Be you…

From the time we’re born, we’re taught how to be normal. We’re taught when to sleep and eat, what colours are appropriate for us to like, what shows to watch. Through peer pressure we’re taught what attitudes to have and who to befriend. We’re taught what to believe in, what is proper and what to ridicule.

We grow up and conformity continues. What conversations are appropriate to have with friends and family. What clothes we should wear. What to think, how to decorate, what activities we should enroll our children in.

If we succeed we’ll have a life that’s fairly similar to all our neighbours. But is that really succeeding?

The world doesn’t need a cookie cutter copy of your neighbour. The world needs you! Dare to be different. Dare to choose the clothes you like, even if they’re not the same as everyone else. Rescue worms and caterpillars from the sidewalk. Have the pet you want, whether it’s a mischief of rats, a fuzzy tarantula, or a snake. Take your cat for a walk. Just be you.

me-with-glitter-1I tried so hard to fit in, especially for my kids, although I never really managed. And I kept on trying until I was crushed under the weight of depression. As I slowly put my pieces back together, I asked myself what was wrong with wearing sparkles and glitter. What was wrong with sequins? I found hair and body glitter at Marshalls and just had to have it. I nearly put it back because it wasn’t normal. Then I thought to myself “why do I have to be normal?” and bought it anyway. I found floral garlands to wear at Icing and, once again, nearly didn’t buy them. But I did and love them. And I’m sure you’ll find your little pieces of joy too.

Hold your head up high and take pride in who you are and who you’re becoming. Take the time to enjoy the things you like, even if it makes you different than everyone else. You came into this world as an individual, don’t leave it as a carbon copy.

amazing

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Little bits of random…

As far as I can figure, it started with accepting a friend request from a vocal Mom of a trans youth, someone well known in the trans community. She seems to have been the catalyst of a deluge of friend requests. I went to bed and my friend request box was empty. I woke up to twenty requests and they just kept coming. I weeded out a few. One immediately sent me a diagram of various sex positions. She helpfully noted her favourite was #5. I introduced her to the block list. But most were trans women just looking for an additional friend. Thankfully the deluge seems to be nearly over. I woke up to only three today.

There’s 132 days left until I move to my brand new (literally) apartment. My Mom and I drove past there on Monday and the construction crew were spreading concrete on the walls. We tried out a Chinese restaurant… once we figured out where the door was LOL. We parked at the end of the lot farthest from the entrance and tried the locked service door first. The restaurant was pretty good. The buffet looked good but they didn’t have anything vegan so I had a preselected menu option that was vegetarian and they swapped one item out for me. The staff were friendly and the place was immaculate. I’d just been craving homestyle bean curd and that wasn’t an option.

We went on a walk along a nearby trail and it was gorgeous. Luckily it’s not very far from where I’m moving so I can go down there as I choose. There’s supposed to be a conservation area as well and hopefully we’ll find an entrance to it soon.

And now comes my hard decision. Do I have a nap now or go for a walk? I am so very tired, like I keep pausing to rest from typing. But I’ve only been up for two hours. If I nap I will take a walk after I wake up. I flipped a computerized coin and am going down for a nap. Edited to add, The nap was wonderful and I got to see a deer on my hike, which was all kinds of awesome.

Oh and I used some filters on a picture of me I liked and now I absolutely love it.

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The guests I’ll never miss…

It was twenty-six years ago and my now ex-husband J and I were engaged and anticipating our wedding in half a year. J was chatting on the phone with a high school friend of his. Then that friend got a call from another high school classmate and drew her into the conversation on 3-way. J was not impressed as he remembered the girl as someone who thrived on drama and created it wherever she went. But by the end of the call he’d decided the classmate had changed and exchanged phone numbers with her. Over the course of several months they chatted back and forth and eventually we decided to get together for a visit. Her kids were living one town over from us with her parents and she and her boyfriend visited them every weekend. They could come over for lunch. Tomorrow. Which seemed fast but we didn’t have anything going on so okay.

This was back in the early 90’s when internet was dial-up and hard to find and cellphones were as big as cordless phones and equally as rare. They didn’t know where we lived and Google Maps and GPS devices wouldn’t exist for another 15 years or so. We settled on having them call us from her parents’ house to get further directions and also to give us a head’s up that they were on their way.

J rolled out of bed the following morning and immediately walked to the window, this wasn’t usual for him, we knew what it looked like outside. He let the curtain fall and announced, “They’re here”. I laughed and told him to quit joking. I mean seriously, what would the chances be of him looking out the window just as they pulled up? His expression said he wasn’t joking.

He ran to the closet and pulled on the first pair of pants he found (thankfully his) then said “I’m not kidding. They’re walking across the street right now. I’ll try to stall them so you have time to get dressed.” And off he ran, pulling on his shirt as he barrelled across the living room and down the stairs.

