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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Carving Out a Name For Myself

Oh, sure. It would be so easy for me to simply ride on the coat tails of my predecessors lengthy lists of accomplishments. I could so easily rest on the laurels of their impressive, purposeful lives and noteworthy links to the upper eschelants of multiple societies.

But that's not my way.

I cannot, in good conscience, gain my own sense of worth and value from the hard-earned status of say; my brother W's notable inclusion in the "Smart Car Enthusiast's Club". Tempting though it may be to simply drop his name in social contexts, and thereby earn the respect and envy of those around me, I must struggle and aspire to my own levels of greatness.

It is also true that my brother K left the world a better place, working tirelessly in restorative justice- foregoing the pleasures of breakfasts at Stella's, Ethiopian restaurants, and access to luxuries such as The Love Nest, while he toiled away at legalities in the cold tundra of the North.

And I'd be amiss not to throw a bone to my eldest brother, who sacrificed the better years of his life to live in a milder climate and accept lowly positions of humility such as "Country Director" in the little known organization; "The United Nations". Responsible for making decisions about worldwide food distribution, and organizing teams, travelling the globe, responding to crises such as Haiti, Darfur, and Pakistan, my brother has done what he could with what he's been given.

But they will now likely fall to the temptation of dropping my name to bring them prestige in the eyes of their colleagues.

Was it any of them who received a life-changing notification of their brilliance, complete with a prize of impressive dimensions?

I think not.

No, it was one of Niverville's very own who correctly guessed the weight of the giant pumpkin placed in all its brazen glory on the main street of our forward thinking mini-metropolis.

I had just put in the last moments of a particularly trying day in my high level corporate job as bum-wiper and snot-mopper. I was nosing around for some type of sedative to take the edge off my anxiety when the phone rang. It was none other than the Matriarch of Monaco's Greenhouse on Main.

I waited for her words with breathless anticipation.

"We are pleased to inform you that you have correctly guessed the weight of our town's new mascot: El Gigantico Pumpkin-eso" (I may have paraphrased ever so slightly on our actual dialogue)

The trials of my day suddenly fading in the glorious light of these glad tidings, I immediately made arrangements to retrieve my extraordinary spoils.

Sure, there was a wind warning for our area, and rain had been pelting down for days. My daughter came home from school that day informing me that the strength of the winds were equivalent to a hurricane on land; known in these parts as "a weather bomb".

Better than a sedative, I say.

There was no vehicle available for m mission, and even if there were, I didn't imagine that with my decreased stature and increased fat content I could possibly hoist a one hundred + pound pumpkin onto the van; hurricane notwithstanding.

So I donned my hand-me-down raincoat and let the wind carry me towards my mission.

It was conveniently contained in a child's wagon; in all its orange, lopsided glory. Gripping my "Boo!" bag of prize candy in one arm, I hauled on the wagon with the other.

Straight through the heart of town, past the gas station, the world renown furniture store, a couple of the fifty odd churches in town, and straight up to my own back door. I, and It, had arrived.

I knew that life was forever changed. Marked by this remarkable day when my public image, my place in this world, and my status both in my family and in the wider world would never again be the same. Gone were the days of anonymity- carefree strolls through my town, effortless trips to the grocery store, gas station, and post office.

The requests would soon begin to flood the space of my already cramped privacy. My mother would expect me to carve it into the shape of a large carriage, and parade her around town in it. The children would beg to create a giant puking spectacle. The daytime kidlets would harass me endlessly for treats from the B00 bounty.

I felt the weight of social responsibility fall, not uncomfortably on my (suddenly wider) shoulders.
I would not let my brothers and sisters down. Neither figuratively, or literally. I would carve that monster. Tame her. Love her. Photograph her.

And when my name appeared in all its infamy Das Carillon, I would remain humble,



never forgetting the days before; the days of heady life in the pumpkin spotlight, and the fate of the people less gifted with the numerical code than I.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why Pet Ownership is For Everyone

Pets are awesome for the whole family because they encourage computer literacy.

