Monthly Archives: May 2010

#7: The one you’ve all been waiting for.

Yeah, that’s right, I’m skipping #5 and 6. You all want me to, anyway. You want to know the story about the girl who said she would never, ever, ever set foot in a strip club, but did. Some of you who will read this are my clients, my peers, potentially my boss, my business associates, my family. In fact, many of you are one of those things. People who I respect and would NEVER normally tell this story to. But I did this as one of my 30 Things, so writing about it is as much of an accomplishment as doing it. I sincerely fear that I will lose all respect from you when you read this. But please, remember who I am and give me the benefit of the doubt. Here’s to 30 Things.

I wasn’t exactly the slimmest kid growing up. Rolly polly. Substantial. Big boned. Call it what you will, but I was far from the lean, athletic build of my girlfriends. So far from it, in fact, that my classmates managed to come up with a nickname for what my parents thought was my non-nicknamable name. Cowlette (do you get the irony of Wee C now?!). Go ahead, laugh. Really, you’ll enjoy it. I kind of do myself at this point. But, at 13, it wasn’t exactly the name I wanted boys to call me. Especially not the boys I was having imaginary flirt sessions with  in my mirror before I went to school in the morning. Boy, I had some great conversations. In the mirror, they always loved me.

Fortunately, when I turned 15, I took a growth spurt and Cowlette found her rightful home in the history pages of my story. But don’t think a kid forgets that. What’s that saying – forgive and forget. I had neither forgiven nor forgotten. So when I turned 17 and started dating my first boyfriend, some of that baggage was still around. Ok, a lot of it. And, yes, I was 17 with baggage. What? I was in tune with myself, I make no apologizes for that.

Let’s call him JR. He was my first love. So the night I sat in my car outside of his prep school dorm room waiting for him to come out after the study hours and I caught a glimpse of THAT poster, I immediately put my hands on my waist hoping, wishing that I had magically become taut in the last 5 minutes. But, alas, the rolls were still there. From where I sat, I could clearly see Jenny McCarthy and her hourglass figure (complete with perky, balloon-like boobs). The teasing, the mocking, the boys who pretended to walk like a bovine, all came flooding back. From where I sat, she was everything to my boyfriend that I wasn’t. From that moment on, I hated naked women. Specifically, I hated hot naked women. Hence my early dislike for strippers.

The object of all my hatred.

I hated them at my core. I’m sure my argument at the time was that it was demoralizing to women, but the reality was that I was jealous and insecure. I couldn’t handle the way they looked. My need for personal perfection didn’t allow for that. They were perfect in ways that I wasn’t. That’s really all it was. In my competitive mind, they won and I lost. I would have none of that, and neither would the boys I loved.

When hubby and I got married, I quickly drew the line in the sand: have a stripper at your bachelor party and this ring goes back and you become a bachelor all over again. Truthfully, I don’t know why he didn’t walk away just for that comment. But he permitted my bad, immature, self-loathing rants, agreeing to leave his bachelor party if the boys called in the “it’s too hot for clothes” strippers. Yes, my soon-to-be husband would shut his own friends down, leave his bachelor party and come running home to my insecure cow-like ass if those no-respect-for-themselves whores showed up. And yes, I’m naive enough to believe that.

All in all, for as much as I hated strippers, nudie girls posing in posters or in porn, they consumed a lot of my thoughts and were the source of many conversations with assorted beaus over the years. This one was a huge boulder on my way to enlightenment and I knew dealing with it had to be a 30 Thing or I wouldn’t do justice to the challenge at hand.

So one Friday night with the girls, Sassy J, Big L and I decide we were going to have a girls’ night in at Sassy J’s. After some wine for me, a mojitos or two for Sassy J and a handful of rum and Cokes for Big L, we were in the mood to misbehave. One of us, with enough seriousness in their voice to be taken seriously, suggests Ralph’s…the nudie bar. Within two seconds, the cab had been called, the lipstick applied and the last drink taken. We were off to the dirtiest place in the HRM – Sassy J in her cozy sweater, argyle socks and sneaks, me in my modest long sleeved t-shirt (hey, at least it wasn’t a crisp white blouse) and Big L in her tank top and flip flops. “To Ralph’s,” we tell the cabbie. He does a double check in the mirror to confirm that, yes, there are just girls in his back seat. The cab pulls away and we are WAY too giddy. Like a girl who just bought her dream prom dress.

