Empty the Pews

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

Baby Button Needs You To Stop Praying For Him Now

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…

 

Her Name Was Lola…

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. wpid-screenshot_2015-05-26-12-35-11.png 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. wpid-screenshot_2015-05-26-12-35-47.png As a Thank You, I want to share some of my favourite memories.

Spring 2011

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.”

I stared.

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.

January 2012

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.

Now

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.

Love, Carly

The only car I could be happy with after Lola, is one that is her sister by make &  model, just 10 years newer and a little bit safer. Meet Gandalf Moonshadow.

The only car I could be happy with after Lola, is one that is her sister by make & model, just 10 years newer and a little bit safer.
Meet Gandalf Moonshadow.

The Weathered Soul Is Beautiful

This last weekend was a bit touch-and-go for me, emotionally. After a lovely 2 weeks of spring break, I’d had a long week full of jobs and tasks and things. I was tired. But I was looking forward to going to my good friend’s first baby shower on Friday night.

The babe was born nearly 2 weeks ago, and he’s pretty much my new favourite person. The fact that he might have hung out and done baby stuff with my could-have-been 8 week old child was merely a bittersweet thought that I didn’t entertain too much.

Friday was fun – I took care of the twin boys I nanny and marvelled at the Hawaiian tan that was putting their Mexican babysitter to shame. Afterwards I went into town to await the baby shower.

And that’s when the panic started, for absolutely no reason.

I had no present to give the baby, for starters. I couldn’t show up to a baby shower without a gift. And I had no idea what he even needed.

And then I started thinking about All The People Who Would Be There. Yes, they were my friends. But they obviously would all bring gifts and rave about how cute each other’s gifts were, and obviously the baby would love them more. And I would have to smile and pretend like my heart wasn’t breaking that MY baby wasn’t here with us.

What would I do if I got to hold the baby? What would I do if I DIDN’T get to hold the baby? Cry, probably. And who wants a crier at a party?

So I started cry-driving all the way home, deciding that this baby shower was not for me and I was not the right person for this baby shower.

The hot bubble bath became my escape.

The next day, feeling pretty dumb, I woke up and *needed* to do something good.

And so, I did something I’d never done before: I started a chalk paint project.

I’ve had a ratty old night stand for a few years, and it’s literally sat empty since we moved up last fall. There’s no room for it in our house, and it’s only purpose thus far has to been to hide our spare key in the mud room. It was covered in chips and divets and fading varnish. Yet I haven’t been able to bring myself to throw it away.

I had no idea how long it would take me to finish; I already predicted that I would probably fail to follow through and it would sit unfinished, just like my knitting and my doula training and my book.

But that day, I had to try.

So, I did a little bit of research, and remembered Annie Sloan’s chalk paint. All about being easy, quick-drying and restoring crappy old things to look like vintage old things.

After a few hours and a few dollars, I was at the point where I totally looked like I knew what I was doing.

There’s always a little bit of adrenaline-laden excitement that hits my blood when I open a paint can and dare to dip the brush in. And then have the audacity to take that dripping brush and apply it to whatever I’m trying to change. Rubber meets the road, sink or swim, I’m actually doing this.

The day was perfect. Warm sun, with a slight breeze. God was in the air.

One hour and 4 coats of Old White later, I had a completely new nightstand. Every divet and crack and fade was bathed with light.

I could have left it that way. It would be beautiful, pure, new. But as soon as anything happens to it, you notice. The purity, the innocence is fragmented. The depth is challenged, the eye is caught, the story expands. So you either shelter it, never let it breathe, or…

You go all in.

While I had been “purifying” the wood, Steve had been puttering around the yard with spring cleaning. Sensing I needed the space to calm my own seas after the previous night’s storms.

But he came to check on me and was taken aback by what I had accomplished.

“Wow! Just letting it dry now?”
“It’s already dry.” I smiled.
He knew I wasn’t done yet. “So what’s next?”
“The Wax of Distress.”
“Can I see?”

And so, for the next hour, we became a team. He would dip the brush into the molasses-like wax, splotch it across the white, and I would take a cloth and rub rub rub it away. The remains left the golden brown sheen of a new story being told in holy, purposeful silence.

I believe we all start out shiny and new. As we grow and change, life has a way of marking us with chips and divets and cracks that leave us broken. My last 12 months have been particularly of that nature.

But I’m still here, with a purpose that’s yet unknown but earnestly sought after. Maybe you are too.

