Ranchman’s. And not the dance bar.

Oh.  Okay.

So I’m having the kind of day today, where I just laugh at yesterday.  Yesterday was awful.  Actually the whole weekend was awful.  Fine.  But yesterday, when I finished work and came out and found that the previous night’s snowstorm – that I thought had frozen the side doors of my van shut  – well, it hadn’t frozen them completely shut.  Nope, in the morning I could still lift the side door handle just enough to activate the interior light, which went unnoticed and then stayed on all day, thereby completely draining the battery.  Fully, completely.

Well, shoot, I came out from work, the battery was dead as a the proverbial doorknob, and I had a complete F— It moment.  And I just abandoned my vehicle and walked home through the snow.

Trudge, trudge, trudge.

And it felt strangely liberating.  Go away van.  You can not work and I’m still okay all by myself.  Don’t have to call for help.  All is good.  Except for my mood.  Trudge, trudge.

But, the walk is always good for me.  And the snow was pretty.  Now if I could just be left alone…obviously time to ignore my phone and the texts and person that is the source of my annoyance.

Which means…much as I would like to, I can’t blame the guy who is ticking me off and somehow contributing to me being sad and upset; big sigh, but truth be told I’m smart enough now to know that that usually highlights that there’s something in me that needs to be worked on, and whatever he is doing is simply focusing a big seachlight on that which I would rather avoid.

Specifically, why on earth did I let myself get into the position where this could all happen.

Trudge, trudge, trudge.

Stupid van.

Home.  Dinner.  Bed.  Grumpy.

Well, today was better – as it always is.  I went from work to home to a most excellent and beautiful walk with my dogs…and then I readied myself for an event tonight at Ranchman’s.

Stampede 2012-7709

Stampede 2012

Now, here in Calgary we have two Ranchman’s.  The one Ranchman’s I am accustomed to is the cowboy bar on Macleod Trail.  I’ve only ever been there during Stampede, so I get there maybe once a year; and it’s a hoot if you’re into lots of beer, people watching, and being whirled around the dance floor by some guy who knows how to two step, or pretends, and may or may not be a real cowboy.  (Of all the places you can go to in Calgary over Stampede, this is the most likely place to find the real deal.  I digress).  And the dress code is simple: jeans, belt, cowboy boots, cowboy hat.  Belt buckle is optional.  “Ranchman’s Cookhouse and Dancehall.”  Name kinda says it all.

Now, the other Ranchman’s is actually the oldest private club in Calgary.  I recall going there once as a Married With Kids and Therefore Respectable half of a couple.  It’s pretty sedate, very old for Calgary, and has some interesting history.  But I haven’t been back since.

Well. Flash forward a lifetime, a time span that encompasses a painful and never ending divorce, the incredible changes my kids have gone through, and the 1001 ways I have grown, stretched, retreated, and grown again.

Lots of changes; and perhaps the biggest – hitting Empty Nest before I was ‘supposed to.’  Yes, the Parent Handbook for Raising Children never mentioned they might end up shlepping off to another province for school in Gr. 11.  It was one thing when my oldest left in Gr 11; but when my son followed suit the following year, in a very different and  unexpected fashion, it quite broke my heart – even though it has ended up as a complete blessing for him.  And what more do you want for your kids, other than what is best for them?

Still.  Sometimes it just f’n blows.

Anyway.  So, as usual, once a year the school my son attends does a Calgary trip.  And honestly, every time they come, and every time I go to the event they hold, I end up just being completely Wowed, and think to myself, Omg my kids are so lucky to go there – SLS, Em Gr 12 Grad-6930quickly accompanied by, I wish every kid had the chance to be schooled like this.  Seriously, the world would be a better place.  It is what schooling should be.  The Headmaster is simply the best I have ever been exposed to.  He doesn’t just Talk the Talk; he walks it, he breathes it, he exudes it.  He IS the Talk.  He leads with vision, with passion, with intellect; it truly is a wonderful thing to behold, not to mention to be a small part of.

Two things from his talk that night stuck with me.  Ok, three.  One:  the deep appreciation and respect he has towards us parents for trusting the school with our children.  It is a sacred trust, well and truly; and he gets that.  Handing over your under-18 BC Road Trip, Sept 2011 639children, to an entity that will raise them in your absence is, in many respects,  a bit nuts; there has to be confidence and trust that your child will be looked after.  (Well, either that or you’re simply too busy jetting about and the kids are a bit lost anyway…but given my jet is still a minivan that I happily abandon post-snowstorm, guess what camp I’m in, ha ha).

Now for the second thing: How the school appoaches social media.   Not only does it recognize the pervasiveness of social media, but it’s doing something healthy about it.  Yes, the kids can embrace cell phones and all things web related – that’s where society is going after all, hello King Canute; but combating the downside of electronic communication?  How?  Well, it’s through respectful, meaningful relationships with adults.

Respectful, meaningful, relationships.  With adults.

May I add, with adults who (also) aren’t their parents.

I think that’s pretty cool.

But before I get to my #3 finale, let me just say this – off I go to the Ranchman’s.  I have no idea if my wasband will be there or not, but I’m guessing he will be.  At least this time around, I know that if I see him, I will not be barfing afterwards (ref Christmas blog; ugh, I still shudder).

Well, I get home from work, get cleaned up, put on a dressy white tank top, cover it with a pretty and brightly covered orangey cardigan, slap on a good pair of clean skinny jeans, and top it all off with some lipstick and my favourite awesome but not over the top tall black boots.  They have a shorter heel, but they’re the kind of boot that is sexy without trying.  Understated, but with a little bit of attitude.

I find my destination, and better yet, get parking.  I walk in, and the receptionist is a Betty White type – but without the sense of humour.  That’s ok.  She’s sweet in her way.  (Reminded me of SweetTarts, my favourite childhood candy.  And in no way am I referring to her as a tart).  Anyway, I quickly suss out that the Scottish gentleman just ahead of me is attending the same event…and while we are waiting to get our marching orders, just on cue, in comes the wasband.

“Ah ha!!!” he loudly announces to the entire room, “YOU’RE here.”  I look and nod, keeping silent what I was thinking inside.  Part of that conversation was, Yes, I am here, Captain Observant; and of course, of course, you arrive when I do.  Of course.  Perfect.

Ahhhh!  I smile at the universe.

I can tell Scottish dude can’t tell if we’re married or not.  I don’t care.

Well, now the sweet receptionist has to give us all instructions as to how to find the correct room.  In order to be heard, she steps out from behind her desk.  Then she stops right in front of me.  I have an ex on one side, and a Scot on the other; she makes what would be a gasp if any sound had come out of her throat.  We all look at  her, puzzled, as she silently opens and closes her mouth, her hands all a-flutter about her throat, doing an amazing Guppy impersonation.  Open, close.  Open, close.  Hands a-flutter. Open.  Close.

Is she dying?  Having a heart attack?

Wasband breaks the silence.  “Are you okay?”

She swallows and finds words again.

“Jeans.”

Jeans?  Pardon?

“Jeans.  There is a DRESS CODE.  JEANS ARE NOT ALLOWED.”  More fluttering.

“Not a problem,” I said.  “I’ll just take them off.”

SLS, Em Gr 12 Grad-6809

I was serious in jeans this year; not so much in a skirt last year.

Ah ha ha, no, I didn’t say that.  Instead, what I really said was, “No problem, I’ll just go home.”  (Like I cared.  At this point I really didn’t.  I have been to the occasional hoity event, and there is always some man who thinks that clean jeans and cowboy boots are part of the dress code, even if it stipulates black tie; guess it’s Chicks Revenge.  And well, if I have to go home and not attend a school function because I’m in jeans and didn’t know any better and thought I was ok – I mean, it is ‘work casual’ for me, well, that is just funny).

Betty had a small heart attack, and then, in an act that surely cost her 5 years of fun living, she bade me go quickly, it would be alright this one time.  So off I sped with my wasband and the Scotsman, and soon enough we found the appropriate room.

Fortunately I recognized someone as soon as I walked in.  He greeted me warmly, and was talking with two rather handsome men.  I excused myself to grab a glass of wine, in order to go back and really settle in.  My wasband was already at the bar.  Again I had to stand beside him. I ordered my white wine, and had to listen to the vociferous surprise expressed that I indeed drink white wine.

Wtf do you care? I wanted to ask when he proclaimed his amazement.  Bite me, dude, we are so divorced.  Last time I checked, you’re still living with a girlfriend.  Run along.  Yes, I have discovered many fine things in my life since we split, including a beautiful, crisp glass of white.  A little nicer than that $5.99 bottle of white you bought me en route to your work BBQ that surprisingly proved your White is Shite theory. Whatever.  Please piss off.  I do not want to make small talk with you.  We’re divorced, remember?  You sued me last summer, remember?   Yes, wasband, I do drink white now.  In addition to going out in jeans and tall boots, breaking the dress code, and still getting in.

What more can I say – except that there was a lot of testosterone in the room that night, but good testosterone – the healthy, male kind, not the Type A, King of the McMansion, let me tell you all about How Amazing I Am While I Blatantly Stare at the Chests of Other Women freakshow kind.  No, this was the type of testosterone that is respectful of women, the kind you can have a good conversation with, and think, Damn, not only can you carry a conversation, but you look good in that suit.

Of course I mean that in a respectful way.

So back to my finale.

I guess I just don’t feel like taking it anymore.

I was listening to the headmaster speak of the plans the school has for an intensive renovation/re-build,  one that will re-define the heart of the school, and truly make it one of the best boarding schools, if not in Canada, but the world.  It’s been a while since I’ve heard a vision of excellence so clearly articulated.  No point going for second-best, or, the We did the best we could under difficult circumstances.  Or, We gave it our best and we’re happy we’re last.

And as he spoke and the words sunk in, I suddenly realized that in so many little ways, I have grown accepting of less.  Here was someone representing and presenting Excellence; somehow it has been missing from my life.  Crap service, silly people, rules that don’t serve anyone well, being overcharged, wasteful products that work once and end up as landfill, watching people rationalizing stupid decisions, dumbing down everything for the sake of the one dumbass who would be better served if the opposite were true (isn’t it time to resurrect smarten-up?)…

It’s enough to put one in a coma, and just drift through life.

