Friday, November 30, 2012

I DID IT!!!

I made it all the way through NaBloPoMo!! I am so proud of myself, because it was freakin' hard. What bugged me the most was not having time to read as many of the blogs I follow as usual, because I was too busy creating my own posts and responding to comments. There were a few moments of panic too, where I really didn't feel like writing anything and the clock was ticking away.

But they say it takes 21 days to create a new habit, and in the last week I noticed the daily posting got a lot easier (and no, they weren't all pictures with a one-liner). So while I won't continue posting every single day, I think I'll step up my previous slackerly ways and shoot for 4-5 times a week. Until April, when I do the A-Z 26 day challenge. I'm looking forward to it already.

 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gold star!

Five pounds to go until I hit pre-Little Man weight! Woo hoo!! Then another 20 to get to pre-Sass weight...urk. If I can hit that first milestone though, the chances of me reaching the second one go up exponentially, because I find success really motivating. No resting on my laurels here: if I ace something, I try even harder the next time. Sometimes I miss school just for that steady string of A's (yes, I have learned to keep that tidbit to myself in public, ever since my Gr. 12 English teacher made fun of me mercilessly for my traumatized expression when I was told my final mark had fallen to 88% from 92%).

The nasty flip side is that if I can't excel at something, I don't want to do it. Being a rookie is fine and I'll work really, really hard to get better. Like, until I pass out or throw up kind of working hard. But if I don't start kicking ass within a reasonable period of time (which I define as about two days or so), I cut my losses and get out of there. My favourite quote is by W.C. Fields:

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No point in being a damn fool about it.

Yet another way in which motherhood is character-building. I feel like a big screw-up most of the time, but quitting isn't an option in this particular game. Maybe I should sign up for some continuing education courses - an A or two would cheer me right up. Or I'll just give myself a random gold star right now:

 
Ah...I feel better already.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The crazy train is ready to roll

Yesterday Jay and I celebrated our eighteen year anniversary. We dated for 10 years before we got married, so every year we celebrate both our wedding anniversary (August 13) and our "real" anniversary (November 27), which is the day we first kissed. Cuz we're all romantic like that.

Jay carrying me lovingly through a forest like a sack of potatoes when we first met.
 
Previous anniversary celebrations have included trips and tattoos, but this year we decided to keep it simple and have a nice dinner out, just the two of us. We made reservations at a reasonably nice restaurant, I brushed my hair and put on actual clothes, and we set out for some steak and non-baby-focused conversation.
 
The restaurant we went to turns into a nightclub on Friday and Saturday nights and the dining section is partially open to the dance floor on the main level. They often host corporate and other functions in their private rooms. As we drove into the parking lot, we were surprised by how busy it was on a Tuesday evening in November, but weren't concerned since we had reservations. When we walked in the door, the hostess rushed toward us asking, "Are you with the cycling club?"
 
*Warning - offensive opinions coming. I really, really don't like cyclists as a group (not you specifically...probably). It enrages me that cyclists feel entitled to push their hobby on the 98% of people who drive to work in my suburban city. I get stabby when cyclists start preaching about how the rest of us just need to get our fat asses out of our gas-guzzling cars and the earth would be saved.
 
Get a fucking clue. I am a professional with two kids who lives 20 kilometres away from my employer and daycare in Canada, home of the 35 degree summers and -20 degree winters. Are you actually suggesting that I put on my suit, sling my files around my neck, pack my infant and toddler into one of those kiddy bike trailers and ride for two hours through rush hour traffic to the daycare, my frostbitten children skidding around in the slushy road behind me? Bikes belong on trails and sidewalks, not roads. Period. In a collision between a bike and a pedestrian, the pedestrian doesn't usually end up in the morgue.
 
Back to our lovely anniversary night out. We informed the hostess that we were definitely not with the cycling club and were ushered to a very comfy booth, where our server asked what we wanted to drink. As I mentioned a few posts ago, I rarely drink, so I decided to take advantage of the occasion and have a strawberry daiquiri with my steak (wine, schmine. I wanted a daiquiri so that's what I got). It was so good. Yum!
 
 the culprit
 
We were halfway through our meal when the music went quiet and a microphone came on. This is when we discovered that the restaurant had given the dance floor and main section of the club to the cycling group, which was directly on the other side of our booth. A Powerpoint slide came up on a large screen and a voice boomed out: "We'll start with a message from the founder of Share the Road, before moving on to the presentations and other remarks." Jay and I gaped at each other in horror. This was like a pair of Satanists stumbling into an Easter service.
 
As we rushed through the rest of our meal, trying not to hear the ridiculous propaganda invading our ears, one of the kitchen staff suddenly appeared at our table, plunked down another strawberry daiquiri and announced it was on the house since he "had it left over anyway". At this point I forgot that my anti-depressant medication significantly amplifies the effect of alcohol, and in my haste to escape the cyclist cult, gulped down the entire second drink in the time it took Jay to look at the bill.
 
Fortunately for everyone involved, I'm a very cheerful drunk. I promptly began singing and giggling as Jay hustled me out of the restaurant, where I observed the parking lot full of cars and yelled happily, "Where are all the fucking bikes NOW?" before staggering off toward our car. On the way I caught sight of the word "slow" painted on the asphalt and began shouting "Wols! Wols! Wols!" before erupting into peals of maniacal laughter at my great wit.
 
Somehow I got into the car without falling down and continued to entertain Jay by clapping wildly off-beat to Trespassing by Adam Lambert, then caroling along to Cuckoo - "Walk that walk like you don't give a fuck" - out the window at other startled motorists.
 
 
  
 
At some point I sobered up enough that I was able to avoid terrorizing our babysitter when we got home, and luckily Jay found the whole thing hilarious rather than being offended that I had gotten trashed at our anniversary dinner. It was a great night and I'm already looking forward to the next one. Cyclists not included.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Eighteen years

When we met, you were intoxicating. I wanted to climb inside you, intertwine our souls so deeply we could never be separated. I couldn't imagine our love story would ever end.

Slowly the years slid by, passion leaching out of us until our kisses and words were dry and empty, drained by work and chores and children. Grief pulled us together before fear pushed us apart, until we came to this:

The betrayal and our daughter's wide terrified eyes underneath the stenciled words on our bedroom wall - ...and they lived happily ever after - as I scream at you to get out and never come back.

The click of your cell phone going straight to voice mail over and over. The hours darkening steadily into evening and then night as my panic grows. The purr of a motor at 3:00AM and blood roaring in my ears as I stagger across the room to greet the police officer, praying desperately to a god I don't believe in anymore.

