The New Winter Sport I Just Invented

 The SuperLuge

THE VENUE:  Take one private road with several feet of hard-packed plowed snow on both sides, preferably one with a series of curves; add several days of rain and freeze/thaw cycles.

THE EQUIPMENT:   One mid-sized sedan (summer tires work best, but as demonstrated in the beta run today, brand-new winter ones will work as well).

THE GOAL: make it to the driveway from the main road.

POINTS DEDUCTED FOR: 360-degree turns; having to circle a neighbour’s driveway to gain traction more than four times. Most points lost for mistakenly believing the goal to be accomplished, only to have the empty vehicle slide at a high rate of speed out of the parking space and back onto the track.

POINTS AWARDED FOR: alternately luge-ing off the snowbanks without capsizing; rocking the vehicle out of a stalemate without resorting to calling a man for help. Most points gained for successfully re-entering the moving empty vehicle without running over oneself.

THE PRIZE:  You get to do it all again the next time you want to leave the house.  Like next April.


P.S. We may need more salt.  Or a dog sled.

38 Days

[I haven't blogged in a really long while, but people keep asking, and I know it's got a lot of you kind of freaked out.  So here's how it all went down.  And forgive me if some of it comes off a little bitter, cold, damaged, angry, traumatized...it's just 'cause I am.  It too shall pass, I'm sure.  For now, be patient with my peculiar way of working things out.]

So…my mom died.

I was at work, alone, about a half hour before the end of my shift.  My dad called.  (My dad never calls.  He always makes Mom do it.)  He was being cryptic.  “Can you come straight over to the house when you get done work?”  Someone was dead, obviously.  “Why?  Tell me why.”  “Just come over *badly-stifled sob*”  “Tell.  Me.  Now.”  “*pause*  I had to take Mom to the hospital last night.”  “I’ll be there in a couple of minutes.”

Jesus.

I immediately dialed my friend and screamed, “I think my mother is dead!”  Then my co-worker arrived to relieve me.  “I think my mother is dead!” I screamed as I grabbed my bag and flew out the door.

Dad was in the yard, walking the dog, when I got there, 2.6 seconds later.  “What’s going on??”  I demanded.  He wouldn’t make eye contact.  “I’ll tell you inside.”  He started toward the door.  “NO!  Tell me RIGHT NOW!”  I grabbed his arm.  “She’s dead, isn’t she?”  The dam burst – my dad, who is made of pudding and pocket fluff, began bawling.  “No,” he sobbed.  “Ovarian cancer…*snifflesob*”

I smacked him.  “GAWD!  Fuck, shit, Christ, fuuuuuuuuck, Dad!”  Smacked him again.  “I thought she was DEAD!”  Phew, it was just cancer.  Whatever.  I donate money regularly for that shit.  No sweat.  Hack it off, rip it out, buy a headscarf, we’re all good.  Crappy few months or, worst case scenario, years, we’ll be fine.  Hell, I have a background in nutrition – we’ll green smoothie that crap right out of her.  No problem.  My dad, the drama queen.

So I headed over to the hospital.  After stopping to make a buttload of lists in my iPhone with labels like “The Big C Battle Plan”, and stopping to buy approximately 8 million dollars worth of essentials like cashmere bedsheets to replace the hospital ones.  Because the key is just taking control of things, starting with your environment.  Comfort is important.

I’m not gonna lie – it wasn’t good.  My mom was unnaturally quiet – partially due to the NG tube down her throat.  (That’s hospital lingo for “nasogastric tube” – it sucks the poo out of your blocked bowel so that you don’t puke it up – you start to speak like this once you’re part of the ‘scene’.)  She had a considerable number of tubes in other places, as well.  But this was just ground zero – now let the healing begin!

Back story:  a full 12 hours or so before this (they didn’t call because they knew I had to work that night and didn’t want to wake me.  *—-*), my mom began spontaneously projectile-vomiting.  And it was green.

She couldn’t stop.  She was even puking the green stuff while they were stuffing several feet of the tube down her nose.  This turned out to be one of the most traumatic parts of the whole cancer experience for my mom.  After it came out about a week later, once the drugs had removed some of the abdominal swelling that caused the bowel blockage in the first place, every time there was any mention of the possibility of having it inserted again, she would get a stricken look on her face and the bargaining would begin.  Suddenly, she would be feeling so much better.  Suddenly, omg, she’d successfully had a bowel movement, a series of massive passings of gas, just that very morning!  A miracle!

