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There is a young guy in one of my classes that has been driving me crazy. He’s in my TA group and he talks a lot. It’s not just that he talks so much that bothers me, it’s not that he cracks stupid jokes or that he repeats himself.

What really bothers me is that almost every single thing that comes out of his mouth is a complaint. After a few weeks of spending a hour together I’ve had to wonder if he is so stupid that he doesn’t understand anything, if he hates his program and classes so much why he bothers to attend school. If his day to day life is so horrible then why doesn’t he change something. He not only seems to prefer being unhappy, he also wants to broadcast his negativity to everyone around him.

And every week he wears on me more and more. And I look at him and wonder if people ever feel that way about me.

I see a lot of things that are wrong. There are a lot of things that I would like to change about the world around me and about myself. I fight depression and I’m a pessimist so I know that I turn to the negative.

So I wanted to write myself this little note, for the record:

 

  • I love school, I’m so glad I went back, it’s re-ignited my passion and I know I’m in the right place and I get to go to class and be engaged every day.
  • I love my family, my daughter is more awesome and amazing as the days go by.
  • I love our home. I love this city, I don’t even mind the weather.
  • My relationship with my father is better than it’s ever been in my life.
  • Joe is a gift and I can’t believe he chose me.
  • I am thankful for the friends that I have in my life and the support that they offer.
  • I feel very privileged, which is why I want to work hard to help other people get access to the privileges I have.
Sneak Peeks (2)

Check her out, she’s awesome

 

As soon as the kid showed interest in dressing herself I let her have at it. I was thrilled actually, especially with the outfits she would come up with.

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I mean, it was pretty obvious she was awesome right away. And better at dressing herself than me.

Now that we have to leave for the bus early, or at least earlier than she’s used to having to be out of the house, she will often ask me to just bring her some clothes, which I don’t mind doing, though I prefer she does it herself. Last night we were sorting her laundry and I realized how long it could potentially take for her to get dressed if I forced the matter.

I got her a couple of new pairs of leggings when I went to the Target liquidation – one thing I am going to miss about Target is the clothes I’ve been able to find for her there, they fit her so nicely. One of the pairs of leggings was leopard print, which is not something I wear, but she likes it so they came home with me. She hadn’t seen them before I washed them but she picked them out of the laundry pile right away and declared her love.

She declared that she would wear them then next day, so now it was our quest to find something to go with them.

That’s where the fun began.

She laid out five shirts that could potentially go with the pants and then eventually narrowed them down to two, given that she wanted to wear long sleeves. Then we pulled out five dresses and she laid each one on top of the pants and asked me to rank them. She then wrote the ranking down.

Not kidding

Not kidding

We removed the two dresses with the lowest ranking, then brought the two ‘maybe’ shirts back into the mix.

I swear I am not making this up.

We had a long conversation about whether she wanted to wear a dress or a shirt. By the time she needed to get to bed I think we still had two dresses and one shirt in the running.

And I was reeling thinking about shopping for a prom or wedding dress with this child.

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I was reading Lynn’s blog, and she posted about something Nicole had done, so I read Nicole’s post and both got me thinking about all the books I read when I was a kid and all the books I rushed out to get when I found out we were having baby, and then a baby girl because I wanted her to read what I read and love what I loved. But really I was kind of the same when I was a kid as I am now – when I find an author that writes a book I love, I read everything else they’ve written.

So this is going to be a little bit about books and a little bit about writers and a while lot about adolescent memories.

1) The Pistachio Prescription by Paula Danziger

I read all the Danziger’s that the library had on its shelves, but this is the one that I read over and over again. I loved her books because they were about girls whose parents had split up or were splitting up and that spoke to me. I mean, I loved Judy Blume but I never understood why all her characters were so excited about getting their periods, so I think my love of Danziger was a reaction to that too.

2) The Fudge series, Judy Blume

I loved these books, I read them over and over and over again and they are sitting on the kid’s shelf waiting for her to be ready for them. I can’t say what it is about them, but Peter and Fudge and Sheila just felt like friends.

