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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Friends

Friends: we need them all.

Some of us need more than our fair share. There is the friend who laughs heartily to ALL of my jokes, even the ones that aren't funny, just because she decided ahead of time that I am funny. There is the friend who never has a harsh word, always looks and focuses on the good and positive. (If I ran off and joined the circus, she'd say: How nice, that you'll be able to learn how to walk the tightrope!) Then there is my creative friend, who always sees the potential in an old piece of fabric or a discarded chair, and whose children actually believe that I can sew the shoes that the models are wearing on the pattern cover. There is my running friend who joins me on my laps around town, sometimes we are laughing about life, sometimes just bitching, and occasionally bawling, because its all been just TOO MUCH. There are bold friends who are unafraid to say aloud what pitfalls they observe in me and how I may be deceiving myself. In earlier years there were my "moms of babies" friends, who would all hang around together, exhausted beyond belief and babble incoherently about feedings, rashes, and much coveted naps. Then there are my really smart friends, who haven't yet figured out that I can't really keep up with them intellectually, but I'm going to fake it and ride the wave for just as long as I can because I can learn stuff from them. There are annual camping friends, summer camp friends, family friends, and friends of friends. And I would be amiss to not mention you, my invisible friends. On a rough day, its incredibly gratifying to find a live-giving comment or e-mail when I sneak a minute to check my computer.

We are relational beings. That doesn't mean that maintaining friendships is necessarily easy and always fun and uplifting. Sometimes it really stinks. But I wouldn't even be half a person if I didn't have all of you, my friends.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

"Lady Lust- true confessions of an average woman"


This morning my friend Josie (with a big old grin on her gorgeous face) slipped me a photocopied note entitled: "Body Acceptance in 6 easy steps". A few hours later, my friend Jacquie e-mailed me some "facts on figures" which include these: There are 3 billion women who don't look like super models and only eight who do. If Barbie was a real woman, she'd have to walk on all fours due to her proportions! The average woman weighs 144 lbs, and wears between a size 12-14. Models weigh 23% less than the average woman. One out of every 4 college-aged women has an eating disorder.

I appreciate these friendly reminders that we are worth more than the sum of our parts. I believe this wholeheartedly and with my intellect, but there are quite a few loose wires between my heart and my brain.

I suffer from "lady lust". It's a fairly new diagnosis and may not yet have been published in the DSM, but I HAVE THE CONDITION and therefore know it to exist. The symptoms include "checking out" other women and wanting to OWN certain features that they own. This leads into obsessive thinking about how I could manipulate my own inferior parts to be more like those of the other woman. Usually at this point, I come to for a minute and tell myself to shut up and get over it. I remind myself of all the helpful tips that Jacquie sent me, about how many fascinating and brilliant women I know are round in all the wrong places, about how the body is so temporary, so terribly shallow, and how I would so not like to be obsessing about it. Then there is this evil little corner of my psyche that says, "right, now where was I?- Oh, yeah!! I was scheming about how I could lose ten pounds, run four times this week, but effectively hide this evil plan from the people in my life who know me well enough to know that dieting is from the devil!"

I'm real happy to know about all those airbrushed supermodels with eating disorders whose lives are a hungry mess. I get that the beauty of a woman lies not in the clothes she wears, or the figure she carries, but has something to do with her heart and her character, blah, blah, blah. And I want to be a really sweet gal who blesses everyone on her floral pathway through life.

I just want to be that in a skinny body.
Lady lust.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

dirty laundry

I am not a happy camper. I'm tired of transmissions that feel so comfortable in our presence that they heave a contented sigh of relief and DIE.

This time it's the washing machine. I don't have a washboard and a bubbling brook behind the house. I don't have the longsuffering and good attitude to pass this test. I don't have a large cache of money that I don't know what to do with. I don't have a lifestyle that allows me to give up habitual clothes washing.s

I just have a big grumpy feeling.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

MMwahahahahah-- I've been tagged!

Okay, I love attention and I've been tagged by Bobita over at "this Sister's Journey". (and no, I don't get how to do that neat blue thingy where you just click it and land up at her site, does it help that I feel a little inadequate about that?!)

So the tag is about revealing six weird facts/things/habits/neuroses about myself. Now, Bobita bless her soul has totally underestimated me. I spent most of the night tossing about how to narrow it down to six. Should it the six most bizarre? Would I regret that? What if people who sort of know me, but don't really get me, or like me all that much use that information against me?

Should it be six things that are sort of amusing but not downright freakish enough for people to phone the authorities? Or, how about six things that actually make me look really way , way deeper and more brilliant that people had ever guessed?

