A Climb To Remember

Looking back, the summer of 1990 was a rough time for everyone involved. The Gulf War was in full swing, a sharp recession swept the global economy, and MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” was a number one single.

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As if these atrocities weren’t enough, it was also the year my mom went back to work part-time, leaving my dad with five wily rug rats to contend with during one of the hottest summers on record in Nova Scotia.

My sisters, teenagers at the time, could mostly fend for themselves; however my brothers (10 and 12) and I (only four) required constant entertainment to keep from tearing each other’s heads off.

Dad tried taking us to the playground; but the monkey bars proved too perilous. Our trips to the beach resulted only in jellyfish stings and heartache. Eventually, he gave up, bought a bucket of KFC and took us to Greenhill Provincial Park. A picnic in the park, he (undoubedtly) thought, what  could possibly go wrong?

The park offered panoramic views of the entire county, and in those days there was a tower several stories high you could climb to get a better look.

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Immediately upon arrival my brothers rushed to the tower, with me following right behind them.

“Where do you think you’re going?” asked my brother Kristin, “This isn’t for babies!”

“I’m not a baby!” I protested, “I’m four and a half!”

“You’re not allowed!” contested my brother Stephen.

“Can I dad?” I pleaded

“Go ahead,” he sighed, lifting a drumstick defeatedly, “but be careful.”

With a satisfied grin, I began climbing the ladder, taking the first few rungs with vigor. I was feeling quite smug- until I looked down. The ground appeared miles away; my dad and his bucket of chicken nothing but a red and white dot on the horizon. Above me, the ladder seemed to extend infinitely.

My lip began to quiver.

“Hurry up!” shouted Stephen, a few rungs ahead.

“She’s scared,” chimed in Kristin. “I told you she was a baby!”

Tears burned the backs of my eyes, but resolve stirred deep within me. I was Jack, and this was my proverbial Beanstalk. I would climb this tower if it was the last thing I did.

Somehow, through sheer adrenaline, blind faith and four-year-old will, I made it to the top. Ready to bask in my accomplishment, I stepped onto the platform, took a long gaze around, and…… immediately began to bawl like a baby.

“DADDY!!” I wailed, “IT”S TOO HIGH!!!”

Inconsolable and paralyzed by fear, my father was forced to abandon his chicken and momentary peace to climb up the tower and rescue me.

“It’s ok,” he said later, wiping away my tears with a half soiled wet-nap. “You can try again next year.”

But I didn’t. Not that year, or any year after. Instead, I developed a life long fear of heights (and, vaguely, wet-naps). However, I did learn one important lesson that day which continues to guide my decision-making process: when given the choice between taking a risk and staying firmly on the ground with a bucket of fried chicken- always, always ,choose the chicken.

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Question of the Day: What Is Your First Memory?

Workouts, Wild Turkeys and Way Too Much Time On My Hands

Greetings from Canada’s Ocean Playground!

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I’ve been in Nova Scotia for about a week now, visiting with family and friends, lazing on the beach, and basically living the life of a bored housewife with way too much time on her hands.

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It’s all really great and relaxing-  except for the WILD TURKEY who has taken up residence in our backyard and insists on waking me up at 6 a.m. every morning. Seriously guys, this thing is hard as f*ck. It’s about 2 feet tall, feral looking, and has a “call” so loud and frightening it has started featuring prominently in my nightmares.

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It also hasn’t been relaxing in the sense that my family are exercise fanatics and insist on constantly shaming me into working out. Hot yoga, running at the local track, “power walks”, gym sessions… I’m beginning to think they’re trying to tell me something.

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If I'm getting my ass to the gym on vacation, you better believe I'm taking a selfie of it.

If I’m getting my ass to the gym on vacation, you better believe I’m taking a selfie of it.

My mom, just killin it.

Look at that smug look on her face.

Skinny b*tches.

Anyway, gotta make this a short one because I must return to my busy schedule of watching The Doctors, making unnecessary trips to the grocery store and coordinating hairstyles with my 8-year-old niece:

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so for now I will leave you with this adorable photo of my niece Maeve, who, at 14 months old, is already demonstrating more maternal instinct in her little finger than I will ever hope to possess.

