Saturday, October 31, 2009

Totally worth it.

Cinderella had it wrong.

If life gives you pumpkins, don't make a carriage. Make shoes.

And throw out the lemons.

That's a life lesson.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ice cream.

I can't comfort people.

I just can't. I'd like to, it just doesn't work.

Maybe it's a maternal thing, I'm not motherly so even when I want to help, I'm at a lost.

I think it's 'cause if I'm panicking, someone telling me that it's going to be okay doesn't really do anything. It just is. And I just am. And give me some time, and I'll be fine, but a sweet phrase isn't going to speed things up.

There was an incident a couple of months ago. I was on stage, and I watched as something bad happened to my family in the audience. I didn't know what was happening, or who it was happening to, just that it involved my family and that it was big and bad.

And all I could do was watch.

It was a terrible feeling. Everyone was singing and clapping and swaying along to the very last song that ended the show, all cheerful and joyous. Except me. I was watching this big, bad thing.

After a while--it felt like a long time, but it was probably something like thirty seconds--I realized I'd stopped smiling.

In a panto, on stage, that is the worst thing you can possibly do.

So I grinned. And swayed. And sang.

And watched.

I could clearly see my brother, standing in the aisle, with his back turned to me. No one in the little area where my family had been sitting was paying any attention to us on stage. People were standing up, they were looking in all directions, and they were my family.

I kept looking up and down the seats trying to find them sitting somewhere else, two rows down maybe, completely oblivious to what was happening just behind them, but they weren't there.

And all I could do was watch.

The song ended and instead of skipping down the aisles into the audience and into the lobby, we were directed by the stage crew to skip off into the wings.

"Medical emergency."

I was pretty much dead at that point. When you're on stage, there's a lot of adrenaline, you're pumped and excited and exuberant and usually there's a crash afterwards. I didn't crash. I had more important things to worry about, more adrenaline, more of everything.

And I ran backstage, ran out the wings, through the green room, through the lobby, up the stairs (passing dozens of audience members who were just leaving and looking at me very surprised since I was still completely in costume), and into the theatre.

Then I crashed.

I didn't want to hear that it was fine, that she'd be fine. I wanted to know that her pulse was stable and that her breathing was regular, which I was eventually told. And I wanted to cry because all I'd been able to do was watch, so that's what I did, in the arms of a complete stranger.

After the ambulance came, I had to go change before we went to the hospital.

Since I played a princess, I had the princess dress and the tiara and the pearls and the tights and the shoes and the stage make-up and the eyelashes. I had everything and it all had to come off now.

So again, I ran. Out of the house (theatre), through the wings (past several crew members who looked all worried and concerned at me), down to the green room and into the dressing room.

The stupid top of the stupid dress was always annoying to get off and I just didn't have the patience, I was not in the mood to shimmy and tug at it until it came off. But I did, and I did it badly and messily and one of the other women had to help me, and then she hugged me.

She's a mom. It's her thing.

And I knew that being hugged was a good thing but I did not want it. I was worried that my parents might leave with the ambulance and make my brother take me home. I didn't have time to waste hugging.

So I wretched off the skirt, jammed on my jeans, grabbed my jacket and bag and ran. The woman who hugged me had been gathering up my stuff as I was throwing it and told me to just go, she'd take care of it. That helped me. I really did appreciate that. My dress specifically needed to be hung carefully and there was no way I could do it.

Once again, I was running. Out of the dressing room, through the green room, through the wings, into the house.

We left, following the ambulance.

Okay, here's the image I want to describe. When I walked into the ER room...I was messed up. They must be used to seeing some pretty crazy things, and I was no exception.

My hair was in an elaborate braided twisty thing, reeking of hair spray, in the style of the 1800s. I was wearing full stage make-up (think clown make-up), except my eyes were all red and I had only one fake wing--sorry, eyelash left. My neck was covered in pearls and sweat. I was wearing a sweatshirt over top of a tank top--the same one I wore under my dress during the show--and jeans. And under the jeans, I was wearing a pair of thick, white tights with character shoes.


We waited.

Finally, my parents sent my brother and I home because we knew she was alright and there was no need for all of us to stay. I think it was because my mom kept looking at my face. She kept commenting that I looked like death (I'm paraphrasing). I guess I did.

When I was home, I coloured. I hate colouring. I hate it with a fiery passion and think it is ridiculous for teachers to mark your overall work on the prettiness of your drawings and oh my god why am I so bad at it?

I had to create a kid's book for my creative writing class and all that was left was the colouring, so I very calmly sat at my kitchen table and coloured.

That helped. Thinking helped, moving helped, hell, showering helped (that helped a lot actually, stage make-up is really thick).

