This Truly Isn’t Actually A Post. Please Stop Reading Here. It’s An Email. Who Puts Emails On Their Blog? The Same Jerks Whose Titles Are Five Sentences Long Probably. Also, Who Wants To Play “Stuffed Confetti Duck Hunt” With Me?

Dear Sula,

Ugh, just when I think I understand how the internet works- it turns out that I know nothing. Technology is unfair. Thank you for the lesson on Blind Carbon Copy. I’m now questioning everything that I thought I knew about email. I should probably just throw in the towel and get myself a carrier pigeon.

So I was thinking about life, our friendship and Sly Nyguyen. Because as “I Heart Huckbees” taught us, everything is a blanket. And even big movie stars sometimes screw up and act in seriously bizarre movies with no plot.

Anyways, so life. I’m reading David Sedaris’ biography and I’ve come to a number of conclusions the most important.

  1. My life is boring; I have no drug addictions, dependences and am a part of no minority groups. My strife is not strife. In fact, my life is so easy that it doesn’t even fall under first world problems.

(Aside- there is a convention of RVs going on outside my window. I wasn’t invited. Probably because I’m dull and putting people to sleep at the wheel would result in lots of casualties when giant RVs are involved.)

The worst thing that happened to me this week was I couldn’t find a matching sock because it was still in the hamper- so not strife. No one wants to read the book “The Sock that Wasn’t Missing”.
(Another aside, there are men preparing for a football game outside my front window. Possibly this is why there are collection of RVs? They’ve been out there all day and will be out there all night it looks like, presumably watching said football game that they are preparing for.

I cannot even fathom a sport that I would love so much that I’d spend all day in the sun marching up and down a field for it. Let’s invent a sport that you and I both can love. The sport would have to be outdoorsy and a little dangerous to suit you but at the same time whimsical and ridiculous, so I’d like it too.

Oh I know! Stuffed confetti duck hunt! It will be like skeet shooting but instead of  ceramic plates, which can’t be reused and are therefore not environmentally friendly, we’ll use plush ducks (fake obviously so as not to attract the ire of the silly PETA people and made from secondhand dog toys so as to meet my hippie ideals) filled with colourful seeds. So a person throws the ducks in the air, and then they explode wildflower seeds everywhere so gardens bloom afterwards. We’ll call it Quack Boom Rainbow. Or Quack Quack Boom? Quack Quack Colour?

This is what my life has come to. No longer am I out stealing stolen goods from under privileged youth, instead, my life is so perfect and dull that I’m reduced to brainstorming names for imaginary games that I invented.

Ooooh. What if instead of ducks, we shot plush raccoons? Because some people like ducks whereas raccoons, well they’re just the jerks who tip over your garbage cans and randomly move into your garage like unwelcome anarchists staging a protest about string cheese. And then you can’t get rid of them ever. I would love to shoot a polyester, confetti-filled raccoon. )

I can’t even remember what my point was. Also I’m pretty sure that the above paragraphs are an abuse of parenthesis.

Wait, I remember now- my life is dull, and I don’t have goals. David Sedaris had goals. Important goals, like staying sober and entering pieces into art shows or writing plays.

I don’t really have anything like that. I mean a couple of years ago, when my life was in ruins, I was all “These are my goals- I am getting my act together!” And I did. But I have a house, and a husband, and a son, and a job now. If I was to make a life list it would read something like this.

  1. Lose five pounds.
  2. Spend time with people who are not my husband.

Actually scratch that second one, it would read “Hang out with people who don’t live with you.” Because our au pair meets the criteria of the second goal and I’ve become super lazy, to the point that I don’t hang out with people who aren’t in my kitchen and my first goal could be accomplished with ease if I stopped treating chocolate cake like a food group. Did I mention how lazy I’ve become?

So from this line of thinking came my realization that we’ve entered the tweaking part of our lives. Not the “I’m hopped up on meth and tweaking” part but more the fine tuning portion of our lives. Ideally, we’re not just jumping up and randomly moving across the country for any old reason. Instead, changes, important changes, like reducing one’s daily intake of Black Forest cake are now the goals we achieve over time.

That was a really roundabout way of saying I now recognize that I haven’t been putting enough effort into being a friend to people that aren’t sitting on the couch next to me.