Who else loves google-ing answers to the following pertinent, life-changing questions?
  • Why does my dog puke on my bed?
  • Why the &%^ is my dog on my bed?
  • Why does my dog have mucousy diarrhea?
  • Why does my dog sh!t on my floor whenever she has diarrhea?
  • Why do I have a dog?
  • Why, if I got the dang dog for the kids, does she dislike kids and like only me?
  • And finally, why does she look at me like that?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Shorter, Fatter, AND Inflamed

Nothing makes me more aware of the swift passage of time than the due date of the Annual Medical Physical.

You've just barely inhaled the last of your cigarette from the last assault, and it's time to strip down to your birthday suit and do it all again.

Sitting on the edge of a cold steel bed in the early evening hours on the cusp of the weekend provoked me to remind my Doctor Man; "just remember. This was your idea, not mine."

Clearly, it wasn't my idea to march down that long hallway and be commanded to board the unforgiving scale, with it's bits of metal making industrial, judgemental "clunk, clunk, snicker, snivel" sorts of sounds. A heavy sigh from the assistant while she reads the condemning number aloud; "One-hundred-eight-zillion-and-seven-pound-something-or-other. Humph."

A full three zillion units heavier than I am at home, stark naked, four AM, without food or water in twelve revolutions of the planets.

After that, she brings the measure-a-doodie down to see if I'm still five foot seven inches, like my drivers lisence has so accurately stated since 1984. I've never given it a second thought, except that in recent years, my daughters have disputed my height. Know-it-all show off-ers that they are.

Minutes later, shivering in the "privacy" of my own metal chamber, I eye the measuring tape mounted to the wall. Knowing that the Doctor will likely be doing numerous cataract surgeries, heart transplants, and lesion excisions before he remembers my thighs wrapped in transparent blue, I decide to hop down and do some measuring of my own.

I've apparently shrunk.
I'm not 5'7" at all, but 5'6".

Beginning to suspect that I'm evolving into a bouncey dollar store ball without any bounce left, I slither over to the meanacing scale in the corner.
Climb aboard.
Pile my various rolls and straying bits around me and glance down at the numerical sentence.

Holy $%#@.
Shorter.
AND fatter.

Roughly around the time that my road map of blue-ish veins begin to crystalize in the subarctic walk-in closet that I find myself in, the Doc makes his heroic fully clothed appearance. I have by this point, searched through his cupboards for mints, lotion, menthols, and/or sedatives. And come up with
Nothing.

And there's still the full invasion to look forward to.

But then I remember how I really like that low lamp that Doctors favour in their cozy metal offices. The ones with the swivelly heads that can be twisted and turned to shine in the most ingenious places.

I love those super long Q-tips that they employ.

The cold jelly.

The latex gloves.

And in the midnight hours before turning forty-three, I just love hearing words like "inflammation".

Ah, well. I was about to say that it could be worse, but that already happened last year.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It Has Begun

There is a new driver in the house.
Even though roughly five minutes ago, I was the sixteen year old learning the complexities of the car, the road, the signs.
People tend to cringe at the thought of teaching their own children to drive.
But we kind of had fun!
I guess that after letting my baby fly to Paris ALL ALONE, getting her behind the wheel of the family Montana is no biggie.
.
Still.
I guess it has been a little longer than five minutes since my own adventures in farm truck navigational lessons.
.
And so I find myself happily playing the part of the sentimental mommy.
.
(I don't ever remember my mother taking me for a driving lesson. What about you? Who risked their life and limb so you could be king of the road?)

Monday, October 18, 2010

This is how I Spell F-U-N!

Imagine with me, if you will. An abandoned house on a magical, if neglected, country property.
A house which was inhabited by the hoard-iest kind of hoarder.

Then imagine that someone as curious about people and yesteryear as me gets invited to Help Myself to the plunder.

Imagine collecting some sisters on a Saturday morning and taking a road trip with coffee in hand.


Wanna join me on a virtual tour? Party pants required.



Optional: Really nasty undies with a teeny weeney pocket intended for I-Don't-wanna-know-what. Plus racing stripes. ewwww.


Might help to explain why the one-time lady of the house found it necessary to hide a bottle of gin in her drawer of delicates.

There was uplifting literature cleverly placed within the rubble. With pants in hand, I felt it inevitable that I too could Be Someone Special!