The cab pulls up and out we get…all with a little more swagger than normal. We pay our six dollar cover charge, walk past the dodgy-eyed bouncer (no, really, he had one dodgy eye) and walk into a big, empty bar. Grand total: 20 people. Nothing like shining a spot light on the three ladies at the door: “Good evening, patrons. Tonight’s entertainment has arrived. Watch as they walk in, order a drink, fumble for their money, and find a seat at the back of the room. No, really, watch every.move.they.make.”

My plan: sit at the back, slouch, and hope we go unnoticed. But there was the problem. The nice young ladies (and to be fair, they were far more attractive than I anticipated) were up there providing us with entertainment and no one…not a soul…was throwing money at them. Well, Big L, needed to right this wrong. She attempted to lecture a couple youngins’ who were at a table near us, but they were having no part of throwing their drinking money away. The show was free as far as they were concerned. You can imagine Big L’s unhappiness with this. So, she marched back to our table, pulled our her $30 and had the bar tender change the bills into fives. Then, she waited until the next stripper was performing sufficiently well and she strutted her little apple bum right up to perve row. She proceeded to say thank you for the entertainment and right the wrongs of the cheap men in the crowd. And Sassy J? Well her and her argyle socks got propositioned. She politely declined.

We closed the place out. And honestly, it was one of the best nights I’ve ever had. Not because of the strippers – they were simply a metaphor for a significant mental barrier I had placed in front of myself long ago. The night was so memorable because it was totally spontaneous (something which I am not), it wasn’t 100% good (something which I usually am), and I tackled one of my biggest personal obstacles that night. Truthfully, that night defined what 30 Things is all about. 30 Things evolved from a desperate attempt to recapture my 20s to a vehicle to tackle the types of personal challenges and hang ups we all deal with. Something changed for me that night and there’s been no looking back. Not that I would want to…I know what’s back there and it doesn’t look as good as what I saw on stage that night.
-Wee C

PS – for all you boys who are wondering, no one got a lap dance. Sorry to disappoint.

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#22: Finding peace.

– Contributed by Wee C

“Wee C is a bright student, but she does tend to be a bit chatty with the other children.”

“Wee C seems to understand the math assignments in class, but struggles on tests because she rushes to finish her work.”

“Wee C has musical talent, but we can’t seem to slow her piano playing down…she’s always rushing her notes.”

“Wee C, you’re a rock star employee. You bill more time than nearly anyone else. Keep up the great work!”

And so are the days of my life. Scratch that. Even that statement is too languid. There’s nothing low-key about me. I’m a chatter box. A busy body. I live life in a frenzy, always late, always huffing and puffing (and subsequently apologizing for the huffing and puffing). I can’t ever arrive somewhere without behaving like a tornado just rolled in, drawing as much attention to my hub bub as I possibly can. “Look at me! I’m here, I’m here (albeit tragically late)!”

Slowing down in any way is genuinely hard for me. It’s not because I’m one of those remarkable people who is contributing so much to society that the world would literally fall off its axis if they stopped. No, I’m just a chaotic spinning top that someone set in motion and inertia has simply kept me going. I bump into things, but I generally wobble back to center and keep spinning out of control for a seemingly endless period.

This sense of never having control has been one of the biggest and ongoing challenges of my life. I manage to put on a decent show (unless of course you worked with me at a certain organization, in which case my cover job sucked), but when I’m alone by myself I routinely shake my head, replay the silly and stupid things I did during the day as I rushed around, and sink into a bit whole lot of self loathing. And anyone who has ever wallowed in self-pity for an extended period of time knows that sometimes that’s a pretty comfortable place to hang out and stay. It’s predictable and the certainty of judgment (being passed by yourself, on yourself) is somehow safe. Rising above feels risky and unknown. It feels like a shiver running down your spine and makes you want to reach for the nearest blanket.

