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Coffee Shops – Getting Your Money’s Worth

balzac guelphToday I got to visit my Mumster.

Visits with my Mumster usually are bittersweet because it means that I’ve just dropped of my kiddo again. Hey, you win some, you lose some, but I’m grateful for my time with both.

This year I want to experience new places in the cities that I frequent the most.

Increasing  my repertoire of coffee shops is a sure fire way to do just that. It will also lend itself to more visits with friends, and more laid back writing time.

I finally got to Balzac’s in Guelph . I sent the address to Mumster, and she and her manster met me there. As with all new places, finding parking can be an adventure, but today it was a grand adventure.

It was as if I found a whole new nerd world. The best parking was across the road from The Round Table, what appeared to me to be a completely geeked out bar. I have absolutely no clue what any of the board games are that they offer, but it looks so cool that I may recruit a geek friend to take me and train me.

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Also, there was the Medieval Gaming Academy. You know, with axe throwing and the like, but aptly named for a university town. I was admiring the confident, postured pace of two gamers (I’m not sure which establishment they were coming from). The two of them moved with the masculine grace of knights, they carried themselves with a kind of ancient chivalry. Any onlooker could assume they were serious about being part of the round table and medieval gaming community. Fine specimens of men they were; fit, firm, with long flowing hair that only the most masculine of men can carry off. It’s the kind of hair that women fantasize about tumbling onto their neck while making love…  That’s as far as the illusion went. It was shattered quickly when they loaded themselves into a brand new grey, four-door Mazda. There endeth my brief infatuation with Mr. Stand-Erect-Long-Haired-Gaming-Geek.

My muster missed this part. She was already on her way home, but I wished we could have shared the moment together. It’s one of those moments you either get one another’s sense of humour or you don’t. It’s these brief moments of connection that make all relationships memorable. The simple ones that happen at coffee shops all over the world.

These are the same moments my son and I share with a quick glance when we know what one another  is thinking before  anyone else could even guess.

These extraordinary moments…all for the price of a coffee and a google map.

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Don’t Make Me Break Out My Mom Voice

giphy-1If you don’t know me, they refer to me as Mrs. Doubtfire at work.  I’m not as old as Mrs. Doubtfire, but we have the same boobs and demeanour.

I prefer to be kind and sweet and doting even, but don’t mess with me. I’m one mother of a tough broad, and I’m not afraid to let you know that, in a very kind, diplomatic way. In other words, I’m very good at the subtle, ‘fuck-off’, and not shy about the not-so-subtle.

Which brings me to my current state of being; extremely tired of being a whipping post for other people’s problems.

Which is draining. I no  longer want to be subtle about the fuck off. Nor do I want to be having to deal with anyone’s el poopo. I’m too old for that.

What I really want is to go about my business in a conscious way with other people who are doing the same. As one care provider who comes into our home put it, “Don’t get old and grouchy”.

I want to get old and more giddy, giggly, hippie-like in my approach, and perhaps even increase my alcohol  and muscular flexibility tolerance. It may seem like one goal is not compatible with the other, but I disagree.  Lower inhibitions and increased relaxation should surely result in a more yoga-like groove.

Also, I’m looking for a small camper van that I can paint lemon-yellow and pack full with a duvet, some good books, tea, red wine, some Jameson Whiskey, and a bottle of good bourbon. You know, for the nights you want to feel like you’re dying. Also there should be ibuprofen. I’ll call the camper Mellow Yellow and make use of the horn.

If you inspire me to feel like you’re putting me on the spot, or making me feel uncomfortable because you’re being an asshole, I will unleash the Mrs. Doubtfire fire, and quite frankly, that takes way more energy than I want to expend on you. Not only will I be annoyed, but I will be verbally annoyed.

Going forward, let’s all approach one another as if we’ve just come from the worst berating ever, shall we? Perhaps some gentleness, kindness, and common, public courtesy.

We are, as the old saying goes, all fighting battles that others cannot see.

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How Being a Gen-Xer Benefits Janu-Edit

Janu-Edit is a month long edit-fest, and I’m totally into it. Hell, my generation of 90’s coffee slurping pseudo-BA-educated, blazer and scarf wearing peers practically set us all up with the perfect place to write and edit.

I’m into Janu-Edit  because I have a brand spanking new first draft of a novel that needs some…tweaking before I send it out for real editing.  By someone who hasn’t lived through the hundreds of pages agonizingly trying to squeeze out an outline without getting lost in the novelists world that characters create in their head.

My favourite place to write has always, hands down, been a busy corner of one of many Starbucks locations tucked safely inside of a Chapters or Indigo. With so much condescending talk about Millennials, we’ve forgotten about my generation – the Gen-Xers. We are the reason that pretentious, over-priced coffee houses who allow you to sit and use their space for free (other than buying the coffee and mass produced pastry), exist.

