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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Me a hoarder?

I admit it. I am a clothes hoarder... and a shoe hoarder... a purse hoarder... and jeweler.

That's all. That's all I hoard. I swear.
We've been married almost twenty years and hubby still only has one drawer in the bedroom. I keep telling him it's because I haven't decided if I am keeping him or not.

Truth is I have every drawer and closet in the house bursting with stuff.  I am afraid to answer the door when the bell rings because it could be the A&E network bursting in to do an intervention and force me on that Hoarding show.
I not only have my closet full but I have my daughters and I just put two big closets in the upstairs hall to hold my suits and dresses!

Shoes! I AM the old lady who lived in the shoe! I am afraid to count how many pairs I have.
Every week I buy more! Not just for me but for my kids too.

A few weeks ago I decided enough is enough. It's time to get that hoarding monkey off my back. I took a box of those big orange leave bags and decided to clean out the closets.
Rule number one: If I haven't worn it in the last year, it has to go.

Rule number two: If it's older than my children, it has to go.
Rule number three: Unless it's a wedding dress or a Christening gown, clothes do not have sentimental value.

Fill those bags. I realized as I was going through my stuff it was really a museum to the 80s, 90s and 2000s.
I did good. I threw out all my Lady Diana blouses (the ones with the lace collar and black string tie). Notice I said "Lady" Diana, not "Princess" Diana. My blouses even predate her royal title.

A white leather mini skirt (What the hell was I thinking).  I wore that to the Tina Turner concert at St. John's Memorial Stadium with shiny black leather four inch heels and fish-net nylons. I used a full can of Aqua-Net to hold my Tina Look-a-like hairdo in place.  Now that I think about it, I looked more like a drag-queen imitating Tina. Because of the 80s, there's a hole in the ozone layer with my name on it.
Jeans in size 12, 10, 9,8 and even a 6! Yes, Like Oprah, I am every woman or at least I've been every size over the past  twenty years. I even found a pair of Jordache jeans that I remember dancing to Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"  at Club Max. There was a pair of Calvin Klein. Apparently nothing comes between me and my Calvin's, not even a few decades. And of course, the pièce de résistance - the jeans with the hundreds of rips up and down the legs. The ones that would send my Mother into a complete tizzy!

Maternity clothes, like I was ever going to wear them again!
Painting clothes, like I was ever going to wear them again!

Half way through my closet the decade changes to the 90s. I remember having the "The Rachel"  hair cut like every other girl on George Street.
I did find a pair of jean over-alls that I wore everywhere! And yes, I did wear them with one strap undone. I remember dancing up George Street to "Come on Eileen" in those.

In the back of the basement closet I found my red Doc Martens. I bought them in Toronto around 1991. I was too cool for school in these beauties. I wore them with Madonna lace skirts, my Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, dresses, bike shorts, you name it. If these boots could talk I would have to put them in a witness protection program. Now they're on their way to the Salvation Army. It's like giving a friend away.
My closets are like a tribute to musical history. Directly influenced by Tina Turner, Madonna, Wham and every other artiest that made the 80's and 90's fun.

My clothes made a drastic change around the late 90s and into the 2000s. That's when I supposedly grew up.  I had children and went from a partier to a professional.
Mini shirts changed to respectable suits and four inch heels and Doc Martens were sent to the down stairs closet to make way for sleeker, more professional shoes. The fish nets were thrown out to make way for control-top panty hose. My jeans turned darker with no rips or patches. Suddenly I had a closet of "Big girl" clothes.

It took two days to clean out my closet and my children's. In all, eight big orange garbage bags were carted off to the Salvation Army. Eight big bags of memories, bad decisions, impulse buys and "I once looked hot in that" items were sent off to a place where other people will get a chance to wear them.
I couldn't help but wonder how much all that stuff cost me over the years. There's probably thousands of dollars in those bags. Some of it may still be on my credit card statement.

It's time to let the 80s and the 90s go and die in piece. After all, even Danny changed his 80's hairdo and put it on the side.
I imagine that some afternoon I will be driving downtown and a homeless person will cross the street in front of my car. She'll be wearing my red Doc Martens, ripped Calvin Kleins and lace Madonna top. I'll roll down the window and scream to the top of my lungs, "YOU GO GIRL! YOU LOOK HOT! THE 80s ROCK!"

Thursday, August 16, 2012

There's no "pause" in menopause!

