How the Blog Broad Steals a Little Christmas

So my partner “C” has never seen the original 1966 How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  First, how one goes 35 years without ever having experienced this animated Holiday masterpiece is beyond me.  Secondly, how old AM I?  I’ve literally watched it every single year of my TV watching life.  When I was young, it got marked on the calendar when it would air so I wouldn’t miss it.  It just completes Christmas for me annually.  I still love cartoons, I make no apologies.  I think if I had kids no one would even question it but I can’t play the it’s for my kid card.

For your viewing pleasure:

Infact, earlier today while I was catching up on my favorite bloggers, I came across a post by one of favorites A Fractured Faith.  It’s a husband and wife team.  They’re great and a must follow.  Their 11 year old daughter, an aspiring blogger herself, shared her report on C.S Lewis and I was suddenly reminded me of how much I enjoyed the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a kid.  Whenever the 1979 animated version aired, I HAD to watch it.  I did a quick search on YouTube and there it was.  I watched it while doing laundry.

Other old Christmas cartoon favorites for me include A Garfield Christmas Special (which we plan on watching next); A Charlie Brown Christmas, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Frosty the Snowman and the 1964 stop motion animated Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  

Even though I’m all B’ah Humbug this year, I still enjoy watching my old Christmas favorites, not just limited to cartoons.  My all time favorite Christmas movie is A Christmas Story, followed closely by National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.  I watch these every year.

Be honest, you still like cartoons don’t you?

What are some of your favorite Christmas movies?


Live Humbly, Be Charitable, Live Graciously,

Sam

Substitute Gifts and Crying 8 Year Olds

My parents (now divorced) were not wealthy by any means.  I grew up in a trailer on a plot of land owned by my father’s side of the family.  My father, an auto mechanic, earned a less than modest wage and my mother was a homemaker and stay at home Mom.  I know now that she suffered from anxiety and crippling depression, but back then I just remember her reading a lot of books.  Come Christmas time, the books would be set aside for holiday baking and decorating and the wrapping of the gifts.

I wasn’t much of a snooper because I enjoyed the surprise.  I’ve always been a lousy liar so trying to feign surprise or gratitude was beyond my kid skills.  Honesty is the best policy, an adage I still believe in.

Another reason acting surprised was a challenge was because my parents… well, my mother, I mean let’s be honest, my father NEVER shops for other people.  He gets everyone around him to shop for him so he never has to set foot in a store OR you just get some crumpled twenties in a card.  My mother was solely responsible for making my Christmas a success.  The only problems were that a) She had extreme anxiety and HATED shopping or going out in public in general and b) She only had the money my father gave her to buy my presents.

Crack whore BarbieI first learned my mother was a Substitute gifter when I asked for my first real Barbie at age 5.  All I had were those flimsy soft plastic dolls that kind of resembled Barbies but clearly weren’t.  They were like Barbie’s ugly cousin from the valley.  Remember those?  Somebody would squeeze a leg and that was it, the leg would stay that way like some kind of deflated sucked in, fucked up amputee.  I never had a Ken doll either.   My parents seemed to think that Ken would be anatomically correct and that was something I didn’t need to see.  a) I’m gay.  That would NOT have been a problem. b) Most people realize that Barbie and Ken dolls do not have genitalia.  They just have bumps and lines where genitalia should be.  I had a Tony Doll.  Tony’s whole body was made of that crappy collapsible plastic that the valley whore “Barbies” are made from.  My cousin used to squeeze his head until it flattened out and stayed that way.  Eventually, Tony came apart at the waist so Barbies would fight over who would date Torso Tony, complete with head, and who would date Legs Tony ultimately making him 2 separate entities.  Fuck Tony.

Then I wanted the Barbie camper.  Boy for a lesbian, you sure liked Barbies.  Yes.  Yes I did.  I made up Soap Opera like stories that sometimes played out for days just like in my mom’s Soaps.  One Barbie would be gay, another would kill herself over a lost child or ruined career.  Tony would come apart and love 2 women at the same time.  I was a little dramatic, and again, I watched my mother’s Soaps a little too frequently.

Barbie Camper 70s

When Christmas arrived that year I was beyond stoked!  Oh man I wanted that camper complete with tiny barbecue and little steaks and a picnic table and chairs and a shower inside..  It was SOOO COOOOL.  It was all I talked about for months.  Christmas day came, I opened the very last present with all my hopes tied in that bow I carefully (my mother reused the bows) removed and placed aside.  The box didn’t seem big enough though.  Maybe it has to be put together I wishfully thought to myself secretly praying.  Here it comes….  It was a horse.  The Barbie horse.  Not the cool Palomino with the jointed legs either.  Just like, a plastic horse statue of sorts .. I did not ask for this horse.  Why Mom?  That year, my cousin got the Barbie camper.  I cried in my bedroom when I got home from visiting her.

The next painful lesson I learned was when I asked for the Lego Space set.  I’ve always been in to space, astronomy, Star Trek and Lego so the Space Set looked like it was for me and the commercials were awesome!  I planted my seeds and eagerly awaited the 25th.

