I don’t want to talk about this. But for too long, the silence has been deafening. The elephant is not only in the room, but friends, it has shat the bed. I’ve always been a clean-as-you-go kind of person, but … Continue reading
8 weeks ago, I wrote a story about the journey our baby was taking us on, and how we were praying that my body would survive being pregnant just 7 more weeks to give him the best chance. So many of you responded in love and prayers and genuine care.
I truly believe it worked because my body proceeded to need a total of 3 amniotic fluid drains, plus a dramatic 3 night stay in the hospital because I was having very real contractions every 5 minutes…and then suddenly everything stopped. I went home. Life has resumed at an almost-usual routine for the last 4 weeks. Baby Button has grown big and strong, we have a safety-approved place for him to sleep and travel, and my mom made it here without complication.
So now? I need y’all to stop praying. I turned the corner on 38 weeks yesterday, and I am done.
I know every third-trimester mother says that, but I don’t think you understand.
I am “answering questionnaires for concerned psychiatrists/sense of humor completely gone/collapsing into tears for no reason at least once a day” done.
I have survived the Apocalypse. I have lived in fear of the government and deportation. I have moved houses at least as many times as I’ve had birthdays. I’ve seen a childhood friend die right in front of me. I have endured losing a relationship with my father 2 months after it began. I have gotten lost in Europe, lost a baby, lost jobs, and been one paycheck ahead of financial disaster for years.
But 9 months of pregnancy, one of life’s greatest mysteries that I was looking forward to the most, is the straw that broke this camel’s back.
I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel needy. I feel weak.
And so I feel lost. My identity is shifting. I’m the girl who writes about all the crazy shit that happens to her, and still manages to make people smile. I’m the Chandler Bing, I’m the Spartan who keeps on trucking, I’m the one who has heard time and again, “Wow. Looking at you, listening to you, I would never have guessed that you survived all THAT. You’re amazing, and you should probably write a book.”
My shit has always been a little messy, but it was my mess, and it made me stronger.
Now? After being pregnant and sick and worried and unprepared for 267 days in a row (including being displaced from home for 60+ days in a cramped house with 4 animals and 4 in-laws out of that)?
All I want is to go to sleep, and wake up in my own bed with a fresh mani/pedi, a killer haircut, a multi-ethnic buffet, and an impossibly adorable baby who never cries longer than 5 minutes or makes me question whether I am mentally and emotionally capable of becoming a mother in the first place.
I feel gross for even admitting it. Because I can see all you ladies who have been moms for years, who are laughing at my innocence and thinking, “Just you wait, honey, it gets worse.” I can see all you ladies who have been thinking they’d like to get pregnant, and now I’ve just ruined it for you. I can see all you ladies who had magical unicorn pregnancies with babies made from Jesus’ eyelashes, and are secretly judging me for being so dramatic and non-sacrificial.
And honestly, I’m going to play the Pregnant Bitch card and say up front: I don’t need to hear from you right now.
The only thing that keeps me typing so vulnerably is the off-chance that maybe some lady will read this and think, Thank GOD I’m not alone. Maybe I’ll wait one more day before checking myself in to the closest institution. Hi, Carly. I’m your new messy mama friend. Let’s keep talking.
13 days or less…
I know, I know. *already shaking my damn head*
After much deliberation, I’m adding my opinion of the 2016 US election to the growing pile. At this point, you’re probably even more sick of it than I am, and won’t want to keep reading.
I don’t blame you. But hang on for a moment longer.
I’m not here to make a list of everything wrong with Donald Trump – you’ve already been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt.
I’m here to set a few records straight, because as a former American living in Canada, I’ve been getting some inquiries:
“How is anything Trump even says sounding good to Americans??”
“Are evangelicals *really* the majority of his voters??”
They deserve some answers, and even though I’m just one woman with little to no understanding of how politics works, I’m here to share what I see.
1. Many American people suffer from a major spirit of poverty.
I’m not just talking about poor and homeless people, which it sadly has plenty of – I’m talking about people who have enough, but don’t know it. With some of the largest records in credit card debt, workaholic standards, food waste, welfare, obesity, environmental hazards and privilege in the world, Americans are drowning in the pool of Too Much & Not Enough. And the fear that one day everything they hold dear will be taken away from them is firmly in the driver’s seat.
2. Many American people have been blaming immigrants and citizens of different skin colours alike for the state the country is in, for years.
Most of us can admit, looking back, that the whole enslavement of black people leading up to the Civil War was pretty wrong. (In fact, the enslavement of any people group in any point of history is pretty wrong.) We’re thankful for people like Abraham Lincoln who helped abolish that law; we remember his assassination still.
So why are the KKK still in action? Why is the Confederate flag such a sacred cow that no one had better speak against? Why are people being shot down in the streets daily because of how they look?
Because you can abolish a law, but it doesn’t change a person’s heart. Your mom can *make* you apologize for punching your brother, and you can say it well enough to appease all parties involved, but maybe your fingers were crossed and you can’t wait to punch him again when no one’s looking – because only you know how much the little punk is really asking for it.
There’s a movie from the late 90’s called American History X. It’s focused in L.A., on the gang wars between multiple races and a white supremacist neo-Nazi group, and two brothers caught in between.
It’s disturbing, eye-opening, horrifying, violent – and I believe it should be required viewing for every university-age person on the planet.
It has challenged me multiple times, seeing how subtly deep the levels of racism go, mixed with a prominent attitude of “I’m a good, hardworking white American, so if anything bad happens to me, it’s definitely the fault of that guy over there! America was so much better before people like him came here.”
