Trust me…famous last words

“Trust me”…whenever I hear these words I feel like doing the opposite.  Similar to “relax”, “everything’s going to be ok”, “it’ll only take a minute”, and “it’s nothing serious”.

Seems to me (and my suspicious mind) that these statements, these combinations of words, have all somehow come to be used in instances to disguise situations where their meaning is not quite the same as their intent.

I have trusted to my own detriment.  Trusted that my contributions were being valued.  Trusted that what I was saying was being heard.  Trusted that someone else would have my best interests at heart.  I have also tried to “relax”, believed that “everything’s going to be ok”, that “it will only take a minute” and that perhaps “it’s nothing serious”…and I have come to terms with the fact no good can come from hearing these words.

Where is all this coming from?  Why am I feeling so suspicious now?  Why am I on heightened on alert?

Years ago I attended a corporate retreat – the kind with all sorts of team building exercises and presentations, too much drink, tons of new people, staggers to breakfast completely hung over with a bunch of strangers with whom you have to network and remember, etc.  For a global company like the one at which I work, these kinds of “retreats” can really be quite extravagant and this particular event was so overbooked that attendees were asked if they would be willing to share a room.  I volunteered as soon as I heard that for my sacrifice, I would get “special recognition”.  Who doesn’t like recognition???  Well, aside from not having any space of my own, my “special recognition” wound up being a gift basket – a SINGLE gift basket to SHARENOT the kind full of spa goodies, fantastic condiments or gourmet cookies.  No.  This one had weird cheese product, pate and cheap wine – and all I got was regret and a bag of peanuts.

In any case, it was at this particular retreat, after a Myers-Briggs assessment, where I learned I was an extrovert…

…the act, state or habit of being predominantly concerned with and obtaining gratification from what is outside the self…extroverts tend to enjoy human interactions and to be enthusiastic, talkative, assertive and gregarious…energized when around other people…prone to boredom when they are by themselves

So what happens when an extrovert, such as me, is immersed in hours upon hours of one thing?

Theorizing for a moment…at its most basic, Carl Jung’s theory of extroversion and introversion may suggest that sticking an extrovert in a room full of say, happy-go-lucky people, would probably put the extrovert in a similar (if not the same) state.  To continue theorizing, what happens when you expose an extrovert to hours upon hours of the Vampire Diaries?

For the past 4 years, I had been under a complete rock…after discovering the Vampire Diaries, I can’t stop.  I have finished over 20 hours of viewing in the past 3 days – which makes it two entire seasons over the past week.  And when have I found the time?  Between the hours of “they’re finally asleep” and the “crack of dawn”.

All this TV viewing has been in an attempt to forget about the stress:  2 summer colds (one for me and the other for the 3 year old down who’s throat I had to shove horse pill sized antibiotics 3 times a day for 10 days – it’s 2013!  Is there NOT a one-pill solution???!), lots going on at work, and all the usual stuff that comes with being a career woman and homemaker!  I have been feeling completely run down.

So, to survive I found the most unexpected salvation:  pretending to be like a vampire.  WAIT!  Not the sucking blood and killing people part.  The detached, heightened awareness, super strength part.  Like, when I get really mad and upset – say because I’ve been told to trust someone who clearly does not deserve it, or relax in a situation where surely one cannot relax, I remember to keep my powers in check.  I remember to be magnanimous, to have a grand presence and above all, spare those who seek to cause me distress.

But all of this has also manifested itself in the physical:  I walk taller, sneak about, I’ve been making these odd facial expressions like I can read more into a situation and see through people, and just the other day, while enjoying a sandwich over lunch, I snapped my head to the right, took a sniff and knew someone was eating ketchup 7 feet away from me… I have to fess up a little secret here – this is not all attributable to the vampire thingy:  I have a nose like a bloodhound and an absolute LOVE of ketchup, which in fact, was the only thing that helped keep my meals down during two pregnancies.  It is the perfect condiment – why didn’t they include a bottle of 57 in the gift basket??!!  

