The sun is now above the mountainous horizon for 13 hours of the day. My Dad is visiting from home, and I’m only working two days this week.
I served an Easter dinner of ham, pineapples, scalloped potatoes, peas, garlic bread and two pies (bumbleberry and banana cream). It felt so good to make dinner that was actually prepared without major flaws. It was nice not to have to offer cautionary discretion,”sorry the potatoes are so rock-solid. I don’t know what happened!” The two cops and my Dad thanked me for a wonderful dinner and that felt so warm, making them happy with food, sitting around a table enjoying the epicurean delights spread around the corners. Tea to hit the spot and easy cleanup via the dishwasher made for an enjoyable Easter dinner.
Then again, last night, I had another gloriously happy moment. We sat across the living room couches: husband, Dad, kitten, puppy, me. Blankets across laps, plates of Chinese food balanced on knees. The sun setting on the other side of the French doors, pinks and oranges painted in wisps atop the dark mountains. And I thought to myself, “This is pretty wonderful.” It was a very happy moment.
It could be the visit from home, the extended sunlight, the wonderfully abundant food or the awesome hug from husband telling me he missed me on his day shift, but I just feel so full, like the cup that runneth over. I filleth and spilleth with happiness.
This time, two years ago, 4 in the afternoon. We waited out in the cold for ages, shifting weight from sore foot to sore foot, checking cell phone texts. “A. is coming in about 20,” I announced to my fellow freezing revelers waiting to get into the bar.
Staying at home wasn’t an option. It wasn’t on our radar screens at all. It’s St. Paddy’s Day, which means you go to an Irish pub wearing green to drink Guinness and Murphy’s. Naturally.
The wait should not be underestimated, and was as much a part of the festivities as the bar itself. It was long. Often over three hours waiting in a wraparound line to get inside where the barron is beating and the fiddle is screeching. People pass flasks, we cheer at the horn-hitting cars as they drive by, a flag propped out the window or a fella with his body painted green, orange and white.
The moment of truth: Will we pass the door man’s inspection? Will we find a spot to lay our coats?
Girls holding hands as we squeeze through the crowd. Find a spot to hide our purses under coats in the range of splashed beer and sticky bar residue. It didn’t matter. By the end of the night, we would be too.
Run to the bar, get started. Feet tapping unconsciously in time with the ballads we remember from years before. I pretend my name is Bridget O’Shaughnessy and people kiss my cheeks. Boyfriend finds a goofy green wig and wears it, even though we’ve no idea where it’s come from.
We crack pints against each others, and spill some down our arms. I recognize songs, like Barrett’s Privateers, and sing them at the top of my lungs. No one expects you to have a voice after St. Paddy’s Day.
"What's in your hair?" "I can't feel my feet!" "She totally made out with the bartender!"
The hours spent in the bar turn into blurry memories of bathroom trips, linking arms and dancing and a hilarious stumble home. It’s not so cold on the walk home, and high-pitched shrieks and messy laughs are the soundtrack for the end of the night across town.
This year is markedly different, not boring, but different. There are no Irish pubs in Whitehorse and I actually forgot to wear green today. I’ll cover city council’s meeting tonight and go home to a meal of chicken and yam fries with broccoli. At least my plate will be of traditional Irish colours. Points?
It’s a mark of how my life has changed. A natural progression whether I was here or at home? Maybe. I know I can’t scream my lungs out at bars on a regular basis like I did in school.
Nope, tonight’ll be a quiet one. My former roommate will no doubt earn tons of money working at our favourite Irish bar, and my friends who remain in Ottawa will probably go for a drink or two (not having to wait in line anymore, thank goodness, having connections with staff). I suspect they will call it an early night and will probably not paint shamrocks on their cheeks.
I ask myself: Are we growing up or growing boring? Do I cease to carpe diem because I do not celebrate it from start to finish? I tend to believe I am lame because I currently sit an an office desk counting down till quitting time, and that is certainly not seizing the day.
Best friend K and I decided it’s not boring--just different. Not living hour-to-hour with drinks and thumping bass and Facebook-intended photos and random things to recollect tomorrow as we all wake up in various states of comfort in an apartment built for one or two. Finding cherished happiness in sunset walks, food that tastes better because I made it, finding a passage that is written beautifully, interviewing a man who’s lost his house in a fire, that is what makes me days memorable now.
