Things Fall Apart

My glasses broke.

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I’ve had them for almost 10 years, so I suppose it was time for a change. I was hoping the change would be due to me finding amazing new frames, not me being rendered blind because of a missing screw and the surprising ineffectiveness of Krazy Glue. Regardless, it is time for me to get a new pair and possibly a new look. Of course, the idea of this makes me uncomfortable for several reasons:

1. I have an enormous noggin, to the point where a friend gave me the nickname Melon Head. It is hard to find frames that actually fit my wide face without the arms getting bent outwards. When I bought my beloved (now-broken) Diors all those years ago, the girl who sold them to me outright laughed in exasperation at how many pairs I had to try on before we found something that worked. This gives me very little hope for my next pair. I do have contact lenses that I’m using at the moment, but they don’t hide the circles under my eyes the way that a good pair of spectacles can.

2. I am straight up crap at change. (I suppose, statistically, that this means I am crap at 75% of my life.) If I initiate a change, be it glasses or career or parenting approach or what have you, there’s so much fear, second-guessing, blame-shifting, and excuse making that goes along with it. If, heaven forbid, a change is imposed upon me, even if it’s good, I get livid at the lack of control I have over the situation. Yeah, I got issues.

3. I bought these glasses when I still felt young. In 2008, I had no children, was barely in my 30s, and my prescription was probably not as strong as it is now. (I’m overdue for a change, I know.) When I walked into the office wearing them for the first time, my equally young coworkers adequately oohed and aahed, envied the “student” discount I received, approved of my newfound love for subtle bling, and made me feel uncharacteristically trendy. I know it’s dumb, but in a way, giving this pair up seems like surrendering the last vestiges of my youth.

4. Glasses are expensive.

I realize I’m creating a big deal out of something that isn’t life-changing. Some people’s mid-life crises involve buying a new sports car. Maybe mine is just some new frames. If I stop and get some perspective, I know that I still have my health, an awesome family, the means to pay the bills, and better friends than I deserve. I shouldn’t equate what I wear on my face with my identity or my age. It’s just glasses, not a limb.

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I may find that a new pair of frames is exactly what I need to embrace my 40s (which I assume is better than blindly grabbing for them). New glasses could represent a new outlook, new beginnings, new experiences, a new attitude.

I hope this still rings true when I’m looking at life through progressive lenses.

Will Power?

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It’s Canadian Thanksgiving weekend! I’m not entirely sure what the deal with this holiday is, but I’m certain it’s not quite as entrenched in revisionist history as is the Thanksgiving of my childhood, a.k.a. American Thanksgiving. That being said, it is still a great opportunity for remembering to be grateful, spending time with family or friends, and best of all, eating until muscular failure.

The only problem here, of course, is that I’m trying to lose weight.

For the record, I’m always trying to lose weight. I think I was born on a diet. The last time I was in my healthy weight range was probably when I was 17, for about a day, and that was after a summer of life guarding and right before the Freshman 15 (40). Sadly, a semester or two of cheap Molson Ex and takeout chicken souvlaki with cheesy garlic bread made short work of my perfect figure, turning me into the squeezable (but lovable?) person some of you know me as today.

Last night we ate dinner with Hubby’s family, forgoing the traditional turkey and opting instead for some gorgeous Lebanese fare. I piously ate some tabouleh and other veggies, but only to balance out all the shish taouk, kefta, pita bread, wine, baklava, and mango flip I inhaled, not to mention about a metric tonne (Canada doesn’t do the Imperial system) of salmon mousse and crackers before dinner. I left their house feeling incredibly stuffed, sleepy, and full of goodwill towards my fellow beings.

Until this morning, when I stepped on the scale.

Up until yesterday I had been making such progress, slowly but surely getting back to a point where I was comfortable in my own skin. This morning’s numbers threw me off, making me want to give up, ditch the salads and stock up on dirty ol’ Pop Tarts. Why was I so incapable of controlling myself? Why did I make such bad decisions? Why was I born into a skinny family as its only round member? I felt like a failure.

Fortunately, this feeling only lasted a little while. I reminded myself that a) most of that weight gain was water, salt, and poop, and b) I am an active, human-shaped person who generally eats healthily but loves to discover the world through the food it produces. I’ll probably have to remind myself of this 100 more times before bed, but it’s what I’m hanging onto to get me through, and for now, it’s working.

Does this mean I suddenly love my body and feel great about myself? Of course not. I wish I were thinner, prettier, stronger, less ravaged by gravity and gravy, and more like the beautiful people of the world. But I also know that wishing and comparing get me nowhere.

