Saturday, May 31, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
A Letter Came in the Mail Today
We are happy to confirm your recommendation for our Occasional Teaching List.
You have been scheduled for an orientation session on Wednesday, June 11th"
Translation: I get to start my teaching career in September.
After months of ups and downs, this letter made me realize that not only am I going to FINALLY get to start teaching, but that everything leading up to now has absolutely been worth it.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
"D needs somebody to take care of his cat for a few days. Shouldn't be longer than the weekend".
(It's been a MONTH. With no end in sight.)
Anybody who has cats knows that introducing a new one into a household takes time and lots of patience. The cat we're taking care of, Hunter, is a Big Orange Kitty, and is so timid and jumpy that you'd think he'd never been around people before. He's three times the size of Chase and for the first three nights was so afraid of him that he'd yowl whenever Chase came into view.
I wish cats could talk:
Big Orange Kitty: Hmmm, okay new house, new people around - I don't like it much, but at least they feed and pet me lots. Maybe I'll come out from behind the chair for a bit... Ohmygod! AAaaaahhhhhhhh! It's ANOTHER cat! And he's COMING RIGHT FOR ME! RUUUUUN!!!
Chase: Dum-de-dum, what to do, what to do. Think I'll roll around on the floor for a bit, then run around like something is chasing me. The People Who Feed Me always seem to enjoy that. If I'm extra cute, maybe I'll get a TREAT again! Hey - wait a minute! What's the big orange thing over there? I better growl at it just in case it wants to eat my food or something.
Growling and teeth baring ensues.
At first, this process was pretty funny. Hunter would growl, then turn tail and hide while Chase perched atop random chairs and window ledges to peer down at him. The problem with The Big Orange Kitty is that his timidness runs to pretty much everything:
from the sound of my ring tinging against a glass (RUN AWAY! WE'RE BEING BOMBED!)
to people walking towards him (AHHH! SOMETHING BIG IS APPROACHING! MAYBE IT WANTS TO EAT ME!!)
to the sound of the vacuum (THAT'S IT - I'M NEVER COMING OUT FROM UNDER THE BED! NEVER!).
The poor cat seems to operate on one of two levels: 1. Mild fearfulness, with some tolerated petting; 2. Abject terror. As a result, every noise startles him - and for the first three nights we were treated to a symphony of thumps, growling, yowling, and occasionally the world's scariest snarling noise. I guess at nighttime The Big Orange Kitty likes to pretend he's waaay bigger and scarier than during the day: Chase would approach him slowly, Hunter would growl. A few steps closer, then the yowling begins "mmmmmrrrowwwwwwwww". A step closer and (the world's most) evil snarling would erupt from the cat who spends his entire day hiding from everything that moves - including cat toys. A few times a night he would screech in Chase's face so loudly that I'd jump straight out of bed and run into the living room.
I'm happy to report that this has finally ceased and the cats now seem to get along. On Hunter's fourth morning with us, Jeremy found them sitting side by side in the living room as though they'd been friends all along.
Chase takes great pleasure in stalking his new big orange friend, and will hide in corners for several minutes just for the chance to jump out and scare the hell out of him. Since we haven't had a larger cat around for a few years now, I'd forgotten how funny it is to see a big cat hauling ass as fast as he can from one end of the house to another.
The owner of the Big Orange Kitty came up with an interesting comparison earlier in the week during his visit (during which Hunter behaved perfectly and barely emitted a meow, let alone the devil-cat snarling we were treated to before and after he came by). Hunter was curled up under a blanket, behind the chair, hiding as usual, while Chase lounged atop one of my Mad Science kits.
"Wow, Chase is such a Display Kitty!"
At our confused looks, he explained that a Display Kitty is one who will make a point of lounging in the middle of the floor, on top of couches and chairs, etc. as though everybody should be looking at him. A Display Kitty will also complain if he's not the center of attention and spends most of his time around people.
In contrast is Hunter's type: the Hiding Kitty. These cats rarely come out from underneath beds or behind chairs, will not respond to their names, run away from people who try to pet them, and can go the entire day without being seen.
