Random thoughts

1.  Facebook relationships with teachers/professors/bosses/etc always give me the heebie-jeebies.  I have no problem with friending a prof once you are finished their course, friending an old boss once you have moved to a different job…but it seems like such a bad idea when things are current.  A few recent examples from facebook include drama students bitching about their production assignments (which I know is a ridiculously large undertaking) while being friends with the instructor.  Calling an assignment “worthless and a load of crap” while being friends with the person who designed and will be marking said assignment is a bad idea.  Also a bad idea?  Status updates about how drunk you…an hour before you have to go work…and now your boss knows the truth.  Oversharing can have some dire consequences, but it seems in the era of facebook common sense and privacy have gone out the window.  I wish more people would think before they post, or at least create filters so people in positions of authority can’t witness true idiocy in the works.

2.  That being said, it would be a lot easier to do the whole filtered posting thing if facebook would stop screwing around with its layout every month or two.  If it wasn’t such an easy way to communicate with people, I would delete my account.  Who knows, maybe baby will provide the kick in the ass that I need to get out of the social networking game (although I could easily argue that I’m barely in the game to begin with).

3.  Another internet topic: I hate the level of assholery that comes with anonymity.  Hence why I rarely leave comments on blogs, and avoid forums at all costs.  Okay, I don’t really avoid forums, as I like to lurk, but I never post.  I’ve been attacked for expressing my own opinion, and I don’t know why.  We can disagree, but surely we can do it in a polite and adult manner…but this seldom happens.  I’m also of the camp where if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.  I recently came across a wicked cover version of “Superman’s Song”, originally by the Crash Test Dummies, and re-created by Nataly Dawn of Pomplamoose fame.  Both versions are stunning in their own right, but apparently for some people Nataly’s version “ruined” the original, because she is a hipster and hipsters ruin everything!  I fail to see how her version could ruin the original, it’s not like that every single CD and MP3 and cassette and video of the CrashTest Dummies song was destroyed by the sheer existence of a new cover.  Don’t like her song?  Don’t listen.  Simple.  But it seems that nothing is ever simple on the internet.

4.  Okay, enough ranting about the internet (on the internet, no less).  Time for an internet-positive thought: It helps me find community.  Last night we went to a little hang-out gathering with some Artist-in-Community grads.  Saturday evening we went to the Santa Claus parade for a friend’s birthday, AND met new people, AND one of them facebook friended me and we are going to have tea in the near future.  Making friends isn’t always easy, so I am glad for the small ways in which the internet (specifically facebook) helps me with this.

5.  And now for something not related to the internet at all: I am retaining water.  This is unpleasant.  This means I must drink more water, which although sounding counter-intuitive, actually works to help rid the body of excess water.  My hands are a bit puffy and typing feels weird.  I predict the brita pitcher will be filled and re-filled many times.  On the bright side, my hands are now soft and smell like almonds because I thought a mini-massage would help remedy the situation.  It hasn’t really, but the scent is pleasant and providing a nice distraction.

6.  I am thisclose to finally finishing Jason’s sweater.  The one I started in September 2010.  I hope he likes it (he says he does, but it is still in pieces at the moment as I have yet to sew it all together).  I also need to knit a hat and a pair of socks and then I am finished with this whole handmade Christmas endeavor.  Except for the same fact that I will never be finished with handmade Christmas.  I like crafting too much to be finished.

7.  The rug needs to be vacuumed.  I hate vacuuming.  I hate the rug.  One of my goals for 2012 is to knit a new rainbow coloured rug from old t-shirts.  Hopefully it wont show the dirt the way our current rug does.

C’est tout.

Stuff

I have a love/hate relationship with stuff.

Clothes.  Books.  Kitchen gear.  Photographs.  Plushies.  Craft supplies.  Knick-knacks.  DVDs.  Accessories.  Mementos.  Bags.  Anything that I could potentially use in a classroom someday.  Makeup.  Pretty things.  Useful things.

Stuff.

I’m one of those people who tries to be practical about her stuff.  That I don’t want it around unless it is highly useful or beautiful.  Hence, my cast iron frying pan and my Hudson’s Bay blanket and my Princess Lasertron bouquet.  Examples of high quality, well-made, and lovely things that will last a lifetime if I take good care of them.