I was recalling when I first moved across the country and we had our weekly  girl chats. We’d sit there for an hour or so and it was OUR TIME. And it was awesome. However we’re about two years, a baby and an international border away from that point. Hence, an hour may not be an option. But what about fifteen minutes? Like fifteen dedicated minutes where I don’t have a baby saying “nursing, nursing” over and over, and you don’t have a hunky boyfriend asking you where to put the werewolf spleen for canning (or whatever beast is in season that month).

Because I don’t want to be lumped in with your former best friend Sly Nyguyen and not only because I’m certain I can’t fit into her tiny, pole-dancing shorts as a result of my recent obsession with a chocolate pudding cake. But mostly because you’re my friend and I value your words and the time we spend together, in whatever form it takes; in person, on the phone,  over Skype etc.

That’s my idea.

Also this may become a post. Because I had two hours of writing time set aside today and I used it talking to Gordy, vacuuming the obscure parts of the house that are difficult to cover with a baby on my back and writing this email. Technically I could stay up late and pen a post but did I mention how lazy I’ve become?

Miss you.

Love you,

Don’t lump me with those pole dancing ladies, it will be too awkward what with the fact that I stopped fitting into my sports bras over well two years ago.

Unwashed

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These Penises Aren’t For Me

The following is a text message conversation that occurred this past week.

February 8th 10:17 AM The Great Unwashed to Sula

“Can you do me a favour?”

February 8th 10:17 AM The Great Unwashed to Sula

“Can I send you a whole bunch of pictures of animal penises to print off?”

~The Great Unwashed realizes how strange this request sounds and sends a text message explaining the situation.~

February 8th 10:25 AM The Great Unwashed to Sula

“They’re not for me, they’re for my Mom.”

Recognizing that this statement might need further clarification, The Great Unwashed sends off yet another text.

February 8th 10:32 AM The Great Unwashed to Sula

“For Valentine’s Day”

In a show of just how understanding a friend she is Sula replies;

February 8th 11:04 AM Sula to The Great Unwashed

“No problem. Only in black and white though.”

This is the Valentine I had intended to send my mother on February 14th.

On the cover:

“Dear Mom,

I know you hate flowers so I decided to send you images of the genitals of other animals instead.”

“Happy Valentine’s Day, “written below a giant walrus stiffy

“I love you very much” written above an excited elephant.

And on the back “May you have a fun and unique day loving others “the text encircling a  picture of a seahorse about to get it on.

For everyone who isn’t a biologist, flowers are the fun bits of a plant. My mother is a scientist, so I thought she would get a kick out of my strange Valentine. That is until I saw a whole bunch of walrus stiffies. They’re totally awkward and not at all safe for work. Also the sight of them is enough to put anyone off love of any kind for a good, long time. Thus even I, in all my weirdness, could not send something so bizarre and pornographic to my mother. She got a nice email instead. And Sula got points for being an awesome friend who was willing to print out pictures of kangaroo goolies. Although I don’t think the strangeness of the request registered with her, seeing as Sula broke her boyfriend’s electric razor last week trying to clean up a mountain goat hide that she had skinned out herself. Apparently two foot long erection bones are just another day at the office for field biologists.

What’s In a Name? Would A Rose Called Monkeyrind Flapjack Not Smell As Sweet?

I met my friend Charity* during my first year of university. She was a shy, but academically driven student whereas I was a loud, party and boys obsessed person who often made it to class. Whether I was in any state to learn upon arriving to there was another thing, sometimes I’d walk in when it was twenty below out in just a t-shirt and short shorts while mouthing “laundry day” at those I passed. Other times I’d run in after the lecturer had started speaking, taking the stairs three at a time while sloshing my beverage everywhere. I almost never had my notes.

Not surprisingly, Charity wasn’t keen to hang out with a hot splashy mess. At first I sat next to my long suffering lab partner Niles*. This unlucky young man and I became friends because his habits of ironing his pants before class and wiping down plastic seats with his cloth handkerchief before sitting, let me know that this was a guy to follow- not only would he for sure have his notes printed off beforehand, he would be able to explain the concepts when I was totally lost. Because who else travels with a cloth handkerchief but the incredibly well organized? While Niles allowed himself one ditzy, flaky friend, the rest of his posse, including Charity, was academia and success bound whereas as I had more royal aspirations, specifically Prince Al’s, the diner frequented by students after the bars closed.

