Saturday, April 28, 2012

On Why I May Actually Clone My Husband

Saturday morning, and town wide garage sales. I can't sleep, and slip out before the sun has quite warmed the asphalt.

I'm instantly warmed at the sight of 6 pristine chrome and vinyl dining room chairs.

Quite possibly overheated.

I bring them home, knowing full well that I have an active, chronic, and progressive chair disorder.

The husband says; "great find!"

Me; "Kind of weird though, right? Do we really want to go this 70's route?"

Husband; "For now....."


That's right, ladies. He's just sexy like that.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Body Beautiful: Part A (of the English Alphabet)

(*this topic is impossibly large. I may have to move through all the letters of the English alphabet, and then move into some other alphabet. There's no telling where this may lead)

I love making resolutions. I don't mean the dumb kind like; I'm not eating peanut M&M's until I lose twenty pounds. I mean the "RESOLVE" kind of resolutions. The kind that involve an epiphany; a life-giving, liberating new way of living.

The kind of decision that would mean I could end the fight. Swim upstream into freedom and peace of mind.

Say "NO" to my repressive and demanding culture.

Refuse to provide residence to the screaming monster in my head. Give all my friends and enemies and random strangers permission to do the same. Start a quiet revolution in which we all see our beauty, embrace our power, stop wasting time. Life.

I love these resolutions. And they feel incredibly liberating.

For about an hour, or until I am standing in my skivvies in a fitting room with a flimsey curtain for a door, fluorescent lighting, and a three way mirror.


Then I rapidly transform into some sort of diet crazed, heavy footed, fat loathing feral creature once again. My resolve, my soaring spirit, so recently liberated from its harsh, judgmental dictator crashes down in giant, untamable, chunky bits of horror.

I stare at the ripples and layers of cellulite invading my flacid thighs and wonder how I ever have the nerve to leave the house.

Or bed.

I notice a new pathway of veins creeping down the inside of my ankle towards the underside of my foot. Like my own flesh and blood sneaking around, searching for an escape route.

It was much easier at that profound moment when I'd decided about being beautiful for the rest of my life.

I was pinning at the time. Not wide-eyed in a fitting room with a pair of jeans pulled up to a sudden screeching half near the tops of my thighs.

But I'm only a junior in my quest for a new way of living. In my desire for body acceptance. My thoughts often stubbornly refuse to align with what I believe: That we women are wasting our lives staring down and shaking our heads in disgust and discouragement. That we've bought into some sort of weird conspiracy to keep ourselves very very small and inconsequential. That by constantly focussing on what to change, we've totally missed the point on what needs to change. We're meanwhile giving our lives away. Throwing away our influence, our beauty, our power.

I'm learning that even though my brain torments me, it all comes down to choice. Will I choose to engage in fat bashing conversations? Will I choose to subject people to my insecurities, my ill-fitting craving to live in a smaller body? Will I be one of those voices who reinforces that its not okay for women to have back fat, belly fat, jiggly thighs, droopy boobs, and upper arms that wave back? Will I perpetuate the common belief that weight loss will just 'make me feel better"? Or will I be brave and suggest that feeling good about ourselves has to start right now wherever we are. Whatever we weigh. Will I be brave and remember that when I was skinny I had really sad days, insecure days, desperate days, and perfect days, just as I do now?

Will I go on the ten day soup diet; run when I want to sleep; scan the pharmacy aisles for appetite suppressants? Or will I respect myself more than that- sleep when I'm tired (or promise myself to go to bed early), feed my body delicious food when its hungry, choose not to shove brain and body numbing trash into myself? Will I eat treats when I need a treat, take the dog for a walk when I need fresh air, move my body in pleasurable ways, treat myself with honour?

I'm learning that my thoughts are extremely slow to change, but that each thought is not an end to itself- its more of a reminder of the choice that comes immediately thereafter. Will I choose to promote behavior and lifestyle that honors your and my life, our beautiful selves? Or will I respond out of the insecurity that feeds straight into a destructive culture of telling its women- our daughters, mothers, sisters, and friends... that they're just not quite enough.

It's not going to be easy to start a revolution when three quarters of my brain wants to sign up for every diet, surgical procedure, fitness program that I'm constantly bombarded with. But if that's how damaged my thinking has become after a lifetime of hearing that I'm not enough, I really don't want to join my voice to that choir.

