Grad For The Uncool Girl

She was uncool and she didn’t know how to pose

Warning: This one’s a bit long – over 2000 words.

Grad seems to be such a big deal for a lot of people. I wonder if anyone actually enjoys it. I wonder if anyone looks back and says they are glad it all happened.

There’s this one girl I know who tried her best to avoid being involved in the grad hoopla. She refused to sign up for the prom dinner.

Her principal found out she wasn’t buying a ticket and asked her why.

“Waste of time and money,” she said. “I just want out of this system. I can’t handle one more minute of it than absolutely necessary.”

He tried to convince her to go, saying it was important, saying it would be fun, saying she’d regret not going. He even offered to pay for her ticket, which, in 1985, was $50 for the fancy dinner and venue in downtown Vancouver. She told him she’d think about it.

It wasn’t that she didn’t have the money. She was a purveyor of plant products of the illegal kind, and other substances forbidden for sale in her country. She had money.

In the end, she decided to go, though reluctantly. She can’t recall if she ended up accepting her principal’s offer to buy her ticket or if she bought it herself. She does know she was increasingly stressed as the days toward graduation progressed.

She tried on dresses at the ritzy Holt Renfrew and found one she loved. It was a strapless, shiny little number, with a white corset-like top that flowed out into layers of pastel downward-facing tulip petals for a calf-length skirt. That one was a few hundred dollars. She saw the same ones at Le Chateau for less than a hundred. Maybe they were imitations.

Either way, she knew the dress was too fancy for her. Besides, she thought, there was no point in spending money on a dress she’d only wear once, for an event that didn’t move her in the least.

Ultimately, she opted for a $20 ivory cotton gauze dress. It was of 1970s vintage. It was unearthed at a Kitsilano consignment store on West 4th. The woman who owned the shop said the girl ought to wear black underthings beneath it because the boys would go wild.

That wasn’t going to happen. Boys would not care because they didn’t look at her regardless of what she wore.

Later that summer, some weeks after grad, she cut the dress into a crop top and a skirt to be worn separately, to get more mileage out of it.

There was a ceremony that bored her half to death. That consisted of sitting in a room behind a stage with a few hundred of her peers, wearing a square cap with a tassel, and a satin robe.

Why the outfit? What did it mean, other than heat and discomfort in the month of June in that hemisphere? She had no idea, but later heard it was a tradition started of necessity during the Middle Ages, when university buildings were unheated, and students needed robes for warmth. Some sources believe its roots go back to Druidic priests and Roman Catholic clerics, with something to do with trying to create a semblance of unity. She calls it unoriginality.

Whatever the reason, it seemed unnecessarily hyped up, and her preference would have been to simply walk out of the school building after her final class and never look back.

So, there was that ceremony. She waited till her name was called in the alphabetical list of hundreds of young adults. She walked out onto the stage to get her diploma, shook the principal’s hand, received obligatory applause, and returned to the back room.

Another uncool brick in the overheated wall.

During that week, there was a party at the beach. Everyone was under the legal drinking age, but they were all drinking aplenty. When the police showed up, the guy with whom she was talking said, “If they see us making out, they’ll leave us alone.”

Before she could say “Huh?”, the guy had her in his arms and was kissing her.

It worked. But even after the cops passed by, the makeout continued. The important thing was that the police left them alone.

Maybe the cops would have ignored them anyway and the guy:

A: was drunk
B: was sneaky and not to be trusted
C: had a crush on the girl, as one of his friends had said
D: all of the above

He wasn’t her type and it never went anywhere after that evening.

The next morning, there was a grad breakfast at the school cafeteria. Hundreds of underage hungover humans showed up to eat pancakes.

The week ended with the girl putting curlers in her freshly washed hair, readying for her pre-selected “date” to pick her up (thanks to her best friend who was part of the committee who pre-selected those dates based on things like height. Her buddy wasn’t aware that the guy chosen for her friend was someone with whom the girl had shared a mutual disdain ever since they were in grade 4 together, as she had gone to a different elementary school than her friend. By the time she told her, it was too late to rearrange.)

The guy was on his way to pick her up in his dad’s car. The girl’s long blonde hair was still damp when she took the curlers out. She fluffed it up as best she could with hairspray and went out the door. She was happy to hear Dire Straits music in the car.

