Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rippling

"We don't have a case without your testimony," the district attorney told Shandi. "Are you sure you're willing to do this?"  Shandi's insulted.  "Of course I'll do it," she snapped.  If she didn't testify and this criminal went free, it would be all her fault.

His family trudged past Shandi at the sentencing hearing.  The red-eyed wife and the children, baby-cheeked twin girls clutching each other's small hands, floppy-haired teenage boy tilting his chin high, and Shandi recognized the oldest girl with a start.  There had been a write-up about her in the paper, in the Sophomore Stars section.  What was her name again...Kelly?  Karen?  Shandi remembered the grainy newspaper photo, glossy chestnut hair and a bright dimpled smile above phrases like "top student in her class" and "on the national team, with college scouts visiting already" and "volunteers with seniors every weekend." 

The girl with "always a kind word for others" looks bewildered now, as if the judge is speaking in a foreign language as the sentence is read and the girl's mother slumps down in her seat, weeping.  The prisoner is marched down the aisle in an unjoyful procession of grim-faced officers, as the little twin girls shriek and cry, "Daddy! Daddy!", snatching at pant legs as their father is borne away.

Five years later, Shandi regretted her cheeseburger craving as she stepped forward to lock eyes with Kendra (she knew it started with a "K"), whose dead gaze slid sideways, heavy arm jiggling as she pushed a limp strand away from the fading bruise arcing across her cheekbone.  Hurrying away from the cash register, Shandi decided to eat in the car. 

Eight years slipped by, and the sun dappled Shandi's arm as she reached into her mailbox to pull out an invitation from the detective, thanking her again for her eyewitness testimony.  Not standard, he said, but he'd pulled some strings; she was welcome to attend the parole hearing.  She'd been such a passionate and persuasive witness, he thought she might be interested.  No obligation, of course.  Shandi sighed and rolled back the rim on her coffee to reveal a free doughnut.  Maybe this would be a good day after all.

A few ragged rows of folding chairs in the parole hearing room, and Shandi sat in the back row, watching the clock hands inch across the white plastic face.  Scuffling in the hall outside, and "Fuck off!" snarled a feminine voice.  Shandi twisted to see two teenage girls stomp into the room, one a swollen caricature of the other.  Cold, inky eyes assessed and dismissed her as the girls flung themselves into the front row and lolled in their seats, twirling raven hair in synchronized boredom.  "Fuck, I have to pee again," complained one girl loudly.  "This damn kid is kicking my fucking bladder like a fucking soccer ball!  This better be quick."

As the haggard, still red-eyed wife shuffled into the room, Shandi looked at the floor.  She wished she hadn't come. 

Ten years gone, and Shandi flipped open the newspaper to see the floppy-haired boy glaring at her for the last time beside a picture of what was once a car.  Speed and alcohol were a factor.  Shandi's fingers trembled as she carefully set the paper down on her dining room table and stared out the window at the willow tree dancing in the wind. 

Not her fault, any of it.  There were consequences after all, and she's still sure it was him.  Almost positive.

* * * * *

I wrote this for the Indie Ink challenge.  Michael Webb challenged me with "Hell, it could be my fault." Write about something that was (or wasn't) your (or a character's) fault, and I challenged Heather with "I never expected you to be so kind."  I love Indie Ink - it's a great writing community.  Check them out here.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The cashier's nightmare

I'm not easily embarrassed, but this morning was a bit much even for me.  Tomorrow is S.'s first birthday and in a strange lapse from my normal extreme planner ways, I do not have every detail finalized.  Specifically, I've invited the guests and that's it.  In a fit of excitement (panic) this morning, I suddenly realized that 1) lots of people are coming over tomorrow and 2) lots of stuff needs to get done.  Fortunately I'm on vacation this week, so I have time to get this party back on track.


After my Body Attack class this morning (woo hoo!!  Exercising during the day - what a luxury!), I sauntered over to the party planning superstore next door to the gym.  Yeah, I was soaked with sweat, but I didn't plan to be in there for more than 15 minutes, tops.  HA!!  After wandering in a daze through the first two aisles, I should have realized I was in over my head, but instead I went up to the front and got a shopping cart since my basket was already full.


An hour later, I wrestled my overflowing cart up to the cash register.  As I watched the plates, cups, banners, party favours, candles, icing tips, bubble-blowing machine, hats, streamers, tablecloths, serving trays, napkins, etc. beep across the counter, I began to suspect the party might be a teensy bit more expensive than I'd originally planned.  It might be closer to $150-$200 than I'd like.  But then again, it is her first birthday, I told myself.  "Whew!"  the cashier sighed as she loaded the last item into a bag.  "That'll be $378.21."