3. Many Americans identify as Evangelical or Christian in census and survey, without even realizing what those words imply.
I mean, you’re not an atheist or a pagan or *shudder* a Muslim, right? Your hardworking, white American ancestors that *ahem* emigrated over on the Mayflower raised you better than that. And you definitely were in church at least twice this year, so put a little ✔ next to that Evangelical box and you’re good til next time.
4. And sometimes, in a perfect clusterf*ck, all of these attitudes collide in the same people.
They are the ones voting for Donald Trump.
And why not? Finally, after EIGHT YEARS of having to deal with a president who’s black and probably secretly a Muslim, here comes a successful white guy who is promising you more money and less immigrants – all under the banner of your Evangelical flag. He gets you. He knows what you need, and he isn’t afraid to speak it out boldly, like a kid in a candy store who’s never heard the word “no.”
Except, PSYCH! He owns the candy store, and now you can never leave because he’s going to feed you sugar until you die.
Whether he completely believes everything he says or not, he knows you’re ripe for the picking.
All of it bums me out, but highest on the list is how the label of Evangelical has been dragged into it.
JESUS WOULDN’T VOTE FOR DONALD, MMKAY?!
Somewhere deep down, I’m sure Jesus loves Donald as much as he does the rest of us, but even he has to admit the man is batshit crazy.
Jesus wants a government of justice and peace for ALL, not just the hardworking, white American. His heart breaks every time one of his children is gunned down in the street again, no matter what color their skin is. He designed that skin. He knows every scar inside and out, and he says you are enough.
That’s what I believe with my whole heart; that’s the Jesus I know.
But if you don’t know that, then it makes sense that you would see the label Evangelical Christian and automatically brace yourselves to meet another asshole like Trump.
And sometimes, honestly, we are. But some of us are trying our hardest to show the difference.
I hope you see it, I hope it gives YOU hope, and I hope that the next 8 months will go by quickly and painlessly.
Goodness, can I have some fries and gravy with that cheese? Canadian OWT.
Last Friday, the Button family went on the road trip of a lifetime.
We just didn’t know it at the time.
1. The Hurricane
It was a dark and rainy morning. We had the next 4 days off work, because we’re in Canada. And instead of celebrating the domination and desecration created by that Columbus guy, we eat turkey while knowing little to nothing about Sir Martin Frobisher.
We left our house around 6am, so it was still dark. For the next 3 hours, we were blindsided by driving rain, gale-force winds and nasty-ass dog breath.
The weather was actually a little scary. Our little car tried to leave the road several times.
Thankfully, Steve was the one driving.
Later, we would turn on the news radio and learn that an event called Hurricane Oho was occurring off the Pacific coast, and we were literally feeling the after-effects of it in the middle of British Columbia. Steve quickly coined it Hurricane Uh-Oh, and I quickly coined us Bill Paxton & Helen Hunt.
^^^ Dat’s us. #DriversAndSurvivors
2. The Never-Ending Ride of Burgers, Weed & Sh*t
Hear this: I love coupon day. I love opening my mail box, and seeing those shiny red papers filled with pictures of food I want to eat and money I want to save.
We brought all of our coupons for the road trip because #poor, so we basically ate burgers and potato-related foods, all 3 meals, in the span of 14 hours. Sure, we saved money, but by the end of the day when I could no longer poop, I found myself wishing they made coupons for organic salad.
Oh yeah — we were in that car for FOURTEEN HOURS. Because the freeway between Hope and Vancouver is bat-shit crazy on a good day, and we were there on a Friday. On a holiday weekend. And while the Fraser Valley has many lovely qualities…
Smelling good is not one of them.
I know they *say* marijuana hasn’t been legalized in Canada yet, but in that valley, it might as well be. Also there are cows and mushroom farms and lifted trucks that are singlehandedly putting a hole in the ozone.
Did I want to poop? Did I want to throw up? I couldn’t tell anymore.
3. The Golden Anniversary
But the reason we drove (besides turkey) was well worth it. It was the 50th anniversary of my mother-and-father-in-law.
And they didn’t know we were gonna show up.
I was a little nervous; I hadn’t seen them since we moved away a year ago, and I feel like a golden anniversary is kind of a big deal. I wanted it to be memorable.
I found this beautiful British-style teapot awhile ago, with them in mind, as well as some loose-leaf earl grey tea that could be used to fertilize Mum’s garden after they were diffused.
To me, it was meaningful on many levels.
To them, it was too.
But that wasn’t the only surprise of the night.
4. Poppy vs. The Pool
It was dark by the time we arrived at the house, and we thought Poppy should explore her new surroundings.
I didn’t see any of this happen, so this is how I understand it.
Poppy was busy sniffing the backyard by the light of the back deck, when she suddenly came upon a strange new surface. It was blue, kinda wet and level with the ground.
It was the tarp cover on the swimming pool.
She quickly realized she’d made a terrible mistake, and tried to swim her way to the sidewalk. Instead, she started sinking.
Very calmly – like Jesus, one could say – Steve reached in and pulled our Precious out of the pool just as the cover was starting to blanket her.
And since she’s smart, she remembered and avoided the special blue ground for the rest of the weekend.
5.The Guardians of the Toy Store
We’re nerds. Straight up. We collect Funkos from multiple fandom’s, and our Christmas tree looks like the entire pop culture from the 1970s-now threw up on it.
So when Steve showed me the newer, much bigger location of our favourite toy store, I nearly had a heart attack.
