I think it’s time to cut the cord…or is it?

Hello summer!  You have finally arrived!!  There’s nothing like that added glow from the sun, cute summer dresses, flip flops, a cold beer and an overall sexiness that comes from the heat!  Perhaps the only thing I would change is how frizzy my hair gets…

Summer always makes me nostalgic – I often recall that amazing rush of freedom when I would write my last exam and run out to party with my friends through to the hot summer nights which would then be followed by long summer holidays that felt like they shaped my life and forever changed me…

With all my nostalgia, it should come as no surprise that I’m probably the biggest daddy’s and mommy’s girl there ever was.  If I could still live in their basement, together with my Mr. Niceguy, the 7 year old, the 3 year old and our pet fish, Zoom, I would.  Of course, they would probably drive me crazy – and then my crazy would probably make them wish they could evict me, but being the nice people they are, they wouldn’t and, well, let’s just say that I’d hate for a good thing to go bad.

Being Armenian by heritage, my family is quite similar to Voula’s in My Big Fat Greek Wedding and not unlike the Kardashians (minus the rolling cameras, modeling contracts, and the big house in Calabasas) in that everyone is hip deep in everyone else’s life.  Armenians (at least my grouping) tend to be LOUD, all about food, LOUD, gesticulate with their hands when they speak, LOUD, and above all else, very passionate about family.

In a culture where family comes first, it follows that my parents’ happiness means everything.  More than that, their approval is nearly always essential and sadly, it is this kind of relationship that also makes me quite vulnerable to any of their criticism for they have absolutely no filter and if they believe they are acting in my best interest, the prospect of potentially deflating my ego or hurting my feelings will not stop them…

Take my thirty X girlfriend.  She, like me, is also Armenian and my seatmate on the bullet train to forty.  Just this morning, while dropping off her children at her parents’ house before going to work, her mom did the typical.

Mom:  Oh hello, dear.  What is that you’re wearing?

BFF:  What?  Why? 

Mom:  Are those shorts?  Should you be wearing them to work?

BFF:  They’re fancy suit shorts – they are for work.  And besides, they’re only just above my knee – it’s not like I’m wearing short shorts.  These are in style now, Mom.  And they look great with my blouse and my high heels – I’m very well put together.

Mom:  OK dear.  Whatever you say…but shorts are shorts.

BFF:  <DEFLATED>

How is it that our parents can just get to us that quickly?  Sometimes I wonder if I would be better off if I (could) just cut the cord – if I could separate myself from this kind of emotional roller coaster:  yes I know you were once parents too, yes I know you’ve lived much longer and are therefore wiser, yes I realize that the times we live in now can’t hold a candle to yours, and so on and so forth.  And somehow, the long walk to school in hip deep snow and all sorts of other trials and tribulations always seem to come up as they stress for the umpteenth time how things are so much easier for our generation…blah, blah, blah!

That same afternoon, after a very quick bite I spent the rest of my lunch running some errands which resulted in a quick walk up Bay Street.  Two women happened to be walking in front of me and snapped me out of my thoughts with their loud regales over their night out.  What I noticed first was how tall they were – in my case, I’m vertically challenged at 5 foot 4…5 foot 4 and a half on a good day.  What I noticed next was how envious I started to feel about their fun and fancy free story…

As I kept listening to their conversation (ok, eavesdropping but sorry, in my defence they WERE loud and as I explained above, I’m culturally preconditioned to respond to anything LOUD) my attention became drawn to their outfits, which fit their characters quite nicely.  The first simply wore black pants and a blouse (the “supporting role” in the last night’s wild night), while the second was wearing a dangerously short dress for work topped with a little black cardigan (the “lead role” and main benefactor).  As things progressed, I thought, wow, this leading lady should have chosen a better outfit for work – however would she manage to bend over…or sit down for that matter?  But I was snapped out of my wandering thoughts when I noticed a hole the size of a toonie right on her, well, caboose.

I walked behind them for about a block thinking about this classic dilemma: do I tell her or shall I just mind my own business? 

Me:  Ummm, excuse me.  Listen, I’m sorry to interrupt but I have to tell you that you have a hole in your dress –

Lead:  What?  Where?  Really?  [Support eyes me suspiciously]

Me:  Well, right in the back, right on your, ahem, bum.

Lead starts spinning around trying to see so Support gets in there and validates my claim.

Lead:  Omigod!  [Blushes beet red and is extremely embarrassed.]  I can’t believe it!  I love this dress!  Thank you so, so much for letting me know.  [Looks to Support]  I wonder how long we’ve been walking for…omigod. 

Me:  Maybe just take off your cardigan and tie it around your waist – you’ll be just fine. 

As I walked on, I thought of my own trials and tribulations over the years.  I thought of how glad I was that so many of my wild nights, drink, and strangers were behind me…for the most part anyway.  And I thought of my parents and how even though I might not want to hear what they have to say, I am grateful that for the time being they are still here to tell it like it is…Though the cord is short, it’s not worth cutting off…

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Are automatic responses just faulty learning?

