The Hibernation of Summer

It’s mid-August and I can feel the imminence of Fall.  It’s in the back-to-school supplies that are crowding every shelf at Walmart.  It’s in the woods jackets and plaid flannel shirts that are hanging on racks.  It’s in the now-dark 5 am mornings that greet me and the cooler evenings that now descend before 9pm.  Summer hasn’t yet arrived and here we are readying for another season.  I’m lamenting a summer I never had.  I’m still waiting for that everlasting full day of sunshine and sultry heat that stretches into a dusky evening.  I’m waiting for days full of water-balloon tossing and garden hose spraying and evenings of open-windows and flies eating me alive.  Where was all of that?

Quidi Vidi, Newfoundland

We missed an entire season.  It was a summer of spring-like days at best.  Cool winds, rain and almost hot-enough-but-not-quite temperatures.  We will be back to wearing coats and boots before I even broke out my shorts.  I don’t mean to complain, but this is why most people in St. John’s need a break and head to the liquor store.  Or try to find solace and heat either more west on the island or head south to anywhere else.  We know that soon enough, it will be a full-frontal assault into cold and ice.  We desperately cling to those final few evenings of near-warm-enough temperatures to steal away on the back patio for a fire and a glass of wine before the gale-force wind of 100kms/hrbegin to blow through.   It’s hard to go to work on a nice day knowing that when we are on a treasured day off, the wind will howl and the rain will pelt our faces so hard we feel the sting for a week.  We flee the office building in the midst of theevaporating sunshine holding our faces skyward in hopes to feel the last of the rays beat upon our skin and feel some semblance of warmth.  We shed the office pallor for some fresh air and bright light, not the fluorescent kind.  

Sometimes, we get lucky.

Today, the wind is high but the air is warm.  I’m hoping to retreat to my back patio for a little sun before the clouds elbow their way through the sky, squeezing it behind their billowing puffs of air.  If the sun can manage to appear in our sky a few more times, I will be grateful for that.  

Right now, I’m grateful for the liquor store’s cache of wine…

 

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And This Little Piggy Went Wee-What-The-Actual-Fuck?

    A couple of months ago, I underwent a bunionectomy.  If you are unsure as to what that is exactly, its day surgery to remove a bunion from a foot.  In my case, it was a big bunion from my left foot.  It’s been an interesting few months of recovery. 

    My surgery was back in May and I won’t sugarcoat anything.  Ireferred to my surgeon as the MotherfuckigantiChrist more often than I care to admit. He warned me several times pre-surgery that it would be “painful and you are going to swear on me repeatedly.”  I smiled and said, “I’ve had three babies all natural, the last one ten pounds.  I got this.”  He smiled in response.  Now, I know why. 

    I remained in bed for four days following the surgery and had it not been for Hubby serving me food, coffee, and pain killers, it would have resulted in me rising from my bed and crawling to the window to throw myself to the mercy of rabid dogs.  Yeah, it was painful.

    I hobbled around and was finally able to descend stairs on a Tuesday.  I remember it well, since I was afraid of falling and scuttled down on my butt the entire time.  I used Hubby’s cane he had stowed away after his knee surgery.  It was going swimmingly, until my right knee decided it wanted some sympathy too, and erupted in bursitis.  Now, I was really down.  A bum left foot and a right knee that screamed every time I bent it.  

    I couldn’t walk up the stairs, I couldn’t stand for long periods and I could barely walk.  I needed crutches, a wheelchair, and a shirtless Spaniard named Marco feeding me grapes.  None of which, I had at my disposal.   

    My main mode of transportation was my ass.  Good thing it was large and squishy.  It made travelling a lot more comfortable.  Oh, yeah.  The entire time, I had a large pin jutting from my middle toe, which made for interesting conversation and people largely exclaiming ‘EWWW’ whenever I mentioned it.  

