Friday, August 28, 2009

I'm a feckin' ray of sunshine..

Actually, I'm not. And I'm going to get in trouble because: a) I'm slacking off at work. With an hour left until home time and on a Friday, the weekend is calling me. And I'm answering with slacks on - slacker slacks; b) I actually stole (yes, me!) the phrase from my friend at work, who stole it from a t-shirt - okay she read it off of a t-shirt and laughed her ass off. Literally. It's gone. She can't find it. Not really, but it would be really funny, wouldn't it?

I'm trying to find anything to make me laugh, to muster me out of this fog. There are many reasons for it: post-holiday blues, a fucktastic job that I would like to shove down someone's throat, negativity on a daily basis from my boss who loves when there's drama, and worse, a feeling of helplessness over a future without a Gusafus.

Gusafus is not a thing, he's a person - a little person - who doesn't have a bad bone in his body but who has a very large (and growing) tumor in his brain. And still he's all light and laughter, long, gangly legs that he will not grow into. It's a sad state when all I can do for him is kiss and hug him, fluff his pillows and love him with all of my ever-breaking heart. I would take the tumor and claim it as my own if I only could. I would sprinkle him with fairy dust to make him invisible, invincible. But I can't. All I can do is love and hold him tight to keep the monsters at bay.

Sad to say, but it puts the lives of us mere mortals in perspective. Shitty job? Gusafus will never have a job. Pining over a loss love (or lack thereof)? Gus will leave behind a legacy of love but never experience his first grown-up kiss or walk down the aisle and into the loving arms of his wife.

I had a really shitty day at work. Actually, it was a week's worth of shit to make up for the two weeks I was pretending my life here didn't exist. I do like some aspects of my life - it's not all bad - but I discovered that I would need to leave my present state of employ to leave my sanity intact. I know with some of you that's up for debate. I say piss off. I'm awesome (see, I've got an award to prove it). So now I'm here at home, Blackthorn cider in hand, remembering that others have it worse and sometimes the grass is not greener on the other side. All I have to do is look at Gus, his parents (my very best friends) and his sister to realize that while Gus doesn't have a choice on how to live his life, I do.

A toast to Gus, my little stinkpot. You make my life worth living well.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

You're A-Okay, and the A stands for AWESOME!

May I wrap myself in awesomeness? I sure hope so, because there are some days that I radiate. Others, not so much, and that's why it means so much to be recognized for my blogging efforts. It's putting yourself out there and I always get a warm fuzzy when someone gets me.

It's also comforting to know that there are people, bloggers like me, who are resting on my side of normal, which is not really normal at all. It gets lonely here and I'd like to invite everyone over for a slumber party. Not the x-rated kind. That's just wrong, but the ones where you spend all night comparing notes, joking, laughing and spilling your deepest, darkest, 12-year-old secrets. It's so PG-13 but it's still fun, damn it.

Thanks to Akilah, I've been relegated to awesomeness with a mention on her blog as one of the five, I mean 13 blogs she deemed worthy of visiting, re-visiting and recognizing. There are so many good blogs out there - just check out my list of blogs I follow regularly. You'll see what I mean.

Now it's my turn to return the favour, the accolades, by naming my top five. It was hard to choose just five (which is why Akilah chose not to limit herself), but if you see your name or blog mentioned here, it's because I think you rock and that you can stay in my inner circle of awesomeness. And man, that's just awesome!

Get ready...

Okay, so tag, you're it. Now it's your turn. Choose your top five (or 15, especially if it includes me!) and let them know they're so awesome you named an award in their honour. And so the Cycle of Awesomeness continues.

Fags, boots, bonnets and other mispronunciations

I've been a little lax in posting since I returned from my 2.5-week vacation across the pond. I could blame the jetlag (over 24 hours of travel in one day) but if I'm being honest (and I usually am), it's because my vocabulary has undergone a transformation and I'm finding it hard to find the right words.

I was in Scotland first, mesmerized by the hills, the sheep and the accents (not in that order). I got used to driving on the other side of the road - looking both ways just in case - and I got used to the jargon. A truck is a lorry, there is no such thing as going to the bathroom, a hood is a bonnet, gas is petrol... you get the picture. I drank a lot of wine, held a lot of babies (my cousins' two and my best friend's 3-year-old daughter and relaxed in general. Maybe it's the rolling hills, but I felt the stress slip away as we drove from Peniciuk to Peebles, from Edinburgh to Gorebridge, from Dunfermline onwards. The roundabouts scared me, the close roads thrilled me and I felt that familiar tug at my heartstrings. I was home.

Fast forward to one week later and I was on a bus with my full suitcase, off to visit a friend along the coast of England. A bus ride and a tricky manuever down the stairs at the train station (thanks go out to a kind, very cute Edinburghian who took pity on me and my accident-prone self who carried my suitcase down the rest of the staircase) and I was on my way to the train, my train, that would take me into another world.

And it was another world. Gone were the lilting accents, the white-dotted hills and the lochs. In its place was a transition to coastal England and countryside out of Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Darcy, are you there? Seriously, I thought I saw him meandering on a horse through one pasture that passed outside of my window seat. I tried to make the train stop, slow down, so I could do a cat-whistle but the engineer was not having any of it. "Wipe the drool of yer face lady, and sit the feck down!" And that was my seat-mate. No, she was whistling too, but she was a local so she could go back and conduct an indepth search. And besides, she's used to Darcy sightings so it was merely a passing fancy.

Nerves took over as I pulled into Bristol where I would rest my head for the next four days. Will the train doors close on me as I'm trying to pull my heavy suitcase off of the train and onto the platform? Will I be able to manuever the said suitcase up the many stairs? Will there be pay toilets and me with no pound coins? Or worse, will there be no one to meet me at the station and welcome me to the thriving metropolis of Bristol? I need not worry. Everything went without a hitch, save a small stumble on the stairs under the weight of my entire wardrobe.