Hearing pretty things didn't help. I didn't want to hear them. I wanted facts, I wanted to know precisely what had happened and why and what it meant now. Hearing that it was going to be okay--when they had no idea if it was going to be okay--did not help.

So I think that's why I can't comfort people.

I want to comfort people that need it. I really do. But if it was me, that's not what I'd want. Hugging is always useful (except in my one case but that was a special circumstance), but not talking. I don't want to hear it. So I don't know what to say. I don't know if it would help to say that it's going to be okay--when I don't know that for sure--or if I should keep quiet.

I don't know.

So when my friend needs help, I don't know what to do, what to say.

I'm sorry.

The morbid creature is tucked safely away.

The first group I ever joined on Facebook was 'Writing Papers Single Spaced First Makes My Double Spaced Result Climactic'.

I get it now.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Scarred Smilie.

My hole puncher is leaking.

Every time I pick it up, a shower of perfect circles rains onto my lap, each identical to the last, in size, thickness and colour. They're simple and stupid and when I stabbed one with my pen, it wouldn't rip, it just took its disfigurement and kept staring at me like, ha, you can't break me!

Of course, then I threw them all out.

I think that's Morisette ironic. Or just murder.

Or maybe it's nothing at all.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

We Are the Champ--uh, maybe not.

Today, I made a discovery.

My friends and I went and saw 'The Invention of Lying' (Ricky Gervais is a genius, especially for a secular audience), and afterwards, we weren't quite sure what we wanted to do, so until we decided, we hung around outside.

And it took me a minute before I recognized it.

We're those kids now.

We're the kids my mom didn't want us to associate with when we were younger, the reason she didn't like us going to late movies, the reason she'd always volunteer to pick us up so we wouldn't have to loiter outside the theatre.

When I was younger, they seemed so cool. They could hang out past eleven o'clock on a school night, at the side of a street, outside of a cinema, totally at ease; they could smoke and glare at people walking by; they could not worry about the 'weirdos' (my moms favourite title).

And now they're us.

But we still have bedtimes, they're just self-imposed now because hello responsibilities, and we're at ease because we have each other. We don't smoke, we only glare if we have reason, and we don't worry about weirdos.

So my revelation of the day: we are the weirdos.

Friday, October 9, 2009

When I was a kid, I adored Nancy Drew.

Loved her to death, read every book twice, wanted to be her. Except I had this theory. I didn't think I was smart enough to be a detective, like her, so I was going to be a forensic scientist.

Logic of an eight-year-old.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Two Stops and a Sixpack

Today, there was a drunk on the skytrain.

It was super crowded and he was quite a ways away from me, but I could hear everything that crossed his lips, and that was only one phrase: "Two stops and a sixpack."

He got really excited about it, holding up his grocery bag, showing off his beer like a kid does with an A+ test.

He got so excited that he wanted to sing about it.

First off, that is awesome. I know when I'm drunk, the first thing I'm gonna want to do is burst into 'Iolanthe'.

Unfortunately, when he said 'sing' he meant 'rap' (I'm a fan of the 'can't have crap without rap' theory) and even more unfortunately, he can't rap. So he wobbled there, chanting 'Two stops and a sixpack' with attitude.

And then I realized, woah, that's iambic trimeter. I suck at iambic trimeter, and he's doing it drunk.

He even had the nerve to use alliteration.

Man, poets are weird.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

And his kid, his kid is gonna grow up with this gaping whole in his life and never know it was nobody's fault. So what about him? What happens to him?

"People talk. If I were nuts, I'd have heard."

Friday, October 2, 2009

They're thoughtful that way.

This post is going to be honest, blunt and bloody.

This is what happens when you give blood with the Canadian Blood Services.

When you walk in, there's a smell. A really yucky, ugly smell that's gonna remind you of hospitals and clinics and dead people (but there's no dead people there, promise).

The building is a circle, or at least the one I go to is. You start right beside the cake and the cookies and the juice (I'm sure they do that on purpose, not just because it also makes layout sense), and you can't have any, you can't even look at it too much because in a second, you're going to be called over to a desk with a man behind it, a really nice, friendly man who's been taught to not scare you. Well, try to not scare you.

He's going to take a tiny little plastic thing and ask for your finger and you, not realizing what this tiny plastic thing is, are going to hold out your hand and feel a prick. He'll have already told you that he needs to do this to make sure you are plush full of iron. It's a pinprick. You may not even feel it. Imagine someone pinching your arm: this hurts less.

There'll be a little well of blood on the tip of your finger, but they'll try to cover it with their glove.