So…if I subscribe to the “useful and beautiful” rule, then why am I looking at a small collection of toys sitting on top of a bookshelf?  Among other things, there’s a My Little Pony, a Keropi Happy Meal Toy, and two Fisher Price cows.  A Pooch Patrol dog named Sarge sits about the computer.  There is a turtle from a Kinder Surprise in the bathroom, alongside two plastic goldfish pilfered from the treasure box at Pizza Delight.

Memories are powerful things.  It’s hard to let go of something that serves no purpose when you have a strong emotional attachment to the object in question.  These little trinkets and tokens come to represent feelings, thoughts, good days, events, or people.  I have gotten better at not hoarding items like these, but it’s hard not to collect, and it’s even more difficult to discard.  Time can be a great helper…or a great enemy.  The little stuffed lady bug that my high school boyfriend gave to me when I fell down a flight of stairs?  It’s been almost ten years, girl!  Why are you still carrying that thing around?!?!  The aforementioned Kinder Surprise turtle?  You’ve had her since you were nine.  You wouldn’t have kept her if she wasn’t important.  She stays.

And there are two of us in this one-bedroom apartment (with decent, but still limited storage).  Two people with memories and feelings and attachments, two people with their own hobbies and interests and needs.

One married couple, lots of stuff.

We do pretty well at making regular donations to the Salvation Army.  We simply don’t have the space for extras, so a purge has to be made every few months.  I also grew up in a house where this was the norm-I don’t think a month went by where my family didn’t make a donation to the Diabetes Association or MS Society or whatever organization was collecting at the time.  I also enjoy giving my things to people who appreciate them-you like this sweater?  It’s yours!  I have given away many possessions as birthday or Christmas or “just because” gifts, and I feel good about it.  It gave me joy, and now it can give someone else joy.

(I also have no qualms about re-gifting, although there is the paranoia that somehow the gift in question might make its way back to its original owner…but I’m willing to take that risk.)

Jason has slowly come on board with my constant need to de-clutter and donate.  It hasn’t been easy for him, but he has come a long way since we first got together four years ago.  I have a memory of piling all his t-shirts on the bed and counting them-the number was in the sixties.  Today?  Ten.  We still disagree about what to keep and what to toss-I know tomorrow there will be an argument about a certain set of black towels that I cannot stand.  But for the most part, he’s  with me in the quest to rid our house of stuff.

Marriage typically brings more stuff.  Some of it is wonderful-I’m thinking of our bed.  My parents bought the frame and mattress.  Other people bought sheets with luxurious thread counts, cozy blankets, and hypoallergenic pillows.  Other people bought us things…that we didn’t really want or need.  The thought was there, but like a bad relationship, it just wasn’t working out.  Some of those things have been re-gifted, stolen by my sisters, donated, or sold.  A few things still remain in my parents’ basement until we have more space.

Then there’s the stuff that people say we “need”, often without asking us if we really need it.  I apparently “need” a set of tea towels for every major holiday.  I “need” a bathmat and one of those silly fabric shower curtains.  I “need” an electric kettle.  Um, thanks?  What I need right now is an immersion blender, a small one-up coffeemaker, and one of those over-the-toilet storage units.  I know people have the best of intentions here, but this is a battle-against-the-stuff I would rather not wage.  I don’t mind donating my things, but I dislike doing it when there’s guilt involved.  I don’t like the sensation that I am wasting someone’s money.  I don’t like feeling like an ungrateful brat.  Why did you buy me those sheets?!?!  I told you, no man-made fibers, it HAS TO BE COTTON!!! Can’t we just avoid this messy situation?  Ask what I like, what I want, what I need.  And then listen.  Or you don’t have to give me anything at all.  That’s okay.  I’m an adult.

I’m an adult…and I’m about to have a baby.

Babies involve a whole new mess of stuff.

I’m not so sure we can win this battle.  But until then, I’m going to donate and give and toss what I can…and pray the upcoming avalanche is manageable.

Surviving pregnancy

I don’t really know what I thought it would be like.  I had done my research on conception, pregnancy, and childbirth before Jason and I even started “practicing”, as my mum likes to call it.  I knew what was going to happen to my body throughout pregnancy…but it’s one of those things you have to experience to really understand.  Jason will never know what a period cramp feels like.  I will never know what it feels like to be kicked in the balls.  And until I peed on that stick and saw two little lines, I had no clue what it was going to be like to be pregnant.  Going through labour is another mystery waiting to be explored and experienced.  But right now I’m focused on the proverbial bun that is still in my oven.

I didn’t know how tired I would be.

I didn’t know that “morning sickness” can strike at any time.  It can involve nausea, heaving, or full-on vomiting, sometimes multiple times in one day.

