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The Advent Calendar from Hell- Blogmas 20

Blogmas is starting to feel like the Advent Calendar from hell. I’ve been trying to write something everyday since December 1. I’ve been told by some wonderful bloggers I’ve met through this process of starting a blog that it’s okay to fail at Blogmas. But I’m stubborn. I want to do this. So here’s another fucking blogmas post, number 20.

I’ve been doing a lot of errands and running around trying to get things ready for Christmas and helping my grandfather-in-law write and send Christmas cards. He’s 91 and still knows so many people. TOO many people. After writing addresses on the envelopes of 44 cards, licking the seals (didn’t die like Susan from Seinfeld thankfully, but tasted yucky) and putting all the stamps on, it ended up being about 8 hours of work. As we went through my grandfather-in-law’s address book, I would say a name and he would debate whether they should get a card. And at 91, a lot of his friends had died, which is sad. Does it make me a bad person that for each friend who he said was dead, I wanted to do a dance of joy because it meant we could skip the whole greeting card part?

I also went with my bestie Sam (the Blog Broad) to do some shopping tonight and we saw this:

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Would love to know the story behind how these jeans got there. Ever see random pieces of clothing, especially undergarments, and wonder how the heck they got there? For anyone looking for a writing prompt, here it is. Be creative. How/why are these pants here? Why not put them IN the garbage if they didn’t want them? Why hang them on the side? Dang… we should have checked the pockets for money.

I finished some of the baskets I was working on and I thought I’d show you the finished product. Original article can be found by clicking HERE.

And finally, I saw a car today that I wish I had gotten a photo of. It was your typical SUV that is really just a sportier mini-van with the family stickers on the back [Eye Roll]. And on the roof of their truck, they had constructed a reindeer out of wire and souped it up with Christmas lights. I followed them with the intention of taking a photo but then couldn’t find my phone. Then I realized when I got home that it was in my pocket THE WHOLE TIME! Mother-humper!

But here are some other tacky things I saw.

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Stupid inflatable lighted Christmas lawn garbage. Very disturbing for young children in the day when Santa disintegrates or as in this picture, apparently Santa must have drank too much or fell off the roof. Maybe Frosty pushed him down. Another writing prompt! GO!
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Another stupid Christmas thing. Like I don’t have enough to decorate that I’m going to decorate my fucking car? Fuck you, corporations and greedy capitalists. You don’t steal enough of my money by selling me crap I don’t need? Now you’re going to get me to decorate my fucking car! I don’t even CLEAN my car! Fuckedy Fuck! FUCK!

That’s it for Blogmas 20. Happy 12/20 everyone. Why isn’t 12/20 a thing? Maybe we should make it a thing? 12/20? Jays? Anyone?

5 more posts.

 

 

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The Adventures of an Ass- Blogmas 19

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Today I’m starting a new regular feature for my blog. I will be exploring new places around the Maritimes in Canada and Northeastern Maine, U.S.A.. I will be taking my ass to these places and sharing some of the beautiful gems that can be found in the North Atlantic region. Yesterday, my friend Donna and I took my ass across the border to a little town in Northeastern Maine called Eastport. It’s very close to Calais- pronounced like those hard bumps that form from working with your hands or walking too much, “callus.” Although, I enjoy pronouncing it the French way, “Cal-ay” because it sounds more sophisticated. From Calais, you take the Coastal route 1 along the Atlantic coast heading south to Perry.  And just after you come to Perry, there will be a turn on the left for Route 190 which will take you to Eastport. It is 27 miles from Calais and will take about 35 minutes to get there.

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My ass at St. Croix Island

Along the way, you’ll find many cute little parks and rest stops. We stopped at Saint Croix Island National Park which is designated an International Historic Site as well. If you’re familiar at all with the Europeans arrival in North America, you may be aware that in 1604 Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts and Samuel Champlain came with a small group of French men to what is now modern-day New Brunswick and Maine to settle and trade with the First Nations people. They chose to settle on Saint Croix island in the middle of the Saint Croix river because the position would allow them to trade with the Aboriginal peoples on both sides of the river. Champlain left the group to map the coast of “Acadie” which would later be known as Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. What the French settlers didn’t realize was how harsh the winter would become due to the influx of Arctic air from the north.  The men were not prepared for the severity of the winter weather conditions. The ice in the river froze creating ice floes too small and dangerous to cross. Isolated from the mainland with no access to fresh water, food or wood, the men began to die from scurvy. Of the 79 men, 35 died and just over 20 were near it by June of 1605 when Champlain returned. Because it is the first known settlement by European people in the Maritimes and Maine, and because of what happened to the people, it is considered to be a place of historical importance. It was closed because it’s winter yesterday, and all of the interpretative displays and monuments were covered up. But there is a beautiful view of the St. Croix River and of St. Croix Island.

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A view of my ass and the St. Croix River

 

After enjoying the view, (and not much else) at the St. Croix National Park, we continued straight for Eastport. Once you turn onto Route 190, you cross two causeways to reach Eastport. That’s because it’s on an island attached to the mainland through causeways. Eastport is on Moose Island, but to get to Moose Island you first have to drive over Carlow Island, also attached by a causeway. It is a scenic drive of ocean views most of the way to the little town of Eastport. When we finally arrived in the little town, I said to my friend Donna, “Doesn’t this remind

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Water Street in Cabot Cove…er…I mean, Eastport

you of Cabot Cove?” I kept expecting to see Jessica Fletcher come cycling around the corner any moment. I apologize to those of you who may be too young to understand the references here; it’s from a television series, Murder She Wrote. Jessica Fletcher was a murder-mystery writer who lived in the fictional town of Cabot Cove in Maine. Every week someone got murdered and it just so happened that the police were always incompetent. Luckily, Jessica Fletcher would always weasel her way into the investigation and help solve the case. Surely, Cabot Cove in Maine must have had the highest murder rate per capita in the world.

 

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“Whacko” diner

We arrived in Eastpoint around lunch-time (Atlantic time) so we ate at the WaCo Diner. Not as in Waco, Texas. As in “whacko.” I didn’t really see anyone who looked like a whacko in the diner. Probably the only whacko in town that day was me. Imagine it- I carried my donkey head on a stick all over that little town and took photos. And no one seemed to take a second look! The WaCo Diner had a beautiful view of the water and we  sat right next to the window. It is your typical diner with reasonably priced food and excellent service. We didn’t have to ask for our drinks to be refilled, the waitress brought us fresh drinks as soon as our mugs were empty. Donna had a coffee, so I wasn’t so much surprised at her refill. But I had a hot chocolate with whip cream on top and she also brought me a fresh one with the whip cream as well! They had all day breakfast so Donna had the special (steak, eggs, homefries, and toast) and I had the “Eastport Scramble” which went straight to my ass. My literal ass, not my figurative one. Actually, maybe it is my figurative one? It is my figure, after all. In any case, it was delicious and well worth the cost.

 

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S.L. Wadsworth and my ass

After we ate we walked around downtown Eastport and explored the shops on Water Street. There wasn’t much open. We discovered that all the shops in Eastport are closed on Sunday and that only about half of the shops in Eastport are opened on Mondays. Tuesday-Saturday all the shops are open. However, it seems the local pub is only open Wednesdays-Saturdays. Of course, we did visit in December. They may have different hours in the summer. The first little store we went into was S.L. Wadsworth & Son. I guess it is the oldest ship chandlery in America; that’s what it says on their business card. I don’t even know what a ship chandlery is, but it seemed to me that they sold a lot of the kinds of things you might find at a Canadian Tire in Canada but on a mini-mini-MINI-scale.  The part my ass was drawn to

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This fisher creeped us out. It seemed like he was watching us. He’s scarier than Paul Bunyan in Bangor. I would hate for this guy to come to life like the statue in It. He’s armed with a giant fish!

was the gift shop area. Most of the items were nautically themed or ocean related. And if you are a pirate, this is the store for you! It must have the largest selection of pirate gear that I’ve ever seen. Aye, Aye, matey! If you’re having trouble finding it, look for the fisherman statue. It’s right across the street.

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Port O’ Call and my ass

 

The next shop we visited was called Port O’ Call. I really enjoyed this store. It was full of unique gifts and trinkets and even clothes items. You can even go to their website and order some of the neat items in their shop. I’m going to feature a few of the things I thought were interesting but I know that many of you may find some neat finds by browsing their online gift shop. Almost immediately after we walked into the store, I was drawn to the Scramble Squares puzzle display. Anyone who solves the puzzle in less than 5 minutes wins a puzzle of their choice. I love puzzles. So I was game. (Get it. I was “game.” I kill me.) I started at it as my friend Donna browsed through the rest of the shop. I was probably there for 30-40

 

minutes, lost in a spell of trying to solve the puzzle and determined to do it before realizing my 5 minutes was long up. I only realized it because Donna had finished browsing through the entire shop before I had even went past the puzzle display. I ended up buying two of the puzzles, one with hummingbirds for my mother and one with puffins for my grandmother-in-law. Then finally, I browsed through the rest of the store and was drawn to were these necklaces with round pictures on them. I’m not even sure what the pictures are made of. For some reason, they made me think of Jenny Lawson‘s taxidermied raccoon, Rory and her taxidermied mouse, Hamlet. I’m not sure if the animals on these necklaces were dead, but for some reason, they remind me of her dead stuffed animals.

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Hamlet and Rory???

Because it seemed the rest of the shops were closed on Water Street, we crossed over from Port O’Call and into the Moose Island Bakery. We were still full from our lunch over at the Whacko Diner (spelled WaCo), so we just viewed the treats and didn’t indulge. The bakery is open year-round and is locally owned and operated. The lady at the counter explained that her sister owns the bakery and if we wanted anything ordered special for Christmas that they are taking pre-orders. Of course, for Donna and I that wasn’t really helpful information since Donna will be spending the holidays in New Brunswick and I will soon be returning to Halifax, Nova Scotia to spend time with my family. Next time we visit, we will be sure to save some room in our tummies for some of the bakery treats at the Moose Island Bakery.

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Just an ass hangin’ out in an Art Gallery

Finally, we looped back up to where we had parked and stopped in to The Commons Eastport. We both adored this art gallery, but what I was surprised to learn when I was referring to the brochure to write about our adventure is it is a “destination gallery.” Above the gallery, there are rental condos for short or extended stays. The gallery is open year-round and features artists from Maine, the Maritimes and the Passamaquoddy Nation at Sipayik Point. The lady at the gallery was very friendly and knowledgeable about all of the artists, and there were also Christmas ornaments created by many of the artists. Gallery photos:

 

I discovered the work of Bonnie Stewart while at the gallery (above and below). She is a local artist who uses small objects found in nature like pine cones, shells, sea rocks and the like to create intricate works of art. I absolutely love them. I can’t imagine the amount of time and thought that must go into creating each one of these unique pieces of art.

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I think I like this one best of the three Bonnie Stewart pieces I viewed. I like how she added the sea glass and sand dollar and the pops of blue and green colors.
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A fish out of Heinz tomato juice… and my apologies to the artist, for I can’t remember your name! (I blame my ass for forgetting to bring a notebook.)

It is a delightful shop and the inclusion of artists from both Maine and the Maritimes highlights the close relationship that exists between the two regions. We are connected by the land and the sea and often rely and assist each other in times of need. I remember in Nova Scotia when we were hit by category 2 Hurricane Juan in 2003 that the power corporation in Maine sent up workers to help restore power. And, of course, every year, Nova Scotia sends a Christmas Tree to the city of Boston in Massachusetts as a thank you for the help they sent after the Halifax explosion on December 6, 1917. It was the largest human-made explosion prior to World War II. Two ships collided in the harbour, one carrying explosives. It was an accident, but it leveled much of the city. The Maritimes has always had a deep connection with the New England states. Well, maybe not during the American Revolution or the War of 1812, but other than that, we were pretty tight.

I think a great day was had by us all, and I want to thank the people of Eastport for being so accommodating and welcoming to me and my ass. Not everyone wants to put up with an ass, but the wonderful, kind, and friendly people of Eastport were happy to do so. I think when you can go to a place carrying a donkey head on a stick and people don’t judge, that you’ve found a safe place to stay awhile. If you ever get a chance, I encourage you to take a detour off the beaten path and check out Eastport, Maine. Tell them you heard about it from Ocean Hayward’s ass.

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My ass had a wonderful trip to Eastport! Highly recommended by and for asses everywhere!

 

 

Bathrooms: A privilege or a right? (Blogmas 18)

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219vjoThe bathroom. We all go. Its main purpose should be for #1 and #2, although many other activities may happen in a bathroom. (I’m thinking preening, washing up, and the like- get your mind out of the gutter; although yes, sometimes sex in bathrooms happens.) Arguably, the bathroom is the most important space in any home or public area. Because when you gotta go, you gotta go! Know what I’m sayin’, dawg? Lately, I’ve been thinking about all the fuss over the use of public bathrooms and a rant has been brewing.

219v59In the US, there are states actually passing legislation around who can use public bathrooms. Although it seems odd, let’s not forget that at one point, the US had segregated bathrooms in some states for Black and White people. Now the debate has turn to transgender people and which bathrooms they are allowed to use. Some states are requiring people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their sex. There’s actually been cases where transgender people using the bathroom have been stopped and told they aren’t allowed in the bathroom, or harassed. Maybe this is because I am Canadian, but I can’t even IMAGINE how someone has the audacity to go up to someone and say, “Excuse me, I notice that you used the men’s room, but you aren’t really a man. You are a woman, so you have to use the women’s bathroom.” First of all, how do you know that the “woman” isn’t just a really feminine looking man? How do you know?  How are they even going to enforce such laws? Are they going to hire the genital police to guard the doors to public bathrooms? “Pull down your pants, we need to be sure that your parts match the stick-person sign.” “Hey, the sign lady has a dress on, and you’re wearing pants, so you go to the men’s room.”

219vc3Furthermore, why do we even need to assign bathrooms by gender and/or sex? Especially in those one-room bathrooms. Men and women use the same bathrooms in our homes, so why do public washrooms have to be genderized? When I go to the gas station, and I’m on the road a lot, I’m going to whichever bathroom is open. I have used the “Men’s” room too many times to count. Why would I wait in a line behind a bunch of ladies (many of whom are going to spend at least 5 minutes in there grooming after doing their business) when I can skip across the hall into the empty men’s room? I wouldn’t and I don’t. Yes, I usually have to put the toilet seat down, but that’s just a minor inconvenience and I always use toilet paper to protect my hand from man germs. And, yes, I’ve surprised many men waiting to use the “Men’s” room when a somewhat attractive blonde chick comes busting out the door instead of the man they were expecting to see, but I don’t care. When you gotta go, you gotta go!

219vplIn Canada, there has also been controversy for people with illnesses such as Crohn’s, colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), incontinence and the like who are often denied access to so called “public bathrooms.” In Saskatchewan in 2016, an elderly man using a walker who was on the verge of peeing in his pants asked to use the bathroom at a gas station and was denied access by employees. In fact, the ability for people with disabilities to access “public” bathrooms is so limited that Crohn’s and Colitis Canada has a campaign called, “Go here”  which recruits private businesses to keep their bathrooms, uh, well, open for business. In addition, people can download an app on their smart-phone to find businesses where they can do their business and a card to show that says, “I am a Crohns, Colitis, IB sufferer and I need to go to the washroom.” Can you imagine? As if it’s not bad enough to have an illness that causes frequent bouts of explosive diarrhea, but in order to use a so-called “public” bathroom, you have to show a stranger a card that basically tells them that you are about to have explosive diarrhea!

219vfbAgain, I do a lot of road trips, and I’m lucky to say that businesses have never harassed me about using their bathroom. I always just duck into a gas station, fast food joint, or a Best Buy in order to relieve myself. But there have been some places of note where finding a bathroom was a problem. These are generally the tourist attraction towns, like St. Andrews, New Brunswick, the Halifax waterfront in Nova Scotia and Freeport, Maine. I understand that the businesses in these high traffic areas don’t want the general public freeloading in their toilets, but at the same time, when you gotta go, you gotta go! My favorite line is when I go into a particular place, for example, a tourist bureau in small-town Maine, it may have been called Freeport or something like that, and when I ask to use their “restroom” (as Americans seem to call it, although to equate what goes on in there with “resting” seems a little odd to me) the response is, “We don’t have a restroom.” I call bullshit on that! My next question is naturally, “then where do you go to the bathroom?” And generally the response is that the bathroom is for employees only. As someone who worked a stint in a tourist industry where we had access using a key to a small port-a-potty that was for employees only, if someone ever came in with the pee dance or that strained/worried look of, “I have a poker,” I always gave them the key. It’s called empathy. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

Transgender people and people with disabilities and I would argue many seniors as well (anyone with toileting challenges, really) are facing discrimination regarding the right to use the bathroom. And it should be a right, but it is a right that we seem to be treating like a privilege. It’s about time we acknowledged the most basic human quality we all have in common: we all use the bathroom. Everybody pees. Everybody poops. There’s no denying it; so how about we stop denying people the ability to get their business done and to get it done with dignity. No laws are needed here; just basic human compassion and empathy.

OH

 

A Christmas Dinner Party with Newfies- Blogmas 17

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Last night, I went to my friend Donna’s for a dinner party. She has a cute little home about a half hour south from where we are staying and an hour north of the Maine and New Brunswick border. Donna is a “Newfie.” A Newfie is an affectionate term for those who originate from “the rock” or Newfoundland, Canada. Newfies are often the butt of many a joke in Canada. They have a distinct dialect of English, very similar to those from Northern England.

Newfies are known for their hospitality and kindness. Traditionally, Newfoundland was a “have-not” province, meaning a lot of the population lived in poverty. That was before they discovered the natural gas off their coast, which was great for them right up until the price of oil started tanking. (Get it… the price of oil tanked.) My friend Donna and her family, who all live in New Brunswick now, grew up not having much, but they also learned to share what it is that they have. She always jokes that her dinner parties may not have the most fancy of dishes, but that everyone is fed and has a great time. I would argue with her on the first point, but the last two points are right on. Donna is an amazing hostess.

Her dinners start at 5pm sharp and she generally tries to maintain a schedule of bringing out a new course every hour. The first course is always the appetizers.

Everything is laid out buffet style, so people can pick and choose what to eat based on their preferences. Donna tries to accommodate everyone’s individual food needs. I particularly enjoyed the Caesar salad in a pita bowl. The dressing seeps into the bowl and you can eat the bowl when you’re done. Or if you’re gluten free, you can just throw the pita bowl into the compost.

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Main course

Then it’s onto the main course. Fresh homemade sour dough bread, shrimp risotto, spaghetti, pasta sauce with ground beef and moose-meat sausages, turkey, turkey gravy and steamed carrots and yellow and white potatoes. Again, guests choose what they want to eat in order to accommodate their palates. Moose-meat? Absolutely delicious. Moose-meat made into sausages? Absolutely to die for. In fact, if I hadn’t been told there was moose-meat in the pasta sauce, I’d have been none the wiser. It doesn’t taste gamey at all like deer meat tends to taste. Although, I did learn from another guest that if you know how to prepare deer meat that it will not taste gamey at all.

After the main course, we took a longer break before the deserts were laid out and Donna had prepared a special kind of Yankee Swap for everyone. I’d always wondered the origin of the term “Yankee Swap” and apparently it dates back to the American Civil War when the Confederates and the Yankees would trade prisoners in what was supposed to be some sort of fun game. How it got adapted into a Christmas tradition is unknown. In case you’ve never heard of a “Yankee Swap,” traditionally, how it works is a dollar amount is set for gifts, and each person attending your Christmas party brings one gift, wrapped, without a tag on it. When each guest arrives, they place their untagged gift under the tree. Then, each guest draws for a number, based on the number of gifts that are

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Donna’s gifts were all bought by her and each gift had a number that corresponded with the numbers on our lanyards.

brought. When a person’s number is drawn, they pick a gift under the tree, open it, and show it to everyone else. After the first gift is opened, each subsequent guest to choose a gift has the option to trade gifts with anyone who has already opened a gift. So the later the number you drew is on the list, the better your odds of being able to choose whatever gift you prefer. It is a really fun secret Santa kind of game, where guests can interact with each other. Making the gifts funny makes the game even more fun.

My friend Donna varied her Yankee Swap a bit though. Instead of asking us all to buy a gift to bring to the party, she bought all the gifts. As each guest entered the party, we were all given a homemade lanyard with a Christmas tag on it. On the tag, was a number.

Donna had bought all kinds of neat little gifts. She said she allots $5 for gifts and spends the whole year before her annual Christmas dinner party looking for sales. She tries to get a mix of funny gifts and nice gifts. The gift I really wanted was a duck wine holder!

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This mallard duck is a real lush. Don’t invite him to the party!
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Travel Pilsner Glass

I was number 3 so I picked up a pottery plate first, but someone else wanted my plate and I ended up with a necklace from Avon instead, of which I do not have a photo. My hubby, C, had number 16, so we picked up a travel Pilsner glass. The camouflage is perfect for hiding that beer you’re drinking in public. Or for those days you feel like going for a hike in the woods and you want to hide that refreshing beer you brought along. It also works for when you go camping at those “dry” prohibition campgrounds. Also, if you’re out hunting, you certainly don’t want the deer to steal your beer! Hunting with guns and guzzling brew-skis is now perfectly safe now that your Pilsner travel glass will blend in with your environment. (We will definitely be re-gifting this to my dad!)

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Desert table

Finally, we had our last course of the evening and my favorite. Desert and coffee/tea. Donna always has multiple deserts to choose from and I can’t help but try them all. Homemade cookies, vanilla cake with red and green frosting, carrot cake and chocolate fudge cake. And yes, I tried all four! My husband had to roll me to the car. We haven’t even got to the real nitty gritty of the Christmas eating season and I know I have put on at least 10 pounds since September. Gazing at all of the photos of wonderful homemade food at Donna’s, I think I gained another 10 pounds just from the memories of last evening!

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When we left Donna’s, her vacuum cleaner was in full force taking care of any morsels that found their way onto the floor.

 

Hand lotion makes a great gift- Blogmas #16

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December 16, 1996. It is a day that is etched in my brain forever. It was just nine sleeps before Christmas and we got a call early that morning around 6am. My parents and I got up out of bed and got into our car and rushed to the nursing home where my grandmother had been staying for the last few months. She was 86 at the time. In the two years before she passed her health had deteriorated. She had osteoporosis and had broken her hip when she rolled over in bed. Born in 1908, when she had found herself confined to a wheelchair, she refused to leave the house. For her, it was shaming to be seen anywhere in public in that wheelchair. My cousin, Laura, lived with her and cared for her, but by the fall of 1996, it became too difficult. My grandmother had also been diagnosed with breast cancer. She had also put a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) in place, probably because of the depression from being in the wheelchair or the depression from being in the nursing home or both. The call we received that morning was from the nursing home to let us know we had to get there quickly; my grandmother was close to the end. If we wanted to be with her in her last moments, we didn’t have any moments to spare.

sunny winter morning_InPixioI remember it was a cold but sunny morning. The sky had that pink glow as the sun was rising. It was hard to believe that something so terrible could happen on such a beautiful December morning. My dad is someone who always follows the rules. For example, most Canadians, when they do cross-border shopping in the U.S., lie about how much they bought when they come back into Canada. Not my dad. No, my dad is always honest and he would dutifully report how much we spent and then we would dutifully pay the duties on what we spent. And he never speeds. Never. But on this morning, my dad sped. It didn’t matter. When we arrived, my grandmother had already left us. I remember my cousins, Laura and Liz, sisters who were more like her daughters since she raised them being there. It was the first time I had ever seen a dead person. I was 22 at the time. Immediately, when I saw my grandmother, I realized it wasn’t her anymore. Yes, it looked like her. But the person I grew up loving more than anyone was no longer there. My cousin, Liz, who was hugging her body and crying didn’t seem to understand that she wasn’t hugging my grandmother anymore. She was hugging the home where her soul had lived, but her soul had moved on.

mini tree_InPixioChristmas is always hard when it’s the first Christmas you celebrate after someone you love has died. But it’s even worse when the person dies just before the Christmas holidays. Not only do you have to do all the usual Christmas stupidity, but you also have to prepare for a funeral. I remember in the weeks leading up to Christmas, my cousin Liz insisting we celebrate Christmas with my grandmother since we knew she wasn’t expected to live past Christmas. My grandmother, who was a no-nonsense, practical lady, often found my cousin, Liz, to be ridiculous, even though she loved her like a daughter. Liz brought in a little tree and decorated it and put up garland and lights all around the room and all of the family was told to bring gifts for this early Christmas. My mom and I both racked our brains; what do you get someone who is dying for Christmas? And I knew my grandmother well enough to know that she was going to roll her eyes at this whole “Christmas” before Christmas fiasco. My mother and I settled on a bottle of Clinique hand lotion for the gift, because we knew my grandmother’s hands got dry from the air in her room. And we also figured, whatever we got, we would end up getting back after anyway. When we finally came to the day of my grandmother’s special Christmas, she, surprisingly, didn’t grumble or roll her eyes as much at my cousin Liz’s antics as she usually did. I think she knew that the early Christmas celebration wasn’t for her. It was for Liz. It was something Liz had to do to deal with the pain of losing the woman who had raised her from the age of two.

graveyard_InPixioEvery year on December 16, I think about my grandmother and that first Christmas without her. She was the matriarch; I think most women are in their families. It is the mothers and grandmothers who are the glue that hold families together. The last time I saw all ten of my aunts and uncles together who were left at the time my grammy died was at her funeral. My grandmother was buried next to her three children who had passed away before she did. When you have twelve aunts and uncles and fifty-three cousins, it is difficult to maintain close ties with them all. When my grandmother was alive, she was the reason that family who had moved to Ontario would return home at least once a year to visit. After she died, our family fell apart. I rarely saw my aunts and uncles and cousins anymore and our Christmas tradition of going to my grandmother’s for Christmas dinner and spending the afternoon working on puzzles and playing cards ended.

My grandmother died 21 years ago today. Ironically, she always said as she was nearing the time of her death, that she wasn’t afraid of death. She said she was ready at any time. Her only stipulation was that her death couldn’t be at Christmas because she didn’t want to ruin Christmas for her family. That was the kind of woman she was. No-nonsense and practical, and someone you didn’t want to cross. She’d hold you to account. I like to think that when she got to the other side that she tore a strip off of God’s decision to take her at Christmas! So today, I ask you to be thankful for your family and friends, and to enjoy every moment you have with them in the days leading up to Christmas. Hug your loved ones just a little bit tighter and remember that every moment you have with them is precious. Finally, if someone you know is dying at Christmas, hand lotion makes a great gift.

Image sources:

Graveyard. Free Stock Photos. <http://www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/9185> December 16, 2017.

Hand cream. Px Here. <https://pxhere.com/en/photo/634760> December 16, 2017.

Mini-tree. Flickr. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/daveynin/8251311244> December 16, 2017.

Winter morning. Max Pixel. <http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Frozen-Season-Morning-Cold-Sun-Ice-Winter-Road-1881442> December 16, 2017.

 

“I knew you wouldn’t like it.” Blogmas 15

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216api‘Tis the season for another exciting Blogmas post. It’s a busy time of the year. People shopping, shopping and shopping. Those who say online shopping is killing the mall haven’t spent any time trying to navigate the malls during the Christmas season. The mall parking lots are full now and it won’t get any better any time soon. Finding a parking spot at the mall is like winning the lottery during the Christmas season. And if the spot is near the entrance, it’s like a glorious early gift from Santa. Santa, I’m sure, has no problem finding parking. He just lands the sleigh on the mall roof, and he’s good to go.

216akfI’ve got almost all of my shopping wrapped up now. Literally. As soon as I get home with a present, I wrap it. No luck for any snoopers in my home. Maybe it’s because of one of my good friends in middle school. She went snooping and found an Esprit shirt her mom had bought her for Christmas.  Then she wore it to school before Christmas with the tag still on it. Then she put it back where she found it. I would never have been so lucky to get away with such a thing. I would have spilled food on it for certain. I did snoop one year, but realized that it wasn’t any fun on Christmas when you already know what your gifts are. Then you also have to be an amazing actress. The only upside to snooping is if you open a gift that is totally not you. It’s easier to hide your disappointment when you already know a gift you hate is coming.

216as6My mom is the worst for picking out gifts that I don’t like. I’ve realized over the years that I have to be very careful when I go shopping with her. What she tends to do is pick something up, and ask me what I think of it. Now what I used to think when she did that was, “What do you think of this for me?” But after receiving items that she asked me what I thought of over the years, I now know that “What do you think of this?” actually means “What do you think of this because I’m going to buy this for you for Christmas.”  So now when mom asks me, “What do you think of this?”, my first question to her is, “For you or for me?”

216a9rOne of the worst gifts I got from my mom was the year I asked for a plain white bath robe. What I got was a bath robe with sunglasses and lipsticks sewn on. I may have mentioned this before? But the best part was my reaction when I opened the gift. I couldn’t hide my disappointment. It looked like a plain bathrobe at first, but then I pulled it up out of the box, my face fell. My mom says and I quote: “I knew you weren’t going to like it.” She knew I wasn’t going to like it. But she got it anyway.
I love my mom and she tries so hard to make Christmas special for us all. In fact, she goes overboard every year, even now that my brother and I are well into our 30s and 40s. She braves those mall parking lots every year with arthritis in her legs, hobbling sadly around trying to find gifts that she knows we’re not going to like. She’s Santa with a wheelchair parking pass, and a list she only half reads. Instead of a red suit, she has red hair, but only because she dyes it. But she’s my Santa and I love her dearly. I can’t wait to see what things she knew I wouldn’t like this year!

A Christmas Card from Bexa: Blogmas 14

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The beautiful home-made card that arrived all the way from Brighton, England from Bexa

When I got home yesterday, there was a beautiful envelope waiting for me. It came all the way from England from a blogger I’ve met, Bexa. Inside was a gorgeous homemade card with some of the neatest printing I have ever seen in my life. Bexa’s blog is amazing. Her site is designed so well, and you can tell she is a very creative and kind soul. The main reason I found Bexa is that I was looking for Twitter accounts that re-post blogs. She had wrote a post asking everyone to send her their blog post for her Sunday reading. So I sent mine and we kind of started a bit of a blogging friendship. Please take a look at Bexa’s blog: http://hellobexa.com. She has great tips for people just starting out with blogging.

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Cute custom-made sticker inside the card

Looking at the card, I started thinking about the reaction I got to my “Merry Fucking Christmas” post too. I started to feel so thankful for the amazing people I have met through blogging, their kindness and their encouragement. There are so many people I have discovered through WordPress and Twitter who are such talented writers; people from all over the world, from different cultures and different religions. I love it! If the rest of the world could be as accepting and open and loving to each other as the bloggers I’ve met, we would never worry about nuclear war, famine, genocide or any other horrible things that people do to each other for no good reason ever again!

Through reading the blogs of others, I learn about other people’s lives and struggles and come to realize that we aren’t that alone after all. It’s awe inspiring how people connect through writing. I guess as an English teacher I shouldn’t really be that surprised, but blogging is quite different from reading a text that has been published. The main difference is that when I read text from a book, I can’t directly comment to the writer of the piece. With blogs, you can give immediate feedback, ask the writer questions, and interact with the writer of a piece. It is quite a remarkable thing.

 

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I loved the message inside as well as the added touch of the piece of paper inside reminding me to “Always wear your invisible crown.” Aww…. I love Christmas and Blogmas again!

Although I enjoy the interaction that blogging brings, I genuinely hope that books and paper texts will not be completely phased out. I can’t think of a better smell than the smell of opening that first crisp page in a brand new book. I love to just sink my nose into the middle and take long deep breaths. Aw…. the smell of words!  Some day maybe the  words of the bloggers I have met will be in the printed form with the aroma of “new book.” I sure hope so.

Thank you to all my followers and fellow bloggers for being such a wonderful and supportive community. As a thank you, I’m going to highlight a blog site I regularly visit to share with readers of this blog. Today’s is Bexa’s (obviously) and you can find her most recent work here: https://hellobexa.com/life/the-top-20-christmas-films-of-all-time/

A special thank you to Bexa for the beautiful Christmas card.

 

If you would like to make a card like the one Bexa sent to me, follow this link: https://hellobexa.com/blogging/how-to-make-washi-tape-christmas-cards/

Happy Blogmas 14!

O.H.

I’m Following You! [Blogmas 13]

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not stalkingI’ve been following you. I’ve been following you for a while, but you may not have noticed me. It’s not like I’ve been purposely tagging behind you like an undercover police officer or a creepy stalker. I’ve been following you on Twitter.

Twitter, where all of a sudden you can have interactions with your BFFs Mindy Khaling and Melissa McCarthy. Okay, they are my BFFs, maybe not yours. Of course, they have no idea that we have a relationship. My bestie, Mindy has 11 million followers and “Missy” (as only I can call Melissa McCarthy because of how tight we are, you know) has 939 000 followers, but Mindy follows a mere 811 people and “Missy” follows a measly 121 people. Fuck you, Mindy Khaling and Melissa McCarthy! I thought we were friends forever, but it turns out, I’m just a pathetic celebrity stalker.

Of course, these are famous actresses/writers who used their talents and, in one case, their untalented cousin to achieve success before the up-rise of blogging. Any of us [me] who have tried sending off manuscripts without a social media presence realize quickly that no publisher will touch you unless you have already established a following on social media. That would be why our other BFF, Jenny Lawson, better known as The Bloggess, has 477 000 Twitter followers but follows a whopping 42 000 people. It is still less than the number who follows her, I know, but the ratio is still much higher than with Mindy and Melissa. I’m no mathematician (trust me, I’m not) but I’m pretty certain about the math. I’m about 20% certain. (That’s a lot, right?)

followingOriginally when I started blogging, I said to my friend Sam, the Blog Broad, that I didn’t need social media because “if your writing is good enough, people will connect with it and follow it.” Um… I couldn’t have been more wrong unless I was Fox News. And now here I am, a Twitter Newbie. I joined, “tweeted” and still no real following formed. I said to Sam, “It’s not working.” And Sam said, “that’s because you have to follow people in order for them to follow you.” And so I did. I just started going on people’s followers lists and clicking follow on all of the names there- I thought to myself, I’ll just do that everyday. I’ll have soooo many followers in no time. Then someone will notice my brilliance and I’ll be able to spend my time being paid for creative pursuits. Now, I don’t know if anyone else has done what I did to try to build followers, but if you do try it, a pop-up from Twitter will appear. Now, I don’t remember the exact wording, but it was something like, “Because you’re a insane, creepy, stalker person, we are suspending your ability to follow people for 48 hours,” or something to that effect. SOOoooo… I stopped doing that.

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“Ass Ass” was just a big bare J Lo ass. Maybe it was J Lo’s ass?

Instead, I just started following people at random but just not as many. And then I learned another important lesson. You should actually read up on the people you’re following and take a look at what they’ve been tweeting before you start following them. It was when my Twitter feed showed a picture of a big ass. Now I know my profile picture on WordPress is of an ass too, but my ass is a donkey. This pic was of an ass ass. It was just a big, huge, J-Lo-esque ass. And in the self-description box, it said, “I’m kind of an ass.” I thought, hmmmm, that’s kind of funny; they must be being ironic like me and my donkey ass, but doing it with an ass ass. So I didn’t unfollow the person with the ass pic right away. I didn’t unfollow until I realized what all the person’s tweets were about, and I don’t want to be crass, so I’m going to use the technical terms. “Ass Ass,” as I’ll call her, used dirty words, but the words in her tweets featured semen, anal intercourse, breasts, and meeting places. So basically, I think I may have started following a ho. She’s either a ho or a slut. And that’s okay, I don’t judge. (Well, I try not to.) But I just didn’t want to be propositioned like that. I’m somewhat happily married. (Hey, don’t judge, no one is “happily” married- no one is happy ALL THE FUCKING TIME!) Of course, my hubby, C, probably would have wanted us to find Ass Ass and say what’s up. But I’m not into that. And so I unfollowed Ass Ass and I started just following people who posted things I thought were funny or thoughtful or who tweeted pics and videos of cute animals, and of course, those sites that retweet posts by bloggers.

When I really think about it, randomly following people on Twitter is like randomly following the car in front of you to find out where they’re going. It’s not likely to be anywhere you’re interested in going, so why would you do that? (Although my friends and I did do that once in high school just for fun. But we were in high school. We did a lot more stupid stuff than just that.) I totally connected when I came across this tweet on my twitter feed: “It’s amazing the amount of people who follow just to get a follow back, then if I don’t follow back they unfollow me. I won’t follow people for the sake of it, but follow people I genuinely want to connect with.” dASHing through the snow  ❄️ @FTLOBOOKS (Click on link to see her blog.)20171211_174331.jpg

I found out the hard way that you should only follow people who seem to be people you could connect with. At the same time, sometimes you have to go on that “first date”: follow the person and see what kinds of things they post before you figure out that they weren’t the one for you. It’s okay to unfollow. Maybe they weren’t, “the One.” But if you don’t first follow, you’ll never know. lurking memeFor those fellow bloggers out there, who have me as a Twitter follower, don’t worry. I’m not going to be dumping anyone on purpose, unless you start tweeting weird, perverted, sexual tweets that make me feel uncomfortable. And if you do unfollow me because I’m not what you expected, please do so, by all means. We’re all on this same journey to become leaders, not followers, anyway. Well, aren’t we?

#following you

@Ocean.Hayward

All pictures are my own unless the source information is listed below. Yes, even the ones of Mindy and Missy. I told you we are BFFs on Twitter. [In my best Napoleon Dynamite voice] “GAWD!”

Fatal Attraction Meme. Pinterest. <https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/47428602298479681/?lp=true> December 11, 2017.

“I’m following you” mem. Image Flip. <https://imgflip.com/meme/Zombie-Overly-Attached-Girlfriend?sort=latest&page=3> December 11, 2017.

“I’m not stalking you” Meme. Quick Meme. <http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3tpn3t> December 11, 2017.

Jennifer Lopez pic. IGN. <http://www.ign.com//threads/j-los-ass-is-overrated.454203957/> December 11, 2017.

Office Space Meme. Pinterest. <https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/47428602298479681/?lp=true> December 11, 2017.

 

 

Merry Fucking Christmas [Parental Advisory- Language that may be offensive to some.]- Blogmas 12

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Okay, so my Blogmas post today is a rant.

I’ve been posting my Blogmas entries to a lot of different blogger sites that do retweeting. You see, I’m hoping maybe, just maybe, I could make a go with this writing thing. Seeing as how I’m very soon to be without a paycheque, I need to find another source of income. (Just a heads up, this post is going to be all over the place!) You see I’ve been on sick leave from my regular job of teaching because “I’m fucked up in the head,” right. Funny side story- when I wrote “I’m fucked up in the head” right, I was thinking of the lyric to the Limp Bizkit song, “Nookie” and for years I’ve been singing along to that song with “I’m fucked up in the head, right” but in looking up the lyric to give credit where it’s due, I discovered the lyric is actually, “fucked up in the head, not.” Huh.

Well, there’s no “not” in being fucked up for me- I have Conversion Disorder, Somatic Symptom Disorder and ADHD. And now, to top it all off, my paid sick leave is about to run out and because teachers get paid for the 195 days in the school year (September to June) and they start our pay year as of August 1, I have been overpaid.

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Image from Amazon. They are not paying me to feature this product, but hey, Amazon, feel free!

Which means when my paid days run out, I have to pay back $1000. I get it, I owe it. I’m not saying I don’t, but it’s stressful knowing I have to come up with that money somehow when I’m about to go on Long-term disability benefits and that’s ONLY if I’m approved! So yeah, Merry Fucking Christmas! Thank you, brain chemicals, neurotransmitters and brain wiring stuff! (I warned you, this would be a rant.)

 

Okay, so back to Blogmas and how I’ve been retweeting my blogs and all of that. So as I’m going onto these Blogging Twitter Groups, I’m also reading blogs that have been posted. And I am getting so sick of Blogmas!!! Blech-mas more like. (Maybe I’m just bitter because I’m about to have Broke-mas.) Every post is pretty similar. “Great gift ideas under $20” and a list of products that can be bought online, for example. I can’t help but wonder, did these bloggers even try out these products? If I have to look at one more Blogmas about make-up, hair, decorations and gifts and where to buy them, I’m going to stab someone in the throat, anyone, whoever is closest (probably my husband or his grandfather!)* My goodness! I don’t mean to be grinchy (that’s right, I turned Grinch into an adjective) but I’m starting to get sick of Blogmas!

blogmas_InPixio
See sources at the end of this post for the blog site this photo came from. The Blogger, Laura, had a very cool idea of writing a comment on other people’s blogs for Blogmas.

The blogs I enjoy the most are the ones that come from an authentic place. The writers are “keeping it real.” Now that said, and I imagine a lot of these bloggers who are writing about all these wonderful products, are probably getting paid by companies. I’m not going to lie: I would do it to if it meant money in my pocket. Shout out: “Hey Companies, pick me! I will write wonderful things about your crappy products because I am about to be poor!” Well, poorer. Not that I’m poor poor, I’m just terrible at managing money.

Anyway, my next few Blogmases are going to be a lot less Christmas-y because I don’t want to stab anyone.** And I think I’ll even skip the retweeting on those Blog Retweet sites so I don’t have to see them. I just need a Blogmas break for a few days. Thanks for reading my rant and sorry if I offended anyone.

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All I can scratch together is two Canadian nickels. [photo is my own]
P.S. Can you spare a dime?

*I won’t really stab anyone in the throat. I have conversion disorder, remember, so instead I’ll keep my anger and negative emotions in, and then have facial twitches, contortions and seizure-like shaking.

**Again, I must reiterate: I’m not really going to stab anyone. I’ll just twitch, contort, and shake like Linda Blair in The Exorcist (original 1973 version) minus the head spin.

Sources:

Laura. Blogmas, Well, Sort of Pic. “Blogmas 2016.” Constantly Curious. <\http://constantlycurious.co.uk/2016/12/blogmas-2016/> December 9, 2017.

Merry Fucking Christmas Bauble. Amazon. <https://www.amazon.co.uk/Santa-Balls-Fucking-Christmas-Bauble/dp/B00G450LBI> December 9, 2017.

“CUWTA” (Catch Up With The Acronyms)- 11 different ways to say LOL- Merry Blogmas 11

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Has anyone noticed how often we use LOL (Laughing Out Loud) and LMAO (Laughing My Ass Off) and even LMFAO (Laughing My Fucking Ass Off)? People write it so much that it’s lost its meaning. How many times do you write LOL, LMAO, and/or LMFAO and you actually are laughing out loud or laughing your ass off, or laughing your fucking ass off? I would reckon not very often. I think it’s quite evident when someone had to come up with the acronym ALOL (Actually Laughing Out Loud). The Internet is allowing us to become either a bunch of fake people, lying to each other about how hard we’re laughing or a bunch of lazy people with limited diction. I’ve been thinking about how we have started overusing the LOL family of text abbreviations and thinking that there has to be a better way. LOL has become our go-to reply for a variety of responses in text-versations. So for Blogmas 11, I give you the 11 situations where LOL responses are used and more accurate text abbreviations to start using. I have found all of my text abbreviations thanks to Netlingo. If ever you’re stumped, feel free to use this handy little dictionary for help. And now it’s time to widen our texting vocabulary!

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  • What you read makes you slightly uncomfortable and you’re not quite sure how to respond. For lack of a more clear and accurate response, you resort to the old standby “lol.” Instead you could use “IRNCOT” (I’d Rather Not Comment on That) or “URSAI” (You Are Such An Idiot) or “WE” (Whatever)

 

 

  • You simply want to acknowledge that you agree with what you read, but again, the ol’ LOL is sent as the reply. Why not reply with: “ITA” (I Totally Agree) or “HTNOTH” (Hit The Nail On The Head)Nail

 

  • You connect with what you read because you’ve been in a similar situation or felt the same way. Often, it’s just responded to with “lol” as in “haha, been there” but to be more specific why not use: “IKWYM” (I Know What You Mean) or “ICWYM” (I See What You Mean) or “IKR” (I Know, Right).omg-i-know-right-diylol-com-16084744
  • You don’t know what else to say, so you fall back on the LOL like an awkward laugh. tenorBut what you could reply with is: “404” (I Haven’t A Clue) or “OUSU” (Oh You Shut Up) or RUNTS (Are You Nuts?) or “WABOC” (What A Bunch of Crap) or my own invention: “IDKW2S” (I Don’t Know What To Say)

 

 

  • You enjoy what you read, but have no visible reaction. If you were on Social Media, you would simply hit the “like” button. Since you’re phone texting, you type in those three handy letters: L-O-L. What you could use instead is “XLNT” (Excellent) or “WD” (Well done)

excellent

  • What you read is mildly amusing. and gives you an ever so slight smile but you just reply with LOL because it’s easier. Why not just use “G” (Grin) or “G1” (Good One)i-am-mildly-amused-skeptical-hippo-19401997
  • What you read is amusing, gives you a shit-eating grin. Well guess what, there is an actual text abbreviation for the exact situation: “BSEG” (Big Shit Eating Grin). You could also use “BS” (Big Smile but could be mistaken for Bull Shit) or “BAG” (Big Ass Grin).

chuckle-snort

  • What you read is very amusing, makes you chuckle but it still isn’t rolling on the floor funny or even worthy of a belly laugh. Instead of LOL, try using “COL” (Chuckle Out Loud) or, depending on the situation, “CSG” (Chuckle, Snicker, Grin).

laughing out loud_InPixio

  • When what you read is funny and actually makes you laugh out loud that would be about the only time you should be using LOL. To vary it up, you could also use “BL” (Belly Laughing). Funny story, found all the memes and gifs through Google Image search. Found this meme on another post about the over use of LOL… I guess I’m not as original as I originally thought, LOL! Oops, I mean, G. Read that post here (it’s really good btw): “Navigating The Term ‘LOL’: C’mon, you’re not really laughing”  by Alex Liev.

 

  • When what you read is hilarious and makes literally laugh out loud, so much so that your whole body is in it, but you are still able to stand, it would be acceptable to use LMAO in this occasion. Another choice for you is “BL” (Bursting With Laughter)laughing-my-ass-off
  • When what you read is fucking hilarious and again, you are in fact laughing out loud, you may, by all means, use LMFAO. But there are some other more interesting options to choose from. Why not: “BMGWL” (Busting My Gut With Laughter); “BRL” (Belly Roll Laughs); “CSL” (Can’t Stop Laughing); “FOMCL” (Falling Off My Chair Laughing); “FOFL” (Falling on Floor Laughing): or my personal favorite, “DNPMPL” (Damn Near Pissed My Pants Laughing)pissing laughing

 

 

 

Here’s hoping that in 2018, our texting vocabulary will become more varied and specific to reflect what we really mean. In any case, if you’re not LOLing, don’t text LOL!

LOL!

I leave you with one of my favorite clips from the Canadian Sketch Comedy series 22 Minutes about the dangers of text abbreviations. 7 years old, and still relevant!

TFR! (Thanks For Reading!)

O.H.

Sources:

Austin Powers Meme. Make A Meme. <https://makeameme.org/meme/chuckle-snort> December 8, 2017.

Donkey Laughing Ass Off Meme. Meme Generator. <https://memegenerator.net/instance/62604812/donkey-lolol-laughing-my-ass-off> December 8, 2017.

Jason Bateman gif. Tenor. <https://tenor.com/search/awkward-laugh-gifs> December 8, 2017/

Lee, Albert. “Hit the Nail on the Head.” Albert’s Tips. <http://albert.tips/hit-the-nail-on-the-head/> December 8, 2017.

Mildly Amused Hippo Meme. Me.Me. <https://me.me/i/i-am-mildly-amused-none-13291277> December 8, 2017.

Net Acronyms. Netlingo. <https://www.netlingo.com/acronyms.php> December 8, 2017.

OMG, I Know, Right Meme. Me.Me. <https://me.me/i/omg-i-know-right-diylol-com-11156318> December 8, 2017.

Stanley Laughing Gif. Good Reads. <https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23016369-troubles-and-treats> December 8, 2017.

Steve Carrell Meme. From Liev, Alex. “Navigating The Term ‘LOL’: C’mon, you’re not really laughing.” Odyssey Online. <https://www.theodysseyonline.com/navigating-the-term-lol> December 8, 2017.

Wayne’s World “Excellent” Gif. Inmgur. <https://imgur.com/gallery/iigLQ0Thttps://imgur.com/gallery/iigLQ0T> December 8, 2017.

Whatever Cat Meme. Quick Meme. <http://www.quickmeme.com/Whatever> December 8, 2017.

 

 

 

 

“It’s pretty, but that’s about it.” The First Real Snow Fall- Blogmas #10

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It snowed today, December 9, 2017, the first December snow fall of the year. Just earlier today, I was reading Jenny Lawson’s post “Strange New Weather Patterns” and lamenting that here on the East Coast of Canada, we had not seen our first real snow fall, the kind that sticks to the ground. It makes me think of “Frosty the Snowman” and the first few lines of the TV special, “I suppose it all started with the snow. You see, it was a very special kind of snow. A snow that made the happy happier, and the giddy even giddier. A snow that’d make a homecoming homier, and natural enemies, friends, natural. For it was the first snow of the season.” Around 4 pm today, we got our first snow of the season. It is now twenty minutes to 9pm and it has not stopped. And even though, here in the Maritimes, snow is a regular occurrence during the winter months, it is still magical nonetheless. And after reading Jenny’s post, I saw the fresh snow with fresh eyes and happy memories of childhood flooded back. Trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue, making snow angels, and snow forts and after hours of playing in the snow, going into my warm, cozy house to a cup of hot chocolate served by my mother.

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The snow makes the street look like a scene out of “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

Inspired, I decided to go for a winter walk around the city of Saint John, New Brunswick where I am staying for the time being. As I walked, I took in the scenery around me, taking in its magic with each breath like meditation. Suddenly it hit me why I love the movie It’s a Wonderful Life so much. When the world is blanketed in white snow, it is like the black and white snowy scenes on the night that George Bailey is visited by Clarence, the angel trying to get his wings.

Walking in the snow in December with Christmas approaching fast means the added beauty of the Christmas lights shining in the snow. One of the first houses I passed were the Griswolds 2.0.

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Our local Griswold family.

Not only is their house completely covered with lights from top to bottom, they also have a speaker blaring Christmas carols as you walk by. And in the snow, what would usually be pretty tacky, suddenly becomes moment of wondrous beauty. With carols singing in my head, I continued toward the Harbour Walk Trail along the waterfront of Saint John. If you haven’t been to Saint John in a while, or ever at all, the Harbour Walk Trail is an amazing set of paths that run from the Reversing Falls to Uptown Saint John. That’s right, Saint John has an “Uptown” not a downtown. I have no explanation for you.

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Christmas lights are more magical when there is snow falling.

As I walked down in the direction of Uptown, I saw a display of Christmas lights arranged into the form of a giant tree. With no snow, it’s nice. But suddenly, with the flakes of snow surrounding it, it was the most fabulous thing my eyes had ever had the privilege of seeing. I kept walking, down into the bowels of the park toward the Reversing Falls. Instead of raining trees, like Jenny Lawson saw, I saw a raining overpass with a small pond forming below.

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Giant puddle forming under the overpass.

Snowplows going by on the overpass pushing snow over its edges were not any help to the situation. I looped up around into the North End of the city and I finally came upon an intersection with a church. I don’t even know what denomination the church is, but it doesn’t matter. I’m not sure why, but I think old churches are among the most beautiful structures created by humankind. And this church, amid the falling snow, did not disappoint. Even though a McDonald’s is right across the corner, our fast food addiction could still not dim the joy brought from the view of the church.

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I love old churches.

By the time I started back toward “home,” I was soaked from head to toe with sticky snow. (This snow is perfect Frosty the Snowman snow, and if enough falls tonight and stays around tomorrow, I may just make a snowman too.) It’s funny how at the beginning of my short journey in the snow, it was full of excitement and wonder and how quickly that changes when the cold and wet sets in. Instead of breathing in each moment, feeling the joy of being alive, I couldn’t wait to get the hell home to enjoy a cup of tea and my warm PJs. As my mood shifted, I walked past a group of people hanging out at the Curling Rink and heard a lady say what most Maritimers say about the first snow, “It’s pretty, but that’s about it.”

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Me, at the end of my walk.

I am now all cozy in my bed with my laptop and my hubby, listening to the sound of sirens on their way to the nearby hospital, non-stop. It seems the magic of the snow mesmerizes us every year and we forget how to drive in the snow. Tonight I will be lulled asleep by memories of my mystic walk in the snow and the blaring sirens taking stupid unprepared drivers to the hospital.

I hope nobody died.

 

Nine for Nine: Nine holiday specials & films for December 9!

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Christmas is the time for Christmas specials and films! Unfortunately, only a few come out per season and very few of the ones I enjoy are on Netflix… in Canada. That’s because there is a law in Canada that requires networks and broadcasters to carry a certain percentage of Canadian content. Often, I think, they count British programs as Canadian content because there seems to be a lot of British shows on our Netflix. So here are my top five picks for holiday movies that are currently available on Netflix in Canada, followed by my top four holiday picks that are not available on our Netflix but may be available where you live. Each will be rated out of 5 for hilarity, obscenities and sappiness, the three most important pieces of information about film in my opinion.

  • Mrs. Brown’s Boys A British comedy starring Brendan O’Carroll as the matriarch of a typical/atypical British family. There are several Christmas episodes of the program available on Netflix. They are all very good. British humor is the best! Hilarity-5/5 Obscenities-3/5 Sappiness-1/5 

 

  • Trailer Park Boys Xmas Special (2004)Trailer Park Boys Live at the North Pole (2014) The Trailer Park Boys are a true Maritime tradition. Although the show is based on stereotypes, [cue Bubble’s voice] “it’s f*&kin’ hilarious, Julian.” It’s Christmas fun for the whole family! Except for your children. Do not let your children watch this. You’ve been warned. Hilarity-5/5 Obscenities-5/5 Sappiness-0/5 

 

  • Elf Is any explanation even necessary? Will Ferrell. Buddy the Elf. Everything tastes better with syrup. Funny and family friendly, kids included.  Hilarity-5/5 Obscenities-1/5 Sappiness-4/5

 

  • Office Christmas Party A more recent Christmas comedy with comedic greats: Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon and Jillian Bell, not to mention Jason Bateman. It’s raunchy and lewd and not anything you want to watch with your children nor with any uber religious family members. Jennifer Aniston’s character is eerily similar to her Horrible Bosses character, a connection made more obvious with Jason Bateman’s character being eerily similar to his Horrible Bosses character. In fact, you could just call this “Horrible Bosses: The Christmas Edition.” But I still very much enjoyed it, especially Kate McKinnon, who steals the show.  Hilarity-5/5 Obscenities-5/5 Sappiness-3/5

 

My four picks for Christmas films that can’t be found on Netflix (in Canada), but maybe you can catch them on television, Youtube, or go old school and watch them on DVD or VHS.

christmas story

4- A Christmas Story Oh, poor Ralphie, all he wants is that Red Ryder B.B. gun. My favorite parts: getting kicked down the slide by Santa, the kid who sticks his tongue to the pole, the lady’s leg lamp, and the fact that it’s got to be one of the only few Christmas films where you get to see the family open their presents! Hilarity-5/5 Obscenities-0/5 Sappiness-3/5

 

Christmas with the Kranks

3- Christmas with the Kranks The Kranks appall the entire neighborhood by deciding to skip Christmas and take a trip down South instead. Highlights for me: The Kranks hiding when the neighbours are protesting that they haven’t put up their “Frosty;” the Kranks hiding from the carolers; and the Kranks getting caught in the tanning salon in their bathing suits by their priest.  Hilarity-4/5 Obscenities-0/5 Sappiness-4/5

 

Christmas vacation2- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation I watch this every year and it never gets old. I was thinking about the new Vacation movie they did with Ed Helms and Christina Applegate and wondering… Could they pull off an updated Christmas Vacation? Because I can’t imagine that they could make a Christmas film any funnier. Chevy Chase as Clarke Griswold, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the snotty neighbour, and Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddy? Cousin “Shitter was full” Eddy makes the whole movie!!  Hilarity-5/5 Obscenities-1/5 Sappiness-4/5

 

It's a wonderful life1- It’s a Wonderful Life I love this film. The first time I watched it was Christmas Eve on CBC with my mom. There’s nothing more magical than watching It’s a Wonderful Life in black and white on Christmas Eve. The story is timeless. No, it’s not funny, but interestingly enough It’s A Wonderful Life was directed by Frank Capra. His grandson, Frank Capra III was an assistant director on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. In Christmas Vacation there are two references to It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s A Wonderful Life is playing on the TV in the background in one scene of Vacation, and in It’s a Wonderful Life there is loose mill-post which George Bailey keeps complaining about. In the Vacation film, there is also a loose mill-post which Clarke fixes with the chainsaw when he loses his temper over not receiving a Christmas bonus. So the two movies that are likely at the top of most people’s Christmas Classics list are actually somewhat connected. I love and cherish It’s a Wonderful Life because it’s romantic, it’s spiritual, it’s inspirational, and, after all, it is a wonderful life. Hilarity-1/5 Obscenities-0/5 Sappiness-5/5 

Sources:

A Christmas Story DVD cover.  Jewel 92.5 fm. <http://jewel925.com/tvs-live-musical-christmas-story/> December 8, 2017

Christmas with the Kranks movie poster. IMDb. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0388419/?ref_=nv_sr_1> December 8, 2017

It’s a Wonderful Life DVD cover. IMDb. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038650/mediaviewer/rm711430656> December 8, 2017.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation movie poster. IMDb. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097958/?ref_=tttr_tr_tt> December 8, 2017.

Christmas, Christmas, don’t be late; Today is Blogmas Number 8

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It’s December 8 and the 8th day of Blogmas. Today I thought I’d share with you what I’m going to call “Fromage Friday”- some of the cheesiest Christmas songs and movies that I know of with audio and video clips included for your enjoyment (Thank you, Youtube!)

  • The original “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” by Spike Jones and his City Slickers- from 1948. No video, just audio:
  • Christmas with the Chipmunks- Vol. 1
  • Christmas with the Chipmunks- Vol. 2
  • Mini Pops Christmas- 1984
  • Babes in Toyland- 1986 version- TV movie with Drew Barrymore and Keanu Reeves!

 

Even though they’re cheesy, they bring back great memories, right? I’d love to hear your Fromage Friday pics too. Happy Fromage Friday, everyone!

I don’t exchange gifts. I give gifts. Blogmas #6.

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The other day I went shopping with a good friend of mine, Donna, who is a bit older than I am, but young at heart. We did some Christmas shopping together and got into a conversation about the “gift exchange.” She explained that she doesn’t “exchange” gifts with people. I wasn’t sure exactly what she meant, so I asked for clarification.

She explained that when she buys a gift for someone it is because she wants to. There doesn’t have to be a reason and she doesn’t expect to get anything back. When I thought about it, I think I’m very similar. I have had people tell me, “Don’t buy me anything this year. I can’t afford to get you a gift,” or “I don’t want to exchange gifts anymore.” I enjoy buying gifts for friends and family. So I ignore those people and continue buying them all gifts. I buy (or make) people I care about gifts because I care about them! And if I want to get you a gift, I will do so.

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Is milk & cookies a comparable gift for what Santa leaves us under the tree?

So why is the “exchange” of gifts such a big deal to people? Why is it necessary for it to be an exchange? I mean, the wise men brought Jesus gifts, but H/he didn’t have stuff for them. He was just a baby for Christ’s sake. Well, I suppose, if you are a believer, (and I’m not saying I’m not, I’m simply acknowledging those of us who are not Christians), then I guess Jesus did die on that cross for us. But in terms of gift giving and the “exchange,” then the gift Jesus gave was worth quite a lot more than gold, frankincense and myrrh. That’s the other thing about the gift “exchange”- people setting limits on the amount to be spent on each other. I’ve never followed that rule either. If I see something that says “you” and it’s above the “set” price limit, I’m buying it for you. Because to me, Christmas is about giving. It’s not about keeping track of who spent more and who gave what. That’s just petty. I give because I look forward to seeing joy on the faces of the people I love when they see the thoughtful thing I found for them. Sometimes it might be something I picked up at the Dollar Store or a Thrift Shop. Other times it could be something I spent my whole paycheque on. WHY DOES PRICE MATTER!!??

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Dollarama my second favorite store. Although I love how they have the $1 in a circle beside the sign when things are priced anywhere for $1 to $4. 

Just the word “exchange” has implications. When I used Google to define the word exchange, here’s what came up: the noun- “an act of giving one thing and receiving another (especially of the same type or value) in return;” and the verb- “give something and receive something of the same kind in return.” So the word “exchange” has some pretty negative connotations when you think about it. It is very much a word related to trade and focuses on the importance of an item’s value. It is a word that says “capitalism” all over it. And I don’t think the increasing consumerism of Christmas can be argued.

So as you do your Christmas shopping this year, I ask you to consider- why are you buying gifts for people? Because you expect something of similar value in return or because you want to show your love and appreciation for the recipient of your gift? If it’s the latter, then the dollar amount should not matter. And it should not matter if the person gives you something in return either. I think it comes down to: WWJD? (What would Jesus do?) Do you think H/he kept track? Do you think if someone was in a financial place that they couldn’t give H/him something of “similar value” in return that H/he would just abandon you?

If Christmas is truly about the spirit of giving, then we should all stop keeping track of who spent what and we should stop setting limits. My friend might give me a $50 gift card for Sephora, for example (OMIGOD, I would so love that BTW!) and I might may make her a Happy Jar. Which gift is worth more?

This Christmas, please don’t “exchange” gifts with your loved one. At least, not until after Christmas and that’s only if it’s the wrong size or you don’t like it and you do it at the store. This Christmas, give gifts to the people you love. Give with your heart and show the true spirit of what the season is all about!

 

 

What if Christmas doesn’t come from a store: Thoughtful, Creative and Relatively Cheap Gift Ideas- Blogmas #5

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Today I have some creative gift ideas. Finding gifts for people in your life can be challenging but remember that it’s like the cliche “it’s the thought that counts.” These are gift ideas that can be used for any occasion; most of these are not just limited to just Christmas. And most of them are relatively easy and inexpensive. In fact, I have found that the most inexpensive ones on this list are the ones that are appreciated the most by the receivers. And I apologize in advance. This post is going to lack my usual humor. I think. Who knows what will come out of my silly, and sometimes, demented, mind?

  • Baked goods  20171204_114757.jpg
    • This one should be pretty obvious. If you’re a good baker, you simply bake up some of your specialties. For Christmas, I enjoy making gingerbread and shortcake cookies. Put them in a pretty Christmas tin from the Dollar Store (or Thrift Shop!) and voila: a relatively inexpensive and thoughtful gift.
  • Bits and Bites 20171204_142051.jpg
    • On a related note to above, every year, I make batches of my famous homemade Bits and Bites and give them out in Christmas themed tins from the Dollar Store. The more I like you, the bigger the tin! These can be expensive to make, simply because cereal tends to be expensive. Generally, I watch for the ingredients I want to come on sale, and pick them up in the months and weeks just prior to Christmas. I am including my personal recipe for Bits and Bites that everyone raves about! You are all incredibly special because I generally do not openly share this recipe. 

OH’s Bits and Bites

  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
  • 3 cups Shreddies
  • 3 cups Crispix or Life cereal
  • 3 cups Cheerios
  • 3 cups Quaker Corn Squares
  • 240 g bag of pretzels
  • 1 pkg 200 gram Goldfish or Cheese Nip crackers
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp seasoning salt
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions: Preheat oven to 215 F. Mix all dry cereal, peanuts, pretzels and crackers in roaster. Whisk together oil, garlic powder, seasoning salt and Worcestershire sauce. Pour oil mix over cereal mix in roaster in batches and stir to coat cereal mix in oil. Bake in oven for 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool and store. Let sit overnight before eating to let the flavors set in. Then seal in smaller containers. Enjoy!

 

  • Cards20171204_185117.jpg
    • Cards can be expensive and generally get tossed anyway. Although when cards are homemade or really pretty, I will generally keep them. A humorous way to save money on cards: keep last year’s card, cross out the “to” from your name to the person who originally gave it to you and cross out the “from” and put your own name. This gets even more hilarious if the person returns it to you the following year using the same process- it can turn into a long-running shared joke that you can enjoy for years to come. Note: You should probably be sure that the recipient has a sense of humor and isn’t going to just think you’re a cheapie. Bonus: if they are a cheapie! You’ll both save money for years and years. You’ll only have to pay for stamps!
  • Regift
    • This is not what you’re thinking! Yes, taking a gift you got from one person and didn’t enjoy, and giving it to someone else to not enjoy is a great way to save money. But quite often, people will give you something as a gift that they themselves would enjoy. They will often even make the comment, “I would have liked to have gotten this for myself.” So you wrap it up, and give it back to them! Why not, right?! 
  • Personalized gift certificate 
    • If money is a concern, sometimes the greatest gift you can give is your time. You can either use a printer, get one of those certificate frames from the Dollar store or hand-write it on white paper. Just as I always say to my students, “pretty it up.” Then write down something you can do for the person that you know they will appreciate. A spouse: maybe a certificate for a back rub or some other activity they may enjoy (nudge, nudge; wink, wink). Disclaimer: if the certificate is for a sexual activity, you may not want them to open it in front of mom & dad or young children; the writer of this article is not responsible for the mental well-being of your loved-ones should you allow an X-rated activity to be read out in front of people you should have known better than to allow it to be read in front of. If you scar a child for life, that’s on you.) A friend or other family member: making them a meal, doing their laundry, cleaning their bathroom, shoveling their driveway or any other special talent you may have that you know they’ll appreciate.
  • Award
    • Make your own using a computer, or blank paper, and pretty it up again. Or get one of those Dollar Store award certificates. Then think of a special quality the gift recipient has and make them an award. 
  • Personalized photo projects20171204_142017.jpg
    • Find photos of you and the person, and create a personalized gift. It can be those ones you order from a website (photobook, mug, even a tote-bag) or you can even buy a frame from the Dollar Store and print the photos off at Walmart. I have done this for my husband’s grandfather this year. I found lots of old photos of him and his late wife, have written a poem about Chris’ grandmother, and I’m compiling the photos and frame together for a very thoughtful and relatively inexpensive gift.
  • Gift Bag 
    • This is a twist on the conventional gift bag/sock. I will often do this one for birthdays. For example, when one of my besties turned 40, I went to the Dollar Store and picked up items that are stereotypically for seniors- hemorrhoid cream, prunes, one of those rainhats that old ladies wear, etc. and wrote funny notes on them. But you could do a Christmas one too!
  • Gift basket20171204_135016.jpg
    • Not the ones made for you by the store. A personalized Gift Basket. These are relatively easy to make. You get a basket (Dollar Store, or Thrift Shop, or regift one you already have) and the shredded paper (or you can even shred your own paper if you have access to a paper shredder.) Line the paper at the bottom of the basket and fill it with items you know the person will enjoy. I started doing this because of my frustration with the pre-made gift baskets. They were all so over-priced and always have at least one thing in them that I know the person wouldn’t like. 20171204_141803.jpgThen I get the plastic cellophane (also available at the dollar store) and after I’ve filled the basket with the goodies, I place it over the clear plastic, tie it shut with ribbon, curl the ribbon, and make it look pretty. It’s more effort than a store made basket, but saves money since you can pick things up on sale and get things from different stores. And it’s super thoughtful, because the receiver knows that you really took the effort to think about what they like/need.
  • The Happy Jar20171204_115003-1.jpg
    • This is probably the cheapest gift on the list, but the most thoughtful and most appreciated. I got the idea from a student teacher who made me one. All you need is an empty jar and small slips of paper. Write happy or funny memories or the things you admire most about the person you’re giving the Happy Jar to on the slips of paper. Then fold them up and put them in the jar. Use a gift tag or label and write “HAPPY JAR” on it, and also directions: “In case of emergency, read one.” The idea behind the jar is for the person to be able to open up the slips of paper for a pick-me-up when times are tough or they’re sad/lonely, etc.
  • Advent Calendar 
    • So you take the bottom half of a box (I used an empty greeting card box) and use card board, cut it and tape it, to create 25 squares in the bottom of the box. This is similar to the Happy Jar in that you write down memories or special qualities the receiver has. But unlike the Happy Jar, they read one each day leading up to Christmas, and you label the dates. I tried to save my most creative and funniest memories for the days closest to Christmas.

With a little time and creativity, you can make your own personalized gifts that will mean so much more than a store-bought one. These gift ideas come from the heart. You can make them funny or sappy. More importantly, they will be kept and cherished forever (except for the food which will eventually be flushed down the toilet, hopefully. It could end up in the compost if your food is yucky.) Remember, the best gifts you can give don’t come from a store.- OH

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” 
― Dr. SeussHow the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Source of Featured Image: 

“Day 4- Reason for the Season- Christmas Consumerism.” Daily Dependence.<https://dailydependence.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/%E2%98%85-day-04-reason-for-the-season-christmas-consumerism-%E2%98%85/December 4, 2017.

All other images are my own.

#BlogmasNOT: Blogmas #4

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So it’s Post 4 of the Blogmas Challenge.  December 4, the fourth day of Blogmas. I’ve been exploring lots of other blogs through the Blogmas twitter hashtags: #blogmas #blogmas2017 #blogmas17. There is so much excitement throughout the Bloggersphere over “Blogmas” which from my limited understanding as a Blogmas virgin is a period of time from Dec 1-Dec 25 when you write a Christmas-related post every day. (If I’m wrong please correct me and know that the rest of this post/rant is based on the assumption that Blogmas entries have to be Christmas related.) A Christmas post each day is fine for those of us who celebrate Christmas, but it’s not very inclusive.

In my short period of time as a blogger (Am I really calling myself a blogger now?), what I’ve noticed about the blogging community as a whole is that people tend to be supportive of one another. So far I’ve been making connections with people from all over the world. But one thing I know for sure: not everyone in the world celebrates Christmas. Could we not also have Blogzaa, Blogukkah, Milad un Blogbi or a Blogivus, for example? Or Holiblogs? Or if changing the name is not an option, could we not at least make Blogmas open for writing about other holiday traditions? All the posts I see are about Christmas decorations or how to make eggnog.

So December 4 post, my 4th Blogmas, is a request to those who celebrate non-Christmas holidays. Notice I say non-Christmas and not non-Christian. I did this for two reasons. Not everyone who celebrates Christmas are Christians. Some do it because they’ve always done it, but they haven’t stepped foot in a church in 20, 30 years, if ever. Some do it because it’s fun. I have heard of some Muslim families here in Canada celebrating Christmas just for the fact of fitting in. It’s not about the birth of Jesus for these families, it’s about the gift-giving. From what I understand, the Islamic faith focuses greatly on passing on your wealth and good fortune to others. Hmmm…. who else did shit like that… Jesus, I just wish I could think of that guy! You know the one… born for the sins of us “all”, died on a cross. Jesus, what is his name again? If anyone can help me out there, it would be wonderful. I mean, Jesus Christ, I feel like I’m losing my mind sometimes.

Anyway, if you don’t celebrate Christmas, do you celebrate another holiday? If so what holiday do you celebrate? What are the traditions? What’s your favorite part? What’s your least favorite part? Why do you celebrate it? What does the holiday represent? If you don’t celebrate a December holiday, what do you do during December? I think this would be interesting particularly if you live in a Christmas dominated region. One of my good friends in Elementary and Junior High was a Jehovah’s Witness so her family didn’t partake in the reindeer games of Christmas. I remember during Christmas concerts, she wasn’t allowed to practice our songs for the Christmas concert. She had to sit in chairs and watch. That’s how we became friends. I noticed her sitting all alone and asked her why she wasn’t practicing with the rest of us. It came to be that I would often try to sneak away from rehearsing to spend time talking with her, because it didn’t seem fair that she wasn’t included and she had to watch us practicing. It was weird going to her house in December and no decorations would be up. All the walls were bare; there were no presents. As a 12 year old, I thought my friend’s life totally sucked. I’m sure it had to be hard to be her, having Christmas crammed down her throat like Grandma’s disgusting Fruit Cake from 2 Christmases ago.

So to reiterate: if you are a blogger who doesn’t not celebrate Christmas, write a piece about what you do instead during the Christmas season. We’ll call it #inclusiveblogmas. I’m also fine with it if you want to use #blogmasNOT or #FuckChristmas or #FuckYouBlogmasForLeavingMeOut.

Please reply to this post with your blog posts and/or comments on December holiday traditions or non-holiday activities that you celebrate. I’m going to ask for posts via Twitter as well.

You! TAG! You’re IT! (A Christmas Tag) Blogmas #3

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New to blogging, me, and just discovered the “Christmas Tag.” Someone posts questions and answers them, then you write a blog with the questions and link. At least that’s my understanding based on my googling. So I’m tagging onto Love, Geeky Girl. Found her while seeking out Blogmas posts on Twitter and was attracted to her name because I also am a “Geeky Girl.” Intrigued, I checked out her blog and found her “Christmas Tag.”

1. What is your favorite Christmas Tradition? The Christmas pickle. My mom hangs a pickle ornament on the tree and we all scour the tree trying to find it. Whoever finds it first gets a special gift from “The Pickle.” The gift is usually just a box of chocolates or cheap stuffed animal, but the two things I love about it are the thrill of the hunt and the satisfaction of winning (if I find it first.)

2. Where do you spend Christmas? My parent’s house.

3. What is your favorite Christmas Song? 

4. Do you decorate before or after Thanksgiving? I live in Canada. Our Thanksgiving is the first Monday in October, so definitely AFTER.

5. Tinsel or garland? Neither, but if I have to choose, garland. It’s not as messy.

6. Who are you most excited to see this Christmas season?

But also my niece who turns 2 in April, because she’s more aware now so I think it’s going to be a fun Christmas.

7. Do you own an ugly Christmas sweater? I have several Christmas tops.

What do you think? Are they ugly?

8. What is one Christmas food you cannot live without? Turkey stuffing.

9. Peppermint or gingerbread? Gingerbread, unless the peppermint is combined with chocolate. Then it’s peppermint all the way.

10. Have you ever tried fruit cake? Yes, it is disgusting. Blech!

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SHOW ME THE MONEY!

11. What is one thing you asked for this Christmas? I haven’t asked for anything. But cold-hard cash would be nice.

12. If you could be any Christmas movie character, who would you be? Olive the Other Reindeer. A powerful female character, a real bitch (really she’s a bitch- watch the movie), who saves Christmas above all odds!

Be like Jesus, the Grinch and Scrooge this Christmas: A Trip to the Thrift Shop- Blogmas #2

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After my first Blogmas post yesterday, I was racking my brain of what Christmas related thing I would write about today. And as I was showering, which is when many of my greatest thoughts occur, I had an epiphany. Not THE Epiphany. (You’ll have to wait until January 6, 2018 for that.) I was thinking how awful it is for those you who don’t have Lost and Never-Found Basements like me (re: Hoarders: The Secrets that Hide Beneath &  TRASH OR TREASURE in the Lost and Never-Found Basement- Enter my contest today!), where you can dig up old Christmas decorations and give your home that tacky, yet homey, look. My heart was aching for those of you who aren’t as privileged as me to have a basement stuffed with hidden treasures and lots of junk. I thought about those of you who maybe had all your belongings taken away by the Repo people, or maybe your house caught fire, or maybe you were an orphan and you never had any ornaments with history to them.

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This is my ass (Treasure found in Lost & Never-Found Basement.)

So… I got in my car and took my ass down to the Salvation Army Thrift Store.

One of my passions is going to the Thrift Store. For anyone unfamiliar with a Thrift Store, basically it is a place where people take things that they consider junk and then the Thrift Store sells to other people who consider the junk to be treasures. The wonderful thing about the Salvation Army Thrift Store is that most of the money raised goes to help the needy. Jesus was a big supporter of the needy, so shopping at the Thrift Stores makes you a little like Jesus. I say a little because you’re not divine. Well, I’m assuming you’re not. (Sorry, Jesus, if you’re reading this.) The Salvation Army Thrift store I went to is the Lansdowne location in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.

The first awesome thing I noticed was a sign on the door. It is the kind of sign cheapies like me (and Scrooge) LOVE!

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50% off already cheap stuff!!! I peed in my pants just a little!

Then I went around the store to show off just a few of the amazing bargains. You can decorate your whole home for Christmas at the Thrift Shop. And you can get awesome Christmas gifts too! I know you may be thinking, I can’t give second-hand things as gifts for Christmas. Trust me, you couldn’t be MORE wrong. For one thing, whatever gifts you buy for people will probably end up in the Thrift Shop anyway, so why are you wasting all that money on the gifts? Also, there are quality items to be found at the Thrift Shop if you just take the time to look for them.

 

 

 

Just look at the wonderful decorations I found at my local Salvation Army Thrift Shop:

 

Some of these items are older ones; some of them can be bought brand-new in stores today. All of them are cheap! But the savings don’t stop there.

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Socks & gift-bags!
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Christmas mugs- why spend an arm and a leg on holiday mugs? They make great gifts too.
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A Tealight Candle Set in its original box? I smell a Christmas present!

 

Got people who like to cook on your Christmas list? I always find great cookware at the Thrift Shop. I take it home, clean them up (if needed)- and it’s good as new. As long as you wrap these items up in tissue paper and put them in a fancy box, no one will even be the wiser that you actually bought their gift at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. They’ll think instead that you overspent! (And then the item will likely end up back at the Thrift Store anyway as I already pointed out… )

 

These are just a few of the really amazing finds I had a the Thrift Store today in just 10 minutes! I didn’t even cover the clothes, toys, books, and more.

Not only does the Thrift Store save you money, help those in need, but shopping at the Thrift Shop makes you green like the Grinch. These items would end up in a landfill somewhere if they weren’t being dropped off at the store. Your heart will grow 10 times the size just thinking about how much smaller your local landfill is getting due to your Thrift Store shopping efforts. So again, I ask you, why buy something new that’s going to just end up in the Thrift Shop, when you can buy something that was already there? And if it does happen that the person you bought the gift for actually likes the thing, well, WIN, WIN!

So this Christmas, may I suggest you make like Jesus, the Grinch and Scrooge: help those in need, our planet AND save yourself some money? Do your shopping at a Thrift Shop! They’re AWESOME!!!

 

Have yourself an awkward little Christmas! (Blogmas #1)

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Today I found out about a merry little blogging tradition known as “Blogmas.” So everyday up to Christmas you do a Christmas-y post, like how to make Christmas crap crafts, decorations, recipes and the like. I love Christmas! But, unfortunately, I’m not one of those “lifestyle” type bloggers, I’m not super-artistic, and I don’t really entertain or throw parties much. In fact, at most parties I have one of two strategies that I use to get through them.

  1. Get really drunk, lose all inhibitions and make a fool of myself.
  2. Stand in a corner and watch everyone else enjoying themselves. Try to make entertaining comments to those who try to socialize with me, end up saying something socially inappropriate, not purposely but because I’m just so awkward.

And both strategies end with what I recently learned is called an “Irish exit” by most other people. An “Irish Exit,” I learned, is sneaking out of a party without saying goodbye to anyone or thanking the host. Yep, you just bail. And no one misses you because there’s usually enough people there for you not to be missed. It sucks though when it’s a smaller party because then you can’t easily sneak out. I had always known the sneaking out move as the “Clairmont Shuffle” (coined by my hubby) because it’s how my dad gets out of parties. I learned from the best. Things is, generally if you try to leave a party, people try to convince you to stay. I’m not sure why. I personally know I add very little interest to parties and it’s more likely that I will spill red wine on your white carpet, furniture, outfit, or my own outfit. (Santa, please bring me a bib.) Or I may puke on your stuff if I get drunk enough. I’ve also been known to get head-wounds when I’m drinking because I fall a lot. So blood from my head is a real possibility if you invite me over for a party. Consider yourself warned.

I’m thinking the term “Irish exit” is probably a racial slur, or at the very least, a language-group slur, and this is a perfect example of one of the awkward things that may come out of my mouth without thinking of the implications. Or other times I over-think what I want to say and end up with verbal diarrhea trying to explain my way out of a hole. Ex. “I know I called you a stuck-up bitch but I didn’t mean to call you a bitch, what I meant is you’re so cute like a dog. And when I said stuck-up, I was talking about how you always stick up for people. I’m really sorry you think I called you a stuck-up bitch, but I meant it in absolutely the nicest way possible.” Anyway, my point is the only “lifestyle” advice I can give you is “how to be very awkward at holiday parties.”

So I racked my brain. What other fun Christmas-y thing could I write about? So here it is, my confession. I love really old Christmas decorations. The tackier, the better. If you come by to see my decorative work, what you’ll find is a lot of old decorations, most of which I uncovered in the “Lost and Never-Found Basement” (please refer to Hoarders: The Secrets that Hide Beneath and TRASH OR TREASURE in the Lost and Never-Found Basement- Enter my contest today!)

So here are some of the wonderful old decorations I found in the Lost and Never-Found Basement!

bulbs
All of the ornaments in the Lost and Never Found basement are old, old glass bulbs, many of which are likely antiques. They are gorgeous. Not like the plastic crap you get today. Or they are homemade crafts. These are the kind of ornaments I like.
tree
This tree says “Christmas” to me, not one of those fancy “theme” trees or color coated trees. That’s Christmas from a store. With its mix of homemade ornaments and handed down bulbs, this tree says Christmas from the heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santa
Old Santa Ornament. Can’t figure out if he’s a Salvation Army Santa (he has the bell) or the real Santa because he has a sack and not a black bucket.

 

Snow man
This homemade Snowman is Da Bomb! He’s made out of a big glass jar with one of those round candle holders for the head. Painted with some sort of foamy snow like stuff, and a string of battery operated lights are stuffed in the bottom part of the jars. So you can lift up the head, and turn the lights on. Or I suppose you could make it into a cookie jar. Either way, I think it’s such a cute little Snowman.

 

houses
“The Little Houses!” I was so excited when I found these. My family had a set of these as well. They say 70s all over them! Growing up, my brother and I would fight over who got to put the houses up. In the end, my mom gave the houses to me when I moved out, because she thinks they’re too old and tacky to put up in her house. But I will always love, love, love the Little Houses! Christmas, to me, is about tradition.
porcelain tree
This is some sort of glass or porcelain green tree and although it looks like it has miniature lights, it is actually lit up by putting a very phallic light bulb up through the tree’s bottom. I remember always seeing other people with this tree. I always wanted one! And low and behold, a Christmas wish finally granted, in the bowels of the Lost and Found Basement.

On being White. And I mean White. Pasty White.

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There’s white and then there’s WHITE and I mean White. Pasty white. I am pasty white. I have blonde hair, blue eyes and am very, very fair. I am so fair-skinned, in fact, that I endured a myriad of names such as Casper, Ghost, Albino, Mummy and Liquid Paper to name a few. In fact, I remember kids in school holding paper up to my skin and claiming that I was whiter than the paper. Other things I have been compared to: Elmer’s glue, flour, sugar, snow, clouds, marshmallow fluff, cotton balls, polar bears, baby seals, piano keys (the white ones), Kleenex, Ivory soap, toilet paper, porcelain and the list goes on. When Die Hard came out, I was compared to that really white guy who John McClane (Bruce Willis) calls an Albino at one point. I was also compared to the children in the film Children of the Corn (Christopher Reeve version.) One of my friends said she hoped I would marry and have children with a similarly pale skinned, blonde guy so she could call our children “corn niblets.”

karl die hard
“Karl” from Die Hard. True fact: I look just like him when I wake up without make-up.

One time I remember being at a Diversity workshop and a colleague asked, “Well, how can you say Black people are discriminated against when white people are always tanning to try to get dark skin?” (I know, right? And they say there are no stupid questions. White people, ugh.) The presenter pointed out that there is a huge difference between having dark skin all the time, and having the option to have dark skin. Well, I have never had the option. I have never had a tan. When I go out in the sun, I burn. I burn so badly I turn red, red, red. My summer nickname was “Lobster.”

QT
This lotion gives you Donald Trump orange skin. If you go to the site where I found this pic, you can buy this for $199.00. (NOT WORTH IT!)

I have tried all of the tricks to get a tan. In high school, I used this product called “QT.” It was made by Coppertone and stood for “Quick Tan.” It had to be applied evenly or streaks would appear and it had to be washed off your hands immediately or your hands would change color. For some reason, when I used it, my skin would emit this rancid smell even though the lotion itself didn’t smell bad. And in the end, I never got a tan. Instead, I turned Donald Trump orange. I bet Trump bought up all the QT and still uses it, because his skin looks identical to a QT “tan.”

I tried tanning beds, being told that I would get a tan in them because they are not the same as the sun, you don’t stay in for very long, and it targets the pigments in the skin that create tanned skin. Well, apparently I do not have any pigments in my skin that create a tanned look because I turned pink. I have tried those newer self-tanning lotions, but the problem is that if I put those on, I can’t also use my sunscreen. That may not make so much sense; you may be thinking, “Why don’t you just put it on later after the tanning lotion sets in?” The thing is I burn so easily and quickly that during the summer months I have to apply 60 SPF sunscreen as soon as I get out of the shower. 60 SPF sunscreen is hard to get, and it is generally quite expensive, so I buy the Coppertone for Kids Spray-on stuff. That way, I can get those hard to reach places on my back. If I miss even one spot, I’ll get a really bad burn that could be just one tiny line or blot. The first time I bought the Coppertone Kids Spray, my mother was with me and she said, “You can’t buy that. You’re not a kid.” And I replied, “Why can’t I? I’m buying it.” I firmly believe that the packaging should be changed from “Coppertone for Kids” to “Coppertone for Kids and Extremely Pale, Ghostly, Casper-like People.”

Another problem I run into being such a fair and blonde person is the fact that my eyebrows and eyelashes are also blonde. When I was in elementary school, I remember drawing pictures with my friend and he put eyebrows and eyelashes on his picture of a person. I asked him, “Why did you put those lines around their eyes?” I wasn’t even aware that people even had eyebrows and eyelashes.  In the 1980s and 1990s, the look was always blonde with dark, black eyebrows and, of course, eyelashes. I never saw any blondes in the media who looked like me. I always thought I was ugly. Many of the other kids even said as much. When I became old enough to wear make-up, it was a wonderful thing because of mascara and eyebrow liner. Without these two magical make-up products, I look like I have no eyebrows or eyelashes. The biggest problem with using make-up to create eyebrows and eyelashes is when it’s time to go swimming. In my younger years, I avoided swimming altogether as much as I could, and if I absolutely had to go, I wouldn’t put my head under the water. It’s sad, because I loved swimming and I was a very good swimmer.

I don’t mean to complain about being a White person. I know there is privilege that comes along with being White and I know there are some things I will never have to worry about. The cops are not likely to pull over Casper the Friendly Ghost unless they have a legitimate reason, like Casper is speeding or has expired license plates. Casper will never have to worry about being followed around Walmart because employees think he’s going to steal, especially in the paper aisle because he blends right in. Casper will never have to question did I or didn’t I get the job because I’m pasty. But, and this cannot be disputed, Casper will never have a tan.

Photo Sources:

Casper. Mad Cartoon Network Wiki. <maditsmadfunny.wikia.com/wiki.com/wiki/File:Casper_the_Friendly_Ghost.jpg> December 1, 2017.

Jennie Garth. Pinterest. <https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/799037158860161748/December 1, 2017.

Karl from Die Hard. Internet, Movies, Firearms Data Base. <http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Die_Hard> December 1, 2017.

Madonna. Metro. <http://metro.co.uk/2015/02/25/madonna-to-appear-at-the-brits-18-things-every-80s-girl-learnt-from-the-material-girl-5053907/> December 1, 2017

QT. kookykitsch.com. <https://kookykitsch.com/index.php/beauty-cosmetics/vintage-coppertone-qt-quick-tanning-sun-tan-lotion-spf-2-1992-paba-free-kitschy-detail>December 1, 2017. 

Americans: Join the Beaver Nation

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Since I’ve recently joined the Twitter-sphere, I’ve been reading a lot of tweets. A lot. The vast majority are tweets by Donald Trump or complaining about Donald Trump. You may be wondering why I’m following Donald Trump as a person who also complains and dislikes him. Well, I’m happy to solve that mystery for you. You see, when I started my Twitter account it automatically sets up a list of suggestions of people to follow. There was at least one hundred of them. I started scrolling through the list, and then I just said, F this, and clicked on the option to follow them all. Donald Trump just happened to be on that list. When his first tweet popped up, I thought about unfollowing him, but then I thought about all of the stupid shit he says. So I just kept following him as a form of sick, self-inflicted, torture/entertainment for myself. It’s kind of like how some people like to watch horror movies or read Stephen King novels. You know you’re going to be scared out of your wits but it’s also going to be a wild ride. The only sad part about Trump’s presidency is that unlike a movie or a book which lasts for a few hours or the duration of your reading pace, this ride is going to last 4-8 years. Hopefully, only 4. But the damage will reverberate for many years after his term(s).

As a Canadian, I’m sitting in my comfy, warm apartment in the North, watching the car wreck that is the Donald Trump presidency and reading the tweets by Americans who are now living in a massive Trump hotel being managed by incompetency, much like his Trump Tower in Toronto:

November 2012: “Glass falls from Trump Tower during construction

March 2012: “The swanky new Trump Tower is already falling apart

October 2015: “Cracked window on Trump tower closes nearby streets

November 2015: “Trending: Trump Hotel and Tower No. 1 ranking overlooks falling glass

March 2015: “Pane of glass fell from Trump Tower due to mechanical failure

September 2016: “Falling glass shut down Bay St. for second day in a row

May 2017: “Glass falls from Trump Tower after swing stage crashes into window

There are many more news articles about the crappy Trump Tower in Toronto and its shattering windows, but I don’t want to use up my entire post on copying and pasting links to articles. The Toronto Trump tower was built in 2009 and has been a shit show ever since. And now Trump is trying to sell it and have his name removed from the Tower. I’ve come to the conclusion based on this and his other ventures: Trump University, Trump Steak Knives, Trump Magazine, to name a few, that everything Trump puts his name on is poop.

US flag
Trump is making America poopy.

I know there are many open-minded, highly educated, skilled, and anti-Trump Americans who are unhappy in Trump’s America. So I want to invite all of you to the second-greatest country on Earth (arguably). We’re literally on top of you. Look up, way up and you’ll see us. Canada. 10 provinces, 3 territories. Much easier to remember than 50 states. Bring your education and skills to the true North, strong and free. Help make Canada the greatest country on Earth. Come to Canada and become American-Canadians.

Now, I know what you may be thinking. That’s going to be tough. I can’t just up and leave my home country and make a new start in Canada. Plus it’s cold up there. Well, not so much. We’re just across the border from New England, large cities such as Detroit and Buffalo. Our climates are pretty similar to the Northern United States. In fact, today (November 26) in my small Maritime town, the temperature is 33 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s above the freezing mark. In Boston, it’s 37 F today. It’s not much of a difference. You will have to get used to Celsius, but that’s what phone apps are for.

Also, your money is worth so much more here. You can sell your expensive home in the USA and buy a waterfront property. Where in America can you buy a home like the one pictured here? This house overlooks a river and costs only $479,900.00 Canadian which using today’s exchange rate equates to $374,521.02 US. I challenge you to find a house as nice as the one in the inset below with a view of the water in the United States. (If you’re interested in seeing more of this beautiful waterfront home, please check out Kijiji.

house
This house has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a beautiful view of the Saint John River

There are tons of beautiful, cheap houses in Canada as long as you’re not moving to Greater Toronto or Vancouver. Other than that, prices are reasonable. You can live the high life here! So I say to all you Americans who hate Trump, sell your homes, liquidate your assets into cash, use your passport to get into Canada and make like the Draft Dodgers during the Vietnam War. Cross the border and just stay. Really, you’ll blend in. There’s not much difference between Americans and Canadians other than the fact that Canadians have the Queen of England as our head of State* and that we’re really, really polite. And if you sneak in, you don’t even have to pledge allegiance to the Queen. Take all your money, sneak on up, buy a home and stay awhile. In Canada, we welcome all walks of life! Even Americans!**

Queen_Elizabeth_II_March_2015
The Queen is too busy doing stuff in England to come over to Canada just to sign bills into law.

*The monarch of England is officially Canada’s Head of State, but it’s a ceremonial role only. All she does is sign bills into law. But the Queen of England is pretty busy doing Queen-type stuff in England, like signing their bills, waving, and chilling in her palace(s) so she has a representative called the “Governor-General” in Canada who signs the bills for her. The prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is only the prime minister because he is the leader of the party with the majority of seats in Parliament (like your House of Representatives.) He is not elected directly by the people and if his party, the Liberals, collectively decided he was a douche-bag, they’d just choose another person as their leader, and she would be the prime minister. But don’t worry, Americans, you don’t really need to know this. Most Canadians don’t know this either.

**Don’t be offended here. I’m just joking around. I’m sorry. Really, really sorry.***

***Yes, Canadians actually do apologize a lot. If you move here, you’ll have to get used to that. Sorry.

All images have been borrowed from Wikipedia.org. Thanks Wiki!

There’s no need to fear! Underdog is here!

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via Daily Prompt: Underdog
When I was a child, I used to watch reruns of the cartoon show “Underdog.” The show ran from 1964-1967 and was a spoof of Superman. Underdog was by day a “shoe shine” puppy (mutt) but whenever reporter Sweet Polly Purebred gets into trouble, he takes a pill out of his ring and transforms into a hero to save the day, “the secret compartment of my ring I fill, with an Underdog super energy pill.” Yes, perhaps the show was sponsored by Pfizer. In any case, I always rooted for Underdog, literally and figuratively.  I would argue that most of us do. As Maya Angelou has said, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” The more I get to know people, the more I see how this is true.

I think most of us struggle with unforeseen circumstances every day and those moments when we feel like complete losers. Ugh, can this day get any worse? And then, it does. But when Underdog faces challenges, he simply says, “I am a hero who never fails, I can’t be bothered with such details”and continues along. Underdog sees adversity as a minor setback, he downs his super energy pill, and saves the day. In fact, I’d argue most of us are doing the same thing. NBC news reported in 2016 that 1 in 6 Americans are on some kind of psychiatric drug (Fox, 2016) and a recent study has shown that the use of anti-depressants in the US has risen by 65% over the past 15 years (Mundell, 2017). So why are so many of us turning to prescription drugs?

Some experts point to the destigmatization of mental illness (Mundell). And I would agree that people are more likely to get help if they are struggling with mental health issues more now than ever. But I also worry about the normalization of taking a pill to solve our problems. Of course, if we all were to seek out the therapy we need, there probably wouldn’t be enough mental health professionals in the world to help us all. So I guess the easy solution is simply to drug us, dull our minds. First world problems, right? Here in North America, a woman wakes up with depression and anxiety about having to get groceries; somewhere in Asia, at the same time, a woman wakes up HAPPY even though she doesn’t even know if she’ll be ABLE to feed her family. 

I’m going to argue, that it’s not you. It’s not me. You’re not crazy. I’m NOT crazy. We are ALL crazy. We live in a society based on excess and perfection. The woman in Asia with “nothing” is happier than us all because she’s not constantly exposed to media messages telling her to be skinnier, sexier, happier… Oh and here’s how to achieve happiness, folks: buy this, buy that, buy, Buy, BUY, BUY! Still not happy yet? Well, here, buy this pill.  Let me sell you this bottle of Evian water to wash it down with. Don’t you feel happy now?

Most of us are Underdogs. Most of us are trying to be heroes in our society by placing high expectations on ourselves and others, all of these expectations being perpetuated by media images. As a society, we’ve set our standards so high that none of us, or very few, can actually meet them. And when we fail? It’s “super energy pill” time.

Fox, Maggie. “One in 6 Americans Take Antidepressants, Other Psychiatric Drugs: Study.” NBC News. <https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/one-6-americans-take-antidepressants-other-psychiatric-drugs-n695141)> November 25, 2017.

Mundell, E.J.. “US antidepressant use jumps 65 percent in 15 years.” Medical Xpress. <https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-08-antidepressant-percent-years.html> November 25, 2017.

Bear with me…I’m trying.

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I haven’t written much over the past few days. Things have been pretty hectic, traveling all over Atlantic Canada for medical appointments. Traveling can be the worst, especially when you’re a neurotic worry wart such as myself. Also, I’m trying to come to grips with some things I’ve learned about myself. As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently went for a psychological assessment. I’ve received two main diagnoses: Conversion Disorder (Functional Neurological Symptom Disorder) and Somatic Symptom Disorder. I’m struggling with understanding what all this means.

atlantic-canada-map
Atlantic Canada- We’re on top of Maine.

So Functional Neurological Symptom Disorder (FNSD) is not a new diagnosis for me. It does fall in the spectrum of Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures (PNES) although the acronym is not as much fun as saying Pee-Nes (get it, it sounds like penis.) Other terms like Conversion Disorder, Dissociative Disorder and Pseudo-seizures are used interchangeably by medical professionals, but they all mean the same thing. Although I have a “normal” brain (what is “normal” anyway?), there is a problem with how my nervous system functions (https://fndhope.org/fnd-guide/). Generally, my brain has some communication problems. Ironic, really, since I consider myself to be a very good communicator. It results in involuntary face contortions, tremors, seizure-like episodes (I say seizure-like because I don’t pass out.) It presents differently in different people. Some people may fall on the floor and have an all-out seizure that looks epileptic in nature, but they are not, in fact, epileptics.

Somatic Symptom Disorder is where a person focuses on physical symptoms and has high anxiety about health concerns. Well, yes, I do have some anxiety about my physical symptoms. Who wouldn’t? Somatic Symptom Disorder seems to be just a nice way of saying I’m a hypochondriac. I’m not going to dispute that. I do worry about my health excessively- the seriousness of symptoms, and I probably spend too much time worrying about it- as maybe I am in this post.

But the main thing for me is the FNSD. I unconsciously (this is in the report; I feel the need to add this because if it’s unconscious, how would I even know that I have it?) have striated muscles and tension when speaking about topics that cause me distress. I have unconscious anxiety (again, in the report) which leads to fuzzy thinking or cognitive dysfunction. I also have an inability to deal with conflict. So yes, I’m fucked up.

The most surprising thing I discovered is that apparently I am unable to express feelings. I have a basic mistrust of people. Do I? I didn’t even notice. I’ve often been told I am too trusting. But when I really think about it, I’ve always valued logic and reason over feelings. I do try to detach my feelings when making decisions. And because I do hate conflict so much, I don’t share how I feel. At least not with the people I’m in conflict with. I’ll rant about them later, behind their backs. You know, like a back-stabbing bitch. Not on purpose though. I’m not a back-stabbing bitch on purpose, I’m just a coward.

Funny thing about feelings though… I have them, I think we all do. But I can’t accurately identify my feelings. I know, it sounds weird. I keep thinking about my assessment and multiple times the psychologist asked me, “And how do you feel about that?” and each time, my response was, “not good.” He pressed me to be more specific. Did I feel angry? Sad? Whatever. And some of the time, I gave the answer I thought I should give; I thought, well, I should feel angry about that, so I’ll just say angry. But how did I really feel? I don’t know. “Not good.” I don’t know if it’s angry, sad, irate, hopeless. As I write this and I try to even think of feelings to write down, I can’t even think of very many feelings. I just know that I want to feel happy. Maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to comedy- laughing feels good and it pushes down the pain.

Next step for me is to go for some psychotherapy. I guess I need to learn about feelings, how to feel and how to express feelings in healthy ways. If I can do that, maybe I won’t spaz out anymore.

I invite you to join me on my adventure of learning about feelings. Boy, doesn’t that feel like a good topic for a children’s book. Maybe I can write a book for children after this. It will feature me represented by a chihuahua and it will be all about the different feelings people should have and how if you don’t express them, you’ll be like

shaky
Shaky the Chihuahua

Shaky the Chihuahua. Shaky will be joined by Bellowing Bear who yells all the time because he’s angry. Bellowing Bear gives Shaky the shakes all over. All the different feelings can be represented by different animals. Any children’s book editors out there? You FEELING this? Contact me. I’ll be ready to write it by March 2018. I’m supposed to have gotten all of my feeling training by then.

Bear with me. I’m trying…

Much love (that’s a feeling!)

OH

 

 

Chihuahua image:

Alexandra. “7 Things that make Chihuahuas an Amazing Breed.” Animals.com. <https://animalso.com/breeds/chihuahua/&gt; November 25, 2017.

Atlantic Canada Map from Google Maps.

It’s Christmas Time in Saint John, NB; A Time for Parades & ADHD

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With Remembrance Day & Veteran’s Day, or whatever day in November you call it in your respective countries (if you even have such a day?) over, the Christmas season is now upon us (for those of us who partake.) Of course, the stores were bringing out the Christmas doodads even before Halloween was upon us. So even if Christmas is not a holiday you celebrate in my neck of the woods, your participation is forced upon you. Here, all of the stores will be closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. In Canada, we celebrate Boxing Day, which growing up, I always thought was a day set aside for literally boxing up the presents received at Christmas and boxing up all the decorations. What I later learned is that it is actually a tradition brought over to Canada by British colonists and that it was a day off for servants of the wealthy Brits since the servants had to work on Christmas. (So basically all the wealthy Brits were Scrooges; the movie versions of A Christmas Carol got it all wrong.) In any case, with the advent of Christmas, most communities in Canada have a parade to officially kick off the season.

Growing up, I had never been to a Christmas parade. I told my husband that, and he was shocked. We watched them on TV, but we never actually attended. For two reasons, I believe: one was my father and the other was my mother. My dad would never take us because he’d have to find parking and it would be crowded. We rarely went to any parades or fireworks or any other thing of that sort because of my dad and parking and crowds. Also, probably because he’d be too far away from the Home Bowl. And if we were so lucky to attend an event that involved parking and crowds, we never got to stay for the whole event, because my father would rush us out early to “beat the crowd.” He also hates traffic. My mother, who usually would be into going to such events, was never arsed to go to the Christmas parade, I think, because she hate, hate, hates the cold. And in Canada, if you haven’t heard, it can get pretty cold.

Last night, I attended the third Christmas parade I have ever attended in my life. The first one, I went to with my mom a few years ago in the small town my husband and I moved to (it was a mild evening) and the second one, I went to last year with my husband in the same small town. Small town parades are just that: SMALL. But I’d never been to one, so I was pretty stoked about both of them. I was excited last night to attend the 65th annual Saint John Santa Claus Parade. Saint John, New Brunswick is a small city, but it is, after all a city.

On the way to the parade, I decided to check my phone for messages. You see I was texting with the Blog Broad, and earlier in the day, I had offered to take her dog, Lucy, for a walk. Here is how our conversation went yesterday afternoon before the parade.

Me:  You up for me stopping by and dognapping Lucy? I think I’ll take her for a walk on the Harbour trail. 1:53 pm

Blog Broad: Sure 🙂 2:00 pm

Blog Broad: When are you coming by? Probably gotta lay down in a bit. 2:24 pm

Blog Broad: I really gotta lay down… feeling poopy. 2:54 pm

Blog Broad: Sorry Buddy… just miserable. I’ll msg you when I get up..:) 3:17 pm

Me: I’m sorry. I got impatient and put up outside lights. 4:32 pm

The Christmas parade or Santa Claus parade, or whatever you want to call it, started at 6:00 pm on the other side of town. C (my husband) and I took down the camping chairs and were viewing the parade at its ending point. I insisted we go early to get good seats. I wanted to be there at 6:00 pm but C said we should wait until 7:00 pm. We compromised and set up our chairs around 6:40 pm. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. I did what I always do when there is nothing to stimulate my mind. I checked my phone. The Blog Broad had sent me another message…it was a screen shot of the first two lines of our original conversation and the times. I offered to dog sit at 1:53 pm. She replied, “Sure” at 2:00 pm. Her comment was: “This is how I know for a fact you have ADHD. 7 mins lol you got bored in 7 minutes lmfao” with an emoji smiley guy laughing his fucking ass off.

So…I’m laughing at myself, because she’s right. Who gets impatient waiting for a response in 7 minutes??? ME! That’s who. Then the parade starts.

20171118_190742.jpg
The first float was for the Food Bank and C and I felt horrible, because we didn’t know they’d be collecting donations of food. (Especially since we have plenty- do food banks take expired food?)

Around 6:50 pm, the first float finally came. At long last. Those 10 minutes of waiting felt like an eternity.  And then… nothing.

At 7:11 pm, I said to C, “If another float doesn’t come down here by 7:15 pm, let’s just leave.” I waited for what felt like eons. Looked at my phone for the time. Still 7:11 pm. Ugh!

Finally, at 7:15, the rest of the parade catches up. We stayed for about 8 floats in total and left super early. Not because it wasn’t good, or even that I was bored. Rather, we left because I wanted to: it was crowded; I didn’t want us to be stuck in traffic; but mostly, we left because I was totally fucking FROZEN!!!

Here are some pictures and videos of what I did see of the parade:

20171118_190934.jpg
Another collector truck for the Food Bank.
20171118_192001.jpg
Snow man in a truck. Buy a Chev. (I wouldn’t, but that’s just me.)

I know it’s a bit early, but the Christmas decorations have been for sale since August, so maybe it’s late… to all of my readers & followers, I wish you a Happy Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Milad un Nabi, and a Merry Christmas. Let’s just say HAPPY HOLIDAYS! That way if I missed you, then everyone is covered.

Peace!

OH

 


TRASH OR TREASURE in the Lost and Never-Found Basement- Enter my contest today!

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I decided that from now on, whenever I do laundry, I will focus in on a few of the items I have discovered in the Lost and Never-Found Basement and take photos of them. If you want more information on the Lost and Never-Found Basement, please refer to my original post: Hoarders: The Secrets that Hide Beneath

Please enjoy my finds and enter my contest. Simply comment on this post; share with me what items you would trash or treasure; and explain why they are trash or treasure. I will decide on my favorite post based on which response gives me the greatest belly laugh. The lucky winner will win a fabulous box of rubber bands, pictured above. Use them to tie up your hair; to roll up posters; to keep various items, like pens and pencils,  together; to keep your chips from going stale; or simply use them as entertainment. Imagine the fun you can have aiming these elastic bands across the room at your spouse, child, grammy, or [insert a person who annoys you here] and getting them right in the face! The Trash or Treasure Contest is sponsored by the show Hoarders. Enter today!

Fine print: Contest rules may vary according to my mood. No affiliation with the makers of elastic bands. Entries with more than 3 spelling, punctuation and/or grammatical errors will be disqualified (Yes, I AM an English teacher.) Warning: elastic bands may have been made in China or some other place known for using cancerous chemicals; also, the elastic bands may contain traces of dust, mold, spiders, bugs and other critters known for hanging out in dank, dark, moist and cool areas. Some of the rubber bands may be broken or too old to be stretchy anymore. Contest closes whenever I feel like it. More details to follow on the close date.

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YUMMY! Custard, anyone? There’s no expiry date on it, so it must still be good, right?
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Awww…the old days of electric typewriters. Did anyone else take Typing in High School? Typing, the class, I mean. I purposely capitalized it because it was the course title. I must say, it was the most useful class I ever took, even though it wasn’t “university preparatory,” it served me well for writing university essays and for the writing I’m doing at this very moment.
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Old carpet. You know, because when you tear up old carpet and put in new carpet, you should always keep that old carpet. I mean, you just NEVER know when you might need to use that old carpet again.
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On Vinyl… in fact, there are tons of record albums down there.

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You never know when you’ll need an elastic. I’m glad someone had the foresight to put them all together in a box. It’s too bad they will never be found if they’re ever needed, but some lucky OhWordsBlog reader is going to win this WHOLE box of rubber bands! It could be YOU! Remember to comment on this post with your trash or treasure pick and all this could be YOURS!

 

 

Hoarders: The Secrets that Hide Beneath

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My husband and I have been staying with his 90 year old grandfather for a few weeks now. I am off sick from work because I went off the rails again from my PNES symptoms or as the psychologist I went to for a formal assessment calls it “Conversion Disorder.” Apparently, according to him, the two terms are interchangeable. It also is called “pseudo-seizures” and/or “functional neurological disorder.” Whatever you call it, it is incited by the anxieties of my workplace. I also have a cyst on my right wrist which makes writing difficult, as well as typing, and stapling. As a teacher, stapling is one of the most tedious, annoying parts of the job. Stapling handouts of stories (I’m an English teacher) takes forever and the hand movement causes great pain. You may be wondering: photocopiers have stapling functions enabled on them, so why do you have to staple by hand? Well, I’m mighty glad you asked. Because the school is too cheap to pay for the staples. My hand was getting very painful before I left to go on sick leave but it is my brain that is the reason I went on sick leave. In any case, that is not the purpose of my story this morning. As I said, we are staying at my grandfather-in-law’s, and just like my cyst that hides under my skin, his home has some secrets that hide beneath as well.

20171117_054107.jpgThe secrets are mainly in the basement, but can also be found in pretty much every drawer and cupboard in this house. You see my grandfather-in-law is a hoarder. Not the kind that you see on TV that you can’t even open the door to get into the house, but he certainly has great difficulty with throwing things away. Both he and my late grandmother-in-law, bless her soul, are people who have/had difficulty tossing anything away. And not just sentimental things. EVERYTHING! 20171117_064128.jpgMost of the items are in the basement. I go down to the basement about once a week to do the laundry. Doing the laundry is a fun adventure, because I always take the opportunity to sneak around the basement to see what cool things I can find… you know, like when you’re visiting someone else’s home and you rummage through their medicine cabinet. You just never know what will be in there!

Since we’ve been staying here, my husband and I have been trying to get his grandfather to throw things away. But it’s always the same with him, hemming and hawing, “I might need that someday.” For example, in the summer, I cleaned out his cupboards of all the expired food and went through with him what we should throw away and what we should keep. When I came to the Cake Mix, I was not allowed to throw it away. “I might bake a cake some day.” My husband laughed, “My grandfather has NEVER baked a cake. Now at 90 20171117_054843.jpghe’s going to bake a cake?” But in the end I prevailed (not with the cake mix but with other things), mainly because I waited for him to be asleep or out running errands. In those times, I quickly grabbed garbage bags to throw things away in such as cans of beets that expired in 2005 and had leached through the can. In the end, I threw out about 5 garbage bags full of expired canned goods, and baking supplies like sugar and flour that were all as hard as rocks. After organizing the kitchen, I was excited to tackle the basement. (I know, I’m a weirdo who loves to organize things… when properly medicated that is (ADHD)).

At first, my grandfather-in-law was receptive at the idea of cleaning up the basement. But then he got kind of funny about it. He decided he better get down to the basement before C. (my hubby) or I went down there. Just like me, secretly throwing old food away, he waited for us to go out for the day and, at 90 years old, climbs down the rickety stairs and into the maze of things lost and sometimes found, (but usually not found until a new one has already been bought.)  For example, he doesn’t have a dog, and hasn’t for at LEAST 30 years, but I found 5 heated dog bowls down there, 3 of them in the original packaging. In fact, my husband and I have decided to no longer shop for items we need before checking the basement. So far at the Lost and Never-Found Basement Store, we’ve picked up a spice rack, a paper shredder and a Pyrex lasagna pan. The prices couldn’t be better- FREE! My grandfather-in-law has no idea what he has and what he doesn’t have. Yes, we are horrible people. But back to the old man in the basement; he went down with a ladder and started moving things around. He did create a path that loops around the perimeter (for the most part) that allows us to maneuver around the piles of stuff. But the thought of my 90 year-old grandfather-in-law going down those dangerous stairs (even I’m nervous of falling) and climbing up on ladders, especially when he’s home alone, scares me more than Donald Trump being president of the United States (you know, because Trump can press “the button” at any time.)

So for now, my husband and I have decided against organizing the basement. We don’t want to be responsible for any accidents that could beFALL his grandfather down there. But for your viewing pleasure, I have taken photos of some of my favorite discoveries in the Lost and Never-Found Basement:

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Expired food. Notice the bottle of cleaner on the right- hand side of the photo. Yummy, canned goods, water and cleaner. The Heinz Chicken Gravy expired in 2001. Still good eating though…
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Above: Wardrobe bag. Right: Wardrobe bag inside an old Wardrobe Chest.

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How old do you think these ice skates are?

 

 

 

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Old wood for the fireplace that hasn’t been used for around 40 years. Notice there is also a toboggan, the old lawn chair, and on the left-hand edge, old cans of paint.
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More old paint. The house was built originally as housing for soldiers in World War II and some of the old paint in the basement is from when the house was originally painted.
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A broken chair along with empty garbage bags, rope, chemicals, an old humidifier and other junk.
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Broken exercise bike. There is another broken exercise bike upstairs in the kitchen that my grandfather-in-law won’t let us move out of the kitchen because “I’m going to fix it.” So he has two broken exercise bikes.
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Who ya gonna call? (Still works.)
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ASS. And if you wondered, yes, it is an Electrolux vacuum on the left. It still works and it is the vacuum they use.
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???????

As you can see, there is a myriad of treasures in the Lost and Never-Found Basement, along with piles and piles of just plain junk. I guess some people just have difficulty parting with the past, so they hoard. But if you have so much stuff that you don’t even know what you have, then how can you enjoy those items with sentimental value?

If you or someone you know is a hoarder, JUST THROW THAT SHIT OUT! PLEASE! Just rip it off, like a band-aid. You can’t miss something you forgot you had in the first place. And objects are just that- things. They can’t stand in or replace people- and you’ll always have the most cherished parts of people you’ve lost in your memories of them.

O.H.

ADDITIONS!

 

Learning to Write Great Twitterature

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I recently opened a Twitter account because I’ve been told that being on Twitter could help increase readership of my blog. I know I am late to the game. I just never saw the point of posting short blurbs. I enjoy writing. I am a writer. I don’t like limitations on my creativity, I want as many words as possible to express my profound and sometimes not so profound thoughts. I guess, however, at a certain point, one has to embrace new technologies. Hey, if my 97 year old grandfather can learn how to watch porn on an Ipad, I should be able to figure out Twitter, right?

Wrong. Twitter is the most confusing, convoluted mess of “tweets” and “retweets” and “hashtags” that messes with my already clutter-filled mind. All I know about Twitter up to this point, I have learned through watching comedy shows like 22 Minutes and Last Week Tonight. In fact, it’s only through television media that I know anything at all about the Twittersphere. Twitter is like another planet to me. People seem to be communicating, but at the same time, they are not at all. Just sound bytes. McLuhanI wonder what Marshall McLuhan would have to say about Twitter? I mean, as a society, we have really regressed, communication-wise. Ever read an elementary school reader from the 19th century? The things kids read in grades primary-6 back then is much more complex than what our graduating high school students are reading today. I wonder what people in the 1800s would have thought about literature presented in 140 characters or less.

Are Tweets “literature”? I’m sure some of you perhaps raised an eyebrow, maybe even two, when I used the term in reference to Twitter. Merriam-Webster defines literature as “the production of literary work especially as an occupation” and as “the body of written works produced in a particular language, country, or age” and also “the body of writings on a particular subject.” If you think about these definitions, Tweets are literature. Some people seem to make a career out of twittering, the social media site is certainly creating a large body of work reflective of the current age we live in, and the particular writing subjects are organized by the “hashtags.” (I think… I’m still trying to figure the damn thing out.)

Is Twitterature good literature? Hells no, but you can bet it will be studied in the future as the English language evolves. Will it become as iconic as the works of Shakespeare? I certainly hope not. And what’s the deal with the “hashtags”? Who came up with that? Do people put tags on their hash? I thought hashish was illegal? Do drug dealers actually put the prices on their product? I don’t frequent with drug dealers so I am legitimately asking.

Here is a list of what I understand about Twitter so far.

  • Tweet- a thought of 140 characters or less
  • Re-tweet- when you like a thought, you share it on your own Twitter page
  • Reply- I don’t know. I thought it meant you commented on a thread, but none of mine seem to show up
  • Send a personal message- self-explanatory but it doesn’t seem to let me send messages
  • Hashtag- topics your thought applies to
  • Following- people who you think have cool tweets
  • Followers- people who think your tweets are cool

So in my admittedly limited understanding of Twitter, I would say it is high school only larger. People spout off opinions without using supporting evidence, they follow and copy (retweet) the people who they think are “cool” and the whole goal seems to be to acquire followers (become the most popular kid at the school.) So basically, we are all trying to be Ferris Bueller. ferris_1 And there’s always at least one bully who nobody likes but everyone keeps tabs on: Donald Trump. Hey Trump, the only reason anyone follows you is because we’re all waiting to see what crazy thing you’re going to say next, but no one really likes you. Except for maybe the people who voted for you and the people who helped you rig the election. Anyone else wonder about all the accusations he made at Hillary over election rigging? One thing I know is if you want to distract from your own misdeeds a really great way to do it is to point the finger at your opponent. Worked with my brother growing up ALL THE TIME!

#ThisPostSeemsToEndAbruptly

#IDon’tReallyGiveTwoShits

#TrumpDoesNotMakeAmericaGreatAgain

#NewToTwitter

#HowTheFuckDoesThisThingWork

#HowComeIOnlyHaveTwoFollowers

#ThisIsLikeHighSchoolAllOverAgain

#FollowMePleaseForTheLoveOfGod

#WhyAmISuchALoser

#HighSchoolSucks

#TwitterSucks

#BitterAtTwitter

#RealOceanHayward

 

Sources:

“Ferris Bueller.” The Washington Times. <https://www.washingtontimes.com/multimedia/image/ferris-1jpg/&gt; November 13, 2017.

“Literature.” Meriam Webster. <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/literature> November 13, 2017

Education & Mental Health- It’s time to examine current practices and make changes NOW

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Good morning, Good afternoon, Good evening world, wherever you may be. It’s Ocean here, and again, I cannot sleep. It is 2:07am where I am and my circadian rhythm is off. Way off.

I think I’m depressed. No. I am depressed.

I’ve been off work again for a while now. I haven’t been sleeping for awhile. Years even.

I have had a lot of ideas in my head. Things I want to write about. Things I need to express. This may get dark. Really dark.

I’ve decided this piece is going to be about mental illness and the education system. I think it is a commonality in most places that there has been an explosion of mental illness within the children we teach today. I am a high school teacher; so I speak from that perspective. I’m sure, or I hope, that the issues I see are not as prevalent in the younger grades as they are in the demographic I teach.

Two years ago, a student who I taught took his own life. It came as a surprise. Z was a very pleasant young person. He arrived at my class every day earlier than everyone else, would sit in his seat and ask me how I was doing. I’m not even sure if I asked him how he was. I probably did. He probably said he was having a good day. There were no signs. He was always so concerned about the feelings of others though… maybe that was a signal.

On New Year’s eve of 2015/2016, he took a jump off of a high roof and said goodbye to the world. Apparently, he was having issues with a girlfriend.

I know a lot of people tend to blame the victim in these cases- I have heard people say that suicide is a very selfish act. What most people don’t know about me is that I was very depressed in my school days. It started slowly in elementary school from being bullied and continued into junior high/ middle school. I thought about taking my life a lot. It wasn’t about wanting to die, but feeling like things were so terrible that I couldn’t see any hope of it getting better in the future. We recognize that bullying today is a very serious thing. For me, I developed a deep mistrust of people. The kids who bullied me would switch from pretending I was one of their best friends to pulling some sort of stunt to bring me back to the reality that I was not well liked.

quad-pedal-boat-green-lakeFor example, one time two older girls in my neighbourhood who were the “cool kids” invited me out for a ride in their pedal boat in the lake. I was excited, so I went. Then it was getting close to my supper time which was always an hour earlier than when everyone else ate. So I asked them to drop me off at the shore. They took me close-by to the shore to where the water was about waist deep and told me that they just didn’t have the time to take me the whole way. It was April, so the water was pretty cold. I said, “Come on, it’s not that much farther, you can take me into the dock.” But still they refused. Feeling that I’d been duped yet again, I climbed out of the boat and into the waist deep water wearing my long jeans and sneakers. I was soaked from the waist down. And cold. very cold. They laughed. “You didn’t really think we weren’t going to take you all the way to the shore,” they said. Well, of course, I thought that. Based on all of my prior experiences with these girls, I had no reason to think they were joking. This just one of the more mild experiences of the kind of bullying I endured. It led to me becoming very socially isolated and awkward because no matter what I did, I was picked on for it. I came to believe that people couldn’t be trusted and that true friends were few and far between.

Image result for sticks and stones will break my bones butSo I became a very sad and depressed young girl, with high anxiety in social situations, always having in the back of my mind, Can I trust these people? Feeling socially isolated, uncared for, and like no one understood, I started to think that life was not worth living; that things would never get better and what was the point? You may at this point be wondering, where were your parents? Well, this was the 1980s, and parents were a lot different then. When I cried because my feelings were hurt from being bullied, I was told that there was no reason to cry- I wasn’t physically hurt, that I had to grow a thicker skin and stand up for myself. I remember specifically my mother saying “When the kids make fun of you, you just tell them, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” So I did. And the neighborhood kids threw rocks at me. Thanks, mom, for your stellar advice.

Every teacher comes into the classroom with their own past histories of school experiences. Many of my classmates during teacher training and my colleagues now were “the cool kids” in their school kids. A lot of them, I think, went into teaching because their best memories were of playing sports and being popular. I went into teaching for two reasons mainly. One was that I already knew I was good at it; I was often the student in class who understood concepts the teacher explained and was able to put those concepts into language my classmates understood. Another reason was that I wanted to be able to support the kids who didn’t fall into those roles of being the typically sporty, cool kid. I have a knack for connecting with the kids who suffer from mental illnesses and over the years, I like to think I have made a difference for a lot of kids who have felt hopeless. I am not afraid to share with them my own struggles from my own school days and how glad I am that I didn’t take my own life. I try to remind them that high school is only 4 years of their life and that things after high school do get better. It’s just a matter of making it through.

But back to my student Z. As I said, I don’t believe Z thought about the consequences his actions would have on those of us left behind. I know he didn’t; he was in a moment of deep distress and took the only way he could see out. But those feelings are still left behind with all the lives he touched. I’m sure most students have no idea how much their teachers care about them. I’m sure if Z knew the impact his act would have on his parents, friends, and teachers, he may not have gone through with it. But I’m also sure that in that moment, he just wanted his pain to end. Even so, I feel so much guilt for not having recognized the signs, for being so caught up in advising extra-curricular activities and not taking the time to build the relationships and trust with my students so that I would be a person they can turn to. Two years later, I still can’t get Z out of my head and the pain of losing a kind-hearted young man with hopes and dreams of being a crane operator.

Teachers today don’t just teach subjects and students. Teachers today often take on the roles of guidance counselor, confidants, and even parental responsibilities. We often pay for kids to have a meal at lunch when we know they don’t have money to eat. We pay for school supplies for kids who we know can’t afford it; we buy jackets and mittens for kids who can’t afford it. Teachers have become more than just educators. We bridge a much needed gap in how our social system is set up. There is just simply not enough human resources or money to provide support for all the kids with mental illness or who live in poverty, and our students are paying the ultimate price in too many cases.

As a system, we add to the stresses that kids face with standardized tests, and focusing so much on getting the grades, instead of actually learning the material. All of these things also add stress for teachers. Education systems need to be updated and changed. Supports need to be in place for students and teachers dealing with emotional distress and mental illness. Education around how to deal with anxiety and depression, as well as where to go for help is desperately needed. How many more students have to die before we make drastic changes to an archaic public education system created in the 19th century for the sole purpose to train people for factories? The system is defunct and all stakeholders should be working with teachers, those with the education and training to know what works to completely change the system instead of a top-down approach where politicians decide policies that don’t help kids learn at all and just pile more and more stress on both students and staff in schools alike.

I leave you with this amazing take on how archaic our education systems are:

Sources:
Pedal Boat photo. Green Lake Boat Rentals. <http://greenlakeboatrentals.net/boat-rentals/&gt; November 13, 2017.

Robinson, Kenneth. RSA Animate: Changing Education Paradigms. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U&gt; November 13, 2017

Sticks and Stones Quote. Pinterest
<https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/323837029429635078/?autologin=true&gt; November 13, 2017.

Dear Sleep… (A love letter-ish)

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Dear Sleep,

Remember the time when we were happy partners, I went to you and you held me in your loving arms like a child, comforting me like a warm blankie? It was effortless, and I would always wake up refreshed and ready to face the world? Oh, right. That’s never happened.

Sleep, why do you allow me to pursue you like a stalker, chasing you around dark corners in the shadows of the night? You are elusive and cruel. I want you but you play so coy, so hard to get. I dream of you, but I never get to actually dream with you.

insomnia

You’ll let me have you for a few hours and then you force me up in early morning hours and tease me with your yawns. I’ve read all the articles and advice in health magazines, the Cosmo of sleep- the tips and hints of how to pursue and keep you.

Sleep, I stay away from caffeine after 2pm because I know it’s something you don’t like. I stay away from computer and screen time before bed because I know those things impact my circadian rhythm. I try not to drink too many liquids before bed so not to allow my bladder to interfere with you. I even take Diazepam before bed to ensure you will visit me. But still, you elude me, like I have a venereal disease.

Sleep 2

Then at the times when I want you the least, during important meetings or conversations, when I’m driving or when I’m reading you decide that now is the time that you want to have me. You try to put me down like an abusive boyfriend, trying to knock me into submission when I want you the least. I need you, but you only seem to want to give me the satisfaction of having you at the most inconvenient times.

Sleep, why can’t you just work with me here? Why can’t we work this out together so I can be a functioning human being again? I am a sleep deprived zombie, living each day in a dream-like state because I never seem to be fully awake or fully asleep. Relationships are supposed to be about give and take, sleep. But you seem to just take, take, take. You hold back your love and never give me the rest I need.

Someday, sleep, I hope that we can work this out somehow. That you will just give me a break and allow me to have a routine- you know, how some people (most) seem to be able to go to sleep at a set time and get up at a set time and actually feel rested. I would prefer to have you come into my life around 9 or 10pm each evening and release me from your spell around 5 or 6am, in plenty of time to get some exercise in the early morning before work. That would be ideal. Do you think, sleep, that perhaps we could work this out somehow? Just tell me what you would like me to do and I promise to meet your demands. It’s been too long now- it’s time for us to patch up this broken relationship.

Sincerely,

Ocean Hayward

P.S. I love you, sleep. I’ve had you a few times in the past, so I know we can do this.

Cartoons cited:

Seluk, Nick. “Fun with Insomnia” and “Overtired.” The Awkward Yeti: Fun with Heart

and Brain. <http://theawkwardyeti.com/> November 12, 2017.

******Please check out Nick Seluk’s site- I found his cartoons while looking for images for this post. He has many more funny cartoons about other topics, and many about sleepnessness and insomnia which were quite funny to me while not being able to sleep. I know you’ll enjoy them. He also has calendars and the like for sale. I do not know Nick, I have not been approached by him to help sell his stuff (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I just really enjoyed his work and highly recommend you check it out.******

Counting Meese ‘Cuz I Can’t Sleep

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Sleep…

Why is it when you can’t sleep,

They suggest you count sheep?

Is it because sleep rhymes with sheep?

Often, I can’t sleep. Too often. I may sleep for a few hours, but then I find myself awake at 2:30 am and I’m wired. Wiredish. I say “wiredish” because I’m partially wanting to sleep, I’m yawny, but at the same time my mind is racing. Sometimes it’s with serious, anxiety inflicting problems. Other times it’s with complete randomness.

For example, the plural of goose is geese. So why isn’t the plural of moose “meese”?

Jeesh.

Or earlier tonight, my grandfather-in-law and I were watching “Etalk.” It is the Canadian equivalent of Entertainment Tonight. It comes on right after the local news. My grandfather-in-law is 90 and he loves the local news. He loves to rant at the local news weather woman, Cindy Day. “Cindy Day, are you going to look in the mirror and tell us it’s going to be a beautiful “Day”? It’s hilarious because you can tell this woman thinks she’s all that and a bag of weed. A big bag of weed. The size that would land you in jail for trafficking.

Anyway, Etalk is not generally a show that either one of us would watch. But when the lead-in is, “Tonight: Shocking accusations surrounding Charlie Sheen,” I found myself saying out-loud almost as if I, myself, were 90 years old as well, “Ugh. This ought to be good,” followed by, “what could be more shocking than what he’s already done.” So exactly what has the bi-winning Charlie Sheen been up to now? Well, it’s not something he’s done recently. It’s what he apparently did 29 years ago.

The story continues, “19 year old Charlie. 13 year old Corey Haim. Explosive accusations from a 1986 film set and the details behind the alleged underage encounter between the TV star and the late Canadian actor.” Well, what can I say. We were mesmerized by celebrity news. Me because Corey Haim was my junior high crush, the boy of my dreams. I watched every movie. I even own the film Lucas on DVD.

If you haven’t heard the gory details yet, I’ll give you the quick and dirty (literally) synopsis. Charlie Sheen allegedly raped Corey Haim on the set of Lucas. No wonder poor Corey Haim became a washed-up child star addicted to drugs.

You can find the full news clip here for your viewing enjoyment:  https://www.etalk.ca/

So this is the kind of thing that I think about when I can’t sleep.

I’m also thinking about how much my day tomorrow is going to suck donkey dicks. I have to make a 4 hour drive from my current location to my home-town, Halifax, Nova Scotia. It’s going to be a very long drive consisting of many coffee and pee breaks. Also, I will likely buy many packs of Skittles because the sugar helps to keep me awake. I’ll also put on the Sirius radio and switch between the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s music stations, blasting it and singing along. I always put the music on loud so I can’t hear my own voice while I sing along. That way I can pretend I’m a gifted singer. Remember the movie “The Heartbreak Kid,” the car scene? Here’s a refresher:

And this is probably why my husband prefers we always listen to talk radio when we drive.

But back to sleeping and my lack of it and my lack of it. Oh, and my lack of sleeping. Am I being redundant? I’ve always had sleep issues. As a child, I remember laying awake in my bed for hours. And if I got out of bed, my parents would get ticked off and send me back. “Try warm milk.” I’d tell them, I can’t shut off my mind. “Well, stop thinking.” Duh, if it was that easy, I’d just do that.

And when I do sleep? Well, you don’t want to be my bed partner. I’ve accidentally punched my husband in the face too many times to count. Not on purpose, just because I move around a lot in my sleep. I talk in my sleep, cry in my sleep. Recently, my husband had to take me back to bed because I was walking around our apartment in my sleep.

I know some other people I follow have commented on their own sleep issues- night terrors and the like. I don’t seem to have bad dreams. If I do, I don’t remember them. I do often dream that I’m at work. My dreams are often like an extension of whatever happened during the day. That’s often a nightmare unto itself. Work all day, and then in my sleep I work, so it’s not even like having a true sleep even if I do sleep.

My doctor has prescribed me Diazepam for helping me to sleep. Problem is the 5mg helps me to sleep for a few hours, and the 10mg knocks me out to the point that I sleep most of the following day. Also, I don’t want to end up like Anna Nicole Smith or Heath Ledger, both of whom died from Diazepam cocktails (a mix of Diazepam and other prescription drugs.) I’ve tried many sleeping aids from melatonin, valerian root, chamomile tea, warm milk, Sleep-Eze… nothing works. Do Serta mattresses actually help? Maybe I need a Serta.

Is there anyone else who has difficulty getting to and staying asleep? What do you do when you can’t sleep?

Sweet Dreams, everyone.

OH

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

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Financial advice:

How to make lots of money and still be poor

I’ve been thinking a lot about money lately. Or rather the lack of it. I make a decent salary, and my husband works on commission, but makes a decent contribution to our combined income. I’m not going to get into my exact gross or net income, but let’s just say we make enough that we should be living the life of “luxury” or at the very least, we should be doing much better than we are. I’m sure there are a lot of other people who are in our situation. You’re making enough that you should be able to make ends meet, and be able to put savings aside. But instead, you’re living paycheque to paycheque. I have become an expert at living this way. I remember my first year of teaching, I was given the assignment of teaching a course about careers which included a unit on managing your finances. When my father heard this at a family dinner one night, knowing my financial history, his Diet Pepsi came shooting out of his nose with a loud snort. “Who are you to be teaching kids about finances?” He was absolutely right; and even after learning and teaching kids how to be smart about finances, I still have yet to practice it in my own life. So today, I’m going to tell you all about how to be poor.

First off, it is important not to use a budget. You can’t be poor if you plan and know where your money is going. Of course, be smart enough to be aware of the important bills like heat, power, internet and phones. But you never have to pay them on time. Even if you just put a bit on them at a time, it shows that you’re trying, and I’ve yet to be cut off. You may get a threatening letter, “Pay or we’ll cut your power/phone/heat/ etc. off,” but you just call and tell them when you’ll pay. Usually you can even get by without paying the full amount. They don’t care, because they’re charging you late fees.

Which brings me to my next way to ensure you keep yourself in a life of poverty…20171105_181319.jpg

Debt. Of course, if you’re not paying bills in full on time, you are accumulating debt. Then there are the other sources of debt: car payments, personal loans, consolidation loans. Some people may have mortgages but if you’re lucky enough to be carrying as much debt as me, it’s not likely you’ll ever be approved for a mortgage. A great way to ensure you keep staying poor is to use one credit card to pay the minimum payment on another.

You may be wondering now, how is it that you keep having to use credit cards to pay off other credit cards? Where is your money going? Well, first off, if you read my first cardinal rule of paycheque to paycheque living you would know that I don’t know where my money goes. But I do know one thing…20171105_175544.jpgA good portion of my money goes to shopping. Another great way to stay poor is to spend money on things you don’t need and can’t afford.20171105_181008.jpg There are lots of ways to do this- go shopping when you’re hungry. You’ll wind up with a cart full of food that will just sit in your cupboard. Or another way that ensures my cycle of poverty are sales. You mean this pack of wieners are a $1 each if I buy 10 of them? Sure, I’ll never eat 10 packs of wieners before they expire and my freezer is full of sale frozen pizzas and ice cream that I won’t be able to squeeze the wieners in there, but I’ll buy them anyway because it’s a good deal. 20171105_180950.jpgAlso, there is also just those times that because I’m not keeping track of what I spend, I think I have more money than I really do. Debit is the worst. If you’ve ever done the debit prayer, you know what I mean:

 

 

The Debit Prayer20171105_180052.jpg

I filled my cart with merchandise,

And now it’s time to pay,

I give the cashier my debit card,

And now it’s time to pray.

 

With fingers crossed (and toes),

I enter in my pin,

Please God, Please God, Please God,

My debit prayer begins.

 

Do I have money in my account?

Only God can know,

The seconds feel like hours,

And the connection is slow.

 

At the Walmart checkout,

Scenarios enter my mind,

Will I be humiliated and

Have to leave my goodies behind?

 

God forbid it says “Not approved”

And I have to do the walk of shame,

Worst of all, in a small town,

The Walmart cashier knows my name.

 

Or will my prayer be answered,

And the money will be there.

Oh God, I promise to make a budget,

I promise to take more care.

 

If the transaction gets approved,

I will be off to another store,

I’ll stand at another checkout,

Reciting my debit prayer once more.

 
If you or someone you know needs financial advice, I strongly encourage you to do the opposite of what I do. And if you live pay-cheque to pay-cheque, stay strong, and remember, money doesn’t bring happiness. It just makes people look happy. And gives you a serotonin rush when you go shopping with it. Okay… maybe money does make you happy. But it’s a temporary happiness. It is helping others, spending time with friends and family, and being your authentic self that brings happiness.

By Ocean Hayward

A Trip to the Halloween Store or The Spirit of Halloween is to Objectify Women

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My mother and I recently visited one of those Halloween stores that pop up in closed out retail spaces every October, “Spirit Halloween.” I think most people enjoy Halloween. As a classroom teacher, it has become a day I look forward to mostly. I say mostly because my only worry is that one kid who has a hate-on for me finding out where I live and egging my car. But I enjoy seeing all the kids come to school in their costumes and coming up with my own costume. The students always seem to really enjoy seeing their teachers dressed up and I try hard not to disappoint. But finding a costume is not always easy.

Every year it’s the same thing. Teachers are busy, (I think I have mentioned this in previous posts), and making a costume is time consuming. So a visit to the Halloween store is an easy fix. Or is it? Every year I am reminded of the episode of Sex and the City where Carrie and Miranda go shopping for Halloween Costumes and Miranda points out that the only kinds of costumes for women are “Sexy Kitty” or “Slutty Nurse” or something to that effect. The final episode of Sex in the City aired in 2004 and 13 years later not much has changed.

Browsing in the store, there were some great costume ideas. Little Red Riding Hood?

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Very appropriate for a teacher, indeed.

Maybe I could be sporty. How about going as a referee?

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Oh yes. This will work. Definitely. Especially if I tie up the shirt like it shows in the inset. “Adult Costume” is right. It should be rated Triple X.

Certainly, though, I could dress up like a mummy. I know, I could easily just wrap a roll of toilet paper around myself just as easily, and for a lot less money. But, why not spend $40 dollars on this:

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I don’t think things have gotten any better in terms of the objectification of women in Halloween costumes since that Sex in the City episode. If anything, it has gotten worse.

I took another photo to show the wide selection of women’s costumes:

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And yes, female high school students come to school in these costumes! These costumes shouldn’t be sold in a Halloween store; they should be sold in a sex store.  We buy into the idea that it is our choice to dress in the sexy costume, but it is really the only option available at the stores. How can it be a choice when only one option is given? The most irksome part of it for me is the justification given for allowing our young girls to dress in these kinds of provocative clothing: that if we do not allow them to, we are taking away their power. When girls and women wear these kinds of outfits, they are objectifying themselves, taking away their own power and that of other women. As long as women and girls are using their sex appeal as a means to attain power, women will never have true equality in the world. As long as men view us as sex objects, we will never see a woman president of the United States.  We are objectifying ourselves by buying into the idea that a costume like this gives a woman any kind of legitimate power.

To further highlight the value placed on the sexy costumes, I will show you the one dress-up item I was able to find for women that wouldn’t be considered as traditionally sexy:

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There were other wigs too- sexy, long hair in every colour. The sexy wigs all cost $29.99 but note the price of $14.99 on poor old granny. Granny isn’t sexy apparently and so has a lesser value. She’s not in as much demand. Which brings me to my final observation on my Halloween store rant: did anyone notice that in all the images of the costumes on the packages that all of the women are white? Apparently, women of color don’t celebrate Halloween. Oh, wait. They do. I don’t have a picture but there is a granny wig for Black women, with a photo of an older Black woman shaking her finger; you know that stereotypical older, loud and opinionated Black woman. I didn’t take a photo of it, so please just trust me that it’s there. So in the Halloween costume shop, there are lots of sexy costumes marketed to White women because either women of color don’t exist, or they’re just not sexy (according to the marketing powers that be.)

So to sum up, female teachers can’t buy Halloween costumes at Halloween costume stores. And neither should you. Fight the (male) power!

O.H.

 

 

It’s Not Easy Being Green

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Ever feel like you’re being weighed down by bags? I have only two hands and so many bags but I only want to make one trip to carry them all. But I can’t. I need help. I’m weighed down by bags, some of which I didn’t mean to pick up and I didn’t pack them, but I have them nonetheless. What to do with all these bags? It’s overwhelming.

I always try to use reusable shopping bags. They are eco-friendly and I can fit more things in them. I live on the second floor of a flat and the fewer bags the better to carry them up the stairs.

I recently started reading this book given to me by a friend called Choice Theory. I have only read the first chapter but it resonates. The idea is that we are all seeking the same thing: the freedom to make our own choices. Often we feel like things happen to us. But really everything is about our choices. I chose to pick up these bags. And now I have to figure out how to get rid of some of the load.

Life would be so much simpler if we allowed each other the freedom to be our authentic selves. I see it so clearly: the outside pressure on me to choose what others want me to do, what they think is “best.” But I also know in my heart what will make me happy.

Right now I am in a situation where everyday, my bags cause me a mixture of anxiety and depression (which I’ve been told are like ugly step-sisters.) I search my soul for a solution- the anxiety, the depression- the PNES- they are but symptoms of the larger thing that is wrong: the biggest, heaviest bag which seems to be collecting more and more items as each day progresses.

The theory of choice says that I should just do what will make me happy- others can’t make me do anything. But it isn’t really that simple. Each bag I carry represents either a person I love, or an outside entity, or “the system.” It’s not easy to make a choice for yourself that you know has implications for others around you and even yourself that could be negative, especially when you know it is the one thing that will lighten the load.

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Maybe it’s time I stopped being so eco-conscious and started just using disposable bags. I can just let stuff fall out through the cheap plastic bottoms, leave them on the ground, pretending I didn’t notice. One less thing to care about.

 

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I’m not young anymore. I’m in my 40s and I’ve wasted so much of my life carrying around these damn bags. It’s time for someone to either help me or for me to leave a bag behind and let the contents rot on the road side, with the carcasses of raccoons and porcupines.

It’s either the bag or me.

O.H.

 

The End of the BFF?

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A very good friend of mine recently added a post to her Facebook wall, “11 Weird Signs Your Friendship is Ending” by Kaitlyn Wylde. My friend, who I’ll just call Alice-son, and I used to be inseparable, but over the years our lives have changed in different directions and we haven’t been in touch as often as we were. I became a teacher and moved to a small town over 300ish kilometres away (200ish miles). She had 2 kids. Our lives are very different now. She posts pictures of her kids on Facebook almost daily. I, on the other hand, rarely post on Facebook. I use it occasionally for the messenger feature, generally to chat with another close friend, T.M., who doesn’t have a cellphone. I know, crazy, right? Someone who doesn’t have a cellphone?

I read the post about the 11 Weird Signs and immediately wondered, is this directed at me? I know, it’s probably kind of self-centred for me to think it was all about me, but when I finally got a hold of her for a long overdue chat, low and behold, it is about me. I want to address these “11 Weird Signs” and I underlined weird because it’s kind of a weird title in itself. If it was a post about a romantic relationship ending, these would not be weird at all. If it was an article about a romantic relationship, I would title the article: “Wake Up, Dummy, and See the Writing on the Wall.” But the thing is friendships are not romantic relationships. So it’s time for me to unpack these “weird signs.”

Communication Is One-Sided

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The explanation given in the article is that if your friend doesn’t call you back, she doesn’t care about you. But does it? I mean, maybe I’m not calling you back because I’m busy as fuck with all the responsibilities of being an adult. When we are kids, we don’t have any responsibilities other than school. You have a lot of free time. As adults, you have commitments: jobs, spouses, family. Maybe it’s about finding the time to call. Jeesh, I don’t have time to take a freaking bath for an hour. I can’t remember the last time I relaxed in the bathtub. If I don’t have time for myself, how am I supposed to find time to call a friend? If someone is a true friend, they will understand that.

She’s No Longer Your Lifeline

This one is all about your friend being the first person you want to share good or bad news with. I’m sorry, but I’m married. The first person I’m going to share news with is my spouse. Does that make me a bad friend? Like wtf?

Plans Are Put Off

Here, Kaitlyn admits that often plans fall through. But she says if your friend doesn’t make it a priority to reschedule that you are no longer a priority. Maybe. Or maybe other priorities such as work, your spouse and your family are a little more important now than the friend you made beaded bracelets for. Maybe it’s more difficult now to find time to reschedule plans because, I don’t know, of life. Duh, again, as adults there are so many more responsibilities: aging parents, funerals, weddings, work, children, etc.. Again, real friends should understand that as we get older, there are other things that have to take priority over friendships. And if you are a priority to them, they should get that.

You Feel Like You’re Being Replaced

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Um, okay, so if my friend makes a new friend, she may forget about me? What are we in junior high now? Maybe, just maybe, she’s making a new friend because she’s a mom and I’m not, so she connects more with other moms.

Or maybe, because I live 3 hours away, I can’t just call up my friend to go for a coffee at Timmy’s. Grrr.

You’re Not Up-To-Date

facebookTo sum up, if your friend doesn’t directly tell you news about their life and you find it out on social media, they, again, don’t see you as a priority. In a world devoid of social media, I would agree- say if I found out news from a friend of my friend. But in our technology saturated world, people just tend to share online first. Good grief, my husband and I found out our niece was born on Facebook. My husband’s brother didn’t call us or his mother! He just posted the pics on Facebook. People just don’t call anymore with news. It’s quicker and easier I guess to just use your smartphone and post. I don’t necessarily agree with it personally, but to use it as a reason for a friendship ending is just ridiculous.

There’s Nothing To Talk About

Kaitlyn makes the point here that if you catch up on your lives and then it’s just awkward silence, that maybe it’s time for the friendship to end. Maybe it’s just time for the conversation to end. Just because you can’t think of anything else to say, doesn’t mean it’s time to drop your friend. True friends can be silent with each other and it feels comfortable. But if you’re quiet and it feels stressful trying to think of more to talk about then Kaitlyn does have it right here.

You Don’t Make Future Plans

So if you can’t find time to get together, maybe you’re just not feeling it anymore. You’ve lost that loving feeling. And then my personal favorite line: “When people want to do something, they make it work.” How about, if people are truly your friends, they understand that we are all busy. They should understand that now that we are adults that it’s not that easy to make plans anymore. Grrrrrrrrrr!

You’ve Lost Trust

This one is all about “saving your secrets for someone else.” Um, yes, I do. I like to call him my husband.

You’re No Longer On The Same Team

Apparently, close friends are on the same side and you defend each other. Um, maybe I’m not a good friend. If you are my friend, I will support you. But if you’re doing something shitty, for example, cheating on your spouse, I’m not defending you. I’m going to tell you that you’re shitty. Yes, I’ll keep your dirty little secret. But I’m not on your side. Just sayin’.

You’re Using Each Other

This just seems so high school to me. Kaitlyn points out that if you’re more likely to text your friend with a question than with a check-in, then you’re friendship is going down the toilet. I don’t know. I can see it, but at the same time, with busy adult lives, shouldn’t we recognize that friendships change over time and that if we call or text for help, it’s not using each other. It’s reaching out in a time of need. True friends can have times where they don’t see each other for long periods, but you know that when you need them, they will be there.

You Can No Longer See Value

Okay, my girl, Kaitlyn. I think you are right on here. So true. If you ask yourself the question, what positive things does this person bring to my life and you can’t think of anything, maybe it’s time to end the friendship. But ending a friendship over difficulties of finding the time to spend together is just ridiculous. And a true friend, in my opinion, gets that. They aren’t going to toss you just because you’re busy and you aren’t going to toss them for the same reason.



Sesame Street stoop

I’ve had a lot of friends come and go in my life. But true friends can always pick up where they left off. They don’t judge you, and when you need them, they are there. Time spent is about quality, not quantity. I would love to spend more time with my girlfriends, but it’s not always possible or realistic. What’s important is that the time I do get to spend with my friends is fulfilling and memorable, regardless of whether it’s going for coffee, a walk or just chillin’ on their Sesame Street style stoop.

 

Your BFF,

O.H.

It’s none of my business what other people think of me

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It’s none of my business what other people think of me.

My therapist told me this. When she initially said it, she prefaced it with, “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but it’s none of your business what other people think of you.” It was, as Oprah would say, an “aha” moment. Sometimes even reality TV stars who become president of the United States have those moments when their stupidity actually makes some sense such as a July 2013 tweet:

I’ve just started blocking out some of the repetitive and boring (& dumb) haters and losers. They are a waste of time and energy!

Hmmm, Trumpy. I hate to admit it, but that’s actually quite smart. Ignore the “haters and losers.”  Of course, in Trump’s world anyone who disagrees with him is a “hater” or “loser.” And I am one of his haters and I’m sure he would say I’m a loser too. But hey, it’s none of my business what Trump thinks of me.

But it’s a difficult thing, isn’t it? To not care about what others think of you. In sociology, George Herbert Mead came up with the idea of symbolic interactionism, the idea that our view of self comes from what we think others think of us. And that all of our behaviours are based on that. How do you not think about how others perceive you? And how do you ignore it? Especially when you’re not Trump and you can’t just fire anyone who doesn’t think you’re awesome.

For anyone with anxiety, the mirror is skewed with thoughts of what we think others think about us. It’s inescapable. Every person’s behaviour is scrutinized for a deeper meaning which often leads to the worst case scenario. The barista at Starbucks gave me milk instead of lactose-free beverage because he wants me to be constipated. The sales lady at Old Navy brought me the larger size because I look fat. I didn’t get the job because they found out I have mental illness. None of these things are true. Except maybe the last one. Could it be?

Apparently, God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. I’m not sure that’s true. I think it’s something someone made up to make us feel stronger when we are in the face of adversity. Because sometimes you are given responsibilities by others in your life and apparently, or so I’ve been told, God gave us free will. If other people with their own free will decide for you what it is you have to do, then you can be given more than you can handle. Did they do it because they thought I could handle it? Did they do it because they don’t like me? Did they do it because they wanted to see how far they could push me?

It’s none of my business what other people think of me. Ignore the haters and losers. I’ll just bury my head in a pile of bullshit and breathe it in until the smell festers within and I can’t take it anymore. Block it out, blot it out, blog it out. Nevermind the racing thoughts, the fleeting thoughts, the negative thoughts. Everyone’s a winner, baby, that’s no lie.

It matters. What other people think of me. I want to be liked. Doesn’t everybody

By the way, if you don’t like me, you’re fired. But it’s okay, because it’s none of your business what I think of you.

OH

Featured Image: Trump, Donald. Twitter. <https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump&gt; October 12, 2017.

Mental Illness: A Cancer

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So it’s 4:39 am. I am awake. I’ve been awake since 3:50 am. So I thought… maybe I’ll write something. My good buddy, Sam, said to me, you haven’t been blogging lately. What’s up? Nothing is up. Everything is down.

You see I haven’t been writing because I haven’t been feeling the greatest. My anxiety and PNES has swallowed me up like a person trapped in a cove when the high tides of the Bay of Fundy come roaring in. I’m off work again because people have suggested to me that I should be. I didn’t want to leave my classroom. I love teaching; it is who I am. It was a difficult decision to take time off. The worst of it the fear of judgement. I have left the small town I live in and am staying with family in another city. Being in a small town and appearing healthy makes the anxiety worse: If I go grocery shopping, people will think I’m not really sick. If I go to the gym, people will think I’m not sick. But even being with family and friends in another far-away place is difficult. They want to know why- why aren’t you at work? It’s October, how come you have two weeks off? And then the anxiety…what do I tell them? The truth: I’ve gone completely off the rails because I can’t handle the requirements of my job? Or a lie. I have cancer. I do have cancer figuratively. Cancer of the mind. It starts off as a small bit of questioning. Can I do this? And it snowballs like a growing tumor until it takes up all of the space in my brain. Just get through one more day… one more day. All the things you didn’t get done, you can do tomorrow. Except that tomorrow is the same as today. There isn’t enough time to do all the things. Everyone has a breaking point.

So here I sit…trying to think but trying not to think. I need to sort it out, but thinking about all the stuff is exhausting. All of the players in my world have their own ideas of what is “best” for me. Some of the players don’t seem to understand that I am not well. Here are some of the things I have been told/ asked to do:

  • Take two weeks off. Don’t think about work. You’ll be fine in two weeks.
    • Will I? “Don’t think about work.” Asking a teacher not to think about how their students are doing is like asking a person not to breathe. It is in my nature to think about what went wrong. To question, to wonder, to worry.
  • Come up with a plan of how we can support you if you have a seizure in front of your class.
    • Okay, but generally I don’t have seizures due to the students. It’s due to the immense amount of bullshit…er… paperwork, policies, etc.. So what do I do to get out of that? Not check emails so I don’t know about all of the new requirements of my job this year? Don’t talk to anyone who might tell me about things I’m supposed to have done and haven’t because it’s not humanly possible to do all the things required in my job and do my job well?
  • Since you’re off, take this minimum wage job as a housekeeper/nanny.
    • So my mother-in-law thought it would be a good idea to volunteer me to help look after her niece’s house and twins. You know, they put me off work to ease my stress and for me to focus on taking care of and healing myself but why don’t I just go take care of other people for two weeks.
  • Since you’re off, can you input this data into a computer for me? And set up a website?
    • My husband, god love him, is excited at the prospect of me having time to help him with his job. I spent much of the summer doing that at the expense of my own planning for new courses. Maybe if I had been better prepared for the 5 different courses I was teaching, I would not be in this situation right now. I love my husband, and I do want to help. But right now, I have to focus on what to do to heal myself.

I guess I wrote something. It’s not my best work. I’m sorry for being a Debbie Downer. Wha-Whum…

Hopefully, I’ll be in a better place soon. I’ve gone through this before and gotten through it. I have no reason to think I won’t get better this time.

-O.H.

Featured image:

“Debbie Downer.” Wikipedia. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debbie_Downer&gt;

October   11, 2017.

 

Wowsers! A Liebster Award!

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Thank you, my dear friend, The Blog Broad, for nominating me for a Liebster Award. I have known Sam for a long time and we share many of the same interests: window shopping, board games, a love of humor, acting, reading (especially Stephen King) and, of course, writing. For as long as I’ve known Sam, she has been a creative and gifted writer. In fact, a little known fact about Sam is that the creator of the Trailer Park Boys, Mike Clattenburg, is actually her cousin.

Sam’s blog, The Blog Broad, uses humor to talk about many of the issues and struggles she has dealt with. She has chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, arthritis, depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Even though she deals with all of these health problems, she still manages to keep a positive mindset. The Blog Broad is also one resilient lady. She is a word warrior; her writing is polished, descriptive and full of similes, metaphors, irony, satire and all of the literary devices I love as an English teacher and language lover. (Oh, yes, language- you turn me on!)

Sam has supported me in my attempt to grow an audience for my writing, especially since as a teacher I am limited in the time I have to write and in keeping up and maintaining a social media presence. I tend to believe though that if you are a quality writer that an audience will build due to the quality of your work. And the quality of Sam’s writing speaks for itself. If you have checked out The Blog Broad, I know you can see why I am so honored that Sam has chosen to nominate my blog for a Liebster Award. My personal favorite of her work is “Technology: A Pain in the A**.”

Sam has also been nominated for a Liebster Award in which she describes how this award works, “The Liebster Award is given to bloggers by other bloggers.  It is intended to recognize and encourage another writer’s work and efforts.  It also helps to shed light on what may be some lesser known blogs.  Essentially, once you are nominated, you pass along 10 other nominations and so on” (https://theblogbroadblog.wordpress.com/author/theblogbroadblog/).

So here are the Blog Broad questions to her nominees, including me:

If you could travel through time and live in any era, when would you choose?

As a history major, this is a tough question. Often we view the past as if it were made up of bygone eras of simpler, happier times. But I really can’t think of an era where that is truly the case. I would not want to go back earlier than the 20th century and live in an age where women were considered the property of men, were not allowed to speak publicly, and remained in the private sphere. Throughout our modern age, people lived through two World Wars, then the Cold war with constant fears of nuclear annihilation. I think there is no era within history that is any better than another- I think right here, right now is just fine. Yes, we have problems. We’re Trumped right now. But we do have a much more inclusive society in terms of accepting of differences. I would say we are living in an age where there is more understanding and appreciation of difference than any other in our history. Do we still have problems? Yes, of course. There is still systemic sexism, racism, heterosexism, ableism, and the like. But we are improving as a society and I see it more and more in my students. They give me hope that the future is so bright, we gotta wear shades.

What was the last good book you read and why would you recommend it to a friend?

When I was at the apex of my PNES, I was unable to work. While off work, I actually had time to read. (When you’re a teacher, the concept of reading for enjoyment is a paradox.) I was trying to find books about overcoming mental illness and I stumbled across Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I didn’t have any knowledge of Jenny or that she was a blogger until I found her book quite accidentally. I had no idea what I was in for. I read it every night before bed and would be laughing so much, my husband thought I was losing it even more than I already was gone. It gave me much comfort to see someone who had so many more issues going on than I ever have had and yet she was still finding humor in her struggles and being so candid about her experiences. It made me realize that I too could determine to be “Furiously Happy.”

If you could change one thing you’ve done in the past year, what would it be and why?

I’m a firm believer that regret is a poison. I would not ever change anything I’ve done. Mistakes are beautiful because they are how we learn. I own my mistakes, learn from them and move on.

Tell us one of your guilty pleasures.

Skittles. If only Skittle-pox was a real thing.

What is the goal of your blog?

Hmmm. I guess the main goal of my blog is to share my enthusiasm for words and writing and to share stories that people can hopefully relate to. I enjoy writing; it is a form of communication and should be shared.  The beauty of blogging is being able to share my writing so it’s not sitting in my Google Drive hidden from the world anymore. I don’t tend to focus on one topic in particular, but just anything that’s on my mind.

When did you start writing?

Just like most people I think, in elementary school. At first it was just for school assignments, but then I started writing stories, essays and poems for my own enjoyment probably around the 7th grade. I never considered writing as a career option, although I would love to have my own schedule and just write!

If you could fight a celebrity in a boxing ring, knowing you’d win, who would it be?

I hate to even write it because it seems so cliched, but it would have to be Donald Trump. And I would hope that he’d go down and never get up. Am I going to get flagged by the CIA or NSA now? My husband will be pissed if we aren’t allowed to travel to the United States anymore.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Drivers in the town in which I reside. I’ll probably do a post on that later, but not until I move from here. There is enough risk from unintentional driver error in this town, let alone to make myself into a target.

What show can you simply, not miss?

Since it’s on Netflix, it’s not really possible to “miss” but the one Netflix show that I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the next season to be released is House of Cards.

What game (Board, card or video) are you best at?

Gin. My husband beats me at every board and card game we play, but he has a difficult time beating me at Gin. I am very strategic with how I play it. I am not giving away my strategy- sorry, folks. But I need to have at least one game at which I can kick ass!

Before I proceed with my own list of Liebster Award nominees, I want to address something I have noticed in researching blogs to nominate. Some bloggers seem to be very humble and even have taken the time to make little “Award Free Site” icons-emoticons-emoji-thing-a-jig, whatcha-ma-call-its. I have taken a lot of effort and time (which I don’t really have) to read and enjoy the blogs I have listed here. Some are very established blogs, some are in the very beginning stages. I tried to choose lesser known blogs, for the most part. And I also looked for writing that was genuine. I’m new to blogging, but I can still smell bullshit from a mile away. I hope that those of you I’ve nominated here feel as honored as I do that someone valued my thoughts and words enough to give me an award.

Drum roll please. And the Liebster awards go to…

Alyazya

Catch the Rayve

Chronically Beautiful

Disclaimer on my Experience

Happymess Happiness

Ocean Bream

Sara in LaLaLand

Suffering PNES

The Bloggess

You Call That Art

The instructions for accepting the Liebster are:

  • Create a new post thanking the person who nominated you, link their blog and insert the award graphic.
  • Answer the questions provided to you, share a little bit about yourself.
  • Develop a new set of questions for your nominations to answer
  • Nominate 10 others and share your post with them so they see it.

Here is my list of questions for my nominees:

  1. What advice would you give to young writers/ new bloggers?
  2. How did you learn how to read and write?
  3. What made you want to start writing/ creating?
  4. If you had to switch jobs, what career would you pursue and why?
  5. Would you rather be able to move things with your mind or be able to talk to animals?
  6. What is the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever done?
  7. Referring to the television show Freaks and Geeks, when you were in high school were you a freak or a geek?
  8. Name one fashion fad that you secretly still love and are waiting for it to come back into style.
  9. Your first thought that comes to mind when someone mentions, “Canada.”
  10. Tell us about the funniest thing that ever happened ever. EVER. (I mean it. Ever.)

 

NOW/ NOT NOW- A Journey through time with the ADHD mind

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My whole life has been a disorganized mess, literally, as my mother would tell you while pulling her hairs out examining my pig sty of a bedroom. Actually, it was worse than a pig sty. Ever watch the show “Hoarders”? It was kind of like that. It’s because I have difficulty in thinking about the past and future and putting those time frames in reference with the here and now. I really do live in the present everyday which is prescribed by many inspirational quotes found on mugs, in picture frames, fridge magnets, key chains and other knickknacks: “Live in the moment. Forget the past and don’t worry about the future.” Sure, it sounds great in theory. But when your mind is constantly in the present all of the time, chaos ensues. I know this, because my mind works in only two modes: “Now” and “Not now” and it always has. I am the ADHD poster child. So in this piece I’m going to prove with my own life experience why these “live in the moment” idioms are bogus. That’s right, I’m talking to you YOLOers- because, yes, you only live once, but you still have to think about consequences and use logic. For people who don’t have ADHD, I would imagine it is quite easy to encourage a care-free existence where little thought is given to past events and future consequences.

 

As someone who has pretty much always lived in the moment, I’m going to show you how living in the moment has resulted in some pretty awful consequences, some of which could have been avoided if I’d been capable of remembering things from the past and using that knowledge to prevent future catastrophes. I hope this table makes it easy to understand how my mind has worked since I was a child:

 

NOW NOT NOW RESULT
Now I am 4. I just got home from trick-or-treating. My parents don’t want me to eat all of my candy so I will hide some in the very bottom of toy box for later. I have to be quick because my parents are coming in to put me to bed. Shhhh… they’re coming.

 

Candy? Not now, I think everyday after this now that the candy is at the bottom of the toybox and my toys are on the top. The candy stayed in my toybox for months. The next summer my bedroom became infested with ants. Large ants. EVERYWHERE! My parents had to tear my room apart to find what was attracting them all. They found the ant nest at the bottom of my toy box, with the candy.
Now I’m 14. My bedroom floor is full of discarded clothes (too fat for this!) and paper (This poem I wrote sucks!). I’m busy doing homework while listening to the radio. They are playing the Top 9 at 9 and they are going to play the newest hit “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul. Homework? Not now. I dump my homework on the floor  so I can get out my boom box and wait for “Straight Up” to come on but I have to be really strategic about it so I don’t get the radio announcer’s voice at the beginning or end of the song. I hope the deejay doesn’t mess it up on me again by talking over the track.

 

My homework isn’t done the next day. I can impress my friends with my tape of the newest hit song that I was so patient for though. School’s not really that important, right? Reading, writing, who uses that?
Now, still 14, I am happy to have my tape of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” to impress my friends with tomorrow, but I might want to have a sleepover this weekend, and I need my room to impress my friends, so I decide I’m going to tape the latest pin-ups of Corey Haim and Kirk Cameron out of Teen Beat and tape them to my walls. My mixed tape and boom-box? Not now!  I throw the boom-box and tape of the song on the floor beside the homework and get out Teen Beat, scissors, tape and a chair to stand on. I can’t find my homework to hand in the next day because it’s somewhere in a pile on my floor mixed in with clothes, papers, and tapes.
Now I have some photos up on the wall, but I didn’t finish. But Degrassi Junior High is about to come on, so I can’t finish it now. I have to go to the living room because we only have one TV and it is on the floor in a giant wooden box. Oh, and it only has 13 channels AND you have to get up and walk to change the channels. Awesome new pin-ups in my room for a sleepover on the weekend? Not now! I throw the magazines, scissors and tape into the growing pile of things on the floor in my room. I can’t find my tape of Paula Abdul because it is buried in the pile of clothes, papers, tapes, magazines and scissors.
Now I am watching Degrassi and eating yogurt. The show is over and  I’m taking my yogurt into my bedroom. I’m going to call my friend Lorrie from the landline on the corded phone in my bedroom to talk about what happened on the show. Yogurt? Not now. I’m tired. I put the half-eaten yogurt container carefully on the floor with the best intentions of putting the container in the kitchen garbage in the morning. My posters on the wall are only half-done, my room is messy and my homework wasn’t done so my mother won’t allow me to have a sleepover on the weekend.
Now I’m 16 and trying to fall asleep. The pile of mess on the floor of my room has grown exponentially over the course of 2 years. I awaken to a clicking sound. Sleep? Not now! Every little noise is soooo distracting to me. What is that clicking sound? After several nights of hearing the clicking sound, I finally turn the light on when I hear it and search it out. To my surprise (but really, should I have been surprised?) I find a cockroach.
Now I’m 18 and I just received my $500 Visa card to use for emergencies as a university student. Now I’m wishing I had a nicer boom box than the Realistic  one from Radio Shack that I’ve had since I was fourteen. (For all of you who were born after the Radio Shack years, Realistic was Radio Shack’s generic band. I guess it was called “Realistic” because while the store brand electronics looked like the more expensive, brand name ones, they were actually just overpriced pieces of shit.) Now I’m going to go and buy a real stereo, a Panasonic, that plays both tapes AND CDs. Visa card for emergencies? Not now. Besides, having a Realistic brand stereo IS an emergency! And a life full of financial burden begins…

 

These are just a sampling of how life is pretty much a series of “now” moments for me. It still is even to this day, although I have strategies in place to help me now. I made a rule for myself to no longer allow food in my bedroom so that helps. Even if my bedroom gets messy, there will not be ants or cockroaches. Another problem not shown on my handy table that I have is keeping track of keys, purses, and bank cards. I got my first bank card at fifteen years old and by the time I was eighteen, they’d issued me 18 cards due to having lost them. I’ve lost purses or left them behind on the backs of chairs in restaurants so many times that now I only buy purses with long straps so I can wear them across my body and I never take my purse off. I even pee with my purse on because I’ve left purses on those hooks on the back of the bathroom stall before. I’ve actually considered getting one of those waist pouches but still can’t get past the stigma attached to them from their popularity back in the late 80s/early 90s. As for my keys, my husband makes fun of me mercilessly for it, and I’ve had people make comments to me “Are those for work?”, because I have attached my car keys to a lanyard that I wear around my neck all the time. I have to because I’ve wasted too much time in my life searching for keys.

 

The worst part of thinking in the present all the time is not being able to remember where you put things. So much of my time is wasted trying to find items that I put aside, no longer needing them, thus not paying attention to where I put them. Then when I do need them, it causes anxiety and frustration. So to all you fools with your inspirational “live in the moment” bullshit quotes, fuck you! If you truly knew what living in the moment all the time is like, you wouldn’t like it one bit. You people should be thankful for your ability to be aware of the past and future while living in the moment. It is a blessing.

 

And now to my most hated group of all, those YOLOers. I’m sorry if you are a YOLOer. But you people make me sick! You only live once. Here’s the thing about being in the present all the time, when you are always in the now- as I’ve said above- your time is constantly being wasted. Yes, I want to enjoy my life. I get the sentiment in the whole YOLO movement. But searching around for keys, purses, documents, rings, necklaces, mittens, laptops, cell phones, (you name it, I’ve lost it) is not an enjoyable way to spend time. If I will only live once, I would like my life to be filled with happy, joyful memories. Not memories of all the times I’ve lost things. And one more thing for all you YOLOs- what makes you so sure that “you only live once”? So basically, what you’re saying is Buddhists, Hindus, Jainists and Siks have it all wrong? What makes you YOLOers such great experts in life? For the love of Allah, stop passing on preachy clichés, trying to tell the rest of us how to live our best lives. Put an end to encouraging risk-taking behaviours! Stop glorifying a life spent at Lost and Found bins!

 

I think what I’m trying to say can actually be summed up best with a quote from Charles Darwin, which is ironic in a way. He revolutionized science with his survival of the fittest theory. Sorry, YOLOers, but the “You only live once” philosophy doesn’t bode well for the survival of our species. Or maybe it does? Imagine all the YOLOers dying in bungee-jumping accidents in their YOLO T-shirts hollering out YOLO all the way down until SPLAT. It really does give me a bit of hope. Anyway, Darwin said, “A [person] who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” At first glance you may think, “but it’s the same thing as living in the moment and YOLO.” I don’t see it that way- it is about using your time effectively- if you waste your time, in essence, you are wasting your life. Whether you agree with the theory of evolution or not, you have to agree that Darwin’s studies did contribute to our knowledge of many species of animals and plants. It seems that in our modern world, we have become selfish with this “you only live once, living in the moment” attitude. People are huge time wasters- taking selfies, posting on social media, playing games on phones, Netflix binges. Having a reason for getting up in the morning is what’s important- not having as much fun as you can before you reach the end. The value in life is being productive.  That’s what I find so depressing about my ADHD- the time I waste trying to stay organized. So I think a better life mantra is “Live with purpose.” In the advent of all this new technology, far too many of us are wandering around without purpose just YOLOing along, self-absorbed and living in the moment. I have an excuse for it- my brain is dopamine challenged. But I take drugs for that. So if you’re YOLOing along without a purpose, what’s your excuse?

 

LWP. Live with purpose.

 

Just one more thing… have you seen my keys?

 

-Ocean Hayward-

A visit from St. Dymphna- Blogmas 24

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and all through the hospital,

Not a creature was stirring, not even an animal,

The bedsheets were hung from the ceiling with care,

With hopes that Saint Dymphna soon would be there,

The patients were all locked down snug in their beds,

While visions of dead people danced in their heads.

And the nurses in their scrubs and the doctors in their coats,

Had just gotten ready to get the fuck out,

When up on the roof there arose such a clatter,

Security rushed out to see what was the matter,

Away to the buzz door they rose in a flash,

The patients were ready to get into a clash,

The exit door lights lit the linoleum floor all aglow,

Hints of red shone down on the patients below,

When what to their wondering eyes should appear,

But Saint Dymphnas and her confessor Gereburnus dear,

With two trusted servants and the King’s only fool,

Fleeing from her father’s evil, big, long and hard tool,

More quickly than a cheetah, along Saint Dymphnas came,

She whistled, sang and called the patients by name,

They gathered around her and formed a neat row,

Their strength to resist temptation did grow,

She meticulously tended to each patient’s need,

Showed love, empathy and compassion, indeed,

She did not leave until each patient was helped,

And she laughed out loud in spite of herself,

And when each patient had had their needs met,

She took the bedsheets and created a large safety net,

Only then did she turn to see her father with dread,

And with his sword, Damon cut off her sweet head.

The patients now cured were all filled with sorrow,

Knowing today would unfold to Christmas  tomorrow,

Their suffering took on a holy new strife,

For them, Saint Dymphnas gave up her life, 

In the mental hospital, the patients will all be alright,

And so they call out, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”


Saint Dymphnas is the patron saint of the nervous, emotionally disturbed, mentally ill and those with neurological disorders.  She is also the patron saint of psychiatrists, neurologists and psychologists. 

Dymphnas was born in Ireland in the 7th century. Her father, Damon, was a pagan and her mother was Christian. Dymphnas also became Christian. When her mother died, her father was overcome with grief and vowed only to remarry if he found a woman who compared in beauty with his dead wife.

His grief led him to become mentally unstable and his daughter was resembling his dead wife more and more each day. He vowed he would marry her. Dymphnas fled to Geel in present-day Belgium with the help of a priest, Gereburnus, two servants and a fool.

When she arrived in Geel, legend has it that she built and ran a hospice for the sick and the poor. However, her father was able to track her location using the money trail. (Pretty fucked-up, without computers, right?) Anyway, King Damon had his soldiers kill the priest who helped her escape. And when he found his 15 year old daughter who refused to marry or go back with her father, Damon cut off her head with his sword. Saint Dymphnas is also the patron saint for victims of incest.

23 Reasons Why

1. Money

2. Husband sick

3. No health plan

4. Sick me

5. Hospital

6. How are you? Not bad

7. Anger

8. Christmas

9. Sick family 

10. Friend moving

11. Tremors

12. Insurance

13. Memory

14. Tired

15. Losing everything

16. Judged

17. Hate

18. People suck

19. Twitches

20. Headache

21. Don’t want them to realize I should be here

22. No one will help me

23. Why?

I think we can do better… Blogmas 22

Hospitals and Christmas shouldn’t go together but sometimes it’s inevitable. 

Christmas is often a very hard time for a lot of people. Is that statistic still relevant? The one about Christmas time being when the most suicides happen? I believe it.

Christmas is such a special time of year for a lot of people. People with families, friends and money. But for others, it’s a lonely time. Shut-ins. Seniors. People who are estranged from their families. Those who live in poverty.

Sometimes people are secretly struggling and you don’t know until it’s too late or maybe they reach out for help in time, but no one listens. Or the doctors say it’s not serious enough. It isn’t until they rant and rave for hours on end or when they say something about how they took pictures of Christmas eve for the kiddies. “What did you take pictures of?” Santa and Mrs. Claus fucking. 

Take the time this Christmas to remember those not as fortunate as yourself. Instead of money, share your time. Ask people how they’re doing, not in that superficial way, but how they’re really doing. And listen. If we all stopped being such big liars, maybe people wouldn’t hide their fears, feelings and anxieties. We’re all fucked up. We all are. But we hide it. We hide it with lovely photos of our families, friends, vacations on Facebook. But when you dig deeper, every one has secrets. Ugly secrets.  They’re there. And if you try to tell me your life is all roses and lollipops, then just wait for it. There’s someone or something waiting around the corner to smear shit on it.

Maybe if we stopped judging others for being weak…if we started supporting each other more… I think we can do better. 

I can hardly stand the Weight- Blogmas 21

I’m baked. Not high. I mean I baked all day. I’m baked as in I’m so exhausted I feel out of it. So a short post for you today. Here are some recipes that you may enjoy.

20171221_145002.jpgBlueberry Pie

For the crust, just use the recipe on the shortening container. The trick to flaky crust is to put the pie dough in the fridge for a bit before rolling out the dough. It’s the melting shortening combined with the flour that makes pie crust flaky.

The filling I made

  • 4 cups frozen WILD Nova Scotia blueberries
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice

Place blueberries and syrups in pot. Heat. When blueberries start to form liquid, add tapioca and lemon juice. Continue cooking until thick and all the tapioca has dissolved.

Then add filling to your pie shells. Make sure to cut slits in your top crust. Bake at 375 F for about 30-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Grammy’s Shortbread Cookies20171221_175035.jpg

  • 1 lb. butter (454 gram) or margarine
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 4 cups flour

Cream the butter. Add sugar slowly. Add flour slowly. Mix well and chill for at least an hour. Roll out dough and use cookie cutters to create shapes. If no cookie cutters, just form into balls and press balls down with a fork.

Bake at 300 F for 15 minutes.

Allow to cool and frost if desired.

 

 

wp-1513910098253.jpgRed Velvet Cake

The original- the red in the cake was created by the beets. Store bought Red Velvet uses food coloring.

  • 2 cups fresh beets pureed
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder (not dutch processed)
  • 3  tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix beat puree, oil and eggs until well mixed. Add sugar and vanilla.

In a large tupperware container with a cover mix the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Put cover on top and shake the hell out of it. If cocoa sticks together either use a whisk or a fork to separate it.

Stir the flour mixture and the milk to the batter alternating in batches. Turn up mixer to high once flour has started to incorporate in. (You don’t want flour all over the place!)

Put into buttered cake pans (9 inch) and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when placed in the middle.

Ermine frosting 

Traditional Red Velvet Cake doesn’t have cream cheese icing either. This icing is to DIE for!! It’s so good. I use it for everything now and it’s pretty easy to make.

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp and 2 tsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 pound of butter or margarine
  • 1 tsp vanilla

In a saucepan, combine milk, sugar, flour and salt. Boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. I mean it, all the time. No messing around!

Allow to boil for 5 minutes. Do not mess with the boiling. Every step must be exact.

Strain mixture using a metal mesh colander into a mixing bowl. Cool to room temperature. If you don’t do this, your icing will look fine at first but will turn into a runny mess that looks like… um… well… something you don’t want to eat that comes from a man’s nether regions.

Stir in vanilla.

Add butter a little at a time and whip. Once all butter is added, whip on high for 5-7 minutes until smooth and fluffy.

Frost your cake and ENJOY!

I don’t have any finished photos of my shortbread cookies or Red Velvet Cake because I’m still working on the icing. I didn’t let it cool to room temperature because I was tired and just wanted to go to bed. So I tried to take a short cut. I put my icing in the fridge and I’m hoping I won’t have to re-make it. I’ll keep you posted.

Authentic Red Velvet cake is a very different item to serve and everyone seems to love it.  Either that or they are LYING which is a cardinal sin.

If you make any of these recipes, please let me know. I would love to see your pictures or hear about your own variations.

Christmas, Christmas time is near
Time for junk and time for beer
I eat good, but this can’t last
Hurry Christmas, hurry fast
Want to be thin like Betty Boop
Maybe use a hula hoop
I can hardly stand the weight
Please Christmas, don’t be late.

 

Design our Freak-Team flag contest!

Enter the Freak Flag Contest!

Cyranny's cove

3x5ft_your_design_here_example

Yes, I am organizing a real contest! And yes, there will be a prize!

Will it be fun? Well, that’s mostly up to you Lovelies! Because as much as I will encourage you to participate, I can’t do the work all by myself.

So, what’s this all about, right? Let’s recap on today a bit (if you want to whole story, click here) Earlier today, Sonofabeach96 dared me to hold a contest, and ask people to design a flag (he had me at “flag” actually…) to officialize and represent the online freak circle.

Now, freak might sound a little heavy to some of you. But I think we all share a little (or totally not little) odd, weird, awkward, crazy, looney side, don’t we? I am at peace with mine, and you know there wouldn’t be much action in The Cove if I didn’t expose it constantly.

Do you…

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