Ewoks on a tree bridge over the toy shelves! #UhhhhCha!
Treebeard & Gollum creepin’. #We’reTakingTheHobbitsToIsengard
Completed by the best: Groot & Rocket extending hands of friendship to yours truly. #WEAREGROOT
6. The Darla Effect
Have you read Darla Halyk, from New World Mom?
You probably should. She has amazing stories, from comparing herself to Amy Schumer to her literal, actual, text-the-Vatican miracle baby.
I had no idea, until recently, that she lived near Vancouver her whole life – up to and including the time I lived there. When I think about the coffees and laughs and sisterhood wasted, I wanna cry.
Because I got to meet with her for approximately 90 minutes before heading back north, and you guys.
We hugged upon meeting, because of course we had to. She drank out of a coffee cup the length of my forearm while we talked non-stop about writing and our pets and her kids and food and it all ended too quickly. She is the Real Deal, from her sweary-mouth to her sparkly eyes and again to her fierce love for life. I can’t wait to hang out with her again.
So, I am very thankful. I made it to my 28th birthday with little mental breakdown, I ate turkey dinner twice, laughed at YouTube videos with my sister-in-law until my stomach hurt, made great memories with friends & family, and I survived a hurricane.
But above all, I am thankful this picture exists. Because we’ve had enough of Sharknado to last a lifetime. Haven’t we earned…
Is it weird to write a love letter to a car? Oh well.
Dear Lola the Corolla,
4 1/2 years ago, you came into my life freely, without expectation or guile. You were a surprise, a gift, an apology for all the years I had not been able to drive.
4 1/2 years, a lifetime of memories, experiences, and “firsts” in my early 20’s.
And yesterday, you retired. Not to a junk yard, thankfully. You probably have at least 100k left in your hearty soul. But my mom really needed you, so I gave you back to her. A surprise, a gift, an apology for all the years I hadn’t been able to take care of her.
I remember the day I drove you for the first time. It was a bitterly cold January day, but I didn’t care. I was warmed from head to toe by the freedom of the open road. Granted, that “open road” was actually the Prince George highway full of snow, ice and hidden craters. But as far as I was concerned, anything was possible now. Although you were almost 20 years old, you were immaculate. Your pure gold outsides were as clean as your insides; your standard shifter as smooth as Sinatra and your brakes as abrupt as Snape. I tried my hardest to keep you that way. But you see, I have no depth perception and I’m clumsy, awkward. I’m sorry. As a Thank You, I want to share some of my favourite memories.
My mom visited us again, and she decided that we should go for a drive to downtown PG. I was eager to show her how I’d learned to drive Lola with ease. But in a moment that could only be described as movie-perfect, I took a right turn down a street that neither one of us was aware was a one-way street.
When we saw 3 lanes of traffic rapidly heading toward us, we figured it out pretty quickly.
When I saw that a cop car with flashing lights was at the very front of one of those lanes of traffic, I knew I was about to get my first ticket. Damn.
He waved me into a parking lot; I started trembling and overheating. He was an older gentleman; he probably could have done time as a mall Santa with his white hair and near-jolly spirit.
“Clearly, you weren’t going the right way, eh?”
“No, sir. I didn’t even see a sign for a one-way street! I’m so sorry.” He looked at my license, saw that I was a learner, and traveling appropriately with an adult. He did a slow circle around my car (the worst!) and came back to my window.
“Are you aware that your L is missing?” (For those not Canadian, new drivers start out with a Learner’s, and it’s a red magnet that goes on the back of your car with a big L on it. When you graduate to Novice, you get a big green N magnet. Kids these days call them Losers and Nerds.)
In shock, I stepped out of Lola, ran to the back and sure enough! No Loser.
Tears started to clog my throat. “I HAD it this morning, I promise! Look, you can see the dust outline where it was!” I outlined the empty square with my hands for emphasis.
I *think* my cop was trying to hide a grin. “Well, at least let me see your companion’s driver’s license.” I sighed with relief. She was my mom, she would be able to set this whole thing straight somehow.
Mom riffled through her things for a moment. “Huh. I must have forgotten my wallet back at the house.”
My heart sank. Three strikes; I would definitely be out.
“I see.” The officer started writing furiously in his notepad. Minutes passed. I kept my head down, waiting for the verdict.
“Well, your ticket would probably be around $450. But today, you get to go home.”
My head snapped up in disbelief. “What?”
“Your mother can drive you home, just don’t get pulled over again. Get another L and watch out for those one-way streets. See you later.”
He leaned down into my window sternly. “Get outta here.”
Feeling like a prisoner on death row just given parole, I thanked him over and over. As we were leaving the parking lot, another car turned erroneously down the one-way street, and my cop just waved them on into my old “parking spot.”
To this day, we have never gotten a ticket.
I discovered how much cargo Lola could carry when my church had a Young Adults weekend retreat, and I was everyone’s “Friend With A Car.”
Lola seats 5 full-grown people almost comfortably. So once we loaded the trunk with 5 sleeping bags, 5 pillows, and 5 suitcases, we piled in. Oh, did I forget to mention that one of my friends was responsible for the food for everyone for the entire weekend? Let me rephrase: we loaded 5 sleeping bags, pillows and suitcases in the trunk, stuffed food in any cracks available, got in the car, and arranged food carefully around each one of us in a delicious pyramid, from head to toe.
