2007: The road to hugeness
2007 was clearly my year of hugeness. 2008 must feel bad, like getting the spot in the talent show right after the beautiful girl who sings “The Sound of Music” with perfect falsetto, and all you have in your hand is a dinky recorder!
2007 started with seeing my man off to live in Regina for 6 months. That day, all I remember thinking was how I wasn’t going to see him for another half a year. Three days later I broke down and bought a ticket to see him in April over Easter weekend. That was the best weekend ever, but I was SO SAD to fly back home afterwards, I’ll tell ya!
I laboured through my last semester of journalism school. The end of the long haul. The process of doing things just to finish them, not for the grades or with hopes of re-activating my first-year scholarship. I lived with a fabulous new roommate who did not set things on fire, and who let me laugh at myself on a daily basis.
I ran my first 10k alongside my bestest girl friends in May(minus C who was traveling the globe!) and we all did it in time we could be proud of. Crossing the finish line was an incredible high.
A few weeks later I crossed a stage, signaling my transition from regular student to esteemed alumnus woman with bachelor of journalism, high honours, major in law, minor in history degree. Standing on the duct-tape X marker and hearing them read that out, I couldn’t find my family, or recognize any audience faces, because I just stood there and beamed and let my eyes well up. That was the single proudest moment of my whole life and I’ll never forget it.
Another graduation brought my family and I to Regina to see the dude become a full-fledged Crown copper. He looked so cute!! And of course, he was so impressive. A whirlwind next couple of days saw us fly home, oversee movers pack up and cart off all of our stuff, as we said goodbyes and got on a plane that took us early in the morning from Ottawa to Vancouver to Whitehorse. The northern adventure began!
We lived in cop’s quarters while we waited, and waited, for our stuff and our truck to arrive. My my mum and sister came up to visit, originally to help us move in but since our stuff was somewhere in the prairies, they stayed in a hotel and toured around.
I got some reprieve in August with a pre-planned family trip to Turks and Caicos where I supremely got my dive on, sometimes three times a day! Saw my first sharks, and was treated to numerous sea turtles...my favourite!
The biggest and best event of my life took me back home in October to plan Operation:Matrimony. It was actually easy and fun, because with my mum’s work beforehand and our pre-planning, lists, schedules and calendars, we had everything done in time to enjoy it all.
I was away from my dude again for a month, which was a bittersweet bummer. The next time I saw him was five days before we made it legal! The wedding was a blast, went by really fast, and I can’t wait to see pictures and videos soon so I can start recollecting what all happened.
We had our first married/first Yukon Christmas with visiting brother-in-law and cousin, which was a nice touch of family.
And that was 2007. I was away from my husband a lot, and I hope we never have to do anything as crazy as be apart 7 1/2 months out of the year. That stinks! But the way things are looking, it’ll be he and me in the Yukon until work allows us time to go away somewhere...if that actually happens! 2008 should be quieter, I mean, I don’t know what would make it bigger than 2007. And that’s something to look forward to for sure.
I think my resolution last year was to be healthy or something vague like that. This year it's to wear sunscreen everyday on my face. I don't want to regret not doing so when I'm like 40 and realize all those nuggets of wisdom people offered me in my twenties were actually worthwhile.
Christmas: Home versus the Yukon
First off, nothing will ever beat Christmas at home where the magic of preparations, dinner and stocking-filling remain the property of the parents and grandparents. Where the kids get the luxury of having a holiday largely presented to them in the form of church, turkey dinner, presents, sledding and Santa. All we ever had to do is decorate the tree, get presents for each other, and offer to clean up around the house leading up to Christmas.
Christmas on my own, 5,000 km from home, was initially a tough sell. I got directions from the home camp, husband’s side, to prepare a turkey dinner all by myself on Christmas Day, one of only two I would have off from work this week. I had to be in on the holiday magic, playing Santa, and be the last to see the tree and its under-contents before bed that night.
It was essentially graduating from the audience of the show to the backstage producers, responsible for the success of it all with little help from anyone else.
Here’s how I fared in the first home versus Yukon Christmas:
I did my turkey dinner menu prep days before, purchasing my fresh turkey and dinner dishes at the insanely busy Superstore. I pre-chopped my carrots and peeled the potatoes in advance to decrease my to-do list, at least a little bit.