Sitting alone on our bed staring numbly at the dawn creeping up the sky. The new text icon blinking like a beacon on my phone, flaring a spark of hope. Running in my bare feet across the snow to your truck and flinging my arms around your slumped shoulders.

Today when I say "I love you," it's anything but hollow. Happy anniversary.

* * * * *
 
This post was inspired by Trifecta's prompt to write a piece between 33 and 333 words incorporating the word "hollow," defined as "lacking in real value, sincerity or substance: false, meaningless".
 


Monday, November 26, 2012

Woo-hoo!

This seemed appropriate after my Cyber Monday shopping spree:
 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Interrupted

I haven't done a stream of consciousness type of post in awhile, but the prompt today caught my eye.

 
 
So here are five minutes worth of unedited writing on the following topic: "I'm annoyed by..."
 
*GO*
 
Confession. This is the fourth time today I have tried to write this post. Not because I can't let go of my internal editor enough to write, although that happens sometimes. But because I've been interrupted every time I've tried to write this, by my husband or the kids. And this is what annoys me: that I can't get five minutes straight of peace to just sit and be still with my thoughts. I know there will come a time when I'll wish for these interruptions, when I'd give anything to hear my husband's voice again or feel a small hand tugging at me to come and dance. But in this moment, annoyed is too mild a word for what I feel. Exhausted. Strained as taut as can be, everything about mothering small children against my basic nature, which craves solitude and silence. I'm doing the best I can and trying to make sure my best is good enough for them. It takes everything I have, leaving me empty and stretched to my limits physically, emotionally, spiritually. I hope I don't break.

*STOP*

I think this is why I don't do these very often - they tend to be depressing and I get tired of moping around all "woe is me". I'll look at the bright side: one more NaBloPoMo post put to bed.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

The wind in the trees

Her voice was so garbled with fear that I didn't recognize it at first. When her tears finally formed themselves into words, I responded instantly, my voice calm and steady. Then I hung up the phone, collapsed on the bed and sobbed until all my memories and selfishness had drained out, and I was ready to face her.

The doorbell rang and my husband let them in, asking her husband if he wanted to watch the game together while she went upstairs with me. They perched on the edge of the sofa staring unseeing at the TV screen as we walked away. I took out the little machine and the gel and turned it on to silence. No batteries. I hadn't needed to use it for awhile. We sat quietly on my bed watching my husband's truck race up the street to the corner store and back. Her face was blotchy and bewildered, as if someone had slapped her violently with no warning or provocation.

"It should sound like this," I told her, pressing the transducer against my swollen stomach. "It won't be as loud and clear, but it'll be fast like this, like a horse galloping. That whooshing sound like a wind storm is the placenta." I tried to hand the machine to her, but she shook her head and asked me to do it. I didn't know how to say no.

Lying on the bed, she watched me slowly cover every inch of her torso, erasing hope as I went, the room filling with the empty howl of a whirlwind. Suddenly a faint rhythm pulsed through the static. The slow beat grew stronger and stronger and I felt her muscles relax beneath me. "That's yours," I said gently, not looking at her, not wanting to see the light die out of her eyes. Reapplying the gel, I started at the bottom of her abdomen again, searching for the hoofbeats in the wind. I didn't stop until she told me to.

After the ultrasound, the hemorrhage, the hospital admission and the surgery, she called me to thank me. I told her any time she wanted to talk I was there to listen.

"Oh, I'm fine. It's just the physical recovery now," she said confidently. "I cried all day Saturday and Sunday, but I have lots of support and I'm OK now. All that emotional stuff is out of the way."

"That's good," I said and looked at the calendar. As I hung up the phone, I wrote a reminder to myself to call her in two months. I knew she would need me then, when her body had healed, everyone else had moved on and the baby was still dead. And she did.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Serotonin smorgasbord

Today is my first writing challenge with Trifecta. The challenge is:

"1n 1959, Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote the music for the Broadway production, The Sound of Music. One of the most famous songs from the musical is "My Favorite Things." Since its inception, the song has been covered by countless artists, and we're asking you to follow suit. Give us a few of your favorite things, in whichever form you want, in 33 words exactly."

Alone in the silent sunshine, flushed from dancing, ice cream dripping down my hand.  Digging until it hurts to reach the beauty and poison, letting it flow out my fingertips, leaving me cleansed.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Put your drinks up

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends. Here in Canada, I'm thankful that Natalie at Ohemgee chose NOT to use Thanksgiving as the theme for her Coffee Talk linky today. Between the blogosphere and Facebook and the fact we in Canada celebrated Thanksgiving a month ago, I'm ready to move on to Christmas. Or maybe just have a brief period of time where every discussion is not focused around a holiday.

Anyway. Here are the questions this week and my witty responses. Enjoy.

1) What is your favourite drink called? What are the ingredients in it?

Water. And the ingredients are...water. Oh, you meant with alcohol? It's been so long I'd forgotten what that was. The whole three pregnancies and breastfeeding two infants in the last two years put a bit of a damper in my alcohol consumption.

Joking aside, I've never been a big drinker. If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time you know I'm naturally a little crazy; alcohol has always seemed redundant. I was quite a party girl back in the day, but the designated driver kind of party girl: I just went to the clubs for the dancing. My favourite drinks are Bacardi Breezer tropical orange smoothies, chocolate martinis, sex on the beach and the good old break-in-the-virgin-gently fuzzy navel.

 
Peach schnapps + orange juice = fuzzy navel. Told you it was gentle.
Peach schnapps + orange juice + vodka + cranberry juice = sex on the beach. Getting rougher.
Vodka + creme de cacao = chocolate martini. Oh yeah.
 
 
2) How old were you when you first got drunk?

Nineteen, Canada's legal drinking age. I thought I got drunk before then, but it turns out a 1/4 inch of rum in a giant glass of Coke doesn't actually result in intoxication and my participation in a shopping cart race down a hill later that night was due to the placebo effect, not drunkenness.

3) Name an embarrassing moment about you or your friends that occurred while drinking.

The first time I was dancing on the ledge overlooking the dance floor at a club and I lost my balance and fell off. The second time this happened was at my bachelorette party and I was so drunk that I thought I was flying, not falling, so instead of being embarrassed I yelled "Whee!!" the whole way down. Then I lay happily on the floor in the foam (it was a foam party) until my bridesmaids came and dragged me out.

