Twetysomething to crazy cat lady?
One of my professors once asked the class, "If you can't be presumptuous in university, where can you?" He then led a year-long class in which spouting off opinions and assumptions, whether wrong or right, was encouraged and accepted. I remember feeling excited and freed; it was like being let loose in a verbal candy store after high school. I think the difference was in high school, concepts and events are explained to you and you are asked to recall them. In university, you are told about concepts and events and asked to interpret them. I have thrived in this academic circus, and reveled in being the student with her hand raised, the student with something to add to the conversation pot. It helped complex ideas become more tangible and helped me to feel more connected with the world around me to share my thoughts and learn that other shared them with me.
But I feel like I'm growing out of this, against my will. Even though I know I'm an extrovert, I know I'm built to express, my instincts are fighting against my mental list of embodied preferences. I find myself wanting to roll my eyes when the girl who always smiles talks about working towards world peace in my terrorism law class. I tap my pen on my spiral notebook waiting for my prof to talk so I can take down notes, not listen to the guy across from me share his thoughts on abortion when we're talking about aboriginal sentencing circles.
Am I destined to become a cynical old cat lady? I'm afraid that in spite of my best efforts to squint through rose-coloured glasses and drink a glass half full, my internal nature is switching to crochety old person mode. Was I wrong all these years as a wide-eyed kid to vow never to become cynical, to believe I could be the one to stay young, be that lady always on the go and wearing bright colours? Is it in our DNA to become characteristically old? Tonight, I hesitate to say, I am gladly going out to dinner and then coming home to my couch with my man to watch movies.
Remember to Breathe
Sorry I haven’t written as much as I resolved to. Our house has been crazy busy and it is only tonight that I think I might get a chance to just sit and do nothing for 5 minutes! Subsequently, Next Top Model will air and I will be enthralled with the catty, beautiful characters and recurring placements of Tyra Banks’ photo.
We had a house guest who left this morning, thus ending our week-long binge-drinking little sleep escapade, and has left us all with various colds and ailments. (Sore knee from Latin dancing on Saturday and a sore throat from some viral infection my body was likely too drunk to stave off). I am on a loose regimen of lemon Halls, Echinacea tea and whining. And now it's back to the books and articles and presentations I left behind, only now the deadlines are startlingly close. So close I can see the disgusting due-date grime in its pores. I only wish a nice face scrub would fix it.
I'm doing the Run for the Cure breast cancer fundraiser this Sunday with the fam fam so I've been trying to fit in runs to get ready for that, but I don't feel as ready as I did in May. I haven’t had anyone close to me die or be diagnosed with breast cancer, but—and I know this is selfish—I get a great euphoric high about being amassed with a group of people who have joined to do something good. I’ll let you know how I do. I have benefited from having a new running goal to sustain my practice. With winter months ahead, I hope I can keep it up, but I haven’t yet tried running the canal on ice and snow covered sidewalks. Do people get special winter running shoes with metal spikes? Should I? I’m also finding it harder to fit runs into my schedule now that school’s started up again. I used to run on my lunch break during the 9 to 5 of summer, but now each days is a jumble of class, bus, work, bus, home, make dinner, assignments, assignments. I ran home from work the other day, but that meant I had to leave stuff at work and bring home an extra big heavy gym bag the next day, and the run home was only 3.5 km.
Living with fiancé has become as wonderful as I had initially dreamed it would be. We have worked out the kinks and compromised cleanliness standards to find a happy medium where we can fall asleep rubbing each other’s backs and smiling. I hope that doesn’t make you want to barf! I miss seeing my friends as much as summer months allowed me to, but phone and e-mail have helped. If you are reading this, Peterborough friend A, you will be receiving a special delivery from your truly tomorrow! Kiss!
So that’s where this twentysomething finds herself these days. It’s busy, it’s crazy, but it keeps me occupied with many a carpe-diem moment so I am pleased.
Yuppie turned Suit
In my first year of university at the wide-eyed age of 17, my first class was second-year environmental history. I had signed up for the class by mistake, thinking it was the history of NAFTA, but thus was the result of my confused introduction to the university’s registration system.
