Minecraft Part II: ‘Groundhog Day’, the luck of the Irish and finding me…

Forget it.  Not doing it.  I tried and it’s just not me.  I CANNOT GIVE UP THE REINS.

Last month it was all about abandoning my inner zombie and trying to be more chill, more relaxed, to trust and have faith thereby lightening my mental load – to try and be more present in my own life.  But I realize I’m going about it entirely the wrong way and here’s how I know…

st-peter-pearly-gates-fun-lolI’ve had a very full month.  Between the (what feels like, but obviously highly exaggerated) hundreds of projects and deadlines, for which, once again, I get paid in gratitude and brownie points (and hopefully a ticket to the VIP section when it’s time to meet Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates…), my discombobulation only got worse and when I tried to figuratively pull the ripcord from my parachute it malfunctioned and I came crashing down to earth at Mach 3 speed (in other words, I dropped like a fighter jet doing a nose dive at over 2000 mph).

But it’s been rewarding.  It has.  I swear.  I know everything happens for a reason and I know that sometimes we need to get pushed out of our comfort zone in order to grow.  I also know – no, I believe – that the universe sometimes forces you to get off the track or path you’re on because you’re just not supposed to be there (in other words, the universe believes you’ve totally f-ed up your life and has decided that it’s not going to wait any longer for you to get your @#$% together and it’s time for some tough-love and to totally uproot you from what you know, regardless of the tears, pain or fear, and put you back on course).

But one mustn’t read too much into the universe and the track and looking for signs and all that mumbo jumbo…right?  I mean…I have been getting a lot of LCBO and VRBO emails lately…it’s not like I’m supposed to be chugging back some whiskey on a beach somewhere…is it?  I mean, there has to be some modicum of control in one’s life…mustn’t there?

Back to how I know that I’m going about things the entirely wrong way.  Giving up control.  Well, that’s just not me.  I can’t do it.  I can’t let go of the reins.  It’s too much work, it feels too unnatural and quite frankly, I can just barely trust Mr. Niceguy with packing school lunches much less making sure that my children are actually dressed appropriately for the weather…yes, they almost ended up at the Toronto Auto Show in shorts, t-shirts and flip flops…IN FEBRUARY.  Truth be told, I find the need for an extra 5 minutes of sleep somehow breeds trust…

To be fair, Mr. Niceguy is very trustworthy, reliable and wonderfully supportive…when I haven’t been on a month-long quest of once again trying to figure out the meaning of my life, my purpose, my identity.  So needless to say, poor Mr. Niceguy doesn’t even know how to approach me for fear of encountering an emotionally unstable wreck that will likely bite his head off like a praying mantis.  Sorry Mr. Niceguy, it’s been tough for you too.  And it’s not a contest about whose life is harder, so I’m not going to play the “it’s hard to be a modern-day woman and pop two kids out of your body – that will never be the same again – find balance between being a mother and your old self, and balance between work and family, and, and, and…” card.  (I know, I just did…woman’s prerogative)

groundhog dayIt’s as if this entire past month has been one long bad hair day.  You know those days when you convince yourself that you can forego nicely pressed, clean clothes and makeup because who’s going to care really and perhaps you’re being far too shallow, so why not feel great about being a ‘granola’ (hippie-type) that embraces the all-natural, and just hop out of the door only to keep running into your ex-boyfriend or your public “frenemy” number 1?  Those days.  Like the movie Groundhog Day, when Bill Murray’s character Phil keeps repeating the same day over and over again until he learns his lesson, I feel like I’ve been frustrated – doomed until I get it right.

 

I can’t help but pause here and think with St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, why can’t I be Irish?

luck of the irishTrue it’s totally unfair to distill any group down to just a few traits…I mean, as an Armenian I’ve been assumed to be as flaky as a “Kardashian” (I totally disagree with that view by the way and think that while I wouldn’t necessarily make the same life choices as Kim et al, I will go on record to say that she and her family definitely highlighted the Armenian Genocide and for that I am thankful).  Moving on, as an Armenian I’ve also been told that I must be shrewd in my business dealings or be related to a mobster, etc.  I mean, seriously?  I would, however, like a leprechaun to grant me the luck of the Irish for one day – I don’t ask for a pot of gold but their outlook.  Like how could one remain bewildered and confused with Irish mantras like, “There’s nothing so bad that it couldn’t be worse” or “A good laugh and long sleep are the two best cures for anything.”  And quite frankly, I’d love to subscribe to, “What whiskey will not cure, there is no cure for.”

But then, I still wouldn’t be me, would I?  Besides, with my dark Armenian hair and dark Armenian eyes, I wouldn’t pass as an Irish person anyway…

Perhaps I need to stop getting so bogged down in my own thoughts.  Or perhaps I should dive deeper and just know that eventually, I’m just going to rise back up to the top for air when the time is right.  And perhaps I should tighten the reins and truly take responsibility for all of my steps – put aside the fear of the unknown.  Forget about the potential pitfalls and possible failure.  Spinning wheels about the future only means I can’t appreciate my present so for now, I’m taking charge, holding on for dear life…perhaps with a sip or two of whiskey…determined not to repeat…

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Don’t JINX it!!

Another year over…a new one begins.

That’s the way I started my entry a year ago…not knowing what lay ahead and simply hopeful that I’d have a year full of wonder and growth – more love and happiness than sadness and regret.  I must admit that 2015 has been one of my best years but I’m going to say it quietly, in a whisper, because I don’t want to jinx it!

Have you ever found yourself taking stock of your life and realizing that at that very moment you have everything you could ever ask for but wouldn’t admit it for fear of jinxing it?

I mean, we can all think of more…like…I could do with an established career track, my children’s future spouses decided (perhaps we need to reconsider arranged marriages at birth?) and I’d love to have no mortgage and a bank account chock full of “fun money” on top of a retirement fund that would see me vacationing at least three times a year simply for “therapeutic” reasons.

Note: Ther●a●peu●tic refers to one’s desire to escape the cold and damp because one’s joints have issued a warning that sun and sand are the perfect Rx.  Therapeutic may also refer to the fact that when I’m in my retirement years, I intend to take up extreme adventuring (African Safari, zip-lining, senior citizen alpine racing, trying out a formula one racetrack, and applying to be one of the ‘older’ contestants on Survivor).  And let’s not forget retail therapy:  who wouldn’t love the opportunity to shop right off the runways of Milan, Paris and New York?  Dreams, I know.  But dream big and who knows what may happen?

But “more” aside, I will still say (in a whisper) that while I feel I’ve had the most fulfilling year yet, there still remains some unfinished business.  When I look around, I think to myself, I’m so blessed…amidst a world full of random shooters, terrorists, escaping as refugees and having to start a life all over again on the other side of the world, global warming, Donald Trump running for the highest office, and still struggling for Armenian genocide recognition…  I realize I’ve had it pretty good…I just don’t want to jinx it by admitting it!

I’m reminded of my school years… During exam week I’d turn into an OGRE: don’t talk to me, don’t bother me, if there’s a fire, please don’t try and rescue me.  One tracked and with singular focus all I cared to do was study. As soon as I’d completed my exams, I would race out of the classroom (and later on in university, the auditoriums) for I hated nothing more than that dreaded question, “how’d you do?”  because quite frankly, I’m highly superstitious.  Responding with an “I aced that mother@#$!^*!!!!” would only mean that I’m inviting God or the universe to knock me down a peg or two with a ‘C’ as opposed to an ‘A’ grade so that I could be more humble and more focused on the important things in life like having humility, being good to my fellow man (and woman), not coveting, and so on.

If it hasn’t been apparent, I am a type A (A+!) personality:  competitive, ambitious, highly organized, structured, and sometimes neurotically regimented. My doctor once told me that I was bordering on obsessive compulsive with perfectionistic tendencies.  I told her I couldn’t agree more.  But with this kind of personality comes also the characteristic of somewhat anxious coupled with a slight hint of neurotic.  And as an Armenian I also have a tendency to be slightly dramatic and sometimes even a fatalist – all in all, a recipe for tabbouleh.

evil eyeYet I still find myself in a near euphoric state: I’m relatively healthy, I have a wonderful family, a roof over my head, I live in a country where I’m free to dream and make my dreams a reality.  But it’s a NEAR euphoria and probably as close as I’m willing to admit.  Mr. Niceguy thinks I’m paranoid:  too many evil eyes, rubbing of blue stones, scratching of my ass and throwing of salt over my left shoulder.  We all have ups and downs and I’m in an upswing, so ride the wave because before you know it…?

Am I being overly anxious?  Is it the inherent type A anxiety that’s making me doubtful and concerned about making a declaration about my happiness and that it will surely be jinxed if I do so?  And while I’m on it, isn’t making such a declaration akin to bragging?  And bragging is surely not a good thing so now I will surely be knocked down for tossing it in peoples’ faces about just how lucky I am…

But I am lucky.  And blessed.  And thankful for every little bit of it!  In fact, we’ve all got some luck and blessing in our lives and we should most definitely declare it!

After all, surely happiness, positivity, optimism and contentment will breed more happiness, positivity, optimism and contentment?  Or is it just success that breeds success…  In any case, jinx or no jinx I’m going to decide that it’s ok to admit (to myself) that everything is ok – not super duper great – but good.  And that it’s ok to be content with all that’s been accomplished…after all, I would hate to make a mistake when it comes to prioritizing my goals for the new year.  I mean, who can predict what will come next?  All we can do is hope for is good health, happiness, growth and learning and that the sun will continue to rise in the east and set in the west…that’s all…nothing more…hear me universe? 

Happy New Year – I hope 2016 is a wonderful year for you and yours…

new year 2015

Traditions, traditions…??

Traditions are developed over long periods:  decades, centuries, millennia…or so I thought. 

It’s the time of year again when traditions take centre stage.  The holidays are approaching and everyone – every family, every social and religious group – has their own way of celebrating all based on their traditions.  But traditions aren’t just about holidays or special events; they also govern the way that we interact with one another in our day-to-day lives.