    By June, I was thankfully over the bursitis and off my ass, so I asked Coach if I could return to Bootcamp .  I still had a little sandle/boot on my foot and I still had the lovely pin protruding from my toe, but I thought I could modify my way through.  She gave me the nod and my first class was interesting.  She refused to look downward lest she gazed upon the ‘pin-ofevil’ and I hopped my way through every exercise.  I have to admit, I was doubtful I would manage, but I wanted to try.  I was so over the whole sitting–downand‘resting’ thing.  

    I muddled my way through everything she had planned and by the end of June I was hobbling on over to the MotherfuckingantiChrist himself to the have the ‘pinofevil’ removed from my toe.  

    Pin Removal Day, or as people tagged it, HolyFuckingMotherofGodThat’sGonnaHurt Day, was uneventful.  Everyone asked “Is he gonna sedate you for that?” or “Are you taking Ativan for that?” to which I had to answer a shaky “Noooo…why do you think I should?”  Their looks of disbelief and head-shaking told me I should probably pop a few pain relievers.  MotherfuckingantiChrist assured me that I indeed would “not feel it as much as you did when the stitches were removed.”   

    The stitch removal was a pain only reserved for those who have wronged the Saints in Heaven and have sided with Satan in a murderous plot to fling babies from rooftops.  That was some serious painful shit.  Hubby was there when I grabbed his leg in agony and swore relentlessly.  D1 the nurse, was horrified by my cry-babyness.  “Mom, EVEN THE CHILDREN I CARE FOR, DON’T CRY.”  Love you too, honey.  I digress.

    I entered the room to have MotherfuckingantiChrist prepare to pull the pin-of-evil from my toe with nothing more than a pair of tiny scissors and an expression of, “Hold still.”  I squeezed my eyes shut and muttered “For fuck’s sake,” recalling every word of caution and regretting the non-painkillerpopping.  I felt a little tug and the pin was out.  Done. 

    His retorts of, “I would never lie to you,” echoing the ever-popular “I told you so,” were still ringing in my head by the time I walked out of the room.  I sauntered out into the hospital corridor free of the pin-of-evil and feeling like I had just conquered Kim Jong-un in some sadistic tug-of-war.  

    Now, a month later the boot is off and I’m almost fully mobile.  I can do some cardio but still do the majority of bootcamp on one leg.  My middle toe is still tender.  Cut me some slack, will ‘ya?  

    My escapade into bunion surgery is almost to an end and thank Gawwwwddddd.  It’s been a long road and I’m almost fully healed.  

    In the meantime, there’s wine for that and to MotherfuckingantiChrist, thanks for telling me the truth.  I WILL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN.  

Cheers!  

 

 

Romancing The Work

I just finished work on my first romantic fiction piece.  It took me over a year to write and my days were fraught with doubt, indecision, and wine.  I wrote the original manuscript over twenty-years ago.  At that time, I had pitched it to publishers, agents and to whoever I could find.  After the onslaught of rejection letters arrived, I decided to put it away.  I felt it was destined for the great slush pile in the sky.

Fast forward twenty years and that manuscript sat there daring me to open it and take a peek.  So I did.  The bones were still good, but the story and the characters needed work.  I needed better dialogue and a better plot.  I opened my ten-year-old laptop and started typing.  I bought a book on how to write a novel.  I researched websites on how to write a good romance.  I bought a fresh notebook and wrote character outlines, plot structures, subplots, point of views, dialogue and pretty much anything that popped into my head.

I kept a running recipe card summarizing each chapter so I could remember details of characters like birthdates, hair color, eye color, traits, jobs, families, and backstories.  I kept pictures of my old apartment in the back of the notebook so I could take it out and look at it remembering it in detail.  It is the inspiration for Ashley’s apartment in the book, right down to the weather-beaten picnic table and it was fun to relive that time through a character’s eyes.