When was the last time you felt inspired?  Don’t you miss it when you realize it’s not there?

I’m going to include some out-takes from one of the school’s brochures.  I’m intentionally replacing the school’s name with an X.  Go crazy and imagine if this was a missive from your local government, the city council, the public school board, the health profession, your employer, or even your own mission statement.  How different would the world be if we all adopted excellence as our mantra?

I’m not quite doing it justice, but here is the excerpt:

“Diligent oversight and strong fiscal management have enabled X to navigate challenging times throughout its history.  X controls its operating costs effectively and is prudent when assessing any possible budgetary increases….as a result, X has maintained a balanced budget for 20 consecutive years while also achieving full enrollment.  In addition, X currently carries no long-term debt and operates within its credit line.

Building projects have been managed with similar fiscal diligence and discipline….

X’s extensive capital improvement project history is noteworthy for having delivered all projects on time and within budget.  Some have been managed and built by X itself; others were contracted out with fixed-cost bids.  X determines whether to self-manage or contract a project depending on the current status of the construction industry.  In busy construction periods, it has often been more cost-effective for X to manage its own projects than to pay premium costs to a contract firm. ..

X has consistently completed projects without compromising student life or educational quality in any way.”

You know, it’s amazing the number of people I know who have renovated or built homes, and tack on a minimum 10% cost overrun.  It is automatically built into the budget.  That is accepted as prudent, as diligent, as standard practice.  Truthfully it is just plain old Fudgeting the Budgeting.  And it practically always, always exceeds those numbers.

Why?  Do the builders really not know what a job will cost, even with 40 years of experience?  Or what about project managers and designers?  They don’t know either?  And what about those who take their pay based on a percentage of the total cost of the project, cost over-runs included?  Since when was an Incentive to Blow It a good idea?

Why do so many people accept that?  “It’s a hot economy.”  “We have no choice.”  “There is no one else available.”  Yup, there is truth to these statements.  But why don’t we demand something better?  Where are the companies priding themselves on being the better, creating the better, pushing the better?

How different would the world be if we all adopted excellence as our mantra?

Gosh, no more Shite White for drinking.

That’s one place to start.  And there are plenty of others.

And so I went home, excited, with my head full of good thoughts :).

 

 

 

 

Posted in Stepping Out, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Owning the Throne

Breaking Up, and Moving On…

It was the first week of July, and my boyfriend and I had broken up about a month prior.  It was more of an implosion, than an explosion.  For too long I had been feeling, “Man, I cannot do this any more.”  And lo and behold, the other person is feeling the exact same way.  So off you go.

But it still sucks.  Especially when it started off with such promise.  Just as we hit all the right heights, along came a boatload of adversity, the kind that either knits you tight together, or throws you overboard.

I guess there’s a reason I’m not much of a sailor and am happy now to stay away from boats for a while.

But anyway.  In one of those weird cases of Oh Thanks Universe, You Completely Suck, about a month post-breakup, on a sunny summer’s day, I received a text reminder from Ryanair or whichever airline, helpfully passing along the information that the former bf and myself were due to take a flight in three days, from inside the UK.

IMG_2358

Ok, so this is Aer Lingus, but close enough. You get the picture. Notice, no couples.

Oh for goodness sakes.  I started giving the finger to my phone.  Which made me laugh.

Yeah…that trip we were supposed to be on.  Together.  Overseas.

Right now.

Huh.

How lovely to get the reminder of What No Longer Was – on my phone.  My phone is supposed to be my friend.  Well, ally anyways.  Stupid phone.  Stupid, stupid phone.  F**k you, Mr Phone, and whomever came up with those helpful ‘Reaching Out and Touching Someone’ reminder emails from Ryanair!

And the slap up the side of the head continued, for the message had lots of fun details designed to get me really excited to fly.

“Yes!” it read.  (The exclamation marks were immediately on my nerves exclamation mark).

“Get packed exclamation mark.”  “Your trip to Belfast is coming in just four days exclamation mark.” “Are you excited question mark.”

“Click here for Helpful (F’n) Packing Tips exclamation mark” (parentheses mine).

Excited?  (Really?  Now I have a computer asking me if I’m excited?  Wicked.)

Helpful Packing Tips?

Like what would constitute a Helpful Packing Tip?

I had a few ideas:  “Take His Sh*t and Chuck It!” “Burning 101: How to Safely Torch Those Keepsakes” “How to Pack When You’ve Been Told to Get Packing!” “Throw Out or Keep: What To Do With Those Damn Framed Photos and Gifts!” “The Moral Dilemma of ReGifting” “Clean Break or Drag it Out? Why Packing ALL Your Stuff and Getting the He*l Out of There in One Fell Swoop is a Good Idea!” “What Not to Pack: How Leaving Toiletries Behind in His Bathroom Will Freak Out the Next Girl!” “Bolting with Grace – It Is Possible.”  And my new personal favourite:  “F**k Your Shit.  Who Cares.  Just Go.”

montana for wp-3

Nothing like a cleansing fire for a little purging and re-birth. Analogy? Foreshadowing? Or just a simple hike in the woods? You choose.

Well. Of course receiving that text message left me feeling a little low.  But in a lovely case of serendipity, aka hang on, Thanks Universe,  I Take It Back, You’re Awesome Again, wouldn’t you know that the very next text was from my lovely girlfriend in Northern Ireland.  Out of the blue, Jill, as I shall call her, sent me this message: ‘Hi, just a wee reminder, if you feel sad.  You are beautiful inside and out xxx.’

God I love my friends.  Yes, I was feeling definitely feeling sad.  So her text and the happy message it contained arrived at the perfect time.  I immediately felt better. I would get through this.  Ah, friends.  The best.  Cue grateful thoughts for all the love out there.

Queen of Adventure? I like the ring of that.

Somewhere just past here, in Glacier National Park, Montana, is where my Text Invite arrived. My gfs and I had fun trying to pick something for me to be Queen of.

Fast forward a month, and another text arrives from Jill. I was actually hiking in Glacier National Park, Montana, with two other girlfriends.  Somewhere, somehow, and on the side of a mountain, cell coverage kicked in, and this happy message beeped in my knapsack.  I read it out loud to my hiking buddies.

“Hey lovely,’ she wrote, “why don’t you jump on a plane and come to Ireland for my 50th celebration on the 12th Sept.  The theme is Own Your Throne. You could come as Queen of F*ing Everything!  Bring yourself/sisters/kids/anyone.  Miss you so xxoxo”

This was one Montana Throne I didn't want to own! Yes, the actual toilet on our last day hiking. It even snowed in the morning...

This was one Montana Throne I didn’t want to own! Yes, the actual toilet on our last campsite while hiking. It even snowed in the morning…

Now, how often does one get invited to a party in such a manner?   Ha.  Not often.  That, I know.

montana for wp-4

How about being, “The Cattle Queen of Montana”? Um. No.

So, go or stay?  Hmmm.  Give me one second to think about it. “Queen of F*ing Everything!” with a real, proper exclamation mark?  Oh yeah, I’m so coming. (!!)  ‘Stay Home, period’, didn’t stand a chance.  Especially given the stars had aligned in such a manner that I could make it work.  Yup, my Gap Year idea was being given permission to blast out of the starting gates.  Adventure was beckoning.

 

 

And so I went for it.  In an order that appeared short (because it negated the years, the process, and the pain of actually getting myself into this position), I figured out a wicked plan – Autumn: Belfast, Nepal, Belfast, back home to Calgary.  Winter: Vancouver Island, Calgary, then back to Vancouver Island.  Spring: back home to Calgary. After that:  lord knows.

And this plan of action was all spurred into reality by Jill’s August text.  Just.  Like.  That.  I went for it, convention be damned.  What I should do, or should not do, disappeared when I opened my eyes to possibility.  I could make it work.

Friends.  Love.  Communication.

Options.

Courage.

And so away I went.

For that I will be forever, and ever, and ever, grateful.

I love Glacier. And adventure.

Off and running!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ps:

montana for wp-1-2

And here’s the costume…Suitably Blurry, Appropriately Cheesy Queen of Hearts costume to the rescue! Oh, this was a much, much better Throne to Own than the Montana Open-Air version :).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Adventure, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Calgary to Shawnigan Lake, via the EcoVillage

So the strangest thing happened to me.  I up and moved for the winter!  And not to some hot destination like so many Canadian ‘Snowbirds’ do when they zoom down to Scottsdale, Arizona, Palm Springs, or Florida.  Nope, I opted for rainy, wet, damp and beautiful Vancouver Island.

This may not be a big deal for some, but for me, it was one big scary leap.  I was finally letting go, and allowing myself to pursue some of my own desires.  I hadn’t followed my heart since, oh, I met my wasband.  That was three kids and pretty much a lifetime ago.  So one could say I was out of practice, and also very gun-shy.  Doing it solo, when you kinda assumed you’d be in a relationship if you were to ever leave your home city, was also a bit of hurdle I had to overcome.

Road trip

One bike loaded, and fuelling up the night before

But sometimes, sometimes… it just seems things come knocking at your door, and the more you ignore and turn away, the harder the knocks that follow.  For they do not quietly disappear. If anything, they get louder, and stronger,  leading to the point when the knocks start to hurt, and you’re like, “Wtheck Universe, FINE I will listen!!  I’m GOING.  Okay??”

My youngest was already out on Vancouver Island, away at boarding school. (Some semblance of explanation contained in my Ranchman blog story: Ranchman’s. And not the dance bar.).  Truly, I knew I needed to be closer to her.  Not just for me – though of course that was part of it – but suffice to say I knew it would be good for her to have me in her face.  Of course she is years away from agreeing with me on that (if indeed she ever does!), but imo she needed a parent around, and needed to know I cared.

And off I went.  Put more stuff in storage, chucked a bit more out, and packed my car up for the road trip out there.

