You know, there was a point in my life when I was an English Major. It’s true. It was a “pick a subject” sort of situation when I hit Grade 13 and since I liked to write and read, it seemed like the natural choice – except, as I soon found out, it really couldn’t have been a worse fit for me. I ended up switching to the Social/Political sciences where my slightly rational side found a home rooted in subjects where I could passionately work myself up into a bit of a sweaty rage when I was told things like “development is colonialism.”
I remember the point in which I reached a fork in the road with the English studies. My second year professor proclaimed to us – or rather, through about 3 or 4 classes used symbolism and metaphor and then in a round about way “proclaimed” to us (because English professors never just come out and say anything – rather they like to tease it out of you by albeit eloquently, beating around the bush.)
Anyway, she told us that Love isn’t real; Love is narrative. Humans only love because it’s the story we’ve been told through eons of human relationships. Instinctively, we don’t love. We only love because we’re told to. Because it’s our coping mechanism for the bleak world that is human existance.
I don’t like to be accused of doing things because I’ve been told to. So I questioned it. Both inwardly by looking at my own relationships and probably outwardly too. Because lawd, I don’t stay too quiet in an institutional setting.
And as a good “feministy” English teacher is won’t to do, she pointed to the evidence: Disney movies, Hollywood, War Propaganda. So obviously the research is there…. research I’m sure she poured about 10 years of her life into while earning her PhD.
I love this time of year for so many reasons. I love the early dark evenings. And the ritual that ties me to every year that’s come and gone before this one. And I love the general spirit of things; you know, the more likely smiles you get from cashiers, people holding doors open or colleagues at work. You get hugs from people you wouldn’t expect! And you can put some of the dirty regular stuff on hold until the New Year hits and you’re ready to tackle the things that have plagued you year in and year out, with a fresh outlook.
But of course, whether you’re a believer or not, we all know this is centred around the greatest story ever told.
And it may be a bit of an oxymoron but if there’s one thing our culture of non-believers believes in, it seems, it’s Christmas. Never was there a story we were more in need of. So I get what my University English teacher was getting at, we like a good story, and if it’s good enough, we’ll keep telling it. Year after year, generation after generation.
But this is where I can’t help but question her absolute certainty that this story only supports something that’s been fabricated – merely for our hollow satisfaction.
We needed this story, yes. But not because we needed to believe.
In fact, it’s in spite of our disbelief, in spite of all the calculated ways in which we think we don’t need this story, we realize, we do. Because when it comes down to it, we don’t believe because we’ve been told to.
We believe because we choose to.
And that’s why, to me, The Christmas Story is called the most beautiful story ever told. Because it’s a wonderful life to be able to believe in things that at times seem impossible. Like peace on earth and good will toward all men.
I have so many lovely things to say about being pregnant. But this isn’t a post about that.
Oh and I feel like I should preface this with the following caveat: This is a blog about my life, and life lately has been a lot of me thinking about being pregnant, feeling pregnant, and dreaming of being a parent. And so it is written.
Without further ado, here are some uncollected and undigested first thoughts on being pregnant:
Seriously. As if being pregnant and giving up your body and life wasn’t enough to ask of a pregnant mother, but hello! You also have the weight of the unborn world put upon your shoulders. Because it’s 2014 don’t you know! And they’ve done EVERY possible study under the sun to prove to you how one wrong move and you could harm, developmentally delay or even you lose your baby. Being pregnant is the most precious gift. I get it. But Google is not your friend when you’re pregnant. And the annoying voices of people of the internet are not your friend when they make you question your ability to conceive, birth and or raise a child. This is obviously a problem because I like the internet, and would quite like to continue my relationship with it. I’ve just had to limit and block myself from questions like “Can I eat feta cheese?” Because guess what, they’re gonna tell you you can’t, but the stress of chasing back the product line to possible sources of remotely unpasturized milk it ain’t worth it. Eat the damn cheese.