I sat in the right-hand corner, three rows in from the back. This allowed me to look forward at the shoulders and heads of the more seasoned, second-and-up year students. I learned the social rules and etiquette of what to do with your backpack, where to put your requisite Nalgene bottle, when to offer your opinion in a class discussion and when to avoid being a mega-keener (hard for me). It was a year-long class, so the process of opening up to classmates and talking as we sat in the halls before class was slowed down. For awhile, most seemed to stare intently at the lip of their coffee cups (or in this particular class, most seemed to prefer herbal teas), staring with faked fascination at the floor tile designs. Eventually, as misery over assignments drew each other’s company, we started to smile, groan, roll eyes and talk together. Alliances were formed and note-taking and sharing systems were in place to cover those Thursday mornings when we were just too hung over/sick/overcome wth grief at the travesty of the environment to come to class. The system worked well and we formed a sub-culture of environmentally-aware university yuppies.
Except one guy. He had the dyed blond dread locks, patched clothing and poncho of the university yuppy social system that attended classes like “History of environment.” He smoked on the breaks and had his own Nalgene filled with Eucalyptus. But he never spoke to anyone. His hand was never darting in the air during agitated anti-government discussions in class. He sometimes slept in his cradled arms, defying the teacher of this 20-odd student class. Being a wide-eyed student who believed in the potential inside everyone (I was only a few months out of hearing proactive, inspiring “you will change the world” high school graduation speeches), I offered him my smiles as we stood outside the class before it began. I asked him if he had last week’s notes, and even where he got his eyebrow piercing done. But on the best of days, all I could squeeze out of him with my eager-beaver first-year kindness was a half grunt.
Fast forward to last week. I am some 43 weeks away from graduating, and a seasoned-university-attending pro. I gave fiancé campus tours and passed on the university slang, and social rules that I had acquired in my academic pursuits. I can wave and say “hey bud” to at least one person as I walk to the coffeehouse or student center. I saw aforementioned enviro history guy walking in the social sciences building last week. Only I had to fix my eyes a little longer because the only thing I recognized was his facial bone structure. Then I saw the indent where his eyebrow ring used to be. But I also saw that he had short, clean cut brown hair. He wore tailored dress pants, a pressed shirt and carried a leather messenger back. He wore wire-rimmed glasses and a cell phone outline visible in his pocket. And when he saw me looking at him, likely with my head cocked right a little and my eyes squinting a tad, he waved at me. Wha?
But the scenario made me smile, even chuckle a little. I kept walking to the law class I was headed to and spent the better part of the first half imagining what situations or series of events could have transpired to create such a transformation in this former laisse-faire yuppie. But I hope when he graduates and goes onto his own boardmeetings he will remember what he learned about better business practices for the environment. Hopefully he wasn’t on drugs or something and doesn’t remember that chunk of his life!
Moments I loved to seize today:
1. Eating sugary "weekend" cereal while watching teen movies at 7:30 a.m. before my day began
2. Being the only journalist in the room to ask the tough question
3. Striking up conversations with people I would have ignored had my iPod battery been charged up
4. Resolving to start my assignment after lunch and then actually doing it
5. Choosing to walk on this beautiful sunny day to actively spite the weatherman who promised me rain
6. Stopping in at random shops to see what's inside
7. Laughing at walking in the wrong direction
8. Talking about real issues and being candid with people, and trusting that it's OK
9. Drinking a bellini and stopping to taste the individual flavours "aromas" and swirling it in my mouth, not chugging like an undergrad
10. Enjoying a hug that went longer than normal, not feeling awkward about it being a long hug
Two paths diverged in one, and I...
Yesterday, fiancé received some info that is fabulous news for his career and future. It means moving up significantly, entering into a system of retirement savings plans and salaries, not wages. It is everything he has been working so hard for, including 12-hour shifts followed by six hours of sleep before beginning the next. He is perfect for this job. I’ve really enjoyed getting to see the side of him that prospective employers get to see: Him on paper, him in a suit at an interview, him providing answers that make interviewers nearly wet their pants in glee. In the same way a mother will always tell her son he is special, I have always had his back and believed he could do it. Now, it is nice to feel validated that the rest of the world agrees with me and sees in him the qualities that will make an excellent ___ (insert job title here). For him, it means that someone (other than his girl) recognizes what he’s always been hesitant to tell himself when he looks in the mirror, thinking maybe he’d better not call himself great, maybe it’ll end up being un-true. I’m so proud of him in every sense that the word encompasses.