This year, I am spending the holiday season together with my own family, as a tenant in my parents’ house. For those who missed my previous post, let me catch you up.  Aged forty-something, mother of 2 boys and wife of one very Mr. Niceguy, I’m undertaking the ambitious project of renovating my house into my dream home (or as close to it as budget will allow!).

It goes without saying (though must be said as both parents are avid readers of my work) that my parents are making the ultimate sacrifice.  I’m sure that when my sister and I first moved out they must have breathed the largest sigh of relief: “Finally…”  They had accomplished what I believe all parents hope to achieve (which I now appreciate):  two married daughters, established, homes of their own – now they could relax.

Until they took us in.

Only months after they had taken in my younger sister and her family…

And only weeks after they completed their own renovations…

But (I believe) as parents, they’d signed a deal (perhaps with God or the universe) and in so doing, upheld their traditions of always caring for family so on November 2 (Mr. Niceguy’s birthday!!) we moved in.

I had prepared my brood for how they’d need to behave:  be neat and tidy, no eating in front of the television, no yelling/screaming/fighting/pretend skiing or car racing in the house/and always, always finish the food on your plate.  I thought I had it figured out what with years and years being under my parents’ roof – surely things could not have changed that much, could they?

What I hadn’t banked on was just how much I would change (or come into my own) after flying the coop…

Kim K ArmeniaWhen I married Mr. Niceguy I thought to myself, I will absorb this man.  I come from a culture that is as old as Ancient Egypt (and incidentally has produced some of the sexiest people in the world including Kim Kardashian!) while his is only a few hundred years old.  I will convert him to an Armenian and he will adopt all of our traditions, our ways of being – he will no longer be phased by my air-traffic-controller hand gesticulations or jump at my voice as I yell commands from just the other room as though I was on a trans-Atlantic telephone call circa 1979 – incidentally my dad still does this whenever he’s on a long-distance call…even if it’s just to my aunt and uncle in Hamilton!

Oh how wrong I was.  While Mr. Niceguy did get used to me and my ways (he loves the cuisine and even raises his voice above a whisper from time-to-time)…I hadn’t realized until I moved in with my parents just how many of his traditions I’d adopted.  He quietly, stealthily, converted me into a person who went from blurting, “Huh?” and “What?!” to “Pardon?” and “Please.”  Living with my parents, I see where so many of my quirks and foibles come from but having had time apart, you really do develop your own traditions.

Our life has become so individualized:  each of us has a schedule – I volunteer, write, and am managing our home renovation; Mr. Niceguy has a full time job and is constantly in training mode for one obstacle race or another; and the 9 year old and 5 year old are a couple of jumping beans bouncing between school, soccer, swimming, piano, skiing, judo, jiu jitsu and everything else in between!  We have what’s a very modern “grab-and-go” lifestyle.  We eat on the run, do homework on the run, catch-up on the run and perhaps the only two things we do staying still are video games and sleep.  (And TV for me!!)

Just the other day I was standing in the kitchen having breakfast for dinner:

Elegant mom:  What are you doing dear?  Why are you eating like that, hunched over your plate?  Why don’t you sit down?

Me:  ***Food stuffed cheeks***  Pardon?

Elegant mom:  I said, why don’t you sit down while you eat?  And what is it that you’re eating anyway?  Are you having eggs?  For DINNER??!

Me:  ***Swallow quickly – don’t talk with mouth full***  Yes.  It’s Wednesday.  Wednesday is Judo night.  I got the boys from school, cleaned up, did homework, made breakfast for dinner, and now I’m just eating quickly so I can get them to their class…

Elegant mom:  But eggs?  For dinner?  Surely dear they must need better nourishment.  They’re growing boys!  Look here, I’ve made green fasoolia with rice – why don’t you feed them what I made?  And where’s Mr. Niceguy?  Should I fill a plate for him?

Me:  ***Totally exasperated – I don’t have time, I don’t have time, I don’t have time…*** Mom I don’t have time!  I have to get them out of the door.  Mr. Niceguy will take care of himself!

Elegant mom:  “Take care of himself?”  No.  That’s not right.  He must feel comfortable and be well fed in our home.  You know dear, you must make time for good nutrition.  Look at you. Did you sleep well?  You know, if you don’t take care of yourself…

Carrie Post photoThis is one of just a myriad of interactions…in a day.  But I’m beginning to realize that perhaps I shouldn’t depart so quickly from my “old” traditions. While loud and food centric at times, these traditions are rooted in taking the time to have real interactions – not just those on-the-go – they value a slower, more humane pace and while I seldom have the patience for “twenty questions” (“Where’d you go? What’d you do? Who’d you see? Who’d you know?”*), they’re an indication of real, genuine interest and caring: the cornerstone of family.

So, while you make your lists for Santa this year consider the gift of family and good friends.  I am getting the gift of knowing my parents as the people they are now, Mr. Niceguy is getting a front-row seat to my history, and my children are not only getting to build memories with their grandparents, but getting first-hand experience with our rich and unique culture laced with ALL of our traditions.

Now, if only I could put a stop to the teen angst flashbacks that keep cropping up like my chubby days, the mean girls, the countless crush dramas, getting caught, the heartbreaks and, and, and…

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, your families and loved ones.  May 2016 bring us all more of what will fill our hearts and souls, and make memories we can recount for years to come…

*Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City, recounting discussions with Aiden Shaw after moving in together to her girls.

christmas-wallpaper-196

 

Stop muzzling me!!!

“You can’t do that!”

“Stop. Let me show you how it’s done.”

These are usually the words that come out of my mouth. These days, however, they’re all I seem to hear – from Mr. Niceguy, from my mother, and even from the 9 and 5 year olds – and all I can think is, “PLEASE, DON’T MUZZLE ME!!”

IMG_6875In less than 72 hours I, a forty-something sometimes professional and always reaching YOUNG woman, will be moving house and home into a ten-by-thirty storage unit for the next … months and moving back in with my parents – Mr. Niceguy and boys in tow. Yes, we’re taking the leap that many homeowners do in a city fraught with ever-increasing housing prices (scarily so, I might add) and undergoing a major renovation.

For the past month, I have spent the better part of every, single day packing all of our belongings. Packing is no simple task: you must judge every scrap of paper, book, clothing, memento and memorabilia and assess whether it is worthy of holding a place in storage locker #B3304 (number has been changed to protect contents deemed valuable and quite frankly, with these few hours left, contents that just got lucky to avoid being scrapped and simply thrown in boxes like many of Mr. Niceguy’s concert tickets, boarding passes and music cassettes as well as high heel shoes that are obviously never going to make a comeback but hey…these fingers are now cracked, nails are broken, and back is sore).

IMG_6891On top of the packing, anyone who’s undergone a renovation in the City, also knows that one is fraught with red-tape: applications, permits, allowances, remediation, zoning, variances – all now common vernacular. Then there’s the other “red-tape” – the neighbours and the rounds of diplomatic sessions that must and should occur to ensure that everyone is aware of everything and so that after the upheaval ends, you still have friends.

Elegant mom 2The diplomacy does not end there because above all else, one has to now enter negotiations with the mother of all negotiators, literally, my mother. This classy, Armenian woman with Parisian breeding is now facing an invasion of her peaceful, beautiful, dainty world of the worst kind: my overly casual brood with very little regard for convention and etiquette – what can I say, they’re a bunch of boys!! Thanks in large part to the smoothing over by my father (from whom I’m sure I get much of my diplomatic skills), my mom was placated and her neuroses (which I also inherited) calmed…for now. If you ask my mother, the worst thing about MY situation is that it’s happening to her!

Oh yes, and add to that regular life: homework, piano lessons, soccer practice, swimming lessons, paying bills, planning family reunion holidays and I haven’t even touched upon the countless meetings and volunteer work (well done Zoryan). Add to that having to deal with the fact that the 5 year old has now started to refer to himself in the third person, “The 5 Year Old would now like a glass of water, get it mummy” and “The 5 Year Old does not like this lunch. Make him something else.” My life truly is in the spincycle – speaking of which, I think I have a batch of laundry I put in a couple of days ago which I have yet to transfer to the dryer…eeeewww!!!

Now that I’ve painted a clear picture of where things stand, it should be quite evident that I’m completely frayed, frazzled, and fraught with my own obsessions, psychoses, hang-ups and eccentricities and while I’ve been a champion of change, it is on one very, “Je suis Charlie” point that I just can’t get over: for all my training and natural talents at peacekeeping, I draw the line at being muzzled. While I am a diplomat at heart, I’m also a lover of the limelight, and a grabber of opportunity so it follows that my greatest punishment is not being heard.

Have you ever noticed how when you’re telling someone something – maybe a story or some kind of instruction – they cut you off before you’ve fully explained, totally ignoring your efforts at imparting words of wisdom, of significance and essential to the moment?

Before you’ve even arrived at the punchline, your listener has already detoured.

Perhaps it’s because I like to write, and definitely it’s because I’m loquacious – hey, I can be efficient if the situation merits. I’ve always liked to “speak in pictures”: when I tell a story or explain a process I like it to be vivid, to be in ‘technicolour’. I do it for the listener so that they may have a real and true vision of where I am and a sense of what I feel; to immerse the listener to the point where they feel like it’s their story and they know exactly where it’s headed. Like a good movie, reality often weaves a beautiful tale and so I delve, develop and painstakingly create. Every word, every image, every facial expression is carefully selected and revealed in a sequence to carry you into my world…

So how absurdly frustrating when I am interrupted, asked to be quiet, asked to hold my temper, asked to keep calm, asked to be understanding, asked to be conciliatory, asked to be, to be, TO BE SOMEONE OTHER THAN ME!!!! I feel like my life is being hijacked. My home is being ripped out of my hands (of my own volition, I know) and I’m having to regress back to my parents rules under my parents’ roof only now it’s not about sneaking out to go clubbing with my friends or with that “odar” boy…

After a much needed tête-a-tête, and the laying of some ground rules and boundaries (not to mention some very sage advice from my mother to remain open-minded and calm), I am hopeful that at the end of it all, I will still remain friends with the people that matter most: my family. More than that, I hope to not regress to my teenage, rebellious and very stubborn know-it-all version of me and embarrass myself in front of Mr. Niceguy or the boys…

Time to be positive. Time to buck up and act my age. Time to set an example. Time to concede that sometimes muzzling is a good thing as it stops one from saying what they wish they could take back and later regret. So here goes: I see a learning opportunity ahead – I see my diplomatic skills reaching new heights – I see new memories in the making…now to survive it all.