I'd like to join my voice with another choir.

A more inclusive, far-reaching, broader, less one dimensional choir. My voice will be weak, hypocritical, faltering, and frequently out of tune. But I hope that as the chorus swells, we'll find strength and harmony in each other.


Friday, April 13, 2012

On Why I Shan't Kill or Leave My Current Husband

Says he: "Who did that string art?"

says me: "I bought that at the thrift shop".

he: "What'd you pay for it?"

me: "50 Cents. It's probably the weirdest thing I've ever bought, but it reminded me of Kathy and Ken (my bro and sis). They did those.

he: "I did that too".

me: dramatic pause.

he: "It's hard to find good string art these days."

Monday, April 09, 2012

Diners, Drive-inns and Dives, Part 3


Back in the eighties, I was a high school student in one of the last known dry towns in the world.

Well, at least in the province.

I was also an excessively well behaved child. If I said "Call me for a good time", I usually was hoping for a chance to go skating, swimming, tobogganing, snowmobiling, or indulging in an ice cold dip at the pits. Maybe I just wanted to watch tv at your house because we were raised pure. No television and lots of Sunday School. We were so pure that we hardly ever ate chips either so the two boxes of Old Dutch salt and vinegar that my mother bought at Christmas time vaporized like so much steam from the Sunday bubbat cloth.

I rebelled by walking two miles down a country road in the dark to watch "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island" at my best friend's house on Friday nights. On Sundays we'd lay in her brother Henry's smelly bed all afternoon munching on ketchup chips and working our way through Cinema One, Cinema Two, and Walt Disney. Occasionally we'd find his naughty magazines underneath his mattress. We never spoke of it.

My brother on the other hand, rebelled properly. He'd disappear for days and nights on end, drive drunk, take the car through fields for joy rides, hold entire conversations with turkeys in fields at night, indulge in illegal and alternative lifestyle choices, etc, etc. One of the sure marks of a proper rebel in Steinbach was if they exited town limits and frequented THE INN. Otherwise known as FRANTZ. My brother was a Frantz guy. Everyone knew him; both inside and outside of town limits.

Frantz Motor Inn remained an enigma to me. A place where the truly brave resided. The kids who had stared the pressure of parental and community expectation in the face and said; "nah. who cares. I'm going for a beer".

I didn't even know how to order a beer, or where Frantz really was. I thought of it as a hazy place just east of eden. I mean, east of Steinbach.

But that's all behind me now.

It has taken me a few decades to remember Frantz Motor Inn and the mysteries that it might have contained. But when it came to mind, there was really only one thing left to do.

Just as soon I got that whole awkward family vacation thing to Minneapolis over with, I rushed back to Manitoba to finish up my Triple D series.

Within hours of arriving home, I dashed out to Steinbach to pick up one of my old equally puritanical high school friends. It was time to even some scores.

Into the den of iniquity we crept.

It was indeed a dive.

The lounge side of the inn had long dark lines of slot machines tended by frizzled women who had actually never left the facility since 1981.

The dance floor mocked my limp Mennonite limbs. The dark brown chairs, cheerless tables, rows of vacant bar stools reminded me of all I'd missed. All the REALLY GREAT TIMES I'd sacrificed while skating in circles at the duck pond.

We stopped for a moment of silence in memory of the eighties, and the parts we'd played in it all.

Then I bought my friend a drink, and we set about changing history at one of the world's truly greatest and underwhelming diners, drive-inns, and dives.



Thursday, April 05, 2012

On Loving People

What I love about loving people is being allowed entrance into their very selves. Their thought processes, their fears, their prejudices. Their strong parts, weak parts, funny bones, and passions.

I never agree with every single utterence that comes out of a person whom I love. I don't have to. I've been let in to hear, to be challenged, to be a sounding board. It's a privelege to be let in.

What I hate about loving people is the collatoral damage. The part that began with being let in, and then morphed into the "me" parts getting sort of blended with the "they" parts. I'm okay with that kind of vulnerability right up to the point that it gets trampled on, hung up to dry, peed on, abused. The point where I become the target of some anger that really has absolutely nothing to do with the "me" part of the equasion.

Then my brain will start to do this thing.

