Saturday, September 17, 2011

Breakfast at Centre Mall

     I had been sitting in my father's car for thirty minutes. It was cold outside but the sun beaming through the windshield was starting to make me sweat. The driver's seat didn't recline so I couldn't even lie down. I was getting a cold and my head hurt while my nose run. I wished he would hurry.
     I had already texted him several times. He was on call for the intensive care unit and I knew he was busy, but he had told me to be there for exactly 1130 and I was starting to get antsy. This was one trait of many my dad and I shared: neither of us could sit still for longer than a few minutes.
     I checked my phone again when I saw my dad walking towards the car. He had his red backpack slung over his left shoulder and his hospital issue greens were too baggy on him. He tossed his backpack into the back seat of the car and hopped in.
     "So there's a diner down the street we can go to. I don't have very long; there's a family waiting for me that needs some info within the hour, but I can sneak out for a bit."
     My dad didn't have the attention span to wait longer than a minute to give directions and get moving. I took the car out of park, rolled down the windows and pulled an awkward U-turn to leave the hospital parking lot. We drove for a few moments in silence. I told my dad about my courses, how I had dropped one that seemed too boring and easy and talked my way into getting into one I had no prerequisites for. He laughed. I hadn't seen him in a long time, and my brother had just gone away to school. He missed us, I knew it. He had loved it when we were young and would spend all day with him, running errands in his old car.
   As we pulled into the parking lot of the nearby grill, his phone rang.
   "Hello?" A pause. I stopped the car and we began to get out. It was a normal occurrence for him to need to take a work call during a family dinner. "Yeah, we've been weaning him off of his meds all morning. What's that? Of course we called his family. They're on their way." Another pause; I could hear the murmuring on the other line. "He's been in a coma for two weeks now. There is no possible way he's waking up, and they've accepted that." Pausing again. "Just keep lowering his dosages and take him off of the IV. When I get back we'll extubate, his family can say their final goodbyes and then off he'll go. Yep. Yeah. I'll see you soon."
     We were already sitting at a table by the time he had hung up. "So what do you want for breakfast, miss?"
     Sometimes I wondered how he could do it. How does one exactly become accustomed to taking people off of ventilators? I put the question in the back of my mind and set my concentration on deciding between bacon and sausage.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Theory and Practice (practisssssss if you're a snake)

     This essay topic, like many of the others' I've written, is a tough decision for me to make. Being lazy, I'm compelled to say that I like theory more because it doesn't actually involve me doing anything. However, it can be fun to get a little messy every now and then. Reading a cookbook won't put tasty treats in your mouth, and it's one thing to learn about projectile motion and quite another to chuck a watermelon from a moving vehicle. This being said, though, I suppose there are certain things I really don't want to experience for myself, such as spontaneous human combustion or lead poisoning. I would also rather not have to experience a prostate exam if that can be avoided.
     I guess it really just depends on the circumstances and the person. I personally do not want to experience swallowing swords of fire, but some people do. This doesn't mean I'm not interested, it just means I'd rather learn from the safety of my home, thankyaverymuch.
     There are also certain circumstances in which it is impossible to practice and therefore only theory is possible.Travelling at the speed of light, that thing where they put the one twin in space and leave the other on earth to become old so his brother can laugh at him when he comes back as a twenty year old, and cleaning my room are all examples of this. These situations are hypothetically possible, but current circumstances prevent you.
     Some other things fall in the grey area of practicing theories. Math is an example of this: numbers are a human invention, but you can do mathematical equations and model tangible situations, like population growth and motion. Is practicing a theory not a concept that makes anyone else's head hurt?
   To be honest, I'm not sure I have enough experience with theories or practice to be writing this essay. So, that's all I have to say. I'm also fairly certain the children I'm babysitting are about to go Lord of the Flies up in here, so I shall leave on a quick note of things that I would never like to experience but would be interested to learn about.