When we drove up Connaught Hill, my friend with the *full license* had the pedal pressed to the floor and we went a slow but steady 50km/hr all the way up. I pretended we were the Flintstones and tried to make the car go faster by shuffling my feet because I’m a nerd.
Two days later, Lola brought everyone and everything home safely without so much as a hiccup.
Valentine’s Day 2012
At 8:30pm, instead of being out with someone special, I was working in the coffee shop up at the University. During my break, I checked Facebook and saw that my friend Kim had been in a horrible car accident just outside of Jasper, Alberta, nearly 5 hours away. Her car had been totalled but she was okay.
I started texting her. She had no money left and she was stranded in a bar. Jasper was a big enough tourist place to be expensive, but too small to have a Greyhound bus that didn’t arrive at an outside stop at 4am and then drive away at 4:03am.
The coffee shop was pretty dead (I mean, it was Valentine’s Day) so I texted my boss and asked if I could close up early for an emergency. She said yes, so I began to move like lightning. I had no idea what I was going to actually do, but I couldn’t leave Kim there. Even if she did have money for a bus, it wouldn’t come for another 7 hours and Jasper might as well be the Arctic at this time of year.
When I got home, I announced to my roommates that I would be taking an unexpected road trip. When they found out what had happened and what I was thinking, they all protested. It was after 9pm now; I wouldn’t get to Jasper until after 2am.
There’s a two hour stretch of highway that is literally abandoned wilderness. No gas stations, no houses, no cell service, nothing. Like, if you wanted to dump a body that would never be found, the road between McBride and Jasper is your safest bet. And I would be there in the middle of the night.
But they saw that I was determined to help Kim, so my roommate Alissa offered to go with me. We could take turns driving, and at the very least, not die alone. We would text our other roommates as often as we could, and pray like hell we weren’t making a huge mistake.
Thankfully, we found Kim, took her to the impound, helped her empty what was left of her car (I still feel sick in my stomach when I picture that car in my mind. It was NOT OKAY.), found the only gas station that was open to get some microwave food and energy drinks, and were back on the road at 3:30am. We made it home by 8am, crashed for a few hours, Kim got picked up by family, Alissa and I high-fived our success and went to work for 8 hours. Our good friend was alive, and so were we.
Best. Valentine’s Day. Ever.
Well, now, I say goodbye. Lola, you were the best car a newly legal immigrant with barely a license or experience could have needed. 80,000k in 4 1/2 years; there was nothing you couldn’t do.
And now, you get to rest. Occasionally cruise the open road. Be even more appreciated by someone with actual depth perception. I’ll see you again.
On this day in 1999, I was fearing for my life.
Before The Walking Dead or Katniss Everdeen had even been thought of, I was preparing for my world to become apocalyptic. I was 12.
15 years later, Y2K still hasn’t happened. The Mayan calendar didn’t really mean much either. However, we face our own little apocalypses each year, don’t we? They have nothing to do with ancient prophecy or computer malfunction. They just happen without warning, and change us forever. But if you’re reading this, you’re still here. You’re a God-blessed survivor even if you don’t feel like one.
Occasionally, the darkness cracked and some light peered in. It’s why I’m still here too.
Can I tell you about them? Can I give you some hope? Will my thoughts mean anything to you?
Tell you what. Keep reading, and when you get to the bottom, you’ll see a link to my best friend’s site, where she’ll also be reminiscing about the positive things that happened in her life this year. I am so thankful for her. Best friends for at least 20 years now – the kind of friends that drop everything and get on a plane to go be with each other when there’s a crisis.
We are women forged by fire, but rather than sacrificing ourselves to be burned up, we’re going to allow our hearts and minds to flow and curve like water, quenching the heat, refreshing our souls, going forward.
Don’t let your hearts remain stagnant or burnt. Winter is here, but Spring is coming. Join us. Tell us your stories of 2014, and what your dreams are for 2015. Alone we are enough, but together we are stronger.
This year, I witnessed another precious little girl-soul come into this world. She took her first breath in the glowing light of an early July morning, in her own nursery at her parents house. A holy moment.
Soon, my goal will be accomplished through a little piece of paper that says “Carly Hutton, Certified Birth Doula” so that I can keep drinking in those holy moments, keep helping those other women forged by fire become mothers – even if I never become one myself.
In September, I was a bridesmaid for the first time. It was easier than I thought it would be. I put on a purple dress, did my makeup, and ripped only 2 pairs of panty hose while someone else far more capable did my hair.
My former roommate and bride of the day gave me a pearl necklace and earrings that she made herself. Treasure, only gained by letting a granule of sand itch the shit out of you until you’re pure.
I witnessed 2 of my best friends commit their lives to each other. They sang their vows and yet they still wanted ME to sing a song for them. So I did. It was called “Dancing in the Minefields” because that’s not only what marriage is, but life itself.
That day was the most I’ve smiled since I lost our baby. I mean, I kinda legally had to for photogenic reasons, but it was the first time I WANTED to.
I passed my 4-year anniversary of blogging, and at least half of my 200 followers are real people.
And finally, we moved back to the town where I grew up. I did enjoy most of the Vancouver experience, but home it was not. Too much water; my fire almost went out.
Here in Smithers, I am known. By the people, by the snow-capped mountain, by the back roads and the river wild.
And? My new house has a bathtub.
It’s New Year’s Eve. It’s only a matter of one day’s difference, and yet, it holds so much shiny promise. All the shit we’ve gone through recently, we can finally say, “That happened last year.”
I used to be the kind to make resolutions. Not anymore. But for the sake of being traditional:
In 2015, I resolve to lose weight.
