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Posts Tagged ‘current events’

My Annual Christmas Bitch Session

December 13, 2013 1 comment

I’m walking a tightrope, stretched between two Christmas trees, taut with the pressure of time, money, and expectation.

On the one side is the me that loves Christmas. Loves! The hype, the decorating, the giving, the madness, the merrymaking. The stories, the movies, the traditions, the magic. Did I mention merrymaking? I buy in. I believe.

Christmas cookies aren't  one of my strengths. Party tricks, on the other hand...

Christmas cookies aren’t one of my strengths. Party tricks, on the other hand…

On the other side is the me that loathes the tremendous hassle involved in making it all happen. And by all, I mean all. Food, decorations, charity, presents for the world at large. It’s a lot for one sister’s shoulders.

As I teeter on this thin wire, below me is the pit of despair, experienced in Christmas’s past, that I can fall into if things go awry. Trust me, it’s not fun down there. Life does not imitate art. If the Grinch steals all of our gifts, or Santa or I fail to deliver the coveted items on their list, my children will not hold hands in a circle and sing.

Oh no.

Yet I somehow magically order things the day after they can guarantee delivery to Canada by Christmas. Never the day before or, say, weeks in advance. Who thinks of this shit in November? It’s much more exciting this way. Will it arrive, or won’t it. My legs quiver with anticipation, and that pit is looking uncomfortably close. Back ups are stashed. And then I forget what I’ve stashed. And where. This is life on the edge, right here.

Come December, I could use thirty-hour days. Because while Christmas must be extraordinary, still, life goes on. Which is why I lost it when my children remarked on the cleanliness lacking in my car yesterday. Something’s got to give – a trashed car over myself, ideally.

Obviously, there is room for improvement in the process. In my world, best case scenario means Christmas Eve is purely for stocking stuffers. And a rum and eggnog-infused search for that thing I know I bought, but likely won’t find until Easter.

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without that special feeling – that I’m losing it.

Notice the wrapped presents? I'm impressed, if you're not.

Notice the wrapped presents? I’m impressed, if you’re not.

Running Towards the Smoke in Boston

April 16, 2013 8 comments
Finishing Boston - Boylston Street was a sight for sore eyes and tired legs

This is what it’s supposed to look like.

Instead of reading her a story, I laid down with my eight-year old, Ella, and I told her about the Boston Marathon that would take place the next morning.

I told her it is the most popular and iconic marathon in the world, it is the crowning glory for thousands of runners, who log hundreds of solitary miles in preparation. It overtakes the city for the weekend, packing out the world famous pasta joints in the north end and clogging Logan International with runner-clad travelers. It has an atmosphere all of its own, uniquely Bostonian, and someday, I hope she will experience it first hand, and I will come and cheer her on.

It is chilling and saddening to think this very same conversation could easily have been repeated in the household of eight-year old victim, Martin Richard.

It’s been three years since I ran Boston, and being there was a dream come true – as boring as that sounds it is crazily accurate. A seed was planted in my head with a surprisingly fast (for me) half marathon time.

That was it. This odd thing on my computer screen told me I could qualify for Boston, and I decided it would be foolish of me not to try; computers aren’t dumb. I trained, qualified, and registered for the race I had always dreamed of doing, but never believed I could. I tell you this because people who are not runners may not realize that Boston is more than a race, it’s a lofty badge of honour.

In racing terms, my result was disappointing, but the experience of running it was anything but. Every mile was filled with laughter and inspiration, and kinship with the other runners in my midst. Some things you can’t put a clock to, Boston being chief among them. I didn’t want that race, that journey filled with peopleĀ  – the very best of people – running into their dreams, to ever end.

And so, for someone to mar this event, this moment for thousands of amateur runners like myself, who feel like running Boston is the closest they will come to glory on a grand stage, is particularly vile and upsetting.

My friend, who had finished the race and was waiting to meet his buddy when he heard the bombs, wrote an emotional email to his many supporters after the tragedy. He wrote, “marathon runners are such amazing, peaceful people, and everyone is walking around with their heads down instead of celebrating.”

But of course, there is another side to the story. Someone – maybe just one person – planted those bombs. Hundreds, and by now likely thousands, in different ways, jumped forward to help. I responded to his email:

“When things are senseless, there’s no point in trying to make sense of them. On another note, though, did you see the people who immediately ran towards the smoke? See, there is hope and humanity all around us, let’s concentrate on their huge contributions, and not the crazy bastards who attempt to ruin our world.”

For its victims and their families, their worlds stopped yesterday, and for those people we collectively grieve and mourn. Yet, I can’t stop replaying the images of the hundreds of people trying to help. To all those who didn’t think of dangerous consequences, and selflessly did what they could for the injured, thank you thank you thank you for your bravery. You give us hope.

So for me, Boston will still be Boston, filled with unlikely heroes and courageous runners, spectators and officials alike. And maybe one day, my daughter will run this marathon, and I will stand on Boyleston Street and cheer her on.

Holy Smoke

March 14, 2013 1 comment

VAT611-POPE-SUCCESSION

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It’s been twenty-four years since my last confession.

I grew up in a Catholic family and, as the youngest of nine children, feel somewhat indebted to its doctrines, particularly the one that frowned on birth control. But from an early age, I recall being miffed by the absence of women on the alter each Sunday. Quite simply, any church which marginalized women could be no church for me, no disrespect intended to my parents. A feminist was born, aged five.

Its treatment of women was only the beginning of a slew of reasons to turn my back on the church: sex scandals and mistreatment of children, attitudes towards homosexuality, and in general an unwillingness to move with the times combined to make me wary of organized religion.

And yet, there are good memories; chief among them my bi-annual obligatory confession. I looked forward to a little tete-a-tete with a faceless priest, to explain whatever was heavy on my heart, and generally got very good advice from behind the iron screen. It was like free therapy. (My siblings preferred General Absolution, whereby you were resolved of your sins just by sitting in the congregation, but that seemed impossible to me, logistically.) Besides the boredom of attending mass each week, religion had an overall positive impact on my life.

So despite eschewing the church as an adult, I’ve been interested in the recent developments in the Vatican, and I suppose in the same way I cheer for the Canadian water polo team during the Olympics, affiliated by country, I’ve been cheering for the Catholic Church, affiliated by my upbringing, and for reform possible with the appointment of a new Pope.

And with the selection of Pope Francis, a Jesuit from Buenos Aires, who is by all accounts humble and saintly, not to mention the first Pope from the Americas, I feel a twinge of hope for my religious Alma Mater.