-Forms of medieval torture
-Snakebites and their treatments
-Celiac disease
-Licking the muffler of a moving car
-milking a snake
-being baked into a pie (on the magic school bus!)
-being addicted to heroin
being a heron
and being used as a cheese grater (I have some sort of repulsion with cheese).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Words to live up to: Shit my nanny says

Please note: when I wrote this, I had been in the mountains for two weeks with no company except for people who did not speak english. When I’m alone I think way too much and get easily upset. The writing of this essay is what happened on one of those upset days.

Here is my essay:
            My grandmother has dementia. I believe it’s progressed to Alzheimer’s disease at this point, but at the moment I’m not so sure (this statement will make more sense later). At one point, she was the most important person in my life. She still is, in a way, or she would be, but she’s not really my nanny anymore. If anybody saw me on the verge of crying/crying/post-crying in c105 while writing my Leaving Home essay for writing, the next passage will probably clarify a few things about my behaviour that day.
            This essay was not at all what I had intended to write. I just have this irrational fear whenever I go somewhere far away (I’m in Italy while I write this, which explains its tardiness) that she’ll pass away and my family won’t tell me and I’ll miss the funeral. I’m crying and snotting everywhere as I write this, that’s how worked up I get. Jill can attest to how sexy my crying is… I guess you can say I’ll get you wet. You should see me now.
            Without further ado, here are some quotes from my grandmother (In chronological order corresponding to the progression of her illness)
  • “Here she comes, Miss America”- singing to me when I was young
  • “I’ll take you shopping and we’ll get a few nice outfits”- My mom worked more than full time when I was young and didn’t have a lot of time to take me shopping.
  • “The reindeer and santa came while you were asleep and ate all the cookies. Blitzen ate that one there!”
  • “I’m dizzy”
  • “Oh, Fuck off Jack”- Jack, my grandfather, infallibly visits her in the nursing home every day. He tried to fake illness so he could get into the nursing home too, but he was rejected for being too healthy.
  • “That Jack. He never comes to visit me.”
  • “This is a nice house. It could use a little work but I think you should buy it” Regarding my parents’ home of 25 years.
  • “He’s cute. Who is he?” Regarding my brother
  • *Incoherent Italian Gibberish* Once fluent, she can no longer put a sentence together.
  • “And who are you again?”

These quotes may not seem like words of expectations, hopes, dreams, advice or pedantry, but to me they mean so much more. They sting. Even thinking of my nanny hurts more than an obscene form of torture (think rolling around in a pool of open safety pins and then cooling off in a tub of vodka, rubbing alcohol and lemon juice). Her progressing dementia and increasing age (She’s 91 this august) should compel me to go visit her more. She lives a mere fifteen minute drive from my house. She’s my Nanny, the same one who had tea parties with me, picked out my clothes for me (I’ve always been hopeless with style), Changed my diapers, made me eat with a placemat so I wouldn’t spill, brought chocolate dipped cookies that her baker friend had let her make at his store, and rubbed my back when I was homesick.
My nanny and I were so close, and now she’s become someone else. It happened slowly, which hurt even more. Every millisecond she’s lucid (which admittedly happens less and less every time I see her) just makes everything hurt more. It’s a tease, and the idea of her getting better is so seductive that for a moment you forget it will never, ever, ever happen. Afterwards, reality hurts even more.
For this reason, I never visit her. I go when my mom invites me, which is rare, but I don’t go as often as she does. She quite literally goes religiously, every week after church. She doesn’t ask me to join because she knows how sad I get. Selfishly, I’m glad she doesn’t invite me because it means I have an excuse for not going. She always brings back funny stories about how my nanny, when asked how she was doing, said “Just ducky, dear.” She tells me about how she hits on hospital porters, and other funny stories, but never news of th einevitable: that every day she forgets who we are, who my grandpa is, and loses just a little more of herself.
The evidence is depressing. On mothers day, I saw a book she had made with a worker at her home. It consisted of an interview with my nanny and related pictures in a little scrapbook. In said book, my nanny claimed to to love Niagara falls, adore baseball, and claimed to have spent three years in Florida. None of the above is true. She pretends to know who you are, and makes up facts about herself and her family to prevent embarrassment. She will ask you who you are again, dear, before insisting that she make you her famous veal cutlets someday.
I hate myself for it, but I just can’t go. She’s gone and we all know it. I just can’t bring myself to face it or pretend that everything is fine. I wish I could tell her how much she means/meant to me, but she won’t understand, let alone remember. I wish she could be the nanny I know for even an hour so I could tell her. I wish she had developed Alzheimer’s when I was older so I could have had the ability/maturity to tell her what she means to me. I wish.
I love you, Nanny. I’m sorry for everything. I hope you’re happy, wherever it is you went. I still love you and I will love the stranger who has taken your place, but I wish you were here with me to have helped me pick out my prom dress and to make me eat with a placemat just one more time.