I jumped out of bed and looked around in a panic. I was in my pjs with messy hair and unbrushed teeth, the bed was unmade, I had nothing ready, food-wise, at all. Of course it was only 8:30am and they were supposed to be coming for lunch so my lack of preparations made sense. I pulled up the sheets and got myself presentable as quickly as possible, finishing brushing my teeth as they were walking up the stairs.

Instead of saying “hi”, J’s friend announced she was tired and needed coffee then made a beeline for the kitchen. Her little girl raced right to the bookcase where she immediately started throwing books around the living room. The little boy ran for the furniture, where he alternated between trying to poke holes in the fabric so he could rip the stuffing out and jumping off the back of a chair, narrowly missing the coffee table. The boyfriend glanced around then scoffed, “This is it? Where’s the rest of your apartment?” I felt like making a snarky comment but there wasn’t a point. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise as he detailed how much bigger and better their place was.

J’s friend wandered back into the living room. She was wearing spandex pants, a ratty t-shirt with a huge hole over the nipple, and no bra. I spent our whole conversation alternating between staring at her feet and the wall behind her. She was heartbroken she hadn’t gotten us a wedding present but was great at doing nails and had all sorts of colours and rhinestones that she could use. Wouldn’t it be so cool? We’d have matching nails. Did she think she was attending the wedding? I looked at the kids and hoped not.

Before I could answer, the little boy announced that his sister had peed on one of our cushions… that she’d placed on a stack of my books. I raced to grab the books and asked the parents to deal with their little angels. Mom immediately remembered that her coffee wasn’t finished yet and scuttled off to the kitchen. Her boyfriend informed me it was his meditation time, then proceeded to sit cross legged in the corner with his fingers beside his head while he ohm-ed loudly. Both kids were screaming by this time and jumping off any furniture they could find onto yet more of my books.

I grabbed every book and shoved them into my room then announced I was making lunch. It was 9am. I’d had some ideas for our meal but those plans had revolved around me getting up and cooking for a few hours before our guests arrived. And, by this time, I didn’t want them in our house any longer than necessary. I pulled two big cans of soup out of the cupboard and chucked them in a pot then tossed together a salad. It didn’t seem like much of a meal so I pulled out one of those microwavable powdered sauce and cake mixes. Then I called the boyfriend and kids into the kitchen to eat.

While I was childless at the time, I wasn’t an idiot, and I’d placed the kids half full bowls of soup in the freezer to cool. The boyfriend walked in and immediately started complaining. He never bought canned foods, he made everything from scratch. He had at least twice as many spices as us and couldn’t imagine cooking with that few. And our lack of storage space blew his mind. He had no idea how we could function with so little space.

As I placed the bowls on the table, the boyfriend started telling us about how he’d been badly abused as a child and this had left him totally impervious to pain. Just then I put the girl’s tepid bowl of soup in front of him, he knocked it onto his lap and immediately started screaming about the pain and how badly it was burning him. Thankfully he shut up when I told him the bowl had been in the freezer for the past five minutes and the soup was almost cold. J was obviously trying to stifle laughter by this point.

The soup was finished fairly quickly and I started making dessert. Once again the boyfriend complained. His desserts were all (of course) from scratch and he hated packaged desserts. He hated it so much he inhaled his helping then took seconds before J and I had a chance to get our first serving, finishing the bowl.

Thankfully J came up with a reason for them to leave. He hated to be rude but we’d been invited to a (nonspecific) family function and we needed to leave now. It was great seeing them and, oops, don’t forget your purse or your son. We’d finished lunch and had them out the door before 10am.

That was the last time we ever spoke to them. My wedding nails ended up being a plain peach with nary a rhinestone in life. Somehow we muddled through.

An evening with friends…

The days are slowly ticking down to my summer move and I am anticipating a lot of things. One thing I’m going to miss though, is my biweekly karaoke dates with my friends A & S. We laugh, talk about our lives, and most of all sing. Trying new songs and sometimes failing spectacularly. I don’t recommend singing Hey Jude for example. Great song with 5 minutes of random syllables at the end.

One song I tried yesterday was Pentatonix’s Sing. I had no idea how hard it was to sing that song acapella. Wow! My impression of  them just soared and it was already high to begin with. I’m also determined to master that song. I’ll post it when I finally do.

Yesterday I videotaped myself singing Candle on the Water as sung by Helen Reddy. If you want to hear, please click on the picture 🙂

My weirdest boss ever…

It was 2004 and I’d just moved the kids and I to a high rise complex. Then I got a job at the doughnut store across the street. It was almost perfect. There was a daycare in our building so I just took the kids downstairs and walked across the street. I could be there in under five minutes. The only problem was my boss. He was beyond weird. One day, or even one moment, he’d be jubilant, praising me to the skies for something that was perfectly normal, like mopping a slushy floor.