Not unexpectedly, I found it a bit of an adjustment going from organized, efficient, inner-city Cowtown (unlike inner-city US, a very nice place to be), to an eco-village on Vancouver Island.  Yes, an Eco-Village.  (Shoot, I don’t even know that any exist in the province of Alberta where I live).  For those who don’t know, Calgary is big on oil and gas; it drives our city.  It’s a place of entrepreneurs, of people who work hard, play hard, take risks, and help out their neighbours.  It’s also a city of engineers, of practicality, of efficiency… where sometimes cash trumps all.  Fast paced.  Get stuff done.  Take no prisoners.  A place that many describe as awesomely close to the mountains.  Yes, a bit odd: to live in a place where the ability to get away is easy.  Bit different from the island, shall we say. Definitely Canada’s more laid back West Coast.

My favourite fuel from my favourite Calgary coffee shop

My favourite fuel – from Caffe Beano

But why not go?  So much about it appealed to me – less of an environmental footprint, a different way of being, the opportunity to learn, to meet new and different people.

Now, certainly I could have gone the predictable route and rented a Cheap n Cheerful house or something, and just have been on my own… but what would the Queen of F*’n everything do?  She wouldn’t play it safe.  She’d change it up and go for the adventure.  Plus I had visions of being alone in a dark, damp place, in winter, with few people around. The fear of adopting cats and closing the curtains to the world is also a powerful motivator to run the opposite direction…

Naturally this kind of move lent itself well to being the butt end of many jokey jokes.

That moment when you're like, Yup, I'm really doing this

That moment when you’re like, Yup, I’m really doing this

For instance, basically growing out my underarm hair (why does it take so long to get long?).  Becoming a tree-hugging hippie-protester.  Learning to roll my own –  ‘own’ being tampons, not joints (saying that, one would never want to confuse the two, and it certainly puts a whole new spin on, “Oh baby you is on fire!’).  Looking for an old VW van to drive – so cliche, but never let that stop you…  And so on.

First stop; Banff National Park

First stop; Banff National Park

 

But contrary to popular stereotype, the most odd thing about moving out here, was (and is) discovering that the crazy-a** weirdos are not the so-called hippie ones.  No, strangely enough it’s been my direct experience that it’s the business operators;  in particular, the ones who behave as though lying, cheating, polluting, and generally being morally

Second stop; milkshake for dinner

Second stop, and a milkshake for dinner

repugnant is the new normal.  (Mind you, if one considers that for some, Money trumps all…and then capitalizes the T in Trump…you’ve got a commentary on our political and social scene right there, one I’m not jumping into).

So back to hippies and capitalists.  And also my modest expectation that I was coming here to set up my photography website, to write creatively, and most importantly, to spend some time with my daughter.

Well…a strange thing has happened on my way to the new normal.

It seems nuts in retrospect, but I was only here for one week when, on a lazy, rainy Sunday in early December, I was invited to tag along with the group of super chill EcoVillage People (for those who remember the band of a similar name, cue Macho Macho, EcoFarmer…) to go on a tour of the nearby, and controversial, Contaminated Landfill site.

On the island; from white to green in 14 or so hours of driving time

On the island; from white to green in 14 or so hours of driving time

As you do.

(Is that a straight line?  Calgary –> Vancouver Island –> EcoVillage –> Contaminated Soil Landfill.  Crooked is the new straight?).

“Well Laura, all of us are going to check it out.  Are you coming?” asked the lovely and ridiculously perceptive ‘Veronica.’  Of course V doesn’t wear a stitch of makeup, is beautiful from the inside out,  has a voice of velvet, redolent of chocolate, that makes you lean in and listen, and you’re not even aware you’re doing it.  She is also one woman you wouldn’t mess with, because she is astute, strong, spiritual, and very, very grounded.  In other words, she senses when I’m wavering, and seven days into knowing me, was already calling me on my sh*t.

I have a lot of respect for her.  But shoot.  I confess I did not want to go.  I looked away, down, and considered. Darn.  For sure that wasn’t on my Top 10 List of What I Wanted Do That Day.  But given I didn’t have anyone making me a cappuccino and bringing me the Sunday papers to read in bed, I didn’t see any legitimate way out.  Ugh.

As I hesitated, along came her inevitable follow-up, “…or do you have something better to do?”

Oh man.  Thanks for singling that out.  Uh, let me see. Do I have something better to do than check out the potential disaster site that could profoundly affect this community I have been linked to, and care about, over the past five years?  You know, maybe file my nails?  Look at my photos?  Revel in the solitude? Stay back, the lone holdout from Cowtown who doesn’t give a rats about where she is living right now, because for her it’s temporary?  Why should I care about the concerns of the people who call this place home anyways?  I am not ‘them.’  Isn’t it all about ‘us’ and ‘them’?  Division being the new Bonding?  Who says I want to be connected to these new people anyways?  Why should I bother, it’s not ‘my’ problem, run away off, I don’t feel like getting wet anyways…

Uh, right.

Obviously that is not who the Queen of F*n Everything is, for off I ran to find my finest giant rain pants and rubber boots.  Long underwear too.  As an afterthought, I grabbed my camera and threw it in a rainproof bag.

Twenty minutes later I was driving out to the site with the lovely V and a cute young 20-something visiting from Saskatchewan (with the requisite nose piercings).  Inbetween making conversation and staying on the wet road, my mind cast back to roughly three years ago when I had first noticed the random road signs that advertised local opposition to the contaminated soil proposition. I confess I didn’t pay much attention because it seemed so ludicrous.  Who puts a contaminated soil landfill in a community watershed anyway?  Above a lake that provides drinking water for people?  On top of fractured bedrock, over uncharted underground water flows? In an earthquake zone?  In an active quarry too, i.e. ‘blast away to the left, fill ‘er up with nasty sh*t to the right.’

Come on.  That’s just dumb.

And because it seemed so preposterous, I, like many others, blindly trusted that if it did go through, then the government was obviously looking after the people and the environment.  This is BC after all. Beautiful British Columbia. Canada too.  You know, first world country and all that.  I’ve seen the advertising.  We have clean clear water coming out of our national ying yangs.  We have bills and laws and rights that uphold and protect, and make us feel safe and virtuous about ourselves. Who ever has to fight for clean water?  Certainly not us.

This brought me to a weird recognition about myself.  You know how we like to think we’re good – i.e. a good person, who is open-minded / fair-minded / has a decent sense of everything / open to learning / open to growing /and all that claptrap that boosts our sense of self, and reassures us that we have a (hopefully) respected place in the wider community?  Kids, friends, colleagues, family… our place in the world … I would wager every one of us believes, no matter what we do, or what others may say, that fundamentally we’re good people of reasonable intelligence, with good hearts.  And that we are open to change.

Yes.  Denial.  Not just a river.

For example.  Here I am, perfect case study.  On my good days I think I rock.  I would like to think I am most of the above, that I am reasonably well-read (at least if I’m not with someone who has read more than I), somewhat involved (hey, I pay attention and vote, doesn’t that count for something?), with a balanced / happily unbalanced view on what passes as life going on around me.

But for the first time ever, I was aware that with me there just might be a bit of bias.  Bias?  Moi?  Quelle horreur!  Now, have you ever had cause to notice when thoughts come unbeckoned into your head…and in the process of simply noticing them, you are also faced with the idea you just might have some prejudices you had no idea even existed until that exact moment?  Could I really have arrived with a Calgary-based, oil-fuelled, business-is-good, BC-is-the-land-of-crazy-environmentalists, kind-of-apprehension?  No way.  Was I really in for another lesson from the universe?  Will the universe ever let me schedule in my desired learning schedule??   Can’t I just opt out of learning, for at least a month anyways??  Or at the very least, defer Perception 501 to another month?

Cue more uneasiness.  Maybe I should just go shopping instead. 🙂

Anyway, as I lightly accelerated out of a turn, it was obvious once again that Duck and Weave wouldn’t work, and that my best option was to put a different pedal to my mettle.  Shoot, I was going to go to the actual site – which meant I was Taking Action!  Gak.  And I found that a little scary.   Protesting and activism isn’t my bag.  Yet here I was, about to voluntarily walk to a place where there would exist a clash of cultures as I thought I knew them – business, environment, government, and people…and by entering that domain, I ran the risk of shaking me all up.  So I was a little apprehensive.

Yes indeed.  What was I getting into?  What if all the other people there were Professional Protesters, with no clue about business and the need for same; you know, bona fide members of the UI Protest Team, Clueless Wonders, card-carrying denizens of Flakes-R-Us, jumping in their cars to gun it to the next protest, all the while lambasting the oil and gas industry over a lunch of tomatoes and cucumber and tofu, lightly drizzled with olive oil,  food that arrives during our Canadian winter via plane, train, automobile…ironically fuelled by…oil…

What if?

First view of the contaminated soil facility; Dec. 6, 2015.

First view of the contaminated soil facility; Dec. 6, 2015.  Shawnigan Lake, which provides drinking water to 12,000, is just down to the left.

 

You know, I find it’s funny how we can care, and not care, at the exact same time.  Yes, I am guilty of caring what others think – at the same time that I also feel like I no longer give a toss.  Which is part of what sent me out here.  But I digress.

But apprehensions be damned.  Lo and behold, I was way off.  Everyone was normal.  Seriously interesting actually.  With a softer, kinder approach to living – both to each other, and to the planet we’re living on.

And once again I was hit up the side of the head – this time with the knowledge that the media bias towards BC, from Calgary, kind of paints the picture the wrong way.

All of a sudden my own views appeared as misguided judgments.

What the heck.  A walk in the rain wouldn’t go amiss.  Another wee bit of adventure.  What was the worst that could happen?

So, it was with all of this in mind that I drove the distance around Shawnigan Lake, then up Stebbings Road, to the contaminated landfill site.  I duly pulled over and parked my gas guzzler behind the next vehicle already parked along the shoulder; there were quite a few already there.  It was misty, with a bit of rain falling; damp but not cold, as long as you kept moving.  Certainly not the winter weather I was used to in Calgary.  And the company was good too, so it was all walk walk walk, chat chat chat, as we went up the hill, then bushwhacked through a rough trail that skirted the perimeter of the landfill site. Pleasant.

But then we rounded a corner at the edge of the property.

What can I say?

In science we trust. Or not.