He's gonna take a drop and tell you if your iron is high enough. This is important. If it's not high enough, then it could be dangerous for your health to give blood so they're not gonna let you. But let's pretend that your iron level is fine.

Next comes paperwork. Mostly, it's about sex. Sex-sex not gender-sex but they don't want to know your most intimate details, just if you might have AIDS. All of the paperwork is online (just google them) so you can look at it in advance too.

Next, you'll go in this private room and someone will go ask you more questions (mostly about sex again) that you'll say no to, although there'll be a couple of yes's just to make sure you're paying attention. I promise they're not judging, they just want to be safe.

They're going to give you two stickers with barcodes on them and then leave the room. If you want to donate your blood, you take the appropriate barcode and stick it on your file. If you want to check for AIDS or other blood-related diseases, or just find out your blood type without donating, you choose the other barcode.

When the person comes back, all they'll see is a barcode, so again, there'll be no judgements.

Next comes the obvious part. The giving of blood part, the sharing of survival part, the big ass needle in your arm part. Breathe. Seriously. It's okay.

Now, you might think (wrongly) that since your arm needs to be bare (and if it's the middle of summer), it would be a good idea to wear a halter top. It is not. The bed/lounge chair/thing you are going to lie on is plastic.

Don't wear a halter top. You'll stick. My bad.

So you lie down, the nurse finds a nice vein while making small talk, and they'll set everything up.

I apparently have very small, invisible veins. I'm practically albino, so you'd think they'd be easy to see, but they're so ridiculously small that my nurse took quite a while to choose a vein because she wanted to be absolutely certain that there would only be one more prick to come. For me, that involved strapping up one arm, deciding that she wanted to try the other arm, finding that the other arm wasn't any better, and then going back to the first arm. You might think that's silly and time-consuming. I think I'd rather they check several times than leave me with a collapsed vein. So yeah, they're thoughtful that way.

They'll tell you when. My nurse told me that if I was going to look away, now would be the time. I did look away, since it was my first time, but it's not that bad.

Believe me, I'm a sissy.

The needle isn't that big. The prick doesn't take that long. The pain is not that bad.

Seriously. I'm a whiner, if it really hurt I would tell you and then be bitter about it the rest of my life. It's more like a sting than anything and it only takes a second and then you can't feel it anymore.

Blood. Right.

Typically, donations take five to ten minutes. A while ago my friend asked me how long and I said it depends on your blood pressure. It does depend on your blood pressure but said friend turned really pale and didn't want to go with me anymore, so I'm going to stick with five to ten minutes.

If you hand gets cold, which mine does, they'll give you a glove tied up that's filled with hot water to hold, and if you have lower blood pressure, which I do, they'll ask you to squeeze and unsqueeze it over and over again.

There are nurses everywhere and they are bent on making sure you are perfectly fine.

There was another woman there who, after donating and sitting there for a few minutes, was feeling dizzy. Immediately, there were three nurses surrounding her with ice and cold pads. Within another few minutes, she was fine.

I think my albino-ness caused them to be overly concerned, because thirty seconds couldn't go by without a different nurse coming up to me, taking a quick glance at my file (and reading that it was my first time) and asking me if I felt okay.

I felt just fine.

Okay, that's a lie.

I was sticking to the seat: that did not feel fine. My arm felt pretty normal though.

I watched the blood. Right as it starts, you can watch it run through the tube and you get to see how fast it's going. That's cool. Afterwards, it's just a brown tube.

(I got kinda sick of all the people asking me how I felt so I started texting random questions to my sister just so they'd stop asking me.)

Once you're done, they'll take the needle out (another sting, just for a second) and press a piece of gauze where it went in and ask you to hold it there. Five minutes later, they'll come around check to make sure it's done bleeding, and then tape a fresh piece of gauze on.

(Unless you're so friggin' albino that they want you to sit for another few minutes so they go get you a drink and make you sip it there. I tried telling them that I'm naturally this ghostly but she didn't buy it.)

And then that's it! You get cookies and cake (if you're lucky and it's someone birthday) and juice and volunteers make small talk as you sit. There are people all around you--at all times--making sure that you are okay. They make you stay for a few minutes afterwards because if you faint, they are going to catch you. They're there for you. You are going to be fine.

You should know that from the moment I entered the building to the moment I left, I never once saw blood. First it was covered by the person's glove and then a band-aid, then in a tube, then under gauze, but I never saw myself bleeding.

On Greys Anatomy, there was a guy played by Seth Green who had an exposed carotid artery that burst. Lexie practically bathed in blood until she managed to stop the bleeding.

I know that that didn't really happen, but it could, it does, and you could help.

It's in you to give.