80s Lego Space Set

Unwrapping all my gifts, I saw no Lego set.  There was one more.  A huge heavy box.  Oh Snap!  This must be it.  Tearing back the paper… I saw…  horses.  More fucking horses!  It was a Loc Blocs Medieval Castle.  Jesus, they didn’t even get the time frame right!  Going back in to history when I wanted to go where no woman has gone before.  I couldn’t hide my disdain.  “But.. this isn’t Lego Space at all..”  My mother assured me that this had way more pieces and would be more fun.  “Look, it has a drawbridge“, she persisted.  I didn’t care about the drawbridge, the smug little faces on the Loc Blocs knights’ stupid faces.  I wanted to build a damn space ship.

I came home the first day back to school after Christmas vacation to find my Loc Blocs castle fully assembled, working drawbridge and all, and my parents tipsy.  To this day, I’m not crazy about horses.

Do you give your kids substitute gifts?  Don’t you love your kids?  Why would you do that to them?  Did you get substitutes as a kid?  #KidsRemember

 

Live Humbly, Be Charitable, Live Graciously,

Sam

 

Images

Barbie Camper  http://mumsgrapevine.com.au/2014/01/20-perfect-nostalgic-toys_80s-toys_90s-toys/

Crack whore Barbie-ish  https://www.pinterest.ca/terribunz/barbie-bashin/?lp=true

Lego Space  http://www.sega-16.com/forum/showthread.php?8236-LEGO-Classic-Space-(1980s)-Does-anyone-remember-this-specific-LEGO-piece

New Traditions and Eating Your Face Off (Blogmas #1)

So I see that people are well in to their Blogmas traditions of writing Christmas inspired posts each day leading up to Christmas.  

I’m not going to give you my favorite cookie recipes, because I don’t have any.  I’m not going to tell you the best places to go or shop because, I’m poor.  I don’t Christmas shop because I can’t Christmas shop.  This is the third year in a row I can’t shop.  I only earn a little bit of money each month from blogging and doing my neighbor’s laundry.  It doesn’t equate to much.

Why don’t you make something for Christmas?  Well, you see I am short materials to do any of the crafts I typically do.  I need yarn (and frankly I am not a gifted knitter), I need paints and canvases as I am out of all those.  I don’t have ink in my printer, so homemade cards are out, I don’t have any construction paper either so.. Crafts are out.

To be honest, I kind of hate Christmas now.  I have no contact with my family.  They don’t want to see me.  My illness has inconvenienced them where I owe them money for an old loan.  They don’t even believe I have an illness, I’m simply lazy.  I have a lot of resentment towards my family now.  I don’t care if see them anymore.  To lose control over your body at a fairly young age and NOT have any support, love or compassion from your parents is miserably lonely and I’m so angry at them all (my parents are divorced and remarried so I have 4) for never being there for me.  Ever.  Any time in my life I have needed help from my parents, they’ve ignored me.  Just like when I lived with my father growing up, he ignored me.  I felt invisible.  If I cried in my bedroom- he simply turned the volume up on the TV.  I took myself to the hospital and paid for my own medications and pads.  He wouldn’t even buy me pads.

My mother hasn’t spoken to me in years banning me from ever calling her house.  I guess I was a little too happy the last time I called, it seemed to offend them somehow.  Oh right, they’re negative assholes.  All of my parents are negative narcissistic Nellies.  

The new Christmas tradition with my partner includes us travelling via ferry to Nova Scotia and driving a couple of hours to her family home to spend Christmas with them.  Her mom always has a beautifully decorated tree that I sit and admire.  We get together Christmas morning and open gifts with the little nieces, a.k.a the cutest little girls in the world.  Watching their excitement as they tear open presents is pretty adorable.

Everyone down home makes fantastic foods and sweets.  My sister in law makes this to die for lobster dip that really is a gift in itself.   I can almost taste that velvety creamy delectable dip piled high on a salty ripple potato chip.  I also really look forward to my mother in law’s cooking, particularly her stuffing.  The brother in law is a lobsterman so there’s often fresh lobster which was always a tradition for my father as well.  Lobster for Christmas Eve.  I LOVE SEAFOOD.  I usually try to fill up on as much as I can we go back to Nova Scotia. 

Yeah, so I guess Christmas is about food to me now. 

And the Doctor Who Christmas episode of course.  That’s a tradition.

I love homemade cookies, shortbread, gingerbread, fruitcake, squares, pie, and cake.  I love hors d’oeuves and finger foods.  I love turkey dinner and more importantly, the Boxing Day Turkey sandwich.  This is a sandwich that combines leftover turkey, gravy, dressing, and cranberry sauce (homemade not canned) in to a sandwich that I literally think of ALL year long.  I begin anticipating it heavily as I help package up Christmas dinner and do the dishes.  You think I’m helping, but I’m really surveying what’s remaining for tomorrow’s sandwich rubbing my hands eagerly together like some kind of holiday sandwich fiend.  

So even though I don’t spend the holidays with my family, I am grateful for my partner’s family.  Who really are better people anyway.  I just wish I could buy presents for people.  The fun part of Christmas is giving people gifts.  Not getting but giving.  I usually get really stoked when I have found the perfect gift for someone, it just makes you feel good.

