An Every Day Hero

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I can remember when I was a kid – I must have been four or five around this time – and the playground below our house would be just one giant mud field. The snow would just be melting and my sister and I would be transitioning from our winter snow pants into our spring splash pants. We’d exchange our winter boots for our gum boots and mom and dad would tell us to stay out of the mud down at the playground. We could play on the actual playground itself, but the giant mud puddle was forbidden.

We never listened.

We would start off splashing in the puddles, getting absolutely soaked and work our way further into the mud field until…

“DADDY!”

We would scream bloody murder for dad to come and save us because our boots would get sucked into the mud, trapping us in place and leaving us stranded in the middle of what I thought was the worlds biggest puddle. We’d be up to our shins and higher, screaming at the top of our lungs and our giant of a father would come and rescue us. Every. Single. Time.

And without fail for the past 25 years, my dad has been there. Always. Every. Single. Time.

Today he turned 50. He’s carried me through the tough stuff in life until I could learn to walk it on my own. He took me bra shopping and fearlessly buys tampons when they’re needed. He takes care of his family. He’s taught me how to have fun…even at 5am on game days or when grocery shopping is so mundane and boring that it hurts.

So here’s to the father who’s another year older

And cheers to my dad who is as strong as a boulder

Happy birthday to the man who is…

Ever there,

Losing his hair

And is always disgustingly right.

Seriously, I don’t remember my dad ever being wrong! It’s just downright freaky that someone could be right all the time for 25 years! I’ve even tried to catch him being wrong and it just never happens. Either way though, happy 50th birthday to my dad!

 

They’re Calling Cellphones Now!!!

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So I’m old enough that I remember what being on a party line was like. Seriously, I remember always sneakily picking up the phone as a child and seeing if there were any good conversations that I could eavesdrop on. There never was, but man being on a party line sucked. Imagine being like 6 and wanting to make a phone call and having to WAIT YOUR TURN. I don’t know if I was 6, but I do know that I was young and that the first Mighty Ducks movie had just come out on VHS. Either way, being around that age and having to wait turns for anything sucks, especially so since you never know when the other damn person is going to hang up the damn phone. I actually remember picking up the phone once and screaming into the phone to make the people hang up.

That’s all besides my point though. That’s just a tangent before I say I also remember back when *69 was useful because there was no such thing as “caller ID”. I also remember answering machines being kind of rare in the fact that we didn’t have one until I was 12 or so and the only person I knew who had one was my Aunty D. So you never knew who was going to be on the other end of the phone whether it was your Aunty JoJo, doctor’s office or a clue calling to help you guess where in the world Carmen San Diego was. And that was all cool, but what I thought was the best was when the phone survey people would call to ask all kinds of annoying questions and I would get to pick up.

Ok. That’s second best. I lied. The best thing about this old school set up of no caller ID and ghetto answering machine with a tape in it was when one of my elementary teachers would call home to tell on me for some infraction or another and I would get home first, listen to the message and then promptly delete it. It was even better the day he threatened to call my parents and I told him good luck because they were at work and I’d just go home and delete the message. He seriously went 6 shades of red and I thought he was going to either stand on his head or bang his forehead off a wall…because yeah, he did that. And he still teaches. Somewhere out there is a teacher teaching this current generation and he slams his head off of walls and blackboards when his class frustrates him.

Back the the point, I used to love picking up the phone not knowing who it was. I loved it more if it was a phone solicitor soliciting something. Like free Mexicans if I took a 10 minuet survey. I would sit down and force them through 5-10 minuet conversations just for funsies because they would stay on the phone with me in the hopes of actually getting their survey done or getting one of my parents on the phone to do the survey or buy whatever it was that they were selling.

Naturally as I got older my shenanigans progressed from simple conversations to downright silliness. They’d ask me to take a 10 minuet survey, I’d ask them to tell me a story first. Or I would start asking really stupid questions: “How tall are you?”, “What’s your favorite flavor of gum?”, “How big are your feet?”, “You know what they say about big feet right?”, “Is your refrigerator running?” and “How much wood could a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?” Or sometimes I would pick up the phone, figure out it was a phone person and then start whispering and talking about how the aliens could hear us so we needed to talk in code.