I have been driving around the indoor parking lot at the Avalon Mall for about twenty minutes. A couple comes out through the door and walks toward their car. I am parked in the middle of the lot waiting to see where their car is. They walk past me and up to the next parking isle. I quickly put the car in drive and whip around the corner to get to their spot. I am patiently waiting another five minutes for them to leave.  Just as they pull out a little red car pulls in my parking space! I am sitting there thinking "You saw me waiting!" A young blond woman gets out of the car and I say "Excuse me, you saw me waiting for that spot." She smiles and gives me the middle finger then walks away. A dark force takes over my body and I am pretty sure this is what an out-of-body experience feels like. My face is blood red and there's steam coming out of my ears like a cartoon character. That scene from "Fried Green Tomatoes" comes to my mind. The one where Kathy Bates is in the Winn Dixie parking lot and the two girls in the red Volkswagen takes her spot. They say "Face it lady were younger and faster." Then she slams into the back of their car over and over again and says, "I am older and have more insurance."  I put the car in drive, take a deep breath....and think about doing it. Then I realize my daughter is in the car with me and that wouldn't be setting a good example for her. I drive away. But in my head I ram the back of that car a dozen times screaming "I am older bitch and I have more insurance!"

It's menopause and there's no pause in menopause!
Irritability, mood swings, sudden burst of crying. They're all part of this new phase in my life.

The number one symptom... Hot flashes, cold flashes and night sweats. God damn that Eve for eating the apple. I thought he was a merciful God. It's been centuries, how long can you hold a grudge? We bleed and cramp for half our lives and then we change over to menopause! What the hell do men get? Bald? Really? Bald is a punishment? How is that fair? Men go through menopause buy sports cars and date younger women. Then pretend no one notices the 30 year age difference. Women get menopause and get an early taste of hell!
I am standing in the checkout line at Walmart. There's twenty checkouts and four open. There's a lineup at every one of them. I finally get up to the cashier. I am next in line. It's uncommonly hot outside for St. John's and very hot in the store. A hot flash hits. The sweat is dripping from my forehead. My hair is soaking wet and turned into a mass of curls. I could drown a small child between my boobs. The lady in front of me puts her items on the conveyer belt. She picked the one golf shirt that doesn't have a tag. I give her the evil eye but it seems like the most important thing in her life is buying this golf shirt. The cashier pages someone from the men's department. Then waits. In my head I am wrestling this woman to the ground screaming "I got your tag right here!" She pages the salesperson again and we wait. Still no one. I am ready to start stripping in the store. My T-shirt is drenched. I am loudly tapping my fingers on the shopping card and humming a death march while the cashier is looking nervous. She pages the salesperson again and we wait. So I take the phone from her hand, hit the button and say, "Will the incompetent fuck in the men's department who is ignoring the pages grab the $7.00 golf shirt and bring it over to this God damn bitch."

Luckily I only did that in my head not in real life. But I wanted to. It's all part of the mood swings and irritability.
Two other  symptoms, fatigue and trouble sleeping.

I am so exhausted I can barely get up the stairs to the bedroom. I fall in the bed. It's 11:30. Then it's midnight. Then it's 12:30. Then it's 1:00 AM. Then a hot flash hits. Hubby has his sleep apnea machine on and he is happily snoring away. I want to smash the clock into his face. I decide to turn on the ceiling fan instead. I pull the chain. Is it one pull or two pulls to make the air cool? I can't remember. One pull doesn't seem to work. I yank it again. It's faster but I think it's going the wrong way. I yank it again and it stops. I yank it again and it goes in the other direction. I don't feel any cool air. So I yank it again. It goes faster. I think the first way it spun was the right way. So I yank it again. It's spinning out of control, rocking in the ceiling like it's going to take flight at any moment. I am like a downtown hooker, I can't remember how many yanks I pulled! I am tired, irritable and now my hair and nighty are soaked in sweat. Hubby wakes up to find me standing on the bed hanging from the ceiling fan. The look on his face is sheer terror.  I look like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. My head does a 360 turn and my demon voice says "Fix the fan or you're going to die!" he gets up and yanks the chain and it magically works. He sleeps with one eye open for the rest of the night. I just levitate above the bed.
Welcome to menopause. You have to change your underwear every time you sneeze and you can't remember what you were ranting about five minutes ago.

I don't know why the armed forces don't recruit women going through menopause for front line duty. Can you imagine an army of us with submachine guns and tanks. "Ya I got your peace talks right here Mr. Taliban! Bring it on."
When does it end? Research I found says it could go on for five to ten years!

