Not many children make it through to adulthood without at least one or two scars to commemorate the journey. Skinned knees, elbows, chins, foreheads – broken arms and legs. It’s a rite of passage. But what about the scars you can’t see?
For a very long time, I was a square peg forever jumping into round holes. I devoted a lot of time trying to be who I thought people wanted me to be, trying to fit in. Now I have a freak flag.
Wearing a mask is like trying to squeeze into pantyhose that are a size too small. You can make it work, but it’s not comfortable and before the end of the night you’ve got a run up the back of your leg.
Did you watch The Family Stone? A Christmas romantic comedy starring Claire Danes, Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Keaton, Luke Wilson, Rachel McAdams and others. There’s a scene with Luke Wilson and Sarah Jessica Parker in a bar and she’s a little drunk. Her control-freak-straight-laced-self is exasperated – tired of trying to please her boyfriend’s family. Luke Wilson says, “It’s exhausting trying to keep that lid screwed on so tight…You have a freak flag. You just don’t fly it.”
Do you have a freak flag? *raises hand* I do!
I was a painfully shy, naive bride with apparently bad research skills. I’d never really seen a man full-on naked, and I had limited intimate knowledge of too much else. I learned the hard way that not all honeymoon suites are created equal.
We got married young, both of us still in school with no money, no plans beyond finishing school. Didn’t know what we didn’t know and no one could tell us. Livin’ on love. Hopped up on birth control pills, we had the world by the tail!
I booked a honeymoon suite sight unseen. All honeymoon suites are created equal, right? They all looked fairly comparable in the yellow pages (dating myself right there aren’t I? This was obviously before online reviews).
We were stereotypical students. We had no money for anything, let alone a wedding. I had done gardening in exchange for dressmaking, the hall rental was $50 (yay for small towns), the flowers were donated, the church was free, the organist was the mother of a friend, and the official only asked for a donation. I booked the cheapest honeymoon room I could find.
We arrived with faces aching from smiling so much, exhausted and nervous. Did you know a motel and a hotel aren’t the same things? Yeah, you can see where this is going, right?
We were shown how to work the jets on the tub and left to ourselves. Wow – nervous. The only thing I could see was the gigantic bed in the middle of the room covered in faux leopard fur. At least the bed wasn’t coin operated, I’d have probably turned around and run home if it had been. Then I looked up. There was a giant, full-size-of-the-bed mirror glued to the ceiling over the bed. I hadn’t known that was possible. At first, I marveled at the feat of engineering until the implications of said fixture hit me. There was not one corner of the bed where you could hide from that thing – I checked.
I suggested we try out the tub. That seemed a safe place to start. It’s funny how you don’t talk a lot when you’re that nervous. We filled the tub and got the jets running. Everything was going according to plan. The tension drained away in the massaging hot water. I relaxed. I could do this. No big deal. We started talking, laughing together. I remembered that I’d decided he was worth all this nervous energy.
Then the jets stopped.
No more bubbles.
Just calm, very clear water.
A W K W A R D
We could not get the jets working again. So, there we sat. Not talking.
Finally, he convinced me to abandon the tub. Of course there’s no TV in the room to distract you from what you’re supposed to be doing. Light from the neon signs outside the room (yes *head hits desk* it was THAT kind of motel) streamed in the windows even with the curtains closed. Not nearly dark enough to hide from that horrible mirror.
The 18hour drive back to school was nice, felt a little surreal to actually be married, and we had no buyer’s remorse. We didn’t go back to our apartment, but right to the camp where we were to stay for the week. It was owned by my husband’s aunt, and she’d offered it to us for free. We were all about free. My husband had shared glowing childhood memories of the family camp, of jumping off the dock, campfires, and such. I was expecting a Muskoka paradise.
Now in Southern Ontario a camp and cottage are pretty much synonymous. We’re talking electricity, indoor plumbing, pristine dock, and the like. Turns out a camp in Northwestern Ontario is a small step above a tent.