As my mind gibbered in speechless horror, my hands followed their well-known route and inserted my credit card chip into the machine, punched in my PIN and tucked my card back into my wallet.  As the cashier began to hand me my bags, my fiscal self-preservation instinct finally kicked in.  "Um.  I'm really sorry, but I need to return some of this," I mumbled.  "I was expecting it to be $150, not $400."

The next hour (!) was rather mortifying.  The store was unable to just void the transaction and the poor cashier had to individually re-scan every.single.item.  And when she got to the end, it didn't balance (being an accountant, I could feel her pain).  Several other people got involved, and when the refund total was finally balanced to the original total, the cashier hit "Enter" with a sigh of relief.  The store had been empty when I got there, but there were now 10 people in line behind me and I could feel their furious beady little eyes poking into the back of my sweaty neck.  Thank God this was almost over.


Except it wasn't.  The cash register informed the cashier it was unable to process the refund.  More people joined the team trying to get me out of the store with credit rating intact.  Eventually a refund expert at another store was called, and we discovered that the cash register would only process refunds up to $200 at a time.  The entire refund transaction had to be voided, and the cashier had to re-scan the items for the THIRD time!!  At one point I was tempted to just tell them to forget about refunding everything, but I kept imagining my husband's face when I explained I'd somehow spent $400 on paper plates and other random items for S.'s party.  I manage our money (being an accountant and all) and J. is really cool with my occasional fits of shopping, but this might permanently shake his faith in my fiscal responsibility.  My faith would be shaken in myself.

Two and a half hours after I skipped into the party superstore, I slunk out with a small bag of items that were final sale and couldn't be refunded, a chastened and solemn shopper.  With dried sweat and shame clogging my pores, it was definitely time for a bubble bath.  I'll deal with the party tomorrow.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I'm the queen of the castle

I meant to post this 10 days ago after Kari from know-it-not-so-much gave me an award, but for some reason all I wrote was "I'm the queen of the castle" in the title and then forgot to write the rest of the post.  Umm...yeah.  The queen is growing senile in her old age.  Anyway, here's my award - hurray!!  Thanks Kari!

overlord award

With the power Kari has invested in me, I get to change any three things I want to.  Leaving aside the obvious pageant winners like world peace and ending poverty, hunger and hate, here are my royal decrees:

1)  Roads would become self-aware and take over your car if you're not capable of driving it like a reasonable person.  This means if you're driving under the speed limit in the passing lane, the road will forcibly move you into the lane you're supposed to be in (hint: it's the one on the right).  If you're speeding through a school zone, the road will turn into sludge underneath you, while reaching through the window and slapping you upside the head. 

Not signaling will earn you a trip to the side of the road, where you'll be forced to move your pinky finger up and down 50 times, to build up its strength for what is obviously an incredibly difficult and strenuous task for you.  Running red lights will divert you into a ditch, where you can sit for 20 minutes or so and think about your stupidity.  Hopefully you'll only need one or two driving timeouts before you'll get the message.


2)  Calories from ice cream would evaporate from your body while sleeping and never actually take up residence in your fat cells.  Really, do I have to explain this?


3)  Automated phone systems would be outlawed.  If a company takes your money, they will be legally required to talk to you about your problem with their product.  Human to human.  Hopefully, they'll actually be able to fix the problem, but if not, at least they were forced to listen to you bitch about it.



I'm bestowing my power on the following people whose responses I'm curious to see.  Let the world-fixing begin!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I resolve...to have fun

Summer resolutions are way more fun than January ones!  Thanks Mama Kat for another great linky:

Mama’s Losin’ It

1)    Fall asleep in the sun
2)    Ziplining
3)    Paint my toenails canary yellow
4)    Take my spin bike outside and have a workout in the grass (wow that sounded dirty...)
5)    Try a different Marble Slab Creamery concoction at least every other week
6)    Go dancing
7)    Take S. to a baby waterpark or fountain
8)    Eurobungy
9)    Run around the backyard in the warm rain
10)  Grow my nails so I don't have to hide them in my friend's wedding pictures     
11)  Have a date day with J. at least once a month during June-September
12)  Go to the CNE
13)  Take S. to a fireworks show
14)  Take S. to the butterfly conservatory
15)  Go to the beach and bury my feet in the sand
16)  Rent a jetski whether my bathing suit fits or not
17)  Stop eating my feelings
18)  De-clutter
19)  Kiss and cuddle S. every day
20)  Make time for my friends no matter how busy I am
21)  Have S. dedicated
22)  Prune my blog hops and communities to only those I really love and feel a connection with
23)  Summer tubing
24)  Have more well-rounded workouts
25)  Play piano
26)  Fill my reading stomach with some hearty books
27)  Pretend my blackberry doesn't exist while I'm on vacation
28)  Update S.'s baby book (*red face*)
29)  Go through my wardrobe again and face the facts about my actual size
30)  Use free weights for my arms more often than once a month
31)  Foster a set of kittens
32)  Get the spare room steam-cleaned
33)  Get the house cleaned
34)  Have a garage sale (preferably on kijiji)
35)  Put all the jewelry and weird clothes I don't wear anymore away for S. to play dress-up with when she's older
36)  Put sleep in my appointment book so I don't feel like a drugged zombie for the entire summer
37)  Buy new running shoes before my ankles crumble into powder underneath me
38)  Have a great 1st birthday BBQ for S.
39)  Stop looking for new entertainment and re-acquaint myself with what I already have
40)  Stop buying the expensive tests
41)  Sing, talk to myself (nicely), do whatever I have to do to distract myself from the fact I'm in traffic when I start feeling apoplectic or panic attack-y
42)  Refrain from nudging other cars off the road just because they are being total assholes and driving below the flow of traffic in the passing lane on a clear sunny day (see #41 above)
43)  Give my credit card number a break from its intense workout over the last year
44)  Smile
45)  Finish baby-proofing the house so S. doesn't keep hearing "no" all the time
46)  Use my whitestrips
47)  Spend a day lazing in bed, watching TV, napping, reading, eating ice cream and doing nothing productive at all.  Unplug the phone.
48)  Seriously look into what it would cost to deal with my nose
49)  Get control of the laundry monster
50)  Soak up every last minute of the happy season!!

What's your summer wish list?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In my skin

I was just watching "Brides of Beverly Hills" and good Lord.  They should call it "Brides of Frankenstein" because I've never seen so much plastic surgery on my TV screen at once.  These women look like white Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with bleached blond hair.  Who knew Plastic Barbie was so desirable?


It got me thinking about aging and how freeing it must be to be 90 years old and not have to give a shit anymore.  Then again, when I was 13 I decided that as soon as I was done high school, I would shave my head of its wretched frizzy brown mess.  The idea was that it might magically grow back in straight and maybe even blonde! 

And of course I wouldn't mind being bald for awhile, since I'd be all old and everything once high school was done.  Strangely when the time came, I found that voluntarily balding myself just didn't seem right and I decided to push it off for another decade.  Or five.

So maybe I'll still be dolling myself up in the nursing home.  But the pressure will be off, I think.


I've got plenty of time before I hit the nursing home, but guys don't holler at me when I walk down the street anymore.  This is not a bad thing.  Everyone talks about the pleasures of youth but what about pre-middle age?  I'd like to take a moment to extol the joys of being in my 30s.

1)  That phrase "will this matter in five years?" really works.  I'm much more confident in my ability to handle minor irritations and larger setbacks, because experience has shown me that I can and will cope.

from this... 


to this:...mostly

2)  I wasn't born into a rich family, so I'm still paying off my student line of credit.  But there's a heckuva lot more left over than there used to be.  When I watch S. playing in the grass in the backyard or come around the corner and see our house on its little court, I know that all my hard work when I was younger paid off. 

In my twenties, I worked like a dog and studied every free moment for my professional exams, only to be awakened every night by drunken losers screaming and puking in our townhouse complex parking lot.  All I hear at night now are the crickets chirping in the marsh behind our house as I drift peacefully toward dreamland.


3)  I've reached a point in my career where there's lots to learn and look forward too, but I'm no longer on the bottom rung of the corporate ladder.  I'm putting my education to work and feel like I'm actually contributing something of value to my company every day.  Work increasingly brings me a feeling of accomplishment that was elusive earlier in my career.

4)  On the few occasions I go out dancing, I can flail about with happy abandon and not be subjected to some random loser sneaking up behind me and rubbing his erection on my leg.  It is a huge mystery to me why any male would think this is an effective pickup strategy.  Fortunately I don't have to worry about it anymore.


5)  I'm thankful I became a mother when I was old enough to handle it and that J. and I had 15 years to build a solid foundation in our relationship first.  I would have been a terrible mother in my 20s and I knew it.  Raising S. is my greatest stress and greatest joy, and I'm glad I waited until I was ready to be the mother she deserves.