We don’t have a tree in our apartment although we would love one.  There isn’t much room for one and we really don’t have the money to buy a tree, the lights and ornaments and stuff so it doesn’t really feel like Christmas for us until a couple of days before when we arrive at her mother’s house.  It won’t feel like Christmas for a while yet.

The Blog Broad Blogmas
My beautiful fiancée, the Blog Broad & Lucy the dog

What are your traditions?  Are you participating in Blogmas this year?


Live Humbly, Be Charitable, Live Graciously,

Sam

I Can’t Throw it Away, These Things are Valuable to Some People…

mangrove tree  Trying to pull it together after a week of pure exhaustion.  I have Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis everywhere and degenerative disc disease so I have bouts of pain and exhaustion where I fluctuate from suffering from insomnia to chronic fatigue.  I spent the evenings unable to sleep and having to nap in the afternoons.  My brain has been so foggy.  I’m somewhere in that space between not really awake but not exactly asleep but walking around. Miraculously.   Yesterday I went out with 2 different shoes on and I didn’t even notice.  Everything I eat makes me feel like I’m going to be sick.  It’s like having the flu.  I woke up this morning completely soaked.  Had to change and crawl back into bed.  I barely remember because I was still partially asleep.  I couldn’t wake up and get up so I slept.  I slept until 11am.  What woke me was another nightmare.

 

I usually dream the same things over and over again.  The world outside is chaos.  Something has happened.  Something from the skies.  We’re always watching the skies.  People are travelling in small groups of people trying to stay safe and unnoticed.  There’s no food, and there is destruction and devastated buildings everywhere.  We have to to stay quiet and unnoticed because if they hear us, they will take us.  I don’t know who they are.  I never see because I usually wake myself  up screaming.  My dreams are terrifying and violent.   I’ve had dreams similar to this for most of my life.  I have had PTSD for most of my life.  Another way I wake up is I’m yelling at my parents.  Usually my father.  We fell out a couple of years ago over money.  He had co signed a line of credit for me in 2007 to go back to school.  I went back to get certified in Fitness Instruction, Personal Training and Nutrition and Wellness.  That was going to be my career and I was really good at it.  Then I got sick.  I had to have emergency surgery one night from endometriosis complications.  I was off work for a while but I was unable to ever fully return to my normal capacity.  Over time my Fibro came back full swing with new symptoms added.  Arthritis became crippling some days.  I missed time from work and kept getting fired from job after job.  The stress of not being able to eat or pay rent or take care of everything while being sick and getting sicker was awful.  Again.. No support or caring from my father or stepmother.  I was put off work years ago because of illness.  My stepmother thinks I’m lazy and so does my father.  Kept telling my to get my shit together .  I’m sick not lazy.  They don’t understand that I am actually ill.  So when I was unable to keep up the payments on this line of credit, my father cut me out.  He told me he did not want to see my face.   That was almost 2 years ago now.  My mother and I haven’t spoke in five years or so.  She has a lot of health problems as well, in fact we share many of those- thanks DNA, but I was told by my stepfather years ago that I wasn’t to call there anymore.  If I had something to say, to put it in an email.  I know my mother has moments that she could speak to me for five minutes.  She chooses not to.  She’s chosen not to since I was 26.  I had a rocky relationship with my mother until about 12 where we became friends.  I say friends because she was never consistently in my life like a mother should be.  My father just ignored me but she would be in and out like the seasons.  In while my stepfather was away at sea and she was lonely, out once he retired.  

 

All I’ve ever wanted is to feel loved by my parents and to feel close, but instead I felt like an old antique piece of furniture being passed back and forth.  “Well I don’t want it right now, so I’ll just store it in the attic in case I need it for something, I mean, I can’t throw it out, these things are valuable to some people.”  I guess not everyone gets the supportive advice, the encouragement, the hugs, the “I love yous” , the birthday cakes, the gifts, the help, the empathy, the compassion.  I’ve been pretty much on my own since 13 with the occasional help from them of say groceries for my birthday.  I’ve lived with my father but I was ignored.  Like not even told there was dinner ready ignored.  No one noticed my good grades, no one noticed how hard I was working at university, or the fact that I never asked them for anything.  Ever. (Except for that line of credit in 2007) I overdosed at 18 on Valium and slept in my bedroom for two days and no one noticed.  When I got married in 2011, my mother and stepfather didn’t attend my wedding, nor did I receive a card or a present.  I noticed my youngest step brother got married this past month, my invitation seemingly lost in the mail.  My stepfather made it to his wedding I learned.  My stepfather.  He taught me some things and helped me different times but he was more of the same.  There, then not there, then don’t call me.  

 

All this stuff seems to come up when I go through a flare.  I guess it’s because it’s when I feel most vulnerable.  I so wish I could hear an encouraging “I love you” or a hug or “I’m sorry that you’re having these problems, can we help?”  I hear my partner talking to her mom and sister on the phone and there’s always this little piece of me that breaks a little inside.