In science we trust.
Or not.

I’m not a scientist.  I’m not an engineer.  I’m not a paid lobbyist.  Nor am I an environmentalist.  Or lawyer. Nope.  But what I am, is a person with eyes that see, ears that listen, a brain that works, a heart that cares.  With a dash of common sense.  Most of the time. In other words, a regular Joe, girl-style.

And honestly, as I looked at the contaminated soil site, I had no words. I just stared.  And stared.  And then laughed as I literally thought,  Are You F’n Kidding Me?  This, this mess of dirt, of plastic, of sandbags, all hanging out in the rain… this was the best this first-world country, with all the brains and advantages we have, could come up with, to contain five million tons of contaminants, in perpetuity?  “Scientifically Engineered”?  What?  How?  Who?

Stunned for words, I took photos instead.

Because plastic liners never, ever fail. And if they did, what's the worst that could happen?

Because plastic liners never, ever fail.
And if they did, what’s the worst that could happen?

Photos led to a Facebook post, that received over 1500 shares (not bad when you consider I have about 300 FB friends).  That led to going to a community meeting.  From there, another one.  Volunteering to assist.  Volunteering to assist more.  Documenting more stuff.  Being tapped to play Chopper Chick on Media Day in January.  Going to Port Moody, being the side-kick for the amazing and tireless Sonia Furstenau, who has been leading this fight for almost four years now; making an on-the-fly talk to the council about the contaminated soil from their terminal coming over to Shawnigan; feeling completely slimed after listening to the operator for the mine/dump give a powerpoint presentation that for me, stretched incredulity to infinity and beyond.  Accompanying Sonia on yet another interview, as the story started to gain traction.  Doing a mini-interview because I happened to be there, which bit me in the butt much later when I was served, and the server had my name and picture with him (darn, made it too easy for the guy to find me!).  Going to court in the meantime, to listen to the arguments and get schooled on lies and obfuscation on such a grand, grand scale. Learning to use Twitter, and then getting a cease and desist letter from the operator of the mine/landfill when they didn’t like a retweet of mine (the day after I cleared garbage from their site; the day before Anti-Bullying Day).  Being a firsthand witness to the power of community to mobilize, galvanize, organize, and take on Goliath.

I really have to end this post.  I haven’t even touched on how crazy this whole story has been, and how just when you think it can’t get any weirder, it does.  There’s too much.  But speaking of taking on Goliath, one of our coups as a community was getting W5, Canada’s biggest investigative journalism tv show, to cover our story.  It’s getting 30 minutes of national coverage, and airs in 1.5 hours.  Off to go hang out with the people who made it all happen.  Have a great weekend all!

Choices Dec 13

Choices.  We all make them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Adventures in Breaking Up

I’m just going to cut to the chase. Here I am, having sold my house and packed up bike, skis, hiking boots, rain coat, rain boots, a suitcase with clothes, some random other stuff…and I’ve embarked upon an adventure.  Yup, temporarily have moved 1039 km from my hometown in Calgary, Alberta, to Vancouver Island, BC.

Let’s just say a window of opportunity has presented itself.  It wasn’t easy, but  here I am, having painted myself into a most welcome corner:  I’m closer to one of my kids, and have set up some forced creative time that I have longed to explore, but have forever put off. Win-win.

I semi-intentionally moved out here as someone who is single.  By semi-intentional I mean it was kind of a good idea but I didn’t actively plan it!   Somehow I went from breaking up, to hmmm-are-we-getting-back, to hey-I-got dumped.  Yup, with the last two bits occurring in the space between Belfast, London, and Nepal, on my last set of travels.  Not exactly the bragging rights I was looking for!  But it’s kind of a good thing.  Actually, it is a good thing.  You just don’t see that right away when it happens.

That moment when you get the news and your heart temporarily freezes

That moment when you get the news.  Time stops; so does your breath; your heart temporarily freezes

The ‘Run Along’ confirmation email arrived when my changeover flight touched down in Abu Dhabi en route to Kathmandu.  It was upsetting but not unexpected…and somewhat freeing in that I really didn’t want to be hiking the Annapurna Circuit  trying to get in touch and reassure an otherwise lovely man with an apparent suspicious/jealous streak that I was only having fun hiking around, and not shagging anyone.  Like really?  Cheating isn’t part of my dna.

This may sound odd in a way, but let me try to say it: I valued my time for me more than I valued the opportunity to travel halfway around the world giving brain space to the idea of   hooking up with some random person and not catching a disease in the process.  Come on!  That’s not why I went travelling.  And let’s face it, if someone wants sex they can just get it.  Anywhere.  There is nothing special in that.  There is no challenge in that.  Oh sure, there comes the distraction, the temporary high, and it can be fun –  but it’s nameless, faceless, meaningless; rutting for the sake of rutting.  For a real challenge,  going to a foreign country, on my own, with no one around who knows me – no lover, no husband, no boyfriend, no children, no family, no friends, not to mention a language barrier, so no language – well, that was a huge challenge.

And as it turned out, one I could meet.

My version of Fooling Around in Nepal

My version of Fooling Around in Nepal

I can look back now and sigh with relief, but at the time it was such a hard decision to actually make up my mind and embark solo on that trip to Nepal. The prospect of it moved me from excitement to tremendous fear, sometimes in the matter of seconds, and often simultaneously.   But words from that same person I loved, early in our relationship, had made an impact on me.  He had said he wanted and needed a strong woman, someone not afraid to speak her own mind, someone who would do her own thing, who could call him on his s**t as required, and he thought that that person was me.

Conveniently, those characteristics tied in nicely to what I was trying to re-embrace in myself anyway, so I took it on board.  It felt like reinforcement, like going back to my natural calling anyways, vs trying to change to be something I’m not. I was really just trying to get home to my true self – and happily he had provided the outline for a roadmap that I could claim as mine.

I have been working on this for a long time…and so it fell into place.

One foot in front of the other.

But again, I really, truly just had to trust my gut.  Getting intimate with that and heavily leaning on faith was new to me, but it was all I had, and it felt right.

I was given an opportunity to practice trusting my gut during our last and most amazing time together.  It was a crazy 18-hour sojourn mid-travels, one that was so intense and soul-baring and absolutely wonderful on practically every level, and one where we both recognized we still had ‘stuff’ to work on.  Stuff that needed clearing, stuff that, should we not work out, would still need dumping – or it would show up again in the next relationship.  As it always does.

We were still in that hazy arena of the What Next when, through strange circumstance,  we went together to the same airport but said our actual goodbyes on the phone, and not face to face. In that last whirlwind time together, we had covered so much ground, both of us coming to the conclusion that we really, truly, and deeply loved each other – but we hadn’t yet progressed to the hard, delicate, What Next conversation.  And suddenly, we had to phone long distance, when we were but 50 feet apart.  The white fog of security had come between us with.  The feeling of being able to look but not touch, to see but not be seen, was akin to those horrible dreams where you’re crying for help, but no words are coming out from your lips, and your rescuer walks away, oblivious.  It hurt.

He stopped, I paused. He pulled me in, we kissed. Neither of us knew it would be our last.

He stopped, I paused. He pulled me in, we kissed. Neither of us knew it would be our last.

And oh, how cruel a conversation it was when it came. Neither of us had anticipated we couldn’t spend more time together to discuss the next step; this was a conversation so much the harder without looking in each other’s eyes, observing the body language, being able to hug, to touch a knee lightly, or hold a hand.

It was just too soon, too scary, and too open-ended for this talk. Being apart for it – and just simply being apart – broke both our hearts.  It was a physical pain. I can still hear the hurt catch in his voice – something I had never, ever heard before from him –  when I explained why I couldn’t walk through airport security for that conversation.  And I can still see myself finding corners in Heathrow where no one could see the tears streaming down my face, where I tried to quell the shuddering of my shoulders lest it give me away to all and sundry, and then as I straightened up and walked, one foot in front of the other, away, away…grateful for the anonymity of crowds, for long hair that can hide your face…to do something I hoped was right.

You know, if I were to do it again I don’t think I would ever leave a lover with a hurt catch like that in their voice.  He was vulnerable, I didn’t fully see it, and I left.  That kind of breaks my heart.

At the same time, having spent a lifetime staying behind, of putting my needs last, there is a part of me that still knows it was what I had to do, even though it cut me to pieces at the time.  Was it my mistake to make?  To learn from?  Maybe.  Or was it just me getting out of my own way and speeding up the inevitable final break anyways? Perhaps. I really don’t know.  I never will.

Given that complete uncertainty, and having embarked on that path, once again I just had to go back to the only thing I had – faith.  Faith that things I couldn’t understand yet would unfold as they should. Faith that it would be okay.  Faith that told me to rely on patience, for distance would show me what my emotions prevented me from seeing.

Faith became my compass.

Of course, being human and all, I still thought, in the back of my mind, that the ‘stuff’ would be worked on while I was away.  So certainly the idea that we might connect again was there.

Thorung-la Pass at 17, 769 feet! The last half hour getting up there was the hardest physical thing I have ever pushed through. Pictured with my amazing guide and new friend Dipak Sigdel, without whose help I would have been sunk.

Thorung-la Pass at 17, 769 feet!  I was hit with a bit of altitude sickness, so that last hour getting up there was the hardest thing I have ever done. Pictured with my amazing guide and new friend Dipak Sigdel, without whose help I would have been sunk.

Dimly, but there.

And off I went.  I had the most excellent, amazing adventure, and came home feeling, well, the best way to describe it is I came back taller, with my shoulders squared, walking proud, and feeling very much at peace and inspired.  And I don’t think I thought of my former lover more than once the entire five weeks I was away.

However, in addition to feeling pretty fantastic overall, of course when I returned to my hometown, once I touched down I couldn’t get him out of my mind.  Memories were everywhere.  Where we would meet for lunch.  Go out for dinner.  Walk and talk.  Trying to hold hands.  Laughing because they never quite fit. Wandering into stores and art galleries.  Smiling.  At ease.

The sense of him was palpable. We were in each other’s minds.