And now we choose.

Stay in the cold mudroom, empty and broken? Or allow a transformation that makes us new while yet weathered?

I don’t want to hide my life, or my story with a glossy new coat of paint and sleight of hand. I don’t need to be falsely shined and freshly manufactured from IKEA.

Just let me come inside, be re-purposed, true to the state of my weathered soul. The damage tells a story, and I’m not gonna let it make me bitter and broken anymore. I am restored, I am a new creation, I am beautiful.

Oh, and I held that baby the next day. He let me know he wasn’t impressed with my absence at his party for just a few moments, and then my charms rocked him to sleep. Because we’re fine. We’re gonna be just fine.

  

Carly the Barista & the Blustery Day

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.

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(Bonus: I think, in general, people like me.)

I joined Zumba and Spin classes, and hiked a mountain and didn’t die.

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Crater Lake!

I was a bridesmaid for the first time.

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Team Bride, partyin’ round the walls of “Jerica!” (Joanna & Eric’s celebrity couple name…needs work…)

I celebrated being married myself for 2 years.

2nd anniversary

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.

new place

Being adorable and excited.

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This is our backyard.

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?

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.


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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!!!

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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!”

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Welcome to Autumn in the North, mutha lovah.

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


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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.

Save-the-Day Shoes

A few months ago, I introduced my good friend and former roommate, Natalie, here at Growing Butterfly. She really could start her own blog if she wanted to *nudge nudge* but in the meantime, I am always honoured to share her deep and precious thoughts here.

Our community in Prince George has faced some turmoil this week, and this is Natalie’s response. (I also find it timely that my last post relied heavily on the theme of Community.) Thanks for reading.

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It’s been a tough week.

On Sunday night, I got a phone call from one of my best friends who recently moved away. The news she gave me was something I never would have expected.

One of her good friends (and her husband’s best friend of the past few years) passed away earlier that day, suddenly and without warning. She had wanted to let me know before I found out some other way.

In that moment, I was at a loss for words, as I felt my heart instantly ache and grieve not only for my two friends had known him so well, but for his wife and all of the lives he had touched in our community. It was a heavy blow, one that I wasn’t certain how to handle.

I did my best to comfort my friend – to tell her that I was there if she needed anything, and that I would be praying.

But I was still left with the question,

“What should I do?”

The next day, I was at work, surrounded by customers and fellow employees who had no idea what I was going through. I tried my best to just make it through the day while still thinking, praying and grieving over this sense of loss. I thought that I was doing okay until halfway through the day, when I got a text from another friend, telling me that her mom was in the hospital, going in for emergency surgery, asking for prayer.

Just when I thought my heart couldn’t take any more, I was almost brought to my knees as I prayed and hoped fervently that everything would be okay, that another one of my friends wouldn’t have to face another loss. And once again, as I tried to cope with what was happening, I was left wondering,

“What do I do now?”

In these moments, I believe that the hardest thing for me has been to know how to react. Having a protective personality, one of my first instincts is to rush to the side of whoever is in need or hurting, but then my doubt always hesitates and wonders,

“What if they don’t need me? What would I even do when I got to them? What would I say? Are words even enough?”

In a way, not knowing what to do has eaten me up inside, threatening to break my heart all throughout this week.

And then I was at work again, stewing with all of these feelings. I tried to grasp onto the good things around me, tried not to let my own thoughts defeat me. Working in retail, it can be hard enough to help people and serve them well on a good day – and in the past few days, it’s taken all I have to remain positive and not just start throwing shoes at people’s heads. (Sometimes, it just feels like they deserve it!) I think it’s safe to say that I will not getting Employee of the Month.

But after dealing with a few customers, I came back to help an older woman with her two granddaughters. They’d returned from earlier in the day to pick up some shoes and find another pair for the youngest girl.

Now this girl was, by no means, a sweet angel, but I found that her excitement to try on shoes was so contagious that I couldn’t help but smile. After I brought out the pair she wanted, she was so determined to shove her little feet into those shoes as quickly as possible that she didn’t even bother to sit down.

As she inevitably began to lose her balance, it was in that moment that I chose to make a fast decision and I quickly put out my hand for her to hold onto.

Now, normally, I make it a bit of a rule not to get too close to children that I don’t really know, and I would never admit to being a touchy-feely person. But as that little girl grabbed onto my hand, I felt instant relief in the fact that I knew she trusted me, that she knew she was going to be okay.