 

My parents are getting older, approaching their seventies and I know that things will never be resolved with us.  The chaos I grew up in, the things that happened to me and not having their help, their protection, their guidance or love.  Even my health needs went unmet which in turn has complicated my health now.  In today’s world, I would have been removed from that home.  I saw things and knew things children should never know or be exposed to.  Nothing…  There will never be anything different with them.   

 

Seeing how difficult it is to attain mental health help in addition to the family doctor I am waiting for, 2 years now.  I felt like the only means available to me is to write about it.  I can’t afford the treatments that many people have access to and I have no health coverage.  The only thing I have is my writing.  I have hesitated to really put things out there for a long time.  I already got yelled at by my brother because of “how I write about our parents” he is my step mother’s son from her previous marriage.  Her only child.  He got taken care of well.  Very well.  I on the other hand was not her problem.  He doesn’t realize that despite us living under the same roof for 6 years we have lived very different lives.  

 

My family doesn’t care about me.  I have one cousin that I wish lived closer but I even tend to keep her at arm’s length because I don’t trust she’ll stay in my life either.  My now ex wife cheated on me and we divorced in 2014 so yeah, now I have some serious abandonment issues and PTSD and chronic pain and poverty and bad credit and all the other shit that comes with being chronically ill.

 

I prefer for people to think of me as witty and happy and clever so I tend to only write when I’m feeling upbeat but that isn’t realistic.  Life isn’t always like that.  Sometimes, life is just shit.  

 

I hope I feel better tomorrow.

 

Live Humbly, Be Charitable, Live Graciously,

 

Image

“Mangrove Trees” by 9comeback  www.freedigitalphotos.net 

 

Another Night, Another Dreamish Sleep

A guest blog post by Ocean Hayward

 

Anxiety

Here I am, up again. I start off well- I  doze off into dreamland and then am awakened from my slumber (usually because I need to urinate); then it starts. I try to go back to sleep, but I worry.  I worry that I won’t be able to get back to sleep. Then I worry that I’ll be tired in the morning because I didn’t sleep. And then I worry about all of the things I didn’t manage to get done and the things I need to do. And the worry goes on, and on and on (till the breaka-breaka dawn, yo!)

 

Anxiety.

 

So this morning I awoke, and I started thinking about my anxiety, and the fact that I have always had it. Or did I?  When did I start feeling anxiety all the time? Was it, in fact, always a part of my life?

 

I tried to remember the first time I felt really anxious. My first thought was that it was my very first day of school (which is ironic because I am a teacher now and tomorrow… no, technically now, today is my first day of school for this year.) So my first day of grade primary, I took the bus by myself and got to the school. All the kids at the elementary school were playing in the school yard. I remember sitting on a bench in front of the school by myself. Worried. Worried because I didn’t know where I was supposed to go.

 

Before the summer, they had given us an orientation to grade primary and I went to my mom to see the school and all of that. But I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to do or where I was supposed to go. Did they even tell me? Then the bell rang for the instructional day to start, and I sat on the bench and cried. I didn’t know what to do. A little girl saw me outside by myself, sobbing. She was arriving on a late bus. She asked me what was wrong. I replied that I didn’t know what I was supposed to do or where my class was. She said, “Maybe you’re in my class.”

 

Now, you may be thinking this is a happy story about how I made a new best friend who helped me find my way on my first day of school. Let me stop you. She did not become my best friend. In fact, I never made any real friends until I myself was in grade one. But that is another story and does not relate to my main point here and the epiphany I made this morning in my sleep-less state. Or maybe it’s not an epiphany at all. Maybe it’s just the ramblings of an extremely over-tired, worried, crazy teacher lady.

 

The kind little girl led me to her classroom. I arrived to a class full of strange faces. The girl told the teacher my situation and the teacher asked me my name. “No,” the teacher said. “You’re not in this class. This is grade one,” and she asked the other little girl to take me down the hall to the grade primary classroom.

 

I thought about this moment in my life- yes, I thought- it was all the people and commotion, this was the defining moment of when my anxiety started. Or was it?

 

It wasn’t.

 

I thought about the time my mother and I went to visit my Great-Aunt Evelyn and Great-Uncle Allison. (Yes, Allison is a man’s name too. Men with typically female names are prevalent in my family- my grandfather’s name was Beverly and I have other family members named Laurie.) Anyway, I was playing on the floor next to the Grandfather Clock in their sitting room. I guess I must have been too loud or something because I remember my mother snapping at me, “Children should be seen, not heard.” After that, I always worried about being too loud when we went visiting.

But no, that wasn’t the first time I felt anxiety. My mother was always yelling at me. “Clean up your toys” or “It’s time for bed” or “Get ready to go.” It was my mother yelling at me all the time that really triggered my anxiety. It wasn’t her fault though. My mother always acted like a bitch, but she really wasn’t. She would yell at me out of frustration. You see, she would ask me to do things, but I would be zoned out in my own little world of thoughts, play or television. As a teacher, I totally understand her frustration- you ask a child to do something again and again and again and they don’t listen. It makes total sense that she would eventually explode into a tirade of yelling and crazy bitchiness. In fact, I had such a problem with listening to both my mother and the teachers at school, in addition to a speech disability, that in grade primary I was sent to have my hearing checked. The result: I have perfect hearing. Not so great at listening.