It was heartbreaking.  This was a woman who couldn’t even stand to have the curtains open on the side of the house that faced the street.  This was not a woman that should have had her most private business on display for strangers – no matter that the strangers were people who had chosen for themselves a life of helping others.  They were still strangers, no matter how kind or sympathetic or knowledgeable they might happen to be.

But after a couple of weeks, she was able to get out of bed a bit, with the help of a walker (did I mention that this was a woman who, just 14 days prior to this was perfectly normal, walking the dog, climbing the stairs innumerable times during the day as she cleaned and puttered around a six-bedroom house?)  She was sipping tiny, miniscule amounts of green smoothies and organic squash soup brought in by me (because have you ever tried being a lactose-intolerant vegetarian with a bowel obstruction in a hospital?  They couldn’t even guarantee they could provide a dairy-free scrambled fucking egg for her.  And get ready for a lot of f-words in this post, because I’m still a little angry about many aspects of how this whole thing went down.)

But overall, things were looking good.  She was admitted on September 30th, she was diagnosed positively with cancer, stage 3 (supposedly), and now it was halfway through October and since she could move around with assistance and eat a bit on her own (and because she was practically offering me, her first-born, to get her ass out of the hospital), she was allowed to go home to await her first chemo session.

Wait, you say?  Chemo first, before surgery?  Oh, yeah – didn’t I mention?  The fucking tumour was 18-fucking-centimetres in diameter.  For you Yanks, that’s like a Canadian foot.  It was like a freakin’ basketball in my mother’s stomach.  AND SHE DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS THERE.  Scared yet?

The tumour was so huge, they were afraid to operate until it was at least half the size.  So the plan was, chemo to shrink it first; then surgery; then more chemo.  Yay!  What a fun year we were in for!

But then…two days after she went home – she hit the wall.  She just melted down.  She couldn’t move.  An ambulance was called.  She wanted to go back to the hospital.  She wanted to speak to someone about a DNR order (for all you firefighters, in hospital-speak, this doesn’t mean “Department of Natural Resources” – it means “Do Not Resuscitate”); she wanted to speak to someone in palliative care.  I lost it.  I arrived at the hospital ER ready to fight – and my mom was in a wheelchair, completely broken.  She was done.  My dad – who has spent a lifetime catering to her every desire – quietly muttered, “It’s what she wants.”  I lost it.  I cried.  Then I pouted.  Then I spoke to the palliative care doctor (who weirdly looked exactly like Santa Claus with mismatched socks) with a calm I didn’t know I had.  Then I cried a little more.  I told her I wasn’t ready to lose my mom yet.  She told me to stop pushing my hippy shit on her.  Then I stormed out.

This time around in the hospital seemed a little better at first.  Being on the “waiting to die” list gets you  a private room a lot faster.  It was much better than sharing with the overly-social, turban-ed, incontinent and slightly senile roommate she had at first, or the thousand-year-old hospital room party-thrower who liked to talk about Mom behind a very thin curtain that she had when roommate number one moved on (in which direction, I don’t know).

But things went rapidly downhill.  As it turned out, her hitting the wall was due to the blood clots she had in both lungs (which, looking on the bright side, really should have killed her instantly, so there’s that).  Turns out, certain types of cancer tumours actually produce pro-coagulants.  Nice, huh?  So anti-coagulants were now a part of her diet.  Which, like everything else, was tube-related.

I’m going to speed through the rest of this story, because what follows are three weeks (that honestly, seriously, truly felt like 600 years – and I’m not even slightly exaggerating about that…I have never, ever, EVER understood the “time is relative” theory, despite a mild Einstein obsession, until now) of a level of hell that I simply cannot, even now, process.  I actually am strangely calm writing this – so calm that my background in neuroscience tells me I am likely suffering a mild form of post-traumatic stress disorder.  Mostly because, while I don’t cry while talking or writing about my mom, I seem to have no problem bursting into tears while pumping gas or driving home from work or feeding the cats, etc.