Needless to say, I'm now tired, and afraid that if I don't just cough up a half dozen of something, anything at all- then Bobita will really regret having stuck her neck out for me like that. Let's start with the obvious:

1. I tend to be somewhat neurotic, but in a weird don't-sweat-the-small-stuff way. I have been known to think about things for great lengths of time, overanalyze them to dead-horse-flogging proportions and only sometimes come to really concise conclusions.

2.I have a series of recurring dreams. One is about the many rooms in my house that I forgot that I had, and what fun I will now have rearranging furniture, and shopping for vintage items to fill the said rooms. Then I realise that some of the rooms are actually haunted, or else filled with flood water. I then evaluate (see #1) whether the fun of playing in these new rooms will be worth the potential risks involved.
The other recurring dream is that: I have never actually married my groom of 14 years and I realize that it's really time to make a decision and that if I decide not to marry him, I will really miss the old chap.

3. I have some issues in the realm of the obsessive compulsive. For example, when our first three descendents were little (all at the same time) and I would drive somewhere with them in the dark, I was always worried that I had left one of them behind, or on the roof of the car, or beside the car, or that they had slipped out of the narrow crack between the back door and the highway. To cope with these fears, I would have to put my hand out behind my seat to feel for legs. But, I had to feel for six legs, all in a row. Then I would worry that maybe I had counted someone's leg twice, so I'd have to do it again, and also try to reach far enough back while driving to count three heads, but not hit the ditch at 110 km/hour.
There are ever so many more examples of OCD that I could report, but I don't want to air all my laundry in one day....

4. My husband says that I eat like a chipmunk- holding my bread with all 10 fingers and nibbling away and looking like at any moment I could scamper away to hide up in a tree.

5. (Am I at #5 already? I think I'll re-read numbers 1 through 4 obsessively and ruminate on whether I should change them entirely, and what possible repurcussions these true confessions may have in my life.....)
Ok, here's number 5: I have never needed to wear anti-perspirant. I think its because I'm the last born of eight children and they just plain ran out of parts by the time I came along. There wasn't a whole lot of muscle tone for baby #8, not a lot of quick thinking brain cells, neither were there sweat glands, or adequate cartiledge (I have a small, squishy nose which my brother says is from chasing parked cars when I was little, but I cling to my theory of inadequate genetics).

6. I'm a bit of a wanna-be do it yourselfer. I have been known to cut my own hair, and my kids hair (twice in a full blown adult temper tantrum when my daughters had big fits about having their hair brushed). I pierced my own ears, (but I will spring for a professional when I turn forty and pierce my nose). I carpeted two rooms upstairs using a steak knife and two discarded carpets. One carpet was from a friend who could afford to replace his with hardwood, and one was a carpet that I furtively stole out of someone's driveway on garbage day......
I have tried to hang my own shelving, but only succeeded in knocking a huge hole into the drywall. I would rather move furniture by myself (even up and down stairs) than ask for help and have to listen to you whine about how the house looks fine just the way it is. I don't go for a pedicure, but to the local hardware store to buy those nice sharp razor blades, then I shave off my own callouses, thank you very much.

Okay, that's it. I will also tag six other people, but there's really no point in terms of the greater good of bloggerdom if I do it without that blue letter tricky deal. I'll have to wait until Brian comes home from work and does it for me.

If there was a number 7 it would be that I don't get electronics, and don't even want to, and if Brian ever dies, I will spray paint a sign to put at the front of the house: "For sale: many, many remote controls. Each one controls something, and if you know what it controls, you may take it too".

I love you all and on my next blog (tonight, if Brian isn't too grumpy from teaching german to miserable junior high students) he will help me do my six tag victems properly.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

When I was a Kid

Our Manitoba farm was a spacious, functional place with large vegetable gardens, huge, green lawns, and a few trees and bushes that were distantly related to the fruit family. They were the hardy varieties that could possibly dare to come back to Manitoba every Spring : fruit trees that bore dry, gritty chokecherries (they were more pit than cherry, but we had lots of fun comparing dry, brown tongues after stuffing our faces with them). There was rhubarb of course, sweet, juicey raspberries, and "ole bassem" bushes (which I think are a type of current), and my favourite: the gooseberry bushes.

On hot summer afternoons after our chores of bean picking, garden hoeing, tree watering, pea shelling, lawn mowing, window washing,and pet tending (just to mention a few), we would skip across the scorching black garden soil in our bare feet to engage in some gooseberry games. There was the "keep a straight face while you eat 20 unbelievably sour green berries" game. And the "how many gooseberries can you fit in your mouth at a time" game. And then there was the fun of eating gooseberries just because you could- no one would tell you not to, and nobody would tell you "that's enough".

