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Settle in, children, for this is the story of Mom and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Day.
I should have said that was my day, but I might be overstating it a tad. If you will recall, my previous entry saw me warm and cozy at a friend’s house with a cat sleeping on my feet and a wonderful toasted Ottawa bagel on my plate. I was so loathe to motivate that I lingered over coffee, telling myself I had time and it was more important to visit with those I so rarely am able to see in person; I’m such a liar. To myself, anyway.
By the time I’d gotten up and dressed and packed and all the ‘thanks!’ and hugs out of the way and was on the road, I was a full half-hour behind. I stopped for gas because I firmly believed worrying about the gas gauge all the way home was going to do nothing positive for my blood pressure and hey, I was already late. My friend and I had quickly concocted a lame excuse about snow streamers on the way into Toronto, so I had that to fall back on if I were to get Mom’s patented Eyebrow of Shame®. As it turns out, I didn’t have to worry, but I’ll get to that later.
I put Pepe on cruise control (130 km/hr, oops) and relaxed. Two hours later, a personal record, I landed in to the photo store in the south end of town to drop off some photo equipment for J’s brother and headed home. I gathered together my chocolate cheesecake, cards, gifts and The Boy and switched vehicles so he could show off his new F150 to the Windsor relatives. We got there around 1:20, so hardly late at all. As we unpacked, my cousins drove in so we all shed out outer wear while clogging up the front foyer, laughing and chatting and finding out the newest on everyone’s lives. My youngest cousin finally proposed to Loraine (possibly the loveliest girl I know), so we’ve now got a circle around a Saturday in September. I’m so pleased; for a few years we were truly worried about how that boy would end up.
Now, we don’t launch into gifts until everyone is present, so that left my sister and her family. Late is their middle name and their logo and probably their One-Word Mission Statement. Most of the time it takes the heat off me, but on this one day of the year we like to keep to a pretty strict schedule since my relatives have to climb back in their vehicles at a sensible hour and drive back to Windsor so they will be in good shape for work the next day. An hour and a half later, I could see things weren’t going to happen that way this year.
When they finally showed up we were already finishing up the personal gift-giving, so I hope we made an impression. (She had her cell on her, so the least we could have gotten was an apologetic phone call).
The Yankee Swap was next and I have to say it was the most rousing game of steal-the-present I’ve witnessed in years. I think I’ve really managed to convince everyone not to be polite and to go for the present you want with everything you’ve got. We were downright un-Canadian for about half an hour there!
Mom got up after the game to baste the turkey. From my vantage point, I can see into the kitchen; what I saw puzzled me. Mom called Dad over and let him peek under the foil at the bird. The looks on their faces told me and my Spidey sense that something was afoul in my hometown.
The oven element was fried. The turkey was stuck at 155 F and I didn’t see a way that we were going to reach 180 without the aid of someone else’s oven or a large deep fryer. I felt so sorry for Mom, who was furiously paging through the Yellow Pages, trying to come up with a solution before anyone found out. The largest restaurant is about eight minutes away and they were kind enough to help us out and sell us 13 portions of dark and white turkey meat with stuffing to help round out our meal. Briefly, the idea of pizza was thrown around but the traditionalists in the bunch quashed that idea, but quickly; maybe next year.
So in the end we were all stuffed, gifted and talked-out; my tardiness was out-shadowed by the spectacular lateness of my sister so I avoided the eyebrow.
Who could ask for more?
Yesterday around noon, as I was returning from the Dean’s Office, I glanced out the large picture windows in the front foyer and noticed it had begun to snow. There was no wind, so it was fluttering down, all big flakes and white fluffy clouds; really, it was quite pretty.
Yet, everyone still goes mental.
Keep in mind, I live in what you would call a Zone 6 in plant hardiness terms. That’s approximately the -10C to 0C range, which doesn’t sound bad until you add in the Wind Chill Factor. This scientific calculation is the difference between racing to your car and spending five minutes shivering in your vehicle before you have recovered your faculties enough to proceed and feeling your underwear freeze to your ass the minute you hit the cold air. Still, the ‘warmer’ weather, while excellent for your various appendages and digits, produces larger amounts of precipitation; snow showers, flurries, snow drifts, streamers off the lake, freezing drizzle and the like.
You’d think the one or two neurons in everyone’s brain that flickers and pops and jumps to life when the eyes see snow would retain the sense of care and timidity that’s almost mandatory behind the wheel. Some of the buck-stupid asses I’ve encountered over the past week have left me shaking my fist at the sky and wondering if my blood pressure’s risen to dangerous levels yet.