There will always be people who eat better than I do, who choose to work out instead of veg out, who skip dessert but not the gym, and as a result have the abs and arms I only dream of. I admire these people, and though I will try not to compare myself to them, I’ll definitely look to them for inspiration the next time I’m faced with the choice between kettlebells and kettle chips.

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I might even make the right choice.

 

Serenity Now

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When I was a teen, and even into my 20s, going through heartbreak or disappointment, having dumb arguments, hearing about social injustices, witnessing tragedies, or any other sort of negative emotional expenditure, while not fun, made me feel strangely alive. Part of me equated the rawness of the pain, the flush of anger, or the self-indulgent wallowing with being real, deep, and, I suppose, artistic. As a closet wannabe goth, being profound was a life goal, and Robert Smith was my idea of emotional perfection.

Unfortunately, when I got mad, I’d lose my ability to speak in full sentences. I was reduced to saying things like, “Oh, yeah? Well, you suck, you…you sucky suck.” I know some people whose eloquence increases tenfold when they are cussing someone out, and while you don’t want to be on the receiving end, their blistering diatribes are nothing short of genius to behold.

I’ve gotten better at arguing since then, but I do it much less than I used to (though some of you may think otherwise!), even though there is no shortage of upsetting information out there. It’s pretty much impossible, unless you’ve reached a state of zen incomprehensible to me, to read the news, Facebook, anything, without regretting not having clicked on the cat videos instead.

We get angry at the news. We get angry at people responding to the news. We get angry at the way others cope with responses to the news. Then maybe we get angry with ourselves for the rabbit hole of anger and fear we allowed ourselves to go down. It’s exhausting, so an eloquent argument, while now is something of which I’m more than capable, is the last thing I feel like having.

Today has been a hell of a day, news-wise. I’ve been angered and saddened by what I’ve read and seen, and frustrated by things that make no sense and I feel powerless to change. I’ve thought about tuning everything out and living in blissful ignorance for the rest of my days until the world blows up. Would it be such a terrible thing to be out of touch with current events? I’d have fewer distractions and would be able to devote my finite emotional energy to my family, my friends, and the little world I live in. After all, my kids are already a lot to deal with, and I have a back porch that needs defending from a billion spiders.

Alas, my need for mental peace is at war with what I feel like is my responsibility to know what’s going on.  I’ve taken mini-breaks from news and social media (which I highly recommend), but ultimately my desire to not be a total self-centered ignoramus brings me back.

So how do I successfully keep from going crazy?

I’m not entirely sure that I do.

Maybe I’ll spend quality time with my loved ones or take a walk. My general go-tos are prayer, exercise, distraction, denial, volunteering, and escape. All of these have worked some of the time, but none have worked for me all the time. (Or maybe a better way of saying it is:

60%

I had to throw this in there- it’s been in my head for weeks. Totally inappropriate, I know.)

But I persevere, because, for example, if I pray long enough, I find peace of mind, until the next time I lose it. Then I’ll pray again. Or I’ll binge-watch Netflix until I run out of episodes, then I’ll find a new show. Repeat.

I don’t think there’s a permanent fix for it, just a whole lot of trial and error.

I’m not the greatest at seeing hope through the fog of despair, but I’m working on it. Maybe it’s normal to have to balance our tenuous happiness with joy-stealing realities. If there is a remedy for “the world is a cluster-eff” depression, it probably involves helping other people and keeping on keeping on. In the meantime, tonight I’m going to play with the kids, watch TV, eat some chocolate, have a glass of wine, and then pray like the dickens that tomorrow is a better day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confession Time

Parenting can be rewarding, sure, but it’s also really hard. Today I wanted to encourage those of us who are parents, want to be parents, or don’t want to be parents, with some words of wisdom to get us through the tough times.

Unfortunately, none came to me, so all I have is this list of confessions for your consideration. After all, confessing is good for the soul.

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  • I have used the fridge door to hide behind while flipping my kids the bird. (Hopefully they don’t look at my feet when I do this- otherwise they’d see the silent but aggressive stomping that goes along with it.)
  • I have lied to their faces about toy stores being closed at 2:00 p.m. on a Saturday.
  • I’ve hidden their gadgets and pretended not to know where things went.
  • I’ve spent their birthday money from Grandma and Grandpa on wine and ice cream.
  • I’ve locked myself in the bathroom and let them fight while I played Candy Crush on my phone.
  • I’ve stolen their chocolate and blamed it on their dad.
  • I’ve talked about them behind their backs, sworn at them under my breath, and secretly laughed at their screaming when a spider fell on them.

