Sunday, March 27, 2011

I'm not the center of the universe?

I'm so excited for the first Bloggy Moms Writer's Workshop!  I was looking for some pictures for a post when I found this quote by Pankaj Bhomia: "We are all self-centred. It's the radius that matters."

I know I can be self-absorbed, and as soon as I say that, defensiveness rushes in.  At least I'm interested in myself, since no one else is.  What about all those frenemies that I've supported and sacrificed for, only to have them ignore me when I needed someone?  Why do I always have to be the polite one trying not to offend?  No one seems to care if they offend me.  What an ugly stream of thought that is when I see it written out, and yet that's how I feel.

One of the things I love about blogging is that I'm free to express myself without worrying about whether or not I'm being selfish.  I just say what I want to say and no one is forced to listen if they don't want to.  There's no way I can monopolize the conversation - if a reader is bored, they can move on to someone else's thoughts.

I think about this a lot because I realized a few years ago that I've been irritating people with a bad conversational habit.  When someone tells me a story, my first reaction is to empathize or tell them what I think, because that's what I want from a listener.  I love reading the comments on this blog and hearing a different perspective, or that someone else out there has the same quirks that I do.  I'm genuinely interested in other people's reactions.

Unfortunately, this comes across as really, really rude and narcissistic.  While I've thought I'm being supportive, others see this as me turning every conversation to myself.  I feel awkward a lot of the time now, because when I want to support someone I don't know how.  I've started lamely saying "and how do you feel about that?" like a therapist, not a friend.

I don't have this resolved and writing about it makes me feel sad.  How many people have walked away from me in the past, thinking "what an egotistical bitch"?  What I like about this quote is that it strikes a balance by addressing the need for a global perspective while acknowledging our natural self-interest.

And how do you feel about that?


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pride goes before a fall

This morning I flat-ironed my finger. As in, mistook my finger for a section of hair, clamped onto it and held on for several seconds before the searing pain kicked in. While I shrieked and flailed around, my darling husband informed S. not to worry: "It's just Mommy being a klutz again." This sounds insensitive, but given I had walked into the bathroom doorframe five minutes before, not completely unjustified. Forget Mondays, I have a permanent case of the mornings.

My favourite fitness instructor once commented on how graceful I was. Ha! If she only knew...

I started things off with a bang by falling down the stairs in my baby walker – twice. In my parents' defence, I learned how to open the door to the basement in between incidents. These walkers are now illegal in Canada, thank goodness.

My first fall that I remember was when I was eight. I got in a fight with my friend Brendan in my driveway and stormed into the house. In a bizarre preview of teenage girl logic, I dressed up in the amazing outfit you see below (I'm at the bottom) and came prancing out past Brendan, nose stuck in the air. Unfortunately the dress and heels (!) I was wearing were not child-size and I promptly fell flat on my face.


When I was in university, I lived in an attic. Some guy converted his house into student housing, stuck a toilet and kitchenette in his attic, and rented it to my friend and I for $325. Each. To get up to our castle in the sky, we had to climb stairs that had been tacked onto the back of the house that looked like this:


One summer morning during my second-year co-op term at an accounting firm, I was carrying my laptop, purse, audit bag and several files as I began to inch my way down the stairs in my burgundy skirt suit and heels. Shockingly, I lost my balance and fell all the way down the stairs to the landing right outside the middle floor tenants' door, which was open, as the tenants were sitting watching TV and enjoying the summer breeze.

There I sprawled in a dazed heap, files strewn around me like confetti. Call me a mean girl (check out Rachel's blog for the original Mean Girl), but I would totally laugh hysterically if someone made such a scene outside my door. But these people were so weird! They looked at me unsmiling, then went back to watching TV. No offers to help, no laughter, nothing. Maybe they thought I fell down the stairs just to get attention and didn't want to indulge me.

The most fun I ever had falling was at my bachelorette party. After some serious pre-drinking, ice cream cake and pool, my girls and I headed to the club for a foam party. Late in the evening, I was dancing on a ledge above the foam, having the best time ever. As I tumbled off the ledge and started to fall, I remember thinking "I'm flying! Yay, I'm flying! Whee!!"

I didn't register hitting the floor, but simply lay happily in the bottom of the foam before I realized I was in public and should probably get up. As I was mulling this over, my girlfriends came and lifted me out of the foam before I was trampled or molested by the half-naked guys bouncing around in the suds. Good times!

After I got married, I was seconded for a few months to the accounting firm's big city office. I was strolling out of an office tower in the financial district in my black power suit, trundling my audit bag behind me, when I tripped on my cute heels and fell down a few of those really wide, flat concrete stairs. A number of hot young investment bankers rushed to my aid, so while it was too late for me (being married and all), this could be a good pick-up strategy for any single golddiggers out there.