I didn’t know that my nose would become that hypersensitive.

I didn’t know that I could have days of constipation followed by days of diahhrea.

I didn’t know that the smallest of actions could take the greatest of efforts.

I didn’t know that heartburn would become my worst nightmare.

I didn’t know about round ligament pain.

I didn’t know about pelvic pain.

I didn’t know about back pain.

I didn’t know about insomnia.

I didn’t know about what a Braxton-Hicks contraction feels like.

I didn’t know about reduced lung capacity and shortness of breath.

I didn’t know what it feels like to be hungry all the time…and wanting nothing to eat.

I didn’t know about tears and fears.

And the list is still going….

My pregnancy has probably been an average experience, or even better than most.  But it’s not what I expected, not in the least.  I thought I would be one of those women who loveloveloves being pregnant.  I was wrong about that.  I enjoy the fact that I am growing and nurturing a little person, and I enjoy being pregnant for a few vanity-related reasons, but other than that?  It sucks.  I’m thirty-four weeks along.  Baby could come any time over the next eight weeks.  And while I want baby to come when it’s ready, I now understand what it feels like to want this pregnancy to be over and done with already.  And I’ll probably feel even more so in a few weeks.

So, that being said, here’s my list of essentials for surviving pregnancy.

Soft pretzels, chicken fingers, and Starbucks Passion Tea Lemonade.

Hot packs.

Baby powder.

Water, water, and more water-preferably nice and cold and filtered.

Lubriderm unscented lotion for sensitive skin.

Candied ginger.

Arrowroot biscuits.

Mint tea.

More pillows than one person should ever use.

Blackout curtains or an eye mask or both.

Things that smell nice: peppermint foot lotion, almond hand cream, lavender essential oil.

The occasional trip to McDonalds…

Tv on dvd.

Popsicles and powerade.

Tylenol, benedryl, gravol.

Air conditioning, fans, and cool breezes.

Chick lit.

Craft projects.

Clean towels.

Phone calls to my mum.

A willing manservant…aka my husband.

What’s in the “stuff” pile…

I like lists.  And so, here is a list of what is in my giveaway pile.  I kind of wish I had more friends in Kingston because I feel the contents of the pile would make for an excellent stuff swap, also known as naked lady parties, or “here please take this crap I don’t want”.

  • One red spring jacket, bought at the Sally Ann near my parents’ house, never worn.
  • One blue sweater, wore many a time, but it’s just time to part ways.
  • One green turtleneck, size small, given to me as an early Christmas gift.  This one confuses me, because I’m not EVER a small, and this Christmas?  I’ll be nine months pregnant.
  • Books: The Birth House, Kiss the Joy as it Flies, The Cure for Death by Lightning, Becoming Vegetarian (plus Cupcakes Galore, Women’s Barracks, The Green Door Vegetarian Cookbook, and Wonderful Tonight, all of which I am giving away as gifts).
  • Two novelty cupcake pans, shaped like hearts and stars.
  • One pyrex lasagna pan, stolen from the sublet we had summer 2010.
  • A set of Christmas dishes.
  • Juggling balls.
  • Two plastic goldfish from Pizza Delight.
  • A butterfly puzzle.
  • “Let’s F*ck” game (this came from my bridal shower thanks to some dirty-minded cousins).
  • Three picture frames of various shapes and sizes.
  • Random discount store cheese spreaders.
  • My old blue blanket…this one is a difficult parting.
  • A really cool vintage bag that unfortunately still smells like cigarette smoke despite my best efforts to clean it.
  • Thanksgiving themed tea-towels.
  • And other miscellaneous objects.

(Jason has yet to make his contribution to the pile.  And there will be a friendly argument about a certain set of towels.)

The happiest day of my life?

I have tried many, many times to write about my wedding.  There have been first, second, third, revised, and ultimately trashed drafts.  Outlines have been sketched out, thoughts have been hotwritten, pictures have been chosen…and then everything sits on my laptop or in the many journals I keep or on sheet after sheet of looseleaf until I forget about it (or willfully ignore it) and start again.  I must have hundreds of versions of this introduction.  I consider myself a writer, I’m quite talented at reflecting on my past, and I like talking about important life events.

So why can’t I write about my own wedding?