What I didn't expect was a language barrier. I speak English. They speak English. But the words are different. The first thing my friend said to me as we left the confines of the station was "I need a fag." I took a double take and breathed a sigh of relief as he pulled out a cigarette and proceeded to light it. We continued on to the parking lot where a van.... um, sorry, a lorry awaited us. A family friend had offered to drive me back to my friends' humble abode. It had a passenger seat up front (for the guest of honour) and space in the back for... wellies (rain boots) and the tools of his trade, farming. There was even a sack of potatoes.

My language lesson continued from there. We passed a few gas stations and I commented on the price. Gas station? Oh no. Gas is flatulence. Farts. These stations offered petrol. A few pints of Cheddar Valley cider (evil, beautiful nectar of the gods) and I was explaining the origin of fag and it wasn't something you could smoke. I hate the word fag and it annoyed me to hear it used for the burning embers held between two fingers and inhaled. Then came another shock: the horrible, descriptive word of C U Next Thursday, used not to describe a woman but a man (oh, the horror) and it's used ubiquitiously. Constantly. In pubs. On the street. In everyday conversation.

On that note, I will sign off. Not for good, but I need to get my vocabulary back. In the meantime, I have some hoovering to do. My holiday (read vacation) is truly over.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The clowns are juggling!

My friend Anasatan describes her monthly "gift" as a traveling circus that has set up inside her uterus. Then we both look at each other, pretend to juggle ('cause I suck at it and there would be casualties if I actually juggled for reals) and hum the circus song. You know, the clown song where they all get out of an incredibly small Volkswagon Bug, juggling of course.

I am sad to say that the circus has pulled in and the main tent is now being erected (and nothing else) less than two days before I have to spend six to seven hours on a plane with the smallest bathrooms on the planet. I also have to make room for tampons, sanitary napkins and feminine wipes in my carry-on, my purse AND my suitcase. As if I didn't have anything else to pack!

Now I know what you're thining... "didn't you time this? Wouldn't you know EXACTLY when your period would come and prepare accordingly?" Yes and no. I had hoped it would come last week when it was expected, but I've never been a by-the-book type of girl. Even my reproductive system is a procrastinator.

I just hope the clowns don't get too out of hand. They're wily like that. Those damn ass clowns!

Oh, it's the most wonderful time of the year...

It's started already. Last night, as I was sitting down to watch Horatio Cane kick butt CSI-Miami-style, I saw it. A commercial for Staples with parents dancing down the aisles with half-comatose kids in tow, on a couch no less. School is a month away and we're already celebrating. Okay, not me, but gazillion parents are doing the mambo or the rhumba - anything but the funeral march that the kids will be doing.

I still try to stretch August out. I guess I hadn't got it out of my system when I was in school and it still represents summer, running through sprinklers, riding bikes until well past streetlight time, camping and going to visit Grandma up north (yes, where the Chapman's Ice Cream lives). It does not represent back-to-school shopping, binders, erasers and whatever other school supplies are needed. And, it does not represent a change in season. That's what fall is for, and I'm sorry but August, you ain't fall. No matter what those Staples people are trying to sell.

It also means that in two days (that's right TWO), I will be on my way across the ocean to visit my second home. The rolling, white-dotted hills (the dots are sheep btw), narrow roads flanked by stone walls and crazy-ass roundabouts. Tea by the gallon, bran scones, a pogue of chips with brown vinegar, walking uphill both ways and family. August to me is family, a reconnection and a recollection of our history, of what makes us who we are.

My main intent for this visit is a) accompany my cousin and her new bundle of joy on their first transatlantic flight together, offering a shoulder, an extra pair of hands and even a diaper changer if needed. The other reason is to visit with my aunt, who will be 89 this year and is angry that she can't do everything she used to do.

My family says that I am to expect a big change in her from my last visit two years ago. Her eyesight has deteriorated, along with her hearing and her balance, which wasn't good to begin with, is almost non-existent. This remarkable lady had persevered through a lot - through a war, being separated from the love of her life, an officer in the army, raising three sons and witnessing the birth of eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Her childhood could be described as challenging. I won't go into detail, but let's just say it was a hard go - harder than anything I had to experience. She had worked tirelessly to give what she did not have and she continues to touch many, many lives with her kindness.

And she's angry - angry that her body, at 89, is failing her. Always one to do for others, she revolts when a fuss is made over her. If you're going to vacuum with her, then she'll help out by dusting. You plan to take her out to dinner? She'll make dinner before you arrive and insist on staying in for a full meal catered by her, cuppa tea and all. She worries like the best of them (have you met my mother yet? Her sister? The resemblance is uncanny). And god, do I love her.
It's said you can never choose your family and it's true. I was born to my mother, who was born to hers. We take a little bit of the previous generation in our DNA. It could be our upturned nose, our shade or texture of hair, the lilt in our voice, and it can also be how we hold ourselves, our proud walk - proud to be a part of the long line of strong women who came before.

Confession: I'm not proud to be a little nervous. Part of it is because I'm a procrastinator and, as usual, I've left a lot to the last minute. It wouldn't be my trip without it! I'm also nervous because I'm doing something I've never done before - traveled by train into areas unknown. Will I get the right train? Miss my stop? Not get along with the people I'm supposed to be visiting with? It's a fear of the unknown and once I've had the experience of a new adventure the fear will be gone.

I may blog once more before I depart, but if I don't, I'll have lots to report when I get back. Stay tuned. August is not over yet.