These days though, I know when it’s them. Somehow my cellphone is on a list somewhere and all sorts of people call me telling me that I’ve won a trip to Mexico and can travel there for free to pick up my free sample of uncut cocaine as long as I’m over the age of 24 and answer a few questions for them. Sometimes people want to survey me on my household item usage. Four times out of ten I actually let these people do their jobs, but the rest of the time they get something like this:

Operator (it’s a man): Hello, may I speak to Rachael [My Last Name] please?
Me: That’s me.
Operator: Ok. Would you mind answering a few questions about your cell phone use?
Me: Sure, but we’ll play question for questions ok?
Operator: Umm…*Pause* How often would you say you used your cell phone? Often, sometimes, emergencies only or not at all?
Me: Often, I would say. What are are you wearing over there, smexy?
Operator: *CLICK*

I giggled to myself before I went and threw another load of laundry in the wash and then wondered if other people get these sorts of calls on their cellphones. Do you? And if you do, how do you handle it?

Surprised I Didn’t Drown

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Swimming looked like a good idea right?

Today I decided to get a little sun. So I packed up a good book, my notebook and pen, towel, made myself a big mug of ice water and snagged up my iPod Nano. Then I hopped into my moms truck and drove down to the North Thompson River near a back eddy where my dad used to take me and my sister fishing when we were kids. I didn’t bring a fishing rod because I was scared about ruining something. I figured I would read a little bit, write a little something and get some sun. I got down to the river and noticed that most of the beach area that I normally sit on was flooded. I also dipped my toes in the water and noticed that the water wasn’t that cold.

And it was rather hot out.

Plus I love swimming.

So without really testing the water I launched myself off the bank and over the drop off in front of me and my whole body went into immediate WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU JUST DO?! shock. I mean it colder than cold. In that moment my nipples could have cut diamonds and I had enough goose flesh that I could have been turned into a nice goose coat. Right away I pushed for the surface and tried to put my feet down on river bottom to stand up. Just as my head popped out of the water, I went right back down under as my feet found no river bottom and sunk for the briefest of seconds. The shock of not finding a place to stand up and sinking back under water sent my body into a more frantic YOU’RE A FREAKING MORON! shock. After sinking for barely a second though it felt like ages, my feet hit the river bottom and I pushed myself back to the surface of the river.

And my shorts shot down from my hips, over my thighs and tangled around my ankles. My mind at this point was numb as it groaned, ARE YOU SERIOUS? WE’RE GOING TO DIE WITH OUR SHORTS AROUND OUR ANKLES? I kind of giggled at myself and kicked my shorts off and scrambled back towards the shore while trying to grab my shorts before they floated away. Because I think they were my dads shorts and he’d notice if they gone and I’d be forever razzed about the time I went swimming and lost his shorts in the river. So now you can picture me in a black and blue tank top and little black thong frantically trying  get out of the icy water…

Except the drop off I was running up was all loose sand so it was kind of like running in place while I drove my knees up as hard as I could scrambled to find purchase with my feet. I tripped, stumbled and got a serious wedgie for all of my efforts. I finally made it out of the water and flopped down on my towel. As I lay there I remembered all the times that I had gone swimming at my Great Grandma’s house when I was a kid during my summer breaks. I remembered all the times I had floated with my sister and older cousin in the currents and then scrambled up steep drop offs that always gave away under our feet, trying to get to a little piece of land before the river took us away on its currents.

Seriously, how did I not die? I mean, we always made it out of the current before it too us away from the banks that we swam along. But it always ended in this scramble of us pushing our little legs as hard as they would go to get out of the water or to be able to firmly plant our feet on the river bottom so we didn’t get swept off. Of course, Grandma always told us to never play in the water, but we never listened. We’d perpetually be down in the water, swimming in the shallows, playing with Uncle’s boat and floating on the currents. I never felt like I was in danger, but after today I have to wonder how the heck did I never die or come close to dying?

