Ode to you! (‘Tis the season…)

From never before seen ice storms (in Toronto)
To never expected power outages
To unpredictable Christmas celebrations
And Santa always knowing how to find us

To restoring the holidays during the “bridge”
And preparing for the end and the promise of new
A wish for all things desired you hold in your heart
A wish for all things that will complete you

It’s been amazing to write for all of you these past few months
Truly, a real dream come true
Through the Spincycle Diaries there’ll be much more to share
Though, who knows how it will continue!

Happy 2014 and thank you all so much for reading, following, liking, commenting and encouraging. Wishing you and yours a very belated Merry Xmas and a very Happy New Year!

 

PS:  I’m a horrible poet…will promise to stick to writing!New Year

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The art of thinking…on one’s feet!

I’m often surprised at the vastness of human interaction:  in other words, it’s amazing what boundaries people will cross when relating with one another.  Specifically, my boundaries, which some may say are a little more narrow than others.  And in the face of having my boundaries crossed, what’s even more surprising is how often I find myself completely stunned, immobile and utterly incapable of thinking on my feet…

I remember when I’d go clubbing with my girlfriends in my late teens.  Back then it was pretty easy to get your hands on a fake ID…in fact, with a little creativity one could easily create their own.  In any case, there were three of us and we were inseparable.  All week long we would talk about which clubs we’d go to and with whom, plan outfits and so on and so forth.  We were a lot more daring then…  And while the first was the pretty one and the second was the sweetheart, I always liked playing the part of, for lack of a better term, smart ass.

Random beefcake:  “Hey.  Howzit goin’?  Can I get you a drink?”

Me:  “No thanks.”  Ugh.  I’m onto this guy…he’s just after one thing!

Random beefcake:  Puffing chest like a peacock.  “So, uh, you and your friends come here often?”

Me:  “Ya.”  Lame.  Please go away.

Random beefcake:  “You know honey, we didn’t wait in line.  I know some guys.”  Getting very full of himself.  “I could get you in whenever you like.”

Me:  “Hmmm…thanks.  That’s ok.”  Oh. My. God.  Gross.  Feeling like I’ve been drenched in slime.  Turning to leave…

Random beefcake:  Crosses boundary!  Grabs my arm and getting a little feisty.  “So it looks like my friends are hooking up with your friends so how about…”

Me:   Looks that would shoot daggers and kill in an instant.  Grab beefcake’s hand, remove from my person.  “How about what?  Look, I’m sure you’re a really nice guy.  But here’s the thing.  I’m studying international relations and politics.  I’m planning on being a diplomat or a lawyer, ok?  I don’t think there’s a match here.  So how about you just move on?”  Oooooh…harsh…walk away.

Now that’s thinking on your feet.  But somewhere along the way, that very self-assured girl took a bit of a back seat.  Call it having babies, call it changed priorities, call it growing up and being immersed in environments where the rules perhaps aren’t as clear…

In my thirty-X years, situations seem more complicated, the stakes are higher and thinking on your feet means keeping your head in the game… a game that knows no boundaries…

Like that certain person (we all know one) who, no matter what, will point out just how tired I look every single time I see them.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  Monday morning?  Tired.  Friday afternoon?  Tired.  Dressed to kill?  Tired.  Always tired, tired, TIRED!  Appalling.  And though this is a regular occurrence, it’s still surprising.

Is there no nicer way to greet someone?  Now, I’m not saying that one shouldn’t show care or empathy, or even concern at my once-in-a-while or more-times-than-usual haggard state.  But since when did that kind of small talk replace the inconsequential talk about the weather?!  I wish I could just reply, “Ya, what of it?!  I have this chronic condition, perhaps you’ve heard of it, it’s called: LACK OF WORK LIFE BALANCE-ITIS.  You know, like PULLED IN A MILLION DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS-EMIA…”  But relationships in your thirty-X years are complicated…  So instead, I do what I always do – I half whimper and smile.

Why be surprised?  Why assume that everyone respects boundaries?  Sadly, I’m often most caught off guard when I’m at work.  And I think this has more to do with the fact that thinking fast and being on my toes just doesn’t seem akin to looking at financial models and writing presentations or reports…not terribly life or death situations, right?  Wrong.

For example, the other day I was told by someone that if I made a mistake, just one mistake, at something that I was responsible for, that they would “kill” someone… nay (and here it comes) – with slit eyes, dark face and bony finger pointing towards me – that they would “kill” me!

Nuclear-Explosion-001Now THAT’S harsh.  Despite the (hopefully probable) fact that it was an obvious turn of phrase and common colloquialism, my boundaries had not only been crossed, but pulverized, like after a nuclear attack.  The situation was also just a little bit ridiculous.  As soon as the words were out, I think I just stood there, mouth agape, and the only thing that I did or said again (DAMMIT!!) was half whimper and smile.  Seriously.  Like why couldn’t I have responded with any of the following:

    1. Wow, that seems kind of violent.
    2. Whoah.  You know that’s against the law, right?
    3. I think the last time I threatened to kill someone (obviously as a turn of phrase) I was highly hormonal, 16 and in high school.
    4. Now that’s not being much of a team player.  Hey man, if I go down…you go down.
    5. Aha.  I get that you would like for me to be like a robot or some kind of droid that is incapable of human error.  I shall endeavor to rise to this impossible challenge.
    6. @#$% YOU.

