Falling into the New Year

If there is one thing I am good at it is falling and it is never done with grace.  My fear of falling extends into many aspects of my life and one particular aspect is skiing. My husband and children  ski two runs with me in the morning before ditching me for the call of the black diamonds.

phone home gully

I  don’t mind skiing alone because there is no one exclaiming  “Hurry up, Mom! You are sooo slow!”

On my own I can make my way down the mountain at my own leisurely pace and soak in the views inhaling the fresh mountain air.

The other day as I was skiing I made my way into a narrow corridor  of the run it was then I heard the swoosh of a snowboard right  behind me, a very loud expletive, and a thud.

I knew I was a goner.

My ski was clipped by the board, I went down letting out a very loud expletive, and smacked my head against the snow. I laid there for a moment looking up at the blue sky and accessing the damage. Only one very sore thumb, some stars, and the humbling experience of falling once again.

The young wiper snapper that clipped my skis  was already up and down to the next portion of the hill. I sat for a moment and attempted to pull myself up on my poles. I tried once, “Damn it!”

A large tribe of snowboarders then descended upon the run  and one young man hollered with warning to the ones above, “Mom down! Mom down! Mom down!”

They all swerved past me in a speed of lightning and it was at that moment I made the decision I would no longer be the “mom down.” I pulled up with one ski pole, then pulled up with the second pole, and with an elation exclaimed out loud to myself “This mom is up! Mom is up! I am up!”

As I skied down to the next chairlift   I contemplated going back to the lodge for my traditional  end of the day Bailey’s and coffee sitting in the lodge with all of the other Moms who were ditched that afternoon by their families. Instead, I took a deep breath and knew the coffee could wait because I was ready for my next run.

My fear of falling is big and when I do land on my back staring at the sky I know there is always a way to get up. It just takes humility, patience, and plenty of time. I have no idea what the New Year will bring but I wouldn’t expect it any other way.

The Legend of the Cookie Dough Tapeworm

It is whenever I bake chocolate chip cookies  I have childhood memories of  trying to steal a taste of the dough from my Mother’s mixing bowl.  The whole process was a very pain-staking  because you  had to watch for her to get distracted  and leave the bowl alone for a minute in order to get a gooey taste of deliciousness.  If she came back and you were caught with the hand in the bowl then you knew you were in for the story about the tapeworm.

cookies

My Mom would glance over “Get your hand out of there! Do I have to remind you of what happened to your Aunt when she was a child?”

“No. I know”

“I don’t think you do. It was one day we were all going for a walk and your Aunt was hit by a drunk driving down the road. Do you know what flew out of her mouth?”

“A tapeworm.”

“Yes. A tapeworm and the reason your Aunt had the tapeworm in her stomach  was because your grandmother would always let her eat the raw cookie dough.”

“I know. But a little won’t hurt.”

“Fine. Have a smidgen. But don’t blame me if you get a tapeworm.”

It was with slumped shoulders defeated I would think of the drunk neighbor that hit my aunt on the side of the road. I would do anything to give him a piece of my mind for ruining the perfect treat which should be eaten by the breakfast bowl.

“Did anything happen to the neighbor?”

“No. He just got back in his car and drove off.”

The lessons my mother taught me from this story was  I was always to stand in a ditch when a car passed us on a country road because you never knew who had too much to drink  after church on Sunday afternoon.  And second the household ban on cookie dough taught me how to bake my own cookies so I could enjoy a taste of dough without my Mother’s watchful eye.

The other day I caught my son trying to put his hand in the mixing bowl trying to sample the  dough.  I looked him straight in the eye ” If you eat that you will get tapeworm. Do you want to know why?”

And that is how legends like “The Cookie Dough Tapeworm”  carry on from generation to generation.

Onion Boy and his Hot Dog

My first minimum wage job at the age of fifteen was  working the late shift  at a small town convenience store .  On the night shift one of my duties was to clean the dreaded hot dog machine. I would take the hot dogs out that had been sitting there for fifteen hours, drain the water,  try not to gag, and  then clean it.

I can still smell the putrid aroma of rotting hot dogs floundering on the edge of hell. It was disgusting.

onions

Another part of that job was dealing with a wide array of customers renting and returning videos. My favorite customers were the ones who would attempt to rent a video while they had a  fifty dollar late fee for not returning the latest porn video on time.  Usually, they would blush,  give you a good  reason for it being late , and with  a “one time only” warning  I would waive the fee.

However, there was always the exception to that  rule with  the one belligerent jerk that insisted on berating you, calling you names, and then wait for you to remove the late fee.

