Archive | February, 2017

Groundhog Day

24 Feb

cranky

Yesterday something so awful happened.  I woke up cranky.  I literally feel cranky, maybe, twice a year.  When I do it is atomic.  It is a devilish blend of hormones, winter, general life annoyances and not getting enough sleep.

To start it off I spilled my coffee grinds.  All over the place (inner thought – Shiitttt). The dog gets excited to get out the door in the morning, but yesterday her bark annoyed me so greatly that I got cross at her (inner thought – Shut up!).  She put her tail between her legs and did not want to come near me.  Shortly after walking she couldn’t keep going because the salt was bothering her paws (inner thought – Seriously?)  I had to pick her up and put booties on her and of course got yucky water from her belly all over my coat (inner thought – Dammit).   We were making our way to pick up my brothers dog and as luck would have it a big section of their street hasn’t been shovelled and the sidewalk is a huge mess (inner thought: Assholes).  So I stepped out into the street and went into what I didn’t realize was a pothole full of slush.  Right over the top of my boots.  (inner thought – Fuck).  We picked up Preston.  On the way Millie wasn’t able to walk as fast as usual because her paws were still hurting, so Preston was pulling her along  (inner thought – Commmeee onnn).  As we were making our way we had to cross a few crosswalks.  Drivers didn’t stop (inner though – Screw you) .  When we finally got to the office I realized I had dog hair all over my tights (inner thought – Urrrgghhh).  I then went to get my coffee at the shop around the corner from my office – I went to put milk in it and the pitcher was empty (inner thought – Of course).  Back at the office every email and phone call was a complete annoyance (inner thought – You are so annoying).  The internet, it was so slow (inner thought – This sucks).  3 pm came and I had an absolute cracking headache.  I didn’t have an Advil at the office so I had to make my way over to the drug store.  The friendly cashier asked me ‘how are you today’ to which I replied ‘I have an awful headache.’  He said ‘hopefully that Advil helps’ (inner though – Yeah thanks for that Captain Obvious).  On the way back to the office every person I walked by annoyed me (inner thought – Too slow, move over, get out of my way).  I took the Advil and waited for it to kick in.  On the way home from the office I wanted to avoid the salt for Millie, so I cut across Citadel Hill.  It was really mild and so when I went to walk on the snow, I sunk.  Like really deep.  Right up to my waist  No exaggeration.  Filled my boots with snow and I had to sort of crawl out of the bank (inner thought- You HAVE to being kidding me).  I made it home, took off my drenched tights and hid away from the world.  I didn’t even call my mother for fear of being short.  I went to bed at 9:30.

I woke up today feeling refreshed with some perspective.  What a COMPLETE waste of a day.  It was actually a beautiful day here and I didn’t even see it.  My body literally had a physical reaction to how yucky my thoughts were.  A headache!  I never get headaches (unless wine or beer induced).   Other than telling the guy at the drug store that I had a headache, I didn’t put my shitty mood onto anyone else.  I am emotionally intelligent enough to have kept it inside my head.  Unfortunately, I see people reacting outwardly the same way I was feeling inwardly all the time.  My inner thoughts are their words.

I recently watched the movie Groundhog Day.  It had been years since I saw it.  I did not remember the premise of the movie other than his day was on repeat.  Phil was cynical, negative and everyone annoyed him, making him short tempered all the time.  In having his day be on repeat over and over again (he stepped in the same puddle and saw the same guy who annoyed him) he learned that it was his reaction to the day directly affected the outcome.  When he was a dick the same cruddy things happened over and over again.  When he changed his outlook and his assumptions of others, his day changed.  Presto!  Imagine.  When he didn’t see things from a negative standpoint his day was exponentially better and so was the day for all of those around him.

Through my work I deal with people going through really awful things all the time.  Like, really awful things.  It gives me perspective that my ‘stuff’ is not that bad.  Now, I am not suggesting that you can’t be cranky.  We are human after all.  When you aren’t a crank you see that everyone you encounter is also – just human.  They are not assholes (well most everyone), lazy (well most everyone), inconsiderate (well most everyone) and that your dog just loves you wholeheartedly.  When you look at it from a positive standpoint small annoyances are much easier to deal with.  Get the broom to sweep the grinds, change your socks when they get wet, get the lint brush to take the hair off and just ask to have the milk pitcher filled up.  Shake it off.  Move on.

What I am saying is that life is a beautiful-beautiful gift and you sure as hell miss out on a lot of good stuff when you are a crank.

***my dog is treated like a queen and all I did was tell her to SHUT UP.

Tell Me A Story

18 Feb

story-telling-jpg-1

Can you tell me a story? I can’t even begin to count how many times my nieces have asked me to do that.  They absorb every ounce, of every word I speak when I tell them foolish and wild tales of growing up or stories from my older family members.   When each story finishes I can be sure to hear – another one please.  They love every second of it and stare at me like I am a wonder of the world.  We all love a good story, told well.

Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of entertainment.  Before we had the internet, before we had cable, before we had cellphones, before we had Ipads — people got together and told stories.  I’ve always had an insatiable interest in people and witnessing the world around me. Like some people love running or music, a great love of mine is hearing or recanting a great story.  I grew up in the country with no cable which meant one of our main forms of entertainment was going to visit relatives and neighbours in the evenings.  If my Mom was going so was I, as it meant I got to listen in on adult conversations and hear crazy stories.  I can clearly remember my Grand Uncle Emile telling the story of getting home to his fathers funeral in Cape Breton.  He was living away working as an RCMP officer and on the day he was to travel planes (from the only airline in Canada at that time) were grounded.  Instead of missing his fathers funeral RCMP officers did a convoy for him – they drove him to the edge of their districts where an officer from the next district would meet them.  Amazingly, he made it all the way from Ontario to Cape Breton in time for his fathers funeral. He told stories with such zest.  Hands going.  I was completely captivated by him.  Or what about the time when Grand Uncle Blais as a boy got a cows horn through his neck and nearly died.  Or when my Grandmere spent an entire year in a sanatorium when she had TB.  This left my Grandpere home with 9 children.   Or when myself and 5 girlfriends convinced 2 police officers to drive us to the bar and they asked for underwear as payment.  Or Grand Uncle Jerome who loved playing pranks.  He once gave my cousin Heather a hen in a box for her birthday.  When she opened the box the hen flew all around the living room.  Or when my Grand Aunt Phyllis gave away unwanted kittens for Halloween one year.  Or Grand Aunt Rita who swore her house was haunted and told creepy stories about seeing ghosts there.  Or the time when my brother Steve went through a barbed wire fence on a sled ripping his face to shreds and my likely somewhere around 300 pound grandfather nearly fainted when he brought him home to my Mom.  Or when our very drunk neighbour Freddy was lying out in the middle of the road in front of our house and my mother had to talk him through getting up and off the highway.  I watched from the hedge so that Mom wouldn’t see me – she told me to go back to the house.  Or about the time when Allan and Brent (who were in elementary school at this time) stole our school bus and did wheelies on the soccer field with it.  Or about Mrs North Grant.  An eccentric woman who lived in town, dressed like Sex and The City but wore knee high pantyhose.  Or the time when Sarah and I at 15 stole her parents car to go to a party   Or when Mom and I on our way to Australia on a stopover in L.A. took a bus tour of downtown and got stuck because that happened to be the day when Michael Jackson died.  Or when my brother Chris was able to get a dirt cheap place to live in university because the landlord asked if her mentally challenged brother could live with them.  Or the night when our dog and two cats all got hit by separate cars on the road in front of our house.  Or when we went away for March Break once leaving my brother Chris home to look after the house, a very pregnant cow and other animals – the cow got out and the police found her over the road.  They called my Grand Uncle (who is a farmer) assuming it was his cow.  Chris went to pick her up the next day.  On the way down the driveway she bawled and died, likely from exhaustion.  That was a great call to get at our hotel.  Mom and Dad only learned ‘the real story’ of what happened when my brother got married.  Coyotes were not involved, but my brother going to a party and not coming home was.  Or how we had so much snow in the winter that we used to jump off the roof of our house into the drifts.  One year Davids’ boots were not dug out until spring.  Or the times when people (sometimes complete strangers), crawled up our driveway when they went off the road in front of our house during a wild winter storm. They would stay for supper.  Or what about a cousin having her gallbladder stones in a jar in the cupboard.   I could quite literally go on and on and on.

This week one of our great storytellers Stuart MacLean died.  He had an enormous talent for connecting Canadians through his ability to tell a story. Every Sunday thousands of us across Canada tuned in to hear him recount a wildly funny or touching Dave and Morley tale, or to hear him read a listeners ‘must be true to be read’ story.  How many times have I heard a story and thought – that would be a great story for The Vinyl Café!  A few years ago I sent in a real ringer of mine and got a response saying they would like to use it on air.  Unfortunately, the right show to match my story with did not come around prior to Stuart bowing out.

Technology, rules, loss of community and paranoia from media has caused us to become kind of, well, boring.   We don’t talk to strangers.  We don’t take risks.  We don’t let our kids be independent because we fear the ‘what if’.  All the places good stories are made we don’t have anymore.  Earlier this week when I was walking home from work I came across a situation at a cross walk.  There was a man lying on the ground obviously in a lot of pain, a bus driver was talking him through the pain he was in – there was a big crowd of younger people looking but not helping (this was very close to a large university so students were coming from class).  I asked her if she had called 911 and she had already done so.  I decided I couldn’t help anymore and kept walking.  I had an awful feeling in my stomach wondering what happened to him and thought of him a few times this week. Did he get hit by a car?  Did he have a heart attack?  Fortunately, on Friday morning I saw the guy on the street near my house.  He is definitely a rougher looking guy and isn’t someone I would know.  I said ‘Excuse me, you don’t recognize me, but I saw you on the ground earlier this week and have been thinking of you ever since.’ He said ‘Oh, I fell on the ice and popped my shoulder out of place.’  I said ‘thank goodness that is all it was – glad to see you are okay.’  He stopped for a second and looked right at me and said ‘Hey, nobody seems to care about each other anymore.  Thanks so much for caring about me.’  My 10 year old niece was with me when this conversation happened.  I see a lot of myself in Cora in the way that she absorbs everything that is said around her.  She loves hearing stories and listening to adult conversations.  We got picked up in a taxi and chatted with our driver the whole way to her house.  Cora said- Aunt Emilie you will just talk to anyone.  True, and I am not going to stop.  It is in conversation and interaction with other people (not looking at our phones or watching our TVS ) where  stories and lifelong memories are created.

