Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Walk

I recently read an article called “What your Walk says about you” and there was one called The Strut.

When I was in fashion college, our final was a fashion show where we had to model our own clothes. I have a way of walking that was not considered good runway because I swung my arms too much. My modeling instructor told me so, but when the owner of the college saw my ‘walk’ the next day, she praised it. The fashion world is so fickle. It really is true that one day you’re in and the next day you’re out.

My grade eight science teacher rode his bike past me on the way to school every day. He told me I had “quite the stride”. Ewwwww, I know. It was the eighties, so teachers got away with being creepy a lot more than they do now.

When I was eleven, my cousin Cyndi had given us a bunch of clothes. In the box was a pair of Navy blue sandals with wedge heels. I was elated when they fit me because they were so cool. My mother insisted I learned how to walk in heels before I went out in public (i.e. church) wearing them. So she had me march around the townhouse between the kitchen and the living room chanting “Heel, toe, heel toe”. I can still hear her voice echoing in my head.

When I was in the MTC (Missionary Training Center, or Empty Sea, whichever), the elders in my district would hum this tune as we would walk anywhere.

Why? “Because, Sister Dixon, you walk just like John Travolta!”

It’s not like I’ve never been compared to sexy men before. Michael Hutchence and Eddie Vedder come to mind. I’m not offended by it. Sexy is sexy in my book. It’s gender neutral.

I was taught to walk tall and not to be ashamed of my height. I was taught to hold my head high and my back straight. Sometimes when I walk tall and hold my head high, I don’t see the root/crack/uneven section/pebble in the sidewalk and I trip. I’m certain it’s hilarious to see this tall, confident woman in stilettos/platforms/awesome cowboy boots walking past, only to stumble and look like a baby giraffe ten seconds later.

So I strut. It’s the way I walk, and I’m proud of it. Trips and giraffe impressions and all.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Time Bomb

In “Jane Austen Book Club” –excellent movie, I highly recommend it- the Prudie character bemoans: “our mothers are like time bombs, ticking inside of us, just waiting to go off”. She was freaking out because she was terrified of turning into her mother.

I was raised with the idea that becoming your mother is the absolute worst thing that could happen to you. Telling my mum that she is like her mother is the number one WORST thing that you could say to her. She will KNOCK. YOU. OUT. Trust me, my mum can take you. You don’t want to mess with her. I can say it because I’m her favourite. (right?)

My mother raised me to be not like her, but better than her. Super easy task, thought my disrespectful much cooler teenage self.

But then I yell and scream at my kids, something I swore upside-down and backwards that I would never do to my kids because she did that to us and I hated it and I want to crawl inside a hole and disappear and die and I don’t deserve to be a mother look how awful I am I’ve turned into my mother.

I used to envy them, but I feel sorry for those daughters of amazing women who had to grow up in their mothers’ shadows and live up to their expectations and the expectations of others. It’s a good thing Mother Theresa and Ardeth G. Kapp never had any daughters. Look what happened to Chastity Bono. (I kid, I kid)

My mum was just one of those regular mothers who did regular stuff. Like sing along with Freddie Mercury to the dog while she did the dishes. I would, like, totally roll my eyes at her when she did that.

And yet, I find myself singing and dancing along to my iTunes with Orso while I empty the dishwasher and scrub the stove and I get why she did it. The dog worships you and loves you for who you are. From the moment your children can speak they feel it necessary to tell you you're doing it wrong. Just the other day, Huey informed me, "Mom, you're too old to rock skinny jeans" which reminded me of the many times I told my mother that she had "a triangle butt".

So I guess turning into parts of your mother is not the worst thing in the world.

Monday, March 12, 2012

ADD Society

The internet is ruining everything.

I’m just kidding.

But seriously, the internet really is ruining everything. We used to be this quiet, mild mannered, church-on-Sunday society.

Now we have iPods blaring in our ears, our own YouTube channel, Facebook page and Twitter account. Having an email account is not enough anymore. Most of us have blogs and tumblrs. If I sit on my couch, I have access to so many sources for information or communication; the TV, my iPod, my phone (cell phone and home phone), the computer with tabs opened to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. I can also be logged on to Skype. We’re surrounded!

I hardly ever check my email because I have so many other avenues of communication.

It’s so LOUD!

It seems that one has to be loud for anyone to pay attention any more. The louder and more obnoxious you are, the more you are noticed, the more successful you are. Talkin’ to you: Kardashians and Jersey Shore.