3) Starring Sally J. Friedman as Herself, also Judy Blume

This, I think, is one of the lesser known Blume’s, but something about Sally, who is a young Jewish girl living right after the Second World War, spoke to me. I still love that time period.

4) Bruno and Boots, Gordon Korman

I loved Bruno and Boots as characters, I loved their friends Cathy and Diane from Miss Scrimmage’s, and The Fish and Miss Scrimmage herself. It’s a great Canadian series that I think is currently out of print, so I look for them at used book stores whenever I visit them. I’m also a big fan of Korman’s Losing Joe’s Place.

5) All the Babysitter’s Club books

I know that it gets to the point where you can skip the first three or four chapters because it repeats every damn book, but Kristy and Mary Anne and Stacey and Dawn and Mallory and Jessie were good friends of mine for a lot years.

6) And All the Nancy Drew Books

Again, lots of repetition, but still great starter mysteries, and strong female characters in Nancy and George and Bess. I loved these books enough that I got very upset when they casted a brunette in the role of Nancy for a TV series. Every book says she’s strawberry blond. Every book.

7) Rilla of Ingleside, LM Montgomery

Given how much I loved the mini-series, it took me a long time to get around to reading the actual Anne books, but when I did I fell even more deeply with the Anne-girl and Gilbert Blythe. As much as I love those two and their love story, though, Rilla of Ingleside became my favourite of the books. I cried for days.

8) The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler, EL Konigsburg

I had actually totally forgotten about this book until I saw it in the Scholastic flyer and memories came flooding back. There’s something about exploring a museum after hours.

9) The Ramona Series, Beverly Cleary

I remember feeling very much like a Ramona as a child reading these books. I was very surprised to find how old fashioned the first couple of books in the series are when I re-read them with my daughter.

10) Different Dragons and Mine for Keeps, Jean Little

Remembering how much I enjoyed these books I really shouldn’t have been surprised by how much I enjoy having a dog that helps take care of me. Both of these stories are about kids who are emotionally vulnerable and find dogs that know how to make them feel better. (Also Little is another great Canadian writer).

 

I don’t usually go into someone else’s house and strip down, but that’s what I spent my morning doing. Today was my photo session with Sara. I came home totally exhausted. I still am, a bit. I think I spent so much time thinking about it and worrying about it that once it was over my body just needed the sleep.

Right now the whole experience feels very strange and I can’t quite but my finger on it. It was fun, we laughed, we chatted and I didn’t feel awkward, though I did feel a little ridiculous at times, but that was okay.

I wore a lot more makeup than I ever do, but I looked like me. I wore less clothing that I usually would in public, but I was comfortable. I realized it was okay. It was not about being uncomfortable, feeling exposed, it was okay.

This is the body that I have right now and sometimes looking into the camera I felt defiant. Sometimes I felt serene. Sometimes I felt almost outside myself, like this was something that wasn’t happening to me.

I haven’t seen the photos yet. I’m almost scared to. I think they’ll look great, I’ll look happy, laughing and smiling and comfortable and confident. I’m worried that I won’t believe it’s me. I’m worried that I’ll lose this feeling of okay-ness.

Or maybe I’ll look super amazing and it will still be me.

IMG_2235I’m waiting and seeing.  Next week is my birthday. This was part of it. Maybe 34 will be the year that I’m okay.

Boundless strength and energy

Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting - (Comments Off)

One of the things that we tell the kid often is how strong she is and how wonderful it is that she’s so active. She started moving, dancing and kicking in the womb and she’s never stopped. Her legs are powerful, her arms are strong, she’s flexible and agile and inherited only a little bit of clumsy.

We tell her these things often, but I wonder if she really understands how amazing her body is and how wonderful it is that she enjoys being active. It took me more than two decades of my life to realize that I enjoy sweating. I don’t have a sport that I love, I’m trying to find it now, at 33.

I am very proud of the fact that this child has been ready, willing and able to throw herself into so many activities and find what she likes. She’s even asked to do soccer this summer, and I’m thrilled because soccer is great fitness, it’s outdoors and if she enjoys it, it’s something that she can play for the rest of her life.

