I’m Becoming The Lady At Walmart Who Fights People For A Television on Black Friday and Ends Up As An Unintentional Youtube Celebrity

This is now a blood sport. My Fuel Up To Win card now has one piece missing in each of the sections INCLUDING the $100,000 prize. This morning alone I tackled a grizzled old trapper at the gas station to pry six tickets out of his gnarled arthritic hands. Actually that’s not true, for some reason, probably because he lives in a cave with only a beaver for company, the trapper didn’t know about Fuel Up To Win.

Consequently, when the kindly cashier handed him his tickets, he proceeded to rip into them like he was a starved wolverine feasting upon a squirrel.  The cashier intervened and helped him to open the second ticket. After discovering that he didn’t win a car or another moose head for his cave wall, the trapper threw his tickets at her and stomped out. She was balling them up to toss in the trash when I sprinted for the cash- “I’ll take those” I said. She handed the whole ripped mess over to me and I pocketed it quickly. Then I purchased a small box of Glossettes to earn myself a ticket.

In case you’re sitting in the wings, judging me for abusing the contest rules and buying a small box of candy just to play. Yes I’m there, judge away. But what you should also know is that it wasn’t my first visit to a Coop Gas Bar that day. At nine AM, after being kept awake by Mini-Tex’s terrible cough and my own GI bug, I woke up wanting only one thing – a chance to play. Well two things, I also wanted Smarties.

The problem was that I had told someone in town that I wasn’t feeling well last night. That I was so sick in fact, that I had to cancel our plans for that day. This is a very, very small town, that becomes microscopically small when you do something like dash into the grocery store wearing pyjama bottoms and no bra, then suddenly your child’s teacher, your boss and that lady you hate because she always has her hair perfectly coiffed are all waiting at the checkout with you. Man, I hate Samantha; her outfits are always fabulous too.

Having lived in this tiny town for almost a year now, and having already made the mistake of going to the mall on a Saturday, I knew all of this. Meaning, that I knew that I couldn’t take our stroller out for the quick walk to the gas bar because I would see no less than 10 people I knew. All of them would know that both Mini-Tex and I were ill, so I would be forever marked as the negligent parent taking her ailing son out and the bad friend who cancels but isn’t too sick to go for a walk. So walking was out, which was just as well because I was actually too sick to walk.

At 8:37 AM, I drove the 500 meters to the gas bar. I’m ashamed to say it, but it was the only way I could be within a minute of a bathroom and get my Fuel Up To Win ticket. On the way, I debated asking Jesus to stop paying attention to all the lepers and poor people and steer everyone I knew away from the gas bar so I could buy my early morning treat in anonymity. I decided not to, that as awful as it would be to be seen purchasing chocolate before nine AM on a Monday, the people whose noses were falling off needed prayers more.

This morning, I got lucky and was in and out of the convenience store with my tickets in hand before someone could so much as say “How’s that husband of yours?” and I didn’t see anyone that I knew which means that about half of the people recognized me. This is my new gambling low. I always wondered how people could throw punches over electronics, but now, hitting rock bottom, chewing on my second box of candy today, I know that I’m a short hop away from boxing with strangers over a TV.

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The Reason For My Burgeoning Toilet Paper Collection

  1. A bunch of teenagers are coming over later and I have a vendetta to settle with a house down the street. Also, can you point me in the direction of the eggs?
  2. I’m hosting a bridal shower and we’re doing the make a wedding dress out of TP activity. So fun!
  3. My toddler is constructing a giant fluffy castle and wants to add another turret.
  4. What? This isn’t used for insulation?
  5. My aunt with the iffy stomach is coming for the weekend.
  6. We keep playing the “Mommy is a mummy” game. It takes a lot more rolls than you’d think to completely encase such a small person as myself.
  7. I saw a mattress made of toilet paper on Pintrest and decided to try it. Like all Pintrest ideas, it seemed good at the time but now I’m halfway through the project and am regretting all of my life choices that have led to this.
  8. The adult version of the frat boy beer can collection is toilet paper; I’ve decided to proclaim my adulthood by showcasing my Charmin in all its glory to the neighbours on our bay window ledge. If this doesn’t make me block captain, I don’t know what will!
  9. The ball pit balls are missing and this seemed like a roll-y equivalent.
  10. I’ve actually hit that low point in the Fuel Up To Win Contest; I have no more food to buy because it’s just myself and my son at home right now and we were sick over the weekend, meaning that we didn’t eat much. So I’m buying toilet paper. Lots of TP. Twice a day. Judge me all you like; I’m having so much darn fun.