Last night I watched a marathon of 8 episodes – at about 45 minutes an episode, that’s about 6 hours’ worth – from 10 pm to 4 am.  And when I was finally falling asleep I saw flashes of light, and heard whooshing noises and footsteps.  Completely freaked, I forgot all my vampire strengths and woke up Mr. Niceguy:

Me:  Wake up.  PLEASE wake up!!  Shhhh…I think there’s someone in the house.  I saw flashing lights and heard footsteps.

Mr. Niceguy:  Ok, take the phone, if I yell, dial 911.  Don’t hesitate. [Seeing the terror in my eyes]  Just relax.  Trust me.  Everything’s going to be ok.

Me:  What?  No!!!  Where are you going?  Please…

Mr. Niceguy:  I’m sure it’s nothing serious.  I’m going to look around…it will only take a minute.

Me:  <GULP> [Oh. My. God.]

I stood completely rooted to the spot, between both boys’ bedrooms in the dark hallway.  I couldn’t hear him anymore.  And I couldn’t see him.  Did I really hear those things?  Did I really see those flashes of light?  And more than that, should I have let him go?  Can I really trust this situation?  Where is he?  I know I have to keep cool, I know I have to keep my wits about me…what’s taking so long??!!

And before I know it, he’s back.  And he’s checked everywhere.  And there’s no sign of anything or anyone.  And everything’s ok.  And the rules don’t apply here.  I can exhale.  I feel trust, I can relax, everything is ok and it only took a minute to realize that it’s nothing serious…or is it???

Vampire-Diaries-Comic-Con

Underachiever…in the profession of potty training

Is being an underachiever so bad?  It sure seems easier than trying to claw your way to the top or compete with all of the overachievers…

Let me point out some of the things that an underachiever (probably) never has to do:

    1. Never have to toss someone under the bus – and for that matter…
    2. Never have to take credit for someone else’s achievements
    3. Never have to kiss anyone’s ass
    4. Never have to put in “face time” – hell, that you showed up is an achievement in itself
    5. Never have to play the comparison game, you know the one:  I have a better house / car / job / spouse / top / purse / vacation home, etc.
    6. Never have to pretend to read the newspaper and know about the latest market / economic trends, who won the game last night, and what’s happening outside of your own little fiefdom
    7. Never have to play golf
    8. Never have to pretend to like golf
    9. Never have to answer the phone if you don’t want to…except perhaps to make friends with the telemarketers
    10. Never, ever have to make small talk.

Now I’m not suggesting that tossing someone under the bus or doing any of the above are the keys to achieve, or that becoming an underachiever is by any means a glamorous aspiration…though it does have a particular appeal some days.  So, would it be so bad if you turned out to be one?

I am, literally, waist deep in toilet training my 3 year old.  YES, I know I may be late out of the gate but sue me, I have a full time job, a 7 year old that also needs my attention and a love life to maintain with Mr. Niceguy!  In any case, I was told by the teachers at his daycare that in order to progress to the pre-school, he would have to be toilet trained by September.  I was told this in January and figured it would be a piece of cake…like it (sort of) was for my older son.

March Break came and went, as did Easter, Victoria Day weekend and Canada Day Weekend…and still, I am no closer to having a toilet trained toddler! I have poured through books, internet sites dedicated to toilet training, mommy sites and blogs and even WebMd to determine if there was a medical condition impeding our success (God forbid I’m to blame!)  I even asked his GP who basically told me that I had to be patient and, in not so many words, to basically, lay off.

Let me digress and provide context here.  My parents submitted a picture of yours truly, their first born genius baby, at the ripe age of sometime well before 18 months, to a local publication, sitting gleefully atop the potty, reading the Beirut Business Journal.  Thanks mom and dad for that ingrained pressure.

Anyway, feeling utterly perplexed, I decided to turn to trusty Google and found:

…toilet training is a mutual task, requiring cooperation, agreement and understanding between child and the caregiver, and the best potty training techniques emphasize consistency and positive reinforcement over punishment – making it enjoyable for the child.