IMG_6894

Oh…to be in a cocoon

On this blustery, winter day, I’m wrapped up in my large duvet, trying to block out all the fighting and the fake gun shots (POW!  POW!), the million-and-one questions, requests and demands, just trying to find a quiet place to get in touch with my inner thoughts.  My cleaning lady quit and after the fifth (yes, FIFTH) load of laundry this weekend, I’m spent.

Incidentally, during one such load of (thank goodness) darks, when I went to put the washed clothes in the dryer I heard a *CLINK*…I ignored it.  Until I looked back into the washing machine and to my horror, found crayons…CRAYONS!!  So oh—my—GOD!!!!  Now I have to dig through half-wet clothes and turn out all the pockets because five loads of laundry were not a big enough chore?!  And if they find their way into the dryer…I’m screwed!!!!  WHO KEEPS CRAYONS IN THEIR POCKETS??!!

I know I shouldn’t blame them…they’re just kids.  They’re having fun.

And I can kind of see the humour in it.  I’m a horrible mother.  Why couldn’t I just turn their pockets inside out before I started the load?!  Ugh.  No matter now…

Crisis averted…I’m lulled into a false sense of accomplishment until I move onto the next:  cleaning “boy” toilets (eew), the kitchen sink, the floors, and dusting and I’m just about ready to admit failure again, abandon my intentions of becoming the best domestic there ever was and simply hire another cleaning lady.

duvetcoverFor goodness’ sake, in addition to all of the above, I’ve stripped the beds of all their sheets and mattress covers and, being a big believer of continuing education, I’ve even watched various online video tips for housework including one teaching an orgasmic, idiot-proof method of stuffing a duvet into its duvet cover!  Yes, this “new generation” of YouTube-ing everything and equating housework with emotional highs and true accomplishment is a new twist for me.  I’m SO PUMPED to try this out!

In truth, the video captivated me because it equated the method with a burrito roll and quite frankly burritos and I are super tight.  Like really tight.  Like Angie and Brad tight.  I can’t walk by a burrito and not eat it.  Chicken, beef, pork, veggies, cheese, eggs…put virtually anything in a burrito, hand it over and I’m in my happy place.  Add sour cream, some pico de gallo and that’s what I call orgasmic!

Incidentally, the idiot-proof method took much longer than my usual haphazard “Girl Fight” style of blindly stuffing my the duvet into the corners of the cover and now I’m upset with myself for having put so much faith into this fail-safe, quick, life-saving, orgasmic method.  Completely let down and feeling like I’ve been cheated on by a bad ex-boyfriend, in true homage to the burrito, I’ve rolled my idiot self up in my uncovered and totally naked, king-size duvet.

So back to where I started this entry, here I am, lying in fetal position; I’m desperately trying to drown out the wails, the complaints, the incessant questions and unrelenting complaints from my world.  I’m desperately trying to drown out my own wails, complaints and incessant questions and unrelenting complaints.  Like, “is this what a so-called balanced life is supposed to be like?” and, “I quit my job to be able to focus more on my family / personal life but I just can’t seem to find focus” and most of all, “is this what I went to graduate school for?!”

The thoughts swirl around me like an F5 tornado.  I can see all the different parts of my life but I can’t seem to catch any one.  Everything is a blur and in this total bewilderment I hear a tiny voice whisper, “give in”.  The blur morphs into a haze…and like a caterpillar waiting in its cocoon to turn into a graceful butterfly, I drift off into a blissful slumber, leaving the world behind…for now.

duvetcocoon

 

Philosophical mom

Today I planned to be my charming and witty self…instead I’m plagued with fever, a sore throat and consequently, find myself in a weakened state, philosophizing…

Mom somee cardIt’s been nearly 7 months – SEVEN WHOLE MONTHS – since I started on this new chapter in my life as stay-at-home-and-sometimes-work mom.  How did I get here?  When did this all happen?  Just the other day I was telling a friend that I’ve only just recently felt like I’ve started to get into the groove of my new situation.  For I believe that although I am very much a mother, my “mom gene” may actually be missing.

While many of my friends eased into motherhood, I have struggled, every single step of the way.

For years, my companions were spreadsheets, business strategies and financing contracts – the stress around soliciting financial terms and conditions or negotiating during high stake meetings was my permanent state. Oftentimes, when I’d be “playing hookie” and getting a much needed eyebrow wax or buying groceries, I would be reminded that I was at the mercy of work by the cold sweat that would instantly trickle down my spine and the breath that would get caught in my throat when my phone would “TING” with a new email.  Call it PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), call it habit, it’s that edginess and state of constant readiness that had taken over every aspect of my life.  Even when I’d try to slow down, there was something in me that would not allow it for nothing other than complete responsiveness would suffice…until I realized that the price I was paying was much too high.

So, MBA in hand coupled with more than a decade of experience at one of the world’s leading global professional services firm, I figured I could take all that I had learned and apply it to my new job.  No longer torn for having to choose between career and family, I eagerly accepted my new position.

My first order of business would be to deal with all the things that I had neglected over the years:  healthier eating, more exercise, doing homework right away after school rather than cramming it into the wee hours, and even doing some things I’d always dreamed of like finally improving my French, learning Spanish, and how to drive a stick shift.  My ambitions were lofty but the flow charts I’d devised in my mind made me confident that I had it all figured out.

In these last seven months, those flow charts, plans, strategies, and all the learning I did as a middle management plebe slowly unraveled – they may has well have been flushed down the toilet!

I came to realize that while negotiations in the professional world have certain rules and a logical tempo, negotiations with my children are like navigating through land mines (permit the metaphor) and nothing like any business dealing I’ve ever known.  There seems to be only one pattern in negotiations with my children best illustrated by the car ride to school this morning:

  1. My request to please cease and desist playing the flute in the car for it may cause the driver (me) to get into an accident (logical reasoning)
  2. Their blatant ignoring of me – they neither hear me, see me or show any indication of acknowledging my presence (savvy technique)
  3. My request repeated at a higher volume –they must understand that I hold their lives in my hands?!
  4. #2 again (persistence)
  5. Me turning into a crazy banshee lady screaming at the top of my lungs (*FLUSH*)
  6. Still no response – though I did get a millisecond of silence before they started again (mastermind geniuses using torture techniques)
  7. Me feeling guilty about acting like a crazy banshee lady and now overcompensating by resorting to bribery (loser)
  8. Acknowledgement and completion of request (winners)
  9. Utter defeat and feeling a failure as have become cause of ruined futures (digging hole)
  10. Picturing great catastrophic events like man-children permanently ensconced in basement playing video games and eating pizza. (burying head in said hole)

No, the job of “mom” is much harder, the stakes are infinitely higher, and the pressure for perfection is, on some days, omnipresent – and pungent, like a cloud of sulphuric acid.  Where did it say in the job description that I have to be all-knowing and able to answer the myriad of daily questions?  That I need to bandage every boo-boo and quiet the hormonal rage borne from an empty stomach?  And speaking of job descriptions, where’s the training manual?!!?

Slightly feverish, and now panicked that soon it will be time to pick them up from school and once again start on the crazy rollercoaster called motherhood, I’m on the verge of a breakdown…I need a (mental) sick day but I know I can’t possibly have one!  Suddenly, my philosophically-laced downward spiral comes to an end as I’m brought back to the present by that familiar “TING”…and you know what?  Just for one second, a tiny split second, I was transported back…but wait!  No cold sweat.  My breath is flowing freely and I realize – I am so lucky, my world is one that I am designing, flaws and all!  And my current bosses don’t know how to email…yet!

Philosopher

 

Wash, rinse, spin, repeat…

All about the never ending spin-cycle…and the little pauses in between.

survivor-2013-episode-8-480x270Last night the PVR was acting up and it took an actual three hours to finally catch up on my TV and watch the Survivor finale and wrap up show – I may as well have just watched it live.  GAH!!!!  I hate it when that happens.  Some question why I still watch Survivor – I’m a bit of an escapist and sometimes overly confident (add a dash of egotistical, judgemental and crazy and voila!) – I think I have quite the social game and am really, really good at puzzles so I think that I would totally make it to the final four provided I didn’t have to eat any weird fetus, maggot or some kind of larvae.  My paranoid self has just realized that actually writing this may actually tip off Jeff Probst and crew to include the Survivor Food Eating Challenge when I compete…one day….once I’ve actually applied….yikes!!!

I digress.  Mr. Niceguy kept telling me that it was time for bed as I kept nodding off but no, I wouldn’t have it.  I absolutely needed to see who would win and quite frankly, after a long day of cooking, cleaning, gardening, repairing, washing, and homework together with, “Mommy, I want this” and “Mommy, the 4 year old is bothering me” and “Mommy, I can’t find my [insert any ridiculously tiny toy that one would need binocular attachments and some kind of sonar or laser tracking device to find]” – it was my down time.  Thankfully, the phone beeps from a very late night round of texting from my other mommy friends who were obviously in the same boat jolted me awake and I was able to watch to the end…but no downtime ever takes place without exacting some form of payment, a lesson I would come to learn again…

7:00am – alarm goes off.  I was so tired that I didn’t hit the snooze like I often do but instead, turned it right off.  And all of a sudden, there I was, fascinator on, gorgeous two-piece and nude coloured shoes…no wait, that’s Kate Middleton.  What’s she doing here?  Oh my goodness, she’s giving me advice about how to host an outdoor party…how grand.  Wait, I must take notes and listen closely…what’s that?  She’s now talking about what to do when I’ve stepped in what??  And how to get rid of the stench???  I can’t pay attention to this!  Why am I even thinking of arranging this garden party?  How did I get here?  Oh no…it was that second dinner I had at midnight!  That’s right…I keep forgetting I’m not 20 anymore!!  Speaking of food…

Oh my God!  8:15am!!!  And Mr. Niceguy is still sleeping too!  We jump out of bed and being the nice guy that he is, Mr. Niceguy makes the boys’ lunch and I decide I can’t leave the house looking like I just woke up and must do something about the embossed sheet marks on my face.  So I scrubbed, moisturized and put on my makeup but unfortunately…no go.  The sunglasses will have to cover my cheeks and nevermind, I’m really pressed for time!!  Quick, grab jean cut offs from yesterday…it was so warm yesterday…argh…quit daydreaming…and pull a beachy look like Gisele!