It would never happen – I would get the very scary manager and she would tell him off.

Problem  solved! He would storm out of the store flabbergasted that: 1) He was out of line for verbal abuse 2) Expected to pay the late fee 3) And now looked like a complete asshole in front of everyone at the store.

So when I go to my local convenience store for odds and ends I remember being swamped at the cash, dealing with a wide array of people in the public, and all of the dirty jobs of keeping the store clean while working for very low wages.

Just the other day I felt lucky and popped into the local convenience store to purchase a lotto ticket.  I waited my turn in line as the clerk worked to serve each customer. It is when I heard one angry gentleman yell across the store, “Onions! Where are the onions?”

The clerk politely smiled “I will be with you in a minute.”

“There are no onions for my hot dog!”

“Just one minute, Sir!”

He huffed! He stomped! And he huffed some more! I was waiting for him to blow the store down.

As I watched his silly gesturing and anger I thought only one thing  - you sir are a huge asshole!

This  lovely clerk working by herself did not deserve to be bullied into rushing to the rescue with onions.   What I wished for this clerk was that her manager was standing close by to usher onion boy out the door.  No one deserves to be treated like a doormat over the simple case of missing onions.

So as I watched onion boy hold his hot dog all I could think of was the putrid smell and how long that hot dog had been sitting in the machine. I imagined the pain he would feel in his  stomach and  the sudden rush to go to the washroom countless times that night. One can only hope his stomach is weak!

If he had only been polite maybe someone would have warned him not to eat the hot dog.

My Week of Uncensored Tweets

I have a Twitter rule which is attempt to be upbeat and positive with most of my tweets. However, I recognize at times that I can be borderline snarky and sometimes cranky.  So if I am having one of those “special weeks” I think before I compose and tweet.

So I thought I would share with you all of my past week of uncensored tweets that never made it to my Twitter Profile.

to tweet

Day 1

Dear God! What is that smell? OMFG! What the hell is it?

Day 2

People it is a girl swinging on a wrecking ball. Big Whoop! Please divert your attention back to Syria.

Day 3

CRUNCH is the sound of my front bumper in the parking lot.  I think I might effing vomit.

Day 4

Holy Hell! It is 3 am in the morning and someone just tried to break into my basement window.  Holy Hell!

Day 5

In celebration of Friday the 13th I am becoming agoraphobic. Did I spell that right?

Day 6

You did not just say that! You did not just say that! #angry #weepy

Day 7

Wiping drool from my mouth after a long nap on the couch. Why is my dog on TV? Wait! I am on TV! I am a CBC rerun! #squeal

As I look back through the list I realize they are just the day and a life of an average person going through a very bad week.  Also, I actually would have tweeted Day 7 but I couldn’t find my phone (that was stuck in the middle sofa cushion next to the stale Cheetos).

My only hope for this week is a warm cup of coffee each day because my standards for the good life have succumbed to being very low. Can I  Tweet that?

I Have Been Held Hostage by FedEx

It is day two as I sit and wait for a parcel to arrive.

matter of time

The condition is scarce. I have not left the house.

I have not showered.

And I was brazen by taking a chance to bake blueberry muffins. I am hoping the scent of cinnamon and blueberries will lure the FedEx driver to my house and deliver the parcel within a reasonable time.

It was only yesterday I sat and waited, doing laundry, taking care of my to do-list,  only to trace the tracking number on my computer that evening to discover they were at my house at exactly 2pm.

I was in my house at 2pm! I will tell you this! There was no knock or note on the door and there was no ringing of doorbell!

I quietly wait and lurk through the back pages of McSweeney’s.

I am getting nervous , twitchy, and wonder if I leave the comfort of my main floor – will  he appear, sneak on the deck, and run-off again with the package.  I wonder what is this FedEx drivers game?

I contacted their customer service and explained my plight. Her only advice to me was “to leave a note on the door for them to knock or ring the doorbell.” If the FedEx man does not already have the commonsense to do any of that – I wonder is he playing with full deck?

Only time will tell as I sink into the stinky abyss of my stringy hair and day old yoga pants.  I wait as time marches on. I wait for that one hope of  a knock on that door, a friendly smile asking for a signature, and the freedom to go about my day.

Please keep me you in your thoughts my deodorant is beginning to fade and the odor. Oh! The horror of the insidious odor!

Once there was a Bear and Elton John Enters the Room

Sometimes music  can be the inspiration needed to keep me writing at my desk. However, I have to be careful about my musical selection because my mind wanders to the beat of certain songs. All of a sudden that song  can become the  front and center  story smacking me right in the face.lurking bear

I discovered this as I was working on my almost bear encounter and I turned on Elton John for a little background music. I started  to write about the woman attempting not to frighten my children, whispering, and pointing up the road “Bear!”