 

This may be all coming together for you by now. Or maybe not. I’ll spell it out for you. I have recently been diagnosed with Adult ADHD. All of a sudden, my entire life makes sense.

 

Being diagnosed was a struggle. Throughout my teaching education and career, I learned a lot about ADHD and I suspected I may have it. Zoning out, daydreaming, messy, hyper… Of course, when I was growing up, ADHD wasn’t a thing. Or if it was, it wasn’t well known. But when I was sent to see a psychiatrist due to anxiety attacks, I asked if he could test me for ADHD. His response was that since I was a teacher and had been successful at life, I couldn’t possibly have ADHD. But he didn’t know my history, and how could he? Psychiatrists don’t have the time to learn our histories in this age of information overload, unequal work-life balances, and Donald Trump where everyone has some kind of mental illness. (Really, it should be called societal illness since we seem to be creating a lot of this madness ourselves!)

 

If he knew my history, he would know everything I’ve just explained to you. He would also know that throughout school, my assignments were often incomplete and late. He would also know that I struggled with attendance and drinking too much during my early university years and actually flunked out. I returned later, and turned that anxiety into motivation.

 

So this morning I had an epiphany. Which came first? The chicken or the egg, the ADHD or the anxiety. They are connected, you see. But if I had to articulate what came first, I think it is the ADHD. You see when you are constantly living within your own mind, you miss things. A LOT OF THINGS. Instructions, conversations, deadlines, places where you put your things. You miss out on so many things because of your inability to focus, and then comes the anxiety. What was I supposed to do and how was I supposed to do it? How come I can’t remember that my husband told me about Trump watching the solar eclipse when we had an entire conversation about it? (He thinks it was a conversation only because I nodded and said yes and no to make it appear that I was listening. When you have ADHD, you become an expert at faking attention.) When are those grades due again? Where did I put the keys? Where did I put the keys?

 

Then there is the hyperactivity aspect. I can do everything! I’ll volunteer to do this or that, because I always want to be busy. I will have these amazing, wonderful ideas and start planning something, then be overwhelmed by the amount of detail, effort and organization involved. This leads to procrastination due to the overwhelming workload I’ve created for myself. Then things either get done in a sloppy way or don’t get done at all because people with ADHD take on too many tasks due to our constant need for mental stimulation.

 

And so here is the equation as I see it: an inability to focus + a need to be active= ANXIETY. That is my epiphany in the early morning hours of dreamlessness.

 

Proof positive: in the time that I started writing this piece, I started making oatmeal for breakfast and got focused on writing, forgetting about the oatmeal cooking on the stove. Yummy, burnt oatmeal for breakfast. Just another day in the life of a person with ADHD.

 

Did I mention I ran out of my ADHD meds? It’s going to be a great day of chaos- I hope I can find my classroom.

~ Ocean

Image

“Thoughtful Young Woman Sitting on Red Sofa” by Ambro  www.freedigitalphotos.net

Summer Road Trips and the Perfect Place “To Go”

A guest blog post by Ocean Hayward

Road trip

It’s summer road trip season, and I’ve been partaking all summer long so far.  My husband and I have been driving back and forth around the Maritimes visiting friends and family.  Yes, summer road trips- those long trips in the car filled with highways lined with nothing but trees for miles and miles, rest-stops, gas stations, fast food and sitting in the same position for hours on end, squirming around in the seat trying to find that sweet spot where your legs, neck and back don’t ache.  And, of course, holding in your business until the next rest-stop or exit.

Growing up, I went on a lot of family road trips in the summer.  My father generally drove and one thing about my father is he is always in a hurry.  He hates traveling, so whenever we went on our trips, he wanted to get there and back home as quickly as possible.  It’s because my father is not a public pooper.  The only place he will drop anchor is at home.  We’ve been out at stores, restaurants or family get-togethers and my dad will rush us all out to take us home because he has to shit.  I, too, suffered from the same shame about public pooping, (either a learned behaviour or inherited one, I’m not sure which) for years until the “Best Buy” incident. 

My husband and I were on a road trip of our own to visit his brother in Ontario and we drove through the U.S. because the gasoline is much cheaper there.  On the way, my husband wanted to look at laptops at Best Buy because electronics are also much cheaper, even with the exchange rate.  When traveling, I would always hold in my bowel movements because the shame, oh, the shame of shitting in a public restroom.  But when you’re on a road trip, you don’t have the luxury of driving home to use the toilet.  So there we were, my husband and I, in Best Buy, and that’s when the poop pangs hit me- my bowels weren’t going to allow me to wait to use the bathroom until our next stay in a hotel.  So I didn’t walk, I literally RAN to the Best Buy bathroom, without even saying a word to my husband who was examining each electronic item, the prices and doing the math for exchange rates in his head.  He didn’t even realize that I had disappeared.

