Why I Don’t Like Camping aka The Worst First Period Story Ever

‘Tis the season.  Camping Season.

Everyone camps.  People have tents, people have trailers, people have motorhomes.  In our neighbourhood, we are most likely the only family that t a) doesn’t have a trailer or fifth wheel; b) doesn’t have a lake lot at Lesser Slave Lake; or c) doesn’t even own camping equipment of the basic type, such as sleeping bags.

My husband loves camping.  His parents have a lake lot with a fifth wheel and a park model trailer.  My parents have a trailer and a lake lot.  My sisters both own tents and all the gear for camping, and have gone camping together with their spouses in the mountains. Unfortunately for my dear Tony, we do not camp.  Not together, not as a family, nada.  I hate camping.  And this is the awesome story that I get to tell every time someone gives me the incredulous look, wondering what the HELL is wrong with me that I hate it so much.

When I was 12 years old, I went to a summer bicycle camp.  The whole premise of this camp was that we, as a group of 12 year olds, would bike about 30 km a day for six days, make camp each night, and take off the next morning.  Sounds like fun, right?  And as an adult, I can’t help but think of the exercise and calories you would burn.  Fun times, right?

WRONG!

The first two and half days of camp were fun, but there were some disgruntled kids at camp who thought that the primary counselor was a total bitch.  That may be partially true.  As a result, many kids were wanting to call home to talk to their parents (understandable).  The main problem with this was that we had to use pay phones (remember, this was before the cell phone made its way out of the car bag).  Pay phones involved getting an adult to help you figure out how to dial collect or use a calling card or whatever. The Bitch was scared of all the kids calling home.  There were some threatening to call home to get their parents to pick them up.  She did not want to have this horrible counselorship on her resume, so she made the unilateral decision to not let ANY kids call home. Period. Full Stop.

Enter Sarah. First time camping, I was getting the hang of it.  I was 12, I didn’t have BO yet, so I really did not mind not showering every day.  Or just pulling my hair back into braids to get the yuck off my back.  No biggie.  Until I went to the outhouse and saw blood in my panties. Oh. Sweet. Fuck.  It was a period.  My first period.  And I was out camping with no amenities.  No running water, no pads, no tampons (although I seriously doubt there are many who wear tampons that first time).  All I had were stained panties.

I collected myself and went to talk to one of the counselors (she was the NICE one).  She was 16, and told me it was no big deal, and that she would talk to the other counselors and other teenage girls and see if anyone had pads I could have.  I asked if I could call my mom, who was about an hour away.  Bitch started freaking out a bit, would NOT let me call home. After wondering what to do with me, she got her mom, who was helping with meals, to run to the store about 20 minutes away to buy me something.  Too bad the mom must have been WAY past menopause, because she had no clue what to buy and came back with a pack of panty-liners.  And a small pack to boot.  Bitch gave her mom shit for buying the wrong thing, but never asked her to go get the RIGHT thing.  So there I was, in the middle of the forest, with coyotes and bears, with blood in my pants and 10 panty lines to clean it up.

That night, it rained.  It rained hard, and the tarp on our tent did not work so well, so our tent flooded.  Now I had bloody panties and I smelled like a wet dog.  Wait.  Scratch that.  A wet dog who has just been attacked by a coyote and is bleeding everywhere.  I got up the next morning, threw out my panties and my pants, changed into new ones, put on that useless panty liner, and wrapped my windbreaker around my waist rather than use it to shield myself from the rain.  There were BOYS there that would have made fun of me, so I made the sacrifice.  We had to bike a shorter distance that day (about 15 km) but it was ALL up hill.  In the pouring rain that came sideways and slapped me in the face.  The only perk to that rain was that I was so wet when we arrived at our destination that my underwear and pants had been presoaked and there was no trace of blood.