Not boring, different.
Oh, the places you’ll go
When I had just finished my second year of university, my two best friends and I flew to Santorini in the Greek Cyclades islands. For two weeks, we swam on black sand beaches, ate saganaki and spanakopita, rode donkeys, hiked a volcano, toured an ancient city, went to a baptism, and visited Oia and Athens. At the time, I remember thinking the experience was enjoyable and exciting, but maybe not life-changing. The people were great, we walked everywhere and the food was delicious. I’m not sure what experience I was looking for that would be life changing. I thought maybe the peak of a 20 year old’s life-changing experience is the time she tries absinthe.
Now that I have had the subsequent time to reflect on my trip and what it meant to me, I realize the life-changing experience was the journey. The dedication to explore, broaden my understanding, add a new platform from which to view the world.
Greece was beautiful and I have since explored bits of Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, and now, a far corner of my own country.
This isn’t a vacation, which is a difference, but northern living sure is life-changing. When we were getting ready to move, I was really excited to see what kind of person Id become in the Yukon. More confidant? Relaxed? Appreciative? All those are revealing themselves as true, and it is exciting to reflect upon what imprint a different lifestyle can leave on your person.
I am still me pre-exploration, minus the teen angst of course. The chance to discover more about myself and what it means to be a part of the decision-making world population is a continually life-changing experience. I don’t doubt the same thing could happened had I stayed home in the comfort of my home surroundings. But I am sure it would not occur to the degree it is now. Removing myself from my comfort zone and finding joy in somewhere far away and different provides a new comfort: That happiness come from experience, not shoes, and that no matter where I am it;s things like sunset walks and cuddling on the couch that make my days worth living.
Stand by your man?
I don’t purport to know what it is to be in anyone’s shoes, only to use their circumstances and evaluate what I would do.
I know you’re supposed to stand by your man, and I resign myself to that. I’m fully prepared to be crazy and supportive of husband should he come up with hair-brained ideas or crises, like absolutely needing to pack up and RV across the country or something. I’m down for that. I can provide him logic and play devil’s advocate but really, I’m along for his life’s crazy adventures as well as my own.
I know he’ll count on me when he’s down and when working as a cop starts to take a toll on him, I am more than happy to be the hug he needs at the end of the day. I’ll stand by him if he finds himself on the bottom of a slippery hill, daunted and feeling hopeless. I’ll be there when he wants to crawl in a cave and die.
I’ll be there when he’s on top of the world, under pressure, confused and sick. It’s a partnership and I fully intend to hold up my end of the bargain.
But if he were to renegotiate the terms of that agreement, or violate them without my knowledge, I’m not sure what I’d do. If he were Elliot Spitzer this morning, telling the world he had paid for sex from a call-girl ring under investigation, I’m not sure I’d be beside the podium. Dude is a father of three and while I know being a politician makes him no less human than anyone else, I wonder not what he was thinking (the answer to that, my mother would say, is that he wasn’t) but rather what she is thinking.
What is she thinking standing beside him, following behind him?
Of course I don’t understand what she’s feeling or thinking, I have nothing close to which I can compare shared experiences. But I ask the question: Why is she not holed up with some Kleenex and sweats? Or arranging for their house’s locks to be changed? Or, if she’s going to compose herself and keep a stiff upper lip, why not use that for the good of her children instead of supporting the cheating husband? And not just cheating, but like high-priced prostitute in business trips?
Will she look back on this time and regret standing next to him?
Politics, and especially the life of a politician’s wife, is about keeping up appearances to earn the confidence of constituents. What does it say when she, a modern woman, stands beside her husband as he admits to the world he is rather scum baggy?
I am disappointed in that. Not in her, because I don’t know her. But disappointed that he still gets a wife by his side after doing all that, and that she would model unconditional devotedness to the world. At what cost? Only she will know.
While there are few limits to my own commitment to the husband, and I hope they are never tested, I hope that I can model self-assuredness, confidence and of course love should the situation so require it.