“You’re my best employee,” he’d exclaim, “The best employee ever.”

Then he’d flip and he’d start literally offering me to his customers.

“She’s useless, absolutely useless! Take her… take her!!!”

The customers would shuffle awkwardly then hurry for the door as soon as their order was complete.

Then one day I came in for my shift and went to work at the cash only to be told he didn’t want me to work there, which was my usual spot. So I moved to the bagel counter and was told the same thing. So I asked where he wanted me to work.

“Nowhere,” he retorted, “you’re fired!”

A short while later I went in to get my last paycheque. I found it lying on the floor under the shelf they usually sat, marred with foot prints. He’d literally stomped all over it. He asked if I had a job yet, even though it had only been a week, and smiled when I told him no.

A year went by and I found work at a call centre representing a major internet provider. It wasn’t the best job but I was making $12/hr and was only a few months away from getting benefits. The kids and I were going out shopping one morning and just missed the bus. We could have gone home to wait but the kids wanted bagels so we walked across the street and went inside. The boss’s wife was behind the counter. She was quiet but polite, as usual. We ate our bagels then the kids asked for doughnuts. And that was when the boss came in.

He pushed his wife aside without a word and took our order. His face was like sunshine and his grin beamed.

“So, do you have a job yet?” he asked. His grin said he expected the answer to be no.

My smile widened until it was almost as big as his. “Yes, I have,” I replied and his smile disappeared.

“I’ve got a full time job with major internet service provider,” I continued. “I make $12 an hour and I’ll have benefits in a couple more months.”

He didn’t even say a word. He spun around and stalked into the back of the store. I figured he was going to his office. His wife took over the order and quickly completed it. Then she looked up and said, “Oh!” in surprise before running out of the store. I looked up too in order to see him in his partly backed out car while she urgently talked through the window.

He was so mad at me that I’d moved on in my life and got a better job than the one he’d offered that he had stormed out of the building. Even though he’d just arrived. Even though he hadn’t so much as said “hi” to his wife.

We walked out the door in silence then Kait looked up from her doughnut and said, “Mom, that man’s really weird!”

I laughed. “You don’t even know the half of it.”

Three more weeks…

In three more weeks I’ll be sitting in a hotel hot tub with my family, laughing and joking while we wait for our morning flight. Our bags will be packed and whatever’s forgotten… well it’ll be too late to pack it now.

Today I went to Value Village with friends of mine to look for resort clothes. I didn’t have much luck. Most of the shorts were gym shorts, which are fine for the gym but hardly useful to wear to lunch. Thankfully I found a pair of shorts, two short skirts, and one sundress.

clothes for vacation

Lara kept trying to eat the sequins

So much is uncertain in my life right now. The people at CMHA keep alternating between talking about the apartment like it’s certain to be mine then telling me it’s tentative. Getting a subsidy here is tentative too. Blackie eats well usually then goes for a day without eating. The one certainty I’ve got right now is this trip.

I am so looking forward to getting away on this trip. Swimming in the ocean, lying on a beach chair, enjoying a simple but yummy meal. Singing karaoke with my sisters. It’s coming. Slowly but surely it’s coming.

And, speaking of karaoke, this is one of the songs I’m practising for the vacation. As you can tell, there’s one line that needs a bit more practise.

Turn around bright eyes…

I gently stroked my hands down Blackie’s back, paying close attention to the prominence of her spine and how her hips sunk in. And I thought to myself, “Oh no, not again.”

Last year my clue had been how awkwardly she curled up to rest. I hadn’t noticed the weight loss until then. Black fluffy fur hides a multitude of sins and she prefers head scratches, not over all pets. This year was different. I knew the vet couldn’t offer much other than an appetite enhancing injection and a can of food Blackie hates. Plus I was still feeding the cats wet food that she liked.

I immediately separated a portion of each can for Blackie, microwaving it for 15 seconds so she could smell it better, adding a tiny bit of water so she could lap up more, and serving it in a different room. At the beginning she needed to be coaxed to eat. I had to carry her bowl and her to my room, often after searching out her hiding place. Then I’d have to follow her around the room with the bowl until she finally got tired of running and started to eat. Every time she startled she’d bolt from the bowl and needed to be coaxed back. And she startled at the smallest things, a slight foot movement could send her running.

She’s still skinny but she’s moved up to eating half a can now and is hurrying to the room to be fed. She’s also eating her whole meal, something she wasn’t doing even a few days ago. I’m so glad she’s turned around. She’s 12 years old but she’s still feisty and I’d like her to be here for years to come!

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The cutest excuses for an unmade bed ever!