6)  My life is finally in balance and I feel reasonably competent in all areas of it (except the disordered eating area, but maybe that's not the best place to excel).   I enjoy exercising skills I've mastered, whether it's preparing financial statement disclosure, dancing in a zumba class or comforting S. when she's crying.  I'm pretty curious and I'm always getting into new hobbies, but I like not being a permanent rookie anymore.


What do you love about your decade?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Catching freedom

“Go small,” whispers Melly, wiggling her finger over her earlobes as if she has magic powers.  Melly melly has a hairy belly.  Melly taps her abdomen and says solemnly, “You too.”  She pulls open her dresser drawer, trying to keep it from rattling along its tracks, and holds still.  She holds her breath, listening, until all she can hear is the blood pounding in her head, clamoring for oxygen.  Whoosh, out comes Melly’s toxins, in goes Melly’s hand, slipping through the jagged crack behind the drawer, rubbing splintered wood.
    
Are you sleeping are you sleeping Brother John?  Brother John? sings Melly softly as a crinkled photo is transported between her fingers, out of the drawer.  She sets the photo face down on the dresser, and shuts her eyes.  Brother John?  Blindly flipping the photo over, Melly’s eyes snap open, lock click onto the smiling face.  Brother JOHN!

Melly runs, sweat memory tears streaming down her face.  If she runs fast enough, she may be able to shake this stranger out of her (Are you sleeping melly?), be rid of Brother John, who has taken possession of her insides, forever.

* * * * *
I wrote this for this week's Indie Ink challenge.  Random Girl challenged me with: "Every finish line is the beginning of a new race," and I challenged My Eclectic Bookshelf with:  "...loneliness is failed solitude.  We're raising a generation that has grown up with constant connection, and only knows how to be lonely when not connected."  (Sherry Turkle, MIT) 


Thursday, June 16, 2011

My boyfriend takes care of that

The first time I was pulled over by a cop was a memorable experience for both me and the officer.  In my second year of university, I bought a car.  It was right after I got my full driver's license (Canada has graduated licensing, so it takes several years), a month before my 21st birthday in November.  There were piles of paperwork and I was glad when everything was done and signed and could be filed away.

In May of the following year, I landed a co-op position at a big accounting firm and was anxious to make a good impression.  About a month into my co-op term, I was pulling into the office parking lot around 7 AM to catch up on some work, when I noticed red and blue lights in my rearview mirror.  Confused, I stopped the car in the middle of the parking lot and rolled down my window.  How could I get a speeding ticket in the parking lot?


"Step out of the car, miss," said the stern-looking officer.  "I'd like you to come around to the rear of the vehicle."  Clutching my purse, I hurried behind him, hoping this would be over before my co-workers began arriving for work and saw me being questioned by the police.  When he stopped suddenly at the back of the car, I almost ran into him.  "Look at that," he jerked his head toward the car.  "Well?  What do you have to say?"

"Ummm...are you not allowed to tie your license plate on with wire?" I guessed, grasping at the only objectionable thing I could see.  The cop stared at me with amazement.  "That's not the issue.  Look at your sticker.  It was supposed to be renewed in November!"  "November," I replied stupidly.  "Renew what?"  "OK, license, registration and proof of insurance, please," barked the cop, glaring at me.  I fumbled through my purse.

"Here's my license and this other piece of paper - I think it's my registration," I said, my hands shaking as I handed them over.  Why was he being so mean?  And what kind of renewal was he talking about?  Peering at my license, the cop asked more calmly, "So you live at 123 Dippy Street?"  "Oh no!" I said brightly.  "That's my parents' address.  I just left it as is on the license because I move a lot as a student, and then I don't have to keep updating my address."  Silence.  "And where's your proof of insurance?" said the cop in a strange tone.  "I keep it in a shoebox at home so it doesn't get lost!"  I chirped.  Over his shoulder, I could see my co-workers pointing at me as people began to arrive for work and head into the building.



The cop began firing questions at me:  "So.  Your license renewal is six months overdue, you don't have the address where you're currently living on your license, and you aren't carrying proof of insurance with you.  Do you even have insurance?  Why haven't you kept these items up to date?"

In a mortifying step backward for modern women everywhere, I lost my head completely and sputtered wildly:  "I don't know!  I don't know!  My boyfriend takes care of all this!"  Eyeing me with one arched eyebrow, the officer drawled, "Well, he's not doing a very good job."  (This infuriates my now-husband to this day).  Apparently realizing that I was genuinely clueless, the cop told me to go sit in the car while he wrote up my citation.