Naturally, we found legitimate reasons to cross paths and touch base.  A couple of times actually.  And during one of those times, these words were said to me, “You know, if I’m acting strangely around you it’s because I love you and I probably always will.  I just want you to know that.”  Yet all we did was meet, and no more.  That there would be no ‘more’ was apparent.

I know that sometimes you can realize you love someone deeply, but can’t be with them.  I had heard of it happening, read of it in epic stories of how it ripped other people apart as they made their more sensible choices and went their safe ways.  Yet I’d never experienced it before; never imagined I would.  I subscribe a wee bit to that romantic notion of Love Will Conquer All.  It can – I think.  But both parties have to be willing.  And if one isn’t, well, you pack your bags and move on. That’s all you can do.  No blame, no recriminations – it’s just what is.  And that’s okay.

Our world gets more complicated and yet more simple as we age.  And having been fortunate enough to have gained massive life experience by going through a marriage, children, and divorce, I can’t help but wonder if you just speed up the sorting-through process when you start dating again.  I mean, you finally have experience in the realm of relationships – and you’re past a lot of drama-land.  So that’s good.

Equally, it does seem also a lot of us can’t get past our old baggage and so we stay stuck, knowing or not, and go into repeat mode.  Therein lies the danger.  Are we doomed to repeat old mistakes, albeit with different partners?  That is a choice we sometimes don’t even know we’re facing.

Regardless, the silver lining occurs when you meet that other person that you connect with.  You have a blast, sure, and that is awesome; but the super-bonus is the chance to do learn.  Being with someone else pushes you, and makes you grow – way more than from the safety of your living room where your heart is never risked, your buttons never pushed, the mirror never reflected back.  It seems also that it takes way less time to reach a conclusion, one way or the other.  You waste less time; you speed up the process.  And you can break up kindly, with love.

Strange.   We had had one of those rare and beautiful affairs – the kind that don’t happen every day, the kind that make you grateful to be alive, to have had the opportunity to experience everything you did.  Not all the time mind you – and my goodness, there were some legitimate reasons to not be together.  Neither of us were blind.

But nothing that couldn’t be overcome, especially when you hit the point of recognition, as we had, that this was a big-time love.

So the next question is, given that discovery, is the will there on both sides to genuinely make it happen.  Can you both put in the work.  Can we let go of old habits, and old fears, delve into something new and better, something where you go into the touching, lasting beauty of staying vulnerable with another human being, when you relax into recognizing someone else has your back, and you theirs, and you cement your bond, for real.

Well, Big Woop.  Whatever.  For what also came out of our meetings was that he’d started seeing someone else.

Oh.  Ok.

Well then.  That seemed fast.  But then, this was a guy who didn’t waste any time. I was leaving Calgary anyway.

Then came a weird justification.  “I want you to know I sent you the email before I started seeing her.”

What?  I hadn’t even considered that there was a timeline attached to this.  So that made it even faster.  No, that made it premeditated.  This was someone actively looking for the next distraction before the last one had even dried off.  Huh.

Guess I wouldn’t be getting laid before I went to the island 🙂

Strangely, the next part of the equation for me was a big feeling of relief.  It washed over me as an old friend, a comforting blanket of Reality Check.  It really was Me reassuring Me.  This lovely man, this person I had gone through so much with, the one I had been seriously in love with, then not, then deeply in love with again, was now someone else’s problem.

Someone else’s problem?  How could I call him that?  That was a new immediate feeling too.  I’ve never ever felt that way post breakup before.  Usually there’s sorrow, upset, heartache — and of course I had all that — but Relief, and Not My Problem Anymore?

Telling.

And then came the feeling of, Ohhh, I know exactly what’s coming for her.

Hang on.  Why was I immediately thinking of the other woman, the new one, and in such a dispassionate way?  And why did a new timeline appear to me so quickly?  I rattled off in my head the way things would pan out, and how.  And it didn’t even hurt me.

First will be the lust in the dust.  He will use the word ‘discreet’ many times; she will think him sensible, and probably agree with him; only later will she possibly see that a little differently.

Then the request to always park in the garage, because it’s warm for her car – who can argue that isn’t true?   And besides it’s nice to always enter from the lane way, where no one sees you come and go.

A garage door opener will follow.  As will a key to the house, so she can quietly let herself in and out when required.  And a fantastic playlist for the speakers in the bedroom.  But will she wonder who selected the music?  Will she feel my presence, and the presence of

"Gosh did I leave my face cream behind? And where is my toothbrush anyways?"

“Gosh did I leave my face cream behind? And where is my toothbrush anyways?” – Things I didn’t think about in Nepal

the others before me?  The female toiletries left behind in the vanity – were they forgotten when it all ended, or just left there as a warning to the next girl, a warning that One Day, you’ll understand where these came from, and you too will leave a memento for the next one?

Who ever anticipates being The Next One?

It’s not a comfortable place to be.  Unless you are okay living with a ticking clock winding down, as your time together does also.

Then he will be away overseas on a holiday, with his kids or a friend, texting her awesome messages, telling her he misses her, calling when he can, and often.  Picking her up a thoughtful gift, most likely a pashmina.  I wonder if there will be perfume also.  Does he choose the same one each time?  Or not?   (Can you imagine?  “Shoot that smells like Veronica!  Nope, must be Joanne!!  Hang on, Dior is Betty…!!” I guess it would be easier to just use the same one, haha).

Once home, his kids will happily go to his ex the minute he arrives; he will come bursting down her door, jet lag be damned.

Later he will continue to fill her head with all his stories, all his accomplishments, all the things he has done so far in his life, of which there are many.  Lots of laughter and fun.  He’ll toy with bringing her to the Christmas party. Tell her how hot she is, how sexy, how he only dates hot women…

…Hang on.  “Only dates hot women?”  What?  Will she feel special, or wonder, as I did, Who says that, and why?  Such an odd comment.  You certainly don’t feel hot when you’re lumped in with all the other hot ones.  Like, should I go hang out with them?  Is there a club?  And hey, if they were so hot, why aren’t you together anymore?

That was the first question I ignored.

Then comes the next part. He’ll start introducing her to friends, colleagues, family; he will want to show her off.  To include her.  And to get her doing stuff for him.  Will she pick up that very subtle feeling that some of them are trying very hard not to roll their eyeballs, that they may be tired of meeting another new girl?  The, “Cheese and Rice, do I really have to make small talk again???  Where do you find these women?? How long will this one be around?  Do I have to bother?”

I know I felt that.  I chose to ignore, but oh, it was there.  Not a comfortable  feeling at all, even if privately he makes you feel that you are the exception, that you are exceptional.

Just go to your happy place if you find another woman's toiletries in your new boyfriend's bathroom...

Just go to your happy place if you find another woman’s toiletries in your new boyfriend’s bathroom…

Meanwhile for fun early on he will offer to buy her clothes, maybe a dress to wear.  Take her shopping with him to get him some new shoes.  All last minute, which can seem so heady.  He’ll pay for everything.   At least one big trip together will be planned, and executed.  He doesn’t stand still.  And it will be utterly, utterly wonderful while he’s into it.

Long may it last.

And so I look back, in fondness and in gratitude.  People come in and out of lives, for purposes only made clear in a rearview mirror.  I have been exceedingly fortunate in that the last two men I have dated have really been lovely and awesome.  I have learned so much, and in such different ways, from each of them.  I don’t regret my experiences with them, not for one second.  And who would ever think, that at the age of 48, I would have such amazing affairs and adventures to enhance and enrich my life?  Each time my heart got broken open, it came back together even stronger.  They have immeasurably helped me learn and grow.

We head into the unknown all the time. And even though we may think we are alone, there is light, truth, and the love of all around us as we go.

We head into the unknown all the time. And even though we may think we are alone, there is light, truth, and love as we go.

I have no idea if I will date again, if I will end up with anyone, or if I will just continue my solo ways.  Until fairly recently, the thought of being permanently single scared the s**t out of me.  But I’m now at the point whereby that is okay.  I know I don’t want to settle, and that feels pretty awesome.  Equally, I don’t care anymore.   There is so much out there to do.  So many cool people to meet.  So much to learn.  So much to give.  And I get to do it how I choose, when I choose, if I choose.  I’m pretty lucky.

Of course I still imagine what it would be like to be in a solid, loving, respectful, adventurous, passionate, fun, and otherwise wicked relationship.  Sure, it takes work; so do all things worthwhile.  But I won’t settle for anything less than the whole package.  And I’m quite excited to continue to create my own outside-the-box way of being.  Without wondering who the next woman will be 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When the Sad won’t go away. Or, Storytime!

(Note: First started March 2013)

Man!  I am so annoyed.

This would be the third weekend in a row that I’m fighting against feeling low.  Ugh.  The details as to why aren’t really that important – suffice to say I’m muddling through my decision to end a friendship with a guy who, in this last year, became my most amazing buddy.  We’ve become unbelievably close – and I was good with that.  I liked him as my friend, and friend only.

And when the texts and communication and confiding went around the clock, and the Good Nights and Good Mornings and You’re Incredibles and You’re Amazings seemed heartfelt and real, and the list of things we should do together kept growing…well, still he was my friend, and friend only.  One night we crossed a line; no big deal, for the fooling around was so flat and meaningless that not only did we both give up before embarrassment set in, but I was the one sending the text the next day (what is it in me where I have to hit things head on), a text that read, “Well, the best thing about last night was that we both know for sure we are not meant to be together!”

She-at.  Was that like waving a red flag to a bull?  I have no idea.  But in hindsight, methinks saying, “Omg I realize I love you!” would have saved a lot of trouble, for no doubt it would have ended things right there and then!

Whatever.  Truly, at that point it was, Whatever.

And so we went back to being friends.  Easy.  Until the second time we fooled around.  Again, not initiated by moi (why is that so important? ha ha ha.  But it is.  To me).  This time it was more interesting.  Easy, comfortable, and more fun.  As any good make-out session should be.

Huh, thought I the next day.  Innnn-teresting.  But you know, I wasn’t seeing it as anything going anywhere, and really it was unlikely to happen ever again.  And I sent yet another text message: “I have no idea how we ended up like we did, but this does make it more difficult to keep you as my perfect platonic boyfriend.”  Ha ha ha, thought I, thinking I had sent a good message. So cute.  And I did like him as the perfect platonic boyfriend.  It was keeping me preoccupied, and, much as it pains me to admit, filling that company/friendship hole (lord, not that one – we so didn’t have s-e-x!) we often feel when single.

