Monday, November 29, 2010

Tits up, Mother!

You might often be tempted to ask the question: when is it okay, kosher if you will, to talk about tits with your mother – or more specifically for her to push her tits up.

Picture a 74-year-old woman who never leaves the house without her lipstick on and a general rub of colour on her cheeks, whose hair has been many colours but not yet blue.

The answer might surprise or shock you. It certainly shocked me since I was the one asking the question and I didn’t get the expected shot upside the head. Well, she was too far away and her knee has been acting up lately so there’s that. That, and she was too busy laughing.

My family is an anomaly, with generations upon generations either having babies later in life or having an “oops” baby 16 years after the first. My brother and I were the later in life babies, though I continually call my bro the “mailman’s child” since he’s got blond hair, blue eyes and longest goddamn eyelashes I’ve ever seen on a guy.

What does that mean besides a lot of tired mothers and kids frustrated with the number of walkers and wheelchairs in the living room? It means having a 40-year difference between sets of cousins. And it means that your Uncle Jimmy (he’s actually a cousin but so old we call him Uncle) will talk about his morning routine of putting his teeth in and straightening out his back before kissing your aunt or how life was during World War II. It also means that your less-than-colourful mother (save the lipstick she insists should never be missed) will be a little more easy-going with the off-colour humour than if she was shushing you after you ask if she fancies a little spotted dick. But that’s only IF Uncle Jimmy is around. I swear he’s an elixir. Either that or he bathes in the stuff.

And so it went this past weekend where the cousins got together to remember Uncle Billy and his positive outlook, his perfectly sliced turkey and stuffing and the times he tried on his wife’s bathing suit, complete with grapefruits for the bits he couldn’t fill. There’s proof in pictures and we saw them too.

After delivering eulogies and tributes, remembering all of the good times we shared together, it was time for a few pictures of the cousins. The younger generation first – thankfully I was included in that (a debate since I’m in between an intergenerational member) – and then the oldies.

I don’t know what possessed me – perhaps after being regaled with stories of how vulgar and amazing my family can be – but as my aunt, uncle, father and mother were standing, posing with prim and proper smiles on their face, I opted for the less traditional call… “Okay, everyone! Make this count! Tits up, ass out.” Jesus Christ Margaret choked on her wine. My uncle was buckled over laughing and with tears in his eyes, and my dad and aunt bravely lifted their chest, pushed out their ass and grinned.

I think this may be the only time I will get away with saying “tits” to my mother. I can’t even fathom how she’d react if I called her “Hootie McBoob” or my moniker “Chesty LaRue.” Even better: her new name… Tits McGrath. I can’t wait until her memorial service. Really. There's going to be spotted dick for everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Espresso love/hate

Espresso is my enemy. It lulls me into a deliciously fragrant and strong psuedo-reality that this time I won't be affected by its grasp on my now wide-awake brain. So many thoughts in my head, so many ideas fluttering about and I can't seem to keep still for one minute so one will alight on me and I can savour it for a minute or five.

Espresso is my drug; sleep its victim, and it's my morning-after sanity that pays. In spades. My fingers fly across the keyboard, clicking and clacking, making big words come to life and melding thought streams into other streams and it takes a map to unravel my travels.

Tomorrow is a work day. Tomorrow, I have to venture into the office and order vests, clocks, awards and holiday chocolate - wares to promote, to announce a message, a mantra - and I hope I don't leave keyboard creases on my cheeks as my head hits the desk.

Espresso, you are my frenemy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Uncle Billy

Looking up at my Uncle Bill always reminded me of looking way up at a very tall tree, the tallest in the forest, and you could imagine climbing limbs to reach the sun.

Always quick with a hug, a laugh, a smile or a kind word, he gave selflessly. His smile could brighten any day and I always looked forward to every family gathering to see him and my Aunt Kay. This past Saturday, the sunshine dimmed, the clouds drew and the earth stopped turning for a time as we held our breath and bid farewell to a favourite person in so many of our lives.

I hadn't seen him for a few years, but my most treasured memory of him was what I always associated with him - a warm embrace - as I stepped off of an airplane to spend the weekend at his Calgary home. He and my Aunt Kay had opened up their home to me when I managed to land an interview at one of the city's thriving magazines. They had great plans for me. I was to move there and offered up their basement as my temporary home base for as long as it took to find my permanent place in Calgary. It was all set and they were excited for me and looking forward to having me in their home. That's how both my aunt and uncle were - unassuming people quick to lend a hand to anyone in need.

We spoke about my Aunt Ann, his mother, who he doted on, ever a loving son. We spoke about how my life might change with this new opportunity. We spoke about the past and the times we got together at our house and theirs for Boxing Day and summer pool parties, or the ever-popular euchre nights in which all of the cousins tried to trump the others. We spoke about his golf games and his quest to one-up his cousin and favourite duffer, my Uncle Jimmy. He helped me map my way to my potential office building, teaching me about the landmarks in the city, and I spent a wonderful day with him, my aunt and cousins Carol, David, Meaghan and Leigh to celebrate Mother's Day. It made for great memories and I'm upset to know it will be my last of him.

In two weeks, the cousins will get together to celebrate his life, share stories and open a bottle of three of wine to toast him - one Celebration of Life in Calgary and another in Toronto - with pictures and memories shared between the two to celebrate him and the impact he's had on us all.

