Tag Archives: childhood memory

The best time to have friends is before you need them

5 Jul


E and S

Tomorrow I am hosting a baby shower for my very best friend and so it got me thinking about friendship.  I’ve done a lot of reading about friendships over the years and what I’ve learned is extremely interesting.  Women who have close friends:

  • Live longer
  • Are happier
  • Have less stress
  • Cope better when traumatic events occur and have better outcomes as a result
  • Have better self confidence and self worth
  • If in a relationship have stronger relationships with their partner

Well, if all of this is true I should be setting a record in The Guinness Book of World Records for living the longest, happiest, carefree life because I have lots of really wonderful friendships. My mother has always been a terrific ‘stay-in-toucher’ and so I learned that from her. Friendships are extremely important to me.  In fact managing all of my friendships can be a cause of stress… hoping that doesn’t counteract the benefits of them!

Sarah (the mentioned pregnant best friend).  How do I even begin?  We are second cousins and so we’ve known each other our entire lives. We started grade primary together and the love affair we have with each other began somewhere along the way at HM MacDonald Elementary School.  How do I describe Sarah?  She is hilarious yet serious, she is wild yet disciplined, she is easygoing yet structured, she is loyal, kind, quirky, complex and she is beautiful yet extremely modest.  Over the years we’ve spent thousands of hours together and hundreds of hours on the phone.  In fact, one time we were having such a solid conversation (but Sarah needed to get ready to go somewhere) that she didn’t want to cut it off.  Instead she took the phone into the shower with her.  Suddenly she sounded like she was in a tunnel and the phone died.  The conversation was done and so was her phone.  Something else about Sarah is that she is extremely honest.  She went into Telus and when they asked what happened to the phone… she told them exactly what I just told you.  The guy at the phone store just burst out laughing, commended her for being honest, but he couldn’t replace the phone for free for being so.  There have been times when our conversations were so long that her cell phone was going to die so she switched to her landline, beeped into the conversation, hung up the original call, then my phone would be on the verge of dying so I would switch to my landline and beep into the conversation.  When we spend the night together we can talk and talk and talk.  In fact, Sarah has been known to say to me ‘Emilie, alright if I stop responding to you when you’re talking, it just means I am asleep, but feel free to keep talking.’  The single-handed biggest theme of our friendship is laughter.  We are 36 years old now and we still roar at the most foolish bits.   We were allowed to stay at each others houses on school nights, we’ve lived together and even worked together as adults.  Sarah got married about 6 years ago – poor Bobby and what he has been exposed to over the years.

When I was a kid my most favorite movie ever was Anne of Green Gables.  My mother had taped the television version of it for me and I would watch it over and over again (until my brothers taped over it in 2 minute increments of a hockey game).  Anne and Diana had a special friendship.  Anne called Diana her ‘Kindred Spirit’ her ‘Bosom Friend’.  Beaches is another favorite movie of mine.  I have probably watched it about 29 times and I still crrryyyyyyyyy every time I watch it.   C.C. Bloom and Hilary Whitney.  When I watch it I always envision me as C.C. and Sarah as Hilary.  The problem is Hilary dies.  I love the line where Hilary says she is forgetting things and C.C. says ‘Listen, I know everything there is to know about you and my memory is long.  Very long.’ Another great friendship I admire is Oprah and Gayle.  They too have been friends for over 30 years.  After working together for a week there was a snowstorm and Oprah couldn’t get home.  Gayle told her she could stay with her.  Oprah said ‘but I don’t have any clean underwear with me’ to which Gayle responded ‘don’t worry you can borrow a pair of mine’.  Oprah said she knew Gayle would be her long time friend in that moment.  Sarah and I have shared everything (other than a man) over the years – money, underwear, secrets, clothing, a bed and so much more.

Friendships (unlike marriages) have no set of rules or expectations attached to them. They are generally purely for enjoyment and enrichment. The one rule for any form of relationship is that it takes work – pick up the phone, type a text, make a plan and get together.  The hardest laughs I’ve ever had have been with friends and I have a lot of people who would be willing to share their underwear with me.  In the words of Oprah ‘what I know for sure is’ that your work will come and go, money will come and go, men will come and go and when they do it is your friends (and family) who will be there.

In September a whole new chapter is going to be written – Sarah is having a baby.  The plan is for me to go in with them to have the baby.  There are some pretty specific logistics which have to work in our favor for this to work (I live a 2 hour flight away), but here’s to hoping.  I am sure we will cry and then laugh about her pooping on the table or something like that.