Today, I am glad that their news is a distant headline to my own life and experience. I will drive home after work and feel comfortable in my loving house and share a good hug with him. Understanding of course that a shared human experience dictates the world we live in, I do hope that family comes out of this healthy and happy, one day.
Thought of the Day
"Perhaps the time has come to cease calling it the 'environmentalist' view, as though it were a lobbying effort outside the mainstream of human activity, and to start calling it the real-world view." - Edward O. Wilson
I'm not a fan of isms, they are convenient ways to compartmentalize ideas and perceptions that are usually limitless, fluid and certainly malleable. I like this thought.
There’s something odd about watching America’s Next Top Model in my university sweatpants, a vintage T-Shirt from Peterborough and my bangs bobby-pinned off my face. Odd because around me are sprawled out mountains sprinkled in snow and fir trees, a pile of classic fiction I’ve just read, some puppy toys, the sound of the dishwasher I’ll soon have to open and chipped nail polish on my toes.
My setting is so anti-top model. There are no catwalks in my living room, no beds built for six skinny girls, no Tyra Mail. No makeup mirrors with a billion bottles and tubes and palettes, no stilettos, no tight jeans, no handbags.
Instead there are hiking boots, moisturizer/sunscreen, Mountain Equipment Co-op layering systems and elastics to pull my hair back.
I watch the show and pass judgment, but it’s not who’s pretty, who’s ugly. It’s who’s faking, who’s real, who notices how awkward and obnoxious Tyra’s antics can sometimes be. But I live and die by Next Top Model. It falls on hump day, dividing my forlorn workweek with a pique of entertainment. The show is of no real use to me. I do not take notes on Miss J’s walking tips to practice as I strut down Main Street. People would probably wonder if I’d hurt myself. I don’t practice being fierce, and when people take my picture, I don’t work my angles.
The coined term guilty pleasure works well, although I hate to use a cliché. I enjoy turning my brain off and returning to things that were important to me in grade ten: hair, poise, fending off catty beeyotches and aspirations of the glamorous life. Not that I scoff at my 15-year-old self, but I like my non-glamorous Yukon life.
I could probably give the show up if I had to. But then what would I ask my little sister about when I call her after school on Thursday? And in what other situation could I laugh at someone else’s expense and not feel guilty and immoral? The contestants aren’t real, they are on a show called the next top model! Of course they’re crying when they get top model makeovers!
I’m not proud of it, and by no means would I want to step into those uncomfortable but haute couture shoes and do that myself. Of all the talents people embody and roles there are to fulfill, I think filling the niche of clothes-seller is quite limited. “We show people how to dress and wear their hair in interesting ways?” quips one of Derek Zoolander’s model roommates before dying in a freak gasoline fight accident.
The rest of the week I’ll weep during Oprah, watch the news, Intervention on A&E and documentaries about how the world works. But Wednesday night, all brain bets are off as I immerse myself for 60 minutes into the world of weaves, smiling with your eyes but not your mouth, and top model eliminations.
Labels: reality TV
Don't have to look up at the stars
One of the things I sorely miss about Ottawa living is the abundance of live musical thrills. Jazz fest under the stars in the summer, concerts of up and comers at grimy bars full of people looking the same trying to look different and hockey stadium sellout shows that cost way too much.
Right after I moved, Kanye West played an outdoor show, and I was aching to see him live. My little sister went with my Dad (she’s still young enough that his company was not embarrassing). She called me from her cell phone and held it up towards the speakers so that from 5,500 km away I could hear the screaming fans, pounding base and lyrical rapidity of Kanye’s performance of Gold Digger. It was nowhere near as cool as being there, but it wasn’t a half-bad way to get a sense of the show I was missing.
Since then my sister called me from the Toronto Spice Girls Concert and I nearly lost my mind. I was baby spice at my friends’ grade 7 Spice Girls sleepover party, and we sang Spice Girls songs at the Junior High talent show. I remember playing their CD to my then 3-year-old sister, teaching her the words to “Stop.” And there I was a few weeks ago listening to them sing “Wannabe” a decade after their prime with my 13-year-old sister sitting in the 100-section, and me sitting on my bed.