After some time, Charity and I became friends too. Charity quickly revealed herself to be the most responsible person I had ever known, despite being two years younger than me. She used breaks between classes to study, talked about studying more in the evening, was a writer for the science paper while aspiring for the post of the editor and played piano in her spare time. By contrast, if left to my own devices, I would head back to my residence for a nap any chance I got, studied infrequently and my extra-curricular activities consisted of macking on my boyfriend.

Charity regularly shocked me with her ambition and her ability, landing a coveted research grant during our second year. But even after witnessing all of her triumphs, when Charity revealed that she had named not only herself but her younger brother as well, I was shocked. One lives with their first name for a lifetime, bestowing that sort of power upon a child seemed unfathomable to me. I can recall distinctly going through as least four phases where I asked my mother (who refused) to call me something else; Tracy, Krissy, Jasmine, the list goes on. The fact that Charity managed to choose her English name at six years old when her family emigrated from China and stick with the moniker impressed me to no end. When she added the part about her sibling, I was utterly flabbergasted. Had I been given the same power, Diana would be known as Princess Sparklehorn right now, or some other equally ridiculous title.

Conversely, Charity managed to give herself a name she liked and continues to live with. Her brother also still goes by the name Charity picked. As a result, Charity’s offhand comment that she regrets her choice of Unwashed nom de plume, on a Facebook thread about my last post caught me by surprise. To date, she is the only person who has picked their pseudonym on my blog. Four years ago, I was writing a lot of nonsense about naïve people in my life with hearts of gold and giving them stripper names like “Candy” just to be funny. To keep with the theme Charity chose her name here thusly, there was no way for her know that my blog would endure or that my focus would shift from strippers to bunnies.

Anyways, this is a long way of saying that I’m giving my friend the opportunity to change her name here. Because if one must have second thoughts about christening a person, it’s better that it should be in blog form; there’s less paperwork involved in changing it. So far for legal titles which end up on passports and driver’s licenses, my friend is two for two, let’s all wish her luck because in February that number will change to three when she has her little girl.

As for her online presence here at The Great Unwashed, I’m probably going to suggest that my friend shy away from the bunny theme; one never knows when I’ll take up a fascination with armadillos or blenders thus rendering all things Playboy passé.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of those who are more intelligent than me and therefore able to carry out devious plans involving salmonella or some other such unpleasant species that they’ve worked with.

That Time I Made A Murder-Suicide Pact

My life was ending. As far as I was concerned, everything good was moving four hours away, so in my car-less life there were only two reasonable options; kill or be killed. Luckily Sula felt the same way. And so, without vocalizing our intent, a murder suicide pact was made. The night before my best friend moved away forever, we decided that the best way to mark this occasion was to drink ourselves to death.

In lieu of beer pong, we took a shot for each happy memory, throwing alcohol down our throats in an attempt to obliterate the knowledge that spontaneously popping over after work, after church, before bed, just because, would never again be an option.

The evening started with wine. Toasting all the nights we had spent eating, “like peasants” as Sula’s brother would joke, with just one light on. We drank because never again would I keep a stash of my favourite vino in Sula’s fridge because I was there so often. Pouring out the last our bottles; red for Sula, white for me, we celebrated all of the hours spent sitting in our pyjamas working diligently on our respective projects.

I poured stolen Baileys onto ice cubes to commemorate when Sula learned how to crochet left handed in order to teach me the beloved pastime. We tossed back a second mug of that delicious, creamy liquor while reminiscing about my inability to line dance and the Friday nights that we walked down the street to the local bar to take lessons after dinner.

With a bit of spray and a satisfying crack, cans of cider were opened and consumed as Sula and I talked of all the weekend when we spent first the morning at the Farmer’s Market and later paddleboarding or cross country skiing at the local provincial park in the afternoon. It was at that point that we decided to take our goodbye party on the road. Specifically down the street to that same bar where I used to crash into strangers while attempting to learn the electric slide.

At the bar, while slugging back beer, we sat on top of a picnic table and stared up at the night sky trying to brainstorm ways we could continue our craft nights, sewing tutorials, dance lessons and hiking trips. In the place of a solution, we ordered more beer.