For the past number of weeks I have been bound to the house, hours out are a precious commodity, and as my time as a caregiver comes to an end, I feel the need for a change of scenery, for a uplifting events, and kindred exchanges of friendship.

Today I escaped to begin the arduous process of picking through my first draft. During a ‘happy new year’ phone call to a jaded pal, she proclaimed that her new year’s eve inspired  the conclusion that, as she so delicately phrased it, “all men are shit.” Quite a conclusion to clear the path for a fresh, new year.

Don’t worry darlings, I didn’t forget where I was going with this post. I wrote the last two paragraphs to tell you this;

My coffee shop escapes are a rich resource for character development.

Once I settle in connected to power, wifi, and caffeine, I generally can sit for hours, only getting up and purchasing the obligatory coffee every hour or so in order not to become a parasite. While perched at my window seat (my favourite place to write, sip and observe), my gaze followed a middle-aged man who strolled in through Starbucks and went straight for the magazine rack.

Would this man be aware of my friend let’s say, eyeballing him with abject hatred, because he was a man? The grey hair on his head was balding. He sported  undone work boots, blue jeans (clean, and in a traditional dad cut that left all manner of physique to the imagination), and an orange construction coat with the reflective yellow X on the back.

This isn’t the kind of guy who buys six dollar coffee. And he certainly wasn’t the type of man who automatically strolls over to the copy of Birds and Blooms on the magazine rack. Not if you’re thinking in stereotypes. Stereotypes alone can only get a writer so far, and then you need real character. You see, real people (just like characters) have all sorts of quirks and habits that need to be worked out, and often times these quirks come out only as authors write them into situations where they are interacting with other characters, or even more interestingly, with only themselves.

Pausing to look up at the world that’s going on in that little microcosm of a literary coffee shop inspires character, and the coffee caffeinates. Coffee culture has always been alive and well throughout the world, bringing friends together and demanding space to generate ideas. In my little corner of Canada, Gen-Xers breathed new life into the coffee shops that are home to so many artists and writers.

sweater and scarfThis month I’m on a roll, feeling right at home curled up in my stereotypical cozy sweater and scarf, sipping a latte, or herbal tea, and looking very serious about what I’m working on.  Janu-Edit doesn’t stand a chance against this stereotype, I just hope my quirks don’t get in the way.

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New Year – Same Old You

New Year

Now that we’re officially on the other side of the ‘Christmas Holidays’ and the tail end of what was a particularly challenging 2018 at my house, I’m changing some things. Mostly my attitude….I hope.

I’m not doing away with the traditional cookies or opening gifts on Christmas morning. And I’m certainly not doing away with staying awake until everyone else is asleep so that I can lay out the overflowing stockings. Stockings are my very favourite part of Christmas morning.

What I think I’ll do away with is the expectation that when December 25 rolls around something will be magnificent. The reality is that the best part of Christmas is the lead up.

You know what I mean darlings; the dinners out, the gossip over coffee, the visits with people whom you should be spending way more time with because they make you feel special. By the 25th I figure that we’re all ready for the big meal, a good long nap, and a laugh. We mostly are ready for any expectation that people have for us to just fuck off and go take a nap somewhere with a big glass of rummy nog.

About mid-November every year I get the Christmas itchies. I put up the tree, decorate the house, and start setting up a wrapping station in the spare room. I like to be prepared.

What I don’t like to be is disappointed. As long as my kiddo is here on the 24th and 25th, it’s all good. The rest is gravy really, and I should, as a younger, hipper version of myself has often told me, just “calm my tits”.

What I’ve learned recently is that  I’ve put a lot of effort in to the holidays for people who don’t appreciate it.  I get drained and resentful. I’ve decided that as much as I’m willing to arrange get-togethers, I also expect to be hosted as well. I’ve decided that I’m making one Christmas dinner whenever the hell I want to. Since I’m the only one who makes it, decorates it and cleans it up,  I get to decide when it is, based on whatever priority I have. If someone in the flock doesn’t like it, I’m more than happy to show up to a decorated house,  a cooked meal, and leave afterward with a belly full and no offer to help clean up.

This year all I really needed was to have some of the kiddos favourite treats ready in small doses when he popped in to refuel for more socializing with his pals. I didn’t need to bake up a storm for anyone unless I really felt like spending the day in the kitchen. That leaves no resentment, only joy.

As the years pass, and what the Christmas season looks like changes for everyone.  I like to think that I can spend more time with friends, opening the door to those kindred spirits who like to talk about life, art, and experience ,deep into the night around a table of fresh food and oodles of wine.