Finally at school.  Only I’ve just noticed that it’s 11 degrees and one glimpse at myself in the school glass doors and I realize, perhaps today is not the day to try and emulate Gisele…oh, and more disheartening still, the only thing I have in common with Gisele are the freckles on my face.  A walk through the doors would add yet one more disappointment…pizza day.  Why couldn’t I have just checked the school calendar before heading out of the house??!!

So to wrap up, I’m essentially paying for a not-so-exciting-night full of after hour binge eating, TV watching and basically TRYING to carve out some ME time.  WHY IS THE UNIVERSE PUNISHING ME???!!!

I decide that I can’t face the rest of my day without my signature latte and that’s when I ran into a couple of women – other mom friends from school – one of whom is a very hip and cool marketing genius while the other, our local SJP with a downtown boutique full of the latest fashions.  Ever the shallow individual, all I could think was I hope I don’t get judged for my lack of fashion sense re: the t-shirt, cut offs and my signature Converse All Stars, and that the sheet marks had finally disappeared from my face (I swear if someone invents a cheek plumper similar to that instant lip plumper lip gloss that one can simply buy off the counter, I’M ALL IN!!!)

Trying to sheepishly order my coffee and avoid all eye contact to no avail, I was approached and greeted ever so graciously by them both…obviously ignoring my dishevelled and insane state.  And you know what?  I got praised for my writing and praised for a recent outfit I had pulled together for a last minute event and I was on cloud nine!  For just a moment, my insane cycle had been broken.  For just a moment, it was all about me.  Beaming, I thanked them both for their compliments, grabbed my latte and walked to my car…and then promptly dribbled coffee all the way down my shirt.

woman-coffee-stain-620km012213

Coming out of the dark…

‘Coming out of the dark’ was the title I gave the first chapter of a book I started to write nearly 8 or 9 years ago…I only got about half a page down when I abandoned the idea.  Perhaps it’s in the cards for me still…

There are (many) days when I wake up and think to myself, how am I going to get everything done?  I have a list that’s at least as long as my driveway (the longest in the City of Toronto – just saying, not actually…or perhaps?) and I’m just not sure where – or how – to begin.  This is a conundrum.  For example, writing this very entry is on that driveway-long-list, and I haven’t even really decided what I will write about.

Should it be about the fact that I’m sitting at my desk for the fifth-to-last time?  And that the lights in my office keep flickering on and off like torture – I’m sure to get a headache from all the flickering which really won’t be fair as the Bachelor is on tonight and I swear I’m going to lose it if he says, just one more time, to a blubbering girl with his Spanish accent, “Look at me.  Pliss.  Look at me.  Me.  Yes.  Look.  I no wanna see you cry.  That hurt me.  Pliss.  Don cry.”  The headache will just make me want to whip off my slipper and toss it at the TV screen…the TV screen that is, in just a few days, going to be my lifeline to civilization.

clare-the-bachelor-crying-juan-pablo

Come to think of it, tossing that slipper won’t be so bad considering that every time I wear those slippers, I get little electrical shocks when I open a drawer/hug my 3 year old/reach out for a napkin you name it!  I mean, last night I spent a good 10 minutes that I don’t have Googling, “What to do when there’s too much static electricity in the house” and “How to train yourself to become immune to static electricity” and finally “Harnessing the power of static electricity.”  After all, on any given day there is an energy crisis and quite frankly, since we’ve looked into alternative sources such as solar, wind and geothermal, why not static electricity?

If an entire monster town can be powered by a child’s screams or laughter, then why not think about static electricity?

Incidentally, I did read about an attempt to charge a cellphone with static electricity…

Ridiculous.  About as ridiculous as this flickering light…which has now stopped flickering.  And so I’m sitting in the dark, in my inner office with a view of three walls and a hallway…who actually thought that this kind of muted taupe-grey and faux wood would actually promote productivity?  I am at least fortunate enough to have a mildly interesting print hanging on the wall of the ocean…at least I’ve always thought it was an ocean…or is it a lake?  Perhaps it’s just a puddle…I don’t know.  But now that I look at it, all it is, is a series of more shades of taupe and grey.  Hummpphh.

I wonder if it’s grey outside…perhaps a quick glance out the window…right…just another wall.  No matter, what I do know, is that it’s cold.  Cold and windy.  On a more positive note, over lunch I thought it would be a good idea to shop for a bathing suit cover-all…I’m really willing the warm weather to return…HAAAAAAAAAPSHOOOOOOOOO!!!!  What was that?  HAAAAAAPSHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!  Oh no!  A sneeze!  Two!  I knew it!  This morning on the subway a young buck-wishes-himself-next-titan-of-industry (aka a man who fancies himself a highly important corporate person) was sucking on a cough lozenge and I must have caught this cold from him!  He kept breathing on me and I could smell his cough lozenge and it drove me crazy the way he kept rolling that huge lozenge in his mouth for EIGHT subway stops such that I could hear it clicking and clanking against his teeth – I wanted to shrink and just disappear – oh my skin is crawling just thinking about it…

WHY IS THE LIGHT STILL OFF????  DID MY GLOBAL PROFESSIONAL SERVICE FIRM FORGET TO PAY THE BILL????  Sheesh.  Must be because I resigned…YES!  I resigned.  About a month ago (I was nice and sweet and gave a month’s notice in order to transition properly and because, well, it seemed like the thing to do given I’ve been here for over a decade.)  But seriously…would I really be singled out like that?  And the thing is…it’s not like I’m just sitting here writing this entry.  No.  I’ve had some very important work to do all morning – and it’s all happened in the dark.  Ironic.  I have to smile.  I’ve often wondered if a lot of the time while doing my job here I was “in the dark” – be it the dark side or really “in the dark” and not realizing that there was so much more out there for someone like me…

Weird…the light just went on.  Like a light bulb in my brain.  And oddly enough, I’ve just tackled one more thing off my list…actually two (hint: this article and my little announcement). Time for something more.

Promise to provide a more “Spincycle-ish” entry next week…but then, this qualifies…doesn’t it?  Promises, promises…

In the dark

Screw the weather…I’ll just make lemonade!

I AM SO SICK OF WINTER!  There, I said it.  And now I’ve joined the grumpy, bundled up masses just trying to get through the day without freezing off their a**es!   Generally, I love winter, love the snow, love the beauty of it…I even love the cold when I’m prepared for it as it utterly fascinates.  But today, at this time, I’m sick of it – let me explain…

Growing up in the desert (Saudi Arabia), has made me appreciate extremes.  For example, the heat in Saudi, is very similar to that of say, Vegas (if one makes it outside the casino) – unrelenting; like being a chicken cutlet in a 450 degree oven.  So for me, the arctic-like cold is also fascinating.  Without the appropriate protection, one can freeze to death.  And it is this danger that fascinates.  And this amazement that makes me realize that I’m so small – my problems, are so small – and that life is a precious and privileged thing.

Six_Emperor_PenguinsWhile I’ve reveled in these thoughts of puniness, and insignificance, and relished in the bigger picture (i.e. boys stop fighting don’t you realize that the climate outside is colder than where the penguins in that movie live?!  That shut them up…) I’m now completely in the present.  And my problems don’t seem puny or insignificant for I have discovered a hole in my boot.  Not a metaphor…but a real hole in my boot.  And NOT one that is obvious either. NO.  Just a tiny, small crack that for the past 2 weeks has been the source of perplexity…

It’s hard to think of the wonder, the greater, the bigger and the larger when you have a hole in your boot!  I bought these boots that are supposed to insulate and protect – to shield me from the cold.  And now that my defenses are down, my problems have become the wonder, the greater, the bigger and the larger.  The solution should be simple…buy a new pair of boots.  In February, however, every store window has succumbed that winter has overstayed its welcome and so I’m met with “oh, sorry ma’am, we sold out weeks ago” more times than I care to share and “did you check out our new cruise wear?”   Say what?!

I have an “I want it all” attitude.  And this attitude has fuelled many a decision – one in particular which I will divulge in the coming weeks (stay tuned!)  Just this past weekend, while having dinner with some friends I was asked, “Do you prefer it when your mascara fans out your lashes or makes them thicker?”  To which I responded, “Why can’t I have both?”

If I can’t have it all, why am I willing to write it all off?

As a self-defense mechanism, I frequently decide that something is just not worth having / pursuing / getting when that very thing is no longer exactly as envisioned.  For example – I covet a particular bag.  It’s absolutely fantastic in the window.  Then when I go to visit said bag, it has a funny zipper, or the hardware is silver (and not gold) or the cross-body strap does not adjust and is fit for an amazon instead of 5 foot, four-and-a-half-inches-on-a-good-day, me.  And instead of being upset about how things just didn’t work out, I toss it aside and move on.  So, if I can’t be insulated, well protected and shielded, am I prepared to just toss aside winter?

Here’s where my thinking has lead me:  it’s not worth the negativity.  I need to get over it as it’s not the end of the world.  It’s just winter – not the cause of all problems.  And it’s not going anywhere…at least not right now (especially according to the science that is Groundhog Day…wha?!)  While I’m not at all prepared for the 8 (or so) weeks of winter that remain, I may as well succumb – like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day – I need to move on.  So, snow boots or no snow boots, I will stop worrying about the little things and instead focus on what is possible – like a little more skiing and hanging out in the bright sunshine.  Like making lemonade out of lemons…a tasty delight…or perhaps a pink lemonade cocktail…now that would be more apropos!