Initially we believed that our attempt had been unsuccessful, until we woke up the next morning with the most killer hangover in history. Sula and I spent the day running back and forth to the bathroom or dry heaving into the sink when the other person beat us to the coveted porcelain spot. Despite our painful heads and certainty that the end was near, at six o’clock Sula packed up her belongings and drove off forever. I couldn’t have pictured a more appropriate send off.

This post is dedicated to Sula who is once again heading off into the frigid north. Good luck lady, I’m glad that you graduated from crouching in the woods with bears at night to walking the tundra during the day. And even more glad for the giant anti-polar bear rifle you carry.

That Time I Proved I Was Inefficient and a Weenie

It’s possible to love someone to the ends of the earth but to also realize that you could never work with them. Sula spends three months of the year living in the Arctic without running water, electricity, and heat. In my heart, I knew that not only am I neither tough enough nor brave enough to do this but that I possess nowhere near the amount of common sense to make a field season happen. I proved this fact repeatedly the last time Sula came to visit and we hiked into the back country to camp.

After returning from the Arctic not only did Sula have the best pack, she was also the heartiest, having carried guns, science equipment and everything needed to survive on her back all day, every day for the previous three months, thus she was given the heaviest load. (Did I mention she returned with a six pack? And not the alcoholic kind.) By contrast, at almost five months pregnant and carrying a pack that Tex bought for five dollars that proceeded to fall apart over our eight kilometer hike in and out of the backcountry, I was given the smallest load and Maddie, who functioned as a kind of a doggie tow rope for my exhausted self.

Everything was going fine, we arrived at the camp and Sula was tasked with setting up the tent given that she can set up equipment that she’s never seen in complete darkness, in the middle of a howling blizzard with no instructions and both eyes closed.

indextent

This wold take Sula all of ten minutes, And thats with a coffee break. (Photo Credit : pinterest.com)

I was asked to get water, an errand normally completed by Tex when he and I camp together.

Even though it was summer, Tex and I live in the very, very, very far North, which is to say that there are approximately two days a year when one would want to swim outside, and both of those days occur in July. Sula and I went camping at the end of August so the water was exceptionally cold. Prior to filling the collapsible camping bucket, I removed my shoes and waded out, my knee may have bumped an iceberg or two in the process and I shrieked in pain and surprise.

Always the leader, in hearing the most vulnerable member of her crew scream, Sula ran from the tent, down to the beach to make sure I was ok. “I’m fine” I called to her, “Just getting water. See?” Emerging from the liquid frozen abyss, I proudly showed Sula the fruits of my labour- a bucket of water so murky with sand and “seaweed bitties” that one would never be able to drink it. If I’m being honest, there may have been a small fish or two in my gathered water as well. Sula nicely explained that it wasn’t potable even if we did strain it, which would leave approximately two teaspoons of clean water

indexseaweed

What do you mean we can’t drink the beach? (Photo Credit tcpermaculture.blogspot.com)

and then pointed to a more appropriate location to gather clean seaweed and crayfish free liquid.

Aside from spilling the first bucket of clean, “bitty-free” water I gathered on the beach, things started looking up from there. That is until I set my socks on fire twenty minutes later. Thankfully they weren’t on my feet at the time, they were only drying next to the fire. The night continued to go downhill when I revealed that Sula had packed in two litres of milk and a giant container of potato salad for dinner. Jokes were made about how I will be made to carry a lasagna in a Pyrex dish into the back country when Sula is pregnant.

Between my dismal packing abilities, dramatic over reactions to water and partial lack of common sense, as we were hiking slowly back to civilization I turned to Sula and asked “I could never come to the Arctic with you could I?”

“You could,” Sula answered kindly, “I’d just have to send you back in the twin otter airplane before you ever touched the tundra.”

The neat part about close friends is that even if you can’t ever work with them, you can still have all kinds of fun.

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(Photo Credit : Sula)

Mixed Signals and Mistaken Identities

“You’re going to be mistaken for a lesbian couple” Sula’s* mom told her upon learning that I would be attending the banquet of Sula’s scientific conference as her date. Prior to this comment it had never occurred to Sula that someone might assume we are a couple.

