Sunday, December 28, 2008

An apology

To the 10 people who apparently follow me (ha), I apologize for dropping off the face of the blogger earth. I'm sure I ruined your holidays; yes, you all had a blue Christmas because of me.

Truth is, I've been back and forth between a.) A place that has yet to be tainted by the world wide web b.) A place where there is zero downtime and c.) the hospital.
So I'm sure you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.

Actually, this update is just about done. And I'm really not that sorry at all for not updating. I appreciate the following, but I think I have a valid excuse yet again.

Hope your Christmases are merry, bright, and white. I'll be back soon with a better update.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Merry Christmas to us....

6 days before Christmas I find out that my other grandmother, my mom's mom, had a major stroke. She is in the hospital now and pretty unresponsive. She's just another of my top 5 favourite people in the world. So why not.

You know, for a God who is supposed to be all-knowing and loving, I'm having trouble with the fact that he doesn't seem to know that there's only so much we can take. And I'm actually not feeling very loved by him at all.

Craig and I fly home tomorrow.
Merry Christmas to us.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Timbits (in true Canadian fashion)

A few little timbits (or what you might refer to as tidbits):

-I am not cut out for -50 degree weather.

-I am a binge chocolate eater. I can eat a full package of 48 Toffifees completely by myself. Immediately after I go on a chocolate rampage I proceed to feel guilty and disgusting. But the process? Pure bliss.

-The Christmas musical that I've been working endlessly on is happening tomorrow. The kids are having a few issues with the timing in a couple of songs, but at least when they mess up they look cute doing it.

-Tomorrow night will be the first time in a couple years that I'll play piano in front of a large audience.

-Tomorrow night will be my first time ever conducting a choir or directing a musical of any sort.

-My comfort zone is expanding.

-I fly home in less than a week.

-I fly to Texas in February.

-I fly to Vegas in March.

-I look forward to escaping from the bitter negative temperatures.

-I want to get a pug. Or a puppy of some sort. Any recommendations? (Must be small and relatively low-maintenance).

-I'm weighing my options for next year. There are a few things floating around in my head but I'll probably keep these things concealed until I gain some sense of certainty. Life is short: there is so much I want to do.

-The Wii Fit is impossible to find.

-I like Campbell Brown.

-No seriously, I'm freezing.

-I got a birch log with a tealight candle inside from my Secret Santa today. I love it!

-I think my freezer has stopped working. Can I put the food from the freezer (mostly thawed) into the deep freeze and still eat it later?

-Is there an unwritten rule somewhere which states that if you want to be an American governor you must promise to become corrupt?

-I just want to sleep for 3 days straight.

-I don't have ANY Christmas shopping done yet.

-I still think that the slinky is one of the greatest inventions of our time.

-FYI, the song goes: "people... whoooooa.... don't you know it's Christmas time?" and not: "feed the world, let them know it's Christmas time."


Monday, December 15, 2008

Caylee Anthony

I was still on the other side of the world in Korea when this story initially broke so I've just learned the details recently. I am shocked and appalled; I am infuriated and saddened.

I'm sure most of you are already aware of the situation, so I won't attempt to explain everything.

I've watched Caylee's grandparents, Cindy and George Anthony in a few interviews now, and each time I've just wanted to jump through the TV screen and shake them. "Are you kidding me?!" I'd yell at them if I could, "why are you placating your daughter; accepting her lies like sugar-candy?" I mean, it's their daughter. I understand the depth of that connection. Yet, you'd think that right now they'd be more concerned with Caylee, or even Casey's sanity for that matter.

Let's see I've got this straight:
-Searches of "chloroform," "neck-breaking," and "homemade weapons" found on Casey's computer.
-2 year old Caylee was missing for a month and Casey didn't bother to report her daughter's disappearance because she was going to "conduct her own investigation." 'Cause every good mother would want the least amount of help possible in finding a lost child; and especially would not want the help of professionals.
-During the time that Caylee was missing, Casey was out partying, getting tattoos, and just generally living life as if Caylee had never existed.
-She led the police on countless wild goose chases. At one point she even led them to her supposed office at Universal Studios, Orlando, only to get to the end of a hallway and finally admit that she had been lying all along and didn't work there.
-She claimed that Caylee had been kidnapped by a babysitter who ended up not existing. Casey led the police to various different apartments and buildings, the majority of which had been vacant for quite some time.
-Evidence of human decomposition found in the trunk of Casey's car.
-Casey's own father initially said that Casey's car smelled unmistakingly like a decomposing body. He later changed his story to say that the smell was pizza.
-A bag of bones from a small child were found not far from Cindy and George's house. Those bones are believed to be Caylee's.