Is it that I need more of a backbone?  Is it that I just shouldn’t care?  Or is it the fact that perhaps I need to remember that boundaries, for some, are meant for crossing.  So what if I just crossed my own first?   What if, I put aside sweetness, politesse, empathy and consideration?  Sounds like too big of a price to pay for not being me.  Though I am all for some witty repartee…time to get back in the game and master the art of thinking on one’s feet!

Chess piece

Lessons from a fish…seriously.

Every now and then we step out of ourselves and take on an alternate persona.  For me, this is akin to the person I become after a scotch on the rocks…or two…okay three!  And yes, I did say scotch; though I can be a pink, frilly cocktail kinda girl too – hand me a Prosecco with berries any day –I’m a closet scotchaholic!

That aside, after a couple down the hatch, I transform – it’s a chemical thing!  Now I’m not saying I’m one of those loud, obnoxious and mean drunks – ok, loud and obnoxious, never mean though!  But somehow, after a few drinks I’m brassier and ever so entertaining – at least by my own interpretation.  And I spend a great deal of my time trying to convince all those around that I am actually lucid; that my slurred speech and general incoherence should be no indication of my well-being.

Why fake through the situation?  Why not admit that yes, I have succumbed?  What am I so scared to admit?

Most of the time, I’m a pretty lighthearted, easy going (albeit somewhat complicated) extrovert.  But every now and then my extroversion gives way to a very introspective, insular side of me.  Call it a funk, call it the blues, call it taking stock, call it what you will…but it’s during these times when I wonder if I’m where I should be and doing what I want to do, or whether I’m just trying to keep afloat.  Isn’t it better to just be grateful for the stability I already have – whether it’s the roof over my head, a steady job and income, good friends and family?  True, these are all good.  But I want more.

And this time, the realization came from none other than Zoom, our family’s pet betta fish.  Every now and then, when it’s my turn to feed Zoom during all the chaos that ensues around me (usually at bedtime when arms and legs are flailing to get into the right arm and leg holes of pajamas, teeth are supposedly being brushed, and prayers are being said) Zoom comes to the top of his tank and waits.  And I swear, he’s looking at me…trying to say something…me and zoom

Perhaps it is strange to write about this fish.  Perhaps I should go back and talk about the three scotch I downed this past weekend, or something more comedic like the seven year old or the three year old’s latest antics, but I swear, this fish and I are kindred spirits and here’s how I know.

Zoom came to us by way of a birthday party favour.  I remember it well – it was the year all the children in my 7 year old’s class were turning five.  As we were set to leave, the child’s mother handed us a plastic bag with a fish and a small baggy with food.  While some would baulk at the idea and think, “Oh no!  Another responsibility!!”  I was delighted (perhaps even more delighted than my son!)   Then, about 6 months ago, Zoom started to display some very strange behavior.  He would ignore me.  He would hide in his fake plant all day, or play dead with his head down and his tail suspended above him.  I freaked out.  And I did what any one in my situation would do:  GOOGLED!  I refused to be responsible for fish depression or worse yet, “fishicide.”

After ruling out fish swim bladder disorder or some other fish ailment, I did what I do best:  I went shopping…to the pet store.  Close to thirty design decisions later (round tank or rectangular, coloured or natural gravel, toys or plants, etc.) we moved Zoom into a larger, more professional tank, in a much busier area of the house and the result?  A much happier, active and thriving betta!

Although not in words, Zoom had communicated that he was no longer happy in his original fish bowl – he’d outgrown it.  And this has served as a little reminder that perhaps I too need to be honest.  I too need to be courageous and face the music:  Have I outgrown my fishbowl?  Will I be happier in another?  How will that happen?  Who will move ME into a better tank?

Probably the most frustrating thing for someone as loquacious as me and with very large, grandiose (and perhaps somewhat unrealistic) dreams, is feeling invisible and not being heard.  It feels unjust.  Recognizing that I don’t have a plant to stick my head in and that perhaps diplomacy, humour and wit (not to mention charm and a killer smile) won’t always save one from circumstance – as I have repeatedly experienced while trying to weasel out of parking tickets, or getting out of sticky situations though it could be that perhaps I’m not as charming as I think or my smile isn’t so, well, killer – what does?  What does one do when utterly frustrated, overwhelmed and fighting every instinct to bang one’s fists, throw something and just run away?  And, quite frankly, how do you run away when you’re trapped in a fishbowl?