There is good stuff out there, you just have to dig and dig through fifty feet of crap just to get there. We’ve become so lazy because information is being thrown at us from every angle that we never ever have to seek out information any more.

One of the movie theatres has this ad encouraging you to turn off your cell phone before the movie. This guy is walking along and the angry birds are flying around his head, annoying orange is on his shoulder, etc. The theatre usher tells him that he has to leave all his friends outside. It’s cute and clever and I appreciate the reminder to turn off my phone. I almost CUT a chick at the “Breaking Dawn” premiere who was texting throughout. We were in stadium seating and her head was just a little to the right and if I just flicked my toe out a bit… - I digress. What I was trying to say is that I feel like that guy with all the apps spinning around his head.

SHHHHH! Be quiet!

There are good things out there, and if you look past all the shouting and jumping up and down and Mr. Jazz Hands videos, you will see them. You will be rewarded. Sometimes the quiet and subtle things are the most beautiful, unique and worth it.

It takes a special person to see around all the hubbub and really find something of value. Unfortunately, there is a LOT of hubbub.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Where’s my Ben Gay?

It just gets worse and worse. Technology is ruining everything. I remember when TVs were black and white, had three channels, and you had to GET UP OFF YOUR BUTT to change the channel. (Or throw stuff at your sister until she got up and changed it, like I did). I remember when there was ONE phone in the house, it had a rotary dial and a CORD attached to the WALL, and was in the kitchen, so private conversations never happened. I remember when we had to wait ALL WEEK for Saturday to be able to watch cartoons. I remember when you needed to know something you had to go to the library or look it up in an encyclopedia!

You kids get off my lawn! You want your ball back? Well it’s mine now!!!

I have my iPod Touch and Google phone on my night stand beside my bed. My netbook sits there too when I’m not using it. I have an iMac in my kitchen. Sometimes my husband and I will be watching TV and he will be logged on to the iMac and his iPad at the same time, while I sit right next to him and message him with my iPod Touch while he is texting people on his phone. Sometimes we will be in bed right next to each other and Facebooking each other; he on his iPad, me on my iPod. Sometimes, I will log off of my iMac in the kitchen, get ready for bed, get in bed and log in to my netbook It’s a sickness, I tell ya.

I don’t think technology is terrible, it has its uses, I’m just saying that I remember a time before technology and I know that we all lived just fine without it. What did we do before cell phones when you were in the dairy section and the husband’s in the meat section at Costco and you need to know if we’re out of cheese and you couldn’t call or text him to find out? We lived, I tell you! And we LIKED it! We were GRATEFUL for it!

I also will not allow my boys to have TVs, computers, or video games in their rooms. We have a Wii system in the family room and the boys can play games on the computer in the kitchen, but that’s it. We only have two TVs in our house; one upstairs and one downstairs. I will not allow a TV in our bedroom either. My eleven year old is not allowed to have a cell phone until he’s in junior high and has to take the bus. Whenever the weather is nice, and sometimes if it’s not, I kick the boys outside and make them have “fresh air time”. “But what should we do?” they complain. “I don’t care, make something up!” I say. Why in my day, we came home from school, changed clothes, and went back outside and stayed outside until supper!! We COMPLAINED when we had to come Inside!

I’m the grumpiest, old maniest, meanest mom ever, I know.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Non-compete Clause

My first born son, Huey is incredibly shy and quiet. He’s a lot like me. It kills me and makes me cringe when I see him struggle. He is introverted and rarely pushes himself to go outside of himself. He seems to be so happy in his little turtle shell, but I worry that perhaps he gets lonely.

Huey is very intelligent. From the time he could sit up, he would play quietly by himself or entertain himself with a book. He has an incredibly long attention span. When he entered Kindergarten, he was already reading at the first grade level. He reads for hours and hours, he just devours books. He gets this from his mother as well.

Huey doesn’t do so well in school, mostly because he doesn’t turn in his assignments, but also because he doesn’t participate in class. At the most recent parent teacher conferences, both the teachers I spoke to told me that they would like to see Huey speak up more in class. We have our boys enrolled in a charter school and the kids that go to this school are extremely competitive. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but I’m one hundred percent non-competitive and I don’t think that should be pushed on a child. You know that kid who sat in the front and put his/her hand up and answered every question? Just about EVERY kid in Huey and Dewey’s school is like that.

I have been told this by just about every one of Huey’s teachers; that he needs to participate in class more. In the past, I have talked to Huey about this and tried to encourage him to try harder to participate. This last time, when I talked to him about it, he said, “I do, Mom, they just never call on me”. The words of Mrs. Wong, Grade One Teacher echoed in my head: “She’s just so quiet, I never notice her!”