Here comes the obvious question, but what else is there to ask: how can a mother do something like that to her own child? Any child? Any human being? I know how it feels to have a loved one ripped out of your life. How can you not care about someone to the point where you are the one who intentionally rips them out of your life? Don't we hold onto our loved ones with everything in us? Something had to snap. This girl killed her 2 year old little girl and then put her in a garbage bag as if she was trash. Caylee never had a chance to go to school, to figure out her favourite subject. She never had the chance to go on a first date, to graduate, to choose a career path or get married. She was brought into the world and then cut out with such futlity.

I hope they close this case soon and that Casey gets exposed for what she's done. I hope Cindy and George realize what they've allowed their daughter to become by propitiating her to such a high degree. Most of all, I hope little Caylee rests in peace.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Speaking of quality commericials...

If you haven't seen this commercial, where have you been?
It's one of my favourites of all time; it elicits feelings of global ownership, community, and wonder. For me at least.
Even when our personal "worlds" are turned upside down, as mine currently is, we have to admit that this earth is one amazing, magnificent place.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Re: Previous Entry

This is not THE commercial, but it does have a snippet of the tune. I will continue searching for THE commercial via youtube. :)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Malaysia truly Asia

"Come and spread your wings. There's so much to see, there's so many colours right before your eyes................"

In Korea, I typically devoted my "home-time" in the evenings to watching CNN. Of course in Korea I was also fortunate enough to receive the world version of CNN as opposed to the CNN that only reports on countries besides America once every second blue moon. The 'Malaysia - truly Asia' commercial came on all the time, and it had the catchiest little tune. The kind of tune that made you just wanna jump up and take off to Malaysia. So, that's what Craig and I did.

We stayed 2 nights in Kuala Lumpur, which was a surprisingly nice city. I'm not even sure why that was surprising- my preconceived notions just prompted me to expect something a little shadier. Fortunately preconceived notions are preconceived and frequently false.

The bulk of our short time there, though, was spent on a beautiful Island: Pulau Perhentian Besar. As much as we talk about Thailand as being the gem of Asia, Malaysia is very similar to Thailand and also has a lot to offer. It was a beautiful spot and we had such a relaxing tropical getaway there.

The boat ride to the Island was about 1/2 hour to 40 minutes. Unfortunately, the ride back was less than pleasant. Well- it started off great:

Shortly after the above photo was taken and we left the dock, our little speed boat started getting tossed around on the waves like a rubber ball on a trampoline. For awhile we were content with that- we do enjoy a good adventure. But then the sky turned black, the rain started to pour, the waves got higher, and the lightning started. Pretty soon the waves were crashing over the boat and we could see lightning striking the water all around us. We were on the boat with a bunch of people from Singapore, and it was entertaining to watch the expressions on their faces change from: "WHOA THIS IS AWESOME DUDE!" As we bounced around on the waves, to: "HOLY CRAP WHY DID I EVER WANT TO COME TO MALAYSIA?!" I'm sure they watched my expression do the same.

But we made it back to the pier in one piece. And once we found shelter, the torrential rain seemed much more peaceful and beautiful.

And hey, the kids enjoyed it. I love innovation. This is the homemade slip-n-slide.

Someday soon I'm going to go back to this underrated country. There really is so much to see.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Aural Abuse

I've always been an animal lover. Some people, like my husband for example, refer to me as the real-life version of Elmira. I beg to differ. I don't torture animals, I just love them in excess.

As a kid I thought of myself as a dog person. While I was fascinated by all creatures, there was just something in the loyal personality of the canine that I was drawn to. Then I got my first pet cat (Oreo Pepsi Sam Chinese Harry Cola Palmer) and realized: "Hey! This is easy!"