I wrapped presents early and had them all ready to go under the tree and in the stockings. All were pleased.
I sent cards and presents to family and friends in Ottawa weeks ago with instructions not to open anything until Christmas, so that I could make a presence Christmas morning, at least in some shape or form.
I donned my Christmas Santa hat and visited my Dad, brother and sister via web cam as they finished up Christmas brunch, and that really made me feel at home, included and that I wasn’t missing out on things as much as I really was.
I disguised my home-missing quite well, I think, with an insistence that Christmas CDs be played on repeat, with numerous calls home, and by throwing all energy into dinner, leaving no time for nostalgia or homesickness.
I set up the dining table with all the holiday table decor I’d been slowly acquiring in the preceding months, and I must say, it was gorgeous. I prepared the bacon-wrapped turkey, the stuffing, the scalloped cheesy potatoes, the peas, the rolls, the gravy and the two pies, bumbleberry and apple. (Yes, I forgot about the carrots, cut me some slack). We ate a nice meal, drank wine and champagne (a first Yukon Christmas is certainly cause for celebration) and finished the day with a round of board games and pie a la mode.
A phone at my grama’s house was passed around with myself on the receiving end, listening to what everyone got, how the food was and how everyone missed me. I hurriedly reciprocated so my homesickness would stay quelled.
Instead of hitting the malls at Mach-ten first thing Boxing Day morning, I lazily woke up at 9:30 with the puppy snuggled into my arm pit. I started the tea kettle, woke up the boys (visiting relatives from Edmonton) and made turkey sandwiches to take sledding. We bundled up, loaded sleds, and took off to an adventure that can only be described as follows:
Boxing Day Sled Fest in the Desert.
About an hour from Whitehorse is a town called Carcross, and it has a desert, or what used to be the floor of a glacial lake. We brought the dog, water, sandwiches, snacks and sleds, and took turns being pulled up to the top of the snow-covered sand dunes by friends on Skidoos. The slopes were steep and I managed to stay on my sled most of the time. We even got the puppy to figure out how to chase us down the hill, tiring her out in the process. We made a bonfire with friends, and one of them let me drive their Skidoo, man that is fun!
I perfected the art of sand dune sledding, which involved knowing when to close my mouth so that sand would not fly in, and using my palms, not heels, as steering rudders when necessary.
I didn’t come home with bargain jeans or iPod speakers, but I did come home with a bona fide Yukon adventure under my belt and a day spent with friends and the little bit of family that is here.
Home may still win for best Christmas, but we made it work here. And given the choice, I would choose desert sledding over Boxing Day sales anytime.
Little Miracles Here and There
There’s the saying that there are little miracles all around you, the question is whether or not you notice them.
Have you heard that?
Being all pro-carpe diem and stuff, I’ve always tried to notice such things. I often find them on my lunchtime sun runs along the half-frozen Yukon River, or in the genuine, warm husband hugs, and more often these days, in delicious food. (Christmas baking done right is certainly a little miracle)
In my job I get to neet different people all the time and learn about something different every day. This variety totally helps me to recognize what’s special, beautiful and a little miracle in its own way. That way I don’t have to rely on saying babies, sun rises, rainbows are the only miraces I see. Plus, those things get a little less miracle-y after a while. I have to find new thigns to keep my miracle list spicy and interesting.
Speaking of spices...add garlic to my little miracle list. Mmm mm I could put that on near anything, I tell you.
Today’s little miracle came in the form of a fiftysomething dude I interviewed a while back.
I had talked with him about his crazy drug past for a feature series I was writing on the world of drug addiction. This guy was my main character, so to speak, and he willingly let me in to his colourful past. We had sat in a coffee shop while he poured out some of his darkest secrets. I was a stranger with a pen and a paper pad and he really didn’t have to do that. I was incredibly grateful he did, and with such honesty.
The paper published my series and I didn’t get much feedback from anyone, but that’s the norm in this town. I was a little worried I hadn’t heard from this man, though. I had changed his name and some identifying detaisl, but still, I was worried he’d hated it and more importantly me, for exposing such truths.
He called me and we set up a lunch coffee date at the same place, so he could tell me what he thought of the story. He also said he had something for me and let me know he was very impressed, so I went to the coffee house without nerves or jitters.