I think of my kindred spirit, Zoom.  I think of how clever this little fish was in communicating his needs and, well, I’m clever too.  Starting tomorrow, I’m breaking out of my fishbowl.  Charm, killer smile, diplomacy and brains…I’ve got all of these in my arsenal.  And who knows, perhaps I’ll lapse into a persona of courage, and before I know it, I’ll be celebrating in a dapper way with a Prosecco in one hand, and a scotch in the other.  The countdown is on…this year is going to be great!

scotch

‘D’ is for Double-standard…

Earlier this evening, Mr. Niceguy was preparing dinner – once again relieving me.  And I think mostly because I’ve been subjecting the family to fat free, low cal, protein and veggie rich fare which totally goes against his constitution.  That, and I’m officially off pasta (at least, most of the time…ok, as best as I can…all right I limit it to no more than two intakes a week unless there’s leftovers and well, then, it’s just wasteful if you don’t finish things off).  And Mr. Niceguy, like most guys I know, LOVES a meaty, hearty, saucy pasta.

We decided that two dinners would be better as I had indulged a little during the afternoon siesta with some salt and vinegar flavoured ‘chackers’ (part chip, part cracker?) so while he prepared his hearty pasta for himself and the boys, I prepared a nearly fat free  egg white and veggie omelet in my new, white ceramic non-stick pan.  And while dicing the veggies I blurted, “Oh wow.  Tomorrow’s this guy’s birthday that I used to have a massive crush on when I was 17!  I wonder what he’s up to…”

And I thought to myself – if similar words had come out of Mr. Niceguy’s mouth things would’ve gotten pretty ugly tout suite…and therein lies the inherent double standard.

I find men and women to be very different on this point.  And before I offend my kind, I’m just putting it out there as it is…for me…and if many a woman’s willing to admit it….probably for you too.   As a woman, there is nothing more off-putting to me than the walk down memory lane about the relationship that never was with the girl that was just too cool or just a snick out of reach.  That perfect girl next door, or perhaps that exotic exchange student.  The girl who was just so laid back and effortless.

On average, it takes me at least 20 minutes just to get going in the morning.  Up, a quick surf on the iPad (I have an addiction which may be the subject of another entry someday), run through outfits in my mind (black top, short skirt?  Too tarty for work…grey pants and white shirt?  Too dull.  Sweater dress with stilettos?  Hmmm….just the right blend of daring and demure).   Then comes the debate about washing or not washing my hair, full make up or natural look (both take the same amount of time…don’t kid yourselves and when you get to my age…there’s no such thing as truly au naturel), and then on to the jewelry…

I guess what I’m saying here is that I’m totally high maintenance and as laid back as I may seem about certain things – like I’m a hamburger and French fries kinda gal over a fancy four-course meal – there’s no way I would ever consider myself “easy-going.”

At best, I’m diplomatic with a dash of crazy.

So when conversations about the past come up, I have a very predictable response:  at first, I’m easy going, effortless and laid back.  But it doesn’t take long for the crazy to come out…

Me:  “So, umm….tell me about your university days…how many serious girlfriends did you have?”

Mr. Niceguy:  “Uh…I dunno.  I can’t really remember.”

Me:  Getting slightly hot under the collar.  “What do you mean you can’t remember?  Think…first year?  Anyone caught your eye?  Or when you were graduating?  Anyone you thought you’d take the plunge with?”

Mr. Niceguy:  “Why?  I mean, who cares?”

Me:  “Well, I’m just trying to get to know you better.”  Feeble.  Totally weak.  “Seriously?  You can’t remember?”

Mr. Niceguy:  “Well, there was that girl in high school that I also dated while I was in first year.  I think she became a doctor.”

Me:  Interrupting – “Really?  Who?  That girl with the dark hair?  A doctor?  Was she even good looking?  Did your parents meet her?  Did they like her?  What did your friends think?  Did you think you were going to marry her?  What was so great about her?  Did she hang out in your dorm room?”

Mr. Niceguy:  “Well, we didn’t last.  And after her…well, I can’t really recall.  There were some girls…but not any really serious girlfriends.”

Me:  Internally screaming, WHA???!!!!!!!  “Oh, that’s nice.  Ya…who would want to get serious during university?  I mean, sheesh, I would tell our boys not to get too serious too…”

Mr. Niceguy:  “Well, there was that one girl.  The ballet dancer.  I met her during a school trip.  I always wondered about her afterwards…”

Me:  HMMMPPPFFF.  Why did I start this conversation??  A ballet dancer no less…  “Well, if it means that much to you, you should just look her up and see what happened.”  Maybe she put on 60 pounds and drives a school bus!

So what happened right after I uttered those words while cooking side-by-side with Mr. Niceguy should come as absolutely no surprise:  nothing.  Silence.  And a smile while continuing our efforts to get dinner on the table.  Plus the realization, on my part, that perhaps next time I could extend the same kind of courtesy to Mr. Niceguy and not poke and prod him into revealing things that are perhaps better left unsaid…but then where’s the double-standard in that?

jealousy