I always had a weird conflicted feeling about eating gooseberries. I felt like I was selfishly wrenching them off their homey branches (an abduction of sorts) then mutilating them with my teeth before sending them down to their acidy death. I told my older brother about my guilt one day (he was four years my senior) and I've never forgotten his response. He felt that the gooseberries were thrilled to be chosen- that it was honorable to be given a warm home in a human's stomach and be rescued from the drudgery of hanging off a bush in a hot, windy garden.

This complicated my angst over the berries. If Ken was right, then I should do my utmost to find homes for all the berries on the tree before the worms or the cold winds of the inevitable winter got to them first. But if he was wrong and I was right, then we ought to leave the berries in their family groups and allow them to live out their lives in peace.

If I find the fool who said that childhood is carefree, I'll pin him down and stuff him with gooseberries until he BEGS for mercy.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Few Rhetorical Questions

1. If the girls have roughly fifty thousand pairs of socks (which I know, because I purchased them, and fifty thousand times $2.98 adds up) ... then how come there are 25,000 odd socks at the bottoms of their closets, and no matter how you sort them, none of them match?

2. Although I spend 13 and a half hours a day folding, washing, drying, putting away, organizing, straightening, watering, maintaining, sweeping, spraying, dusting, discarding, recycling, feeding, wiping, grooming, bathing, baking, scrubbing, and vacuuming, -- this house looks totally unconquered and cluttered?

3. If I have arranged my priorities and my life in such a way that I can be at home almost all the time, and always be home to send my children off to school in the morning, and greet them when they come home in the afternoon-- why then do I feel like I am teaching them almost nothing, that I have not enough time or energy to keep up with the : home reading, math problems, chocolate sales, times tables, dance costumes, birthday gifts, story reading, spiritual teaching, teaching responsibility and self- motivation with doing their chores, teaching empathy and unselfishness, tuning into all their emotional needs, maintaining a close and constantly evolving relationship with four separate entities, making time to spend with each of them individually, feeding them well balanced meals without turning the family mealtime into a time of conflict, while not allowing them to subsist on nutella and marshmallows.

4. If I managed all right in school, and did pretty well in university, why do I write with such run-on sentences?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Warning: this post may make no sense to you!

I've just had some sort of epiphany.

People tend to get locked into an idea of what "wellness" or "togetherness" looks like and kind of wait for their lives to have real significance until those particular personal wrinkles get ironed out. I was reading Paul's words in The Message a day or two ago where he refers to some type of "flaw" or personal hardship that he deals with on a daily basis and would really like to be rid of. He asks God three times to take it away, but it was evidently not "in the cards". Pauls response? Instead of spending all his energy continuously, stubbornly seeking resolution to this one issue, he did what he could, then got on with the business of living his life with significance.

What a relief.

I may have daily wrestling matches with the "monkeys in my closet" (ugly, strong things that they are!). I may have to repeat some basic truths to myself on a nearly minute by minute basis. I may at times actually begin to swing from trees and attempt to groom my neighbors fur and obsessively munch on bananas.

But I will not be defined by this. I will not sell out and move to the zoo.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Sedative, please

In a bold, brief moment of "nurturing" myself and feeling determined to not buy into the north American version of beauty, I stuffed all of my 12-pounds-ago pants into a garbage bag and drove them to the thrift shop.

Then I spent roughly 19 hours eating birthday cake and ice cream, and great salty hands full of munchy mix. Nummy, all those salty trans fats rubbing shoulders with over processed, sugary cake mix covered in buttery frosting.

Yes, indeedy, its April. That great month when spring sweeps across the Manitoba prairies, giving me a case of the de-clutter-itis and the burst of energy to rearrange furniture, take down forgotten bits of Christmas garland, and chuck out bags of clothes that do nothing but make me feel like a big fat failure.

It's also that insane month where our two middle children have birthdays, a mere four days apart. Never being one to take the easy way out, I've planned two birthday parties back to back. Jane's went from Friday after school until Saturday morning. We played so many games and relays and crafts that we barely had time for the movie of Narnia before I shooed them into bed at midnight.

Four hours until Micah's friends show up expecting a wild celebration of their own. I've got on the same clothes that I chose on Thursday. My hair is shoved into a bandanna just so I can avoid a time-consuming and wet shower. I hate being wet. I'd rather be dirty.

A sad wanna-be cake waits on the kitchen counter. I have two games planned and I've done nothing to gather the supplies necessary to make them a success. The house is a cesspool of sticky cups and poutine splashes.