So it makes it really hard for me to come to terms with the drawbacks. After moving in together just over a month ago, we may have to think about being apart for a really long time. If all goes the way it is supposed to in terms of career plans, he will be gone for six months, away from hugs and kisses, casual phone calls and little notes left in pockets. Then, after a brief reprisal of time with his bride-to-be, he will off to goodness knows where until I can join him at school year’s end. I am jumping the gun with some of these assumptions, but that is the way this is shaping up to look. Which means I am faced with a situation where the loving fiancée and devoted life partner is so happy to see her man’s dreams come true and fall together nicely, the empty partner half will be quite lonesome in our shared habitat for her better half for a very long time. It will mean making wedding plans sans groom, telling secrets to journal pages without the male perspective in return, and cooking meals for one again. You can see the dilemma.
I’m sure I’ll find ways to carpe diem and fill every last lonely minute with girlfriend gelato outings and writing, schoolwork, wedding plans, concerts and ceaseless apartment cleanings. Worse comes to worse and I know I can rely on modern programming to flow through my television screen. But, before I get ahead of myself, CONGRATS BABE!!!!
A secret no more, ladies!
I’m wearing a Greece-sky blue T-Shirt, a short skirt and flip-flops today. I am toting my stuff around in a Roxy Beach bag and my hair is combed, but not styled. I put on a little makeup to disguise the hours of sleep I missed out on this weekend, and that was it. I’m drinking water, I’m applying my Lip Smackers, and that’s it. That’s my beauty secrets for today.
I have other ones too, and in the interest of them not being beauty secrets, I’ll put them all out there. I clean up my eyebrows every few days with the tweezers. I moisturize morning and night. I almost never wear face makeup. I moisturize my hands like crazy. I wear bronzer by my hairline, beside my eyes and the tip of my nose. I use cream blush, not powder. I always wear eyeliner. I brush my lips with my toothbrush and then put on Vaseline. I shave just about every other day, and I put cream on my arms and legs after every shower. There, that’s it!
I’ve always been perturbed as to why women call them secrets. Is it because when you find something that works wonders, you keep it to yourself in case other women find out and then work that tip “better” than you? Is it because you want to horde secrets, thereby elevating your own ability to condescend others when they don’t know what you do? Are you really trying to be the “most” beautiful by keeping secrets to yourself? Is it a marketing ploy Cosmo puts on its cover to get you to read the secrets inside?
Today I am challenging women to share their beauty secrets. Shed your apprehension about being out-eyelinered by another femme who could benefit from your tip. Don’t hide your beauty secrets with you in the closed-door bathroom the next time you partake in your own secret ritual. Share the cult!
And while I’m on the subject, may I just say this: Those women you see who appear to be so naturally beautiful they don’t even need makeup—I am jealous. I wish, wish, wish I could wakeup and hop on the bus with beautiful undereye bags and splotchy redness around my nose. But, alas, I cannot. And so today I also celebrate makeup. Unless you are of the more penile-equipped sex and are also in a mod band, you cannot socially acceptably enjoy the fruits of the makeup loom. Ladies, celebrate your eye shadow colour palette! Revel in your lip stain! Because they make us look so good, it’s almost a sin.
I came back from my lunchtime run today (prepping for another race October 1…getting so close!) floating on that careless feeling where all that matters is exhaling and inhaling, one foot in front of the other. I stretched inside after running the canal because the ground was wet with rain in the park. I switched shoes for sandals and enjoyed my toes’ new freedom from sweaty shoe habitat. I dressed slowly, sipped cold water from the gym fountain and took the elevator back up to my floor, looking forward to the pizza lunch that my running earned me after pushing myself hard half an hour earlier.