Tied closely to number one; websites like “Baby Centre” and “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” will be the bane of my existence come next June. Unfortunately, they seem to be the internet source’s most likely search engine hit when it comes “pregnancy and…” For example, naive unknowing me clicked on a prompter email earlier this Fall. It was called “Weight Gain and Pregnancy.” Did you know according to Baby Centre, you’re only supposed to have gained 3 lbs in 8 weeks. Um… 3 lbs? 3 lbs?! I’m more than POSITIVE I gained 3 lbs in EACH BOOB ALONE during this timeframe. Unless I’m considered morbidly obese and endangering myself with a ridiculously unhealthy diet, please do not tell me what a “typical” person should gain while she’s pregnant. News flash: none of us are typical. And my body is going to do what it’s going to do while it’s growing another human being, thanks very much.
Also closely related to #1 and #2: pregnant women in comment sections can be mean. If you’re doubting me and you want like 2 hours of entertainment, take a look at this thread here – these girls get absolutely nasty when it comes to one woman’s statement (I’m paraphrasing) “I’m from France and we actually don’t see anything wrong with a drink of wine every now and again when pregnant.” Comments quickly spiral from “ALCOHOLIC” to “YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE PREGNANT.” I wish I was exaggerating. (I couldn’t help myself…. sometimes comments sections are like a train wreck and you can’t look away.)
Talking with your boss about being pregnant is the most awkward it has to get. (Well actually my actual bosses were lovely about it, the awkwardness happened with my boss’ boss). She tried to be nice but started with “Emily…. (pregnant pause) I know” And I’m going.. “What? You know what? That I stole post-its? That I shopped on Amazon at work? What do you know?”) And just before I blurted out all my secrets as a good little guilty girl might be won’t to do in a situation of power imbalance, she says “I can tell you’re pregnant by the way you’re carrying yourself.” Lucky for her, it wasn’t just the extra hamburgers type of baby, it was the actual baby-baby.
It’s annoying to talk to a General Practioner about being pregnant. This isn’t a generalization because I”m sure there are GP’s out there who are fabulously lovely and embrace fully the role of providing antenatal care to women. I’m just speaking to my own experience when I say I’ve had lacklustre health care in the past when it comes to reproductive health, and when I went into the doctor to “confirm my pregnancy” (seriously that’s what they call the appointment), I can’t say it changed my mind on this point. The doctor literally entered the room with this question “So. Was this a planned pregnancy?” (His hand was literally on the door still and it was half-way open, and I’ve seen this guy a total of 3 times and he’s introduced himself a total of 3 times.) I found it completely offensive that he would assume one way or another that this was the most important element of the conversation to get out there, and not conducive to creating an environment of trust (no matter what my answer would have been.) The whole appointment went downhill from there – he stuffed my hands with offensive public health pamphlets that said obvious things and other documentation that was equally as incomprehensible (Integrated Prenatal Screening and Why You Should Consider It!) The appointment ended with him stating, “Well. I don’t make a big deal about these things until about 12 weeks.” He handed me a requisition should I want to get the IPS screening (considering I didn’t even know or understand what it was, it could have been greek and I had little idea of what to do with it) and I left feeling like the most precious gift I’d been given in life was commonplace and felt completely intimidated about having any follow-up questions, because they don’t matter in the first 12 weeks (“if you make it that long, then I’ll care!”) In short. I’m just trying to say how grateful I am to have found a mid-wife. Because that’s been awesome so far.
Announcing to a room full of people that you’re pregnant can be completely mortifying – all of a sudden your co-workers or extended family are all staring at you after they overhear you casually trying to slide into the conversation that you’re pregnant with an ice breaker “Man, yea, that was a rough few months. I threw up in front of a string of commuters yesterday.” And then before you know it, people around the room or table start to go quiet and they’re like “What! You’re pregnant!?” They’re obviously acting so happy for you and acting incredibly kind but all you’re thinking is, please stop looking me and asking things like “How did this happen!?” And “When?!” because then I’m thinking about The Act and I really don’t want you to be able to read my thoughts right now. I guess I’m just not a “make a personal announcement to a room full of people” sort of gal.