But I know I am not the only one. Through my research I found the following news story from Sarasota, Florida. I say, "Go sister!"
This is a true account as recorded in the Police Log of Sarasota, Florida:
An elderly Florida lady (over 55) did her shopping and, upon returning to her car, found four males in the act of leaving with her vehicle. She dropped her shopping bags and drew her handgun, proceeding to scream at the top of her voice, "I have a gun, and I know how to use it! Get out of the car!" The four men didn't wait for a second invitation. They got out and ran like mad.

The lady, somewhat shaken, then proceeded to load her shopping bags into the back of the car and got into the driver's seat. She was so shaken that she could not get her key into the ignition; for the same reason, she did not understand why there was a football, a Frisbee and two 12-packs of beer in the front seat!
She tried and tried, and then it dawned on her why...A few minutes later, she found her own car parked four or five spaces farther down. She loaded her bags into the car and drove to the police station to report her mistake. The sergeant to whom she told the story couldn't stop laughing. He pointed to the other end of the counter, where four pale teenagers were reporting a car-jacking by a mad, elderly woman described as white, less than five feet tall, glasses, curly white hair, and carrying a large handgun.

No charges were filed. If you're going to have a Menopause Moment, make it memorable!

Monday, August 13, 2012

ABBA: Gotta Get the Scoop!

Oh my God we went to see Spirit of Newfoundland's show "ABBA: Gotta Get the Scoop!"

Ladies make sure you're wearing your Poise Pads because you'll pee your pants.
If you're expecting to see a rip-off of the "Momma Mia" musical, forget it. This is the Newfoundland and Labrador version of ABBA and no one can do it like Spirit of Newfoundland.

It's brilliantly written by Peter Halley and Deborah Wells-Smith. It's ABBA with a Island spin and the talent is phenomenal!
It stars Peter Halley, Darrin Martin, Shelley Neville and Robyn Sears with a multi-talented backup band and five-star meal to boot.

Peter Halley!!!  I loves Peter Halley! Couldn't you just kiss the face right off that? If Peter Halley sat beside me in high school, (I would have failed) I would have been sent to the principal's office every day because he would have made me laugh until I got the strap from Sister Crotty. He's a multi-talented singer, dancer and actor. Not to mention cute as a seal pup. I mean if Hollywood is casting for the lead in Fifty Shades of Gray then I hope they're considering Peter for the lead role of Christian Gray (not that I read that smut), if not for the Empire Theatre version, then at least for the internet version that we'll all have to download later on. Peter is the Artistic Director of Spirit of Newfoundland and really one of the province's leading talents. Did I mention, I loves Peter Halley!
Now, you can accuse me of being a little biased when it comes to Darrin Martin. He is my daughter's vocal coach at Rock City. In two years he took my daughter from singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star to standing on stage with a full, live rock band singing The Beatles "Let It Be." I truly cried when I heard her. Darrin is an amazing talent in his own right. I've often heard him singing with my daughter while I was waiting for her outside the rehearsal room but never really appreciated his true talent until I heard him sing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" in Spirit of Newfoundland Show's "Simon and Garfunkel."  I literally sat there with my mouth open thinking "This is the my daughters' vocal coach? How lucky am I?"  He has recently released a new album of original music entitled "In My Lifetime" which local radio stations should be playing. Darrin is also the lead singer of the local cover band 709. He has his own web site at  http://www.darrinmartin.vze.com/  (In the picture: Shelley Neville and Darrin Martin pose with my daughter and her friend after the show.

I just out and out love Shelley Neville. She made me laugh and cry in the Spirit of Newfoundland's "Patsy Cline" show. She really sends chills down my spine when she sings. I mean this lady could sing the St. John's phone book and you wouldn't even get up to pee when she got to the ten pages of Murphys. I know she is a music teacher at a school in St. John's but I don't know which one, mainly because of the new stalking laws but if I did, I would sell my house and move to her district. If you have a child who is lucky enough to have her as a music teacher I hope you don't waste your energy on silly things like math and science. Holly crap! You have Shelley Neville for a music teacher!!! Force the kid to join choir! Shelley not only has her Bachelor of Music Education from MUN but she has studied at the Opera Division (Honours) of the University of Toronto where she also completed an Artist Diploma (Again Honours) in Voice and received the Most Distinguished Graduate Award. She has her Masters in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from MUN. So unless you have Einstein teaching your kid science I strongly suggest you get them in the music program at Shelley's school.
This is the second time I've seen Robyn Sears perform with the group. I saw her in Nunsense and loved it. She was hysterical in her Nun's habit. Robyn Sears has an amazing voice, is funny as hell, has the face of a Barbie Doll, a size "0" body and legs that are two miles long. In case you don't already hate her, she's a natural blond (I know because she didn't have skunk-head - the dark roots with the blond ends).  After hearing her sing in this show, I now know why the brunette hated the blond in ABBA. She certainly holds her own. Her banter back and forth with Peter had perfect timing and wit. Anyone who can keep up with Peter like that has to have a natural talent. Did I mention, I loves Peter Halley?