Mom was only conscious for about another week and a half.  And it wasn’t really possibly to have any sort of meaningful conversation, like you see on TV, because of the drugs and the oxygen deprivation due to the breakdown of her body in general.  She rapidly lost the ability to even roll over, so each day was structured around her bath time, when the sole LPN (not the RN, because they are in high demand) came in to valiantly attempt to move my mom’s dead weight (shut up) while she bathed her and changed her sheets on her own.  Which, obviously, was impossible, so I was there to help every day – usually after having been awake for approximately 19 hours (having worked all night at my job, because, while I qualified for the oh-so-helpful-thank-you-Stephen-Harper compassion care leave, it only pays 55 percent of your income…which nobody can actually live on).  My mom, who was too weak to even speak at this point, would tighten her mouth and squeeze her eyes tight (she was at the beach in her mind, running with her previously-deceased spaniel, she managed to tell me during one rare lucid moment) while we rolled her over, stripped her, cleaned her, changed her bedding and then finally tucked her in again.  I would send the nurse away then, because I was the only one who knew how she liked her pillows arranged.

Ah, the pillows.  In less than a month, my mom had lost all of her subcutaneous fat.  She had nothing to cushion her bones or the massive fucking tumour from cutting into her skin.  Her hands were like mummy hands – she had had these pretty, pretty, dainty hands…but now they were shriveled and yellow and waxy, and they were like an anatomy lesson – you could see every single feature under the skin.  So pillows were important.  There was a six-pillow minimum in place.

And to add another layer of personal hell, while her upper body was wasting away (she was now unable to eat again – we discovered this after a particularly sad afternoon where she whispered, “I’m going to be sick” just in time for me to, with superhero speed, whip a basin under her head), her lower body was swelling like a balloon, because the Fucking Tumour (I feel it now deserves capitalization) was cutting off the flow of lymph, behaving like a cork.  Her legs were so inflated that the skin began splitting and the fluid started pouring out.  They had to place incontinence pads on the bed beneath her to soak up the liquid pouring out of her brutalized legs.

By now, she was also starting to hallucinate.  It wasn’t the drugs – her brain was shutting down and she wasn’t getting enough oxygen, despite being nose-fed it through yet another tube.  She was dehydrated (couldn’t drink any more than she could eat) and most of her delusions involved the conspiracy of the hospital to keep people from having water (they had to discontinue the IV fluids because it was all going to her poor legs and staying there).  She spoke of a lengthy conversation she remembered us having about a newspaper article about the poor people they found crawling on the riverbank, trying to reach the LaHave to quench their thirst after escaping from that very hospital.  She distinctly remembered me telling her about the 911 call I took about it (I work as an emergency dispatcher).  Heartbroken, I would nod knowingly and wipe her mouth out again with another glycerin swab and put some more balm on her dry lips.

Then there was Hallowe’en.  Oh, Hallowe’en.  The day that well-meaning hospital employees dress up, thinking it will cheer up the patients.  Don’t get me wrong – there are a lot of things that change in your head once you are on the other side of this stuff.  But I’m telling you – there were no less than four – yes, FOUR – staff members dressed up as devils that day.  DEVILS.  On a ward full of senile, sick, heavily-medicated, DYING patients.  I mean…no.  Just…no.   One of them was a very dear friend from high school, and I had to tell her, “Um…you’re not going into my mom’s room today.”  Just no.  My dad and I had to stay with my mom in shifts for that 48 hour period (it would have been 24 hours, but she was confused about the date and thought Hallowe’en was a day earlier than it actually was until someone *me* let it slip about the actual date) because she was afraid the ghosts were going to steal her purse.

I was still, however, thinking, “Okay, we just have to get through this current crisis and then we’ll get back to the chemo plan”.  But then I had a looooong heart-to-heart with her doctor, who very kindly and warmly broke it to me that my mom was “not a candidate for chemo” anymore.  She was too weak.  And they didn’t foresee that changing.  I finally asked the question I’d been avoiding, because I know there is no way to really, truly know.  “How long?  I know I can’t hold you to it, but, in your experience, how long would you say?”  “Weeks, at best,” the dear doctor replied.  “We’re probably not talking days, but we’re not talking months, either.”  This was October 31st.

I had to call in sick for work that night.  I drank a lot of wine and it came straight back out in tears.

A few days later, I arrived as usual, right after work, and I went over to tell Mom I was there, and to brush her hair back like she liked, and for some reason – I don’t know why – I lifted the blankets a bit and looked at her abdomen.  Blood.  Everywhere.  So much blood….