I took the pile of rejection letters and went through them.  Again.  I researched how to write dialogue.  I researched plots and pacing.  I wrote and rewrote chapters.  I sat in my basement and isolated myself from everyone, who still insisted they needed to see what I was doing.  I took my ten-pound laptop to work and wrote outlines on my lunch break.  I rewrote the chapters at home in the evening.  I read and wrote for months.  Then I stopped.

I left the project for three months.  I’m not sure why.  By the fall, I was ready to tackle it again and began.  Again.  It took me until June to finish what I started. 

But I finished.

And I’m happy I didn’t give up.  I’m happy I didn’t listen to that voice telling me to put it away.  The voice that said it was too hard and complicated and no one would read it.  I’m happy the rejection letters sat in my file daring me to try again because, without all of that negative “I-knew-you-couldn’t-do-it” attitude, I proved them wrong.

My decision to self-publish was born from the above-noted rejection letters.  I didn’t think I was as bad as all of these lovely publishers and agents thought I was.   I am determined to get this book out into the world by the end of this month and I can’t wait.

Wading through all of the self-publishing advice and webinars and blogs can be tedious.  I picked one person who sounded knowledgeable and listened to his advice.  Some of it I used, and some I threw aside.  Not everything is written in stone.

I just want to publish a book.  Simple. 

Apparently, not.

There’s designing a cover and editing your work.  Selecting a platform and uploading files.  Formatting, ISBN numbers, social media, marketing, and the list goes on.

Tackle one thing at a time.  I started months ago researching book cover design.

I created a cover for the book using a free online service.  I just couldn’t find a resource or a designer that fit what I had in mind.  I used the suggestions I found online.  I researched the most appealing colors and the most attractive fonts.  I went through stock photos and templates.  I wasn’t liking anything I saw.  I stuck to my original plan and with a new YouTube vid in my mind, I designed what I wanted. 

 Through happenstance, my cover came to life.  I love it.

It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed every step of the process.  I’m now working on the outline for Book 2 and have ideas for the third.   I’m taking my time and I will publish when I feel I have everything set and ready to go. 

If you are working on your first novel, keep going.  You’ll want to give up and throw the laptop out of the window but resist.  Drink the wine and take a walk.  Then go back to it.  The journey in writing the book is the most fun. 

You’ll find there are no better words than “The End” staring back at you.

Drunk Humans

 

Today has been a weird day.  From beginning to mid-afternoon the fleeting ramblings of the select few have left the innocuous bumbling around looking for alcohol.  Or, we have already succumbed, hence the drunk burpees at bootcamp and the falling into desks at work.  I should  just go ahead and take a nip or five before jumping into a TRX move or diving into mid-term exams to see how that all plays out for me.  I’m thinking a whole lot of bruising and maybe a broken finger or toe, at the very least.  

Nobody likes a giddy drunkard as much as me, hell I’ve BEEN that giddy drunkard, but the Universe has decided to crank it up a notch.  Oh, she has decided to put the people who are TOTALLY STONE COLD SOBER in charge of shit and just rearrange the furniture while she’s at it.  Seriously?  The drunks are falling off boxes and bumping into shit, saying ‘who the hell put that there?’ and telling others to move out of the way.  We are all now completely hammered thanks to the ire of oneMenopausal Universe who is pissed that humans are shitty at being human.  

People are reacting to the volatility of the economy, the evil of politics and the cost of humanity at the hands of invalids who refuse to consider the other side.  No wonder everyone is a little drunk and a little fed up with life.  We need a break.  The Universe has decided she’s had it with your crap and is throwing her hands up in the air in Motherly exasperation.  She’s now made a deal with the Weather Gods. In exchange for some Polar Vortex Air, or what she refers to as ‘Watch While We Freeze The Shit Out of This’, SHE gets to ram as much fool-hearted stupidity in the way of the logical few to see how we like that!    