The nice thing about the Best Buy bathrooms is that usually they are empty.  I was so relieved (Pun intended) when I got into the bathroom and there wasn’t a single other person in there.  I think that people don’t generally need to use the bathroom when shopping for electronics like they do at gas stations or rest stops off of the highway.  Probably because most people shopping for electronics are not that far from home, and they probably don’t stay in the store long enough to feel the urge.  So I had the WHOLE bathroom to myself.  I checked under each stall to ensure I was indeed truly alone, and I was.  It was quiet and clean, and I let it all out!  Afterwards, I felt empty in a beautiful way that only people who have held in their shit for more than a day can understand.  I was in there for a very long time.  When I came out, my husband immediately looked up to see me come out of the bathroom.  “Was that you?” Apparently the smell of my “brand” had emanated out into the TV department where my husband had moved to do more price comparisons just outside of the bathroom.  He was actually puzzling about the smell and wondering if the Best Buy had an issue with their sewage system. It didn’t.  It was ME!  But you know even though I stunk up the entire Best Buy bathroom and surrounding TV department, I didn’t care.  No one in that Best Buy in New Hampshire knew me and I felt so good to have it all out.

But back to my dad, where I learned to become a dysfunctional pooper in the first place, (Hey, Dad, EVERYBODY POOPS!) and his mad rush to get the family road trips over as quickly as possible.  Our most memorable road trip as a family was when I was 17 and had just finished the eleventh grade.  My brother was 12 at the time.  We lived in Nova Scotia, on the eastern coast of Canada.  My mother wanted us to visit her sister who lives in British Columbia (BC) on the west coast of Canada and instead of flying, my parents decided to drive to Campbell River on Vancouver Island, BC because supposedly they wanted us to have a learning experience out of it by seeing all of Canada.  (FUN FACTOID: Canada is the second largest country in the world!) As the trip progressed, I began to see that the learning experience part was more my mother’s idea. My dad, on the other hand, saw driving as a way to save money instead buying plane tickets for the four of us (which would have been very expensive and may have caused my father anxiety about the possibility of having to have a shit in the tiny airplane bathroom.)

The funny thing is we didn’t actually see much of Canada at all.  I mean, we saw it.  Some of it.  On the way up, we drove by the “Big Nickel” at the Canadian Mint in Sudbury, Ontario.  Then, in my dad’s rush, we skipped Manitoba and Saskatchewan altogether and drove through Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana instead.  We even passed by the site of Custer’s Last Stand.  We drove through the beautiful Rocky Mountains.  Thing is, although we saw all of these things, we didn’t really SEE them.  We saw them through the car window, yes.  Whenever we asked to stop to actually SEE any of these things, you know, as in get out of the actual car and walk around, my dad said, “You can see it from here just fine.”  So our photo album of our trip to BC consists of blurred photos of mountains, plains and the Big Nickel with the edge of the car window bordering each scenic panavista and landmark.  An important lesson I learned from driving across Canada is that it’s very difficult to get good photos from a car window.

Another thing I learned is that families should not take road trips across an entire continent together.  My brother and I fought with each other the entire trip.  My parents had to separate us by having one of us sitting up front with Dad while the other sat in the back with our mom.  We still managed to annoy each other diagonally from time to time.  And we constantly fought over who would drive “shot-gun.” Remember shot-gun?  Running and trying to call out shot-gun at the first sight of the car so you would be the passenger in the front seat?  This was back in 1991 too, so we didn’t have any smart-phones or even hand-held video games like a Game-boy to distract us from the long drive.  There may have been Game-boys available but my parents wouldn’t have bought us both one, so we would have just fought over that too.  Smart-phones would have been a blessing for us.  It’s not like we could really see much of the country anyway, since my dad was speeding across Canada in a mad rush to get back to his beloved porcelain throne in the sanctity of his own home. So a smart-phone would have really made things a lot easier for all of us.  Today, families can go on road-trips and not even talk to each other for the entire trip.  In fact, maybe another part of my father’s rush was to just get some peace and quiet from the constant bickering between my brother and I…  in the bathroom, of course.

We also had to use maps.  There was not GPS or Google Maps to direct us.  So we had all these road maps- they folded up into the size of a pamphlet but when you unfolded them, they took up the entire front seat.  Then one of us, usually my mother or I, would read out the directions to my father.  We didn’t have computerized voices, but it didn’t matter because we were quite capable of mispronouncing place names.  Then there would be arguments over which way we were supposed to be going, and points where we would get lost.  My father was surprisingly willing to stop for directions when we would get lost, unlike the usual stereotypical man.  I think it was because of how he was always in a hurry to get the trip over with.  He was happy to get directions so he could get to his “home bowl” a little bit quicker.

I feel truly sad for my father, who at 70 still hasn’t learned the wonderful lesson I learned at the Best Buy that day with my husband in New Hampshire: if you have to go number two in public, you should just go do it, because it feels a lot better after and it doesn’t create as much of a stink as it does after holding it in for 2 days.  And no matter how fast you try to drive across Canada and back, you’re still going to have to poop at some point before you make it home.  So to anyone else who’s ever had anxiety about being a public pooper, I say take the advice of the Nike ads, find yourself a Best Buy bathroom and “Just Do It!” 