Now, I love camping – when I’m prepared for it. Roughing it wasn’t exactly how I pictured spending my honeymoon. Was not a fan of the outhouse. September in Northwestern Ontario is cooler than Southern Ontario, a lot cooler, and the cast-iron stove made my allergies flare up. We lasted two days. We retreated to our apartment in town, deciding we wouldn’t tell anyone we were back. We were both missing the first week of school, and were determined to enjoy this supposing it killed us.
Lubricated condoms decorated every doorknob, every light fixture and drawer pull in our apartment. Our shower stall was filled with water balloons. My husband, warrior king to the rescue, taped a steak knife to a broom handle, jumped up on the counter in his underwear, reached over the top of the shower unit and speared all the balloons. The burst balloon bits blocked the drain and flooded the bathroom. Friends had strung bells under our mattress. We found empty condom wrappers in our clothes pockets for months at the most inconvenient times – like dinner with the in-laws. :/
I’ve never been so glad to go back to school in my entire life! I don’t regret anything about our honeymoon, but I’m not interested in reliving it either 🙂
Got a dating fail or honeymoon disaster to share? Heard of one? Has to be true! Leave a note in the comments.
Today I’m blogging over at Girls With Pens continuing our genre/sub-genre blogging blitz. Today, I’m looking at what it takes to write for the inspirational fiction market.
Second only to romance in terms of book sales, earning $759million in 2010 according to the RWA, inspirational fiction is a growing niche market worth paying attention to. Just as there are ‘rules’ for writing in any other genre, inspirational has its own staples and inviolable rules. In Canada and the USA, inspirational fiction includes any religious or faith-based writing, however an overwhelming percentage of that category is Christian fiction.
Written primarily for a conservative (traditional) Protestant Christian audience, the conventions for this genre are largely determined by the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association), and are specific and largely inflexible. Read more…
I wrote this article a couple of years ago, but couldn’t sell it anywhere. As a freelancer, you learn to cut your losses some times and move on. But I really like this piece – it’s fun to go back and read your earlier writings. Thought this might be a good time, a good venue, to share it with others. Enjoy!
I took up soccer goalkeeping in high school. My idea of fun was stepping in front of a speeding soccer ball and recklessly throwing myself into a fray of swinging limbs head first. Over the years I’ve been kicked, fractured, bruised, torn and dazed. I love it. I may not be bound for the Olympics, but I invest as much heart as any Olympiad.
Part way through this past season, I realized I used to live life the way I played soccer. I used to throw myself into life screaming Carpe Diem! But now that I’m in my early thirties, married—with children, that recklessness seems foolhardy.
Every season something rattles me. I endure some physical trauma while playing net that almost cripples me with fear. This season it came early. The ball came at me hard and I caught it, but my opponent didn’t stop. It happens. She hit me and I went down hard, rolling three times before I could stop myself.
The next game, I couldn’t shake it. I had my angles right, I knew how to read the play. Nothing had changed except each time a striker came close, panic loomed and I backed up into my net. That’s bad.
“Come off your line!” my coach screamed.
But I reasoned it was just a game, what was I doing being so irresponsible? This is a sport for younger people, who heal faster.
I’ve been hit before, but this time it was different. No matter how I tried to reign in my fear, it won me over. The next game, I prayed – not everyone prays but it brings me great solace. The fear didn’t lessen, but as I refocused, I realized that my fear had no power.
Fear ruled much of my life off the pitch too.
I’ve had my fair share of hurts and heartaches that have left me numb and paralyzed in many ways. As a goalie, it’s easy to stand on your goal line and wait, not take any chances by coming out – leaving your net hopelessly exposed because you become a small target in a large net. You’re easy to miss. So, in my life like in the game, I prayed some more and came off my line.
I took a few steps out, and then a few more. I made some unexpected friends. I fight the panic attacks instead of giving in to the fear. I’ve exposed my heart in ways that I haven’t done in a long time.
I spent several years crippled on the goal line letting the other team take shots on me, so to speak, but now I’m back in the game. That’s something to celebrate. I’m focused now, aware. The girl that lived to seize the day had her season, she grew up, and that’s good. Now I check my angles, read the play, come off my line and pray. I’ve taken a few dives, had a couple get past me, and that’s OK. I would rather play, take a few hits, and suffer the injuries than live in fear any longer.
