It is March 13th 2016 today. It’s been 166 days since I last wrote entered my blog confessional and finally I’ve made time to sit here and transfer my thoughts from my head to this keyboard. Actually the truth is, I started this entry over two weeks ago and each time I log in, I have been modifying the date at the start of this blog leaving me to ask, how do you chronic and committed bloggers and writers do it?? I am especially jubilant because I can momentarily break my little cycle of self-loathing and self-anger for eagerly (and hence paradoxically) taking on too much and then not dedicating time to my wee little virtual soap box. Every day I don’t sit here and write, I tell myself it is yet another day of our time abroad where I don’t record the memories. In Italy, I somehow managed to write and update almost weekly even if no one was listening. The end result was that I still compiled a fantastical journal of our own memories of our life beyond the Great White North. My entries for London have somewhat slipped through my fingers because there just hasn’t been enough time. Priorities have changed and I think I am addicted to being occupied.
I seem to be behind in everything I set out to do. I am STILL reading David Bowie’s biography that I started in February 2013. That date is not a typo. Though I am almost through it now, it takes on a different feeling knowing the ending in the book is now definite and because as the whole world knows, he passed away in early January. My favourite tune from Bowie is Five Years and it looks like I am incrementally taking the same amount of time to read his life. Likewise, I am also reading another book that I started flipping through while on our camping trip last summer. It is a book about being too busy and overwhelmed and clearly, this book is serving me well as I am living the spoken word of its pages. All our camping gear is long put away in it’s proper storage locations but the dog ear in my book is starting to become a permanent fixture. It’s not that I am a slow reader or don’t like the act of sitting and relaxing with a good book, I just don’t make enough time for it because something else always takes my attention and priority. Social media is partly to blame, I admit. Though fun to peruse and peek in on friends’ and interesting strangers lives, I have a love-hate relationship with it and often mentally serenade social media with Bob Dylan‘s words of ‘you just kinda wasted my precious time’ in my head at the end of the day. Wikipedia is another culprit that eats up my data on my phone and hence I daydream of having a simple phone again, having the capability to call or text only. Alas, smart phones are like clotted cream. Once you start you will never stop and I know I will never go back to a simple phone.
All this being said, it then makes perfect and logical sense that I added a third book to the queue. A year ago and via social media I stumbled upon an author who was hilariously promoting his work online for people to purchase or quite literally, to steal. While in London he would go around the city and place his book in store windows, store shelves and museums and then make a photographic proclamation of the book’s location on instagram. Because his books were never linked to a store’s security system, they could never set off the alarms or beep if removed without the blessing threshold of a cash register. Hence he was literally and virtually persuading people to take up thievery for a moment and snag his books. Making literary rebels of us all who collectively joined in his movement of self-promotion, I tried a few times to fetch the books in their advertised locales but was too slow. Though I never made it in time to ever rightfully steal my own version, the thrill of being the first to grab a copy was hatched and I got hooked. The seed was planted. In the end, I went down the commoner route and purchased his first book on Amazon and remain one of the more than ten thousand followers of his Instagram world. I’ve since bought his second book and am awaiting the impending writing of his third while I truly enjoy my time in his first, Waxed Exceeding Mighty. At my personal rate, I should have them all read before the kids graduate college. In either case, check out ‘joshvahvmphreys’ shameless self-promotion on Instagram. In a good way, I’ve never seen someone market themselves in such a way and you will soon understand what I mean if you pop by. If you buy a book, tell him this blog sent ya.
Still on the topic of personal lagging, I am behind in sorting the photos and memories on my computer I have snapped over the years and only fantasise of organising into photo books or photo albums to show the kids and anyone else who wants to peruse them. Though I fancy the aesthetics of today’s modern and sleek photo books, I have been drawn back to the nostalgia of regular photo albums with photos inserted into the sleeves or suctioned to the sticky pages and hence want to make such albums of our friends, family, travels, and of course, the kiddos. I just need more time and need to suffocate distractions but there always seem to be far too many interesting things going on around me. I am a creature of curiosity which means, my attention span is ghastly and short and prevents me from finding and committing to a passion. Though it is true the earth is slowing down in its rotation and we are being gifted the equivalent of 1.4 milliseconds to our day every 100 years, it’s simply not enough. Slowly though, I am learning to make time for me. As a stellar and fine example, I finally watched Star Wars episode’s IV, V, and VI just over this last Christmas. Considering they were released in 1977, 1980, and 1983, respectively, I am nothing but dilatory and it’s not that I ever intentionally wanted to demarcate myself from the people who lived above my rock, but these things just happen. To add to that, last weekend I also watched for the first time Footloose and ET. A village that bans dancing is no village of mine but an alien could totally hang out in my house. I do watch modern movies too though-just the other day I took myself and my neighbour from below us to see A Bigger Splash. Loved it and love Ralph Fiennes. But of course when it comes to movies, I remain loyal to the Princess Bride and shall still christen my first canine-compadre Fezzik.