Pink lemonade cocktail

SCATTERBRAIN…if only for just one day…

I’m going to take a moment and date myself.  In 1989, Vachon (manufacturer of the pastry called “Flaky”) ran a commercial about a woman – a very scattered woman – that annoyed me to no end.  In those early teenage years I used to wonder how someone could be so scattered, so bewildered, and yes, flaky?  And now, in an ironic twist of fate, I AM HER!

There are days when it’s a wonder that I’ve managed to actually put myself together, get the kids to school with packed lunches and homework completed, and then myself to work.  How does one do it?  Autopilot mostly.  But this particular morning, my autopilot had a massive glitch and here’s what happened instead:

  • I forgot that I changed the station on my circa 1990’s alarm clock from the news to music in an effort to make my “reveille” much more civilized but though my intentions were good, all that resulted was that my dreams were set to great background ambience – in other words, I got up more than half an hour later than usual.
  • The 3 year old (almost 4) woke up with an extremely runny nose and I spent about 10 minutes trying to fish out…well, he calls them “burgers”…
  • The 7 year old remembered that he forgot to remind me YESTERDAY that Mondays are library days and since we’ve already lost one book, I thought it might be wise to spend a few seconds looking for the latest one borrowed before I end up funding an entirely new collection of books at the school library.  Only, it never actually takes a few seconds…AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!
  • Just when I thought I was finally ready to leave, a quick final glance in the mirror and I found more greys in an already, severely damaged section of my head thanks to the trials and tribulations of PREGNANCY from which, after four years, my hair is STILL recovering (on most days, side parts are sadly, a thing of the past).
  • My skirt hem came undone, the plastic thingy at the bottom of my car door is on the verge of falling off, my so-called winter boots which do nothing to keep out the cold also proved that they are useless in keeping out the snow and my poor toes have transformed into pale, blue nubs at the end of my feet, and after taking three times longer than usual to drop off the kids at school, I realized I had left my laptop at home and would be adding another hour and a half to my morning commute.

These occurrences must be a sign of my frozen brain – the electrons are just not firing.  So quick, FIND WHITE, STARK, PADDED CELL.  Failing that, stay at home; only then can one be sure to avoid more mishap.  Besides, change of routine can be good, so today is work from home day.  I can be much, much more productive – no disruptions, no social coffee runs, no discussions of how the weekend was (which in my case was a bit of a bust so fortunately, no need to rehash) and no temptations for a heavy, calorie laden lunch (poutine, pasta, chicken pot-pie…it’s that kind of a day…)  No, I will stay at home, get all of my work done tout-suite, and have a very healthy lunch which will surely fuel my brain to produce some of the best work ever seen!

Right.  Laptop fired up.  Logged onto work network.  Ready to go.  But wait…it feels a little cool.  I’ll just go and put on a sweater.  Yay, love working from home.  No high heels, or suit jackets required.  Wow, it’s still really cold and the house temperature appears to be normal…oh no, am I going though perimenopause?  (I have an irrational fear of menopause and everything related to it – seriously, just the mere mention of it sends me straight to anxiety-ville) But wait, that’s hot flashes, not chills, that must mean…oh no, am I getting the 3 year old’s cold??  Ukh…

I can’t concentrate.  Maybe I just need to tidy up – clear work environment equals clear mind.  Done.  Now what?  Write report or do research?    Speaking of research…I still need to book that hotel in Whistler and check out a good Prosecco for a very dear friend…  No!  Must do work.  Must be productive.  A quick glance at the bottom right of the screen and I’m saved.  No wonder I can’t think…it’s almost lunchtime.  Yes, surely I’ll be more productive after some nourishment.

Oh.  My.  God.  I am full.  I think I just need a nice, warm cup of coffee to help me digest…

The distractions are everywhere…the excuses, limitless.  But I finally hankered down, got some work done, recommended a Prosecco or two and even checked out some hotel options, and the truth of the matter is that it did take a lot less time to get stuff done here, than it would have at the office.  So now, I’m going to take my annoying, flaky self, and do something I never have a chance to do on a regular work day…PLAY.  The sun has peaked out from behind the clouds, the snow looks soooo inviting and despite my soggy boots, I’ve just gotta get out there because before I know it, I’m going to have to leave my little padded cell and re-enter the real world.

Snow day

I’m not mad…it must be the cows!!!??

I have this thing…this small tendency…this tiny faux pas about me that I just can’t seem to help…and I’m betting I’m not the only one.  I’m betting it’s just wiring.  I’m betting it’s just because of where I’m at, who I’m with, and the situations in which I find myself.  It’s not my fault!  In fact, it’s never my fault.  There’s always an explanation…

I feel like I’ve always been who I am.  Like I haven’t really changed over the years…well, not significantly.  I mean, my hair is straighter (I look 12 when it’s curly and no, that’s not cute and it is not the perfect remedy for aging either as I’ll simply look like an overgrown adult baby – something I think I’ve made clear in the past is intolerable!) My face is more angular while my curves are just getting curvier…but no, my personality remains the same.  And so, it follows, I have always maintained that there must be an explanation.

Is it just reluctance to take on responsibility or is it the fear that when responsibility is taken, it brings with it a GRAVE consequence?  Like maybe I’m not as good a person as I thought and therefore no better than the rest?  Maybe I’m not as smart as I think I am and therefore simply not good enough? (I find myself here quite often, but I digress…)  I don’t know.  It’s just that sometimes when not-so-pleasant things happen, it’s much easier to say, “It wasn’t meant to be.” Or, “It was destiny.”  And my own personal motto, “There must be a reason…”

Taking responsibility and accepting consequences is not something that’s taught like math, science or phonics…maybe it should be??

Mr. Niceguy and I went out for his birthday just this past weekend, a rare treat given that I have been in a complaining jag for the past little while:  I’m not tall enough, thin enough, my house isn’t big enough, I’m tired, the boys are driving me wildly insane, I need a vacation, I need a tan (yes, I said it!  TAN! TAN! TAN!!!!!)  I need to find the perfect coat/boots/haircut/work bag, and so on and so forth ad nauseum ad infinitum!!  One of my many series of complaints involves how rarely Mr. Niceguy and I go out and relive our pre-kids days when he would plan dates, pick me up and the sun would revolve around ME!…surely not unfamiliar?

Anyway, we went out for Mr. Niceguy’s birthday…a birthday dinner event that Mr. Niceguy planned himself!  (He’s Mr. Niceguy for a reason…)  I’m not sure if Mr. Niceguy has ever been analyzed, broken down and “Spincycled” so here goes:  aside from being devastatingly handsome (watch out Matthew McConaughey), Mr. Niceguy is a couple of years older than I am (a fact that I often grip to when I’m staring FORTY in the face with complete and utter DREAD).  Mr. Niceguy does NOT share my ethnic background so he’s not loud, not hot-headed or quick tempered, and often waits for the appropriate break in the conversation to respond (i.e. does not interrupt).  And he is very, very nice.  While he’s a lovely Monet watercolour – calm and rational, I’m more like a Picasso or Salvador Dali.  But it is his wisdom, openness and determination I envy above all his characteristics…

So for Mr. Niceguy’s birthday we went to a fancy French restaurant for some steak-frites!  Except, being on yet another diet to seriously try and shake the nagging, clinging extra poundage, I ordered a filet, dry, butterflied and cooked medium-well, with steamed veggies and a salad, no dressing.  And this got us thinking about our younger, carefree, pre-kids days, and another birthday some many, many moons ago…(ok, not THAT long ago…indulge me!)

Mr. Niceguy and I had decided that we would have a big night out:  dinner, theatre, club and then when we just couldn’t stand up straight any longer, we would stagger and meander to our third-storey walkup in midtown Toronto.  We were at a different steakhouse then and being the gluttons that we were, we indulged:  butter pan fried steaks, lobster tail, butter sautéed mushrooms, mashed potatoes and potatoes au gratin, topped with my absolute favourite dessert:  crème brûlée.  It should come as no surprise that after our feast, we made it only to the theatre and then called it quits…but the night would not end then.  Hours-upon-hours of payment would be exacted from each of us in turn…and through it all, despite my weakness, summoning what little strength I had left to clench my fists, I swore I would not let things go without finding fault!

The next morning, with matted hair, splotchy skin and at least five pounds lighter, I called the restaurant and explained what had occurred:  the sweating, the chills, the cramps, the nausea, the going green and the feeling like I should just move into the toilet and wrap myself up in my bath mat for warmth.  An utterly horrific night!  Thank goodness our apartment came with two bathrooms…  I theorized to the manager of that very fine establishment that perhaps they had served us a bad batch of meat?  Perhaps it had not been cooked to temperature?  Or perhaps it was some sort of bacterial infection?  I explained good-naturedly, and in an effort to help nip-in-the-bud any possible incidence of mad cow disease, that he must immediately ensure that no other patrons had been afflicted!  Having frequented this restaurant in the past, I was certain that something was off.  That something diabolical had occurred.  It couldn’t possibly have been our choices…

The manager patiently listened to my concerns and then finally in his most rational, gentle manner offered us a substantial gift card to return to the restaurant and to my complete embarrassment added, “Miss.  We’re terribly sorry for both your husband’s and your experience.  But I took a look at your bill and it seems that you chose a number of our richer dishes…all at once.  These can sometimes have an adverse effect as they are laden with lots of cream and butter.  We hope you’ll return and we can make some recommendations for you next time.”  Ouch.  We passed the gift card over to my parents knowing they would make better choices in the future…

With a bruised ego, I took responsibility.  I accepted fault.  And I lived with the consequences.  We all make mistakes once in a blue moon.  It was meant to be…

English: Salvador Dali with ocelot and cane.

English: Salvador Dali with ocelot and cane. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Get lost!!!! (in Hallowe’en…)

I love Halloween.  Dressing up completely fuels my imagination and so I was thrilled and ecstatic when one of my best friends decided to have a Hallowe’en party – costume mandatory.