By the time our chief financial officer held a dinner party in his very nice backyard two summers ago, I'd already gained quite a reputation for clumsiness. As a result, when I fell down the deck stairs while going for a second helping of lamb, no one looked twice. One woman from another office heard the crash and said "What was that?" Without even turning around, my co-workers replied, "It's Azara. She's fine."

Since I show no signs of improvement in my ability to remain upright for extended periods of time, I've adopted a protective strategy to strengthen my bones and avoid a premature hip replacement. Dairy's good for your bones, right? Ice cream, here I come!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Scrunchie Sunday

It's Comment Love at FTLOB - hurray!


I've decided today is Scrunchie Sunday, a day to give a shout out to my favourite things from back in the day.

When I was 13, I started keeping a "Personal Profile", which details your likes and dislikes, as well as general pet peeves and favourite experiences.  The first one had two columns, called Fave and Least Fave, and categories ranging from hobbies (going to the mall) to animals (cats are the best!).

Here are some highlights from my annual Personal Profiles:

1993 - I wanna shoop, baby:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vaN01VLYSQ.  But there's not even breathing room between passion and pain:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfNmyxV2Ncw

More 1993 - Too cool to smile:  Here I am at Christmas in my Chicago Bulls jersey, high ponytail, red lipstick and still rocking the scrunchie.


1994 - My husband and I begin our 16-year relationship - he's driving a Mazda MX6 and looking hot in his backwards baseball cap.  In the words of the Impressive Clergyman, it's wuv, twue wuv.


1995 - Favourite activity:  "SOCIALIZING!!"  And smelling good while doing it in my Revlon Fire and Ice perfume. 

April 1996 - At the top of the page, I've written in giant letters:  "DOWN WITH POLITICAL CORRECTNESS!!!"  Geez, loosen up.  And what's with the excessive capitalization?

July 1996 - "I gotta go, Julia.  We got cows!"  I discovered The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, a must read for anyone who's been impacted by depression.  J. and I also saw Twister in the theatre three times.

1997 - I started working at McDonalds, at which point I discovered the incredible stupidity of the general public and the creepiness of older men.  Being told you have "nice headlights" by a 40-year old man while covered in lard (seriously - that's what's in the deep fryer) - just another day on the job for a teenage girl!


1998 - Under pet peeves, I've written "Having to be polite to people when I'd like to punch them in the head".  Haha!  That hasn't changed.  'Cause I'm just a girl and I've had it up to here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHzOOQfhPFg

1999 - "Step into my office.  Why?  Cuz you're fucking fired!"  This movie still makes me laugh until my stomach hurts.


2000 - I'm afraid my style took a slight turn to the hoochie, but I wasn't alone.  If you got it, flaunt it was the motto for this year's fashion.
 
The profiles continue, but I'll talk about 2001-2011 another time.  What were your favourite things in the '90s?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Waiting

Linked up with Gypsy Mama's Five Minute Friday, which works like this:

"For five minutes, you simply stop, drop and write. Set your words free. Don’t edit them, don’t fret over them, don’t try to make them perfect."



This week's topic is On Waiting:

*Go*

I keep waiting to be OK with God.  I stopped going to church regularly in 1997, because I was just so tired from trying to reconcile my increasing doubts with my desire to believe.  I was terrified.  My whole identity was wrapped up in my faith, and without faith, who was I?  A blank space, desperately clutching at shreds of tattered beliefs.  But I never meant to leave forever and I still don't mean to.  But just like the diet that never starts tomorrow, somehow I'll always get right with God tomorrow.  When I get pregnant.  When she's born.  When I go back to work.  When she can talk and she's old enough to understand.  Always later.  I want to believe so badly and I'm waiting and waiting for God to make me believe, because I've tried and failed.  I don't want to cheat S. out of a friendship with God if she can find one.  Will I let her opportunity slip away while I wait? 

*Stop*

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Outer Child

Hey, it's almost Wednesday.  That counts, right?


When I was making my Christmas list, I found this awesome website called Perpetual Kid (http://www.perpetualkid.com/), whose slogan is "Entertain Your Inner Kid".  I was so disappointed when I discovered they don't ship to Canada, and I still check the site for an international shipping option.  No luck yet, but here's my wishlist:

1)   Everybody was kung fu fighting hi-ya!!    Ninja cookies in the house!


2)   I found this in the Home and Office section -it's a desk fan.  Maybe if you work at Playboy?