I’m scared I’m going to cry writing this. Crap, I’m at work and they’ll all think I’m nuts.
This man told me what a wonderful job I’d done. He went into y story layout and organization telling me why he thought it worked. He told me some of the things I wrote were really hard for him to read, and he was surprised at how much he had told me.
“I want you to know you did a really good job, and I think it’ll really help people understand what it is we go through,” he said. That was exactly what I was trying to do, without exploiting his or anyone else’s stories, and without dramatizing the struggle addicts and their overseeing mentors go through.
“You’re very good,” he said. He presented me with a copy of his favourite bok, one he said got him through some tough times. I remember “The Four Agreement” by Don Miguel Ruiz froom I think Oprah’s book list and then I just never got around to reading it. I currently am almost done “Love in the Time of Cholera” and have two more waiting, but this man’s super kind gesture puts “Agreements” in the next slot.
I’ve always thought books were among the best kind of gifts one can give. I started that with my sister, but grew a bit discouraged as the copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird” with little notes all through it and “The Lovely Bnes” sit untouched in her room.
That he would give me that book after already giving me so much, treating me with honest conversation and insight into higher understanding, that is my little mriacle of today.
That and husband hugs, those never get boring or repetitive.
Christmas in Whitehorse is coming!
You know how in almost EVERY Christmas movie there is an iconic scene where the characters walk along Main Street doing Christmas shopping? Maybe it’s the wacky neighbours in their Christmas bragging war, scrambling to buy the most twinkle lights, or maybe it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger trying to buy the last action figure. I have always liked when it’s a grandparent and young child window shopping, picking out toy trains or dolls.
The snow is falling slowly, cars are driving cautiously, the street lamps are decorated with holiday garland.
This weekend I got to DO that, for the first time ever. It may not have had the cheery background music or controlled wind of a movie set, but I felt so Chirstmas-y. All those years worth of holiday films’ brainwashing techniques actually capitalized in my own life: I found a spot on Main Street to park my truck, sideways of course, and tucked my wooly hood over my head. I walked lazily, wide-eyed into all the same stores I’d been in before, only I was the character on the set of my own movie, carrying shopping bags, smiling at little girls in dresses with their parents, wishing a Merry Christmas to all the cashiers. I found what I needed and then some cute stocking stuffers at the token tourist gift shop. If my life’s camera were to pan back with an aerial view of Main Street, it would capture me smiling, swinging my bags and kicking the snow, preferably with “Holly Jolly Christmas” as my background music.
I am now ready for MY movie Christmas!
Relatives come in Saturday night (the day after the longest night here in the Yukon, then we start gaining another 6 minutes of sun a day!), and we are getting their beds and towels all washed and ready. I have been scoping out the Superstore, figuring out what produce is available for me to make Christmas dinner dishes, and making tobogganing party plans for boxing day. That excites me because, until this year, boxing day has always been about hitting the mall to score on the ridiculous savings at my fave stores. Here in Whitehorse....well, there’s no Gap. So tobogganing it is! I have my eye on a $4.95 saucer at Canadian Tire I hope is under my tree next Tuesday, and that’s about all I hope for!
I can’t wait to wear my red apron over my Christmas dress and make bread rolls right before dinner.
I can’t wait to have a mini-panic as I realize I have no idea how to prepare a turkey.
It’ll be so exciting to wake up Christmas morning and have presents under our first tree together! We can make breakfast toast and eggs and OJ and play my Christmas CD!
I can put a cute bow on the puppy and serve tea in the tea cups I save for company! Because we’ll HAVE company!
It won't be as comfortable and traditional as a family Ottawa Christmas, but in a way, that's what's exciting. I'll have to put some of the presents under the tree late at night when everyone's sleeping, so I'll be in on the secrets for the first tie, but I think that'll be exciting.
Oh, Christmas is coming and in the movie of my life it’s gonna be full of comic shenanigans, realizations of what Christmas is all about, and me wearing a Santa hat that’s clearly too big but fun nonetheless.
My hands, they are my own
I got my nails done--or DID--(as the wannabe ghetto suburbanites wearing Phat Farm say) for my wedding, almost a month ago now. I had never had gel nails before, but was advised to go for the smelly fake stuff because they are hard and resilient and therefore will not chip like nail polish. It was my wedding, I was down with pulling out all the stops. Even if it meant filing my real nails down to a harsh, grainy surface, and sitting in a chemical, cancer-smelling room for an hour.