Miraculously, they let me into the club after we left the pool hall shown here, despite the fact I was no longer perpendicular to the floor and covered in feathered boas. Then again, it was a foam party.

4) What is your favourite party drinking game?

I don't have one. I think I used to, but I can't quite remember what it was, not surprisingly.

5) Are you a happy drunk? Sad drunk? Sleepy drunk? Paranoid drunk? or other?

I am a very, very happy, affectionate, drunken exhibitionist until I abruptly fall asleep wherever I happen to be at the time. I strongly believe that alcohol just loosens inhibitions rather than magically turning you into some other person. So if you become a huge bitch when you're drunk, honey, you ain't that nice underneath it all. In my case I keep the bitch on the outside, but alcohol brings out my inner (slightly slutty) sweetheart.

6) Are you a hard drinker (straight liquor, shots, etc.)? Fruity drinker (daiquiris, mixers, etc)? not a drinker at all? or Other?

See above. I tend to be the designated driver, because my husband enjoys drinking more than I do and if I'm not with him, I'm driving myself home. When I do drink, it's usually fruity, but I'm not opposed to shots. I usually get drunk, unlike in my 20's. That's because I rarely go out anymore, so I know I'd better live it up because who knows when the occasion will come around again.

I miss dancing (no alcohol required) in a club instead of just at zumba. But I don't have anyone to go with: my husband has never liked clubbing, my girlfriends are no longer interested and I think it's weird/dangerous to go out dancing alone. But geez, I'm 34, not 84. Is the party really over already?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Un-shunned but still sick

You knew I couldn't leave it there, right? A possible solution to my shunning and a chance to be an Iron Commenter after all? Not bloody likely.

So I googled "Firefox," downloaded it and attempted to comment on a blog with the registered user setting. AND IT WORKED!!! It's a Festivus miracle! I am so, so excited. Firefox is quite slow but that's OK - I'm only going to use it when I need it to leave a comment. This also means Google/Blogger aren't causing the shunning; it's something in Internet Explorer 9. Since I have my settings set up to accept every kind of cookie out there, I don't know what it could be and for now I don't care. Because I can talk to everyone again. Yay!

Even better? When I e-mailed the IComLeavWe moderator, Melissa Ford at The Stirrup Queens, to thank her for helping me become un-shunned, I asked her a bit more about becoming an Iron Commenter. She clarified that you have the whole week to leave a comment on each participant's blog. As in, you need to make 75 comments, not 525. I think she thought I was a bit insane, which is not surprising because the sickness is definitely still in me. How do I know? My first reaction to this news was disappointment, not relief.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'll do it!

In a moment of pure blogging insanity, I decided I should supplement NaBloPoMo by joining IComLeavWe this month. So in addition to posting every day, responding to comments and supporting my fellow NaBloPoMo'ers (that's fun to say - haha!) at Yeah Write by reading and commenting on their blogs, I will be reading and commenting on the blogroll for International Comment Leaving Week. And of course my Type A personality has reared her deranged head and decided I should try to reach Iron Commenter status, ie commenting on the entire blogroll every day for the next seven days. There are 75 blogs on the list.

I'm not sure what personality defect I have that compels me to take virtually anything I enjoy and make it as difficult as possible, and then preferably attach scores to it so I can beat myself up if I fail. Being a perfectionist as well is a recipe for a nervous breakdown, which I have narrowly avoided on several occasions as a direct result of this behaviour. Another recent example came through my volunteer position on the board of directors of a small financial institution.

I was considering leaving the board at the end of my second term because I was feeling the time crunch from working full-time in a career with significant overtime (I'm a chartered accountant), parenting a two year old, working out to lose the baby weight and volunteering on the board as well. Then I got pregnant with my second child and of course when they asked me if I would not only continue for a third 3-year term, but actually chair the board, I chirped, "Absolutely!"

Fortunately during the summer I came to my senses and told them (with a deep sense of disgust in my weakness for wanting sleep and other non-essential things) that I would not be able to chair the board after all, and that I would be leaving the board as of the next annual general meeting in April 2013. I couldn't quite bring myself to admit that I was exhausted now, not in April 2013, so while caring for a toddler and a newborn, I've also been attending board meetings, chairing a sub-committee, attending another sub-committee and helping draft policies for director training. Every time someone asks who would be willing to volunteer for some new task, I have to sit on my hands to stop myself from idiotically bouncing up and shouting "Me! Me!"

But sometimes fate intervenes and forces me to stop doing this to myself. Remember the Google/Blogger shunning where I can't comment on blogs that don't have a name/url option? I just got a message from the IComLeavWe moderator saying I can't be an Iron Commenter if I don't comment on every single blog, period. Which makes total sense, because my shunning problem would knock a lot of blogs off the list and it wouldn't be fair. She suggested doing something in Firefox, but I'm not even sure what that is (remember my IT skills?) so it looks like Iron Commenter status is not going to happen. Which kind of makes me not want to do IComLeavWe at all.

It's a sickness; it really is. I wonder if I'll ever be cured.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hugging it out

I'm not a hugger. When people sit right beside me when there are spots further away, I scream a little inside. It even annoys me when someone uses the washroom stall beside me when the other ones are empty. Traffic jams accelerate my heart rate to the point that I once had to pull off the highway and sit in the grass doing deep breathing exercises until I was calm enough to re-join the metal sardine pack.

I wonder what sets our comfort level with personal space. Nature, nuture, or both? Recently I was reading through my teenage diaries, which are considerably less funny and more frightening than my pre-teen diaries. It occurred to me that between the ages of 10 and 15, I had virtually no physical contact with another person. My parents are very undemonstrative and rarely showed affection toward me during my teens.

Despite not being a hugger, I felt horribly lonely and unloved. It's a good thing I was an ugly duckling, because I would have been on the fast track to teen motherhood otherwise. Reading my diary entries about when I met my now-husband is like watching a starving person being placed in front of an all-you-can-eat buffet, and whenever I do The Five Love Languages quiz, touch comes up as one of the top two.

So why the need for a huge amount of personal space if my primary love language is touch? I think it's because I'm emotionally reserved and touch means so much to me that I'm uncomfortable feeling people up left and right. Jay's family are huggers and it's always kind of freaked me out, because it feels too intimate for the relationship. Can't we just smile and nod?