Still Wild At Heart

13 Feb

woman

Something has happened to me and I didn’t see it coming.   If I analyzed each component of this realization individually I might not have come to the same conclusion.  It is the combination of all components which made me go ‘WOW’ something has happened.

Clue #1: I am currently sitting at the gate for my flight 2 hours early. I am actually at the gate.   That means I arrived at the airport 2 hours and 30 minutes before my flight.  I’ve never been one to stress greatly about time when it comes to getting to the airport – I like to get there in the shortest amount of time without being considered late.  One hour. I am not one for waiting around when waiting around isn’t necessary.  I am normally the last one getting on the plane as I want to spend the least amount of time possible jammed into my seat.  Although in recent times getting on the plane early has its merits since most everyone brings an excessive amount of checked luggage and if you don’t get on early there is no room left.   But let’ focus on me arriving early to the airport.

Clue #2: Practicality when it comes to fashion is not my jam. In spring, summer and fall my Carrie Bradshaw ways to do not cause any issues.  Enter winter.  In the past, I’ve been known to wear heels in a snow storm, and one winter, when I lived in Toronto, I survived with a jean jacket as I couldn’t find a winter jacket I liked enough.  I was willing to suffer through the cold all in the spirit of avoiding being ‘not-fashionable’.  I subjected myself to salt stains on shoes and frozen appendages by choice.   As I sit here at my gate 2 hours before my flight I can’t help but take account of what I am wearing.  I have a stylish winter jacket and on my feet… rubber boots.  Granted they are not regular rubber boots – they look like leather boots and they are a chic moto style.  It made me think even further – I did not even pack a pair of heels for this trip.  A pair of booties with a heel (but not heels).  Socks can be worn with the booties.

Clue #3: Last night (and most nights) before I went to bed I cleansed my face. I exfoliated.  I removed my eye make-up.  I moisturized.  I moisturized my neck.  When I woke up this morning I didn’t have yesterday on my face and red lipstick on my pillow.

Clue #4: Last Friday night when I arrived in Toronto I stayed with one of my girlfriends. Traditionally we could jump right into socializing and sleep very little.   I had a very busy week leading up to my departure and knew we had plans on Saturday night with a big group of girlfriends.  I found myself saying – I am fine to stay in and get a good sleep in order to be fresh for tomorrow.  What?  Did I actually say that?  Let’s stay in so we can be fresh for tomorrow.  I think most anyone who knows me would say I am a social creature who would rarely miss out on an opportunity to fraternize.  Especially when there could be hot men found.  ESPECIALLY when there could be hot men found.

Clue #5: Prior to my departure for this trip I had my laundry done a day early. I packed with strategy vs an eleventh hour throw together. I had cleaned out my fridge as I was leaving for 10 days.  I put the garbage and compost out.  I got my nails done the day before.  I left the key in the cupboard outside of my doorway in case someone needed to stay there was I was gone.  My departure was organized.

(I had to stop writing at this point as my flight was boarding)

On my flight home I had an older woman from Newfoundland seated beside me.  There were no TV screens on the plane to be distracted by andshe was up for some chatting, so we gabbed and laughed for most of the flight.  We covered a lot of subjects: travel, health, relationships, online dating, adoption, death and Trump (of course).  I roared at some of the funny things she said.  When talking about a friends daughter she said ‘Anna was looking for a man and let’s just say she wasn’t picky’.  At the end of the flight she said to me ‘Well, how lucky was I to sit by you.  What an interesting person you are and life you have.  You’re just so much fun – I haven’t laughed like that in awhile.’  And I said the same to her.

So when I put it all together: early to the airport, wearing appropriate clothing, a consistent skin care routine, choosing to be fresh over hunting for men and having my place perfectly organized prior to my departure. I have become sensible.  I need to find a better term for it – like some women who do not want to be called Grandma, being called sensible doesn’t resonate well with me.  Mature, grounded, evolved.    There is no sexy substitute for it.  I’ve resolved that just because I am on time, wearing waterproof shoes and feeling well rested does not mean that I am boring. I may have become more sensible in my ways, but as my seatmate recognized I’ve not lost my wild heart.

“Being tame is what we’re taught: … put the crayons back, stay in line, don’t talk too loud, keep your knees together, nice girls don’t…
As you might know, nice girls DO, and they like to feel wild and alive. Being tame feels safe, being wild, unsafe. Yet safety is an illusion anyway. We are not in control. No matter how dry and tame and nice we live, we will die. And we will suffer along the way. Living wild is its own reward.”  S.A.R.K.