In that split second of a moment, when everything had seemed so uncertain and confusing, that simple fact was enough for me.

If there’s anything I’ve learned (or re-learned) from this week, it is that I need to be like that little girl and just trust. Trust that I know how to do the right thing, trust that other people will let me be there for them, trust that even when I hurry so much to put on my save-the-day shoes that I lose my balance – God and the people in my community are going to be there for me too. Above all, trust that everything will be okay.

It’s not always easy, and I know that sometimes I may have to risk exposing my heart to all kinds of unpleasant things, but I know now that for all the times I might reach out empty-handed…

…the second that someone chooses to take my hand and trust me is the only moment that matters.


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Becoming a Foodie (Without Making My Husband Hate Me)

Disclaimer: Strange, exposing stories AND photos of myself lie ahead. If you think of me and think “Yeah, no, I wouldn’t care to be seen with her at the beach”, then don’t look. To everyone else, I honestly don’t care.

Ah, food. A thing I literally can’t live without.

My relationship to food has always been somewhat of a love/hate with a splash of Stockholm syndrome. As a kid, there were things I loved…

Chicken strips, chicken nuggets…basically any kind of bready chicken that could only be enhanced by ranch dressing.

…things I hated….

Don’t even wanna put up a picture of mushrooms.

…and things I grew to love against my will, because at my mom’s table [read: restaurant because ain’t nobody got time to cook] if you complained, you got nothing.

Which I really enjoy now. #stockholm’d

Which I was given for breakfast almost every morning and despised so much that I sat my butt in my bowl “accidentally” one day, so that I wouldn’t have to eat it. This was a two-for-one deal, since I got to change my pants…that I also hated. Was I a bad child?

As I grew older, the concept of food became weirder and weirder. Due to the approaching Apocalypse, Mom took me to Costco every couple of months so we could load up another wagon with bags of rice and beans we never cooked, garden seeds we never planted, and flats of non-perishable items we never cracked open. It all sat in a barn, stacked to the ceiling, for 4 years, wasted and ravaged by squirrels. We tried drying our own fruit by spending hours coring and slicing up apples, and then looping each piece onto strings that hung across our ceiling in the kitchen. They hung there for at least a year, gathering layers of dust and smoke before we even remembered they were there.

This food that I thought was so important had absolutely no meaning to me at all.

Then came the fight-for-my-life days. With my carefully hoarded (and somewhat illegally obtained) house cleaning and babysitting money, I lived off of the Dollar Store aisles and the kindness of other people for 3 years.

Food was essential, and I burned through it like water; this stick of a girl with a J-lo butt, just trying to survive. The rest of my womanly shape didn’t start developing until I was at least 24, coincidentally, when I started dating Steve. He took good care of me, and still does; I’ve never wanted for anything.

Things started to go a little downhill from there. I spent 3 1/2 weeks in Europe, consuming glorious bread and cheese wherever I went, thinking that my calorie-burning metabolism would carry me through.

And then my body was like, “HAHA! PSYCH!!! You’re gonna MOVE to a new city, and you’re gonna get MARRIED, and he’s gonna be allergic to EVERYTHING, and I’m just dying to take on all the stress you’re gonna feel!!!!!”

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March 2011, trying on a dress in Le Chateau that was to. die. for. (130lbs.)

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Last summer, in a bikini NO ONE over the age of 15 should be wearing.

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This morning. Probably about the same weight as last summer, if I’m honest, but I think I look (and feel) healthier here.

 

I know I’m not obese, per se, but I have felt extremely unbalanced, to the point where I almost don’t love food anymore.

And that sounds like a tragedy.

So we’re going to change it. Steven and I are going on a food adventure!

Since most of my cookbooks are so 1996, I’m looking to the Internet for some tasty recipes that are as gluten-wheat-dairy-nut-soy-rice-garlic-lentil free as possible for the man (Sorry, honey, sugar sandwiches from your mom don’t actually count) and as healthy/balanced as possible for myself.

And because I’m still me, I think I’ll start with this.

Has anyone else out there battled with food, allergies, self-esteem or Apocalypse-themed Costco trips? I wanna hear about it.