“Right on! You like Dire Straits?” said the girl.

“Yeah, they’re a great band. I have all their tapes there.”

He pointed to a cassette case and she saw them all in it, even the latest one at the time, Brothers In Arms.

The guy was redeemed in her mind, but still they listened in silence.

Their first stop was the high school, to gather with their class in the gym for photos. The zoo of grads were lined up on bleachers – the young women on one side, the young men on the other.

Click. Click. Click. Photos were shot for the high school yearbook. Then the grads were free to leave. Some hung around for other photos. Some never showed up at all, choosing instead to meet in a park for clandestine consumption of alcohol.

Their next stop was an hour away in downtown Vancouver. More Dire Straits tunes played, pulled out largely by Mark Knopfler’s fingers on his blue guitar and the musical skills of the rest of the boys in the band totaling beautiful sounds through the bars of a rhyme. Mark’s soulful voice spilled out words to make the absence of conversation comfortable.

The Commodore Ballroom was all set up with fancy linen on the tables and fine food for the meal. Stuffy and uncomfortable it was for the girl, but she sat through it. A moving speech by one of her classmates was heard, 1980s music she didn’t like was played, dancing might have occurred but she paid no mind to it, and then it was time to go.

Her grad partner wasn’t driving back to their hometown right away, though. He was headed straight to the roller rink in Richmond for the grad party.

The girl caught a ride home from one of the vice principals and his wife. She wished that instead of the six-pack of pear cider she lugged along unopened in her backpack she had had the forethought to bring a change of clothes for the party. At the time, though, in her preparations, she was not aware that her date would not be bringing her home after dinner.

Every time they drove over a speed bump in the parking garage, the bottles clinked suspiciously. She tried to squish them together with her feet to reduce the possibility of sound, but the clanging persisted. If the folks in the front seat noticed, they didn’t say. Like the drive with her grad partner, the drive home that night was also without conversation.

Once she got into her house, she madly searched for comfortable clothing. She fished out a pair of red and black leopard print cotton leggings and a big T-shirt from the washing machine – items that would dry quicker than jeans – and put them on their own into the dryer. Her older self would soon learn that wasting electricity on two items like that was unwise, but she was still young and (more) foolish.

Time was running out for her to catch the last bus to Richmond, so with clothing that was not quite dry, she dressed, slung her backpack onto her back, and ran as fast as she could to the bus stop a few blocks away.

She made it in the nick of time, only to learn from the driver that he was headed back to the bus garage for the night. He would not be going through Ladner, where she would need to connect with a bus to take her to the roller rink. The best he could offer was to drop her off on the side of the highway by a Richmond hotel just before the Oak Street bridge that led to Vancouver.

She was the only passenger on the bus. She sat up front and chatted with the driver. They were familiar to each other from previous trips. He didn’t seem to notice or mind that she was chugging pear cider while they drove. He wished her well as he dropped her off on the side of the highway half an hour later.

The girl climbed over a chain link fence and down a grassy hill to the hotel, where she phoned for a taxi.

When she arrived at her destination, she bumped into a few people from various crowds, none of whom were normally part of each other’s circles, but all of whom had a fine enough time sitting in a car smoking weed together and drinking their respective alcoholic beverages before heading into the roller rink.

For most of the evening, the girl sat at a table like a mafia drug dealer, quietly observing the dancing bodies on the roller rink floor, sometimes being joined by people she barely knew.

The music, which was mostly 80s songs she didn’t like, was too loud for conversation, other than by yelling, so she avoided communication unless necessary for business.

Her best friend was off with a boyfriend at the time. The guy the girl herself hopelessly liked for the past few years was avoiding her, as usual, and her other buddies were younger/older/ and therefore not in her grad class.

She was running out of mind-altering substances to be sold, and so the price went up as people vied for what was left. She knew it was unreasonable, but they were willing to pay. They were people who weren’t her regular customers. She figured they must be desperate for mind-alteration. Maybe they were as disillusioned with an existence as presented by twelve years of prison-without-bars as she was.

After the roller rink closed, the girl and a few people she barely knew – for she barely knew most of the people with whom she spent all those years in classrooms – went to Denny’s for breakfast. They had camaraderie until she walked away alone. The sun’s first light painted the sky with shades of rose as she waited for the bus.