Granted, Daddy did most of the work with the litterbox, but the times when I worked the poop scoop weren't too bad. Actually, scooping animal poop is not my least favourite thing in the world. It sure beats cleaning toilets.

I never had to walk Oreo. The times I tried, it didn't work. He was mature enough to roam the great outdoors by himself anyways. He always knew his way home. I never had to bathe him, he did that himself. He never whined when we'd leave; he was probably grateful for the time alone. I had to work for his affection. Unlike a dog I couldn't win him over with a good belly scratch. My best bet was to ignore him. When I did that, his fondness for me would grow. I had trouble doing that, and most of the time he wasn't too fond of me.

Cats typically like to play hard to get. Dogs are open books, but cats walk around like they rule the world. And they pretty much do. I love their confidence.

Needless to say, I was excited when I found out that there would be a cat at the house we're renting. I was even more excited to meet her, and extremely excited when I saw how beautiful she was:

At first it was nice to be around a cat that liked me. I loved Oreo as if he were a person, but as I previously mentioned, I don't think I was his favourite person. 

I met this cat, and immediately she started rubbing up against my legs. She was  a soft, fluffy, cozy furball. I recall commenting to Craig one night: "This is a super friendly cat." It wasn't long after that when things began to take a turn for the worst.

The soft purring turned into shrill meows that could puncture the eardrum and severely damage the cochlea. The gentle head presses against our legs swiftly morphed into head butts against our hands as we tried to fill her bowl, resulting in a crumby floor covered with tiny bits of "Special Kitty."

It's gotten to the point where she'll cry and cry until we walk her to her dish. When we get there and she sees that her bowl is full, she still won't eat until we get down and point to the bowl.  I've said to Craig on several occasions: "Are you kidding me? How can a cat be this high-maintenance? She's a freaking dog!"

I could deal with the food thing if it weren't for the meowing. She sometimes meows for almost ten minutes straight. I get home from work and if she's outside I open the car door to the sound of her meowing. If she isn't outside I open the house door to the sound of her meowing.  Craig and I have begun to give her a taste of her own medicine. Whenever she meows, we'll yell "MEOW!" back at her. Yeah. Take that, cat.

I was having a really bad morning the other day and the cat was meowing like there would be no tomorrow. I was looking forward to leaving the house for work and getting some peace and quiet in the car. So I leave the cat who is still whining, only to get into my car and be subjected to an erratic beeping noise. Apparently there's something going on with the signal that tells us when the car door is open; it continues beeping even when the car door is not open. After being awoken by an alarm and then aurally abused by the cat, the last thing I needed was to be further annoyed. While driving down the road I couldn't help myself. I screamed aloud: "UGGGGH, WHY DOES THE WORLD HATE ME!??" And then proceeded to feel somewhat better.

It is a sad day when someone has to search for peace and quiet in a primary school.

I still have moments when I love the cat. She is insecure, she is needy, but she is still soft and fluffy. In a shallow world concerned primarily with image- at least she has that going for her.

***Post-entry update: Today our darling little furball has pooped on the couch. We're trying to determine the easiest way to get a patent on kitty diapers. For the time being we may just wrap her up in newspapers.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Ginger marmalade

I hate small talk at the same time that I know it's necessary.

It's awkward. It's supremely uncomfortable. It's often superficial and supposititious. It's the most shallow form of conversation which takes very little actual thought to engage in and contains only trace amounts of heartfelt concern. But we have to do it and I struggle; it's not really my style.

You know what I'm talking about. We all force it out of ourselves. We say: "how are you?" And usually don't really listen for the answer, which is almost always: "good, how are you?" anyways. We could be torn up inside but when someone asks us that question (which I'm going to bet is the most commonly asked question out there) we don't typically get into detail. We just respond with: "good." It's easier.