Oh yeah. That buzz you get - similar to thinking you're having a pretty awesome day and think you can scale old fortresses with style!

Oh yeah. That buzz that makes us feel alive and do silly things, like crank oneself up a wall and pretend you can scale down old fortresses on remote islands. Yup…

And back to being friends we went.  Still same-same.  I was sort of wondering, Oh for goodness sakes, when is this going to stop.   Because stop it will.  We’re just friends.  On the other hand, a good make-out session can just make you feel that extra bit alive; it’s like the cells of your body do a happy dance, for it’s nice to feel wanted, attracted, and attractive.  But again, we were friends only.

And then… Dude called, and we went out for dinner.  Call me crazy, but I swear I picked up on a change in him.  Actually,  in my gut it absolutely know it was there.  He was into me.  The only thing was,  it never entered my head in a million years that it may have been a one-second, in-the-moment, I’m-into-you-now-but-not-later,  change only!  Gak, sometimes I am so clued out.

Regardless, when he looked directly into my eyes, held my gaze for seconds way too long, and slowly said, for the umpteenth time, “It is really good to see you [huge pause],” inside something big went off, and I realized, Omg, he likes me.

Wtheck?

When was the last time you had that crazy feeling – it’s like your insides just Drop Drop Drop, and you don’t quite want to accept that it’s true; you’re suddenly feeling exposed and fearful, but excited at the same time…and you hold your breath as you validate and await the validation…inhale, inhale inhale…Ahhhh!  Oh yeah.  You are alive, and shit is happening!

That night I went home, and mulled it over, and for the first time, started to entertain the idea of, What if.  Huh.  What if?  Hmmm.  So many things about him I really, really enjoy.  Our conversations are wide-ranging and eclectic, and I would find myself learning from him, and he from me.  Personal growth, professional growth, life, love, death, relationships, what really matters to us, things we love, our favourite places to visit, a keen interest in the arts and in finding one’s way…quotes and discussions about philosophers (one sided, I will admit; I’m the freak who can spell the name but not know much about the person in question, which actually gets me going because I love learning from those I meet).  And then I start entertaining semi-romantic thoughts of how nice it is to be friends first, and how sometimes these things can be right under your nose, i.e. the last thing we see…*sigh* isn’t that so dreamy…and all those other people who were friends before becoming lovers were sooooo smart…maybe I should give that a shot too…

Spoiler alert:  sometimes the reason we DON’T see these people right under our nose as a fantastic love interest is…well, simply this:  they’re not supposed to be your love!!  You’re not meant to be together!!  And so, since you didn’t see that at first, that means you’re not dumb, you’re actually smarter than you know!

Smart that is, until you start second guessing yourself.  Oh, you think, as you stare into your morning cappuccino with a smile on your face, it’s just like in the movies (oh yeah, because that’s going to work!  Cheese and Rice!!  Run, and run now!  Fast and furious, like a real girl – not like that chick in the last Jurassic Park movie, Bryce Dallas Howard, being forced to sprint in stilettos.  The writers or whoever thought that would be a good scene should be shot for that ridiculous and insulting stupidity.  Unbelievable in 2014.  See?  Hollywood, so excellent for real life, ha ha ha).

Mind you, for all I know, maybe we just get thrown into these situations so that we learn even more about ourselves!

Gak.  Like, big frickin’ GAK.

Well, five days later, on a Sunday, I was out on a lunch date with my latest online dating victim. Very pleasant man with startling blue eyes.  All things about him were good, in that Check Check Check kind of way I’ve learned since joining an online site.  Little things like, Can string a sentence together well, writes funny stuff, has been married or has had a serious relationship, has had kids, is easy enough on the eyes, holds down a job, has all his own teeth, even has hair (double bonus at my age), looks fit, doesn’t write, “I knows how to treat my lady” on his profile, doesn’t have a topless picture of him oiling up his motorbike…or worst of all, a topless selfie shot, taken in the bathroom mirror’s reflection…

Oh but I digress.  And show too much of my inner self and my approach to dating!  Ba ha.  Life goes on.

Anyway, Online Dating Man was super polite, away we went for a casual Sunday lunch, and he started off by saying, “Wow, you look really young!”

Insert shock and horror here.  On my part.  Except I was trying to not let it show in my face – “Are you a complete moron?  Why would you say that out loud??”–> not a good look to start a first date with.  Not a good sentence on his part either.  And on he continued…  “I would never guess your age!” [Like you were expecting 60? 100?] .  “You’re what, 46 or something?”  I nod, in that No shit Sherlock kind of way – it’s all out there on the profile page; one has only to read it and remember.

“I’m 42 and I think I look young too!”  Cue the terrible thoughts running through my head about how I disagree with his self-assessment.  Like, c’mon buddy; really?  – and then I’m having a vision of this guy in 10 years and shuddering (god I love online dating and how shallow it shows me to be).   Suddenly in my mind I’m looking at a talking skull – he definitely had that lifetime marathon runner look, i.e. all teeth and bones.  Oh dear.  Those are not the kind of bones I want to jump.

So yeah, in spite of this stellar home opener, the combination of first impressions and the check, check, check we consciously or unconciously do, all was otherwise good .  (Or, am I suffering a case of, Yes I can find you attractive if I try hard enough??).  But come on.  Polite and considerate, funny, nice clothes, knew how to order and eat properly, treated the wait staff with respect, yada yada, these are all good things…

…and it was leaving me flat.

And the more I listened to him talk, the more I finally felt a paradigm shift.  It truly was when he talked about his little boy starting hockey (his kids were way younger than mine), that I had a flashback to the mind-numbing smell of freon in those cold, often dark hockey rinks, places I had already spent loads of time in, and had no desire to re-visit.  Freon.  It was as simple as that.  He lost me at ‘Freon!”

And right there, I also realized that in the interests of being ‘open’, I was trying to make myself feel attracted to guys there was no ‘zip’ with.  Maybe one can eventually fall in love with someone they weren’t initially attracted to.  I’ve heard of it.  It happens.  (Omg, another bloody movie??  Help!!)  Maybe it had never happened to me, but given my track record with my marriage and boyfriends, what did I know?  Obviously very little.  And my sister had already said It was time I started to date against ‘type’, because my ‘type’ apparently sucked.  So in the interest of being Open, I was trying to hard to be attracted to people I would never be truly attracted to.

I breathe deeply.  It’s all part of my process…

And then came the second part of the paradigm shift.  I was recognizing  that Hello, I would WAY rather be hanging out with my Unplatonically Platonic Friend.  For too many dates now, I was happily comparing the dates to that same friend – they needed to be more like him.  I just hadn’t seen it as anything important.

WOW!  How excited was I.  This was an awesome revelation!

That same night my friend returned from a trip, and as usual, was in touch with me almost immediately.  Speaking of immediate, this time around we had a desire to see each other that couldn’t wait.  And so he came round.  I was nervous for the first time.  I got up, got down, fussed, adjusted…He suggested we go into the living room, which we did; he made me sit down and be still (sometimes I’m like a nervous horse that needs to be settled), and asked why I was sitting so far away.

So far away?  I was at the perfect distance that friends should be at.

So I moved closer; plopped my legs on his lap, let him rub my feet.  You know, because that is exactly (not) what opposite sex friends do.  And I relaxed into it.  Sat forward.  Caught his eye, looked down.  Hugged myself close.  Looked up.

And when he leaned in to kiss me, I was there to meet him.  Suddenly, round three was taking a life of its own.  The Way Fun factor was kicking in.

Cool.

—————————————————————————————–

I interrupt this suddenly-interesting story.  This is exactly where I stopped writing, two years ago.
So now what?  Do they get it on, I mean end up together?
Shoot, as I am re-revisiting this, even I got suddenly interested  – what happens??
Why didn’t I finish it?

Update:
I first penned this tale in March of 2013.  It’s now November 2015.   It was the last thing I wrote on this blog – happily /sadly after only a few little stories / chats I became distracted with a lovely boyfriend, and stopped writing.  Yeah, dumb of me, I know.  Erg, the things we girls are prone to do…
I kept the story private on my blog, for it was unfinished, thinking I would one day revisit and publish.  I also recall being frightened by the word count, thinking Who Will Read This Much?  I have a successful blogger friend, one to whom I had turned to for advice, and he had suggested putting out 5o0 words, once a week…I am so scarily beyond that, oh help!
Well, whatever. There it is.  Sometimes it’s nice to just sit down, take 15 minutes for yourself, and read.  That’s what I’m going with anyway.  Sit back and take the time.
As for the finish, well, today is the day!   I’m back at it – and for better or worse, here it is, and here I go.  Thanks for hanging in there, and I hope the follow-up makes sense.  I’m out of writing practice, and it’s hard to pick up in the same vein I left off, so I won’t try.  In the interest of Just Doing It and getting it out there, here goes nothing.  Enjoy:).
——————————————————————————————————

I laugh now, as I write this.  It’s one of life’s mysteries how we can connect and disconnect so quickly from the people we meet.  I mean, I thought this was the proper start of a pretty sweet relationship.  We’d taken the time to get to know each other, to become friends first.  Isn’t that the healthy way to start a relationship?  I was actually pleased with myself. I don’t usually do that.  Normally I just trust my gut and jump right in there (not what I would ever fully advise my kids to do btw – and kids, if you’re actually reading this, you need a bit of both).  But I’m older, wiser – all good, right?  I’m doing it the ‘right’ way, right?  *ahem*

Right?

Ba ha ha.  So wrong!  Things did not ‘turn out’,  at least not in the way I was planning.

So with the benefit of hindsight, what was the missing link?  Why didn’t we magically work out?

You know, I can’t truly say.  The simple answer is, Perhaps He Was Just a Messed Up Dude.  Simplest answer is often the truest one.