I began discussions with Mr. Niceguy about coordinating our costumes.  Apparently, coordinating costumes is a foreign concept to Mr. Niceguy for while I was thinking Wills and Kate or Harry Potter and Hermione he was thinking, military guy circa before a time we were born.  What would I go as?  This was not a game of good guys versus bad guys.  It wouldn’t make much sense for him to go as a sniper and me to go as a vampire, now would it?

In any case, after a number of no-way’s and veto’s, we agreed:  we would be secret service agents, dressed in black suits, white shirts, black skinny ties, ear pieces, sleeve mics, fake guns and sunglasses – the 3 year old and 7 year old even volunteered their props!  The best part of pretending to be secret service agents was our plan to make an entrance by hopping the fence into my friend’s backyard and just “materializing” in front of her glass patio doors (I even downloaded the Mission Impossible song onto my phone as the theme for our appearance!)

HollyGolightly

Alas, Mr. Niceguy came down with a terrible cold and I was left to go solo.  With a wandering mind, perpetual ADD, and commitment issues, I decided!  I clipped on some fake bangs, put my hair in a bun, threw on a black dress, and transformed into Holly Golightly (aka, the timeless Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s)!

The best part of Hallowe’en is entertaining people…and even freaking some people out!  And though I had initially intended to do the freaking out part, I settled for being entertaining instead.  Despite the lack of a pair of long black gloves and the iconic cigarette holder, I daresay, this costume was a success!

Over the years I’ve really taken advantage of Halloween.  I’ve been Princess Jasmine, a Hawaiian hula dancer, an angel (complete with wings!) a 1960s go-go girl (who hasn’t?), and even a Japanese Geisha.  The trick is, I think, to pick something that is not a big stretch…

At this party, there were a number of different costumes:  the Queen of Hearts, her Knight in tights, a “Mad Woman” (i.e. Mad Men) a cat, 80’s girls (you can’t have a Hallowe’en party without them!), and even a pair of swashbuckling pirates…ARRRGGGGHHHH.  Then the doorbell rang…and I heard a pair of voices in the front hall.  The Mad Woman warned, “you do not want to see her.  She’s very freaky.”  What had our friend done?  My adrenaline started to pump…

disturbing babyIn walked the most grotesque “thing” accompanied by a giant, grimacing baby.  The “thing” had a deformed face with weird eyes and was very obviously a mask.  But the giant grimacing baby…it was so unnatural.  So strange.  It’s gigantic head was in proportion to the rest of its body had the baby actually been 5 feet tall.  It was an abomination!  It was a masterpiece!  My deepest, basic instincts took over.  I wanted nothing more than to scream, to push it away and to destroy it!  I was at once terrorized and mesmerized by the way it danced and pranced around the room.  Witnessing this costume had made repulsion and admiration, one.

Had my basic instincts taken over so much that I’d gone absolutely mad?

I recalled a Hallowe’en long before Mr. Niceguy… I had been cajoled into walking through a haunted house full of booby traps and monsters that would pop out of the shadows and try to grab you.  I remember our group walking through the maze – all holding hands, moving together in the dark.  Suddenly, a thing came out of the shadows and tried to grab a hold of me!  There’s a saying:  when you’re being chased, you only need to be faster than the slowest person (thanks Diary of a Wimpy Kid).  So I broke the chain and ran screaming out, leaving the fourth behind as sacrifice.  That fourth was my then boyfriend.

Though at the time I had regretted that I was willing to leave him behind for my own safety, and I had questioned and analyzed what my behavior truly said about the kind of person I was, today, I take a lighter approach.  Costumes, dress up and Hallowe’en are a time for abandonment.  The best part about Hallowe’en is taking advantage of the reprieve from the norm.  Of not feeling like you have to be responsible.  Of pretend, fear and hysterical laughter.  Of imaginations running wild.  Lose yourselves for one day.  Happy Hallowe’en.

Holly and baby

 

Thanksgiving…thanks goodness it’s over.*

Thanksgiving is not really a holiday I get all that excited about so I’m glad it’s behind me.  For starters, I am not a fan of turkey – whether cooked breast up or down, wrapped in bacon, stuffed with bread or rice, nuts and berries. It just seems like a wannabe Christmas…except it’s missing the best part, PRESENTS.

And Thanksgiving in Canada has nothing to do with the pilgrims in Massachusetts celebrating their first successful harvest and breaking bread with the Native Americans – so I always find it kind of odd when I see “pilgrim inspired” decorations – like the big black hats with gold buckles or historical pilgrim costumes. Pilgrim turkey

And finally, why turkey?  Why not something else all together different and more delicious, like a roast?  Or spaghetti?  Or roast and spaghetti?  Now that’s a fun and tasty meal.  I mean, were there really that many turkeys roaming about that someone thought, hey!  Now that’s a convenient meal?  After some digging, here’s what I found…

According to an article in Slate, turkeys have taken the centre stage as they were fresh, affordable and big enough to feed a crowd.  Furthermore, as cows and chickens were more useful alive and ham or pork wasn’t considered fit for special occasions, turkey became the choice by default, “because the birds could be slaughtered without a huge economic sacrifice.”  Seriously?  Poor turkey.  And they were cheaper (and apparently easier to deal with) than geese.  So these nice, sweet turkeys spend all of spring and summer eating insects and worms and grow to just the right size by Thanksgiving feast.  Well now, that’s enough for this girl to maintain the current status as non-turkey-tarian.

Regardless of the main dish though, I still always find a way to eat too much, lie flat on the ground and complain ad nauseam ad infinitum of a bellyache and turkey coma (despite the fact that I don’t eat the stuff), and pretend to be at least 4 or 5 months pregnant as I drunkenly (on food, not booze) waddle about waiting for dessert. But not this year.

The weekend started early for me as fortunately, I had a reprieve from work.  Though unfortunately for me, the boys also had a reprieve from school.  So after we kissed Mr. Niceguy goodbye (no reprieve for him which turned out to be the reprieve…my, how twisted the universe is sometimes…wait for it) boys and I decided to get dressed and ready to start our fun filled day of monitoring my computer should a work crisis arise and shopping for the ingredients of a fancy salad I had promised to bring.

And that’s when things unraveled.  Literally.  Moments after Mr. Niceguy’s departure (and seconds after my too short hot shower).  The 7 year old and 3 year old tore into my room, screaming with fits of laughter, all while I was trying to straighten my unruly hair…and that’s when I saw it.  Or should I say, them.  The 7 year old had a lump right in the middle of his forehead the size of a small quail egg.  It looked like it was the result of some sort of insect bite. And while examining him, the 3 year old came in for a look when I noticed that he had a lump the size of a small chicken egg on his neck!  But no sign of a bite or any other sort of trauma.  What could it be? Meningitis?  Mumps?  Mono?

All plans on hold while we rushed to the doctor’s office.  I knew we were done for (along with our plans to go up North the next day) when the doctor came in and exclaimed, “Ugh.  What’s that?”  Not a good sign.  No.  Twenty minutes later, and the explanation that it would either go away on its own (with a little help of some antihistamines) or become the size of a tennis ball requiring hospitalization, we walked out of the office – them ecstatic to be leaving and me completely panic stricken.

And in that state, we accomplished two Thanksgiving dinners.  Two dinners complete with family that we hadn’t seen in such a long time.  Truly lovely, yes, but these meetings always seem to give rise to the sorts of conversations that involve me having to recall people, places and events encountered at a time when I don’t even think I was sentient!  Like, “remember when you were a baby and you would only drink milk after your mother would drop blue food colouring in it?”  True story.  My peculiar particularities started at an early age…but no, I can’t remember!  Or,

did you know, we found out we were pregnant with you just months after we were married when your dad took me to the doctor because I was constantly sick to my stomach!

Great.  A guilt trip on Thanksgiving…  And by the way, gross!  Didn’t a stork deliver me?

But I survived.  And fortunately for us, the lump went down the better path, and started a slow shrink to normal, all under the extremely watchful eye of Mr. Niceguy, who was so worried that he decided to camp at the foot of the 3 year old’s bed until he drifted to sleep.

So Thanksgiving, I’m glad you’ve passed.  But I haven’t forgotten what you stand for and so here goes:

I’m thankful that the chicken egg lump went away.  And the quail egg lump too.

I’m thankful that my illusion of a stork delivery was blown out of the water…the truth shall set you free.

I’m thankful that time with family brings out shared history – and whether I was there or not, recall it or not, it will get passed on and form part of my legacy…and to that end, I’m also thankful that Mr. Niceguy hasn’t run for the hills!

Finally, I’m thankful to have had the luxury of not just one, but two thanksgiving dinners full of too much food, too much laughter and too much love…I know it’s much more than some will ever have.

*Not a typo…just how my mom has always said thanks.  Like “Thanks God”.  I love you mom.  Thanks God for you!  And you too, dad!

Happy Thanksgiving

The Great Outdoors

If anyone’s seen the movie, the Great Outdoors, with John Candy and Dan Aykroyd, they’ll know that sometimes things can be quite unexpected…and it is in homage to this, that I name this post.

The Great Outdoors (film)

The Great Outdoors (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vacation is upon me…finally.  And this time, we are filling our time off with a short trip to the cottage which I’m spiritually allergic to:  I mean, no AC, no cable TV, no WiFi, and essentially, not much of a boundary between Mother Nature and me…  I’m allergic to anything in the “great outdoors.”  Call me urbanite – the closest I get to the great outdoors is the park around the corner where my kids sometimes play.

For example, take day 3 of our 6 day getaway to the family cottage – I swore I’d never stay at beyond a night (two if absolutely necessary).  My legs are swollen and itchy from the bites of creatures or scrapes of plants unknown, my hair is at least 4 inches shorter as it has curled up and bunched up into anti-nature dreadlocks, and my face is covered with ugly brown spots and freckles.  Despite all these little discomforts, I sat in awe of the most incredible thunderstorm I’ve witnessed in a long, long time.