Kids' stuff that's STILL AWESOME

Kids stuff that’s still awesome

As I am currently babysitting for the summer and have been told I have the brain, diet and humour of an eight year old boy, I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert regarding kids' stuff. Here is an extensive list of the things that are socially acceptable for five year olds and why you should enjoy them too.
  • Picking your nose: I know you do it. I know that every human being has or does. When I was eight I was teased for picking my nose. I was embarrassed, but I should have wiped it in the kid’s face and jerseyed him. Picking your nose is satisfying and it feels great to breathe. I know you do it. There’s no need to be shy. We all know it’s fun/worthwhile.
  • Naptime: I LOVE NAPS. They mess up your sleep schedule and sometimes you fall asleep at 4pm and wake up at 2am ready to seize the day, but nothing feels better than a nap when you’re exhausted. It’s nice to get cuddly on a rainy day, read a book and doze.
  • Colouring
  • Collecting rocks
  • Believing in Santa and writing him letters
  • Climbing trees
  • Party hats
  • Getting really dirty and not caring
  • Playing
  • Slushies
  • Board games
  • Pokemon
  • Spongebob
  • Bubble baths with toys
  • Cuddling
  • Holding someone’s hand when you cross the street
  • Playing Pretend: one thing I regret in my life is losing my imagination. I feel like school is made to train it out of us, and this makes me very sad. When I was four I could amuse myself for hours with a table and a blanket. I would be on a space journey, living in a cabin in the woods, in the stomach of a zebra, hiding from a kidnapper, etc. I’ve lost this and it makes me really sad.
  • Crafts: I love finger paint, making things out of clay, and construction paper. When I babysit, I often have more fun that the kids I’m watching. One of my best friends and I skipped our on previous plans to stay in and make earrings out of clay and paint. Nothing is more fun and relaxing than good ol’ arts and crafts.
  •  Birthday parties and loot bags
  • Braiding your friend’s hair
  • Baking cookies with dad
  • Growing taller
  • Kool aid
  • Staying in your pyjamas all day
  • Making forts
  • Running through a sprinkler on a hot day
  • Dunkaroos
  • Ice cream and waffle
  • Sitting on a really high chair and dangling your feet
  • Snowball fights
  • Kids combos at the movie theatre
  • Candy
  • Poptarts
  • Icing straight from the jar
  • Sleepovers at Grandma’s house
  • Asking people “are we there yet?” when you know you’re nowhere close
  • Jumping in leaves
  • Baskets on bicycles
  • When people bring cupcakes to school on their birthday
  • Kinder surprises
  • Cumball machines
  • Skipping rope
  • Blowing bubbles
  • Shirley temples
  • Bedtime stories
  • Playing with your food
  • New pencil cases with all new sharpened pencils
  • Beads
  • Safety scissors (So colourful and safe!)
  • Happy meals (Just enough food AND A TOY!)
  • Catching bugs
  • Fake food
  • Grass stains
  • Cartoon character bandaids
  • Pressing flowers
  • Easy bake ovens.