Five long minutes dragged by as I sat there wringing my hands.  I hate getting in trouble!  The cop reappeared at my window and proceeded to give me an education session on required driving documentation.  Apparently some of the paperwork I'd done when I'd bought the car hadn't been a one-time thing.  And who knew driver's licenses had to be renewed every year?  When he'd finished explaining the rules to me, the cop began going through the fines for each of my licensing and documentation infractions. 


"Oh.  Oh dear," I mumbled with increasing alarm as the officer's tally of fines continued past $300 to $400, to over $600.  How the hell was I going to pay for this and still pay my rent on a co-op student's salary?  My parents didn't have this kind of cash just lying around.  Seeing my mournful expression, the cop finally took pity on me and said, "However, I'm only going to give you the $250 ticket for the sticker renewal I originally pulled you over for.  But I'm making a note on your file here, and you have to bring this documentation up to date right away and keep it with you, or you will receive the full fine the next time a police officer sees you."

"Oh thank you, officer," I gasped in relief.  "I'll get everything in order today, I promise!"  Rolling his eyes, the cop handed me the ticket, wished me a good day and drove off.  My ordeal was over.


Mama’s Losin’ It


Monday, June 13, 2011

The moment I knew

Other women don't like me much.  From kindergarten through high school and beyond, my life has been one mean girl moment after another.  And yet I kept trying.  I wanted a best friend so badly - that mirror me that everyone else seemed to have.  But like a good man, all the nice girls were already taken.  It didn't help that I'm drawn to the troublemaker in the group - from Rizzo to Angelina Jolie, no one interests me more than a woman with a healthy streak of snark.  I remember whispering to my mom that I wasn't sure I was a good Christian, because I secretly preferred the villain in any story. 


The thing is, a bad girl is a bad friend.  She doesn't mean to be, but when her cheating ex waves at her from across the bar, she figures you'll find your own way home once you realize she's not coming back from the bathroom.  In university, I tried to expand my friendship repetoire to girls with pink comforters and kittens on their walls, but they turned out to be mean girls in honeyed disguise.


A few years ago, I started hanging out with a group of aerobics instructors/stay at home moms I met at the gym.  J. and I were pre-kids and saving up for a house while we renovated our townhouse condo for sale.  My new friends were a little older and while I didn't relate to their child-worshipping, we had a great time shopping, cardio kickboxing and poring over home decor magazines in their already-beautiful living rooms. 

When J. and I finally finished our condo renovations, I was so excited for my friends to see the results, particularly since they'd mocked the townhouse as "boring and grey" ("how can you even live here?  I would die!") the first time they saw it.  I planned a fun Saturday afternoon starting at 2:00 with yummy oven-warm snacks and arranged for J. to entertain himself elsewhere.  Did I mention how excited I was?


2:00 came and went.  And 2:15.  And 2:30.  And 3:00.  The hor d'oeuvres were stone cold as 3:30 plodded by.  At 4:00, I called friend A and was shocked to hear a cheery hello on the other end.  "Umm...where are you?" I asked in bewilderment.  "Well, my dad dropped by unexpectedly with a present for my son.  I know my husband's home, but I wanted to watch my son open his gift, so Friend B and I are here hanging out.  She was out shopping until 2:30 anyway, so she just got here at 3:00."

Remarkably, I kept my composure and informed Friend A that I was hurt and angry that she and Friend B had stood me up.  She apologized but didn't seem too concerned, so I got off the phone before I said something that our friendship wouldn't recover from.  Later I sent them both an e-mail explaining how it appeared they "just weren't into me" and I was really offended by their regular lateness and stand-ups (this wasn't the first time).  The responses I received were enlightening.

Friend B informed me that when I had kids I would understand that: 1) a person can't just not go on a shopping trip for new clothes right before they were supposed to be at a friend's house,  2) a stay at home mom's life is super busy with all the lunching and shopping and dropping off the kids for the day at grandma's house so mom can go to the spa and the gym, and I should have some compassion for her, and 3) I was being a ridiculous cold-hearted bitch for expecting a person to arrive anywhere on time or really at all, because moms "can't be tied to rules for casual social obligations."



Friend A informed me that her husband being at home was irrelevant.  If her son was getting another toy to add to his dragon-sized treasure trove, she was going to stay and watch him open it for two hours.  How could she leave his blessed presence for even a minute to call me and tell me she'd be late?  The last sentence was the kicker:  "Yes, my son is more important than you!" 