The Answer to My Husband’s Question of “Why Do We Have 38 Bananas, 7 Liters of Milk and 12 Pounds of Baloney?”

Hello my name is Sarah and I’m a gambling addict. I wasn’t aware of this quality of mine until recently; my extreme inner cheapskate would never permit me to actually spend money on gambling, even quarter slot machines eat at my frugal soul. Sitting at the slots, I would agonize internally- “That was a quarter you just lost” I’d admonish myself, “That money could have purchased eight whole peanut M&Ms out of a candy machine!” So slots are out, as is poker and any other card game because I’m not one for games. The lottery is too unlikely as a winning venture and even scratch cards tend to get on my money saving nerves after a couple of losing tickets, but contests run by businesses? Count me in.

Once upon a time, before caffeine spelled my imminent demise, I loved coffee, and in the New Year, I LOVED Roll Up The Rim To Win, an annual event at the Canadian institution of Tim Horton’s. As a student, my once daily cuppa joe would become a jittery morning, afternoon and sleepless night, three-times-a-day habit during the contest. All in the name of rolling up the rim to discover a free doughnut or coffee. But then, tragically, I grew up and got myself a drip filter, thus my inner cheapskate killed this once beloved tradition in favor of saving money by brewing coffee at home.

Now enter the Prairie past time of “Fuel Up To Win”. The name is deceiving because if Tex and I were dependent on putting gas in our car to participate- we’d lose. Even if we were to drive all over town every single day- we’d fuel up once every two months, it’s just not a large place. As avid cyclists and staunch environmentalists, we use even less fuel. The contest began at the pump, but extended to the grocery stores, meaning that each time a person buys milk or kielbasa, you’re given a ticket to win. In other words, I’m in cheapskate gambling heaven.

Purchase $25 of groceries, you get one ticket, $50 of eggs and the like will get you two tickets but packing your cart with $100 worth of yogurt and such will earn you three tickets to win. Here’s the frugal catch – it’s $25 and UNDER. Meaning a person could buy $11 dollars of groceries and still get a chance to win- or even two dollars! This is why I’ve found myself visiting the grocery store every single day. Sometimes twice.

Occasionally I’ll get lucky and some distracted shopper will leave hard earned tickets behind at the cash. At which point I’ll ask whether I can have them. And God bless the underpaid youth- they always nod and push the tickets my way while scanning the rest of my order. It creates the kind of feeling that one only gets when they realize that they’ve accidentally placed a “Z” on a triple letter score in Scrabble. It’s brilliant, it’s wonderful, it’s beautiful; it makes you want to fall on your knees in appreciation of the youth’s ambivalence. As it is, I just shove the tickets into my pockets and speed away before the cashier changes their mind.

Then comes my favourite part- the actual ticket. Tim Horton’s coffee cups have nothing on this game. First of all, there are THREE tickets- they’re all placed on a game card. The playing card itself has separate sections so one filled section may earn a barbeque or another will earn $50 in grocery gift certificates. And then there is the piece de resistance- the section that if all the matching tickets are found, gets one person $100,000 dollars cash. All this just for buying chicken wings that I would have purchased anyway!  My inner frugal miser is doing joyful cartwheels in a bouncy house over this.

Yes, often there are duplicate tickets, but amass eight of those and you’ve got a chance to enter yet another contest! Oh my cheapskate self is crowing with pleasure. Then as if all of that wasn’t exciting enough, the three tickets are packaged within a larger ticket that could be a coupon, or another chance at a different contest or perhaps a free KitKat. Free chocolate? I’ll take eight!