As I packed up to go home last night I listened with a smile to all the talk of today possibly being a Snow Day. I work with some silly people, but at least if I can smile at their expense once a day it’s worth it to hang around a bit longer.
Yesterday I was struck down by some sort of terrorist virus, people. It was silent and deadly and hit me with extreme precision right between the eyes. It got so bad that after four hours of watching me curl up on the washroom floor because the trips back and forth to the toilet were wearing me out, The Boy suggested the Emergency Room. Even in the throes of my sickness when I was dehydrated and praying for death, I knew you should only go to an Ontario ER if you were, in fact, going to be expiring within the hour. Nice healthcare system, huh? Reminds me a little of that Python sketch, you know the one.
In an effort not to fall behind with Holidailies, I’m going to split up the following meme into two, since it’s long and I am still pondering the last couple of questions.
So, enjoy! Constructive comments are always welcome, but I’m ill, so keep the recriminations to yourselves, little ones. Many thanks.
Year of the first Christmas you can remember? 1971. I was running around like a whirling dervish, high on cheap sugar products and fell, bumpity-bumpity-bump down the kitchen stairs onto the concrete basement floor. You can still see the scar on my head where my hair didn’t grow back.
An early Christmas memory? Spirograph and Etch-a-Sketch in the same year! Score!
Ever in a holiday play? At church, every year.
Did you play a role? What was it? Usually a shepherd, never an angel. Probably a precursor of things to come…
Favorite holiday ornament (Past and present): When I was little I used to love putting up the cheesy, dime-store Santa heads that were a plastic core with some sort of flocked covering; they always made me smile. Today, I have a Boyd’s Bears collectible ornament featuring one of the bears perched precariously atop a round ornament that I love. It doesn’t go on the tree; it has its own free-standing hook. Very special.
Decoration you dread seeing every year: There are two houses three blocks down from us that hold this Wattage Competition each year. These wankers have no sense of style; their only thoughts are how many lights they can wedge in each square foot of yard/house/roof/garage and still be able to get in and out of their house during the month of December. The street clogs up with cars filled with sad people and their cameras and we have to alter our routes everywhere until January. God, I hate them.
Classic Christmas song you never get tired of: “Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano
Classic Christmas song you loathe: “The Little Drummer Boy” as sung by David Bowie and Bing Crosby
Modern Christmas song you never get tired of: “The Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues
Modern Christmas song you loathe: There are probably many, but I’ll be damned if I can think of one right now.
Naughty or Nice? Who, me? Nicely naughty. Isn’t that the way you like me?
If you have a Christmas tree, real or artificial? Real. I like my trees like I like my cream. If you want to prop up a metal stand covered in shredded garbage bags, be my guest.
Any holiday traditions unique to your family you’d like to share? Not unique, but my Mom’s side of the family goes mental over the Yankee Swap. I’m so glad I suggested it!
If you were an elf what would your elf name be? Linwë Celebrindal
Favorite Christmas Movie: The Christmas Story of course. Brilliant.
I think it’s time to talk again about resolutions. Basically, it’s time to talk about how much I detest them and don’t like to make them because when I then turn around and break them two weeks into January, I only feel like a big ol’ flake.
The main one is so cliché I hesitate to mention it here: losing some of my considerable body weight. I have had no children or extended illnesses or disabilities so I really have no excuse other than my love of hedonism and gluttony and my goal of peacefully passing away due to an overdose of a béchamel Gruyere sauce.
My uncle impressed upon me at an early age the importance of taking your time in life and enjoying the little things. We took trips to Union Station, the planetarium and Casa Loma to broaden my young horizons, we had ‘nibbles’ at 5:00 p.m., followed by a full dinner at 8:00 and not one birthday went by without my being taken to an adult restaurant and having something totally foreign ordered for me. Unlike my sister, I was more than willing to sample octopus, lamb with mint sauce, oysters on the half shell and caviar. I aped his behaviors and learned to place my (linen) napkin with a flourish, to use a myriad of utensils properly and in the correct order and later, to tip accordingly. To this day I tip accordingly, not willy-nilly. My Mom suspects I have become a snob, but I think you have to actually be wealthy for that name to stick. When you’re ghetto poor, it’s more like ‘high falutin’.
Ultimately, I feel I was raised in my upper-middle income family to savour the finer things in life, however few and far between they made themselves available. And I do. Even if the finer things in life (to me) consist of a bubble tea with perfectly al dente pearls, good quality semi precious gemstones and a Half Day with my friend and aesthetician Dale who gives the best OPI mani/pedi in this hemisphere.