The weight of condemnation and shame and guilt of decisions past. The weight of trying to be liked by all and keep everyone happy. The weight of perfection. I want to lose it. And if, in doing so, it prompts me to live a healthier life that actually affects scale, then so be it.
And in 2015, I resolve to be the 7-11 in Smithers on Christmas Eve.
It was the only place open and serving food past 6pm when my husband, my mom and I were starving. Hot dogs never tasted so good.
No matter what store it is, though, I always feel a spark of hope rise whenever I see a glowing red OPEN sign. Knowing that I’ll be able to get what I came for, what I need, today.
That’s how I want others to feel when they see me. Open. Mind, heart and arms, ready to do messy, beautiful business at any given time. Never turned away.
As this year ends, I have high hopes for 2015.
Hopes that suddenly, everyone will have an a-ha moment. An a-ha that realizes we need something else. Something different. An a-ha that knows we are meant for more than what we have been content with living.
Hopes that, this new year, shooting up schools and shooting up veins will no longer be the go-to solution for long unanswered cries for help and understanding.
Hopes that, this new year, the Battle of the Sexes will run out of ammunition.
Hopes that, this new year, we will see through skin colours, to the hearts and minds that brew underneath. Every culture and race has its heroes and assholes; let’s stand up and recognize. I repeat: PEOPLE ARE MORE THAN THEIR SKIN AND REPUTATION AND STEREOTYPE. CHECK. YOURSELF.
Hopes that, this new year, toddlers and teenagers on the brink of dreams and inspiration – adults burned low on chips and bills – elderly melting on the ice floes of their last lives – will all be valued and held accountable and loved for who they are.
Hopes that, this new year, the corrupt will be exposed and the honourable will be exalted.
Hopes that, this new year, these words will ring true:
“And in despair, I hung my head
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said.
‘For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men….’
Then rang the bells more loud and deep,
God is not dead nor doth he sleep!
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
Let it be so.
:: A Year in my BFF’s Life ::
Level Of Desperation To Blog: Sitting At A Laundromat.
You guys. SO MUCH has happened in the past 2 weeks.
I became a certified barista, and even had an apron pin to prove it until it got chewed up in the washer.
(Bonus: I think, in general, people like me.)
I joined Zumba and Spin classes, and hiked a mountain and didn’t die.
I was a bridesmaid for the first time.
I celebrated being married myself for 2 years.
And last, but certainly not least – I found us a place to live, and last weekend, we moved in. It’s utter chaos right now, and it’s awesome.
We have been so busy and so blessed and so tired. But with it comes a peace and happiness that we have not known for quite some time. When we wake up in the morning, we make coffee to sit and gaze lovingly at our backyard out the living room window.
Smithereens are a little incredulous that we’ve actually chosen to live a little ways out of town – 20 minutes to be exact. We just laugh and reassure them that we used to drive that far for the ocean or the skytrain or the local movie theatre – and in a sea of traffic, no less. 20 minutes of highway miles, autumnal colours and wildlife is NOT hard on our gas tank or eyes AT ALL. We breathe in relief and exhale “thank you” on a regular basis in this place.
But as with any transition, there comes a little upheaval and paperwork. We still have to change the hydro bill into our names, hook up Internets and Cable – and I’m at said laundromat because our well needs to be transformed from “egg fart” water into “nice clean drinky bathy water.”
That’s okay. It will come.
In the meantime, I realized today that WIND has been a theme in my life lately, and I don’t know what that means. I’m not talking about the Winds of Change – like, literal wind.
Blustery Event #1:
I had my first, all-on-my-own, “closing shift” at Starbucks last week. I was a little nervous, but I had a clear to-do list to help me remember all the important tasks. I was supposed to “clock out” and be done by 9:15pm, with Safeway closing at 10pm.
I was getting to the end of the evening, and it had been pretty quiet for most of the night, so I figured I was pretty safe to start cleaning espresso machinery 10 minutes before I closed.
8 minutes before I closed, six people showed up ALL needing espresso-related drinks.
Whatever, I could clean it again.
But I couldn’t find any of the tools used to scrape encrusted milk and coffee droplets from what was supposed to be shiny metal.
Eh, I can wipe that down pretty spic and span for now.
The finish line was in sight – all I needed to do was clean the sinks, and vacuum the counters of any remaining bits of coffee grinds. I had been told the vacuum cleaner resided in the back of the store, in a place called “Starbucks Storage Room.” I had been there before; it wasn’t very big, so I had no doubt I would find a vacuum-like object pretty easily.
So I did what we do: I loaded up a grocery cart with full trash bags to take back to the disposal, intending to bring the vacuum with me on the return trip.
When I got into the storage room, it was like a cardboard box maze. And the only apparatus I could see that had a long nozzle, a handle and an electrical cord was way in the back. I did my best to suck in my cheeks (nope, not those ones) so I could squeeze my way through. Yes! Victory! *Must grab vacuum cleaner, squeeze cheeks once more and get through the maze.* Home run approaching.
I unwound the electrical cord, plugged it in and WWWWHHHHHIIIIRRRRRR.
The expected noise of a vacuum cleaner, no?
A mushroom cloud of dirt, hair, leaves and dust bunnies exploded FROM the nozzle. My pristine counters and displays and floors were no more.
What fresh hell is this? I thought as I angrily yanked the electrical cord from its socket. I peered at the dirty offender very closely….sure enough, in tiny black lettering, it said: electric leaf blower AKA boom sucka.