That night, we stayed in a seniors drop-in center, which had plumbing, but no showers or anything like that.  I threw out my wet underwear and pants, put on another useless liner and went to bed.  I woke up all bloody, again, and repeated the whole routine of throwing out my underwear, putting on clean ones and clean pants, wrapping my windbreaker around my waist and set off for a leisurely 48 km bike ride to the next camping point.

The next camping point had pay showers.  Since I was 12 and was not TOLD that we needed money for pay showers, I had none.  The Bitch gave me one token and told me to go wash up.   I threw out my panties and gleefully  got myself all lathered up in tepid water, shampooed my down-to-my-butt hair, and the water turned off. Sweet merciful CRAP.  I dried myself off, got dressed, and went to the water pump to rinse the shampoo out of my hair.  I hit the old sleeping bag (complete with secret blood stains!) and longed for morning.  Morning would be the beginning of the LAST day, when I could go home and clean myself up and actually DEAL with the fact that I had my period.

When I awoke, I was eager to get out of there. We were 30 km away from our destination, and I could not WAIT.  Then, just as we were leaving, my dad pulled up in our minivan.  Before he even had a chance to say hello, I blurted out “DAD! I got my period.  I NEED PADS. Can you go get me some and bring them back to me?”  He looked at me and smiled, then went back to town to get me what I so desperately needed.  He returned when I was on route, so I hopped into the back of the van to put on a pad, then I kept biking.

Why I didn’t just pack up and go home, I am not sure.  I must have not wanted to let on to the other kids that there was something wrong.  Or I wanted to eat the hot dogs at the wrap-up BBQ.  Who knows. I do love me some BBQ hot dogs.

But THAT is why I hate camping. And I have yet to tell that story to someone who has not responded with “Man, I’d hate camping, too.”

Yes, you would.

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My not-so-secret guilty pleasure

I love Twilight.

Yes, I am a mom. Yes, I am in my late 20s. Yes, I have better, more productive, things that I could be doing. But I’d rather be reading Twilight. The whole saga.  I have read it twice in the last 6 months.  I will probably read it again.

Here is the other secret: I am not alone. There are many of us, mothers, who love Twilight, who love Edward, who love Jacob. There are even maternity shirts to prove it.
Seeing how the premise for these books is so cheesy and rooted in vicariously satisfying our insane teenage romantic angst, one may wonder why there are so many moms who love it to the point of plopping their kids in front of the TV so that they can read just ONE MORE CHAPTER,  and then sleep on Edward pillowcases while their husband snores away next to them.

Why do moms love Edward?

1. Edward is perfect. Every woman loves a broody, dangerous man, a man that hints at adventure, but wants to protect you and not let you into his world for fear of corrupting you. That is Edward. Corrupting without intending to corrupt.
2. Edward is 17. Forever. Seventeen. Wouldn’t we all like to be sleeping with a 17-year old forever?
3. Edward wants to protect your virtue. How many 17 year old guys wanted to protect mine? None. That’s how many. Not that I was giving it away, but there were enough that wanted to steal it and run away to Fiji and bury it in volcanic ash so that I could never find it again.
4. Edward sparkles. Everyone likes sparkles. Especially moms who can admire the brilliance of it without having to vacuum it up for months afterward.
5. Edward is ok with you having guy friends, even ones you are potentially in love with but don’t know it yet. This may be seen as pure stupidity from Edward’s perspective, but not really. When one guy is jealous and the other is kindly and gently waiting for you in the wings, who do you run to? The sparkly one. Who will be 17 forever.
6. Edward plays the piano and writes his own music. He can serenade you anytime you want with your OWN lullaby, written just for you. And if you drag your piano outside, he’ll sparkle while he plays.
7. In the midst of global warming, Edward is natural and free AC.
8. Since vampires don’t sleep and have extraordinary speed, he could clean your house for you while you sleep and get your beauty rest.
9. Dude is loaded. Not that I am a gold digger or anything.

Jacob has his good points, too.