All this appreciation has, I fear, resulted in me growing much like the Grinch’s heart. Three sizes is much too much when fitting into pants is involved, so the only alternative I can see is the actual bringing into service of my elliptical machine. I don’t look forward to it, as I’m told I should. I don’t experience those feelings of euphoria as the adrenaline kicks in and I don’t enjoy the burning sensation over my body as I heat up to much the same temperature as the surface of the sun. Possibly, POSSIBLY, I could learn to tolerate it if The Boy would hook up the television and the dvd machine so I could watch Gilmore girls or Buffy and distract myself, but that’s probably a long shot.
Still, I may need to take some sort of action; listening to my corduroys go zip-zop-zip-zop-zip-zop as I headed down the hall to my office this morning was most disconcerting indeed.
I am so freakin’ tired.
I know, you’re sitting out there thinking, “Lawdy be, if I have to listen to another person moan and complain about there not being enough days in December or enough hours in the day I may just go postal and deliver you and your whining into the depths of HELL.”
The truth is I’ve fallen into the clutches of insomnia and I cannot seem to wriggle my way out. I’ve tried altering my bedtimes, warm milk (ugh), bananas, exercise (UGH)….nothing. It’s the same with hiccups, I’ve found. I have to put aside my raging frustration with being unable to regulate my body and its functions. I have to honestly forget my ailment in order for it to disappear, and when I say honestly I cannot trick the ol’ melon like I can everyone else, more’s the pity.
I’m really getting to hate the look of my alarm clock. Mainly because the view I get is when it’s reading 3:58, 4:04, 4:22, etc. And the dot? The dot, my friends, is nowhere to be found. These are not post meridiem times I’m rhyming off, oh no; they are middle of the blessed night, pitch dark, even the dogs are snoring early morning hours. I mean, even the paper boy’s alarm clock has not gone off yet; I suspect he has yet to hear the soft whump! of his day’s allotment of news, sports and entertainment land on the snow-covered stoop.
There are two ways I can handle it when my eyes pop open and I realize I’ve foiled yet another day for myself: One, lay there, stubbornly, in the dark, waiting for sleep to revisit me and drive the swarm of bees from my ears so the buzzing of sleep-deprivation stops or two, get up, start the day and try to squeeze as much constructive time out of it as I possibly can before I hit the inevitable wall, usually in this case much, much earlier than 3:00 (p.m.). Nine times out of ten I opt for Number Two, which brings us to last night, The Night the Lights Went Out in My Mind. I was home and asleep on the chesterfield before 7:15 and man, did I need that sleep. I have half a mind to lather, rinse and repeat again tonight. I have so much to do before the 25th that I feel guilty when I’m not stuffing every conscious moment full of doing, but it would seem to be crystal clear that I’m simply not built that way.
My wish . . . a selfish wish indeed,
Is to be worthy of your love.
My fondest wish . . . long held . . .
Is for you to know my heart.
For you to hear the words I fail to utter
In deference to a day long past
And a decision made binding.
For you to feel my love,
Though you may never feel my arms.
Can you see the truth in this?
I wish for us a single day,
Perhaps a day unending,
When all else fair or foul or fey,
Would be but a shadow fading.
And, save for the influence we exercise,
All outside would hold no sway.
I wish for you the enduring wonder,
The thrill of arriving to begin again.
The joy of beginning and living long
To the rhythms of you own making.
My fondest wish . . . indeed my selfish wish
Is to be worthy of your love.
Everyone who lives in the northern climes of this world should stop and take a moment at least once quarterly to appreciate the beauty of the winter season. This can be as fleeting as a pause at the mailbox or as all-encompassing as a sleigh ride, a hike or invigorating trips down a cross country ski trail. For as much as we must endure all that which is frozen and barren and treacherous, it’s worth it every once in a while to consider the engineering marvel that is a single snowflake.
Lately, life has been whizzing by at such a rate I find myself constantly amazed at what the calendar reads. Or the clock, for that matter. I don’t believe I am of the age where I’m losing track already and so I must give some thought as to how to stop the madness. Job One has to be, “Learn to Say No”. No to favours, no to craft shows, no to cookie exchanges and no to anything that doesn’t allow me to get through a day without running the entire time like OJ through the airport.
Secondly, I have to work on scheduling my after-work time so as to be infinitely more efficient. My partial To Do lists and scraps of notes here and there do not translate to a comprehensive list in my brain, and for that I continue to pay dearly. Then, of course, in this weather, once I get home and feed the puppies and myself, the last thing I want to do is venture out again in the dark to do errands. It’s way too easy to snuggle up on the chesterfield under my fleece throw and tell myself tales of how I’ll have all sorts of time tomorrow and don’t worry about it and then I am able to sleep the sleep of the contented and warm. If I had a dime for every time that manner of thinking has turned around and bitten me in the ass, I would be a wealthy woman.