Here’s the deal: I didn’t love my wedding.  It wasn’t the best day of my life, or the happiest day of my life.  It wasn’t the super shiny hip and awesome event that I wished would never end.  It certainly wasn’t the perfect fairy-tale package I had once been sold by the WIC.  There are things I love about my wedding, there are things I hate about my wedding, and there are things that leave me feeling “meh”.  This mixed bag of emotions?  It makes it really hard to think or talk about the wedding, or to look at photographs, or to write about it.

So, that being said, where do I begin?  How do I begin to describe a Very Important Day, but one that was just ‘Okay’?

Our wedding was, both by want and necessity, a community wedding, the kind where friends and family band together to make things happen.  Jason and I were recent grads at the time: he was bouncing from theatre job to theatre job, and I was working as a full-time nanny for an amazing family of six.  Fantastic work for both of us, but neither job really brought in much income.  Once we established what we wanted (church wedding, brunch reception, and a Princess Lasertron bouquet) we asked our community for help.  Fortunately for us, we can count graphic designers, illustrators, makeup artists, photographers, bakers, musicians, craft wizards, actors and public speakers, seamstresses, and wonderful people willing to do whatever was needed to get this wedding off the ground among our nearest and dearest.  The result?  A whole lot of DIY and DIT.  The church hall has was decorated in teacups loaned by aunties and old neighbours, and butterflies cut out from years of greeting cards.  The bridal party wore handmade dresses and vests.  The invitations were lovingly designed by my best friend and Maid of Honour.  Makeup and photography?  Two friends from university.  Music?  More friends and my former choir director.  Our cake was baked as a gift by my aunt, and my sister made shortbread cookies as favours (along with making corsages and boutonnieres from a Princess Lasertron kit, organizing our seating chart, tracking down addresses, and doing just about everything under the sun and then some).  The result was a bit like community theatre: you don’t know how, but everything comes together in the end.  It may not always be perfect, and it may not always be pretty, and you never can quite anticipate what the final product is going to be, but it doesn’t really matter, because in the end it works and gets the job done.  Very fitting for two people who met in a bilingual collaborative educational community theatre troupe.

There is a downside to using friendors or wedding-elves, and it’s difficult to discuss without sounding like a whiny brat, but I think it’s worth saying: change or challenge your expectations.  This doesn’t mean that people wont come through for you, because they will, but it might not be in the way you anticipated or expected.  This is the trade-off with wedding elves: I can tell a professional baker that I want my cake to look like the Martha Stewart butterfly cake, and it better damn well look like the Martha Stewart butterfly cake if that is what I paid said baker to make for me.  But when your aunt is making the cake?  You can give her the inspiration photos, but you might not get the cake of your dreams.  And at the end of the day, my relationship with my aunt is far more important than the look of my wedding cake.  For someone with an art background and an eye for details, this was a difficult pill to swallow.  Altering my expectations does not come easy for me, and planning a wedding in the internet age doesn’t help much, either.  I wanted a “blog-worthy” wedding, whatever the hell that means.  Thankfully my Maid of Honour kept me in check by reminding me that bunting was not going to make or break my wedding, but it’s hard to get over wanting “all the things”.  And it’s hard not to feel like a brat when so many people are working so hard to make something wonderful happen out of sheer love and kindness and generosity.  I’m still sorting out my emotions on this topic, if you can’t tell.

Our actual wedding day was kind of a blur.  Because we had a morning ceremony, we had to be up EARLY for all the preening and prepping and prettying.  I remember having my hair curled, I remember my sisters and girlfriends helping me into my dress, and I remember driving to the church in my friend Jasmin’s van.  I remember being exceedingly grateful that the ceremony was taking place in the same church where I had been baptized and confirmed, the same place where I went to Sunday school, youth group, and junior choir, a place of happiness and security.  The same minister who baptized me came out of retirement to perform our ceremony.  I remember our theatre troupe director whispering “merde” as he passed by us to give a reading from the Song of Solomon.  I remember adoring our flowergirl, who was wearing pink press-on nails and a bracelet she bought with her “very own money”.  I remember laughing when her older brother, our ring bearer, yelled at us to “SMILE!  YOU HAVE TO SMILE!”  I remember kissing my brand-new husband.

I also remember fainting in the choir room minutes before our M.C. welcomed us as a newly married couple.  I remember being very tired, and very stressed out.  It’s sad, but true:  the things I remember most from my wedding?  All-consuming stress.  Being exceedingly overwhelmed.  Wanting everything to be over, NOW.  I am grateful that we had a brunch reception lasting approximately two hours, because I don’t think I would have made it through the Saturday night dance that is the norm in my family.  Our wedding was hard on me, physically and emotionally.  You can see it in the pictures…and it certainly affected our wedding night.  Without a doubt, it was the worst sex Jason and I ever had.  Sexy fun times were not in the cards for us.  I cried and then passed out.  Not the way I anticipated kicking off married life.

