My Addiction

 

chocolate

My addiction began very early in life.  My fiends and family may have known something was up……but I don’t think they would have ever guessed how bad things got.

I have a picture of me as a very young girl in the kitchen of my parents home.  I’m standing on a stool, a big wooden spoon in my hand, chocolate pudding (or chocolate cake batter) all over my face.  I was sooooo happy.  The sweetness racing though my body and triggering the dopamine that creates the ultimate chocolate high.  It could have stopped there.  But we all know that it didn’t.  I was hooked.

choc bars

I remember being in elementary school and getting my allowance on Saturday mornings.  I would take that money and walk about a mile to the closest corner store to buy……you guessed it, chocolate.  But I felt guilty buying too much at one store so I would split it up and go to three stores.  Harry’s Market, the grocery store and then the drug store.  I figured I would get less disapproving stares if I bought one candy bar at a time and not three.  Whatever it took to get my fix.

Then there was Switzerland when I was in my early twenties.  Some days it would be a toss up.  Would I have dinner or some chocolate?  I could have potatoe soup anytime.  But Toblerone wasn’t readily available in North America then and I may not taste it again for, well, weeks. A few weeks after we had left Switzerland my traveling companions gave me some Swiss chocolate for my birthday.  I think I scared them a little when I hugged them.  For half an hour.

toblerone

In my thirties not a day would go by that I wouldn’t have chocolate.  And I wasn’t picky.  Mars Bars.  Mint Patties.  Maltesers.  Oh Henry.  Lindt Bars.  Hersheys Kisses.  Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Halloween Minis.  Kit Kat.  Easter Eggs that I stole from my nephews.  Ferraro Rocher.  Three Musketeers.  Need I go on?  I would hit up any vending machine that would take my money.

At thirty four I went to work for Starbucks and was introduced to a new taste.  Dark chocolate.  A fellow employee once said to me.

“People who don’t like dark chocolate simply have unrefined palates”.

dark chocolate

I’m not sure that she was right but I will say that coffee does taste better with a nice piece of dark chocolate on the side.  Really it was just another option to feed the monkey on my back.

Then came Nutella.  Oh how I loved Nutella.  At first it was just a little dab on toast or a waffle.  But slowly it became a mandatory after dinner treat.  I’d quietly get a spoon out of the drawer while “doing the dishes” and dip it into the jar.  How it melted on my tongue as I licked it off the spoon.  So sweet.  So smooth.  So creamy.  The Europeans really know how to do sinful don’t they?

nutella

Then came the day that all of the sneaking and over indulging came back to haunt me.  I knew it would.  Nothing that good can last forever.  The doctor said I needed to go cold turkey.  No sugar for at least 6 weeks.  What?  Are you kidding me?

Sadly, she was not.

I knew I had to do it for my health.  I wasn’t going to last long if I didn’t make some serious changes. I did my six weeks and got clean.  That was two years ago.  Have I fallen off the wagon?  Of course.

The Best Thing in Life is moderation.

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TBT – Motorcycle

motorcycle

Yup, that’s me.  Don’t believe me?  Can’t say that I blame you.  It’s a far cry from the slightly greying, conservative bob cut that I am currently sporting.  My wardrobe now is a tad more conservative too.  Jeans, white crew neck tshirt and vans are more my speed these days.

I think this picture was taken in the mid ’90s which would put me at about 30 years old.  I’m basing that on the jacket I’m wearing and the hairstyle I’m sporting.  Definitely pre-kids.

So why did I pick this picture for Throw Back Thursday?  I’m not sure.  Could I be missing some “wild” in my life?  Not really.  Do I have a deep seeded desire to own a hog?  Definitely not.  It’s more likely that I am just wishing I could still hop onto a motorcycle without bones creaking and muscles spasming.

The picture was taken outside of a restaurant on Granville Island in Vancouver.  I can’t remember the event but there were a bunch of us out for dinner.  If any of my friends are reading this and remember this night please refresh my memory.  Right, that’s another thing I’m starting to miss.  The ability to recall events, names and faces.

Look, I’m not “old” but I’m not a spring chicken either.

This picture is just a little reminder for me that The Best Things in Life are memories caught on film to be looked at years later.

 

 

Conundrum

kids shoes

I have two kids. My son is nineteen and my daughter is eight. Yes, you counted right, that’s an eleven year gap.  No, it was not a happy mistake.  Early in our marriage my husband and I made a decision not to have any more kids.  But life changes and feelings change and we both knew our family wasn’t quite complete yet.

More often than not when I tell people about the age difference they say,  “Wow, really? That’s quite a gap. Is it difficult?”

It actually hasn’t been all that difficult.  My son was pretty close to being self sufficient by the time my daughter was born.  Well, as self sufficient as an eleven year old can be.  The first couple of years were a bit challenging but once he was in high school things got easier.  The hardest single thing has been planning vacations.  How many things do teenagers and toddlers both want to do?  Not very many.

But for me, the most problematic thing is that it creates a bit of a time warp.

time warp

The friends I made when my son was little are still very much in my life.  Over the years we’ve been through so many things with our now young adults.  Without activities to bring us together our connections are now more about us, than our kids.  Many of these friends are now starting to think about retiring.  Not next year, but maybe in the next five or ten years?

Their kids are in university or working and some are already empty nesters if their kids have chosen to go to school back east or in the US.  No more early morning soccer practices, no need for babysitters, no late night pick ups from parties.  They have more free time and less day to day responsibility.  They can travel or even take up a hobby.  They have moved into the next stage or their lives and it’s pretty sweet.

My daughter is eight and the friends that I have made in these past few years are who I spend most of my time with.  Hanging out at the dance studio (for hours), commiserating over school yard politics at the park or escaping to the pub occasionally after bed time.