I walked into our office and across the television screen flashed the headline, “Shots Fired at Montreal College.” Helicopter cameras caught images of students running out of the building, and stone steps covered in blood smudges, with a white body bag and cop car at its base. I was overwhelmed. The reporter didn’t have many answered except that shots had been heard and seen just minutes earlier through the halls, they were still being fired, and with students still inside. Police cars and ambulances surrounded the campus as men dressed in bullet proof vests with guns drawn moved closer to the old stone walls.
Nobody else in my office seemed to notice the news, and I couldn’t make myself open my mouth to say something. Finally, a girl noticed and asked me what was going on. As I told her, my leg started shaking and I felt tears threaten to well up. I noticed myself furiously spooning my yogourt into my mouth at a rapid-fire pace. I don’t know anyone at that college, but I watched students just like me running as fast as they could out of their school to anywhere. I felt panicked, like all I wanted to do was run too, run to someone I love and collapse crying on them.
The images are so scary, and continue to play in a loop on the screen beside me. There are more ambulance stretchers and blood and other shaky-voiced students telling the world how theirs was turned awry this afternoon, less than an hour ago.
I’m scared, even though I’m in my chair at my desk.
Playing monopoly versus going clubbing
This weekend was full of domesticity and things that I can remember my own parents doing not too long ago when I was left at home with a babysitter, or grandma. Things that made me realize that oh-my-goodness, I am getting old. Definitely not the age where I can spend my time cutting cool pictures out of magazines and watching music television.
The fiancé and I over-nighted at Calabogie Peaks resort, about an hour outside of the city, as his parents have a timeshare and are staying there for the week. We cooked dinner, went on walks, and the craziest point was when he and I drank wine while playing Monopoly with his family until the wee hours of 11:30 at night when everyone started falling asleep. Saturday night we went to our friend’s 24th birthday party. We didn’t do jello shots, we didn’t pose for over-animated goofy-faced pictures, and we didn’t even go out to the bars afterwards. We had a nice time talking to people and sipping our drinks responsibly. After a few hours of this I was drunk enough to lean over to a married couple and ask them, “Do you guys ever feel like, you know, old doing all this grown-up, non-kid stuff?” I don’t remember quite what they answered, but I remember that they didn’t understand what I meant; they thought cocktail parties were just what you did, just a natural progression so smooth, they didn’t even notice.
Sunday morning my mum and sister came over and met up with Maid of Honour #1 (of 2) and I, as we had plans to attend the Wedding Show across the street at the Civic Centre. I had gone to sleep the night before (drunkenly, you’ll recall) excited to attend this wedding show because I am the bride and that meant people at flower and photo display booths would be congratulating me, and I liked that idea. We navigated our way through chocolate fondue samples, and I accumulated a nice bag of wedding magazines, free samples, coupons and business cards to go through at a later, pushed-out-of-my-mind date. We sat in on a wedding planning seminar and I took notes on the speaker’s great tips. I like the planning part because that means organizing and I just love organizing, putting things in order and making schedules. But then we went to the wedding gown sale section.
Suddenly, there were mothers and daughters who looked to me to be as old as my elementary school teachers once seemed to me: They looked fresh out of grad school, but still so much older than I felt. I looked at dresses, comparing them to ones I’d liked in magazines. I found one that met the criteria, walked into the peach curtained-off dressing rooms with Maid of Honour, and stripped down to my undies, among other girls and their helpers who were doing the same. I stepped into the dress, and a lady helped clip the dress in the back to make it fit. Her and my friend pulled some parts, zipped others and made final ruffles before I turned to look in the mirror.
I slowly maneuvered through the layers of tulle, looked up at my reflection and was shocked. I wanted to cry, or fall, or have someone slap me in the face, but I don’t know if any of those things would have done any good (or been socially appropriate). It took a minute for me to get my bearings and look at my reflection in the eyes. Just then, the lady put a veil on my head and I just about shot through the roof. I am really going to be a bride. One day soon, one day that gets closer every time I wake up, I am going to be wearing a big white dress and I am going to get married. It was completely overwhelming. I guess everyone has those moments where big changes really sink in and they “get it.” Well, there I stood in that peach-curtained room, with a veil on my head, and my body in a big, beautiful white wedding gown, and I got it. I wanted to smile and laugh and run around the place screaming with excitement.
