Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Turns out I actually was a hooligan

I used to be a thief.
A lifter. A pilferer. A purloiner.
I stole.

We were living in the Yukon, in Whitehorse, and I was 9. On Wednesday's after school I took a city bus across town to go to a dance class. On the way home I had to stop at The Bay to change buses. I always had half an hour to kill before the next bus came and instead of waiting around outside in the freezing cold I would wander through The Bay spending most of my time browsing in the candy section.

In the months preceding Christmas they had the most amazing candy; large plastic candy canes filled with Smarties, lifesaver storybooks, boxes and boxes of After 8's and Pot of Gold. Week after week of walking up and down those aisles I became filled with a deep longing. I wanted a lifesaver storybook. I longed for boxes of After 8's I needed a Smartie-filled plastic candy cane.

And so, I took them.

My bedroom closet became a veritable candy store of bootlegged items. My sisters would come and look in awe at my closet, "Wow! where'd you get all this?"
"My friends" I would casually reply. I honestly do not remember feeling any sort of guilt about stealing. The only niggle of concern I ever had was that my mom would find it.

I stole candy from The Bay on a weekly basis but I was never caught. I did have one dicey moment though. I was wandering through a bulk candy section that had rows and rows of hard candies all colour coordinated which, come to think of it, is probably what inspired me to arrange my closet by colour later on in life. It was absolutely beautiful. It glowed with a soft pulsing light and I believe, yes I'm quite sure, I even heard faint strains of the Hallelujah Chorus filtering down from the Heavens.
I. had. to. have. one.

Directly across from the candy a cash register stood on a counter and there were 2 ladies standing behind the counter chatting away. This was going to be a trickier lift than the unsupervised aisles of boxed chocolate and required some careful manoeuvering. I slipped off my left mitt and walked slowly up and down the aisle staking out which candy I wanted to take. Up. How about that blue one? Down. Maybe I want something lemony? Up. But I do love licorice babies. Down. There that one! The candy I settled on was hard and pink and glossy. On the next turn up the aisle in which my left mitten-less hand was closest to the candy I slowly grabbed the pink candy by the crinkled end of the wrapper and slipped it into my right mitten. At this point, the ladies conversation, which I had not noticed before, caught my attention in its absence. I knew they were suspicious of me. I could feel their eyes burning into the back of my head so I grabbed a candy at random and turned with my brightest, most innocent smile and said, "excuse me please. How much is it for one candy?" With heart racing, I handed over a penny and walked trembling back out to the bus stop. The pink candy was still clutched tightly in my hand hidden inside my mitten. I ate two candies on that bus ride home. And the pink one? It tasted like victory.

After that incident I avoided that candy counter like the plague. And then, after Christmas I decided to put an end to my life of crime. I realized if I kept it up it would just be a matter of time before I got caught. And besides, all the good candy, like the Smartie-filled candy canes, were gone so there wasn't anything I really wanted.

I wasn't hit with the urge to steal again until I was almost 11. We had moved to Smithers, BC, well Telkwa to be more precise, a few months after I turned 10. I had made some friends in the elementary school and life was just fine. One of the things us kids would do for fun in Telkwa was go down to The Store and buy a chocolate bar or popsicle. You know you live in a small town when you can refer to The Store and no one asks "which one?"

Anyway, I was having a sleepover with a friend and we were bored so we set off for The Store with a dollar in our pockets. I need to point out here that I actually had money with me and what followed was not an act of desperation. I think it was boredom. Or maybe I just wanted to show off and prove to my small town friend how worldly I was. (Notice that I came from Whitehorse and thought of my friend as small town?) Whatever the reason, just before reaching the store I told my friend I was going to steal my chocolate bar instead of buying it. Before she could say a word, we opened The Store doors and walked in. I pulled some of the same moves as before in The Bay, wandering up and down the aisles picking up and putting down items, as if considering and then rejecting them as not worthy to spend my dollar on. I also dropped my money in view of the ladies working to divert suspicion and prove I was not some hooligan. Finally, I slipped a Wonderbar into my coat pocket. No sooner had I slipped it in then I was accosted by the lady at the till, who I was sure had not been looking, and accused of stealing. Had I had my wits about me I would have realized that you cannot be accused of stealing until you actually leave the building and I would have shown her my money and said I had put the chocolate bar in my pocket by accident pretending to be shocked and embarassed by the whole misunderstanding. But I didn't think of that until much later that night when I was tossing and turning and writhing in guilt-induced agony on my friends water bed. To this day I hate water beds. I equate the rolling of that bed to the rolling of my guilty stomach that night. And why was I in such agony? Not because my morals were bothered. No, I was in agony because I had been caught and I had to go home the next day and, before the store called, tell my parents what I had done. I dreaded the punishment I was sure to receive.