Sign me up for the deep, provocative conversations. As someone who is admittedly opinionated (as an understatement), I live for the moments when the people whose carbon dioxide is my oxygen begin to talk about subjects that I feel passionate about. I am a woman of few words and many at the same time. If you choose to sit down and recount in detail each stage in the process of growing juicy radishes in the garden - I'll probably just sit idly by and allow my brain to momentarily escape from the confines of a restrictive culture that tells me I have to be knowledgeable about and interested in every topic.

It isn't that your radishes are unimportant, they're just unimportant to me. I, unlike most people, find it difficult to pretend that I care when I actually do not. But hey, I'm sure that there are loads of things I feel passionate about that you do not, too.

Over the years this has been a source of affliction for me. I am truly horrendous at making small talk. Many people who initially meet me probably think I am this aloof, snooty, puritanical person who does not know how to let loose and have fun. I am not one of those girly-girls who is your instant best friend, or who gives away hugs like bulletins in the church foyer to those I've met maybe once. Yes, it takes me awhile to warm up to people. Yes, I'm two parts introvert and one part extrovert. So sue me.

Those who know me very well are few in number. But, they exist and if they are reading this they also know all too well that I am not even close to being the "aloof, snooty, puritanical person who does not know how to let loose and have fun," that I come across as being. They have seen me unveiled on numerous occasions and they know who I am.

I've had the opportunity to nurture several beautiful friendships, but have failed on that front in many respects simply because it takes me longer than the average person to open up and reveal who I am. There were of course times when I did just that, but the introverted portion of my personality was being neglected. That happens when people do not understand your need for space; for time alone. That happens when people do not understand that there are boundaries even in friendship and that if I am attached at the hip I begin to feel a little less me.

Then there's the small talk. I don't even get past the awkwardness of the small talk stage with most people. We'll spew out all the brittle niceties and then go on our merry way, never quite acknowledging the seed that could grow into a beautiful Chrysanthemum if we would just plant it.

Friendship isn't this complicated for most people. Most have straightforward personalities that can mesh well together like peanut butter and jelly. I guess I am the ginger marmalade of life.

But don't feel bad, I am wholly content with being ginger marmalade. For one, I am too much of a typical, introverted, closet story-writer to be either peanut butter or jelly. It could never work for me. I can't do the nightly phone calls, the "lets-hang-out-every-night" or the "I wonder how many facebook photos I can get tagged in this week?" I enjoy my me time too much, and I married Craig for a reason. He's the only one I can be even remotely peanut butterish with.

I do have some people in my life who are not thrown by the fact that I cannot conform to the stereotypical definition of friendship that tells us we have to spend X amount of hours hanging out and/or talking on the phone each week. I'm even lucky enough to have people in my life who also do not conform to that definition. What I don't have that many of you probably do is fifty best friends and a multitude of potential candidates. And you know what? That's perfectly okay with me. In fact, I don't envy you at all. I enjoy my handful of cool people, thank you very much.

So, I just felt I needed to clear the air. Out of the 1105 people I've had come to my site thus far, I'm sure there are several who have at some point wondered what my deal was. Well, now you know!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

For Daddy - December 2008

Dear Daddy,

Tomorrow you will have been gone for two whole months. For us, the pain is still very fresh and real. I literally feel sick to my stomach with the thought of never seeing you, hugging you, playing with you, talking to you, calling you, seeing you smile again.

It's weird the things that pop into my head. Things that I never would have thought I would be remembering about you. Pedestrian things that I didn't even realize had such significance.

The way you would sigh, for example. I've thought of it so many times and yes, I've shed tears because I miss your sigh. Another example is the way that I would know you were smiling because I could see your cheeks rising from the back seat of the car. If Lesley or I ever said anything inappropriate in the car, I knew I could always count on seeing your cheeks rise like bread dough even though we were usually utterly ridiculous. I miss your eyes. You had the kind of puppy dog eyes that made it impossible to say anything hurtful to you. I always hated to see any kind of sadness in your eyes. Luckily, I didn't have to very often.

You are such an integral part of my life. That's why I feel like I'm walking around with a big gaping hole exposed. I guess a chunk of life has been ripped out of my life, which could possibly explain why I feel less alive now than I ever have.