The best part of grad week was conversation with another girl she had hitherto only vaguely known. They talked with great depth for the next hour on the bus ride home, finding that they shared a lot in common. They parted with a mutual “I wish we’d gotten to know each other better all the years we spent in that wretched school system.”

They are still friends to this day, thirty-three years later. But who knows – they might have gotten to know each other some other way, too.

The girl wishes she would have not bothered with any of the grad hullabaloo. She has never actually used the word “hullabaloo” out loud, but it seemed to fit with the ordeal. She would like to say she instead stayed home and watched Benny Hill reruns and read books that night – books of her choosing because she loved to read and not because a teacher assigned them to her.

She would like to tell others that if they don’t want to participate in grad events, they should follow through with their desire and do what they’d prefer.

Go ahead and be uncool. It’s cooler than being cool.

Epilogue: Two years later, the girl came to know and believe that Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, died and rose again, to pay the price to unite her with God forever. She is cool in God’s eyes and that is what ultimately matters.

Spiritual Oddity

A photo that has nothing to do with the post. Tis my Pomchi in his life vest at Lac La Hache, BC

My brother in Christ and fellow blogger, G.W., sent this quote to me, from A.W. Tozer. I like it so much, I will post it here so I can find it again quickly. Oh, how I can relate to its point!

I don’t go around preaching at people – well, not much, unless the subject matter of a discussion warrants my thoughts on what I know from the Bible that can affect one’s eternal destiny. I can see when the hearer is disinterested and they might reduce my words to annoying “preaching” instead of communication, so I go quiet or change the subject.

I am not much for speaking, but I do like to write, and often my writing is on the topic of what I feel to be of utmost importance, that being the eternal destiny of individuals.

Because I believe I know the way to heaven, that being through belief that Jesus Christ died for our offense against God our Creator (going our own way and refusing Him) and was raised again, I feel that to NOT share that would be hateful of me.

Here is the quote from A.W. Tozer:

“The truly spiritual person is indeed something of an oddity. He lives not for himself but to promote the interests of Another. He seeks to persuade people to give all to the Lord and asks no portion or share for himself. He delights not to be honored but to see his Saviour glorified in the eyes of others. His joy is to see his Lord promoted and himself neglected. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and over-serious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens. He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the scent of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none he, like Mary of old, keeps these things and ponders them in his heart.

It is this very loneliness that throw him back upon God.”

A.W Tozer from: “Man: The Dwelling Place of God” from the chapter titled: The Saint Must Walk Alone. Copyright 1966

Let me tell you that when I run into others who share my passion for Jesus, the joy and gratitude I feel is immense. I can only imagine how excellently perfect it is going to be when I am surrounded by all the people who have ever believed in their hearts that Jesus Christ is Lord, from the very first in the Old Testament who looked forward to His coming as promised, to the very last who breathes “Yes, Lord, I believe You are my Savior”.

Time is short and nobody knows when they will breathe their last. May your faith be in Christ even this moment. I want to see you there in the endless celebration where all is as it should be, untainted by decay, flourishing in the light of the perfect Lamb of God: Jesus!

“And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” Revelation 21:23

PS: I have fallen behind on blogging the past few days due to busyness in life. I hope to catch up soon. Many thanks to those who read and comment. I appreciate you all. Any comments I’ve missed, I aim to get to them and connect with you!

Canada Geese On Thin Ice

These are just a couple of Canada geese on the ice at a little lake near my home. Oops, one of them “had to go”.

This couple – and I’ve heard that Canada geese mate for life – were walking around on the thin ice of Watson Lake in the Cariboo region of British Columbia, Canada. How lovely it’d be to have a better quality camera to capture their beauty!

It’s always a joy for me to see the Canada geese. Their return each spring gives me comfort.

I had friends back in the Alaskan wilderness who raised some Canada geese. They’d had domestic geese, and someone found some wild Canada goose eggs. They gave them to the domestics, who laid on them till they hatched out. Those Canada geese were the best guard-geese. They’d honk and hiss at us whenever we approached the property.

I’m not sure if it is legal to take Canada goose eggs, so if you read this and get the idea to try it at home, please look into it for yourself first.