3)   This Pac-Man oven mitt is so fun I almost want to cook just to use it.  Almost.


4)   This would probably stop your co-workers from stealing your lunch and eating it.  The thing is, they  might just throw it out instead.


5)   I love this mixed-tape change purse so much I could cry. 


6)   OK, I don't actually want this one.  I'm not sure why anyone would want their dish towel hanging out of a cat's bum.


My inner kid's pretty close to the surface and I love this stuff.  Boo for States-only shipping!

*Update* - the number one thing I'm loving this Wednesday is Jamie's "What I'm Loving This Wednesday" link-up.  Grab her button above and join in!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hopping around

I've been hopping around For the Love of Blogs' Comment Love Sunday and thinking about how much I enjoy link-ups.  But I come across them on such a random basis, and lots of times they're already over.  So I thought I'd ask anyone stopping by - what are your favourite link-ups/blog hops?

My favourite is Comment Love Sunday at FTLOB, because (duh) I love comments - both giving and receiving.  The whole reason I started blogging was the opportunity for this type of interaction.


I'm also looking forward to joining SweetBef's Flashback Friday


and I may borrow Rebecca's fun idea for a Throwback Thursday - check hers out:


Looking forward to hearing your recommendations!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Gym hooligans

Hurray for prizes!!  Jeri-Lynne at The Knight Life (http://the-knight-life.blogspot.com/) gave me this fabulous award - thank you! 

The rules are to:
1. thank the person who tagged you and link back to their blog
2. share 7 random facts
3. share the blog love!

My random facts are:

1)    I have a weird obsession with plucking J.'s grey hairs, which he tolerates grudgingly, although he won't let me pluck his facial hair.  I had to restrain myself from cleaning up S.'s strays by reminding myself that pulling hairs out does hurt and I would never do anything to hurt my little bean.  I still try not to look at her eyebrows too closely though.

2)    One time I bought so many boxes of ice cream bars (because they were on for $3, regularly $8) that I couldn't fit them all in my freezer, and I had to bury some of them outside in the snow for a few days until I'd eaten enough to clear a space for them.

3)    In a different life I would have liked to be a professional dancer.  Not a stripper, a choreographer and dancer like the judges on So You Think You Can Dance. 

4)    It took 30 years for my biological clock to get started and now my daughter is the best thing that's ever happened to me.

5)    When I was 10, I organized all my books into alphabetical order, drew a grid on my dad's dot matrix printer paper, and listed all of them.  Then I made little individual library cards and a fee schedule and went around the neighborhood promoting my new library.  Take that, Napoleon Dynamite - let your nerd flag fly!

6)    I knew I would marry my husband two weeks into our relationship when I was 16 years old.  And I did.

7)    I'm seriously re-considering flying anywhere in the near future, because I'm truly uncomfortable with the legalized sexual assault being carried out by the airport security in the States.  How are they getting away with this?

I'm passing this award along to the following ladies, whose snappy, entertaining writing makes me laugh, think and enjoy my day:

http://themeangirldiaries.blogspot.com/
http://aprylsmindshowers.blogspot.com/
http://obiterdicti.blogspot.com/

I had more people on my list, but when I checked their blogs, they'd already received this award.  Let the stylish blogging continue!

Guess what's NOT stylish?  Flinging your underwear around in public.  Today in zumba a girl ran in late and stood behind me in the front row (safest place to be and I have a mild exhibitionist streak).  Just after we finished the first song I heard "Well, it's not mine!" from behind me.  I turned around and joined a circle of ladies staring at the vibrant purple thong decorating the aerobics studio floor.  I double-checked and my own underwear were still on, so I knew it wasn't mine.  Zumba's pretty sexy, but usually no one's panties come off, especially since I go to an all-women class.

Eventually the girl who came in late dragged her thong to the back of the class with her foot, where she left it until the end of the class, when she picked it up and took it with her.  I would have been seriously mortified but she seemed unfazed.  Static cling strikes again!

I used to work out daily and the gym is still one of my happy places.  But every January/February that happiness is tested by the hordes of New Year's resolution-clutching newbies.  I try to be patient and welcoming, because we were all rookies once and it takes courage to join a class and stumble along until you get used to it. 

But some attempt to learn and follow the rules of gym etiquette would be nice.  I shouldn't have to pee on the floor to mark my spot so someone doesn't steal it when I go to re-fill my water bottle.  That's rude.  And everyone is standing a certain distance apart for a reason and it's not because we're all sweaty, although proper application of deodorant and refraining from dousing yourself in perfume is much appreciated.  It's to avoid crashing into each other while doing our jumping jacks.  One time someone came late to a kickboxing class and stood right behind me - I didn't see her come in and came thisclose to kicking her in the head.  Grrr.