Tragically my actions and words did nothing to dispel this potential rumour. For starters while watching Sula get ready, the words “You always look beautiful to me” may have come out of my mouth multiple times, thus leaving her lab mate Joel** wondering whether after the professional function, we were going to retire to our room and have naked pillow fights then cuddle.

Also, Sula wore a gorgeous red dress which attracted a lot of attention. In the cocktail groups that formed, men would work in the comment “You look stunning by the way” at which point Joel would quip, “you’re like the tenth person to say that” then I would eagerly add “but I was the first!” To add to the mixed signal fire, during dinner, Sula and I discussed our shared dream of running away together and raising our love child.

I don’t think these comments and discussions helped our platonic relationship cause. Luckily Sula has experience with wrongly assumed roles. One Christmas, she and her brother decided to have photos taken together for their mother’s gift. At first everything went smoothly; Sula found a studio in the mall and showed up with her tall, good looking brother. This was the part where things went off the rails. The photographer kept asking Sula to touch her brother in the photos and lean against him in the poses. It was only when they were lying on the ground on top of one another that Sula’s brother intervened “You know we’re brother and sister right?” he said. The direction of the photography session changed drastically after that.

Having heard this story before arriving at the conference, I unabashedly shared my love for Sula with anyone who would listen. Happily, she wasn’t too embarrassed. However, only time will tell if I’m invited to attend another of her work functions.

Addendum

After spending two glorious days together, Sula and I were dropped off at the airport by a twelve year old boy who was responsible for driving the shuttle. “What were you doing in the city?” he kindly asked Sula and I. “She had a conference and I was her date.” I answered. “Because I love her” and “She was the best looking lady there” may have been added in there too. This prompted the young man to ask “Did you go on any other dates while you were here?”

Mark one for effectively convincing a stranger of our couple status.

From Far Away

I almost didn’t take the call. In fact I almost hung up the phone. When my behemoth, construction worker cell phone started to vibrate on my desk in the middle of the day I thought “Who is calling me while I’m at work?” The twelve digit phone number was a question in and of itself. Against my better judgment, I pressed “talk”

“Hello?” I said to silence.

“Hello?” I repeated, waiting a beat to conclude it was a telemarketer. The moment I was about to pull the phone away from my ear to press “end call”, I heard the words that only one person in my life ever says.

“The Great Unwashed”

There is exactly one person in this whole world who loves to say my full name as much as I do.

“Sula!” I half cried and half cheered into the phone. Then my words became a hurried conjoined sentence as my brain tried to right itself from the surprise of hearing that voice, her voice, the one I had been missing for nearly a month; “Imissyousomuch.Icantbelieveyou’recallingme.HowistheArctic?”

“What?” My beloved friend yelled from across the frozen country.

“HowistheArctic?” I repeated.

“You have to talk slower it’s a satellite phone.” She explained, her words staccato stripes through the crackly connection.

“How is the Arctic?” I repeated slower this time, my brain which was slowly catching up to the situation was able to process instructions and the limitations of incredible, new technology which allowed me to hear my friend’s voice over a distance of thousands of uninhabited desolate kilometers.

“It’s cold.” Sula laughed, “It snowed today.”

Knowing how badly that would affect her work and research, I apologized, then my brain finally recognized that I was talking to my cherished friend who was in THE ARCTIC, and blurted out another rushed sentence; Areyousafe? Isthecrewsafe?

“Orry?” Her voice, went in and out over the tenuous connection.

“Are you safe?” I enunciated loudly.

“Yes, I’m safe.” She replied.

“Is the crew safe?” I asked more tentatively, not wanting to hope too hard that she and thus we could possibly be that fortunate.

“Yes, we’re all fine and getting along.” She laughed in the way that only someone who understands how to foster easy camaraderie in the most terrible of conditions can.

A small lump formed in my throat from relief and joy at these last two statements, but then I remembered the sight of my friend’s hands when she returned from our true Great North last summer. The rippling scars that crisscrossed her skin, from small cuts received in the field, which in the cold climate that prevented adequate circulation, were unable to heal. “How are your hands and feet?” I asked worriedly.

“They’re fine.” She assured me.

Next she inquired about my medical condition. Last year, when life was hard, but truly just its run of the mill self, I didn’t warrant such luxuries as the sound of Sula’s voice from the middle of the tundra. Especially in the midst of antenna problems, this made already tenuous connections nearly impossible to keep. This year, an improved antenna bought me just under ten minutes of short shouted statements. I was elated.