PS: BAHAHA I was literally going to end the post there, and then my husband walked in with a bag full of Wendy’s. Clearly, we’re still packing for the adventure. 😉

How I Conquered the Ghosts of Assbutts Past (Without Opening a Hell Portal or Losing My Ever-Loving Mind)

Every once in a while, during winter, Steve and I do this thing where we find a show on Netflix and just go nuts with it. We did this with Breaking Bad a couple of months ago – we had our time of recounting its best moments and grieving its departure, and now we’re super-late-to-the-party-but-making-up-for-lost-time-and-lost-feels with Supernatural. I mean, it’s only been around 9 years now. It was bound to happen eventually.

We’ve never been people who enjoy seeing horror or gore or just general stuff of nightmares on our TV. However (so far), SPN has brilliantly managed to blend suspense, humour, intrigue, folklore, urban legend, campfire-style ghost stories, a heart-wrenching brother relationship, classic rock music and vintage cars into one glorious pile. Out of 8 available seasons online, we’re on #4, and they’ve started exploring the Book of Revelations, the Apocalypse, God and Angels and Demons, redemption – and of course, pie.
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So yeah, this show was pretty much made for us?

Anyhow, as with any TV show and my gets-attached-easily heart/brain, I am always needing to check in with myself to make sure I know that this is not reality. I think it’s a little easier to make that distinction here because ghosts. Which I don’t really believe in, in the supernatural sense, anyways. I do, however, believe in the ghosts of memories. I can attest to the fact of feeling “haunted” by someone’s words or actions towards me, or mine towards them. I don’t hold grudges, but I’m oh so good at holding onto what if and what could have been and maybe if I’d just done that instead, everything would be different. Regret and re-calling follows me like a Hellhound, and I’m only just now realizing it. Some nights, sleep eludes me because my brain just. won’t. stop. And these people I’m obsessing about? Probably haven’t given their possibly-negative encounters with me a second thought. To them, I’m a chapter in their history book now closed, while they’ve started another book. Why would I keep reading the old books, with an eraser in hand, looking for any sign of a pencil mark I can eradicate when everything is clearly written in pen? Why am I not okay with this?

Anyway, as crazy as it sounds, I’m slowly waking up to the fact that life is too short to do this anymore. I’m no longer okay with waking up feeling like crap after having a dream that involved a ghost of my past. If I manage to live a long, healthy, outrageous life, I’m probably going to make a few more ghosts, and pretty soon, I’ll have a closetful. And I’ve got better things to do with my time than waste another decade (DECADE?! Oof da.) wishing I could start over. As my boy Eminem says, “You don’t get another chance, life is no Nintendo game.”

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So I’m gonna take a lead from the Winchester boys: face the ghost, find its bones, apply salt (the purest mineral on earth, apparently – which I’ll call “telling the truth” here), burn it up and say goodbye. Complete with Dean and Sam and the angel Castiel to help me tell the story. And then, I might eat some pie.

The Ghooooosts of Asssssbutttttssss Paaaaaasssst

I may have briefly mentioned here before that, from ages 8-12, I was sexually abused in some form or fashion, by both genders, peers and strangers, young and old. I tried to tell my mom what was going on a few different times, but with my peers, I think she thought it was just a weird  phase or game that all kids do. And as for the pervy old man, well, let’s just avoid him and hope he goes away. Either way, I didn’t feel quite believed or validated or worthy of the RIGHT kind of attention, for a long time. It’s taken some therapy, a real Jesus and a good husband to reclaim and reassure me of my worth, my rights and my believability.

But it was a long road to get there, and I met plenty of Assbutts along the way, including myself. I am about to reveal to you Hurricane Carly and the trail of guys (maybe a gal too?) she left in her wake from 1999 to 2011.

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The year was 1999. I was 12, on the brink of puberty and insanity as I waited for the approaching doom of Y2K. And that summer, at camp, I met someone who I’ll call Mr. McDonald’s. He was a short little cutie with tanned skin, brown hair that had blonde highlights, and when he smiled – ooh them dimples! We spent our days reading Calvin & Hobbes to each other, driving quads through the woods, praying…it was a match made in Heaven.

Until one day, I realized this cute little shit is lazy as f***.

I was accustomed to the farm life, lifting hay bales and gathering water, chopping wood and chopping chickens, while Mr. McDonald’s could barely be bothered to lift a finger. I tell you what, when the Apocalypse drops, ain’t nobody got time for that!
The fateful day came when his mom asked us to weed a bit of her garden for her, and while I was enjoying the chore together, he was grumbling about how unfair everything was, and he just wanted to go see the new James Bond movie. Trying to be persuasive in a friendly manner, I said, “Well, it’s good practice…for some day…when you have your own family to take care of…”

And he goes, “Nah. I think it would be a pretty sweet set-up for my wife to work all the time, and I’ll take the kids to McDonald’s all day. Or she can cook for us, whatever.”