What about making it enjoyable for the parent???!  I guess I could have been more consistent and not raise my arms up in defeat every time he answered my questions, “Do you want to do pee pee in the toilet?  Would you like some chocolate?  I will give it to you if you go to the toilet?” and “Don’t you want to be a big boy like your brother?” with a resounding, “NO!”

Continuing on…I was dumbfounded to read about Elimination Communication, a practice that was recently observed in Vietnam where infants were potty trained starting at birth and achieve success by 9 months of age:

The 4 keys to Elimination Communication include: the baby’s signals, the baby’s natural timing, common potty timing, and the parents’ intuition. It is believed that a deeper bond is created between child and parent through the strengthening of this communication.

Well…I guess we missed THAT boat.  @#%@#$!!!!  I can only figure out one out of the four keys:  like I always have to go in the morning and so that’s likely common potty timing…but what is this about the baby’s signals?  The natural timing?  And clearly my intuition has been TOTALLY OFF AS HE IS NOW 3 YEARS OLD!!!!  Seriously?  The only signals I get are when we are in the full throes of the act – I defy ANYONE to tuck my kid under their arm like a football and reach a toilet / potty / any patch of grass in time!  And when you become a practiced sprinter like me (did I ever mention that I used to run 100m dashes in elementary school and was really good?) – even if you make it to the toilet / potty / patch of grass, good luck trying to get him to GO!!!!!!!!!

So during these past few weeks of “training” all while battling a bad back, acupuncture treatments, multiple loads of laundry (because let’s face it, the 3 year old could care less if there are “presents” in his undies) and tears of frustration while I ask all my other mommy friends (and even non-mommy single guy friends – that’s how desperate I’d become), I have decided to throw in the towel.  What’s the worst that could happen?  I have a brilliant, headstrong, loving and funny little boy…so, in this instance, and for the time being, I’m going to declare myself an underachiever…and I’m feeling more relaxed already…

Potty

Charlie’s Angels…all rolled into one!

A very dear friend of mine, let’s call her Madeline, or Maddy for short, is one of a group of 5 (and sometimes 6) known for their sense of humour, perspective, inner (and outer) beauty and overall capability…she is a friend that I met once I became a mom.  And I have her to thank for the latest of my over-analytical queries…thanks Maddy.

In one of our more recent conversations, Maddy reminded me about how she always got stuck playing “the brainy one” of the Charlie’s Angels while she was growing up.  And that got me thinking about myself…and my cousins’ basement.  For as long as I can remember, my cousins’ basement was the absolute coolest place to be.  My VERY cool aunt allowed her two daughters to completely annex the basement of her house which meant that posters and magazine tear-outs covered every square inch:  Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp (circa 21 Jumpstreet), James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Star Wars and the Dukes of Hazzard (with the original Bo and Luke Duke along with Daisy, of course).  And in one corner, the absolute perfect poster of the original Charlie’s Angels:  Sabrina Duncan (the brainy one), Jill Monroe (played by the one and only Farrah Fawcett – the tough, resourceful one) and Kelly Garrett (the really pretty one akin to a damsel in distress).  And while Maddy had to be Sabrina, my cousins were gracious enough to let me be Kelly.

Kelly had long, bouncy hair, she wore the very cool bell bottomed jeans and cute tops – my version of a Disney princess – smart, with cool martial arts moves and able to handle a gun.  I could swear that without realizing, I have aspired to be her ever since (minus the gun part)!  So this got me thinking about a couple of things…first, who are the role models for our children today?  I mean, there’s the obvious:  Iron Man, Spiderman, Merida (Brave), Rapunzel, Cinderella, etc. but what if your kid’s really, really into Spongebob??!!  Are you screwed?