My niece Maeve and her baby/twin

Happy Friday y’all!

Question of the Day: How do you exorcise an evil turkey nemesis?

… and don’t say garlic, crucifixes or kryptonite cause I’ve already tried that sh*t and the damn thing ain’t budging.

Treat Yo’ Self Day (and mixtape giveaway winners!)

If you watch the show Parks and Recreation, you will undoubtedly recognize the title of this post as the annual holiday celebrated by Tom (Aziz Ansari) and Donna (Retta) where they spend a day treating themselves to whatever they want.

Genius, right?

That’s why my mom, my sister, my aunt and I decided to take a page out Tom Haverford’s book and treat ourselves to a day at the spa on Friday. All of us have been so busy running around with Christmas preparations and buying gifts for everyone else, we figured why not get back to the true meaning of the holiday season: ourselves.

Plus, we obviously need to look our best for hitting up Tim Horton’s, Wal-Mart, the post office and all of the other small town Nova Scotia hotspots.

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I’m sort of overstating how fabulous my family actually is. We bought the spa services for my mom and my aunt as part of their Christmas gift, and my sister and I decided to join them because we are delusional and think we can just do gratuitous sh*t like that for no reason.

Given my limited holiday budget, I was planning on just getting a shellac manicure; but then I mentioned to my sister that I might like a facial too. And you know what she said?

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So I did.

It was a great afternoon of pampering and relaxation. I even fell asleep during my facial and woke myself up with my own snoring. (Yes, I just admitted that.) I was immediately self-conscious and worried about how long I’d been asleep for, but my facialist just gently dabbed my drool away with a warm towel and assured me that nearly everyone falls asleep. It’s all part of the process.

I was disappointed once again when she didn’t put cucumbers over my eyes. Think it’s safe to say that is definitely a myth.

I then bonded with my manicurist over our mutual love for makeup. She told me she is getting an airbrush makeup gun for Christmas, and obviously I am now obsessed with these.

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Guys, they make your skin look FLAWLESS. Like, I’m talking as airbrushed as this photo of Britbrit:

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They are not even a little bit cheap, but you know what I’m thinking?
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Alriiiiight.

Anyway,  since Treat Yo’ Self Day, not much else has been going on here. Just chilling with friends and family, eating obscene amounts of baked goods, and of course, the corresponding guilt-fuelled workouts. A new gym just opened here in town, which is pretty much the biggest news since our new sidewalk:

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Holla

Finally, let’s get to  why you are all reading this post in the first place: the winners of my mixtape giveaway!!!

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I tried using that random number generator to pick the winners, but despite the fact that I tweet like a pro and instagram like a boss, I’m otherwise technologically incompetent and couldn’t figure it out.

So I went with the obvious second choice: exploiting a small child.

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With the help of my lovely assistant,  we chose the following 5 winners via the ludite-proof “out of a hat” method.

Drumroll please:

623

626

629

And the winners are:

Beckydancer

Greg

Lily

Adventurespirit

Erin’s DC Kitchen

Congrats!! Holla at me with your mailing addresses @ thecamellife@gmail.com and I’ll send your prizes! Thanks again to all who entered :)

Question of the Day: How have you been spending your holidays so far?

On How I Ruined Christmas

The year was 1994, in the month of December. My best friend and I had just settled into a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos when the topic of Christmas arose.

“I hope I get SuperTalk Barbie,” I yearned. “Did you know she can say over 100,000 things?”

Truth

Truth

“Well I already know what I’m getting for Christmas,” replied my best friend, “because I snooped and found it all”.

I was incredulous. At 9 years old, I was a play-by-the rules-type of kid. I did my homework religiously, never talked back to my parents, and had an unwavering, self-imposed bedtime of 8:00 p.m. The idea that someone would snoop for their Christmas gifts seemed an affront to almost everything I believed in.

“But you couldn’t have found them all!” I pleaded. “What about the ones Santa brings on Christmas Eve?”

“Oh Bree,” she said, shaking her head, “You’ve got a lot to learn.”