That Old Grey Mare just ain’t what she used to be: I’m finally feeling like exercising again (and yes I realize that I’m comparing myself to livestock. When you are pregnant you are allowed to refer to yourself as such. When you are not, you may not make such jokes in the vicinity of a pregnant person). I went for a run the other night – I’ve been able to run about a total of 4 times since September because this has not been the smoothest of first trimesters – and let me tell you that run, it was pure bliss. And then I was like “Emily! You’re back’s been hurting you! You should do lunges!!” So I stopped my run and did 50 lunges. Because I have to WIN. All the time. Even if it’s just me on a sidewalk, I have to act like a super hero. And then enter today, me doing the full waddle, because well, 50 lunges as it turns out is about 40 too many for a girl who’s been sitting on the couch since the beginning of October. I get home and I’m like… “Mike. Do you think it was too many and I injured the baby?” Because it’s really easy to feel guilty or worried when you’re pregnant.
Luckily Mike’s a rational guy in my moments of self-doubt.
“No but maybe next time you should just ease into it Emily.” Indeed. Indeed I will heed this advice next time dear husband.
Today I checked Environment Canada and The Weather Network two times to see if they had posted some sort of “Green Christmas” forecast. I came up empty handed re: any actual predictions, but good news! I just looked outside the window and it’s dark but it’s snowing! And we’re safely into the Christmas season at this point so I should be able to mention this freely without fear of accusation that “it’s not December 1st yet”
I have a confession to make. Mike and I are starting to save up for a few things which is why you’ll understand how guilty I feel about the horrible impulse buy that I let happen today. (Online shopping! It’s like you aren’t even “buying” things I tell ya. They just magically show up at your door….). It’s a giant lime green sweater with a reindeer’s face on it. Oh yes I did that. And I’m going to wear the heck out of this thing (granted it gets here in time…).
This is my favourite time of the year. The house feels so much cozier with Christmas decorations spewed about – even though most have been haphazardly placed at best. I’ve been so tired from work the past two nights that I consider having moved the totes from the basement into the main living area + the setting up of the tree, (complete with two solitary ornaments), to be progress. Here I’m sitting in the comfiest of spots, right next to the tree. And I decided that indeed, this is the best of the seasons. Sometimes at this time of year, it feels a whole lot easier to just sit and take it all in. What is that feeling about? Maybe the glow of our lights and candles? Maybe because it’s dark so early and I don’t feel particularly drawn to have to go do something with my time? Because if I’m going to be honest, my time right now feels good just standing in place, enjoying these short few weeks when we’ve got that love for the little bit of light while it’s mostly dark outside.
That crisp feeling is back in the air again! This past Monday we had some warm weather again and I was all “Nooo! I was just getting in the mood for Christmas” but I’m happy to report that today Cliff did that thing where he sniffs the cold air and I almost rushed back inside and turned the fireplace on. The person I am come March when we’ve received another “last snow fall of the season!” always surprises me since around this time of the year you couldn’t really pay me to live somewhere that doesn’t have 4 seasons. I just love, love that feeling of Winter coming. (cue ironic photo of Cliff above )
(Oh and while we’re talking about weather – have you guys heard this weather rant from a guy in Saskatchewan? You can just hear the seething weather rage in his voice… but you just can’t help but laugh.)
Last week I bought a box of clementines and a massive bottle of vitamin C and zinc because everyone (everyone) around me at work has been hacking and sneezing. In an open cubicle environment you can’t help but think “Man… I might be next.” I continually try to counter this thought with “You won’t be next! You’ve got the immunity of a rhino!” Because I think I can trick my body. Despite my best efforts I woke up this morning with a sore throat and a bunch of used kleenex on the floor beside our bed. So today I’m embracing the colder weather outside and listening to a Christmas station on Songza because really there’s only a month left until Christmas – As of today!! I just realized that while in the process of typing and my heart soared a little.
This upcoming weekend is a scared weekend – it’s the Murtha Early Family Christmas – we’ve been doing it for about 26 years either during the last weekend of November or the first weekend of December. My cousins and I were so close growing up but we lived so far apart and we honestly looked forward to spending “Christmas” together every year, even if it wasn’t on the day. We put on probably a million well orchestrated (or we thought so) plays for our family members – I really need to dig out those pictures. Whenever I tell people that this weekend I’m headed to my family’s “Early Christmas” I get a funny look since it’s so far in advance (seriously last year my sister had a Christmas tree up at her place from about the middle of November because she hosted and she refused to take it down with only a few weeks left to the actual “approved” holiday season. That’s us at the Christmas tree farm in my hometown last year around this time picking out our “early” tree). At this point the Early Christmas is a tradition that’s part of me and introducing Mike to it over the past 5 years has been so awesome. It’s so great to get to turn to the person you love and go “See?! Isn’t my family crazy and awesome? And don’t you love my second, third and fourth cousins?! (Because at this point we’re dealing with quite a few generations!) Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking about on this slightly chilly, stuffy nosed day! Bring on the season!