We all went together, me, my sister, my ant, my best friend and my grama. Well, grama and my aunt had to leave cuz grama couldn’t handle the fumes. I was amazed by their teeny tiny brushes and applicators, like I was watching someone play with Polly Pocket toys instead of grooming me.
They looked weird, not like my nails that I had been growing out. The whites were very white and the gel part was thick and kind of heavy. But people do it all the time and suck it up and really? Was I complaining? It hurt a little the first couple days, but I ended up really liking the final production on my hands (minus the little red nick the nail lady gave me on my right forefinger. C’mon! I’d been nursing those hands for a whole month and you nick a finger?)
Wedding day came and went and I honestly didn’t think about fingernails the whole day through but they did look really nice, I can reflect now via photos. I’m glad I did it. Edit: I was glad I did it until the first one started coming off. The bottom half of my left middle finger chipped away so that every time I washed my hair, individual strands would get caught under this fake gel fingernail.
I was back in Whitehorse and not sure there even was a place to get them touched up. I talked to my mum on the phone and she was going to get hers redone, “just once because they aren’t looking very good.” She’ll be a gel nails addict now, I’m sure.
I knew I didn’t want to be. They don’t feel very “me”-ish and I had grown to like the nails I found myself capable of growing, once I quit biting them nervously. (A habit so hard to break and ingrained since I was little it took husband’s moving away for 6 months to give me the solace and reflection to beautify my nails).
Today, still only 3 or so weeks after getting my fake gel nails applied, all but the thumb ones have come off, and now I have short, brittle boy-looking fingernails all over again. The surfaces scarred with weird white specks and stripes from the glue, I guess.
But, hands are hands and as Jewel (remember her??) used to say, they are my own. So today I embrace my broke-down ugly-looking hands with two nice-looking thumbs and type at my keyboard with increased ease.Besides, I've got two beautiful rings on my finger that make it all worthwhile.
On the couch
It sounds like a country song, at least in my head, but there’s just no place like my couch, under a blanket, with my baby. (It sounds more like a song when you draw out ‘baby’)
It’s the thing I look forward to most throughout my work day and what I cherish the most when thinking of how awesome my life is at night when I’m going to sleep. Sitting on the couch (the ugly one, not our nice suede one) that reclines with footrests, under the fuzzy polar bear blanket, snuggled up to my husband (that is still so weird to say!) watching a movie or a TV show. Even better when we’ve just finished our cups of tea and the dog and cat are on our laps sleeping, oblivious to each other’s presence.
When it’s cold outside (as it is now 100% of the time, it being winter), and the phone is too far away to grab (on purpose?) and I can see the soft kind of snow falling lazily outside the balcony window, being on the couch under a blanket with him is the best.
If I were in grade 7, I’d say it was the bomb. If I were in grade 10, I’d pretend I was too cool to care but really my insides are fluttering like butterflies. If I were two years old, I’d scream out really loud with a big smile on my face and my arms up in the air. Since I’m a twentysomething, I nestle in further and know to make it last as long as I can.
The gramas are all right
So I got an assignment at work to do a story on how more seniors are taking on retail and service jobs in their retirement for various reasons, and my job was to find out why.
Honestly, whenever I see one working in a big box store or some senior is cleaning up spilled orange soda at a fast-food joint, I feel so bad for them, assuming they must be so hard done by financially that they have to take on jobs most of us leave after age 16.
Like seeing cute animals caged in a zoo, taken from their families, and forced to make life more enjoyable for the masses, I feel bad for people’s gramas and grampas when they’re wearing a uniform walking up and down neon-lighted aisles.
Some surveys and interviews and research later, I found that it wasn’t so bad, that while many do work because they need money, some old people just get bored being retired and need something easy to do. I mean, I can see that. My grama volunteers a lot and swims more than most Olympic swimmers, (I’m sure!) because otherwise she would be bored. If someone else’s grama wants to don a blue apron with lots of flare (Office reference!) and direct customers to aisle 23, then so be it, you know, their choice.
This morning I went to our local Wal-Mart, where there are always a great many seniors greeting me as I enter the store, stocking shelves, hanging gigantic oversized beige panties in the underwear section, you know, around.