I also have to wonder how I tolerated the cold water. Even after I got out of the water my body was still slightly shocked at the temperature change and I actually shivered for a bit until the sun dried everything but my clothes. Then I pulled my shorts back on and noticed that I had sand all over them so rather than just taking them off and rinsing them off, I jumped back in. This time I didn’t jump too far out and was able to stand right away and run back onto shore. I couldn’t help but wonder how I did this as a kid and never gave a second thought to how cold I was or how cold the water was: I was just happy to be in the water and having fun.

Was I just as stupid, crazy and irresponsible as a kid as I was as a teen or was I just a kid who enjoyed the good things in life cold water be damned?

Growing Up Me

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The other weekend I got a ride home with a friend for a quick weekend home with my dad. I needed it. On the trip home I was talking about my childhood and it really got me to thinking about how I was raised. Now, let me tell you, I had one of the best possible upbringings that any child could have. I had really easy going parents who weren’t overly strict, but at the same time really established a decent set of boundaries with my sister and I. Not only that but without really doing anything serious, they helped us learn the difference between right and wrong. Of course there were other people in our lives who helped us to grow, but the bulk of it was my parents and…I really don’t remember the presence of discipline in my life. Plus my parents did a great job at either allowing me my privacy or giving me a great illusion of privacy.

Oh wait! I lied. I remember two times in my entire life where my dad had to discipline me, specifically. The first time was when I spat in a guys face. Yes, I spat in someone’s face, but that was after he’d hocked up a huge boogie in my face. Obviously an eye for an eye wouldn’t work in this case…so dad grounded indefinitely. I went to my room, read a book, listened to music, regretted my actions and then the next day all was forgotten and I went outside to play with my sister and our friends. This was the only time that I’d ever gotten grounded and it really struck home for me: Dad was willing to slam down the hammer and actually ground me! Believe it or not, that lesson stuck with me until I was about 17. The other time that dad had to bring on the discipline was a couple years later when I was 14 and got a set of C’s. You see, I was allowed to get C’s, but not in Math, English and Science all at once. This time I lost my CD player, my CD’s and wasn’t allowed to watch TV until I fixed my grades. So what did I do? I read. I love and have always loved to read, so after dad dropped that hammer, I hung out in my room and read. Again, it didn’t matter that the punishment wasn’t the greatest of punishments, it was the fact that I was getting punished that put me back in line. I knew I did wrong and I tried not to do make that particular mistake. In fact the next time that I got a C was three years later in Math 11. I tanked trigonometry.

Outside of those particular incidences…I didn’t have a lot of rules that I had to live by. Here are come of the bigger rules my parents generally reminded my sister and I of:

Mom:

  • Every time we went anywhere alone would tell us “No drinking, no drugs, no boys and no ritualistic killing of animals.” Then she would normally yell at us “MAKE GOOD CHOICES!”
  • Mom had the classic rule of “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I would later amend that by saying “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all…unless you can make it funny.” Mom laughed at that one, so it became the official rules.
  • There was also a limit on the amount of swearing I could do around my mom – My sister couldn’t curse as much as I could and there were certain words that were forbidden in our world.

Dad:

  • If you hit them and they get back up, you didn’t hit them hard enough – As bad as this rule sounds, it was a rule I lived by through most of my childhood. Normally the only time I really hit a girl playing sports was if she was playing dirty and picking on my teammates, or if she was really irritating me. In which case, yeah, I played dirty back and it rarely turned out well for the other girl.
  • Dad also made up the rule one day that if he ever caught me smoking, drinking or getting jiggy with it that there would be consequences – If I got caught smoking, he’d make me smoke a whole pack or baggie of whatever I got caught smoking. If I got caught drinking I’d have to drink an entire 40 of the cheapest tequila Dad could find. If I got caught getting jiggy with it or doing drugs, I’d have to move in with my Nana…ya know, he’d kick me out of the house for those offenses.
  • I also had to look out for my younger sister no matter what we were doing. I remember one time that she got hurt and I got into trouble for it because I should have been looking out for her.

Besides all of that, my parents were perfectly ok with the fact that I tended to moon just about anyone and everyone, cursed a little too much and tended to laugh at horrible things that I shouldn’t laugh at.

I’m not going to lie: I sometimes didn’t take my dad seriously. I never actually called him on his BS because I’d tried that in my younger years and it never turned out in my favor. So I barely drank until I left for university and when I did, I tried to be darn sneaky about it. I never wanted to test my dad, his rules and especially his punishments.