I exclaim, “What!? Bear!” which of course frightens my children.

And then Sad Song comes on! Of course I take two minutes to sing  it into my  coffee mug. I then muse over the last time I sang this song with friends in the middle of a pub over fifteen years ago.

Now I then try to focus back on the men emerging from the woods excited over the bear.

“You can go see the grizzly right there! She is right there!”

“Ummm. No thanks.”

I clutch bear spray the bear spray can tighter,  attempting to walk back to my trailer , keeping the kids calm, without running into a bear.  The bear you know is being contained by park rangers but still it’s a bear close by in the bushes.

I then begin to write about the anxiety of the bear and then I Don’t Want to Go On with You Like That starts playing which reminds me of that one guy I dated and badly danced with to this song in a smelly bar after  sharing our second  or third grog. It is inevitable to discover years later that he was gay and that this song meant so much more to him than I could have ever imagined.

So I then go back to the bear, the thoughts running through my head, about what if we had stayed on the trail, and had run into the bear.  Of course, I have to note the British couple that we run into along the way who think “It would be charming to see a grizzly bear.”It is obvious they never watched Grizzly Adams or Legends of the Fall or read what to do if you see a bear which is posted all over the God Damn national park. So then Nikita comes on and it’s not my favorite so I skip it!

Obviously, it  goes straight to I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues which takes me back to India alone in the apartment missing my future husband who was in the final stages of finishing his engineering degree. I may have played this song, over, and over again. But don’t tell him that because I don’t want it to go to his head.

I then snap back to the bear, we make it back to the trailer,  only to discover my husband  snoring the afternoon away,  obviously not concerned about his family. I tell him excitedly about the bear, he grumbles something illegible, and rolls over to go back to sleep.

Only in the final moments of attempting to finish this blog post This Train Don’t Stop Here Anymore magically plays and I am left with a sigh. I think about everything else and I belt it out. Oh! And there was a bear. But this is what happens when I try to write and listen to Elton John at the same time.

The Good

Sometimes there is an ugly in life that reminds us that there is always darkness that lurks in the light. It is in those trying times you want to take those shadows and stomp on them. You want them to recede into the dark corners but have to accept without those shadows there would be no light. You cannot have one without the other.

Sun setting

During those brief moments of darkness you stay calm by recognizing the craziness for what it is and move forward by staying focused on the light.  It is within that light that reason will prevail and with work you will find a solution to the problem.

 You breathe. You do not allow yourself to be the victim.You focus on your friends and family. You create in the quiet hours of the day.

It is in the good you can still see the beauty in people and move forward recognizing that there will be ugliness too. The ugliness is a reminder that we should never take what we have good in our life for granted.  The good is what you want to hold onto and cherish as it evolves into something more beautiful each passing day.

I want to Thank everyone for their kinds words and emails in this past month. It has meant the world to me and my family.  We are at point in which a resolution has been made and hope the best for the quiet.   I look forward to touching base with all of you and getting the carnival back en route to its next destination.

My Campfire Reading List

The summer I graduated from high school I went on a road trip with my sister to New York city in search of the perfect apartment before she attended Fordham University in the fall to complete her master and PhD.   We drove down from New Brunswick in a little white Mr. Bean car with no air conditioning in the sweltering heat that you had to park on the hill in order to get it to start, again.

It was an exciting time and an eye-opening experience for this little country bumpkin who had never taken a subway before or seen a skyscraper. The only advice I followed  on that trip from my wise teenage friends was not to look-up when walking  “because you don’t want to look like a tourist.”

It was on that trip I learned to navigate the subway system, devoured pizza in little Italy, and attempted to drop a penny off the Empire State building. It was an exciting time for this young seventeen year old who got to look-up to her older sister.

My sister is now the Director of The Great Books Programme at St. Thomas University inspiring young minds to think harder and strive to be better in all aspects of their lives. I have great admiration for her and  am honored to not only have a fabulous sister but a best friend until the very end.

campfire

As I  began to gear up for a great camping  season I realized I would be spending a lot of time in the wilderness  with many beautiful evenings curled up by the campfire.   It was the perfect opportunity to read many books in the silence of nature.

As I hummed and hawed at the book store over what to get I thought the simplest thing to do is make my sister compile a list for me. She has a good eye for Great Books!

“Can you give me a list of ten books to read this summer?”

“Any books?

“Yes. Any book you want!”

