Posts made in September, 2014

Aunt Doris and Uncle Gordon

Posted by on Sep 21, 2014 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

Aunt Doris and Uncle Gordon

Many years ago, on a previous blog, I wrote a poem for my Great Aunt Doris, who had Alzheimer’s. She and my Great Uncle Gordon were very special people in my life, and I learned a lot from both of Aunt Doris. Photo from the Albert CountyFuneral Home’s website. them. Aunt Doris passed away in April of 2008, and Uncle Gordon left us just two weeks ago. Rather than making this a sad post, I’m going to reflect on some fond memories I have of them. There are a lot. I was lucky to have loving grandparents growing up, but I also had some very special great aunts and uncles. Aunt Doris, my Nana’s younger sister, would visit with Uncle Gordon to stay in the cabin in our lower lot–a cabin Aunt Doris’s parents used to rent out to tourists many years prior. Due to the frequency of their visits, and the time we would spend together, they became like a third set of grandparents to me. Their care and love was so strong. They were also very generous with their time. They never had any children of their own, thus having no grandchildren, so they always treated me like the granddaughter they didn’t have. They took me on drives in the park, and, with my parents, we would all go on hikes together to enjoy the natural beauty of Fundy National Park. They told me that when they were visiting, I could come over anytime. Once, I took this entirely too literally. I was invited to come and see them for breakfast one morning. I combined the two offers and decided to show up to visit for breakfast–at seven AM. A much older picture of UncleGordon. I was still in my pyjamas and I was excited. I went down to the lower lot and knocked on the cabin door. Uncle Gordon greeted me in his own pyjamas, his hair dishevelled–obviously they hadn’t been expecting me so early. But he didn’t turn me away. He greeted me with his booming “hello!” and welcomed me indoors, and I had breakfast with him and Aunt Doris. Aunt Doris made these beautiful little shortbread cookies, and she would feed them to me with milk every time I visited them. These shortbreads were always topped with colourful rainbow sprinkles, and I would dip them in the milk to let the colours run. We would eat them together while playing dominos. She was a fantastic cook, and I would join them for suppers and lunches on a regular basis, as well. Both of them were very patient with me. When I couldn’t figure out how to tie my shoes, Uncle Gordon, knowing I learned things a little differently than other kids, showed me the “bunny ears” method. To this day, I still use that method. I’ll end this with a poem I wrote in the years that Aunt Doris’s Alzheimer’s got to the point she didn’t recognise most of us. I’ve edited it recently. A decorated tin filled withWhite shortbread cookies topped byRound rainbow sprinkles that make theMilk turn colour Sits on theKitchen table.A fold-out table made of tin withSturdy aluminum legs and the scene of aForest brook in autumn, surrounded by sepia foliage andThe glimpse of a deer is set up before theCouch, with aSmall box of dominoes spilled over: aGame to be played.I can’t quite tie myShoes yet, but he helps me.Two bunny ears. Tuck under. Pull. Now it’s aBow.An overstuffed yellow armchair sits by theDusty screen door, and beyond that, thePorch, where theJune bugs used to collect at night and buzz in our ears.Strawberries grow here too, hidden in theTufts of grass.She has me gather them in aPorcelain dish. I pick them andShe washes them for me.We eat them together.This is what I remember, and thoughYou cannot, I will keep rememberingFor both of...

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I’m glad I took a break from university.