Like seriously.  Has anyone ever considered the odds, post-divorce, that you’re going to meet some mixed-up guy that has been ejected from a relationship because fundamentally he’s a mess, vs perfectly imperfect, normal and healthy?  I’d say they’re pretty high.

And learning and fixing yourself – how many of the ejected people, men and women alike,  actually take that on?  And are semi-successful at that?  Oh lord.  Those are low odds.

(Note I will choose not to talk about where I fit on that spectrum…muah ha ha…but if I could come close to Perfectly Imperfect, I’d be happy).

Fortunately I pay no heed to odds, and just do my own thing.  But it doesn’t hurt to be more aware, i.e. at least take the blinders off!

But in the interest of fleshing things out, and wondering what I would have written had I continued this post 2 years ago, let me hazard a guess that perhaps we ran into confusion because we didn’t have a proper “relationship” conversation.  Perhaps.

But come on.  Who is going to sit there and dissect something yet to be experienced; who plays Imagine If, so early on?  [Like someone in their 40s with lots of relationship experience, a desire not to waste time, and someone who doesn’t want to repeat previous relationship mistakes, and realizes that Communication and Clarity is King??  Hang on, did I miss that lesson??  It’s a good idea?? What?  Wait!!!!…]

See, everyone does stupid. Like this poor guy. Opening up your door when the lane next to you is exiting the ferry...just as a big semi is cruising by. Capped only by driving through town with a completely blown off drivers door! Nice. And I can relate :)

See, everyone does stupid. Like this poor guy. Opened up his door as the lane next to him was exiting the ferry…just as a big semi is cruised by. He had to cap it off by driving through town with a completely blown off drivers door! Nice. And I can relate :)

Ok.  Planning and discussing and stating and sharing what you want at the start of a relationship is admirable.  I aim to be more like that.  But you know, sometimes one just has to go with the flow, have the experience, let it take you somewhere in a healthy way, check in with yourself as you go, make sure you’re ok and not do anything too stupid (speaking for myself here) … and also check in with the other person.  That is certainly more suited to my personality.  [Saying that, right here, insert a very large Glory Hallelujah that I didn’t sleep with the dude!!!  Yessssss, score 1 for Older and Wiser.  Watching and waiting wins.  I’m getting smarter after all.  Woo Hoo!!]

So there are times (tangent alert) when you shouldn’t jump in headfirst, times when you need to be more measured and calculating, and have the conversation up front. i.e. If it’s just sex, and sex only, that had better be communicated before anything happens, because it’s complete bs for one person to take advantage of another.  I mean, at least with consent, you know you’re choosing to be taking advantage of!!  haha.  (Ok, one could also just be wanting to get laid.  It happens.  Whatever works between consenting adults is fine.  I’m not the judge and jury on what other people want, need, say, and do; all I know is what works for me.  And doing the mating-like-you’re-a-dog-in-heat thing is not what I aspire to.  Sure, it  has it’s place – usually when you’re young and dumb. Mind you, old and unintentionally stupid happens also :). But connected sex, sex where there is love – now that is spectacularly awesome.

But back to my tale.  I will still stand by my gut feel – I knew, despite protestations afterwards, absolutely knew, that for that brief moment in time, that dude was really was into me.  Secrets were shared, hearts were bared. I’m not wrong about that.  I feel it, therefore I know it.  For me to riff off of that, to go with it, was actually solid and normal.  And one great thing I have going for me, is that I’m not afraid to be honest.  (Ok, that’s not entirely true – speaking up honestly within the heart of a relationship still scares the shit out of me, but eventually I do it).  What I mean is that I’m ok with letting someone know that I like them, or even that I love them, and for some amazing reason, I can give that unconditionally.  (Seriously one of the best things I have ever learned, and beautifully, one of the best gifts I have ever given the men who have come into my life post-divorce.  Happy about that).

Fine.

The part I missed however, was that this was a Learning Curve, Non-Relationship Relationship.

For what the hell is that Halfway In, Moreso Out thing??  I had zero experience with dating confused guys.  (Give me a borderline a-hole / narcissist any day; at least I understand them!!)  Sadly, after all the so-called ‘work’ I’ve done on myself post-divorce, I’m too arrogant to assume I would fall for a Simply Messed Up person.  C’mon, if I like you, obviously you must be awesome!  Ah, how far we fall when we come from such lofty heights…and how well-entrenched are my Blinders of Expectation. Hmm.  Gotta take those things off.  They make my vision far too cloudy.

Bottom line? I searched and searched, and found a pair of grown-up girl panties in my dresser.  Put them on, called the Dude on his confusing ways, and ended it.

Tears ensued – his, not mine.  How could he lose me as a friend??  Easy.  Cross the line, act like you didn’t.  Treat me like a lover, but only from a distance, and only when you had alcohol to provide an opt-out excuse.  Be shady and less than honest, with me, with your ex that you are still connected to, and worst of all, with yourself.

So, bye bye.

And that was that.

Or so I thought.

Until I realized this little piece.  Yes, the million dollar takeaway from the whole non-affair is, Why on earth was I attracted to a messed up guy?

To that I have no answer…that I want to admit to!  Ok, fine.  Here it is.  It pains me, but it’s so obvious:  My own messed-up-ness was being reflected back to me.  Life works like that.  And if we don’t get a particular lesson, the universe has a funny way of sending practically the same lesson your way again, just writ a little differently, and of course it will be larger, aka, “Guys!  She didn’t get the lesson last time, better dig up something more obvious, maybe this will help her get it!” “Yeah, I agree she’s a bit thick; let her have it!  Surely she’ll get it then!”  “Okay!!  Let’s go!”

Cement wall equivalent. Doh!

Cement wall equivalent. Doh!

So, Ka-boom!  And in comes Guy Number 2.  And after that, then Guy Number 3.  Awesome.  Different packages, similar lessons. Wtf.  Thanks universe.  I love learning.  No really.  Really, I do.

I just don’t understand why I’m so dumb.

Ever wonder why we keep hitting our heads against the same cement wall?  I do.  And I’m either going to have to get smarter, or find a better helmet.

But I’m running out of helmet options; I don’t like any of the ones available.  For instance, what I see out there right now are these helmets, available in all shapes and sizes:  “Stonewall Jackson” “Don’t Live, and You Won’t Get Hurt” “Control Freak” “Invulnerable” “Captain Holdback” “Duck and Weave” “Run” “Just Jump Into Another Relationship” “Ignore Everything” “Pretend It’s All Ok” “Hermit” “Celibacy” “Promiscuity” “Validation Through Ego” “Buy Lots of Shit” “Drive Flash Car” “Move” “Take Another Holiday” “Brag More” “Be the Shit” “Cheater” “Suspect Others of Doing the Bad Shit You Do and Inflict Your Suspicions on Them” “Jealousy” “Adultery Makes Me Feel Good” “Don’t Be the Agent of Change” “Date Young” “Don’t Be Challenged” “Live a Half Life” “Grumpy is Ok” “It’s Your Fault, Not Mine” “Change is Too Scary” “Sitting in the Shit I Know is More Comfortable Than Taking the Risk of Ditching It” “I’m Focusing on Your Faults So I Don’t Have to See Mine” “Gossip” “Run if You Find Love, It’s Too Scary” “I Don’t Want to be Hurt Again” “Fear Conquers All” …

Given that the only helmet that will work on me is the Hermit Helmet (stop living so that you don’t risk getting hurt), I’m hoping they don’t have my size, because that isn’t what I want.

Upwards and onwards...without a helmet. Wish me luck!

Upwards and onwards…without a helmet. Wish me luck!

Guess I have to work on Smarter.

And here I go!

Nov. 2015

ps  yeah, of course I was sad at the toasting of a relationship.  Hence the first title of this missive. But one thing I know for sure?  Chin up.  Because the Sad always goes away 🙂

 

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Car Wash Hell

Man! I actually got into a big argument tonight! Yes, after zenning out in Yoga, it was obvious it was going to happen – I knew I should have gone to Yoga Stretch instead of Rage Yoga. Darn!

Anyway, I got trapped in the car wash at the Husky on Macleod and 42nd. Time passed and it was obvious no one knew I was stuck in there – I honked, drove back and forth, forth and back, no joy…so I got out, looked for the big red panic escape button (wouldn’t that be a good idea?), found 3 black ones located at the back door, pressed them (ready to run for shelter if the incomplete indoor soap shower started again), back door opened, and I safely reversed out – no mean feat with soap, fog, weird lighting, and a curve outside.

I went inside the shop, waited my turn, and calmly told my story to the proprietor. He promptly got mad at me – told me he’d never heard of such a thing happening, and 500 vehicles go thru the wash a day. Well look at my vehicle, I said. This IS what just happened. It’s covered in frozen soap and is half clean. I did not make this up. There. it. is. Go. look.

Well, more yada yada yada from him – – and I mean a lot more, he basically accused me of lying – and I was getting actual s— from the guy. Amongst other gems, “You’re not allowed to press the buttons!!” he lectured me.

“Are you kidding?” I responded. “I was TRAPPED IN YOUR CAR WASH. I thought it was pretty good of me to even get out.”

That was when he grabbed my receipt and shoved it in my face. “WHAT DOES THIS SAY!!” he demanded.

??

“It’s a receipt,” I said.

“WHAT IS THIS???”

“It’s your address and your phone number.”

“YES!! YOU SHOULD HAVE CALLED THIS NUMBER!!!!!”

“I didn’t have my phone.”

For the tenth time: “WHY DID YOU PRESS THE BUTTONS?”

It was right about then I dropped my one and only one f- bomb: “Because I didn’t want to say in your F’N CAR WASH ALL NIGHT!!”

This didn’t phase him. The next comment did. I asked a very simple question.

“Are you an idiot?”

Well, THAT got him moving. How dare I call him an idiot, I have no right to call him an idiot, he is not an idiot. HE IS NOT AN IDIOT!!

Sure, idiot.

(Ok, I did not say that out loud).

45 second car wash; 15 minutes of being trapped; 15 minutes arguing about it with the proprietor. 5 minutes while he adjusted the car wash; 5 minutes for me to finally get properly thru it.

I still had to scrape ice off my sideview mirrors – it had frozen while I was being harangued for not getting what I had paid for.