Mirror, Mirror, on the wall…

4 Apr


I realized today that tomorrow is one month until my next birthday.  36!  I will be in the higher end of my mid 30’s (I think 37 is officially ‘late 30’s’).  So I got thinking about age.

My elementary music teachers name was Miss Hickey (no man ever dared to claim her).  She was an anomaly to say the least.  She wore a wig, cleaned her dentures in front of the class after she ate tapioca pudding with rotten bananas in it, wore polyester pants pulled up as high as they could go with a white blouse tucked into them, had big pointy boobs and put too light powder on her face that made her look mime like.  She also had bad bunions, loved classical music and drove a powder blue Tempo Topaz which had sheet music/records piled up to the windows.  I have no idea how Helen Hickey became who she was.  Apparently, her age was classified information.  Back as far as I can remember age was such a taboo topic (as was talking about finances, sex, religion, health – all the good stuff) and it always seemed like it was something negative.  Getting older.  Not getting more interesting, more confidant, more beautiful, more content, or more sexy. I’ve always loved the saying ‘Age is mind over matter… it only matters if you mind.’  I actually quite like getting older (really it is better than the alternative, right?).

I really try (emphasis on try) to make laughter and having connections with others  be part of my daily life.  Like tonight, I met a man who lives on my street for the first time.  After chatting he wanted to give Millie a treat (which were in his apartment).  He is an older man and likely lonely.  Say the word treat and Millie is in without hesitation.  I just saw the movie Room so I felt a bit hesitant to go in.   I stayed out on the street laughing as my dog was in someone’s apartment getting a treat.  They both ended up quite happy and Millie has not died from poisoning yet.  As I get older I’ve noticed more heavy topics floating around on the regular – relationship issues, health, fertility, finances, careers, retirement, wrinkles, terrorism, economy, lack of sleep, what next, worry. Stress!  Why does adult life  have to be so damn serious?  Whatever you focus on appears.  If you are reading this my wish is for you to shake it off sometime in the near future.  There is a hashtag I use often.  #letitgo.  Have some fun.  Connect with people around you.  It will make you feel fresh and lighter. On Saturday I did an egg beater, helicopter, bootie shake, handstand dance compilation for my 7 and 6 year old nieces.  It was Beyonce like and they were very impressed.   I am the young woman in the picture, not the old hag.

Summer Job Memories

11 Jun

I have a summer intern starting at my office next week so it got me thinking about my quest to find summer employment when I was a youngin’.  I started babysitting when I was about 12.  Although I am only 35 it seems babysitting has really changed since I was for hire. First of all, I got paid at the lowest $3/hour and at the highest maybe $5.   I would come home and find a note with a list of names of people who had called wondering if I could sit.  Once I realized I was ‘in demand’ I started to prioritize my choices. Gone were the ethics of ‘first come, first serve’.  Who paid the best.  Who had cable.  Who didn’t creep me out.  Who had normal kids.  Who would come home at decent time.  You get the picture.  At that time for daytime babysitting no one ever left you a vehicle to use (well and I was under 16 for quite a few years), so you were literally on lock down out in the country with the kids. The big reward being I would take my sexy earnings and head right on into the Pace Setter to put a pair of Ikea jeans on layaway.  In grade 11 I made the big leap to getting a job at a gift shop in town and that was actually a really great job.  I worked there for 3 years.  I remember being at a party one night until about 4 in the morning and rolling in for a shift at 8:30.  I slept on the concrete floor in the stock room for 59 of my 60 minute break.   I left this sweet gig to head to Calgary for the summer and live with my oldest brother.  18 and in Calgary with about $400 to my name.  I hit the classified section hard and found myself a job doing landscaping for the summer at Groundskeepers Inc. The girl I got paired with was a super weird chick named Michelle.  Michelle liked wolves.  She was highly possessive of our 1985 Ford Ranger.  She would use the same piece of kleenex all week.  She liked video games, a lot.  I had absolutely nothing in common with her and I had to spend roughly 9 hours a day with her for 3 months. I learned about edging, deadheading, boredom and sexual harassment that summer.  I said ‘Austa La Vista’ to Michelle and returned to Nova Scotia 20 pounds lighter with a nice tan and got myself a job at Shoppers Drug Mart.  I mean, this was what you would call a sexy part-time job in a small town.  The worst part was the bloody uniform.  Oh god those pants.  They were polyester, puffy and tapered at the bottom.  I did everything I could to avoid wearing those frigging pants.  I think I even got written up for not wearing them. So many funny things happened working there.  Requests for sex jelly, hemorrhoid creams and when toilet paper went on sale there was a stampede.  In an effort to have a Monday to Friday job for the summer, I decided throw my pill counter and polyester pants aside and took a summer job at our local radio station CJFX.   From counting pills to writing advertisements… I was using a different part of my brain.  My best ad was for Shergain Feeds and Needs. I wrote a Jerry Meguire-ish ad where I had Gord Cunningham (the announcer who had lost something like 200 pounds, got a sports car and a young woman that year) to act like a sheep and say ‘show me the manure’,  There was no air conditioning, my computer froze at least 12 times before lunch and I did a lot of crossword puzzles. Mary and Ellen, my two main coworkers, were hilarious.  They were about 30 years older than me.  I would highland dance during the ceilidh, hide in closets and scare Ellen, and phone prank Mary.  There was one old doll named Florence who worked there too.  I don’t think she ever had sex and besides my grandmother she was the crankiest creature I had ever encountered. She would march into my office wearing her blouse and skirt set with her finger out, telling me I hadn’t put my traffic order in right.   I also worked as a bartender at our university bar, but that was somewhat cool.  After I graduated from StFX I packed my suitcase and moved to Toronto. I had my tax return and some graduation money in my bank account. No more summer jobs as I was a graduate.  I found myself a full-time job at Pepsi, bought a car and hit the roads…