1. Jacob has a nice complexion, so no need to sunscreen him up every 30 minutes when playing outside.
2. Jacob is so tall you will never need a stool to reach for things in the cupboard anymore
3. Jacob can keep dogs and cats from digging up your flower beds.
4. Jacob is super hot – temperature, that is. As a female who is habitually cold, this appeals to me. And this would save on rising energy costs.
5. Jacob will grow out OR cut his hair for you. It’s all a matter of preference.
6. You could have a baby with Jacob without it trying to eat its way out of your womb and breaking your spine during delivery.
7. Jacob will grow old with you and will eventually die of natural causes.

Either way, moms love Twilight. So much so that you can now buy your own bite-sized Edward to keep on your nightstand. Or to bite at your own leisure. He could sure bite me anytime…

This is how much my husband loves me

**And many thanks for my dear husband who feeds my addiction by buying me said action figure. Did I mention it sparkles?  Just saying…

One week and I haven’t died yet

We are one week into Lent 2009.

For those of you who know absolutely NOTHING about Lent, it is a time when Christians are called to reflect on their lives and sacrifice/fast in the way Jesus did for 40 days in the desert, where he was tempted by Satan.  Lent is over at Easter.  Although if you add up the total number of days from Ash Wednesday to the beginning of the Triduum (the 3 days encompassing Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday), you don’t get 40. You get 45.  Many people say that this allows you to cheat on Sundays (of which there are 5 in lent).  In fact, every Sunday is a mini-Easter, and a celebration of the resurrection, even during Lent.  So if you cheat on Sundays and indulge in your chocolate mini eggs (which I gave up one year and thoroughly regretted), you won’t go to hell.

This year, however, I am not cheating at all.  No Sunday sneaking.

I gave up Facebook for Lent.

The moment I realized that I was a crackbook addict was when a good friend of mine changed his relationship status, thus making me think that he had split up with his girlfriend of 2 years and that he never told me about it. How could he do that??  I had just talked to him and he never mentioned anything!  This is insane!  So I sent him a quick note asking what was going on.  He told me that they are still together.  They just decided that people take FB way too seriously and that they would remove that sort of personal information from their pages.  I am obviously one of these people, as I actually thought that he would announce his breakup to the world on FB and neglect to tell me in person about such a serious change in his life.

I thought that deactivating my account would be difficult, but it has proved to be a relief.  No more inbox full of notifications, no more obsessively checking for photos or updates from my friends.  I have been back into regular old knitting and reading, and talking to people on the good old telephone, which suits me just fine. I am now contemplating whether or not I will even reactivate my account when Lent is over.

So for now, you won’t find me on FB.  I won’t be posting photos of the kids or of the fantastic time I had at my step-brother’s wedding (first time we left the kids EVER).  I’ll be enjoying my life in the real world.  And here in real life to talk to you about it.

Tales from a B-cup Sixth Grader

I have 6 different sizes of bra in my wardrobe.  I have worn all of them in the past year.

Half of me was an early bloomer.  Relatives used to tease me about having “mosquito bites” in the fifth grade, and I innocently thought they were actually referring to real mosquito bites when they were, in fact, referencing my lopsided chest.  My left side decided to start developing breasts at the tender age of 10 while my right side clung to its girlish body.  I was immensely embarrassed of this.  A friend of my mother’s, who happened to be a physician, came for a visit and my father thought it would be useful to consult this friend about my breasts, questioning whether they would always be that way or would things correct themselves in time, as though having lopsided breasts would become a pandemic to be feared and its victims shunned into asylums.

I remember my mother taking me bra shopping for the first time and buying me not the cute little training bras that all my friends wore, but very womanly underwire B-cup bras while my mom wore an A cup.  I was 11.  And the chest kept growing.

By the time I was 17, I was very comfortably into a D cup, although I often crammed those puppies into a C.  High school girls aren’t supposed to have D cups.  They are supposed have cute perky boobs without their own gravitational pull.  And even though most high school guys have boobs on the brain 24/7, it seemed that a smaller chest was indirectly proportional to how popular a girl was with said boys.  Make sense to you?  I didn’t think so.