I can't remember a time when Uncle Bill wasn't planted firmly in our lives, the roots stretching across the miles and tethered to our heart strings. Toronto, Calgary and abroad, the strength of his love will be firmly entrenched and his smile engraved in our lives.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Inspired by the CBC? Hell yeah!

Okay, one more post before my head hits the pillow. I had to get this out. It was too good not to share, and you'll never guess where I got it from... CBC.

I have a guilty pleasure. Yes, just one of them. I try to watch CBC's Being Erica every week. It's a novel concept - time traveling to fix or learn from your mistakes - a bucket list of regrets and potential do-overs. And in tonight's episode, I heard this gem:

"Your past mistakes and bad decisions are in the past... your future is spotless."

Gotta love it!

Amber in the bramble bush

I'm searching for a title for my latest artistic creation. Again, my abstract landscape took a turn and this time it ran into a forest of texture, vines and undergrowth. Not to mention, the whole process inspired me to dip both hands into a can of white paint and take some gauze and cobwebs along for the ride.

So, without further ado, here it is.

It was really an experimentation in texture and colour, with many layers of paint and gloss... sort of like me. Many layers and a lover of gloss. Just look in my makeup bag.

Happy Thursday, bloggers. It's a mini-Friday and that's all right by me.

Remembering to remember... where Scribe goes silent

I'm amazed at how much I continue to learn about my parents over the years. Just a few months ago, my dad and I were talking about his somewhat nomadic life, moving from the family homestead in Markdale, Ontario out to Ajax, Mildmay and Toronto. It was during the Depression so my grandfather went where there was work and that meant renting out the family home and renting digs in some remote city.

Remote is relative when you come from a small Ontario town, population 999, where everyone knows what you've done or not done even before you reach your back porch. My grandmother was a telephone switchboard operator; my grandfather worked in many jobs - co-owner of a hardware store and civil servant among them. He also worked at the artillery plant in Ajax, Ontario during World War II where he, my grandfather and my then-young father worked in a munitions factory.

He spoke about doing odd jobs in the munitions factory and making sure he wasn't caught bringing in any matches or lighters as he snuck a smoke with his buddies. One spark, he said, and we were all goners, forget about our Axis enemies. He spoke about living in rented digs where the only heat would come from a grate in the floor - war-time houses that probably still stand to this day. I'm not sure if they've upgraded to central heat or even central air, but I sure hope so.

I never knew about this direct relation to the war effort, and now as we sit on the evening prior to Remembrance Day, I'm remiss if I don't think of the people, men and women who fought and continue to fight in wars around the world, but also of the people left behind to pick up the slack - my father included.

I didn't think I had an immediate connection to any veterans save my uncle who was in the RAF stationed in Egypt. The only proof is a picture that used to sit on the bookshelf in my aunt and uncle's house in Gorebridge, Scotland. My aunt did her part too, but because my family was so far removed from them, thousands of miles across the ocean, it didn't occur to me that I should remember their sacrifice too.

This year, I am. I'm offering up two full minutes of silence, which for me, is a feat. I will remember the sacrifices of the soldiers of the past and save a smile and a salute for the men and women serving today.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tests to prove I'm not a numpty

It’s obviously been a while since I’ve been in the market for a new job – four years to be exact – and my how things have changed!

It’s still who you know and not what you know. Networking is still god and thanks to Facebook, Twitter and blogs like this (!), it’s reached a new height of social networking. But what I didn’t expect was to revert back to my pre-pubescent, sweating over a test with a time limit days.

I got my foot in the door for this job at The Man’s company (thankfully not the same location). It’s not in writing, marketing or public relations – well, sort of. It’s in customer service, which I’m sooo used to doing even though I sometimes want to throw ninja stars at them through the phone. Being a biatch? Here’s a burst eardrum from the ninja star coming point blank through the phone and into your ear canal. Kiss your teeth at me? Even though I can’t see it, I can hear it, and for that my frenemy, you will get the ultimate kiss-off – a personal visit and coffee date with my friend Uzi.

I don’t do well with stupid and I also don’t do well with looking stupid, so imagine my surprise when, in the first interview, I was told there would be a timed aptitude test. It was 12 minutes of sheer panic since The Man hadn’t warned me I would be tested on my smarts. Thank goodness, I have them!

Most of the questions weren’t bad – it tested recollection, discerning between numbers if you’re apt to have numeric dyslexia on a regular basis. But, it also had Sesame Street-like questions:

“One of these is not like the other…” Fork, spoon, knife, blood splatter…

You could see my confusion. I chose spoon.

It also had math questions – the kind that has the train leaving the station at a certain time going at a speed of 216 mph and it meets another train about 12 minutes after leaving the station…my eyes glazed over and I almost wrote “who the hell cares” as my answer.

I must have done something right since I had the second interview yesterday, but this interviewer was harder to read than the other. And, you guessed it, I had another test, this time about my computer knowledge.

“What is a port? Do you know if hardware and software are the same thing? Do you know they have the internet on computers now?” They had me describe the way I would search out files on the C drive. Sophmoric really, but I guess it's a way to weed out the inexperienced.

And the ultimate test? The criminal record check that came at the end of the interview. I guess it's a positive that I was given that test, and because I have yet to be arrested, I think this is one test I will pass with flying colours.

That, and the fact that I am not a numpty, I hope the whole interview will go in my favour. Fingers crossed.