I’m not sure how to just start blogging again after being away for so long. Today when I saw a shiny glimmer in my eye while waiting for the blank computer screen to kick-in, I knew that maybe I was interested again – in what precisely I’m not sure, but I thought to myself that I could write something and that maybe alas, Sparrow in the Treetop was coming back from the dead.
At first I cautioned myself that I should really sit down and think about this… you know, make it good and well thought out, something beautifully written and proof-read… poignant and to the point (which generally I compare myself to other well-written blogs and I think… “Why don’t I come across more polished like they do?”) But after some deliberation and note writing while sitting jammed against a foggy window on the bus, I decided that there’s nothing deep about this. Blogging just hasn’t “been” me for a little while now. I wasn’t feeling the benefit or the inspiration. Might I just say for the record that I absolutely hate writing this sort of post? I know there’s a pattern of it buried deep in the recesses of these pages; diligent planning and plotting and blog-world networking and then, without warning, I lose interest. This generally followed by the “But I promise, I’ll Change. I’ll be world’s number one blogger!” (To whom I’m making this promise other then myself, I’m not sure, but trust me, it’s out there.) It drives me crazy that I’m not a “Follow-Through” person. That I don’t have a sponsored network, that I’m just spinning my wheels on the internet. If I get too “Bloggy” (ie. DIY, Cook this! Read That! Wear this!) I’m self-conscious that I’m not writing enough “Real” content… and if I write “Real” content (quotations marks because let’s be honest, what content on the internet is “real” anyway?) I feel like an over-sharer and totally vulnerable. Anyway, the blogging medium is intense. And I haven’t felt intense lately… pretty much the opposite (more on that if I decide to write “On Why I Stopped Blogging Part 2″!) and hence the radio silence. But I do miss it. And I miss just using this space to think through things and catalogue some of the moments. So that’s my foray into this blog thing again. I think I’m growing up and I’m looking into this space and I’m wondering if it still fits me as a person. I’d like it to grow with me… I just have to figure out how to go about translating that into HTML
Anyway. If you’re the people I’ve gotten to know over the past few years… what is NEW? What has been happening? And what have I missed!?
ps. Gratuitous micro pig because…. LOOK AT THAT SNOUT. And also there are no pictures that capture… “blog absence.”
Staying at home feels so good in the Fall. All of a sudden my house is cozy again. In the summer I’m like, “Let’s do stuff! Let’s go to every concert and eat random take-out food on the curb.” In the Fall I’m like, I want grilled cheese with ketchup, a blanket over my legs, and I’m just going to sit here on this couch and read a book I’ve already read at least 10 times.”
To me that’s comfort. And there’s something about the Fall that makes me not afraid to just seize the opportunity to bask in it.
It’s Thanks-giving weekend!! And you know what that means. I’ll be dragging my extra-stretchy yoga pants out of winter storage and I anticipate putting them on at 5:30 pm this evening – I anticipate someone will probably have to pry them off me on Tuesday morning so I don’t end up wearing them to work.
What are some of your favourite comfort things around your home? I’m in love with cooking in our new cheery yellow pots – an amazing wedding present! Also apples, which are my hometown symbol (actually), cooking with the iPod blasting in our kitchen. And of course Cliff. Anything that reminds me of him like that cute note pad from Hatley I got at Indigo earlier this week.
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Weekending!
Something miraculous happened today, I sat down to look at real estate listings and suddenly I could see the positives in them again. Let me explain, just yesterday, nearly every single house I looked at made me think “There are no nice houses left in the world.” Today, the word “potential” has somehow crept back into my vocabulary. “That kitchen has potential.” I actually said that. Progress!
So in keeping-on rolling with the flow of positivity, I decided to make a wish list of things I’d like to see in our new place. I was surprised how much it helped. I think when you’re looking at real estate, you obviously have to go into it with budget limitations and a general location, but beyond that, you need to be able to squint your eyes a little, and imagine the way your own personality could put a stamp on it.