~ Ocean 

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net  “Cars Traveling With A Blurred Image” by RK008

A Letter To My 10 Year Old Self

Writing a letterAs I was spreading a thick layer of depilatory cream on my upper lip and chin this evening, it occurred to me that no one prepared me for this. No one told me I’d have to spend extra time in the mirror looking for errant black hairs. No one prepared me for having whiskers. No one told me I’d turn into a man for fuck’s sake and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it.  

Come to think of it, I feel like there have been a number of things I just wasn’t prepared for. I thought I would write a letter to my 10 year old self to warn her. 

Dear Sam,

I thought you would appreciate a head’s up from your future self. We are now 43 years old and things didn’t quite go as we thought it would, so I’m just going to lay it all out there for you in point form.  Brace yourself. 

You will get fat in your twenties, please for the love of God, stay away from those donuts, pizza and potato chips or at least pace yourself. Stay active and eat right. You may not be aware of this now but when you get older it becomes harder to poop, so eat all your fruits and vegetables.  

In the future we won’t be dating boys. You know how you like to watch Daisy Duke in her short shorts? In the future, this will become far more socially acceptable and you won’t have to hide your love of Madonna and her belly button. It will even become legal for a woman to marry another woman. They’ll throw parades for people like us and it will be fabulous. The only downside is that with gay marriage comes gay divorce and you will experience that too if you jump in too quickly and trust the wrong person. Pay close attention to the signs that your partner is cheating, you’ll be able to see that up close and in action in 2 short years when your mom and dad break up. 

You’ll become a dog person. I know that sounds impossible to you given your life long love of cats and all things kitty, but you will meet a dog one day that changes your mind about dogs and you’ll see how awesome they are.

Can you imagine a world where we can take our phones with us? Now, I know you’re thinking of one of those 15 pound phones with the giant aerial right? Looks like a shoebox? They get smaller, smaller and smaller and then a little bigger, then bigger again so we can watch TV on them! No one has house phones anymore. We all carry tiny computers around with us everywhere. Not like the Commodore 64 either. They’re lightening fast with bold bright lifelike colors and have this remarkable thing called the Internet. It’s like having a library at your fingertips with a world of information a click or tap away. The whole world is connected now and you can talk to someone on the other side of the world just like that. No one sends letters anymore and rarely do people actually TALK on the phones we all carry. We simply send each other text messages instead. In fact, we have basically developed a new language based solely on shortened words and pictures of faces we call emoticons. The whole thing is going to blow you away. You won’t need to visit libraries anymore, or bookstores for that matter, or really any stores since we have this thing called Amazon now that sells pretty much anything you will ever need. We don’t really do things in person anymore. You will hardly have to leave your house. The only problem is that we end up giving away all of our privacy and personal information in exchange for the convenience. There’s a book you should read, it’s called 1984 by George Orwell, that should explain it better for you. 

The world is a pretty crazy place right now, the Americans elected Donald Trump as their President. I know. Our Prime Minister is actually Pierre Trudeau’s son and he got elected with a promise of legal pot for everyone. You know that stuff from the Cheech and Chong movies your parents watch? Well in the future, a lot of people use it for medication, even you.

You will end up with crippling pain in your body from something called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or Fibromyalgia as they generalize it. You also end up with pretty severe Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Degenerative Disc Disease and Endometriosis. You will have pain all the time and it will get worse as you age, so enjoy your life now. Enjoy being able to freely move and run, even with your bum ankles. Climb as many trees as you can find, sink as many basketballs as possible and ride your bike with total abandon because you will really miss that when you get older and your mobility decreases with illness.

You won’t ever be a Mom. I know you wanted to but that disease I told you about, Endometriosis, is going to cause cysts to grow all over your insides and destroy your uterus and you’ll only have one ovary. It’s okay though because in the future, less and less women are able to have babies, so you won’t be the only one. You can still have pets and enjoy your friends’ kids and honestly, you’ll be so tired and ill so frequently that you probably wouldn’t be the best mom anyway.  

A lot of famous people will die. People that you love. One of them, is Michael Jackson. Michael will leave quite the legacy. Some stuff will happen with him that you won’t know if you should believe. Just remember the good stuff about Michael. Robin Williams, Prince, David Bowie, Whitney Houston, George Michael and many others die unexpectedly. The one that will hurt the most is Leonard Nimmoy. I know how much you love Spock. On a side note, Star Trek is still going! They’re still making new movies and there will be several spin off series for you to look forward to.

Work hard in school. Work so hard that you earn scholarships. Education will become really expensive and very necessary to gain steady employment. Without it, you will have to work in retail or in call Centers answering questions and taking complaints from assholes. You’ll do it so long that when your phone does ring, it will make you sweat and shudder and throw up in your mouth a little bit. You will grow to loath a ringing telephone. 

Continue writing. Maybe work harder with that. In the future people can self publish, you won’t even need a publisher at first, you can write your book and put it right on Amazon. Keep reading, books never go out of style. Keep learning. Your love of learning will stay with you throughout your life.