Well, no. The world wants its insincere gestures and it's become too much effort to try to avoid them. As I've gotten older, I've gotten better at faking the casual hugs and pats on the arm, the air kisses, not squirming away when someone gets in my space. It almost looks natural.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

10 things I learned in 2012

When I threw up this morning, the terrifying thought crossed my mind that I might have contracted the Egyptian flu (you know, where nine months later you're a mummy...groan). To my extreme relief, other unpleasant symptoms have made themselves known throughout the day, so I'm pretty sure I've just picked up a bug of some non-Egyptian kind.

This week's Monday Listicle topic was chosen by Kerstin at Auer Life.


Here are 10 things I learned in 2012:

1) I can type out a blog post in between dry heaves (see NaBloPoMo stubbornness below).

2) I still love my husband with all my heart.

3) Going from one child to two is a million times easier than going from none to one.

4) A book can still entrance me so that I don't want to put it down and can't stop reading it over and over again. Partly because I see a lot of myself in the heroine. Even if many people hate both the book and her.

5) Being nine months pregnant in August is as uncomfortable as it sounds.

6) Three months is not enough time to leave between a miscarriage and the next pregnancy. I'm not sure that any amount of time is enough.

7) Taking my anti-depressant medication isn't optional.

8) I no longer enjoy my career (or at least this specific job). I don't want to stay home alone with my kids with no help either, and I'm not willing to reduce our standard of living. I wish money would fall from the sky so that my husband and I could both not work, hire a nanny for regular date nights and hire a cleaner.

9) Having pets is more stress than enjoyment at this stage in my life.

10) My faith is really gone, and it makes a difference to acknowledge that out loud.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

No book left behind

If this post seems familiar, it's because it was originally posted February 2011 on my old blog. NaBloPoMo is kicking my ass today so I'm cheating a little and publishing a post that I imported from my old blog address, but never published.

I used to think I could forgive an author for a bad beginning but not a bad ending.  Like when you've got about 20 pages to go and you start to think "hmm, there are an awful lot of loose ends to get tied up in a pretty bow here."  Then 15 pages, 10, crap, she's running out of time, and last page...are you KIDDING me?  This limp-fish handshake is your ending??  What a betrayal.

Happily, I don't have this experience anymore.  In order to stop being a weapon of massive consumption (yay Lily Allen!), I've started buying only things I love.  Not like.  Love.  This has been great for my finances, and as I was surveying my personal library, which has bloated to over 600 books, I realized I need to start applying this philosophy to my reading habits too.

So now if a book doesn't make me feel like chocolate ice cream's melting across my tongue from beginning to end, I stop reading it.  It's a weird feeling to give up on a book that started off well but is now struggling.  I still feel like I'm doing something sinful, as if I'm opposing No Child Left Behind for books.  The guilt's worth it though.  I don't have much time to read lately, and now that little time is spent happily lost in another world, instead of conscientiously plodding along waiting for a mediocre author to hit his stride.  And I haven't been subjected to a limp-fish ending since.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The crazy diaries, part one

Every five years or so, I entertain myself by reading my old diaries. I usually laugh and cringe as I read them before putting them away for another few years. Thanks to NaBloPoMo, today I've decided to inflict them on you as well. You're welcome.

My journals bear a disturbing resemblance to the Adrian Mole diaries by Sue Townsend; unfortunately mine aren't fiction. You can blame L.M. Montgomery for the excessively precocious tone. Well, that and the fact I have apparently been a drama queen from birth.

1988 from punching to kissing


April 1, 1988 (9 years old) - We are at Oma and Opa's and I have a heartache.

Let the melodrama begin...

August 10, 1988 - We all went to the pool and I punched Nathan. Jenny and I had SO much fun!

Punching people really is fun. Too bad it's illegal.

October 3, 1988 - Mommy said I could only buy one book in book order. I don't care what she wants though, I'm going to buy as many books as I want. And I can spend my paper route money the way I want also.

The battle cry of a true rebel: I'm going to buy as many books as I want!

November 4, 1988 - I just cried and cried and cried. I don't understand why I feel so rotten, I just know that I feel really upset all of a sudden sometimes, and I just always feel really hurt about something, and I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it's Heather playing with Shannon all the time and ignoring me, or maybe it's having to sell Midnight, or maybe it's because I'm going through some type of kid's stage in growing.

This makes me sad. I worry about my kids inheriting my depression and anxiety and if I'll be able to identify it. I don't want to make a big deal out of the normal moodiness of kids, but I'm not sure I know what "normal" looks like. Hopefully they get their father's personality and never have to deal with this shit. I can't tell yet who Sass takes after because all two year olds are crazy. Most of them grow out of it...fingers crossed.

November 25, 1988 (10 years old) - Today Colin gave me a fancy ballpoint pen "in memory of me," he said. I was pleased and I said thank you. But it wasn't the same. I know now that I am far too young for a boyfriend anyway, and that even if I am, I should make sure I truly like him, and I'm not just trying to become "Miss Center of Attention" again.

Wise words from a just-turned-10 year old. Terrifying words from the point of view of a mother. I was dating at 10? Really?? Fortunately I went through quite an ugly duckling phase and the next date wasn't until I was 15. I'm torn between not wanting Sass to feel like a hideous troll for 6 or 7 years, and not wanting her to start dating at 10 years old. Please tell me there's a middle ground.

December 1, 1988 - I just finished colouring a picture for a colouring contest. Mommy says I have a fighting chance.

Um, thanks for the vote of confidence, Mom.

December 4, 1988 - I'm going to write a story and it's going to be called "BITTER COLD TERRAIN."

Good Lord.

 1989 pickles and curses
 
January 25, 1989 - Today was supposed to be a good day and it wasn't. Everything went wrong. What a ROTTEN day. But we did have veal cutlets for supper. I LOVE veal cutlets.

January 28, 1989 - When my papers came, Heather had to come with me on my paper route because Daddy wanted me to do the papers RIGHT away. Oh, well. Oma gave me a box of chocolate peanuts and that cheered me up.

Hmm, I see a disturbing pattern here. Emotional eating much?

March 10, 1989 - I feel like a caged wild beast, all hurt and confused.

Rawr. Bad sign considering I haven't even hit my teens yet.

May 3, 1989 - Heather doesn't like me anymore and I don't care. I'm sick of trying to be friends with a pickle like her.

Pickles can be such bitches.

November 10, 1989 (11 years old) - Today I found out I didn't make the volleyball team. And stupid old Mrs. Ritter gave me a lecture.

I forgot about the birthday curse! Traditionally it has always been a bad day. The last few years it wasn't, so I forgot about the curse. But it turns out it was saving itself up for an extra shitty birthday this year. Literally.