And so I did not “clock out” until the actual Safeway store started shutting their lights off.
I still have absolutely no idea what an effing LEAF BLOWER was doing in a Starbucks Storage Room.
Blustery Incident #2:
Steven left for Langley again this morning, to take his dad back home, who had graciously given up his week to help us move. In return, I was given a to-do list to help me remember all the important tasks…again. One of those things was to get a post office box. (I thought about mentioning here that Steven put his own name on the to-do list, but then I thought, “Mmm, better not.”)
I knew I would get off work at 3pm today, with plenty of time to take our rental agreement to the post office and get a mailbox. But it ended up being incredibly busy, so I stayed until 3:30pm. On my way out of town, I filled up at the gas station. I was done and ready to drive away – but then a gust of wind THRUST my debit card away from me and UNDERNEATH the gas fill-up station. There was a car waiting to drive in after me, but I got down on my hands and knees; I could see my card, but after a few tries, I knew that it was *just* beyond my fingertips. Plus side: at least no one else in heaven or earth would have access to it either.
So I made an unplanned trek to the Credit Union to get a new card. By the time I ACTUALLY got out of town to open up a mail box, it was almost 4:30pm.
Imagine my surprise when I found out that the post office was still open! (Hey, it was almost 5 on a Tuesday – you never know! #smalltownlife)
And now I’m happy to announce that:
AGENT BUTTON HAS A MAIL BOX!!! I AM BIGGER THAN BLUSTERY DAY!!!
When I finally got to the laundromat 2 hours later, feeling like I’d just run a marathon, I had to laugh. How could I not appreciate the pure drama of this scene? Winter be like “Games of Thrones was right…I’m COMING for you, boys and girls!”
Blustery Incident #3:
It hasn’t actually happened yet. But I feel like…tomorrow….it just *could*. I learned today that my boss’s boss’s BOSS is arriving to inspect and survey the entire store + employees.
And so today has been like
Blustery night, barista’s delight?
Bring it, boss’s boss’s BOSS!!! I have a Facebook wall full of happy customers, and now I know the difference between a leaf blower and a vacuum cleaner AND I KNOW HOW TO USE IT.
Pray for us.
I cried in church today.
Not that I’ve never done that before. Anything can make me do that – a song, a prayer, a hug from an old friend.
Today I cried because I saw something I rarely see: community.
We gathered in a building behind the Tim Hortons – not just me and my people, but them and their people.
Multiple churches, multiple dialects of faith, all in one spot because it’s the end of the summer and this is what we do at least once. We pile in, we sing songs that we all know collectively, and someone chosen from the community speaks a message. We drink coffee together and we leave, feeling like real connection was made in that hour. Pastors, deacons, elders, middlers, young adults, teenagers, children, men and women – anyone who has a habit of going to the Church on a Sunday morning is there in equal measure.
Today, however, felt different.
The bodies were so close, the voices were so loud. I felt surrounded by a choir. My voice joined in, weakened by tears, strengthened by the words.
One pastor stands up, introduces the mayor and two female police officers. One of them is decked in the Mountie Red, another is on duty in black. They’re all asked to share why they are here today.
The mayor takes the microphone and smiles nervously: “I am here because I believe in the power of community. I am not a man of religion, by any means, but listening to you all sing just now – I felt the Spirit of God here. It’s undeniable. Smithers will benefit because of you.”
The woman in red takes the microphone. She’s young, new to town and new to the force. She’s a police officer, speaking publicly in a church building; she is practically a modern miracle. And why shouldn’t she be?
“I came here as a police officer because I want to help people. I know everyone says that, but it’s really true for me.”
The woman in black takes the mike from her. She starts to say something, but then she pauses, putting her finger to her ear. We sit in silence, wondering. After a moment, she says, “10-4, on my way” or something similar. Then she tells us, “I’m going to make this really quick.”
A laugh ripples across the crowd.
“I am here representing Cops for Cancer. We bike across the province every year to raise money for pediatric research. And if you don’t think pediatric research is relevant here – we all know of a little boy who is in Vancouver fighting for his life right now.”
We nod, and tears fill my eyes again. One of our own, a 10 year old boy who hadn’t been feeling well lately, had discovered his body was made more of cancer than blood and flesh and bone. Just a few days ago.
She tells us what we can do to help, and then she runs down the aisle of the sanctuary and disappears, because that’s her job. Any time, all the time.
We take up an offering. I pray that it goes directly where it is needed.
And then a man from the Salvation Army comes and speaks to us. He shows us a picture of this sculpture that is sitting in Toronto at this very moment.
It’s called “Jesus the Homeless.” He is lying on a bench in a shroud, and the only way to know that it’s him, is to see his nail-pierced feet peeking out. He speaks volumes.
We are led all over the Scripture, reading portions of passages where Jesus did nothing but reach out and spend his time with the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the unclean, the addicted, the outcast and the sinner – and the religious leaders did nothing but condemn him for it.
These passages are called The Gospel, or “Good News.”
Except it’s not news.
It’s not news that Jesus was a bit of a rebel, that he broke a lot of rules, made a lot of people angry with his all-surrounding compassion for just anyone.
It’s not news that Jesus would rather have dinner with a prostitute or a tax collector than a religious hypocrite.
It’s not news that Jesus never avoided anyone for the sake of his reputation.
It’s not news that he didn’t notice skin colour or background or age or gender.
So why do we act like it is?
I wept when I saw that homeless Jesus. I’ve seen him before.