There are many more confessions that I dare not put in writing, lest child protection services finds out, but needless to say, there’s some room for improvement.

I know that each day I manage to keep the kids alive and somewhat hygienic is technically a win, but as they get older and more complicated as individuals, I want to get better at not just coping as a parent, but thriving as one, and helping them thrive as well. Sometimes it’s easy, like when they play peacefully together and tell me they love me. Other times I want to run far, far away where no one under 18 can ever follow.

But I do love them, ultimately, and I want to do right by them. They are amazing and have enriched my life immeasurably. I just need to remember this during the next tantrum. Or even right now, as Thing 1 came up to me and farted on my leg as I wrote this. No joke.

One last confession- I just sat on him and returned the favour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rage Cooking

I’m on the floor. It’s been unseasonably warm, and the kitchen tiles are cool, if somewhat gritty, against my skin. I probably should have swept before starting to write this, but I’m lying here in the hopes that 1) I will stop sweating, and 2) this new perspective on my kitchen will somehow inspire me to start cooking dinner.

I love eating. It is my favourite activity in the whole universe. However, preparing food more complicated than a bowl of cereal triggers a toxic combination of anxiety, stress, anger, and resentment in me, the source of which to this day I can’t pinpoint.

Last weekend I watched a friend make dinner, which I was then lucky enough to eat: delicious zucchini, potatoes, grilled lamb with home-made aioli, and apple crumble for dessert. I compare the beauty, grace, and confidence with which the food was prepared to a ballet, but one that I’d actually enjoy.

It was incredibly satisfying to watch the deft chopping, casual yet deliberate measuring of ingredients to find that elusive “to taste” sweet spot, and the sensual drizzling of olive oil from a bottle half-stoppered by a knowing thumb. What’s more, everything was made while engaging in relaxed conversation, between sips of wine and several parenting breaks. (Oh, and somehow in the middle of all that, a cheese and crudité plate miraculously appeared.)

That all seems impossible to me. I can’t make a sandwich without having to leave the room and count to 10. I know some folks claim that cooking relaxes them, but, much like women who say pregnancy was easy and made them feel beautiful, they’re crazy. Or lying. Or both.

Yet clearly it happens, because these happy chefs continue to conjure edible magic that I greedily stuff into my face hole. Naturally, I wish I could cook as well as they do. I wish I could do anything with such instinctive expertise. What I envy the most is the enjoyment they get from doing something so well they don’t even have to think about it.

If I’m honest, the only thing I’m THAT good at doing is eating.

So now it’s time to start dinner, regardless of how much I’ve tried to put it off. Maybe if I see it as a game, or an art project, I’ll realize how much fun it can be. Then perhaps it’ll be me one day, preparing an exquisite banquet and loving every minute of it.

But not today. Right now, I can already taste the rage.

Rage cooking

The New 30

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I just turned 40.

Maybe it’s a big deal, maybe it’s just a number. I’m feeling pretty good about it, except for one thing-

I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

I ask my kids this question sometimes, hoping the answer is “a doctor” or “accountant” or anything that leads to financial security and them moving out of the house one day. The last time I asked, Thing 1 said “Michael Jackson”, and Thing 2 ignored the question completely, opting instead to painfully squirm his way out of my straight-jacket embrace. (I let him go, mostly because he accidentally elbowed me in the bladder, but I’m pretty sure he was going to say “brain surgeon.”)

I’ve taken personality tests, hoping that I fit into a category that was easy to define and easier to employ. Apparently I am everything and nothing, introverted and extroverted, right in the gray area of the Meyers-Briggs test. I have a friend who’s a psychologist, and even she said she couldn’t figure me out. Psychologically, I am plasma.

Many of my fellow parents have gone back to school for event planning, interior design, nursing, or even med school (!!), which is incredibly admirable. The problem is there’s nothing I’m interested in enough, that I’m aware of, for which I’d be willing to suffer through another degree.

I’ve made lists of my interests and strengths, and have sought advice from people much wiser and more experienced than me, all of which led to the following conclusions:

  • As a freelance English editor, I already get paid to watch TV shows and movies, and I don’t find it particularly gratifying.
  • Sudoku solving isn’t a career.
  • Neither is annoying my husband. Or my kids.
  • Crochet can only be lucrative if I actually finish something.
  • I can’t charge people for praying for them.
  • I’d have to master more than just the corpse pose to teach yoga.
  • Snark is hard to monetize.

So I guess I’m writing this until I figure out what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. If it helps you in any way at all, this will have been more than worth it. At the very least, I hope that reading about my awkward blundering through adulthood makes you feel better about your own journey.

🙂