My holiday plans and expectations are different, but as the new year rolls in, I realize I’m the same old me. Happiest surrounded by the friends I call my family, having creative vision and goals, and still mumming my kiddo even though he’s all grown up.

 

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New Year-New You, Which Includes New Undies

giphy-2Amid all that can be happening on any given day, death always calls us out.

As many of you know I’ve been bound to the house, with little social contact other than running necessary errands.  Ironically, today, my outing was to a funeral. There’s nothing more poignant than the thud of cold dirt hitting a plain, wooden casket on the bottom of a single grave. It makes you think about what’s important (my kid), and the things I can’t control (my kid).

As a young funeral director, death brought a hunger for life that was sated by sexy shoes, late, late nights, and a swath of of decadence for every hunger.  As an old funeral director, death brings the longing for continued relationships with the old friends, time to create and new friends with whom I can explore all of the fun and excitement still left to savour.

Which brings me back to shoes. Am I the only forty something mamma who has let her shoe game go the way of extremes? I’m a beach baby from birth. My professional uniform consists of  ultra conservative shoes and my home life is a melieu of thongs and runners.

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And then there’s undies. Today I pulled out a black pair of barely-there delicates when I was reaching into my pink and white drawer. When  was the last time that I wore these, I thought to myself, as I pushed them to the back and frantically felt around for the giant suckem-ins that I hoped I still had. You know what I’m talking about ladies, the one stretchy pair of gitch that hides the abundance of the good lord’s handiwork. The ones you pull out when you wear one of two types of outfits; one that’s a size too small after the holidays, or one that’s meant to leave little to the imagination.  I haven’t worn the latter for a very, very, very long time.

Standing at the graveside, with my tights having slithered down past my crotch against my teflon-slick miracle-granny-panties, my new friend Hayley was describing the ideal of humility that was at the core of Jewish funeral traditions. I was trying to focus on what she was saying at the same time as I was wondering how, exactly one was supposed to get tights to stay up against the ugliest slipperiest undies in the world. Perhaps I’ll go back to garters; sexier, and less likely to leave you with your tights around your knees in minus five degree weather while you shovel dirt onto a casket. I waddled back to my car like a baby penguin, knees pressed together so my dignity didn’t slip down any further underneath my black overcoat.

A few years ago, after experiencing the death of someone close t me, I  went back to a simple uniform and community anonymity.  It was a big relief.  I went from where everyone knew my name to a place where no one did.

There is always something within passion itself that opens doors to a different world and a different way of embracing the world in which we find ourselves.

The new year may bring something much different for me though. Socially I mean. My private life finds me in hippie style, barefoot and outside as much as possible, with flowy dresses, jeans, and flip flops. My mom-life is a sports mom-life (jeans, sweaters, and anything that will keep me warm while sitting on cold metal bleachers in late fall).

This new year will find me back out and about. I need it. I need you. Besides my regular ‘resolutions’ of acquiring more grace and patience, I’m going to give two new resolutions a go; no judgement (I can be such a hardass),  and new friends to go out to explore the world. This must include socially appropriate duds, including functional undies, sexy undies, and stunning footwear.

My passion is writing, and what better reason to give new experiences with new friends a try? After all, to write stories, we must have some, even making friends at a Jewish funeral with your tights around your knees.

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Mysteries of Mid-Life Revealed: Undies are Over-Rated

undiesIf you follow me on Instagram (andshelaughs1 & pattywaxing), you’re likely a little tired of my June holiday photos.

I spent a week in the great outdoors, enjoying a whole lot of nothing other than some icy cold wine spritzers, a few cocktails, and local craft beer. I spent hours on the dock stretched out in the sunshine reading, and catching up with my man.  We spent every night by the campfire, and slept the deep sleep of those with a clear conscience.

It was languorous and it was blissful.

The other thing that I did this week is set up my new business so that I’m ready to take on the appointments that have been waiting in the wings.  Because this isn’t a have-to, I find myself completely enjoying it!

But tomorrow it’s back to work. 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate going in to the office. I like my colleagues, but I’m so over having to do anything.

What I discovered this week, while doing absolutely nothing but what pleased me was this;

  1. Having purpose makes mornings a hell of a lot more easy.
  2. Awareness of purpose isn’t something everyone thinks about.
  3. Self-care does wonders for the quality of my sleep.
  4. Two meals a day are enough with some healthy grazing in between.
  5. I have residual issues regarding housework leftover from my OCD upbringing.
  6. Having a hobby with your partner is necessary for the rainy days.
  7. Life without a kitty-cat isn’t a quality life.
  8. Fresh and local is damn good when it comes to food and wine.
  9. I will always, always, always miss my kiddo when he’s not close to home.
  10. Gratitude is something I need to practice more often so life doesn’t slip by unnoticed.
  11. Undergarments are totally overrated.