With a quiet little snap, something in me broke for good.  I knew I was done with female friendship permanently.  I got together with my frenemies one more time, but I just didn't care anymore and I never talked to them again.  Occasionally I get together with a few childhood friends to chat or go for a walk, but my BFF days are over.  And I've never been happier.


I did this post as part of the Indie Ink writing challenge.  This is my first challenge and I'm looking forward to reading the other entries.  I was challenged by Alyssa, whose prompt was "The moment I knew" and I challenged Transplanted Thoughts with "Sit or stand."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Za za za

I've been feeling especially cheery this week so I decided to link up with Mamarazzi's Happy List today.

This week marked some key deliverables for work, and the first time I haven't had to work every evening and all weekend.  I gave a successful presentation to the board of directors on Tuesday, which is no minor feat for someone who is flat-out phobic about public speaking.  Thank you medication!!


My company has been going through a major transition since I came back from mat leave in January, and it has been very stressful, with the potential of us all losing our jobs.  This threat became much less likely over the last 2 weeks and I'm incredibly relieved.  I hadn't realized just how tense I was until the pressure eased.

My scale may not be co-operating, but I worked out 6 of the last 7 days and I feel fantastic!  I'm bopping all over like it's 40 pounds ago, and I'm high on life baby!  This morning I did Body Attack, followed by Zumba and flashes of my skinny girl danced their way out, za za za.  It was awesome.


Summer's here and every time I turn my face up to the sun, I feel my soul filling up with happiness.  Last year at this time I was 9 months pregnant, and boy it's nice to be carrying my baby girl on the outside instead of the inside this summer.  Speaking of...we see more and more of her personality every day and I'm so thankful she's in our lives.  I love her so much and thank God for blessing us with her.


I had a great day off work on Wednesday!  I went to a warehouse sale and got new work clothes at an amazing discount, then met up with my sister for lunch and more shopping.  She's been away since January on a missions trip and it was really nice to visit with her and hear about her experiences.  I'm glad we're developing more of a friendship as we get older.  And I hit up Marble Slab Creamery on my way home and had a banana chocolate chip marshmallow graham cracker ice cream cone.  Mmm!!


I cleaned up the massive Hoarders-like clutter strewn all over the house due to Jer and I working such long hours.  Being domestically disabled, I don't get too hot and bothered about the house being immaculately clean (haha!!  I can't even say it with a straight face).  But the mess had really gotten out of control and was adding more stress to a chaotic time, and I feel all calm and happy now that the house is picked up and organized.



I've finally reached Day 30 of the music challenge - hurray!  It was fun, and I'm going to keep an eye out for another challenge series like this.  Day 30 is your favorite song at this time last year.  It's Bad Romance by Lady Gaga:


And that's my Happy List for this weekend - what are your happy thoughts today?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Backwards

The Gypsy Mama's Five Minute Friday is here again - hurray!  Here's the drill:

Got five minutes? Let’s write. Let’s write in shades of real and brave and unscripted.
Let’s just write and not worry if it’s just right or not.



1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Get a little crazy with encouragement for the five minuter who linked up before you.

This week's prompt is...Backwards.

*GO*

University deja vu.  So much stress, so little control and 20 pounds of unwanted weight.  At least now I have a baby to show for it.  But still - no excuses.  Back to the headaches.  Dizziness.  Constant running tally until I wish I had a little calculator implanted in my arm.  The aching shins and blisters.  Feeling every day like an old woman whose body is steadily giving out.  Muscles shaking in exhaustion and sitting down because I'm too tired to put one foot in front of the other.  Most of all the twisting, growling hunger.

Flip side.  The endorphins so high I feel like I could jump over the world.  Pants sliding easily over hips and underwire lying flat against my side.  No more breast bruises from a bra that doesn't quite fit anymore.  Chafing sore spots disappear.  If I keep going, maybe I'll get all the way back.  To taking full deep breaths because there will be nothing to hold in anymore.

*STOP*

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Vacation day!

Today I'm off work - hurray!!  A little blogging, ice cream, shopping with sis, lying in the sun, napping...it's going to be a great day!  I'm kicking it off with some linky questions from Mamarazzi, Janette, Seriously Shawn and Impulsive Addict:

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1)  Everyone seems to have a quirky family situation - what is something unique about your family dynamic?