1990-91 philosophy and periods


August 3, 1990 (after I left my suitcase at camp) - Every night I pray that God will send my clothes back. But I'm really starting to wonder. If I don't get those clothes back, though, then I sure don't think much of God. Not sending a poor little girl her clothes back. Sheesh!!!! I mean, I've been praying for almost a MONTH now.

Guilt trips and doubt: always effective negotiating tools.



And the teenage mother-daughter fireworks begin, right on cue.

January 5, 1991 (12 years old) - I thought up a story when I was on my paper route. I'm going to write it down since it was a pretty good story.

The Ice Ghost
By: Azara

This is not a true story. But it is a love story.

I'll spare you the middle...here's the ending:

But who knows? I only know that I would not go to that grove for all the money in the earth. For Willie Brumnen died the very next day after he had visited the grove. Many have visited it since and all have died the next. And always at 12:00 noon. The End.

Yeah. Fiction isn't my strong point.

September 6, 1991 - I GOT MY PERIOD!!!

And then my mom told my dad, who waited until we were alone in the car on the way to some event to say gruffly, "So I hear you're a woman now," or something along those lines. I can't remember exactly what because I was so mortified I have blocked the details from my memory.

October 28, 1991 - Whoa, was I ever a funny little kid when I was little. I just read some of my old diaries. I sure was weird.

Still are, hon. Still are.

Next up...the teenage years. Dum dum dum.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Friday letters

And the linkyfest continues with Friday Letters! Link up here:

Photobucket

Dear cause awareness marketing people...Surely there was some way to support medical research without making our men look like skeezy 70's porn stars or Borat for an entire month. Surely.


Dear local grocery stores...Where the hell is my Indiana Kettlecorn sweet and salty popcorn?? First you took away my Doritos, then my cod sticks, now the popcorn? I want it back RIGHT NOW. Orville Redenbacher's version doesn't cut it.
Dear nature...Thank you for a beautiful, crisp fall day. It's been awfully dreary and it was wonderful to see sunshine for once.

Dear NaBloPoMo...You have no idea how stubborn I can be. I WILL beat you. I'm halfway there already!

Dear zumba...I love you. I'm so glad I can do you again.

this is not me, but it is my favourite zumba song right now

Dear digital camera...I know I dissed you but I didn't mean for you to start randomly opening and dropping out your memory card in revenge. I just want to take a clear picture of my baby's smile as soon as I press the button, not 20 seconds later when he's staring out the window. Why do you hate me?

Dear Deo perfume candy...Edible deodorant? WTF? Is there really a market for this?



Dear grandfather who took the baby-in-oven photo as a joke...I know you thought this was wildly clever and I usually have an irreverent sense of humour, but this just isn't funny. Because horrible stuff like this does happen in real life, and there's nothing funny about that at all.

Dear fellow bloggers...I'm sorry in advance if I don't return your comment. I can't comment on blogs that don't allow a name/URL login option (ie that are set to "registered user" in Blogger) and despite hours of troubleshooting and fervent prayers to the Google/Blogger tech support gods, the shunning continues.

Dear Fifty Shades casting director...Please, please do not fuck this up. Ian Somerhalder or Matt Bomer as Christian. Alexis Bledel or Lily Collins as Anastasia. Done. And on that delicious note, I'm going to bed.

Ian Somerhalder                                                             Matt Bomer
                                            

Alexis Bledel                                                                 Lily Collins

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Random coffee beans


I'm in a linky mood, so I'm joining Coffee Talk with Natalie at Ohemgee:

1) What is your worst habit?

Picking my nails. They look like they've been eaten by weevils.

Swearing like a fucking truck driver. Debra on Dexter has nothing on me.
 
Staying up until the middle of the night even though Sass will be up at 6:30AM, because it's the only time I ever get to be all by myself.

Getting really excited about something and overindulging in it until I hate it.

Oh, you just wanted one? Sorry about that. I was on a roll.

2) What is your biggest pet peeve? (no, not biggest pet!)

When people drive slowly in the passing lane. Actually, even worse are those idiots who drive 90 km/hour. Everywhere. On the highway, where the speed limit is 100 km/hr, they hold up an entire line of cars with their obnoxious snail-like pace. Then they get off the highway and don't slow down at all, whipping through a 40 km/hour school zone at 90 km/hour. WTF is wrong with these people?

The best road sign EVER

Not signaling also makes me want to hit you with my car just to make the point that we can't read your fucking mind. How lazy can you possibly be when it's too much effort to flick your pinky?

3) What is annoying you right this very minute?

My mulish weight, which is digging its fat heels in and refusing to budge. My skinny (or at least not fat) girl wants out!

4) How do you relieve stress?

Cardio kickboxing or hard-core zumba.

The kind of workout that makes you all glowy and sleepy afterward.

Reading a book that makes me forget where I am.

Cuddling my kids when they're all sleepy and peaceful.

5) What TRULY makes you happy?

When my life is in balance. 

Doing something I'm really good at.

Scene from the movie "Election"
Type A? Moi?
 


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Do I have to?

"Either God does not exist or he's unimaginably cruel." Dr. Gregory House, House M.D., Season Three

This is what I believe. It took me 34 years to get here, but for the first time last month I acknowledged that my faith is gone for good. It's been gone for a long time, but as long as I didn't say it out loud, I could pretend God and I were just on a break and the reunion episode was coming up shortly. But it's real. We're over.

I don't want to tell my parents. Do I have to?

I could pretend indefinitely. I know all the right words to avoid seeing the hurt, frightened look in my father's eyes after I tell him he's failed at the only thing he really cared about. Despite doing his best as a Christian father, his daughter has turned away from God. She's condemned for eternity, his desperate efforts to save her futile.

When I got 98% on a test, my mother asked, "What happened to the other 2%?" My father quietly said, "Good job" and "You don't have to be perfect." When I sprained my thumb trying to block a spike in a volleyball tournament, my mother said, "Did you manage to stop the other team?" My father said, "Are you OK?"

At my wedding reception, my father got up in front of all those people, hands trembling as he pushed back his fear, so he could tell me how precious I was to him and how happy he was that I'd found such a wonderful man to share my life with.

In the hospital after my daughter was born, my father pulled me into an awkward hug, gently jiggling my shoulder as he whispered, "Congratulations," before posing for pictures with his first grandchild, his arms careful around the fragile bundle.