Go do all of these right now. Thank you.

Vices I Admire

            To be honest, I enjoy and admire all vices to some extent. There are a few I don’t respect, such as greed, pride and vanity, but there are a few that are just plain fun.
Please note: the following passages were made in a factory that processes gratuitous use of the word “fuck.” If you are squeamish, have sensitive retinas or photographic memories, please do not read the last section of this essay.

Gluttony: If I had unlimited amounts of money for food and stretchy pants (which you must wear in your room sometimes, just for fun), I would be all over this gluttony shit. There is nothing more satisfying than eating obscene amounts of food. I live for all you can eat buffets (when I remember to eat) and once ate an entire box of cereal and a gallon of milk just so my mom wouldn’t throw them out. My goal in life would be, if it were socially acceptable and fiscally responsible, to eat myself into the ground. Unfortunately I barely have enough money for rent and will not be able to do this. If only I could afford to be the thousand pound lady at the circus or the morbidly obese man whose life is built around the festive special at Swiss Chalet. I’m currently working as an au pair in Italy, and people here do not like to waste food. They do not throw anything out and consider it rude if you don’t finish what is on your plate. I am so happy here. Yesterday there were an extra three plates of pasta leftover from lunch. The family was mad at the kids for not eating enough. I was happy with them and more than willing to finish them.
Lust: I find odd things fascinating. Lust is one of these things. I could never become someone who goes around having casual sex with dozens/hundreds/thousands of partners (I wonder what the world record is for that, though), but twenty points for nymphos. I think it’s awesome that you’re so comfortable with what you want and aren’t afraid to risk having a baby or contracting a disease to get it. I’m not a very sexually comfortable person. To some extents I am, but I still laugh during any sex-ed and crack up reading cosmo. For an example of this, please google the “passion propeller” sex position. I wish I were more comfortable with this type of stuff. I would wear sexy lingerie under all of my clothes just in case (Superman/Superhoe style) and give out lube and condoms for birthday gifts. I would give ten points to Tila Tequila, because she likes to fuck so much she wrote a song about it. We would be bffls. But that will not happen any time soon, so ten points anyway.
Sloth: Lying around and doing nothing all the time is so satisfying. I am a firm believer in sleeping past noon and never walking when you can drive. I have not exercised with the intention of exercising in over a year. I would love to be able to have unlimited money for food and supplies, a mountain of movies and books, servants and people to visit me. I would essentially be paid to sit on my ass and I would be extremely good at it. If I got paid a nickel for every time I could have done something productive and didn’t, I would be a friggin millionaire.
Wrath: I fucking love when people are angry and don’t give a shit. I don’t like it when they’re flipping out every two seconds, but I love in the movies when the shy girl goes “FUCK THIS NOISE” and goes Kill Bill on everyone. I’ve also kind of always wanted to get into a fist fight, just to see what it was like. I think it would be really fun and I think I could rock a black eye. Another odd thing I find interesting is raw human emotion, and anger is one of the most interesting of these. It may be trashy, but I will reward another ten points to the girls who get into fist fights at bars and yell to their friends “YO GIRL HOLD MA HEELS IMMA FUCK THIS BITCH UP.” As long as you don’t kill each other, good for you! Knock each other the fuck out, jock on each other’s bitch asses, and do as you please.
            This may be against the first and second rules of the establishment, but I would  be more than willing to coordinate some type of fight club. We could all bodyslam and tackle each other to relax after exams and studying. Plus! Pain releases endorphins in your body and this helps relax you (Fun fact! This is believed to be why people self-mutilate, such as cutting: it is believed to be self-medicating for pre-existing conditions, such as depression, as the endorphins released from the pain temporarily relieve the symptoms of their conditions). You know my phone number.
            I also kind of wish it were socially acceptable for girls to play fight without the premise of Girls Gone Wild 6. I’m jealous, oddly enough, when I have to drive my boyfriend to the emergency room for a slightly dislocated shoulder from a 280 pound friend’s tackle.
            In summary, if you are a huge skank, eat so much you’re a human punching bag, move so rarely that people mistake you for a beanbag chair, and actually get used as a punching bag and beanbag chair of sorts, or you use other people for the same purpose, good for you! I’d love to talk to you and break the first and second rules of fight club. Come find me!