I have an awkward relationship with my family, so this question makes me sad.  I've often felt like my family not only doesn't love me, but doesn't like me much either.  It's gotten a lot better in recent years, but I've also come to terms with the fact that my family is never going to be warm and affectionate, or take a particular interest in me.  An example is when I told a family member I had started this blog and really enjoyed it, and gave them the URL to check it out.  The response was "Well, I don't communicate that way, so I'm not going to look at it.  If you want to tell me something, you'll have to call me."  The level of selfishness is hard to deal with at times, but it's not going to change, so que sera, sera.

2)  What is the most stressful aspect to blogging?

This.  I read a lot of blogs, and don't want blogs that don't interest me clogging up my reader because I felt guilted into following someone.  It's obnoxious to say "I like your blog, so you'd better like me too."  Commenting is one of my favourite parts of blogging, but I don't leave a comment unless I have something to say (which isn't usually a problem haha!).  I hate feeling pressured in these areas and like I'm being a bad blogging citizen if I refuse to play along.

3)  Name your top three non-blog websites you flock to daily.
  • Fertility Friend to update my temperature chart - I've found this website really handy for keeping track of prime baby-making season.  A great group of ladies to chat with through your pregnancy as well.
  • The weather forecast, because we Canadians are obsessed like that.
The rest of my online time is spent here in the blogosphere!

4)  What's your sign?  Believe in it or not, does any part of it ring true to you?

My sign's description of my personality is freakishly accurate.  Really, it's kind of creepy.


5)  Ice cream!!  Ice cream!!  We all scream for ice cream...name your favourite brand.

Baskin Robbins regularly torments me by bringing out amazing flavours and then snatching them away, never to return.  I still mourn for X-Mint and Dirt'n'Worms.  My current favourite flavour is Candy Cane Chocolate Fudge Crackle.  Since it's only out at Christmas, I feel compelled to scarf down as much of it as possible while it's available, leading to some nice winter ass padding every year.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Alone

Day 29 of the 30-day music challenge is a song from your childhood and a RemembeRED prompt:



Look at the way we gotta hide what we're doing/ A forbidden friendship choking on its own stifling heat.  'Cause what would they say if they ever knew/ Sharp eyes stabbing into the back of my neck.  And so we're running just as fast as we can/ Speeding through the twilight, leaving time behind.  Holding onto one another's hand/ I thought we'd never let go.  Trying to get away into the night and then you put your arms around me and we tumble to the ground and then you say/ Best friends forever.  I think we're alone now/ Your blue eyes gone blank.  There doesn't seem to be anyone around/ Childhood and forever slip from our grasp. I think we're alone now/ And you're gone. The beating of our hearts is the only sound/ Still that dull ache after all these years.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Someone needs a time out

Today the Calgary Herald brings us a warning about punk deer who are ramming around a small town here in Canada:

WATERTON PARK Alta. — With stunning mountain views in all directions, visitors here naturally cast their eyes upward.  But that would be a mistake — at least when deer are nearby. They've started hoofing dogs and stalking people.  "One lady got hypothermia pretty badly because she got chased into the lake. She was elderly and she just grabbed her little dog and backed into the lake," said Barb Johnston, an ecosystems scientist with Parks Canada.

The situation got so bad last year park staff started marking wayward deer with coloured paintballs when the creatures chased dogs or stared down children.  Ones struck multiple times with paintball markets were removed from the park. But half the painted deer came back.  At first the humans assumed aggressive behaviour was limited to females trying to protect fawns hidden in long grass and near garden planter boxes. That theory soon changed.

"It's females without fawns and even young males and there's no natural reason they should be doing that," said Johnston. Rather, aggressiveness has become a learned behaviour.  "I think they just think it's fun."

The deer have grown too accustomed to the townspeople and the tourists, who feed them popcorn, candy and sandwiches in exchange for close-up photographs.  It was time for a change of tactics.

First, Johnston ordered a raft of new signs to warn people of the danger. A company in Calgary produced four neon-yellow triangles depicting a black stick figure cowering under the raised hoofs of an attacking deer.  Three of the signs were promptly stolen. More are on order.


Enter Christine Jobe, who has been training, breeding and working border collies since 1994.  She's camped in a trailer in the town. Every morning at 6:30 she takes a few of her dogs on a hazing run of the town, hoping to discourage the deer from fawning.  The deer see the dogs and bolt.

Although only in its first week, the hazing seems to be working. The deer bolt by sun up. But they soon come back, forcing Jobe to conduct up to four sweeps of the town per day.  The attacks don't tend to start until June — when a confluence of tourists, summering townspeople and mating ungulate hormones proves too heady to avoid conflict.