And that’s when I dropped him like a hot potato. (To be fair, I sort of didn’t help matters by calling him a shithead and an asshole in the days to come, without explaining why I was actually angry, but I’m a better person now.)

Not long after that, I got acquainted with another boy I’ll call the Swiss Mister. He was beautiful. Like, related-to-Elizabeth-Taylor beautiful. Jet black hair, eyes like pure chocolate, surrounded by eyelashes longer than mine. Also on the shorter side. (I think that was part of my problem. They distracted me from their real selves because I just wanted to put them in my pocket and take them home with me.) We played card games, watched movies at his house, had sleepovers (Uhh yeah! But NOT in the same bed, okay? Jeez.), baked bread and drove snowmobiles and found excuses to hug each other, like, all the time.

And then, one day without warning, he stopped talking to me. Just completely turned off the tap that made him the lovable Swiss Mister, and I was mystified. It took me a couple weeks to hear from one of his sisters that he was now hanging out with another girl because he randomly decided he wanted to give blondes a try.

I’mma get you, Swiss Mister!

To this day, we have not spoken. (Not for my lack of trying…believe me…if there’s anything I know how to do, it’s try.)

The next one was a little weirder. I was 13, going on 14, and Y2K’s arrival date had come and gone with a big, fat nothing. Mom and I were just hanging out in the wilderness, waiting for the ball to drop, surviving each of the challenges that living on a farm in the middle of nowhere with no electricity brings.

And then one day, we got neighbours. A family actually moved in as caretakers for a tourist ranch about 10 minutes away from us. Previously, there hadn’t really been anyone there, so this changed our world quite a bit. It was even more of a surprise and delight to discover that they were ALSO waiting out the End of All the Things AND they had a 16-year-old son.

Could it be? Had I finally found my Prince who would protect and provide and love me through the Apocalypse?

Eh. Turns out that I actually found Mr. Touchy-Feely. Which, I mean, he WAS a 16-year-old boy, so I don’t know what I was expecting. But after a couple of months, I started feeling guilty – not just because I let him be touchy-feely with me, but because I was starting to want to be touchy-feely back. And I was pretty sure that a 13 year old and 16 year old shouldn’t be getting to know each other that well, quite yet.

So I told him I wanted to take a step back in our relationship. And he, like the candy-bereaved baby, refused to be my friend or talk to me again.

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Which is great when he’s the only neighbour you have in the middle of nowhere, and your parents are still dreaming up scenarios like Braveheart-themed secret weddings and Apocalypse-survivor babies.

Ahhh, age 15. I am now out of the wilderness and ready to re-join civilization in the worst way. Unfortunately, it was 2002, and some things had changed without my knowledge or permission.

So when I joined the youth group at my local church, I was eager to make friends, but had no idea how to do it – and yet had no clue that I had no idea how to do it. I was completely oblivious to my awkward and companionship-leeching ways. So when I met Michael W. Smith Jr., I was all over that.

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Because, hello!!? My childhood Christian music heartthrob?

Again, he was littler. (I was steadily becoming aware that, at my age, there was a good chance that I was going to be taller than most of the boys I came into contact with.) But he had the fiercest blue eyes I’d ever seen (at that point in time) and an already deep, gentle voice. Best of all, he was nice to me. My poor little starved heart took it and ran wild.

And by “ran wild”, I do mean that I started a xanga blog. Oh Lord, XANGA. Does anyone even do that anymore? So yeah, I took non-existent social skills and a monstrous crush to the interwebs. I poured out my heart. How I felt about him, how much he meant to me, how nice he and his family were, and how badly I wished I could just be a part of it.

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It went on for a fairly long time. I don’t remember exactly. I do know that I wasn’t quite stupid enough to make my xanga public, but that I was stupid enough to log onto it while I was at Michael W. Smith Jr’s house one night.

Now what happened next and how it did so was never made quite clear to me. Which is the worst.

One entire month later, I got an upset email from his parents saying that they’d found the blog and they were not okay with it and could I please delete it. They’d always been warm and friendly with me, but somehow, even through written text, I could tell that their tone had completely changed. I was beyond mortified when I learned that MWSJr. had read every single word of that damn xanga.