I'm curious what your thoughts are on the naked thing.  It's a little over the top to hunch up under your towel trying to hide every scrap of skin...really, it's not junior high and no one cares.  On the other hand, doing a blowdry and a full face of make-up in your birthday suit isn't a public activity.  We don't all want an extended view of your tatas.  Save it for the privacy of your own home.

The most egregious naked offenders are old women.  I've observed that elderly people seem to have lost all respect and courtesy for those around them...the snail-like driving in the fast lane, butting in line at the supermarket, loud horking into a hankerchief while people are eating, I could go on and on.  Maybe when you retire from work, you get to retire from being a good social citizen too.  I was blessed with a vivid example of this at the gym a few years ago.

Picture your typical locker room.  In each row there's a long, narrow bench with lockers on either side.  I've changed out of my pencil skirt into my favourite spandex and just finished pulling on my black and white Nike Air sneakers.  As I put one foot onto the bench to tie my shoelaces, a beige expanse fills my peripheral vision on the other side of the bench.  No worries, it is a change room after all.  But then. O.M.G.

A green towel drops on the floor across from me as I finish tying my shoes, foot still on the bench.  I look down at the towel, glance up and see something I never, ever wanted to see at all, let alone from a foot away.  My mind can't even process it at first.  There are beige wrinkles, pink wrinkles, grey hair...ARRGGHHH!!!  What the hell!!  When you drop something in public, the polite way to pick it up does not involve bending straight over from the waist.  Especially if you're not wearing any bottoms and your bum is facing the rest of the room.  This is a gym locker room, not a kinky May-December lesbian shower porno.  It's not even good for your back to bend like that.

bad for your backand my mental health

Therefore my final comment on gym etiquette is simple:  Please, for the love of God, pick up your towel like a lady!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Music in Me

There are songs that immediately take you to a long-ago place, that make up the soundtrack to your life.  And then there are the songs that didn't just play in the background, but actually were your life.  The ones that changed you.

The friendships of 10-year old girls are intense love affairs, and when my best friend since kindergarten dropped me for a cooler model, it was my first and worst experience with heartbreak. The intense bullying and rejection that followed crushed me and I never really recovered.  I worked through my grief by listening to Amy Grant's song Stay for Awhile over and over, and knew I was moving on when the rewind button on my tape deck stopped being blurry with tears.



Growing up in a fundamentalist Christian home didn't equip me with much in the way of social skills.  When my classmates found out I was TV-less, I might as well have been wearing a sign that said "FREAK!".  Hiding in the basement with the lights out on Hallowe'en, I knew my family (or maybe me specifically) must have done something terribly wrong to make the world hate us so much.  When MC Hammer released the song "Pray" when I was in seventh grade, there were a few shining months where I thought there was a chance I could fit in.  Maybe God wasn't the equivalent of cooties after all.


I debated leaving this next song out, because my tendency to overshare only goes so far. However, I'm alive today partly because of Newboys' song Elle G, and the anchor it gave me to hold onto in the hurricane my teenage hormones made of the depression and anxiety I've dealt with my whole life.



Fast forward to university.  I'm kickboxing and working out 7 days a week, in the best shape of my life.  Partying with my roommates and out dancing every Tues/Thurs/Fri/Sat in between exams.  I've discovered ceramic flat irons and the braces and glasses are long gone.  For the first time, I feel powerful. Hot. And hips swivelling to these three songs, I belong.


You Can Do It by Ice Cube
 
Dirrty by Christina Aguilera
 
I'm a Slave 4 U by Britney Spears

Five years of university and another year of hard-core studying while working full-time at an accounting firm have brought me to the final hurdle to getting my designation as a Chartered Accountant.  A three-day professional exam - five hours the first day and four hours the next two days and I'm exhausted and terrified.  But this is it - the golden ticket that I've worked so hard for.  As long as I don't choke.  Driving to the exam centre every morning, Eminem's Till I Collapse and Lose Yourself remind me that I'm strong, and I can do this.



In my last trimester of pregnancy last spring, I would listen to For Your Entertainment by Adam Lambert on the way to work and S. would happily kick along.  When J. went back to work a week after S. was born, I steadily slid toward that old familiar precipice of depression, S.'s newborn screams speeding me along.  Until one day I popped in my Adam Lambert CD and S.'s big brown eyes widened and she paused mid-squall.  From that day forward, we spent a lot of time dancing in the living room, and these brief moments of non-crying gave me just enough strength to pick up the phone and call for help.


These are the songs that made me who I am today.  What's your playlist?