The Great Outdoors Pt. II: You can take a fish out of water…or can you?

Summer’s over…it’s back to school and (slowly) back to writing.  But just before I completely leave my beloved season behind, thought I’d share this little happenstance from just a couple of weeks ago…  (Dedicated to all those city girls that put in the effort for their families – and especially to TSM, a true lover of cottaging – how do you do it?!)

This summer, my top priority was to take a break from everything routine – my blog, homework, extra-curricular activities and most especially electronics – and to focus on the great outdoors.  At least I tried anyway…minus my addiction to Candy Crush (I had resisted for so long!) a game where the object is to match up coloured candy in various patterns in order to progress to increasingly more challenging levels. You see, one night, seeing Mr. Niceguy so engrossed in this game, I snuck a peak and got sucked into candy land myself – didn’t matter that I’d been getting facebook requests on a daily basis, but like a lemming I followed Mr. Niceguy into his candy cavern and I swear I now see everything in “candy vision”:  can I shift that car over there and blast that row to drive into that spot?  Let me fork some salad, a piece of kebab dunked in hummus which then snatches some rice – quadruple effect!!

Bachelor-In-Paradise-August-4-2014-Recap-250x200(The lack of) summer TV programming also helped with my goal of getting back in touch with Mother Nature and “a simpler lifestyle”… particularly once the World Cup ended (which, in essence, was a total nightmare for a die-hard Espana fan such as me) but just until a couple of weeks ago, when Bachelor In Paradise started and my Achilles’ heel started to itch…I gave myself the green light – after all, the show is set in the “great outdoors” (ok, not quite the great outdoors but a contrived resort on the beaches of Tulum, Mexico).  But since I too would be going to the cottage for our annual pilgrimage soon, I figured this little indulgence was justified…it would lessen my dread of cottages and whet my appetite for some sand, sun and water activities…I couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Those who know me know that I’ve been quite vocal and unabashed about my dislike of cottaging.  It’s not that I don’t think it’s “of value” – particularly when it comes to children and forging a love of the outdoors, physical activity, creativity, and so on but still, I have to sit through hours of traffic to get to some remote destination where I “have the privilege” of doing all the cooking, cleaning, planning and entertaining…wait, isn’t that what I do at home anyway???!!  

I wasn’t always plagued with such an aversion; my “cottage allergy” has only become more severe since I had children.

Before then, I used to dislike cottaging because I was a bit of a priss and had a hard time letting go of my creature comforts like my favourite pillow, air conditioning, water pressure and the ability to flush the toilet as many times as I wanted (sit down you environmentalists – I do my part in other ways!) and not for strategic reasons like an inherent fear of clogging septic plumbing or worse yet, needing to drown out biological noises thanks to paper thin doors.  Before children, I could do it all and particularly well I might add when helped by a six-pack of beer, good company (especially when rehashing old camp songs and memories) and the ability to stay on the swim-party-sleep cycle indefinitely.  But post children…I’m totally out of my comfort zone and constantly fighting off the bloodsucking bugs (I’m referring to the mosquitos and black flies of course) that seem to relish in tormenting me!  So I ask…why bother?!

As a Canadian born Armenian growing up in the Middle East during its golden age, I had all the makings of a city girl and rugged adventurer!  As my family moved from one cosmopolitan locale to the next, my father, an avid outdoorsman, ensured that my sister and I developed a strong love of nature as he taught us to climb the mountains of Taif (Saudi Arabia), survival swim in the Red Sea and of course join scouting (or guiding as it were) to then rough it in the great Canadian outdoors.  While my sister ended up being much closer to Mother Nature, my relationship with Her was one that was more subdued.