I’ve also seen the poor Jesus, the aboriginal Jesus, the sick Jesus, the hungry Jesus, the black Jesus, the addicted Jesus, the gay Jesus, the mentally ill Jesus, the prostitute Jesus, the angry Jesus, the bitter Jesus, the strung-out Jesus, the imprisoned Jesus, the orphaned, abandoned, helpless, overlooked Jesus.
And I have not loved him.
I cried in church today, because we were all there. We all heard it, we all saw it. Even the mayor knows it now.
He’s right there, shrouded in the form of our community, just waiting to be picked up, dusted off, and taken in. It’s not too late.
Because once we’ve seen, we cannot unsee.
Because maybe, if we’re more like Jesus, then more people will want to become like us.
Because we all have a story, and we are all more than our labels, our backgrounds, our denominations or our mistakes. This is not news.
I cried in church today, and I think maybe God did too.
So far, I’ve kept things fairly serious and dramatic. But really, I’m just getting started. And since I don’t want to feel like shit for the rest of the day, I’m going to incorporate as many gifs as I possibly can. Prepare for a lot of facepalms and WTF? Thank God for Google.
Back in the day, I was quite the housesitter, and I loved every minute. As an illegal immigrant who couldn’t get a job or live on her own, it was the best way to have a place to live, food to eat, AND make some extra cash on the side. Throw in some free wifi to help me locate my awkwardly obtained family members, with erasable browser histories – I was in, I was out, I was clean.
So, in the spring of 2010 (OMG that’s 4 years ago already), I had a big beautiful house on the river all to myself. I have fond memories of this place; I started watching How I Met Your Mother on DVD there…played strip poker for the first time with some girlfriends and then couldn’t sleep that night because I felt so guilty there…started feeling numb down my side and smelling burnt toast at the same time, so I ran to the ER with a stroke, but really it was just the unfortunate combination of a pinched nerve and a sinus infection there…had my first conversation with my dad ever and thought I would die of happiness there…
Damn, if those walls could talk.
It all started with a night of searching.
Matthew Winters. The State of California. Insurance. (I guess the whole pastor thing didn’t pan out very well.)
I had located an insurance website that looked promising, but to be able to send any of the employees an email, I had to click on their name and then click on what kind of insurance claim I wanted to file. Otherwise, everything was locked up tight.
I thought about jokingly filing for some kind of “my daddy never paid for my upbringing” claim,
but I could be in trouble if he wasn’t actually my dad.
Taking a break, I went on Facebook chat to see if any of my friends were around. A guy I knew from a Bible camp a few towns over was online, and I suddenly remembered that he was, shall we say, really good with computers.
Me: Hey dude, what’s up? (keep it cool, dayum, girl)
Him: Not much, you?
Me: Eh, ya know. Same. So hey, was wondering if I could ask you something?
Me: How do I…find…someone online, like an email address, if all I have is their name and where they work?
Him: What’s your info?
Me: Uh, Matthew Winters, State of California, insurance. I think he’s my dad.
Him: Cool! Hold on.
[Less than 10 minutes later]
Him: All I could fish out was this email address. Will that work?
Me: Really??!!?!? I’ll try it! Thank you so much! What do I owe you?
Him: Don’t worry about it. Next time you see me, you can buy me a Coke or something.
To this day, I have not seen him. Dude probably needs a case of Coke by now.
Okay, so. Holy shit. I have my dad’s email address. I hope.
At the time, I was sharing an email address with my mom under a fake name out of her paranoia of the government finding us and drafting me into the WWIII that is the Middle East, or something. So I created an entirely separate email account that had only my dad’s apparent contact information on it.
I emailed him, keeping the same unruffled, nonchalant stance I had taken when I messaged my sister. And then I tried to sleep. Didn’t happen. Checked my email in the morning, and received the greatest surprise.
Oh! My darling daughter! We’ve found each other at long last! I have been searching and searching for you and your mother ever since you left, but your trail went cold in 1998. I thought you had perished. But God has answered my prayers! How are you? How is your mother? Tell me everything.
He was so well spoken, and clearly adored me. I fell in love. We spent 6 days emailing back and forth, spilling ourselves and lapping each other up, all the birthdays and Fathers Days and Christmases we’d lost being recaptured. I was delirious. One friend said, “You got your Hollywood moment!” and I knew it was blissfully true.
And then our first phone conversation happened. His voice was like melted honey; I couldn’t get enough of it. Sometimes, I would check my phone and find a voicemail from him, just because he wanted to say hi and I love you.
After a week, we knew we should probably tell our significant others – that being my mom and his wife. Mom was over the moon, the happiest I’d seen her in a long time. And Rachel, dad’s wife, was fine with our contact under 2 conditions: 1.) that she be able to read any messages between myself and him, and 2.) that there be absolutely no contact between my dad and my mom.
This seemed fair and understandable. I told dad to let her know that I would abide by this fully. This was about me and my dad getting to know each other; I had no ulterior motives.
Another week of bliss went by. We had reached a nice rhythm of emails and phone calls, but never got around to Skype unfortunately. It would have been nice to see his face in real time, at least once.
All was becoming normal. And then…
Dad: How’s your mother doing? Feel free to pass along my email address to her, so we can say hi.
Me: Dad, you know the conditions. I need to respect them. I’m sorry.
Dad: Don’t be sorry, you’re right. I’m the one who’s sorry.
A couple of days later…
Mom: “So how are things going with your dad? You know, you can pass my email onto him, if you want. It would be nice to catch up.”