I wonder where Michelle is, I wonder if Florence ever got laid and I wonder if that guy with the penis so big that he did not fit XL condoms ever found a solution.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Emilie

4 Mar

I did some organizing about a month ago and found some of my old journals from when I was between the ages of 10 and 13. I’ve been home sick for 3 days so I have some extra time on my hands; I’ve been reading my entries and dying laughing.  As an adult I am not one for flowery emotions and drama – I am pretty practical and nonchalant.  It seems I was that way as a kid too. One of my favorite books growing up was ‘Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret’: a book that details the thoughts and emotions of a 6th grade girl.  Boys, bras, periods, family disputes and everyday emotions. I wasn’t so much like Margaret as I didn’t really ‘journal’ so much,  I more ‘documented’ the daily going ons in our house.

Below is one of the entries from my journal.  To give you a better understanding here a few additional details:

I grew up on a hobby farm.  We had a few horses, a few cows, pigs and some chickens.  We only had female cows.  If Dad wanted one of the heifers to get pregnant he would need to call Joe Van De Valk and ask him to come over when she was in heat. Joe Van De Valk is not a bull from a local farm, he is an Artificial Inseminator. Joe was somewhat deaf so he spoke in a not typical manner (which was great as I love to do impersonations of people and I can do a humdinger impersonation of Joe).  Once we got older we had a great nickname for him ‘The County Cow F*&cker’

Saturday, October 5th, 1991 (I was 11)

“Joe Van de Valk came over today. I woke Dad up because he was taking a nap when I saw his van pull in the driveway.  Dad and I went up to the barn.  When we got there Joe pulled out a catalogue with pictures of bulls in it.  He said ‘Jesus Christ Leonel I got some real nice stuff today.  That fella there (pointing at a picture of a bull from Ontario) he has some beauty calves.  Throws big ones.’  (insert – just like a modern day sperm bank Dad would choose the sperm from the most suitable bull).  Joe then put on a glove that went up to his arm pit.  After that he pulled a long rod from what looked like a bucket with dry ice in it.  He then took his arm with the rod in his hand and put it up the cows bum.  Ginger bawled.  After some poking and prodding he took his arm out.  The glove was full of hot steamy manure.  After Joe left Dad and I went into town and picked David up at basketball. When we got back it was lunchtime and Dad made us cream peas on toast (like he always does when Mom is working).’

End of entry.

I Like Big Underwear and I Cannot Lie

9 Oct

Grannie panties

I grew up in a small town where there was a store called the 5 cent to a $1.  An old fashioned department store where you can get anything from film and baby gifts to material for sewing.  You can also buy great big underwear there.  When we were kids we would sneak into that section and put the biggest pair over our heads or pretend to wear them – my mother was likely mortified by our behavior.  Now these underwear weren’t just big in style they were big in size.  Like, really big.  In fact, I always wondered who could fill those puppies out in Antigonish.  The Sears catalog was also a terrific source of laughter.  Pointing out the most pointy bra or the biggest undies.  Well folks, I am going to tell you – I like big underwear.  Not the big in size variety, but the big in shape style.  One of my best friends says one of her favorite things to do is pull on a brand new pair of white athletic socks.  I am chuckling thinking of the day she confessed her secret love for tube socks.   One of my favorite things these days is pulling on a big old pair of undies that aren’t going to ride up, fall down or lose the elastic in the band.