Now the total gambit of weather-related-crap is about to descend upon us.  I’m not just talking a bit o’ snow, which for us elicits a response of  “OH YEAH, WHAT ELSE YA GOT?!”, but now it’s freezing rain for HOURS, followed by snow, then rain and eventually something calmer like 100km/h winds which should couple elegantly with a nice Merlot. 

Should one choose to remain sober and NOT drink through the next few years, I suggest perhaps assisting a friend through the difficulties of tying her shoes and brushing her hair.  Maybe offer a hand while she’s cooking dinner simultaneously wiping a snotty nose and throwing the laundry into the washer?  No?  How about some kindness for the kid who totally ignored the basic golden rule of  STOP PICKING YOUR NOSE IN PUBLIC by passing him a tissue, or for the person who just can’t deal by offering a hand.  It’s a tough gig being a human.  Let’s try to move along the slow lane and keep all of the drunk people happy and upright.  Let’s share a smile and a positive thought on the way to the job that sucks or for the guy that’s annoying as hell.  

It’s our job.  If you’re not up for that, then just pass the bottle and keep it coming.  Humanity depends on it.

And The Universe?  SHE’S JUST TOO BUSY FOR YOUR SHIT.

Dinner With February

Christmas is over and packed away.  January is winding down and the dreaded month of February is rearing its ugly head.  NO ONE likes February.  There is nothing magical or lovely about it.  Oh sure, there’s Valentine’s Day but that’s brief and fleeting and overly annoying.  February is fraught with unpredictable weather (at least here) and blue moods, and muddy porches and dirty windows and bone chilling cold.  What exactly is there to like?  Even the dog can’t stand February.  It’s too cold to go outside to pee, she is cranky that she can’t get in her walks and she gives me that sidelong look when I try to get her to play.  At all.  It’s like she’s too tired to even lift her head from a pillow and why would I even suggest she chase that stupid ball?!  

DON’T YOU KNOW IT’S ALMOST FEBRUARY?!  

It’s like I’m being ridiculous for even mentioning life goes on and it’s worth trying to make the best of it, isn’t it?  

NO. NO IT ISN’T.  IT’S FEBRUARY.

The least favourite of the more popular months, February is like the annoying relative that nobody likes and dreads him arriving to any family gathering.  It’s like the other 11 months are sitting around the dinner table all reveling in their own positive energy, and then HE walks in. 

 There’s December holidaying it up and drinking eggnog.  January is still recovering from ringing in a new year with December who steadily hands him water and Ibuprofen, not to mention January trying to keep up with all the resolutions he said he was going to make, but didn’t bother because there was just. Too. Much. Wine.  March is sitting stoicly playing with his grean beans because he is both feared and loved.  The older generation is adhering to the “Beware the Ides of March” bullshit and the younger ones are readying the beer kegs for March break.  Duuudddde.   Then April is laughing hysterically at the other end of the table about the first day for all the foolish pranks, the rain that will undoubtedly ensue and the whole Easter Bunny charade that brings CHOCOLATE.  Then he turns to May and starts talking smack about how one affects the other.  “There would be no flowers without my showers, you idiotic twat!”   May sits and laughs because there’s Queen Victoria’s birthday and the traditional May 2-4 weekend which brings yetanother camping extravaganza.  Duuuude.  June is warming up to July and August who all sit glowing in their inner warmth and bestowing happiness and rainbows to September, who has hit menopause.  Her hot flashes give way to cold snaps.  One minute she’s too hot and the next she needs a sweater.  October is chillin’ it and scaring the crap out of November with a Jack-o’-lantern he just carved and November resumes her knitting of a beautifully multi-coloured blanket of red, gold and orange.   There they are, all sitting waiting for HIM to walk in.  Finally, the door swings open and in strides February, soaked with freezing icicles dripping from his nose, his face blue with depression and a random red cinnamon heart stuck to his chest.  He takes a seat and his hands shake from the cold.  