The cottage has a very large picture window overlooking the lake, which, just moments ago, was being punctured by millions of the largest, hardest drops of rain while the “north shore” across the way gets ravaged by bolt after bolt of lightning.  And I’m watching the steam rise up from between the rows upon rows of trees in response to the cold rain.  It’s so ominous…

The storm has passed – I learned once that the longer the time between seeing lightning and hearing thunder, the further the storm had traveled and hence, the closer to ending.  I’ve just imparted a little wisdom here and since I’m on vacation, if what I’ve said is fiction, well, I chalk it up to days of totally being out of my element and being completely discombobulated.  But do look it up and Google it – let me know if I was wrong!  But now, with coffee in hand and a nice piece of toast, I’m literally floored by how majestic things seem up here.

When we first arrived at the cottage, while Mr. Niceguy and the boys were full of anticipation and bubbling with excitement, all I could think of was how I would stop myself from inevitably going absolutely stir crazy?  How would I fill the time without cable TV?  How would I entertain my highly active kids and keep them from driving each other (and me) crazy?  But with the sun’s heat radiating down on me, I began to give in to my surroundings as I began my usual eternal debate between lusting for relaxation and a deep, bronzed tan juxtaposed with premature aging and skin cancer.  Secondary to this consideration was which bikini to start this so-called vacation in:  sporty (very efficient for all water activities) or sexy (no tan lines but likely to end up around my ankles with every jump).

Truth be told, these are all moot points given that I still have to lose about 5 to 7 pounds for either to really look good…though who am I kidding? 

One glance in the mirror will confirm that I am not Jennifer Aniston’s doppelgänger, so once again, a moot point. 

I went with a mix: sporty top, sexy bottom…and after about 2 hours of the same cycle:  sunning, getting too hot, jumping in the freezing cold lake to my children’s squeals and utter delight, coming back out and starting all over again, I needed something more to do…so I toilet trained the 3 year old.  That’s right.  Toilet trained.  We are just about 100% there.  And I have to pause here because it was his 3 year old friend’s mom that actually gave me the idea.  Thank you.  She made the comment that her son would come over and take all of my extremely selfish, possessive and territorial 3 year old’s underwear (Cars, Curious George, the whole lot) since he wasn’t using them… I exploited this…and it worked!

I’ve always known my kids were lovers of the great outdoors, and this potty training unleashed one more aspect that can only be described as “pure boy”:  not only does my little guy use his simple potty seat, but along with his brother, he likes to go in the lake, on the rocks, along the path and pretty much anywhere can mark his territory.  Well I say, well done!  This achievement is HUGE for both of us!  Thank you possessive human nature and thank you great outdoors!

OK…so what next?  How else to pass the time?  By day 4, we started on fake accents.  Having grown up in Saudi Arabia, to parents who speak at least 5 different languages, my ears have forever been full of so many different sounds.  In fact, my sister and I learned to speak English while watching Sesame Street and Electric Company (American accent) and at a British private school combined with our Armenian mother tongue and our exposure to Arabic.  So for as long as I can remember, I can turn on most accents in a flash, particularly a London accent, but to pass the time, I’ve decided to work on all of the UK:  Scottish, southern England, Sheffield, Manchester, and so on.  And after a couple of beers, and the kids installed nicely in front of a movie, Mr. Niceguy and I have gone from the Beatles, to Trainspotting, to Snatch and Mr. Bean.  “I say, me finks we’re ‘avin a jolly good time!  Rather!”  How droll.

There’s been some real excitement at the cottage too…for instance, we went canoeing, something I hadn’t done in years…decades, really!  And I actually skipped rocks!  And following the 7 year old’s lead, I spent a great deal of my time swimming.  The 3 year old swam too, that is, until the incident with Jenny, a 3 year old, chocolate lab (I don’t know my dogs very well so this is an assumption).  In any case, Jenny was very excited to see us one afternoon.  So much so that without any warning, she jumped in the water and started to try and climb up on top of the 3 year old and his swim ring.  The only thing between this enormous dog and my 3 year old was my arm which got quite bruised in the process of trying to keep myself and the 3 year old from drowning under the weight of this dog!  But Mr. Niceguy (all toned up from his training) dove in and saved the day…my hero!

But adventures aside, the great outdoors has been good to us…and ok, I admit it, unexpectedly good to me.  Letting go of the urban noises and stresses was a very welcome change – as was all the time spent lounging, swimming and staring up at the sky.  If my inlaws will allow it, I daresay, I’d be up for a repeat same time next year…but only once…and only next year!  Oh, and now I hear the sweet call of the city…my phone is beeping and I have to go!

Great outdoors

Pride and Prejudice…the spincycle version

One of my all-time favourite movies is Pride and Prejudice – the BBC version.  I’ve seen it more times than I can remember and at first, I thought the title should’ve been, “The Charming Mr. Darcy” (swoon).  But after watching it many, many more times, I came to appreciate its meaning…how both Elizabeth Bennett (the heroine) and Mr. Darcy both prejudged each other given their circumstances and ingrained thinking.  In the end, they realize that their prejudices were ill-found…

It’s just past 7:30 and I’ve decided to skip the 3 year old’s soccer game this morning  and instead decide to lounge around…beep-beep-beep-beep…

Hmmm…it’s Saturday.  Who could be texting??  I can’t really be bothered…I mean, it’s the weekend…everyone should just chill and relax, like me.  I can be the Queen of Relaxation – when I want to or more like, when I allow myself – I can be so good at it.  Mr. Niceguy has taken care of everything and the 7 year old is downstairs playing video games (sue me, it’s summer vacation).  Beep-beep-beep-beep…

Why does it keep beeping?!  It’s breaking my focus.  My concentration.  My zen.  Oooommmmm….

Beep-beep-beep-beep…

Ooooooommmmmmmm…..

Beep-beep-beep-beep…

OOOOOMMMMM!!!!!!!!!…..

BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP…

OK!  OK!  I’ll just check it…OH NO!  Texts from my mommy friends…Oh.  My.  God!!!  The playdate is TODAY and I forgot that I was supposed to get up early and prepare!  Quick scan fridge…nothing.  Pantry….nothing.  Basement pantry….boxes of mac & cheese and our emergency if-the-world-comes-to-an-end cans of chili and space age/military grade, vac sealed meal replacement kits that Mr. Niceguy bought from some kind of disaster readiness website.  How could I let this happen?!  Incidentally, I’m more ready for the end of the world than I am a playdate!

Not a problem.  I can put it into full gear – besides, I’ve had a few hours minutes seconds to relax.  I am recharged, refreshed and raring to go!

T-minus 1hr 45mins:  In car, 7 year old in tow, pull up to grocery store.  Veggies, fruit, cheese, bag of chips (again, summer, sue me), juice, and a diet coke for me.

T-minus 1hr 30mins:  Need more caffeine!  Hit up a Starbucks…can’t do the day without my latte fix!

T-minus 1hr 24mins:  I wonder…if I add up all the time I wait for the baristas to prepare my lattes how long would that be…and why can’t they ever get my name right?? What if I started pulling some Bart Simpson name pranks…

T-minus 1hr 23mins 30secs:  REALLY?!  I don’t have time for this!!!  NEED MY LATTE!!

T-minus 25mins:  At home.  Fruit chopped, veggies chopped, cheese cut, house tidied up, beds made, teeth brushed (I had no time!), hair straightened (this could be a blog topic all on its own) we’re ready.

T-minus…THEY’RE HERE.  Kids all run into the basement and chaos ensues!  And moms can all relax, put their feet up, and dish!

I’ll digress now and say that I have chronic foot-in-mouth-itis.  I frequently say things that I shouldn’t say…and consequently, do things that I shouldn’t do.  For example, when kicked under the table to keep quiet or go along with something, I have often blurted out, “hey!  Whatchya kick me for?”  And after each occasion, I remember that perhaps I should’ve tried to be a little more incognito – and perhaps I should remember that my actions (and lack of discretion) result in the “outing” or inconvenience of someone else.

Sometimes I’m like a toddler with no filter.  I chalk it up to honesty and being an open book, but one mustn’t forget about tact…

So at this playdate, a few weeks ago, I said something I really shouldn’t have said.  Something that I didn’t even realize was in me.  And I remember the moment, the instant the words were out of my mouth:  I felt hot, I felt a flush rising from my chest to my face and head – I felt so uncomfortable that I just wanted to black out (like that may have been an easier out and I could’ve blamed my momentary lapse in judgment on something medical).  What I really wanted to do was to rewind, go back in time, and never utter those words which were made so carelessly and without any cognition. Thankfully when I apologized, she accepted my apology.

This was all the result of an ill-conceived bias…like group think and blindly following along with a majority’s views.  Like being under compulsion (Vampire Diaries reference here…and yes, I’m still addicted).  It can make an appearance at the most unexpected times – and when it’s someone like me, with no filter, it really can pop out of nowhere.

For example, when walking into someone’s house for the first time and there’s underwear in the middle of the floor.  Look, this really has happened to me and it made me feel totally uncomfortable.  It made me question what I thought about that person. Like who leaves their underwear on the floor knowing that they’re expecting company?  Who??  Feels a little intimate…no?

And now I was the one that had dished out the uncomfortable.  I was the one that had put someone else in a very awkward position.  I was the one who had “left underwear on the floor.”  And for a penance, have been feeling absolutely horrible – despite remedying the situation.  I’ve totally beaten myself up and cringe every time I replay that careless, awkward moment.  (You know that face…the “oooh” smush face and shrugging of shoulders made when thinking about it.)

But I think it’s time to move on and time to take it a little easier.  We all make mistakes and hopefully, we learn.  After all, that’s what I would tell my boys.  That, and I am fortunate that my mommy friend could look beyond this one instance.  She has taught me the lesson of being more gracious – and she was tolerant of my toddler-like ways.  Just like Elizabeth Bennett changed her views when she ran into Darcy after he had taken a swim in his “underthings”, the next time I see underwear on the floor, I swear to be more discrete, shrug it off and not jump to any conclusions…oh, and save everyone’s pride, including my own.