In the past I purchased every type of underwear – thong, boy short, full back – low front and for quite sometime I boycotted wearing any at all.   Ever since I was a kid I hated things being low around my waist.  I remember having a full blown freak out in grade 2 about having to wear a pair of green pants with an elastic waist band that I could feel (I also hated the fact that Mom hemmed them too short – not only were they green but they were flood like and I always have been particular about what I want to wear).  When it comes down to it I love the big, cover it all, come up to at least my belly button variety.   I remember the only time I ever got spanked was because I was doing cartwheels in a nightgown in front of my brothers friends… I wasn’t wearing any undies.  Mom said “You knew what you were doing”.  Over the years I have spent hundreds of dollars on pretty bras that part of my boob didn’t fit into and my boobs fell out of  when I leaned over (cart wheels were difficult in this type). Oh no, I am all done with that folks!  I have embraced what my boobies need – a full cup, a wide strap and at least 3 buckles on the back.   So there you have it… under my leopard print dress I am wearing big undies and a substantial bra.

Spanx – I love them. They trick you into thinking you are skinnier than you actually are, however, they come with some challenges.  In order to avoid having lines the best ones are shorts.  If you are wearing a short dress your dirty little secret often gets exposed when you cross your legs.  On the red carpet this week Jennifer Garners purse pulled up her wrap dress and exposed her big old Spanxs to the world.  I am sure she wasn’t proud of that moment considering 100 photographers snapped her unmentionables.   And they are hot as they cover about 50% of your body and are made of thick spandex!  So, recently I saw a pair of thong Spanxs – they still suck you in,  but they have a thong to limit lines.  What a novel idea!  Let me tell you the utter discomfort I felt far exceeded the lack of lines on my butt.  I could barely focus in conversation as these underwear ride up and slide forward as they do so.   Since they are tight they ride up in a very unique way.  If anyone paid attention to my movements that night they either thought I had a bad case of the trots or had been diagnosed with A.D.D. – I was distracted and went to the bathroom about 5 times to adjust.

My grandma always told me I was crazy when I was younger… well look at me just getting practical.  I am still doing all the same things I did when she accused me of being wild, the only difference is I am wearing big undies and a lock ’em in bra while doing cartwheels.


The truth is…

22 Jan


Seeing as I am Canadian I sometimes feel pressed to say that I like winter.  In truth: I hate it.  It makes me feel like less of a Canadian but I can’t hide it anymore.  As I type this post I am sitting in sunny Hawaii soaking in vitamin D and feeling fabulous.  I just received an email from my mother saying that a foot of snow is expected this evening and that today the local plough shed burnt down along with 3 ploughs.  Isn’t that bad timing?  I clearly remember being a kid and on the days that it was storming we would wait by the radio to hear if school had been cancelled or at the very minimum that our bus was going to be late.  This is the time in my life when my hatred for winter began…

I grew up in a community called Maryvale (the department of highways moved the sign once and for 2 years we lived in North Grant)  and where my parents house is we call it Hell’s Gates (original I know).  There is a weird combination of a small mountain, a 200 acre open field across the road and some kind of wind tunnel.  From November until March our entire life was controlled by the weather.  I remember waking up and thinking the bloody Apocalypse happened – our windows would be covered in snow, the car was buried in snow and wind howled like crazy.  Whatever plans I had that morning were at the very least delayed or even cancelled.  We would need to wait for someone to come and clear our driveway out and that could take hours.  After a few storms snowbanks would pile up higher than the roofline of our house.  So after waiting 2 hours, pulling on snow attire, warming the car up, and clearing the car off we would attempt to get out of the driveway (this was a whole other challenge).  My Mom would throw her aside her conservative ways – she would turn into Mario Andretti in an attempt to get out.  The end of the driveway was usually a total whiteout in both directions.  Someone would have to get out of the car and stand in a place where they wouldn’t get hit in order to see if any cars were coming.  The wind would be blowing so strong that this already hateful event was made worse. So, Mom would hammer the gas down, we would fishtail out of the driveway and spin down the road.  We would think Old Man Winter had lost his mind, however, when we got a mile over the road all would be relatively peaceful.  I can’t tell you how many people went off the road in the front of our house – we always had knocks at the door from forlorn travelers stuck in the ditch.  There was a few years when the military actually came in with some sort of a machine that blew the snow so high/far I think it ended up at the North Pole. The Department of Highways for many years put a snow fence across the road in an attempt to block some of the blowing snow. Waiting for the school bus was a brutal cruelty – it would get so windy and wild that my brothers (probably begrudgingly) had to hold my hands so that I wouldn’t blow away into the great white abyss.  Seeing that big orange school bus pull up was the most amazing feeling. We got so much snow at our house that we would jump off the roof of the house into drifts.  I think David lost his boots on one plunge and they weren’t recovered until the spring.  When we were kids we had so much fun outside – playing in the snow, jumping off the house, cross country skiing, but that was when I didn’t know what day of the week it was, I didn’t have to run errands, I didn’t cook my own food, I didn’t have to clean, I didn’t have to work – i didn’t have anything to do other than play. Now, all winter brings me is shoveling, a dog full of snowballs and cold hands and feet. 