I'd really like to write more, but I've got to go and eat the rest of Jane's birthday cake now, one tiny sliver at a time. If I'm feeling particularily nurturing, I may wash it down with a beer or two before its time to put my plastic grin back on and turn this place back into party central. After that, I might celebrate by going out and buying myself a pair of those really roomy sweat pants, or maybe just a moo- moo. (or is it mu mu?)

Yup, I'm gonna be so freekin' good to myself that I'll soon become unrecognizable.

Friday, April 07, 2006

sex ed: 101

Sammy is as sharp as he is cute. At an oppurtune time, (mommy naked and dripping, being a firm believer in the "open door" policy) he noticed that something just might be missing.

Him: "Where's yours penis, mommy?"
Me: "Mommy is a girl- I have these girl parts, and you have boy parts."
Him: "Oh! You have big buttons, mommy!"

Very perceptive. Buttons sounds downright flattering when I consider the variety of other nouns and adjectives he may have chosen. I'm just grateful that he didn't mention that my buttons were very nearly dragging along the bathroom floor.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Good Eats

Ever drive by a small town and see one of those cheesey signs all bashed up and faded with a big red arrow that says "GOOD EATS HERE"?

While I was sleeping, I swear someone hung one of those up just outside my front door. Spring break is over, so this morning various hungry children showed up on my doorstep. I got them fed and out the door and was just sitting down to indulge in some blog reading when my friend Josie popped in the back door-

"Hi- I can't stay, I'm just out on a walk and I popped in to say hello. Oh, and I haven't had breakfast!"

We enjoyed some yogurt and granola together, and then went out to join her on the rest of her sunny walk. We had to come home in short order because the boys were starving- time for lunch already? Just got back to the computer hoping to sneak in a minute of reading before slapping together some peanut butter delight, and Cheri bursts through the back door on her way to Gisele's for a massage-

"I've got twenty minutes for you- and I really hope you've got LUNCH on the table- I'm hungry!"

(Now was that fair? She's already going to a massage, now she's looking for a free lunch?!)

I really got off my keester for her and whipped up a fine slice of toast with margarine, and some swiss cheese. (that'll teach her!) I just got the toast crumbs off the counter and wished her a lovely afternoon (DUH- she's going for a massage, like it could be "not good...") when the back door opened once more and my sister stopped by. Did she bring me flowers or a tray of donuts or a cheque, or ANYTHING? NO, her exact words were:

"Oh, good! You're home! I walked here on my lunch break- I hope you have some really good bread!"

I'm starting to understand my mother better all the time. She used to tell us when we were kids that every time we looked at her we got hungry. Do I look like a giant ham? Should I take this personally? Do people only love me for my cookies?

I've got to run to the store now to replenish the fridge, or I may just be all alone and friendless tomorrow.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Issues?

Time for a reflective break from the purge session of my binge and purge ritual.

Every day all my life I binge on collections that I redeem from thrift shops and garage sales whenever I have the chance to hunt them down- a lustre ware plate, an old linen baby romper, an old book or two, some patchwork pillows, a game or colouring book for the day care kids, a book about drawing, some interesting old garments that I just know would look fabulous in a quilt or pillow top, some old silverware, or a well travelled suitcase to store things in. Oh! and there's so many more useful and previously loved items out there that I just may discover on my weekly tours around the prairie towns.

I think of it as cheap entertainment, my hobby, and affordable interior decorating, all rolled up as one. I also like to think of how I single handedly keep the economy of the reduce/reuse/recycle industry viable. Those are the things I say to myself when my craving to feed my habit begs for justification. I like to think about bringing these discarded items out of their place of "unwanted-ness" and giving them a new life, wishing they could speak to me about their previous lives.

Then I get restless. My house is full of things and I feel a purge coming on. The 25 cent rubber boots that I found don't fit anyone in the family. The game was so not a hit. All the good pictures in the colouring book are now coloured. It's time to move all the furniture around, and roam around from room to room ruthlessly chucking things into garbage bags to bring back to the thrift shop. I usually don't shop and donate to the same place, its a weird ritualistic hang up that I have. So, some second hand shop owners probably think that I buy obsessively, while the owner in the next town may wonder how this one woman could be so very selfless and giving on such a regular basis. They don't know that it's all part of my complicated syndrome.

They say that the first step in seeking resolution for a problem is to admit that you have one. Maybe this week if I find a really neat old journal with some empty pages in it, I could start journalling about my bingeing and purging. Then maybe I'll decide whether or not I have a problem.

But right now, I've got some neat old stuff that I need to find places for.