She led me down the hall towards her parent’s room, checking to make sure they were firmly entranced by the TV on the way. She motioned for me to “Shhh” as we tiptoed into the bedroom and opened the closet door. There stood a large bag full of Christmas delights: Barbies, shiny new clothes and a few wrapped packages.

A pile of Christmas gifts in colorful wrapping with ribbons.

“That one’s The Lion King,” she said, gesturing to the colourfully wrapped package I was holding. “I already steamed it open and wrapped it back up.”

I was overwhelmed with emotions. Despite this stark evidence to the contrary, I refused to believe that Santa was nothing more than an elaborate hoax. Maybe her parents just didn’t understand how the whole process worked. Did they even have a chimney? Perhaps they had worked out some sort of alternative delivery arrangement with Santa and were simply holding these presents in escrow on his behalf.

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Seriously. That bag probably gets real heavy on Christmas Eve.

But try as I might to justify it, once this brain worm had been implanted, it was like inception. I needed to see for myself.

I waited until my mom was out grocery shopping and my dad was fussing with the Christmas lights outside to make my move. Given that I was a complete novice in gifting espionage, I didn’t quite know where to start, but figured I’d begin with the usual suspects. After striking out in the closet, under the bed and in the basement, I knew there was only one place left to look: the attic.

I had vowed never to set foot in our attic again after my two older brothers had locked me up there with a horrifying life-size Raggedy Ann doll almost 5 years prior. But sometimes, even your own rules are meant to be broken.

I took a deep breath, pulled the cord that released the rickety old ladder and began my ascent. Through the near pitch -darkness, I could make out a fuzzy pink blanket covering something big and oddly misshapen. I tip-toed closer, careful not to make a peep, and yanked the blanket off.

There before me lay Christmas morning: almost three weeks early. There was SuperTalk Barbie; just as I had dreamed of! There was a GT snow racer, a brand new SEGA genesis for my brothers, nerf guns, even a BopIt! And of course, the mother of all gifts: a giant, 12 disc rotating CD player (which, in 1994, was no small potatoes). It even had a double tape deck!

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But then a funny thing happened. Instead of feeling validated like I had expected, I felt sick to my stomach. My initial excitement over being able to tape a tape quickly faded and left me with nothing but guilt and anxiety. I had ruined Christmas. There would be no surprises now. And worst of all, this seemed indisputable proof that there was indeed, no Santa Claus. We had a chimney. And it worked just fine.

Riddled with guilt, I tried everything in my power to clear my conscience. I wrote tearful admissions in my diary. I became Santa’s biggest playground defender. I even went to confession. But no amount of Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s could repress the memory of what I had done.

When Christmas morning came, I smiled with a heavy heart as we headed into the living room to see what “Santa” had brought us. “Look!” said my mom, pointing to the CD player excitedly, “Santa must know how much you like making mix tapes!”

I nodded forlornly as I watched my siblings tear open packages, their eyes glistening with delight at each new surprise. Oh what I would have given to experience that feeling myself!

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Not me

“Hey guys,” said my dad, “come look on the roof! I think the reindeer left hoof prints!” I knew, of course, that there had been no reindeer. I had heard my dad up on the roof himself the previous night as I lay awake sleepless. He had spent almost an hour creating the perfect “tracks”. I was going to fake this surprise if it killed me.

I never did come clean to my parents about what I had done, and although I never snooped again, I still live with the residual guilt. I don’t know what, if anything, I can do to repay this karmic debt, but I do know that when I become a parent, I’ll be certain to find a better hiding spot.

I mean come on mom and dad, have you never SEEN this movie?

Really mom and dad? The attic? Have you SEEN Christmas Vacation?

Question of the Day: Did you snoop for your Christmas gifts growing up?

Dear Diary: Old School Edition

As my friends Young American Wisdom, Our Life in 3D, H.E. Ellis (and I’m sure many more) can attest- the mind of a child is a fascinating, complex- and most of all, hilarious thing. Often, when hanging out with my 7 year old niece, Lola, I find myself wondering what’s going on inside that little miniature brain of hers.