Mom was semi-lucid that day, a rare thing.  But she had no idea that she’d bled through four layers of fabric, and I didn’t see the point in her knowing.  I had no idea where the blood was coming from, but her entire body was black and blue at this point, so I knew it couldn’t be good.  Feigning serenity, I chatted to her as I pressed the panic button on her bed.  When the nurse came, I lifted the corner of the covers and casually said, “We’ve just got a bit of blood here.”  The nurse’s face went full-on panic, and Mom said, “I’m bleeding?”  I brushed her hand away and flipped the blanket off the bed, along with her johnny shirt, and as the nurse began to investigate, I expertly slipped a new clean johnny shirt on her while balling up the bloody one so she couldn’t see.  But she was on fire that day – she used what little strength she still had and reached out and pulled the dirty one back toward her.  When she saw the blood, her face fell.  Whatever tiny shred of hope she had left evaporated utterly in that split second.  Her face hardened and she nodded, lips pressed together.  Then she closed her eyes, let us do our indignities to her body to get her cleaned up, and I could tell she was already at the beach.

The bleeding was from the injection site of a needle she’d been given three hours earlier.  A teensy, tiny little pin-prick that just didn’t stop bleeding.  The blood-thinners.  As it turned out, her catheter bag was also brimming with blood.  No pee – she wasn’t getting fluid of any kind, hadn’t been for over a week.  Just blood.

That was when the doctor said it was now a choice -  bleed to death right away or discontinue the anti-coagulants and wait for the blood clots to return.  The blood-thinners were stopped.

On November 6th, 38 days after she went to the hospital thinking she might be having a gallbladder attack, I spent the day at the hospital.  We did the bath, the bum-wiping, the tiny tear that always crept out of my mother’s eye during this even when she wasn’t able to open them.  I arranged the pillows, brushed her hair, rubbed lotion on her parchment skin, just like I had every day for the last 600 years.  Today was different, though.  She couldn’t speak – her vocal cords had long since seized – but she was trying.  She was trying to speak so hard, I wanted to stab myself through the heart for not being able to understand her.  Her lifetime of wisdom, lost forever.  Finally, she fell into a fitful sleep, moaning and whimpering for hours.  I scrunched up on the cot tucked in the corner, under the never-opened window blinds (because the light bothered her eyes), in that tiny dark dungeon of a hospital room where I had been watching my mother suffer for as long as I could remember, while I googled “ovarian cancer” and “signs of impending death”.

But it couldn’t be today.  I mean, it was cancer.  It takes forever to die of cancer.  I’d been awake all night.  I was supposed to work that night.  I toyed with the idea of calling in, but my shift started in like seven hours – it would be so thoughtless to make a co-worker have to fill in on a night shift with so little notice, just because I was feeling uncomfortable leaving the hospital to go sleep.  I mean, I had to bank those favours, because this thing could drag on for years, right?

I kissed her good-bye, and I wasn’t sure she would hear or understand, but I told her I loved her.  And in another one of those weird, rare lucid moments, she mouthed back, “Love you”, without opening her eyes.

I stood in the doorway for a really, really long time, watching her, before I left.  I cried all the way home.

I’ve only really touched on the horror that I saw that woman’s poor body go through.  I feel you should know, but I can’t quite bring myself to describe it in its gory detail right now.  But know this – it was so bad that, that night, when I went home, I – a devout atheist – prayed.  I didn’t really care who or what was listening – but I was willing to try anything at this point.  I prayed, not that she would live, I knew that we were far too gone for that to be a possibility – but that she would die.  I just wanted her suffering to end.  I wouldn’t have let a cat suffer like that.

The doctor, the week before, while trying to prepare me, gave me that look that told me she needed to know where I was at.  I knew she needed reassurance that I was going to be okay.  I told her, “In the beginning of this, she had the occasional good day.  And then it was the occasional good moment, even if it was just looking forward to her daily Popsicle.  She hasn’t had even a good second for a while now.  My mom is already gone.”  And the doctor smiled sadly and I could tell she and I were on the same page.

Two hours after I prayed myself to sleep, my dad called.  Sobbing, he just said, “Mom’s gone.”

And that was it.  Thirty-eight days.

So now you know.