Posted by on Sep 9, 2014 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

Throughout high school and university, I was always a bit of a laissez-faire student. Didn’t pass that math test? Meh, there’s always another–final mark be damned. Slept through my 8:30 AM class because I was up all night gaming? Wouldn’t be the first time. I was that one cringe-worthy student that no one wanted to be paired up with for a project–unless, of course, it was one of the rare projects I was actually interested in doing. I graduated high school and made a beeline for Université de Moncton in 2004, not really knowing what to expect. I stumbled through a few years of skipping classes, dropping out of classes and, occasionally, failing classes. It may not be a time I’m proud of, but it was an immensely important learning experience for me. I’m the type of person who, sometimes, has to learn the hard way. In 2007, I finally finished my required English courses, minus one. Since I was an English major, this took all the fun out of university. Suddenly, I had to take a number of required courses that weren’t at all related to English. This was my own fault. I didn’t pace myself over the years, and I got all the fun courses out of the way early because of that. That fall, I failed a linguistics class, resulting in a panic attack–something I’d never really experienced before. I went back to university in the winter, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. I signed up for a full course load of five. Within the first few weeks, I had dropped two courses that gave me so much anxiety I couldn’t stand to even attend class. One of them–oddly enough a drama class–had me breaking out in hives. Another class I took, a three-hour long ethics class with a lot of homework, forced us to read our answers out in front of the class. I left half-way through the class one day, tears rolling down my cheeks at the mere thought of it. I also had enrolled in one English class, and it was one that I had failed in the past–the only English class I’ve ever failed, and my very last requirement for my major. When I got my midterm back and saw that, despite my best efforts, I had failed it, I lost myself. I handed the exam back and ran from the administration building to the arts building, right up to my mother’s office. She saw the look on my face and I’m sure she must have known what was coming next. “I’m leaving university,” I blurted between my sobs. “I can’t do this anymore”. She looked at me for a long moment, then nodded, and said “okay”. I went to my doctor in the days that followed and asked him to write me a note so I could get out of university without suffering failures in all of my enrolled courses. I didn’t really know what I was going to do. Brad and I were living together at the time, and I hated our apartment. I would be going back home for the summer in a few short months, so I couldn’t get a job. I visited my Nana in the hospital; I drew; I sewed; I wrote. When summer came, I went back home to work at the general store. I told people I was taking a break from university, and they advised me not to take too long a break. Some people told me I’d never go back. But my closest friends, my mom and dad, and Brad, all knew better. They were always supportive. Brad and I moved to Moncton permanently in late summer, 2008. We got a new apartment–coincidentally on Alma Street–and got a cat. I spent the next five years working a few different jobs: waitressing at a Tex-Mex restaurant (I lasted four months), being a barista at a Second Cup kiosk in the mall (a year and nine months), and going from regular employee to assistant manager to store manager at DAVIDsTEA (three whole years)....

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Crystal Palace closed yesterday.

Posted by on Sep 2, 2014 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

Crystal Palace closed yesterday.

Crystal Palace was a magical indoor amusement park that I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy while growing up. It was a place I went to with family and young friends: a place for March Breaks and birthday parties. I had my first actual date with a boy in grade 6 at Crystal Palace, too–we went on a bunch of rides, won a purple plush bulldog and saw a movie together, back in the days that the theatre and park were connected. The connection was only removed in the last few years, and I remember experiencing a wave of nostalgia every time I would leave the movie theatre, met by the sounds of excited children screaming on the roller coaster.  I’ll always have fond memories of getting my face painted and riding on the giant swing set to be propelled through the air across the park. I felt like I was flying. And, of course, I’ll always remember challenging friends to the Laser Runner laser tag game. One last shot of the Crystal Palace sign. Animaritime, a convention I’ve been staffing at off and on since 2008, took place in the convention centre in Crystal Palace for their 2007 event. That year, I played mini-golf while dressed like a comic book character, made some incredible friends, and got to experience the ridiculous fun of being at a convention in an indoor amusement park. It was a perfect location, but sadly the convention centre wasn’t big enough to house the growing convention. Recently, my husband Brad and I stopped in at Chapters to browse around.  We decided we’d take a walk through Crystal Palace. We have a little one on the way, after all, and we talked about how much we were looking forward to bringing the child there when he or she is old enough. A few weeks later, we heard the sad news that Crystal Palace would be closing at the end of the day on September 1st, so this was never going to happen. We decided we would bring the baby there anyway–so to speak–before the place closed, for one last night of fun and fond memories. So, the night of Friday, August 29th, we went. We spent the evening playing games and trying to win a prize for the little one, since I couldn’t go on any rides. We had discovered the day before that we are to have a little girl, and we were going to try and win her a stuffed dragon. At one point in the night, as we took a break between games, a young girl came up to us and handed us several tickets, saying “you can have these”. I looked at her parents, who were with her, and asked if she was sure she wouldn’t rather have them for herself. She insisted, and her mother smiled at me and said “we know you’re trying to win something for your baby”. Brad and I accepted the tickets gratefully, and noticed that they included a slip for over 300 tickets. I tried keep myself together as I put the slip with our other winnings, and the two of us took a break to grab a snack at Pretzelmaker. As we sat with our snack, we watched a a young boy and his father riding the Jumpin’ Star together. The look of joy on the little boy’s face was unmistakable. A lot of people are going to miss this place, I thought. We went to cash in our tickets at the end of the night, and the man behind the counter informed us that they would be honouring all tickets in double from Saturday until the park’s closure on Monday evening. We decided to come back the following morning, get a few more tickets, and get our baby girl an even better prize–prolonging our goodbye just a little longer. Before we left, a janitor stopped to chat with us, asking us if either of us remembered the bumper boats from the nineties. Since I did, he brought out a little bag...

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