So, maybe I was an assbutt and forgot to log out (which I always double-checked out of paranoia) and his parents found it on their once-a-month History search cleanse later. But an entire month later? It would be locked down again, for certain. So either they discovered it right away but didn’t tell me immediately OR Michael W. Smith Jr. did some assbutt hacking and and read it for an entire month before his parents found it. Either way, I’m pretty sure it took us all at least 4 years to feel comfortable with each other again. Or maybe that was me. Yeah, probably just me.
Honestly, out of everything I’ve shared so far, I think this is the ghost I regret the most. (lolz) But now, 10 years later, I can say that I am actually STILL friends with this fine fellow, and I totally helped him find the girl of his dreams. His family is my family. So there’s that.

A few years went by and I remained pretty unscathed by the traps of cutie pie boys.  The whole xanga fiasco really put me in my place until around 2007. That summer, I started traveling to Burns Lake to be a counselor at a kid’s camp for a couple weeks at a time. It was a good change, and I still have people in my life that I consider friends who came from that camp. There was, however, one embarrassing lesson that I learned my second summer counseling there.
Coming back for a second time was great because I was reunited with all of the former people I’d gotten to know the summer before. Including the camp director, Mr. Flag-Capturer. (What? He was really good at it.)
I mention Mr. Flag-Capturer not so much because I think he’s an assbutt (he’s not), but mostly because what happened is kind of too good not to share.

So, after hanging out for two summers together, I took the plunge the following Spring and sent him an email. After all, he lived a good two hours away and I missed talking to him. So, I started the conversation and it continued throughout the summer until we saw each other at camp again. Now, we had already established that we liked each other, that we were getting to know each other better “with the possibility of more than friendship in the future”, and that after camp was over, we were going to drive back to Smithers together in his truck so that he could meet some of my friends and family. They were even planning a big “Meet Mr. Flag Capturer BBQ.” This was the first time something had ever felt real and grown-up to me. I was 21, never been on a date in my life – I was pumped.

And then we actually hung out at camp again…and it was really awkward…and we couldn’t get past it…and I couldn’t figure out why? So finally, the night before camp ended, he started the conversation, saying that he believed we were better off as friends and he was sorry he’d gotten my hopes up. It was a little devastating, but here’s the best part:

“But don’t worry, I’ll still give you a ride back home tomorrow like I said I would.”

So, the day after I had my hopes dashed, I had to sit in a truck for 3 hours with the hope-dasher. Alone. Pretending like I didn’t want to just curl up into the fetal position all day. You better believe the AC/DC was blasting the whole way. And then he dropped me off at home, and I had to explain to the awaiting group why  I was alone.

The following summer (2010) was probably one of the worst times of my life. Through a series of unfortunate events that included hacking, snacking and tears, I was blissfully reunited and then jerkingly torn apart from my dad in a matter of 9 weeks. (Fear not, really good things can happen in 9 weeks as well.) One week after this episode of Jerry Springer, I went on a hike/camping trip with a group of friends.

I was not okay with anything in my life at all.

At this point, Michael W. Smith Jr. was going to university in Prince George, but he came back to Smithers for the hike, bringing two friends, one named Mr. Missionary and one named Mr. Confused.

I was friends with Mr. Confused and the GIRLFRIEND of Mr. Missionary within a week of that trip. Somehow, we both just connected really well and were attracted to each other on some…level. He was my first rebound-and-eff-you-to-my-dad boyfriend, I was his first girlfriend – it was pandemonium, folks. But he was also going back to university in Prince George when the summer ended.

What’s a girl to do?

Follow the boy, of course.

Our 5-month relationship was nothing short of a gong show. He was completely head-over-heels for me (yeah, sounds terrible, right?) and I thought that I loved him back. I thought it was normal to never “go out” with him, or feel nothing when he kissed me, or to decide overnight that – yes, dropping my life and marrying a guy who’s calling is to go to Africa as a missionary for life was a great way to deal with all of my familial problems.