Over the course of the next two years, I lost over 40 lbs.  I was not a big girl to begin with, but I felt that I needed to be thinner (that’s a whole other post) and I got down to an A cup.  The cute bras and tiny tops were all mine!  But this was not meant to last, since I was clearly well below my body’s natural weight, and they shot back up to a 34C over the course of 2 summer months and a trip to France where several pounds of cheese and baguettes were consumed.  My then boyfriend (now husband) was ecstatic.  So was his roommate (or so I’ve been told).

Then I started this whole “mom” thing.  I had to buy bigger bras twice while pregnant with Sacha.  Then I nursed him for 14 months, which left me with saggy “high Cs low Ds”, according to the bra lady who sized me up last summer.  Then, my boobs started getting bigger again: enter pregnancy number two.  Seven weeks after delivering and breastfeeding Kees, I went to get properly fitted for a nursing bra, since all of mine made my boobs look like they were trying to eat my navel.  Where do I stand now?

32E.

That’s right.  Next to that tiny 32 there is a giant E.  Again, the husband is ecstatic.

And I have come to terms with this.  I am cursed with ginormous boobs that seem to get bigger with every baby.  I tried to wear my bathing suit last week and the girls popped right out the top.  I don’t think they even make bikini tops large enough for me.  Or supportive enough.  I cannot wear most of my shirts, meaning that I was reduced to go shopping and buy large and extra large tops just to fit over my rack.  The “XL” on the tag of my T-shirt is a corrosive acid that eats away at my inner-skinny-girl.  I keep trying to tell myself that it is only a temporary glitch and that they will go back to normal once I am done having kids. That, or I will have to go back to work to save up for the plastic surgery required to put them back where they belong.

The silver lining to all this: at least I won’t be headed to the asylum anytime soon.

I forgot

I read a post by the brilliant Jennifer at Breed Em And Weep a while back, and have been stewing over this for some time, unsure of whether this story was best left in a closed book. Now, I know that I need to make peace with myself, if not with the other person of which this story speaks.

Before my husband, there He was. He was my first love, my best friend, and often my loathed enemy. It was rocky, unstable, and unconventional, but it was ours and we were ok with that. We weren’t always exclusive, but He was always there, waiting in the wings to hold me and watch the sunrise over the river valley.

Things went awry after my dad passed away, leaving me with many emotional questions and wondering what should be and what should be let go. I let Him go, but I forgot to tell Him that. We were living in different cities, and I thought it was implied that we would each keep that love in our hearts, but move on. I forgot to tell Him that, too.

I met this boy in university and we decided to commit our lives to each other, but I forgot to tell Him that. He never spoke to me again. He treated me with disdain, hatred, and anger. Certain He hated me, I never spoke to him either, although always wondering and wishing that He would get on with his life, fulfill his potential, and move on. We had mutual friends, so I always knew how He was doing, but I doubted if He took the same interest in my doings.

Then I got a letter. An explanation. An apology. He hadn’t known how to move on, only how to be angry. Being angry was the only way He knew how to deal with the fact that I had moved on without telling Him, without giving Him a chance to say goodbye or to tell me what he really felt. He says this spared him more tears than He could have ever lived to cry.

Tears catch up with you, though, and I’m pretty sure that’s what inspired the letter.

No matter how much I love my husband, He will always be a part of me. I just wish that I hadn’t forgotten to tell Him that. Then maybe we could have both shed the tears we needed to and learned how to move on, together but apart, and not hurt each other like we did.

These are my confessions

Since I have been trouble sleeping at night (pregnancy makes me more of an insomniac than I already am), I have compiled a list of totally random things I want to get off my chest.