Have you faced a fear recently? How did you overcome it? How did it turn out? Leave your story in the comments, I’d love to read them.
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This is not that kind of post – this is a true story. It wasn’t a bet, I wasn’t drunk…I didn’t plan to bike 15 kilometers (just under 9.5miles) in a t-shirt and panties. It’s funny now, but at the time I wanted to crawl into a hole and die from embarassment.
I spent a glorious summer working at Fort William Historical Park – the world’s largest recreated fur-trading post. The summer before my final year at university, I got paid to dress in period clothing, (or rather, modern period clothing because we wore bras and panties and deodorant) pretend I was someone else, and research history. Sweet deal. It was actually a huge dream of mine to work at an interpretive historical site like this.
The Fort portrays the year 1815 and is located outside Thunder Bay, Ontario. I interpreted a young Métis woman (French father, Native mother), Jeanne Chouinard, who spent her days giving tours of the Fort and trying to convince a guy to marry her because she was tired of sleeping on the floor of her sister and brother-in-law’s bedroom with her 5 yr old niece. She wasn’t picky, and Voyageurs could always be counted on to flirt, dance, and tease. I was proposed to at least once a day, and went home each night to my husband with a clear conscience. I had opportunities to play the doctor’s wife, and the jailer’s wife also.
The whole summer was an absolute blast.
Except this one day…
I was late one morning, flew into my costume, and ran out for the staff meeting. Normally, I folded and placed all my outside clothes neatly in my locker, but that day I barely had time to change and run. At the end of the day, I was assigned an extra tour and was late returning to the change room. My shorts were gone. GONE! Could not find them anywhere.
It was a 15km bike ride from my apartment to the Fort. I mean, as a starving student why pay bus fare when you have a perfectly good bike to get you there. This was before cellphones fit in your pocket. My parents lived too far away, we didn’t own a car, and I was NOT calling my father-in-law to come and pick me up in my panties.
I seriously considered turning back and just hiding out in one of the historic buildings for the night. But, the thought of bumping into my boss trying to sneak back in was less than appealing. To wear my costume outside the Fort would have cost me my job, the logistics of biking in the A-line cotton floor-length dress aside.
So, I pulled my t-shirt down as far as it would go, hopped on my bike, and headed home.
The kick-back riding past the pulp mill with flying wood chips was not fun at all. Of course, every stoplight was red on the way home. It’s impossible to keep a fitted ladies t-shirt pulled down over your bottom when you have to put one foot down at every intersection, by the way.
My path home required me to bike through town on one of the busiest east-west routes in the city. Why not take an alternate route – go through the bike paths and parks? Because I’m also directionally handicapped. Having to bike home in your panties is bad enough, getting lost on a bike in your panties is much worse.
I wasn’t wearing a thong (thankfully), but nothing fancy enough to pass for short shorts, and nobody is mistaking white cotton for a bathing suit. Absolute total humiliation. I was biking through town about 5:30-6pm – so yeah, rush hour. Old ladies covered the surprised O on their faces with their hands. Guys stared extra long as they passed in their cars. Had to bike through the university campus – that was fun…surprisingly busy for summer.
When I finally arrived home, I burst through the door, my t-shirt stretched beyond recovery trying to cover my behind. I pushed past my husband (who didn’t seem to notice my pantless state – the one person I wouldn’t have minded noticing – figures), slammed the bedroom door, jumped into bed, and pulled the covers up over my head.
The next morning I stuffed an emergency pair of shorts in my backpack in case the pair I was wearing disappeared too, and biked to work. I was too humiliated to ask if anyone had picked up my shorts – I was willing to lose them to keep the whole incident quiet. At the end of the day, the girl with the locker next to mine holds up my shorts. “Whose are these? I just found them in my locker.”
Lesson learned. Always pick up your stuff. What about you – ever learned a lesson the hard way?
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“It would be different if one had tried to tell the whole truth. That would have some value.” – Ernest Hemingway
“A woman is like a teabag – you never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” Eleanor Roosevelt