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The true spirit of the season

11 Oct

It’s Thanksgiving up here in the Great White North and while most of the nation seemed to deem yesterday as a more appropriate time to gobble some gobbler, my family prefers to follow tradition and actually observe eating turkey as an expression of gratitude on the day properly alloted by our government.

Also, we totally didn’t bother to do our grocery shopping until last night.

Whatever.

As I type, I’m sitting in my newly constructed workspace (it’s a fancy vintage chair that my mom had forgotten that she owned and a folding TV table. I set it up in front on my window though so I’ve got a nice view, if nothing else. Anything is better then working hunched over my laptop on my bed all the time) salivating at the smells that are beginning to waft up the stairs and doing a damn fine job of avoiding people for a while.

See, holidays at our house seem to serve one main purpose: to force us to do all the things we should be doing all the time, but aren’t. Things like spending time with the family, counting our blessings, cleaning the house, etc.

Saturday and Sunday were the very definitions of chaos. You’d think that we would learn to start keeping some kind of regular cleaning schedule after EVERY major holiday that has rolled around during which we nearly destroy the house and each other trying to get it ready before the guest show up. We are a family of epic procrastinators. It is a problem.

So there has been some scrapping and a lot of time wasted. Mom’s been a bit weepy since Youngest Brother unceremoniously informed her that he would not, in fact, be coming home this weekend (6 months and counting, yo). I got into a big nasty fight with Boyfriend on Saturday night. Dad’s pretending this isn’t a holiday at all and Mom and I have been glaring in the general direction of Middle Brother’s bedroom where he and his new girlfriend (whom he took the liberty of inviting over for a WEEK without consulting any of us) have been since last night. They’re awake, they’re just playing video games and watching movies and not interacting with the family.

On Thanksgiving.

At 5pm.

Nice.

But it’s not all bad. In fact, for all of my griping, this has been a pretty decent holiday weekend. For starters, it’s three days long, which is always a bonus. For all the chaos, there has been much sleeping and chillaxing. I’ve enjoyed the nice weather with my dog and eaten like calories don’t count. Mom made me coffee with Bailey’s so I’m feelin’ pretty good. My mom is pretty wicked.

All things considered, I’m pretty happy.

I’m employed, I have a place to live and my family, for all of our aimless rage, ain’t half bad.

I’m pretty lucky.

So today, I’m going to put my regular sassy, bitchy self under the bed for a while and do what you’re supposed to do on Thanksgiving: count my blessings and get inordinately pissed.

Happy Turkey Day, everyone!

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Wherein I over-analyze my general lack of purpose in life

1 Sep

Yesterday I tweeted today about a blog that I happen to stalk secretly called Sea of Shoes. It’s written by an exceptionally stylish teenager (I think she’s 18. Maybe 19? Aw fuckit) named Jane. Jane is a lover of fashion and other beautiful things and does a outstanding job at capturing the people, places and things that she loves in photos. Often her posts contain little by way of writing but the image-heavy way she opts to express her passion tells you everything you need to know. The blog is beautiful and inspiring, much like the author.

It also makes me feel somewhat inadequate, and I will tell you why.

I kind of wish there was something in my life that I was THAT passionate about. Sometimes I want for that spark that would lead me to something that I could feel satisfied and content in devoting my time, maybe my life, to exploring and cultivating a fine taste for. It must feel so liberating to be able to have some sort of thing in your life that you can create worlds around and chart paths from. I don’t have anything like that.

Is that weird?

Don’t get me wrong, there are things in my life that I would definitely say that I’m passionate about, but there’s no one all-encompassing thing. I lack… purpose? That’s why the universe was granted a blog about a 20-something wannabe professional angsting her way through a quarter-life crisis instead of something a little more specific.

Sorry about that by the way.

All of this having been rambled, I’ve never really considered this a bad thing. I mean, let’s be real – for the most part I’ll fight the idea of being labelled or pigeon-holed based on my interests.

Just because I like dogs does not make me a crazy dog lady! GEEZE!

Still, as I get older, I’m starting to notice that a lot of people seem to be settling into their thing and sometimes I wonder if I’m missing out due to my inability to commit to any one thing.

Holy damn, I’m just rambling here.

Your thoughts – I’d like to hear them

Kids Help Phone (no fancy subject line needed)

26 Aug

It’s always interesting when something totally unexpected pops up and steals your attention. This article by Andrea Gordon in yesterday’s Toronto Star about Kids Help Phone was one of those things. To be honest, I clicked on the link by accident (I actually meant to click on an article about beer. Go figure).After reading it, I decided my sloppy clicking must have happened for a reason, hence me writing this post.

For those of you that don’t know (this may be most of my American readers, unless I’m mistaken in my belief that this is a Canadian organization. I’d be happy to know that I’m wrong!) KPH is a telephone (and now also online) counselling service for youth 8-20 years of age that need someone to talk to. This incredibly admirable organization runs on donations and the fully qualified counsellors take approximately 210,000 calls a year from young people in varying degrees of distress.

I never made use of their services growing up, but looking back, I definitely should have. It was not for lack of knowing about the organization or what its purpose was; I’m fairly certain KHP has been around almost as long as I have been and to this day you find the phone number plastered across the packaging of daily consumable products aimed at kids like breakfast cereal and candy.

My reasons for never making the call were for the same misconceptions cited in Gordon’s article – I didn’t feel that my “issues” were ever important enough. I wasn’t facing abuse or molestation. I didn’t hurt myself or find myself having suicidal thoughts.

But there were times that I was unhappy and scared. I was bullied in grade school and suppressed a lot of negative feelings stemming from my parents’ divorce. I struggled with having to grow up way too fast and with constant guilt trips from my biological father. In my late teens and early 20s, when I felt like I had lost control of everything else in my life, I focused on the one thing in my life that I could control: eating. I lost both weight and years to anorexia, a battle that left more than its fair share of scar that still ache to this day. And yet I still never once thought that any of this was reason to call that hotline.

It wasn’t until my second year of university when I was finally dragging myself out of a terrible relationship that I finally realized I needed help. I only saw my therapist for two months and for the most part, all he did was listen and occasionally as a few difficult questions, but the healing was transformative. I left my final session wondering what had taken me so damn long.

It wasn’t like I didn’t have anyone to talk to. My mother has always been my rock. To this day, I tell her way more than most people probably ever dream of telling their parents. But at the time there were some things I didn’t want to tell her.

Even kids that have amazing relationships with their parents still have their own reasons for holding back. For me, it was guilt. I knew that my mom was going through a lot of shit – the divorce, being a single mom raising three kids on social services and trying to help us each through our turbulent adolescent years while trying to start her life over again. Middle Brother was going through a million phases at once and Youngest Brother was indeed young enough that she needed all the help she could get raising him.

I didn’t feel it was fair to her to pile more garbage on her plate when she was already at the end of her rope as it was.

If had understood then that KHP was also for kids like me, I would have been all over that shit.

Which is why I’m making this post now.

I know that the Kids Help Phone demographic aren’t the ones reading my blog, but I do know that I have a lot of parents or people with children in their lives that do. I know that no parent likes the thought that maybe one day their child would want or need to seek the council of someone that isn’t them. But take it from me, it happens.

KPH is safe, free and confidential. There’s no waiting for appointments or stigma and kids can call whenever they feel they need it.

I don’t even know how you would begin having this conversation but I think it would be nothing but a good thing if each kid was made to understand that, even though they can always talk to mom and dad if they have a problem, there are still other options for the times they. I would love to see this promoted in schools. I would love for more kids out there to know that they aren’t as alone as they think they are.

The Crazy Diaries

25 Aug

On Monday I had to say goodbye to a very good friend at the office. He and his family are relocating to the east coast – an exciting homecoming for them and a really sad loss for those of us being left behind.

His version of cleaning out his desk had four steps: throw away the garbage, recycle the recyclables, pack what’s to be saved into a single banker box and turf the rest on my desk. I inherited all kinds of crap from this guy: pens that barely work, broken pencil crayons, Clorox disinfecting wipes…My work place has suddenly gotten very crowded. And unruly.

Amid all the debris, there was one gem: a black, hard-cover notebook. On the front there is a label with his name printed in tiny letters in the corner and inside he had used only one page on which he had written a to-do list.

No word on whether or not any of those things ever got done.

In life, I have a ridiculous obsession with stationary. I hoard the shit like it’s the only thing that’s going to help me survive the apocalypse.

And who knows, maybe it will.

Pretty papers, quaint correspondence kits, copious amounts of postcards (that I’m only now finding reason to use!); I’ve got way more of it all than I’m ever going to need. But my biggest vice are notebooks.

I collect them.

I see one in a store with a lovely cover or that perfect binding or a creamy texture to the pages and IT IS MINE. I decide that each one should be used for something very special and then I either save it for whatever that something special is (Note: I never find out what that something special is) or I use one or two pages and then never touch it again. There might be a support group for this sort of thing, I don’t know.

Anyway, because it has become such a problem I finally had to forbid myself from buying anymore notebooks. As my luck would have it, this display of willpower was soon followed by the revelation that I needed to start keeping a journal/diary again. My reasons are thus:

1) A million different thoughts and ideas can go through my head in a day, some of which I know I want to post. But by the end of the day when I get home I’ve either forgotten the essence of what I wanted to say or I’m too exhausted to write it all out. So yes, my aim is to pull a Bridget Jones and carry that thing around with me everywhere. I’m a writer, dammit!

2) Speaking of being a writer, I’m so not. Well, sort of, but really, any grammar-savvy reader will be able to tell right away by looking at my posts that a real writer would never allow half the shit I publish to see the light of day (at least not without the help of a very patient editor). But I want to be better at writing and I see keeping a journal as a good way to improve.

3) Finally, even though this blog is anonymous, there are still things I’m either not comfortable with writing or that I’m simply not ready to tell on the internet. Regardless, these things still need an outlet and sometimes just moving them from the mind into the real helps.

Having the perfect notebook is essential when it comes to keeping a diary. Making sure that it’s something fresh is also important. This is the book that you are going to document all of your most precious memories and darkest secrets in! Don’t those things deserve to be housed in a wicked-awesome tome?

Of course they do.

And yet, when my friend handed me that black, hard-cover notebook with his name on the label and to-do list on the first page, I knew right away that it was what I was looking for. It’s not pretty and it’s been bumped and spilled on already, but it also belonged to a friend. I don’t think I’m going to change anything about it; his name and list can stay.

I think this is going to work out very nicely. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The anti-peeve

22 Aug

Last Friday, Emily from Cupcakes and Cashmere made a quaint little post listing off some of her anti-peeves (Note: she didn’t actually call them anti-peeves, but I think the term is pretty appropriate). The anti-peeve is the opposite of a pet-peeve, special moments throughout the day that make you smile instead of making you feel stabby.

I thought it was a rather charming idea and, seeing as I tend to gravitate towards angsting and ranting, I figured that this could be an interesting departure.

Also, I like making lists.

So here we go!

1. Going to bed early and falling asleep right away when I do.
2. Being greeted by my dog, who is always SO FUCKING EXCITED to see me.
3, The perfect stretch.
4. When I find money in my pockets that I had totally forgotten about (Stole this one from Emily because, let’s face it, that’s a pretty awesome feeling).
5. When my mom calls me at work for no purpose other than to ramble aimlessly.
6. Coming home after a long day of work and realizing that I haven’t scheduled ANYTHING for the rest of the day.
7. When my whole family is in a good mood. AT THE SAME TIME.
8. Going for a walk.
9. When I come over to Boyfriend’s place and all he does for the first five minutes is hold me.
10. When a song comes on that reminds me of my favourite people/memories (even if it also makes me a bit sad).

Your turn!

Wherein I attempt to get my shit together

19 Jul

Have I ever told you about my soul-crushing guilt complex? Because I have one of those and, let me tell you, it’s a major kill-joy.

Back in May I applied for a job. It was a great position at a great place. Bonus points? It was in my field AND it was referred to me by a big-deal contact on the “inside”. I was super qualified for the position and I had an in? I was ecstatic.

I slaved over my application, sent it and waited.

I never heard anything back. I was crushed.

At first I languished over it – how could I be SO qualified AND have an excellent inside reference and STILL not even get so much as a phone call? I couldn’t figure out how I kept going wrong with this whole “establishing a career” thing and I felt pretty hopeless. Eventually I got over it and even started to settle into my current state of affairs in such a way that was way more positive than it had been. I made a plan – I’d give myself until November (which would make a year at my current job) or until March (until the end of my current contract), then I would start looking again.

And then last week, as if the Powers That Be were purposely holding out to make sure I wasn’t a cosmic pussy, I got the call.

It was a woman from the HR department at the place I had applied to back in May. I had been shortlisted for the position and they wanted to interview me on Monday. Which is to say, what is now today.

This is about when the world around me slowed and went fuzzy and my heart skipped a few dozen beats before I realized that this was actually happening. My first reaction after gaining feeling back in my limbs was to quake with excitement – Yes! The want to interview me! It’s finally happening!

Everything was coming up Jam.

And then, like I always do, I started to get all wishy-washy.

I looked around my cubicle and I started to panic. I haven’t finished my contract yet. That’s bad, right? And what am I supposed to tell my boss? A man who has looked after me and made sure that I am always taken care of. What about my awesome co-workers? (don’t get me wrong, they aren’t ALL awesome) And what about the job itself? Sure, it’s not even remotely in my field and doesn’t pay enough for me to pay off the education I’m not really using AND be self-sustaining at the same time. But it IS a steady job that has been very good to me during an exceptionally turbulent time of my life and I’m just going to BAIL ON IT?

Guys, I was being ravaged by guilt over the very prospect of leaving my job (an easy pay-cheque) for a career. It was DESTROYING ME AS A PERSON.

“Are you fucking kidding me??” my Work Bestie snapped at me when I whispered her my news. She too is working on moving on to greener pastures. Her workplace loyalty is an all-time low, “It’s a job in your field at a cool place that could end up paying you anywhere from $12 to $20 grand MORE than what you’re making now and you’re feeling EMOTIONAL about leaving this place?”

“Yeah, but – ”

“I WILL PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE.”

She’s a really positive motivating force in my life.

I called my mom and, I shit you not, I thought she was going to cry,

“This is amazing!” she all but sobbed, “This is everything you’ve been working for. Do you have any idea how much this is going to change your life?”

I felt like I was trying to keep a dirty little secret, “Shh, ma’! It’s just an interview! I haven’t gotten it yet, DON’T JINX ME!”

But I was thinking the same thing. I tried shoving all of that to the back of my mind – I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I wanted to be calm and level-headed about it. But the GUILT. The totally irrational, borderline-debilitating GUILT! It was starting to taint my opinion of the job entirely.

Not good.

I knew I wanted that job. I was genuinely excited about it. I even knew that my boss, although he would be disappointed, would also understand. He himself has said that he doesn’t except me to be here long, that this job is just a stepping stone and that people like me “don’t stay in places like this for long”. And that was ok. Hell, he even arranged for me to have career-planning sessions. I think he’ll be ok.

But still.

This is a problem. I attach so much emotion to things and places and moments in time that I come to have a hard time letting go. Uhg, I have SUCH a hard time letting go. I’m always afraid of disappointing people (who would never actually be disappointed, but my brain is too warped to realize it) or of losing those things that give me comfort (even when they’re not good for me or have already served it’s purpose).

You should see the boxes of stuff taking up space in my room and every available storage space in our house because I just don’t have the heart to get rid of it.

I cried the day we had to haul my first car off to the wreckers because even though it hadn’t run in over a year.

I often slip into fits of depressed nostalgia when a song on the radio reminds me of people or places or events from my past, even if those memories aren’t happy ones.

There’s probably something wrong with me. I have no idea.

I have passed up or settled too many time because I was afraid of letting go.

And after a few hours of fretting, I realized that, this time?

This time was not going to be one of them.

So I bought a pretty new dress and broke in some sassy kitten heels. I spent hours updating my portfolio until it was pretty much a fucking piece of art. I let myself do some what-if budgetary calculations (just a little though. It was sort of like stealing a smidge of frosting from a birthday cake before it’s been served – enough to get you excited about what’s coming but not so much as to spoil it). I studied and rehearsed and Boyfriend made my lunch for me so I could go to bed early.

I showed up half and hour early because I was too nervous to keep sitting at my desk. While I waited, the candidate that was interviewed before me finished and breezed past me with this smile plastered across her face like she was so damn proud of herself. And she probably deserved to be proud of herself but I was too busy judging the way she looked and the way she walked and the way she UHHG to care about that.

But it was her smile that I found to be so unnerving. She looked so confident. Unshakably confident. I smiled back and then looked down at the portfolio I was clutching in my hands. Why shouldn’t I feel that confident? I had no reason to feel anything BUT that confident. My portfolio was stellar, I was ridiculously qualified and, as Jaimie so eloquently put it, I am a consummate badass!

I decided to focus on something funny to help shake the nerves and settled on my favourite funny memory: I was at a conference with a colleague once and, in the middle of the presentation we were listening to he dropped his pen. Not wanting to draw attention to himself (or something?) he lunged down for it quickly. He also forgot to push his chair out when he did so and wound up cracking his forhead off the table so hard that his upper body bounced back up as fast as it went down. The only evidence that anything had happened was the suspicious swaying of his enormous Italian ‘fro (Think of that kid from High School Musical. You know, the one with the hair? SHUT UP YOU TOTALLY KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT) and a look on his face that screamed “WTF JUST HAPPENED”. Amazingly, I was the only one who witnessed it. We almost pissed ourselves laughing and how we didn’t get our asses hauled out of that presentation eludes me to this day.

But anyway, laughing helped. It continued to help as I revisited that memory several times over a period of 20 minutes that the panel kept me waiting before they finally invited me into the room. It’s helping even now. Oh god, SO FUNNY.

As for the interview, I truly believe that it went well, I don’t know that it was the most amazing interview I’ve ever given, but I was confident and gave what I feel were great responses. I felt comfortable and I knew what I was talking about. They liked my portfolio.

So now, I wait.

They said I should be hearing from them by the end of the week. That means four days of distracting myself and pretending it’s no big deal while secretly maintaining a vision of nothing but an absolutely positive outcome. And repeating my new personal mantra of “I WILL get this job, I am a consummate badass” several hundred time a day.

And maybe looking into finding someone to talk to about this all-consuming guilt thing.

One way or another, it’s a step in the right direction.

“There is no passion to be found in playing small – In settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living”
– Nelson Mandela