  • I hate being pregnant. It sucks. I know that many women glow and shine when they’re pregnant, but I don’t. My house is a disaster because all I feel like doing is lying on the couch and moaning. I cannot stand the smell of my kitchen, so that is a total gong show, and everything I want to eat has tons of salt, loads of trans fat, and about 5000 calories. Bring me my fat pants!
  • I do not care for lobster. I don’t know what all the fuss is about.
  • I wish that I could leave Sacha with a sitter once in a while so that I could have time to actually be myself again.
  • To my locker neighbour in high school: I had a crush on you, but I was too embarrassed to say anything because you considered to be dorky (like I’m not a dork, I know…). I was super glad that you were my locker buddy for 4 years, because it gave me a chance to hang with you without anyone wondering why. I am such a tool.
  • I once heard a guy refer to me a “chubby, not the kind of girl you date.” This was a decisive moment in the start of my weight issues, leading to anorexia and then learning how to live with it (I don’t believe that you can truly be cured of it).
  • I often feel left out from my sisters, who are a lot closer to each other than they are to me. I must have been too much of a bitch to them growing up. Wait, I know I was to Talia. Still am, even from thousands of km away. How do I do that??
  • Paul: I miss my friends a lot, but I miss you most because I miss how you seemed to look up to me and ask me for advice, help with school, and how I felt like you needed me, but then again, even if I was still living close to you, you really wouldn’t need me anymore.
  • I have not touched my knitting needles in 3 weeks. The thought of knitting makes me nauseous. I don’t understand the reason behind it, but it’s true. Same goes for reading. Books = pukeville.
  • I am scared of what Sacha is going to do when I am in the hospital having the baby. No family here, no one he’s comfortable with to stay with. I am fearing the worst.
  • I miss my mom. I wish she had holidays left so that she could come take care of me and Sacha so that I could be gross and sick and my house would not fall apart.
  • I need to make supper, but the though of cooking makes me want to yak, and I’ve already ordered take-out way too many times this week. Did I mention that I hate being pregnant? Maybe I’ll have some ice cream. Ew, no, I think I just threw up in my mouth a bit from thinking of it.

Crouching laundry, hidden cleaning lady

I have a confession: I have a cleaning lady. That’s right. Every second Tuesday, she graces my house with her presence for 3 hours and leaves it smelling lemony fresh and dust-free.

When we first moved out here, we were shocked that everyone had house cleaners. Even singletons with nothing but time on their hands had people go and clean their houses for them while they sat on their arses and watched American Idol. I was dismayed, and at the same time, insanely jealous.

So I set out to find myself a cleaning lady.

In the meantime, I had Sacha. Sacha being in our house meant pools of dried spit-up, urine and possibly poonamis all over the floor.  It also meant less time to clean the regular stuff – like the toilet, the dishes, myself.

I finally found one.  She turned out to be a total bitch, who canceled on me with fake dead uncle excuses more times than she actually showed up.  And it took her 2 hours and 2 rolls of paper towel to clean the bathroom.  I can do that in 20 minutes with NO paper towel, so I felt that it was a total waste of money and paper towel.

Then Gail entered our lives, with her punctuality, efficiency, and almost stealth cleaning abilities.  I hardly know she’s here!  And when she leaves, our house is immaculate. For about 5 minutes  Then Sacha throws his juice on the floor and crushes cookies into the couch.

But those 5 minutes are enough to maintain my sanity.  Knowing that if I don’t have time to scrub the bathroom tiles, Gail comes every other Tuesday and can do it for me.  My Baba tells me stories of raising her 3 kids (my dad and twin aunts, only 23 months apart) with no running water, diapering the 3 of them in cloth diapers, waking up with twins in the middle of the night, and keeping her house clean without help.  I must be lazy to have a cleaning lady!

But that’s not me.  I don’t want to spend every spare minute of my day cleaning.  I could, but I would be a grumpy frump of a woman, more so now that I am pregnant. As it is, Tony and I spend a good hour at the end of the day cleaning my house and getting back to square one so that the mess doesn’t accumulate from day to day. So rather than scrub my floor every day, I shrug it off and go play with Sacha and pray that when he’s older, he’ll be thankful that his house was a little less than immaculate because his parents took the time to play with him instead.