When my perfect marriage threatened to shatter around me, my father listened quietly through my anguished torrent of words before putting a warm, comforting hand on my shoulder and saying, "You'll get through this. Jay loves you." Then he reached for his steadfast source of strength, the one he wanted me to have after he's no longer here to hold me. "Let's pray."

I don't want to break my father's heart.

Do I have to?


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Shunned by Blogger

I'm watching the Breaking Amish season finale, which made me think of the title for this post, because that's how I feel right now. I'm too exhausted to write a real post because I have spent the last two hours trying to figure out why I can't comment on any Blogger blog that is set to "registered users" instead of "anyone". It is driving me NUTS.

I've started scrolling to the bottom of a new blog to check whether it looks like this:

Select a profile:

Google account
LiveJournal
WordPress
TypePAD
AIM
OpenID

with no Name/URL option

before I bother writing a comment or clicking the follow button, because for some reason none of these options work for me, and it's too frustrating to read posts I can't comment on.

I try to get around it by e-mailing, but if there's no e-mail on the blogger's profile, I have no way to communicate with that person. It's a weird feeling. Especially maddening is not being able to comment anymore on blogs that I've followed since 2010. I'm tempted to log back into my old blog just so I can talk to those people again, but I moved for a reason.

I wonder if I compare the two templates side by side whether I'll be able to figure out how to fix the shunning. I guess it's worth a try. Hopefully this blog is still here after I'm done this! Wish me luck - technology is not my strong point.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Not the B.S. I had in mind

Hey shorty, it's your birthday. We're gonna party like it's your birthday. This special day used to be filled with kickboxing, a bubble bath, chocolate and this kind of night:


followed by:

 
Today was my 34th birthday and the celebrations were...different, shall we say. First I stumbled through a zumba class that I usually rock, because my knee was acting up again. By the time I got home, my knee had stiffened up agonizingly to the point that I had to use my other hand to bend and lift my leg to get out of the driver's seat of the car. It took me a long five minutes to drag my immobile leg up the stairs, interspersed with a shriek of pain when I accidentally put some weight on it.
 
While I ran the bath water, I pumped some of the milk out of my excessively large boobs. This looked about as attractive as a dairy cow attached to a milking machine.
 
http://www.farmissues.com
 
Thankfully Jay had been able to get Sass down for her nap and Little Man was resting peacefully in his bassinet, so the house was quiet. Just as I started to really relax into the bath water, the door flew open. Jay stood there holding a grinning, naked Sass by the upper arm. "You would not believe what our daughter has done," he said with a crazed look on his face.
 
It turns out Sass was not sleeping like an angel during her nap as we thought. She was stripping, pulling off her diaper, pooping on the carpet, stepping in it and then running laps around her room. Thank God she refrained from jumping on the bed.
 
I scrambled awkwardly out of the bath tub and started wiping Sass off, as Jay had gone into a minor state of shock when he saw the room and had just rushed her over to the bathroom, poo tail still hanging out of her bum. As I threw the toilet paper into the toilet, my hair fell into my eyes and I brushed it away in annoyance.  That's when I discovered I had gotten some poo on my hand, which I had just run through my hair. Shit highlights! Fantastic!
 
Jay plunked Sass into the bath tub, where she began whooping and dancing around like she was at an amusement park, until she suddenly flung herself onto her stomach and began drinking the bath water. Once Jay managed to wrestle her mouth away from the E. Coli stew, we wrapped her up in a towel and tried to dress her. This resulted in flailing and screaming as if we were branding her with a cattle iron rather than putting a diaper and pants on her.
 
Since she hadn't actually slept, Sass threw pretty much continuous temper tantrums for the rest of the day, including such angelic behaviour as trying to pull my mother's pants off when my family came to visit, slapping my sister in the boob and attempting to rip Little Man's blanket (with him in it) right out of Jay's arms. I felt sorry for her because she was so tired, but really. My sister, who doesn't have kids, asked in a confused tone, "Why doesn't she just go to sleep if she's tired?" Good fucking question.
 
So happy shitty birthday to me! (I'm sorry. I just couldn't resist.)
 
How the glamorous have fallen. 
 


Friday, November 9, 2012

I won a lobster!

I won an award! YAY! Angela Ryan at Not Appropriate for All Audiences has bestowed the mysterious Liebster award upon me.

The Liebster award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. A few months ago I didn't qualify, but in September I decided to make my blog completely anonymous, which meant starting all over. It's been more difficult than I expected to regain a readership and I often feel discouraged and want to quit. So I really appreciate Angela's encouragement in giving me this award - thank you!

So what the hell is a Liebster anyway? When I googled it, I got results ranging from "My darling!" to "Sorry, we couldn't find what you were looking for. Did you mean lobster?" According to Angela, liebster is a german word meaning sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. Aw. The award is basically intended as a "Welcome to the party! We're glad to see you!" badge.

 
Of course any award worth its salt comes with rules, so here they are:

1) Each recipient must post 11 random facts about themselves.
2) Each recipient must answer the 11 questions the awarder has given to you, the awardee.
3) You, now the awarder, create 11 questions for your nominees, who are now the awardees.
4) Choose 11 awardees, link to their website, and notify them.
5) No award-backs. 

PART 1: An exercise in narcissism

I'm going to shamelessly rip these off from my past blog posts and award acceptance speeches. My apologies if you've seen them before.

1) I get equal enjoyment from a serious philosophical discussion of the themes in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World as I do from a Britney Spears concert. This means I often feel like some kind of cultural double agent, since the types of people I encounter in both situations don't tend to like each other much. 

http://www.trhservers.com

2) One time I bought so many boxes of ice cream bars (because they were on sale 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.

http://www.couponaholic.net

3) I love living in Canada. I could adjust to life in say, Hawaii, but I'm someone who has a strong connection to home and its memories, and I like to feel rooted. If we moved somewhere else, I think I'd always feel homesick underneath whatever adventures we were having in the new place.

http://www.amazingvanstones.com

4) I like to eat potato chips only if they're all curled up, and will search through the whole bag for the ones that are "just right." My husband thinks this is very odd behaviour, but I recently found a Facebook page called "I Prefer the Potato Chips Curled Up," so obviously I'm not alone.

5) There's nothing I enjoy more than a solid 24 hours without having to talk to anyone. I need and crave solitude and quiet to a level that's difficult to explain, and the constant deprivation of both has been the hardest part of motherhood so far.