Behind this amazing line-up is a wonderful band. Really! It's part of the "Wonderful Grand Band!" Playing drums is Paul (Boomer) Stamp and on guitar is Sandy Morris, original members of the legendary  "Wonderful Grand Band." I was sitting in the audience wondering if those watching realized part of the Wonderful Grand Band was backing up these performers. Seriously, that's like going to Winnipeg to see a dinner theatre and having the "Guess Who" play the background music! But I have to admit I never thought I'd see Sandy Morris or Boomer play "Dancing Queen" in my lifetime. It shows how  great they really are.
The food is excellent. We had the salmon dish and loved it. Hubby is trying to Google the recipe as I type. I hope he finds it. You won't leave hungry.

This is an excellent night out. We brought our 12-year-old daughter and her best friend. The show was appropriate for all ages. When you hear Peter sing "Take Your Teeth Out Nan Tell Me What's Wrong" you'll never be able to listen to "Chiquita" again without singing his lyrics. Did I mention I loves Peter Halley?
If you're wondering, Spirit of Newfoundland does not pay me to write articles for them (and no performers were harmed in the writing of this blog). I just feel as a Newfoundlander we have an obligation to promote our own world-class talent when we can. So no, they didn't write me a cheque but if they did want to thank me, well, did I mention, I loves Peter Halley!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Spring Cleaning in August

Spring Cleaning in August

I realize I am a little late for Spring cleaning. It is August. I wish I could just shove the whole house in the dishwasher and be done with it.
In my defense, I did have back surgery in March followed by ten weeks bed rest and I am still not back to normal.

Now my normal is not normal!
I like doing housework. I always did. In BC (Before Children) I'd clean the house from top to bottom in four hours. Only stopping for a can of Pepsi and a DeMaurier Light. Remember smoking, back when we took fifteen minute breaks every hour or so to have our smokes. Then we quit smoking and had no reason to take a break.

I am nocturnal too. I like starting my cleaning around ten P.M. and go till about two or three A.M. That's why my kids sleep better if there is a vacuum going.
Then babies came along. We sold our small compact, easy-to-clean, one bathroom house and bought a much bigger three bathroom house. Three toilets to clean! What the hell was I thinking?

Anyway, I began my Spring cleaning in August by shining up the front windows. Taking off the tape left from Halloween decorations and Christmas wreath.... Christmas wreath! How the hell did that slip by me. Half of me wants to leave it up and get an early start on next year. The other half says you've tortured the neighbours enough, take it down.
Next room was my tween-aged daughter's. Now, normally I make her clean her own room but every now and then I do go through it like the Tasmanian Devil just so the fire department doesn't condemn the house. I open the door and the smell of hairspray and nail polish is enough to take you off your feet. I believe that's why she acts like a zombie and her pupils are slightly dilated in the mornings. I push my way through the Urban Planet bags on the floor, clothes thrown all over the room and try to open the curtain to let some light in. I can only assume this is what a crack house looks like on the inside. There's no way I can do this on my own.

A thought crosses my mind! Maybe I should call the insurance company and tell them our house was broken into! They didn't steal anything, they just ransacked the place. Maybe they'll send a cleaning crew.  Then reason kicks in and I realize it's not worth jail-time. (Jail-time: Laying in bed all day, having someone else cook and clean for you while I finish my university degree in peace. MUN Distance Education should use that as a radio commercial. Where did you finish your Degree? In jail. Paid for by the Government.) The fumes are getting to me too. I have to get out of here.
Son's room is like a museum. He never moves anything in this room because he lives in the basement. There's only a layer of dust. The cat jumps up on his dresser and walks across. I notice her tail is leaving a trail of clean. Maybe I should tie a dust-cloth to her tail and she can take care of the room.  It's not worth the scratches. I close the door, it will be another week or two before you can write your name in the dust. It's not an "Urgent" clean.