So all of this excitement has led to frequent trips to the grocery store. What I’ve discovered is that, after visiting the grocery store every single day, sometimes twice for two weeks, is that one eventually runs out of groceries to buy. It’s gotten to the point where I’m avoiding purchasing such staples as toilet paper or dish soap because I could buy those any day whereas today we definitely need apples. The contest has also led to an overconsumption of kale on my part. It’s the one food item that I can justify eating in mass quantities in order to have something to put on the grocery list the next day. And while I could spend only a couple of dollars purchasing one item, I feel that’s a bit like gaming the system, especially during my second visit of the day after my son has enjoyed his second free cookie from the bakery. (Yes, I stuff my two year old full of baked goods so that he’ll willingly accompany me to the grocery store a couple of times a day. You can judge me after I’ve won a free lawn mower.)

A friend nicely pointed out that I may have a problem. Which is true. But it’s a short lived one- the contest closes in mid-April. In the meantime, I’ll just have to live with myself on days like yesterday, when it was too slippery to drive and too snowy for the stroller so I hauled my thirty pound toddler over two kilometers on a sled in the name of kale, frozen pizza and a “Fuel Up To Win Ticket”. Such is the life of an addict.

What the Hell Wednesday – Mixed Martial Arts and What Actually Goes On in Cars During Highschool

Would you encourage today’s generation to join the military?

Yes, millennials are damn irritating and I take any opportunity to ship their voice-conversation-phobic selves away. The old people can stay though. Also the quietest of the children.

Did you have a car in highschool?

Oh yes, I had a car in highschool. I did not have a choice in the matter. Five long months after I turned sixteen, my mother frog marched me to Canada’s version of the DMV and we waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. FOR SIX HOURS. When I finally got to the desk, the woman pushing the button said “smile” brightly to me and I sneered a curt “No” at her. I am a peach, let me tell you.

Anyways, back to the car, ever since I can remember, I have hated driving, hated being in the car, basically despised everything having to do with four wheels. This is definitely a person who should receive their own car. And so I did because my parents are both exceptionally generous and delight in my misery.

To make the best of it, I prided myself in having junk in the trunk. Actually. At any given time, there five/eighths of a plastic skeleton, thirty or so mostly dried up markers, a bucket of feathers and bowling pins in the back of my highschool car. I’m uncertain whether the goal was to scare, amaze or put on an impromptu cabaret, regardless it was a mess.

This car followed me around for thirteen long years. After 350,000 kilometers and more than a decade, I junked it, converted to a hippie lifestyle, grew dreads and began making my own kefir. Not actually though. I did live without a vehicle for a year. And then I got pregnant and it was decided that hippie-ism is romantic but impractical with a newborn so we have a van that sits in our driveway during the warm months of the year here. Meaning two, not actually but close.

Have you ever done drugs?

Never. My sister once taught me the smell of good weed and bad weed though. For those not in the know like me- there is a difference, I couldn’t tell you what now but rest assured, I’m well informed. Also, I accidentally brokered a drug deal because I knew the frat boys next door liked to party. But no, the closest I myself have ever come to drugs was in university when I discovered a bag of what I believed to be desiccated broccoli under my bed following a visit from a friend of a friend of a friend. I was understandably horrified because it’s one thing to be unwashed but to drop vegetables under ones bed and leave them there until they crumble like old green leaves? That’s revolting. I took said baggy to my friend who had invited the friend of a friend of a friend. This friend always had a spotless room, I clearly needed tips. I showed her the bag which she took for some reason and she gave me tips on life- like the importance of making your bed every day.

 

What were you like when you were 40?

Well I’m not, so I’ll tell you what I will be- first of all I’ll have so many abs they will start calling it an Unwashed Dozen, I’ll likely be a prized Mixed Martial Arts fighter known for my signature move- the ear bite which is two parts distressing and one part disgusting. And I’ll own roof top llama farms, a concept that I will have helped to create, starting a worldwide movement. No one will ever see me without my rocket boots.

Did you ever think of joining the military?

No, I resent being asked to carry heavy objects and my understanding is that the military has an infatuation with moving heavy objects around and teaching people to lift heavy objects. Ostensibly they call it “training” I call it “torture” or as it’s known in today’s world “helping friends move”.