I stayed late at work that night, and puttered about at home for an hour or so before I realized- I hadn’t called Sula’s mom, Mrs. Jackson. I rushed to the outlet where my cell phone was charging, the effort of holding the connection with the satellite phone having exhausted the battery.

“I talked to her today, she’s safe.” The words tumbled out of my mouth, I was so eager for Mrs. Jackson to feel my relief. While she’s in the Arctic, Sula and her crew are busy and although occasional calls home are permitted, they’re expensive – think 1960’s trans-Atlantic phone rates but adjusted for inflation. I had received one of her two monthly calls, thus it was my job to share the good news with everyone important in her life; for today Sula is safe, and her crew is safe.

Sula loves her work and is successful. Thus being her biggest fan (next to her Mom of course) I love and support her work too. That being said, sometimes being the person who is left, the one who can only worry about cold and polar bear visits and all of the other dangers that are inherent to the Arctic and thus Sula’s work, is hard at times, which is why short conversations, the knowledge that for the moment she is safe, are reassuring. Sula, ever the adventurer counts down until she leaves for the Arctic, the rest of us count the days until she returns. Safe travels my friend, 44 day until you are home once again.

This Is Goodbye, This Is I Love You

Sula*, my friend, who I am so close with that we are occasionally mistaken for a couple, (admittedly I do everything in my power, short of snogging her, to make the world think this) is leaving today. FOREVER.

Ok not quite forever but eleven weeks is a super long time. That’s like eight chihuahuas in dog years. For someone who speaks with Sula as often as twice a day, this is an interminable length of time.

We just finished our last Skype conversation together; we laughed and we cried, mostly because we were laughing so hard about the existence of penis cancer (Men- wash your willies). And then we said goodbye. It was terrible, like that moment with the plane in Casablanca. However unlike Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, Sula and I shall be reunited and it shall be glorious.

Similar to this.

Dear Sula, I love you so much that I'll even be the beardy one in this scene. (Photo Credit : www.telegraph.co.uk)

Dear Sula, I love you so much that I’ll even be the beardy one in this scene. (Photo Credit : http://www.telegraph.co.uk)

In the mean time, I shall content myself with dreaming of our future and growing old together when she returns.

We shall build sand castles with strangers and shovels. (Photo Credit :www.pressherald.com)

We shall build sand castles with strangers and shovels. (Photo Credit :www.pressherald.com)

We will bungee jump and septagenarians and the force of our love shall keep us and our bones together. (Photo Credit:  www.dailmail.co.uk)

We will bungee jump as septagenarians and the force of our love shall keep us and our bones together. (Photo Credit: http://www.dailmail.co.uk)

And then at some point we will decide that we’ve had enough excitement and shall stay home to craft and eat bear pizza.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of those who will laugh at the concept of a cancer caused by poor hygiene with me. Also take note this post is 265 words- you can do it.

Your Mother Is So

“Here have a look” Sula held up her Blackberry screen which was also a mirror so I could inspect the braid she had just put in my hair. “That’s useful” I commented on her dual purpose mirror/phone cover “Your mother?” I asked using our personal shorthand of “That item looks so useful that only your mother who possesses impeccable taste could have picked it out”. “No, me actually” Sula replied.

I was surprised. Almost everything beautiful and multi-purpose in Sula’s house and wardrobe was chosen by her mother. Her mom’s particular brand of style and elegance are at work in every aspect of Sula’s life and by virtue of being Sula’s close friend, some of Sula’s mother’s good taste spills into my life too. When she lived in my city, Sula’s house was beautifully decorated and artfully arranged, because of this, it was a hub of social activity; people wanted to be there. I remember helping Sula move in and watching her mother direct where to put the furniture to create the warmest atmosphere then heading out to choose drapes to accent the room.

Sula’s Mom prides herself on being a Mom; Sula’s parents live thirty seconds from my Dad’s house so when Sula and I lived in the same city, we would frequently carpool back and forth on weekends. My job once we got back home was to hold onto Maddie while Sula unloaded the endless bags of groceries and things her mother had sent back with her. The weeks afterward, on craft nights, Sula and I would feast on delicious delicacies. “Where did you get this?” I would ask, hungrily eyeing my forkful of salad covered in a layer of delectable bee pollen. “My mother” Sula would say.