PRIDE-AND-PREJUDICE-1995_400

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

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.

Casting stones from glass houses…

This next piece is dedicated to a very talented graphic designer, Sho Demirjian, at Blue Mango Graphic Solutions.  Collaborating with her has resulted in this fantastic image which I think really encapsulates the “magic”…  Thank you.

Let me start by saying…I haven’t fallen off the 30-day challenge wagon!  130 squats, 80 crunches and a plank held for 140 seconds and I’m not feeling squished in my jeans…on my way to bikini beach ready!  Things really seem to be going my way…

But no.  Massive signal problems for the subway so once again I squish my way onto the train.

Generally speaking, I like to mind my own business on public transportation…you never know who (or what) you may encounter – I have been shouted at, shoved, knocked over, asked what planet I was from, and run into all sorts of other people I “should” remember.  So this particular morning, I have my nose buried in my latest favourite book (Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella – I just can’t put this down!!) when I overhear a conversation:

“Oh hi Cindy?  Cindy, it’s Mike.  Cindy, I’m on the subway.  I’m just at Eglinton Station.  There are signal problems on the Yonge-University-Spadina line and so I’m definitely going to be late.  I guess I’ll just miss the meeting and catch up with everyone later.”  Only, we weren’t at Eglinton Station…we were much farther along.

This man, this “Mike”, had lied and I thought, wow, what a dishonest individual…how shameful.  And he didn’t even care that everyone else around him had heard his lie – we had all become his accomplices!  And for some reason, I felt horrible for this poor Cindy especially when, no exaggeration, two stops later, he made the call again and once more lied about his location.

I was thrilled when the train finally arrived at my destination and I jumped off…

LUNCHTIME!!!  Standing in line, waiting to order a sandwich and two I-bank types (you know these guys…über confident wearing the most fashionable Strellson and Brooks Brothers suits with great hair and abnormally white teeth) just stood in the middle of a very busy food court and like peacocks who fan their feathers to intimidate and attract at the same time, start talking in very loud, booming voices about what they feel like eating, the people they know, the weekends they had, and so on, and so on, and so on – each was trying to one-up the other.  They’re attracting a lot of attention.  Oh brother.  It’s like watching Thor and Superman posture for the title of Greatest Superhero of Bay Street.  Only the gig is up – they’re neither!  Please.  Besides, I’m a fan of Spiderman…Peter Parker is ever so sweet and humble – and I can totally relate his spidey senses…a combination of female intuition and my “mom radar”!

Work complete…rush home…prepare dinner for out of town guests…can’t wait!  But…what’s this???!!  While sweeping the front steps, I witness a neighbour from around the corner leaving a little “gift” from his dog in my garden refuse bag…  I mean, I’m glad he didn’t leave it on the street, but to deposit your pet’s excrement in someone else’s garbage WHILE THEY ARE OUTSIDE AND IN YOUR FULL PURVIEW???!!!  Is there NO shame??  It’s not like it’s an empty coffee cup!

We’ve all been there, right?  We’ve all exaggerated or told a little white lie to get out of something?  We’ve all puffed out our chests and pretended to be more than what we are, no?  And certainly, we’ve all done something we knew we probably shouldn’t, but did it anyway for one reason or another. But how much thought have we given to what other people may think?  Should we not be more concerned with the impression we leave?  Should we not be more concerned with their judgement?

I continued to think of this the next day…en route to dropping my kids off at school.  When, to our surprise, we arrived at the school, which due to an unforeseen power outage, was closed.  So, doing what any other resourceful woman would do, I took them to work with me…downtown…on Bay Street…in an office full mostly of male accountants and finance types.  Not exactly a daycare.

A little background as I haven’t spoken too much about my work – I am a financier (aka financial advisor).  I build financial models, write business plans, develop financial strategy, and negotiate multi-million dollars in long-term debt using forward interest rate swaps, among other things. And on this particular Friday, I was hip deep in a particular transaction.  And I brought the almost 7 year old and 3 year old to work.  Without any preparation:  no diapers, no snacks, no colouring books, no iPad!!  And here’s what happened…

They tore through the hallways like it was a private racetrack…

They did NOT use their indoor voices…

They ran through nearly 100 sheets of paper and drew all over my desk and nearly my walls…

They raided the supply cabinet (I should’ve expected that one)…

They emptied out my goody drawer (emergency stash of chocolate and candy for late nights and complex model building fuel)…

They had aromatic bodily functions…

And worst of all, they started World War III while I was on a conference call…with my boss… and I couldn’t reach the mute button as they were precariously balancing on a swivel chair each trying to push the other off while drawing all over my white board!!  Oh, and did I mention?  My office is TINY and has a glass wall…it’s actually called a “fishbowl” office.  WE WERE ON TOTAL DISPLAY.

I was absolutely mortified.  Horrified.  I had done such a good job separating my personal and career life.  Though I have often spoken of my funny and crazy boys (not crazy insane, but crazy cute, or kooky) all I could think was what impression I was now leaving others with:

Wow…poor woman…those two are just insane…

Oh, another woman trying to climb the corporate ladder and have a home life…there’s a “balancing act” gone totally out of whack…

She really should do a better job controlling those kids…

Thank goodness I don’t have kids yet…

Oh brother.  I can’t tell you how fast I loaded up all the files I needed on my laptop and got the @#% out of there!  And as if that wasn’t enough…the shenanigans continued all the way to the car and that’s when I totally lost my marbles.  In the middle of the financial district I absolutely lost my mind and just let out all of the morning’s frustrations.  I did NOT care how I looked.  I did NOT care what people thought.  I did NOT care that I was now a spectacle.

And you know what?  Doing what I needed to do…what I wanted to do…well, it felt damn good.

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.

Time…it’s never on your side?

It’s 8:45 am…train’s at 9:25 am – plenty of time to park the car, run up to the office, change into my sleek heels for the closing lunch, download files onto my laptop, go to the washroom, and casually walk to the train station right?

8:46 am…parking ticket in mouth, laptop bag on one shoulder, purse in hand, keys in other hand…oooh, I should grab my coffee cup and chuck it in the garbage too instead of leaving it to rot in my freshly detailed car…CRAP!!!  The coffee cup tipped forward and coffee has trickled down my right sleeve, then the cup falls in—total—slow—motion…there’s coffee all over my carseats and floor!!  Oh no!!  Oooh, but I have baby wipes!  Problem solved.

A quick clean up later and I’m in the elevator on my way up to the office.  Ahhhh….the only place in my life that’s JUST MINE.  No toys, no clothes or socks all over the floor, no one whining for my attention or asking me where this is or that is.  A real escape…

Oh.  My.  God.  It’s 9:05 and I need at least 12 minutes to get to the train station.  RUUUUUUUUNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!

This was my Monday morning.  And it seems to be the norm for me lately.  I’m always in a rush and seemingly out of touch with time!

Take my 6 year old’s hockey games.  The hockey rink is like my church.  I go there…because I have to.  Because it’s for a greater cause.  Because I have faith that my son could be a great hockey player if he just cared enough.  So I get up every Saturday morning, feed my son breakfast, fight over the importance and merits of sticking to something that you started (this time and for the purposes of this entry, hockey lessons) and fumble my way through a myriad of equipment:  neck guard, chest and shoulder pad, elbow pads, shin guards, the jock cup (this one always makes us laugh), the socks, shorts and jersey…and then those blasted skates!  Why can’t they just be Velcro???  I have broken more nails than I can count putting those things on!  And if it’s not a broken nail it’s the “lace burn” (akin to a rope burn) that kills me.  Those things are like weapons!  Trying to get a 6 year old boy to stand still, and then trying to get leverage to lace up the skate all while worrying about slicing your femoral artery – akh, the stress level!!!

And then once again, I’ve taken much longer to get all the gear on than anticipated.  And this means, of course, that I have less than 5 minutes to get to the arena.  And I still have to get dressed myself!  So I wind up at the rink with a t-shirt and (gratefully a bra), jeans, uggs and whatever jacket happens to be hanging by the door – and most of the time it’s my ratty “take the garbage out” jacket which is only a jacket in name and should really just be called a robe as I use it mostly to cover myself when I’m taking out the garbage in my PJs so as not to miss the garbage collection!!  So I’m freezing as I haven’t even bothered with socks and am walking my son onto the ice thinking about then sitting down in the “warm area” for 35 minutes of spacing out (we missed the first 15 minutes of practice, you see) when my son looks at me with those big brown eyes and says, “you’re going to stand over here and watch me the whole time, right?”  Oh boy.

Of course I comply.  And now that we’re where we need to be, doing what we need to do, I need time to go by.  But time’s just not going to cooperate with me, is it?

I watch the clock.  It feels like hours have gone by…but no.  Just 4 minutes.  Can it be?  I’m completely frozen.  My bum has officially turned rock hard from the cold (not the 10 squats I squeezed in last night for the first time in a month).  I swear I can no longer feel my fingers or toes and I feel like my nose is going to fall off.  Just 4 minutes?!!??! 

Why wasn’t time moving at THIS pace when I was trying to catch my train?  Get out the door in the morning?  Get the kids to school before the bell?  Sheesh.

And yet, sometimes, only sometimes, time really shows you what it’s worth when you’re going at just the right pace.  When you don’t hit the snooze button at all and get up when the alarm clock buzzes at the crack of dawn.  When you catch the subway right before rush hour, pick up a latte and croissant, and make it to your desk with more than seconds to spare.  When you get home, finish dinner and homework and find you can still squeeze in a funny movie, a quick catch up phone call or coffee, or play with the kids before bedtime.  It’s pure magic.

So now, I’m feeling the magic.  For just one more hour I get to sit here, on my train ride home, the sun is shining outside, I’m playing my favourite tunes, relaxing and I have absolutely nothing else to do.  Time and I are going at the same pace and though I know we’ll inevitably be out of sync as soon as the train pulls into the station, and I pull out my car keys to race home and get dinner on the table and start homework, I have now.