If you could do it over would you join the military?

Storyworth, you seem to be on a real military questions kick, are you secretly trying to figure out whether I’ll help you move? The answer is no, I’m busy developing my signature ear bite to rise to MMA fame.

 

All of these questions were taken from the website Storyworth, when they’re not convincing people to enlist, they are a company that sends your loved ones questions, which are only half about the time they served and compiles their answers into a book that will be beloved by the whole family for years to come. Check them out.

 

What’s The Opposite of Breaking Amish? Do I Still Have To Be A Millennial Now?

God I love the peace of it. Imagine if the solitude and stillness of that log cabin in the woods was your life. To me, that’s what life without the internet is like. When I tell people that I’ve lived three or four years of my life since adolescence without internet, they sputter and say “Three or four years? I thought you were going to say months! But how can you possibly live? Surely you had a smartphone?”

Actually up until two years ago, I didn’t have a smartphone. When my son was born, I acquiesced to demands and acquired one, ostensibly because the camera was better than my actual camera. And it was, but what I noticed early on, was that I wasn’t spending most of my time taking pictures of my beautiful son. No, mostly, I was surfing the web and trying to find out whether Khloe was the fat or skinny Kardashian (answer – both?).

Around this time last year, my phone began to bug me, with its constant, addictive siren song. So I downloaded apps to record how much I was using it, because the only way to fight addiction is to use more right? My worst fears and suspicions were confirmed- I used my phone far, far, far too often.

I tried to cut down, but that was a little like trying to swear off carbs while living in a bakery. So instead, I just started to track my use of it. And it got real scary, real fast. Because I pride myself on using my time well, on actively creating a life that I desire, whether spending time working towards goals or living my values. On a day when I was working, I used my phone just under two hours a day. That time adds up quickly-fourteen hours a week. Now it would be one thing if I was say writing, or talking to loved ones, but most of the time, I was reading news stories about how to kick sugar habits and updates about the latest Disney Fan Conference. It’s best not to ask how many hours I used my phone on weekends.

To add insult to injury, the tiny electronic box was spying on me! More than once, I’d notice that ads would pop up for items that I had never searched but had thought of often. I brushed off the unseemly notion, that is, until my sister and brother-in-law confirmed my suspicions when they tested out their phones’ listening skills by discussing a product that neither had searched, or had any intention of buying. Immediately they were presented with ads for said product.

That was it, following our au pair’s departure, we had gotten rid of the internet, and after two years of having my leisure time filled with nonsense like reading about Christopher Walken on Wikipedia (Why?!), I was done with my phone. In the two weeks since it’s become an expensive paperweight, I have to say, I’ve loved it. I’ve remembered the space that comes with no technology. I’ve enjoyed reading without the urge to check emails. I’ve felt more reflective and focused. In a nutshell, I remembered why whenever I’ve had the choice- I have lived without any of that internet nonsense. It detracts from the beauty and mental quiet of my life.

Tex and I are bouncing around the province and the country these next couple of months but I promise to give updates on my new Amish-like existence.

And to those who are curious as to how this was posted. The library in our town, like all libraries, has free wifi and exceptionally helpful librarians to distribute passwords.

Walking Through One of My Childhood Homes

I’ve been breaking into her house at night, wandering through the rooms, running my fingertips over the surfaces of the furniture. Just to remember. Just to be there. I walk in, and my route is always the same; tossing my jacket or sweater carelessly on the green leather chairs she recovered, stepping lightly onto the plastic walkway that protects the carpet from so many dirty footprints. I glance at the mail on the table in the entranceway, now the table that my TV sits on. Invariably there would be a letter from a charity. She loved supporting those organizations- if she wasn’t able to help someone directly, she’d offer money instead.

From there I walk straight into the kitchen. A couple years ago she painted the cupboards. It brightened up the space so much. The radio plays classical music because the radio always played classical music, that is until after dinner, at which point she’d retire to the den and watch the news before bed. When I was younger, before boyfriends and then husbands entered the picture, the kitchen table was the kid’s table. Our family was too large to sit altogether in one room, so us rowdy, cookie-loving cousins were relegated to the meal prep area. This was the table that I told the story of the gravy boat over. All the cousins went along with it, but only the youngest fell for the yarn- hook, line and sinker.