I’m excited to get married, and I’m excited to be married. As much as things might change (either because I’m getting married or because I’m growing up), I actually like the idea of having more domestic weekends with him. I know the frequency with which I stumble past a bouncer into a club and order Red Bulls with vodka so I can keep dancing to heavy beats will decrease with time. Maid of Honour and I were talking about this, and acknowledged that we just can’t become 30 years old one day and still be pre-drinking hard liquor at shanty student apartments before going to bars as part of a weekly ritual. Things have to change. And that’s not a bad thing, but it’s happening, and now I think I get it.
Back to J School
Which means as I sit here, the news is on the TV in front of me, I’m flipping between this page and one of six news sites I visit daily and I turn my brain from being entertained by news stories to thinking of possible story angles to cover.
Yesterday was my last first day of school, preceded by my last summer sans responsibility, which is more than a little daunting to think about. In eight months, when people ask what my plans are, I won’t be able to fall back on my default answer of four years past, “Well, I’m a journalism and law student, and I’m working an internship at…” Now it’s all about what news agencies I’m lining up contacts at, where I’d like to work, what line of work I’d like to do and a whole slew of answers that require me to think about really growing up.
I guess I’m at a Britney Spears moment, you know, “I’m not a girl not yet a women,” hahaha oh man even I cringe at that analogy. But still, as I sit here in a surf shop T-Shirt and corduroy pants, the transition to 9-5, five day a week office suits and leather briefcases seems like something that won’t happen for a really long time. But, as my prof reminded us today, the next eight months will go by faster than any of the previous years, because we have a big goal to race towards at the end. She said this right after I coined my new motto, “A’s or C’s, we get degrees” with my journalism buddies.
So I‘m getting into the swing of late nights, harrowed undereye bags and hair-pulling deadlines as I hit the ground running for my final year of journalism school. I’ve got a lot of courses that emphasize political and online reporting, mixed in with some interesting law courses to round out my year to G-Day in 42 weeks. (That’s graduation day) So a short post today, as I must return to organizing my notebooks, ordering my textbooks and finding my political contact phone book amidst last year’s notes.
I don’t know if it’s the crazy dream I had the other night (I was four months pregnant and escaping a soul-stealing joker), but lately I haven’t been able to get my mind off of mommyhood. Maybe it’s that the warm weather exposes more swollen bellies than winter coats allow, or the girl in my office who was due yesterday. Or maybe it’s that I’m getting married, and that seems the next logical question to answer. I just can’t shake it this week.
So I devoted this morning’s bus ride into work to seriously exploring what I thought. I put together all the snippets of related subject matter thought dancing around in my brain’s “opinion” file section. I weighed it against what advice my parents and grandma gave me when we announced our engagement, and what fiancé thinks. I’m not sure where I stand, but here are the contending pieces of information.
One, I have always thought it would be wonderful to have kids young. Even before I had the security of a man to legitimize long-term baby plans. I like the idea of having my brood, running around with them, grounding them, and dressing them up, and then having a whole second half of life to enjoy afterwards. I have loose plans to go to law school before age 50, and I’d like to stick with them, but not without having kids born and bred and able to stand on their own two (god willing) feet. Aside from that more selfish reason, I like the idea of having kids when I am still able to remember how cool Saturday morning cartoons are, and am still physically able to have a baby on one hip, a knapsack slung over my shoulder, holding the hand of another little one as I transport the family unit around on my own two young-ish legs.
I’ve heard from women in their late twenties and early thirties (and most recently, Drew Barrymore), talk about their biological clock ticking. I don’t want to have babies at a point where I’m rushing against the clock- I have enough deadlines otherwise. But in the same way that these women revert to that goal after achieving some other ones, I feel like I’m in a good place and would be very happy to have kids. I have a career and direction, and I wholly believe it can be continued with kids in tow. Who’s to know if I’m writing in a cubicle or writing in a kitchen with kid throw up all over me? It’s writing…I’m not worried about that changing if I take a break to incubate and pop out kids. Typing will still be typing and my words will still be my words.