Remember when you were dating a guy and his flaws were cute little signs of his humanity, but after he dumped you, they became bright red shiney flashing FLAW lights? And you suddenly realized that he was bad for you, toxic.... possibly dangering your psyche? You find yourself stocking this itinerary of scary facts about him, what might have happened, and how sorry you are for the next victim he decides to love?


That's what happens inside my brain when I feel really hurt.

I know I'm just trying to "heal" myself. I'm just trying to stock the "better off without" side of my mental inventory. The truth is that loving people can be really painful, and not at all easy or uncomplicated. You might think that love is enough. But its only enough when you are omnicient and can predict exactly the manner in which all people would like to be loved. And that, my friends, is simply not garden variety.

I'll never stop investing in people because its one of the greatest joys in my life. I'll probably get hurt again.

What I really want to get better at is to be completely sincere when I say (or think): go in peace. I wish nothing but the best for you. I love you so much. I miss you. Travelling mercies.

I'll always love you.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

She Pauses To Post While Life Continues To Careen Along

Going away for spring break was a good idea. With our firstborn in her final year of high school, everything feels precious and temporary, and I hated to think of five days slipping away with the kids gobsmacked in front of the f-sharping x-box, and me going rapidly insane.

Instead we ate out, went shopping, watched Sam swim, ate too many chips, did very little housework or laundry.

It was good.

We all managed to indulge our consumeristic (word?) tendencies. Me, with a bunch of monochromatics ON SALE, and Brian

Well, Brian had his green tasbasco stash to refuel.

With thirty-three bottles in stock, he feels relatively confident that we'll survive the dry season intact.

After stopping at home for long enough to notice that the floor needed sweeping, Jane and I dashed off on our next adventure: a quick road trip to Brandon to connect with some old soul mates.

We always make time for the priorities of life: treasure hunting.

I didn't buy these glass knobs.

I just celebrated that they were twenty bucks a piece, because I have a few of them lying around the house as art.

I now have the hope that I may be able to retire in comfort after all.

I took this photo for my Arianna, who has a lovely starter's collection of vintage cameras. A girl after her mother's heart.

The only thing that prevented me from buying this unbelievably amazing alarm clock was its price tag: $90-. I totally think its worth at least that price, but I remembered all those monochromatic clothes that I'd just bought, and that two of my four children expect birthdays the following week.


So, I was a good girl. I left the sweet red robin for someone who married for money; not love.

My picker sister scored big with this picnic basket and a red1950's wall clock. Too bad she dropped it on the street on her way to the car and broke it.

I'm sure glad now that I didn't buy the birdie clock and let her carry it for me.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch I had parked our shiney new car right in front of the basketball hoop.


Lory and I fixed it with windex and packing tape from Dollarama.

I really don't think Brian will ever notice.

Soon enough it was Earth Hour and it was dark, so we couldn't see the car any more.

Instead we ate sun chips, stoked the campfire with dead wood from around the property, and sipped on giant tin and tonics.

Jane and I meant to leave after earth hour, but it was dark and I hadn't spent enough time with Lory, her golden retriever, her redhaired boy, her fabulous daughters, and her tolerant partner.

Besides. I'd had absolutely no desire to not drink that G&T she had offered me at the campfire.

Besides. With the pretty new spiderweb design on my windshield, I thought it would be better to drive into the sunrise early in the morning. On inadequate rest, a splintered windshield, and early morning rain shower I was pretty sure I wouldn't have any trouble staying awake for the 3 hour drive home.

It was good to be back home again.

Car safely hidden in the garage away from prying eyes.

There was no time to waste.

We had a bridal shower to host, that very afternoon.

Time moves so insidiously, it seemed impossible that my rascally little niece would be for-real bride, and her funny little cousins- my daughters- would be her tall, fully dressed, and elegant bridesmaids.

So much to celebrate.

So much to do.


And do it,

We did!




The shower was a smashing success, even though I refused to plan any shower games.

Not only did they forgive me, I think I detected an audible sigh of relief.

Now spring break is over.

And some of us are exhausted.

(not me. I loved the constant action, all the lovely people, all the non-laundry and cooking days, everything.)

I knew my break had been perfect when I felt overjoyed to see my tiny minions back on the couch.

Here they are doing their daily practise of "shove a finger in your mouth".

They're all crammed on the couch because the kitty got the best chair all to herself.

After five days off, she'd kind of gotten used to having the house to herself.

Not me. I'm all about the love and the people.

And its good. All good.