6) In junior high, I actually wrote in my diary about the stress of watching Brenda and Jagger's romantic trials on General Hospital. That should tell you something (disturbing) about how invested I get in fictional characters. I still haven't gotten over the fact Buffy and Angel didn't get together in the end (although at least no one died, permanently at least). I also haven't quite grasped that Christian Grey doesn't exist and if he did, he's taken.

7) I love cat shows. I don't just wander up and down the aisles either - I sit in the front row of the judging and take a great interest in the judge's examination of the cat and description of the breed standards. Yes, they call me crazy cat lady.

http://www.cfa.org

8) 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!

http://www.lolriot.com

9) Bidding on ebay annoys the hell out of me. I think what bothers me the most is people waiting until the very last second and "stealing" the item. It seems so dishonest. Put your max bid in, leave it alone and then whoever really wanted it the most gets it. None of this shifty swiping the auction at the last second so no one else has time to respond.

10) 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 two year old 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.

11) I'm developing a disturbing addiction to Wal-Mart. It's so shameful, like picking your bum in public. But the stuff is really good value. I just pretend the other patrons aren't there, although it's difficult with their loud, poor grammar...sigh.

PART 2: Angela's 10 questions for me (she decided to skip the 11th)

1) As I love books, you could have predicted this one, what's your favourite book and why?

This is hard because I've read so many amazing books that I can't remember them all, and because my favourite book depends on my mood. I have over 800 books, about 80% of which are fiction. A few favourites come to mind, defined as books I've read at least three or more times. I'm not going to tell you why they're favourites, because that would be a whole other post per book, particularly in the case of Ms. James' novels.

Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
The Daughter of the Empire series by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts
Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey
The Butterfly Revolution by William Butler
Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by E. L. James

2) What other bloggers (if any) do you currently follow? Please leave links.

Way too many to list here, and yes I read them all. If I stop reading, I stop following. Check out the "My Favourite Yawpers" section at the bottom of my blog for links to the 25 most current posts from blogs that I follow.

3) What are three reasons you think my blog is super fucking awesome (because of course you do)?

Because you just said "fucking."

Because you called out a gangsta rapper to his face.

Because you're as passionate about the joy in your life as the sorrow.

4) Do you believe in love at first sight? If so, would you also be willing to admit that you are highly delusional?

No. I believe in lust at first sight.

5) If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would spend your money on?

A trip back to Kauai, Hawaii, where J. and I spent our honeymoon.

6) Have you ever had a cool celebrity encounter? Please describe.

Not even close. I don't think I've missed out on anything.

7) Okay: What's your porn star name? Name of first pet + the road you grew up on.

Midnight Wilson. I like it - exotic and mundane all wrapped up in one weird package.

8) List 3-5 songs that have been on heavy rotation on your playlist lately.

Till I Collapse - Eminem
 
We Found Love - Rihanna f. Calvin Harris
 
 
Bring Me To Life - Evanescence

Rain Over Me - Pitbull f. Marc Anthony
 
One More Night - Maroon 5
 
9) Do you believe in miracles?
 
I'd like to.
 
10) If I sent you my address, would you please mail me a pair of underwear to make up for those disappointing chain letters?

Absolutely.

PART 3: The nominees and my questions for them.

My questions for the nominees are taken from the book If...by Evelyn McFarlane & James Saywell. For anyone reading, feel free to comment on one/all of these too.

1) If you could win any competition in the world, what would it be for?

2) If you could eliminate one habit you have, what would you stop doing?

3) If a photograph of you were to be used in an ad, which part would you want used, and for what product or service?

4) If you had to have one piece of music softly playing in your mind for the rest of your life, what would you want it to be?

5) If you had to be the underwear of something famous, who would you choose to wear you?

6) If you could have the world's largest collection of one thing, what would it be?

7) If you could have stopped aging at any point in your life up to the present, how old would you want to remain?

8) If you had to eliminate one of the four seasons permanently, which one would go?

9) If you could have a romance with any fictional character, who would it be?

10) If you could destroy a single CD that your mate plays, what it would it be?

11) If you were to perform in the circus, what would you do?

I only nominated people who haven't already received this award. Not everyone enjoys memes like I do, so I don't expect everyone on this list to pick up their award. That doesn't matter - these are funny, thoughtful, sarcastic, inspiring, honest blogs that I love reading and I'm happy to share them. In alphabetical order, here they are:

A Fly on our (Chicken Coop) Wall

Crazy with a Side of Vanilla

Everyday Adventures

German Village Mom

Mama Mzungu

Much Malarkey Manor

Shouldn't Life Be More Than This?

Simply she goes

Way too much aubrey

Writing Down the Bones

5 Things About Nothing Important

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The worst place in the world

This week one of Mama Kat's prompts was to name a place in the world you never want to visit. Well, this is an easy one. My answer? Wherever this lives:

http://www.m5board.com
 
 
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go cleanse my laptop from the Google image search I had to do to find this picture. If only there were some way to cleanse my mind...
 


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Twice in one day...whew!

I've been so into NaBloPoMo and the weekly challenge grid at Yeah Write (awesome community you should definitely check out) that I've been neglecting the rest of my reading list. So this evening I decided to check out Al Penwasser's latest post at Penwasser Place and stumbled across a very cool linky, which I immediately decided to join. Because I'm not already reading a LOT of blogs every day...seriously, there is some good shit out there!

So the linky is being run as a Resurrection Blogfest by Mina Lobo at Some Dark Romantic to celebrate her first blogoversary. Congrats Mina! It's pretty simple - all you have to do is link up a blog post from your first year of blogging before 11:59PM EST today. I love this idea since I changed my blog name and url in September and most people reading this won't have seen any of my earlier posts.

So here it is, unedited or retouched: The moment I knew, originally published June 13, 2011.

Other women don't like me much.  From kindergarten through high school and beyond, my life has been one mean girl moment after another.  And yet I kept trying.  I wanted a best friend so badly - that mirror me that everyone else seemed to have.  But like a good man, all the nice girls were already taken.  It didn't help that I'm drawn to the troublemaker in the group - from Rizzo to Angelina Jolie, no one interests me more than a woman with a healthy streak of snark.  I remember whispering to my mom that I wasn't sure I was a good Christian, because I secretly preferred the villain in any story. 

Scene from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The thing is, a bad girl is a bad friend.  She doesn't mean to be, but when her cheating ex waves at her from across the bar, she figures you'll find your own way home once you realize she's not coming back from the bathroom.  In university, I tried to expand my friendship repetoire to girls with pink comforters and kittens on their walls, but they turned out to be mean girls in honeyed disguise.