Eventually I stopped asking about the origins of items and instead just commented when I borrowed Sula’s winter boots which made my feet warmer and more comfy than they’d ever been in the winter; “I love your mother’s taste”.

Even before Sula’s parents’ home became my go to place and the locale of many a drunken discussion with Sula, I felt I knew Sula’s mom, through her choices of upholstery, through Sula’s stories of her mother’s adventures with her sorority. I saw Sula’s mother’s commitment to her friends and family in Sula by the way she valued our friendship and how much time she devoted to her perfect little spaniel. From bee pollen to a perfectly designed, tailor-made purple dress which is so gorgeous that I beg Sula to wear it every time I see her, Sula’s life in filled with her mother’s charm and care.

Let’s have a cheer for loving women who enjoy nothing more than sharing the best of themselves with others that allow the joke “Your mother is so” to become a conversation piece; your mother is so stylish, your mother is so intelligent, your mother is so kind, your mother is so welcoming.

If you have such a lovely lady like Sula’s mom in your life, please leave a warm comment below because even in the midst of a difficult time, Sula’s mother is somehow finding the energy to help me.

A Valentine to my Best Lady

Dear Sula*,

I love you. I love you in a way that is so fierce, passionate and big, that for a time my WASPy family expected that I would run away with you and we would live together in rapturous lesbian sin. If I was even a little bit into girls, I would have bought a house, married you, and happily eaten the questionable wild game labeled “STEAK” out of your freezer every night by now. For the record, our children would have been beautiful. Also you really need to inform the hunters who you taxidermy for that calling muskrat or coyote meat “steak” doesn’t make it so.

Each day, I grow more proud of you. Your love for your work and commitment to science is remarkable. Little wonder that so many companies want to associate you with their brand- it’s clear that you and your arctic research are going places. The only person who was surprised by your decision to go back to school was you. When you returned from your extremely successful field season, the only person who was amazed by your ability to lead a crew of five people to collect great data in a camp without running water or electricity again, was you.

Sula also didn't have electricity here. She had the gall to call her visit to this place "a vacation" despite driving on a road so rough that it blew a tire. (Photo Credit http://northofthegrid.com)

Sula also didn’t have electricity here. She had the gall to call her visit to this place “a vacation” despite driving on a road so rough that it blew a tire. (Photo Credit http://northofthegrid.com)

Sula, you have a shine, even when doing something as mundane as cooking bear pizza, which to date is the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth, you emit a radiance that people flock to. My most cherished memories of the past two years were the nights we spent together eating dinner then crafting by your fireplace.

Your friendship has meant so much to me. You offered your house as a place of respite when my own home became a sad, scary place to be. I can’t count the number of nights that I stopped there on my way home from work, just to spend a short time with you and Maddie, to gather enough courage to face my life. Our innate understanding of each other brought me such comfort when my whole life was in upheaval. You are my favourite person to talk about everything with because of that.

I supported and was delighted by your decision to pursue your PhD, but even still, your moving away broke my heart a little bit. Thank you so much for choosing to store your furniture at my house, sitting on your couch, in the living room of my new home consoled me. Though you yourself weren’t there, the memories we shared were; when you learned to crochet left-handed in order to teach me how, the hours you spent afterwards sitting next to me checking my growing blob of stitches, the time that I glued my hands together making a scrapbook tree out of found materials, or when I would munch on lettuce leaves ripped fresh from the huge potter that always sat in your living room.

I will hold those evenings, and all the other experiences we’ve had together, dear to me always. I can’t wait to hear of your new arctic adventures this coming spring and for our conversations and visits to come.

Love always,

The Great Unwashed

*Names have been changed because I get grumpy when even one person crashes Sula and my time together let alone the whole internet. Back off interwebs, she’s mine.

Some of my family members have a weaker grasp of technology than me, which is to say, I occasionally arrive home to find them sitting in the dark because the contractor put in fancy light switches. The following instruction is for them. If you click on the picture below, it will take you to Sula’s website of science and wonder.

Photo Credit: northofthegrid.com

Photo Credit: northofthegrid.com