And no, ovarian cancer does not show up on a PAP test.  It’s a fucking evil, dirty motherfucker (basically, in my case, literally).  All I can tell you is: if you are having weird digestive issues, find out why; if you are tired a lot, find out why; if you have relatives that had female cancers (breast cancer counts, too – they are closely linked), tell your doctor.  It’s all you can do.  And then just go fucking have some fun – there’s no point in worrying about it.  Live your life.

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Me and Debbie. I’m the short one.
Deborah Anne Hepburn-MacMillan
November 22, 1950 – November 6, 2013

BLACK OUT SPEAK OUT

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Published in: on June 3, 2012 at 11:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Race for Space

The moment you’ve all been waiting for is here!

Well…almost here.  It’s in the vicinity.

That’s right.  I’M GONNA BE AN ASTRONAUT!!!

But first – I need your help.  ALL of you.  Go here and vote for me :

The Last Drop in the Bucket (List)

via Race for Space.

And tell your friends.  Tweet about it.  Share it on Facebook.  Get me in that spaceship!!!

A Message for My Secret Santa

Dearest Sneaky MacSneakerPants :

In all the years that I have known you and worked with you, you have always been the quintessential keeper of secrets – a master spy if ever there was one…a veritable vault.  And now it has been brought to my attention that you might  perhaps, maybe,  just possibly know the identity of my Secret Santa.  Though I know you will be a hard nut to crack, I feel ready for the challenge.

My  source (who is very sneaky indeed, but not quite sneaky enough) has also let slip several hints about the alleged Secret Santa’s purchasing history (I know that someone as super-sneaky as you would never be so reckless with such sensitive information!)  But the hints are as follows:

A)  the gift is wearable;

B) the gift is actually two of something;

C) the gift is neither gloves nor socks.

Although I am known to be a profoundly patient person *ahem*, I cannot help but ponder this great mystery.

I have a feeling that if I should guess correctly and my Secret Santa was made aware, however sneaky and secretive he (or SHE) may be,  he (or SHE) might crack under the pressure and come clean.

So, although I have NO IDEA who that Secret Santa is, you do work in the same office, so I was thinking you might have connections.  Therefore I am sending my list of guesses to you in the hopes that you can do me a solid and pass it on (secretly and sneakily, of course).  My guesses are as follows:

Drea M.’s Top Ten Potential Secret Santa Gifts

  1. False eyelashes [already own some, but can always use an extra pair]
  2. Breast implants [don't need these, thanks - trust me]
  3. Moon boots [REALLY REALLY like these!]
  4. Knee pads [might need these while using the moon boots]
  5. Wrist casts [might need these after using the moon boots]
  6. Nipple rings [I enjoy a good exotic piercing, but might be kinda weird to show off at the office party]
  7. Shoulder pads [the 80s are coming back]
  8. Ear muffs [can never have too many]
  9. Dentures [....]
  10. Pasties [there is a surprising amount of wearable things that involve boobs - ever notice that?]

Please tell my Secret Santa that I shall have no problem at all in waiting until Christmas, but I would hate for him (or HER) to have to suffer beneath the burden of keeping such important information to him (or HER) self, so he (or SHE) should know that I would be willing to share the load.

I know I can trust you with this message.

Thank you, and Happy (Early) Holidays.

Your friend, co-worker, and confidante,

Drea M.

SCRAM!!!

Yes, it’s been awhile.  Yes, I’m still alive.    No, I don’t really have a blog post for you to read.  Just this:

WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING READING THIS???  IT’S SUMMER!!  GO OUTSIDE!!

I promise to return at a more hibernate-y time to tell you all about all the fun I‘ve been having this summer.  Now GO!

On the Importance of Always Remaining Just a Bit Out of Touch with Reality – Part VI

It was late at night as the Girl drove through town.  The lights were red at the intersection, but as she pulled up to the line, the light quickly turned to green.  The same thing happened at the next stop, and the next.

Though she had a vague recollection of some nonsense told to her by a member of the public works commission about the lights being controlled by sensors, she knew the real reason for her good luck.

As each light transformed its hue from angry crimson to welcoming emerald, the Girl saw, in the periphery of her vision, the flashing of dozens of cameras as an unseen doorman consulted a V.I.P. list before lifting a red velvet rope and waving her through.  Liveried guards raised their spears and bowed their heads as she passed.  Fans cheered and threw flowers.

The Girl blew a kiss into her rear-view mirror.   It felt good to have connections.

Just another night in the head of Drea M.