Oh funny story! One time when visiting at a friend’s house, we were introduced to a couple. We mentioned we’d just bought a house (this was a few years ago). “Where in the city is it?” they asked us. We told them. To which the woman replied. “Oh. I didn’t know there were any new builds in that area.”
“There aren’t,” I told her.
“Oh.” she said. “It’s a re-sale?”
She made it sound dirty. Like an old cardboard box. The house was built in 2004 for crying out loud!
Anyway, the lesson here is, not everything has to be new. There are SO many new developments in our city. And they’re gorgeous to look through. But generally they’re over-priced (for our budget), they have a back-yard the size of a postage stamp, and you can speak to your neighbours through the window while your on the toilet. It’s just not my bag. And I think I lost sight of this in all the jumbled disappointment on missing out on that house we wanted because it was newer (read: not brand-new) but it still felt shiny and “upgraded.” Obviously there are perks to buying a new home in a brand-new neighbourhood, and if I was in a different place in life, I can’t say we wouldn’t jump at a chance to own and design our own brand new place. But for now, the reality is we’d like to keep a tight budget in mind, so looking at real-estate listings means we also have to keep an open mind. As in: P-o-t-e-n-t-i-a-l. Are the nuts and bolts and structure of the house sound? Are the windows new? Furnace? Once you’ve weighed on the bigger ticket items, the rest is gravy. And quite honestly, the fun stuff. Hard work, yes. But at the end of the day, I like the idea of tinkering around and making it our own.
When I squint my eyes, here are some of the things I’d like to see if we can work into the renovation plans for our new place:
We’ve been through a lot of listings of older homes that have similar long style family-rooms on the main floor with a centre-piece fireplace. Built in book-shelves have always been my dream. So generally speaking when I’m looking at a room, I’m trying to picture how I can fit built-in’s into the design.
You know what the good thing about a “re-sale” is? A lot of the time, basements have been finished. They’re the projects owners left until they’d owned the house for 10 years or more, or because they needed extra space for their growing family. I love this because the guy who appraised our house when we bought it a few years ago told us that actually, a finished basement costs a lot to install (especially one with a bathroom) but in the end, it doesn’t raise your property value that much. Plus insurers don’t like finished basements because generally, that’s the room you have to pay out on due to flooding. I love these two ideas above because they’re just about a bit of muscle, but not a lot of savings, especially if the basement already has most of the work taken care of.
This is a perfect example of what you can un-earth in an old house. I’ve seen this beautiful stair-case in it’s ugly formation, at least in 20 different houses throughout my searching. Maybe they wouldn’t all have that gorgeous window, but you can imagine how far a little paint and a sandpaper can go when you’re imagining re-finishing the stairs in your house. I love this one because it blends the white with the grey/dark tones. It fits in with the feel and age of the house.
I think you already know how I feel about built-ins. Combine it with some natural light and a cozy nook? I could get lost for hours. I think a window-seat is a forgotten element of houses. I actually love watching out windows and it’s a great use of space that’s around your window. Not every house would have a landing like this, but again, you’d be surprised when you start looking how many homes would have the potential for a perfect little seat like this one.
If you’re looking for a new-to-you place, I hope this has been helpful. If you’re looking to love the home you’re in, I hope you are inspired! I know just looking through ideas has got me all excited for upcoming projects. Which is a good thing because a few days ago I was (already) ready to throw the towel in on our house search!!
This is Day 8 of Write 31 Days! Look at me go!!
Did I mention this before? We made it to the Muir Woods National Monument when we were in San Francisco. So beautiful. So, So beautiful. I’ve never seen trees so tall (and I’d love to go back to California someday and take another tour because apparently there are even taller, wider trees? It seems incomprehensible. It must just blow your mind away.)
So yes. Muir Woods was absolutely breathtaking. Breathtaking and crawling with tourists who, like me, thought the same thing. Fair enough – I guess we’ve all got a right to be there. We tried our hardest to find the least chosen path, and managed to close our eyes and pretend like we were the only ones around. It worked. Being in a forest is magical. There’s this cushioning of sound. Things are softer. And it smelled perfect. I love trees. (Have I mentioned the time when I was 10 and I tore a piece out of the Hydro company who had been assigned the job of pruning the maples on my parents front yard? I did. I was an angry 65 year-old woman in a 10 year-old’s body.)