One last thing I need to talk to you about it the reason you are sad. You have something called clinical depression and you already have a pretty remarkable case of something else called anxiety disorder. That’s the thing that makes you cry before you go to school, it’s what causes that pain you get in your stomach all the time. You will have this for the rest of your life. You will try many treatments, medications and lifestyle changes but it will always be there. Try not to let it get the best of you, learn to soothe yourself because your parents won’t. They will never understand it. Learn to be strong, secure and resilient. Learn to love yourself. You’re not alone and you will meet some pretty great friends that will become your chosen family.  

Your life will be hard but remember, God never gives us more than we can handle. You can apply that reasoning when you find out you can’t have babies. Also apply that logic when you don’t move past a B cup in bras.  

Stay strong little warrior. 

PS. You are lactose intolerant, please stop drinking milk and lay off the cheese slices.

Live Humbly, Be Charitable, Live Graciously,

Sam

Weird Things From My Childhood That Made Me the Weirdo I am

AnxietySo this is a little more personal, I often try to write with humor, but some things just aren’t that funny and that makes it difficult to put a humorous twist on it. Like many of us, I had an unconventional childhood. My parents had a rocky marriage, we didn’t have much money, I spent my early childhood living in a trailer. My father drank a lot, my mother cried a lot. My parents fought a lot. I hid in my closet a lot. I was an only child with no freedom who was afraid of everything and overly anxious. I grew up to be an overly sensitive, massively anxious adult.

My parents split up at age 12 so I had a lot of firsts at that age you’ll notice. I’m not going to get into every little detail but rather I will just highlight a few things that made me the neurotic mess I am.  

My father’s idea of playing with me was throwing plastic spiders at me, knowing I was terrified of spiders. He thought making me scream was funny. You know when your parents used to say “if you don’t eat your food, I’ll dump it on your head.” He actually did that. When I wouldn’t eat my dinner, he’d dump it on my head and laugh hysterically. Somewhere there is a photo of me crying with clam chowder running down my face. Hilarious. 

I wasn’t allowed to stay overnight anywhere until my parents separated. I stayed overnight once or twice at my cousins’ house, but they lived next door and it took a lot of begging. At my cousins’ house we could stay up late watching TV and eating treats. At my house, I had to be in bed while it was still light out and no treats unless it was a Friday.

I wasn’t allowed treats. Not to say I never had any, but it was limited. Sugar was limited. As a child I was underweight but my mother was overweight so I think she was trying to prevent me from being overweight in some weird way. At Halloween she’d ration the treats much like the Third Reich rationed butter during the war. I’d still have candy left come April. Same thing happened at Easter and at Christmas. I think this made me indulge too much as an adult. I only tried McDonald’s for the first time at 12 when my friend’s Dad took us and I thought it was amazing! In my twenties I had ballooned up to 260 pounds. I have since lost that weight but it made me obsessed with food for years. 

My family aren’t the hugging ‘I love you’ type. The way we showed affection was to make fun of each other until someone ended up with a crippling case of self consciousness. I got made fun of for my choice in music, clothes, make up, friends, grades, you name it. Doing that resulted in a lack of confidence. I was also being bullied at school, I wished for love and reassurance from my family, but it has always remained just a wish.

I never had a shower until I was 12. We had a dug well so my father’s logic was that it would run dry. It never ran dry that I can remember but my father insisted that we take baths. So first my Mom would take hers, then I would take mine, then Dad would have his- all in the same tub of water. At the time, I figured that everyone did this, but then I heard they didn’t. It was just us. The first time I had a shower was at my stepmother’s house and I had to ask how to use it. She couldn’t believe I had never showered before. I flooded the bathroom not realizing to put the shower curtain inside the tub. Now I bathe several times a day. I am obsessed with hygiene and I’m a compulsive hand washer. 

I wasn’t allowed to have friends over, I had to spend my summers babysitting my younger step brother with not even an allowance. I wasn’t allowed to join extra curricular activities; the list goes on and on. My aunts and uncles labelled me “the little prisoner” as a child for a good reason. I felt like a chained up back yard dog that you only occasionally pay attention to. I think this is where my love of animals stem from. My pets would become my best friends. 

There are so many other things that come to mind, some of which are hard to talk about. As an adult I’ve had a hard time coming to terms with things, I have PTSD and have been clinically depressed since I was a teenager. Writing about it helps. It can be therapeutic. Seeing it in print and learning about other people’s experiences seems to make it a little easier to deal with.  

I don’t have a relationship with my parents. It’s been almost 2 years since I spoke to my father and 5 since I talked with my mother. I miss them but it’s more like I miss the idea of them rather than the actual people. It feels weird to say that, but it’s true. I don’t feel connected to my family, I never really have. I’ve just always felt like an outsider, like I didn’t belong simply because I’m not like them. I am more compassionate and sensitive, I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings and I care about others. Some of these characteristics I attribute to the fact that I had a less than caring family and in many ways I’m glad that I am who I am.  

Just know that actions you take with your children can last a lifetime. It can hurt and even damage them. Show your kids what unconditional love is, be patient, listen to them. 

Live Humbly, Be Charitable, Live Graciously,

Sam

Image courtesy of tuelekza at FreeDigitalPhotos.net