It is this list which I will be reading over the summer months and sharing my thoughts with you on every second Friday.

Baseball Books
The Brothers K , David James Duncan
Calico Joe, John Grisham

Scary Thriller
The Snowman, Joe Nesbo

Fun meaningful
The leftovers, Tom Perotta
The Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan

Literature
All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren
Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
Kokoro,  Natsume Soeski
The Ministry of Special Cases, Nathan Englander
Phantastes,  George MacDonald

I hope you follow along my reading journey and find one that you might enjoy too!

What are you looking forward to reading this summer? Will it be by a campfire?

A Year that Matters

I am going to be honest and reconcile that 2013 has not been the best year for me. I have been gritting my teeth, stalled in one place, and recognize that it is time to move forward on an unknown path. I have decided to move forward on this first day of spring as my New Year a renewal of who I am and who I will be in the future.

grassy lake

In Umair Haque’s short essay How to Have a Year that Matters he points that as we move forward we need to look beyond ourselves in order to live our life to the absolute fullest because our only enemy is time.

“Follow your passion, we’re often told. But how do you find your passion? Let me put it another way: what is it that breaks your heart about the world? It’s there that you begin to find what moves you. If you want to find your passion, surrender to your heartbreak. Your heartbreak points towards a truer north — and it’s the difficult journey towards it that is, in the truest sense, no mere passing idyllic infatuation, but enduring, tempestuous passion.”

It is that enduring passion which breaks your heart because nothing has ever been created without some fear of rejection. The thought of believing in something so big but the whole time it never believed in you. Was it ever really your true North?

As I turn a page in the next chapter and celebrate my new year by staring at the bleak outside and know that soon the snow will melt, the cold will vanish. The sun will rise, the tulips will bloom, and the world will shine, again. I will discover my North Star with trepidation and excitement. I will follow it and let it guide me through the roughest times.

As Haque points out:

“For the simple, timeless truth is: You’ll never find the rapture of accomplishment in mere conquest, the incandescence of happiness in mere possession, or the searing wholeness of meaning in mere desire. You can find them only — only — in the exploration of the fullness of human possibility.”

It is from this day I forward I am going to use my ability to make the choice to live my life to the fullest potential and possibility.  It will be full of laughter, happiness, pain, rejection, and heartache.   It’s time to starting have a year that matters!

How do you have a year that matters?

The Great Fall: Jennifer Lawrence and Me

Sunday afternoon was when the great fall took place!  It happened without warning! All of a sudden  I was laughing as I began to go down the stairs and seconds later I was laying flat at the bottom of them. It was at that moment I took a very deep breath and attempted not to unleash a slew of profanities in front of my children.

After  fainting and a visit to the ER I  then watched the last of the Oscars with a slice of greasy pizza.

jennifer-lawrence-fallAs I watched Jennifer Lawrence   begin her descent up the stairs she fell and in my Tylenol 3 coma I muttered “What a beautiful dress! It’s just so beautiful! Look it even looks fantastic when she falls!”

After the announcement of Best Actor and Movie my husband decided it was best to usher me off to bed. As I dreamily stated “Ben is a really great guy!”

It was the next morning as I attempted to move that I realized Jennifer Lawrence and I both had Great Falls on Sunday except there were obvious differences in how we fell.

Jennifer Lawrence falls up the stairs and is greeted by a handsome French Actor.

I am greeted by a husband making a concerned face  “Why on earth did you wear those shoes? Sesh! It looked like it really hurt! I mean ow!”

Jennifer Lawrence receives a standing ovation from the whole academy.

My children exclaim “Wow! Mom that didn’t look good.”

Jennifer Lawrence gets whisked away to the media room holding her beautiful golden Oscar with tears of joy in her eyes.

I get whisked away to the ER and try not to cry that really awful sobbing cry.

Jennifer Lawrence I imagine then goes to fabulous parties.

I go home to the sofa consoled by  the comfort of an ice pack and fuzzy blanket.

Jennifer Lawrence (I’m assuming) goes to bed with some beautiful creature.

I go to bed with my dog who attempts to ram her paws into my back in the middle of the night.

Jennifer Lawrence is the winner!

I am really not comparing who had the worst fall  it is obvious both of us had  disastrous outcomes.  I mean it must be terrible for Jennifer Lawrence to look beautiful under such pressure and survive such a calamity. I  also know I can relate to how tough it is to get back up and dust yourself off after that last fall! Phew! It’s a lot of work!

I would also like to thank  Ben Affleck for the inspiration for the last closing lines of this post.

Do you have a memorable fall? Was it as glamorous as Jennifer Lawrence’s?

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