other. For once, it was easy for me to lie my head down and just study him. The placement of his freckles, the angles of temples, the three different flecks of colour in his irises. I didn’t have to say anything. We were so glad to have some time together, we didn’t need to ruin it with schedule planning, funny things that happened that day or asking what movies are coming out. It was a rare moment of reading each other. It felt like we were two wispy breaths being connected by threads of each other, all the while flowing in a larger inhale and exhale. Romantic and poetic? Yes. But it was exactly what we needed. With our mismatched schedules, our rendezvous often require a lot of planning and near-precise timing, so when we can forget about the ticking clock, even if just for a moment, we relish in it and hang on to it as long as we can.
I’ll be away this weekend and then off to a cottage, so after tomorrow night, it will be another four and a half days before we can see each other again. I know we’ll both think about getting closer to that time almost as soon as we open our eyes each morning.
One of the days I have been able to hold onto clearly in my mind was held there because of a random encounter with a younger student at my high school. Here is how it went.
Setting: The atrium bench beside a pillar. I was out of class for some reason I don’t remember. I sat down on a bench seat beside another boy. I recognized him as maybe a grade eight student. I started to talk to him.
“What’s your name?”
“What are you doing out here?”
“Eating my lunch.”
“I usually do.”
“Nobody wants to eat with me. Nobody wants to do anything with me.”
“You must have some friends.”
“Yeah but he’s not here today.”
“Why not make some new friends?”
“Everyone’s mean to me.”
“Yeah, they make fun of me n stuff.”
Uncomfortable silence ensued.
“Why don’t you prove them wrong?”
“Why don’t you show them you’re a nice guy? I think you are.”
“Thanks.” He smiles.
“It’s not as bad as it seems. Or you could join a club or something, I know you’re good at something.”
“Yeah I guess so. I could.”
“Don’t let those people bother you, because if they don’t want to take the time to get to know you, they aren’t worth being your friend anyway.”
“I hope you have a good day and I’m glad I got to meet you.”
After that day I’ve seen him around. I always smiled and he always smiled the nicest smile back. I saw him at the bus stop the other week. He looked unhappy. It made me sad that he has probably forgotten our talk. So, I write him this letter:
I’m glad I noticed you and I’m glad I stopped to talk to you. I’d seen you around and you looked so young and so approachable, even though you didn’t think you were. Five years later I still remember the hurt in your eyes. I also remember your smile when I said you were nice. I don’t know what makes you sad and I don’t know how you got that way. But I want you to know that I remember how nice your eyes were when you smiled. I remember thinking to myself that someday those eyes would make some girl really happy to see.
I saw you the other day. You were wearing clothes you’d just outgrown, mostly in black. You looked at the ground when you walked and bumped people’s shoulders by accident. You didn’t look like you were proud of yourself. You looked like you wanted to hide, or just keep being ignored. If I’d had more courage that day I would have shown you that you aren’t ignored. I saw you.
But I didn’t, so I write this to you now. No matter what’s happened to you, or what people have said, there is way more to life beyond your high school. People can be really mean and insensitive. It isn’t fair. But you are a genuinely nice guy with a really kind face and smile, and I hope that it takes you far away from the places that make you sad.
You’re a great person and once you start believing that, so many more people will see it too. Good luck, and know at least one person still thinks about you and wonders how you are.
Why I write
As long as I can remember, I have written out my thoughts and feelings to express them before (or instead of) actually saying them out loud. When I was younger, I would write my parents letters to ask for more allowance or tell them why I was mad and holed up in my room. I didn’t consistently keep a journal. Instead I would start up a new diary fast and furious and then my entries would taper off. I kept a notepad for most of my teenage years that I wrote in when I experienced the high highs and low lows. It really helped me make sense of issues that seemed really complicated and troubling. When I re-read the entries, my thoughts are easy to understand, and it takes me back to the time when all I could think of was me, why me, and not the larger picture.
Writing things out also kept me from explosive temper tantrums. I wrote on some pages so hard with my pen they are torn. “I hate my brother!” or some other incoherent scribbles.
Historians love finding diaries and journals because it gives them an idea of what life experiences were like for people; they are clues to another time and place. I like rereading my journals because they show me how I have developed my inner thought and perspective. I laugh a lot at how super melodramatic I was, and I smile at how nice it is to be grown up and beyond the craziness of being a teenage girl. It also makes me more sympathetic to my brother as he goes through the tough part of teenage years, because old journals help me remember what it was like to think parents were the enemy and nothing was fair.
I have continued writing in journals when things get intensely stressful, or to document when things are wonderful. I haven’t gone back and read those yet. I’m saving them for another time when I may feel like the world is against me, and nobody loves me. (Those moments come few and far between, thank you). I like writing because it allows me to witness my own growth and development, in a spiritual evolution sense. I like it better this way. I am sure I’d censor myself if I wrote to document my life for other people to possibly read. Some people dread writing but for me, it is a way to make sense of it all and put into words some of the wonderful things I feel. Writing’s a great gift I’m glad to be blessed with. I hope in the end when I look back on my life I will have been able to use this gift to make other people’s lives better, however that may happen.