It made me happy to be there in those woods. I remember thinking “Wow. I’m really content right now.” And it wasn’t just because we were on our honeymoon. It’s something about those ancient trees that don’t give a damn. You could throw fire at them and they’re like “We’ve got this.” (true story, they’re fire retardant, naturally. Nature; Amazing.) They just go with the flow and come out on the other side of a blazing inferno, standing tall and proud and completely alive. And I put it all together the other day when I read this article on a recent study proving that hiking makes you happier and reduces stress. Trees are your friend, they just want to help out.
So I decided I needed to take a “burl” home from the gift shop . A burl is a knot of wood from one of the sequoia trees, and if you place it in a bit of water it starts to grow saplings! Clearly I just had to have it. But then I had a little freak-out when we were packing to come back home and I remembered that my burl was “organic” material, and wanting to avoid any customs issues, I left it in my hotel room. It was such a sad day. But I like to think someone found my burl and they’re enjoying it in my place.
California, I’ll be back for you and next time I’m not returning without a burl!
This makes Day 6 for my 31 Days Blogging Challenge. I’m wholly aware that these trees are neither about house nor home. I’m a rebel and breaking all the rules!
Since we put our house on the market, things have been a lot more tidy around here. I mean, it’s not like we’re terribly messy people… we’re just a …. cluttered and busy sort of couple. Both of us seem to accumulate a large assortment of papers and knick-nacks throughout the course of the week – you know the ones that tend to pile up on the edge of the kitchen counter and you’re never quite sure what to do with them? And so while I’ve been super bummed since last week when we found out someone else bought the house we wanted, Monday mornings have been increasingly more coorindated since we’ve been having an Open House on Sundays. Yay for forced house clean-up!!
Did I mention we’re selling the house ourselves? As in no real estate agent? Yes that’s what happened. We just bit the bullet and listed it privately so we find ourselves DIYing in Real Estate this month! Kind of exciting and thrilling and nerve wracking all at the same time. We even put together our own listing for the internets! Finally bloggy pictures coming in handy outside the blog world!!
Last weekend I didn’t take part in the open house – Mike did it on his own. This weekend however I showed up a bit early, just as about three last minute couples were making their way through our place so I got to play real estate agent too. It’s funny, when you start to “sell” your house to other people, you start to remember all the good things about it that you fell in love with in the first place. We really love our location, the natural light, and the open airy feeling in our house. And now, since we’re keeping it more or less “staged” for people to look through, I’m particularly smitten with it again. It’s just too bad… I never thought I’d have to go to the extreme of selling the house to keep it in such ship shape
I think I mentioned it once or twice last week – we had really set our sights on a particular place, and I’m afraid we’re having a hard time diving back onto the “house dating scene.” (That’s what we’ve been calling it – we feel like we were dumped by a house, and nothing seems to add up. We keep telling each other there are “lots of other fish in the sea”, but nothing seems to compare.) I think we have to give ourselves some healing time before we’re on the scene full throttle again – but we are feeling a bit frantic because we don’t want to find ourselves in a position where our place sells and we haven’t found “the one.” So we’ve been spending a lot of spare time scanning the new real estate listings, hoping, praying, that special somewhere will pop up before anything happens on our end and we’re forced to move! Please cross all your fingers and toes that the “right one” comes along.
Today I’m linking up with Oak and Oats so if you’re here for the first time, welcome! I’m so happy you’re here. It’s perfect timing since I just cleaned house yesterday and the week is getting off to a tidy start. I found Elizabeth’s blog sometime last spring and I’ve totally been smitten’ with this girl’s positive attitude & style. She hosts this awesome link-up everything week – a great place to meet new friends! And let me tell you – when you’re going through life changes, ups and downs (and back again) that’s when you realize how great it is to meet and connect with people throughout the blog world! So I hope you’ll join us!
1. Link up ANY POST from last week!2. Make sure it is a POST and not your BLOG URL. We love your blog but we want you to share a post.
3. Click on one, two, three, or more posts and LEAVE ENCOURAGING COMMENTS. The whole point of this is to find new blogs, make new friends, and all that good stuff! You MUST read the post right before yours and comment.
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