According to legend, gravy boats got their name because of the unmanned ships that pulled into each port every holiday, empty but for gallons upon gallons of gravy. Aunts, mothers and grandmothers would all arrives at the harbor with pails, buckets or even small bathtubs to be filled with that liquid goodness, the walk back to their houses becoming a waddle from the weight of the gravy. Sitting there as I told the story, each of the cousins pictured her, slowly but determinedly, hauling home the gravy for our holiday meals.

Throughout my teens, there were her classic cowboy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies in the cupboard next to the fridge. Later, when she stopped baking, there were still cookies in the cupboard but they were made by Dare. I remember the familiarity of the yellow cutlery tray; it contrasted the metal cutlery so forcefully, as though THIS cutlery tray would be recognized for its lifetime of service. From there, the view of the yard would be partially obscured by the plants sitting on the windowsill. She loved plants and gardening. Long after the winter, she would nourish her poinsettias; hers would be the last live one on the block.

To the left of the window was one of the kitchen chairs, which sat next to a table, upon which sat her telephone and address book. Past this table was the dining room. The center of so many gatherings. I never picture her here though- she was always a bundle of activity, bustling from one room to the next, one task to the next whenever the lot of us descended upon the house en mass. She is everywhere and nowhere; she’s in the kitchen checking on a dish in the oven, she’s clearing the table in the dining room. She’s sneaking up behind me to unsuspectingly to yank my left hand out from under my body and set me off balance, just to get a glimpse of the ring. She’s standing in the hallway, looking for bags to bundle together leftovers for guests, or in the den cross stitching. Or she might be downstairs, on her treadmill if footing is treacherous outside. God forbid she went outside, there’s no locating her- she’ll start in the backyard, weeding and watering, go to fetch something from the garage only to offer to help a neighbor. Could be someone next door or the woman two streets over who just had twins.

I pad quietly up the back hallway, looking at the pictures of my family; graduation photos, extended family, the picture of the whole family when half the cousins were still wishes for the future. Her bedroom is across from the den. As a little girl, I played here; lounging on the fur rug that I to this day don’t know whether was real or not. My last stop is always the bathroom. During family functions this was a haven of quiet. I’d hang out staring at the small blue tiles on the floor, the dated coloured bathtub that I remember being bathed in.

A year and a half ago, when the house was sold, I wasn’t upset. She declared that she no longer wanted to cook or care for a home. Quickly, her things were packed up and sent to the senior’s residence of her choice. At the time, it seemed to me like her logical next step. I wasn’t concerned or sad- she had told me that she would live to be 104 and I believed her. But now that she’s gone, I find myself returning to her gardens, her kitchen, all the rooms that contained, if only ever for brief minutes in her bustling life, her. Those walks through memory bring me comfort.

Killing Old People For Sport- Likely The Most Questionable Aspect of Student Life

I’m grieving my grandmother’s death but actually, for the past ten years, she’s been living on borrowed time. In reality Grandma should have died the day that we attempted to move the giant, white, lead elephant that was masquerading as a freezer in her basement.

That morning, my mother asked me to go to Grandma’s to help my sister. Mom phrased the demand like it was a reasonable request, being a respectful child, who was still in university and therefore living on her parents’ dime, I obliged. So off my sister and I went, supposedly to move a freezer, but actually to murder our grandmother.

We got there and discovered that the appliance in question was NOT in fact one of those charming, petite chest freezers meant for apartments but rather was a hulking, metal behemoth designed to house enough frozen food for a medium sized army. In “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”, the children burned down the house because it would have required a crane to move their deceased and beloved but morbidly obese mother. As far as I’m concerned, my grandmother’s freezer deserved this kind of ending. Not surprisingly, me, my sister and my grandmother discovered that we were unable to lift it ourselves.