Hint: I was numb and depressed and I used Mr. Missionary most abhorrently, to stall my path and band-aid a giant knife-shaped hole in my back. In the end, I knew it had to be me that broke his heart; I could not let him propose, could not keep up the pretense of being in love when it had only been a crush, could not keep lying by omission. It was a gray, cold November day when I told him, and I remember walking home feeling crushed but also…like the hard thing had been the right thing, and despite all the layers of dirt I would still need to dig through in the coming months, I had been strong enough to do that one right thing. And it was through this experience that I reached full closure with Mr. Flag-Capturer, since I had now traded places with him and walked in his shoes. I later thanked him for being so kind to me in his rejection, and he received this gratefully.

Six months later, I found myself flitting and fluttering around Mr. Confused. One way to describe him is: that’s one year I’ll never get back. It was like riding a roller coaster of emotions and I felt like screaming more than once, never from exhilaration. He was my “texting till midnight, catching long stares across the room, introducing me to his family and having them say, ‘Oh, so THIS is Carly. You look even prettier in person!’, going for walks and sharing life struggles no one else knew about”, and then “I don’t know how I made you think this, but I don’t like you like that.” boy.

We had somehow created a fantasy of intimacy that only existed to myself and my imagination. So, in an attempt to break the fantasy, I gave him some distance. After a couple of months, we were friends again. And then the roller coaster ride was back in service, ending with another declaration of “I think we’re better off as friends, somehow you keep misunderstanding me.” So that time, I asked for a lot of space. He wasn’t very good at giving it.

Finally, one day, I got my Sassy Pants on, and played a game of Apples to Apples with him, and a bunch of other people. We played the version where whoever’s turn it is, you give them a card that YOU think describes them. It can be serious or joking, they just have to pick the one they like the most and if they pick yours, you win the point.
So, whenever it was Mr. Confused’s turn, I didn’t hold back. I gave him cards like “hypocrite,” and “self-involved” and “two-faced”. So when he read them all out loud, of course having no idea who gave each card, he ALWAYS CHOSE MINE because everyone else’s were “so nice” and “not realistic” and “too flattering”, according to him. That’s called a self-therapy win.

 

And while that did feel awesome, true closure didn’t actually come until over a year later, when I re-visited Prince George with my brand new husband. Mr. Confused met him, shook his hand, said he was a lucky guy, and then hugged me, saying “I’m really happy that you’ve found such a good guy. You deserve it.”

And now, for my final ghost.

She is someone who has been there, in the background of all these stories, who has faded significantly in the past two years. Her name is Pretty Pretty Princess. Growing up, she was my closest in-person bestie. (L’oreal, you know you’ve always been my far-away bestie!) I’m pretty sure we re-defined the term “sleepover”, as we had them practically every weekend, all weekend long. We choreographed dances to our favourite songs, we played the Game of Life, naming our husbands according to our current crushes, and children according to our favourite names. We’ve laughed together, cried together, prayed together. We did buckets of things, together.

But somewhere along the way, Life intervened. We’ve misunderstood each other, been angry and hurt, said things we regretted but couldn’t admit it. Lost touch and made choices that took us further and further apart.

We were going to be in each other’s weddings. In reality, we didn’t even attend each other’s weddings.

We vowed we were going to jog together pushing strollers so we could regain our tight figures. In reality, she’s having a baby this summer, and my tight figure has already been vacationing down south for awhile now.

Maybe things would have ended up this way anyway, regardless of geography and time. I don’t know. But I do know that I dream about her at least once a week. I dream that either we are hanging out together laughing like we always used to, or that she hates my guts and isn’t afraid to tell me so. Either way, I wake up mourning and regretful, all the while knowing that she’s probably carrying on just fine, not missing me at all.

But I have hope. Hope that someday, the air will be clear and the fellowship will roll on into sweet intimacy again. We’ve had these seasons before; it could just be another one, or it could be time to let go. That scares me a little. I am such a golden retriever of loyalty when it comes to my relationships. And deep down, I have this feeling that when push really comes to shove, we’ll find each other again because there is so much history we can fall back on and be safe within. I just can’t stop hoping that things will change.
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And…that’s it. It’s 1:45 in the morning, and I’ve been telling my ghost stories for roughly 12 hours now. A blogging record, for sure. Maybe nobody will actually care, or maybe someone will only read this for the Supernatural commentary, but you know what? I don’t mind. I feel so free right now. Secret-telling has always been incredibly liberating to me, and now I’m ready to burn these bones and walk away. Every time I’m tempted to beat myself up again for the eighty-two-thousandth time, I’m going to tell myself, “Now now, girl. That’s over. It’s out in the world,  you are a forgiven and attempted peace-maker, and it’s okay. This is a new day.”