I think most of my growing up years were a fine balance of my sister and I picking our battles with our parents and vice versa. Sure, I mooned a lot of people and my mom as a result had to see more of my ass and more of the return moons than any mother should have had to deal with, but I didn’t dress like a prostit-tot or act like a raging hormonal skank. I may not have acted like a respectable person at times, but I think it was a win in my parents favor that I at least looked like a disease free human being that wouldn’t start the next plague.

Instead my sister and I are most likely to incite a riot of some sort just for shits and giggles…but that’s because we’re adults now and think as long as we make it funny, it’s ok.

See? We were raised with an excellent sense of morals!

Day 3.5 – Condom Shopping

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Of all of my periods that I have ever gotten, I easily remember my third one. That’s the one where my mom figured out what was happening. We were driving home one night and I was sitting in the back seat and we had this extremely awkward coming of age talk that mothers have with their daughters when their daughters start their monthly reenactment of a volcanic eruption…except it’s upside down. The gist of the conversation was that if I ever thought anything was wrong then I should talk to my mom. I was eleven at the time and I didn’t have a whole lot to say to my mom since I’d yet to lose any shame that I had for whatever brief period of time that I had it. It was just a damn awkward moment to say the least.

But it wasn’t the most awkward. Having my dad on one side of the underwear section of a Wal-Mart, holding up a bra and shouting “HOW ABOUT THIS ONE?!” during my very first bra shopping trip might have been the most awkward moment of them all. However, for every awkward and embarrassing moment that I had as a pre-teen and teen meant that as an adult I would be comfortable with a lot of things. Bra shopping (It was a big deal for me because I didn’t want to start wearing bras), buying tampons, getting on the pill and staying on the pill and condom shopping.

One condoms are my favorites...they're pretty.

As my life worked out, being able to buy condoms turned out to be a skill that was much needed among myself and several of my first and second year friends. Not only that, but my comfort level with condoms was a huge asset for me and my friends. After countless trips with my dad and my sister down the “Family Planning” aisle to look at and buy condoms for our various jokes, I was ok strutting into any store and buying  a box of condoms. Sure, I was more comfortable turning condoms into balloons and science projects, but after watching my friends walk into a store to pick up a box of condoms and then fill a basket with all sorts of useless crap to hide the fact that they were buying baby stoppers I was happy for this skill I’d acquired.

One of my favorite outtings was with a girl that I lived with in dorms who was planning on having sex for the first time. We went to a Shoppers Drug Mart that was near SFU campus and my friend being the shy and easily embarrassed girl that she was, wanted to go look at everything else in the store. Suddenly she needed cover up, shampoo, batteries, toilet paper and all sorts of little things that are useless and way to expensive for an average student to be buying at Shoppers. Finally I managed to drag her to the condom section in the store and not only was the poor girl freaked out at the prospect of having to buy condoms, but she looked so damn squirrely that a security guard kept walking past us as we stood there quietly arguing over whether or not she was actually going to buy any condoms.

While I was waiting for her to actually build up the courage to look directly at the condoms, I grabbed a box of my favorite brand of rubbers and tossed them into my basket. I love One condoms. They’re pretty and they come with a cute case that I now have a small collection of. I even tried to collect the wrappers for a short period of time because they were all really neat looking, but I soon realized how icky and weird that was so I tossed out the 30-odd wrappers that I’d accumulated.

It literally took my friend 15 minuets to work up the courage just to pick out a box of sperm dams and by that time a security guard had come and stood at the end of the aisle we were in watching us. I think he was waiting for us to do something bad so after making sure my friend hadn’t picked out crappy condoms (She chose a box of Durex…the ultra thin kind) I dragged her up to the cash register to traumatize her by making her pay for her little box of naughty deeds on her own. As we were leaving the aisle I glanced over my shoulder, saw the security guard was still glaring at us so I did the only thing that I could do:

I mooned him.

And was promptly asked to leave the store which left my poor friend to pay for her anti-pregnancy devices on her own.

It took her 20 minuets and she came out with 6 bags full of stuff…but at least she got her condoms, yea?