Virtues I Abhor

I’m not exactly sure if neatness is considered a virtue. But I generally consider virtues to be behaviours that are far beyond my abilities, such as mind-reading, waking up early, not swearing, etc. For this reason, neatness is a virtue for me. However, for the sake of clarity it will be defined as follows:

-General anal-retentive tidiness
-fastidious, over-zealous scheduling (i.e. my aunt who plans Christmas dinner one year ahead of time)
-Having a straight piece of wood inserted into one’s rectum, i.e. being uptight.

            Before I commence with the rest of this essay, please take note of the following statement: I do not hate tidy people. But sometimes I want to shred your agenda and rub a dirty sock on your computer. I want to break a pen in your backpack, ruin your diet and slip you some hard drugs. I would never do any of these things on purpose (I make no promises about the socks, though) and generally have nothing at all against people who are neat. In many, many ways I probably just hate overly neat behaviours because, for whatever reason, I have an immense amount of difficulty getting my shit together. I can’t focus, read too many books instead of doing my homework, lose one sock out of every pair, forget to eat/eat way too much, etc. I am so jealous of the fact that you can actually wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed and get to 9:30 class on time. On many days, I cannot manage this for 4:30 class. One day I woke up at 4 (not from a nap, either) and went to calc in my pyjamas. I really respect you, people who have their shit together, ten points and bear hugs all around.
            However, when I really start hatin’ on neat people is when I can tell they’re not having any fun and hate their rigid lifestyle. If you love having your entire life scheduled, adore your sunrise jogs and can’t fathom life without your no-carb vegan diet, go for it. You can tell when someone is actually happy with their routine: they have a tidy, neat glow about them. There is something off with people who don’t enjoy what they’re doing, though. It seems like they only have fun when their life is under control. People who are organized and happy know how to let loose and don’t let their routine control their life: a routine is not something they have to do, they just like to do it. They don’t pull their hair out over missing six minutes at the gym or missing one calc lecture (believe me: you can miss most of them and still pass). If you end up institutionalized over a lost eraser, though, I’m tempted to slip you a lot of hard liquor and let the real problems bubble uninhibited to the surface. When your life becomes one giant compulsion, then you know something’s up and you’re going to crack eventually. I guess the reason people who schedule every bathroom break bother me is because I wish you could just face whatever is bothering you. People with compulsive behaviours are usually just bothered by something else that’s beneath the surface and their control their lifestyle to control these factors they cannot control. Correct me if I’m wrong, but 14 year old me who did 7 hours of homework every night and went to bed every night at exactly nine thirty because of parental pressures doesn’t think people without something bothering them do this on a normal basis. Normal people also don’t write convoluted sentences such as the one preceding this.
            I guess, any over-organizer who may be reading this (though I’m not sure there are any in this essay challenge [i.e. artsci and Alec’s friend {hey!}]), I want you to know that skipping the gym to go for ice cream can be a jolly old time. If you break your schedule once you won’t die, the world won’t explode, you won’t fail your classes or gain 4000 pounds. Coming from a messy room, a girl who forgets to eat, wake up, and sometimes to shower, everything will be ok. Maybe a little messier, but there’s nothing wrong with that if it means you’re happy.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ideas I've Outgrown

My mind is an odd place to be. Think about a super-speed radio set to scan with a TV on loudly in the background and three hundred people talking to you about different things. While all of this is happening, you are trying to do one of those double-sided puzzles in thirty seconds. Your house is also on fire and you are in charge of determining what to take and saving all fifty of your families hamsters. The hamsters are also on fire and you have to feed them handmade jellybeans to make them safe to handle. You are also on a unicycle during all of this. You are probably also on some sort of upper, and your heart is going a bajillion beats per minute and you can't focus because you're singing showtunes in your head.