Woo hoo! Tuesday night adventures.

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Christmas Party, Oh Help

untitled-11

Christmas 2012

Dec. 6, 2013

I’m a lucky girl in many ways.  One is in the friends I have.  From all over, and all walks of life.  So important to me.  And this past weekend, I was invited to attend a friend’s Christmas party at her home.  I was looking forward to it.

I have known this particular group of friends roughly from the time my wasband and I moved back to Calgary.  That was in 1999.  They’ve seen me at my lowest points, and have been witness to my various struggles, as I came to terms with recognizing I had to change my marriage, and failing that, take the steps to end it.

We also have fun too.

Well, Party Night arrives, as do my good girlfriend and I.  Glass of wine in hand, sparkly heels and dress…band playing in the background…I was settling in nicely with everyone and catching up.  Lots of Blah Blah Blah and Fa La La.  Then…then the front door opened and in walked a woman I recognized, but didn’t know.  For a few long seconds anyway.  It was that ridiculously out of context for me.

“Oh, Laura!”  she said, looking up from removing her winter boots and catching sight of me. “Hi!”

What??????  My brain struggled to catch up to my eyes.

untitled-23-2“Oh…… Hi, girlfriend of my x husband,” I replied, still not registering.  And then the rather large head of my ex husband appeared, and I went What?  What?  They are here?  Oh, they’re here.  Oh man…I was so looking forward to just enjoying myself…really?  Really??  They’re here.  Yeah.  They’re here.  Shit!  (Wow, all of that in one split nanosecond.  Amazing how our minds go to town).

A thought ripped through me, and I wasted no time.  Turning to my girlfriend, I invoked the GF Code when you know you might be in trouble.  “Don’t leave without me, ” I stated.  “I won’t,” she said, and I was secure in her word.  How I wish I had also said, ‘Stop me from drinking.  Now!’

For the first time in my life, I felt blindsided.  That is one weird feeling.  My hostess friend thought she had given me the head’s up, and I do not doubt for second that she meant to.  But I never got the letter, and had honestly no idea that both Forced Politeness, Pasted on Fake Smiles,  and Heightened Emotion were on tonight’s Christmas Party Agenda for me.  Oh.  Dear.

How I felt - insert me as the person, and have another truck gunning for me!

How I felt – insert me as the person, and have the truck turn around and gun it!

Things should be easier between my Wasband and I, but for a whole host of reasons, they aren’t.  Saying that, things are okay.

Actually, no.  No, they’re not that ok.  But, isn’t life short enough already?  Really, who cares!  Put on the happy face,  Laura.  He can.  It’s Christmas for goodness sake!  Relax.  Well, at least unclench your jaw, lower your shoulders, and drop that deer in the headlights look.  Ok now.  Deep breath.  Suck in your gut while you’re at it.  Keep the Ick down.  Pretend it’s not roiling in your guts.  Fake it till you make it!  Mazel tov.  I mean, Merry Christmas.  Whatever!  Wine me!

And then came the comic relief.  The wasband went to introduce his GF to one of my/our friends, who was standing right beside me.  He stepped forward, and with a big smile said, “Uh, Friend?  I’d like to introduce you to my girlfriend Laura.”  He looked behind him at his GF, back at the Friend, as we all realized his mistake.  Me, Laura.  Girlfriend, Jane.  (Ok, her name isn’t Jane, but he was as literate as Tarzan at that particular moment).  Recovering a bit, he continued, “Uh.  Um. I mean, to my girlfriend, GF.”  Ba ha ha ha.  Inwardly I laughed out loud.  Yikes!  And wasn’t she a sport to not miss a beat.  I backed away.

Now what?  I’m rebooting on the fly, with no preparation, or experience in this kind of situation.  Tapping into my inner Dalai, I had a moment of feeling thankful for friends, and for friends that don’t choose sides, and invite both of you anyway.  And feeling lucky I could just be me.  It was a little hard watching the new couple make small talk with my friends though, even though that is the right thing to do.  Yuck.

Now where was that yummy red?

I sauntered over to the table of goodness that held many a fine bottle.  And immediately was pinned for questioning about the goings-on by a well-intentioned friendly acquaintance.  Consulting my wine glass, and hit by a question I wasn’t ready for, I defaulted to where I often go when caught off-guard:  the Honesty Box.

Honesty Box? Oh good.  Why can’t I just default to, say, “Inscrutable.”  Or, “Impenetrable.”  Heck, I’d settle for “Mysterious.”  Please, you can even bring on, “Stunned as me arse.”  But no!  You asked me a question?  Of course I will answer!  And answer honestly!  What page can I turn my Open Book to for you?  Even wheniPhone Whitefish Nov 12 2681 iPhone Whitefish Nov 12 2466 Christmas 2011 012  a Christmas party with booze and a surprise sighting of my ex and lots of mutual friends is not at all an appropriate venue?  Digging up yucky stuff in public certainly doesn’t make me feel cheerful.

Oh, next time I get asked an awkward question I will take the proper road, which for me would be the one to the right, you know, the one you actually choose  to be on, vs just happen to be one, the one where I steer out of a potential skid, and take control and say,  ‘You know what, oh that, that’s old now, and it’s all good. Wow it’s nice to see you again, tell me how you are…”

Oh, how I wish I had been more prepared with a line like that.  Might have kept my own hidden emotions from roiling in their quiet way also, deep on the inside. Who needs to dig it up any more?

Well, I know I was drinking a lot of wine; that I had a pleasant chat with the GF, under the watchful eyes of those who knew me (she really is pretty and pleasant); that I really avoided the wasband up until the end of the night when I got tired of waiting for him to end his conversation with a friend’s husband, so I just joined in (amazing how I could just treat the wasband like he was some other person that I used to know, hey, wouldn’t that make a great song, hang on!)…and then my guardian angel friends appeared to take me home.

And that’s when I noticed all the wine and heightened emotion was crashing down.  Boy, that last 20 minutes…whew!   And apparently I was not the only person who noticed I was drunk…ugh.  At least I wasn’t a mess.  (Saying that, it was only one person who said to my son on the phone two days later, “Yeah, Mommy was really drunk on Friday night.” My friends had all been very supportive.  So wtheck!  My wasband was telling on me to my son.  Divorce me then! ha ha ha!!).

Amazingly, I left the party and made it home with everything I had brought.  Thank you my friends who gathered me and my bits and pieces up and drove me safely home – my shoes, my snowboots, my scarf with the furry animal claw paw mitts attached (the only one I could find as I ran out the door to the party earlier in the night – thanks kids!); phone, black velvet blazer, winter coat,  purse.  I found it all much later the next day.

Meanwhile, there I was.  Home.  Lurching out of the car into the bracing winter air.  Felt great.  In the door.  I even got myself into bed.  Ah.  As in, Ah nooooo…literally, my head hit the pillow, and I embraced a little formula I discovered the last time I was at the same party as my wasband.  Here is my magic formula:

Heightened Emotions + Alcohol = Pukey Lola.

It’s as simple, and as nasty as that.  Man!  Two giant red wine barfs that night, and 8 more the next day. Oh yeah.  Thought I was done but no ho ho….at 11 am I was barfing in a freezing parking lot;  more to come when I arrived home an hour and a half later.  I wonder if any of my neighbours noticed me retching on the street!!!  I literally parked, opened the door, and started retching.  Life as a single girl.  My goodness but that was a sobering humbling experience.  One I can best do without.

Joy is...coming home with your shoes and your kid's scarf.  Relief is...having pain relievers and electrolytes to hand. Astonishment is...discovering your Pet Stain and Odour Remover, purchased for your dog, works a CHARM on your pale blue bedding.  Yeah, the same bedding you thought you would have to throw out, it was that bad!!  Who knew!  I could almost do a testimonial for them, except it would be a tad embarrassing.

Joy is…coming home with your shoes and your kid’s scarf. Relief is…having pain relievers and electrolytes to hand. Astonishment is…discovering your Pet Stain and Odour Remover, purchased for your dog, works a CHARM on your pale blue bedding. Yeah, the same bedding you thought you would have to throw out, it was that bad!! Who knew! I could almost do a testimonial for them, except it would be a tad embarrassing.

But here is the fascinating part.  Well, for me anyway.  I of course was wondering how in blazes I was 2 for 2 in the Puke Dept when I see my ex and his gf out together.  Well, I finally realized what the what was.  It took their appearance at the Christmas party for me to put it together.

Immediately upon arriving, gf took to talking to me and commenting on her casual black pants and stockinged feet.  She felt kind of stupid because everyone else was in heels and  dressed up.  “I asked wasband what the dress code was and he told me it was casual,” she said, looking around the room.  “Guess I should have checked for myself.”  Yup.  You should always check for yourself because with him you are on your own.  Hang on, I did not say that out loud.  Tanks, God!

“Ohhh ho,” I responded, first in the all-knowing agreement way, and then I quickly veered away from the been-there-ditched-that comments speeding into my head.  “You still look pretty.  No one will notice.”

And that is what makes me puke.  Seeing her, with him, reminds me so much of me… and how I used to be.  The first time I met her I was taken aback by the bright, confident, sparkly girl coming up to me, hand outstretched, big smile on her face.  Ugh, that was me when he and I first dated, when we were first married.  Slap! Being confronted with that was akin to being slugged in the guts with a baseball bat, on so many levels.

And then the other times I’ve seen her since, I have subliminally noticed how [I perceive] she is becoming forgotten, less important, quieter, solo within the relationship.  Now, 100% that may not be the case in their relationship; it is not for me to comment on them.  I am strictly commenting on me.  But whoa, on a cellular level, when I see these echoes of my former relationship, I end up feeling these old feelings of shame, sorrow, and worthlessness — and it’s a big ugly.  No wonder I have ended up purging like I have – for with the distance of time, the clarity of what was has come into focus.

Now that’s one big barf!

The beautiful thing is, I get it now.  And in doing so, I bless it, forgive myself, forgive him, and blow kisses to the wind.  I let it go.

Saying that, I just might suggest wasband and I attend that party on alternate years :).  My bed linens will thank me!!!!!!

-L xxx

 

 

 

 

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