[Click for Part I, Part II, Part III , Part IV , Part V]

Dirty Little Secret (in A-Minor)

*DISCLAIMER:  I am not, nor do I claim to be, anything even remotely close to an expert on the subjects broached in this post (with the possible exception of the bit about spit puddles).  I am a total amateur in every single possible sense of the word, so take your snobbery elsewhere.

Most people, if asked what kind of music I listen to, wouldn’t hesitate – I make no secret of my obsession with, er…loyalty to certain musical brands.  (The Killers and The Cure, for instance…and not just because I enjoy the wordplay.  Which I do.)  Yeah, alternative/indie/goth/rock, mostly – I’ll even admit to the occasional momentary lapse into the Carpenters (usually in the shower, when I am still half-asleep and being primarily controlled by some lower part of my reptile brain).

But what people don’t know is that I’m a closet classical music freak.  (If you are one of the many, many members of the population who find classical music like nails on slate, you might want to bow out now.  You will not be judged.)  In fact, being judged is why I don’t usually tell many people about this.  People who rhapsodize about their love of classical music sound like assholes.  And many are lying.  Many are probably also basing this claim on their familiarity with samples from Carmina Burana in the soundtrack for [insert random movie title here], which is not necessarily a bad thing.

But I – I currently have Mozart’s early symphonies on auto-repeat in my car.  And as I write this, I am listening to a compilation CD of some of my favourites (and oh, yes, there are many clichés there, too – sometimes things become overrated because they are Awesome.  It’s just how things are.)  I was surprised at work the other day by my boss, who caught me listening to Wagner as I worked on my reports (she looked at me funny.)

And music truly does soothe the savage breast.  I can be in full-tilt moonphase demon mode, and three seconds of Vivaldi and I’m all better!  (And if anyone posts a comment giggling about me misspelling ‘beast’, there’s going to be a whole new post tomorrow about classical theatre.)   An ordinary day, full of ordinary dullness and the chores of everyday life…can be elevated to fine art by the simple addition of some really beautiful classical music.  It’s like getting a brain massage while doing the dishes.

And there is music for every mood!  Dreamy?  Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.   Need empowerment?  Peer Gynt by Grieg.  Tense and need to sort out the chaos in your mind?  Pretty much anything by Mozart (except…)  Miserable and want to wallow?  Mozart’s Requiem.  Jaunty and feeling like doing a silly walk?  Ravel’s Bolero.  Daydreamy or in love?  Bach’s Suite No. 3 (also very nice for setting the mood during an afternoon nap in the sun).  Bipolar?  Much of Beethoven’s body of work will suffice.

I don’t know if you can ‘acquire’ a taste for classical music, though.  Most people either love it or hate it, I think, and for me it truly was love at first listen.  I loved a lot of music as a kid, which was kind of weird, because there was never really much music in my house.  My parents had a small collection of eight-tracks (er, should I be admitting that?  If you don’t know what 8-tracks are…well, piss off) from their teen years, and I would commandeer the machine for whole afternoons of listening to Pink Floyd and Cat Stevens…but I also had this tiny little glass music box with brass cogs inside that played ‘Für Elise’ and I would wind that sucker up over and over, pressing my ear to it to listen to its tiny tinkly sounds.

Even so, I was never exposed, really, to classical music until I was around 10 years old.   I was in sixth grade and because we would be in junior high the following year, the junior high band came to perform a concert for us in an attempt to recruit future band nerds.

Now, of course, looking back, it seems quite laughable.  I can only imagine what the junior high band must have sounded like.  Trust me, I know.  But because I’d never been in a room of any size with a live orchestra, I had no idea what to expect.  As I sat cross-legged on my coat on the gym floor that day, I fell in love.  Watching those kids – those ordinary kids – looking all dignified and serious with their dainty little flutes and impressive-looking brasses and the timpani (just like in The Catcher in the Rye!), I felt myself lifting out of my body and floating up and up, out the open skylights and into the atmosphere.  I’d never felt anything like it.

I begged my parents to let me join band the following year.  But I was already heavily into skating and they really didn’t think I should spread myself so thin, plus the added expense of an instrument…so I entered seventh grade without joining band.  But don’t worry – by eighth grade, they were sick of me whining, so I was fitting myself out for a clarinet a bit late, but there I was.  In my grey skirt, white blouse and burgundy crested blazer, my shiny silver and black woodwind in hand.