But recently, with all the life-changing that’s been happening through these 30 things, I’ve gotten brave. I’ve stopped working as much, I’ve started playing more, and I’m becoming a whole lot more comfortable in my own skin. Which is probably why tonight I was finally able to hang out, in peace and quiet, with myself. And only myself. After 11 months of saying I was going to go to the Shambhala Centre to meditate, I finally “found the time” to do it. And it was remarkable. Tear worthy, in fact. No, I didn’t cry, but I kinda wanted to. Tonight, I feel like I have reached a really important stop on my journey. Who knows if I’ll ever meditate again. But for me, it wasn’t about finding a new hobby. It was about finding peace – by myself, through myself, and for myself.

I don’t believe for a second that I have found peace permanently. I need a full rewiring and a completely new stomach (preferably made of steel) for that! But tonight I got a glimpse into what life could be like without permanently having my jaw clenched shut, my shoulders scrunched up into my ear lobes and my chest relaxed. That’s a start.

#3 and #4: Clubs and Balls

– Contributed by Wee C

As I suspect you’re learning, 30 Things is less about doing the crazy stuff and more about just getting out of my own frickin’ way. Some days I can be like a 15,000 pound elephant standing on the path to my own enlightenment. And sometimes I can just feel 15,000 pounds. Right, moving on.

Take my #3, for example. I played in a golf tournament. Big stinking deal, you say? OK all you Sporty Spices, get off your irrationally-high sneakers with silly pink springs for soles and see this for what it is. I am, at best, a horrific golfer. I may look cute (and I DO look cute), but that’s where my skills end. Playing in a golf tournament amidst some of the most influential business folks in the Atlantic provinces with nothing but my short white skort and Mary Jane golf shoes to help me swing above my weight, made me giggle uncontrollably in discomfort.

The old me? I would have just said no. But the mantra of “saying yes to things I would normally say no to” once again called me to action. So off I went. I drank a beer at 10 am…and another at 11. I picked up some groovy swag (the kind that normally would make me jealous and resentful that I didn’t play in that tournament). And I figured out that the only way you actually have fun in life is to actually do stuff. Huh. I know, right?

So when #4 came along, it was again about getting out of my own way. I’m a bit awkward when it comes to the other gender, never wanting to overstep my boundaries; always wanting to keep my behaviour above board. But, as usual, I take the whole thing a bit too seriously. So, my #4 involved men and lots of ’em. Well, so did the golf tournament, but those men generally kept their clothes on…at least those who didn’t get a hole in one. Seriously, can I get a “ba-dum-ching” for that? Killer stuff.

Thunder From Down Under. That was my #4. Men whose down unders are thunderous. A mighty storm brewing below the belt, if you will. I’ve never really been all that keen about thunder and lightning, so I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be so keen about this. But to my surprise, that was a storm worth sticking around for. Oh, for the L.O.G., not like that. I’m a respectable woman. But turns out, a handful of girls all out for a night of silliness and harmless fun can be a pretty good time. And that’s really what my # 4 was about. Because let’s face it. There was NO thunder in that show. I (ME!) left feeling totally disappointed by the lack of skin (c’mon, I was there, I might as well have seen it all). Number 4 was, instead, about joining the party. It was about relaxing and not worrying about who might see me there. It was about having an open mind and accepting the outing for what it was. It was about being present when I would normally be at home, asleep on my sofa. And it was about not covering my eyes during the scary parts (although, admittedly, I could have used a bit more thrill).

Jeans with no tops? Where's the down under part?

Jeans with no tops? Where's the down under part?

It must be Armageddon ’cause this is risky business.

– Contributed by Wee C

OK, it must be Armageddon for me to do this. But, it’s a lazy Saturday and I’m apparently feeling uncharacteristically free-spirited, so here goes.