These friends are still in the small children stage of life and considerable work is still involved on a daily basis.  Some are new home owners or starting new businesses with their future stretching out ahead of them.  Job opportunities and career changes are still top of mind options.  The concept of retiring is a distant goal. Most are still planning their fortieth birthdays.  (My fortieth was…..a while ago).

The fact is I feel a bit torn?  No, that’s not right.  I think confused would be a better word for it.  In some ways it is contributing to my ambiguity on Finding my Thing.

Half of me feels should I SHOULD be getting ready for the next next chapter of my life.  Investing, getting my shit together.  You know, getting organized for getting older.  And enjoying the fruit of many years of parental labour.  The other half of me feels like I’m still a Spring chicken whose got loads of time to do anything BUT worry about RRSPs.

To be honest, I’m  not sure what The Best Thing in Life is about this conundrum.  Maybe it’s simply the fact that I got to use the word conundrum.

Uncomfortable Conversations and Ick

doctors 2

I’ve been in two awkward positions today.  The first involved drooling and the second involved stirrups.  Ya that’s right, I went to the dentist AND the doctor in the same day.  Double downed on the uncomfortable conversations and general “ick” factor.

Why do dental hygienists ask you questions?  And they’re not just yes or no questions but question that require detailed explanations.

“What kind of activities did your daughter do over Spring Break?”

Questions that may even involve follow up questions.

“Oh, I’ve heard about that camp.  Where did she go and what did she do?”

dentist 1

Really?  My mouth is wide open and you are scraping crap off my teeth with a wicked sharp hook.  Do you really want me to answer that?

My hope is that some day soon every dental office will have virtual reality goggles for their clients to wear.  So when you are sitting in the waiting room you can flip through a catalogue and chose a scenario for your appointment.  Then when you get into the dentist chair you pop on the goggles and enjoy you 45 minutes of fantasy.  I would pick the tropical vacation.  Lounging on the beach with a cold drink in my hand watching the dolphins play in the surf.  I’m not sure how to shut out the incessant scraping noises but really, that’s just a minor detail.

And why would you want to scrape crap off people’s teeth with a sharp hook.  “Ick.”

Now before I start in on the whole female annual check up trauma.  Let me say this.  I feel for these doctors.  They are the doctors who answer these questions.

 

“Do you know what could have caused this rash on my butt?”

“Can you burn the wart off my sons foot?”

“Is this thing on my kids face infectious?”

And that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head.  I’m sure there are weirder and more disgusting questions asked.  “Ick.”

I guess my question here is who the hell thought that this was a good idea?  Is there no their way to test us?  Something, perhaps, a bit less personal? Less invasive?

stirrups

I can’t imagine it’s all that fun for the doctor either.  I don’t know, maybe they learn to do it with their eyes closed.  Maybe they secretly put on virtual reality goggles while they’re doing it and dream of tropical beaches and dolphins.  Or, perhaps, all those years of medical school have dulled their “ick” factor sensors and they just don’t even notice. Or care.

My doctor and I had perfected the art of small talk during this particular part of my annual check up.  But he retired last year and now I have a new doctor that I barely know.  Picture me lying on my back, feet in stirrups humming away to myself trying to think of something to say to a man know that I’ve met twice.

“So, great weather today.”  Nope it’s pouring with rain

“How about those Canucks?”  Nope they didn’t even make it into the playoffs.

I decided just to continue humming and staring at the crack in the ceiling.

All joking aside, I truly admire any individual who enters a profession that deals with people’s health.  The Best Thing in Life is competent medical professionals who help prevent and further “ick” in our lives.

 

Julia

cala lillies

There’s a lady that lives down the street from us.  Her name is Julia.

Julia is from Europe and I’m guessing she is in her late 80s maybe even early 90s.  She has the best garden in the area.  I have serious flower envy of her Cala lilies.  Every year they bloom like crazy in her garden on the corner of Apex and Garibaldi.

Occasionally I see her daughter visiting her, but typically it’s just her and her husband working in the garden or enjoying the sun and a cup of coffee on the front porch.

Every Sunday I see her walking to the Catholic Church up the street.  Plain black dress, kitten heels and a black shawl.  The dress is a bit dated but she carries herself so well that it still looks stylish.  And seriously, who wears kitten heels in their eighties?  And walks to church?

In my mind I have imaged that she is some glamorous European movie star that has exiled herself to North Vancouver.  Like Greta Grabo.

One day last summer I was driving my daughter and a friend to dance.  As we passed Julia’s house I noticed that she was, as usual, working in her garden.  All of a sudden my daughter’s  friend screams  “there’s a bear in that ladies garage”.  I asked her if she was sure and quickly pulled a u-turn to take a look.  Sure enough. A large black bear was sitting in the middle of her garage chowing down on the contents of her overturned garbage can.  I stopped the car and jumped out to warn Julia.  The conversation went something like this.

“Julia there’s a bear in your garage.”

“What?”  (she’s a little hard of hearing)

“There’s a BEAR in your garage.”

“No there isn’t.”

“Yes there is.”

“Where?”

“In your garage.”

Still shaking her head, she walked around the side of the house.  Two seconds later she’s walking back towards me.

“There’s a bear in my garage.”

“Yes Julia, I know.”

She ran around to the side of the house and proceeded to grab a shovel and chase the bear down the street.  Ten minutes later she was back out tending to her flowers again.  Smiling and happy.  Not a care in the world.

Today I drove past Julia’s house and she was out power washing the driveway.  I thought for a moment that it was her husband since she was wearing a plaid jacket and black toque.  But no, it was her.  It made me think.  What will I be doing when I’m that age?  Will I be as active, stylish and happy as Julia?

God I hope so.

The Best Thing in Life is having a movie star down the street to be my role model.