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Because it’s true. Those demons no longer have any say. I’ve ganked them good.

Today, I win.

Hoping your yoke is easy and your burden is light,

Carly xo

How I Became a Tupperware-er (Without Really Trying)

Throughout my 26 years on this earth, I have realized that I’m really good at looking like a do-er. People could look at my “resume” of life experiences and say, “Wow. She’s quite accomplished for one so young. She must be super motivated!”

Ha!

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

I am definitely door #3, except “greatness” should be replaced by “crazy random happenstance.”

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It usually starts with an innocent conversation. And then the person I’m conversing with, usually someone who’s way more of a do-er than I am, has a *LIIIIIIGHT BUUUUUULB* moment and says, “OMG! I’m totally doing this thing this weekend, and you would be PERFECT help!” Or “This life-changing event is happening next week and YOUR LIFE NEEDS A-CHANGIN’ YOU SHOULD TOTALLY COME!!!”

I go home. I think about it. I make a mental list of pro’s and con’s. And, since I like being a pushover and people pleaser Yes Woman, that’s usually what I end up saying.

This happened to me a few weeks ago, in the form of a really cute Newfie mom with even cuter Newfie kids.

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She was hosting a Tupperware party. At her house. With her cute kids, AND  her Christmas cookies AND chocolate chip banana bread. With the claim that I would get free stuff, just for showing up.

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At the time, I didn’t even know what Tupperware was, but I didn’t care. The Newfie had trapped me well and good.

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This is what I was picturing the night would be like. Party? Riiiight.

Four days before the party, Steven said to me,

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Three days before the party, my sister Sarah said, “So I heard you were headed to a Tupperware Party…by the way…”

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On the same day, my mother-in-law said, “Oy, you’re goin’ to a bloomin’ Tupperware pahty, girl!”

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In the evening, as I was literally heading out the door for the party, my father-in-law made sure I knew that

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In return, I patiently reassured each and every one of my concerned family members that I would not spend any money or be roped into any schemes. I even left my purse in my car as a preventative measure.

And then shit got real.

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Did you have these as a kid? Cause I sure did! Did MY MOTHER attend a Tupperware party? *brain explodes*

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I don’t even know who this man is, but he was all over Google Images, and I can’t help but be delighted?

Maybe it was the treats, or the cute children running around, or the bawk-bawk-bawk of adorable lady hens surrounding me, or THE CHRISTMAS SALES, but suddenly I was convinced that my kitchen and I desperately needed all these things in order to be happy. Like, I’m pretty the Proverbs 31 woman used Tupperware.

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By the time the night was over, I had ignored every…single…

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I had received, run out to my car,

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and brought back my Visa, ready to give my kitchen and fridge a much-needed face lift.

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I finally decided on a easy-to-clean, easy-to-use frosting decorator, because as we all know, I need some help in that department.

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A huge-ass Hello Kitty I attempted last Spring. Enough said.

And finally, a 4-set of fridge containers that were prepared to change my world. They had an “acidity chart” ventilation system, so that you could store certain fruits and vegetables and even cheese, according to their acidity and they would last much longer. They even had raised corners, so that if any juices dribbled out of your fresh produce, it would drain down to the corner and leave your tomahtos alone.

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It costs this many monies.

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But I was convinced that Steve and I had thrown AT LEAST that many monies worth into the garbage due to fruit and veggies and cheese that crossed over to that Great Spirit in the Sky before their time. This investment would pay for itself 10 times over.

As I went to hand my order in, the Tupperware Agent looked at it and said, “Oof. I have a better idea. Wanna save some money?”

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So, the long and short of it is that I am going to host a Tupperware party. IN ONE WEEK. Through my Newfie friend’s house, because she is gracious and kind and realizes that my house is more of a…garage.

If enough friends come to my Tupperware party, I can potentially get the fridge set I need for free. I’mma just be straight up about that.

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If you come, I will hug you and serve you tea and dainties out the wazoo. But you do NOT have to buy anything. If you want, you can cash in on a couple of great sales, go home with some free stuff just for showing up, and I’ll be on my way to becoming a better cook and woman of valour. Everybody wins, and you’ll regret nothing.

Ultimately, I have learned a few things about myself.

1.) I am totally okay with having greatness crazy random happenstance thrust upon me every once in awhile.

2.) This:

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trumps this:

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every time.

And the New Year has only begun. Go me.