I’ve got 37 days and 10 things left to do to go into 30 with a bang. And I’m taking suggestions. YOUR suggestions. For what those 10 things could be. Because, frankly, what I’ve got left on my list of ideas are feeling a little lackluster. And because this whole plot was about getting me out of my comfort zone and doing things I wouldn’t normally do. And, for the record, asking for suggestions most certainly gets me out of my comfort zone because I’m going to need to do at least a couple of them in order to not be a complete idiot for asking in the first place. Hey, I was the girl who always, always, always chose “truth” when we played “truth or dare”.

A reasonable facsimile of me in my youth.

This is me making up for all those years.

So, come one, come all and let’s see what you’ve got. Insert a ginormous intake of air here.

Thankfully Restless

– Contributed by Wee C

It’s Spring and I’m restless. And wistful. And desperate for something more. I look outside and see the buds popping on the trees, I see the activity in the park near our condo exploding. Friends are traveling and I am green with envy. Girls are getting pedicures to make their toes summer-ready. Inappropriate clothes are being worn at disturbing rates. Truly disturbing. And I drive with the roof of my car open every chance I get, hoping the fresh air will bring me something new and exciting. I want more.

See, I’ve always felt as though I’ve been destined for something big. Don’t ask me what big is…whether it’s writing a blog that changes the world (wishful thinking, yes?), living in a foreign destination or simply becoming a great cook. But the sense that life has something bigger in store for me has been omnipresent through my entire life. Please don’t misinterpret this for a lack of gratefulness or joy. I live a life that is beyond blessed and I could cry with all the gratitude I have for everything I have been granted. And if you know me at all, you know that’s I just welled up writing that line.

But here’s the thing. I don’t believe myself to be alone in this sentiment. Every person from my generation and the next seems to be experiencing the same feelings. We ALL have a sense of being destined for something great. We ALL want something more. And yet, somehow, we all seem to feel terribly alone in this sentiment. As if no one else in the entire world has experienced the deep sense of desire that comes from desperately wanting to live a life unlike your parents or your friends…or your own.

We are restless souls – not wanting to work our lives away, and yet still wanting everything we want. We want ultimate success and ultimate freedom all at the same time. We want to live free from the desire to have worldly goods and yet we want every.possible item we can get our grubby little hands on. We want to drive Land Rovers, but also scooters. We want to run away to fabulous destinations, but continue to create homes worthy of magazine covers. We want the bodies of Ryan Reynolds or Jennifer Garner, but indulge in decadent brunches and lunches and dinners, often all in the same day.

I can’t presume to understand the societal and cultural conditions that cause this. Oh, I’m sure there is a sociologist, psychologist, anthropologist who could help me out. But, frankly, I don’t much care. I’ve tried to reason my way through these feelings…as I’m sure many of you have. And what I’ve recently concluded is that this restlessness that I’ve often felt is such a heavy burden to carry (my how difficult my life is), is actually something that needs to be added to my blessings list. So today, I’m thankful. Thankful that every morning I get up and want more for my life. Thankful that every morning I get up with the potential that today could be the day that something big, or little, happens – and it often does. Thankful that I have not reached a point where I am so content that I am complacent. And thankful to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who share my sense of confusion and lack of knowing, but are valiant in their commitment to do something more with their lives.

With 37 days and 10 things left to do on my list of 30 Things, perhaps the next big thing is waiting for me just around the corner. How about you?

#2 of 30: Wee C the Card Shark

– Contributed by Wee C

You know those people who will try anything? Love to explore a new undertaking? Find great satisfaction in just givin’ it a whirl? Yeah, that’s not me. If I’m not good at something the first time I try it, I don’t want to do it. But how can you know if you’re not good at something unless you try it, you ask? I’m willing to not find out. Which is a real pickle considering I’d damn near have to be a prodigy to actually do ANYTHING in life based on this rationale. Oh, wait, that about sums it up.

Note: I just Goggled the word prodigy to be sure I was using it correctly. Clearly. I had to. It was the first time I’ve used prodigy in a written sentence; I had to use it perfectly to feel comfortable with publishing it on the blog.