Tempted that I was to borrow an ingeniously repaired set of spectacles, I managed to navigate those cluttered rooms without them. I did need frequent breaks to utter any number of exclamatory phrases.

Such was the nature of the treasure hunt.

Some treasures then:

#5 Red Wing crock in perfect shape. Hidden behind roughly 40,000 empty milk jugs.
A metal dish rack. I just know I'm going to think of some ingenious use for that!




Moments after hanging my recently acquired enamel soap dish, I find another one. The layers of grime were barely a distraction.
Some vintage sewing notions; and hidden in a "bathroom" smelling of eau de pee pee, a whole box full of flour and sugar sack cotton. A whole lot of vinegar and tide later: voila! Ready for repurposing.


There was no end to the tins, bits, baubles and weird-osities that these people hoarded. I actually felt overwhelmed a great deal of the time and limited myself to one suitcase (out of five we found in the bedroom) full of oddities and treasure.



Doors. Oh, the doors.

And the property.
*sigh*
If only I could copy and paste it a whole lot closer to my childrens' schools, I'd rescue this old dump and live happily ever after on my treed and orchared villa.

Although I chose to leave the dentures wrapped in dirty paper towel behind; I couldn't possibly go home without this fully functional Singer Sewing machine light!


Or the clock.
Or the empty cigarette package stuffed full of poetry about the frustrations of being a woman.


What's a #5 Red Wing without a #4?



Ah, the scenery. Both indoors and out.
And now a petition. If I ever start storing remnants of cut crepe paper, hooks and eyes from discard intimates, hardware off of suspenders, tins full of broken pens, dentures in plastic bags, phone books spanning the centuries, half an attic full of empty cardboard boxes, five gallon pails in the kitchen, bits of linoleum, scattered game pieces, moldy hats, broom handles, wooden boxes, and balls of old shoe laces; do me a favour.
Leave me alone.
I just might be having the time of my life.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why the Cool Kids Never sit at my Lunch Table

  • I look terrible in yoga pants
  • I can never remember how many innings in game of volleyball.
  • I wear sparkly hand-me-down socks that say "sweetheart" on them.
  • I don't know the difference between a gig and a kilometer.
  • I grew up having no idea who The Fonz was.
  • I forgot to teach my kids about manners.
  • having spent my money on sports trips, language trips, sump pumps, and gin, I never take my family to hike in the mountains.
  • Elliptical machines look a lot like corsets with "eject" buttons to me.
  • I'm always forgetting to shower and buy hair products.
  • heels make me look like I've just endured surgery without anesthetic.
  • I don't have a hot tub.
  • I don't want a hot tub.

I'll just be outside in the yard playing tether ball.

By myself.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Soccer


The offspring are fortunate to have inherited their father's long legs and athletic abilities.
This afternoon, my firstborn is boarding a bus up to Swan River with her soccer team to play in the provincials. They've been ranked #1 in the province.
Though I badly want to bump along on that entire seven hour drive (sincerely), listening to teen-aged banter and taking in some different scenery... alas, I must remain here and make more money so she can keep taking more trips. But how I wish I was getting on that bus at 2:00 pm today!
It's a glorious, grateful feeling to be proud of my kids.
So, get out there kids, and (don't) break a leg...

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Way Out of Stigma

I'm so proud and grateful to be part of a community like Niverville. Since moving here seven years ago, I've seen time and time again how people come together in genuine and impressive ways to support not only one another as individuals and family units, but also causes with a wider, more pervasive audience.

A couple of weeks ago, I got up early on a Saturday morning to climb aboard my Hiawatha and pedal through the dampness and timid sun towards the soccer park. The music hit my ears several blocks ahead of my destination, and I felt my synapses bathe in happy juices.

It was time for the 3rd annual Rock & Roll Half Marathon and 10km Fun Run & Walk, raising funds and awareness for mental health. I had the special privilege of donning a vibrant orange vest and marshalling a street corner, whilst simultaneously clapping my hands. (That's a lot to do at once.) It doesn't help that I have a special case of number dyslexia and although I had read the e-mail three times, printed off the info, and then gotten to my corner early, my brain had managed to scramble "junction of first street north and first avenue north; direct traffic east back toward fifth avenue" into "junction of second street north and second avenue north; direct traffic EAST BACK TO FIFTH AVENUE" (why can't dyslexia be consistent?!)