And then…isn’t it interesting the way TV shows always portray women in groups with one overly dominant trait or characteristic?  We already covered Charlie’s Angels, but here’s what I mean:

  • Sex and the City:  (the pinnacle of all shows, if you ask me)  Charlotte (prim, sweet), Miranda (brainy), Samantha (ballsy…in more ways than one) and Carrie (outgoing and flighty)
  • 90210 (original):  Brenda (dominant and easily swayed), Kelly (the pretty one), Donna (the comedic, not-so-smart one), Andrea (the brainiac)
  • 90210 (revival):  Annie (original main character, easily swayed and sweet), Silver (broody, philosophical, smart), Naomi (resourceful, younger Samantha), Adriana (artsy and troubled)
  • Golden Girls: Dorothy (smart and manly), Blanche (the original Samantha but super sweet and southern!), Blanche (the original naïve blonde) and my favourite, Sophia (tough)

And there’s more!  From Lipstick Jungle to Designing Women, and even Keeping up with the Kardashians!  Surely we’re a lot more complex…

At what point do we start identifying with just one characteristic?  And why are they always cute?

What if you’ve had a morning like the one I’ve had?  I need these characters to identify with:  angry, disappointed, raging, crazy!  Better yet, disgruntled, disenchanted and disenfranchised…or unmotivated, bitter and haggard.  Too much?  You be the judge.

Last night, after organizing one of the most perfect days for my two boys (playdate at a best friend’s house, surprise trip to Toys R Us, staying up waaaaaay past bedtimes and extra video game time, etc.) I had to wrestle them to bed (I can feel judgement here:  I admit, I spoiled and wound them up with all the great stuff during the day and they weren’t prepared for it to end).  Unfortunately, I was then too tired for Thai takeout, TV and QT with my cutie.

No mind, dugout seats at the Jays game on the agenda today.  So I wake up with a little bit more energy and excitement, tell Mr. Niceguy that I’m ok with both kids on my own so that he can run an errand (my birthday’s around the corner and I’m fiercely collecting brownie points!) and within moments things start to unravel…more wrestling as I struggle to get the 3 year old in a “tidy” outfit – no Angry Birds, Skylanders, monkeys or monsters, for the big game today.  What should have been a 30 second exercise took at least 10 minutes and was laced with crying, shouting, exclamations of wanting daddy, throwing, flailing on the floor…and he did all those things too!!!  Oh boy.  And there was still one more child in the house to get ready…

I take a moment to collect myself…brush teeth, wash face, moisturize…wait, what’s THAT?!  I swear I am being mocked.  Not only did I wake up with an extra bushy head of frizzy hair (which the shower took care of) but a gigantic ZIT in the middle of my nose.  And OUCH, it hurts!  It’s not even a superficial zit.  What if I’m on the jumbotron????  OMG.  Now I’m really going to start identifying with those girls on 90210…

But, I manage to put it aside. And I catch my breath.  And after a very quick 15 minutes I can actually look in the mirror, admire my quick work and say, not bad.  And in the meantime, the 7 year old gets dressed without hesitation and my little guy apologizes, unprovoked, for his earlier tantrum….could things be turning around?

I know I can be crazy.  I know I can get angry and bitter, unmotivated and disenchanted.  And I also know I can be brainy and ballsy along with sweet, naïve, flighty, artsy and indecisive.  And given the time, I can pull it together like Kelly Garrett too…and I’m not alone.  As a renaissance woman, which so many women are, we are charged with so much and if we’re going to thrive, we have to be able to play not just one or two characters, but so, so many more…

I’m feeling good, I’m feeling like Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte all rolled into one…except, when we head down for a late breakfast they both declare:  “We want to stay home today.  We don’t WANT to go to baseball!!!” @#$%.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BFF:  What?  Why? 

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

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

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

BFF:  <DEFLATED>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disco and dads…a tribute to Fathers Day

Long commutes don’t make for happy commuters, however, when my long commute is accompanied by disco backbeats, it’s a groovy ride.  Lately there seems to be a disco revival on the airwaves with songs like Daft Punk’s Get Lucky and Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines.  To me, disco is the epitome of dance music – from Donna Summer, to Gloria Gaynor, the Bee Gees and everything else in between, disco makes me wanna shake my groove thang, baby!