That same lake a month ago was frozen so thick, snowmobiles rode all over it

Exercise Routines of a Mother of Seven

I posted some pictures of my abs in an internet forum. A few ladies wanted to know what my exercise routine has been to get to this state after seven children. Well, personally, I am not happy with the way I look, and my post was intended to ask what I can do to get rid of waist fat. Maybe I’ve become a victim of Barbie Doll mentality, and probably shouldn’t worry so much about it, but I do.

Maybe some of what I’ve done will work 1000x better for others with a propensity to have better results. My legs are long, which cuts in on the amount of space between hip bones and rib cage, so I can’t expect to have a small waist. Still, I do want it a bit smaller.

Before I ever had any kids, I was into aerobic workouts. Since after I graduated from high school in 1985 and no longer had the “ten-miles-uphill-both-ways-barefoot” walk to keep me fit (truly, it was more like 2 miles downhill on the way there, and of course uphill on the way home), I started going to local gymnasiums where someone would lead a 30 minute workout in the late 1980s. The cost added up, though, and so I eventually put together cassette tapes of my own favorite songs and worked out to music in my house.

Then I discovered free workout videos on TV. I recorded them on a VCR and did them a few times a week.

In late fall of 1990, my ex-mother-in-law sent me a compilation of workouts, which I used while caretaking a barge that fall and winter in Prince William Sound, Alaska. It contained a couple of workouts by Jane Fonda, some by Kathy Smith, and one by some other people who didn’t impress me so I only tried the workout once and forgot their names.

During my first pregnancy, in 1992, I walked a lot on the mud flats of Muddy River, Alaska, during low tide. In my third trimester, I brought my mountain bike up from my old house in Washington and rode it around the logging roads. After my baby was born, I waited six weeks before launching back into workouts, starting with the gentler Jane Fonda workout and eventually working my way back to the longer one.

After my second pregnancy, I got a device called “The Ab-Flex”, which was supposed to help core muscles. I don’t know if it really helped, or if it was more to do with the aerobic video tape that came with it. THAT was awesome. It worked a lot of muscles and made me sweat. Here it is on Youtube:

That video was my go-to, other than Jane Fonda now and then, and it helped me get back to my pre-pregnancy size and stay in shape. I used it after my third, fourth, and fifth babies, but it broke shortly after my sixth was born, so then I sought out a new copy. It seems to be rare and I couldn’t find one anywhere, so I opted for a few others. I tried a 15 minute routine by Teresa Tapp, and also one called “New Dimension” by Cindy Crawford. The latter I enjoyed very much and was able to start on it easily six weeks postpartum. It has a super gentle beginners level of about 15 minutes. The next level up is a few minutes longer but quite a bit more intense as it uses some hand weights. Then the third level is too long for my tastes, at over 40 minutes. I did it once and never did it again.

Six weeks after my seventh baby was born, I worked my way back into the Cindy Crawford DVD. That first routine is also nice for when I got out of the habit of working out for several months. I’d do it every other day for a couple of weeks and then start on the next level.

I forgot to mention that in 2001, after my fifth baby was born, I discovered Leslie Sansone walk videos. I got a couple of those and loved them. I also was using a stair-stepper machine at home, with computerized programs. I’d put on a headset, listen to music for a half hour, and stair-climb. For about 15 minutes of it, I’d also use hand-weights of 5 lbs each.

In 2012, I bought a Jillian Michaels DVD called “The 30 Day Shred”. I hated it, but I challenged myself to stick with it for 30 days. I documented my experiences throughout in a blog:

I now have settled in with Leslie Sansone walk DVDs. My favorites are “Tone Every Zone”, the strength sessions of which I do with 6 lb and 8 lb hand weights; “Mix & Match Walk Blasters”, which is ten different ten-minute segments you can pre-program on your DVD player (I do three at a time, but sometimes four); and “Walk It Off In 30 Days”. The latter is the most intense Leslie Sansone workout I have ever done and I really like it. I also use 6 and 8 lb weights for the strength session, which is 30 minutes long, and I use 3 lb weights for the 30 minute cardio workout. I guess we’re supposed to alternate days, but I usually end up doing it more like 4-5 days a week rather than 7.