Huey is very tall for his age, but well proportioned. He is incredibly handsome. He has the most beautiful dark indigo blue eyes. He has the world’s greatest heart. He cares about the underdog and wants to end all suffering in the world. He is a deep thinker, very intelligent, and an extreme introvert.

I hate that he is being judged for something that is such a part of him. It’s like saying that he needs to breathe less or not have blue eyes. He’s a shy kid. He’s very well behaved and gets along with everyone. I hate that the only thing that the teachers have to complain about is that he’s TOO quiet. The Mama Bear in me came out this time.

I don’t know what caused me to snap; perhaps the fact that I’m trying to own my own shyness and the fact that I spent so much of my life thinking that I was less because I was “too shy”. I got so mad at the teachers. Not in their faces or anything, it was after Huey told me that he DID try at school, he was just overlooked.

I get it that in society that if you’re not jumping up and down with a sign flashing “lookit me!” and a blaring soundtrack that you can get passed over. I get it that we live in this ADD society and that it’s easy to get distracted. It just makes me mad that Huey has to deal with this and learn this stupid lesson too; the lesson that unless you speak up, you will be overlooked.

I have seen Huey in class. I have seen him raise his hand and answer questions. I have seen him make friends and interact with children his own age. I have seen him speak in public. I have seen him perform in public. I have seen him go about himself in his own quiet way and succeed. I have seen that he doesn’t have to put on a “persona” in order to succeed. This has actually helped me.

I have told him that being introverted is good. That he’s a good kid and that he should continue to be a good kid. I told him that he doesn’t have to change for other people. He shouldn’t allow his shyness to prevent him from being successful, and that it’s good to try new things and that he won’t die if he does.  That being shy is not bad, but it can prevent him from being successful in certain situations and that in those certain situations it will be necessary to overcome his shyness.

In doing this, my hope is that he will not grow up being debilitated by his shyness and think it a weakness. It is an endearing part of him and one of the reasons why I love him so much. He WILL be successful in life, he will just do it in his own quiet way.

My friend posted this video on Facebook. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Too Shy

Believe it or not, I am a shy person. I say believe it or not because every single casual acquaintance replies “No Way!” when I tell them this little tidbit about myself.

When I was little, I never spoke to anyone that I didn’t know. Sometimes I didn’t even speak to the people I did know. My mum is really tall and I would hide behind her leg when people tried to talk to me. True story.

First day of School -
Grade One
When I went to school, my best friend Berit (still my best friend to this day) did all my talking for me. It was great. My dad took me to school the morning of the first day of school for grade one and I remember standing next to him on the playground watching all the kids run around and line up in their classes. I remember the terror I felt on the first day of school.

I’m a total daydreamer. Also when I was in grade one, I sat in the back by the guinea pigs and near the window. I would watch the guinea pigs or stare out the window all day. I never paid attention. Reports cards for the first term came out and showed how poorly I was doing in school. A parent teacher meeting was called. My teacher, Mrs. Wong, was totally apologetic to my parents. She said, “I’m sorry, she’s just so quiet that I didn’t even notice that she wasn’t paying attention!” I was moved to the front of the class where she could keep a better eye on me and where I wouldn’t get distracted and I did much better.

That experience taught me that I had to be noticed in order to be successful. My parents were always pushing me to overcome my shyness. I remember my mum getting so exasperated with me because I was too afraid to talk to people or to try anything new or go anywhere different. I always needed someone to hold my hand. I grew up feeling that my shyness was a horrible weakness that needed to be overcome and squashed and removed from my personality.

From the time I was two I danced ballet. I loved it because I didn’t have to talk. I could just feel the music and dance the steps. It was a great escape for me. The world disappears and I don’t even notice if anyone is watching. I’m also not clumsy when I dance. Those are some of the reasons why I love dancing so much.

When I was 7 or so, I was asked to give a talk in Primary – the children’s class in our church. When the person in charge told me it was my turn to give my talk, I lied and told them that I wasn’t giving a talk. I would have rather died than got up and speak in front of all the kids. The person in charge went and told my mother (I hadn’t told my mother that I had been assigned to give a talk). My mum took me to the library in the church, found a story in the church’s children’s magazine and had me read through it a few times, and told me that all I had to do was read that story in front of the kids.

Well, I read that story in front of all the kids, with my mum supervising behind me and an amazing thing happened: I DIDN’T DIE! The world didn’t end, the earth didn’t implode and I didn’t light on fire. I was okay! This was so great for little seven-year-old me. I discovered that the podium could protect me! It was like a wall or a shield.

This lead me to having the talent of public speaking. I won our first annual speech contest when I was a youth, I earned a spot on the student council because of my speech, and I won every debate I ever had because I was so skilled with speaking in public.

Don’t get me wrong, I get terrible butterflies and jitters, but it is more of an adrenaline rush and I actually get pumped up. Not the terrifying debilitating fear of actually speaking to someone that I don’t know.

I took to acting when I was in grades seven through nine. It was so great because not only would the stage would protect me, but I could hide behind a character too!

The Persona
Through these experiences, I learned to turn off the shyness and turn on this “outside persona”. It didn’t mean that the shyness went away, or that I was cured of my shyness, it was just put off to the side.

There are a few downsides to this:
 1)      Sometimes I don’t know where The Persona ends and the real me begins. I’ve struggled with who I am because of this.
 2)      Because I am hiding behind The Persona, it’s really hard for people to get to know me, therefore, I have a hard time making lasting friendships. I feel like a lot of my friendships are superficial. Only because people are friends with The Persona, and not me. I rarely let anyone in to see who I really am. Letting people in and seeing my imperfections terrifies me.
 3)      I’ve created this Persona so that people will like me and I’m horrified that if people knew the real me they wouldn’t want to hang out with me or be my friend.
4)      I worry that I am perceived as fake. The perception would be true, because basically, I am fake.
5)      It is mentally exhausting being “on” all the time, and that is what I need to be in order to maintain The Persona.
6)      I look like a snob when I don’t talk to people. The Persona makes me look like an outgoing person, but I’m not.

The Real Me
I have struggled with being shy my whole life. While I have tried to squelch that part of my personality because it is an imperfection and flaw, I have found it to be impossible. I have come to this new place in my head where I am owning my imperfections and recognizing that they are a part of me and they are what makes me who I am. I know that there are times when I need to overcome my shyness, but I also recognize that my shy instinct is okay and it’s okay to be shy and I’m not a bad person because of it. I also realize that being shy can limit me, but being shy can be a strength too.

I’m glad that I have learned to overcome my shyness in certain circumstances and for the talents that have come with that. I’m now learning how to exist in the world as a shy person. The true me, not just The Persona.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Leave a Message

I have had the same outgoing voicemail message since 1996.

In 1996 I moved out of my and my roommate’s apartment to find myself living alone in a bachelor suite at the corner of 11th and Alberta Street in Vancouver. The apartment was in one of those old houses that are chopped up into apartments. I had always wanted to live in that neighbourhood. The bathroom was down the hall. The front windows had craftsman style stained glass tulips along the top. My kitchen was tiny. I had a view of BC Place, the Cambie Street bridge, and City Hall out my window. I absolutely loved that apartment. I felt like Mary Tyler Moore.

Since this was my first place on my own, I could have my very own message for my voicemail. I didn’t have to take anyone else into consideration.

I used this Cub song for my inspiration. 

My sister, otherwise known as the-person-who-called-me-the-most, HATED my message. It was kind of long, so every time she called me she would have to listen to the whole message before leaving her own message which was usually prefaced with “change your bleeping message!!”

This one time while I was living on Alberta Street, I got a wrong number message. Some dude calling some other chick. He didn’t leave a number. He called back and left me another message saying that he had figured out that he had the wrong number, but just wanted to tell me how much he liked my outgoing message. HAH! Validation! In your FACE, Mrs. Bowie!

I got married while living on Alberta street and moved to Salt Lake City, UT and no longer had that number. Now that I was married, we had to have a “couple” outgoing message. No, we did not have one of those goofy messages where both people take turns talking. Those are lame. We are not lame people.

In 2000 I finally gave in and got a cell phone so I was able to have my very own outgoing message again. I reverted to my original message, but shortened it so it only had one verse instead of two.

Shortly after, I got a wrong number message followed by the comment that my outgoing message was the rudest message he had ever heard. Guess he wasn’t a Cub fan.

I have since switched phone plans and phones a couple of times, but I have kept the same outgoing message.

I don’t care what anyone thinks. I love my outgoing voicemail message and I will keep it forever.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Awaiting Eternity

Sometimes the universe is just so out to get me and try as I might, I flip and I flip, but there are just no good songs on the radio.

I feel like this: (you have to wait until to 1:16)

I was having one of those moments the other day and was about to just turn the stupid thing off having no hope that there was any good music left in the world, when I remembered that I HAVE A CD PLAYER IN MY CAR!