My mum and dad and grama advised me to wait, after I get married, to think about kids. They say I should travel, “be married” and do “me” things first. I can see the merit, but as much as I try to convince myself otherwise, I still can’t shake it. I would love, love, love to have kids soon(ish). I love living with the fiancé, and we have plans to travel in a non-exotic way, plus the wedding will be approaching our seven years of togetherness anniversary. We have a whole year and a bit before the wedding to experience domesticity sans offspring, and then there’s still the incubational nine months if I’m even lucky enough to get pregnant right away. I guess this carpe diem twentysomething just doesn’t like the idea of waiting for the sake of it, when everything I feel (and fiancé too) seems to say “do it now!” (And by now I don’t mean this evening, I mean after the wedding-ish). (Ish is my way of not boxing myself in with timelines, which are sometimes silly).
Does this sound like I’ve made up my mind? Yeah, I guess it’s heading that way. But still, “time will tell…”
Ogunquit, Maine: "A beautiful place by the sea"
Maine was quite the adventure. The drive there and back was beautiful- especially through the green cloud-kissing mountains of Vermont. We crossed the border forgetting to pack my little sister’s passport, and the next best thing we had was her house league hockey card picture in my wallet. We presented it at the border crossing and each time they looked at us like we were idiots. “Are you really trying to bring a minor over the border using a hockey card?” “Yes, ma’am.” “And she’s your daughter?” “Yes ma’am.” “Have a good weekend.” (And she shakes her head at us)
We rolled down the windows as we drive into Ogunquit and stuck our faces out like dogs as the cool, fish-smelling ocean breeze slapped our faces and blew our hair. The first day was everything I’d been playing through my head as I counted down the days to Maine: It was sunny, the sand was fine and white, the waves crashed as I sunbathed and the food filled me up. We all got sunburns and laughed as we approached the local drug store cashier with tomato faces to purchase some aloe vera. We ate at Barnacle Billy’s and satisfied years-long cravings for clam chowder and lobster rolls.
We woke up the second day to Ernesto, who thought he’d pop by and dampen our day. The winds were extreme, but so are we. We grinned and bared it as we walked the beach, sand whipping into our face, arms crossed across our chest holding our sweaters tightly. We shopped at the famous Maine outlet malls, and had camera crews been present, I’m sure we would have been excellent actors in any outlet mall commercials: We ran excitedly from store to store, hitting each other with plastic bags filled with polo shirts and Henley T-shirts. It was a great chance to forget I was a twentysomething, and agree with my 12-year-old sister that yes, the lime green jelly shoes are indeed cool.
On the third day, we awoke to find out the Ernesto had stayed the night and was looking like he wasn’t going to pack up until Labor Day. This time, there were big, fat raindrops all day long, the kind that require you to squint to see through. Being extreme Maine beach troopers, we couldn’t dream of letting another day, our final day, pass by without going to the beach. So we shimmied into our wet suits, loaded the SUV and drove to the beach. We zipped up our wetsuit hoodies and laughed our way across the footbridge to the beach, passing disgruntled wannabe beach-goers who just couldn’t hack it. We ran past the red, no-swimming flag, towards the huge, cascading waves, with inflatable rafts under our arms. We laughed and cheered maniacally—quite a contrast to typical Monday-morning me, sashaying through crowds in my pencil skirt and collared shirt who is so sophisticated and stylish, I like to think. We all rode the best waves ever, letting them lap over our heads, splash up into our nostrils and defy us as we walked against their undertow. There wasn’t anyone else on the beach, and I remember thinking how much it seemed like a movie set: There was a one-toned grey backdrop, moving waves, and cloudy grey again on either aide that eventually became part of the painted backdrop. Our screams and “oh no!”s and laughter filled the set.
The drive back of course coincided with the return of the sun and the migration of most folks down to the beach again. We were sad to leave, until my Dad revealed that he had secretly booked a beachfront cottage for two weeks next summer!