“Not to worry girls” my grandmother cheerfully told us. “We’ll get Tommy from down the street- he’s very strong”. My sister and I pictured Tommy as a strapping nineteen year old who has a chin up bar installed on his bedroom door, the kind of guy who wears t-shirts with protein shake logos and whose vocabulary consists primarily of the words: bro, dude and Yeeeeeah! No – Tommy was another octogenarian, although supposedly a freakishly strong one based on Grandma’s faith that he could assist us in moving this freezer. Not recognizing that his demise was imminent, Tommy chatted happily as we walked back to the house, strategizing that we’d use carpet ends that Grandma had kicking around to slide the enormous, metal freezer across the basement and up the stairs.

It bears mentioning the stairs. Specifically the fact that had it snowed in my Grandma’s basement, the pitch of the stairs was so steep that Olympians could have competed for downhill skiing gold on these steps. Later in my grandmother’s life, when she finally acquiesced to having one of those chairlifts installed, cousins would take turns scaring the bejesus out of themselves by taking a ride, moving sideways down the steep slope. One can only conclude that four children gave Grandma nerves of steel even into her 90’s because I would smell like a decaying antelope before I’d ride that chair twice a day to do laundry.

I digress- this was the treacherous path that the gigantic freezer was supposed to take up and out of the house. Suddenly burning the place down to escape moving the  gargantuan appliance wasn’t looking so crazy.  When the freezer slid backwards down the stairs on the carpet ends and foiled Tommy’s plans to ease the process, it was decided that we would each grab a corner and hoist the enormous metal beast ourselves. Diana and I offered to lift from the bottom of the stairs but Tommy and Grandma insisted that they would take that position, essentially sealing their dark, flattened fate. It was like some sort of elderly Hunger Games with my Grandma and her friend volunteering as tributes. Despite our best protests, they gave Diana and me no choice.

Up the freezer went; slowly, painfully. There were a couple of tense, harrowing moments when someone had to adjust their grasp on the smooth metal. But after every other step Tommy would call out “Up we go now girls, Everything is tickety boo” or “Almost there now, Bob’s your uncle” while Diana and I exchanged skeptical looks because everything was NOT tickety boo and we had many uncles but Bob was not one of them.

The whole experience was horrifying, but the worst part was when we reached the steepest point of the stairs, the shape of the house meant that the top of the freezer almost met the ceiling, so for what felt like thirty minutes but was probably only three or four, we lost sight of Grandma and Tommy. I gripped the freezer tightly with my flimsy, pipecleaner-like arms, stepping up when Tommy’s muffled voice instructed, because even though I was going to be party to his manslaughter, the least I could do was listen to him. Once or twice Diana and I glanced at each other to silently commiserate about our poor choices that had led us here, an act that we’d no doubt continue for many years in prison as we served out our sentence for double senilicide.

Perhaps there was a guardian angel helping us, one who had spent its heavenly days bench pressing Bibles or other weighty items in the afterlife, but we managed to get the freezer up those steep, steep steps. To be honest, I can’t remember how we moved the freezer out of the house, or even how it was hoisted up into the bed of our truck. All of that is overwhelmed by the memory of the relief I felt when we turned the corner away from the stairs and Grandma’s white haired head came back into view.

The freezer made its way to Diana’s house at the university, where it remains, I’m assuming to this day because she left it there when she moved out. As sad as I am today over my grandmother’s recent passing, I’m grateful that she and Tommy survived that day and for all the memories we made during the years afterward.

Recognizing That This Is The Last Time

When you’re little, there are birthdays and anniversaries and holidays, but then people grow up, drift, and move away. Suddenly, it’s been ten years since you’ve clapped eyes on them. That’s where the big celebrations like marriages and funerals come in.

I understood the concept of funerals getting everyone near and dear together to help the family grieve, but what I didn’t understand, prior to my grandmother’s death was that this is the last party that is just for her. It’s the last party where you can talk all about her without seeming like a crazy person or stuck in the past. It’s the last time that you can demand of everyone you know to share a memory.