The City captured my imagination – its noises and lights like a constant disco that I couldn’t get enough of – it filled my soul and for many, many years, I was happily at its mercy.  It wasn’t really until I had my boys that I really rediscovered nature – or at least was forced to rediscover nature – and I realized that if my relationship with nature was going to have any chance, I was going to have to put in the effort and let go of much more than I thought…

My struggle is best encapsulated by one particular incident from our recent trip (though believe me, I have many to choose from).  I nearly lost my mind when I handed my prized (and very-typically-not-backed-up) iPhone over to my 4 year old who was begging to take a picture of a speedboat on the dock.  While I was correcting his position (he kept taking snapshots of his own hand) he dropped my phone and everything went in slow motion:  phone, floating through the air, rotating over and over, slipping through the planks on the dock that was floating thirteen feet above the cold, black lake, and landing on the floatation device underneath – all with the gorgeous backdrop of the setting sun…AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!!!

I felt like I was in a movie…like I was having an out of body experience and I kid you not, I was Hugh Grant. Flopsy, awkward and positively cornered Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral – you know the scene, the one when he’s about to marry Duck Face at the church:  bugger, bugger, bugger…BUGGER!   But what came out of my mouth instead, first in utter disbelief followed by shock and catastrophe, in increasing crescendo and volume was one profanity after the next:  *Bleep* the cottage!  *Bleep* the great outdoors!  *BLEEPITY-BLEEP-BLEEP* the thought that I could actually let go long enough to appreciate any of it!!

coming undoneI could see my phone…balancing precariously on its edge…like my mental state…and at that moment I vowed not to abandon it – my only connection to civilization and the last vestige of who I am.  Never mind that I’d entered into a state of hysteria and was ready to tear each individual hair on my head, I would NOT walk away until the glow from the screen faded away.

Out poured all of my frustrations (at great volume, I might add) – the cooking, the cleaning, the refereeing, juxtaposed with the freedom and expanse of the great outdoors – I was a fish out of water and hated it.  I was coming undone.  I felt trapped and cornered and like I was slowly slipping through the crack myself…but surely this city girl had faced worse than this?  And it was in that one moment – in that break from the insanity – that I came up with part of a solution.  Hearing it through my wails and my tears, Mr. Niceguy took over, reached in and saved the day.

Embarrassed by my behaviour, I shrank away.  I took my beloved phone to my car, plugged it in to listen to some music and realized…that despite my absolute and complete effort to NOT partake in my surroundings, I had just survived an adventure…in the great outdoors, no less!  And despite a battered ego, I came out unscathed with a story to boot!  Perhaps it wasn’t all that bad.  Perhaps I could do it again – after all summer is virtually over and school is about to start maybe I could learn to be more of an outdoors woman?  Or perhaps next time, it can be a boys’ getaway instead…

running on dock

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Bleep! Bloop! Blurp!…men are from Mars, women are from Venus…ummm…ya!

Monday:  Start of week 2 on this major acquisition which is happening at lightning speed.  It’s definitely the “dog days of summer” as I’m totally working like one.  I’ve arrived home from work only to find that the 3 year old is burning up with a fever of 102…oh no.

Tuesday:  Acquisition still full steam ahead.  Fever is now at 103.  Leave work early and rush home to takeover watching 3 year old from grandma…coach 7 year old’s soccer game…and sneak in an episode of Bold and the Beautiful…it’s the little things…

Wednesday:  Fever spikes at 104.  Sleepless night tallies 2.  Work from home day.  Develop financial model day.  Try and get disgusting antibiotics down my toddler’s throat day.  Try not to have a nervous breakdown day.  Think happy thoughts…ommmmmmm….

Thursday:  Fever down to 100…progress!  Sleepless night tallies 3…wrong kind of progress!  Tag out of babysitting – Mr. Niceguy’s turn.  Drop 7 year old at camp, race downtown, park car and walk to my desk.   Oh, there it is again…like a forbidden drug…the travel shop.  I always look at the window with such forlorn on my way to the office – do I go to Delhi?  Sounds so exotic…I can just smell the spices.  Do I take a whirlwind trip to NY or Las Vegas?  Or a month jaunt to Europe:  London, Paris, Florence…just $499 / $899 / $1,099…

Friday:  Temperature normal!  Hooray!  And I got some sleep!!  But the list of things to do has been piling up and I have a really full weekend ahead.  Oh boy…I just need to make it to Saturday…

Saturday:  4:57 am, I hear a pitter patter in my sleep, reach out my arms from my horizontal position, twist to the right, grip the 3 year old, lift him up, twist back to the left and plonk him between Mr. Niceguy and me – all without opening my eyes.  4:58 am – did I just do that?  Do I dare open my eyes?  5:08 am, I can’t take it anymore – I rush to the washroom and then rush back…sleep, why do you evade me?  5:14 am, I hear him.  Thump, thump, thump…that distinctive walk…it’s the 7 year old.  And before I know it, he’s standing over Mr. Niceguy.  I’m in a horror movie.