I also really love the look of disco:  big hair and hoop earrings, sequin crop tops, bell bottom jeans and metallic strappy sandals.  Fun, flirty, FOXY!!  So as I start daydreaming about what outfit to wear for my debut on Soul Train, I also begin reminiscing about my childhood during the disco era…

My dad introduced me to disco while we lived in Saudi Arabia – parties and social events among the ex-pats took centre stage in a country where non-residents had to live by a different set of rules.  He bought my sister and I disco medley eight-tracks and cassettes which we would listen to seated across the front row of our very large Buick Park Avenue (no seatbelts) on our way to go rock climbing on the hills just outside Taif or swimming in the Red Sea.  To us, my dad was Superman…he spent countless hours playing with us, taking us on adventures and teaching us things, without ever exhibiting any weakness…there was nothing he couldn’t do!

What was his kryptonite?

After a pretty hectic couple of weeks at work, when my husband complained that he was “coming down with something” and had general aches and pains, I knew it was time to brace myself… while most men are extremely capable and have strong conviction (stubbornness), they are no match for the common cold.

Typical stages are as follow:

Stage 1:  Subject pouts and is generally grouchy.  Higher than normal level of stonewalling when asked if something is the matter.

Stage 2:  Levels of grouchiness now complimented by grumpiness.  Subject declares that they are not feeling 100%.

Stage 3:  Subject has succumbed and is now staying home from work and cancelling all other commitments.  Although still grouchy, subject appears almost sad and defeated and now, really looking the part wearing the “I’m not 100% uniform” consisting of old sweats which have been worn for at least 48 hours straight.  The beard/facial hair is coming in, hair is greasy, and there’s a general mustiness wafting from the couch (aka the “day bed” or the convalescing spot in front of the TV).  This stage is further characterized with random balls of scrunched up (blech…used) Kleenex and empty chip bags all over the house (including in our bed), as well as multiple sachets of chicken noodle soup and used teabags in the disaster zone formerly known as the kitchen.  The subject’s cold has taken over!

Stage 4:  Subject’s significant other begins to come undone…nothing is where it should be, there is one more person to pick up after, and I am running constant interference between the children and the patient!  I am getting totally overwhelmed…and no longer looking “100%”.

As an aside, I came across the term “man cold” from Urban Dictionary:

The name ‘man cold’ disguises the true terrible, debilitating disease…nearly all men will die from …unless they are administered immediately with large amounts of mindless TV such as daytime TV, or childrens’ cartoons…essential that they not move from bed or a comfy sofa to allow for rehabilitation, and must have tissues and man cold medicine…brought to them constantly by a nearby female.

***I will preface here that although my husband does not expect any of these things, he will not accept ANY help. No advice on how to be more comfortable, and certainly, no comments on his improvement….why????  Lest I jinx it???!! 

I will further preface that even if I have a cold to end all colds (you know the ones with puffers and antibiotics, excruciating headaches, bouts of hot flashes and chills, and a pitstop at the bathroom every 15 minutes) I still make myself go to work, get food out on the table, do homework and read a bedtime story (well…maybe not that last bit…)

Stage 5:  Subject feels better.  There is a grand public announcement of improvement and survival of the great adversity.  Subject struts around like a superhero that has vanquished his evil foe.  Significant other raises a white flag to exhaustion…but wait!

Although it appeared as though things were finally back in balance, I made the mistake of declaring that I desperately needed to take a break.  Not five minutes later I was asked to fetch a glass of water no less than four times, asked where a particular lego character was (recall: the man cold has turned my house into a warzone and lego characters ARE TINY!!), whether I wanted to play baseball in the backyard, what we were having for dinner, and so on…

Stage 6:  Nuclear stage.  I lose it…but things aren’t at radiation levels quite yet…not until I’m diagnosed by my husband while he now runs interference on his way out to start the festivities with our two boys that hmmm…perhaps I’m not behaving normally.  Perhaps something is up with me.

And just as I’m about to follow him outside and use my incinerating heat vision, a disco melody starts to play in the background, and I remember my groove…I Will Survive.  I look outside, and I see him running around the backyard at 100% with my boys who have looks of excitement, awe and admiration, and I get it.  That although my boys are probably doomed to put their future significant others through the same cycle, like their father, and like my father, their kids will be their only kryptonite.

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.