"I've watched people walking their dogs and they're acting scared. The deer can sense that. The deer know," she said. "It's noticeable, the changed behaviour. They do this little walk. It's stalking behaviour."  Jonhston said the dogs were considered after she saw them successfully run elk out of Banff.  The deer have yet to aim a hoof at the face of any of Jobe's collies.

Although most townspeople seem happy to see the deer get their comeuppance, shopkeeper and longtime resident Carol Cruickshank worries about disappointing visitors.  "I really like seeing deer fawns born in the backyard and the tourists, of course, love them," she said. "I fear that if we chase them all out of town, the tourists will miss seeing them."

Even the most ardent supporter, however, acknowledges the deer are becoming a problem.  "I've been chased many, many times," she said. "Yeah, it's pretty scary when it happens to you, especially when you have a child. The dogs, you can't let them off their leash, but I think it's part of being in the town."

I bet these deer had helicopter parents.  "Oh honey, of course no one minds if you kick that human in the head.  You just do whatever makes you happy and Mommy will make sure no one interferes.  Because rules don't apply to MY precious fawn!!"

Day 28 of the 30-day music challenge is a song that makes you feel guilty.  It's Jesus Walks by Kanye West and you can read why here.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

My first car

I have to introduce you to one of my favourite new finds - Captchouli!  It's like an online version of Balderdash, hosted by Katie from Chicken Noodle Gravy and My 3 Little Birds.  I played for the first time last week and I won!  Hurray!!


My blog friends have been kind this week - on Thursday I got an awesome package of books from Natalie at My Blog is Boring for her giveaway.  Thanks Natalie!  It was so nice to find something in the mailbox other than bills.  Plus stupid Canada Post went on strike on Friday, so I got it just in time!

On to my Saturday musing...

My relationship with the automobile has been questionable from the start.  My earliest memory of a car is the interior of our green Beetle spinning around as I threw up from motion sickness around the age of 4.  Later I remember mind-numbing Sunday drives, when my parents would bore us comatose by driving around hoity-toity neighbourhoods and oohing and aahing at the houses we'd never live in.

I bought my first car for $3,000 cash.  It was a 13-year-old Acura Integra and perfect for a university student.  It ran like a brand-new car until the day the brakes began grinding.  My boyfriend (now husband) kept promising to take it in, but we were both busy and didn't understand the urgency of the situation.  The necessity of making time for car repairs no matter what was demonstrated to us when I pulled out of a shopping center, and my attempt to brake resulted in the sensation of a hot knife sliding through butter.  No resistance at all (haha what a ridiculous analogy!  But I digress...).

Miraculously I did not die or demolish the car that day.  When I was seconded to the big city on my second co-op term, I knew I should get a new car, but couldn't scrape together the downpayment the bank required.  So I went to the big city with my now 15-year-old car (one more reason money is important - safety!).

the culprit (note the infamous stairs in the background)

The firm had put me in a downtown hotel suite, but gave me a client in the suburbs, so I had to drive a fair distance back and forth every day in my elderly car.  One night at 11:30PM, I was about to turn out the night table lamp when the phone rang.  It was the front desk asking if I was the owner of the white Acura Integra.  "Yeesss....", I replied, wondering what on earth my car could have done without me in it.  I was asked to come downstairs, which ended up being quite a trek since the elevators weren't working.

I came out of the stairwell to find the lobby full of people.  As I made my way toward the front desk, I saw flashes of red light through the crowd and heard people whispering, "There's the owner!".  After the hotel manager introduced me to the fire captain (!), we crossed the yellow tape (!!) barring entry to the parking garage.  The metallic smell of gasoline was stifling - I could almost taste it.  One spark in there and the whole place would have gone up, no question about it.

My wretched car had been unable to handle the transition from a cold winter day to the heated parking garage with a full tank of gasoline, and my gas tank had ruptured.  Since I was parked in a dip in the parking garage floor, the entire tank had pooled underneath my car, creating a major fire hazard.  The elevators had been shut down to avoid creating a spark in such a combustible environment. 

The fire crews were working on cleaning up the mess, but the captain advised that I couldn't leave my car there.  They called a towing company for me, but the guy didn't show up until 3:30 in the morning!  By the time he got there, I was so exhausted, humiliated and pissed off that I just gave him the pink slip and told him to take the damn car away.  My first car and I were done.

Tell me your first car stories - anything crazy like this?

Day 27 of the 30 day music challenge is a song that you wish you could play.  I love this song, but I can get through about three bars of it.  Here's Alla Turca by Mozart: