Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Randomness that is Today

Headache. Pain.

Broken glass. Water and ice cubes everywhere.

Nosebleed. One out-of-nowhere stream over a cup of coffee - half a second later, ended; did I hallucinate that?

Overflowing toilet. Sopping wet towels. Thank goodness there was nothing in there.

I cannot wait for a hug from my husband.

Pensive, Elusive, Ponderings...

This day started with a headache - literally, I woke up and it was there. My neck is a cement column, my eyes are bleary, my head and shoulders are burning with piercing pain. I have spent it, for the most part, alone, in silence, save for a brief morning chat with hubby before he left for work and a phone call to my mother that lasted a few minutes longer than usual. My weapons of choice against the aggravating headache are essential oils, coffee, and the heating pad with a Velcro closure that wraps around my neck. 

I've been trying to get through some more course material; currently, La d├ętresse et l'enchantement by Gabrielle Roy. It is, thankfully, much more interesting to me than the previous novel I struggled through. It's an autobiography, and it's been making me think and reflect and ponder (not only because I know I will have to write about it afterwards). The author details her relationships with family members, her passions, her choices, life, death, nature...all things that have had an impact on her journey throughout the years.

My paternal grandmother came to visit last night with my aunt and uncle. I hadn't seen any of them in a while and the familiar guilt was returning. I don't know why, since I have been legitimately busy and haven't really seen anyone or gone anywhere socially for the most part since we got back from our honeymoon. I gave them the grand tour and listened to their offhand commentary. We sat on the couch and made idle chitchat. I was glad a friend had also dropped by and was there for the visit. It served as a buffer for me...I've never been alone with my grandmother, that I can remember. I noticed that she wasn't looking herself, but didn't mention it. Her face was paler than usual, she seemed tired, and her hair was disheveled. I've hardly ever seen it disheveled.

As she left, grandmother looked at me and said, "You wouldn't have anything to worry about if your father was alive" in reference to the things hubby and I are hoping to renovate here. It was followed by an awkward silence and an offhand "Well, that's it. Those things happen" or something like that from my aunt. It hit a nerve. As of now, I am 7 years older than my father when he passed. It's an odd feeling, to know you're older than your parent lived to be at such a young age. And having her say that...well, how could she know what he would be like, now, as a 50-60-something year old? And, again, it discounted my stepfather, who has already been here and done a bunch of stuff for, there's that. And it's always been a taboo subject. We've never had a sensible conversation about my father, her son. And time is ticking.

I happened to mention it to my mother today. I dunno why I bothered. She quickly glossed over it and moved to another subject, which happened to end up with an observation of the relationship between another mother and daughter we know (it isn't very open and communicative, to say the least). It made me sad to realize that that was the relationship we used to have when I was young. And, to an extent, still do surrounding uncomfortable my father and my struggle to understand and improve interactions with his family. We're trying, my mom and I, but we still haven't breached a lot of barriers. She knows me well, yet she doesn't know me at all. The same is also true of the reverse.

And so, as I am noticing in Gabrielle Roy's autobiography, we are linked and bound to our families, we feel compelled to be there for them (or try to be) when they need us, but we remain such separate entities all at once and sometimes isolated and unable to traverse the gaps in ways we cannot quite grasp.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Subtle Differences

It amazes me, sometimes, how adjusting one thing can impact so many others. I used to modify my appearance constantly, just because. As I've grown older, I've noticed that I'm more and more reluctant to do that. It's like I found a comfortable, easy way to present myself and got lazy about experimenting. My makeup is usually the same - natural and minimal during the work week and when I'm out and about; non-existent when I'm at home, my clothes usually fall into the same pattern, I don't paint my nails anymore (except toenails in summer), and my hair has been some variation of mid-long and curly with minimal effort required. This week, I decided to embrace change again (for a change). I was bored with myself and figured I needed an update of sorts, so I cut off more than half my hair and got bangs...not a huge deal, and definitely not all that important in the grand scheme of things...however, I've noticed other subtle differences in relation to that: I feel a little fresher; younger, peppier and more lively again. I have been carrying myself differently, I've been taking more care to style my hair and being more thorough with my makeup. I am also more aware of what I am eating and more motivated to get back on track with physical activity (now, that may have something to do with spring approaching, too). And, it's been kind of fun and cool to see the response from my co-workers. At last count, no fewer than 8-10 people have said that they didn't recognize me or that they had to do a double-take because I look so different. A punt load of others have given me spontaneous, enthusiastic compliments and, dammit, it's good to hear nice things about yourself, especially when you've been going through a slump. Bottom line? There's absolutely nothing wrong with getting comfortable with yourself, knowing who you are and how you want to look, but sometimes the smallest tweak is all that is needed to make a huge difference in your perceptions and how others perceive you. Just to shake things up a bit and have others take notice of you in a new light can be so refreshing! Mind you, I'm already wondering how long it will be before I can make use of the old ponytail standby again... :)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Molasses Tea

When I was a little girl, my mother would insist that we visit our paternal grandparents at least once a month. For me, it was always stressful and torturous. I couldn't let it slide off my back like my brother seemed to be able to do. I felt physically ill at the prospect of having to go there and sit at the kitchen table and endure a half an hour of painfully forced conversation (Mom always ensured we didn't stay long) - or worse, migrate to the living room where pictures of my deceased father were hung on every wall and try to ignore the elephant in the room while avoiding making eye contact. I would often leave with a migraine or tension headache. Not a good way to remember spending time with your grandparents, hey? The first time I saw my grandfather smile was when he had great grand-children. The first time I remember him telling me he loved me I was in my 20's. And my grandmother sort of followed his lead, I guess. They were old school. They always dressed in more formal-type clothes and she waited on him and kind of stayed in the background and let him take the forefront. It wasn't until after he died that I started to see her personality emerge...he had a sort of stern and domineering way about him, I guess, that she let take centre stage.

Anyway, there are a couple of bright spots in there somewhere...I have a vague memory of Nan teaching me to iron, using facecloths as practice, Granda taught me how to tie a tie when I was older (looks and sounds funny, doesn't it?...tie a tie...), and I think I watched him paint the model boats he used to make in the basement a couple of times back in the day (all of us grandkids eventually received one in a display case).

The thing that got me today, though, unexpectedly, was the molasses. I decided to make baked beans today for some strange reason, to eat later in the week. When I took the container of molasses out of the cupboard and placed it on the counter next to the kettle, I was suddenly reminded of sitting with Granda and drinking molasses tea. Granda loved to tell stories about his younger days...I wish I had been relaxed enough to actually absorb and remember them all, but they did serve as a reprieve from the mournful, heavy, discussions about death and the reminders that I no longer had a "real" father (the man actually asked me when I was 16 if I wanted to be buried next to my father when I died. I understand now that he was trying to be practical and considerate since he felt his own time was drawing near and he needed to plan for his own cemetery plot, but at the time it was very disturbing for me).

Back to the of the few things I do remember him talking about was how when he was younger there was a time when there was no sugar available so they had to use molasses to sweeten their tea. I was intrigued by this and he made me some to try. He seemed quite pleased that I liked it. It was one of the few moments of bonding I can actually say I remember having with him. The pleasantness of drinking molasses tea together at the table in a beam of sunlight coming in from the window and his happy smile because I liked it.

It actually makes me cry right now as I write this. I so wish things had been different...but I'm so glad that at least we had that moment and a couple of others like it. And so, today, I sat and drank a cup of molasses tea while beans were baking in the honour of my grandfather, who loved me and didn't know how to get past his own grief to show me in a way I could understand while he was here.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Does This Really Need a Title? It's the First Thing I've Written in Forever!

I miss you. I miss writing here. I miss writing, period. June 2015 seems like forever ago...well 8 months is kinda long, I guess. A year ago, today, I got engaged. Wow. I've now got almost 6 months of wedded bliss under my belt (I'm not being facetious or sarcastic here), I've honeymooned (it was AWESOME), I've finished one distance course (RELIEF!) and am trying my best to finish a second over the next few months (STRESS!), I'm now a first-time aunt (it ROCKS and I love that baby more than I ever thought possible), and we bought a house (WOOHOO! NO MORE RENTING)! Juggling all this while working (and with a hubby who is also working and going to school) has not been easy, at times, and I still have my moments when it all becomes just a little too much. I've had to give up any and all extra-curricular activities for the past while to create more time in my schedule. But I miss them. I miss singing and dancing and CREATING. It's tiresome to only have the scholastic and the mundane on my plate. And it's frustrating to be busy all. the. time. and not have enough time to organize things in my new home the way I'd like or take control of my fitness back (it's sorta gone out the window with so much on the go and I'm feeling so out of shape that I don't even recognize myself or feel at home in my own body half the time). And on top of that we are contemplating kids. It's tough. I always thought I would, then I wasn't so sure, and now it's a matter of I envision it in the future but can't wrap my head around the realities of creating it know, that ideal of wanting to be financially secure and stuff before you have a child...and then there's the clock ticking in the background and weighting the decision with more stress and uncertainty and unknown factors.

So, yeah. Welcome to Adulting 101, I guess...the struggle to balance your life, be responsible, accomplish things, be successful, have fun, and be happy all at once. I miss the younger me who didn't have all of this on her shoulders and was able to just go to school and go out and let loose on the dance floor. The only dancing I seem to do now is in my kitchen/living room or at weddings. Mind you, I'd never want to go back there...that girl carried so many other burdens on her shoulders that it amazes me she was ever able to keep her head above water and keep from drowning in the endless anxiety, guilt, and self-loathing. Thank God I made it this far. I'm sure I'll figure the rest out as I go.

In the meantime, anyone have any insight on the world of parenting they'd like to share? What is it that makes it so tough and so rewarding? Would you do anything differently if you had the chance? What made you decide in the first place whether or not to have them and when to just go for it, if you did? Do you ever regret your choice? Is there anything you'd like to say to someone contemplating whether or not to become a parent (from either side of it...whether you have kids or don't have kids), any advice or wisdom to share...?