Welcome to my mind. My mental adventures used to be so bad that I couldn't sleep at night. My parents tried to make me listen to "Sounds of the Sea: Soothing Selections Part 2" and "Harmony: the Music of Nature" to help me fall asleep. They tried giving me warm milk, cold milk, bananas, turkey, bribes and hugs, but nothing worked. My nine-year-old mind was going at the speed of light and they couldn't stop it. I was fairly convinced that I had ADD or some sort of brain tumor. When my viBRAINtions (see what I did thurr?) became so bad that I was confined to a couch and was only able to swallow two pieces of pasta before feeling ill, my parents knew that something was wrong. They started taking me to people to talk about my anxiety (so that's what it was! That's not such a scary word to say; please don't judge me for saying it. I have an anxiety problem and probably always have and will. That makes me no less badass. Just making sure you're aware.) problem. My doctor was a lady who let me play with chalk and markers. I liked her. After a while I was managing very well, playing soccer, hanging out with my friends and wasn't confined to the couch when the static became too hard to handle. We said goodbye to my doctor and hello to middle school. Yes, I was one of those mixed up kids shuttled from therapists to soccer in their mom's minivan.

Anyways, my anxiety waxed and waned but never truly went away. I spent my ninth grade in a constant state of unease. My tenth grade was a mess of social anxiety, my eleventh grade was full of a general buzzing in my head that led me to do stupid things, and my twelfth grade was spent in a state of insomnia.

I used to think that I could just pop a pill, talk to a dude with glasses and a clipboard and I would be alright. I just knew that one day there would be a switch that flipped in my head and I would be just like everybody else. My mind would be peaceful and I would finally be able to function normally and be happy without stress. (Just so you know, my mind is such that I can't ever truly relax.) I hoped that once I turned 16 I would be a normal teenager. When that failed, I longed for my seventeenth birthday switch into peace. Like waiting for your Hogwart's acceptance letter when you turn eleven, I was constantly disappointed like I was checking the mailbox every day to no avail.

After a few more years of having to constantly stay moving, always needing to have a book on me in case I was forced to sit and wait, and counting things by threes to stave of the impending boredom and buzzing when I was forced to sit still, I was completely resigned to the idea of ever getting "better."I still am completely resigned to this idea. I will probably never be "normal." I will never be able to sit still without jiggling my foot or becoming terrified of the noise in my head. I will definitely never be able to feed the jellybeans to the hamsters without falling off of my unicycle while the house burns down.

You know what?

I'm alright with this.

It may not be pleasant, but I've learned how to turn down the volume on my mental radio. Instead of obnoxious NYAN CAT!!! all the time at maximum volume, it's turned down to a Beatles song (Penny lane?) at around medium volume.

And while my mental radio might be too loud to allow me to get great grades in school or sit still for long enough to finish a project to my satisfaction without working at 234929587 miles per second, I have come to love my mental radio station. Even if it is staticky and frustrating at times, it makes me the way I am. Because of my buzzing I can work really fast. I can understand concepts easily (No idea how that one works), I can learn relatively quickly and I have an interesting mind-video going constantly. It's like a documentary about pictures you find in peoples' recycling bins and trying to recreate a story from them.

It may not be pleasant, but I've come to love it. It's like having a little scar that you come to appreciate. It gives me character and I guess that, while I may not have gotten my letter from Hogwarts, I'm okay with that.

Scratch that. I'm more than okay with that.

I'm off to feed some hamsters now.