Our bedroom is cleanish. I do dust once a week and run the Swiffer over the hardwood. It only takes fifteen minutes. I get to hubby's side of the bed. Socks on the floor. Socks on the floor!!!
We've been living in this house for twelve years and he still can't figure out what the wicker basket in the bedroom is for. I can't tell you how many times I've shown him how to take the cover off and put the damn socks inside. He says, "I leave them on the floor in case there's an emergency in the night time. That way I know where they are."

What emergency? So if someone breaks in while we're asleep hubby will jump out of bed, pull on his socks and confront the thief! When he slides across the hardwood in only his underwear and socks the poor crook will think he's being confronted by Tom Cruise and run like Katie Holmes. Maybe he has a point there.
I tried having a house-cleaner. I gave up. I spent the whole day before she came cleaning because I didn't want this stranger to think we were dirty.

So much for Spring cleaning. Once around the living room with the Swiffer and my back hurts again. Time for tea and hopefully there's a late night episode of Sex in the City on.
Oh well, at least the Christmas wreath is down. The neighbour will be happy tomorrow.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Heart Girls

I had the pleasure of attending my high school  reunion this week. The graduates of Holy Heart of Mary came together to talk about our "Old days" and relive our teenage years.

I literally cannot get the smile off my face.
Being around these accomplished women was such an honour. I remembered some faces and not names, or names and not faces but I was struck by the fact that I could remember their smiles. That says a lot about a school.
Even after all these years, we are sisters... sisters in Heart and Soul.

When Holy Heart was built it was the flagship of education in the province. What other school had a grand piano or harp? It was built because the Presentation Sisters and the Sisters of Mercy believed that if they educated women they would gain status in the community. They believed when there was an educated woman at the head of the household, there would be educated children.
They were right. Holy Heart of Mary has educated some of the most prominent women in this province, this country and the world.

Holy Heart of Mary was, and still is a one-of-a-kind school. It was built through the vision of His Grace, Archbishop P.J. Skinner. But it was the Presentation Sisters and the Sisters of Mercy who undertook the financial costs of building Holy Heart.
A little known fact, when the design for the school was drawn up the total amount to build is was huge for that time. The Sisters in both Congregations were "As poor as Church mice" to quote one. If a building ever had a soul, Holy Heart had one built right in from the beginning. The Sisters put their Habits together and devised a plan. Each group went to the bank and took out half the amount needed to build their school. To pay off the loan, the Sisters never took a dollar of salary for years until the loan was paid in full!

Maybe that's why their expectations for us was so high. Maybe that's why they instilled a fear of failure in us. Maybe that's why they taught us to succeed. It was all they knew.
The emphasis at Holy Heart was not just on academics but on the arts as well. Just about every success story in the provincial arts scene got their start in the Holy Heart auditorium, which holds 950 seats, 100 less than the Arts and Culture Centre. Yes, the Sisters had a vision for their girls. They would be educated like no other. They would stand out. They would be "Heart Girls."

It is an honour to call yourself a "Heart Girl."
After all these years, these women have taken that instilled sense of pride in themselves and used it to achieve their own goals and dreams.

The laughter could be heard outside the building when we sat down for our meal last night. So many stories: Sister Crotty yelling "Boots and shoes girls" in the front lobby, Mr. Byrd and his "Old Man and the 'c'" costume for Halloween, those dreamy Brother Rice boys, Holy Heart dances, Mr. Reardon - using American Pie as poetry, Mr. Kavanagh's sense of humour and of course, Bart went over the mountain.
It felt more like a family reunion. I was saddened to hear about the death of some of our classmates. Some I knew about, some I didn't. I looked up their pictures in our year book today. It was hard not to cry. It's hard to lose a sister.

But the leadership qualities and fortitude that those nuns gave us prevailed last night. Thank you to Tonia Hutton and Sherry Gulliver, who spent the last year planning this reunion. You made our motto, "One Heart Among Us" come to life.
Thank goodness for Facebook so we can keep in touch with all these wonderful women that we had the pleasure to meet again. I believe God brings people in your life when you need them. After a hard year I needed to be reminded where I came from, what I am made of and who I am.

I remember now. I am a Heart Girl! I have sisters everywhere I go.
Thank you Sisters of Mercy and Presentation. Your vision and dedication to us are the reasons we were able to change the world.  We can never repay the debt.

To my sisters in "Heart and Soul" stay in touch. Let's do it again next year .... maybe Vegas this time?
P.S.
I found this wonderful video on Holy Hearts web site. It's about 33 minutes long but it is worth watching. So get a cup of tea, or a glass of wine, grab a few Heart Girls and press "Play."