I had a list of questions that politely asked why they chose to work past retirement, what they used to do, how many grand kids they had, that sort of thing.
The Wal-Mart gods that be told me I needed head office approval, so I couldn’t do my interviews. I took that to mean, “Feel free to pretend to shop and casually strike up conversations about the aging workforce with our older employees on the floor.” So I did.
I found a couple of people, and found a way to see if they were over 60 without asking or assuming they were. I got my story, went to work, typed it up and filed it.
It is Friday and I am looking forward to the weekend. That is when I get to spend schedule-free time with husband and friends, and of course new puppy. That is fun!
I think I’m built for wearing a matching track suit, living in Florida and getting my white hair done at the salon. You will most certainly not see me shying away from the golden years, I can tell you that. Midday golf? Bring it on.
In more ways than one, I’m getting bit by the reality bug as the products of so many of 2007’s big decisions become permanent.
Decision One: Agree with husband that yes, moving to the Yukon would be so cool!
Is that adjective biting me in the butt now. It is only December, or, the second month of Yukon winter, and it is -40 degrees Celsius. Summer here was beautiful. We climbed mountains, sun tanned, walked everywhere, soaked up intense amounts of vitamin D cuz the sun didn’t set till 12 at night. Summer, I have heard, lasts only those two months I experienced here, July and August. Then it was back into the 8-10 month cold stretch. This is where I find myself. Call me seasonally affective, but it’s all a little depressing to be freezing cold all the time, missing my riverside runs, lamenting my super-dry skin (I have to moisturize like 6 times a day!) and with Christmas coming, I kind of just want to be at home.
Granted, it’ll be nice to have my first married Christmas here on my own, but Christmas is all about family and traditions and visits, right? Not this year. I’m discovering Bailey’s in my hot chocolate and numerous comforters on my bed make the Yukon winter blues go away.
Decision Two: Buying a puppy, because they are, like, so cute and fun!
Yes, but they also whine, poop, pee, destroy, chase kitten, eat clothing, gnaw hands and need attention when I really want to be painting my toenails.
I love Skylar the dog. She is cute and has the epitomous puppy-dog eyes and when she does snuggle up and sleep on my lap, it is the most relaxing feeling ever. (Especially when Goober the kitten joins in the sleeping snuggling mix). But man, I am realizing that taking care of a new puppy is a significant amount of work! I sleep less, I worry about my home’s destruction, I am gong through urine and poo remover/cleanser in alarming and likely carcinogenic amounts.
To both of these things I know comes the answer, “I’ll get better.” And I know that’s true. But a carpe diem-ing twentysomething sometimes needs more than assurances things’ll get better later. Like, I would prefer to have things get better now, so I can go back to being carefree. Or is that what being a grownup is?
You asked for it, Imus
At the risk of sounding like the elderly former editor of my newspaper who calls me once a week to complain about the way things are, today I am wondering what happened to the good old days of media people getting fired for their goof ups?
Don Imus was back on air today after he was suspended, I guess, for calling a women’s basketball team a bunch of [insert racial epithet here]. It was a big deal, you’ll recall, and there was a whole lot of media hoola and Oprah forgiveness interventions and discussions.
What I don’t understand is why he’s back on the air today. We live in an almost over-populated world (depending on what Malthusian opinionista you talk to), so why are we giving second chances to racist mouthpieces when there are a whole slew of equally talented other mouthpieces who can do the job?
There’s the argument that we should all forgive and forget, people make mistakes, the guy said sorry. But that isn’t it. I mean come on, what credibility does he have once he’s said the kind of things one is never supposed to say on air...or in public? I for one don’t buy the “it was a moral slip-up” argument. Did Don wake up that day a radically altered racist and accidentally express that? Or did he say something he was thinking and come under fire for it later? I’m inclined to think his true colours were the ones on air before his spin doctors told him how to apologize.
So why wasn’t he fired? Why wasn’t his radio slot given to some equally-opinionated and colourful radio host who could do the same job? Sure, he wouldn’t have the same following as I mus, but really, does Imus have the same following he used to? I don’t know, call me crochety but it makes me wonder, are we all apathetic, or willing to forgive and forget? Maybe the people who decide he goes back on air want to bank on his notorious name. But what would their mommas say?