Though I do want more time for me, I am in essence not complaining since my disturbances are amusing and self-induced. To summarize the last 4-5 months of my blog silence, I finished two more modules in my Masters and am waiting to begin my last one. After that, it is ‘just’ a dissertation that prevents me from adding a few more letters behind my ridiculously long and unpronounceable last name. My parents came to visit in October and if it wasn’t for the numerous photos we took together while they were here, a filled up freezer of pierogies would be my next clue that my ma had been over. We threw a fun Halloween party for about 30 ghosts, goblins, and an entire family dolled up as the Day of the Dead. Little Miss Stubborn turned 8 years old, we hosted a large gathering of family and friends at our house for Christmas where I undercooked the bird and almost gifted everyone salmonella. I ‘ran’ into and then stalked the entire Beckham family at the skating rink at the Natural History Museum in December and was asked by their body guard to not stand so close (voila! Now you know why I borrowed Police’s song for my title of this post), and I spontaneously strapped on my Super Momma Cape when I confronted a man who took a photo of my kids in the street and though he denied doing it, I found the photo on his phone and deleted it. I’m not often confrontational, I swear, but sometimes, one has to roll up their sleeves and demand the password to a stranger’s phone in the street.
We took the kids to Belfast and to see the Giant’s Causeway which has been on my bucket list since I cracked open my first textbook in Geophysics in uni. I began my 36th lap around the sun, hosted heaps of play dates and planned a few day-trip outings with marvellous moms and their kids here. I got tricked by friends and Limoncello into singing karaoke at a local Italian hangout which consequently converted me to teetotalism for a wee while because it left me with nothing but colossally painful after-effects and flashbacks to funny stories the next day. I don’t have a gall bladder anymore, so the more I help my liver out now, the better for me in the future. I planned a Staff Appreciation Breakfast for the teachers of Little Miss Stubborn’s and the Albino Hulk’s school and was present for many other events at the school which are always a blast. I’m a chronic volunteerer, (is that even a word?!).
The Albino Hulk did a reverse show-and-tell and brought home a live game of lice-tag happening in his hair. How fortunate was I to be the next one called to the festive game. The compulsive amounts of head-combing left me feeling very ape-like with mountains of laundry to do for a week. I’m abnormally petrified of all bugs when they present themselves in my vicinity on any day so I had to dig deep and it took a special kind of ‘keep your shit together’ self-pep talk to persuade myself to shuffle back off the Freak-out ledge after I found a critter in my hair. As Jesus gave me and Lumberg lots of thick hair, our kids have the same so this single task of evicting mine and the Albino Hulk’s hair and our house of lice loiters derailed all my plans for an entire day and I had to give up my tickets to see a play in the West End. Definitely didn’t have time to blog that day. True story.
We hosted numerous other visitors which I always look forward to and I have begun some digital marketing work for a fundraising organisation that got in touch with me. Applying my fresh marketing skills and knowledge has been stimulating and exciting so far. I think I’m just jubilantly excited to be discussing other things than my kids for a wee little change AND being able to use instagram for work. Yes, instagram for WORK!!! Jesus DOES love me! Lastly, in between my master’s I have added another little diploma in Digital Marketing which is keeping me occupied and out of fun trouble. So there, in a nut shell is a little recap of the last 166 days.
But alas, just as we were settling more into the city and starting to enjoy London with all her theatrical, historical (I’m still so keen on the Tudors. What a fascinating bunch!), and museum splendour, and JUST as we started crafting plans for another summer road trip and summer visitors, the fat lady has sung and we found out we are moving home. The End.
If you know one thing about me, I’m a planner. If you know two things about me, you know I’m (let’s review!) a planner and 2) I’m emotional. Not the best tools to work with from my Personality Tool Box when now any future London plans we made have had to be changed, and these changes are accompanied by a symphony of emotions singing the impending songs of sad farewells. We had hoped and made preliminary plans to visit good friends in India at Christmas and that too has been changed as it is a longer journey from YYC to BLR. Also, my maternity leave is coming to an end after almost nine years out of the work force. I’m not short on emotional drama and hence I went through the same spin cycle when we prepared to leave Milan. Fast forward two years since we departed Italy and I still ache for its streets, sounds and friends. Nostalgia has me hypnotically and perpetually flipping through photos. Nostalgia keeps me listening to songs that are correlated to places and events and people. I ponder often how my fruit-stand family is doing and if my local grocery store still has all the same staff that got to know the kids so well still working there. Nostalgia keeps me trying to keep up my italian with whomever will speak to me, stranger or not. When I randomly say something to italian-speaking strangers here I must look like that stray dog that approaches you in a park with a ball to throw but you don’t know where he came from so you look around to link some rhyme with reason for this interaction. Some throw back the ball, others keep walking. Va bene. The moral of this story is, nostalgia can be simultaneously incredible and a bitch and I may be borderline socially creepy.