Regardless of whether a cat is a Display Kitty or a Hiding Kitty, they all like to run around and play. Which these two do pretty much constantly, making our once-peaceful apartment the venue of an on-going production called Kitty Wars:
Anybody know how to train a cat to sleep at night?
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Last year when I wrote a post for Mother's Day, I was in my new place in Hackney, East London. Now I'm back on the other side of the world, but the 6 hour car trip up to Sudbury might as well be on the other side of the Atlantic too. Once again, I don't get to make my mom Cheerios and grape juice for breakfast or give her a hug and thank her for being MY mom. I won't see any of the moms who are so special to me and are amazing examples of what it means to be "mom". So I'm wiping the dust from my keyboard and the cobwebs out of my brain and will try to write a post worthy of the incredible women in my life called "Mom".
The Friend Mommies
Several of my friends are parents now - it's inevitable at 29 years old that stories of bar nights and road trips have changed into tales of nightmare poop incidents (I've talked more about poop in the last year than I ever thought possible) and adorable "you'll never guess what ___ did yesterday"s. When a person who've known for most of your life becomes a parent, the whole dynamic of your relationship changes. Your friend's life is suddenly alien to you: late nights without sleeping for weeks (or months) on end, diaper stories, kids getting sick, etc. They apologize for disappearing for days on end without contact, but you don't mind because you understand how important their new title is. "Mommy".
"Hey Mel - I had to call and tell you something!"
"____ used the potty for the first time today!"
Cue "Auntie Mel" cheering into her cell phone, ignoring the perplexed stares of her colleagues.
"So - what was that all about?" one of them asked.
"My nephew used the potty for the first time"! I proudly announce, watching the faces of those without kids change from smiling to confused. And thus was my public inauguration into honorary Auntiehood.
Thinking about this later, I realized that one of the great joys of being a Mom was going to be celebrating all of those little milestones. And not for the first time, I hoped that I'd be half as good of a mom as she is.
The first time I heard Gordie call Kim "Mommy" I actually teared up a little. After a year abroad, it was amazing to see that the teeny little people who stared up at me with wide eyes, cuddled in sleepers and completely helpless had turned into a little boys who talk, sing, run around and play. I can't explain my feelings for these boys - all I can say is that I would do anything for them. Both of the two-year olds I refer to as "nephews" are well-adjusted, intelligent, inquisitive, and sweet children. If I thought it was possible to get my friends to write an instructional manual on how to be a good parent, I'd bug them daily.
Mother-in-Law (to be)
Every single person who knows about my engagement has asked me about my mother-in-law to be: "is she nice?" or "how do you get along?". Lucky for me I get to tell them how fabulous she is.
If there was ever a person to embody the world "fabulous", it's Laurie. Gorgeous red hair and a personality unlike any other, she both scared the hell out of me and made me adore her when I met her for the first time. How can you not adore a person who introduces herself like this:
"Hi, I'm Laurie. J's mom. I'm the one you have to suck up to!" (With a wink and a smile.)
This was followed by "Hi, I'm J's Aunt Kim - I'm the nice one!"
It took very little time to fall in love with his family.
The funny thing about meeting a significant other's mom is how badly you want them to approve of you (at least that's how it is for me). With Laurie, I didn't just want her to like me because of Jeremy though - I wanted her to like me because I thought she was so great.
She's the maker of delicious (and low fat!) deserts, the lender of many books, an afternoon napper, an ultra-competitive card player, and a friend I'm honoured to have. She doesn't know this, but I brag about how great she is to all of my friends, and how grateful I am that she's a part of my life.
Both of my parents' mothers lived far away from Capreol, so we didn't get to see them often. Trips down south to visit meant being on your best behaviour and telling stories about your ambitions and regular visits to church. I never really thought about them being Mothers until I was older and paid more attention to the interaction between them and my parents. It's funny to see the grin my Nana gives when she talks about my Dad, like he's still a boy in her eyes. As much as I love my grandmothers, I never really connected with the people they are - we just had a different type of relationship.