Fashion is a big part of winter that is a challenge for me as well – salt stains make my blood boil, when I put on a pair of pantyhose/tights I nearly have an allergic reaction, my head is too big for most fashionable hats and I detest how pasty my poor legs become due to not seeing sunlight for 5 months.

The good bits of being a Canadian exceed my strong feelings about winter and thus I have not given up my citizenship, but I think we need to add another province to Canada (one that is sunny all year round) – let’s trade in our worst province for Turks and Caicos.  I would volunteer to be the first resident. 

An ode to my father…

2 Nov

Guess what, my Dad apparently got online and read my blog. Mom told me that he actually thought it was funny – I can’t believe it. He isn’t one to flow over with compliments. I mean you really have to work for it. I guess in some ways you never need to question where you stand with him – he will usually tell you straight up how he feels. My mother is not a chef by school training but she is a chef by life training. I have heard Dad yell out at the end of a meal “Janice, that was some powerful stuff” and I have also heard him say “Janice, you have done a lot better.” A few months back Dad told me my lasagna was perhaps the best he has ever had. That was a big deal. In thinking about Dad and a few funny stories come to mind:

1. Many years ago my mother had a pair of floral leggings which my father detested – he still hates leggings. One day we came home from running errands to find Dad standing in the kitchen wearing the leggings while making bread. I remember laughing out loud at the site. Mom said “Leonel, what are you doing?” Dad replied “How do they look?” Mom replied “Terrible.” He replied “Well they don’t look any better on you.” I don’t think I saw the leggings again.
2. One year we were getting ready to go on vacation when Dad out of the blue announced he needed to get his hair cut before leaving. My mother would have been organizing, cooking, packing, planning so this would have been a huge annoyance. In fact I have heard my mother say the “F word” twice in my entire life and one of the times was during the planning of this trip. We drove into town and dropped Dad at the barber shop before leaving. My father returned with his hair completely shaved off. As in shiny bald head shaved off. He normally had something like Einstein hair, so the shave was rather shocking. Rumors of cancer quickly flew around our town. Not sure why he took this notion, but it made for an interesting start to our vacation.
3. He often uses the car keys to clean his ears. It looks like he is trying to start his head instead of the car.
4. A few years ago he thought he needed a change before retiring so he decided to move to Calgary to work. We now call him the 2 week cowboy – that is how long he lasted.
5. For the grade ten semi-formal I made a hair appointment in town to get an “up do”. After waiting an extra hour for my appointment the stylist just bombed my hair. I am very particular about style so this was a big deal for me. I walked out of the salon totally emotional. Guess who was there to pick me up? Dad. I got in the car and in a grade 10 girl way started to cry and said “I hate my hair! She ruined it! I don’t want to go to the dance!” Now most fathers would say “Oh honey you are beautiful, what can I do for you?” Not my Dad. He said “Emilie, why don’t you get out of the car and get back in when you grow up.” Talk about feeling like an idiot because it is true.

For most of my early life I was often thinking “why does Dad do that?” As in he didn’t behave like most people I knew. We recycled years before others people did. He had all kinds of side gigs – he made yogurt for the health food store in town, sold milk to various families in the area and he sharpened blades for local businesses. He used the pockets from the back of his jeans to cover up holes in the knees. He had crazy hair. Most every single time someone came to our house and a geographic location was mentioned he would pull out his magnifying glass and world atlas. At some point I stopped trying to understand him and instead I just accept that he is different from anyone I know. In fact the older I get the more I absolutely appreciate his individualism in a world where most people are vanilla ice cream.

So Dad in case you read this – I think you are weird, but I also think you are cool.