So, this hang up of mine really boils down to a high need to be perfect. Boy, there’s a reasonable and achievable aspiration in life. But I’ve owned that goal and valiantly worked towards achieving it for my whole freakin’ life. Part of my hope with 30 Things is that I could overcome this need for perfection, to let myself off the hook from time to time, to actually try something new without the need to master it immediately.

Not long after my 3 am visit to the casino during the Hindu wedding, an opportunity to go back presented itself. The hubby and his buddies wanted to go to the casino. “I’ll go and watch,” I thought.

As the boys doubled-down, split their hands, and told the nice lady to hit them, I uncomfortably stood back from the table hoping that no one would ask me to sit in for a hand. Why, you ask? I had never played Black Jack, and therefore assumed I would suck at it. More specifically, I had visions of yelling out “full house” followed by everyone in the casino turning to look at me, pointing and laughing. Have I mentioned that I have tendencies of being self-absorbed? Or is the fact that I started a blog about me not blatant enough?

Right, so back to the casino. Indeed, I could hide no longer. My husband, a wonderful, caring, and pushy as hell man, not-so-gently reminded me that I ought to suck it up or I’d never get through those 30 Things. I say pushy because he literally pushed me (gently, of course) into the seat at the table, gave me my $40 and told me to play. I’m quite certain I started to itch. I didn’t know the rules of the game. I didn’t know whether to say “hit me” on 17 or hold. But in that uncomfortable situation, I quickly began to learn the ropes. And I became comfortable.

In fact, I’m awesome at Black Jack. Yes, I’m awesome (even perfect, really) at a completely random game of chance. I took home $175 for my $40 investment. But I beat more than the house. I beat myself at my own game.

#1 of 30: The Hindu Wedding

– Contributed by Wee C

I fell in love early. Eleven years and a lifetime of growing up ago. We were already friends, so the courtship was short…but the “I’m going to spend every waking moment with you and hate you when you’re doing anything else but spending time with me” timeframe was a wee bit long. Like five years too long. And suffocating. And downright crazy town. But when you’re 19 and in the throngs of dedicating every.single.moment to your beloved, well, any behaviour other than senseless passion and commitment just seems hollow, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it?

Before I go on, let me be perfectly and abundantly clear. I adore and love my husband. Really, truly love and adore him. I’m more smitten today than I was when we first started dating. But for the first five of the past 11 years, I didn’t do anything social alone. I all but wrote off my friends (you all thought I didn’t know, right?). And I gave up my independence for the greater good of our little world of two. Explains a bit about what happened to my 20s, eh? So part of my 30 Things was about regaining my ability to be OK to be alone…well, alone in a crowd of people my own age, socializing in the way that people my own age tend to do. You know, like a Nell-esque re-entry into society. Only with clean hair and real words.

On June 22 (that’s my birthday), I boldly stated that I was embarking on a journey to take me into 30. “I’m going to do 30 new things that I’ve never done before,” I chirped. What I really meant was “Aren’t I endearing and fascinating? Shouldn’t I write a book about this wonderful idea?” Chirp, chirp. On June 27, the world called my bluff.

I’m in the business of managing expectations, so I feel the need to do so now: for all of you normally functioning 20-somethings, my first “30 thing” will seem nothing short of underwhelming. Boy, that was a great sell-job to encourage you to keep reading, yes? But, based on what you’ve read about me above (and elsewhere), you’ll come to understand why the first thing on my list truly set the standard.

On June 27, I attended my friend’s Hindu wedding. Alone. Without my handsome crutch. I went alone not knowing what to expect, not realizing that the groom would ride in on horseback (seems Halifax was fresh out of elephants that day) and his soon-to-be-in-laws would steal his shoes…repeatedly. I went alone not knowing how long the ceremony would be or what it would entail. I went alone knowing that there would be dinner and…gasp…dancing, of which I will normally have no part of. All of this added up to a particularly unknown situation; the likes of which I would normally just say no to.