Everyone stops what they are doing and stares.  “Oh.  You’re here” they say.  “Yeah.  What’s for dinner?” says February.  And then he starts, “Hey, January are you STILL hungover?!  HAHAHA!!   Pass the beans, March, don’t hog them.  Hey, October that’s one ugly whattya-callit?  Geezuz, JuneJulyAugust, can’t you three stop all the happiness and sunshine and rainbows bullshit?!   IT’S A BIT MUCH DON’T YOU THINK?”  

They all roll their eyes and continue with their dinner.  When it comes right down to it, as annoying as he is, he’s family.  “Gaawwwdd, did you guys SEE the amount of ICE I brought to the partay??!!  It’s EPIC!”  

If I Could Read, I Wouldn’t Need Help. Also Wine

The winds are blowing heavy today; my brain seems to be melting in the heat and I’m having difficulty concentrating on anything longer than three words.  At least, that’s what I’m saying.  “It’s all of this heat.  I’m not used to it” when really, it’s all of this old age and peri-menopause crap that’s beginning to break down my will to exist with patience and some semblance of logic.  Intelligence has taken a back seat to convenience and I’m having a hard time concentrating.  It’s like I’m four years old all over again and if someone could constantly feed me and keep me entertained, I’m happy.  Piss me off and take away my favourite toy and watch out!

You better have a stick of chocolate in that other hand or I may punch you in the throat.

Coach put out a notice of how the new payment system is going down. I SWEAR TO GAWD I READ IT.  I really did.  I think.  Today, I spoke like I knew what I was talking about, because my erroneous brain decided I DID KNOW WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT.  I knew shit.  I got it all wrong.  IF I HAD READ THE ENTIRE PASSAGE I PROBABLY WOULD BE ABLE TO DECIPHER THINGS BETTER.  She may need to post stuff in all caps.  Or be more sarcastic.  Or have a caption that read WINE, and then proceed to print things in clear concise point form without all of the flowery language of using proper grammar

and words like “the” and “and”.  Ugh

Today’s post of PLEASE READ was okay, but she really should have specified it to be PLEASE READ then below that heading, have “AND WINE”.  That would get peoples’ attention.  At least the fifty-somethings like me would have shit to look forward to and not aimlessly read without concentrating on the actual context of the message.  We would be reading to get to the good part about the wine…IS THERE WINE?  Oh, look I have to actually pay her…IN WINE?  THAT WOULD BE AWESOME.  EVERYBODY PAY IN WINE!!!  WHO WAS THE BRILLIANT PERSON WHO CAME UP WITH THAT?!

Nevermind.  That’s how I would decipher the entire message.  YOU HAVE TO PAY COACH AT THE END OF JULY IN WINE.  I READ IT.  ALL OF IT AND THAT’S WHAT IT SAID. NOW, DON’T BOTHER ME I NEED TO EAT MY CHOCOLATE.  DANCE, HEATHEN!   DANCE!

I also have issues with deciding if I should wear pants, so really, I should be excused from answering questions and deciphering texts.

Ps.  Dear Boss, if you want to pay me in wine, I’d be okay with that.  Thanks!  KJ

Riding Semis With Strangers

The wind is blowing, the sun is kinda shining and I’m not wearing a parka.  What a great Friday! The following tale is not for the faint of heart and one not wishing to lay witness to the winds of change.  An emotional upheaval of a woman fraught with anguish, ire and scant hormones that have left her (me) with little else but to rant and rave to the Gods of the Universe to bestow patience and lots of wine.  Here you go….