After that experience I never stole anything again and never even wanted to.
Until yesterday.

Yesterday I was at the Superstore. All the groceries from my groaning cart had been scanned and paid for. I finished bagging the last bag and went to put it into the last free spot in my cart. I stopped. Lying there was floss, deodorant, and Winnie-The-Pooh toothpaste. My face flushed, my heart pounded and I glanced up in alarm. Oh no! It's just like the candy bar in the pocket all over again except this time it really was an accident! I looked around expecting Superstore security to be converging on me. But actually no one was paying me any attention at all and the girl was already in the middle of ringing in someone else's order. And then I was caught in a dilemma. Do I just take them? I am already through the line. Do I leave them? No, I really need them. Do I pay for them? Which means waiting in line again. I decided to take them. I picked them up to throw them in a bag when the morals I had had beaten into me (semi-literally) when I was 11 reared their head. I just couldn't do it. Taking things is W-R-O-N-G. I paid for them.

I guess I have really and truly given up my life of crime. I'm sure my kids will be very relieved not to see their mom hauled off in handcuffs.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A conversation with Tristan

"Help me mom! Help me!"
"What are you doing? Leave your shirt on!"
"No, off!"
"I sneezed and I have bless you all over me."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The weird? Or the WONDERFUL!

I was tagged in a "7 weird things about you" blog. Here goes:

1. I do not like eraser marks or whiteout on my paper. If I make a mistake rather than erase or white out, I start over with a fresh sheet of paper.

2. Like Chey, who tagged me, I am also a counter. I count how many times I swallow while drinking a glass of water, how long the water runs for as I fill my tea kettle, the number of steps I'm going up. I pretty much count any repetitive motion. And, if writing a list doesn't work to put me to sleep, I count. Not sheep or anything just saying the numbers in my head.

3. I cannot go to bed without brushing my teeth. I can go to sleep without a problem wearing make up but no matter how tired I am I cannot sleep without brushing my teeth. And I always have to pee after brushing my teeth. If I pee first then brush my teeth I cannot go to bed until I pee again.

4. I never listen to music at home. With the exception of Christmas music in December. Otherwise the only time you will here music on is if Jane is over or if I'm in my van.

5. When I eat toast or sandwiches I eat in a circle eating all the crusts off first. If for some reason I forget to do this, and *gasp* take a bite of the centre of the sandwich first, I do not eat my crusts at all.

6. I cannot stand having closet doors left open. I can't leave the house if the front entry closet door is open and I can't go to sleep if our closet doors are open in our bedroom. Sometimes, first thing in the morning I will take a minute just to lie in bed and look in satisfaction at my closed closet doors.

7. I've always wanted a mitre saw. Just imagine all the things you could do with a mitre saw! I could make my own picture frames, I could cut new trim for our house...the possibilities are endless.

Well, that's some of my strangeness. Let's see how weird DJ is. (I know he's weirder than me!)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

There should be champagne involved

Today is our 8th Anniversary.

I don't know what on earth we were thinking getting married in January. I mean I know I originally was thinking I wanted a winter wedding, and I'm still glad I had one, but January 8th? This is not a great date and I'll tell you why.

First off, December is an expensive month - groceries, presents, cards, decorations, outfits for Christmas parties...The list of what you can spend your money on in December is limitless. PLUS, my birthday is in December. The first year I was with Hugh for the double whammy he gave me a pair of black gloves as my birthday gift. For his birthday the following June he got an x-box. A little unbalanced don't you think? To top it all off, the gloves he got me were really bad quality suede that left streaks of black dye across my face if my hand came in contact with my skin. Which I only realized when I got home after an evening spent outdoors talking to mostly strangers. Thank you very much.

Secondly, December is busy. By the time you finish celebrating Christmas - with family, friends, office parties, etc. you're exhausted. And then you have to do more celebrating on New Years Eve. Perhaps if we had gotten married just before Christmas or in between Christmas and New Years we would celebrate it more often but as it stands by the time the holiday season is over we are partied out, celebrated out, broke, and exhausted. And then our anniversary comes up before we even have time to turn around twice. As a result our anniversaries have always been very anti-climactic.