You would know all about the Canadian Parliament fiasco if you were here. I hate that I have nobody to fire my questions at. You are the smartest person I've ever known. With your mishmash of book smarts, street smarts, and logic - you are a force to be reckoned with. I miss your intelligence.

I miss seeing my parents together. The love you have for each other is unconditional and unending. Even death can't take that away. The both of you together are an inspiration to all couples. You two together were the textbook definition of love.

Daddy, work has been helping me. I'm planning a Christmas musical for my school so that is keeping me on my toes. I wish you could come to see it, I think you'd be proud of me. It's my first time organizing something like this and I know how much you love organization of any kind!

Every month for the rest of my life, I am going to write you a letter. A newsletter of sorts. You deserve so much more than that, but I'm powerless. I'll do what I can. I've never been good at praying because I've always struggled with communicating verbally with someone who doesn't tend to communicate verbally back. I often have trouble communicating with people who do communicate verbally back for that matter. It's easier for me to write letters. Heaven is a mystery to me, but I hope that it's set up in such a way that you can read them.

I also feel like you probably have a computer network rigged up in Heaven by now. Perhaps you're teaching Abraham about word processing; surfing the web with Mother Theresa. I bet you're about to have a game of golf with Albert Einstein, and then you'll get Nanny Palmer to scratch your head.

Honestly, I don't know how it works. And I'm not going to pretend I do. I just hope that wherever you are, whatever you're doing- you're supremely happy. We certainly feel the loss on this lonely planet. To us you are a king. That's how we adored you. That's how we always will.

I love you so much Daddy. With every fiber of my being; with every atom in my makeup. Thank-you for pouring into my life. For letting me borrow some of your genes. For continuing to influence my life and decisions even from afar. As long as there is breath within me, I will tell people about your legacy. You are my real-life hero.

Your baby girl XOXO

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Welcome to Holland


Emily Perl Kingsley.
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Musings at 1 a.m.

Ideally, I would have started practice for the Christmas musical back in October.
Clearly nothing went as planned in October 2008.

The musical is happening December 17th. So the reality is that I have only a couple weeks to pull something together.  

I've rearranged the play so that every 3rd grader gets a speaking part. I've also refrained from picking only the best-behaved students for lead roles. I've tried to keep it as fair as possible, while remembering that sometimes kids who are acting out just need for someone to show interest in them- someone to believe in them. I hope they prove me right!

Today has been rough. I woke up feeling upset. I think I was probably dreaming again, and that whatever I was dreaming set the tone for my day. Surprisingly, I've come to appreciate the weekdays as much as the weekends. Weekdays give me some reprieve.

Everything in my once brightly-coloured world has lost its lustre. Nothing is exciting. There's a damper on my emotion-maker and that's not me. I'm typically all Bob Marley. I'm typically all "Don't Worry, Be Happy." These days, I have moments when I smile and laugh, but it's not a complete happiness. Not an authentic happiness like it would have been pre-October.

I think about the one thing that can invoke more excitement in me than anything else: travel.
Even the thought of travelling is becoming grayer. I know I lost a year with my Dad because I was in Korea. So many memories are less than fresh because I was not with him for the last year of his life.

While the Korea thing was a good experience, I think if I were to do a stint overseas again, I would want it to be 6 months or less. As fun and worthwhile as travelling is, friends and family are more important and it is hard being away from them for so long. Especially when something like this happens and I wind up realizing what I missed out on.

Don't get me wrong, I still want to see the world. I just have a feeling that the world will seem a little less amazing after what I've been through.

Now everything is so muddy. I look back on the events of the past few months and think to myself: "Are you sure about all this, Laura? Are you sure that's what happened? How can that be?" In those moments it hits me and it feels as though I've been held hostage for a long, long time. Longer than the 2 months it will be on Thursday. I have to remind myself that this is all still very raw and I don't have to be doing better yet. Or ever, if I don't feel like it.
I'm trying to come to terms with the way in which this whole life-death thing is set up, but nothing is making sense to me. If it makes sense to anyone else feel free to try and enlighten me.

In any case, it is officially December 1st, 2008 right now which means that Christmas is kicking into high gear. Once you're on the roller coaster you have to wait until it's finished to get off.