Last night my brother called me from the Justin Nozuka concert in Ottawa at Babylon, which he attended with his girlfriend and my sister. I clued him in to the tour date after checking with doubtful hope that Justin Nozuka would for some reason play a Whitehorse show. No suck luck. But hearing him strum and sing the words to my new favourite song “After Tonight,” I melted both at the magical tune and my siblings’ heart-warming efforts to make me feel included.
The cell-phone can never come close to duplicating the tears-to-my-eyes feeling of hearing Coldplay perform Clocks in a giant arena, nor the beauty of Jason Mraz sitting cross-legged on a purple round cushion playing “Plane.” Those are memories I’ll just have to hold onto until I’m once again in a musical tour date locale.
But I thank my family for making me feel like I’m not so far away.
Wish upon a star
Writers get all kinds of advice, helpful things to muse upon, I guess. My favourite is to write the truest you can, and I’ve found writing that follows that acutely is usually the best. Not cognizant of reaction, not writing for an audience, just to “get real” with yourself (imagined Dr Phil overseeing the process or not) and pen it.
I usually do this, even if it’s totally soul-baring and puts me in a vulnerable position. I won’t spew verbal diarrhea about everything I think, especially not things about other people because I don’t think that’s being “honest’, I think that’s being catty and gossip-y. I also don’t go too much into what I think abut stories I cover as a reporter because it’s possible the newspaper’s readers might read what I write in my blog and infer some kind of bias. And I am all about keeping my job.
But there’s something I haven’t written about, even though it’s been at the forefront of my mind for a while now. It occupies my planning, my future goals, my day-to-day thoughts and musings. It’s something that I think if I say it, it won’t possibly come true, like I’d be jinxing it or something. Truth is, I’m scared if I say it out loud it can become one of those things I often discuss but never actually get around to doing, like horseback riding.
I really want to have a baby.
Those baby-fever thoughts have danced in my head since I was a 15-year-old girl watching TLC’s Baby Story when I was home sick from school, and not just because it was the only thing on TV. It’s gone from knowing I want to someday be a mother to a need, a desire an “I would give up almost anything” ultimatum I throw out to the universe daily.
Now, this is a want I share with the husband, but I am only speaking on behalf of myself in this forum. See? There I go getting all cognizant of my audience. Write what’s true, write what’s true.
I have so much love ready to give it almost barfs out of me. My poor kitten and puppy get smothered wit it all day long. I want so badly to take care of a little person, reflect every day on his or her life’s possibilities and coo about the sanctity of innocence.
And it’s a process. Irresponsible teens might get knocked up on a daily basis, but it turns out it takes a little more than a lack of planning, naiveté and alcohol to cook up a fetus.
People invite us to go on trips and sign up for races and I agree with great enthusiasm, hoping they can’t see my internal hesitation. And if they can see it, I hope they aren’t hurt. It’s just that in my head, the dialogue is asking ‘But what if I’m pregnant then??’
People of course feel free to ask me all the time when we’re going to have kids, because it seems that this is a natural and obligatory conversation to have with a newlywed. I want to scream out “NOW!!!” but of course, I say that it’ll happen when it happens, cautioning myself more than I am my conversational partner that “it can take awhile, who knows?”
I really hope I’m not one of those cases that takes years and years and has to go to special doctors and pay a bajillion dollars for a one in a thousand odds. That is my biggest fear right now. Because if I have this much to give and this much enthusiasm, then I can just see how frustration will turn into sadness and into loneliness and hopelessness and when I’m living in a super small town in the arctic, that can’t be a recipe for good times.
That said, there are times when I look over at the husband and feel supremely satisfied and comforted, like if it were just the two of us forever that might not be so bad. But then the whiny me voice in my head goes, “C’mon! You know that a crazy insane house full of running, giggling kiddies is exactly what you want.” And I go “yeah, you’re right.” And meanwhile the husband looks at the blank stare on my face while this conversation plays out between me and myself in my head and asks what I’m thinking and I just hug him and say, I just want a babyyyyyyyy”
I don’t know how long it will take, I don’t know what the circumstances will be, I just know I’ve got my heart set on something and I hope the universe doesn’t make this too difficult a feat for me to attain.