My sister and I always joke that our Dad, Aunt and Uncles always give hour long speeches at every family function. But instead of preparing to grin and bear my way through pages upon pages of dry retold family stories and hokey Dad-jokes, on the day of, I found myself wishing for more. Because this was the last time; there would be no more birthday celebrations with Grandma holding court in a funny birthday hat while her children reminisced behind a podium, and her grandchildren not so patiently listened. This was the last of the protracted speeches about my grandmother’s thriftiness. As my oldest Uncle stepped down and finished his speech, I longed to hear more.

Luckily, my cousin had challenged her Dad to share some untold stories about our beloved matriarch. My Aunt did the same- I learned that my grandmother had been a secretary when she was younger. I grabbed hold of these small new pearls of information about my grandma and held them close, turning them over in my mind as they revealed previously unknown facets of the woman I loved and admired so much. My own story was deemed inappropriate for the funeral, so I sang instead.

It was a feat for me to perform- I’ve lived several lives since the time when I pretended to be a musician and aquamarine pleather pants were a staple of my wardrobe. It took all of my focus to stand up and follow along with the music. The song ended and I was swept away in a deluge of grief.

I was crying in earnest when I returned to my seat. My cousin Candy reached over and held me in a hug, from behind I felt another cousin squeeze my shoulder. In that moment, I was transported to all of the times that my little cousins and I crouched underneath my grandmother’s pool table, hiding during a family game of sardines. I thought about how magical it was that we had all those memories together, that Grandma was the linchpin of it all. In that brief group embrace was the love of decades.

My entire life, I have lived in a big family. And for my entire life, my Grandma loved and gathered all of us together, she accepted us for who we were and that in turn fostered a culture of tolerance and support in my family. As a weirdo who has always marched to the beat of my own drum, I have depended on this unconditional love for the confidence to be myself.

Through my sadness, I marveled at what an incredible achievement it is to have a person’s life be a legacy of love and acceptance. That no matter what, our family had this one last time together to appreciate what an incredible woman my grandmother was. Then I sat and listened to who my Grandma was to each of my cousins; sports fan, role model, drill sergeant. All the while, I wished for one more story, one more prayer, one more song to remember and celebrate her life, because this was the last time.

You Are Aware Of How Rude It Is When You Stare At My Burgeoning Winter Babies, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Right?

Jeremiah and Ezekiel are my fat babies- I made them out of chocolate brownies and Nutella. I swear that there is some sort of biological response that FORCES everyone to stock up on adipose for the cold months. Sometimes, one can avoid it, for example last winter, I spent a lot of time strapping my tiny toddler baby to my back, throwing a parka rated for -40 Celsius over the both of us and traipsing about our rough northern town. Something about regularly hauling around almost a quarter of my body weight prevented me from putting on excess weight.

This winter? Not so much. For starters, my baby is a baby no more; he’s all but outgrown his carrier and can no longer fit comfortably in the parka with me. Meaning that going out involves shoving Mini-Tex into HIS parka, a garment he loves, and by loves I mean despises with the wrath of a thousand shrieking toddlers, if my son knew what matches were, he’d play with them in an attempt to rid the world of his evil blue snowsuit. As you might imagine, getting a disgruntled two year old into a full body parka is a challenge, one that ended with me receiving a black eye after a particularly forceful headbutt earlier this winter.

Even our ever hopeful, ever perky, twelve year old babysitters won’t take on the task- and they are up for anything. Consequently, my son and I have spent a lot of time inside. Like a lot a lot. During the day, I gaze out onto the snow covered mountain top that is our view and think “someday” and then I eat some goldfish crackers and wonder when I developed a mommy butt.

Once upon a time, when I spent my evenings doing, well to be honest I can’t remember what I actually did in my late twenties but rest assured it wasn’t singing “Old MacDonald” over and over a thousand times while I cooked dinner, anyway, once upon a time, when I was young, well youngish, during the winter, I’d name the winter weight on my butt. The belly pooch was “Jeremiah” after an obscenely attractive model that I once dated. And bringing up the rear was Erasmus. It’s been a number of years and one child since then, so I’ve since accepted my new posterior which moves both side to side AND somehow back to front. There’s a lot more butt which extends beyond my hips, thus allowing the forward and backward motion. At least that’s my personal theory on my newly mobile bum.