Scene from Mean Girls

A few years ago, I started hanging out with a group of aerobics instructors/stay at home moms I met at the gym.  J. and I were pre-kids and saving up for a house while we renovated our townhouse condo for sale.  My new friends were a little older and while I didn't relate to their child-worshipping, we had a great time shopping, cardio kickboxing and poring over home decor magazines in their already-beautiful living rooms. 

When J. and I finally finished our condo renovations, I was so excited for my friends to see the results, particularly since they'd mocked the townhouse as "boring and grey" ("how can you even live here?  I would die!") the first time they saw it.  I planned a fun Saturday afternoon starting at 2:00 with yummy oven-warm snacks and arranged for J. to entertain himself elsewhere.  Did I mention how excited I was?

2:00 came and went.  And 2:15.  And 2:30.  And 3:00.  The hor d'oeuvres were stone cold as 3:30 plodded by.  At 4:00, I called friend A and was shocked to hear a cheery hello on the other end.  "Umm...where are you?" I asked in bewilderment.  "Well, my dad dropped by unexpectedly with a present for my son.  I know my husband's home, but I wanted to watch my son open his gift, so Friend B and I are here hanging out.  She was out shopping until 2:30 anyway, so she just got here at 3:00."

Remarkably, I kept my composure and informed Friend A that I was hurt and angry that she and Friend B had stood me up.  She apologized but didn't seem too concerned, so I got off the phone before I said something that our friendship wouldn't recover from.  Later I sent them both an e-mail explaining how it appeared they "just weren't into me" and I was really offended by their regular lateness and stand-ups (this wasn't the first time).  The responses I received were enlightening.

Friend B informed me that when I had kids I would understand that: 1) a person can't just not go on a shopping trip for new clothes right before they were supposed to be at a friend's house,  2) a stay at home mom's life is super busy with all the lunching and shopping and dropping off the kids for the day at grandma's house so mom can go to the spa and the gym, and I should have some compassion for her, and 3) I was being a ridiculous cold-hearted bitch for expecting a person to arrive anywhere on time or really at all, because moms "can't be tied to rules for casual social obligations."

Friend A informed me that her husband being at home was irrelevant.  If her son was getting another toy to add to his dragon-sized treasure trove, she was going to stay and watch him open it for two hours.  How could she leave his blessed presence for even a minute to call me and tell me she'd be late?  The last sentence was the kicker:  "Yes, my son is more important than you!" 

With a quiet little snap, something in me broke for good.  I knew I was done with female friendship permanently.  I got together with my frenemies one more time, but I just didn't care anymore and I never talked to them again.  Occasionally I get together with a few childhood friends to chat or go for a walk, but my BFF days are over.  And I've never been happier.
 

* * * * *

I did this post as part of the Indie Ink writing challenge.  This is my first challenge and I'm looking forward to reading the other entries.  I was challenged by Alyssa, whose prompt was "The moment I knew" and I challenged Transplanted Thoughts with "Sit or stand."

All the colours

My skin is that shade of olive considered white and I'm married to a man. Maybe that's why people feel comfortable saying racist and homophobic things in front of me with a wink and a nudge. Like hate is a great inside joke, hardy har har.

It wasn't always like this. Growing up I went to a diverse high school and didn't think much about race. People often asked my background and I proudly rattled off the combination: russian-german- Mennonite-scottish-guyanese. With Mennonite being the important one, the one that filled our lives with zwiebach, hymns and platz. Scotland and British Guyana were strange places on a map, empty of meaning.

One day when I was in university, my sister Nicole and I were laughing about our status as international mutts and settled into a discussion about our lack of knowledge of Guyanese culture. My mother had lost her mom to breast cancer when I was a toddler and our Christmas gatherings were spent with Great-Aunt Shantee and Great-Uncle Julian. Great-Aunt Shantee was full of laughter and hugs, but I always felt a little confused by this branch of the family tree. Why did everyone look so different from us?

I was used to feeling out of place among my blonde, blue-eyed Mennonite cousins, but we didn't seem to fit in here either among these dark faces. At Oma and Opa's house we had quiet tradition to pull us together, but at Great-Aunt Shantee's everything was unfamiliar: the songs, the food, the lilting accents. We sat shyly on the sofa, wishing we were participants instead of spectators in this loud, vivacious family.

Back at home, Nicole asked our mother why she never talked about our Guyanese background. "We don't know anything about it," Nicole complained. "People ask us where we're from and we don't know what to say." A flat, empty look came over my mother's face. "I don't know what you're talking about," she said irritably. "Now go wash your hands. It's time for supper." Nicole and I walked away in disgust. Why was she so weird about this?

Several years later, my parents' small group from church was hosting an engagement party for me and my soon-to-be husband. All of my parents' closest friends were there, including Barb and Jim, a tall, stocky couple with florid faces and hearty laughs. They had been part of my parents' circle for decades, raised their kids together. I was picking up a nanaimo bar when I heard Jim's laugh boom out as he regaled the group with some story about his recent trip to the States. And then I heard the word. That vicious, snarling word I had always associated with the KKK and "the South," not my peaceful, multi-cultural Canada.

I dropped the nanaimo bar and turned around. There was a little pause as the word sank through the air; then the conversation flowed on, blithely skipping around the rock in its path. I was so shocked I wondered if I had even heard it. As I looked around the room, my eyes fell on my mother, sitting quietly in an armchair beside Jim, staring down at her interlocked fingers in her lap, the side lamp light gleaming against her pale cheek and straightened black hair. I never asked her about Guyana again.

There have been many times since that day when I have been at a work, family or social gathering and been horrified at the blatantly bigoted things people felt free to say. Yet I never spoke up. It seemed so inappropriate.

One day in a fit of passive-aggressive self-righteousness, I posted the following status on The Fake Book:

"Just because I'm not black or gay doesn't mean I'm not offended by your slurs. Keep your hate to yourselves."

Boy, people liked that. There were thumbs popping up all over the place. Except for one good friend, who sent me a private message a few days later asking if I was OK. "Why?" I asked. "You're posting strange messages on Facebook," she messaged back.

There are some things you just can't say to a friend:

"Yes, those jeans do make you look fat."
"Actually, it was your kid's fault."
"We don't visit you anymore because your husband is a racist."

I wondered if our friendship could withstand such an honest conversation.

But I never found out.

*   *   *   *   *
 
For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Katri gave me this prompt: But I never found out. I gave kgwaite this prompt: He was the best kind of coward.