And I have CDs in my car!

One of the reasons why I bought the car in the first place was because it had a CD player. I have never owned a car with a cassette deck that worked let alone a CD player. My husband came by my work with the car so that I could test drive it and he had just bought me the Annie Lennox “Bare” album on CD and had it playing on the CD player when he picked me up. (he’s great, I know) Between that and the fact that we could have the front seat all the way back and still fit an adult in the back seat and we were sold.

So I fished in the console and picked out a CD, opened the CD case holding the CD case on the top of the steering wheel so that I could drive at the same time, and put in the CD; the throbbing base of the Rose Chronicles filling my car and instantly improving my mood, easing my mind that there was actually good music out there, and restoring my faith in humanity.

The mere act of opening the CD case caused memories upon memories of buying and listening to CDs flood my brain.

I’ve been so caught up in the digital age what with satellite radio and my iPod, that I had forgotten the joy of opening up a jewel case and popping in a CD. The smell of the liner notes. How I would read the liner notes from front to back while listening to the CD for the first time, and then reading along with the lyrics while listening through for the second time.

How tangible everything was.

How I used to pay attention to the music.

How I used to pay attention to the words being expressed.

How I used to actually stop, and LISTEN to music.

In my former life, I would DJ dances. I had over 600 CDs in my collection. I had a BMG account. I would buy a whole CD just for one song. I was always cruising the Georgia Strait for announcements for sales at A&B Sound. Even now, I still love to flip through the CDs at Target or the grocery store or wherever, just to experience the act of perusing new music.

Only a fraction of those have been transferred to my iPod, but that’s another post for another time.

Friday, March 2, 2012

All Done

I’m forty years old.

I have been blessed with children. Two sons. I had Huey when I was in my twenties and Dewey when I was in my thirties. I thought that perhaps I would have my last one in my forties. I didn’t think I was quite done with having babies.

I am healthy, strong, and have no diseases, so I thought it wouldn’t be a problem.

My husband and I have discussed this at length. We had decided that we were not done with babies, but had a trip to Kauai planned for December, so we had decided that when we got home from Kauai that we would maybe start trying and see where things took us.

We’ve been back from Kauai for almost three months and we are still using birth control. I turned to my husband the other day and asked, “so... are we done?” He hemmed and hawed a little, and then I said “I think we’re done”, so we sort of came to the conclusion that we’re done.

This is weird.

I’m so sad. I’m so relieved. I see pregnant women and brand new babies everywhere now. I yearn and long for that to be us, but then I come back to reality and realize that my time has come and gone. (my mother is letting out an enormous sigh of relief right now)

I love my children and I’m so grateful for them. It’s just sad to come to this conclusion in my life. It’s the end of an era.

I’ve gone and packed up my adorable maternity clothes and I’m giving them to someone who I love deeply that is having her first child. I’m glad they’re going to a better place.

Every time I come across an article of clothing that Dewey has outgrown, it immediately goes in the donate pile. No need to save his clothes for a future child. That child is not coming. This makes me mournful and sad.

I have the enormous task of going through all my baby clothes and things. Some of my favourites I will be keeping for future grandchildren, but most of it is going away.

Never again will I feel a life growing inside of me. Never again will I experience the twinkle in my husband’s eye when the pregnancy test comes up positive. Never again will I hold a newborn life in my arms and look into their eyes and experience that “yes, I’m your momma” moment.

It's not fair! I only got to have two children!!

I feel like I’m mourning the loss of my future children. I know there are none out there for me and that makes me even more sad becaus I know it is over.

I have come to the time in life where I get to look forward to grandchildren. Considering that Huey is only eleven years old, I have some time to wait and prepare.

I feel empty and broken. I feel like my purpose in life is gone. I feel like my condition as a woman has gone by the wayside. I am still a fertile female, but that fertility is moot. I no longer have the need to be fertile as I no longer will be having children.

I know that this is the right decision for us and our family. I will soon be okay with not having any more babies. It’s a weird phase to go through. Eventually I won’t be sad when a friend confides in me that “I’m pregnant!” knowing that that will never again be me.

I am so happy for my friends that are having babies. My very best bud who is the same age as me is having her first child in June. She will be the best mother. She was the one that I had decided would be the boys’ guardian if my husband and I were ever to die at the same time. I am over the moon with joy for her. She waited so very long for this moment and has been through so much in her life. She totally deserves this joy.

I know that eventually the mourning period will end, but for now, I am mourning the loss of my baby making time.