Oh, and walking. Walking is something I can’t overestimate as being important. A good quick pace for a half hour, with a few hills thrown in, feels so good. I started mixing it up with running last spring for HIIT (high intensity interval training). I’d do 25-30 minutes of that out in the rolling hills and winding country roads near my house, at least 3 times a week, plus extra walking just for fun, depending on where I felt like going.

Last fall, I bought a used treadmill for $50. I enjoy it, but it is in my un-insulated basement, which is very cold in winter, so I didn’t use it at all in December, January, or February. It’s great for doing HIIT workouts with a headset full of music, but not nearly as fun as being outdoors.

Of course, diet is important, too. In 2009, after my seventh baby, when I got up to 180 lbs, I was having a hard time losing the weight. Cutting calories and doing my usual exercise routines weren’t helping me get below 160 lbs. I had several other health concerns, too, and so I went to my naturopath. He told me to do the anti-Candida diet. The gist of that is to cut out all sugar – an addiction that is tough to break, but so worth it – and also I couldn’t have all kinds of other things I’d habitually eaten. Finally the weight started coming off. I got back to 120 lbs within eight months.

I am now 130 lbs, at 5’6″, but want to get back to 125, which has been my norm for the past decade or two, except for a few times when I dipped to 115 during some severe depression and heavy stress – I don’t want to be depressed and underweight, though.

I’ve been trying the ketogenic diet, and although I like the foods that are involved, I’m not having much success in losing the ten pounds I gained this winter. I’ve lost four pounds since starting in January, now three months ago. Maybe because I am 51, I need to accept 130 as the new 120? I hope not.

I guess that’s about it. I am looking forward to getting back into HIIT outside as soon as the snow and ice are gone around here.

Wasting Coffee

I have heard it said, “Don’t waste your time with crappy coffee.”

I agree.

However, I wasted some time finding a good cup of coffee.

In the summer of 2017, finally allowed to go home after 19 days of evacuation, my family and I were trying to get out of Prince George. The shorter route still had a long section closed due to the forest fires, so we had to take the long way home – 7 hours, instead of 3.5.

I wanted a good cup of coffee to start my drive, but the nearest decent cafe was in downtown PG, 20 minutes away, whereas we were out in College Heights, just leaving my third daughter’s house after saying goodbye.

I had a Tim Hortons gift card, sent to me by my second daughter, and so I took the family to the nearby drive-through to fuel up on treats. I decided to give Tim’s coffee another chance, even though I had a disliking for it. I ordered a small coffee with two honeys and three creams.

I took one sip and scrunched up my face, saying, “Bleah!”

It tasted like there was no sweetener in it at all. I drink coffee for the taste as much as for the perk, and if it ain’t sweet, it ain’t good.

“I need to find some real coffee,” I said.

One of my sons suggested Starbucks. I squinted at him from the driver’s seat and said, “Ewwww?”

“Come on, Mom,” he said. “Give it a try. It might be better than Tim’s.”

“I dunno,” I said. “I had it once before and it was gross.”

“Just try it,” he said.

I went for it. While in the drive-thru lineup, I spotted a garbage can and asked my son to take my Tim’s coffee to it. He got out and did so.

I ordered a coffee with two honeys and some cream. When I took my first sip, the same “bleah” came out of my lips.

On our way out of town, we stopped at a 7-Eleven. While the kids took the dog for a walk, I went straight to the nearest trash can and put that Starbucks coffee into it. Then I went in to 7-Eleven and loaded a cup with my old standby: half full with dark roast, topped up with English toffee cappuccino, amended with four International Delight hazelnut creamers, and cooling it slightly with three of the 18% half-and-halfs (half-and-halves?).

As I walked out of the convenience store, I thought, “If I’m going to drink crap coffee, it might as well taste good!”

At home, I feel good about sticking to organic beans that I grind fresh before each cup, sweetening only with stevia, and cooling it off with cashew milk, but on the road, it seems that 7-Eleven has the best brew for my tastes.

I’m not usually one to throw food away, but those first two coffees were NOT good. I know a lot of people like them, and some might gross out over my choice of 7-Eleven java, but it’s a matter of taste.

Another blog entry with little to no point, but I felt like telling that story.