Oh, I loved it.  Yes, I hated the feel of the reed on my lip.  I wasn’t crazy about the mutually-accepted nonchalance of musicians regarding spit puddles.  Being too keen moved me up to first chair before I was really ready for the responsibility of having to put in extra practice time for solos, which led to the occasional ‘Oops, I just split my last reed, sorry!’ moment.  But I loved the comradery, I loved the special occasion feeling of backstage before a concert, I loved being surrounded by and a part of the music during a performance, I loved getting out of class for rehearsals.

However, I still sort of sucked, and I eventually learned I preferred listening to performing.

The best was yet to come.  In university, I was enrolled in the core acting program and since we acting students were always around anyway and usually hungry, the performance hall that shared the theatre school space gave us first choice of ushering jobs.  That’s right – I ended up getting paid to sit in the back of a darkened theatre for symphony performances, operas, music recitals, ballets, letting the music wash over me…oh, my god, it was HEAVEN.

It was in those years that the music crept into my soul and I’m still as smitten as I ever was.  But I can’t help but wonder if my neighbors love it as much as me, ’cause I’m playing it kind of loud today.

Oh, well.

The Nut Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree

My last name at birth was Hepburn.

My grandfather used to tell me, when I was too little to be suspicious or question what he meant by it, that I was “a true Hepburn.”

I also really, really like books.

How do these facts relate to one another, you ask?

Well, I was re-reading ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Brönte the other day (because the last time I read it, I was seven…and funnily enough, a lot of it didn’t really stick with me).  And guess what???

One of my ancestors is mentioned in it!!!  (My Great-Uncle Firth keeps track of the family tree, and this dude is on it – and up until now I was marginally ashamed to be related to what seemed to be a long line of witches, murderers and horse thieves…BUT NOW I THINK IT’S AWESOME!)

Here it is (and if you don’t believe me, click here to go to the actual text):

“I like black Bothwell better: to my mind a man is nothing without a spice of the devil in him; and history may say what it will of James Hepburn, but I have a notion, he was just the sort of wild, fierce, bandit hero whom I could have consented to gift with my hand.”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

So it’s hereditary.

Awesome.

Bad Boy, 16th Century-Style

20 Things I Learned From Last Night’s Party

1.  I do not have to drink every shot that is placed before me.

2.  I am, in fact, capable of keeping a secret without having my head explode.

3.  Three weeks of planning a surprise birthday party = near-stroke from trying to keep a secret.  *AH!  I can BREATHE again!*

4.  Vegan ‘cheese’ dip is a-ma-zing (trips to the ‘smoking area’ notwithstanding).

5.  Watching my normally shy best friend perform Eminem at karaoke = EPIC.

6.  There is way more food and booze left in my flat than even I can fathom.  And we were wasted.

7.    Porn star shooters are sour.  Wash them down with champagne.

8.  There are way more cigarettes left in that cigarette pack over there than my non-smoking lungs say there should be.

9.  Some girls were just born to wear a tinsel tiara.

10.  There is NOT enough room for 40 mylar helium balloons in a Honda Accord.

11.  The very person who says ‘try not to let the cats out’ is the very person who is going to accidentally lock one of them in the foyer for several hours.

12.  That 24-year-old you drunkenly hooked up with three years ago and who refused to accept your breaking up with him until your friend called him and threatened to sic the cops on him?  He’s still going to be hanging out at that bar waiting to see if you ever show up there again.

13.  Chocolate-covered pretzels may in fact be the ideal hangover food – salt (electrolyte balance), carbs (blood sugar regulation) and chocolate (need it be said?)

14.  Though a room may contain omnivores, vegetarians, hard-core vegans, lactose-intolerants and gluten-free people, one thing will always unite them.  [see #17]

15.  Not everyone driving a cop car is a cop.  (Don’t ask me how I know this.)

16.  It’s probably not a good idea to wave to every cop car you see based on your having learned #15.

17.  Fun drinking game:  Every time the birthday girl throws her arms in the air and hollers “WOOO HOOO!  Let’s do another shot!”, you have to drink a shot.

18.   Remembering to stir fondue as it’s heating up is too much responsibility for intoxicated people.  Stick with something easier, like the pre-made vegan ‘cheese’ dip.

19.  A surprise party is a group effort that, planned by the right ensemble cast, can be a pure work of art.

20.  I think I’m still drunk.

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