So, we’re doing something right.  The almost 7 year old brought home a glowing grade 1 report card – such an amazing achievement and yet, we’re only at the beginning…

We spend about 16 to 20 years in school:  2 years of kindergarten, 5 years of elementary school, 3 years of middle school, 4 years of high school, then onto college or university.  And sometimes that’s not enough to land the job of your dreams so it’s back to school for a graduate degree…or maybe even a PhD…or two.  Either way, school provides the opportunity to get the learning required for the career / job of choice (or at least the creds to get your foot in the door!)

What comes into play when you haven’t got the training or experience?  Is it instinct?  Is it upbringing?  Genetics?  Exposure?  Or is it “immersion”…

Lessons for work:

  • Doesn’t matter how skinny they make my legs look… maybe I shouldn’t have worn my 6 inch platform sandals to work…on a Tuesday…or ever!
  • Note to self: do not declare, “Kamikaze shooters for everyone!!!” at the company sponsored social…again….while standing right next to the president….ooops.
  • A closed door does NOT equal privacy when having a fight over the telephone with your best friend / mom / husband / whoever!  Even if the doors are heavy, the walls are paper thin.
  • The “third stall” is not only for times when your insides are protesting but also a sanctuary for when you don’t want anyone to see you cry because your boss yelled at you  or because you just got put on a file that has you working in the remote corners of the country just weeks before you get married / etc.  No one will bother you there.

Lessons for marriage:

  • Signing a piece of paper does not mean that my significant other now needs to check in with me for every, single decision / outing / etc…call off the private investigators!
  • Stressing over the perfect formal dining room suite just two months after getting married – particularly when living in a tiny downtown condo with no dining room –is time wasted that we’ll never get back.
  • Going to bed angry sometimes IS the thing to do…the walls in condos are similar to those at the office.

Lessons for when you first have kids:

  • The term, “sleep like a baby” is a twisted joke.
  • That labor is the hard part is also a joke.
  • Trying to decipher the difference in baby cries is also time that I’ll never, EVER, get back…should’ve skipped straight to:  it’s gas / they’re hungry / it’s gas / they’re overstimulated / it’s gas / they’re tired / it’s gas!!!
  • One chocolate / candy / toy / book / TV show / etc. is never enough…be prepared with more…and more…and more!

What if your “learning” has resulted in “automatic responses”…and what if they’re really far off base?  Like faulty perspective that distorts reality…

Besides escaping with chic-lit books, I spend a lot of time in the realm of fantasy:  from the Hobbit to Twilight and Harry Potter and more recently, Vampire Diaries.  I often fantasize about being thrust into a quest to save the world that’s fraught with clashes of good and evil.

Late last night, I was walking to the subway station after leaving the office through a very well lit and deserted shopping concourse in the financial district downtown, and I scared myself into thinking that something was waiting to jump out from behind a trash can or pillar and attack me!  My guard was up and adrenaline was coursing through my veins.  It didn’t help that all of a sudden I started to hear clicking heels behind me.  Don’t turn around!   Is it a mugger?  Do I fit the victim profile?

All I can think of is, will I ever see my kids again?  Or my husband (aka the level-headed Mr. Niceguy)?  Why did I have to go and pick a fight with him?  Quickening my pace I make it safely to the subway platform and when it pulls in, I jump on and find a seat.  I’ve lucked out…there’s a lady doing something on her phone…a guy a few seats down sipping some 7Up…everything seems normal…but wait…who’s THAT guy?  And why is he staring back at me?  Oh my goodness…he seems quite pale…is he a vampire?  A death eater?  Serial killer?  Stop staring!  I can’t!  I want to stare my murderer down so he can regret the day he was born!  I will not be made into a jacket, thank you very much…even if I’ve gotten a little rounder!

Get into position…back against wall of subway…that’s right, I’m ready for anything.  I’ve watched enough Kung Fu (Panda) to know what to do…HI-YA!

Finally.  My stop.  Exhale….relief…..  Can’t wait to get home and give my honey a squeeze…but wait!  The vampire / death eater / serial killer is also getting up.  Oh no!  Did he catch those evil looks I was giving him?  Have I angered him?  I didn’t mean to…I’m like a Chihuahua and don’t know my own size!  Sorry!  I swear I have no control over my facial expressions and Mr. Niceguy is always telling me to stop staring!  He says I have a staring problem that most toddlers grow out of.  Dammit…he was right again!

Inhale!  Quick!  Run up the escalator, then up the next one too and out the doors…I’m outside, phew!  I’m catching my breath now and turn around.  Oh my gosh.  He’s right there.  Staring at me.  Why is he looking at me like that?  Hey!  I’m not some kind of weirdo or a pity case?  Either way, you’re wrong!  Just a second!  Pffft…

And before I know it, to my surprise…he’s walked on by…hmmm…lesson learned.