This leads me to a few key pieces of advice: do what you need to do to de-stress.  Easier said than done, and but find something that helps you keep your sanity.  In my case, it was a massage the week before the wedding, a vial of Xanax in my makeup bag, and afternoon tea for two with Jason while everyone else decorated the church hall.  Afternoon tea was a lifesaver (and if you’re ever in Ottawa, Zoey’s Lounge at the Chateau Laurier is worth every penny).  My other piece of advice comes from the fact that we were doing things a little differently than certain family members would have liked: Do not seat those family members near the head table or sweetheart table.  A certain someone obsessed with how things “should” be done kept on coming over to ask when we would be doing this, when we would be doing that, I really think you need to be doing this, why aren’t you doing that, etc, etc, etc.  This did not help my stress level one bit, nor did it help my relationship with said certain someone.    You know your friends and family.  Plan your seating charts accordingly.

I loved the community aspect of our wedding.  I loved being with our nearest and dearest in a place that was one of the main foundations of my childhood and teenage years.  I hate that stress and anxiety kept me from really enjoying our wedding, from truly being present.  I have a laundry list of wedding-related wishes, things I would change in a heartbeat, but it’s not worth it to obsess, not almost eighteen months and with a baby on the way.  I am coming to terms with my wedding.  I am coming to terms with my feelings.  I will smile at the good and learn from the bad.  I will kiss my husband and tell myself that one day, all of this will make an amazing story.

One day.  But maybe not today.

October 31st: Just a quiet evening at home.

Yesterday was Halloween.  My facebook was covered in status posts about what people were wearing, how they were celebrating, what movies they were watching.  Pictures have been uploaded.  I can now peek in on all the fun, because really?  I didn’t have any. It was a very quiet Halloween for this lady.  I spent most of the night reminiscing about the past, and fantasizing about the future.

I have a photo from my first Halloween.  Katie is dressed as a mummy.  Allison is a devil.  Dad is Dad, and Mum is taking the photograph.  And I am a Butterbear.  Do you remember Butterbear?  In the eighties there was this short-lived Saturday morning cartoon called “The Wuzzles”, and it featured these weird animal hybrids.  Butterbear=bear with wings and antennae.  It was an easy costume for my parents to create: they just added ears and antennae to a hooded fleece bunting bag, and Dad carried me around while he took the big girls trick or treating.

When I think about it, most of our costumes were homemade or second-hand.  I have been a clown, a mouse, a princess, a rock star, a gypsy, a “space cadet”, Dr. Suess, Columbia from Rocky Horror, a post-apocalyptic fairy, a butterfly, the sky, a bee, a bubble gum princess, and a few random totally thrown together at the last minute probably sexy “freaks”.  Truth be told, my costumes were much better when my mum was in control…they got a little weak during high school and university, probably due to a lack in time, funds, and caring.  My bee costume and bubble gum princess costumes (2009 and 2010) were pretty spectacular, and were both personal creations inspired by a trip to Value Village.  I tried to wear my bee costume yesterday.  The antennae and the wings fit just fine, but the yellow shirt would not fit over my pregnant belly (and barely fit over my mammoth mammaries). At least Jason had a good laugh at my expense when I attempted to squeeze myself into the costume.

I guess I’m a bit bummed out because there are so many fun things I could have done with my pregnant belly, and I didn’t.  There are some fantastic maternity costumes out there, and guess what?  I am rocking a seventh-month belly.  Now is the perfect time to dress it up.  But a lack of funds, and a lack of plans kept me from doing anything creative.  I put a lot of time and energy into my costume last year, because I was teaching a grade nine drama class and figured it was the perfect place to go all out in terms of a costume.  The bee costume from the year before came because I wanted so desperately to have a little fun at my crummy job (Irving gas station attendant, woohoo).  But there wasn’t really a good reason to dress up this year, no parties, no trick or treating in our student housing complex, no outings to see classic scary movies or Rocky Horror or anything like that.

The only reason to dress up would have been because I wanted to.  Even if I had been “all dressed up with no place to go”, it would have been fun.  It would have given me a chance to get creative and crafty.  Instead, I sat at home and moped, and dreamed about the past and the future, instead of living in the present.  I wont make that mistake again.