I wish I could play soccer. I wish I trusted my body to hold up to what I’d like to put it through.

She’s in hockey now. It’s not a league, it’s just an introduction class. I am amazed at how much she pays attention to the instructors, how persistent she is with the drills, how she’s not afraid of falling and every time she does she gets right back up and keeps going.

She just gets up and keeps going.

That might be the greatest thing, beyond all the strength and power she has in her mind she is also persistent and fearless. She will live her life as a force to be reckoned with.

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And I will live my life cheering her on, and trying to live up to what she’s taught me.

The funky music

Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off)

One of the things that I need to help me get out of my ennui, I think, is music that fits my moment.

It seems like every time I have gone through a period of intensity or change in my life I have had some bad that really speaks to me in that moment. When I was living in Fort Frances, Ontario and I was lonely and depressed it was the Wicked Soundtrack. When I quit my job and decided to go to university at 23 it was Simple Plan. When I moved to Regina to try and start a new life for us in a new place and I was away from Joe, Keane was perfect.

When I was a kid I went through a musical phase, I had my NKOTB phase, and sometimes Linkin Park is just the ticket. I was Beatles crazy in Grade 9. Through the rest of high school I was alternative girl and full into Canadian rock – Our Lady Peace, I Mother Earth, Sloan. Classic. In college I was all about Default. (Does anyone remember Default? The lead singer is a country star now).  There was a Robbie Williams period in there too.

But where is my theme song for right now? For this time when I’m in school and trying to work and be a good mother and a decent wife and also maybe a little bit healthy. Music that I can concentrate to, music that I can dance with my kid to, music that I can clean to.

An album that I can put on and play over and over and over. A playlist that I can take with my everywhere. Something that fits my moment.

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Ennui

Posted by Amy Boughner in Health - (Comments Off)

It’s been a week. I was sick then Joe was sick. I feel out of it, tired, unmotivated. A friend had a bit of an emergency so I took on more work (and didn’t go to class). I missed an event I was supposed to go to. I have been easily enraged.

Next week is reading week and I’m worried that I’m going to continue this pattern of sitting in the office not really getting anything done, and ending up on the other side of reading week with too much on my plate.

Last year I had not-quite-pneumonia and ever since my asthma has been flaring up almost daily, robbing me of the ability to take a deep breath. I blow my nose constantly and now I have a super-fun cough. I’m tired of being cold. I’m tired of feeling controlled by the weather – how long it takes me to get somewhere, how long I can spend outside. I’m tired of feeling not great. I’m constantly worried or stressed out about something.

I’m tired of useless debates with unreasonable people and unhelpful remarks from stupid people.

All of this combines to tell me that something is wrong. Maybe it’s the season, maybe it’s my chemistry.

I’m not going through the usual signs of my depression. In fact it might feel better to cry but I can’t seem to. Instead I get angry and frustrated.

I’m going to school, checking on my grad school application, doing my course work and trying to get things completed, but I also spend time wondering if I can make it through another year. If it will all be worth it in the end. I wonder if I will ever been as good a fit for any job as the job that I left behind. I wonder if I will ever believe as much in anything as I did in Jack Layton.

I spend my time thinking about the things I could or should be doing while I could be actually doing things.

I feel so passionately about some things, but I’m at a point when I feel as though I’m not helping to make progress on any of them, I’m just talking about them. And I don’t know what to do with that.

I’m lost and I feel stuck here.

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I grew up in the 90s and watched a lot of (terrible) teen movies during my teenage years. One thing that I learned from these movies was that there was really nothing worse to be as a teenage girl than what I was – smart, brown haired, glasses-wearing and incompetent with a make-up brush.

Now, I didn’t really care because there wasn’t much I could do about the colour of my hair, the glasses I wore (which I still like wearing, to this day). I tried to wear makeup a few times but I always felt more self-conscious.

And I like being smart, people in my family are smart. It’s not something to be ashamed of, I knew that even then.