We didn't even really go on much of a honeymoon, just to Jasper for 3 days, because we had to move to Fort St. John a week after our wedding day. Jasper + January that year = so cold your nostrils stuck together when you inhaled outside, so we promised ourselves we'd go somewhere tropical on our first anniversary. Fast forward a year and where were we? Not on a cruise, not on a beach, not drinking drinks with paper umbrellas in them. We were hauling the heaviest shelving unit known to man up two awkward flights of stairs in our apartment building and we were fighting. I couldn't tell you now what the fight was about. All I remember is that once we finally got that blasted thing into our apartment the rest of the night was spent in huffy silence.

The following year we decided to "do something." But it was still not tropical. Instead we had the brilliant idea to go to the West Edmonton Mall. In January. In our car. It was actually a lot of fun but on the way home we wanted to visit some friends in Calgary and we spent the entire drive from Edmonton to Calgary in almost total silence with our knuckles white on whatever we were gripping. I have driven in a lot of snow but it was nothing compared to the absolute white-out conditions of that road.

Anniversary 3 I don't remember at all. I'm sure we went out for dinner or something but it was obviously pretty unremarkable. Anniversary 4 would have been equally unremarkable had I not gotten pregnant with our twins. That's not the sort of thing you forget.

Anniversary 5 our twins were 4 months old and we had only the window between feedings to go out. We decided to go see a movie. We went to see "The Incredibles". At 4:30pm. Talk about romance! I think we were so exhausted that the thought of sitting through dinner and trying to hold a coherent conversation was simply too much effort. Staring in silence at a screen of pretty moving colours was much more appealing.

Anniversary 6 came on the heels of the year from hell where we suffered two major losses in our family, resigned from pastoring at our church, pursued a career change and decided to move to Alberta all within a few short months. Surviving, not celebrating, was our priority that year.

Last year, Anniversary 7, we spent apart because Hugh had gone to Calgary for 8 weeks of school and I stayed in the Okanagan to bounce between our families and try to survive 8 weeks of single parenting. Hugh left on January 1st and to try to distract myself from feeling "poor me, poor me" I decided to reorganize my parents bookcase. It's a beautiful piece of furniture with great books and decorative items that just needed a little tlc. We rearranged the books according to size and colour and I moved the objets d'art around to give it more balance. I felt very satisfied with myself at the end and we had come across some great finds like some old books of mine from childhood and a wonderful book about the Yukon River and a book of Yukon poems by Robert Service. We even found a beautiful pair of pearl earrings right behind John Irving's book "A Prayer For Owen Meany". My mom and I both thought they were a gift for her from my stepdad that he had forgotten to give her at Christmas. There is usually always one gift in our family that gets forgotten about until turning up in some unlikely place.

Anyway, the day of our anniversary my parents gave me a card that Hugh had left behind for me. Can you believe the forethought? In the midst of packing up 2 months worth of stuff, plus getting everything bought, wrapped, and packed for Christmas, plus getting everything finalized for school, Hugh had thought of our anniversary and bought me a card. In advance. I was highly impressed. In the card he told me he would call that night with info on my gift. In addition to all the forethought required for the card he had even gotten me a gift! The only other time Hugh and I have exchanged gifts on January 8th was our wedding day. I was even more impressed and, since I absolutely love presents, very excited. When Hugh called me that night he said, "okay I've hidden a gift in your parents house. Walk over to the bookshelf. Now look for a book. It should be on the left side. It's called, 'A Prayer For Owen Meany...'"

Of all the things Hugh thought I might do between the 1st and the 8th of January, reorganizing my parents bookshelf wasn't one of them. My mom and I had both meant to ask Jay about those earrings but had forgotten about them and since I didn't know they were for me I was still surprised and very touched at the effort he went to in arranging it all in advance. And as if the earrings weren't memorable enough, I was also pregnant.

Which brings us up to this year. Anniversary 8. This year Hugh is on the couch recovering from a vasectomy. (No more anniversary babies for us!) And I am on the couch recovering from another day with 3 year old twins and a 3 month old baby. We didn't exchange gifts and we didn't even get each other cards. And frankly it doesn't even matter. We have beautiful, happy, healthy kids and we have each other. And that is all we need.

Although I am still hoping for a Mediterranean cruise. Maybe next year?