7 year old:  I had a bad dream.  [He says without fear – almost like it was super cool]

Me:  Oh.  You ok?  Why don’t you squeeze in here – your brother’s here anyway.  But we’re still sleeping, it’s too early…

7 year old:  My bad dream starts with a ‘T’

Me:  [10 bucks] Tornado?

7 year old:  [Pretends he’s shooting guns – with the sound you make while clicking your tongue in your cheek] “Tch-tch”  Ya.  In the basement.

Me:  Tornadoes don’t happen in basements.

7 year old:  [Points gun at me] “Tch” – You got it!

Scammer.

After nearly an entire week of sleep deprivation and disruption, for which I maintain a healthy level of fear as well as an almost twisted sense of reverance, I feel like I’m losing my mind.  As an aside, it goes without saying that thanks to the “PTSD” brought on by the early days of parenthood which were laced with unforeseen, unexplained, and unbelievable levels of sleep deprivation, I am compelled to pay homage and respect to the power of sleep.  Those early days were like nothing I’d ever experienced:  infinitely harder than cramming for my hardest exam or preparing for a job interview.

Getting back to it, sometimes in this house full of boys, I feel like I’m in that same sleep deprived state… trying to navigate like an alien from another planet, or better yet, winding around like a drunkard.  Hyper emotional, totally unpredictable, yet somehow, fully functional.

It’s like I’ve arrived in my most elegant gown, strappy sandals, without a hair out of place, in perfect makeup and dripping with bling to a backyard BBQ complete with flip flops and finger food.

Misconstrued, misinterpreted, misunderstood.

And this was confirmed by none other than Mr. Niceguy…who in a moment of absolute, rational, logic, set me straight.  Kids in bed, tidying up complete, we put our feet up and started watching a taped episode of the Bachelorette.  And that’s when it happened.  Another poor guy, totally smitten with the Bachelorette gets sent home…and I’m defending how she was absolutely right to send him home.  How she was so gracious and kind and how her words would surely lead to a mutual respect and potential future friendship…to which Mr. Niceguy responded, gesticulating like an alien robot:  “Bleep, bloop, blurp!”

Me:  [Whiny]  Whaaaaat??!!

Mr. Niceguy:  You can’t be serious…they’ll never be friends!

Me:  Why not?  He’s sooooo funny…and so sweet!  I’d wanna stay friends with him.

Mr. Niceguy:  Ya.  Men are from Mars, women are from Venus.  There’s really no point to him being friends with her, is there?  Think about it…

And there it was…and there it is.  We often make light of our differences by magnanimously referencing the book with that very same title – and incidentally neither of us have even read it.  Still, it’s our way of diffusing misunderstandings, resulting differences and feelings of slight.

I don’t need to survive another crazy week to recognize that Mr. Niceguy and I have lasted as long as we have, despite roadblocks, hurdles, obstacles, bumps and sticky wickets, because somehow we have become totally aware and completely accepting of the fact that we are completely different beings.  And let’s face it, because Mr. Niceguy humours me by putting up with my meltdowns, crazy mood swings, my choice in TV (the Bachelorette and the Bold and the Beautiful, to name a couple) and declarations that I am the boss of this house (which totally fall on deaf ears), to name a few.

Though we may be from different planets, what I do know for sure is that we’re both on a fantabulous ride together!  Oh, and that my people add a lot of colour…and wishful thinking!  And if Mr. Niceguy were to read this, once again he’d say, “Bleep, bloop, blurp!”  Pffft….

 

Mars Venus