When I met J's grandmother, Mary, I was completely floored at the way they interacted with each other. All four of her grandchildren absolutely adore her (as do i) but think nothing of razzing her about anything from burnt cookies to her bad hip. She gives it as good as she gets, teasing them right back and taking on a role that I've never seen from a grandparent before. She's another reason I'm thrilled to be marrying Jeremy. (pretty nice family huh)
When I moved back to Canada last July, I mailed a huge package with books, clothes, shoes, souvenirs, and an afghan that Mary had knitted for us for Christmas the previous year. I loved it and cuddled up in it constantly, so when the package failed to arrive here, I was crushed. Being the super-fantastic lady that she is, Mary presented me with a NEW blanket for my birthday this year. It's gorgeous and the best part is that I don't have to pretend that I'm sharing it with Jeremy.
She might burn the cookies sometimes, but she's one hell of a drinking buddy (especially when you're sitting on a giant pile of rocks behind a lighthouse or downing poorly made daiquiris) and a terrific grandmother.
Here are just a few (believe me - there are MANY more things I could write here) things about why my mother is so special:
My Mom was my kindergarten teacher. She helped me to develop a passion for learning and school.
My Mom taught me to read and to really love books.
At Christmas, My Mom would pile all of the wrapping paper in the middle of the living room then take pictures of my brother and I playing in it.
My Mom made elaborate Easter Egg hunts every year, then filmed my brother and I following jelly bean trails and a series of clues to our basket.
My Mom let me have a guinea pig as a pet even thought she KNEW that she would probably be the one taking care of it.
My Mom used to sing to me (until I got older and told her to "stop because it's embarrassing" - sweet kid, huh.)
My Mom made me go to Church EVERY Sunday and worked really hard to see that I had a strong faith in God and in myself.
My Mom keeps trying to make grilled cheese sandwiches, even though she always burns them.
My Mom let me choose to go to Paris even though it wasn't her first choice - because she knew I'd always dreamed of going.
My Mom has made a zillion peanut butter & jam sandwiches (okay, maybe not a zillion, but close) that she'd always cut into fours. I still cut my PB & Js that way.
My Mom used to make the most amazing birthday cakes - all sorts of different shapes, like My Little Pony. She used to put wax-paper-wrapped quarters and loonies into it for all of us to find.
My Mom let me cut my long hair (down to my bum) to shoulder length, then get a spiral perm. The whole process took 6 hours, 365 hair curlers and a large pizza. I felt very grown up being allowed to make such a big decision for myself.
My Mom's blueberry coffee cake disappears 10 minutes after it's baked. (Yes, it's THAT good)
My Mom let my friend Julie practically live at our house for an entire summer. (I think she went home three times) She never once complained about having an extra kid around.
My Mom spoils me. She always has. Luckily she also taught me to appreciate the many blessings in my life.
My Mom brought me to my first NHL game and listened patiently to endless conversations about hockey - even though she didn't really care about the game at all.
My Mom lets me ramble on for hours about nothing - even on long distance calls.
My Mom was the mom that all of my friends thought was "the best". She probably doesn't know this, but they ALL used to comment on her nice she was (and how delicious her cookies are). A hundred sleepovers later - she was still smiling in the morning after shouting at us to GO TO BED at least 10 times during the night.
I wasn't always the nicest person to my Mom. She bore the brunt of my teenage dramatics and we argued a lot when I was in university. I never realized how much my insensitivity or snippy attitude probably hurt her. She always forgave me though. Even know when I feel bad about memories of rude little thing I used to say - she probably has long forgotten about them. (and if not - I'm SORRY again!!) She and my dad taught me to believe in myself, gave me the chance to make mistakes, and supported me even when I did something stupid (and there were LOTS of times when I did something stupid).
No matter where I've gone in this world, what I've done, I always knew My Mom would be there for me. It's a few days past Mother's Day, but never the wrong time to tell My Mom and all of the other wonderful women I've mentioned here how much I love them and that life would not be as sweet if they weren't a part of it.
Monday, May 05, 2008
There have been a few unexpected twists in my life and I've been doing my best to adjust to them. I have been working on a post that will most likely come out tomorrow or the next day, which explains some of what's been going on at Casa Irwin (our apartment has a great nickname huh?!).