More lovely weeks went by, and they didn’t mention each other to me again. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Late May/early June came around, and my mom wanted to go for lunch with me, so we went to our favourite pizza place. I could tell something was different about her, but I couldn’t place my finger on it.
After we ordered our food, she said, “I have a surprise for you.” Tears filled her eyes and she smiled. “I’m in love.”
THAT’S what it was! She looked lighter and happier, with a bit of make-up on. I had never seen her in love before. She’d never dated or brought any men home when I was growing up, and now she had transformed into a giddy teenager right before my eyes. It was foreign and strange, but I was genuinely happy for her.
Oh no. No no no no….
“What did you do?”
I’m in love.
What did you do?
Great start to the lunch conversation.
Mom: “Now I know you said you wouldn’t talk to him for me, but I went ahead and tried to find him myself. Miracle of miracles, I did! And it turns out that…*tears*…your dad still loves me and wants to be with me! I still can’t believe it, I’m just so thankful. So he’s going to come to Canada and marry me. We’re going to be a family again! And…I was hoping…you could help me shop for some nice clothes?”
For a moment, in that pizza restaurant, I drifted into an alternate universe where I was thrilled that my mom was finally happy and cared for, and WANTED me to take her SHOPPING.
“When did this happen?” I asked.
“About 6 weeks ago. Oh gosh, Carly, you know how terrible I am at keeping good secrets, so I’m quite proud of myself for keeping it THAT long! Ooh, here’s our pizza!”
6 weeks…6 weeks…doing math in my head…Dad and I had reached each other 8 weeks ago…which means that right after I had told them I was going to respect Rachel’s boundaries, they went behind my back and broke them anyway.
“So?” she said. “I know it’ll take some getting used to, but what do you think?”
“Uhmmm…well, what’s happening with Rachel? Does she know what’s going on?”
“Your daddy’s still trying to figure that out. She’s a bit of a bitch, keeps threatening to commit suicide whenever he asks for a divorce. His current idea is to fake his death, and then disappear up here. Of course that would be drastic, but it might be his only way out.”
This is the End…hold your breath and count to 10…feel the earth move and then…hear my heart burst again…for this is the End…I’ve drowned and dreamt this moment…
To be continued…
At this point, if you’ve been with me for awhile, it’s probably no secret that I married a bit of a rock star. If you’re just joining the readership (which has grown exponentially in the past few days — THANK YOU!!!), then I’ll fill you in here and here.
Either way, the story I’m about to tell is wild.
After the fateful night at Bogey’s Pub (referenced above), Steve started attending band practices, with his co-worker/David Lee Roth counterpart, on Sunday afternoons. Because, as we all know, the Sabbath day was created to be kept holy and wholly rockin’.
He would usually leave the house around 3 and come back in time for dinner and relaxing with me before the busy work week started again. But two days ago, everything changed.
David Lee Roth threw BBQ ribs into the mix, inviting me to come along, to eat and be groupies with his girlfriend. I was so in.
We headed out around 6. I’d never been to David Lee Roth’s house before, but by the time we got there, I was truly lost. Langley City is crammed with houses, townhouses, apartments and the like, but outside of it, there’s just acreage after acreage with ranchers and mansions and grids of endless streets. If there is such a thing as the “middle of nowhere” in the city, this was it.
DL Roth lives on a farm with a fancy gate, and since he wasn’t home yet by the time we got there, we waited outside for awhile. This is where the legendary Keith Urban/Miranda Lambert/Don Henley/Anastasia soundtrack mash-up would come to be born.
Finally, everyone showed up and we were let inside the gate. My jaw dropped. There was a pond with ducks on it, while goats and sheep roamed freely in the yard. It was such a call-back to my childhood that I experienced rosy-eyed nostalgia for a brief moment.
And then I entered the house.
Soon, it became clear that I was in a den of porn and horror.
Of course, I don’t have pictures of the actual porn, but let’s just say that the phrase “graduating magna cum laude” is a punchline I don’t ever want to see again…
So yeah. This is where my husband goes on Sunday afternoons. Not weird at all.
Here’s the thing though: once I realized that I wasn’t going to die here, these people were really interesting, and I wouldn’t hesitate to hang out with them again. They’ve all taken way too many substances, but they have stories. In many cases, it was that they survived to tell the tale.
Like the bass player who was in Hyder, Alaska in 1991 (where my mom is hiding out from the Apocalypse, ya’ll) for his 23rd birthday, got drunk, stole a horse, got bucked off, and then had someone stop by in a truck and say, “If that was my horse, I’d shoot YOU too!” before peeling out.
Or David Lee Roth’s girlfriend, whose son died in a car accident 9 years ago, and she still feels like it happened yesterday.
Or David Lee Roth himself, being told “Hey man, love your voice!” by Gene Simmons, or doing a floor-laying job on Hastings Street in downtown Vancouver and having the floor cave in beneath him to reveal two skeletons. Not bodies, skeletons. And it’s still not known how they got there.
Steve and I laughed, gave each other weird looks, and ate an ungodly amount of BBQ ribs at 10pm like teenagers.
And, of course, there was rock and roll.
But WAIT. I am saving the best part for last.
After we ate the ribs and jammed and packed up the gear, I met someone.
Eve is the house sheep.
I repeat: The Van Halen Porn Farm has a HOUSE SHEEP.
So basically, from now on, my Sunday afternoons are booked. No shame in my Sabbath game, friends!
What’s the weirdest house you’ve ever been in? If you could have any house creature, what would it be? Did I write the word “porn” too much today?