In light of the fact that this newly shaped butt is unlikely to go away, I’ve ceased calling it names, especially one so unfortunate as Erasmus. But in the meantime, the front of me is looking so large, that Jeremiah now has a twin- Ezekiel. And I’d prefer if everyone would stop looking at them, or at least stop caressing them and asking about my “good news”.

What the Hell Wednesday: Drunk Vampires Eating Nachos and other High Points in my Life

So there’s this site called “Storyworth that will send you or a loved one, questions and then compile the answers into a book to then be cherished by your family for generations. No one in my family, including myself, would be dedicated enough to complete such a task, however I thought it was an incredible idea, thus I’m sharing it with the world. As it is, Storyworth has a page of questions, each time you refresh the page, new questions pop up. The questions are taken from their bank of thousands of questions.

I’ve wanted to do a daily or weekly writing prompt and even though I’ve never actually looked at the WordPress prompts, I’ve concluded they’re too “uppity” for my style. So I’m going to shamelessly steal some of Storyworth’s questions, all the while plugging their business. For serious, if you have a more literary family than mine- try it! In the meantime, here are some questions that I’ve lifted from their site, in a new series that I’m calling “What the Hell? Wednesdays”

 

What were your favourite courses in college?

Actual college or Mickey Mouse college? Because I went to both. Well actually I went to university and then decided I was too successful, so shortly after, I enrolled in Mickey Mouse college. In university, I loved the history courses taught by this one professor who had a passion for the North, Canada and rural issues. I used to audit his courses because they brought me joy.

As a part of the Mickey Mouse college program, to fulfill the requirements for the J1 visa, everyone had to attend classes. I have this theory that Disney bought half of the school, a theory which was validated by the giant plaque thanking Disney for paying for a wing of the school. I’m assuming that included in the deal was the understanding that once a week, the international college program kids would descend upon the campus, and the instructors of the school would teach jokes instead of courses to meet the United States Visa requirement. Excerpts from my memories of this educational experience were: the “Leadership” course in which 80% of class time was spent watching Obama speeches, the “Timeshare” course- the highlight was when we visited a timeshare and got out of going to our other classes for the day. Without a doubt though, the piece de resistance will always be the “Wine” course.

It might have been titled “Wines of the World” because I have hazy recollections of France and Australia being mentioned but it just as easily could have been “Wine Consumption” given that’s what it was. Every afternoon, once a week, I would sit with a whole bunch of underpaid youth from all over the world and listen to a portly man drone on about wine. Exactly one person listened, the day before the exam, we all took turns pretending to read her notes. The rest of us sat and waited patiently for when the instructor told us that we could sample our wines. Each week we “appreciated” three wines. Whether the TAs in the course were looking for a Disney World ticket hook up or whether they just enjoyed watching all the tiny Mexican girls get drunk, I’ll never know but those were generous “tastes”. The large samples combined with our youthful choice of entertainment over groceries meant that most of the class entered slightly hungry and exited a little buzzed. I feel all post-secondary institutions could learn a thing or two from this class-it was one of my top moments in a classroom ever.

 

What is your favourite joke?

Question – “What do you call cheese that isn’t yours?”

Answer – “Nawt yo cheese” pronounced as “nacho cheese”

I love this joke so much. It makes me giggle hysterically every time while others groan and secretly plot to avoid future interactions with me. I wholly encourage you to share this awful joke with everyone you know. The only better piece of humour that I have is a knock knock joke told to me ten years ago by a four year old who didn’t understand knock knock jokes.

“Knock knock”

“Who’s there?”

“Vampire eat yowr FAAAAACE!”

It works best if you, the teller, laugh maniacally at your own joke afterwards.

 

When in life have you felt most alone? What gave you strength during those times?

I’m a mom. I am never alone. I actually just go to the bathroom with the door open because it’s easier than trying to open a closed door while peeing because your two year old is having a nuclear meltdown over not seeing you for thirty seconds.

What gives me strength during these times is wine. I’ve established that I love alcohol and my love of truly bad jokes proves that I’m an irresponsible adult.

 

If you could choose any talents to have, what would they be?

The ability to drum with my feet, obviously.