Thankfully, I live in a small town, and my sister was stationed at the next intersection. She doesn't have problems with numbers getting scrambled and rearranged in her head, or with urges to own every apron made in the 1950's. She's got some other problems, but not those ones, so she pretty much set me up at a corner, faced in the correct direction, and helped to de-mystify the whole event for me. I had claimed the junction that rightly belonged to my brother in law, and had I followed through with redirecting traffic east from there, I would have been solely responsible for shaving three blocks off of the half marathon.

Some people may have thanked me profusely, but we'll never know.

Speaking of the mystery that is the cranium, this wonderful event in my very own town (which I usually know my way around in....) was all about raising awareness and funds in the arena of mental illness. There's a snappy new blog dedicated to this cause, and I think you should check it out.

http://reducingstigma.blogspot.com/

Once you get there, turn east, back to fifth avenue.

You'll see me there, wearing an awesome orange vest, with my arms confidently pointing out just which way to turn.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

epiphany

Twelve years and twenty-five pounds later, I think I've had an epiphany.

I've spent a lot of time yearning to "go back". Back to the years when the bathroom scale would confirm that I'd made my peace with food and weight. Back when I ate almost exclusively to satisfy my natural, God-given, physical hunger signals. When I liked the feeling of lightness in my stomach and knew just exactly where the line between "too much" and "just right" lay.

Sure, those days I often woke up with the very same thought that greets me every single awakening morning that I've had since.

"You're Fat."

But in those days, the scale that I mostly ignored and shunned would confirm in a factual sum that I was indeed very not fat. And so, I could move on. The hard numerical facts and the clothes that continued to fit verified that all the hard mental work I had done to overcome my compulsions and disorders had indeed paid off.

Fast forward to catastrophic event in my personal life. To surging, edgy, skin-crawlingly intense anxiety. To a magnified feeling of helplessness. And terror. And disbelief.

Then interpersonal conflict, word flinging, and fragmented relationships.

The strangest thing began to happen. I had a figurative space at the back of my throat that opened into a chasm of terror and anxiety. I needed not to feel hungry. It frightened me. I felt completely conflicted about my body. I wanted to be thin, but I felt guilty about it. As though it were selfish (snobbish, superior, threatening) somehow. The hole at the back of my throat wanted to eat more food. I, meanwhile, feared the results, all the while feeling conspicuous in my smaller size, but dreading growing larger.

And so the years of conflict ensued.
I ate more because my body asked for more.
I wanted to want to eat less.
I tried everything to convince myself that I wanted to eat less.
I wanted to be thin again, and to not want, and I wanted the anxiety and conflict to go away.
I wanted to stop growing in size and I was afraid of what it all meant. Afraid that I was just dangling inches above a terrible chasm.

But all the while, I was figuring things out, bit by tiny bit. I figured out what different pieces of the conflict were really about. I figured out how to come (mostly) to terms with it.

I eventually noticed that I really had not regressed into the full-blown horrible years of illness. I noticed that my body was asking for more, but just that. Not endless, bottomless, piles of comfort stacked and scooped in bowls and platters. My body simply did not desire the sense of near empty lightness that I'd loved in the days before. It wanted to be solid to the ground, and not in a physical place of anything that felt like lack.

And so I grew.
Alternately accepting my sense of self, my size, and my voice and then feeling terrified and ashamed of them.
Despising the impossible pressure to be successful, thin, hungry, full, fit, perfect... and then making new resolutions to become all those things.

Push.
Pull.

In recent years, I've noticed a new, fledgling voice. A voice that resonates with one I heard in real time at one of my outrageous dress-up parties for women.

We were standing outside in the frost, wine glasses in hand. We were proposing toasts, and then flinging our wine glasses at the porcelain claw foot bathtub that resides in the back yard.