Neither was enjoying to read. I also didn’t enjoy drinking or the thought of getting drunk. So I was a nerd and had accepted my lot in life.

Now I wonder if I was more deeply affected by those messages or whatever else has told me over the years that I’m not up to the standard.

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I actually like this picture

I’m still useless with makeup. I came to the realization after I turned 30 that I will never enjoy wearing high heels and that I’m probably okay with that.

So I’m stuck somewhere between not caring whether society thinks I’m pretty and wanting to be okay with who I am and how I look based on the standards I see around me. And also the fact that my husband and daughter think I am beautiful. And that I know that my daughter both looks just like me and is beautiful.

It’s a whole mishmash of psychology that I might never figure out.

 

 

 

I got the job in November, but for the first few issues I was in training. I didn’t start working by myself until January, and that’s when I started getting to know the rest of the staff. I also got to know my editor very well.

Though it did take me almost an hour to notice that he had shaved off his long blue hair when we all came back from Christmas break.

Unlike this year, I had no reasons to rush home after my classes, and the office gave me a place to stash my stuff, so I would hang around on the couches having great conversations about topics that varied in importance.

Sometimes I would just sit and listen to my colleagues debate.

2005 was a good year.

I was back in school and leaving journalism behind, but my background got me this decent job with great people and my own space.

And it got me a husband.

In March of 2005 we kissed. In April we started officially dating. In August we moved in together. In December we got a puppy. In 2006 we got engaged, in 2007 we got married, in 2009 I was pregnant and at the beginning on 2010 I had our baby girl. In 2012 we bought a house and I quit my job and in 2014 I went back to school.

Meanwhile Joe has worked at five different places (in seven different jobs?) and we’ve moved five times.

That’s a big decade. There will probably never be another decade in my life that sees as much change and yet it all seems to have gone by so quickly. It’s impossible that I’m turning 34 this month, that I’m almost done my fourth year of university – and I’ll be walking across the stage eight years after the first time I picked up my degree – that our little girl is halfway through junior kindergarten, that this year we celebrate 8 years married.

Seriously

Seriously

How is it possible I’ve spent almost a third of my life with this man? And that’s he has spent almost a third of his life with me?

A letter

Posted by Amy Boughner in Health | Rant - (Comments Off)

Dear Cancer Care Ontario,

I just wanted to say thank you for the lovely letter I received today in my mailbox thanking me for getting a Pap Test at my annual physical last year. I have to say though that I haven’t actually read the letter all the way through.

You see, I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Of course, since the letterhead said ‘Ontario Cervical Screening Program’ I assume you know that among its many fun complications, PCOS also puts me at a higher risk of all sorts of cancers, including cervical cancer and ovarian cancer.

(The main way to manage my PCOS is to lose weight, but PCOS also makes it extra hard to do that. I know, super fun!)

So you see, when I got an envelope today I was confused as to why I was getting a letter from Cancer Care Ontario. When I opened the letter and saw the words ‘Ontario Cervical Screening Program’ and ‘Your Pap Test Result’ at the top my stomach dropped. I panicked as I read through the first paragraph which first introduced me to a doctor I cared nothing about, then thanked me for getting a pap and then, finally, at the end of the first paragraph, told me that my pap was, in fact, normal.

I get a pap because I have an increased risk. I also get a pap because I knew someone who had cervical cancer as a young woman. I tell other women to get their Pap Test because I believe in early detection.

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At first I was just a little bit angry. And then the tears came.

You see, there’s a pretty good chance that I’m going to get cancer at some point in my life. A pretty good chance that it will show up in my reproductive system somewhere.

I don’t know if this letter was meant to put the fear of God into me. I don’t know if you meant to make me think, even for a moment, that I had an abnormal result and that I might have cancer, but that was the effect of this letter.

And so, Cancer Care Ontario, I just wanted to let you know that this format is really poorly thought out. You buried the lede, as they say. You hid the information that I needed right off the bat. And I am left wondering if you send out similar, horrifying letters to those women who get back abnormal results, burying that fact in much less important information.

 

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