The inevitable is careening at me like a Denzel Washington train of disaster and I can’t move out of the way fast enough.  I’ve ranted and raved, threw my fist in the air to protest the injustices of errant hormones and still I’ve been relegated to bowing my head in disbelief and wanton despair.  Approaching 52 has never been so tumultuous.  I imagine.  I’ve never approached 52 before and never will again, for that matter.  Good thing.  I’ve had to reel in my tongue lest the innocent bystanders fall victim to my raging Norma Rae pontifications.  A little dramatic, I realize but that’s how it is these days. I’ve had to remind myself that someone being a little late is not an ‘idiot’ or a ‘fucking moron’ or anything other than just being late.  I’ve had to remind my body that I’M NOT THAT OLD, M*&^*F**&^CKER AND I CAN DO IT IF I WANT TO.  OR, maybe I should take a few days off and think about it.

I was forced to counsel Hubby on the upcoming personality disorder that will be defined as his former wife, due to the unfortunate incident of him answering my plea of being rescued from a place of employment with a curt ‘no’.  WHAT DO YOU MEAN NO?!  It started and thereto began the Great Conflict of Summer 2018 when Hubby had the audacity to suggest I keep my car and let D2 walk.  THE ABSOLUTE NERVE TO THINK I COULD KEEP MY OWN CAR.   With the windows open widely so the ‘hood could partake in the banter and loud yelling of I CAN NEVER BE ANGRY BECAUSE YOU JUST GET ANGRY THEN EVERYONE IS ANGRY. NO, YOU’RE OUT OF ORDER AND THIS WHOLE PLACE IS OUT OF ORDER AND WHY AM I QUOTING AN OLD 70’S MOVIE AND  JUST LET ME BE ME FOR ONCE!!!   GAWWWWDDDD.    Yes, a teenager-proud moment was never heard so well and as renowned as the plea for my emotional independence.  I Lost. My.  Shit.   What. The. Actual. Fuck was wrong with me?

I ranted on D2 about how she was driving too fast and if she doesn’t slow the fuck down, I’m getting out of the car and walking because I can’t take this shit.  I later drove the car to her employment place only to begin my long walk home.  Stalking along the street, I was determined that if a truck driver manning a semi with a lady tattoo and a penchant for beer stopped and offered me a ride home, I may agree. A true moment of being a statistic on a milk carton, only display that pic of me on a wine bottle so my friends could actually know I was missing.  WHO DRINKS MILK AFTER THE AGE OF 40?   A few minutes later, she stops aside the road pick me up along the way to say I was being ridiculous.  RIDICULOUS.  ME??

No, I was being emotionally independent of all the fuck that’s happening in the world and LETS GET COFFEE AND COOKIES, DAMMIT.

Because coffee and cookies are like the meth of menopause.  I use the ‘M’ word with bated breath and downcast eyes, lest I look directly at it and it blinds me.  I’m not entirely within its grasp, but rather on the outskirts, stealing fearful glances at its promise of further rages with opened windows and moments of hitchhiking with semis.  She carefully throws cookies at me like feeding a rabid dog and fearful of her hand being bitten.

I now know why divorce rates rise at this stage of life.  I HAVE LOST MY FUCKING MIND.

I have come to the ultimate conclusion that this is my life for now and I have to filter my reactions to people’s utter lack of understanding and their predominant ability to be stupid.  I have to ask Hubby if what I just replied to someone could be construed as ‘snippy’ or ‘sarcastic’??  Me???   Or if I’m in ‘that mood’ now and should just try to shut up and stop talking? Look the other way?  Turn the other cheek?   I have to ask a neutral party if I’m being nasty or logical.  It sounds perfectly okay to me…but, apparently, it isn’t.  I’m not.  So, distract me by turning my attention to the shiny things and appease me with glasses of wine or chocolate.  Pretty soon I’ll be locking myself in a bathroom so I can’t wield hurtful words or ‘snippy’ retorts (that I’ve come to know and love) at random people with seemingly good intentions and no idea that the nasty ‘M’ is wreaking havoc.

Pass the cookies and the coffee.  The vat of wine over there is keeping me from wielding an axe and jumping aboard a semi with strangers… If I go missing, put a nice picture of me on that bottle of red Merlot.  It’s the least you could do….