My friend raised her glass and proposed a toast that has rung in my ears ever since:

"Here's to never being hungry again"
.
She was really and truly quitting. Marching straight into herself with eyes wide open, grinning ear to ear. She refused ever to go hungry again in order to become a size that she felt she ought to be. She decided that maybe her body knew.
.
That it was time to be. To eat. To partake.
.
I think my entire insides momentarily paused as I heard her words. They were so simple, so courageous, so terrifyingly tantalizing.
.
I've been thinking about them for almost a year now.
.
Meanwhile, I've continued on my quest of psyche- detangle-ing. I've read a lot of books, always hoping that I'd get the sort of return on my investment that I'd received back in the eighties when I discovered Geneen Roth and her wonderful, life-changing words. Re-reading her work led me to discover that I was in pretty good health, mentally. I was no where near back to where it had all started. (thank God...)
.
On a more recent Amazon search, I ordered the book Transforming Body Image : Learning to Love the Body You Have by Marcia Germaine Hutchinson. I liked the intro. I liked that she didn't fit the typical bill of perfectly nipped and tucked women who go on Oprah to pretend they don't believe in the lies of the beauty myths. This author was not thin, and she'd worked really hard at establishing how to live out her life fully in the vehicle that she'd been given.
.
I skimmed through some of the guided imagery exercises, and skipped past a section entitled: Worksheet: statement of intent. But after thinking about that idea for a few days, I went back to it. What did I in fact intend? Did I want to be thinner? well... yes and no. Not thin at the cost of crazy. Too expensive. Did I want to "straighten out my head" so that I could go back to being thin? well, that's what I thought I wanted. It's what I thought I've wanted for all these years.
But as I stared at the blank spaces beside numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, it slowly dawned on me.
  1. I want to live in conscious awareness.

And that was it! I wanted to stop trying to talk myself out of where I was. Where I am. Who I am. Where I'm going. I wanted to be aware of being afraid and then be gentle in my reply.

I want to stop being afraid that I'm wasting my life worrying, and just listen to the worries. Notice. nod. Skip the lectures. Sit with my own self. Take my time.

And when my mental apparitions arrive in their hazy shapes of disapproving humans, I want to notice that too. Remember they've got their own boo-boos that make them a bit crazy and a touch judgemental. They probably need a touch of the same kind of gentle that I do. Their harsh edges don't have to be absorbed by my own fear of lack and fear of disapproval.

I might be hungry again, and I might not.

But I intend to stay awake for every nuance, every new piece that becomes part of this picture called woman. May I invite you to come along?

A toast then. To women, wherever you might be.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Can You Point the way to Great BRIN Tain, Please?

Now, I feel sure that none of you ever get interesting and really convincing stuff like this in your own inboxes, so I thought it prudent to share mine with you. I'm sure in a week or two, I'll be kicking myself for not taking advantage of a bullet-proof investment opportunity such as this one. They don't come along every day.

Anyway, here's the latest from....

From AHMED SALEH ABDUL KHALIQALIFI,.
United Nation Bonded Warehouse wales Branch.Office..........

SALAM,

This is AHMED SALEH ABDUL KHALIQALIFI , Presently stationed with the possition of assistant Manager as a trusted store-keeper herein United Nation Bonded WareHouse Wales Branch ..Office,Division in South West of Great Brintain . I will like to share somevery vital information that would bring some good financial returns to usin just a few weeks or days depending on how fast we pursue the matter.I am seeking your assistance to evacuate unclaimed valuable property to your safecustody, as long as I can be assured that it will be safe in your careuntil i complete my service here

This may not be the best medium to make this kind of contact because ofthe numerous scam offers transmitted through the Internet, but it is all Ihave access to for now.I will be very grateful if you can give me the opportunity to discuss thismatter with you by assuring me that you will not use any part of it againstme in anyway, I hope you understand my limitations here. I will await amail from you.

Sincere Regards,
AHMED SALEH ABDUL KHALIQALIFI.

And I'm sure you're all way too mature and busy with legitimate issues of personal development to respond like someone we all know (and love?)

WOW AHMED!! THIS TOTALLY DOESN’T LOOK LIKE one of those scams! Well DONE!
I already have thousands of acres of unclaimed land in Great Britain, so I’m not really that interested.

THANKS, though.