But, here’s the next thing you need to know about 30 Things. There is no pre-existing list. 30 Things is not a bucket list. C’mon, why would a girl who has too much stress in her life create a list of things she needs to check off in order to help herself chill out? A bit counter-productive, eh? No, 30 Things is 80 per cent about saying yes to things I would normally say no to. And going to a Hindu wedding by myself was most definitely something I would normally say no to. Hence, as the first item on my list, the world had indeed called my bluff.

The day and night…and morning…turned out to be the most fun I had in years. I caught up with old high-school friends that I hadn’t seen since I was 18. I laughed and danced and danced some more. I was at the Casino AT 3 IN THE MORNING! And took a cab home at 4 am. That night, was most definitely the epitome of being comfortably uncomfortable. Nothing felt normal or comfortable to me. At least not to the me I had become. But the younger version of me – the one who existed before I became completely obsessed with being a grown up – she remembered what it was like to have fun, be silly, and let her hair down. She was pretty comfortable in that uncomfortable situation. And me? I thought she was pretty cool, so I asked her to stay. Turns out, she was quite agreeable to sticking around.

Il mio amore

– Contributed by Wee C

Il mio amore. My love. Italia.

To know me, one of the few things you must quickly come to learn is my deep and intense love of all things Italian. There’s no rational reason why I should love it as much as I do. I don’t have bloodlines that originate from there (have you seen my fair skin, freckles and blue eyes?). I’ve not married into an Italian family (I love my husband, I love my husband, I really do love my husband…). Nor have I spent any longer than three weeks there at any given time (despite having tried to lock myself in the hotel bathroom in a desperate attempt to stay). But for some inexplicable reason, one fleeting thought of Italy at any given moment yields a peace and joy that few other things can provide in my life. So I figure I might as well indulge myself and get the “this is why I love Italy” post out of the way so that I don’t have to feel compelled to write it every time I attempt to craft a new blog post. You all will thank me for this later. There are three simple reasons why I can’t get this place out of my head:

1. Food and wine is consumed for delight, not for sustenance. Italians eat without conscience or concern. Through food, they feed their hearts more than their stomachs. At home, 90 per cent of the time we eat with our head and to feed our stress. And the wine in Italy? You drink it not for the alcohol, but because wine is the purest and most internalized consumption of art. On our last trip to Italy, I ate more than I would ever normally eat at home, and lost 5 lbs. I can’t help but believe there’s something more to the way Italians eat than food energy alone.

2. Italy gives me a sense of place and time. In North America, our surroundings are young. It’s easy to feel as though your time – today – is the world’s most important. And why not? We’re making enormous leaps every single day that seem to put a stake in the ground and suggest that nothing, at any time, has ever been as significant. But in Italy, your place in time, in history, provides perspective. Through this perspective, your sense of importance shifts. The world has not begun with you, nor will it end with you…and how dare you be so self-centered to have ever entertained the thought?! As you look around you, you realize that as you walk through the streets in Rome or busy yourself at the Duomo in Florence, you are in the shadows of a story that is so much bigger than your own. From the humble hillside Tuscan towns to the grandeur of Vatican City, you are walking alongside the ghosts of historical, cultural and spiritual giants. It gives you context and diminishes your sense of self-importance. And suddenly, the mistake you made at work, or the bill you forgot to pay on time seems inconsequential…and the fact that you every worried about it is ridiculous. And let’s be honest…at home, I cannot stop wallowing in every mistake I’ve ever made, every person I’ve disappointed, every failure that prevents perfection. So the context and reality check that Italy provides me is freeing; like a big deep breath after suffocation.

3. Italy is a country of artisans. Every person, from the butcher to the high-fashion designer, considers their work an art. Quality over quantity is the priority. Everything that you see, eat, smell, touch, hear or wear, that has been produced in Italy, feels as though it is done with the single-minded goal of enhancing the seemingly endless beauty that surrounds the people of this country. How could you not love a place that protects beauty and art as if it’s a newborn child?

And so, after two trips to Italy (both of which seem far too long ago), I not only solidified my affinity, I fell in love. I truly love this country, its people, its landscape, its history, its story. The desire to go back overwhelms me almost every single day. But, I suppose, it wouldn’t be true love if that wasn’t the case.