Good intentions…

It’s still spring and I am full of good intentions – to get outside more, to garden more, to exercise more and top of my list this year?  To make better, healthier food choices.  But most of my good intentions tend to take me down paths I wish I never traveled…

On a good day, I’m pretty obsessive.  On a bad day, I’m an obsessive compulsive!  Over the long weekend, the family and I decided to try out a new grocery store that opened up quite a distance away – see, I’m a closet foodie wannabe and was ecstatic about getting my hands on more Lebanese goodies.  I went from counter to counter:  deli, meats, prepared foods and my favourite, NUTS.

In an attempt to make better, healthier food choices, I have decided to cut down on the amount of processed foods I consume – save except for diet coke and Splenda in my lattes.  I have also decided to not eat chips – potato chips only as I could not do without my pita chips or Tostitos (besides they’re not as high fat!)  So, naturally, I would buy a bag of yummy peanuts.  Much healthier than chips and packed with protein!  Hooray!

That was how it all started…

Once again I had been running around all morning and hadn’t had a proper meal.  So when my three year old went down for his nap, I put on a previously taped episode of Bold and the Beautiful and tucked in.  Half a bag of peanuts and some ketchup chips later (sue me, it was long weekend), I found I had horrible cramping and spasms and my stomach had ballooned out to at least double in size…I looked four (ok, maybe five) months pregnant!  And very, very sad.  When I googled, “stomach pain after eating too many peanuts” I got:  aerophagia.  A condition when you eat something too fast and swallow air.  So what?  Now I was full of peanuts, ketchup chips and air???

It’s about two hours later and I’ve turned every shade of green.  Before I know it, I’m hugging porcelain and my boys are wondering how come I haven’t started reading them a bedtime story.  And all I could think of was:  Who’s going to hold my hair???

Days gone by I remember some wild nights with my BFFs: the one who would always get lucky and have a swarm of guys surrounding her like satellites, the one who would always play mother hen and do the driving, the one who would always wind up on stage dancing, and the one who would need her hair held back while she blew chunks and cursed the gods for once again, allowing her to cross the line.  Ahhhh…the good days.  I won’t say which one I was because truth be told, I’ve been them all!

In any case, after about 20 or so minutes, the entire episode behind me, I still managed to get in a goodnight story x 2 and feeling somewhat unsteady, made my way to bed.  And as I lie down I ponder three things:  (1) I hope the image of the weird looking excrement (I’ll spare you the graphic details) will be forgotten soon (2) after an excruciating 20 minutes with the porcelain my stomach is still “out” and (3) how soon can I have peanuts again?  I mean, it feels like the punishment doesn’t fit the crime!  At the very least, after all that, I should have been rewarded with some washboard abs!

After tossing and turning all night long, I wake up to some pretty serious pelvic pain…what could it possibly be?  Not one more complication, please!  I’ve dealt with two spring colds, one round of nasty antibiotics, a pulled QL (or some other combo of letters) muscle which I didn’t even know I had, and now something else??!!  I try to massage the area and eeeeeww!!!!   What IS THAT??!!!  I have a lump that is so painful to the touch that I just might die!  I show my husband and though he’s saying, “Oh, it’s probably nothing.  Don’t worry about it…”  I know he’s thinking, “Whoah!  Uh…that’s f-in weird.”  I’m lopsided.

How did an attempt to be more healthy turn into this?  How did my good intentions lead me so far astray?

A trip to my chiropractor confirms, that it is not a tumour and I won’t die in the next 24 hours (thank God because I wasn’t sure if I had cleaned my closet and I didn’t have time to take a shower and put on my good underwear).  It turns out that I have torn some ligament – that thanks to the repercussions of too many peanuts and ketchup chips, a fibre or something has ripped away from bone and is now totally irritated and swollen.  So with no pills to take and no quick fix I ask her (literally with watery eyes): “Will I be lopsided forever???!!”

All I can think is how erratic I’ve been and how I’ve lacked any sense of being responsible.  I would never have let either of my two sons chow down on half a bag of peanuts, let alone wash it down with ketchup chips.  And in what universe would someone equate indulging in all those peanuts with a healthy choice??!!!  I’ll tell you…sadly, in my universe – the one where half the time I can’t tell if I’m coming or going, I forget important playdates and deadlines, and have no time for just me.

But it’s all wrong.  I need to buck up, wise up, and learn that what may have worked in my twenties, just wasn’t going to cut it anymore!  That now I am a responsible woman, thank you very much, and that I can do this!!  I can be a model citizen (lopsided or not) to my kids, my peers and my friends!  In fact, I can be a model citizen for all the land!!

About a week has passed since this fiasco and I’m happy to report that I have healed.  I am no longer lopsided and all other “battle scars” of the event, including a very bruised psyche, have disappeared.  I actually did manage to have a couple of peanuts in a trail mix without even realizing it – I felt very good about that.  I’ve also managed to do a better job of reminding myself of important dates and deadlines.  I am definitely on the right path to becoming a better role model.  And my BFFs – the ones, who would hold my hair, hop up on stage with me, mother hen me and chase away the nasty satellites – suggested we all start a 30 day squat and crunch challenge to get back on track…that will surely be the best remedy of all.