Actually, I know what she’s thinking about:  those babies she’s always carting around.  It must be stressful having like, 10 kids. I think she sings herself to sleep every night with What would you do” by City High…  I would.

For you this is just a good time, but for me this is what I call life....

Well, if you, like me- have wondered the same thing about those smaller-than-average-humans in your life- then do I have a treat for you today!

Back in the summer, when cleaning out my childhood bedroom , I came across this little gem:

 

What is behind that glorious Lisa Frank cat encrusted cover? You might ask.  That, my friends- is my childhood diary.  Given to me for my 7th birthday, it has preserved all of my little childhood secrets for almost 20 years…….. it’s sort of like the Dead Sea Scrolls. Only with worse spelling… and of no cultural, historic or religious significance.

Anyway, after I rescued this gem from the brink of obscurity last year, I sort of forgot about it… that is until last night, when, during a wine infused house-cleaning blitz (always a good idea) I stumbled across it again, and spent a good half hour reading it and laughing hysterically to myself.

So I thought I would share a few excerpts with you guys. Keep in mind, my objectivity may have been (definitely was) compromised, so you might not find it as funny as I did… but I’m still going to post it because I guarantee it’s much better than anything I could ever write now.

But before I get into the good stuff- a few disclaimers:

  • I was a highly unusual child.  (You’ll see)
  • For some reason, in the entries below, I felt the need to be incredibly profound, and at times, poetic. Just go with it.
  • Most of my friends were imaginary. I cannot guarantee that any of the names you will see below refer to actual, real live children.

Now that that’s out of the way- here goes (I have preserved original spelling/grammar for your viewing pleasure. You’re Welcome. )

November 16, 1992:

Today my mom got me my first diary. I can’t wait to write more stories. I am shure  I will have an exciting year. today we started practicing for our christmas concert. Mrs. Renouf said that she was proud of us for learning that song so quickly. We were in the lead because we have the most stickers. We are talking about bed time in school . I have a cruch on two people. Brian and Dillon. but I geuss none of them will ever like me”. [Ed. note: Chin up, little breezyk! boys dig confidence! You will learn this by 26. ......someday.]

November 17, 1992:

Today I fell in the mud twice. I  was humilyated by all my friends. [Ed note: does anyone remember falling in the mud as a kid? totally humilyating] The worst part is that I fell two times. [totally the worst part]. I wish people would learn that if they laugh at someone when they fall, the next person might be them. Besides, it’s not nice to laugh. I was lucky Dillon didn’t laugh at me…….. I try to make the most out of life. It’s the only one I have. These secrets are for your ears alone, so keep them secrets diary.

I can't even make this shit up

December 2, 1992:

Today I had a horable brainstorm. [Ed. note: hate those!] You wouldn’t believe what happened. Ashley said I made her troll fall. And she started to cry. I was not even there. And now she doesn’t like me but I still have friends. Then two boys started muttering to me. Then on the bus every body was pushing me. Then when I got home I dropped my Mr. Misty all over the floor [ed note: looking back, this was probably fate saying: "newsflash: you're mildly overweight. Put down the Dairy Queen, kid"]  Then I talked to my mom about it and she said It’s all right, it happens all the time. I felt better after I told someone. I have to say, I really wish my mind would make up its own mind. [Amen, sista].

My horable brainstorm involved drawing Jesus fish, apparently

December 19, 1992:

I feel terrible because I hurt my brother. It is the worst thing I ever did. It would be horible if any thing like that ever happened again. Although we fight alot I really love him. He is very nice in some ways I hate to say this But he’s one of a kind. [ed note: Kristin- don't say I never said anything nice about you]

There’s way more, but to be honest, that’s about all my self-esteem can handle for today (I considered posting the “About me” page, on which I list my favourite song as being “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t enough” by Annie Lennox… but the remainder was just too embarassing. Even for me).

Question of the Day: Did you have a diary as a kid?

P.S. if this is the second time you are receiving this post in your inbox- I apologize. My fat, hongray fingers accidentally hit “publish” before that shit was ready. my bad.