On one hand, I get to reconnect with life back home which is exhilarating and will be a genuine thrill to be physically part of. I have missed home. Friends have been busy growing their careers, their kids, their beards, and their gardens. Aside from sending my nephews and god-daughter weekly postcards and trinkets with facts on London, my vast contribution to all of this has largely been by clicking ‘Like’ on Facebook or on FaceTime. I get to go home to raise a glass and be plopped back into life amongst family and friends, and smother newly born additions to the circle with hugs. (If you know a third thing about me, babies and kids crack me up, and while I’m at it, here is a random fourth fact: I suffer from misophonia AND anisocoria and I’m sure my aniscoria is sometimes amplified due to heightened misophonia. Mine is a turbulent struggle). Back to the babies, these itsy bitsy little humans send me down memory lane of my own maternal experience and all the sights and feelings of early parenthood come back to me like riding a bike, or if you’re Polish, dancing the polka. (We never forget how to Polka).
Now that we are leaving, I am left thinking and feeling that I wish I met no one here, or, that the people I met here were assholes. Perhaps Paul Simon was correct when he crooned that he prefers his books and his poems,that he is an island, and hence has suffered less in I am a Rock. I have books indeed but I don’t read them fast enough and well, my journal entries and attempts at stringing words together into poetry have all but been declared extinct, (I have no time, remember?!) Being alone would have been easier for the ending because if I never loved I never would have cried INDEED, but noooo, I had to go and meet people who were altruistic, and quite simply, priceless. This applies to both Milan and London. The people I met here made me laugh from the depths of my ab-less belly, have made me cry from both sad stories in their life or stories that were so comical I still ended up in tears anyways. I’ve loved absorbing their own kids and watching them all get comfortable in our lives and home with my two troops. I will miss their kids’ random hugs in the hallways at school, asking to arrange a play date between their parents and myself, or having them rummaging through my pantry at home for snacks when they come over. Being abroad, the friends you meet can quickly become the family you depend on for advice, for help in a plethora of ways and with things, and for watching the kids when you’re in a bind. They will quickly be honest with you and try to teach you how to take a compliment (if a compliment directed at me is a ping-pong ball, then I am still the paddle that reflexively deflects it), and Lumberg and I have learned so much from others’ parenting and relationship styles. Furthermore, in extreme situations, these friends-turned-family types are the kind that will whisk their young napping child from his room, throw him in a stroller, and run to my house in 35 degree heat to stay with Little Miss Stubborn while I need to take in the Albino Hulk for stitches because I can see the white of his skull after a fall. Living in a foreign land, even if it is now english speaking, we have been happily dumped in a blender of so many walks of life. Of course, my friends and actual family back home are the same way and I felt all of this when I left Canada. To a T.
I guess the moral of the story is, the more of the world you see and the more people you exchange friendships with and invest in, the more you will always be missing someone, somewhere, and the more departing a place will just blow. Going to a new place is fabulous, I truly relish in that. It’s the leaving of a place I am drab at. Nostalgia turns its both ugly and heart-warming head yet again and perhaps this is the way it is. Indefinitely.
At the end of the day, I’ve been beyond fortunate to maintain fantastical friendships at home while expanding my Friends list on Facebook from encounters while abroad. Can one get addicted to meeting new people? Perhaps this is why I spend so much time on social media-I like to forge new friendships but am also really good at fostering old ones. These type of distractions I will always accept in my daily life and routine but to conclude my ramble on the cinematic effects of the act of Departing, if you know of a place in London that one needs to see before they leave here, spill your beans. I’m tingling to cover some more territory before we close this chapter in five weeks.
Before I end, I was approached by an education company a few months ago to test their product and then provide a review about it. Well, I happily tested the product and never wrote a blurb due to all the reasons I have already exhaled above so now they probably think I’m a conniving jerk for trying to get something for free and not fulfilling my end of the bargain. Clearly, this was not the case. Nevertheless, K5 Learning is the company and their software was stimulating for my kids to work with. The company is made of a group of parents who noticed a gap in the quality of educational software available to use at home, directed at kids and not teachers. Hence, they collaborated together to create this new platform. Their program offers academic supplements in reading, writing and math for kiddos spanning from kindergarten to the fifth grade. It is geared more towards the North American system of education however, don’t let that stop you from trying it here it he UK. My troops enjoyed using the program which complemented their lessons here and after we walked through the setup together, they were able to navigate and use the programs on their own. Use this as an alternative to TV or worse, getting your kids exposed to social media. Trust me, don’t let them get hooked on social media.
For now, I’m off to check my instagram account and hope to make an appearance on here sooner than later. The week ahead holds a 1920’s-Great-Gatsby gala at the kids’ school for which, I have bought a feather for my hair. Go back to your lives now. I’m off to snooze as it is 1am and I have to run to school with the kids in 7 hours now and see all the groovy parents I know. Who am I kidding, I could never be an island, but I do think Paul Simon’s tune is eternally groovy.