And last, but certainly not least, I must stop listening to the malignant little bastard voice in my head. The voice seeks to get me in trouble and to further damage my tenuous self esteem. It has some unbeknownst grudge against me and has had since the early eighties. I cannot block it out and I cannot evict it and it knows the location of each and every one of my hot buttons and just how to push them. It’s maddening and increases my anxiety and my blood pressure and reminds me all over again how I need to re-center my chi and take a chill pill and RELAX. Possibly I should see a shrink and have the cancerous beastie exorcised, but honestly, the last thing I want to do is see a head doctor. Maybe I’ll tap the minds of others who have reclined on other couches and see what sort of info I can gather. Failing that, I might skulk around the Self Help section of the local Chapters and see what I can glean from the books with the catchy titles and the smarmy looking ‘doctors’ leaning against their book’s edge.
Hopefully my salvation lies in the complexity of one tiny snowflake; everything else sounds like too much work.
Today is the day of the million man march in my head.
My office is directly beside the shaft of an elevator currently in the midst of some very necessary maintenance. I don’t really want to know the specifics because I’ve ridden that elevator a few times. Frankly, the nightmares I already have in my arsenal are bad enough; I don’t need to add some sort of vivid Speed-esque montage.
The last few days have been filled with the nice men from Otis cordoning off the area and warning of the disruption to come. Apparently, it’s going to take most of the month to get their work done. From what I’ve heard today, I’m headed for committal by the time the office closes on December 23.
Jackhammers are not my friend, especially on days when I feel I could easily be prone to a migraine. Thanks be, today is not one of those days. And it’s not like the constant rat-a-tat-tat is the annoying part, although it’s up there for sure. It’s the vibration through the wall and me having no escape that’s driving me to distraction.
From what I understand, the shelf life of a jackhammer operator is short; hearing damage and white finger syndrome or some such can set in pretty quickly. This is why it’s good that they are able to charge the big bucks for their time. I cannot imagine spending quality close-up time with one of those beasts, especially in an enclosed space like an elevator shaft. I’d rather spend the morning cutting little slices into my gums with unwaxed dental floss.
Those colleagues who live in the fairy tale land of Unicorns and Rainbows are engaged in rampant speculation that The Dean might allow us to go early today due to the current decibel level. They’re so cute.
Me, I’m just going to turn up the volume on my iPod Michaela and tune out, treating it like I do when a certain leader of a certain nation to the south speaks.
(Currently listening to: Morris Day and The Time – The Bird).
Well, here we are then. Another year of Holidailies. Welcome!
If I recall correctly, this will be my third year of participation, and after watching some of my friends get stuck in to NaNoWriMo, I figure the simple act of updating daily will be a snap. I certainly hope you all want to hear about my holiday card lists, or my grocery lists or the delectable goodies I plan to make for all the functions to which The Boy and I are invited.
Honestly, I have noticed a shift in my feelings toward the ‘holiday season’ over the past couple of years. Where once I yearned to be the Belle of the Winter Ball, attending parties and spreading yuletide joy every single day of the month of December, I find now I am happier staying in and watching the lights twinkle on the top of the entertainment armoire. Each year, I set up quite an elaborate gathering of angels, nutcracker soldiers at strict attention, Boyd’s Bears collectible ornaments among garland and clear lights and small silk poinsettias. It might be the one single thing aside from my beautiful, beautiful tree that brings me the most joy each year.
Now, I’ll tell you what you’re wondering. You’re wondering why I wouldn’t place people above things when I speak of holiday joy. (And that’s another thing: I detest that I have been taught to feel compelled to say ‘holiday’ in place of Christmas all the live long day. Before it all went pear-shaped I was a Christian and I still choose to celebrate Christmas and I have just as much right to say that word as you do to dance around your Festivus pole, rhyming off your list of grievances. Bloody hell, there are more important things to worry about, people.) I derive my greatest joy from things I’ve made or things that nature has made. A tree is simply a tree; it will not let you down or pull some passive-aggressive shite on you when you least expect it.
The one thing that continues to burn bright within me is my dependence on tradition. Certain things must be done at certain times and The Boy doesn’t even attempt to sway me on these things each year because it’s a waste of effort. My Mom advised him on how to proceed with me years ago and it was one of the few times he truly understood the gravity of the situation and didn’t think he knew better.
Other than that, for Christmas this year I believe I’m turning into my Mother. What I really wanted was a dvd recorder.